Ask any beauty editor what the best thing about their job is, and I guarantee they will all say the same thing. You see, while other people’s work benefits might include end-of-year bonuses or even lunch vouchers, we beauty journalists get our perks elsewhere. No matter what anyone says, the best thing about this job is without a doubt the number of free beauty products that come our way. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve had to buy shampoo since 2017. And even then, I had to buy a bottle because I was on a camping trip for eight days and realised I’d forgotten to pack one.
Sure, many of my peers will argue that it’s not necessarily a perk, seeing as we sort of have to try these things to actually do our jobs, but despite being in this game for many years, trust me when I say the novelty never wears off. Having cupboards full of skincare, haircare and makeup certainly has its perks, but there is one major downside, and that’s storage.
After well over a year of working exclusively from home, I realised every corner of my one-bedroom flat is piled high with products that I need to test. In fact, at the start of this month, I was so stressed out by the state of my surroundings that I decided I really needed to cull my stash. I pulled out two bin bags and filled one with out-of-date products and the other with products to rehome—and I was ruthless. By the end of the day, I had filled four bin bags.
Shannon's beauty stash pre-clear-out.
And while I have still kept hold of backups and overspill (for work purposes, of course), I vowed to keep only a tight edit of products in my bathroom cabinets and dressing table. So without further ado, these are the 15 products that have made it into my core summer beauty stash (and some of the ones I really struggled to say goodbye to).
First of all, let me say that Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is quite possibly my favourite cleanser ever created. However, when I found a giant half-used tub of the stuff at the back of my cupboard, I knew it was time to say goodbye. I had dipped my hands into the tub too many times for it not to be harbouring an astonishing number of bacteria.
As a first cleanse this summer, I'm opting for the Olivanna Rosewater & Chamomile Cream Cleanser. It's super gentle, smells beautifully delicate and provides a welcome break from heavy balms and oils.
I have waxed lyrical about Drunk Elephant's T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial ever since it launched at the start of the year. It truly is one of the hardest-working exfoliants around and leaves skin baby-soft. However, the change in weather has caused my skin to dry out, and I need something a little gentler for the warmer months. This stuff from Youth to the People gets to work in just two minutes and leaves skin feeling silky smooth without masses of irritation. (Although, sensitive skin types should still proceed with caution.)
My skin is naturally on the oilier end of the spectrum, so I tend to steer clear of heavy-duty moisturisers, opting instead for lightweight hydrating serums. During the winter, I loved Lumene's Rick-Oleo Serum, but as new serums came my way, it got pushed to the back of my cabinet. I have a friend with really dry skin that I think would really love it, so I've passed it along.
A couple of weeks ago, Monday Muse's The Juice Daily Serum landed on my desk, and it makes for the ultimate summer serum. It's lightweight and soothing and does a good job at minimising the appearance of my pores too. I'm a big fan.
The Body Shop's Drops of Youth Jelly Mist saw me through many a hot summer's day last year, and I ended the season with a good few uses left. However, when I pulled it out during my clear-out, the jelly formula had congealed in the pump, so it was time for it to go.
Luckily, to fill the hole in my heart, Origins' new facial mist is equally as refreshing. Containing reiki and snow mushroom, it's the ultimate skin soother. I keep it by my side during work hours and give my face a mist whenever I need to hit refresh.
Not a day goes by that I don't apply a minimum of SPF 30. Ren's mineral sunscreen proved a favourite last year thanks to its super-matte finish, but it's now well past its use-by date. Supergoop!'s Unscreen Sunscreen recently launched in the UK, and it's every bit as wonderful as our U.S. pals make it out to be. Thanks to its second-skin finish, I actually ordered a supersize tube to see me through the rest of the year.
Once upon a time, It Cosmetics CC+ Cream was my beauty best friend. I wore it every single day, and it gave my skin the most even, natural-looking glow. I love it so much that I have unopened tubes of the stuff in my makeup drawers so that I never run out. However, the past year has totally changed my makeup priorities, and I just can't see a place for this in my routine anymore. I have rehomed all eight tubes in my collection, holding on to just the one I had already opened.
Instead of applying a heavy base every day, I'm loving Milk's Sunshine Skin Tint. It's lightweight and melts into the skin, leaving a summer-ready, healthy glow. My only gripe is the very odd rollerball applicator, but for now, it's a hot fave.
I used to be the sort of person who shuddered at the sight of a powder, but when I discovered Dior's incredible offering, everything changed. I used Dior Forever Cushion Powder in Lavender throughout the whole of winter, and it is truly exquisite. It appears, however, that I've been holding on to it a little too tightly, and it's basically all gone. (I've just been scraping the bottom.) I've replaced it with Dior's lighter-weight Powder-No-Powder, which is basically what it says on the tin. It takes down shine without compromising on glow.
Both of these mascaras give very similar results, and I love them both in equal measure. However, my tube of Byredo is well and truly done for, and it's officially time to say goodbye. Plus, Victoria Beckham Future Lash is a tubing mascara, meaning it doesn't smudge in the summer heat!
I am officially a blusher person. It was actually Laura Mercier's Blush Colour Infusion that had me falling head over heels for the stuff. However, as the warmer months roll around, I've found myself neglecting my powder blushes and instead going for creams. I figured it's about time I see what else the blush world has to offer, so I've given my beloved Laura Mercier powder to a friend. In my core summer lineup is Tata Harper's new cream formula in Spicy. It melts into the skin and can be applied with fingers for a lit-from-within glow.
My brows are the one thing that I would never leave the house without fixing, so culling my brow gels was a tough task. When BareMinerals Strength & Length Tinted Gel first launched last year, I loved its super-handy comb and natural-looking finish. However, my brow tastes have changed, and now I prefer a fluffier, fuller look. It has sat untouched for many moons, so it had to go.
A few weeks ago, I discovered Charlotte Tilbury's Brow Fix, and quite honestly, I don't think I'll ever use another brow product ever again. It has a thick spoolie to really brush brows up from the root and keeps them set all day long.
I need to apologise to Nars Air Matte here, as it actually represents the entirety of my matte-lipstick collection. Yes, I got rid of every single matte-finish lipstick that I own. Why? Because I'm finally mature (read: old) enough to realise that they are just plain uncomfortable. Instead, I've swapped in some subtle tints. This nude option from Victoria Beckham has been my everyday reach-for, as it gives subtle colour without any stickiness.
I'm cheating a bit here. The Kérastase Blond Absolu range has been my go-to for looking after my balayage for as long as I can remember. I only had a tiny bit left of my favourite Cicaextreme Shampoo, so I used it up and counted it as streamlining my collection. However, I have replaced my go-to purple tints (which help to keep bleach icy and cool) with strengthening formulas. My hair is seriously fragile right now and prone to breakage, so Redken's Acidic Bonding Concentrate is set to be my main shampoo for the foreseeable.
You don't have to know me long to know that Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Bum Bum Cream is one of my favourite body moisturisers ever. My friends joke that they can smell me coming down the street thanks to its tropical vibes. However, since trying the new glow-boosting Bom Dia Bright Cream, I haven't found myself reaching for Bum Bum as much. It smells equally as delicious but contains acids to boost glow and deliver gentle exfoliation. My favourite Bum Bum was looking neglected, sad and a little crusty, so for now, I'm a Bom Dia kinda gal.
Body scrubs are my kryptonite, and therefore, I own approximately one million of them. It was a seriously hard job trying to whittle them down, and as much as I loved StriVectin's skin-smoothing abilities, I find myself reaching for scrubs in a tub over those in a tube. (I suppose I just like dipping my hand into a pot.) Luckily, my boyfriend loves the stuff for his KP, so it went to a worthy home.
My scrub for summer? Drunk Elephant's Sugared Koffie smells like almonds and coffee (like it's good enough to eat) and gives a satisfactory scrub.
Over the past few months, my perfume collection has gotten totally out of control. The trouble is I find myself hanging on to bottles for sentimental value, even though they are well past their use-by. Mojave Ghost was traditionally my summer scent, and I was clinging to this particular bottle because it reminded me of great times, even though it smelled like petrol and had become a worrying shade of beige. More recently, I've been turning my nose toward zesty citruses and bergamots, like this new ray of sunshine from Miller Harris.