If your bathroom cupboard is full of quarter-used ‘meh’ products that neither delight nor deliver, it might be time you acquainted yourself with CultBeauty.co.uk. Founded by a pair of beauty-product magpies who’d had enough of bringing home duds, it’s one of the online resources we really trust: a beauty hall of fame curated by a panel of industry experts who filter out anything less than brilliant.
Note ‘curated’, not just stocked with full beauty lines from every brand on the planet. Everything you see on Cult Beauty has been cherry-picked by insiders – the clued-in professionals to whom A-listers turn when they need to look sensational. So, whether we’re looking for a winter-defying skin serum or brightening product, or intrigued by the latest cult mascara from Japan, this elegantly presented website never lets us down. Even the site’s design and features are the result of a wishlist drawn up by the founders and their panel of experts. And, obviously, we love the fact that Cult Beauty is, above all, a really good edit.
We caught up with the pair to delve inside their beauty cabinet and quiz them on their beauty secrets.
Q. Where, when and how was Cult Beauty conceived?
Jessica: I was a management consultant working on large-scale web applications for investment banks, but had a passion for beauty, especially when it came to dealing with my skin ageing. When buying products, all I wanted was efficacy and honesty, and no matter how much I spent I was constantly disappointed. Lots of half-used bottles in the bathroom and hard-earned money down the drain…
In January 2007 I was looking through the InStyle Best Beauty Buys supplement and my ‘database brain’ just kicked in. Why not launch a website where all the products are recommended by professionals at the top in their fields? I wanted to create something that was searchable so that women could do their own research about which products actually work: Cult Beauty is like sitting down with Angelina’s make-up artist, Demi’s hairstylist and Queen Rania’s facialist, and picking their brains.
Q. What’s your favourite part of your job?
Alexia: I love unearthing cult products from other countries, like DJV Beautenizer mascara. It has been the top-selling mascara in Japan for 10 years, which no one had even heard of over here until Cult Beauty brought it over. We did a ‘love it – or your money back’ promotion, and out of thousands sold we’ve only had three returns.
Jessica: I love it when customers write in saying that they trust our recommendations and love everything they’ve bought from us, or that we have helped fix skin complains that have plagued them all their lives. They really understand what we’re trying to do, and that if we sell them one bad product or one product that doesn’t do what it says it will, we’ve undermined our entire philosophy.
Q. If we’re going to try just one new product, which?
Alexia: Arrrgh, that’s like asking which child you prefer! For hair, the Sachajuan Leave in Conditioner, the Rumpelstiltskin of conditioners – it weaves straw into gold. For complexion the Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint wins hands down as it makes my skin look like I live up a mountain, eating shoots and berries, while meditating for 6 hours a day. It’s tinted moisturiser 2.0.
Jessica: I agree on the Sachajuan Leave in Conditioner. I actually have multiple bottles so I don’t run the risk of running out. On a recent visit to our expert Tara Smith, who cuts my hair, she admonished me for using the cheap hairdryer I’d bought when I first landed in the UK 8 years ago. Tara made me promise to upgrade to the Ego Hairdryer, an investment in your hair because it’s much less damaging for daily use.
Q. What’s the best piece of beauty advice you’ve received?
Alexia: It’s simple, but it’s how to wash my hair properly. Very few people really get the tips of their fingers right to the scalp when shampooing – the crown and sides tend to get missed. Next time you go to the hairdresser, rather than drifting off, pay attention to the way they shampoo your hair. It’s partly why your style looks better for longer after a salon visit.
Jessica: How important it is to gently massage your skin as you wash your face. Really try to feel the muscles under your skin with your fingertips. It will help to keep them firm, combating the dreaded sag. Spending an extra minute or two on the massage helps stimulate blood flow to your skin, which delivers oxygen and other nutrients to your cells, and helps drain your lymphatic system, decreasing puffiness. Or you can take a leaf out of the Chinese skincare bible and use a Jade Facial Roller to massage and tone your face.
Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve come across?
Jessica: The single scent perfume Molecule 01. It was considered weird when it launched, in fact the founder was laughed out of most department stores, but now it’s wonderfully cult. Let me put this in context, Chanel No.5 contains thousands of scent molecules and Molecule 01 has just one, the velvety, sandalwood-like Iso E Super. This is the molecule perfumers add to give scents more allure; and makes a great catchall gift because it smells amazing on everyone (man, woman, child).
Q. How do you relax?
Alexia: I find drinking lots of sauvignon blanc helps! Failing that, a long bath filled with my natural valium – Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts.
Jessica: By lighting a NEOM organic treatment candle in Tranquillity, which fills the room with a most enduringly beautiful scent and cosy up on the sofa with my kindle.
Q. What beauty problem do you most commonly get asked for help with?
Alexia: How do you solve a problem like adult acne? I am in my mid-thirties and sometimes get stress-triggered spots around my chin. Ling Skin Care is a brand recommendation we’d had from a few of our experts and when we researched further we found that Uma Thurman, Monica Belucci and known acne sufferer Cameron Diaz all trust Ling with their skin. Ling’s Oxygen Plasma Potion contains an oxygen-carrying complex developed by the US Military to treat battlefield burns, it mimics the blood’s ability to carry oxygen into cells, which helps them regenerate quickly, and also kills bacteria. It tackles the horrible paradox of spots AND wrinkles in one fell swoop.