A fun fact: Despite my thick Californian accent, I am in fact half English. And, coincidentally, I also ended up dating (and sharing a cat with) a Londoner. Because of this, I try my best to visit England at least twice a year. Yes, I love the UK for the conventional reasons (like cozy pubs with fireplaces, Hampstead Heath, and Colin the Caterpillar cakes), but as a skincare-and-makeup obsessive, I also think the Brits really know how to do beauty. Selfridges and Liberty have some of my favourite beauty counters of all time (in my opinion, they put Barneys to shame!) and I seldom make it back to Heathrow without a heavy bag stuffed with bottles of all shapes and sizes.
I’ve purchased some of my most treasured skin-care gems across the pond, and whenever I return, I can’t believe how many new, innovative brands have sprouted up since I was last there. Below, a list of my seven all-time favourite skin-care products — including a SPF-infused moisturizer, travel-friendly double cleanser, and a Drunk Elephant dupe — that I get my hands on whenever I’m in the UK.
I don’t want to pick favourites, but Pai Skincare is probably the UK brand I’ve repurchased from the most. The entire line incorporates pure, certified organic ingredients and is formulated with ultrasensitive skin types in mind. Their hero product, at least in my opinion, is the Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil. It’s a wonderful, nourishing oil that is rich in antioxidants and omegas, helping calm, rejuvenate, and protect the skin from environmental stressors. Not to mention, it leaves your skin with a beautiful glow. I use a few drops of this at the very end of my evening skin-care routine.The first time I purchased the oil was during a big Cult Beauty sale, but I also discovered that most Whole Foods in London also sell it.
Double cleansing is the best way to ensure all your day’s sunscreen, sweat, and makeup is off your skin before bed. This double-cleanse duo is a collaboration between Pixi by Petra and the London–based skin-care guru and esthetician Caroline Hirons. The dual-cleansing system is made up of cleansing oil (which uses conditioning and healing omegas, vitamin E, and evening primrose) to melt away makeup, as well as a cleansing cream (that uses skin-strengthening and plumping peptides, vitamin C, and arginine) to clean the skin. Apply the oil to dry skin, rinse, then follow up with the cleansing cream for a perfectly purifying-yet-gentle, non-stripping bedtime cleanse. The two-for-one packaging is also great for chucking in your bag for weekend trips.
This everyday morning moisturizer is an excellent way to nourish and protect your skin for the day. The lightweight-yet-hydrating formula uses a blend of antioxidant-rich plant botanicals as well as hyaluronic acid, which work together to moisturize, replenish, and calm any irritation or inflammation from dehydration or environmental stressors. This is a great moisturizer for ultrasensitive skin types. It also has some SPF in it for added protection (though I like to layer it underneath a regular SPF for maximum coverage). I picked this up at a SpaceNK— I went in with the intention of re-upping on my shampoo, but ended up walking out with this gem. No regrets!
This hydrating and radiance-boosting vitamin C serum from Emma Hardie is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to add luminosity to their complexion — or get rid of pesky hyperpigmentation left behind from breakouts. The formula uses antioxidant-rich red algae as well as workhorse-ingredient niacinamide (for smoothing, healing, and evening out your complexion,) and vitamin C derivative Ascorbyl Glucoside for radiance. I also snagged this during an impromptu SpaceNK visit.
These Elemis Peel Pads, beloved by British makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes, use a blend of resurfacing lactic acid, probiotic ferment, and shea butter, which all work together to buff away dead skin cells while delivering nourishing and moisturizing ingredients back into your skin. That way, it’s never stripped or dry. These gentle peel pads are perfect for smoothing out your complexion and prepping the skin for serums or oils. These are definitely some of the best exfoliating peel pads I’ve ever tried.
My friend Sable Young sent me this moisturizer suspecting it might be a good dupe for my beloved Drunk Elephant Protini Cream. And she was right! Much like Drunk Elephant cream, this one delivers a ton of barrier-strengthening and nourishing peptides and quenches any kind of dull or dehydrated skin. And it’s a fraction of the price!
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