With just a few days to go until spring officially arrives, I've started to make a few seasonal switches to my makeup bag. In the same way that you might be starting to think about stashing away your winter coats and heavy knitwear and re-introducing your trench coats and florals to your wardrobe, there are certain beauty basics that are always essential to my spring routine.
For me, a few key basics that always make their way back into my makeup bag each spring—cream formulas, a stronger SPF and as much highlighter as possible to help my dull, winter skin transition into sunshine season with as much integrity as possible.
There's much to be said about the colours of the season, too—soft lilacs, warm oranges and petal pinks all look fresh in spring—but for the purpose of keeping things pared-back I've identified 5 key basics that everyone needs in their spring makeup bags.
Keep reading to find out what they are and to shop some of my favourites.
1. Lightweight base with SPF
SPF is an essential all year round—yes, even in the depths of the gloomy British winter—but I make a special effort come spring to look for foundations and CC creams with sun protection in. With the warmer weather I also find myself gravitating away from the heavy coverage foundations and finishing powders of winter and reaching for more lightweight base products. Not only can they often be applied quickly, and with fingers, but the best ones contain light-reflecting particles and skin-hydrating benefits so your complexion will be left plump and glowing.
I'm not sure there's another base product out there that offers up both incredible sun protection benefits—SPF 50+ to be precise—along with such dreamy skin coverage. This CC cream is adored by beauty editors for the way it gives your skin a kind of post-facial glow without compromising on coverage.
Admittedly not the highest SPF rating but I'm including this foundation for its beautiful lightweight finish and hydrating formula. I apply it with my fingers for a real skin-like finish.
This is a part-tinted moisturiser, part-foundation. It sinks straight into your skin, leaving it velvety-soft—great if you hate the feel of a heavy foundation on your skin. Plus, it does a great job of diffusing fine lines and pores. And all while protecting your skin with SPF20.
On good skin days I reach for something like this gel-serum formula from MAC. It's oil-free with broad spectrum SPF30 protection and quenches dry skin as well as controlling oily patches. You can apply it in one sheer layer or build it up with a brush for more of a medium coverage which makes it a really versatile makeup bag option.
2. Cream blusher
I don't buy into the idea that powder products are for winter and creams for summer (did you even know that was a supposed thing?) but there's something undoubtedly lovely about the sheer pop of colour that a cream blush lends to skin during spring. Corals and pinks are particularly great hues if you're wanting to brighten a dull complexion, and applying them in a cream formula means they really mesh with your skin for a more natural-looking flush of colour.
Strictly speaking, this is a gel-cream—rather than a traditional cream formula—but I love the way that it delivers a serious amount of colour alongside skin-hydrating benefits. This one is a glowy peach shade that dries down into a pretty stain with wear throughout the day.
I have at least two of the Glossier Cloud Paints in my makeup bag at any one time. For spring, though, I gravitate towards the perkier pastel shades—Beam and Puff. In terms of longevity, these products aren't the greatest, but for the unique hues and flushed finish that they provide I'll happily touch-up throughout the day.
If you're new to cream blushes, or not sure about wearing colour on your cheeks in general, then a stick product is a great place to start. Dot this directly onto the apples of your cheeks then blend out the edges with your fingers. It delivers a surprisingly subtle pop of colour to skin but you can build it up if you want a more intense hue.
This stick verges on highlighter territory thanks to its seriously radiant formula but it looks wonderfully luminous when applied to the apples of your cheeks. Enriched with cotton and rose extracts, it really meshes with your skin for natural-looking colour.
I love a good highlighter at the best of times but getting my skin looking as dewy as possible is even more of a beauty aim once the sun starts to make a reappearance. For subtle luminous rather than disco ball results I opt for cream and liquid formulas which can be mixed with foundations and over or under your base makeup for an all-over glow.
Dispelling the myth that clean beauty products don't deliver on pigment, this little pot of shine provides an impactful champagne glow to skin. Infused with coconut and jojoba seed oils, along with cocoa butter, it's really creamy and perfect for getting that dewy skin look.
You can wear this metallic highlighter alone—pressing a few drops onto your cheekbones and beneath brows—but I prefer to mix a little with my foundation for all-over radiance.
Depending on the shade that you go for, the Fenty Beauty Skinsticks can be used for everything from highlight and blush to bronzer and contour. This shade, Confetti, is a cool-toned lilac that I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this spring.
This liquid formula is intensely pigmented but incredible versatile. Mix it with your foundation for a dewy base or alone to illuminate your cheekbones and Cupid's bow. The copper-tinged hue looks particularly great on deeper skin tones.
4. Tinted lip balm
My lips tend to take a bit of a battering in winter after months of full-coverage lipsticks, central heating and more dehydrating alcohol consumption than usual. (Until the beer gardens open in the summer, anyway.) To combat dryness without compromising on colour I switch to tinted lip balms. Not only do they look fresh and juicy on the lips but they're entirely fuss-free when it comes to application and upkeep.
First thing to note—the minty-sage scent of this lip balm is incredible and a real refreshing pick-me-up during the day. It's infused with hemp-derived cannabis oil for a moisture hit as well as baby pink pigment for a subtle wash of colour.
Not only does this lip balm look beautiful—yes, that's a real chrysanthemum inside—but it glides on clear and adjusts to your lips' pH levels to create a personalised shade of pink.
If you're looking for a balm with a little more pigment then Clinique's Chubby Sticks always deliver. I love this cheery red shade—Two Ton Tomato—on days when I can't be bothered with a full-on lipstick but still want to wear a bold lip.
Providing a healthy dose of sun protection to your delicate lips at the same time as a brightening dose of colour makes this lip balm my go-to for weekends away. It also looks pretty when dotted onto your cheeks as a makeshift blush.
Disclaimer—I was not a bronzer wearer until probably about a year ago. I've never really minded my pasty complexion and prefer to inject colour into my beauty look with lipsticks and blush. However, the reason I didn't like it was because I'd been applying it all wrong—streaking it over cheekbones and my forehead for a badly contoured finish. For me, mixing a liquid formula with a foundation is the way to go for glowy skin or I'll use a huge fluffy brush to lightly diffuse a powder over my cheeks and nose for a subtle sun-kissed effect.
A sheer gel formula that blends seamlessly with your skin. If you're having a relaxed makeup day then just a little of this blended over your moisturiser would look gorgeous but I prefer to apply it over foundation on my cheeks, chin and nose to add some warmth to my skin.
Until recently I've had something of a fake tan phobia but a friendly PR convinced me to give these tanning drops a go. I'm hooked. You can mix anything from 1 to 12 drops with your moisturiser, depending on whether you want a subtle glow or a full-on tan. I mixed 2 or 3 with my night cream and woke to a healthier-looking version of my skin with no streaks or patches in sight.
The silkiest powder bronzer I've ever tried, this is a matte formulation with a hint of shimmer to provide luminosity. I'll use a powder blush to lightly dust this over my cheeks and nose for a golden glow that doesn't veer towards contour territory. It comes in five shades that range from a sandy hue for pale skin tones to a deep brown for deeper skin tones.
This is the product that changed the bronzer game for me. On holiday last year I wore just a pump or two of this on bare skin, sheered out with a brush for effortlessly radiant skin. For spring in the UK, I'll mix a pump with my foundation for a daytime glow. Or, for an evening out, I'll press a little more over my base for a little more oomph.