The 50 Best: Great ways to hit the the beauty spot

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The Independent Culture
Which are the moisturisers so rich and creamy you could eat them? The mousses that banish bad hair and bed hair forever? The quick-fix potions that magic away incipient eruptions? With the help of a team of beauty experts, Amy Mandeville rounds up the products to make you truly gorgeous this summer

10 BEST SKINCARE BASICS

10 BEST COSMETIC BASICS

10 BEST FACE SAVERS

10 BEST BODY PRODUCTS

10 BEST HAIR PRODUCTS

THE EXPERTS

This week's 50 Best panel were Annalisa Barbieri, contributing editor and beauty writer for The Independent on Sunday; Penny Chorlton, health writer for the Daily Express and author of Cover-up: Taking the Lid Off the Cosmetics Industry (Sausens, pounds 5.99); Josephine Fairley, beauty editor for the Mail on Sunday and author of The Anti-Ageing Heath & Beauty Bible (Kyle Cathie, pounds 19.99); Newby Hands, director of health and beauty for Harpers & Queen; Nicola Formby, model and style editor for Woman's Journal; Sandy Rogers, beauty therapist for London's Campion Clinic, a health centre; Leslie McMenemin, a freelance hairstylist who works with the like of the Corrs, Blur and Tori Amos; Heather Henggeler, co-editor- in-chief of Face Online (www. faceonline.com); and Vivien Placks, a make- up artist with over 20 years' experience

NB: prices were correct at time of going to press

1

EVE LOM CLEANSING CREAM

Almost every expert chose this as their must-have cleanser. Josephine Fairley has been using it for "12 years - longer than I've been married". Others described it as "edible", and almost everyone said it was indispensable. Intended to work as a cleanser, toner, facial, mask, exfoliator and lymph- node decongestor. It is also included in the Eve Lom starter kit in a sample size. Where: at Space NK, Dickens & Jones or call 0181-661 7991 for further stockists and mail order. How much: cleanser with muslin cloth is pounds 39.50; starter kit (incl cleanser, cloth, day cream, etc) pounds 22.50.

2

MAC CREAM COLOUR BASE

One of the more famous offerings from the line notorious for using transsexual model Ru Paul as its "face", this is a surprisingly subtle and incredibly versatile little pot of make-up. Heather Henggeler says that "it looks good with anything, and you can use it as eye-colour, lipstick or blusher". The spring range of four colours can be either discreet or loud, depending on how heavy-handed you are. Where: at Space NK & major department stores. Or call Space NK mail order: 0870 169999. How much: pounds 11 each.

3

DECLEOR SOS GEL

This particular product comes in both a clear formula and a slightly odd sort of ruddy-redhead tinted version. Formulated as an on-the-spot sebum-regulator and cleanser, it can also be applied all over, but Sandy Rogers reckons that it is really best "for dabbing on spots and pimples. It is quick and effective."

Where: at Decleor counters in major department stores.

How much: pounds 13.

4

DARPHIN BODY LOTION

Sandy Rogers declares this "excellent for particularly dry skin. It's water-based, so it's non-greasy, and contains loads of aloe vera and lily extract." Though seemingly thin, the product smells great and absorbs quickly into the skin, doing its business with no greasiness. Yet, unlike some other lotions, you don't feel like you need a second coat a few hours later. Where: call 0171-730 1234 for Harrods mail-order service.

How much: pounds 23.

5

KIEHL'S SHINE N' LITE GROOM

Kiehl's is a popular range in the States that is just starting to gain something more than a cult following on these shores. In minimalist packaging typical of this range, Shine N' Lite is a dun-coloured leave-in conditioner. Application of leave-in conditioners can be tricky at the best of times, and this is a particularly rich cream - but Leslie McMenemin reckons that once you get it right this is an "amazing finishing product, especially for long, coarse hair: it makes it shine like glass." Where: at Harrods, Liberty, Space NK or by mail order (0171-730 1234). How much: 4oz for pounds 10.95 & 8oz for pounds 17.95.

6

WATER

Skincare guru Erno Lazlo recommends only one cleansing method: "filling the sink with hand-hot water, applying your cleanser, and then removing it with 20 splashes of the water. You then refill the sink and splash your face another 10 times to ensure that all of the product is gone." As far as Annalisa Barbieri is concerned, this is the only way to clean skin. In this case, it's the method that is important, not the actual cleanser. Where: a tap near you (for Erno Lazlo stockists, call 0345 697072).

How much: priceless.

7

CLINIQUE TOUCH BASE

This eyeshadow-cum-base comes in a lovely mirrored compact containing shockingly little product. It is only available in Clinique's most wanted colours, which seems to mean neutral and shiny neutral. Heather Henggeler declares it "not only a great cream shadow, but an excellent base for other shadows". Certainly, in a recent run to the pool, it lasted longer than my waterproof mascara.

Where: at department stores & major chemists.

How much: pounds 10.

8

KIEHL'S REPAIRATEUR DRAWING PASTE

A blemish treatment for use on particularly oily skin, Heather Henggeler thinks that "it really is the best thing I've tried thus far for taking care of the oiliness that sometimes occurs with the change of seasons". It comes in a little white plastic jar (minimalistic, of course) and is a sort of grey-blue colour. I can't define the smell, but, what with that and the colour, I would advise against wearing this around anyone you would like to know better. Where: at Harrods, Liberty, Space NK or by mail order: 0171-730 1234. How much: pounds 12.50 for 5ml.

9

DARPHIN INTRALDERM

"A really soothing, firming and cooling gel, which also contains lavender. It's particularly good just after waxing and sugaring. I use this stuff all day long, especially if my legs are feeling tired," says Sandy Rogers. It can also be used on the face and under or over make-up. Very similar to aloe vera squeezed straight from the cactus, it doesn't leave behind the residual stickiness of the natural gel. Where: only at Harrods (0171-730 1234).

How much: pounds 18 to pounds 49.

10

AVEDA SELF CONTROL

"A wax in stick form that you just smooth over your hair. It's good for flattening down all of those little flyaway baby hairs and for smoothing very short styles," says Leslie McMenemin. The stick looks very much like deodorant, and smells like a hospital ward, though the scent does go upon application. Where: call 0171-410 1600 for stockists or mail order. How much: pounds 13.50.

11

ESTEE LAUDER DAY WEAR

This is among the first mainstream products to have ingredients specifically chosen for protection from the environment. "It's the only product of this sort that's been independently tested and found to have everything you need to protect your skin," says Newby Hands. It also has a lovely light fragrance and is rich enough to last up to a year. Where: at major department stores & chemists.

How much: pounds 25.

12

LANCOME ETERNICILS

A mascara that apparently includes snail-like latex "micro-spirals": tiny unfurling filaments. Vivien Placks says that "this is the only mascara I would ever use." Though waterproof, it does come off easily with a regular cleanser. The brush is just shy of teddybear fluffy, and separates the lashes nicely while avoiding clumping. Pitched as the product that will get you through the longest tear-jerker in history and/or 32 lengths in the pool.

Where: at department stores & major chemists.

How much: pounds 14.50.

13

ELIZABETH ARDEN VISIBLE DIFFERENCE EIGHT-HOUR CREAM

The best-selling multi-purpose balm by Elizabeth Arden. It is advertised for use as a lip gloss, foot balm and all around desert-island cure-all. More a thick gel than a cream, it was invented in the 1930s by Arden herself, and does, regrettably, have that slightly odd tar odour common to many of these types of product. Despite this, it is very effective, and Nicola Formby declares this "great for those seasonal dry patches."

Where: at major department stores & chemists.

How much: pounds 17.

14

ELEMIS SKIN BRUSH

Made from cactus bristles and with a detachable handle, Vivien Placks believes that this body brush is "fantastic for exfoliating, invigorating and waking up your body". Intended to be used dry every morning or evening before bathing, you start with the soles of your feet and work with long, upward movements towards your heart, focusing on areas that have cellulite.

Where: at Space NK, or call 0181-954 8033 for mail order.

How much: pounds 12.50.

15

AVEDA PUREFUME BRILLIANT EMOLLIENT FOR HAIR

This shine agent for difficult hair is dispensed in a pump, and can be used before or after styling. A little goes a long way (too much makes the hair look greasy instead of glassy). "It's water-based, which means it leaves behind no sort of residue," says Leslie McMenemin. Like many Aveda products, it comes in a snazzy blue glass bottle, which means that you probably won't feel inclined to take it with you to the gym, the pool or any room with hard flooring. Where: call 0171-410 1600 for stockists or mail order.

How much: pounds 17.50.

16

JO MALONE JUNIPER SKIN TONIC

Jo Malone is a big business run from a little store in Knightsbridge. Over the past few years, the beautifully scented, elegantly packaged products have become a cult with Those Who Know - Nicola Formby says she'd use "just anything made by Jo". Different combinations of products are used to provide for different skin types; this one is for normal skin. And if you can't get to London, don't worry: you can also buy through mail order.

Where: from the Jo Malone store at 154 Walton Street, London SW3, or via mail order on 0171-720 0202.

How much: pounds 9.50 for 100ml.

17

YVES SAINT LAURENT TOUCHE ECLAT

YSL cosmetics' biggest seller, this hugely popular concealer comes in one colour only and really is best on paler skin. Nicola Formby rates it as an "excellent cover-up for dark circles and little lines." It is also effective on spider veins and, because of a slight sheen, makes the skin look dewy instead of matt. It comes in a long, chic, gold pump - one can't help but wonder just how much of what you're paying for is the mechanics.

Where: at department stores & major chemists.

How much: pounds 19.50.

18

JO MALONE CAMPHOR CLEANSING GEL

Contained in signature rounded-off square bottles, this is the essential first step for oily skin in the Jo Malone cleansing range. Annalisa Barbieri says that "it's really good if you've got oily, pre-period or generally spotty skin. It can really calm it down and rein it in."

Where: from the Jo Malone store at 154 Walton Street, London SW3, or via mail order on 0171-720 0202.

How much: pounds 9.50 for 100ml & pounds 18.95 for 250ml.

19

AESOP'S REJUVENATE AROMATIQUE BALM

A cream that looks and feels just like cool custard. Josephine Fairley says that "it's 100 per cent natural and smells beautifully of mandarins, vanilla and sandalwood. It's extremely moisturising and chemical-free, which is important when you consider that your body absorbs everything contained within a product." Worth every penny. Where: at Browns, Barkers & the Cross, or by calling 0171-221 4142 or 0171-514 0021.

How much: pounds 21.50.

20

AVEDA PURE PLANT HAIR CARE SHAMPOOS & CONDITIONERS

These products were recommended by several of the experts, all of whom felt that they were particularly good for a variety of hair colours and textures, bringing out natural highlights and toning down any brassiness. Sandy Rogers says: "These products are really wonderful, with lots of natural ingredients in them. They also smell fabulous." Where: call 0171-410 1600 for stockists or mail order.

How much: from pounds 2 to pounds 19 for the shampoo & pounds 16 for the conditioner.

21

CLINIQUE ENVIRONMENT CREAM

A day-wear moisturiser that promises to protect you from the environment, particularly the natural one. Annalisa Barbieri feels that it is "essential if you work outdoors or when you go walking. Stops you from getting that `slapped in the face' look." Despite being very thick and rich, it absorbs into the skin quickly. Like all Clinique products, it is fragrance-free and allergy tested.

Where: at department stores & major chemists.

How much: pounds 27.50.

22

KIEHL'S LIPGLOSS

Nicola Formby confesses she always carries a lipgloss with her, and that it is usually Kiehl's. Known for being virtually smudge-proof, Kiehl's glosses come in three different levels of moisturising, several different colours, and all contain sunscreen. But the lipgloss is still less popular, and less famous, than Kiehl's Lip Balm, which has made it to the top of Everest.

Where: by mail order from Harrods (0171-730 1234).

How much: the lipgloss is pounds 9.95 to pounds 15.50; the lip balm is pounds 4.50 for a large 7oz jar.

23

DARPHIN PURIFYING BALM

"You are riddled with blackheads," the woman at the Darphin counter in Harrods will say as you approach. And she has just the thing: a thick camphor jam that you spread over problem areas regularly for about two months. Sandy Rogers agrees: "As the name would suggest, this is an excellent product for congested skin. It really cleans out the pores." What with the high- handed French service, the smell and the cost, it better had...

Where: by mail order from Harrods (0171-730 1234). How much: pounds 39.50.

24

KIEHL'S CREME DE CORPS

Nicola Formby recommends this as being "just excellent. Lush and thick and not at all oily." The cream does take a while to soak in, but is absolutely worth it for skin that is particularly dry or has been exposed to harsh weather conditions. Having said that, it is very greasy - at least initially - and smells something like pasta that's been left in a saucepan overnight.

Where: Harrods, Liberty, Space NK or by mail order (0171-734 1234).

How much: pounds 13.95 for 4oz or pounds 22.95 for 8oz.

25

BORGHESE SHAMPOO PURIFI-CANTE

"This shampoo is very gentle," says Penny Chorlton. "It feels as though it's really cleaning, but without doing any damage. It is expensive, but then you don't need much, and it seems to last forever." Formulated to "purify" the hair and scalp, it has only a slight trace of the strange tar smell that some other similar shampoos have, and is very thick and almost sticky, like treacle.

Where: at leading department stores.

How much: pounds 13 for 250ml.

NIVEA LOTION ENRICHED FOR DRY SKIN

Penny Chorlton likes this because "it comes in a great big container and lasts forever. You can use it absolutely anywhere, and it's not too greasy. You can put your make-up right on top. It's really taken care of my winter-dry skin." But be aware that, with an initial texture very much like a paste made from icing sugar and milk, a lot doesn't go nearly as far as a little of other, thinner lotions.

Where: at chemists & supermarkets.

How much: pounds 2.84 for 250ml.

26

27

ERNO LAZLO SHAKE-IT

This foundation is "brill for matt skin", according to Annalisa Barbieri. "It's a powder in liquid foundation, so, as the name suggests, you shake it before application." Despite boring packaging, this does eliminate shine from surplus moisturiser on the skin, and minimises the appearance of pores. Not a unique product, but it streaks far less than its competitors, and is very refreshing, particularly if you are not in the habit of using a toner.

Where: for stockists or mail order, call 0345 697072. How much: pounds 28.

28

AVEDA'S NIGHT NUTRIENTS

Annalisa Barbieri finds this light oil "great for dry skin or if you've been out in harsh weather. Sinks in and soothes immediately." Though intended for older, drier skin, it's not the sort of heavy night cream usually aimed at this age range.

Where: available at limited department stores. Call 0171-410 1600 for stockists or mail order.

How much: pounds 35.

29

ST IVES BODY LOTION

While generally considered a cheap and cheerful high-street product, the St Ives range of cosmetics are, according to Heather Henggeler, "decent products that come in larger sizes and excellent prices. I don't really see any reason why you should pay more." The range now includes this spray- on lotion, which is particularly convenient when you simply don't have the time or energy to massage a lotion properly into your body.

Where: at most chemists & supermarkets.

How much: starts at pounds 2.59.

30

TIGI ESSENSUAL SPRAY SHINE

"I think this is actually supposed to be used as a finishing agent," says Leslie McMenemin, "but I've found it works best when you put it straight onto the hair before you've dried it. It produces a really nice shine and makes the hair wonderfully soft." Contains sunscreen and reparative herbs that are supposed to mend split ends and discourage frizziness. And while they might not add to the performance of the product, the addition of patchouli, juniper, ylang ylang, evening primrose and jasmine certainly makes your hair smell heavenly.

Where: from salons & Superdrug; call 0800 731 2396 for stockists. How much: pounds 7.25.

31

ORIGINS NIGHT-A-MINS

Popular for its wholesome image and pretty glass bottles, Origins is famous for using products such as "oat flour" and "fossilized mineral water". Night-A-Mins, one of its newest offerings, is enriched with non- metallic minerals, which the skin absorbs easily, and contains soporific scents to lull you to sleep. Heather Henggeler worries that "having used it for a little while now, I'm not sure I could sleep without it". Where: at Origins stores & counters; call 0800 731 4039 for stockists. How much: pounds 25.00 for 50g.

32

SMITH'S ROSEBUD SALVE

Annalisa Barbieri, another one like those Kiehl's chaps on Everest who won't leave the house without a good lip balm (see No 22), reckons that this is particularly nice as "it comes in a handy little tin and also has a slightly pink tinge". An American product, it is available only by mail order.

Where: by mail order from Beauty Quest (0541 505000).

How much: pounds 6.

33

BORGHESE SKIN CALMING ESSENCE

Like the rest of the Borghese range, this highly perfumed product smells strongly of the 60-plus set - so you wouldn't immediately think of using it on sensitive skin. Indeed, upon application it tingles worryingly, but then, like everything in the Borghese range, it lives up to its claims. As Annalisa Barbieri says, "it's the sort of thing you need rarely, but when you do it's invaluable. Calms your skin if you've had a sudden reaction to a product."

Where: at major department stores.

How much: pounds 35.

34

REVLON DRY SKIN RELIEF CREAM

"Just the best body cream there is. It smells fab and leaves the skin hydrated and dewy all day. It's better than any other cream at any other price," says Annalisa Barbieri. Available in large sizes and for a variety of skin types.

Where: at most major chemists & supermarkets.

How much: from pounds 3.65 for 400ml.

35

ESTEE LAUDER HERBAL HAIR PACK

Josephine Fairley, who initiated a letter-writing campaign to persuade Estee Lauder not to drop this hair-pack from its range, says it is "the best conditioner in history. It's a wonderful de-tangler for fine hair, and leaves it shiny and smelling of a herb garden." Half an hour with this stuff on your head is half an hour well spent, and the lovely smell remains in your hair for at least two washes.

Where: at most major department stores, or call 0800 525501.

How much: pounds 13.50 for 250ml.

36

ELIZABETH ARDEN'S CERAMIDE TIME CAPSULES FOR THE FACE & THROAT

The instantly recognisable capsules, which look rather like mouse bladders, were among the first of the non-lotion/ cream moisturisers. Annalisa Barbieri notes that these are "fabulous for travelling, as each dose comes in a tiny capsule. Inside is an oily, nourishing fluid that sinks in completely."

Where: at department stores & major chemists.

How much: 60 capsules for pounds 43.50.

37

GUERLAIN LIPLIFT

Vivien Placks says that "you must buy this. You must buy it now. It is the ultimate base product for lipstick, whether Guerlain's (above) or anybody else's. It's a great moisturiser and almost totally eliminates feathering. Makes your lips look really, really luscious." Smells of vanilla and can be used as a neutral lipstick.

Where: at department stores & major chemists.

How much: pounds 16.50.

38

CLARINS BEAUTY FLASH BALM

A popular item from the Clarins range, the Beauty Flash Balm acts as an immediate tightener for tired skin. Vivien Placks declares it "a must- have. You look and feel more awake and alive immediately." Intended for use just after cleansing and toning and before applying make-up, it can be applied prior to moisturising on particularly dry skin.

Where: at department stores & major chemists, or call 0171-629 2979 for stockists.

How much: pounds 20.

39

BODY SHOP EXFOLIATING GLOVES

A popular product for a few years now in bath shops, exfoliating gloves have become as familiar to many of us as flannels and sponges. Their flexibility makes them "better than a loofah in the bath or shower", according to Annalisa Barbieri, and they last for several months before the elastic and then the scratch starts to go.

Where: at The Body Shop.

How much: pounds 2.95.

40

JOHN FRIEDA SHEER BLONDE

As a brunette, I feel a little dishonest using this line, but it's great for sensitive scalps, and not particularly expensive. "Unlike other shampoos, it protects my scalp, which tends to be very prone to itchiness," says Josephine Fairley. "It's specially formulated for a blonde's sensitive skin, and the styling products are tinted with lavender to get rid of brassiness."

Where: only at Boot's. How much: items start at pounds 3.95.

41

MUJI FACE SOAP

Part of the "unlabelled" skin-care range from the trendy Japanese store Muji, this soap is incredibly cheap and smells really pleasant. Annalisa Barbieri feels that "it's not really right for older skin, but for teenagers it's fab. It foams up really well and leaves the skin well cleansed."

Where: exclusive to Muji stores.

How much: pounds 2.50.

42

LANCOME FLASH BRONZER

Part of the new generation of self-bronzing products, this one is a favourite of Vivien Placks. "I think that a tan, even a fake one, looks particularly good this time of year; certainly better than a foundation. This one is really natural looking and not nearly as streaky or blotchy as some." It still has some of the funny fake-tan smell when wet, but it dries almost instantly and develops within 45 minutes.

Where: at department stores & major chemists.

How much: pounds 15.

43

JURLIQUE HERBAL RECOVERY GEL

This smells fresh, and you only need a few drops. Use under moisturiser for dry skin, or alone for oily. Gentle enough for the eye area, "it's an excellent pre-make-up smoother and moisturiser. A real must-have, particularly for dry and older skin," says Vivien Placks. And, hey, its makers list "alchemy" among their specialities.

Where: at Dickins & Jones, Space NK, or by mail order from The Naturopathic Health & Beauty Co (0181-841 6644). How much: pounds 36.75 for 30ml.

44

BORGHESE BODY REFINER

"Excellent. Really lovely and soothing," says Penny Chorlton of this top-of-the-range exfoliator. Containing very fine grains of pumice, it cleans and thins down rough skin, and just a little on the sponge provided is enough to form a lovely thick lather. It feels a little like rubbing the Caribbean sand into your skin just before jumping into the big, blue ocean. Sigh.

Where: at leading department stores.

How much: pounds 24 with sponge.

45

TIGI STRONG MOUSSE

The silver bullet gracing the shelf of many a salon and major chemist, this mousse "really holds a hairstyle," says Leslie McMenemin. The smell is fairly mild, and the product doesn't leave a bitter taste if you get a hank of hair in your mouth. It comes in "Strong" for fine to normal hair, and "Extra Strong" for thicker hair, and is formulated with natural ingredients to avoid drying.

Where: at salons & Superdrug, or call 0800 731 2396.

How much: pounds 4.95 for 200ml & pounds 9.65 for 400ml.

46

AVON HYDROFIRMING NIGHT CREAM

Certainly the least pricey of the night creams listed, this is "every bit as good as the expensive creams," reckons Penny Chorlton. She also feels that "the main difference between this and pricier products is that you don't mind putting this on your elbows with dirty fingers."

Where: call Avon on 0845 6050400 for your nearest representative.

How much: pounds 8.

47

VINCENT LONGO WATER CANVAS

The Vincent Longo range has had a run on this wonderful product ever since its UK launch last November. A cream foundation in a futuristic compact, it goes on smoothly and looks sheer, moist and natural - like real skin, and it really stays put. Heather Henggeler declares it "particularly good for normal to oily skin. Really nice for this time of year, as it doesn't sit heavily on your face." Where: currently only at Selfridges, or by mail order on 01252 741601. How much: pounds 28.

48

BORGHESE FANGO

Penny Chorlton says that a face pack of this brownish-grey goo is "like a gentle sandpaper. It gets rid of all the awfulness. Just make sure to use it when you're alone." However ridiculous you look with this slapped all over your mug, it really does clean deeply, and can annihilate all your blackheads in one go. But it can sting uncomfortably for the first few minutes after application.

Where: at major department stores.

How much: pounds 30.50 for 500g & sponge.

49

SUPERDRUG VITAMIN E EXFOLIATING BODY SCRUB

A thick cream invested with little crushed bits of apricot kernel, this is, according to Annalisa Barbieri, "just about the best body scrub. Really invigorating and ridiculously well priced." Contains a natural source of vitamin E and wheatgerm oil as moisturisers. Just be careful to get it all out of your bellybutton before you leave the bath.

Where: at Superdrug.

How much: pounds 1.19.

50

NIZORAL ANTI DANDRUFF SHAMPOO

Penny Chorlton rates this shampoo, with the active ingredient ketoconazole, higher than other products of its type. "A lot of dandruff shampoos do more harm than good," she says, "but this is much more gentle. I tend to get a flaky scalp in winter, but this that seems to take care of it. It also doesn't have a lasting smell."

Where: only at pharmacists'.

How much: pounds 5.75 for 60ml.

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