Friday, December 8, 2023

The Best of Beauty – The Products we Actually Swear By

Working in magazines meant we got to test-drive every new beauty product on the market and pass verdict on its merits – but there were some that stood out and that made it into our permanent rotations! So, from years and years of testing, here is a roundup of the best ever must-haves.


Face Hero by Go-To

If I could only use one beauty product for the rest of my life, this would be my pick – no hesitation. The Go-To line is the brainchild of Australian author/journalist/very funny lady Zoe Foster-Blake and has been a skin revolution for me. She pitches the product line as ‘simple, smart, all-natural skin care that actually works’ and it’s 100% what she delivers – nothing pretentious, unnecessary or ineffective. Her hero product, is my hero – Face Hero. It’s a ‘do-everything’ oil, made up of 10 plant and nut oils. I’ll cover my face with it (about four drops) every morning and night and my skin has never been happier. $49 (30ml)

Face hero.jpg

Vanilla Bean Lip Balm by Hurraw 

There are all kinds of hideous stats out there that say we eat somewhere around 3kg of lipsticks and balms over our lifetime. So, on a quest to lower my chemical exposure, this is one of the natural switches I’ve made and I couldn’t speak more highly of this brand. It’s cheap, 100% natural, but it certainly works, plus, there’s so many fabulous varieties to choose, from Earl Grey to Lime. My favourites have to be the vanilla, coconut and the black cherry (which has a boost of colour). $7


‘Big’ Shampoo by Lush

Last week I went out for brunch with friends and they asked ‘When did you get a haircut?’ “Your hair looks so great!’ I definitely hadn’t been in for a cut, and it was then I realised that it had actually been a whole week since I’d washed it. Such is the magic of this shampoo. I originally gave this a bash because of the name – it’s intended benefit is to give your hair volume (I’d lost a bit of hair and figured this might help hide it), but by some magic, besides giving my hair a boost, it’s taken me from needing to wash my hair every second day to  every five to seven days. This pleases me no end, because I am not a morning person. Plus, it’s fun to use – it looks more like a thick body scrub, made up of coarse sea salt. You get a good glob of it, lather away at your scalp, and hey presto, no need to set your alarm early so often. $32.90 (330grams)

Lush Big.jpg

Exfoliating Swipeys by Go-To

Yes, it’s another Go-To product – to be honest I could have also added to this list a few others from her range, like Properly Clean and Transformazing – but this is my second favourite to Face Hero in the range. Inside the pot is a stack of little exfoliating face pads. They’re soaked in an all-natural solution (including lactic acid) and you just swipe one across your face – in my experience it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s the textured or smooth side, because it’s the solution doing the exfoliating. You wash it off after a few minutes and your skin is suddenly smoother and happier. $51

Exfoliating Swipeys.jpg

Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater by Mario Badescu

When we finally are allowed back on planes, this stuff will save your face while that plane air tries to turn you into a human desert. Back in the days when I worked in an office that had the world’s worst air conditioning, a few sprays of this on my face could bring me back from the dead. $12 (118ml)


Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil

When my brows are unruly I look completely insane and while that may well be an accurate reflection of my state of mind, it’s not the impression I want to give to strangers. This brush and pencil stick sorts me right out in a jiffy. $48


Chantecaille Cheek Gelee

I love a little squeeze of this pink gel-cream on each cheek but sadly it’s hella pricey, being French and all. Only to be used sparingly by the newly unemployed. $78

cheek gelee.jpg

New Logic Acne Overnight Serum

This is a newish NZ brand that has special technology (don’t ask me the details) to make the product last longer on your skin, giving it more time to do its thing. It feels clean and refreshing and is made with local faves manuka honey and kawakawa. It’s always nice to slap a bit of nature on your face before bed. $34.99


Benefit Hello Happy Flawless Brightening Foundation

Usually I love a foundation when I first buy it but then become dissatisfied over time. Hello Happy is one that I’ve stuck with because it’s not too heavy and it gives a nice glow. Plus it has a smiley face on the front so it seems fun and not too serious. $57

hello happy.jpg

Aesop Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator

This product name really spoke to me on a psychic level. It claims to make you feel calm and soothed as well as moisturised. Maybe it’s the placebo effect but it makes me better so I don’t question it. $73



Trilogy Rosehip Oil

Back when I had cystic acne in my twenties (a very sexy time!), this was what healed my terrible scarring. $27.99


Go-to Zincredible sunscreen

A very wise beauty editor once told me to apply sunscreen every day, so I did from the age of 24. Eleven years later, I was ID-ed for buying wine last night. Also, this one in particular smells like candy and also is super good for calming down my rosacea. $49


Glossier Skin Tint

I had to get this product by trickery, cos they don’t deliver here, but it’s worth it. Very light and glowy, plus you only need a tiny bit so it goes a long way. US$26 (not available in NZ)


Lush No Drought Dry Shampoo

I use this every second day and a bottle, no joke, lasts me one year. I don’t know how they make any money on this product. $22.90

lush .jpeg

Clinique Lash Power Mascara

This mascara is tubular, which means it only comes off with warm water. I am someone who cries a lot – happy AND sad tears, don’t worry about me – and this way my mascara never runs. Plus you don’t need to buy eye make-up remover! $48


Lush BIG shampoo

I couldn’t agree more with Alice – this shampoo literally saved my hair. It went through a stage of immovable grease – I would wash it, use no conditioner and while blow drying it, still felt oil everywhere. I got to work one day and saw Alice’s hair and asked her her secret – and since then, my hair is literally lush, soft and bouncy. This is my absolute holy grail of products and I’ve recommended it to everyone I know. $32.90


Shiseido Cleansing Foam Mousse

This is a veeeery bougie cleanser (sourced from the good old days when we had generous beauty editors in the magazine office) but I’m actually just about to purchase it myself despite the fact I’m unemployed. Crap financial move, yes, but it’s worth it. The scent is luxurious, the texture glorious and my skin has never been clearer. It’s a little slice of luxury to start you day and by lord Jesus we need more of that right now. $70


MAC Lady Danger Lipstick

I don’t wear a bold lip all that often, but when I do I always go back to my old faithful. There’s no better shade for me – a warm red with a hint of orange – that just makes me feel confident, happy and pretty. $35


Nude by Nature Contour Palette

This palette has the precise right shade of contour, plus a subtle highlighter and a bronzer, which I only use a bit of in the winter months. It’s perfect to chuck in your handbag and the natural formula is buildable, so you can layer it on a bit thicker for a night out without looking like a Kardashian. $44.95,


Hawaiian Tropic Duo Defence Sunscreen

I’m always wishing I was on a tropical island with a cocktail in a coconut in my hand but, you know, life. I’m also useless at remembering to put on sunscreen, but the absolutely gorgeous scent definitely helps jog my memory – and the formula features a protective anti-pollution layer which makes me feel better when I’m schlepping around the city. $13.78,


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