Ever wondered whether a new beauty launch or trending product is truly worth the hype? If so, you're in the right place. I Just Tried… is our beauty column where we test out everything from new formulations to cult classics to find out whether they're really worth your money. Oh, and we'll answer the most-searched-for questions so you don't have even have to ask.
It might seem like an unusual move for a woman who previously renounced makeup to launch her own beauty line, but Alicia Keys's new brand is unlike any other. Lauded as an emo-beauty brand—that's emotional beauty rather than a brand created for My Chemical Romance fans—Keys Soulcare bridges the gap between well-being and traditional beauty with a collection of skincare, candles and tools curated to help us all enjoy a moment of calm. Seriously, could there be anything more needed in our post-2020 landscape?
The line is inspired by Keys's own skincare journey and her love of beauty traditions and rituals. With this in mind, Keys Soulcare roots itself in four key pillars—body, mind, spirit and connection. Keys isn't alone in embracing this rounded approach to beauty: The shift towards enjoying beauty as a ritual is already being reflected in the shopping habits of consumers, with Cult Beauty reporting that its Bath & Body category tripled in size over the last year and that sales increased by 210%. "Regimes took on a symbolic meaning, as cleansing became the erasure of worries and masking not only replenished our skin but our energy levels, permitting us time to relax and recharge," explains Alexia Inge, founder of Cult Beauty.
I was lucky enough to attend a Keys Soulcare virtual retreat at the start of the month, and while I didn't come away calling myself a lightworker—that's what members of the Keys Soulcare community are known as—I did come away feeling calm and joyful. That's what this collection is truly about for me. Sure, using the products regularly might help you achieve an Alicia Keys–esque glow, but really, it's a reminder of how a few minutes spent alone to focus on yourself can be enough to totally transform your outlook for the day ahead. I reckon we could all use a little of that right now.
Keep scrolling for my honest review of Keys Soulcare, Alicia Keys's brilliant new beauty brand.
This is a vanilla-scented multipurpose balm that I've been applying to my lips nightly before bed. It's brimming with plant oils and butters to nourish and moisturise chapped lips, rough cuticles or any other dry patches, and I'm honestly a little bit obsessed with it.
While I do like to use a cleanser containing actives to care for my blemish-prone skin, I was pleasantly surprised with the number of hard-working ingredients in this gentle formulation. Along with soothing turmeric, which gives it its golden colour, it contains soothing Manuka honey, a natural antioxidant, and activated charcoal to purify and balance oilier complexions. It was a treat to use, and my skin definitely felt soft and nourished once it was rinsed clean.
Chemical exfoliators are all well and good, but I can't lie—I still love a manual polish every now and then. This exfoliator is like nothing I've used before. You pour a little of the powder into your hands and add water to transform it into a creamy foam. It feels polishing rather than gritty when massaged into your damp skin, and I definitely looked more glowy afterwards.
I adore this moisturiser. It is packed with skin-friendly ingredients—ceramides, hyaluronic acid and bakuchiol—to leave skin smooth, hydrated and more even in tone. Oh, and it managed to leave my skin looking dewy without verging into oily territory, which is no mean feat.
It comes in a fragrance-free version, too—great for sensitive skin or if you just prefer your skincare without scent.
I'm always a little dubious about the skin benefits of face mists. This one contains extracts of rose of Jericho to help lock moisture into your skin as well as witch hazel to tone and refresh. Honestly, I don't know if it really does much, but I have been spritzing it onto my face every single night before bed because I love the relaxing rose scent.
If you're into hard-working face masks that slough away dead skin cells and offer instant results, this mask isn't that. However, if you're looking for something to slather on and look after your skin while you soak for 10 minutes in the tub, then this is perfect. It smells spa-like and sophisticated thanks to an infusion of sandalwood, and it contains nourishing honey and charcoal, so your skin is enjoying some TLC, too. My skin definitely felt purified after I used it.
Of all the products in the line, this is probably the one I'd give a miss. It's not because there's anything wrong with it—it's a sleek, cool, and well-made facial roller that felt really nice to use. However, I have similar tools already knocking about and can't report that there's anything particularly groundbreaking about this one. It is nice to have but is by no means essential.
I love a good candle, and this one ticks all the boxes. Firstly, the purple-black jar looks incredibly chic. I'm a big fan of the Keys Soulcare branding, but you can always turn the jar around and have the affirmation on the other side—"I shine at full wattage"—facing out instead. So cute. Even better though? This candle smells so expensive. It's kind of sweet, kind of smoky and incredibly smooth. I'll be stocking up.