After 10 Years, I Went Back to the First Beauty Brand I Loved

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Courtesy of Company / Design by Michela Buttignol

My beauty glow-up came quite late in life. Whilst other girls were desperate to wear lip gloss and nail polish as soon as they hit 13, I was still a total tomboy. But at 16, I started a part-time job at The Body Shop in my hometown. It was my first forte into skincare and makeup, and it was a turning point in my beauty life. I may have only been a Saturday girl, but I got to know the products well, trying and testing them so I could help customers find their perfect match. Many were longtime devotees of the brand; in fact, The Body Shop has a cult following that others can’t seem to rival. We all fondly remember the brand's bath pearls and the joy of receiving a fruity lip butter in your Christmas stocking. And weirdly enough, despite trying all the latest beauty buys for work, when I look in my makeup and skincare bags, The Body Shop is a brand I always come back to.

Yes, the packaging may have changed, and there may have been some new additions to the range over the past 10 years, but some things never change. Back then, I loved that I was working for a brand that promoted cruelty-free beauty and fair trade, and the brand's ethics have only gotten stronger.

The Body Shop

Founded: Dame Anita Roddick in 1976

Based In: London, United Kingdom

Pricing: $$

Best Known For: Natural, ethically-sourced skin, hair, and body products

Most Popular Product: Tea tree oil line, body butters

Fun Fact: The Body Shop's campaign to end animal testing launched in 1996 and helped usher in a U.K.-wide ban eight years later.

Other Brands You’ll Love: Origins, Jurlique, Aesop

Take The Body Shop's "Enrich Not Exploit" Commitment, for example, where it promises to work fairly with farmers and suppliers to help them thrive through its Community Trade program. I'm also pleased that all products are 100 percent vegetarian, and that it remains firmly against animal testing. In 2018, its campaign Forever Against Animal Testing secured over eight million signatures and was brought to the U.N. headquarters in NYC to help create a global plan to stop animal testing.

What also helps is that the brand was recently bought by Natura, a Brazillian-owned company that also owns Aesop. "It has a well-established reputation as an ethical beauty brand," Elen Macaskill, global customer director at The Body Shop, tells me. "We have shared values, and believe business can and should be a force for positive change. We're keen to return to real activism—changing laws and society for the better, which our founder, Anita Roddick, so famously pioneered."

Even just the gorgeous fragrance walking past a shop now takes me right back. What can I say? Like Love Island's Georgia, I'm loyal, babes. Keep scrolling to see The Body Shop products I never stopped using as well as my new favorites.

Tea Tree Oil

The Body Shop review: Tea Tree Oil
The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil $10
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The entire Tea Tree collection was a life-altering discovery for my teenage self. It helped dry out and soothe my spots all those years ago, and I still use the oil to this day. If I feel a bout of hormonal acne coming on, it's a lifesaver. Simply take a Q-Tip, pour a little of the oil on it and gently dab on your spots. If you have oily, acne prone skin, this tiny bottle of tea tree oil will be a life saver in your skincare arsenal.

Vitamin E Moisture Cream

The Body Shop review: Vitamin E Moisture Cream
The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream $20
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The vitamin E range is tipped in nostalgia for me. I fell in love with the soothing effect the (Community Trade–sourced) shea butter and aloe vera have on the skin. The moisture cream is always in my makeup bag; the plumping hyaluronic acid uses makes my skin look instantly refreshed.

Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask

The Body Shop review: Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask
The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask $28
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The Himalayan Charcoal Mask rids me of my still frequent acne. It's a cult fave and best seller, and for good reason. The bamboo, charcoal, green tea leaves, and organic tea tree oil draw out impurities and refine pores. I use it once a week and can feel a difference to my skin immediately after use.

Skin Defence Multi-Protection Essence SPF 50

body shop review: Skin Defence Multi-Protection Essence SPF 50
The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Essence SPF 50 $24
Shop

We all know the importance of an SPF, but it was something I was letting slip in my skincare routine. Whilst I love my freckles, I realize getting 20 more each time I go in the sun means I need to start prioritizing UV protection. I've began using the SPF 50 Skin Defense face cream—it protects skin with broad spectrum UV filters (including protection from long UVA rays, which reach deep within the skin and accelerate the process of aging). It also includes red algae extract and vitamin C to brighten skin for a luminous complexion.

Fresh Nude Foundation

The Body Shop review: Fresh Nude Foundation
The Body Shop Fresh Nude Foundation $25
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My oily skin made me fearful of using a dewy foundation like this one. I loved The Body Shop's matte all-in-one foundation but was desperate for that beautiful summer glow. The Fresh Nude foundation has a perfect semi-matte finish—it gives me a light hydrated look whilst still covering my imperfections. Plus it has SPF 15. This plus the buffing brush equals photo-worthy skin.

Oils of Life Sleeping Cream

The Body Shop reveiw: Oils of Life Sleeping Cream
The Body Shop Oils of Life Sleeping Cream $39
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Oils of Life is a relatively new collection for The Body Shop, and wow is it luxe. This cream rivals those I've tried that are triple the price, and it's infused with three precious seed oils: rosehip seed oil, camellia seed oil, and black cumin seed oil. I apply it at night with the brand's facial massage tool or my jade roller. I add in a drop of the Oils of Life Revitalizing Facial Oil if I'm feeling extra indulgent. 

Mango Body Yogurt

The Body Shop review: Mango Body Yogurt
The Body Shop Mango Body Yogurt $15
Shop

Full disclosure: Up until this year, I focused my entire beauty routine on my skincare and makeup, and completely neglected my body. But I recently remembered the sheer joy of a Body Shop Body Butter (I've never found such indulgent scents in any other brand). Now this Body Yogurt has become my new BFF. The hyaluronic acid locks in moisture, and it's light as a feather to apply. My skin is thanking me.

All-in-One Instablur Universal Primer

The Body Shop review: All-In-One Instablur™ Universal
The Body Shop All-in-One Instablur Universal Primer $22
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Primers are a new The Body Shop find for me, but this little wonder product gives me picture-perfect skin even on days I feel far from it. My foundation goes on smoother, my pores are concealed and the mattifying effect keeps my oily skin from looking shiny throughout the day. If you're sensitive to silicones, be aware that this is a silicone-based primer.

Drops of Youth Concentrate

The Body Shop review: Drops of Youth Concentrate
The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate $39
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The Drops of Youth range is a new addition to my bathroom cabinet, but it's fast becoming a real favorite. Whilst I'm not too concerned with aging at the moment, I realize my 28-year-old skin could do with being looked after a little more. Drops of Youth is formulated to "tackle the first signs of aging before they become clearly visible." Just what I need—prevention is better than cure, as they say. This concentrate (which I apply morning and evening), is enriched with plant stem cells, glycerine and oils to leave skin instantly smoother and replenished with moisture. A little goes a long, long way.

Shimmer Waves Bronzer

The Body Shop review: Shimmer Waves
The Body Shop Shimmer Waves $20
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The Shimmer Waves bronzer might have changed its packaging over the years but it's still my go-to glow palette. I discovered a little highlight on the cheek bones was a fail safe make-up look way before highlighting became the huge trend it is now. I've found no better sparkle than this.

Chamomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

The Body Shop review: Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter
The Body Shop Chamomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter $16
Shop

One of The Body Shop's iconic buys, this removes makeup like no other. Byrdie has had intel from a few makeup artist friends that this is their go-to for removing heavy looks after photo shoots. The chamomile (sourced from Norfolk, U.K.) nourishes your face, leaving skin clean and silky-soft.

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