As a beauty editor, I spend a lot of time telling you about the stuff you need. You know, the game-changing lotions and potions that will smooth your skin, give you shiny hair, make your hands hella soft, and a whole host of other beauty wish list items. But today, I’m coming at you with a cold, hard fact you might not be ready to hear. Here’s the truth: Mediocrity abounds in the beauty industry. That’s right. So much of the stuff out there marketed as miracle workers actually don’t do much at all.
As you can imagine, I get an up close, firsthand look at the ploys and truth-stretching that takes place, but as a consumer, I’m sure you’ve also had your suspicions. If I’m being totally honest, there are too many products that fall short of their trumped-up claims to even count. I suppose that’s not the most terrible thing—it offers choices and opportunities to indulge in the extras in the name of self-care—but if you’re anything like me, pointless products take up valuable vanity real estate I’d much rather reserve for products that will actually help me look and feel my best.
Of course, it’s true that carrying out prolonged skin, hair, and makeup regimens can be super relaxing and, on the whole, can make us look and feel fab, even if only temporarily. I’m not disputing that at all. But when it comes down to it, there are some beauty products that, on their own, are just mediocre. I sure hope this is a safe space because I’m about to put it all on the line to share five beauty products you can absolutely skip and not feel as if you’re missing out. Without further ado, scroll on for the five mediocre beauty products you can skip and five great ones to hold onto.
Let’s face it: Essence is extra. The charged liquids are heavily featured in K-beauty skincare lines and are said to hydrate and rebalance the skin and essentially prime it for moisturiser. But if your routine is already stacked with serums and moisturisers that leave your skin feeling adequately hydrated, this is a step you can skip without consequence. If you’re looking for a liquid to swipe over your face that will actually make a discernable difference, reach for a good chemical exfoliator to boost your glow by keeping dead skin cells at bay. Makeup artists swear by prepping the skin with gentle versions of these liquids for the most flawless application.
I’m all about saving time and shower space, but not at the expense of my hair. That’s why I’ve taken a pretty firm stance against products that combine shampoo and conditioner in the same bottle. I’ve been known to carry out the occasional conditioner-only rinse—known in the curly hair community as a co-wash—to keep my hair from drying out, but beyond that, shampooing and conditioning my hair happens in two very separate steps. I’m sure two-in-one hair cleansers can get the job done when you’re in a pinch, but the product buildup situation just isn’t worth it in my opinion. I even learned from a dermatologist recently that decoupling shampoo and conditioner is essential for combatting some inflammatory scalp issues. Hydrating shampoos like this famous Davines one help to infuse nutrients into the hair without weighing it down as certain shampoo and conditioner hybrids can.
My love of sheet masks is well documented, which is why it truly pains me to acknowledge their endless online scrutiny. (Skincare Twitter is a brutal place!) In all honesty, the thing I love most about these cloth or hydrogel face coverings is that you can’t really walk around while you wear them, so in essence, they force you to sit still and fully indulge in the act of boosting your skin’s hydration. While I’ve seen the plumping effect of these masks firsthand, I’m woman enough to admit that dropping them from my routine wouldn’t be detrimental to my skin in the slightest. Reaching for my favourite serums with hydrating, plumping, brightening, and tightening ingredients (the same stuff these masks are soaked in) is totally sufficient. And between us, I’m keeping my sheet masks on hand for those days I just need a little luxuriating.
Yes, feet have entered the chat. This topic isn’t at all glamorous, but footcare is important, too! The only thing worse than dry, cracked heels is investing in a special cream that doesn’t work any better than the thick body butter you already use on your other body parts. As with any skincare woe, smothering creams or oils over dead skin is pointless, so keeping the thick skin on our feet exfoliated is a good start for making sure any product is able to do more than just sit on the surface. Real ones know about the disgusting satisfaction of the Starskin Magic Hour Exfoliating Foot Masks (£13), but of course, if you’re experiencing foot dryness that’s severe or concerning, be sure to check in with a trusted healthcare professional.
Shaving cream does its job just fine, but it’s just not the only product that adequately softens and conditions hair ahead of shaving. Hair conditioner, a product most people already have readily available in their showers, also gets the job done. The day I learned conditioner was the perfect substitute for the thick, mousse-like cream I’d been beholden to since the day my mum armed me with my first razor, I stopped buying shaving cream and haven’t looked back. (This happened by accident, by the way.) I like to use Löwengrip Soft Sense Shaving Gel Oil (£14) to defend against razor bumps, but if I’m ever out of that, I reach for conditioner without a second thought. This hack has come in especially handy for those conditioners I’ve purchased only to discover they don’t agree with my hair. Rather than tossing them in the bin, I instead repurpose them for shaving.