The 13 Best Products Our Beauty Writer Tried In May (And 3 She Finished)
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For beauty writers, the end of the month is always time to reflect on the launches we loved, the products we rediscovered and the things we finished. For me, May meant Fashion Week, a brutal cold snap and an abundance of colourful trends to try. Here are the products I couldn’t get enough of.
Ardell Brow Defining Kit
The Ardell Brow Defining Kit ($30) is a must for anyone who frequently changes their hair colour.
I’ve had mine for years and dug it out when I recently went copper and bleached my brows. The soft-auburn shade is perfect for my new red look.
But, I’ve also mixed shades that have seen me through bronde, deep brunette, black and auburn over the years. It’s far less expensive than other brow powder palettes on the market, which will make this practical product a stalwart in your makeup kit.
Ren, Evercalm Barrier Repair Complex
This winter has been particularly brutal for Sydney-siders, and our complexions show the damage.
UK-based REN was one of the first “clean” skincare brands on the market, and their Evercalm range is also a great option for sensitive skin types. So, I jumped at the chance to trial their new Evercalm Barrier Repair Complex, ($90).
The oil-based elixir is proven to strengthen and repair the skin barrier in just 7 days — exactly what I’ve needed. It’s lightweight enough that you don’t feel greasy, but protective enough that when I wake up in the morning, my face doesn’t feel parched and irritated.
JVN, Complete Instant Recovery Serum
Unlike many hair serums, the JVN Complete Instant Recovery Serum ($43) is served up in a pot, and creamy enough to accompany Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee scones.
Drew Barrymore famously demonstrated the lotion’s heat-protecting benefits of this product with burnt toast.
While my hair is not quite as porous as toast, it is heat and colour treated, and keeping it shiny is tough.
Applying a small amount of this super spreadable lotion to wet hair before blowdrying leaves my hair buttery-soft and shiny, without feeling heavy.
Nécessaire, The Body Exfoliator
Nécessaire launched with Mecca in May — just in time for the brutal cold snap.
The range is all about shelfie-worthy body products as active as the skincare you put on your face, the stand out of which is The Body Exfoliator ($45).
The inky grey-black gel loosens dead skin cells with glycolic and lactic acid while deep cleansing pores with salicylic acid (bye-bye backne). Then, volcanic pumice, detoxifying charcoal and bamboo are at your service to sweep it all away. Finally, Niacinimide infused coconut surfactants make for a deliciously hydrating lather. You’ll emerge from the shower feeling newborn.
Too Faced, Born This Way Matte 24-Hour Undetectable Super Longwear Foundation
Although I touch up my makeup regularly, I found that between early morning starts and after work events I was getting shiny, and no one needs that!
Enter Too Faced’s Born This Way, Matte 24-Hour Undetectable Super Longwear Foundation, ($60). It makes a lot of claims, and it delivers on all of them. Even better, it also smooths, brightens and offers such full coverage that in a pinch, I can also use it as concealer.
Hourglass, Phantom Volumising Glossy Lip Balm
Hourglass’ Phantom Volumising Gloss Lip Balm, ($50) are high pigment, high shine, super hydrating, and plumping.
Microcrystalline waxes fill in creases and crinkles for a smooth, full-lipped appearance, while mango seed butter, shea butter, and avocado oils replenish. Meanwhile, menthyl lactate leaves a cool but non-irritating sensation on lips that stimulate blood flow, resulting in plumper lips.
My favourite shades are “Lucid”, a terracotta peach, and “Mist” a nude pink.
Hourglass, Voyeur Waterproof Mechanical Gel Liner in "Forest"
I try not to play favourites, but Hourglass nailed it on their May launches.
When the Sydney Morning Herald declares green the colour of winter, you know the trend has gone mainstream. But how to incorporate it? I love green eyeshadow, but it’s not a shade that looks great on me.
However, Hourglass’ Voyeur Waterproof Mechanical Gel Liner in “Forest” ($40) does the trick.
Sexy and sophisticated, you won’t get lost in the woods with this one. With enough warmth to flatter cooler complexions, it has glorious depth on its own or can be used as a base for brighter green shadows.
The Hourglass Voyeur pencils themselves are long-wearing and easy to apply — with a flick of a Q-tip, I can create a soft wing in seconds.
Mecca Cosmetica, Mecca Athletica Replenishing Body Serum
The Mecca Athletica Replenishing Body Serum ($54) is a cucumber water-based gel lotion, enriched with 10% niacinamide, anti-inflammatory panthenol, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, and Marula Oil (rich in omega fatty acids).
The serum absorbs instantly, soothing and smoothing as it goes. I use this as a lightweight, stand-alone product in the humid summer months. For winter, though, I’m layering it under Nécessaire, Body Lotion ($37). Together, they’re a long, cool glass of water for my irritable winter skin, and that’s well worth the extra 30 seconds post-shower.
E.S.K Ageless: Microneedles Patch
Great skin is all about what you do consistently, not quick fixes.
I’m hesitant to recommend masks because investing in something you’ll use daily will always deliver better long term results. However, sometimes you need an urgent complexion pick me up, which is how I came across the E.S.K . Ageless Microneedles Patch, ($39).
Containing a potent blend of copper peptides, ferulic acid, resveratrol and retinal in a hyaluronic acid base, these patches contain 2000 hyaluronic acid microneedles that lightly penetrate the skin and dissolve overnight.
You can apply these patches to any expression lines and wake up with a smoother, plumper under-eye area or a noticeable decrease in-depth in the lines around your nasolabial folds.
They’re perfect for those moments when you want to look A+++.
Christophe Robin, Shade Variation Mask in "Chic Copper"
I’ve been a fan of the Christophe Robin shade variation masks for years. More than a toning or colour safe shampoo or conditioner, these are professional treatments that deposit pigments into the hair while nourishing.
If you have a high maintenance colour like red, they make a world of difference. I currently use the Shade Variation Mask in “Chic Copper” ($64), twice a week on my hair and once a week on my brows to maintain tone between washes.
Klorane, Detox Dry Shampoo with Aquatic Mint
We all love an emergency pharmacy purchase that turns into a life-long favourite, and I already know that’s exactly what this dry shampoo is.
I was vaguely aware that this aquamarine version of the cult-classic French Dry Shampoo had gone viral on TikTok when it launched. When I was caught on my way to an event without dry shampoo, I grabbed it off the shelf at Chemist Warehouse, and I haven’t looked back since.
Klorane’s Detox Dry Shampoo with Aquatic Mint ($15) ticks every box. It has an invisible finish, absorbs oils efficiently with organic rice powders, and has a silky, rather than crunchy texture. The surprise and delight? The sensation left by organic 100% natural aquatic-mint extract, eucalyptus and spearmint oils. I would describe it as “bracing” or “like Listerine for your scalp”. It wakes me up and leaves my scalp feeling, as well as looking, genuinely clean.
Westman Atelier, Baby Cheeks Blush Stick in "Chouchette"
Housed in a sleek, elephant-grey twist tube with a luxurious magnetic lid (AMSR devotees will love this feature), this is the perfect cream blush formula.
Waxy rather than tacky or oily, the pigment is endlessly buildable and doesn’t disrupt foundation and concealer.
“Couchette” is a perfect nude peach, and in a month where I needed many a pick-me-up, “Chouchette” was a handbag essential.
Anastasia Beverly Hills, Norvina Pro Pigment Palette Vol. 6 for Face and Body
Call it the Euphoria effect, but I’ve been drawn to brighter, bolder makeup looks of late, and the ABH, Norvina Pro Pigment Palette Vol.6 For Face and Body, ($110) has been helping me achieve them.
I love the range of primary neon colours, but what makes this palette really special is the opalescent pressed glitters, which add a 3D holographic effect to any look and can be used on cheeks and body.
My most reached for shade is A2, a white base with blue, red, and pink reflects, which adds an ethereal flourish to any beautiful look.
The Things I Finished
There’s no better testament to a product than an empty tube (or bottle, or tub) so here’s my bonus round, consisting of a few things I finished this month.
Tarte, Shape Tape Contour Concealer
Finishing a concealer feels like a staggering achievement — especially when it’s as pigmented as this one.
I’ve used the Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer ($44) in every possible way — as an eyeshadow primer, as a spot concealer, and mixed with Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter ($65) as an under-eye brightener.
Honestly, everyone needs a matte, full-coverage concealer like this in their tool kit, because they are far more versatile than their illuminating and brightening counterparts.
tbh, Rebound Serum
I have mentioned tbh’s Rebound Serum ($68) in so many articles, and that’s because it really is phenomenally good.
This soothing, ceramide, cholesterol, panthenol and B-vitamin rich serum gives intense hydration and anti-ageing benefits, with copper peptides and intense hydration.
It is the kind of product you should always have on hand, and I’ll be replenishing as soon as I can.
Go-To, The Repair Shop Mask
This no-fuss mask hydrates calms and protects with panthenol, ceramides, Vitamin E, Buriti Oil, Avocado Oil and niacinamide.
I used the buttery yellow lotion as a night cream rather than a mask which is… probably how I blew through it so quickly. As with Rebound Serum, this mask will be making its way back to my beauty cupboard lickety-split.