I Didn’t Rate Luxury Skincare Until I Tried This Beauty Expert’s Brand

Photographed by Meg O'Donnell
Anyone who has ever talked to me about skincare will know that I love a bargain. My beauty stash is mostly filled to bursting with affordable products by brands such as The Ordinary (I love the Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90, in particular), The Inkey List (the Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser, £10.99, is great for spots) and Aldi's skincare brand Lacura (their latest vitamin C serum did amazing things for my hyperpigmentation).
I don't believe you need to splurge to get your hands on effective skincare. Of course, luxury products have their merits, too. Many include expensive and rare ingredients, are formulated and tested by the best dermatologists in the business and are packaged in a way that prolongs their potency a lot better (not to mention look good in your #shelfie). While I've tried my fair share of big-budget buys as a beauty editor, I always seem to go back to the more purse-friendly options — but there's one luxe brand that continues to stand out.
Enter: Decree.
If you're a skincare enthusiast with an Instagram account, it's likely you've spotted the little blue bottles, tubes and capsules already. In the past few weeks, Google searches for the brand have soared upwards by 180% and TikTokers are also incorporating the products into their viral skincare routines. So what makes it special? Decree was dreamed up by Dr. Anita Sturnham MD, a GP with a specialist interest in dermatology and aesthetics. She often takes to social media to share invaluable skincare advice, from the ultimate AM to PM routine to top ingredients to look out for when shopping for products. It's fair to say Dr Sturnham knows her stuff – including what her patients want: clearer, healthier-looking skin.
I first heard of Decree through other beauty editors, who extolled the virtues of the Peptide Emollient Veil+, £115, for its plumping effect and the Treat Tincture, £130, for making lacklustre skin glow. Admittedly, the price tags are a little eye watering, with a handful of products in the hundreds. But I have to say that there are some real gems in the collection.
First up, the Decree Light Cleanse, £44, (or £15 for 30ml). According to Dr Sturnham, your morning cleanse should be nourishing, hydrating and non-stripping. Overnight, you can accumulate a build up of excess oil, and remnants of your overnight skincare can clog skin. That said, a morning cleanse should be a lot gentler than your evening cleanse, as you don't need to chip away at the day's grime or makeup (unless you've slept in it)! I really love this cleanser. Not only does it smell luxe (like rose water), but it cleanses without feeling drying and makes my combination skin gleam (that'll be the moisturising glycerin and rose seed oil). The airtight pump means you won't spill a drop in the shower, nor will you expose any of the ingredients to the elements, which keeps them for longer. If you don't want to shell out on a separate product, you could always double cleanse with this in the evening (cleanse, rinse and repeat) because it's just as good at melting away heavy foundation and mascara.
If your skin type is oily, spot-prone or combination and you're after a moisturiser that offers good hydration without clogging your pores, you'll love the Peptide Emollient Veil, £115. It's one of the more expensive products in the range but I agree with all of the five star reviews (and there are many). The mainstay ingredient is peptides (basically proteins) which repair skin and make it bouncy. Though it isn't tinted, skin looks instantly more alive, radiant, healthy and youthful. Plus, it sits perfectly under both sunscreen and makeup, though I find I can skip foundation altogether when using this regularly in the morning and the evening.
You might've heard big things about Decree's serums, and the most sought after is Treat Tincture, £130, as it contains buzzy ingredient of the year, retinol, or more specifically hydroxypinacolone retinoate. Don't let the complicated name put you off. The ingredient is reported to work similarly to prescription strength retinol without the typical irritation, which can present as sore, flaky, red and sensitive skin — enough to put you off for good. After running out of Differin (prescribed by a dermatologist for acne, hyperpigmentation and fine lines) I supplemented my skincare routine with this — and it's impressive. While it's not as strong as the prescribed stuff, using it every other evening prolonged the smoothing, plumping and clarifying effects. My only gripe? I wish the bottle was three times as big.
Lastly, I'd recommend the Weekly Decree, £120, a two step acid exfoliator and nourishing face mask. In my opinion, this is the next best thing to a professional facial (and if you consider London prices, it's a lot cheaper in the long run). The alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) flash treatment is intense and tingles on the skin making it appear quite red, but it gets to work exfoliating the top layer of skin to make it appear brighter and more fresh. If you're sensitive or dry, I'd suggest avoiding this altogether (perhaps opt for a gentler skincare acid), but if your skin is oily, clogged or you want to treat rough skin texture, it's a brilliant product. Following with the face mask feels like a treat, and together, they make skin glow like no other acid treatment out there.
While I'm a big fan of Decree, I know it's expensive. If you're after similarly effective skincare with dermatologist credentials (just a little more affordable) I'd recommend the CeraVe skincare range. The Hydrating Cleanser, £9.50) is a steal and the formula is just as smart as the Light Cleanse, with ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid to repair and hydrate dry skin while it removes makeup, oil and daily grime. You might also like Face Theory, in particular the Regena C20 Vitamin C Serum, £18.99, which is affordable and powerful. Also try dermocosmetic brand Pharmaceris, which boasts an extensive line of skincare products from cleansers and serums to sunscreen (including an excellent retinol) at reasonable price points.
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