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I can't believe it's been 8 years since I (in a very fumbled and experimental way!) started this blog. I really didn't think it would be such a long-term source of enjoyment for me or that I'd stay interested in beauty for years to come. Today, to mark the occasion, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the first skincare products I ever really invested in and see if I still recommend them today...

Let's start with the Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm* | £47. I think I actually bought this for the first time when I won a giveaway for a Look Fantastic voucher because it was way outside my immediately-post-uni budget but came highly-recommended by Caroline Hirons (then Beauty Mouth, for the OGs!) It was absolutely the most luxurious product I'd ever used; it's a deliciously-buttery cleansing balm that's a treat to use on its own  but also makes quick work of makeup and sunscreen, emulsifying with water to leave my skin lovely and soft. The scent is divine and it's a true mix of indulgence and efficacy. If you hadn't already guessed: I still use and love this product! It's something that truly sparks joy every time I reach for it and it's definitely stood the test of time...

I'm going to combine the next two together because they're related: my first ever Cult Beauty skincare purchase (for makeup, it was the ABH Modern Renaissance - classic!) was a mini of the Alpha-H Liquid Gold Glycolic Acid* | £39.95 | and my first ever chemical exfoliant was the Pixi Glow Tonic* | £18 (250ml). We'll start with Pixi because this was my first acid toner and I'm sure it was for a lot of other people who got into skincare around the same time as me. Cast your mind back to 2015 and all of our favourite creators like Caroline, Anna (now the Anna Edit) and Lily Pebbles recommended this as a miracle product, though I'm not sure I totally understood what it was and how it worked when I first picked it up! This is a 5% glycolic acid toner with botanicals (some soothing, some fragrant and potentially-irritating when combined with exfoliants), so it's actually not necessarily what I'd recommend as a starter product in the current market. However, when you've never used a chemical exfoliant before, the immediate results you see are kind of addictive! I definitely overdid it with this product and I wasn't wearing sunscreen daily back then - whoops... I think I bought the mini of the Alpha-H to try something a little more punchy and 'high-end' when I felt like I wanted an upgrade from the Pixi, and it is a really effective formula. However, I just don't reach for these two any more, in all honesty: my days of over-exfoliation are behind me, I use other active skincare ingredients now and a gentler acid works better for my skin. You can check out some of my preferred acids and products containing them in this recent post.

My first total splurge was the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel* | £37. Again, I feel it was a purchase inspired by Caroline, Lily and Anna, though I have to say: I felt like it was billed as a first cleanse, whereas for me it's definitely a morning cleanse and I didn't like removing my eye makeup with it. For a while, when I was trying to use it in that way: I thought it was so overrated! However, I really started loving this first thing in the morning; it comes out as a kind of gel-balm (formulated with lots of nourishing plant oils) that you massage into dry skin and then emulsify with water for soft, moisturised, glowing skin. It also contains pumpkin enzymes for smoother skin over time. This hasn't been in my daily routine for a while but I still have a backup because I still think it's a lovely product. Is it my #1 luxury cleanser of all time now in 2022? No, but it's a classic for good reason!

My first ever skincare purchase from Space NK was the REN Clearcalm Clarifying Clay Cleanser* | £25 | back when it was in this transparent pump packaging that you could see the little bag of product through! (As a side-story, my first ever Space NK makeup purchases were an Hourglass powder and blush - I just loved browsing the aisles of a lunchtime when I got my first 'proper' job after university in Manchester...) This is still a really unique product on the market that I don't think gets the attention it deserves! It's a non-foaming clay-based cleanser that - at the time - really helped balance out my combination skin and mopped up excess oiliness. This isn't a product that's in regular rotation for me any more, because I just have much drier skin, however I do still reach for this if I'm breaking out for its gentle, non-drying clarifying benefit.

The first daily sunscreen I ever used was the La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50+* | £18 | which has recently been upgraded to include some improved filters, which will help with premature ageing. This is an ultra-high-protection, broad-spectrum formula with incredible water resistance, all in a super-light fluid formula. This isn't what I'd reach for every single day any more; whilst it's light and works under makeup, it's really a summertime / beach day formula for me now. It's formulated with quite a lot of denatured alcohol, which is how it's so fast-absorbing and light despite containing so much protection, however that can be a bit too drying on my skin now that I'm a little older and sit more in the 'normal-to-dry' category. However, I still really rate it as a summer sunscreen because when it's hot and sweaty, it makes it a lot easier to re-apply this without melting into a greasy mess!

Lastly, I thought I'd mention my first retinoid (not pictured, as I don't own this any more for reasons we'll get into): the Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion | £9 (as it's now known). This is a granactive formula, meaning it has a delivery system that's a little gentler on the skin but should still give you the results, though the Ordinary don't do a ton of testing from what I gather. This comes out as a lightweight milky emulsion that should work for most skin types and is one of the lightest retinoids I've come across (and definitely has a nice texture over some of the Ordinary's other formulas), so that's a pro. I personally think this is fine as a beginner retinoid when you want something gentle and affordable, but I've just graduated to products I find more efficacious. My go-to retinoid is now retinaldehyde, which I did a full post on here.

Let me know: what were some of the first skincare products you invested in and do you still rate them?

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Read more posts from this series here!


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