In times like these, keeping on top of what’s new in beauty can seem a little bit tricky. All of the big advertising campaigns that we usually rely on to keep us in the loop are on hold, and new products seem to be trickling onto online retailers almost silently. And if I’m finding it tricky as a beauty editor, I think it’s safe to assume everyone else is struggling too. It makes sense, therefore, that now more so than ever, we’re turning to Instagram to get our beauty news and do our browsing.
So while I am all for utilising the likes of Instagram to discover new beauty treasures, I am also very aware of the pitfalls of doing so. You see, while Instagram is a great way to gather valuable first-hand reviews of products, it does also tend to champion the prettier, more aesthetically pleasing ones—and we all know that pretty doesn’t always equal good.
Because of this, it’s easy to be sceptical when it comes to shopping for beauty on Instagram. Before you add anything to your basket, it’s important to take a look at the ingredients and rule out any chance that its social media success is down to style and not substance. However, because I know that we don’t have all the time in the world to scroll through the ingredient lists of everything we buy, I have taken it upon myself to do some investigating.
In a bid to cut through the Instagram façade, I’ve trialled the most Instagram-famous products out there to see if they are really worth the fuss. Keep scrolling to discover which ones seriously impressed me.
This is without a doubt one of the best Instagram-famous beauty products out there. Sure, it looks great in a flat lay, but it is also a real skin saviour. With ceramides, vitamin C, niacinamide and green tea extract, it nourishes, plumps, brightens, soothes and helps minimise the appearance of blemishes all at once. I genuinely dread to think what my skin would be like if I hadn't discovered this mask.
You might not have seen Ouai products that look like this before, and that's because the shampoos and conditioners that we all know and love have had a revamp. Now catering to different hair types, I can honestly say that this is my favourite shampoo and conditioner to use right now. Plus, they smell like heaven.
Have you ever laid eyes upon a hand cream that looks this good? By no means am I encouraging you to go out and spend £45(?!) on a hand cream, but the sorry fact is that the formula really is great. It's nourishing, non-greasy and generally a joy to use.
Honestly, I couldn't tell you the number of times someone has asked after this product once they have seen how bronzed and glowing it leaves my complexion. Simply pop on in place of or underneath foundation to faux a just-stepped-out-of-the-sun glow. It's universally loved on Instagram, and I can see why.
This pink iridescent bottle is a regular across Instagram feeds far and wide. It's cute to look at, sure, but what's inside is even better. With nourishing oils and light-reflecting minerals to boost glow, when you apply it just before makeup, you can expect to glow all day long. If you could combine all of the wonderful things about Glossier into one product and put it in a bottle, Futuredew would be the result.
This pretty palette has come in many different forms over the years, but the powders inside and the hype that each new launch garners on the 'gram stays more or less the same. These light-reflecting powders not only give skin the most perfected finish, but they also leave a veil of glow so natural-looking you won't believe your eyes.
It's likely that you have scrolled past a Drunk Elephant product or two in your time on Instagram. And although these colourful products tend to be a little pricier than your average skincare item, some of them are worth their weight in gold. For instance, this vitamin C serum is one of the best I have ever tried and is half the price of others. It leaves skin bright, smoothed and glowing with minimal irritation and fuss.
When it came out that celebs like Victoria Beckham love this moisturiser, a social media frenzy ensued. Everyone who is anyone in beauty has at some point sung the praises of this £205 face cream on Instagram, and sadly, it really is as great as everyone says it is. Forget unnecessary serums and oils, this cream is really all you need for healthy-looking skin. Now available in a travel size discovery set.
Possibly the most famous Instagram beauty brand of our time, Byredo perfumes are a treat for the eyes and the nose. My favourite? Gypsy Water is subtle and fresh but a little bit dark and woody at the same time. It's the most all-round chic beauty product out there.
Every positive comment you have ever read about Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk lipstick is absolutely true. The perfect everyday nude, it now also comes in two more shades to provide the perfect nude for every skin tone. Trust me—it will be love at first swipe.
If you like the sound of no-fuss, cruelty-free, vegan skincare that is affordable (and let's face it—what is there not to like?), then Versed is likely for you. My favourite item in the line-up is this sumptuous cleansing balm. It's a wonderful, skin-friendly way to remove makeup and leaves behind a plumped, juicy complexion after just one use.
I'm a real fan of this Korean brand. It's likely you will have seen at least one Glow Recipe product somewhere nestled in beauty shots, but this one is a particular favourite. Great for those that have oily skin, this gel moisturiser cools, soothes, hydrates and plumps without clogging pores.
There's no doubt that Herbivore produces some of the grid-friendliest products around, but it's also worth knowing that the pretty packaging encases some impressive stuff. This exfoliating treatment, for example, is possibly the most Boomerang-ed beauty product of 2020, but it's the powerful acid formula that really makes it stand out for me. After just a few minutes, skin is left looking glowing, dewy, and more even, and pores look refined. It's a product to be taken seriously.
If you have seriously dry hair that refuses to do what it's told, this hair mask is likely worth your time. Containing raw virgin coconut, fig essence, argan oil and shea butter, after just 10 minutes, expect frazzled lengths to feel nourished, silky and glossy.
Definitely not the chicest of packaging but popular on social media nonetheless, the Huda Beauty eye shadow palettes get a lot of Instagram love. And while some shades are definitely not everyday options, the wearable, buttery pigments that make up the majority of this particular palette make it a winner for me.
Also from Huda, these brand-new lip balms are sure to be coming to a feed near you soon. I'm not going to pretend that the key selling point isn't that they're absolutely beautiful in their bullets, but they are also really pretty on the lips. If that makes any difference at all.
If you ask me, this is just about the most aesthetically pleasing makeup product to have launched this year. Its prettiness really does explain why it's absolutely everywhere on Instagram. The most wonderful thing about it though is the pigment. Not only are these eye shadow shades unbelievably wearable, but they blend like butter too.
Tom Ford perfumes are certainly no stranger to an Instagram shelfie, and Neroli Portofino is without a doubt the most snapped of the bunch. As far as perfumes go, it's staggeringly expensive, but it also smells every bit as good as you'd hope—fresh, crisp, citrusy but with a depth that makes it the great unisex option that it is. I genuinely believe that Tom Ford Private Blend is worth the price tag. In fact, I've even got my beauty-allergic dad parting with his pennies for his now go-to Oud Minerale spritz, and that says a lot.
When this U.S. brand finally launched on UK shores a couple of years ago, beauty buffs went wild. Suddenly, you couldn't click on a beauty profile without seeing at least one Milk Makeup product. And while I personally find stick products can be hit-and-miss, this highlighter is definitely a hit. I just swipe it onto the tops of my cheekbones, blend with my fingers, and I'm good to go. It's bronzed glow in a second.
This is quite possibly my favourite moisturiser of all time, and I'm not ashamed to say that I discovered Kate Somerville's Goat Milk on Instagram. Of course, it was the lilac pot that caught my eye first, but it's the calming, soothing, lightweight cream that sits inside that's made me repurchase it five times.
I like to think of this body stick as a little bit of J.Lo. One swipe over the collarbone or down the shins gives skin the most bronzed, glowing sheen that you'll be itching to go out and show it off. It's definitely one to add to your summer beauty arsenal.
Bybi Beauty is a 100% natural, vegan brand that has been slowly crawling the Instagram ladder for the last couple of years. Not only is it one of those rare, independent brands that have managed to make waves (in part due to its adorable packaging), but the products themselves are really great. In particular, I love this oily serum that is jam-packed with antioxidants that work to correct, hydrate and soften.