- Advertisement information: this post discusses items gifted to me with no obligation to share them (marked *). In addition I have / have had a brand relationship with Cult Beauty, Hourglass Cosmetics, Nuxe, Zoeva, Fresh Beauty, Dr. Dennis Gross and Deciem / the Ordinary (gifting) and Foreo (paid advertorial content). My blog has Skimlinks and RewardStyle installed to automatically monetise purchases of products I link on my blog, therefore this post may contain affiliate links. All opinions remain my own and please refer to my Disclosure Page for further detail -
I've seen so many videos test-driving the top-rated Sephora products, so for those of us in the UK I've picked out a handful of 5-star products on Cult Beauty (hopefully their ratings haven't slipped during the time it's taken me to pull together this post!) to spill the beans on. Some of these products are new to me and others aren't, but I thought they worth including in this post. Let's take a closer look at the top-rated makeup, hair care, skin care and tools in question...
- SKINCARE -
For the cleansing step in your routine, these are both products I've reviewed individually and really love (spoiler!) The first is the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser* | £30 | full review | which is a gentle, all-round-great cleansing option. I personally tend to use it in the morning, but it also does a good job of removing makeup. The reason I personally really enjoy using it is its texture, because it's a gel-like cleanser that doesn't foam. Personally, more often than not, I don't like foaming cleansers; I often find them a bit harsh and stripping on my skin, whereas this gives that fresh, clean feel without any of that. My other 5-star rated cleansing product is actually a tool: the Foreo Luna Mini 2* | £99 | full review. I've been using this for years and - if you are comfortable with the splurge - it really does take my cleansing game to the next level! It's amazing for really working actives and nice ingredients into the skin so they operate at their best. It also leaves me with smoother, softer, cleaner and clearer skin. I much prefer this to a traditional cleansing brush; it's more hygienic and you don't have the extra cost of replacing the brush head every few months.
Next, we're talking peels; one affordable and one more expensive! First up is the much-maligned the Ordinary 20% AHA + 2% BHA Peeling Solution | £6.30 | full review. This product is widely misused across the internet, but if you follow the instructions; it really is fantastic. You should only try this product if your skin is already used to acids and I still recommend doing a patch test, because it's an incredibly strong acid exfoliation peel. Even then, you should really only use this once a week at most. It contains both glycolic and salicylic acids to exfoliate dead cells from the surface of your skin, as well as penetrating into the pores. Not only has this peel given me an amazing glow boost, but it seriously smooths my skin, helps with texture and scarring, plus helps get rid of any active breakouts. On the more expensive side, we have more of a traditional toner peel in the Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel* | £19 for 5 treatments | full review. This is a two-step peel which I use once or twice a week; it contains an exfoliating step with AHAs and BHAs and then a soothing serum step to calm the skin following the treatment. I actually personally prefer the Extra Strength formula to the original, which is usually the one everyone uses. It just kicks up the results to the next level and gives me my smoothest skin ever. However, I still recommend the Universal formula, though I personally wouldn't be using it every day because it's pretty expensive!
Onto serums; a newer one to me was the Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C Serum | £57. I know a lot of people think this brand is just Millennial packaging and Instagram hype, but this serum had really good reviews, so I decided to give it a go. For the first couple of weeks; I felt it was hydrating and give my skin a nice, dewy glow, however I wasn't really noticing those really amazing Vitamin C results. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, not only protecting the skin from environmental damage but also having the ability to fade hyperpigmentation and even out the skin's tone. However, it's notoriously unstable, which is why it usually comes in opaque packaging like this; to keep light and oxygen out. However, around the 6 week mark, after continuing to use this serum every morning (to give it a fair shot) I did feel my post-inflammatory red marks were all but gone. This is honestly, for me, in the league of the great Vitamin C products on the market and so worth the hype.
Ok, I threw this one in there despite the fact regular readers know exactly how I feel about the Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream | £35.50 | full review! This nourishing, smoothing (but never greasy) moisturiser is packed full of ceramides to lock moisture into the skin and protect it from environmental damage, as well as soothing irritation. If it's not obvious from that description that I love this stuff and it's absolutely worth the hype then please take this sentence as me declaring it an all-time favourite!
I also have two oils I've tried that are 5-star rated on Cult Beauty. I'm actually pretty sure every product from this brand has 5 stars on the site and they're all formulated using the Biossance 100%. Squalane Oil | £27. This is a simple, basic oil, so if you're looking for miracles you might be disappointed. Honestly, you can find good squalane for less money, but despite all that; I personally like this oil a lot. Squalane is a plant-derived alternative to the natural oils produced by our skin, making it a sensitive-skin-safe, multi-purpose moisturiser. The pump packaging this comes in is also really handy, because I use this as an overnight treatment on my scalp (washing my hair the following morning), on my body and on my face. It's amazing at softening the skin and locking in moisture, though the Ordinary do make something very similar for a fraction of the price; so if you're on a budget, this might not be worth the hype for you.
Next up is the Sunday Riley Juno Oil | £27 (15ml). I'm really not sure why or how I overlooked this product for such a long time; it has almost 200 5-star reviews on Cult Beauty, which surely puts it in the all-star league. This face oil is formulated with various omegas, amino acids and antioxidants to give the skin an all-round boost without feeling overly heavy or greasy. I use it as the last skincare step in my routine before bed and it leaves me with seriously soft and healthy-looking skin by morning. I personally love it, though can appreciate that £27 for 15ml of product might be a bit steep for some.
- MAKEUP -I actually have two powders to talk about; I guess people tend to have real commitment to their complexion products! The first is a loose option; the Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder* | £42 | full review. It's definitely pricey, but it's incredibly finely-milled and effectively traceless on the skin, setting makeup in place and having a nice blurring effect on the skin, giving it that flawless look. I absolutely love this stuff and it takes forever for me to get through a loose powder so it's a sound investment for me and definitely worth the hype. Though, I have found a pretty close dupe from Zoeva I'll be reviewing soon, if you really don't want to drop that much cash on a powder. I also recently tried the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder (Medium 2) | £35 | (the last person on earth, I know!) This is a pressed powder but it's not heavy or overly powder-y; kind of a powder for people who don't like powders. It takes away excessive shine without dulling down the skin and is perfect to throw in your bag for touch-ups on the go. I am personally a big fan, though I have to say; three shades isn't really enough!
Next up we have the Natasha Denona Tan Palette | £51 | full review. I do have to say that this won't be for everyone; it's very much a palette for medium-light through to medium-dark skin tones, so if you're very fair, or have a deeper skin tone, or even just have a lot of pink in your skin; it's probably not going to be for you. I do like this palette a lot, though, and you get a gold-pearl cream highlighter, a deep bronzed gold highlighter powder, a light gold-champagne powder highlighter and a matte bronzer. It's really handy for travel and I use every colour in here. I got this for my birthday last year and it's great for travel, however, for the price, I don't think it's essential for most people. I personally don't reach for this palette because I really want to use any single specific shade in it that would look so amazing with a look I'm doing; it's just easy to put in my makeup bag so I have some options when I'm away from home. The palette itself is also a lot smaller than you'd expect, which might be disappointing for some (given the price-point).
I also have the Huda Beauty Medium Nude Obsessions Palette | £27 | full review. I actually have several of these palettes but Medium Nude seems to have the most 5-star reviews, so we're going with that! I absolutely love the formula of these palettes; you get incredible, creamy mattes that blend like a dream and stunning metallics. I also love the colour stories of these palettes; everything is themed and well-thought-out. Plus, the mini size means they're great for travel. I actually don't reach for this one as much as I reach for the Topaz version, just because I gravitate more towards browns and bronzes than pinks and purples, but all the palettes I've tried from this collection are lovely and totally worth the hype for me.
Next we have the Nars Audacious Lipstick in Jane | £26 | (which I should probably replace soon, because it's getting pretty old...) This lipstick formula is creamy, comfortable and has an amazing, very opaque pigmentation. That combination means it can transfer, but I honestly don't find it too messy. It's just nice to have a bold colour that doesn't cling to dry patches and is easy to apply and reapply. Jane is a sort of warm red-orange that I love for summer. I also had a different shade from this range and it was just as great, so this one is worth the good reviews for me.
Finally for the makeup portion of this review, we have some tools in the form of the Zoeva Rose Golden Volume 1 Complete Collection* | £120 | full reviews. I'm a long-time fan of the Zoeva Rose Golden brush sets and their brushes in general, to be honest, and this is the ultimate collection. The brushes are obviously gorgeous, with the deep brown and rose gold detailing, but they're also functional; the eye brushes genuinely make doing eyeshadow ridiculously easy. There are one or two brushes in this larger set I don't use so much, as it is a little more geared towards pros than the smaller ones, but I do really rate it and - if this selection doesn't do it for you - I'm sure one of the other Rose Golden sets will.
- EVERYTHING ELSE -I have one hair product to talk about in this post and that's the Olaplex No 3 Perfector | £26 | with almost 150 5-star reviews. This 'bond repair' treatment is designed for damaged hair and can be used as an overnight treatment or before washing, but I personally tend to use it as a hair mask in-between shampooing and conditioning. And it does work! Obviously nothing is going to resurrect hair that's bleached to death and heat-styled to within an inch of its life; but if you colour your hair or use heat styling (or both) then this is great. It's really helped my hair look smoother and healthier. But here's the rub... it's £26 for a tiny 100ml bottle, which (only a month after purchasing this and using it once a week) I'm already almost halfway through. They do offer a better value large bottle now, which is £52 for 250ml, but that's still pretty expensive to me!
Last but not least is a favourite that I threw in here just because! It's the Nuxe Huile de Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil* | £29.50. I've been gifted this many times and purchased it myself many times more. This oil in a spray bottle can be used to soften and smooth your hair if you get dry ends and I primarily use it as a body oil. I have incredibly dry skin on my body and this instantly softens and nourishes it. The dry-touch finish also means it never feels greasy or slippery and it just smells of summer to me. Absolutely worth the hype!