2020 Skin Care Favorites

2020 skincare favorites

FTC NOTES: Some products mentioned in this post were originally received in PR (which will be noted with a **).

First, a little bit about my skin! My skin is currently normal-to-oily with a tendency to be dehydrated, and not particularly prone to breaking out except when I have to wear a mask for more than a quick errand thanks to Miss Rona. My main skin concerns are redness/hyperpigmentation, hydration, and anti-aging. I am just about to turn 34 and I do have a few fine lines. These are the skincare products currently keeping my skin bright, clear, and happy.

Cleanser: Friends, I have found a true holy grail cleanser in the First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Cleanser ($21, FAB/Ulta/Sephora). This cleanser helped calm my skin down within just a few uses. It’s so very gentle. What I also appreciate about this cleanser for first-timers is they sell several sizes at varying price points, so you don’t have to dive into a huge tube you aren’t sure you will like.

Exfoliating: For my more regular exfoliating, I go for the Tarte Knockout Tingling Treatment ($39, Tarte/Ulta/Sephora). This product packs a punch at 10% acid complex with both salicylic and lactic acids. It also contains sulfur, niacinamide, and glycerin which help with stuff like fine lines, pores, and evening skin tone/redness. I use this up to 3x/week and it really helps keep my skin clear.

Another exfoliator I love and have purchased many times is Dr. Brandt PoreDermabrasion** ($58, Dr.Brandt/Sephora). I originally got this in PR, but have bought 3 more tubes since then. This is an extremely fine-grit scrub that also contains salicylic acid for that double-whammy of both physical and chemical exfoliation. 1-2x per week (on days when I’m not using the Tarte toner) I mix a glob of this into my First Aid Beauty Cleanser to cushion the scrub (not required, but the Dr. Brandt team recommends this method for sensitive skin). I use it on my whole face, neck, and decolletage.

Moisturizing: I have two favorite moisturizers and they could not be more different. First, I love the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($varies, Target/Ulta/Amazon) – another very gentle product, and like the entire CeraVe line is, packed with ceramides that help calm the skin and build up its natural moisture barrier. It’s great for healing if you accidentally over-exfoliate, or have raw dry skin after a cold. If you have dry skin they also have a heavier formula.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Tatcha Water Cream ($68, Tatcha/Sephora). Where the CeraVe moisturizer is rather boring and utilitarian, Tatcha Water Cream is an experience. This product is pure luxury right down to the little golden spatula it comes with that slides conveniently into a slot on the lid. Tatcha Water Cream has numerous essential oils and plant extracts, so if you are sensitive to such things you’ll definitely want to avoid it, but this cream does wonders for my skin when it is dehydrated. It has a lot of hefty claims: balanced skin, more radiant/luminous skin, improved clarity & less obvious pores. I don’t know if it does all of that, but I definitely notice balanced, radiant skin.

Eye Cream: Another product I’ve been using for years is the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Brightening Eye Cream** ($48, It Cosmetics/Sephora). Despite the name, the brightening aspect is not why I love this eye cream. I love the texture, how hydrating it is, and how it lessens puffiness. I don’t have a tremendous problem with dark under-eye circles, so I can’t really say how well it handles those. All I know is when I don’t use this and try using a different eye cream, I miss this. It also wears beautifully under concealer, so I never have to worry about a bad makeup day. My fine lines haven’t gotten any worse since I started using this either, which is a bonus. I got my first jar of this in PR, but I have repurchased it twice since.

Here are a few extras that aren’t necessarily in my everyday routine, but that I use frequently and recommend.

COSRX Acne Patches ($6, Ulta/other prices elsewhere) are little hydrocolloid patches that help draw out all of the yucky junk in a zit. Just slap one on overnight after your usual acne treatment and that sucker is usually much smaller and more manageable in the morning.

The Creme Shop Sooper Soothe Sheet Mask ($4, The Creme Shop) are my quick fix for dehydrated or mildly irritated skin (not intensely irritated or reactive situations). This mask contains rice water, green tea, and snail goop (which is actually good for your skin, who knew). It’s a lovely soothing, moisturizing treat. And to think I originally tried this to hit free shipping at some point…

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum ($50, Ole Henriksen/Sephora) is my current go-to Vitamin C serum. I’m on my third bottle of this bad boy as well. It’s very gentle, and also contains aloe, collagen, and various plant and fruit extracts claiming hydration, anti-aging, and brightening. The effects of topical collagen are still kind of debatable, but I like this serum for its hydrating and brightening effects.

Fourth Ray Beauty Rainfall 2% Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($16, Colourpop/Ulta) is one of only 2 products I’ve tried and liked from the Fourth Ray line (the other one I’m still kind of testing out so it’s not a favorite yet). It is nice for extra hydration when needed, and smells like cucumbers (which I love). I’ve repurchased this once as well.

I feel kind of bad about loving the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist ($28, Glow Recipe/Sephora) as much as I do. I talked so much sh*t when this was launched about how no face mist was worth $28, even if the mister is one of the best. Well, I eat my words. This mist is fantastic. I’ve purchased it not once, but twice now and I REGRET NOTHING. It’s hydrating and definitely adds a noticeable luminosity to the skin. And the mister is great.

Remember when Shiseido Facial Cottons were the must-have product for like all of YouTube? Yeah. I got sucked into paying $12 for cotton too. It’s okay. They’re great! But $12 for cotton is insane no matter how nice they are. Enter: Daiso Fresh Cotton ($1.50, Daiso). They are every bit as soft and lovely as the Shiseido Facial Cottons, but you get more and for a fraction of the price. It’s a no-brainer. If you live near a Daiso, scoop some of these up. If you do not live near a Daiso, Ulta Ultra Soft Square Cotton Pads are also a great dupe for Shiseido. Not as much of a price break, but Ulta brand stuff goes on BOGO sale a lot.

So that’s it…those are what products are keeping my skin looking as best as it can lately. What are you loving for your skin?

Current Favorites – March 2017

I’m not very good about doing consistent monthly favorites posts like other beauty content creators out there. Um, my bad? I just don’t try that many things every single month that I’d be able to have a whole list every month. Also, the beginnings and very end of the month are always very busy for me at work, so I don’t always have time to really give it some thought.

Anywho, here’s a few things I have been loving on lately, both in February and so far in March. I got a really nasty cold at the end of February, and some of these were just lifesavers that have helped me with that, since everyone knows being sick does GREAT things for your skin, right? ;) There’s a definite theme with these favorites: hydration. Being sick had me at lizard status.

Complexion-wise, I’ve been trying a lot of different foundations lately. Or rather, re-trying. I spent a lot of time earlier this year going through my foundation stash, which resulted in me wanting to try out a lot of foundations I hadn’t worn in a while. I also tried out the It Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact serum foundation, which I will have a full review on soon. However, when I got sick, my skin around my nose and upper lip was so dry and raw from being rubbed with tissues that no foundation went on comfortably (or attractively, I might add). I found one combination that worked enough to get me through the reptilian stage…

Trusty MAC Studio Fix powder (I wear shades N3 and NW10…wearing N3 in the pic above) and Make Up For Ever Full Cover concealer (I wear shade 2, which has been discontinued ūüė≠). I use about a grain of rice size amount of concealer to spot conceal areas I need to, and then just go over everything with a light application of the MAC powder. The powder has a lot of coverage, and it sat okay on my super dry skin without looking (t00) scaly. Then I just wear a really natural looking blush that kind of matches the redness in my nose so it looks like maybe I just have a little color vs. a bright red clown nose. My blush colors of choice are Urban Decay Afterglow blush in Video or Wet ‘n Wild Color Icon blush in Ros√© Champagne for something with more of a sheen. I’m wearing Video in the pic above.

Since being sick includes a lot of breathing through your mouth (cute, huh), that means dry lips! I’ve been kind of needing a break from all of the popular matte lips lately anyway, but that whole situation forced me to avoid them. For about a week straight I think I only wore lip balm. My lip balm of choice is Epic Blend. I like their Hemp and More Moisture formulas. For products with a little more color, I’ve been wearing my Vasanti Cosmetics tinted lip balm that I have loved for years. Unfortunately they’ve completely redone the line and I can’t recommend the new ones because I haven’t tried them. I also still use my It Cosmetics lip treatment quite frequently. It’s half gone. Eep!

Skincare-wise I have spent a lot of time slathering myself in moisturizer lately. I’ve been using a combo of Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum topped with It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream. The rich cream combined with the extra hydrating serum have made it just a little easier to turn my lizard skin nose back into a regular person nose. ūüźĹ

Other than that, I’ve really been spending a lot of time just shopping through my stash and trying out a lot of various things, so no other true¬†favorites¬†to report at the moment. But I’m always curious to know what you guys have been loving, so let me know!

Products I’ve Repurchased

repurchased

I always find it interesting to know what products people have repurchased time and again. It truly says something when even beauty addicts, who are consistently trying new things, return to old favorites. So why not return to blogging with some tried and true faves of my own? I’m breaking them down into categories.

Skincare

I definitely have the most repurchased items in the skincare category, so let’s start there.

Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Triple-Action Toner ($8.49, Ulta)
I couldn’t even tell you how many bottles I’ve gone through of this stuff, but it’s several. I love that this product is so good, even though it’s really inexpensive. The price is really great considering you get a huge 8 oz bottle. The active ingredient is 2% salicylic acid, which helps keep breakouts and clogged pores at bay, but since it is in a formula with camellia and cucumber, it isn’t irritating or stingy on my face. If you have very sensitive skin this¬†may¬†cause a little irritation because it does contain alcohol, but it has worked out fine for me.

Pixi Glow Tonic ($15, Target)
Another fantastic, inexpensive skincare find that I have purchased more than once. This is another acid toner (generally I would use this in the daytime and the Neutrogena toner at night). Pixi Glow Tonic contains 5% glycolic acid in a very gentle alcohol-free formula with aloe and ginseng. I experience no stinging, no redness, and no irritation, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through my second bottle. This toner is designed to keep your skin looking even and radiant. I definitely notice a difference!

Murad Acne Spot Treatment ($18, Sephora)
Murad has two acne spot treatment products. This one is not to be confused with their “fast fix” product, which is a benzoyl peroxide-based product. The one I’m in love with is simply called acne spot treatment and it is a 3% sulphur active ingredient treatment. There are only a few different actives that treat acne, and for me I prefer sulphur treatments to benzoyl peroxide. It’s way less drying and irritating. I only see a teeny bit of drying with this product, whereas benzoyl peroxide has more than once given me itchy dry patches. Not cute. Anyway, I am on my third tube of this handy stuff, which is great at helping to reduce the inflammation of breakouts, which is ultimately what causes them to be so painful (and noticeable!) and also what causes scarring. A little bit goes a¬†long¬†way, so in order to get through multiple tubes I have been using this product for years.

MAC Cleanse-Off Oil ($32 & free shipping, Nordstrom)
When I’m wearing makeup and/or sunscreen, I prefer to double cleanse. I use MAC Cleanse-Off Oil as my first cleanse. It’s great at removing even the heaviest makeup (even waterproof mascara or bits of lash glue). This cleanser emulsifies with water, so you don’t even really need to do a second cleanse if you don’t want to. If you have dry skin, you may not feel the need. The oil is formulated with no mineral oil, and contains soothing oils like olive, evening primrose, and jojoba. If you’re at all acne or clog prone, you may want to follow up with a second cleanser. I do just because I like to be extra squeaky clean, and because my skin has been more normal-to-oily than dry lately. As an added bonus for this product, you can recycle the packaging with Back 2 MAC.

Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel ($14, Ulta)
For a cleanser with chemically exfoliating actives in it, this cleanser is¬†so¬†very gentle. I think it would work well for just about any skin type. This cleanser exfoliates with hydroxy acids from papaya and grapefruit extracts. It’s gentle enough that I have even used it with cleansing devices like the Foreo Luna or Clarisonic and had no irritation. If you have dry skin that is prone to clogged pores, this will help to keep them clear¬†without irritating your skin. I love that the packaging is no-nonsense and without any frills that would drive up the price, too. I’m on my second bottle, and still loving it!

Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream for Dry Skin ($8.99, Ulta)
Do you think this moisturizer has a long enough name? Because I’m not sure. This moisturizer is sold in a dry skin formula and a normal skin formula and I have tried both. Though Garnier says the dry skin version has 2x more moisturizing agents, I don’t notice a huge difference. This moisturizer is better for people who have normal to slightly dry skin rather than those who have very dry skin. I think it actually works great for skin that is dehydrated and producing too much oil to compensate, because it is so very light weight. The name says gel-cream, but it is very much a gel texture. It’s not going to give you a heavy night cream feeling at all. I think it wears very well under makeup, and on days when I need even more hydration I just use a serum first.

Hair Products

Hair products are another area where I am pretty settled into a routine and I know what I like.

Psssst! Dry Shampoo ($6.99, Ulta)
I wait ’til this stuff goes on sale and buy them a couple at a time. This is a very basic, yet well-performing dry shampoo. I have bangs‚Äďdry shampoo is a necessity. I flip my head over and spray it at the roots, or spray it into my bangs and then comb through and sort of “fluff” them out for refreshed hair.

Alterna CAVIAR Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner ($32 each, Sephora online)
Once upon a time several years ago, the good folks at Alterna sent me a PR package with these two products in it, and thus began my love affair with¬†really pricey haircare. I used both bottles up and then totally willingly forked over the cashola for my own¬†more than once¬†because this stuff is amazing. I have fine, color-treated hair. It tends to be on the dry side vs. oily, and I also heat style with a blow dryer and flat iron very regularly. I try to take very good care of my hair because if you’re going to pay $100+ to color it, you want to preserve that color or it’s throwing money away. These products are luxurious and sulfate-free, and make my hair feel oh so silky. Even the ends of my hair are in great shape and I believe I owe it to Alterna! It’s tough to swallow paying $64 for your hair care, so I do sometimes stray with L’Oreal’s sulfate free products, and I stock up on Alterna¬†during events like Sephora’s annual VIB 20% off sale.

Makeup

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup ($40, Sephora)
I’ve purchased this bad boy twice, even though it is far from cheap. The shade range is pretty extensive, and shade 0.5 matches me very well.¬†It is described as a radiant finish, and looks very skin-like. The coverage is medium, and somewhat buildable. If you are looking for something to even out your skintone and wear well without looking like a mask, you’ll probably like this. If you have extremely oily skin or a lot to cover up, probably not as much. I loved this the most when my skin was normal to dry.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte 24HR Foundation¬†($12.99, Ulta)
As my skin became more normal to oily, I wanted a more matte foundation. The hype was huge surrounding this foundation’s launch, and for good reason. I love this foundation, possibly even more than the Urban Decay. It has easy, hygienic packaging that is travel friendly, a decent shade range (I wear 101 Classic Ivory), and wears¬†very¬†well throughout the day. The coverage is medium to high medium and buildable. Though it says matte, it’s not a dry or flat looking matte. It’s like your skin but better. At the end of the day I can feel oil on my t-zone, but the foundation doesn’t break up or smear, etc. It may require a bit of touching up around hour 12-13, so I raise my eyebrow at the 24HR claim, but you should never really wear foundation for 24 solid hours anyway. For less than half the price of Urban Decay, I am sold!

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer ($28, Sephora)
While the Urban Decay foundation has been replaced in my go-to lineup for the moment, the accompanying concealer remains a favorite. This concealer does wonders for brightening up my under eye area and inner corners of my eyes. It blends out nicely and the fact that it is light enough to brighten even on my pale complexion is impressive. I wear shade Fair Neutral.

Maybelline Volum’ Express The Rocket Mascara¬†($6.99, Ulta)
I’ve repurchased this mascara easily 3 to 4 times. I love that it not only volumizes, but also lengthens. Most recently, I’ve been trying out the waterproof version of this (picked it up when I went on a cruise), and it is VERY waterproof.

Sedona Lace Synthetic Round Top Brush (480) ($18.95, Sedona Lace)
Simply put, my favorite foundation brush. It’s so dense, so soft, and blends foundation out like a dream. It also washes very well, and looks freaking adorable with the pink and black ombre bristles. They do not bleed or shed. Awesome all-around brush. I love it so much I needed a second one in my arsenal so I never have to be without it, even when one of them is drying from being washed.

Sedona Lace Synthetic Small Round Dome Brush (217) ($16.95, Sedona Lace)
My favorite concealer blending brush¬†ever.¬†It’s pretty much a smaller, less dense version of the 480. It’s a small, compact fluffy brush that blends concealer out even better than my fingers. Worth every penny, and I just had to get another one.

 

What are some beauty products you love so much that you’ve purchased them more than once?