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Best beauty products – the ones that actually work

Lauren Forbes 1st Jun 2015 4 Comments

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Finding the best beauty products is all about trial and error, but boy are they expensive lessons to learn. How many times have you slapped on the latest “clinically proven” face cream only to find it leaves your skin….exactly the same as before (or, if you’re being honest, a little bit greasier). And what exactly does “clinically proven” even mean? It sounds good but should we really be putting our trust – and our hard earned money – into it?

Well the girls in the Moneymagpie office (and a certain gent, naming no names Paul) have decided to do their research and sniff out face products that ACTUALLY WORK. What a novelty eh? Enjoy.

Best Beauty Products -What does “clinically proven” really mean?

Seeing the words “clinically proven” stamped across your latest moisturiser is a very reassuring sight. It tells you that this product, unlike millions of others, actually works – that it was tested in a, erm, clinic, and astounded all involved, including (of course) NASA. It’s well worth an extra £15 because, weren’t you listening, IT’S CLINICALLY PROVEN!!

Really? No, wake up and smell the advertising. All clinically proven really means is that some type of study was carried out on your moisturiser and the people conducting that study decided it was ok. How thorough that study was is anyone’s guess, as is how they actually came to their “clinically proven” conclusion. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting that you should shun every product that claims to be clinically proven – some of them are fantastic and well worth the money. But don’t pin all your hopes, and cash, on a product just because it makes this impressive claim. Read the reviews, read the ingredients, and if in doubt stick to what we all know best- a good nights sleep and few pints of water, a better tonic than any fancy cream.

Best face moisturiser


What’s the point of using a moisturiser?

As we get older our skin tends to retain a lot less moisture which can lead to it looking sallow, dry and lined with wrinkles. Moisturisers are designed to combat this problem, softening the skin and prompting it to look fresher, smoother and desirably younger. For ultimate effects use twice a day (morning and evening) on clean and dry skin.

Best budget buy- Astral, 200ml £2.92 fr0m Sainsbury’s

This creamy moisturiser has been around since the 50’s and is ideal for mature and dry skin. Its age-old formula contains Glycerine and Lanolin which are simple ingredients but extremely effective – they attract and lock-in moisture which leaves skin feeling soft and looking smooth and healthy. It left our skin feeling baby soft and looking radiant.

Astral can also be found in Superdrug and Boots but it is cheaper in Sainsbury’s.

Best mid of the range buy- Weleda, 30ml Wild Rose Day Cream, £10.95. This gorgeous smelling moisturiser contains musk rose oil which is renowned for its ability to calm red, blemish prone skin and promote a glowing complexion. Weleda also sell a Wild Rose Night Cream for £11.95 which contains powerful regeneration oils that go to work whilst you snooze.

Best pricey buy – Lush, 45g Paradise Regained, £25.50. In our opinion Lush sells many of the best skincare products around, and whilst their Paradise Regained moisturiser is quite pricey it’s well worth the cost. It’s packed full of skin loving ingredients such as cocoa butter and jojoba oil which left our skin feeling plump and soft. This moisturiser also contains green tea to help calm your skin as well as a sunscreen to protect it from harmful rays.

Best face serum


What’s the point of using a serum?

Good face serum’s penetrate deep into the skin (much deeper than a moisturiser does) and replenish it with nutrients and moisture. They are often designed to focus on specific areas, such as making your skin tone brighter or helping to diminish red patches and skin discoloration. Think of a face serum as a nutritious drink for your skin, and use it around five minutes before you moisturise.

Best budget buy – Aldi, 50ml Mulit-Intensive Serum, £3.49. This ridiculously cheap serum recently WON the 2010 Celeb on Sunday Beauty Survey of intensive anti-ageing serums. Considering it was up against brands 20 times more expensive, that’s some achievement! It was designed to help improve your skins elasticity and leave it feeling tighter and smoother- judging by the reviews it more than delivered. If there was ever proof that skin care need not be expensive, this is it.

Best mid of the range buy – Botanicals Natural & Organic Skin Care, 30ml Organic Face Serum: Rose & Camellia, £16.50. This is an excellent serum for mature skin which is packed full of nutrients and contains 100% natural ingredients. The serum contains rose oil which is particulaly effective at fighting wrinkles, and with 15 natural products included within its formula, you’re getting a very powerful concoction for your money.

Best pricey buy – Avon, 30ml Anew Reversalist Renewal Serum, £26. This Avon serum leaves your skin feeling silky soft- we couldn’t stop touching our faces when we had it on! It was designed to encourage your skin to repair and renew itself, and after just one application our skin looked in better condition. A lovely product.


Best facial toners


What’s the point of using a toner?

Toners are generally used after cleansing to ensure that all traces of dirt and make-up have been completely removed from your face – a necessity if you’re prone to getting spots. They also help to minimise pores and leave your skin feeling fresh and clean – the perfect base to then apply moisturiser. For best results apply with cotton wool.

Best budget buy – Simple, 200ml Soothing Skin Toner, £2.29 from Boots. Here’s another example that skin care doesn’t have to cost the earth. This toner is gentle, soothing and 100% alcohol free, which means it won’t leave your skin sore and red. It contains witch hazel which is an effective pore minimiser, as well as chamomile which is famed for its calming properties.

Simple products can also be found in Sainsbury’s and Superdrug, but the Soothing Skin Toner is cheaper in Boots.

Best mid of the range buy – Lush, 250g Eau-Roma Water, £6.35. This Lush toner was specifically designed for more mature skin, and not only works extremely well but smells amazing too. It contains rose water which softens and cools as well as lavender to keep the texture of your skin supple and youthful. If you’d rather spend a little less then go for the 100g sized bottle for £3.25.

Best pricey buy – Botanicals Natural & Organic Skin Care, 150ml Facial Skin Tonic, £14.50. This is a fantastic, money saving multi-purpose product, as it can used as cleanser and  a toner, and will leave your skin so hydrated you won’t even need to use a moisturiser. Choose between Chamomile & Mandarin or Rose & Camellia.

Best face wash


What’s the point of using a face wash?

There’s no getting away from it- face wash is an essential part of your skin care routine. A good face wash will remove make-up and grime, unblocking your pores and leaving your skin clear and healthy. Use before toning and moisturising.

Best budget buy –St. Ives, 150ml Radiance Cleanser Apricot Cream Wash- Moisture Rich, £4.29 from Superdrug.  This is a really effective face wash which smells lovely and leaves your skin clean, soft and moisturised. Its creamy, luxurious formula contains Swiss glacial water, botanicals and micro-beads which nourish and soften tired skin, leaving it with a healthy glow.

Best mid of the range buy – Lush, 100g Angels on Bare Skin, £5.50. It might look like we’re blowing Lush’s trumpet quite a lot in this article, but they really do have some amazing products, and none more so than this terrific cleanser. It contains lavender and rose oil which calms and soothes all skin types, as well as a whole host of other ingredients derived from a medieval skin care recipe. Use it just once and we doubt you’ll ever look back.

Best pricey buy – Dermalogica are a special kind of brand. They don’t make any fancy claims but are exceptionally popular for the simple fact that their products work. Their face wash formulas are intensive and each one is specifically designed to suit a particular skin type, so they (and we) strongly suggest that you either have a good read of their website before buying or, if possible, nip into your nearest Dermalogica store and have a chat with one of their specialists. Don’t expect much change out of £30, if not more.



As I understand it (and just call me Dr Lockett, MD), inflammation is bad. And antioxidants reduce it. Plus they also reduce oxidation, which is also bad. So – we all need more antioxidants. Miracle Matcha is a range of products based on white tea matcha powder (a type of tea grown in Kenya, cultivated and processed in a particular way) and contains 3 times more antioxidant polyphenol than Asian green tea matchas. I have been trying out the tea and the “Health Mix-in” which looks like a cereal sprinkle topper, but they claim it can be added to “just about anything” including salads and stews. Actually I think it would be great in salads and stews.

Miracle Matcha Mix-in

Miracle Matcha Mix-in

So, the sprinkle is mostly flax seeds, chia seeds and goji berries, with the “antioxidant-boosting goodness of our special white tea Miracle Matcha”. I had it on sheeps yoghurt and fruit cake for breakfast – really yummy and made me feel like I was making it healthier than it really was. I must warn you that matcha has some caffeine in (and I am usually pretty caffeine free) so it’s no wonder I feel energised.

Miracle Matcha tea

Miracle Matcha tea

The tea, I tried with my dad. It came out a bit lumpy and powdery (you’re meant to “whisk” it in, but who can be fagged with that?) and it tasted OK, “no more than alright” according to my Dad. He thought it tasted like “toast without the butter” and it kind of does! It wasn’t bitter – I preferred mine with almond milk in (but then I drink green tea AND Rooibos with milk in too, so I am strange). Overall it’s a big “tick” for these products, the kind of thing I will buy.

PS: I’ve just seen they’re doing a CHOCOLATE range! Now they’re talking my language. I’ll have to do a separate blog to test these, won’t I? Send over the choc bars, boys.


Jasmine’s view

Having said everything above, Jasmine’s not a fan of putting on much cream on your face. In fact, her money-saving tip is to use the bear minimum and simply live a healthy life. She says, “”Personally I use as few creams as possible on my skin. I’ve been through phases of believing the hype that if I just used this or that moisturiser I would look like Claudia Schiffer but it never happens and I know it never will. Not only that but having spoken to octagenarian Eva Fraser (who looks about 50 as you can see here), one should simply use a small amount of moisturiser during the day (no more than the size of a raisin) and no night cream. She points out that too much cream will slacken the skin and make it more likely to droop. She is also very against eye creams, as am I, as they just cause problems and it’s really not worth getting involved in any of the other ‘specialist’ stuff like neck creams, serums, sprays etc etc. It’s all basically marketing and, if anything, these products could do you harm not good.

“Keep it simple, make sure the cream has an spf 15 at least, drink lots of water, don’t drink alcohol if you can possibly help it (I never do), certainly don’t smoke and get a good night’s sleep. Don’t waste your money on the smoke and mirrors act that is the beauty industry and if you do use creams don’t slap too much on.”

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Charlotte M
Charlotte M
7 years ago

I’ve always found the Forever Living products to be amazing value for money, and so good on my sensitive skin!

Cuc Barber
Cuc Barber
14 years ago

Not sure why yahoo sent me here but I need to say I have become pretty intrigued by the comments you have aggregated together. How many years did it take to start getting that many internet users hitting to your pages? I am fairly to this interenet thing.

14 years ago

I love this site, and this article was great help.
If you could please also add which products are effective zit-zappers and acne scar faders it would make my life easier.
Thank you all for the wonderful research!

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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