I tend to save up skincare and body care samples for my toiletry bag as they make ideal travel companions for weekends away, business trips or even to throw in my gym bag. But with the government’s restrictions on movement during most of 2020 and gyms being forced to close, these minis had been forgotten in the depths of my bathroom drawer. Until I upped and moved into a new home, forcing me to come face to face with bag after bag of samples during the mega task of packing my beauty products. I’m not sure when I’ll next be doing any form of overnight travel, so rather than save them up in this beauty empties post I’ve been working my way through some of the minis I’ve accumulated over the last couple of years – plus they’re no doubt pretty close to their best before date.
I love micellar water. Effective at removing dirt and makeup yet gentle, quick and easy to use, it’s my go-to product to freshen up my face in the morning or removing light makeup in the evening. If I’m wearing a full face of foundation or full eye makeup – a pretty rare occasion these days – I’ll typically opt for a cream or balm cleanser and muslin cloth. I am familiar with Bioderma’s Sensibio micellar water for sensitive skin, but not this hydrating version. I can’t say that I see much difference between the two, maybe because my skin isn’t all that sensitive. They are both a delight to use: my skin feels clean, refreshed and hydrated.
I wasn’t expecting to like this moisturiser which is why it’s been hanging around in my toiletry bag for at least a year before I decided to crack it open. Its claim to mattify skin and blur imperfections would have had me hooked back in my teenage years, but to my older dehydrated skin it sounded like it would never deliver enough hydration. Well I was proven wrong. Having worked at Clinique for just over a year I had the opportunity to trial a fair few of their products, and I have to admit they do know how to make high performing moisturisers. After all there’s a reason Moisture Surge is one of the bestselling moisturisers in the UK. The white cream actually goes on more like a paste, and manages to provide all-day hydration with a matte finish thanks to silicones which regularly feature in beauty products to give a smooth, velvety feel.
I received a selection of DoTerra essential oil samples from coach and wellness ambassador Nina Sadlowsky, one of my first Beauty Insider Q&A guests. Nina had previously sent me some blends to discover, this time the oils are pure and unblended so I create my own concoctions and mix them however suits me best. I didn’t go wild, just added a couple of drops of essential oil to my moisturiser morning and evening to reap their skincare benefits. As well as boasting relaxing properties, lavender is naturally antibacterial, which makes it a great acne-fighting tool by killing pore-clogging bacteria. And geranium? It is believed to also offer antibacterial properties, and also acts as an antioxidant so helps protect from external aggressors.
Probably one of the brand’s bestselling skincare products, this serum has reached iconic status. Based on the premise that skin repairs itself at night, the serum is marketed as an evening product but is perfectly suitable for use in the morning too. I hadn’t quite appreciated why everyone raved about it until I tried it first-hand. Well now I know what all the fuss is about. Super hydrating, plumping, smoothing and brightening, this serum feels like a solid investment in your skincare routine. This little sample bottle lasted me a good 2 weeks of evening applications so the full-size bottle should keep you going for a while.
This oil was a slow burner for me. I received it as part of a Christmas gift set and initially reserved application of this oil to evenings only as it felt quite heavy and nourishing. I’ve since changed my mind. Yes it is nourishing but in the winter this is exactly what my skin needs, regardless of the time of day. When my skin feels tight, dry and dull I mix three to four drops to my moisturiser and massage into skin for an added boost of moisture. My skin looks brighter and plumper thanks to skin brightening Rice Bran and vitamin rich Moringa. When it comes to oils Fushi really know their stuff.
This brand really takes me back to growing up in France. It’s another classic French pharmacy brand, simple gentle formulas that nourish dry skin. I didn’t realise it had ever made it across the Channel until I read that Mixa had actually launched exclusively in Superdrug back in 2017… and then quietly disappeared again. I must have got this sample sachet from a French magazine. This moisturiser reminded me why this brand is so good at what it does: creamy texture, super hydrating with zero heaviness or clogginess, it just gets on with the job of moisturising your skin in a gentle fragrance-free way.
Now this is what I call deluxe samples. The oil comes in a tall elegant glass bottle with the thinnest, most delicate pipette I’ve ever seen, and the mask is presented in a mini version of the full-size jar. Beautiful. Thankfully it’s not all about the packaging, the formulas deliver too. The organic oil is light and easily absorbed, and the mask, a gel that looks like it’s made of cucumber water, actually feels more like oil once applied to skin, without ever being heavy. All in all a beautiful range of products which I would absolutely use again.
Pai is one of those brands which my skin always responds well to. Gentle formulas designed for sensitive skin, I wouldn’t describe my skin as particularly reactive, but Pai products never fail to make it feel well cared for in the gentlest way possible. This alcohol-free cream cleanser is no exception: soothing, nourishing and hydrating, my skin feels clean without the drying effect of some gel cleansers. Pai products have gone through a recent repackaging, so this cleanser has for some reason been renamed Middlemist Seven – not sure why.
Doesn’t quite trip off the tongue does it? I’ve not reviewed many products from this French pharmacy skincare brand apart from their Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster and a sample of Purifying Gel from this Normaderm range – I may have even got these two samples from the same event. I have a vague recollection of being given a selection of samples at a John Bell & Croyden market stall. Either way I was impressed with the cleansing gel and this anti-pollution moisturiser does its job well too. Similar to Clinique’s Pep Start Hydroblur this promises 24-hour hydration as well as reducing the appearance of imperfections. Again I am pleasantly surprised by this, which provides my dehydrated skin with enough nourishment thanks to hyaluronic acid.
How do you use your samples? Keep them for travel or slot into your everyday skincare routine?
All products photographed are samples.