A couple of years ago, I was asked what, out of all the beauty products that I’ve tried, would I spend my own money on. Considering the fact that my job means I am on the receiving end of more beauty samples than I can shake a stick at, this is a big question. (And, yes, I know – very privileged.) At the time, I didn’t have a solid reply. A posh perfume, perhaps? (In which case, Byredo’s Heliotropia or Gucci Bloom.) A fabulous lipstick? (Current favourites are Bobbi Brown Luxe Matte lip colour and Estée Lauder Pure Colour Envy.) Or my foolproof base – Chanel Les Beiges tinted moisturiser with a bit of NARS Soft Matte Complete concealer? Hmm. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I hit upon my answer – Votary’s Rose Geranium And Apricot cleansing oil.
The very first product in the Votary skincare line (which now comprises five), the cleansing oil is the brand’s bestseller and a favourite among several beauty editors. Let’s just put it out there – this is expensive. It’s £45 for 100ml, which, whatever way you look at it, is a lot. But, my God, is it good. Really good. It’s an oil, but not an oily oil. It doesn’t contain any mineral oils, which means it doesn’t feel greasy or leave a film on your skin. Instead, it feels nourishing and silky – I’d go as far as to say that it feels comforting. It cleans your skin beautifully, and by that I mean it gets rid of make-up, including mascara, with just the one go (it transpires that I am too lazy to double cleanse), and leaves your face feeling fresh and soft. It smells faintly herby – nothing overly perfumed or synthetic, just a subtle and very lovely scent. And, thanks to its blend of natural plant oils (rose, geranium, apricot, grapeseed, camomile and sunflower), it’s as good on hormonal breakout days as it is on days when your face is feeling tired and dry.
For your £45, you will also get a face cloth – and if you want to get the most out of this oil, then use it. Squirt three or four drops of the oil into your damp palm and rub your hands together to distribute. Then massage your hands all over your face. There are myriad face-massage techniques that you could try, but the most important thing to remember is upwards motions and go gentle round the eyes. If you are wearing eye make-up, rub your fingers gently over your eyelids and lashes until your mascara is halfway down your face. Then the flannel bit. Run your flannel under the hot-water tap (not uncomfortably boiling, but hotter than warm), wring it out, then bury your face in it. Breathe. Gently start to wipe your face until it is totally clean. Rinse the flannel and leave it to dry or, if you’ve used it a couple of times, chuck it in the washing machine. The whole process will only take you two minutes – quick and very effective.
You can use the oil daily, nightly or, like me, daily and nightly. If you’re using in the morning, follow with a light hydrating serum and an SPF (Decléor Hydra Fluid SPF 30 is delightful and great under make-up). If you’re using at night, follow with your retinol/night oil/night cream.