Sali Hughes’ favourite skincare products of 2020

At the beginning of each year, I share my most used and loved products of the past 12 months – and this time the task is very different. I can’t pick a lipstick because I’ve had more lipstick-free days in 2020 than over the previous three decades. Foundation was another thing I left aside, except for high days and holidays, as I was either in pyjamas inside or a mask outside.

Skincare, though, channelled our greater need for self-care, and used up newfound free time. And for me, some products still proved indispensable in this most freakish, high-anxiety, low-maintenance of years. At the time of writing, I have used Skin+Me’s prescription cream every night for almost four months – a personal record for someone who must frequently abandon beloved products in the name of testing the next. I answered a questionnaire, uploaded some bare-faced selfies, entered my card details (£3.50 for month one, £19.99 thereafter) and waited for a real-life dermatologist to prescribe precisely the right formula to tackle my self-selected hitlist: melasma (brown patches of pigmentation); age-inevitable loss of firmness; general texture and dullness (a trademark of pandemic-related agoraphobia). Within a week I’d received my first monthly night cream (vegan), containing niacinamide, prescription-strength azelaic acid and tretinoin, the ante of which is raised with each delivery of the plastic-free click-doser. The effect on my skin is undeniable: tone is more even, pores are noticeably smaller and the very subtle increments in active ingredients meant I did not have a day’s redness or irritation.

Somewhat more frivolous, and all the better for it, is Biossance’s Squalane + Rose Vegan Lip Balm (£16 for 10g), a silky emollient that soothes cracked winter lips while depositing exactly the right amount of restrained, gender-neutral gloss. It’s been a lovely, feelgood frippery in miserable times, and may just be my favourite lip balm ever.

Honest Beauty’s Hydrogel Cream is frequently sold out, but I urge you to persevere. It is, quite simply, the perfect moisturiser, softening and hydrating all skin types of all ages, and providing an ideal base for the smooth buffing of makeup. At £25 for 50ml, it’s not cheap, but Versed’s Skin Soak Rich Moisture Cream (£16.50 for 43g) is a more affordable alternative, and another I’ve demolished at a rate of knots. Despite skincare’s dominance, some exceptional colour products continued to offer cheer and solace in 2020. My pick of those appears on 16 January, after a break next week.