23 of Madeleine Spencer's best beauty and wellness discoveries of 2023

Beauty and wellness editor Madeleine Spencer on the 23 things she unearthed in 2023 she thinks you should probably know about

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Madeleine Spencer29 December 2023

Given that I have spent my adult life besotted with beauty products, and have for over ten years had a job that requires me to try them so I am au fait with all the latest, it’s safe to say that my face, body, hair, and even sometimes the very air around me have been treated to very, very many products.

As such, it has been necessary to develop something of a rule book to make things easier. First, a product has to be either innovative or markedly better than its predecessors. Nobody needs more of the same. Second, it must have that extra something that makes me reach for it over anything else - maybe a clever design feature, maybe the shade is just bang on. You’ll have to trust me on that final one; it’s all about instinct and requires your confidence in my steer.

If you do, you might be interested in knowing what has this year become a staple my end...

Beauty Flush Balm

MERIT Beauty

I have been specific here because while any of these lightweight, bendable balms will confer beautiful flush, the peachy pink shade Beverly Hills is very much the cult one and has been my go-to since I first tried it back in March. They couldn’t be easier to use - just swipe, then blend with finger tips and trot off to enjoy yourself happy in the knowledge that your cheeks look bursting with life.

Buy now£32, Merit Beauty

Série Expert Metal Detox Anti-Metal Cleansing Cream Shampoo

L'Oreal Professionel

Don’t let the preposterously long name on the bottle put you off - what’s within is basically precisely what you need if you have coloured hair and live in an area with below par water quality. Given that I dye my brunette hair a leonine blonde and live in central London, I very much fit the profile and credit this shampoo with keeping my colour fresh and ends split-free.

Buy now£26, Sephora



We all know about hydration being the key to looking juicy - but getting said hydration isn’t as simple as merely downing lots of water daily. To really get the best chance at hydrating, you need to take your omegas, and, every now and then, add some electrolytes into the mix. I was introduced to these by the nutritionist Michelle McKenzie, who told me to add some to my water every day to support hydration and muscle function.

Buy now£18.45, Elete Water

Deep Gentle Cleanser Cleansing Lotion

QMS Medicosmetics

Cream cleansers are a daily essential for me, and I find they gently but efficiently remove make-up and grime without leaving my skin feeling tight. This one is perfect on account of being quite a boring workhorse - which is the thing you want from your cleanser if, like me, your skin is sensitive and prone to throwing its toys out the pram. I apply it to dry skin, massage in, and remove with a flannel soaked with warm water, morning and night.

Buy now£50, Look Fantastic

The Mascara

Jones Road

I am always hesitant to recommend mascaras without many caveats for different proclivities, but in honesty I can’t see who wouldn’t love this mascara which loads up lashes speedily while also giving them that spiky finish without clumps. I’m on my second tube and am already contemplating a third to keep my lashes superlative for another few months.

Buy now£24, Jones Road Beauty

Smoothing Hair Balm


You need to know about this if you too suffer from The Frizz. Contained within this slim, lightweight pot is a balm that you sort of smooth over hair, deftly controlling flyaways, gently coaxing lengths into place. I have it in my handbag at all times in case my hair decides to do anything rogue.

Buy now£32, Naturisimo

No Transfer Long Lasting Colour Lip Marker

Kiko Milano

As a blanket rule, I enjoy classic lipstick - there’s something about a hydrating swipe of colour that pleases me, and I find it by far the most luscious finish on lips. I am, however, keen for my lip colour to stick around for as long as possible, and that’s where these markers have come in handy this year. All you do is scribble them on like a big inky marker for colour that hugs the lip without any of the nuisance textural issues that often accompanies a matte lipstick. I layer this under my usual creamy colour for a long-wearing, multi-faceted colour. 

Buy now£9.99, Kiko Milano

F5 Long Blusher Brush

Wayne Goss

Of course you can apply your (powder) blush with this, but I found this the absolute best when applying powder as the brush splays under pressure (this is a positive thing, meaning you can’t exert too much power and thereby apply too much product). It’s also worth mentioning that the brush itself is incredibly soft and feels like a little kitten’s paw just sweeping my skin.

Buy now£27, Wayne Goss

Hydra’Reset Intensive Recovery Glycerin Hand Mask

Fenty Beauty

As a hand cream aficionado who applies the stuff at regular intervals, I sometimes desire something a little more potent, something that’ll up my game and help out the patches of psoriasis that take up residence on my knuckles every winter. This blend of glycerin, plant extracts, and fruit oils does the job, applying in a balmy layer that while not greasy is definitely present. This I find satisfying, cosseting.

Buy now£19, Fenty Beauty

My Custom Concealer


I have been impressed by all the wares from the AI-powered brand, which uses their tech to measure your skin through the screen and, remarkably, has read my colour correctly each of the three times I’ve been through the process. This concealer is their latest, and it has proven a godsend, allowing me to forgo unifying foundation and just apply a dollop that blends into my natural skin colour seamlessly wherever I fancy some coverage.

Buy now£32, DCYPHER

True Soft Argan Oil

Maria Nila

Good lord there are so many hair oils out there, and it’s accordingly quite something to navigate this particular genre. This is the first I’ve found that gives me precisely what I want: healthy, shiny, glossy but not heavy or slick lengths. I apply it to dry hair, keeping my application to the ends where it is in need of help. Also it is worth mentioning that the stockist, Sally Beauty, is a fascinating beauty emporium, and you may like me end up with a bulging basket of goods should you peruse. 

Buy now£30, Sally Beauty

The Bamboo Skinny Pillow


I’m not quite sure of when sleep became an art and not just something I casually did come the end of the day, but now that I am both aware that sleep quality is crucial to the quality of everything else in life, and that the right products seem to have an impact, I’m hooked on seeking out the good sleep stuff. This pillow is one such thing, allowing me to plant my face into it as I am wont to do without leaving my neck stiff or sinuses clogged (it is anti-bacterial and anti-allergy). 

Buy now£38.99, Luff Sleep

Peptide Lip Treatment


The thing that’s clever about this is that it is both a lip hydrating treatment and a gloss in one (glossy, btw, is very right now and you will want to get your hands on something sheeny for lips that look au courant). The additional thing that’s really made me want to take it everywhere: the scents. Salted Caramel I know sounds revolting but is a delight and if you kiss someone with it on they will invariably say something complimentary about it. Watermelon is equally as agreeable, all fresh and bursting.

Buy now£16, Rhode Skin

Brow Pop Dual-Action Defining Pencil


If you want to mimic actual hairs and not just draw a block of colour where you wish hairs grew, you need a product that delivers a fine line you can sweep on at speed. This is that, and it looks remarkably believable. Make sure you swipe in the direction of hair growth for the most realistic finish. 

Buy now£19, Cult Beauty

Immunity Intelligence

Advanced Nutrition Programme

Each year for many, many years, I have suffered with colds so violent that ribs have been cracked and muscles torn and many, many tears shed. This year, I have put a lot of energy into boosting my immune system to help me weather germs a little better, and this cocktail of supplements has been deployed. While it’s hard to quantify precisely how well supplements are working, I’ve yet to catch a cold that’s bedded in, which I consider to be a triumph.

Buy now Advanced Nutrition Programme

Althair Eau de Parfum

Parfums de Marly

I’m so sorry about the price tag on this - but it is truly worth of inclusion. Of all the scents I’ve sniffed this year for various features, this has by far remained the one that I’ve been excited to tell people about. It’s a soft, elevated vanilla. Bit floral. Slightly woody. Hint of musk. Smells instantly warming and exciting, then hugs at skin for quite some time. 

Buy now£230, Parfums de Marly

Face Hydrating Serum


If you like your skincare simple and to the point, this will be for you. I have used it since a little skin wobble earlier in the year and have found it performs as well as much, much more expensive products aiming to keep skin calm and hydrated, and would heartily recommend as a morning or evening skincare step.

Buy now£16.99, Superdrug

All-Over Radiance Moisturizing Body Essence


I fell in love with this after making it a fixture after my morning shower, finding the British brand’s body offering every bit as impressive as the rest of their skincare - and as sensorially satisfying too thanks to the lightweight combination of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C alongside that Amly signature bottled country garden scent. 

Buy now£70, Sephora

Light Reflecting Eye Brightener


The undereye is a notoriously difficult area to perk up. Too much concealer, and things migrate into creases. Too much brightening, and it'll look more conspicuous. This by Nars takes the leg work out of the process and, bonus, works really well when patted on with finger tips which means zero brushes needed and a little lymphatic drainage as you apply.

Buy now£26.01, Look Fantastic

Seville Orange Perfume Oil


Does anyone absolutely need a perfume oil? Nope. Of course not. But do I feel the compulsion to add a dash of this into whatever I'm moisturising my body with every day? Absolutely. It's just wantonly decadent, to add scent to skin in the form of a perfumed oil, and this bursting, fresh orange is the ultimate in energising scents.

Buy now£96, Sephora


LH Cosmetics

I rely heavily on liquid eyeshadows for efficiency, speed, and lack of fuss in the form of shadow scattered on my cheeks. For these, Scandi brand LH Cosmetics consistently impresses, but especially so with this Sparkl shadow, which paired with mascara provides a sophisticated shimmery look.

Buy now£23, LH Cosmetics

Always An Optimist Illuminating Primer

Rare Beauty

Real glow isn’t the work of the tops of cheekbones and what not but a sort of lit from within thing that is so often in short supply when being subjected to modern life. This does the job in double time, and, remarkably, is never greasy, and doesn’t tip into an undesirable too damn much situation. I apply three pumps directly after SPF.

Buy now£26, Sephora

Radiance Recovery 4c Eye Mask


There are many excellent eye masks around should you wish for some extra moisture, a little depuffing, and a reduction in the general appearance of exhaustion. Few, however, come at this quality in a shape that hugs the full outer corner of the eye, including the hood so it too can benefit.

Buy now£55, Skimono