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As is tradition for me at the end of the year: I hosted a survey for you all to vote on 2022 in beauty (and be in with a chance to win a prize as a thank you from me). Today it's time to reveal the results...
The winner of the £50 Cult Beauty gift card giveaway is Amie Rose, who has been emailed privately!
Your favourite affordable skincare brand was... the Ordinary / CeraVe (draw)
Images via: cosmopolitan.com and gq-magazine.co.uk
In this category, we actually got an exact draw! And it was between two of the most popular, affordable, loved-by-Gen-Z brands on the internet: the Ordinary and CeraVe. The Ordinary has actually won in this category every year I've been running this survey so far, and I'm not surprised; though their product range is difficult to navigate, they make effective single-ingredient actives affordable and accessible. Whilst my preference tends to be for blends of actives, there are still a number of their products that are strong enough to stay in my rotation after years of repurchasing, which says a lot!
CeraVe is a little simpler and also very affordable. They have some gentle acne-care products but primarily their range is focused on maintaining skin health, so it makes sense that it's so popular with younger audiences. They're functional and unglamourous products, but I kind of love that these products are so popular - they will suit most skin types, it's difficult to overdo these sorts of ingredients and most people will be able to afford them!
My favourite was actually a new brand I discovered this year: Geek & Gorgeous, but since most of you are in the UK and their site only launched here directly this month, I'm not surprised it didn't get all that many votes. Hopefully they'll rank a little better with you all next year! They're the only brand I've come across that make affordable, stable and effective retinal and ascorbic acid products, and they're the key ingredients in my personal well-ageing routine. I'm so glad to have found this brand, as it's never a great feeling to have to say 'the only good version of this ingredient I've tried costs £50+'. I never like to recommend something low-cost if it doesn't stack up in terms of efficacy, and now I don't have to!
Your most despised beauty trend was... celebrity / influencer beauty brands
Images via: harpersbazaar.com, upcomer.com, getthegloss.com and glamour.com
I'm really not surprised that this ground your gears this year (because I found myself rolling my eyes at the sheer volume of these brands launched in 2022) and took the top spot from the still-pretty-loathed 'Clean Beauty' trend. Celebrities and influencers are launching their own brands left, right and centre, and I'm a little sceptical as to how many of them will still be around in 5 years... Whilst there are always the well-researched passion projects coming to fruition (Trinny London and Skin Rocks spring to mind), for every one of those there seem to be a dozen soulless, low-effort cash grabs. Beauty (and particularly skincare) is the hot area to get into right now, looking at the numbers and growth its seen over the past 2-3 years, so it's obvious why so many people want in. It's just painfully transparent when these big names have zero interest in the beauty world.
Your favourite K-beauty brand was... CosRX
Image via: nymag.com
CosRX is once again your favourite K-beauty brand (with Beauty of Joseon coming in second place) and I can see why; though they're a little pricey via UK retailers, you can still snag yourself a bargain by ordering direct from South Korea (so long as you don't mind a little bit of a wait for your products to arrive). Additionally, they really popularised snail mucin as a humectant and skin barrier booster here in the West, and they do a number of gentle but effective actives.
For me, I think it has to be the chronically-underrated I'm From! It's a small collection of fruit and vegetable extract inspired products, but I just find the quality of the products to be consistently great, though it's a little more on the mid-range side of things. I particularly recommend the I'm From Rice line (the toner and cream are divine), the I'm From Honey face mask and the I'm From Fig cleansing balm for a slice of pure luxury.
Your most shocking / frustrating beauty scandal was... Brad Pitt launching skincare costing $200-400 during a cost of living crisis
Image via: stylist.fr
Is there ever a good time to launch a skincare brand where an individual product will set you back the same amount as flights to Spain for the entire family? Probably not, but I think whilst we enter a recession, energy prices go through the roof and the use of food banks continues to rise probably isn't that moment. Skincare is a luxury in any form it takes; when people are struggling to put food on the table, even a budget-friendly £5 moisturiser is going to be an indulgence for many and honestly, I've had mixed feelings about being a content creator at this time. It's absolutely made me push the more expensive products I've been lucky enough to receive in PR to the back of my drawer so I can focus on things that are attainable for more people. Whilst we're never going to feel perfect in this respect if we're occupying the beauty space, we can still avoid being completely tone-deaf, and the launch of Le Domaine by Brad Pitt understandably felt like that for many, coming from a celebrity. Honestly, I know a lot of brands that formulate with incredible, proven actives do come at a higher price-point (though - as I mentioned - I've de-prioritised them in my content insofar as I can), but there's really nothing in here backed by research that you couldn't get in a Caudalie product at 10-20% of the price.
I'd have to say that the influencer brand trip to Hawaii during a drought, despite warnings of over-tourism on the island has to be in the mix too, for similar reasons, really. Brand trips are a controversial topic to begin with; I'm sure they pay their dividends in free promotion for brands from creators, but a lot of people don't love seeing wealthy, privileged people getting further free luxuries thrown at them. Whilst I'm sure it happens with celebrities too, the nature of 'influencing' makes these sorts of transactions very visible. Additionally, given the current economic climate, I'm sure even fewer people appreciated so much money being thrown at this type of content. The general disdain many audiences have for brand trips was only really compounded by the choice of destination for the controversial promotion that occurred in 2022. The way of life and ecosystem of Hawaii and its indigenous population is under a lot of pressure right now due to over-tourism and second homes on the island, so it was not a great luck to do this sort of extravagant trip during a drought when people were specifically asked to avoid visiting...
Your favourite new beauty brand launch was... Byoma
Image via: glamourmagazine.co.uk
You all voted for Byoma as your favourite new skincare brand of 2022. Though I had mixed experienced with the actual products I tried, there were a couple of winners for me and I do love the concept: skin-barrier-friendly actives and basics at a reasonable price-point. I think the cost makes it accessible to younger people (plus the packaging is very teen-friendly), who probably need these products after 2 years of caning their skin with chemical peels that are far too strong for them...
My personal pick has to be Bondi Sands Everyday Skincare, as they're also affordable products, there's a full range out (so I can make a proper judgement on the brand overall) and there's a high level of consistent quality across it. Everything is under £15, the overall formulations are gentle and they combine a lot of my must-have actives into single steps. Additionally, I do feel they did a good job of nailing the basics, such as moisturisers. Several of their products (such as the facial oil, moisturisers and exfoliant) have made it into my everyday rotation, which is why I have to name them my top pick.
The beauty trend you loved was... skin barrier support
Images via: byoma.com, bydrie.com, katesomerville.co.uk and melonandstarfish.com
Skin barrier support was also your favourite last year, which I'm hoping means this trend is here to stay. I hate that irritation has become associated with a product 'working' and how overcomplicated and excessive skincare seems to have become. I'm personally a fan of having proven pillar actives in my routine and building in a lot of barrier support around my use of them. What the split between actives and replenishment looks like totally depends on how sensitive your skin is and how used to different ingredients it's become, but no one should be neglecting their skin barrier in favour of piling on as many strong ingredients as they possibly can. For that reason, I totally agree with you on this!
Your most trusted brand for active skincare was... Medik8
Image via: ragdalehall.co.uk
For the second year running, you've named Medik8 as the brand you trust the most for effective, non-irritating active skincare, and I have to agree with you! I love their clear CSA philosophy (Vitamin C, sunscreen and Vitamin A - or retinoids - are the foundation of any effective well-ageing routine) and the supporting products they've formulated. I don't think I've come across a Medik8 product that hasn't worked for my skin and even as I test and try new launches, I always circle back to this line. Their retinal serums in particular completely changed my skincare game when I first tried them back in 2020 and they continue to be market-leading. Whilst the line isn't affordable, they do have regular sales so if you really want to try these products but they're just a bit too much for you: keep an eye out for reductions!
Your most overrated or overpriced brand was... Dr Barbara Sturm
Image via: voguebusiness.com
Yet again, you've named Dr Barbara Sturm as your most overrated and / or overpriced beauty brand of 2022! This line is loved by celebrities and I'm sure the products are nice (I've tried one or two myself) but are you really going to pay £250 for a hyaluronic acid serum when you can get something 80% as effective and enjoyable to use for £30? I think that's the gripe with this brand; not that the ingredients are nonsense or the formulations are terrible, but that they're a good 8x the price they're really worth. Whilst the rich and the famous can just use what's been recommended to them and what they enjoy using without checking the price, I personally don't think that saving up to splurge on this brand is a good shout at all.
For me, it's La Mer, which I have to hold up my hands and admit I've never used, but I also have absolutely no interest in their products... I just don't see anything in the ingredients that could justify getting even close to this price-point. I'm sure the products are lovely and luxurious to use, but I feel they're fundamentally a status symbol for those with a lot of disposable income...
Your favourite beauty content creator was... Caroline Hirons
Image via: strivectin.co.uk
Once again, you've crowned Caroline Hirons as your favourite beauty content creator on the internet and I'm not surprised! I've been following Caroline since the Beauty Mouth and OG Pixi Glow Tonic days and it's been amazing to see how into skincare people have become these past few years and - as the skincare authority here in the UK skincare world - Caroline has just gone from strength to strength. Even though lockdowns are long over, I still tune into her Lives, which I almost never do for anyone else! Additionally her Skin Rocks project has moved from curating limited edition beauty boxes to an educational app and even launching their own retinoid serums. I'm really excited to see what direction Caroline takes the brand in for 2023! So, I have to agree with you all again. Lisa Eldridge came in at a not so distant second place and, Michelle from Lab Muffin Beauty Science also ranked highly.
Let me know - did you vote this year? Did any of the winners surprise you?