Indie Beauty Expo might have happened months ago, but it feels like there has never been a better time to support small independent brands! For someone who is as beauty-obsessed as I am, IBE is simply like a candy store for a diabetic kid – equally as exciting as it is dangerous. And the people I meet are always so open and knowledgeable about beauty, cosmetic science or sustainability, that it makes it the perfect playground to discover some of the best products from independent brands. Here are my favourite finds, which I’ve been trialling and combining in a multitude of ways over the past few months.
Codex Beauty Bia Exfoliating Wash is inspired by and made with Irish local ingredients, including elderflower water, safflower and milk thistle oils, but also grapefruit and jojoba oils. All of these combined make a beautiful golden yellow cream that smells like heaven and feels like a soft caress on the skin. It leaves my skin soft and brightened, but not dry at all, and even if I’m never going to be a fan of daily scrubbing (I prefer twice-per-week stronger formulas with a grainier texture), this cleanser is the perfect pick-me-up after a long day. I simply adore it, and it’s not just because I’m obsessed with its fragrance!
Urban SkinRx Purifying Pumpkin Pore Detox Mask and Scrub is, first of all, the most delicious smelling mask out there! And before you start judging me, you should know that I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte nor do I post photos of myself hugging pumpkins and rolling in autumn leaves! But I can assure you that this mask not only smells amazing, but also feels great on the skin. As you rub it in to exfoliate with jojoba beads, the masks heats up and creates a nice warm feeling on the skin, and during the 15-20 that you spend chilling, surrounded by this fragrant pumpkin smell, the pineapple enzymes (bromelain) break down dead cells and purify the complexion – which makes it a fantastic choice for oily, breakout-prone skin. The only thing I didn’t like about this mask is that I only had a couple of sample sachets and I wish I could get hold of the full size at a decent price in the UK!
Flow Cosmetics Lingonberry Bright Serum is one of the signature formulas of this lovely natural Finnish beauty brand that uses organic and wild arctic extracts. They’ve got beautiful dark glass packs with pastel-coloured labels and silver accents, as well as a natural ethos with minimal ingredients for maximum effects that makes it very appealing for clean beauty enthusiasts. This brightening dry oil contains coconut and jojoba oils, fatty acids from the milk thistle oil, arctic lingonberry and rosehip seed, and some essential oils of neroli, orange and rosemary, resulting in a very lightweight yet dense texture that smells satisfyingly natural and refreshing. A trick that I learned is to always apply oil on slightly damp skin, so I first spray on a toner or light mist, then I start with 2-3 drops that I slowly massage all over the face and neck. This oil is particularly lightweight and quickly sinks into the skin, especially during periods of dryness, and I love using it as an intensive treatment once or twice a week when my skin needs a break from harsh acids or retinol.
Apricot Me, Myself and Eye Hyaluron Eye Pads are probably the most amazing eye patches I’ve ever used! Not only can you use them for s many as 30 times, but the effects are visible after 1-2 hours of application, reducing those unbearable lines around the sensitive eye area and creating a more rested look. I’m aware that I might never be able to get hold of these again so I’ve been using them sporadically 2-3 times per week in the evening before a long or important day or after a restless night, and they’ve never failed me once. I’d love to say that the effects last forever but unfortunately they’re only short lived, but what more can you expect from a topical product? I’ve made these part of my anti-ageing eye routine, followed by a good eye cream, in the hope to prevent further and future lines.
When Reviving Toner Mist has recently become my twice-a-day post-cleansing pre-serum prep. And if you survived reading through this painful alliteration, you probably also deserve to know why! I find mists and sprays easier to apply, more ethical and economical because you don’t need a cotton pad, and quicker to absorb into the skin, a very important quality especially on a workday morning when every minute spent in bed is invaluable. I find that the Marine Complex in this formula, with seaweed and collagen, helps to add the slightest layer of moisture that makes every serum much more comfortable to apply and efficient at keeping skin hydrated for longer. I similarly apply it in the evening before the oil and it makes it more easily absorbed and less greasy, while reducing the amount of oil needed.
Aeos Realive Serum is an odd one for me, as I don’t believe much in the alchemical and esoteric powers of crystals and this formula is apparently packed with them! Opal, amethyst, charoite, turquoise, emerald, quartz and chrysoprase are only some of the unpronounceable gems that are meant to not only rejuvenate the skin, but also balance the emotions. I can’t tell if it’s all these precious stones, the delicately divine rose scent, the light, non-tacky texture or the botanical extracts, but I can swear it feels amazing on the skin! I’ve been using it after the toner mist and before a heavier hyaluronic acid serum + cream, and been loving the hydrating effects it also has around the eyes before the cream. A bit pricey and very hard to tell if all these are worth the nearly £50 it costs, but I would recommend it to all those who want to include some more holistic rituals in their skincare or cleaner, safer formulas with less toxins.
Beuti Skincare Pomegranate Glow Enzyme Cleanser is, I promise, the last cleanser on my IBE favourites list! But I do love it because it combines two of my favourite steps – cleanser and mask – in a deliciously fragranced paste that works equally as the second part of a double cleanse routine and a gently exfoliating treatment that preps the skin for further care. Sometimes I even use it as a pre-mask mask and it does a brilliant job at leaving skin softer and brighten without any dryness. It uses fermented pomegranate, hence the delicious smell, cleansing rose clay, flower essences and honey, hence the tacky feel, and works wonderfully both as a quick wash and as a 10-minute treatment.