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Today it's time for a bit of a mid-year review of 2023's beauty launches and - more specifically - my top picks so far...

Let's start with the Skin Rocks Cream Cleanser* | £32 | full review | by Caroline Hirons (our skincare saviour). This is one of those slow-burn favourites that crept its way into my everyday routine. It's one of those cleansers that works for a moisturising morning cleanse, it can remove makeup and non-waterproof sunscreen and can act as a one-step on no-makeup days. This is all stuff that keeps me reaching for it time and time again. It's a lovely, non-foaming creamy lotion that moisturises my skin and leaves it soft, happy and clean after use. It just ticks all the boxes for me and my skincare preferences, I can reach for it without a second thought and I think a lot of people are going to love this! It comes in both a fragranced and a fragrance-free version (I have the latter) and it's packed with plenty of nourishing goodness, so I can't wait to use it in the colder months too.

This year I also really enjoyed the Deviant Essential Hydration Serum* | £44 | full review. Deviant is a brand that's had a few ups and downs behind the scenes, though I think they're learning and growing as a small brand with a capsule line of products. The latest addition to this has been a hydrating, replenishing and skin barrier supporting serum that you can use on its own, if your skin is feeling sensitive, or it can be used alongside your favourite actives to keep things in balance. It's a milky emulsion type serum packed with amino acids, natural moisturising factors, probiotics, oat ceramides and marula oil. It moisturises my skin, leaving it soft and happy, along as providing lasting hydration. It's just a great all-rounder that's extremely well-balanced, so do your skin a favour and don't repurchase your standalone hyaluronic acid and invest in something like this instead!

A recent launch from a brand that was new to me this year is the Peach and Lily Retinal For All Renewing Serum | $55 | full review. I'm a huge fan of retinal (a potent yet often pretty gentle form of retinoid) as part of my well-ageing skincare routine; it can even out, plump and smooth the skin (helping with existing signs of ageing), plus increases collagen production (to help keep the skin firm going forwards). It's historically been quite expensive and just difficult to get hold of, however that's slowly changing with a number of new launches this year featuring the ingredient, and I couldn't be happier about that! This formula combines a pretty potent 0.1% concentration with a moisturising base and ectoin for its anti-inflammatory and skin barrier boosting benefits, to counteract any potential dryness or irritation retinoids can cause for beginners (or those transitioning into to stronger formulation). This product works, it caused me zero irritation and it's at a really good price-point for retinaldehyde.

My favourite new drugstore product launch by far has to be the Garnier Ambre Solaire Super UV Invisible Serum SPF 50+ | £14 | full review. This compact little bottle of high-protection, broad spectrum daily sunscreen has come with me on every 'hand luggage only' trip I've been on this summer because it's a great all-rounder. It's infused with ceramides to help strengthen the skin barrier and uses modern, elegant sunscreen filters for a lightweight texture that melts right into the skin without any white cast. It's also great under makeup, never pilling up, and has a moisturising but non-greasy texture. It's a great testament to how far the sunscreens you can pick up at a decent price in Boots have come along!

Probably my favourite overall sunscreen launch of the year (just pipping Garnier to the post) is the Ultra Violette Fave Fluid Ultralight Skinscreen Lotion* | £37 | full review. This is a new launch from one of my favourite sunscreen brands (Ultra Violette has had a cult following in its homeland of Australia for years but only launched here in the UK in 2021), and my high hopes were completely met. This is a true milk SPF, with a liquid-lotion texture that's so, so light, making it the perfect sunscreen for people who don't 'do' sunscreen. It just melts right in with next to no work and it offers broad spectrum SPF 50+ protection, it's fragrance-free and contains filters that allow for a light texture and minimise any potential irritation to areas such as the eyes. It has a completely skin-like feel, so it's neither matte nor dewy, making it suitable for everyone to use. There are also added benefits such as a Vitamin C derivative and niacinamide, which are always welcome. This has to be one of the easiest daily sunscreens on the market and I use it for everything, whether I'm planning a long walk in the sun or it's underneath my makeup for a day in the office. It always works! 

I've also really enjoyed the Ordinary's Natural Moisturising Factors + Phytoceramides* | £20 | full review. The Ordinary first brought us affordable standalone active ingredients back in 2017, and since then they've been widely imitated. In 2023 they brought us a whole host of interesting new launches, and I think they're making some interesting moves, which has kept them within my rotation even with so many more options on the market now. This product takes their original Natural Moisturising Factors moisturiser and tweaks it for dry skin, adding in a bunch of lipid-based ingredients. This is a super-nourishing formula that's perfect to replenish your skin and restore its balance after using a strong active like your acid or your retinoid. It's definitely for dry skin and has a deliciously nourishing texture that feels both very emollient but also locks everything in. When my skin is dry, tired or otherwise-miserable: this is the perfect antidote.

In terms of body care; a lot of brands are launching it this year, but easily the most impressive to me has been Naturium's Body Care | full review | by YouTube's own Susan Yara. I particularly love the pairing of their Glow-Getter Multi Oil Hydrating Body Wash* | £18 | with their Bio-Lipid Restoring Body Lotion* | £16.50 | full review. The body wash is packed full of nourishing plant oils, alongside glycerin, but it's a true lathering wash as opposed to a shower oil, so works even after you've been out exercising in the sun. It's gentle and non-stripping, leaving my skin nice and soft, but it still works. I then use the body lotion to lock in hydration. This is packed full of replenishing oil-based ingredients like shea butter but it comes in this lighter lotion with pump packaging, which just makes it so quick and easy to apply. It's not often that something described as a lotion works for my very dry body skin, but this gives me all the goodness of a thicker body butter without any of the faff!

I can't believe I only have one makeup pick this year at the midway point. And even then, it's from a skincare brand! Summer Fridays has shown over the years that they're not just about the Instagram-worthy aesthetic, but they formulate effective formulas that aren't overcomplicated. The Summer Fridays Blush Balm Stick | £28 | full review | (mine's in Warm Desert) is their first foray into colour cosmetics and I'm excited to see what they launch next based on the quality of this product. This is so easy to apply; it's like a lip balm for your cheeks and gives a natural wash of colour straight from the stick, so you can swipe it on (and not look like a clown!) and blend out the edges for a natural, long-wearing look. This shade Warm Desert is that perfect reddish-tan shade for the sorts of makeup tones I tend towards.

Finally, we have a fragrance fave! Kayali, by Huda Kattan (of Huda Beauty fame) is fast becoming one of my go-to brands for interesting, fun and beautiful scents that are high-quality whilst having an attainable price tag. This year (especially as we got into spring), I've really loved the Kayali Yum Pistachio Gelato Eau de Parfum* | £79 | full review. It does a great job of balancing tasty warm and sweet notes with the lightness of some fresh florals. The result is a scent that will hit the spot for lovers of gourmand, decadent notes without the heaviness, which is what made it a go-to Spring scent for me.

What have your top beauty launches of 2023 been so far?

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