My beauty glow-up came quite late in life. Whilst other girls were desperate to wear lip gloss and nail varnish as soon as they hit 13, I was still a total tomboy. But at 16, I started a part-time job at The Body Shop in my hometown. It was my first forte into skincare and makeup, and it was a turning point in my beauty life. I may have only been a Saturday girl, but I got to know the products well, trying and testing them so I could help customers find their perfect match. Many were longtime devotees of the brand; in fact, The Body Shop has a cult following that others can’t seem to rival. We all fondly remember the brand's bath pearls and the joy of receiving a fruity lip butter in your Christmas stocking. And weirdly enough, despite trying all the latest beauty buys for work, when I look in my makeup and skincare bags, The Body Shop is a brand I always come back to.
Yes, the packaging may have changed, and there may have been some new additions to the range over the past 10 years, but some things never change. Back then, I loved that I was working for a brand that promoted cruelty free beauty and fair trade, and the brand's ethics have only gone from strength to strength.
Take The Body Shop's "Enrich Not Exploit" Commitment, for example, where it promises to work fairly with farmers and suppliers to help them thrive through its Community Trade programme. I'm also pleased that all products are 100% vegetarian, and that it remains firmly against animal testing. Its campaign Forever Against Animal Testing has secured over seven million signatures, and once it reaches its target of eight million, it plans to take the petition to the UN later this year.
What also helps is that the brand was recently bought by Natura, a Brazillian-owned company that also owns Aesop. "It has a well-established reputation as an ethical beauty brand," Elen Macaskill, global customer director at The Body Shop, tells me. "We have shared values, and believe business can and should be a force for positive change. We're keen to return to real activism—changing laws and society for the better, which our founder, Anita Roddick, so famously pioneered."
Even just the gorgeous fragrance walking past a shop now takes me right back. What can I say? Like Love Island's Georgia, I'm loyal, babes. Keep scrolling to see the products I never stopped using as well as my new favourites.
The entire Tea Tree range was a life-altering discovery for my teenage self. It helped dry out and sooth my spots all those years ago, and I still use the oil to this day. If I feel a bout of hormonal acne coming on, it's a lifesaver.
The vitamin E range is tipped in nostalgia for me. I fell in love with the soothing effect the (Community Trade–sourced) shea butter and aloe vera have on the skin. The moisture cream is always in my makeup bag; the plumping hyaluronic acid uses makes my skin look instantly refreshed.
The Himalayan Charcoal Mask rids me of my still frequent acne. It's a cult fave and best seller, and for good reason. The bamboo, charcoal, green tea leaves and organic tea tree oil draw out impurities and refine pores. I use it once a week and can feel a difference to my skin immediately after use.
We all know the importance of an SPF, but it was something I was letting slip in my skincare routine. Whilst I love my freckles, I realise getting 20 more each time I go in the sun means I need to start prioritising UV protection. I've began using the SPF 50 Skin Defense face cream—it protects skin with broad spectrum UV filters (including protection from long UVA rays, which reach deep within the skin and accelerate the process of ageing.) It also includes red algae extract and vitamin C to brighten skin for a luminous complexion.
My oily skin made me fearful of using a dewy foundation like this one. I loved The Body Shop's matte all-in-one foundation but was desperate for that beautiful summer glow. The Fresh Nude base has a perfect semi-matte finish—it gives me a light hydrated look whilst still covering my imperfections. Plus it has SPF 15. This + the buffing brush = photo-worthy skin.
Whilst working at The Body Shop, I bought a set of its brushes, and I still have them to this day. They stand the test of time when properly cleaned and cared for. The quality of their super-soft (cruelty-free) bristles can be (literally) felt, meaning makeup goes on flawlessly every time.
A new addition to my brush collection is this buffer. I don't think you can beat the coverage a brush offers. This helps me build up my foundation and not use too much product. It's also 100% cruelty-free, right down to the sustainably sourced wooden handle.
Oils of Life is a relatively new range for The Body Shop, and boy is it luxe. This cream rivals those I've tried that are triple the price, and it's infused with three precious seed oils. I apply it at night with the range's facial massager tool or my jade roller. I add in a drop of the Oils of Life Revitalising Facial Oil if I'm feeling extra indulgent.
Full disclosure: Up until this year, I focused my entire beauty routine on my skincare and makeup, and completely neglected my body. But I recently remembered the sheer joy of a Body Shop Body Butter (I've never found such indulgent scents in any other brand). Now this Body Yogurt has become my new BFF. The hyaluronic acid locks in moisture, and it's light as a feather to apply. My skin is thanking me.
Primers are a new The Body Shop find for me, but this little wonder product gives me picture-perfect skin even on days I feel far from it. My foundation goes on smoother, my pores are concealed and the mattifying effect keeps my oily skin from looking shiny throughout the day.
A red lipstick is still my go-to when I need a makeup pick-me-up. I loved these lipsticks way back when, and I still use them now. I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This bold matte lippie in New Orleans Scarlet is my absolute fave. The high-purity pigments used are enriched with Community Trade Brazil nut oil and beeswax for a nourishing, long-lasting finish. And like me, it's vegetarian.
The Drops of Youth range is a new addition to my bathroom cabinet, but it's fast becoming a real favourite. Whilst I'm not too concerned with anti-ageing at the moment, I realise my 28-year-old skin could do with being looked after a little more. Drops of Youth is formulated to "tackle the first signs of ageing before they become clearly visible." Just what I need—prevention is better than cure, as they say. This concentrate (which I apply morning and evening) is enriched with plant stem cells, glycerine and oils to leave skin instantly smoother and replenished with moisture. A little goes a long, long way.
The Shimmer Waves bronzer might have changed its packaging over the years but it's still my go-to glow palette. I discovered a little highlight on the cheek bones was a fail safe make-up look way before highlighting became the huge trend it is now. I've found no better sparkle than this.
One of The Body Shop's iconic buys, this removes makeup like no other. Byrdie has had intel from a makeup artist friends that this is their go-to for removing heavy looks after photo shoots. The camomile (sourced from Norfolk) nourishes, leaving skin clean and silky-soft.
I've never tried a Body Shop tool I haven't loved. These slanted tweezers keep my brows groomed to precision. I won't be parted from this pair; some beauty habits will never change.
Next up: Ever wondered which of we La Mer's moisturisers were the best? We found out.