My 3 Must-Have Actives After 3-6 Months of Differin

Recently I shared my *simple* skincare routine – basically the go-to products in my routine to tackle my top priority skin goals: acne control, hydration, barrier protection.

In today’s post, I’m sharing with you the three extra actives I added to my skincare routine once my skin adjusted to my prescription topicals. They are powerful ingredients that are no one-trick ponies, but have a multitude of functions that contribute to skin’s overall health!


Products marked with * are PR Samples/gifts. Links marked with a * are affiliate links. This means when you use the link to make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you if you decide to use them! If you feel uncomfortable, feel free to google a new link.


Niacinamide

Niacinamide is an amazing all rounder ingredient that addresses multiple skin issues, it is actually my favourite ingredient out of the 3! It is an antioxidant, increases skin’s lipid production to improve skin barrier, minimizes pores, helps refine wrinkles, brightens and evens skin tone, helps with sebum control, and fades pigmentation.

Current go-to: The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide + Zinc

  • $5.90 USD, $10.60 USD
  • 30 ml, 60ml
  • Use PM, mixed with Hada Labo Premium Lotion before Differin

Why it’s my go-to:

  • Cheap, lol!
  • A simple, straight-shooter formula that I like to use to mix in with my HLPL
  • Provides pH level and percentages
    • pH: 5.5 – 6.5
    • Niacinamide: 10%
    • Zinc PCA: 1%
  • Skinthusiast perspective: Niacinamide and Zinc PCA are the only star actives in the formula, but the bulk of the formula still has solvents doubled as humectants.

I  currently have a rotation right now of other Niacinamide serums/boosters out of my sheer curiosity (Niacinamide battle soon), but TO’s has been a constant repurchase for me and it’s a staple in my skincare collection.

Where to buy:


Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is a water-soluble chemical exfoliant. It increases cell turnover on the top-layer of skin, the Stratum Corneum, acts as a humectant, and increases Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid in the dermis, making it thicker and less prone to TEWL. For my skin, GA has also shown to be the most effective with improving my skin texture, most notably in smoothing out my atrophic acne scars.

Current go-to: Krave Beauty Kale-lalu-yAHA *

  • $25 USD
  • 200ml
  • Use AM 1-2x week, before Vitamin C

Why it’s my go-to:

  • Low percentage Glycolic Acid that’s gentle but can still exfoliate
  • KB also provides pH level and active percentage
    • pH: 3.0-4.0
    • AHA: 5.25%
  • Skinthusiast perspective: Also has additional ingredients that promote skin’s health:
    • Aloe, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B5 – humectants and skin soothers
    • Dark leafy greens kale, spinach, parsley – antioxidants
    • Allantoin – skin soother

KB was a good product to reintroduce after acclimating to Differin. However, after I finish this bottle, I will move on to Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant. KB is still unavailable to Canadians to purchase, and also I am ready to move up in strength. I opted for PC because I find they do a great job at formulating high percentage active products that don’t irritate my skin.

Where to buy:


L-Ascorbic Acid

LAA is the best researched Vitamin C ingredient compared to its derivatives; It is an antioxidant, provides photoprotection, promotes collagen synthesis, brightens and evens skin tone, and fades pigmentation. Combining L-Ascorbic Acid, Ferulic Acid, and Vitamin E has shown to increase the effectiveness of LAA and improve its stability.

Current go-to: Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Booster

  • $49 USD
  • 20ml
  • Use AM daily, freshly cleansed skin

Why it’s my go-to:

  • PC uses the most well studied ingredients in this formulation and tries (or maybe did) dupe the famous Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum
  • Provides the percentage of LAA as well as the pH level of this product:
    • pH: 3.0
    • LAA: 15%
  • Skinthusiast perspective: Contains additional ingredients that are good for the skin:
    • Sodium Hyaluronate and Glycerin – humectants
    • Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate – hydrates, improves skin texture
    • Panthenol and Bisabolol – soothing
  • Only LAA Vitamin C serum at a high concentration that does not burn my skin

I already repurchased my 3rd bottle of this booster! I have tried the infamous Timeless Vitamin C serum – 2 bottles worth actually – and it stung a LOT! And for those of you who may mention MaeLove’s Glowmaker Serum – no shipping to Canada! I believe they’re working on that, so maybe once it does become available I will purchase. In the mean time, I’m content with spending the extra cash on the PC C15 Booster.

Where to buy:


And that is it for this blog post! I know all too well how overwhelming the skincare world is. Lot’s of good ingredients, but not sure where to start or understand what exactly makes it so good! I hope my top 3 helped you out with your own skin journey, especially if it’s similar to mine! (Acne prone, dry, preventative aging…)

xo, M

FOUNDATION FRIDAY: Revlon PhotoReady Candid Natural Finish Anti-Pollution Foundation 220 Sand Beige & Antioxidant Concealer 020 Bisque

The products in this post were received in PR.


I’m typically someone who strays away from drugstore foundation due to one or all of the following reasons:

  • Never finding my shade and/or undertone properly
  • Oxidization madness
  • Looking cakey
  • Not long-lasting
  • Breaks me out

However, times have changed, and there seems to be a way better selection of base products than when I was in highschool! I received Revlon’s new PhotoReady Candid Natural Finish Anti-Pollution Foundation and Antioxidant Concealer to try out and I decided to do a wear test and review them for you all!

In this post, I’ll be sharing a wear test I did during Fan Expo 2019 with the Foundation and Concealer, and add some thought after wearing them for almost one month daily!


CLAIMS

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PHOTOREADY CANDID NATURAL FINISH ANTI-POLLUTION FOUNDATION

CLAIMS:

  • This skin-enhancing, natural-looking foundation delivers a flawless finish—all day long—as it hydrates
  • You get medium coverage that feels weightless and looks like your best skin!
  • Feels good with: anti-pollution, antioxidant, and anti-blue-light ingredients to protect your skin
  • Feels better without: oils, parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, and harsh fragrances
  • Available in 31 makeup shades

PRICE: $10.99 USD / $15.99 CAD
AMOUNT: 0.75 fl oz / 22ml
SHADE: 220 Sand Beige – medium with neutral, subtle olive undertones

PHOTOREADY CANDID ANTIOXIDANT CONCEALER

CLAIMS:

  • This concealer with medium coverage camouflages dark circles and puff, with a jolt of caffeine to help wake up tired skin
  • It’s also excellent at disguising blemishes and other things you’d rather not see
  • Feels good with: a formula that includes a protective antioxidant, along with anti-pollution and anti-blue-light ingredients
  • Feels better without: oils, parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, or harsh fragrances—making it ideal for delicate undereye skin and a great concealer for sensitive skin!
  • Flexible doe-foot for precision application
  • Available in 18 shades

PRICE: $9.99 USD/ $10.49 CAD
AMOUNT: 0.34 fl oz / 10ml
SHADE: 020 Bisque


ANTI-POLLUTION, ANTIOXIDANT, ANTI-BLUE LIGHT?

FOUNDATION INGREDIENTS: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Butylene Glycol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polysilicone-11, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Ethylene Brassylate, Laureth-7, Lecithin, Magnesium Sulfate, Maris Sal/Sea Salt/Sel Marin, Methicone, Mica, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Pullulan, Sclerotium Gum, Silica, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Carrageenan, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethyl Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491,77492, 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

CONCEALER INGREDIENTS: Aqua/Water/Eau,Cyclopentasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide,  Cyclohexasiloxane, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Dimethicone, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Sodium Chloride, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract ,Caffeine, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Niacinamide, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Glycerin, Lecithin, Mica, Pullulan, Sclerotium Gum, Silica, Tetrasodium EDTA, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Xanthan Gum, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain: [Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499].

Firstly, both foundation and concealer contain antioxidants; In short, antioxidants help scavenge free radicals that cause oxidation (damaging cells). Camellia Sinesis Extract, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopherol / Tocopheryl Acetate are in both formulas, and the concealer contains Niacinamide down the list as well. There may also be Iron Oxides in the formula, which are used as pigment in makeup. Both antioxidants and Iron Oxides have shown to reduce the effects of visible light and help with pigmentation issues. Lab Muffin does a great job at explaining all of the research behind this in a digestible manner – be sure to check out her blog post and others as well!
https://labmuffin.com/does-visible-light-cause-skin-damage-and-how-to-protect-against-it/

Surprisingly, Revlon is indeed backing up its claims of their foundation and concealer being anti-pollution, antioxidant, and anti-blue light. However I am wary that some of those ingredients may be in too low amounts to do anything – I’m looking at more of SAP and Niacinamide. I’m not sure how much is needed to have an antioxidant benefit, but for the additional benefits those provide such as brightening and helping with acne, I typically aim for minimum 5-10% in my skincare routine. It still doesn’t hurt to have them in the formula though!


WEAR TEST – FIRST IMPRESSIONS

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PREP: On top of a moisturizing SPF – my colleague wears both these products on the daily so I thought I’d dry them together.

TOTAL WEAR TIME: 11.5 hours

PACKAGE:
Foundation: Tube with a pump.
Concealer: Tube with a large doe-foot applicator

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TEXTURE:
Foundation: Thick cream.
Concealer. Light cream.

USAGE:
Foundation: 1.5 pumps on face and neck . Normally I apply a small amount in sections, but I wanted to see what kind of coverage one pump would do.
Concealer: One light swipe to just cover breakouts.

APPLICATION:
Foundation:
Left side used fingers – results were streaky; Right side used brush – more seamless. Had to go in with a sponge to blend out the foundation because I used too much.

Concealer:
Applied on back of hand first, and used a small dense concealer brush to apply and blend around chin and one on my forehead.

FINISH:

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Foundation:

  • Glowy / luminous; to some it looks luminous and glowy, others it can look borderline shiny
  • Skin looks like my skin, boyfriend and friend couldn’t tell I was wearing anything
  • Didn’t notice any significant skin-perfecting qualities other than evening out my skin tone and making it look healthy
  • Having said that, doesn’t exaggerate any texture on my skin

Concealer:

  • Matte finish

Did not use primer or setting powder, wore the foundation on its own with cream cheek products.

FLASH-FRIENDLY? Yes. if you don’t powder down the “glow” from the foundation, it can be amplified.

OXIDIZE? Surprisingly, it did not!

OIL-CONTROLLING? Hard to tell because the finish gives a natural sheen. I did blot 5 hours in because to me, a previous oily-skinned gal, it looked too much; My friend on the other hand, said it didn’t look oily unless I was in bad lighting, otherwise my skin looked great most of the day.

END OF DAY:

  • Face still looked fresh and healthy
  • Coverage was still there
  • Bit of cakiness and dryness around my breakout areas
  • Sheen still on my skin but it didn’t look very oily

OVERALL THOUGHTS

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PROS:

Foundation:

  • Gives a “my skin but better” look despite no blurring quality
  • Looks great in photos, with or without flash
  • Matched my undertone perfectly
  • Lasts a work day / school day on its own without the help of primers and/or setting products
  • Does not oxidize; I was able to build up the coverage in certain areas of my face, and it did not oxidize in patches either
  • Still look fresh by the end of a long day

Concealer:

  • Matches skin tone
  • Does not oxidize

 

CONS:
Foundation:

  • Not a full ounce provided

Concealer:

  • Doesn’t last on the skin
  • Creates dry patches

IN-BETWEEN FEELS:

Foundation:

  • The finish depends on how you prep your skin. It’s not guaranteed to give you a super dewy or satin finish unless your base has that already going for it (hence why my face was so moisturized in the Wear Test).
  • Buildable coverage, up to medium coverage.
  • As much as I like the MSBB look, I still wish it had SOME skin blurring properties so I wouldn’t have to worry about my pores.

Concealer:

  • Concealer does not look cakey on skin if you just need to hide redness and use a very light amount. I think it caked up around my breakouts because of the active I used in my skincare routine (Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid).

Normal to Dry-skinned peeps: I think you’ll love it; Didn’t feel like it dried out my skin, and it does not emphasize dry patches I have around breakouts.
Oily-skinned peeps: May be too glowy for you, even if your base prep is rather matte. I’d recommend trying their Colorstay Foundation – it used to be my go-to drugstore foundation when my skin was very oily!

My best face: Pore-filling primer, thin layers, setting powder (get the most compliments when I do my makeup like this). Here’s my face after ~10 hours of wear on a regular work day, no touch-ups:

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Overall I am seriously impressed with Revlon Candid Foundation and Antioxidant Concealer! For a drugstore foundation, I really didn’t know what to expect with its performance, and it definitely surpassed my expectations. I get compliments at work whenever I use this foundation, and I’ve been told that I still look bright and fresh by the end of a work day! I also wore the foundation for 14+ hours for boyfriend’s birthday, and blotted before we went out to celebrate!

WHERE TO BUY:

ULTA:
Foundation
Concealer

Hope this review helped you out!

xo, M

REVIEW: Physician’s Formula the Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Balm

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Let me start off this post by saying: It’s not a dupe for Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm.

Sure, they’re both balms, they’re both green, and they share less than 10 ingredients, but that’s pretty much all you’ll find in common with them.

As per the title, I will be more detailed about PF’s Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Balm, but along the way I will make comments about Farmacy’s Green Clean.


CLAIMS

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WHAT IT IS:
An ultra gentle 3-in-1 cleansing balm that melts away makeup, deeply cleans away impurities and leaves the skin fully supple and hydrated.

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU:

Antioxidant-packed and enriched with Matcha Green Tea, Bamboo Shoot, and Lotus Extract.

Physician’s Formula Offical Website

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Price: $14.99 CAD
Amount: 1.40 oz / 40g
Price per oz: ~$10.7 CAD

At first glance it looks like the best bang for your buck, right? Let’s compare to be sure:

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Farmacy Green Clean MINI size
Price: $28 CAD
Amount: 1.7 oz / 50 ml
Price per oz: ~16.47 CAD

Farmacy Green Clean FULL size
Price: $44 CAD
Amount: 3.2 oz / 90 ml
Price per oz: ~$13.75 CAD

As we can see, PF is more cost effective than the Farmacy Green Clean full size by $3.05 CAD, and I’m surprised at the price per oz for the Farmacy Green Clean Mini!


INGREDIENTS

Skincarisma

FARMACY GREEN CLEAN MELTAWAY CLEANSING BALM INGREDIENTS: Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Peg-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Peg-10 Isostearate, Polyethylene, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Amino Esters-1, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Amber Powder, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Echinacea Purpurea Root Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid.

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PF 3-IN-1 MELTING BALM INGREDIENTS: CETYL ETHYLHEXANOATE, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, SORBETH-30 TETRAOLEATE, PEG-5 GLYCERYL TRIISOSTEARATE, PEG-10 ISOSTEARATE, POLYETHYLENE, FRAGRANCE/PARFUM, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF POWDER*, PHYLLOSTACHYS EDULIS SHOOT WATER**, NELUMBO NUCIFERA FLOWER EXTRACT***, CITRUS NOBILIS (MANDARIN ORANGE) PEEL OIL, WATER/EAU, PHENOXYETHANOL, SORBITAN SESQUIOLEATE, POLYGLYCERYL-10 OLEATE, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, LACTIC ACID, SODIUM BENZOATE, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, POTASSIUM SORBATE, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN, HEXYLENE GLYCOL, MALTODEXTRIN, YELLOW 5 (CI 19140), BLUE 1 (CI 42090). *MATCHA, **BAMBOO, ***LOTUS

CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF POWDER: antioxidant

PHYLLOSTACHYS EDULIS SHOOT WATER: skin-soothing, antioxidant

NELUMBO NUCIFERA FLOWER EXTRACT: skin-soothing, antioxidant

Sure, there’s some similar ingredients, especially the base of the balms. However, the exprience of each is completely different!


EXPERIENCE

SCENT: Light, artificial pear scent. Notice how for PF it just says parfum and Green Clean actually lists the fragrance derived ingredients.

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TEXTURE: Thick balm.

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Top: Farmacy Green Clean, Bottom: Physician’s Formula3-in-1

APPLICATION: Scoop of a nickel-quarter size amount for my face and neck. I’d use the latter amount if I was wearing a lot of makeup that day. Melts quickly and keeps a fairly melted, vaseline-like consistency.

FINISH: No residue or heavy moisture.

INSTANT RESULTS: No residue and skin is left feeling calm.

LONG-TERM RESULTS: Nothing crazy to report.


FINAL THOUGHTS

For a Western drugstore brand, Physician Formula the Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Balm is a nice makeup remover balm. Also the ingredients are not that bad. I’d have to say though, after trying Farmacy Green Clean Meltaway Cleansing Balm in rotation, the experience is totally different. FG feels more luxe, whereas PF just feels like a standard, no fuss balm. Also, Farmacy doesn’t use dyes to get the green colour 😉 So out of the two, I’d still choose Farmacy Green Clean, but I still recommend Physician’s Formula the Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Balm for those looking for a drugstore alternative!

What do you guy’s think of Physician’s Formula new skincare? I’m glad drugstore brands are coming out with better skincare products and more options for us to choose from!

xo, M

WHERE TO BUY:
iHerb
Shoppers Drug Mart


REVIEW: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #5: CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Product was sent to me for review purposes.


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ABOUT:

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“Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 provides UV protection while helping to restore the protective skin barrier. This lightweight, with a matte finish and non-greasy lotion, with 3 essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid, provides all day hydration after just one use.”

ADDITIONAL CLAIMS:

  • For normal to oily skin
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

Price: $17.99 CAD / USD
Amount: 50ml

UV FILTERS:

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Type: Chemical
Homosalate 10%
Octisalate 5%
Avobenzone 3%
Octocrylene 2.7%

Protection: UVA/UVB
Strength: SPF 30

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS:

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Aqua, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyacetophenone, SodiumAcryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Citric Acid, t-Butyl Alcohol, Ceramide NP, Phenoxyethanol, Ceramide AP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide EOP

CONSISTENCY: Light lotion


FRAGRANCE:
No noticeable sent.

APPLICATION: Spreads easily and doesn’t feel greasy.

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FINISH: Not matte, but not overly shiny or greasy. Nice subtle glow compared to other sunscreens I’ve tried.

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FEEL: Light and surprisingly moisturizing for my normal-dry skin.

STINGS EYES? Another surprise, it does not!

WHITECAST / TINTED? No.

WATER RESISTANT? No.

SKIN BENEFITS?
I love Cerave for the ceramids and essential fatty acids, but I’m still surprised that this is able to moisturize my skin well! Probably because 1) The amount I use 2) It’s very lightweight.

UNDER MAKEUP:
I haven’t been wearing foundation lately, but this doesn’t have a very greasy finish, so I can see it sitting fine underneath makeup.

WHERE TO BUY:
Ulta
Shopper Drug Mart

PROS:

  • Light feel
  • Doesn’t sting my skin or eyes
  • A good drugstore SPF option
  • Able to add additional moisture to skin

IN BETWEEN FEELS:

  • SPF 30 – This isn’t bad, but I’m a SPF 50 kinda gal
  • On a bit of the pricier side for a drugstore SPF

CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 knocks its sister sunscreen, the AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 out of the park! It is way more cosmetically elegant and enjoyable to use strictly because it doesn’t feel greasy and it doesn’t pill! This is a great additional product to their line and I recommend this to any skin type.

xo, M


[RELATED CONTENT]

SUNSCREEN SUNDAY:
SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #1: Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50+ PA++++
Sunscreen Sunday #2: CANMAKE Mermaid Skin Gel UV SPF 50+ PA++++
SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #3: Bare Republic Tinted Mineral Face SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion
SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #4: Neostrata Defend Sheer Physical Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Matte-Finish Tinted Sunscreen PA++++

BEST OF BEAUTY 2018: Skincare

I feel like with every passing year, I always learn a different aspect of skincare. I found this year I focused a LOT on scientifically proven ingredients, as well as new, popular ingredients that are commonly talked about in the beautysphere. This was also the year I showed more interest in drugstore products! Out of everything I tried and used up this year, here are the skincare products that really stood out to me this year and deserve some praises.

Before we get into the individual products, I want to give a shout out to a few brands that have impressed me with almost every product I’ve tried from the line. If I didn’t, I feel like the list would be a lot longer! I also have product shoutouts along the list as well. They may not be my top pick for the year of 2018, but again, they deserve a mention since I did enjoy using them.


BRAND Shoutouts

DRUGSTORE: Cerave – If you need affordable, effective skincare with a simple ingredients list, this is the brand to turn to. Almost any skin type can turn to this brand! I’m looking forward to trying more from the brand and provide you all affordable alternatives in skincare.

MID-RANGE: Krave Beauty – I actually would have featured everything in this post, but since I only started using them near the end of the year a handful of times, I’ll leave the praises for a future post *hint hint*. A new skincare line created by acne-prone, sensitive-skinned beauty Youtuber Liah Yoo. The brand is all about respecting the skin’s natural function and makes sure to promote its helf rather than further sensitizing it.

HIGH-END: Dermalogica – She may be pricey, but she works, and a little goes a long way with every product I have tried! I love the combo of science-backed ingredients mixed with botanicals and essential oils in their formulas. This is one of the few skincare brands I’m willing to splurge money on because I’ve reaped nothing but benefits!


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Makeup Remover

Marcelle Eye Makeup Remover for Sensitive Eyes – Favourited by a handful of Canadian Beauty Bloggers, and I can see why. It is simple, it is gentle, it works really well at removing waterproof makeup, all the while never irritating my eyes or drying out my eye area!

Cleanser

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser – Jesus where was this when I had worse skin problems? Cerave has impressed me this year as a drugstore brand and this is one of their standout products to me. Preferably used for my morning cleanse, I find it softens my skin when massaging for a minute or so and does a decent job at removing overnight fluffs. If you need a very gentle cleanser, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with this one!

Shoutout:
Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel * – She’s expensive, but she also has a lovely texture, amazing second cleanse, and a little goes such a long way it took me forever to finish it!

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Hydrator

COSRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence – I seriously miss this from my routine! I’m currently using Secret Key FTE which is nice, but COSRX is pretty much the same but with my preferred consistency! It wasn’t until I started using this that the plateau I was experiencing in my skincare ended. Face felt more hydrated, looked even tone, and I actually started noticing improvements in my hyperpigmentation.

Shoutouts:
Klairs Supple Preparation Unscented Toner *
Some By Mi AHA/BHA/PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner *

I already threw out the COSRX Essence so I couldn’t take a new solo photo :3)

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Moisturizer

Hada Labo Koi-Gokujyun Perfect Gel – I pine for this. Has the different HA molecules, Urea, Ceramide, and Squalane! A seriously lovely humectant moisturizer that I’m highly considering repurchasing.

Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion – Surprise surprise! But seriously, I really am surprised that I liked a drugstore moisturizer so much. It worked with my dry skin and I see the workings of the 4% Niacinamide.

Klairs Vitamin E Mask * – Love it as my night time moisturizer in the colder months, and it’s also just a joy to use because of the texture and the instant brightening effects. The bonus is that it is a heavier mask that doesn’t aggravate my acne or enlarge my pores!

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Actives / Treatments

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum * – I cringe that this is a favourite because of the price point, but it’s SO GOOD! It does everything you could want in a vitamin C serum – hydrate, brighten, create an even tone, lighten pigmentation. I felt like it just simplified my morning routine when I used it.

Differin OTC 0.1% Adapalene – My gateway drug into retinoids (lol). After years of experimenting with skincare outside of prescription, and learning so much this year about its benefits, I decided to go back to Vitamin A. It was definitely a turn for the better, because I’ve only noticed my skin improving since incorporating it into my routine. I now use prescription Differin with a higher percentage, but Americans are very lucky to have easy access to this in your local drugstores!

Benzagel 5 Acne Wash – Simplest, gentlest BP product I have ever tried. It was very affordable, I was surprisesd at how long it lasted, and yes, I found it very effective at killing any spots within a few days. I never thought I’d like a BP product as much as this!

Exfoliator

Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel – Gentle and easy to use, and I like that I can use it on wet skin!

Secret Key Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel * – Must be used on dry skin, but love how my skin is noticeably softer after using this. This one is particularly good for not just it’s quality but the low cost!

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid – Out of all the products I’m mentioning, this one is probably the gentlest. I always anticipate a stinging sensation when using this, but it’s always soothing and moisturizing! Like I’ve said before, it’s like an acid essence. My skin always looks bright and even, and pores look smaller.

Krave Beauty Kale-lalu-yAHA * – This year’s AHA favourite. Love that it’s gentle, especially now that I am using a retinoid, and still effective as an exfoliant for my skin. I especially like how both this and the PC product can be used under my eyes!

skincare-faves-18-6

Sunscreen

Elta Md UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen – We hear time and time again from skin professionals, experts and enthusiasts how important sunscreen application is, and this is the one I used that really made me enjoy applying sunscreen. I also consider this a gateway drug into trying out many other sunscreens!

Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF50+ PA++++ * – How can I not include this? Seriously one of the best Klairs releases. Chemical sunscreen with photostable UV filters, doesn’t sting my eyes, is slightly moisturizing, doesn’t have a cast, and comes in a great size for a great price.


And there you have it! I’m impressed that I managed to keep the list * rather * short this time around. Hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to check out the related content below!

xo, M


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