From maskne skincare to loungewear, face masks (both kinds) and supplements, these are the products you'll always think of when you remember 2020
This year has seen sales soar of some unexpected items and we're not just talking about the great toilet roll rush of March. John Lewis saw a 121 per cent rise in sales of chess sets (thanks to Netflix show The Queen's Gambit), as well as a 33 per cent rise in paint sales (we had to keep busy somehow) and a 20 per cent rise in floral curtains (your guess is as good as ours on that one).
In the beauty world, lipstick sales went down by 54 per cent according to the retailer, while LED face masks shot up in sales by 900 per cent, according to The Light Salon. Wellness-wise, John Lewis reported an 81 per cent increase in the sales of lamps to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
From 2020's sell-out products to the beauty we couldn't live without, here are the fashion, beauty and wellness buys that defined this most unusual of years.
Luxe loungewear: H&M Knitted Trousers, £24.99
H&M's cashmere trousers flew off the virtual shelves during the first lockdown and we've been patiently waiting for a restock, but this more purse-friendly pair fills the void nicely. John Lewis reported a 1,303 per cent rise in loungewear and leggings too, which is no surprise to anyone given that we've lived in them for the last nine months.
Maskne sets: Light Salon Antimicrobial Mask and Skin Repair Set, £55
Maskne is one word we would gladly never hear again, but skincare entrepreneurs have stepped up to combine breakout-busting and skin barrier-building skincare with skin-friendly masks. The Light Salon, whose mood-boosting LED face masks saw a surge in popularity too this year, brought us this set of two bamboo face masks with 'Viraloff'antimicrobial technology and a calming handbag-friendly spray to reduce inflammation and breakouts.
Meanwhile, the Dr Babara Sturm Maskne Set , £120 features a Nano-Silver mask, her signature Anti-Pollution Drops with hyaluronic acid to support the skin barrier, Calming Serum, Clarifying Spot Treatment Untinted and a sachet Clarifying Mask.
When the gyms closed their doors (then reopened, then closed, etc.) we turned to at-home workouts and outdoor runs for our fitness fix and trackers became an essential bit of kit. John Lewis saw a 64 per cent rise in sales as a result. This Fitbit is currently £70 off on Amazon and does everything from track your sleep and steps to displaying real-time exercise results and allowing you to read texts and control Spotify.
Rainbow hair dye: Umberto Giannini Flowerology Temporary Colour Mask, £9.25
When hairdressers were nowhere to be found, many of us (including Madonaa) turned to colouring our hair rainbow shades ; not just to deflect from greys and root regrowth, but also for a much-needed boost of positivity. This mask softens the hair as it colours and lasts longer than any of the other temporary colour options we've tried. It comes in a variety of pink shades, purple and a punchy blue too.
Self-tan: Pestle and Mortar Glow Drops, £35
We might have had a glorious summer weather-wise, but that didn't stop self-tan sales rocketing. Body positive self-tan brand Isle of Paradise saw a sales increase of 270 per cent, while celebrity tan brand James Read Tan saw a 73 per cent uplift on consumers searching for facial tanning products. Pestle and Mortar launched these glow drops and they give the most natural, gradual face-tan for a glow that lights up the complexion on Zoom.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamps: Lumie Bodyclock Rise 100, £79
In November Davina McCall told us that a sunrise alarm clock had been one of her best investments this year, and many of you agree if sales at John Lewis are anything to go by. The retailer reported an 81 per cent rise in sales of SAD lamps to gently rouse us from slumber during these darkest of days.
Setting spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, £26
This alongside Laura Mercier Setting Powder , £20, is the only way we could get our makeup to last all day as we sweated under a face-mask. It’s a dynamic duo we predict we'll be using long into 2021.
LED face masks: CurrentBody Skin LED Light Therapy Mask, £265
Instagram was awash with celebs including Victoria Beckham, Chrissy Teigen and Ashley Roberts posting selfies in their LED masks , lauded for mood-boosting, skin-plumping properties. The Light Salon said they saw a 900 per cent increase in sales of their LED mask and a whole host of others versions have launched, including this one from Current Body which sits comfortably on the face and is soothing to wear while meditating.
Berets: ASOS Design wool beret, £10
There have been many TV shows that have captured the nation this year (Normal People, Tiger King, The Crown) but none influenced our style quite as much as Emily in Paris and Lily Collins' quirky, colourful ensembles. John Lewis reported a 65 per cent rise in sales of the quintessentially French hat Emily often wore following the show landing on Netflix.
Virus busting-supplements: Lamberts Zinc Citrate 2, £5.95 for 90 tablets
Zinc supplements were in high demand at the start of the year, with doctors telling us they'd be stocking up on them to decrease the length of colds and prevent viruses from entering the body. These Lamberts capsules came recommended by pharmacist Shabir Daya, founder of Victoria Health but we have a whole piece on the best zinc supplements available .
Hair masks for damaged hair: Living Proof No Frizz Intense Moisture Mask, £33
In October there was a 120 per cent rise in Google searches for ‘hair mask for damaged hair’ and while we all had more time to lavish on our locks, hair masks became a regular indulgence. This Living Proof mask tames frizzy hair and strengthens your strands by boosting the protective layer on each hair, preventing pollution from seeping in and damaging as well as stopping humidity in its tracks. Talk about a multi-tasker!
Luxe slippers: John Lewis red faux fur slippers, £14
We said 'adios' to heeled shoes this year (62 per cent drops in sales, say John Lewis) and instead slipped into something a whole lot more comfortable – slippers! John Lewis reported a 48 per cent rise in the sales of slippers and Instagram is awash with influencers rocking ultra-soft, fluffy pairs.
Nourishing hand sanitiser: Margaret Dabbs Hand Sanitiser, £25
There's no doubt this is pricey for such a functional product, but unlike the dispensers in shops and restaurants, this formula doesn't dry out hands (in fact, it moisturises them) and smells nice too. A luxury hand sanitiser is a definite 2020 essential and this is the best of the best.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D Apple and Blackcurrant Gummies, £10.95 for 90 gummies
It was reported that people lacking in vitamin D were more likely to die from Covid , so it was no surprise there was a rush on vitamin D supplements. These gummy vitamins making taking your daily dose fun.
Eco period care: Dame Reusable Period Pad, £8.99
We're all for making our periods as eco-friendly as possible and as well as creating reusable tampon applicators, Dame has branched out into reusable pads. Ideal for when popping to the shops when you've run out of sanitary products wasn't an option.
Face masks: Faace Tired Faace Mask, £22.50
Face masks were another rare treat that became an almost nightly occurrence when we found ourselves with time on our hands. This jazzy orange tube hydrates, brightens with vitamin C and peps up the complexion with caffeine for a high-performing, skin-livening treat.
Impressive mascara: Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara, £29
When the eyes are all you can see, the need for an ultra-impressive mascara grows and this one blew the competition out of the water when it launched. It became Space NK's biggest seller, shifting 1.6 per minute making it their fastest-selling mascara ever.
Neurophroline skincare for stress face: Tracie Giles' Crème Rescue Serum, £60
Whose skin didn't show the signs of stress this year, whether in the form of breakouts or extreme dryness? Stress hormone cortisol can wreak havoc on the skin but there's one new ingredient that can help fix it and this year we saw a few clever formulators building a product around neurophroline . We love Trinny London's tinted BFF De-Stress Serum , £38, De Mamiel Skin's First Fix, £130 Garden of Wisdom' Neurophroline Serum, £18.
A special shout out goes to Tracie Giles who gave thousands of pots of her Crème Rescue Serum, £60 (originally designed as a post-treatment aftercare) to grateful NHS workers.
Beauty supporting Black Lives Matter: Glossier Exfoliating Bar, £12
We'll remember 2020 as the year that tragedy forced us to face up to what each of us was doing to support racial equality. We posted, protested and donated. Many beauty brands and consumers stepped up, including Glossier which donated half a million dollars to organisations focused on combatting racial injustice. We've picked out the favourite Glossier launch this year the Exfoliating Bar, which is plastic-free, lasts forever and has finely milled bamboo powder to give you a really good buffing. Quite simply the best body scrub we;ve tried.
Screen-face skincare: Higher Nature Digital Defence Day & Night Moisturising Protection Cream, £40
It's probably best not to add up the amount of time we've spent in front of our screens this year, especially as there's a phenomenon known as 'digital ageing' caused by HEV or blue light emitted from our tech devices. This just-launched silken-textured face cream is clinically proven to block out 100 per cent of HEV light with a complex made of, among other things lycopene, verbascum, knotgrass and rice oil. There are plenty of other soothing and healing ingredients in here too and it's organic, making this our favourite face cream discovery of the year.
Budge-proof lipstick: Il Makiage Infinity Long-Wear Matte Lip Cream, £20
When we did buy lipstick this year, it had to be the sort that absolutely wouldn't budge under our face masks. Look no further than Il Makiage, a new brand to launch this year that punches way above its price tag and an algorithm that helps you find your foundation shade match. The eye palettes are exceptional. There are a whopping 27 punchy, high-pigment shades in this range. Once you've blotted, it won't even come off on your cup of tea. Suqqu Comfort Lip Fluid, £33 also does the job very well and is a little creamier.
The fit kit: York Fitness Vinyl Kettlebell 8kg, £15.99
John Lewis reported a 282 per cent rise in sale of kettlebells in the first lockdown, and while we also love mini trampolines and resistance bands , kettlebells are still finding their way into our everyday home workouts. They target conditioning, burn fat, strengthen the tummy and bum and improve posture, plus take up little space at home.
Turbo-charged vitamin C: Altrient Liposomal Vitamin C, £39.99
Liposomal vitamin C is the vitamin C variant that our cells can best absorb, meaning it can be used more readily by our body. It comes in gel form and Altrient's version was a sell-out during the first lockdown. Stock up now while it's available!
Doctor-approved sanitiser: Clinisept Plus, £14.99
We've lost count of how many people recommended Clinisept Plus for cleansing masks, phones, faces – pretty much everything. Facialists swear by it to cleanse pre-treatment and doctors wanted it in hospitals during the NHS to sanitise.
Hand cream: Burts Bees Almond and Milk Hand Cream, £10.99
With all that frenzied hand-washing at the start of the year, the hunt was on for the best hand cream to nourish dry, cracked hands. This one is ultra-rich and being in a pot, it's lovely to have on your desk and dip into whenever you have a spare moment.
The face-covering: Alice of Arundel silk face mask, £13.90
It wouldn't be a 2020 round-up without a face mask, would it? Silk is the best material to be kind to your skin (no friction), plus they look lovely, are made by a small business and are reusable. We'll be hoping to find one at the bottom of our stocking.
The wellness essential: Hayo’u Body Tapper Bamboo, £28
A winner in our Beauty and Wellness Awards 2020, this tool is a great way to relieve desk-bound aches and aims and get energy flowing when you are feeling blue or have been working from home at a less than ideal desk.
The anxiety soother: Kloris Superior CBD 1000mg, £83
CBD as a trend has been bubbling away for few years now but it came into its own this year thanks to its claims to soothe anxiety and stress with just a few drops from the tincture. They do always taste a bit earthy, but it's worth the weird taste for the calming vibes.