Avène Anti-aging Retinaldehyde (Retinol) Products, starting at $42.
Avène's family of anti-aging retinaldehyde skincare products gives you all the benefits of retinol (reduces wrinkles, fades hyper-pigmentation, keeps acne in check, etc.) but is extremely gentle while being the strongest retinoid product available over-the-counter. Along with full-spectrum sunblock, this is hands down the best anti-aging product you can buy without a prescription.
There are many types of retinoids (of which retinol is just one) and retinaldehyde is considered the best form to use – it's extremely effective while being very gentle. For anyone who's ever tried a retinol product in the past and had irritation (flaking, irritation, etc.), retinaldehyde is especially for you.
Avène's anti-aging retinaldehyde products come in two ranges: Ysthéal, to treat the first signs of wrinkles and loss of radiance; and Eluage, to fight deeper wrinkles and loss of firmness.
This French brand remains largely under the radar for most Canadians, but it has a large, well-deserved fan base around the world from people who know about expert skincare. Avène isn't as widely available in the US and it's not uncommon to have American women buying a year's supply when they cross the border.
Angel Veil Skin Perfecting Primer is admittedly pricier than most of NYX's budget-friendly lineup, but this face primer is definitely worth every pretty penny.
The texture is lightweight, silky soft and feels like a primer twice this price. It's a silicone-based, oil-free primer that dries to a velvety-soft finish with an almost powdery feel. While it's not a mattifier, it does help control shine admirably. It also helps blur pores and provides a great base for foundation, but even on its own it provides just enough evening and brightening to make a difference, helping to even out skintone.
Angel Veil also works really well as an eye primer, feeling very similar to the much beloved (but expensive) NARS Pro-Prime eyeshadow base.
St. Tropez Self-tanning Products, starting at $22.50
The only good tan is a faux tan, and one of the best faux tans you can get is from St. Tropez. A celebrity favourite for good reason, St. Tropez delivers an all-over glow that's natural and believable, whether you're looking for a light sun-kissed tan or a deep, rich bronze. The self-tanner is available in a spray, lotion or mousse formula that provides either near-instant results or a more subtle, gradual colouration.
Makeup wipes are generally rubbish, but Annabelle's Oil-Free Makeup Remover Pads are the exception. Technically, they're marketed as an eye makeup remover, but these pads are soaked in a micellar lotion infused with cucumber and aloe, which means they're gentle – yet incredibly effective – at removing every kind of makeup except for waterproof formulas.
While you could use them everyday, they are also convenient to have on hand simply for correcting mistakes or quickly freshening up mid-day. They come in a small pot, perfect for keeping in your office desk. The no-rinse oil-free formula means there's no oily, sticky residue left, letting you reapply makeup immediately.
Not long ago, Frederic Fekkai was a brand exclusive to high-end salons and beauty stores. But now you can pick up these products along with your toothpaste and granola bars.
Brilliant Glossing is Frederic Fekkai's most popular and award-laden collection, often credited as the "secret weapon" behind A-list celebrities' smooth, voluminous tresses.
The Creme is a standout product in the lineup, imparting gloss, volume and control to all hair types – thick, fine, wavy, dry, straight, you name it. Use it on damp or dry hair – whatever. This brilliant product can do no wrong.
Chella's Heated Lash Curler does exactly what it promises: it gently heats your lashes so they stay curled all day. Even better, you use this device after putting on mascara, so for anyone who's ever complained about watery formulas that make curled lashes droop, this is ah-mazing.
Tip: Immediately after using this curler, use your finger to push your lashes up for a few seconds until they cool down. This will help set your lashes.
It's a relief to know that, in a pinch, you can grab a tubing mascara at the drugstore – and that it's a really good one. Cargo's 3: Triple Action mascara (like all tubing mascaras) has a polymer-based formula, literally forming tubes around each eyelash. This is a small miracle for anyone who's ever been the victim of smudging, flaking or running mascara, because these tubes are set until you remove them (simply with warm water!).
Red Carpet is the first at-home LED gel manicure system that gives you pro-quality nails without going to the salon. The curing device is small and very portable and delivers a great, shiny, chip-free manicure that lasts for weeks. The range of nail colours is impressive, with limited edition collections available every holiday.
Tweezerman, master of beauty tools, has just launched a new collection of fabulous makeup brushes. The bristles are designed with DuPont technology, mimicking natural hair in texture while offering the durability of a synthetic. And because the bristles are synthetic, they're literally fused together under the ferule, eliminating the possibility of even a single hair fallout while washing (or worse, during application).
There are 12 brushes in this collection: powder, blush, foundation, pointed concealer, flat top foundation, line glider (eye liner), shading, contour concealer, pointed foundation, brow, blender, and finishing contour (a particularly brilliant and versatile brush).
Revlon's newest lip colour product delivers a glossy, moisturising stain. After the initial layer of shine wears off, you're left with a luscious stain on your lips. This formula is infused with Vitamin E and aloe to keep lips plump and soft, never feeling sticky.
Not only is the formula brilliant, but the doe-foot applicator is slightly bent, giving an angled advantage to application — sounds simple, but this makes a big difference!
Pick up some fantastic beauty products on your next trip to the drugstore
Drugstores have come a long way in recent years, especially in the beauty department. In fact, many now have dedicated beauty boutiques that cater to consumers who want to buy their beauty products easily, without sacrificing quality and selection. And drugstores like London Drugs have responded by sending their buyers around the world, sourcing some amazing products that may surprise you.
Read on for 10 of this year's best drugstore discoveries. All are available at London Drugs.
Catherine is a lifestyle writer, specializing in travel, style, food and beauty. You can read more of her work in WestWorld, Real Weddings, AsiaSpa, Darpan, Wine Enthusiast and others. Follow her on social (Instagram, Snapchat & Twitter) @TSEwords.