These are the products I always invest in – along with the stellar steals that never let me down
I’m taking a high/low approach to beauty shopping this week. Because, really, isn’t that how we all shop for pretty much everything? There are the products we feel are truly worth investing in and there are the bargains that offer more than you might expect if judged merely on their diminutive price tag.
On the high-end side I’d like to focus largely on a fragrance brand called Ostens (the name comes from Latin and means to display or exhibit) – although opposite you will find a selection of some of my other current favourite luxury buys alongside my top cheaper picks. But back to Ostens, a brand that is creating some of the best – and my favourite – fragrances in the business right now. It keeps a fairly low profile and it’s definitely not into multiple launches and overproduction. In fact, it currently has just six perfumes in its roster.
Like many of the haute perfume labels, Ostens has a greater purpose: raising awareness of the art of perfumery. In the same way that Parfums Frédéric Malle highlights the role of the nose, Ostens takes that and raises the bar with an added focus on notes – raw ingredients and their provenance. The Ostens founders choose a note they love from one of the top suppliers to the industry, then ask a leading perfumer to create something around it – they can do anything they want to, without any marketing brief or stipulation on cost.
It’s all focused on aroma. The perfumes are named after the note of inspiration rather than given a fancy made-up moniker. To emphasise the concept, a bottle of the key note in oil form is included with the eau de parfum it inspired – use this on its own, layer it with the eau de parfum or with any other that you have.
My favourite is Patchouli Heart No. II (£135, ostens.com) with added notes of violet, iris and Ambroxan, giving it a vintage air reminiscent of the inside of a well-loved handbag. The most popular eau de parfum that customers are wrapping themselves up in is Cashmeran Velvet (£105). Described by one fragrance aficionado as the love child of Le Labo Santal 33 and the original Escentric Molecule, it’s an enveloping swaddle of style and reassurance. Other perfumes are centred on rose and jasmine.
Prices vary according to the cost of the ingredients and range from £105 to £175. Since this is a digital-first brand, if you’re unsure of what you like you can opt for the Discovery Collection with a decent sample size of each for £30. Or book a free in-person consultation at their Central London HQ where the founders will take you through everything. You won’t be disappointed.
My high-end hot list
A seven-day intensive skincare kit formulated to give a serious boost in hydration. My skin drinks this up and looks and feels so much better for it. Kits for firming, clarity and radiance are also available.
Sumptuous to use in both texture and smell, keep it as a treat for hands when out and about. Be warned: squeeze out the tiniest amount as when you twist the cap to close a full dose will be dispensed.
A nude-and-neutrals version of the already popular red lip palette from make-up artist Gucci Westman’s range. These give a matt finish, feel comfortable and moisturising and last well. A treat to use.
Givenchy’s classic loose face powder quartet now comes in blush form. It’s super finely milled and the tones in each pot work together to sculpt and illuminate. Each has its own puff and a mirror. Comes in six shades.
My best-value beauties
A great dual-ended creamy eyeshadow. Less metallic than some for a more subtle effect.
An excellent hardworking mask for adding radiance. Apply to dry skin and leave on for five to ten minutes (for sensitive skin, try one to three minutes).
A rich but quickly absorbed moisturiser that smells as cheeringly lovely as you’d expect.