This has been a big year for beauty. With groundbreaking new brands launching at a rate of knots and innovative formulations emerging from some of our favourite more-established brands, it's an exciting time for the beauty lovers amongst us. However, if you don't speak beauty editor, then the seemingly endless number of products on the shelves (virtual or otherwise) might be overwhelming. And if you ask me, shopping for beauty should always be joyful rather than stressful. So how do you determine which products deserve a place in your own personal stash? You ask the experts, of course.
Ahead, I caught up with five beauty experts—from brand founders to top beauty buyers—and asked them to share their beauty must-haves from 2021 so far. From the launches that they don't want you to miss to the under-£20 hidden gems, keep scrolling to shop this edit of pure beauty brilliance from the people who have truly tried everything.
Your best beauty discovery of 2021: I recently discovered the Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum (£100), which I absolutely love! It’s great for brightening skin and has helped me feel more confident and radiant when I’m not wearing foundation.
The under-£20 game changer: The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF50+ (£18). It's lightweight and really easy to apply, and it doesn’t leave any residue and sits nicely under makeup. Since I started using an SPF as part of my daily skincare routine, I have really noticed the difference.
The beauty item you wish you’d discovered 10 years ago: The Environ Skin EssentiA Vita-Antioxidant AVST 3 (£48)—it’s a skin moisturiser that is packed with vitamin A to repair and rejuvenate skin. There are five different steps in the Environ Step-Up system, and over time, you build up your skin’s tolerance to the vitamin A levels. Once you progress to the highest levels, you can really start to notice the difference. I’ve found that it’s great for anti-ageing as well as helping to manage breakouts and even out skin tone.
The best new beauty launch of 2021: It would definitely be the Chāmpo Pitta Growth Serum (£32), which harnesses anti–hair loss technology to tone, condition and energise the scalp. I really wish I’d understood at an earlier age that scalpcare is really where true hair health starts. This formula uses a unique complex of clover-flower extract, caffeine, creatine and haritaki fruit to promote thicker, fuller, healthier hair growth and is now part of my daily beauty routine.
The product that earns you the most compliments: I always get complimented after using the 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask (£85). It’s my go-to saviour before an event, and it leaves my skin looking like I’ve had a mini face massage. It tightens and reduces puffiness and is the perfect quick fix before a night out.
The beauty gem you can’t stop recommending: I’m always recommending the Chāmpo Weightless Hair Oil (£24) because I never leave the house without this product in my handbag! My hair is naturally a little dry and prone to frizz, so this formula is perfect to use every day on mid-lengths and ends to instantly boost radiance, de-frizz and conceal any split ends.
An under-the-radar beauty product that deserves more hype: Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser (£12). It’s really refreshing and gentle. It cleans well but doesn’t strip and leaves skin nicely hydrated and soothed.
Your best beauty discovery of 2021: It was actually my perfect shade of red lipstick. I’ve been trying to find The One for years and finally, the Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture The Slim in Shade 5 (£31) found me. I love a bold lip, but getting that shade exactly right to match your skin tone, eyes and hair can be a journey!
The under-£20 game changer: So it only just qualifies, but at £20, the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm is an absolute game changer for me. I suffer from really dry lips, and I love a bold lipstick look, so using this before bed really helps keep my lips flake-free and my lipstick smooth.
The beauty item you wish you’d discovered 10 years ago: Lancôme Advanced Génifique serum (£60). This is perfect for skin of all ages and leaves my skin radiant and really improves the tone and texture. I wish I’d started using it earlier, as I always used to be self-conscious about my skin before I started using it.
The best new beauty launch of 2021: Benefit Powmade (£19). Benefit is my go-to brow brand, and everything it launches for brows is always on point. This product I love because it’s easy to be precise with, the brush wiper is genius, I love the creamy feel, and it really stays put.
The product that earns you the most compliments: The new BareMinerals Original Liquid Foundation (£31). This is one of my go-to daytime foundations, as its natural ingredients have really helped with my acne caused by wearing masks on my commute. I always get told my skin is glowy when wearing it, and it definitely looks less red.
The beauty gem you can’t stop recommending: Filorga’s Time-Filler eye cream (£49). It has an almost Botox-style effect, and it really has helped disguise my under-eye bags and dark circles from long London days!
An under-the-radar beauty product that deserves more hype: The Cosmedix Benefit Clean Gentle Cleanser (£37). It’s really gentle, doesn’t irritate, removes stubborn makeup without stripping the skin and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth
The product that earns you the most compliments: The RMS Beauty Master Radiance Base (£29). It's a highlighting cream that I mix into either moisturiser or foundation. I get comments on how well and "glowy" I look when I wear this. It's the skin equivalent of having a twinkle in your eye.
The under-£20 game changer: The Savon Stories Solid Body Lotions (£14). I love these for many reasons—from the scent to the rich moisturising ingredients—but most importantly for the plastic-free packaging. It's kind of genius that making a body cream or oil solid removes the need for a large (often plastic) bottle and pump, and it makes them perfect for travelling with.
The beauty item you wish you’d discovered 10 years ago: It's got to be the Tata Harper Elixir Vitae Serum 2.0 (£152). It targets lines and helps maintain volume and plumpness, along with hydration. I can literally see the change in my skin within days of using it. Needless to say, I wish it was around 10 years ago.
The best new beauty launch of 2021: I'm really into the Mara Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum (£46). It's a bit of a revelation for those of us who are used to mineral sunscreen being a thick white cream. It glides on super sheer and doesn't feel like you are wearing a physical SPF, even though it is non-nano zinc SPF30. It's a game changer for mineral SPF users.
The beauty gem you can’t stop recommending: The Ilia Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tints (£27). In the early days of naturals, every cream or liquid eye shadow creased. It was a by-product of going silicone-free. But these tints stay put all day and don't budge. They can be used as a wash or layered for more impact and come in great, not too glittery, shades.
An under-the-radar beauty product that deserves more hype: The Liha Idan Oil (£39) has become a cult product in the past year or so, but the hype should most definitely continue. This tuberose-scented body oil always makes me feel like I've spent a day at a spa. It's based on coconut oil, so depending on the weather, you may need to run it under hot water to melt it before use. I put the bottle in the bottom of the shower so it's ready and liquid for use after. The scent is heavenly. Everyone I've ever given it to becomes a fan too.
Your best beauty discovery of 2021: Does sleep count?! As a dedicated night owl, I'm always conflicted between staying up into the small hours versus knowing that "beauty sleep" is essential for healthy skin. For 2021, I've revamped my routine, and it never ceases to amaze me how different my skin looks after a week of early nights. Before buying another serum that's clinically tested and proven to work after 21 days, try 21 days of early nights—if juggling your family and life commitments allow for it. It can sometimes seem like the ultimate luxury, and no one has managed to bottle it yet! If I have trouble nodding off, I grab one of the De Mamiel Sleep Series products designed to quell different sleep issues from a busy mind to waking during the night.
Your best beauty discovery of 2021: I am hard to please when it comes to new discovery. However, I have to say Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore Refining Toner Serum (£25) really had me gripped from the first use. Everywhere I turned, people were talking about it, so I was a little dubious. Once I tried it, I instantly fell in love. I mean, I was always going to love it (because Rihanna and Fenty never miss), but the product really works! It makes my skin look and feel juicy, especially on those no-makeup days where I want to be dewy and hydrated.
The under-£20 game changer: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay (£8). This is an actual life changer—no exaggeration! I adore products I can use on both my skin and my hair, and this works well to not only give my skin a powerful, deep pore cleanse, but also does an amazing job of helping clump my kinks and curls and give my hair and scalp a deep cleanse too. It's a little bit messy, but it is 100% worth it. I was a little worried when I first used it, as you can literally feel your face pulsing, but fear not! That's just an indication that the toxins are being drawn to the surface and it is time to wash it off. A word of warning, though—avoid falling asleep with this on. Been there, done that, wouldn't recommend!
The beauty item you wish you’d discovered 10 years ago: Ten years ago, I was just beginning to explore and embrace my hair's natural texture—slowly putting down my straighteners yet still blow-drying my hair a ton. I really wish I had met the Aveda Nutriplenish Daily Moisturizing Treatment (£30). Had I had a leave-in conditioner that also functions as a heat protectant like this, then I probably wouldn't have had such bad heat damage. It left me with no option but to consistently trim my hair until I completely grew out the heat damage. It's still one of my top 10 repurchases.
The best new beauty launch of 2021: Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask (£16). This is a Treasure Tress cult-favourite product—our subscribers love it! A new launch in the UK, this mask smells delicious, melts into your hair like butter, and the ingredients are good enough to eat (but please do not!). It is by far one of my favourites and always top of my list of recommendations when people want a clean, vegan product to try. It is definitely priced at the higher-end for natural hair products, but it is absolutely worth it!
The product that earns you the most compliments: I receive the most compliments on my hair, on the rare occasion when the British weather permits me to wear it out. I'm torn between Camille Rose Curl Love Leave-In (£12) and Ivy Wild Leave-In Moisture Spray (£17). I have naturally fine strands so to create the illusion of a full 'fro, I rely on lightweight products that moisturise without weighing my hair down. Of all the leave-ins we've featured in our Treasure Tress boxes, these are the standouts that give me the best volume for my braid-outs!
The beauty gem you can’t stop recommending: This may sound a little weird, but Palmer's Foot Magic (£5). This product—spring, summer, winter or autumn—we all need it all year round. The subtle peppermint smell gives your feet a slight tingle, and the formula itself is extremely rich. It is created for use on your feet exclusively. However, on summer days, it gives your legs the most perfect sheen and can be disguised in your handbag as hand cream. I am obsessed! We featured this earlier this year in our Treasure Tress boxes as a bonus gift, and it's safe to say the feeling is mutual amongst all who tried it!
An under-the-radar beauty product that deserves more hype: Mane 'n Tail Detangler (£8) for sure! When we first featured this brand in our Treasure Tress boxes, it's safe to say we had a very mixed response, purely based on the packaging and branding of the products. Once you give them a try, you realise they really are a dark horse (no pun intended!), and the detangler is my go-to when I'm transitioning from a down style to an updo such as a bun and don't want to commit to washing my hair again. Moisturising braids, prepping your hair for a twist-out or braid-out… Yyou name it, and this detangler does the job. And, yes, it actually detangles curly hair—it's amazing!
Your best beauty discovery of 2021: 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Masks (£20). They contain 24-karat gold and are a fantastic quick fix to hydrate and brighten skin!
The under-£20 game changer: Pixi Glow Tonic (£10). This is a staple in beauty cupboards, including mine. It really refreshes skin and gives a great glow.
The beauty item you wish you’d discovered 10 years ago: Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector (£26). This is my absolute hair saviour. It’s one of the best hair products out there!
The best new beauty launch of 2021: Gucci Rouge de Beauté Brilliant High-Shine Lipstick in Gold Red (£35). The packaging is beautiful and instantly elevates any vanity, and the formula delivers 24-hour moisture and a beautiful shiny finish. Gold Red is a great shade that suits everyone.
The product that earns you the most compliments: Le Labo Another 13 (£141). I always get stopped by people asking what fragrance I am wearing. Le Labo is a firm favourite of mine.
The beauty gem you can’t stop recommending: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Light (£75). Perfect now that the weather is changing. I love this lightweight version of Charlotte Tilbury’s famous Magic Cream. It’s excellent for hydrating my skin and gives a flawless base for makeup.
An under-the-radar beauty product that deserves more hype: Patrick Ta Major Volume Mascara (£26). This mascara does what it says on the tin—the double-cut brush loads up lashes with the peptide-enhanced formula for volume, lift and lash definition. It is one of the best mascaras I have tried.