Beauty Awards: the best of 2019 - and what to look out for next year
Our resident beauty buff Ruth Griffin's lust list of the best products she's tried out this year
Of all the hundreds of beauty goodies I've been very kindly sent this year to road-test for Weekend readers, would you be curious to know which are the gems that stood out for me?
Which skincare, hair and cosmetic beauts are the ones that have found a permanent home in my own beauty cabinet and make-up bag?
Well, this week I've delved through the mountain of make-up and beauty samples I've tried out over the last year, and made a note of the keepers that have become staples in my own skincare routine.
I absolutely love these products and hope you will too. Enjoy!
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye High Coverage Concealer, €29, and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Liquid Concealer, €30, from Brown Thomas, Arnotts and Boots
I couldn't choose so its a tie. For those looking to conceal under-eye dark circles, pigmentation, tattoos, acne and scarring, look no further than the IT Cosmetics option. For a concealer that brightens, blurs, fades crow's feet, illuminates, filters skin and disguises eye puffiness, the Charlotte Tilbury is a brilliant pick.
Catrice The Little Black One Volume Mascara, €4.95, from Penneys and selected pharmacies nationwide
I get sent hundreds of make-up samples a year, but a great mascara is one of the hardest items to find - even though it's by far the most commonly used cosmetic. This budget beaut nails everything we want in a mascara: definition, lengthening and volumising with zero clumping. The unusual brush captures and covers even the tiniest lash.
Best brow product
Tom Ford Brow Perfecting Pencil, €37, from Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Debenhams and The Loop
How do we cheat our way to a more symmetrical-looking bone structure and shave a few years off our faces, naturally, with nary a needle in sight? Simply by perfecting our brows! This pencil has a precision, microfine point (a teeny 1.5mm nib for tiny, hair-like strokes, similar to the effect of microblading). It comes in four tones, from blonde to black, with a matte, blendable finish.
Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Hollywood Filter, €40, from Arnotts, Brown Thomas and charlottetilbury.com
This game changer is actually a primer, illuminator and tinted glow maker all in one! Airbrush polymers give skin a poreless-looking, creamy finish; a moisturising oil reflects and adds light to our faces where we need it, and finely milled powders blur lines and pores. Comes in seven shades.
The Ordinary Buffet Serum, €14.80, from Arnotts
If you're not too sure which serum you need (because there are literally thousands) but definitely want a boost of hydration for your face and a little skin pick-me-up, try this multi-peptide serum with hyaluronic acid. A powerful all-in-one treatment, it tackles multiple signs of ageing, especially fine lines and dehydration. Just pop it on morning and night before moisturiser and you should see a difference in a few weeks.
Best face mask
Seoulista Beauty Sheet Masks, from €8.99, Dunnes Stores and pharmacies nationwide
For the second year in a row, Seoulista Beauty is my top dog in the sheet-mask category. This Irish brand uses natural, organic ingredients and has some great options for face, hands and even feet. For a shot of hydration if my skin is very thirsty, I love the Super Hydration Instant Facial Sheet Mask.
Best lip balm
Aliso Certified Organic Lip Balm, €12.95, from pharmacies nationwide and cloud10beauty.com
I always stick to wearing 100pc natural lip balms and this little beaut is a welcome addition to my staple of pout protectors. Launched in October by Irish model maven Andrea Roche, this certified organic lip balm is jam-packed with five superfood oils, shea butter and vitamin E. It also has a high-sheen finish to it, so is perfect over lipstick as a natural alternative to lip gloss.
Best budget skincare
Garnier Organic Range, €7.30-€14.99, from pharmacies and supermarkets
This organic line from Garnier was 2019's standout skincare launch for me. Certified organic to the highest level, this is a wide-ranging line (from micellar water to daily moisturisers) that offers serious botanical skincare - for under €15! All the packaging is recycled and recyclable. Brilliant to see such a huge brand offering an affordable, eco-conscious, vegan range that's so effective.
Best spot treatment
Dermalogica AGE Bright Spot Fader, €49, from dermalogica.ie
This is actually a two-in-one spot treatment that both reduces the appearance of active breakouts by using salicylic acid, and also helps heal post-breakout marks and scars with niacinamide and hexylresorcinol, which improve uneven skin tone. There is the tiniest little sting when applied to active breakouts, but it is not in overly astringent and doesn't suck every last bit of moisture from my skin.
Best body product
Green Angel Sunrise Magic Body Smoother, €29.99, from Avoca, Kilkenny Shop, health stores and pharmacies
For an all-natural body exfoliator that will leave you silky smooth and smelling like summer all year round, this gem is a long-standing favourite of mine. Made with argan, lemon and grapefruit oils, plus sea-salt particles to slough away at dead skin, this is as near to a refreshing dip in the ocean as most of us will get this winter.
Best hair mask
Kérastase Résistance Masque Extentioniste, €28.95, from salons nationwide and lookfantastic.com
If your hair is brittle, parched, coloured, frizzy and/or in need of some extra TLC, you'll love this mask. I just pop it on for five minutes in the shower, really work it in from roots to ends, then rinse. A little goes a long way. I use it instead of a normal conditioner - it isn't heavy and doesn't leave my hair lank.
Best natural product
Nunaïa Nourishing Radiance Serum, €79, Arnotts, Kilkenny Shop, Avoca, nunaia.com and cloud10beauty.com
Wow. What a divine face oil - this award-winning blend of 13 of the world's best bioactive, natural and organic ingredients is like a facial in a bottle. Created by Irish woman Nicola Connolly while she spent many years studying plants in South America, this is fully certified organic and bursting with botanical goodness - your skin will thank you for investing.
Best for all the family
Aveeno Daily Moisturising Body Wash, €8.80, from pharmacies nationwide
For a practical, no-nonsense skincare line that's kid-friendly, check out Aveeno. Suitable for sensitive and allergy-prone skin, this is a kind but effective skincare line that whole families can use. I have to give a special mention to the CeraVe range, too, also junk-free and suitable for all the family (from pharmacies).
Best beauty edit
The Clean Beauty Edit, thecleanbeautyedit.com
Are you on the lookout for clean, green, natural, organic products? Then this is the website for you. Founder Dawn Mayne has trawled through thousands of skincare products and picked only the cleanest options for her site. She offers free samples, compostable packaging and carbon-neutral express delivery for every order. Brilliant.
Best beauty app
Beauty Buddy App, free from the Apple or Play Store
This app was recently launched by two Irish beauty buffs who understand that lots of women feel overwhelmed when shopping for cosmetics. It offers unbiased reviews, advice, trends, virtual make-up bags of MUAs and influencers, recommendations and tutorials on thousands of beauty products, plus lots more genius features.
Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid Foundation, €11.99, pharmacies nationwide (available from Jan)
Keep this gem on your radar for 2020. Even though it's not actually available until January, I've been road-testing it for the last few weeks and am in love. It's a creamy, blurring, excellent-coverage, gorgeous-toned foundation that's seriously flattering for dry and more mature skin. A keeper!