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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
I already threw out the COSRX Essence so I couldn’t take a new solo photo :3)
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!
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!
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!
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!
Butterfly Social Eye Lashes *– At first look, you’d think they’re an underwhelming pair of lashes because of how natural they are. But they looked so natural once applied, no one could tell I was wearing falsies! They match the length of my lashes and make my existing lash line look fuller. Instagram Post
Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Boho – It took me a while to like this colour let alone try it! I had some creative urges this fall and this colour inspired me to wear more cold colours. This isn’t my favourite formula from Nudestix, but I found prepping my lips before hand does the trick to wear it comfortably! Instagram Post
Cerave Moisturizing Cream – Used day and night by Nick, used on my body and face at nighttime, it is finally an empty! Although it does moisturize well, I found it took a bit of a wait time until the moisture actually kicked in. I’d have to play a fairly generous layer to get an instant satisfaction.
Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion – Another one bites the dust! And in the nick of time too. It got cold fast in Toronto, and I felt like I needed to use a lot of this to feel satisfyingly moisturized. I’m finishing up my Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream I’ve had on the backburner, but I am looking to purchase an Avene moisturizer. Recommendations?
Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel– One of my favourite peeling gels because I can use it on a wet face right after the shower! It provided just enough manual exfoliation to rid my face of some extra flakes, and didn’t sensitize my skin.
EltaMd UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ – I was holding off on finishing this one because Amazon is just so tricky when purchasing it! My face felt moisturized, smooth and even tone after using this, plus it was great at sun protection. I have quite the amount of sunscreens to go through but I am missing reaching for this one in my collection.
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask * – Received my second one in the mail shortly after finishing this pot! If I didn’t get one sent to me, I would’ve purchased it. It’s one of my favourite sleeping masks I’ve tried, and I definitely recommend it to dry skin types!
MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ – This is an OG spray if you just want your makeup to look less cakey, however it doesn’t contribute to longevity. I purchased a Pixi Mist instead, but the fragrance is SO heavy and artifical! Any recommendations for an affordable finishing spray that kinda does it all without a heavy fragrance?
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop – A Vitamin C serum that gave me the glow, even tone and hydration, but didn’t tackle my hyperpigmentation! (Didn’t mean to rhyme lol).
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For the past few years, Klairs products have at some point, and still is, part of my skincare routine. When my skin was going through a very confusing time, their skincare managed to provide some type of relief and help with my skin concerns. I have tried old and new formulations of their products, been exposed to their marketing long enough, and follow them on Instagram to see their updates. I figured it was about time I did a big review on the products I have tried, as well as the brand as a whole!
P.S. The video version shows me demo-ing the products!
Here’s some information on Dear, Klairs based on what’s available online and what I have noticed when shopping their products:
They actually created “Stay Beagly” Badges for Wishtrend’s Cruelty Free Week Sale and proceeds went to saving Beagles and making sure they get a loving home! Check out their Instagram posts in May, and be sure to click left to see more! May 20th, 2018
High quality at reasonable prices
Only use necessary ingredients in the formula that contribute to skin’s overall health
No artificial fragrances used (although one of their products just has “Fragrance” on the list – I’ll point it out)
Effective, yet mild formulas
They keep sensitive skin types in mind
Suitable for all skin types
Have a variety of products
Different skincare lines focused on specific concerns
Price range is $$
Least expensive product – Mochi BB Cushion Air Puff $1.50 USD
Most expensive product – Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drop $30 USD
Always offer great deals with their skincare bundles. I always get them if I plan on repurchasing a product, as well as if my family and friends want to repurchase something in my order.
Their samples have expiry dates so you can save them for short trips! I did that when I went to Puerto Vallarta with friends.
Something they don’t list themselves, but deserves a quick mention: They take constructive criticism well and use the feedback they get from customers to improve their formulas and create new products!
I have tried old/new formulations of the following:
Supple Preparation Facial Toner – added Unscented version
Rich Moist Soothing Serum – less sticky, more elegant formulation
Rich Moist Soothing Cream – jar to tube with more product and added ingredients
Sheet masks – cotton to tencel and bamboo sheet material
Even with reformulations, I still find some Klairs products a hit and miss for me. Not a miss in a way where I think the product is awful, but moreso that it doesn’t tickle my fancy and it doesn’t have a purpose in my routine. Overall I do think they offer a variety of products for everyone, even the ones I personally don’t care for.
I will only be reviewing the products I own / have tried, which is about 14/23 products. It’s not all, but they seem to be the more popular products out of the bunch! For any product I did a full review on, I’ll be sure to leave the corresponding blog posts for you to look at if you’re interested in finding out more.
Also since there are quite a number of products, I’ll be linking each one with the COSDNA Ingredient List, that way it’s easier to check out what the primary functions of each one is.
This line focuses on calming the skin and lowering inflammation using Guaiazulene as the star ingredient. It is an extract from the chamomile plant that turns from violet to light blue after the blending process. It is used to treat a variety of skin ailments, especially when it’s inflamed or has damaged skin tissue (eg. sunburns, eczema)
Midnight Blue Calming Sheet Mask* COSDNA IL Amount: 25ml Price: $3 USD
First off – they do not have Guaiazulene in this, and I don’t know why it would not be included in the essence; It’s pretty much the whole reason for the Blue Line! However, it has a handful of soothing ingredients such as Erythritol, Willow Bark Extract, Allantoin, Centella Asiatica, making this mask particularly beneficial for those with inflamed skin; Since it functions as a calming sheet mask, it does give it merit to be part of the Blue Line. I like that they went the route with using bamboo instead of cotton. It comes in a top and bottom piece, fits my face better and it definitely holds the essence longer. After use, this mask made my face look and feel very smooth, look even tone, and helped lower inflammation around breakouts.
Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drop COSDNA IL Amount: 20ml Price: $30 USD
This is a peptide serum that is one of Klairs’ products catered to anti-aging. Despite it only being 20ml, it is not in a base of water and contains only 10 ingredients, EGF and bFGF being the first two on the list. On initial application my skin always feels surprisingly soft, considering that this is a watery formula. I particularly like applying this after using a product that was sensitizing, making sure my skin doesn’t take a bad route from the reaction. I do have a love/hate with this serum however because of the size and if it’s really “keeping me young”. This is my second bottle, and with retinol or retinoids being in my skincare from here on out, I have been applying the Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drop afterwards to ensure I don’t get any irritation. A subscriber also commented that they use this serum after dermarolling, instead of a Vitamin C serum like I used, and noticed its benefits. I would definitely like to give that a try, since no matter the % Vitamin C definitely stings, especially if you create multiple small wounds on your face!
Midnight Blue Calming Cream COSDNA IL
Amount: 30ml – 60ml
Price: $24.50 USD – $31 USD This is like the cream version of the Youth Activating Drop, for it also contains peptides and Guaiazulene. The reason I like it better is because it contains other ingredients I really like such as Niacinamide, Centella Asiatica, and Ceramide 3. I repurchased the jar twice and invested in the 60ml limited size. This is a must in my routine, and serves the same purpose as the Youth Drop only heavier. Despite the thickness, I don’t get additional breakouts from the cream, but rather soothed skin, especially when my chin area is inflamed with pimples! The jar is good for travelling, for I almost always breakout after getting off the plane! Even if there is a climate change, I find myself reaching for this constantly to soothe my skin (or if I reeeeeaaaaalllllly react with a skincare product).
Recommended for: Constantly irritated and/or inflamed skin that needs some calming.
Freshly Juiced Line – The Ultimate Brightening Solution
The more “active” line out of the bunch, each product carries a star ingredient(s) that have skin benefits, including maintaining a healthy glow and youthful look!
Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ * COSDNA IL Amount: 80ml Price: $23 USD
Klairs’ newest sunscreen, and hallellujah it’s so good! It’s an all chemical sunscreen with the more photostable filters Uvinul A Plus and Uvinul T 150. It come in a large size at a decent price; despite it being a chemical sunscreen it does not sensitize my skin or irritate my eyes. If you have normal to oily skin, you can even get away with this being your moisturizer! I found it adds a slight bit of moisture to my skin, giving it the supple look, not a greasy sunscreen look. It It’s a new addition that is one of the best they have to offer.
Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask * COSDNA IL Amount: 90ml Price: $27 USD
Probably the best sleeping mask I have tried to date. I’ve never been a fan over moisturizing, overnight masks because they tend to enlarge my pores, make me feel congested, and never tackle the dehydrated feeling. The Vitamin E Mask actually performs! My skin instantly looks bright and plump on application, stays moisturized the next day despite sleeping in a dry environment, and my pores look smaller. I definitely see the 2% Niacinamide working well.
Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop COSDNA IL Amount: 35ml Price: $23 USD
This is a likeable serum, but not my favourite. I like that this brightened and plumped my skin, felt hydrating, and evened out my skin tone. However long-term it did nothing for my hyperpigmentation. I am suspecting a few things:
1) The 5% L-Ascorbic Acid wasn’t enough for me
2) The lack of Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid in the formula is not bringing it to its full potential
3) Only suitable for the most sensitive of skin types
Your skin also feels heated on application. It didn’t bother me much or make my skin look splotchy, but I can see this being a concern for very sensitive skin. (Truthfully, I’m questioning if vitamin C really does anything for me atm, even the Timeless serum that has 20% LAA).
Recommended for: Those who need an instant brightening and hydrating boost! I think oily skin types would enjoy this line, but be wary of the Vitamin E Mask for it might be too heavy for you, even with the lightest amount. Sensitive skinned peeps beware of both the Mask and Vitamin Drop – you will feel some type of sensation!
Rich Moist Soothing Line
Deeply moisturize and soothe the skin
These were the first items from Klairs I ever tried. They served as good, gentle products when my skin was transitioning from oily to dry, and when I stopped birth control and started having crazy hormonal breakouts.
Rich Moist Soothing Serum COSDNA IL
Price: $22.99 USD Both old and new formula, I find this did nothing for my skin. It adds a moment of a soothing feeling and disappears into my skin, barely making the surface feel soft. I think this is TOO gentle for me. What’s weird is that it has similar ingredients in the Supple Preparation Toner (which I love), but I don’t find I get the same effect. Maybe I prefer the toner as the “vehicle” for those ingredients rather than the serum? Skincarisma actually did an ingredient comparison of the Rich Moist Soothing Serum and Supple Preparation Facial Toner, what they both have and what one has over the other. Definitely give it a look!
Rich Moist Soothing Cream COSDNA IL
Price: $24.50 USD My OG moisturizer when my skin started transitioning from oily to dry. It is a Glycerin-based moisturizer with Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Ceramide 3, as well as a variety of plant extracts. It comforted my skin while using it and I never felt congested. Now that I have branched off to my Cerave PM, I appreciate the minimal and effective ingredient list, and that it’s more accessible for me to get. I have not gone back to the Rich Moist Soothing Cream and don’t think I need to hang on to it anymore. It’s still a good moisturizer, and I have got my friend hooked on it for her dry, psoriasis skin.
Recommended for: Those new in skincare and need a gentle and simple start. The Rich Moist Soothing Line is basic, and sometimes that’s what you need. You can layer this as you like, making it suitable for oily to dry skin. As for the Rich Moist Soothing Tencil Sheet Mask, I only tried the old formulation and didn’t like it. The new one claims to have ceramides, so it’s possible it’s more nourishing, but I still can’t bring myself to want to try it.
Supple Preparation Line – Cleanse and Hydrate the Skin
It’s exactly what the name of the line suggests, it makes your skin supple! To better describe it in my own terms, they are products that help add a little extra to your skin, without a heavy finish.
Supple Preparation Facial Toner Original & Unscented * COSDNA List Amount: 180ml Price: $21.99 USD
I’ve spoken about this too much, so I’ll be brief! Love this toner, have gone through multiple bottles of it. It is a no fuss type of product that gives your skin that little extra *oomph*. The Unscented one is definitely your go to if you’re looking for a light, simple, hydrating toner to add to your routine without the essential oils.
Toner Mate 2-in-1 Cotton Pad Amount: 60-60 pads Price: $6.50 USD Compressed Pad: 100% Cotton Sponge Pad: Pulp-Rayon blend
Probably the best damn cotton pads ever. I never knew how important cotton pads are until I tried these ones. I still have a pack of Delon cotton pads I got for $15 at Costco. They’re good, but these….. Not a drop of product goes to waste, even with the thicker, more compressed pad. The compressed pad is best used say if you feel like you need to wipe extra stuff off your skin while adding hydration. The softer, sponge pad to help saturate your skin more, and you can even use them for toner masks.
Supple Preparation All Over Lotion (2 samples)
Amount (full size): 250ml
Price (full size): $26.50 USD
This is a fast absorbing body-lotion that can be used for both face and body, depending the type of finish you prefer in a moisturizer. This one caters to those that don’t like a heavy finish. This also has Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Shea Butter, Jojoba Seed Oil, Beta-Glucan, Ceramide NP and a ton of plant extracts as well. Comparing it to the Rich Moist Soothing Cream, these ingredients are all near the top of the list, but the difference is in the finish.
Recommended for: Those who literally want a “simple, but enough” type of feel to their skin. And high quality cotton pads. It pretty much compliments the Rich Moist Soothing Line (or any skincare routine for that matter) well.
Gentle Black Cleansing Line – Deep cleanse the skin without irritation
Similar to the theme in the Blue Line, Klairs has a few cleansers that have black ingredients as their highlighted ingredients. The ones I see listed are black sugar, charcoal, and black currant.
Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil (multiple samples) COSDNA IL Amount: 150ml Price: $22.90 USD
A gentle makeup remover with Black Currant Seed Oil. It’s a soothing and moisturizing ingredient high in linoleic acid,making it suitable for problematic skin; It found in the middle of the list along with other plant oils such as Jojoba Seed, Soybean, and Sesame Seed. It is an emulsifying cleansing oil so there is no need for a towel, although I do find it takes a bit to wash off without it. From the handful of times I have used this, my skin is left feeling moisturized and smooth, but it also feels like product is lingering on my face. This is also the one I found in their line that has just “Fragrance” on the list, instead of their typical EO blend found in their other skincare products.
Recommended for: 1st cleanse steps but still want that slight moisturized finish.
Klairs doesn’t really have a big makeup line, but I have purchased and still use their BB Cream!
Illuminating Supple Blemish Cream COSDNA IL Amount: 40ml Price: $24.99 USD
I remember this being the first Asian BB cream I tried without making my skin grey and I could actually wear on its own. My skin definitely had a natural glow to it, and it helped blur my enlarged pores and make my skin look smoother and literally supple. I’m a bit tanner than I was when I first tried this product, and even at my paler times this really makes my skin tone look lighter. At the beginning of this year, I mixed it in with my It Cosmetics CC Cream (Medium) to match my lighter skin tone better. I may just keep using it for that purpose only.
Dear, Klairs is a great brand to consider if you want to venture into K-Beauty that’s cruelty-free with vegan formulas. They reformulate and formulate products based on customer input, any skin-type can use their products, they are fairly affordable, and a little goes a long way when using their products in your skincare routine.
Based on my skin concerns and needs, here are Klairs products I highly recommend:
Midnight Blue Calming Cream
Soft Airy UV Essence SPF50 PA++++
Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask
Supple Preparation Facial Toner
Toner Mate 2-in-1 Cotton Pads
Wishtrend is having their annual Black Friday sale soon, and that’s usually when I shop on their website! Amazon would be preferred for those that have Prime, but I’m not sure if the sale prices will reflect there. If you’ve been eyeing Klairs products, I hope my post helps you navigate their selection to choose and try the ones right for you.
What is Glass Skin? Glow Recipe Co-Founder Christine Chang describes it as “…when your skin is so healthy, even toned, and plumped with hydration that it’s almost translucent, like a shard of glass.” – Vogue Article
It was almost instinctive that I brush off glass skin to be something achievable for me. Why? First off, I still break out. Secondly, I’m still trying to heal the atrophic scarring I have from my cystic acne past. So I did what everyone else would do, watch perfect-skin looking YouTubers do it and enjoy the aesthetic vicariously. It actually wasn’t until I saw Edward Avila’s take on glass skin that I became inspired to try it myself. Edward is a KBeauty YouTuber based in Seoul and he has a considerable amount of texture from acne like myself. Despite the crazy glow mixed with texture, his skin overall looked REALLY good and in my opinion definitely achieved the look. To see someone with a similar skin-type as mine prompted me to try it for myself.
If you follow the Korean beauty scene, the latest skincare advice is to use vitamin C and vitamin E products together in your skincare routine. They have been talked about as a power couple and it is highly recommended to combine the two to really maximize both their skincare benefits.
The Benefits of Vitamin C and E Together
Boosting vitamin C effects on your skin
Protecting skin from sun damage
Neutralize any free radicals that occur after sun exposure
Help synthesize collagen
Maintain the cross-links between the collagen fibers
The Controversy Combining Niacinamide with Vitamin C
If you noticed on the Vitamin E Mask, niacinamide is one of the key ingredients. Some beauty companies advise consumers not to pair any niacinamide to vitamin C products; both combined will neutralize the other, rendering both ingredients ineffective in your skincare routine.
The only time I have heard otherwise:
Charlotte Cho from Soko Glam state that Niacinamide actually helps stabilize vitamin C and they’re very safe to use together
Paula Begoun explaining that old studies on their incompatibility were due to using unstable formulas, and today’s studies show the formulations they test with today are stable
Wishtrend conflicted itself; they had a youtube video saying to not combine the two ingredients together, yet on their Vitamin E Mask page, it describes how Niacinamide helps stabilize vitamin C and its own benefits are enhanced when combined
I’ve been using these 2 products as part of my night time skincare routine for a few months now, and I feel comfortable enough to finalize my thoughts on these products and how they work together.
To piece this review nicely, I’m going to start by individually reviewing the products and finalize my thoughts by how they perform together at the end. Also, because I’m reviewing two products, I didn’t include the section on claims and ingredients list, but I left links down below for you to check it out yourself. Read More »