My Beauty Purchases of 2021, Part 3: Skincare & Haircare

Brace yourselves huns, it’s a long one. The time has finally come to show you what my hard-earned money was spent on last year when it came to my beauty routine. I guess it’s fair to say that I am really, really trying to figure out what the best skincare routine is for me – and I’ll be honest, I’ve still got plenty of exploring to do. And as for haircare, let’s just say I’m still very, VERY ignorant in that department.

After decade-long insecurities, I now have no interest in criticising my skin – that’s just not the energy I want to bring into 2022. So let’s just say that my skin does come with a lot of concerns – oily but also dry, clogged up, acne-prone, big pores, blackheads, whiteheads, dullness, texture… not to mention ageing. And while I truly believe ageing is a gift, I wouldn’t mind a little bit of help. Anyway, some of these buys will reflect these concerns – and with that ‘disclaimer’ made, let the judging commence!

1. Complexion

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream

What’s it supposed to do? I’ll admit that there wasn’t a lot of thought process behind this buy – I generally really enjoy using Fresh products, needed a new moisturiser and decided to give this one a go. It’s got hyaluronic acid (one of those ‘buzzword’ ingredients), which, as the cream’s name indicates, is meant to be super hydrating. One of the perils of having oily skin is that you can still totally have dry skin – a pain, but c’est la vie. So I really wanted to inject some moisture into my poor face during the colder months.

Thoughts? I’m definitely not loving it enough to buy it again. I find the texture quite heavy – even though it’s marketed as lightweight. I usually like fragranced formulas, but this is, sadly, just one sniff too rosey for me? It’s probably just not quite right for my skin, but I still think Fresh is a great brand. Shop it here.

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

What’s it supposed to do? I wasn’t sure whether to include this in my makeup roundup or in skincare, but the truth is I love it so much I may consider buying it as a moisturiser in the future. Anyway, primer-moisturiser hybrids like this one have been a thing for some time, and I believe the makeup-skincare fusion is going to blow up in 2022. This product, for me, is a fine example of a pre-makeup cream that really does feel like skincare. It was recommended to me by a friend – as her skin is very different from mine, I was reluctant at first. I think she let me try a bit of hers, and I ended up buying a mini size of it.

Thoughts? Like I said, I loved it – it was one of my breakthrough beauty purchases of 2021. Did it make a long-term difference, per se? Probably not, but I just loved how it felt on my skin – super hydrating without feeling like too much. And I guess that’s the least you can expect from these kinds of creams. I’m also pretty sure it sat really well under my makeup (one thing I can’t say about my Nimya Where It All Starts Cream).

I bought the 15ml version and would definitely consider buying a bigger version in the future – in fact writing about it now is making me sad about having finished it! Shop it here.

Thank You Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream SPF 50+

What’s it supposed to do? So guys, like any sensible millennial/Gen Z/TikToker I’m all about wearing my SPF at all times. I came across this Korean brand on Cult Beauty and, while concerned about some of the customer reviews stating that it was irritating around the eyes, took my chances.

Thoughts? You know what? I actually really like it – it’s got a super lightweight texture that feels very soothing and doesn’t leave a white cast. And luckily, it doesn’t irritate my eyes (but I make a point of not applying it close to them). Cult Beauty describes it as a moisturiser-meets-suncreen, which is worrying considering I’ve been wearing it together with a moisturiser. Oops. As to whether I’d buy it again, I’m not sure – although I recently found out that one of my favourite beauty YouTubers, Andreea Ali, is a fan (which of course makes me rate it even more – sigh). But I’m very curious to try other SPFs in the market, and maybe even upgrade to an SPF100 – is that too much? Shop it here.

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil

What’s it supposed to do? Oh god, even writing about this is giving me some serious PTSD. Like any YouTube-watching beauty devotee, I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about Sunday Riley for the past few years. This product in particular is meant to be the bomb for problematic skin, as it’s supposed to battle and prevent blackheads and breakouts – thus improving texture, tone and clarity. Did it do that for me? Not quite.

Thoughts? Well, once upon a time on a Friday night I decided to use this oil after happily having ordered it on ASOS with a discount. The following morning my skin was feeling a little itchy. I looked in the mirror and was horrified to see what was staring back at me – the my eye contour was completely swollen. I had to go meet a friend, and was planning to take some pictures for the blog. You can imagine why those pictures never saw the light of day. I spent the whole day feeling miserable and incredibly self conscious. To say I looked bad was an understatement – I have never in my life had such a bad reaction to any product. It went down after a few days (thank f*ck I was working from home at the time), and a while later I decided to give it another go. I mean, literally face your fears, right? Wrong. The exact same sh*t happened. If I remember correctly, it wasn’t as bad, but it was still itchy, sore and not nice to look at. I don’t get what’s in this oil that my skin can’t handle – it’s powered by salicylic acid, which has been present in other products I’ve used and has never been an issue. I’ve read a few reviews that mention you have to power through the “purging” stage of this product – but I would say this was a full-on allergic reaction. Also, I don’t get why it was my eye contour that was so badly infected when I didn’t put it around there… Needless to say, I’m deeply scarred (metaphorically) by Sunday Riley. Shop it here.

The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%

What’s it supposed to do? Well, this little exfoliating serum, which you’re supposed to use no more than three times a week, is meant to do pretty much everything. It’s meant to help with fine lines, texture, dullness, scars… you name it, it does it – supposedly.

Thoughts? As indicated, I use it in the evening only once or twice a week. I don’t think it’s doing much, if anything at all. At least it’s not giving me an allergic reaction, but I will not be buying it again. Shop it here.

The Ordinary “Buffet” Multi-Technology Peptide Serum

What’s it supposed to do? In a similar line to the Alpha Lipoic Acid, this anti-ageing serum is also meant to do a million things thanks to its millions of star ingredients, but can be used every day in the morning and evening.

Thoughts? I honestly don’t know why I keep trying to make The Ordinary work for me – I guess I would just love to have an efficient skincare routine for under £30. I’ve tried about 90% of The Ordinary’s products and they all leave me feeling (and looking) super indifferent – I just can’t see any improvement whatsoever. I think if you’ve got non-problematic skin – let’s say, just a few spots here and there, maybe a little texture – you will love The Ordinary. But, for me (and sadly, much to the dismay of my bank balance), it’s a no. I need more. Shop it here.

Foreo Luna 3 Facial Cleansing Brush

What’s it supposed to do? Well, this was my biggest skincare buy of 2021. As a former Clarisonic girl, I felt I had to give my cleansing routine a little oomph. I’m assuming that because it’s silicone, it’s meant to be more hygienic for cleaning your face. And, of course, it’s meant to do a million amazing things.

Thoughts? This is a pretty fancy tool (and it’s 100% waterproof, which is cool) – it’s got a bunch of pulse intensities, although for now I’m just using one of them. I haven’t been using it for long, but can already say that my skin seemed to love it at first, feeling super smooth after each cleanse. Now, not so much? It’s a shame, but obviously I will continue to use it (maybe try out the different intensities when I’m feeling adventurous) and hopefully see some improvement in the long run. Shop it here.

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

What’s it supposed to do? I’ve been stuck in a bit of a makeup removal rut for some time, never quite finding something that I actually like taking off my makeup with and that does a thorough job. I’ve been using pure coconut oil (bought in the supermarket) for a while, and I’m worried it could be contributing to pore-clogging. This cleanser had been on my radar for some time – and you know me, I just cannot resist a beauty hype.

Thoughts? I can see why people like this buttery balm – it’s pretty lovely! It does seem to remove makeup super easily (which is great for my stubborn Mac eyeliner), and it also feels ridiculously similar to the basic coconut oil I’m using at the moment. But, it claims not to clog pores – which would be a big plus for moi. I’ve only used it a few times as I really do want to finish the coconut oil first, but I do look forward to using this. Shop it here.

2. Eyes

Caudalie Resvératrol-Lift Firming Eye-Gel Cream

What’s it supposed to do? Well, let’s just say I have feelings about eye products – and when I say feelings I mean skepticism and cynicism. Ever since I watched the Netflix series Skin Decisions: Before and After, I cannot get my fellow Iranian girl Dr. Sheila Nazarian’s words out of my head: “None of them work” (and this was in 2020). I promise I am not basing my life decisions on a reality show, but I’m sadly inclined to believe Dr. Sheila on this matter – you’re going to have to go under the needle if you want to see any actual changes under your eyes. Still, every now and again I like the illusion of trying. Hence why I bought this cute little cream from Caudalie, which is meant to smooth the appearance of wrinkles, ease puffiness, diminish dark circles and encourage a lifted effect for eyelids.

Thoughts? I mean… can I see a difference? No. Does it feel great when I put it on? Yes. I rate Caudalie as a brand and believe they come up with some good formulas, but I don’t know if this eye cream will make a long-term difference. To be fair, I haven’t been using it for long – and the most important thing for me is to make sure my eye contour feels really hydrated, which this cream achieves. As to whether I’ll buy it again… TBC, but I’m leaning towards no. If only I had Dr. Sheila on speed dial… Shop it here.

Nimya Brrr Brrr Cooling Eye Stick

What’s it supposed to do? Again, I really wasn’t sure whether to classify this product as a pre-makeup eye base or simply skincare, but I’m treating it as the latter because I tend to use it when I’m not wearing makeup. Anyway, apparently it’s filled with lots of good stuff (caffeine, green tea extract, MICA, squalene, xylitol and silk amino acids) and is supposed to nurture and hydrate stressed eyes, and even help reduce fine lines.

Thoughts? I won’t be saying Pffff about this Brrr Brrr stick, because unlike Nimya’s Where It All Starts Cream, I actually really enjoy using this product. I don’t know if it makes any sort of difference and if it de-puffs my eyes in any way, but I’ve used roll-on products for my eyes before and I just find the process very nice, soothing and cooling. Would I buy it again? Probably not. Shop it here.

The INKEY List Retinol Eye Cream

What’s it supposed to do? The skepticism continues, but for some reason I decided to put my faith in this night eye cream, which apparently has a bit of retinol and is therefore supposed to reduce signs of ageing around my sad eyes.

Thoughts? You know what? I was going to put this cream down, but I’ve decided it’s not that bad. If anything, I’m actually really impressed with how long it’s lasted. I’ll say exactly what I’ve said about my other eye cream – I don’t think there’s any difference. I’ve still got plenty of wrinkles under my eyes and my dark circles are super present. The price of it is great, I just wish it made some sort of difference. And yet for some reason, I’ve become very accustomed to it. There’s one little problem though – I don’t know if this cream and my Caudalie cream (which I use in the morning) are getting on. I noticed a few very slight white spots under my eyes – luckily they’re gone for now, which hopefully means they’re getting used to each other. Shop it here.

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

What’s it supposed to do? I’m probably cheating with this cream, as I have a sneaky feeling I bought it in 2020. But I’m certain it lasted until well into 2021. Either way, I think this purchase was the result of me falling for a TikTok hype (and I don’t even have TikTok). It’s been formulated with hyaluronic acid (no surprise there) and is supposed to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness.

Thoughts? No, just no. I don’t care that it’s ‘been developed with dermatologists’. One pro? No allergic reaction, so I’ll give it that. I guess I really can’t cheat my way into looking like I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Shop it here.

3. Lips

Rituals Fortune Balms – SPF30

What’s it supposed to do? At the risk of sounding full of myself, I’m very precious about my lips, as I think they’re one of my best features – hence why I like to spoil them whenever possible. I also have to say that I don’t think anything will ever replace my love for Tatcha’s Camellia Gold Spun Lip Balm (gushed about here). However, this lip balm had me at SPF30.

Thoughts? It’s thankfully not too bad – I don’t recall it drying out my lips or interfering with lipstick. I guess it just doesn’t feel as wow as my Tatcha lip balm? But it’s honestly a good lip balm if you haven’t been cursed with perennially dry lips like me. I wear it mostly on my working from home days, and I’m using the last traces of my Tatcha lip balm for my out out days. I don’t think I’d buy it again – mostly because I daydream about having an unlimited supply of Tatcha’s lip balm one day… Shop it here.

Rituals Fortune Balms – Sugar Polish Lip Scrub

What’s it supposed to do? Memories of Lush’s iconic sugar lip scrub have been replaced by this very elegant option from Rituals. I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory right? A sugar lip scrub, but make it fancy.

Thoughts? I can’t say I’m obsessed with this product, but I do like using it. What I love the most about it is probably the scent. And as to whether it leaves my lips feeling pillowy soft? That’s hard to say, as I apply my Tatcha The Kissu Lip Mask right after, which is a miraculous thing. As to whether I’d buy it again… maybe I should just make my own sugar scrub? Shop it here.

AHAVA Lip Line Wrinkle Treatment

What’s it supposed to do? In all honesty, who do I think I am buying myself a £40 lip treatment that isn’t Tatcha? But I just really wanted to see if this anti-ageing, very exotic lip serum-cream could actually help with my lip wrinkles…

Thoughts? Hmmmm… I’m unsure. Very unsure. I don’t like the texture of it, I find it too creamy. I think I’m just too in love with my Tatcha lip mask. I mean, I don’t think my lips are looking necessarily bad at the moment – but what if Tatcha’s doing all the work? However, credit where credit’s due – I bought this quite a while ago and it’s still going. But I don’t think I’ll buy it again. Shop it here.

4. Hair

Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray 

What’s it supposed to do? Ah, this is actually a very old-school buy – I first bought it around 2012/2013/2014? That was when my hair was at its bounciest, sexiest, thickest and happiest. And maybe that’s why I bought it again last year – I was probably missing my 2013/2014 hair, but was also very happy with my late spring 2021 haircut. So I attempted to revisit the good old hair days with this ‘sea salt’ spray (whatever the f*ck that means), which is meant to add volume, texture and, of course, those famous matte, beach babe waves.

Thoughts? Sadly, I think this is giving me nothing for 2022 – or at least not during the current winter season. The brand insists it’s for all year around, but I don’t think this weather is doing it any justice (I only repurchased it at the end of last year)? Or maybe my hair is just a bit ‘meh’ at the moment and really needs a haircut? I probably just need to accept that I don’t have 2014 hair anymore – and generally, my waves tend to hibernate throughout winter. So maybe I’ll give this spray a break until summer comes along. And considering that I’ve been buying this on and off for almost a decade, I’ll probably buy it again at some point. Shop it here.

Olaplex Nº 3 Hair Perfector

What’s it supposed to do? And we’re out with a bang – a very, very underwhelming bang if I may so myself. So much so that I completely forgot to photograph it with my other beauty buys, because that’s how indifferent I feel about it. And because the light in my place was so dire today I had to take it on a little walk to get an OK picture of it. As to what it actually does, is there any need due to all the hype surrounding this product? Apparently, it repairs damaged hair bonds. I don’t actually know if that means split hair? Not that anyone cares, because everyone is obsessed with this treatment regardless.

Thoughts? Nope, nope nope nope. I honestly don’t get what the fuss is all about. I actually kind of hated it at first because I felt like it left my hair feeling incredibly greasy (now I know I just have to really, really wash it out). I’m used to it now, and I suppose it does make my hair look reasonably nice – but I just don’t think it has any wow factor whatsoever? Not to mention how little you get for the price you pay. Maybe this is better suited to regular hair dyers and/or those who use A LOT of heat styling – I wouldn’t say my hair is great, but I’ve never dyed it, don’t use my hairdryer that much and have dry ends but overall very greasy hair. So it’s fair to say there is no way in hell I would ever buy this overhyped hair mask again. Shop it here.

So there you have it – an overall very ‘meh’ selection of products. I did get through a few more things last year, but they just weren’t worth mentioning (a few more whatever Ordinary products and a nice, but nothing special, retinol serum by La Roche-Posay). I still very much enjoyed trying all of these products (apart from Sunday Riley), although I’m going to set myself some skincare goals for this year so that I have a clear vision of what I want t achieve:

  • A good retinol product
  • A deeper understanding of what each ingredient does – and what works best for me
  • Building on the previous point, but know my BHAs from my AHAs!
  • A steady morning and evening routine
  • Use more face masks (because they’re very satisfying)
  • I’m tempted to start using vitamin C in the morning, and vitamin A in the evening

As for haircare, this is even more a challenge – but I’m lucky to not have hair that that’s bad. I would like to find a really great shampoo and conditioner set, a great mask and a scalp treatment. Not asking for much, right?

So, fingers crossed I find some good gems this year – and that my beauty roundup is full of hits and not too many misses.



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