Beauty Icons – the must-have cult beauty products beloved by SA’s top beauty writers

As a teenager I was obsessed with magazines – they were my escape from a sometimes troubled teen space. From the age of 12 I would spend all my pocket money on the glossy pages of Blush, Teen, Seventeen, Just Seventeen and all the other teen titles I could find at the pay by weight “Kilo Bookshop” near my house.

If that wasn’t enough I would even visit the musty, dusty library to get my hands on the latest international versions of these mags! The beauty pages were always a favourite section and I recall even photocopying pages that I loved to look back over! Guys this is making me sound VERY old, but the reality is that it wasn’t that long ago! Maybe only 20 years!!!

My magazine obsession continued when I moved to live in the UK, here I had access to all the gorgeous glossies and religiously bought my monthly copies to enjoy on the train trip to and from work. A highlight of the month was the day the new magazines came out!

Over the years I realised that there were certain beauty products that were mentioned as favourites time and time again… things like the Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and Touche Eclat from YSL.

I vividly recall deciding to give a few of these “iconic” beauty products a try and buying them in duty free during a flight to Scotland.

And over the years they have remained firm favourites… but joined by a few other beauty icons that I’ve discovered since.

When I first started blogging I loved diving in to the beauty cabinets featured on Into The Gloss. Time and time again I would notice similar products popping up in all the beauty cabinets featured – models, actresses, celebs all clearly have access to the most amazing beauty products around so if they all seem to choose the same product then it MUST deliver! And that is how I found my own favourite beauty icon – the pink capped clear bottle of a product called Micellar Water – this kept cropping up and so it was something I decided I needed to try! And I’ve been using it ever since!

After having a chat to a few beauty blogging friends at a recent launch I realised that there are certain iconic beauty products that ALL beauties ADORE!

Beauty Icons are products that have been around for a while, products that have stood the test of time, that deliver amazing quality and that have a certain “buzz” around them. Beauty products that everyone who tries them falls in love with and wants to tell the world about. Products that beauty fans (who try A LOT of products) favour as their timeless classics that they repurchase over (and over) again!

They mentioned a few in the conversation, but I wanted to find out more!

With access to some of the best beauty editors, writers and bloggers in South Africa I figured I was well placed to ask them this question:


“What is the iconic beauty product that you love the most?”


So today I’m sharing my findings with you – the most iconic beauty products as chosen by the best beauty writers in South Africa… and amazingly enough many of them are STILL my own favourites too! Read on below to find out which are the classic beauty products you should try…

The Beauty Icons – the must-have cult beauty products every woman should own


Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water Cleanser


The beauty icon of… Kathryn from Becoming you

As mentioned above I was first intrigued by this product when coming across it (often) on various beauty sites and in the pages of magazines. I had never heard of Micellar Water and wanted to give it a go… well, I’ve never looked back. I chose this as my own Beauty Icon because this is a product I use every day (sometimes twice) It is my makeup remover and cleanser of choice and is super simple to use – just a few swipes with cotton rounds and you’re good to go. No rinsing necessary. The way it works is that it contains micelle particles suspended in soft water which draw impurities from the skin. The price of this product is also super affordable and it lasts a long time – another two reasons why this is a must-have for your beauty cabinet! This product is a favourite among make-up artists, models and French pharmacy fanatics alike and it’s no longer a surprise to me – I’ve joined their ranks!


Tangle Teezer

The beauty icon of… Leigh from Lipgloss is my Life

Years of working as a beauty editor has allowed me to try pretty much every product that’s been lauded as iconic and, while that’s been super fun, I’ve learned that, to be labelled iconic, you merely have to be popular, not effective. For example, everyone’s aware of Creme de la Mer and it’s fabulous mythology, but it’s awful value for money and, when it comes to wrinkle-blitzing, it just can’t compete against lesser known but much more potent anti-agers. Still, there are lots of darlings of the beauty world that I adore and the one I’m reaching for the most right now is my Tangle Teezer. I’m currently travelling through South East Asia where it’s crazy hot and humid so I’m having multiple showers a day and it’s the only brush that can unknot my baby fine, ‘cotton wool’ hair in a flash. For me, it’s invention – and the many knock offs its inspired – has been a God send.


Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream

The beauty icon of… Kelli from (formerly Fairlady)

This is a tough one. But, if I had to choose my most iconic beauty product, ever, it would have to be Elizabeth Arden’s Original Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant. My best friend Daniela introduced me to Eight Hour Cream on my gap year in England in 2005 and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s my go-to for any skincare problem: it helps soothe chapped lips, burns, stops itchiness – I also use it on my brows to keep them in place!


Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara

The beauty icon of… Cara Fay from Cara Fay

I chose the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara as my Beauty Icon product as I just love the unique curved wand shape that mimics the shape of the eye which allows for easy and precise application, picking up even the finest little lashes and for the bottom lashes I use the outer circle part/upside down. This mascara is hands down a one stop shop; curls and lengthens although it doesn’t provide that much volume its’ that mascara that is so dazzling you don’t need extra volume. There is no transfer (panda eyes) with the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara, a true beauty icon product. PS there is a lash primer in the same range that is an incredible step 1 before going onto the mascara for extra bold lashes!


Moroccan Treatment Hair Oil

The beauty icon of… Emmy from Rouge Beauty

Moroccanoil Treatment Light (R560) is my longest standing favourite. I have used it every single day for 10 years.This version is for fine or light-coloured hair, and is, as the name suggests, a lighter version of the original. I use it as a styling and finishing product when I (very rarely) style my hair, but I mostly use it as a conditioning treatment for my dry, frizzy tresses. It contains a host of antioxidants and vitamins that leave my hair soft, shiny and manageable, without weighing down my hair or leaving any residue. I try every hair oil that I can, and I’m yet to find one that comes close.


Kiehl’s Creme de Corps

The beauty icon of… Liezel from 9Lives

It’s nearly impossible to pick my one favourite iconic beauty product. Should it be the Urban Decay Naked palette? Moroccanoil Treatment? What about the YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick? If I had to go with the one I lust after most it would be the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps. This soft, silky body cream is the perfect treat, wrapping you up in a warm, subtle scent and leaving just that slight shimmer on your skin. Even better? They launch limited edition holiday packaging each year!

Sisley Black Rose Mask

The beauty icon of…. Cathi Trevor from

I’m sure I ‘m not the only blogger to include my ultimate favourite beauty product as Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask as it is just the berries, or should I say damn rosy! With a price tag of R1464, it may sound a bit steep, but comparatively a facial costs anything from R650 upwards, so depending on how much you slather over your face and neck, (I get about 10-15 uses), the price is not too shabby; *me justifying money spent on luxurious treats! So what’s the deal? Expect a decadent creamy delicious lightly rose fragrance mask that sinks in easily; wash off after fifteen minutes but for better results leave on overnight, washing off excess in the morning. Thanks to anti-aging ingredients to revitalize, hydrate and smooth skin, you’ll awaken looking fresh and glowing and ready for a new day! It really is a sumptuous delicious product! Top tip: pop on to your face pre-flight for hydration.


Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer

The beauty icon of… Rayne Alexander from Make it Rayne


My beauty icon product is the Age Rewind Concealer from Maybelline. Whether I am doing a full face of make-up for an event, or a super chilled “barely leaving the house today” look, this concealer completely awakens your face up. It is impossible to have a completely crease-free under eye area (unless you are a baby!) but the Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer is as close to crease-free that you will get! It is a product that I have on hand, in my make-up bag, on my vanity, in my car’s cubby hole!  And the bonus? It is available locally at less than R180.

Chanel Le Volume mascara


The beauty icon of Chereen Strydom from For the Beauty of It

If I had to choose just one iconic beauty product that I couldn’t live without, it would be Chanel Le Volume mascara. This is easily the best mascara I’ve ever used – just one coat is all your need for instantly longer, thicker, and more defined lashes. I find that this mascara is pretty smudge-proof as is, but Chanel does offer a waterproof variant for use during the summer months. Most days, I wear nothing but a little BB cream and a couple of lashings of this beauty – it opens up my eyes and makes me look more awake in a flash!


YSL Touche Eclat

The beauty icon of Leila Petersen from Edgars Club @leilapetersen

My iconic beauty staple has got to be the the YSL Beauty Touche Èclat. This magic multi-purpose wand is a make-up bag essential. Offering sheer to medium coverage that is buildable, Touche Eclat features light-infused pigment that blend seamlessly for a healthy, natural glow. Not only does it have illuminating and brightening properties but it also softens the appearance of dark circles and helps to highlight the higher planes of your face, making it an indispensable tool in your kit.


Sensai 38°C Volumising Mascara

The beauty icon of Michelle Brownlee Smith from Glamour Magazine

My iconic product is the Sensai 38°C Volumising Mascara. This is truly the only mascara on the market that doesn’t smudge! It defines your lashes beautifully, but only comes off with water warmer than – you guessed it – 38°C. It’s an investment at R685 but you’ll never experience panda eyes with this. Sad movies, heat waves, weddings – bring it on!


Skinceuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight

The beauty icon of Candice-Lee Kannemeyer from In My Bag

This Skinceuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight is one of those product that deliver almost instant results. It contains a good dose of Glycolic Acid that speeds up cell turnover ensuring the skin looks radiant and glowy. Because of its exfoliating action, it’s wonderful for those concerned with the typical signs of ageing like fine lines, wrinkles, uneven texture and dullness. I also like that it boosts hydration, and find I don’t even need a night cream after applying this. And, if you’re getting a spot, a dab of this will ensure that come morning, that spot is gone. This overnight treatment costs over R1000, but trust me when I say it’s worth every rand.


What a fab list! Thanks to these lovely ladies for sharing their favourite beauty icon. I have to agree with them, these are the best of the best beauty products around. Many of my personal faves (and a few newbies to try – that Sisley Black Rose Mask being one!!!)

Be sure to let me know if any of your own beauty icons feature in this list (or if I should add any!) in the comments section below!

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

  1. Not a happy camper at all! Not one of these incredible beauties mentioned Dermalogica. It seems to be very make-up focussed. I mean let’s be honest these are mostly iconic brands that have been around for decades in some cases. Anyway done with my rant.

    1. Hey Dan. Thanks for your comment. Sorry if this line up offended you. Obviously the concept was to identify the products that the bloggers use that are considered beauty icons because they have been around for ages, or become “cult” beauty products. This doesn’t mean that myself, or any of those featured here, don’t adore Dermalogica. We all do… just possible that none of their products fitted into the brief of this particular piece. x

  2. I think it would be great to see a few lists such as one for body products, hair products and face products and then one for just a makeup’ bag. A few I can’t do without are Clinique’s eye concealer, Dermalogicad Lip Renewal, and showier oil, thanks

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