The Viva Team’s Desert Island Beauty Products

Photo / Grace Gemuhluoglu

The brief for a desert-island beauty list, like any list of this particular canon, is simple: what would we be lost without? We’re not saying these products are a practical choice for an island stranding, though we’re not not saying they wouldn’t make a trip better if we’re haplessly cast

All of this is to say we think about these products with regularity, use them to the last drop, and recommend them to friends and family with total abandon.

One dependable cleansing balm used by deputy editor Johanna Thornton helps remove “anything you’ve plastered on your face that day”, then there’s a must-have that beauty editor Lucy Slight says is one of the best hacks she has ever been introduced to.

Read on for these plus more things we wouldn’t want to be stranded without.

One of my ‘can’t live without’ beauty products is Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. Clinique as a brand is not one I have dabbled with since I was a teenager when I wore its Superbalanced foundation (no longer in circulation) and the odd spray of Clinique Happy. I was introduced to this cleansing balm via a sample and haven’t looked back. The consistency is a balm that melts into a warm silky liquid upon contact with the skin. You apply it to a dry face with dry hands and the act of massaging it in circles instantly dissolves makeup, sunscreen and mascara — anything you’ve plastered on your face that day. I’m consistently amazed at how easily it rinses off with water without a trace of balmy residue. This is because it shapeshifts once again from satiny oil to a milky liquid with the addition of warm water. Sometimes I’ll double cleanse with a foam or gel cleanser, but if I don’t, my skin feels perfectly clean and moisturised. A revelation. — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

I don’t wear much makeup or use many skincare products (I’m lazy) so the ones I do use tend to fulfil several purposes, save time and do their job well. One of my essentials is BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Gel Cream. This stuff really is great, for my skin at least. It’s very hydrating (thanks to olive-derived squalene) and doesn’t settle in my dry bits. It’s sheer and forgiving enough that you can apply it with my preferred method — rubbing it around my face with my fingers — but also gives a coverage that takes the edge off, without losing that lovely skin patina that gives our faces character. Fragrance-free, and without sulphates, mineral oil, parabens and talc, it’s gentle on my sensitive skin. It’s also cruelty-free and vegan. Also good is the fact that it has broad spectrum sun protection, mineral not chemical, with an SPF 30; I should be diligent with sunscreen, but it’s an extra step that I often just don’t do — bad, I know — and I often find the combination of sunscreen and a base too much for my skin to handle. So this really does the trick. — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

This pot of Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream from popular Korean skincare brand Corsx is good for combination skin like mine and has a smooth consistency that makes it easy to apply and doesn’t smell. You don’t really need much of it either, so a small pot lasts the distance. It’s ideal for the depths of winter and for when the office decides it’s a good idea to crank the air con to the point where your skin feels like a dry husk. — Dan Ahwa, fashion and creative director

I have always been slightly sceptical of solid cleansers, as my skin gets quite dry, and I felt that scrubbing a soap-like bar on my face would leave my skin raw and over-washed. The Ethique Bliss Bars have totally converted me. With a little warm water, I find that the Gentle Solid Face Cleanser is really effective in removing any lingering oils, sunscreen or makeup from the day. I usually use an oil-based makeup remover beforehand, which can be tricky to remove with just warm water, and the bar makes me feel properly refreshed. I love that there’s no major excess packaging and it’s really easy to travel with (I’ll chop bits off if I’m going away). The light coconut scent, presumably from the creamed coconut butter, also reminds me of summer sunscreen — that’s the highest of compliments, as there isn’t really a smell that makes me happier. — Madeleine Crutchley, multimedia journalist

Without fail, this is the most re-purchased beauty item I have ever had. I slather this on my face, neck, and upper chest daily in the hopes that I won’t age — well, also to keep my skin safe. The consistency is light and non-sticky, also great for sensitive skin while being easy on the wallet. It’s the perfect travel size at 50ml, and the product goes a long way. — Annabel Dickson, fashion assistant

Before you think this is a misprint, I use this to dye my EYEBROWS, okay? This product is one of the best beauty hacks I’ve ever been introduced to. A dear friend of mine (who has many what she calls “feral” beauty tips) has used this for years to tint her brows at home and was forever telling me it was a game-changer. I finally tried it last year and I will never look back. You get so much more product than in DIY eyebrow tint kits (because it’s meant to cover the surface area of a beard) and the medium-brown colour for me is so spot on. Unlike eyebrow kits, there are no complicated instructions; you just mix the colour and the developer together, apply it carefully to your eyebrows and wash off after five minutes. I use this at home probably every three weeks and I cannot, and will not, live without it. Lucy Slight, beauty editor

Concealer has always been my friend but it’s not easy to find one that’s just as effective under the eye as it is at hiding imperfections. However, Nars do an excellent one that does both. It doesn’t settle into lines around the delicate under-eye area, and although it’s not in a handy stick, it’s easy to stash in my bag for skin-mergencies. Rebecca Barry Hill, writer

I am basically addicted to lip balm to the extent that it’s something that I routinely check is in my handbag before I leave the house as judiciously as I check for my keys. I have tried a lot, but this particular iteration of Burts Bees is my go-to, a slightly rose-scented (and tasting?) balm that helps with any parchedness but also has a lovely red-but-not-too-red hue that makes me look more alive without committing to lipstick. — Julia Gessler, digital editor

I like a decent face oil and recently discovered this great option from the clean beauty French brand Cosmetics 27. It’s a versatile oil that can be used conveniently on hair too, and I find it really soothing post-shave. — Dan Ahwa, fashion and creative director

I switched to bar shampoo and conditioner a few years ago and never looked back. Sphaera’s are by far my favourite. They last ages, my hair loves them, and you don’t have plastic bottles knocking about in your shower. There are three different formulations — this one is good for thick, dry hair like mine — and all available in this handy-sized travel kit, or as individual bars. — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

This is the oil I’ve been using to clear the makeup and sunscreen from my face at the end of the day and it’s the gentlest remover I’ve ever used. I’ve run through micellar waters, cream cleansers and wipes, and my dry, sensitive skin has flared up with many of them, making me a little adverse to wearing a lot of makeup in the first place. Both the texture and formulation of the rosehip oil is really calming and it seems to have a melting quality as it pulls even long-wear products from the skin. It’s best paired with warm water and a flannel, otherwise, it can get a little more claggy and harder to rinse off. Sometimes, it can also double as a body moisturiser for particularly dry patches. A little goes a long way — I’ve been ploughing my way through my current bottle since mid-last year. As part of a double cleanse routine, it’s one of my staples. — Madeleine Crutchley, multimedia journalist

This hydrating mist is the only thing keeping my face from being the dry, barren wasteland it truly wants to be. I spritz Dermalogica’s Hyaluronic Ceramide Mist over my face after cleansing (and patting dry with a towel) and find it creates the ideal foundation for applying my serum (which requires damp skin) or moisturiser. It’s a calming and nourishing blend of skin-barrier-friendly hyaluronic acid, rose water and antioxidants I’ve never heard of. It’s on the pricey side, so every spritz counts. — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

I had been wanting a Mason Pearson hairbrush for years, for many reasons. Firstly, because I am a beauty editor and how could I not have the holy grail of hairbrushes? Secondly, for future family heirloom purposes, because how chic to get the holy grail of hairbrushes handed down to you by your glamorous mother. And thirdly, because I just NEEDED to experience for myself the lush hair that Mason Pearson promised I would be graced with after brushing with a handmade boar-and-nylon-bristled brush. So, last year, I bit the bullet and spent an eye-watering amount on one of my very own, and I can say, it really does live up to the hype. It’s a dream for brushing out curling-tong curls, and for straight hair, it makes it extra shiny and oh-so-soft. If I ever lost it, I wouldn’t hesitate to go into the red to buy another and that says it all, doesn’t it? Lucy Slight, beauty editor

I have curly, very dry, coarse hair and this mask is just about the only thing that makes my tresses feel touchably soft (I also use the Davines Love shampoo and conditioner for some triple-action hydration). A little goes a long way. I simply slather on enough to work all through my locks after I’ve shampooed and towel-dried them, then clip up my hair and mosey around in my bathrobe for 15 minutes before hopping back into the shower. It’s a once-a-week routine that’s become a non-negotiable. — Julia Gessler, digital editor

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