The best of Instagram beauty 2020

Jenessa Williams

Jenessa Williams trials and tests the beauty-cupboard subscription essentials filling Instagram feeds 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we can all get by with a little less. As our “going-out clothes” gather dust on their rails and our more primal wants and needs take over, many of us have significantly pared back our fashion and beauty routines, making use of the products we already have and only purchasing those that come with a sturdy supply of online recommendations to reassure us that they’re worth the delayed COVID-postal wait. 

During this time period, online influencers have been instrumental in shaping our shopping habits. Brands have long been aware of this, but with a societal push towards more sustainable options, influencer Instagram marketing has taken real steps into the realm of the conscious, with subscription-based, eco-orientated products frequently performing well on the platform. But with increasingly fierce competition in the eco-beauty market, how do we know which influencers to trust? Which “ads” and “spons” are really worth making their way off of the grid and onto your Christmas wishlist? 

In the interests of demystifying the market, we put three of the most Insta-famous beauty cupboard essentials of 2020 to the test; Estrid Razors, Wild Deodorant and Function of Beauty Skincare. 

 

Estrid Razors 

Price Point: £7.95 for the starter kit, £9.99 for every subsequent pack of 4 refill blades 

Fed up of the pink tax that so often puts women’s cosmetics at a higher pricepoint than their male alternatives, the team behind Estrid have set about creating an affordable, weighted razor built specifically to follow the contours of the female form. 

Based on a subscription model, you can choose your razor starter kit in one of several pretty colours, and then select the regularity of which you would like to receive replacement heads through their climate-compensated postal scheme. 

Estrid also present a pretty progressive image in their marketing. Reminding their audience that hair removal is a personal choice, their blades are vegan and cruelty free (none of the usual animal substances in their soothing strips), and they have stuck to a thoughtfully minimal retail range, consisting only of a lotion, shave cream, oil wash and the razors themselves. 

As a final bonus, each Estrid sale donates a portion of its proceeds to Kvinna till Kvinna, Medica Mondiale, or the Fawcett Society; three charities that all work to support women and gender equality around the world.

The verdict:
There is no denying that this razor is a thing of beauty. Drawing heavily on Scandinian minimal chic, it feels fun and feminine and deceptively expensive, weighted as it is to allow for a more precise shave. We select ours in the purple shade “Space”, and find that it looks particularly ‘grammable in both its travel sleeve and the nifty suction cup that allows you to attach it securely to you bathroom mirror. The shave itself is smooth and comfortable, and vastly outstrips anything you would likely achieve with a plastic disposable, helped along by the soothing shea and cocoa butter strip that is built into the bladehead.  

As something of a criticism, the paperwork provided in the initial package is beautifully designed but quite excessive for something as fundamental as a razor, and you have to be quite careful with your storage to avoid rusting of the titanium handle. However, these feels somewhat mean-spirited quibbles given the effectiveness of the product, and how easily we can see ourselves signing up to their flexible (and competitively priced) subscription model. Whether you’re a daily shaver or a “leave it over winter” type, this feels like a brand that have put some serious thought into their user.  

Is It Worth It? Yes! 

 

Wild Deodorant 

Price Point; Starter pack at £15, refills at £6 each

Entering an especially lucrative eco-market, Wild Deodorant have set about providing a stylish, sweet-smelling alternative to the regular sweat-proofers you can find in the supermarket, which are normally full of parabens, aluminium and plastic. 

Based on a similar subscription model to Estrid, you start out with Wild by purchasing their wind-up metallic case, in which you can then pop a series of compostable-cased creamy deodorant sticks, delivered at your preferred frequency. 

With various soothing scents ranging from lavender to mint, they’ve regularly popped up on many an Instagram feed this autumn, and offer various Christmas gifting options available on their website. 

The verdict
Early impressions of the Wild Deodorant were looking good. Packaging was secure and concise, and the case itself was easy to set up and use—the sort of thing that would be handy to slip into a gym bag or other on-the-go set up. 

The actual product testing however, left something to be desired. While it is true that the body can take some time to adjust to a natural deodorant, we found that we regularly overwhelmed the efficiency of our (admittedly delicious smelling) Orange Blossom scent, despite testing for well over a week in a highly sedentary at-home lifestyle. 
With the amount that we had to reapply and the relative size of the cartridge, we whittled through our sample in no time, and slightly balked at the £6 price tag when it came to replacing. While we commend the re-usability of the Wild case itself, the postal orders required to keep us stocked up on product would probably not be that good for the environment after all—or our bank balance . 

Is it worth it: Unless you’re a particularly light perspirator, perhaps not. 

 

Function of Beauty Skincare Set 

Price; £84 for the bundle or priced individually.

Having made their name through customisable shampoo and conditioner that could be tailored to your specific “hair goals”, influencer favourite Function of Beauty have applied the same concept to skincare. Fill out a short quiz about your skin type, sensitivities and ideal improvement outcomes and you’ll receive a bespoke set through the post featuring jelly cleanser, serum and moisturiser, all vegan and cruelty free. 

By tailor-making your perfect product, it is hoped that a function of beauty skincare subscription will streamline your bathroom cabinet, reducing the need for impulse hero product purchases that only end up in the bin. 

The verdict:
It’s fair to say that we were sceptical as to how much Function of Beauty’s skincare quiz could truly know about our skin’s needs, but having trialled the range for several weeks, you can colour us seriously impressed. 

Used together with nightly regularly, our skin has truly never felt smoother, and the usual desire to reach for some other kind of miracle cure hasn’t niggled at all. The bottles look fantastic too—a stylish ombre effect that can be customised with your name, and precise, innovative openings that allow for the perfect-sized pump of product. 

To really double up on their waste-reducing attributes, it would be great to see a recycling scheme that lets you send back your bottles for refill—we can imagine we’ll be buying lots of these. 

Is It worth it? 
The set might be pricey, but if you’re looking to demystify the process of a good skincare routine, this would be a fantastic Christmas gift. It’s a yes from us! 

What have we learned?

Overall, impressions from the trial were good, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to find new, lasting products that will call off the search for their less planet-friendly alternatives. 

While online reviews should always be taken with a pinch of salt, it is hoped that the majority of influencers wouldn’t be financially swayed into promoting a product they hadn’t at least tried themselves, although there is of course no guarantee that all skin types will react the same way. 

Although Wild didn’t work for us, it’s always worth getting in touch with the customer services team at emerging eco-companies, who recognise that customer feedback is vital in these early years of trading. 

While influencer-endorsed impulse-buying on the regular certainly won’t help the environment, a few considered recommendations from people you trust can be a great way to support two businesses at once—and treat yourself in the process.   

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