I found a good thing about lockdown! Not all the forced family time, or the home baking, or the reminder of the joys in the simpler things in life – oh no. That was last lockdown, when we didn’t feel like Covid had just been ceaselessly kicking us around for over eighteen months. This time round, I discovered the joy that lies in using up all the skincare samples I’ve had lying around for yonks.
I can’t be the only one who gets so.many.samples – the freebies that they throw in your bag at the department store, or that are delivered from Sephora or Mecca, or even the smaller stuff that comes in the Mecca Beauty Loop boxes – and gets excited about using them and then just never does? I always think they’ll be good to take on holidays but then I don’t, because I’m of the age where I like what I like and I don’t want to try something new while I’m in a new environment. When you’re never in a new environment though, say, just as an example, your own house day-in-day-out thanks to a global pandemic, that’s the perfect time to have some fun with all those samples. You’ve got time, and the stakes are super low because nobody is seeing you, so even if you break out a bit, who really cares?
In the interests of science, and decluttering my bathroom drawer, I tried out quite a few over the last few weeks and I have ended up liking quite a few too! Here’s what I rated from my many, many samples – I’d say about 40% of things I tried I liked, which seems pretty good to my (dry, sensitive-skinned, fine-haired) self. If I didn’t like it, I don’t talk about it here. Let’s keep it positive!
1. BareMinerals Pureness skincare
I used to love BareMinerals powder foundation back in the day! But I’ve never before tried their skincare, to the best of my knowledge. I didn’t have high hopes for these products (I tried the light moisturiser and the gel cleanser) because I thought they wouldn’t be hydrating enough for my dry skin, but turns out I was wrong and I love them. They are definitely summer products for me, for two reasons – they almost certainly won’t contend well with my winter-dry skin, and the moisturiser has no SPF. In summer I always wear a separate daily sunscreen on top so that’s no biggie, but in winter I reply on my moisturiser having SPF (at least 30, broad-spectrum) to protect me from any sneaky UV rays that get through the near-constant grey, drizzly dreariness that defines a winter in the north of New Zealand.
I will absolutely be buying both of these when I finish up my current cleanser and moisturiser. I’m also impressed by the price of them – low enough that I won’t be upset if/when Hayden uses them too.
2. NARS Smooth and Protect Primer
I don’t usually like primer at all, and I’ve never regularly used one, except when I got married over a decade ago and bought a primer for the day (I did my own makeup and if, like me, you hate people fussing around your face, I cannot recommend that highly enough!). Incidentally, the primer I used back then was MAC Prep and Prime, which I actually did like but not enough for me to continue justifying the price of it. This NARS primer kind of reminds me of the MAC one in how it feels – really silky and soft – but it might be a better pick now because I am, well, at least one decade older so the smooth part of its name is quite interesting to me, and also it’s a much better price. But I did like the MAC one all those years ago if you’re not a regular primer user and you want to try a couple out – especially if you’re keen on its promised radiance (that matters not at all to me because I use a super-light tinted face oil instead of foundation and also I hate being cold so I keep heat settings high/chase the sun, so I feel like I have radiance down most of the time). I’m still not sure I’m going to become a primer user but if I did, I’d buy this NARS one.
3. Soap and Glory Hand Food hydrating hand cream
I have a dog now and there is still a global pandemic, so I wash my hands constantly, and they’re not happy about it. This stuff helps immensely, though. I love it and I’ve already ordered two more so I can stash them all over the place. It’s so well priced! Other hand creams I love are L’Occitane and Compagnie de Provence, and I’ll keep buying those to keep in all my handbags because 30ml is the perfect size for handbag hand cream, but this Soap and Glory one is headed straight for my bathroom drawer, my bedside table, and my desk.
4. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
So first of all, I’m not a fan of how Kate Somerville has shoved ‘Kate’ into the middle of all her product names (DeliKate? Come on) but I am more than prepared to overlook that because of how much I loved this treatment. My sample was tiny and I eked out every single last drop. This isn’t cheap! But I imagine I’ll only use it a couple of times a week – it’s super effective – and it’s worth it to me. I love how it uses chemical and manual exfoliants but is still not harsh at all, and I really love how glowy it makes my skin. I’m hoping that over time I’ll see fading of some of the red marks I have on my face, and while only time will tell, I’m confident enough in its ability to have bought a small bottle of this – we will see!
5. Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture shampoo and conditioner
Yes, the name of these products is undoubtedly too long. BUT I really like them, even though the shampoo smells bad (it just does, there’s no way of sugar-coating that). The smell fades within seconds of rinsing it out but I had good hair for days following trying these samples. Like, really good hair. It was soft and smooth and well-behaved and somehow not flat, even though I was using super-moisturising products. I swear, even its colour looked better. Usually I have to wash my hair every two days, and by the second half of the second day it’s starting to really wilt, but that wasn’t the case with Alterna shampoo and conditioner (I wasn’t going to type the full name out again). And you might be rolling your eyes now at the inclusion of caviar, or at the idea of an anti-aging shampoo or conditioner, and I hear you, I really do, but these products are really good. I’m very glad I tried the samples! And I’m looking forward to using more of this when my full-size bottles arrive, whenever Auckland finally gets out of lockdown (our country is divided in two right now and Smith and Caughey’s, my favourite department store that happens to be Auckland-based, can’t ship them yet as they’re non-essential items. Also, thank you to Auckland which is doing the hard yards right now to keep us all safe – it’s so unfair and we are grateful!).
Non-essential they may be but they’re very good and I absolutely recommend trying them.
6. And now, a serum-based request
I tried a few serum samples as well but didn’t fall in love with any of them, so I’d love your help! Do you use, now or in the past, a daytime serum you love? Particularly if it’s a Vitamin C or brightening one; as I already mentioned I have some red marks on my face and I’d love to fade them in a painless, at-home kind of way. I’d love to hear your thoughts – let me know!