It’s a skincare jungle out there, but what really works? GTG Editors Sarah Vine and Susannah Taylor report on the products they feel actually make a difference

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Sarah Vine’s recommendations

Skin type: Dry, dull, decrepit. Prone to dehydration and dark circles. Very sensitive, occasional break-outs.

Sarah Chapman Overnight Facial

This is one of those products that just makes me unbelievably, irrationally happy. It’s an oil/serum that you put on at night, on squeaky clean skin, preferably after a nice hot shower. It has many wonderful attributes: it smells absolutely divine (that’ll be the jasmine and rose); it’s light yet extremely emollient. It also contains all of Sarah Chapman’s considerable experience as one of Britain’s best facialists, aka a potent cocktail of skin-nourishing ingredients including antioxidants, vitamins, omega oils, peptides and her own skin-brightening complex. It also works as a boost to my everyday moisturiser when the weather is harsh or I’m feeling especially run-down; and I sometimes put it on in the bath underneath a face mask. It’s especially invaluable this time of year, when skin really needs a lot of love and attention.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5

This is the stuff that cosmetic doctors often recommend to patients after peels or laser treatment. It has no sort of smell or consistency, in fact it’s not unlike putting egg white on your face. Not exactly glamorous, then. But: it contains an industrial amount of hylauronic acid (as well as, as the name suggests, vitamin B5), and if you use it daily before your moisturiser you will notice a marked difference in the texture and freshness of your skin. I have friends who have become addicted to the stuff after I’ve recommended it. Suitable for all skin types, too.

Darphin Chamomile Aromatic Care

Since I spend my life slapping on various products in the interests of research, there are times when my skin just can’t cope. The usual reaction is a rash, which starts slowly but then spreads across my entire face, getting hotter and hotter as it goes, a sort of nettle rash. Then my eyes begin to swell and it’s "hello, Quasimodo!" for the next few days. When this happens the only thing I can tolerate on my face is this oil, which is extremely good at calming sensitised skin. The key ingredients are organic chamomile and sage, sunflower seed oil, jojoba and sweet almond oil. I don’t use it very often; but when I do I give thanks to the skincare gods for this golden elixir.

Sisley Eau Efficace Gentle Make-Up Remover

Everything about this product is just designed for lazy girls like me, whose bedtime cleansing routine takes approximately 20 seconds. The packaging is brilliant: you just press down on the lid with a cotton wool, and the liquid is dispensed without fuss or mess. A quick wipe over the eyes, cheeks and forehead and you are done. That’s it. No need for a flannel, water or a boring toner. Simple, straightforward genius.

Thalgo Hyaluronic Eye Patch Masks

If I had my way, I would distribute these to new mothers in hospitals, along with the nappies and the nipple cream. Nothing gets rid of dark, puffy, no-sleep circles and wrinkles like these simple, nourishing and nutrient-infused patches, which you simply peel off and pop in in a matter of seconds. Ten minutes later you look and feel like a human being again. You don’t even need to take time out to use them either: I frequently put mine on in the morning and wear them while I’m packing the kids’ lunchboxes. Keep them in the fridge for added ahh-factor.

Susannah Taylor’s recommendations

Skin type: generally OK, but I have monthly breakouts, dryness after cleansing, lack of radiance and am beginning to see lines around eyes (so maybe not that OK)

The Clarisonic Classic

Basically like a vacuum cleaner for skin, this hand-held device uses sonic frequency to clean your pores much more effectively than normal cleansing. I don’t use it daily (not even weekly sometimes), but when I do, I marvel at how smooth my skin is and how radiant it seems. Other benefits? My skin laps up moisturiser once the debris has been cleaned and my make-up looks much better. A word of warning, don’t let it fester in the shower as it could breed bacteria.

Clinique Turnaround Overnight Radiance Moisturiser

Thousands of moisurisers have launched over the years, but very few have really made a difference to my skin. With this one it's so good I have actually bothered to scrape out every last drop. An oil-free cream, it works by lightly exfoliating your skin while you sleep, leaving skin more radiant, smoother and blemish-free. Stick with it though as it takes a month or so to work its magic.

Lancôme Absolue L’Extrait

I don’t think I have ever fallen in love with a moisturiser quite like I have with this one. About 25 years in the making, this beautiful ballet slipper pink, rose-scented cream glides on like silk and leaves an instant radiance like no other I’ve ever tried. The basic science is that it is unbelievably rich in rose stem cells (of course, it’s Lancôme), which encourages your skin to rejuvenate itself. After a few weeks of using it my skin looked more alive, less knackered, and with a poreless, flawless finish I honestly haven’t seen in years. At £250 it’s a HUGE extravagance but it might just be worth it. Out of all the luxury creams I’ve tried, this is by far the best.

Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair


Every single beauty editor I know uses this product... for a reason. ANR (as it is known by those in the know) was the first serious beauty serum on the market, and is still the best. Inspired by ground-breaking DNA research, it has been shown to cause a significant reduction in the major signs of ageing if used every day. Packed with antioxidants and hydrators, it not only helps reduce the appearance of past signs of skin damage, but hydrates the skin, keeping it blooming. It also protects skin against environmental aggressors and thus future ageing. Think of it as a slip of antioxidant armour for your skin.

Liz Earle’s Brightening Treatment Mask

I was recommended this little gem by another beauty editor friend and love it for days when my skin needs a pick-me-up (most days actually). Containing camphor oil to stimulate the skin (you can feel its cooling sensation), and toning witch hazel, you apply it for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (I leave it on in the shower), and you’ll emerge with definitely perkier looking skin. Essential for Christmas harassed skin.

Origins Never a Dull Moment Skin Brightening Skin Polisher

This product is by no means new, but it is still my favourite exfoliator. Made with crushed papaya, it isn’t as abrasive as some scrubs and smells delicious without being over-fragranced. It leaves my skin super-soft and unbelievably clean. I have never found anything better, and every time I remember to use it I wonder why I left it so long.