Products that deliver on promises, preach a positive message and have a good moral compass are what podcaster Nicola Bonn looks for in a brand
I’m forever being asked if I get bored of beauty products because I try so many and the answer is always no. I still get that beautiful buzz when I buy something and unwrap it and I will never tire of learning about, discovering and trying new things.
However, there is often a feeling of deflation when I build myself up to buying the next big thing only to try it and find that it doesn’t live up to the hype. I mean, how many times have you bought a new mascara because it promises to give you the ‘false lash look’ only to be met with more of a ‘barely there, why did I ever bother’ look. Or bought a face mask (of the beauty variety) because an influencer recommends it, only to find that it brings you out in spots?
For a beauty product to truly bring joy and to keep delivering long after the first try, it needs to tick some very particular boxes for me.
First and foremost, it has to do what it says it will. False promises = broken trust = I won’t be spending with the brand again any time soon. Once the product has delivered on that, I look further. What is the sensory experience? How do I feel physically and mentally when I use it? Who is the founder? Are they inspiring? What is the brand story? Can I relate to the ethos and ethics of the brand? Was the brand recommended to me by someone I trust?
In my book, it’s just not enough for a brand to produce good products anymore (the market is inundated with good products). It needs to be going the extra mile by having a great ethos, a good moral compass, by being as transparent as possible, by representing us and doling out positivity rather than filling us with fear of ageing, for example. With customers like you and I becoming increasingly educated, discerning and questioning, for a brand to succeed, I think that they need to be truly spectacular.
Here are a few brands that I believe go the extra mile
Founder Theresa Edward was brought up in St Lucia where her aunt was one of the island’s three herbalists. People came to see her with their ailments and she cured them by using the plants and herbs that grew on the island.
Theresa injects this heritage and all the wisdom passed down from her aunt into her brand Skin Alchemists. Every product is hand made by Theresa herself with botanical ingredients sourced from the island. Whenever I smell her body treatment candle, which I always keep by the bed, or massage her nourishing body exfoliate in with its wafts of warm cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa I feel a sense of deep relaxation, happiness and escapism.
My hero product: Humble Warrior Cleansing Oil , £18 for 30ml
This smells sublime, removes makeup a treat and leaves my face soft, glowing and happy. It makes cleansing something that I can’t wait for and elevates it from a daily chore to a feel-good self-care ritual.
Isle of Paradise
I met self-tan master Jules Von Hep, the founder of Isle of Paradise tanning, before I actually tried his products. Within seconds I was in love. Jules is one of the funniest, most energising, positive rays of sunshine you will ever meet. His whole message on social media and in real life is about finding ways to make you feel good about yourself and to feel body confident.
Isle of Paradise is the embodiment of Jules. It is such an authentic brand because it sparkles with the love and energy of the man who is behind it. Jules used to travel the world doing tans for A List celebs has not only injected his expertise and knowledge into the brand but has brought along his passion for great ingredients, inclusivity and body positivity. Just the bottles alone make me smile.
The tanning products come with a variety of options with drops that you can combine with your moisturiser or serum, a hydrating water spray or a mousse. Jules also has options for different skin tones with peach being the lightest tan and purple the most intense. I also love the fact that they are working really hard on their sustainability credentials with refills and a pledge to use 100 per cent recyclable plastic. They are also vegan and cruelty-free.
My hero product: Tanning drops , £19.95 for 30ml
I love that I can tailor make my tan and the gorgeous glow that they give me.
Nicola Elliot, the founder of Neom was heading for burnout and needed a change. She went from being a journalist to creating one of the UK’s most loved organic aromatherapy brands.
Having worked with Nicola I know that she is obsessed with making sure that her products are perfect. She truly cares about the people who buy her stuff and is passionate that her products not only smell amazing but go further by really enhancing a person’s wellbeing.
The smell of the oil blends is like nothing else on the market and when I use her products they always transport me to a better place. There is always a feeling that my money has been well spent as the quality and blend of the oils is truly a cut above.
My hero product: Scent to Make You Happy Oil , £20 for 10ml
I’d go as far as saying this is one of my favourite smells and is always wafting through my house. I love adding it to water in my Neom Wellbeing Pod Diffuser and letting the fragrant steam get to work. I swear that my kids' behaviour improves whenever I do this.
Dermalogica is so much more than that grey bottle on the shelf; you won’t find many brands that support women in the way that this one does. Founder Jane Wurwand , who I have written about before has made it her mission to give women opportunities and support entrepreneurs by funding small loans to over 100,000 entrepreneurs to help them grow or start a business and granting scholarships to 58 young women across the world? As well as that, the way that the company guides and look after every therapist who works with them is incredible. Dermalogica is cruelty-free and is aiming to ensure that 90 per cent of the packaging will recyclable by the end of 2020.
My hero products: Daily Microfoliant , £45.90 for 75g, and Age Bright Clearing Serum , £52.65 for 30ml
I can't be without either of these. The Microfoliant makes my skin glow and the Age Bright Clearing Serum totally sorted my skin out on a very hot and sweaty summer in France.
The thing I love about this British skincare brand is their attitude towards ageing. Rather than being anti-ageing or targeting women of a certain age, they have the attitude that they are for everyone and they want to promote great skin health for all ages. It’s a lovely message as I’m becoming more and more aware of the negative connotations of the words ‘anti-age’ as if age is something that we should fear.
The brand has a great collection of affordable yet beautiful products. Their prices range from £18 for a gorgeous moisturiser to £51 for a big bottle of their Body Essence.
My hero product: Essential Facial Essence , £75 for 20ml
Tjis is a mix of beautiful oils such as hazelnut seed, ylang Yyang and lemon verbena. I love to massage it into my skin as the last step in my skincare routine and always feel that my skin is nourished, hydrated and glowy.
I can’t write this piece without mentioning MAC Cosmetics. The original rebellious beauty brand, there is nothing quite like going instore and sitting down with one of their super-talented makeup artists. You will never hear someone from MAC telling you that you “can’t” wear a certain shade of lipstick and I invariably leave a trip to the store feeling empowered, bold and armed with a bright red or orange lippie.
MAC is an incredibly inclusive brand; there’s a shade for everyone and I love that they celebrate individuality. There has always been something a bit anarchistic about MAC and even today I feel that zeitgeist whenever I wear one of their products.
My hero product: Ruby Woo matte lipstick , £17.50
I use this with the matching liner and the Prep and Prime which I spray on first to make sure that the lipstick stays in place. This is my favourite red of all time and I feel a million dollars every time I wear it. It suits every skin shade and looks great in every situation.
Nicola Bonn is a columnist for Get The Gloss and the host of the Outspoken Beauty Podcast . Follow Nicola on Instagram