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!

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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


RELATED CONTENT

BEST OF BEAUTY 2018: Makeup
BEST OF BEAUTY 2017: SKINCARE
The Best of Beauty 2016
My Morning (AM) Skincare Routine 2018
My Nighttime (PM) Skincare Routine 2018
SUNSCREEN WEEK [Day #2]: Elta Md UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen
SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #1: Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50+ PA++++
BRAND REVIEW: Dear, Klairs
I tried Dermalogica’s Double Cleanse Routine ft. the PreCleanse Balm
Skin Update [#1] December 2018: Acne + Scars


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September 2018 Roundup

Favourites

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Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ * – Klairs did a great job with this sunscreen; It is comfortable to use on application and finish, doesn’t add a crazy glow, and is not sticky. My boyfriend, who has normal skin, was able to use this alone and he felt comfortably moisturized. Whereas for myself, it was okay at first on its own, but I did notice my dry skin feeling dry (lol). Nonetheless I think it’s great for any skin type!
SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #1: Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50+ PA++++

Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin Full Coverage Foundation Y305 Soft Beige – Around this time of year I get into full coverage foundations. I’m still super happy with my It Cosmetics CC Cream (REVIEW: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+ (Medium)), but the beauty junkie in me can’t help but gravitate towards a more polished look. I grabbed this foundation on recommendation from a couple of friends that this would be a great matte foundation for dry skin. Well, they were right! It looks very natural for it’s not a flat matte, buildable coverage, and lasts all day. I’ll give a full review when I have tried wearing it in other ways.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster Ultra Fine Liquid Eyeliner – It’s been years since I picked up an eye liner from the drugstore, but this one did not disappoint! It has a nice brush tip, is very black, easy to use, and doesn’t smudge! On the packaging it says it’s made in Japan, and I have actually been using Japanese eye liners for years. Highly recommend this product!


Empties

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ByWishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water * – I really liked how this acid toner did not leave my skin feeling dry and somehow managed to help control my acne despite it being an AHA! It did sting a bit at times, I’m not sure if I had cuts on my face or what, but I do remember never feeling sensitized at the beginning while using this. If you’re looking for a gentle acid toner, Mandelic Acid is the one to pick and ByWishtrend’s Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water is a good option to consider.
REVIEW | [ByWishtrend] Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water

Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion – Already repurchased my 3rd bottle! This is such a great moisturizer and truthfully peaked my interest in trying out more drugstore skincare.
My Morning (AM) Skincare Routine 2018

Dermalogica PreCleanse Balm * – A more thicker first cleanse product, but I loved that a little went a long way and it took about a year to finish up the entire tube! You’ll definitely get your money’s worth if you have been thinking about getting this. Because it’s heavier, I don’t think any oily-skinned peeps would like this and would probably want to opt for their PreCleanse.
I tried Dermalogica’s Double Cleanse Routine ft. the PreCleanse Balm

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask – This was my second purchase of this mask, and I’m already missing it. Despite it being a clay mask, I was able to wear this for a long period of time without feeling like my skin completely dried up. My skin always looked even tone and really helped subside the size and pain around any active breakouts. Because of the size, I always had it in my carry-on back in my frequent flyer days, when I tend to get a zit or two after being on the plane for so long. I’m trying to finish up other masks right now, but definitely consider this one if you want an affordable K-Beauty mask!

I’m From Honey Mask  – I definitely had this for too long, for I feel like it lost a bit of its potency since I didn’t use it up when it was near its end. I’m definitely considering repurchasing this, for my face became clearer from breakouts, and my skin felt very moisturized to the touch and smooth.
Review: I’M FROM Honey Mask

Differin – I already cracked open my 2nd tube of this stuff, and I feel like since using it my face looks a tad bit smoother and less breakout prone. I’m not sure if I want to keep using it however, because I want a retinoid or retinol that’ll help with breakouts AND preventative aging. I’ve been noticing the finest of lines on my forehead and around my mouth, so I’ll keep using this until I find something else to tackle additional concerns.
My Nighttime (PM) Skincare Routine 2018

Hada Labo Koi Goku-Jyun Perfect Gel – I miss this one. I got the classic Lotion to try and it really doesn’t do anything for me other than make my face feel a bit more hydrated. The Perfect Gel just really locks in my hydrators and leaves my skin feeling super smooth. Maybe the Premium Lotion would be a better one to look into since it has 5% urea in it.

Mad Hippie Eye Cream – A potent moisturizing, and lightweight eye cream. Ever since I stopped using this and tried to use just my regular moisturizer my under eyes don’t have the same bright, youthful look. I definitely want to repurchase this, but first I’m going to try an eye serum.

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum – This vitamin C product was very gentle and showed its effectiveness. I don’t think it did too much to help prevent breakouts, but I noticed my post-inflammatory marks didn’t last as long (especially when I used Differin at night). Defintiely recommend if you want to start using a vitamin C serum, I haven’t found other ones that worked for me (even the Ordinary ones!).

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum – Not completely finished because it oxidized. My boyfriend was using this one and we purchased another bottle for both of us to use. It is definitely more potent than the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum, but it does have 20% Ascorbic Acid, the big brother of vitamin Cs. Nick’s face has always been good and never problematic like mine, but I do notice his skin looks a tad brighter and tighter from the first bottle. Let’s hope I get similar results!


Hope you enjoyed this month’s roundup! So proud of all the empties for this month.

xo, M


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My Morning (AM) Skincare Routine 2018

Please refer to my “announcement” post if you haven’t already – it explains my skincare in a nutshell.
I’m Finally Sharing my Current Skincare Routines 2018

Breakdown:
1. Cleanse
2. Acne Treatment / Main Active
3. Hydrators
4. Moisturize
5. SPF


1. CLEANSE

I have tried going without washing my face in the morning, but I always get a lovely amount of zits on my face later in the day. I need at least a few splashes with water to start my morning skincare routine. If I feel like my skin has a bit of a residue from the night before, I’ll go in with a gentle cleanser.

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I’ve been really enjoying Cerave Hydrating Cleanser for this step! This is such a lovely, gentle, simple cleanser. One full pump really softens the skin as I massage my face and I don’t feel ANY sensation at all.

Just like its moisturizing partners, this cleanser also contains Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid, great ingredients to help replenish moisture in its skin and support a good barrier function. The texture of the product is like a lotion and with the way it feels, the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser is definitely doing some good for my skin!

Because it is so gentle and slightly moisturizing, I always debate whether or not it would be good as a second step in my Double Cleanse. For now, I’m enjoying it as a go-to gentle cleanser in my skincare arsenal, especially the morning after using Differin the night before.

Every other day I go in with the Dermalogica Medibac Clearing Skin Wash * to incorporate Salicylic Acid in my skincare. It contain’s 0.5% Salicylic Acid, the minimal amount required to effectively exfoliate your pore lining. This is a much welcomed product, especially since I’m getting slightly oilier and actually maintaining a proper workout schedule. My lovely sebaceous filaments  on my nose have been getting darker, so this wash is effective, yet gentle and nourishing enough to even use it daily! I’m highly considering getting the full size of this product.

After rinsing my face I will lightly pat my skin dry, but not completely dry. I find if I do this, my skin is more susceptible to dehydration and dryness, so I always make sure it is “almost dry”.


 2. Acne Treatment / Main Active

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After cleansing while my face still has a tad amount of water, I first apply Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum on my forehead and each cheek. The idea of using my serum first is to get Vitamin C to make direct contact with my skin, so I can reap its benefits right away. It’s a light water-based serum so it doesn’t disrupt the flow of my skincare at all by using it first. It doesn’t sting my skin at all and feels rather refreshing both from the light sweet scent it has and how it makes my skin feel fresh.

It contains Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a Vitamin C derivative said to be more stable and bioavailable than L-Ascorbic Acid, while still providing the same benefits. Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E are also in the formulation to amp up the benefits as well.

I haven’t really noticed a huge difference in my skin while using this serum, other than my skin feeling more hydrated. The only marker I have that this has helped with hyperpigmentation is on my neck – the only place I don’t apply Differin. The mark I had from a breakout is very faded now and doesn’t feel raised on my skin. Either way, I think this is a good starter Vitamin C serum, but I may opt for the popular Timeless Vitamin C serum after I’m done with the Mad Hippie one.

I pat it into my skin and once it gets tacky I move onto my other products.


3. Hydrators

I’ve been really enjoying the following products in my skincare routine because they have done an excellent job in adding back hydration to my skin. I don’t necessarily have to use both products, but I find my skin stays very comfortable throughout the day and I rarely ever get a tight feeling in my skin.

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I’ve raved enough about the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner * and I’m currently using the Unscented version in my routine. So far, it performs the same! Hard to tell the difference anymore (aside from the scent) since it is summertime and my skin is slightly oilier. After 3 dime-size applications, it makes my skin feel just as comfortable as the original, and ready for more layers of skincare.
REVIEW & COMPARE: Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner – Scented and Unscented!

I follow up immediately with 2 pumps of Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence (formally called Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence – the one I have).  There’s not much information about Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate other than that it can help tighten and brighten skin, as well as improving skin’s barrier function. For me, I’ve noticed the tightness I used to get from dehydration is non-existent, my skin feels a lot smoother, and my face stays even-toned. I’ve noticed nothing but benefits from using a Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate product and will continue using it!

After all of this is absorbed into my skin and while my face is still tacky, I immediately go into moisturizing.


4. Moisturize

Inspired by Dr. Dray, I use 2 types of moisturizers – one as a humectant type to hold onto all that water I applied to my skin in my hydrating step, and sealing it further with a more occlusive one.

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I apply a minimal amounts of Mentholatum Hada Labo Koi-Gokujyun Perfect Gel to my face and neck, making sure to concentrate a little more around my eyes, middle of my forehead, and smile lines.

I was fascinated by this product originally because it had Urea high on the ingredients list. It is a moisturizing agent that helps increase the thickness of your skin barrier as well as help with the skin’s natural desquamation process. I had to get my hands on this product. Hada Labo is known to have 3 different types of hyaluronic acid to help further add to it’s skin-conditioning functions.

This gel always leaves my skin feeling very soft and smoother than before. I also find it has helped minimize my pores from keeping all the water in my skin cells, giving a plump look to my skin!

I use a tiny amount of the Mad Hippie Eye Cream under my eyes to my orbital bone. Whether or not eye cream is necessary – shush! I need something more moisturizing for my eye area, as it dries out easily, so for me, eye cream is a necessity.

What is really fascinating about this eye cream is the amount of actives! The eye area is very sensitive and I don’t have problems with this eye cream at all. It contains Matrixyl 3000, a peptide that helps collagen and elastin production. It also vitamins C, B3 and E, as well as Ceramide, Niacinamide, and other ingredients that aid in improving the look and strengthening skin.

I really like how this eye cream feels light yet it provides enough moisture for my eye area. Even on application while patting it in, I notice my eye area is brighter! The one big wrinkle I get around my eye area when I smile seems less deep, and the area in general looks a lot smoother. I don’t have a problem with darkness under my eyes, but I do notice after application it looks a tad brighter.

To seal all the good stuff in, I go in with 4 pumps of Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion to cover my face and neck. It’s also a gel moisturizer, but contains a high amount of Niacinamide. I love this ingredient because it helps with minimizing pores and increasing the strength of my skin barrier. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Cerave product without Ceramides in the list! Because it’s summer, and I follow up with a moisturizing SPF, I find I don’t need to mix this in with another moisturizer to make sure I’m well moisturized.


5. SPF

The topper to my skincare! Nothing ensures a protected skin barrier like using a sunscreen. I have a variety in my collection, but the following product is what I’ve been using constantly.

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Elta Md UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen really is a cosmetically elegant sunscreen. It is also so moisturizing, I could skip using the Cerave PM Moisturizer if I really wanted to (but I won’t – can’t give up that Niacinamide).

It contains 7.0% Zinc Oxide and 7.5% Octinoxate as its UV filters. Because it’s a physical-chemical hybrid SPF, the cast you would get from zinc-oxide disappears as you massage it into your skin. I do notice my skin looks paler if I do not wear makeup, especially since my body is darker, but I’ve only noticed it while at the gym. It also has Sodium Hyaluronate, Vitamin E and Petrolatum, and a variety of moisturizing ingredients to help retain skin moisture. It spreads so smoothly on my face and makes my skin feel more moisturized. The finish is quite glowy but I don’t mind. I usually use this sunscreen when I plan on applying makeup because I can easily glide on my base and sheer it out without worrying about unevenness.


There you have it! My morning skincare routine. Even when I was experimenting with this routine in colder weather, my skin rarely felt dehydrated throughout the day. My skin has been feeling and looking good, and am overall really happy with how much my skin has improved. I could probably rid my routine of a few of the products to minimize it, but I enjoy my routine a lot right now and that’s what matters most to me. We’ll see once I finish them up.

Hope you enjoyed the read!

Be sure to check out my PM Routine: My Nighttime (PM) Skincare Routine 2018

xo, M

If you want to see the texture of the products and in action:


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June 2018 Roundup

FAVOURITES

Mentholatum Hada Labo Koi-Gokujyun Perfect Gel – My skin may not be perfect, but it’s looking and feeling a lot better since I’ve incorporated this as the humectant-type moisturizer to my routine. My skin feels softer and smoother and more plump in general. It must be working at keeping all that hydration in!

Levi’s 501 Shorts – I can’t stop wearing these. They fit me so well and make my butt look really good.


EMPTIES

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Banish Acne Scars Activated Charcoal Clay Masque – I’m really happy that this managed to last around 4 months with consistent use, especially since it’s in a small jar. I won’t be repurchasing this because I don’t like masks in powdered form in general, and I prefer creamier textures when it comes to clay masks. REVIEW: Banish Acne Scars Banish Starter Kit

Boo Bamboo Natural Sunscreen Mini Spray SPF 30 * – I take back what I said in my Green Beauty Products I Don’t Like vid. My boyfriend wanted to use it up instead of giving it away, and I’ve come to like it. It’s spreads nicely, doesn’t feel thick on the body, no whitecast when you rub it in and wait, and is a dry finish without drying your skin. I still stand by what I said before though, don’t use this if you plan on going in any water. It got really patchy on my body and it was not a pleasant site!

Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner (Scented) – I’ve already done a dedicated review on this bad boy, so no need to go into detail. I am currently using the unscented one, and for the summer months I am finding it quite enjoyable and it seems to be performing just as well long-term as the original. REVIEW & COMPARE: Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner – Scented and Unscented!

The Face Shop Orchid Hand Cream * – I love the scent of orchid, so this hand cream was pure bliss when I used it; I preferred applying it at nighttime to relax me. The the finish is light so it won’t leave your hands overly greasy. At the same time, I don’t find it overly moisturizing, but it does enough. This is the second tube I’ve used up and I’m definitely considering having it on my nightstand again.

Weleda Everon Lip Balm – Best. Lip balm. EVER! It’s one of the more pricier lip balms I’ve purchased, but it lasts a long time both in my purse and on my lips, and it leaves a comfortable moisturized finish.


Not a lot of favourites this month, but I’ve also been testing out new products like crazy. You may see them featured in my next roundup since I didn’t use them enough to give a mention in this month’s. Either way, I’m happy I emptied a handful of products!

xo, M


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