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I Know Nothing About Beauty, But I Do Know These 15 Products Are Incredible

Emma spedding beauty buys: selfie

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Emma Spedding for Who What Wear

I have to admit I am no beauty expert. I don't really know the difference between salicylic acid and glycolic acid and have no idea how to do winged eyeliner. However, in my role as an editor, I have spent the past 10 years working with and sitting next to (pre-pandemic, of course) many impressive beauty editors who have pointed me in the direction of some amazing products. There are products that every single beauty editor I have worked with has told me to use (mainly the Elemis cleansing balm), and some of the discoveries have been samples they've asked me to test for them that I've stuck to ever since. 

Emma Spedding for Who What Wear

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Emma Spedding for Who What Wear

These Tan-Luxe self-tan drops were recommended to me by a WWW editor, and they've quickly become an essential beauty product.

I don't mean to generalise here, but the thing I've learned about working with beauty editors is that they all have very high standards and unbelievable attention to detail. They can spot a slight shade difference in a relaunched red lipstick and have an acute understanding of ingredients. This is why I trust them implicitly, and my bathroom cupboard is basically an amalgamation of all of their advice. I still remain a beauty novice, but the general tips I've picked up on are 1) always, always wear SPF (even when it's cloudy, and even in England), 2) invest in the products that give you a spa-like feeling, and 3) be kind to your skin, and don't change or mix products too much. 

Emma Spedding for Who What Wear: aveda chakra spray

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Emma Spedding for Who What Wear

Every beauty editor I've ever met is obsessed with the Aveda chakra spray—and now so am I. 

The Products I Really Rate

Emma Spedding for Who What Wear: Byredo gypsy water

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Emma Spedding for Who What Wear

Keep scrolling for the beauty products I now swear by after working with beauty editors for a decade. 

This was a product that three different beauty editors told me to buy, and so I listened, and it's now an essential in my makeup bag. It gives you a natural, beautiful glow and looks amazing whether worn underneath a foundation or alone for a more natural look. If you were to try just one of the products I've listed here, I'd say this is the one to buy. 

This is a recent addition to my skincare routine after reading Shannon Lawlor's review of it on Who What Wear earlier this year. She wrote, "Drunk Elephant's T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial is one of the best at-home acid treatments I have ever tried. My skin is sensitive and usually detests any sort of strong alpha-hydroxy acid, let alone a 25% blend. The minute I slathered it on my face, I was expecting that all-too-familiar burning sensation to arise (the bottle does warn 'tingling may occur,' which, for my skin, might as well read 'get the ice ready'), but it never came. In fact, for the 20 minutes that the thick cream-like formula sat on my skin, I experienced no sign of discomfort whatsoever."

I also have sensitive skin but found this product didn't irritate but had noticeable results and left my skin looking much healthier. I now use this once a week religiously. 

Okay, I take back what I said about Flawless Filter. This is the one product I am truly obsessed with. Every woman in my family now uses this cleanser, and it is without a doubt my desert-island item. I can also name about four beauty editors who I've worked with who also share my adoration for the Cleansing Balm. 

My hair texture changed in my teens and went from straight to curls, and I've never truly learned how to style them. I often joke that I'll know I've made it in my career when I can afford a weekly blow-dry (you have to have goals, hey?), and until I get there, this product helps me create a salon-style blow-dry at home. It protects hair against humidity and smooths it when you apply heat with a dryer. 

I get a bit intimidated by acids or active ingredients, but Mica Ricketts, our beauty editor, has taught me how important vitamin C is to use in your regular routine. "I talk to skin experts all the time, and vitamin C is one of the very few ingredients that they always recommend adding to your skin routine," she tells me. "I love it because it's brightening—great if you want genuinely glowy skin—but it also has antioxidant benefits, so it actually protects your skin too." I love how the capsules give you the perfect amount of oil to use for each dose.

This is a product that I fell for when I was at intern level nine years ago, when beauty editors used to spray it in the Grazia offices. The Aveda Chakra sprays are really calming, and there are seven different mists that have different intentions. 

When it comes to makeup, I'm quite lazy and like to use a handful of products that take less than 10 minutes to apply. Glossier's Cloud Paint is a cult product for a reason and always helps me to look a little more awake for my morning Zoom calls. 

A former colleague once passed me a sample of this, and it is now my all-time-favourite fragrance and the scent I always receive the most compliments on. I couldn't tell you anything complex about the notes, but all I know is it's a beautiful and unique fragrance that I now ask for every Christmas. 

Again, I'm being an Elemis super fan, but a beauty editor once gave this to me for my birthday, and it is quite simply the most divine moisturiser I've ever used. Although it's rich, it is never too heavy for daily use and feels like a real luxury—as you'd hope it would for the steep £74 price tag.

I have a very fair complexion and tend to avoid fake tan at all costs. However, a colleague recommended I try these tan drops, and I've not had any patchy disasters so far. The drops mean you can build up the level of tan gradually by simply mixing it in with your moisturiser at night.

A beauty editor gave me this about eight years ago before I knew what (or should I say how expensive) Byredo was, and so I made my way through the first bottle of Gypsy Water at rapid speed, unaware of how special it really is. It's a light and beautiful everyday fragrance that I still adore as much as the first time I sprayed it.

So I actually found this lipstick all on my own, and yes, I was drawn to it by the amazing name. Since finding this peachy lipstick, I have stayed fiercely loyal to this shade and am now on my fourth. 

Again, this is a product that isn't cheap but delivers really noticeable results. It's now an item I'll only buy if I'm going on holiday or to an important event and want my skin to be really glowing and hydrated. 

I have dry hair and now have particularly frazzled ends, as I'm awaiting a haircut. This moisturising oil by Aveda gives a glossy finish but never makes my hair look too greasy. It also smells truly heavenly. 

Thanks to our contributing beauty editor Shannon Lawlor, in 2020, I became a person who actually spent £41 on a bath product. And you know what, it was worth every pound, and I have no regrets. There's a reason this Honey Bath product constantly sells out. It's just heavenly and really gives you a spa experience at home. 

Next up, see our guide to the key trends for spring/summer 2021.

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