The beauty industry is, like many industries, rife with both innovation and the mere appearance of it. There is rarely anything new under the sun, and some brands try to create complex, incredibly expensive electronic devices to do what good products and a bit of effort – or a knowledgeable facialist – can do more cheaply. I often find that it is the simplest tools, and not the fancy ones costing hundreds, which make a pragmatic difference to everyday life. Here are a few of the best:
DHC Olive Virgin Oil Swabs (€6.45 at lookfantastic.com)
I love these swabs from Japanese brand DHC. Every so often, you encounter a beauty find that really thrills you in all its pragmatism, and here it is. Oil is the best makeup remover. These individually packaged, travel-friendly olive oil infused swabs are so much more convenient than you might think. Buggered up your eyeliner, or need a cleaner line? One of these. Ditto for lipstick, even red or longwear. Dry lips or cuticles and no balm to hand? One of these. They are fantastic for fixing or refreshing makeup, or for treating small areas of dry skin. Keep two in your handbag and you will be surprised by the uses you find for them. I even used one to get leg wax off my desk (don’t ask).
GHD Detangling Comb (€10.37 at asos.com)
To prevent tangled hair when you get out of the shower, it is good to comb your conditioner through the hair, but not with a standard comb. The teeth are too close-set and may cause ripping or worsen the tangling. This comb from GHD is a much more affordable option than many of the great but expensive large comb options you can get from brands like Mason Pearson. Condition your hair, leave it for a minute, comb through, then leave for another minute or two and rinse for soft, knot-free hair.
Double Ended Jade Roller (£22 at cultbeauty.co.uk)
Jade rollers are the beauty fad of the moment, though they have existed forever. They do work, but not for any woo woo reasons – kept in the fridge, they massage the skin, depuff and increase lymphatic drainage. When used with serums, they can help boost product absorption. They also feel very pleasing and soothing to use, and leave the skin looking slightly more plumped.
Shhhowercap (€42 at feelunique.com)
€42 for a shower cap may sound controversial, but hear me out. This is a long-term investment shower cap, which I discovered after making a concerted effort to wash my hair less often (as opposed to every other day), on the advice of my stylist. The Shhhowercap has a silicone band inside the front, so it grips your skin without leaving a ridge. It is roomy in the back (so it can hold a lot of hair), but doesn’t let any moisture in at all. The shower water hitting it doesn’t sound like you’re wearing a Tayto bag on your head, and when you take it off, your hair is neither fuzzy nor sweaty. Sure, we could all continue stealing shower caps from hotels (or asking friends or family to steal them for us) every two years, or we could invest in a pretty one and have it forever. The varied, attractive range of designs from Shhhowercap is also a nice touch. This is a shower cap that actually looks nice.
Omorovicza Cleansing Mitt (€12 at feelunique.com)
I double cleanse nightly with an oil or balm cleanser, and prefer not to reuse my washcloth if I can possibly help it, so I buy my flannels from all over the place. The linen cupboard at home features flannels from Penneys to Brown Thomas, and all of them do an adequate job, but my favourite is this Omorovicza mitt. The quality is high, the shape is very easy to use, and it makes washing my face just a little bit faster. Again, this is not a necessary purchase (you could easily sew your own flannels into a mitt shape if you were so inclined) – but it is a nice one.
DHC Silky Cotton Cosmetic Pads (€5.95 for 80 at lookfantastic.com)
As well as the best cotton swabs of all time, DHC also make gasp-inducingly fancy cotton pads. Though I always wash my face with a flannel, I use one cotton pad a night for acid toner, and these feel lovely and luxuriant to use. Are they a necessity? Certainly not, but they are lovely to use.
Cleanse by Lauren Napier (€20 for a pack of 15 at fetchbeauty.com)
Facial wipes must be avoided. They are bad for the skin, do not adequately remove dirt and makeup, and lull you into a false sense of virtue. There are, however, some instances where wipes are all you can use. Flights, for example, or festivals, or the sudden onset of some horrible dose (possibly involving bad clams) which necessitates going straight to bed. It is better to use a wipe than to sleep in your makeup. Cleanse by Lauren Napier wipes are the least damaging wipes that I could find (I would still choose a proper cleanse over them any day) and come individually packaged, making them great for travel or your handbag. You will notice that they are far more expensive than the average two-for-one wipes offer from Boots. This is for good reason. The ingredients are of a much higher quality, but I deliberately choose expensive wipes to disincentivise using them. I have had one of these packs of fifteen at home for ten months, and have used five – four of them on flights. The other one was on an unfortunate evening involving garlic cheese fries and locking myself out of the house, which we won’t get into. Several exhausted nights I’ve dragged myself through the door and been tempted to use one, then thought of the €1.33 price tag per wipe and gone and washed my face properly. These are a brilliant product – for facial emergencies.