Sometimes, I long for the days of easy skincare. The days where I was hopelessly dedicated to Clinique's 3-step regimen – which aggravated my acneic teenage skin, but I stuck with it for over a year, convinced that, eventually, it would bloody well work – and the days I thought Aapri facial scrub was the height of sophisticated exfoliation. Oh, naïveté. Oh, the days of flopping into bed, drunk, and removing long-wear make-up the following day with baby wipes...
Those days are long gone. Things are much more complex now – not Korean-level complex, but getting there. Anyway, I've slowly transformed my skin into something that looks OK without make-up on; something that I don't feel compelled to mask with heavy foundation; something that I don't feel insecure about. I could lie and say that I have the skin I have today because of trial-and-error and drinking loads of water (though, tbh, more water and less wine really does help you on your way to a nicer face) but it's really got a lot to do with Caroline Hirons, the beauty therapist-turned-superblogger, whose advice has completely changed my face.
One of my favourite Hirons discoveries is Deciem. The Canadian beauty company has, so far, borne 9 brands (I say 'so far' because Deciem is something of an unstoppable force when it comes to beauty launches), all tailored to different customers and concerns.
You have NIOD for the skincare nerds, The Ordinary for the skint skincare nerds (I'll come back to these two in a minute), Hylamide for those in the middle who perhaps aren't as nerdy... and that's just the topical skincare brands. Deciem also produces some stellar haircare under its brands HiF and Stemm, beauty-focused health supplements with the award-winning Fountain brand. I could go on. TLDR? Deciem is slowly, quietly covering all corners of the beauty market. A self-declared 'Abnormal Beauty Company,' Deciem's money is better spent on actual innovation than megabucks ad campaigns that purport said innovation.
Personally, I swear by NIOD's Myrrh Clay mask and Sanskrit Saponis cleansing balm. Alcohol is the biggest trigger for my spotty, oily skin but these NIOD products, in combination with serums from The Ordinary, have helped my skin to survive the boozy Christmas period relatively unscathed. This. Never. Happens!
So, I should probably mention The Ordinary but, then again, a lot of people are writing about The Ordinary right now. Many of them are making the same joke: that The Ordinary should, in fact, be called The Extraordinary. You can't really argue with this point because, honestly, where else are you going to find skincare so good for under £15?
In Brandon's own words, "The Ordinary is not a mass-market brand ... it actually targets a very educated audience, irrespective of budget, who understands ingredients and does not allow marketing to win over very clear science."
The Ordinary focuses on ingredients over fancy packaging and model endorsements. Everything is priced between £5 and £14.90. You know that time you picked up a cheap moisturise in the pound shop and later chucked it out, after it broke you out, and you remembered that 'you get what you pay for'? Well, when buying a beauty product that isn't from the pound shop, you're mainly paying for the advertising and the security of a 'trusted' brand name. This is why The Ordinary is so incredible: it's all just science. In a way, you are getting what you pay for, because you're just paying for the very cheap ingredients that other brands mark up crazily. I reiterate: crazily.
Over the last few years, French brands – La Roche Posay, Vichy, Bioderma et al – have had a good crack at changing our thoughts on how much decent skincare should cost. For example, loads of people swear by LRP's Effaclar Duo and Avène's Cleanance Gel. Both are accessibly priced. But are they just successful because of marketing hype? Well, Cleanance Gel contains SLS, which makes it foam up into a lovely lather, but also aggravates the oily skin you're trying to treat. And I used to swear by Effaclar Duo until I swapped it out for The Ordinary's Niacinamide & Zinc; it's £10 cheaper and it's changed the appearance of my skin in ways Effaclar Duo never did.