Health

Beauty boosters that saved us in 2021: From stress-busting bath oils to mask-friendly make-up

Your sweet 16 list for this, Inspire’s fifth annual beauty awards, is an absolute cracker — every choice a bona fide star.

Voted for by you via post, email or online, the winners give a fascinating insight into what we’ve all experienced in these weird 12 months.

Our beloved creams and cosmetics have got us through what has been a curious year: full of ups, downs, and periods of prolonged frustration; released from the torpor of lockdown, but with the pandemic’s end not yet in sight.

Words such as ‘soothing’, ‘nourishing’ and ‘reviving’, which featured on the labels of plenty of your winners, reflect a need for collective comfort.

Hannah Betts revealed the winners of Inspire’s fifth annual beauty awards. Pictured left to right: Glossier Boy Brow pomade, Tweezerman Classic Slant Tweezer, Clarins Supra Lift & Curl Mascara, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution M.I. Kiss, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, Monika Blunder Beauty Blunder Cover, Lancome Blush Subtil Powder Blush and Dr Michael Prager Urban Protect Night Oil With Retinol

Hair salons were shut until April 5, so we invested in a Dyson Supersonic hair dryer (£299.99, dyson.co.uk) to raise our blow-dry game. We know you really rate your Dyson — this is the third time it’s won one of our gongs.

Facials were also out, so we looked after ourselves with cosmeceutical-grade skincare.

The eyes had it — and still do, as masks have never really gone away, while online purchasing was more necessary than ever.

Yet, when rules on masks did relax for a while in July, we also returned to make-up for going ‘out out’ — not least, at long last, lipstick. Your top pick: Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution in M. I. Kiss (£25, charlottetilbury.com), a delectable tawny berry.

Five years into this annual celebration of the best in British beauty, and its the third time you’ve voted for Weleda Skin Food, the organic stalwart receiving the highest number of votes across all the categories.

Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation has triumphed before, while Glossier, Aromatherapy Associates, Avene, Clarins and Lancome are also among your established favourites.

I, too, cherish Lancome’s Blush Subtil Powder Blush (£32, lancome.co.uk), although I am miffed that the brand discontinued my cherished shade — the eternal make-up lover’s lament. En masse, you are modishly up-to-speed, while not neglecting first-rate classics.

You’re bang up-to-date with Monika Blunder Beauty Blunder Cover concealer, (£45, cultbeauty.co.uk), which launched here in June and became an instant make-up artist obsession thanks to its natural-looking coverage.

Hannah said Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation provides the most seamlessly luminous base, while Bioderma¿s affordable Sensibio H2O Micellar Water can be used to remove the day's grime

Hannah said Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation provides the most seamlessly luminous base, while Bioderma’s affordable Sensibio H2O Micellar Water can be used to remove the day’s grime 

Yet you also know that Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (£35.20, armanibeauty.co.uk), which hit the market in 2000, still provides the most seamlessly luminous base.

Inspire Beauty Awards 2021 

1. Best brow

Glossier Boy Brow pomade

2. Best mascara

Clarins Supra Lift & Curl Mascara

3. Best foundation

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

4. Best blush/ bronzer

Lancome Blush Subtil Powder Blush

5. Best beauty tool

Tweezerman Classic Slant Tweezer

6. Best lips

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution M.I. Kiss

7. Best concealer

Monika Blunder Beauty Blunder Cover

8. Best night cream

Dr Michael Prager Urban Protect Night Oil With Retinol

9. Best daily joy

Therapie Cherish Skin Repair Serum

10. Best day cream

Avene Antirougeurs Day Soothing Emulsion

11. Best bath

Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil

12. Best lotion

Weleda Skin Food

13. Best eye make-up

Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ’N’ Kohl Velvet Violet Eyeliner

14. Best hair hero

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer

15. Best cleanser

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

16. Best spf 

Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Skin Nourishing Facial Milk SPF30

Your lash love, Clarins Supra Lift & Curl Mascara (£23, clarins.co.uk) only appeared at the end of July and quickly became its website’s top seller. However, your brow product of choice is Glossier’s lustrousness-imparting Boy Brow pomade (£14, glossier.com), which became a cult buy back in 2015.

At the same time, you have proved yourself to be discerning high-low connoisseurs. You’ll splash out on your Dyson, but cunningly scrimp on Weleda’s cult ultra-rich Skin Food (£8.25 for 30ml, weleda.co.uk), a tube of which is sold every 16 seconds.

You remove the day’s grime with Bioderma’s affordable Sensibio H2O Micellar Water (£5.30 for 100ml, boots.com) because cleanser is a basic that stays on the face for very little time.

However, you’ll save up to sleep in Dr Michael Prager’s brilliant, brimming-with-antioxidants Urban Protect Night Oil With Retinol (£90 for 30ml, pragerskincare.com), because the eight hours in which this potent potion will be saving your skin are worth every last penny.

You may not have been able to score a facial while spas were closed, but you did your homework and came up with Dr P. Gloriously replenishing, his is a formula unmatched for quality, purity of ingredients and efficacy — plus one hell of a morning-after gleam. Clever you.

Your commitment to daily sun protection — the only proven anti-ager — is laudable.

Finally, the breakthrough I have waited decades for: British womanhood embracing not merely a bit of token SPF in their foundation or day cream, but the real deal to wear here, not only abroad.

Perhaps you sported it on staycation, perhaps to sit at your desk — either way, you were covered.

The stupendous Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Skin Nourishing Facial Milk SPF30 (£8, boots.com), released this spring, scored an extremely high number of votes.

And well it might, being soothing on even the most sensitive skins, non-pore-clogging, a terrific make-up base, coral-reef friendly, and providing change from a tenner.

Your day cream, Avene’s redness-reducing Antirougeurs Day Soothing Emulsion SPF30 (£12.37, boots.com), also boasts a solid protection factor.

As for your most beloved beauty tool, it couldn’t get more practical than Tweezerman’s Classic Slant Tweezer (£22, boots.com). I’ve been devoted ever since they arrived in the UK back in my mid-20s.

Ultimately, what I love about your list is the sheer joy of it. Yes, you demand that your winners do precisely what they say on the tin. But you also know that something instilling pleasure is no less a part of it working.

Hannah said reader's aromatherapy choices are the same as hers - including Therapie Cherish Skin Repair Serum and Aromatherapy Associates¿s Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil

Hannah said reader’s aromatherapy choices are the same as hers – including Therapie Cherish Skin Repair Serum and Aromatherapy Associates’s Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil

Your aromatherapy choices are also mine. That multi-tasking daily joy — Therapie Cherish Skin Repair Serum (£15 for 30ml, cultbeauty.co.uk), a moisturising skin treatment that protects skin — is heavenly.

While Aromatherapy Associates’s Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil (£49, aromatherapyassociates.com) is the sublime ylang ylang, sandalwood and patchouli concoction that has perfumed us all back into parties.

Speaking of parties, in this year of re-emergence, then re-stalling, I am thrilled that your eye make-up passion is Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ’N’ Kohl Velvet Violet Eyeliner (£19, charlottetilbury.com).

It’s actually a flattering mauve, but no matter — by December 2022, when fun has finally stopped being cancelled, I’ll have you rocking it in the most stupendous ultra-violet.

Thank you for being there with me in 2021, and let’s keep plodding valiantly on into January.

This may not be the Christmas and New Year we yearned for, but it’s the one we’ve got, so let us sally forth and make it as beautiful as possible.

The judges celebrate your beauty award winners 

ANABEL KINGSLEY

Top trichologist and brand president at Philip Kingsley

Anabel Kingsley (pictured) said the popularity of at-home gadgets suggests that people are now using these to top up their styles between salon visits

Anabel Kingsley (pictured) said the popularity of at-home gadgets suggests that people are now using these to top up their styles between salon visits

Although many of the winners are indeed trusted, premium brands — including the Clarins mascara and my go-to Giorgio Armani foundation — there is also an exciting new emphasis on luxurious pamper products, such as Aromatherapy Associates’ amazing bath oil.

We’ve all been upping our self-care game since the locked-down first few months of the year. It has been a challenging time and, now that we’re working from home again and facing a festive period of cancelled parties, these nice rituals help to break up the day.

I’ve been burning tonnes of candles with essential oils to help me relax, feel good and get into the Christmas spirit.

I was also interested to see that Dyson’s hair dryer — which we use in all of our Philip Kingsley hair clinics — continues to be just as popular as ever. It’s brilliant for drying hair fast, at a low heat.

Last year we all had to learn how to dye, blow-dry and style our own hair, and the popularity of at-home gadgets suggests that people are now using these to top up their styles between salon visits.

DR MARYAM ZAMANI

Leading facial aesthetics doctor and founder of MZ Skin

Dr Maryam Zamani (pictured) said this year¿s results suggest we didn¿t want to experiment too much in 2021, as there is comfort in knowing what you like

Dr Maryam Zamani (pictured) said this year’s results suggest we didn’t want to experiment too much in 2021, as there is comfort in knowing what you like 

With a few exceptions, this year’s results suggest we didn’t want to experiment too much in 2021 — instead of adventure, we’ve opted for tried and tested friends.

We’re talking blue-chip brands: from the Weleda moisturiser I’ve been using for more than 13 years (since my son was a baby), to the Tweezerman staples.

And while French stars such as Clarins and Lancome still hold a place in your heart, it was good to see British entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury’s eyeliner and lipstick win in two categories.

Many winners aren’t new products, they are old, well-loved favourites. It has been a tough year for so many of us, emotionally and physically, and I think there is comfort in knowing what you like.

Why change something if it’s working? Find the one for you and stick to it.

ALEXIA INGE

Co-founder of cosmetics website Cult Beauty

Alexia Inge (pictured) said winners such as the Therapie serum show that our beauty regimes have become far more ritualistic

Alexia Inge (pictured) said winners such as the Therapie serum show that our beauty regimes have become far more ritualistic

It’s great to see new independent beauty brands in the line-up this year.

The popularity of Monika Blunder’s complexion-enhancing concealer, for example — which sold out several times on our website since it launched last November — points to a strong trend for a more natural make-up look.

Monika is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after make-up artists, working on countless famous faces from Emilia Clarke to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and it’s lovely to see her getting recognition.

Her Blunder Cover is a multitasking formula that bridges the gap between concealers and foundations.

It comes in 14 tones that can be mixed and matched to allow everyone to find their skin-identical shade no matter what their tone.

It perfectly suits the beauty priority in 2021, which has been to look healthy, marking a shift from the high-glamour looks we were seeing pre-pandemic.

Plus, winners such as the Therapie serum show that our beauty regimes have become far more ritualistic.

We are looking to elevate our mood as well as our physical appearance, with effective, soothing remedies.

By the looks of things, that’s going to continue for at least the first few months of 2022.


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