Best beauty products of all time. But are they?

There are loads of beauty awards going on at the moment – I’m on the judging panel of two myself: the Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards and also the Look Fantastic Awards. All very exciting and also surprisingly challenging – not in a MENSA kind of way, but it takes a while to really test things out properly and write intelligent things about them. Does for me, at least!

A little booklet came with my ELLE magazine this month; it was the Debenhams Beauty Awards booklet containing the winners. The first category was the ‘Can’t Live Without’ winners and I swear to you, I could have reeled off the names without even looking at the page. Because the ‘Can’t Live Without’ products are always the same. It doesn’t matter which magazine you’re reading, which celebrity you’re being nosey about, which editor is listing her ‘faves’; there are a few products that get wheeled out every time.

Now, you’d think that this would tell me something – something along the lines of, ‘these products are obviously really good‘ – but I simply cannot get my head around some of these ‘favourites’. Yes, they’re useful, but I’m not convinced that some of them aren’t a little outdated – that better formulas haven’t been invented…

What do you think? Do you like the products below? I’m not saying that they’re bad – not by any means – I just think that I could easily live without them! I’ve listed the six winning products below, and for each I’ve offered an alternative that I like more or that I think is an improvement.

1) Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat


OK, I might give you this one. It is pretty brilliant… That was a crap start wasn’t it?!

2) Benefit Benetint


I have never got on with these liquid blushes. Posie Tint is easier to use, but still; it’s hard to use and it’s inconvenient. You get it all over your fingers, if you don’t rub it in quickly enough it stains, and I don’t really like the smell. Nil points. My alternative? Anything. I mean really: anything. It would probably be easier to rub a halved cooked beetroot over your face! Benefit do very excellent ‘powders in a box’ and if you want an instant flush, Bella Bamba is pretty nice.

3) Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream


Yes, it’s a classic. Yes, it’s amazing. But that doesn’t stop it from tasting/looking like something that has seeped from a bandaged wound. I mean really. Could they not have made it taste better? This is a hungover model’s nightmare, and makeup artists like to apply it at half-hourly intervals throughout a shoot day. My alternative? Dr Lipp’s Nipple Balm for Lips, medical-grade lanolin that tastes of nothing. Or, if you’re short of cash, Vaseline’s Rosy Lips is a pleasant alternative to the original (the stuff that vets use to lubricate their arm just before they insert it into a cow).

4) Clinique’s 3 Step


Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Is it only me that has never got on with 3 Step? I adore Clinique – many of their products are my absolute staples – but the 3 Step I just do not get.

Firstly, it’s boring – I hate to be tied in to any kind of regime that involves the same products day in and day out.

Secondly, let’s talk about step 3 and the JESUS CHRIST THIS BURNS effect that it has on your skin.Or is that just me? I’m pretty sure you could take nail polish off with Step 3.

Thirdly: soap. Soap? Nope. There’ll be no soap on this face: move along please.

My alternative to the 3 Step? Well, if it’s routine you’re looking for, may I suggest Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish followed by their Instant Boost Skin Tonic followed by a moisturiser of your choice? Bit more natural, nice on sensitive skin and might work out slightly cheaper.

5) Clarins Beauty Flash Balm


I can honestly say that I have never witnessed this ‘Beauty Flash’ effect and I have had this balm used on me about seven thousand times. I even bought some to see if it had some kind of magical effect that only worked outside of a photo shoot: still nothing. Has anyone had a ‘Beauty Flash’ from this? Can they describe it?

Tip: if you want an instantly luminous and bright-looking complexion, use a luminizer underneath your base or mixed in with your makeup. You’ll actually see a visible difference – you know, one that you can… actually see. I like BECCA’s Skin Perfector – expensive initially, but the huge bottle will last a lifetime.

6) Estée Lauder Stay in Place Double Wear Foundation


OK, OK. I can’t fault the Double Wear – the concealer from this range is outstanding. Can I suggest for spring the lighter version of this very same foundation? The coverage is excellent still but it feels fresher on the skin. If you’d also like to know what my ‘Can’t Live Without’ foundation would be, it’s actually mymix foundation by myface cosmetics and I think it costs around £12 – it doesn’t get half as much press as it deserves!

Ruth Crilly

  • Comments

  • avatar

    Hi, the touche eclat is nice but nowhere near enough for me, my dark circles need proper concealing so even thjough it is a nice enough product it is pretty useless for me. I hate the clinique with a passion and I am sorry to say, the 8 hr cream is my worst enemy in beauty, of all time, full of mineral oil, i look like a special effects model when i use this. I have not tried the benetint or the clarins beauty flash balm, but I hear good thing about this one. The doublewear is fantastic for wintertime. Thats my 2 cents.

  • avatar
    Stephanie G

    Great post Ruth! Thank you! I’ve used the beauty balm before, as I had samples, didn’t get it either!

  • avatar

    I’ve never tried Double Wear. Have always felt my skin is a bit oily for it, maybe I’m wrong. I agree with you 100% on everything else. I have bought every other product in this list and been majorly let down by it. So with you on all of your opinions.

    As an alternative to the Clinique three step thing, I like the Dr Hauschka range. It’s the only skin care routine that has ever given me a ‘glow’

  • avatar
    Yasmin Selena Butt

    Okay, I can only vouch for two of these. I’ve never been a fan of heavy blushers so Benetint works for me. The first time a lass from the store applied it I was v.impressed at the effect it had on me. It’s subtle. just dab a few drops onto the apples of my cheeks at the top and rub, sometimes use a highlighter but it looks nice on me. I personally think Clinique is an overrated brand, I was a tester for a product a few years ago and it did diddly for me. Amusingly the feedback was 2 stage and they didn’t come back to me for the second stage, it was the age/sunspot product that was meant to fade them out.

    I like the Estee Foundation : ) I remember buying some at Uni and it was my super special one for super special nights out, it was v.impressive.

    I would 100% add Vaseline’s Rosy lips to the list. I love that stuff, it’s awesome. There was a point about 2 years ago were you couldn’t find it anywhere except in a Boots I think or was it Tesco? And I went to about 5 to find one, because I was so obsessed with the scent, feel and texture. Suffice to say, there are about 4-5 of them in my flat in various bags and the fridge!

    I’ve heard the others oohed and aahed about but bar the 8 Hour Cream which I would love to try sometime I’m okay with that. I’ve used Clarin’s version of Touche Eclat and it’s q.nice, I was impressed it worked on my skintone as I’m Asian..

    Enjoyed this post Ruth : ) I like having mass adulation challenged.. x

  • avatar

    Thanks for the responses so far, ladies. All very interesting. Totally agree with Ruth on everything (such a brown noser):
    Touche Éclat – gives me illuminous go-faster stripes
    Benefit Benetint – makes me look like Aunt Sally and a mass murderer in equal measures
    Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream – looks disgusting and smells even worse. May as well use chip fat
    Clinique’s 3 Step – splashing my face with acid would be more hydrating and cause less damage
    Clarins Beauty Flash Balm – makes me look embalmed and creates attractive dry patches if you over use
    Estée Lauder Stay in Place Double Wear Foundation – haven’t tried… but foundation and me don’t tend to get on.
    Definitely think we should come up with the Le Blow list of best beauty buys – suggest away!


  • avatar

    I actually saw a video just the other day of a woman using a beet on her cheeks. It turned out rather nicely, given the circumstances! She also had a nifty trick of using blackberry juice for mascara. Not sure how long that would last but the initial effect was not bad.

  • avatar
    Ruby A

    Beauty Flash makes an awesome night-time or spa mask, and my skin really likes it as such when I lash it on. Day cream? Not so much. If your rub your skin a few minutes afterwards, it creates this weird ‘bitty’ effect and you get bits of dried BF on yourself. Not great.

    8HC is amazing for Afro hair. It tastes like earwax, though, so I use Benefit’s Dr Feelgod lipbalm (the best I have ever used, and I’ve used a LOT). I put 8HC on my hairline before a relaxer, and use it to heal any burns or cuts I get – they seem to heal much quicker!

    I really tried with Benetint, but my fingers were pinker than my cheeks!

    As for Touche Eclat, maybe when they bring out a shade black people can use (yes, YSL, we occasionally need concealer too and no, we don’t all have the same complexion as Beyonce) then I’ll be able to pass comment on its efficacy. *kisses teet*

  • avatar

    I agree with you re: most of these but especially the clinique toner… I have been known to use the remains of the bottle to get wine stains out of the carpet. Truefact.

    • avatar

      @Kimberly That does not surprise me one bit. They could probably use it in nuclear war.

      • avatar

        I’ve never tried Clinique myself, perhaps it’s because I’ve heard that they use the toner for really oily skin (skin type no. 4?) to clean their counters and displays with…

  • avatar

    Ruby, hahaha…. Earwax?

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