Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Top 5 ::: Skincare Favorites

Photos by {accordingtoame}

I get asked frequently by readers, and by friends and family, what my favorite and must-have daily driver products are, things I cannot get by without in my vanity arsenal. I saved those lists for this month, because as you know, I discover and try out new things constantly, and share my reviews with you pretty often, so they kind of evolve over time. "Favorites" can change on a dime, but it's the ones that you go back to that end up being "the ones." 

I really thought about this specific "top 5" in terms of "what has changed in the last few years about my approach to vanity" versus just favorite products and what I don't have a serious allergic reaction to. That last part is kind of crucial, and I have really pushed it on myself, because there were so many things I really wanted to love that my body simply could not take any more of. 

SKII was one of those products. I really wanted to believe I'd have the skin of Cate Blanchett one day if I just...kept...going.  And at first, my face was like buttah. But a few days in, there were the welts...yea, I just couldn't do it. I now know that many things with a "yeast" anything in them are going to be a problem up for me.  Lessons learned. 

So, in no particular order, here are my top 5 must haves for skincare:::

Every night before I climb in the shower, or sometimes as I am climbing into the shower and should really be paying better attention to what I am doing, I pump out two squirts of DHC Cleansing Oil into my palm from the travel sized bottle I keep on the window ledge that pokes into the shower area (the one middle size in this link). I refill that travel sized bottle from the full size bottle because it saves space in my bathroom.  Anytime DHC has a sale that includes the cleansing oil (a couple times a year) I buy a few more full sizes.  After my post this past Monday, maybe I'll skip the next sale, because I still have two or three unopened bottles in there. 

As I smear this incredible cleansing oil all over my face and lightly massage it around, it dissolves my waterproof eye makeup instantly, prepping for the LaMer gel I use later in my shower to get any remaining gunk off of my face. This product is great for the oiliest skins or the driest skins and it literally changed my face for the better when I started using it years ago, because it took off makeup gently and didn't overdry me. 

Last week I posted about a Must Have in my life, LaMer Cleansing Gel. It truly is, and like the DHC mentioned above, it's something that I need in my skincare routine. It was a hard pill to swallow pricewise, but the difference in my skin made me a believer, and considering that one tiny little blob gets the job done and that bottle lasts me friggin' works out perfectly in the budget. I still like to use gift cards on that purchase, or at least wait til there's a big 10x points event at Nordstrom to do it. 

The consistency is kind of a thinnish gel, and it smells like the ocean. It whips into a fantastic froth with so very little product. WHEN I use the alien laser death ray gun (aka clarisonic), which is fairly rarely, it foams up even more. I use this last in my shower routine so that I am getting any remaining buildup off of my skin from conditioners. I have yet to step out of the shower with a stitch of remaining makeup on my face even when just using this product, but my face never feels like it's been stripped of moisture or in any way overworked. 

When I gave the Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 40+ a chance I will admit I wasn't expecting it to be my next big obsession. It smelled like candy, and had an Argan Oil base, something I hadn't yet been totally convinced of the true effects of for my skin. But having no reaction to the product, and noticing that my face felt great after the product absorbed instantly, and above all it played nice with my makeup products, I was smitten, and then eventually completely in love.  I will admit I am a little concerned that it's been in reformulation now for a couple of months, as that often means I lose a great product due to allergic reactions from the "new and improved" formulations. I am hopeful that there won't be any change to the formula, though, and that when it finally returns to retail outlets, that I  can pick up a new bottle without fear. I will be combing the ingredients carefully. 

Differin has been the make-it product for me for decades. I actually alternate it in two strengths, as well as two other retinoids through the year. So I guess I should probably say "retinoids" vs just Differin for this particular entry. I don't love the molting process I go through in the beginning of each cycle, or the super sore and sensitive skin that is part of the molting process, but the fresh skin that emerges on the other end is worth it. 

Photo: Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve

The product in this jar (well, in their beautiful new jars anyway, I happened to shoot an old jar for this, because I didn't want to unwrap the new one!) is a certified steal. Just the tiniest dab of Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Whipped Squalane Face and Eye Mousse moisturizes your entire face, and it moisturizes better than about any product I've ever tried, from the lowest price point to the upper three digits. They've been making this amazing squalane-based product by hand for years, an anti-aging dream, long before many of the major players caught on to this magic ingredient. Don't stockpile this one though, one jar will last you a long time, and they don't use preservatives in their products so the shelf-life isn't long enough for stockpiling. 

Honorable Mentions:

Since trying the Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum, I have used it most nights right out of the shower, right before I apply whichever retinoid I am using in my rotation. I was super skeptical about this product in the beginning, having used others that were absolutely nothing like it in the past, and also because it's a serum, and I don't generally play nice with serums.  But this one was the game-changer, and paired with the retinoid, seriously made the difference in my complexion. 

There really is nothing like this product on the market, and the way this moisturizes the skin while still providing the benefits of Vitamin C is simply unmatched.  There really is a difference in what types of Vitamin C are used in skincare and how well they work on the skin.  When I switched from the product I had been using to the ED4OLO as it's affectionally called, it was like night and day, and I have yet to look back. I would seriously call this the gateway drug to this amazing product line.

Mario Badescu Honey Moisturizer  is a moisturizer I really like for night. There are a few ingredients in his line that I don't love, but this particular moisturizer is one I keep going back to, especially in summer.  It's lightweight, but still moisturizing. It plays very nicely with my retinoids as well, which is a big deal for me.

I rely on OcuSoft Original Lid Scrub for a number of reasons, but keeping the skin around my eyes clean and exfoliated is definitely one of them. Makeup doesn't stand a chance against these little pads, and neither does any dry eyelid condition. 
Between Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil  and my current go-to, Acure Organics 100% Certified Organic Argan Oil, and the rest of my Acure Organics Argan products, I feel like I have a lock on Argan Oil in my bathroom.  The Acure Argan Oil actually has mostly supplanted my Josie Maran use for the most part recently, and the price point makes it easier to keep up with my heavy use of this stuff. When they say Argan Oil is liquid gold, that is really no joke. 

I was a little ashamed when I bought the Marc Jacobs Lip Balm  because it was a bit of an impulse buy. But the more I use it, the more I love it. It is lush and buttery, enough that you have to not store it in a warm place, especially not a pocket! I alternate it with my Eos lip balm, and in a world where castor oil is replacing better and more-moisturizing hypo-allergenic ingredients, I am glad to know that I have two great options in my possession, neither of which uses that cheap and inferior ingredient. 

Top Body Skincare:::

I kind of realized after I started this already pretty long-winded post that I should probably talk about the rest of my body, not just my face. Each one of the items in the image above is a Must Have. I know at least one has been waxed about on here, so you've likely seen a post or two regarding them in the past. 

But I don't really have a lot of "body skincare favorites." I am kind of non-experimental with my body skin, really. I am lotion-averse, I don't vary much from Dove body wash, which is a constant, so this is a short list, and is often pretty unchanging. 

Dove Body Wash is my standby, like I said. It's gentle, generally hypoallergenic, and keeps the skin relatively moist, especially for someone this lotion-averse.  Each year they release a "limited edition" Winter Care variant, which is slightly richer than the usual moisturizing versions, and I tend to pick that up in multiples. This year Costco had/has a three-pack for a steal, so I picked mine up there. I love the fresh, clean smell Dove uses in their moisturizing body washes, and tend to not stray into the scented territories like "go fresh."

A ridiculously inexpensive (if not hard to find sometimes) exfoliator and killer washcloth for the shower is the Salux cloth. We can thank the kind folks in Japan for coming up with some incredible gizmos for the skin, and this is seriously no exception. They're not the most comfortable things to use sometimes, but they're amazing for getting your back clean and smooth.  They're also cheap enough to buy in bulk and toss them every couple months.  I usually buy mine at a local Asian market, but have ordered in bulk online as well.

Photo: Nordstrom

I don't often use lotion, especially not hand lotion, but when I do, I love the one from La Mer. I was given a few little travel/sample tubes from my SA a few years back when I bought a few products, and it seriously was the greatest hand cream I've ever tried.  Working with paper really takes a lot of moisture from my hands, but the feeling of lotions and creams is enough to make me gag, so I tolerate the dryness, because I usually just wash my hands right after putting the lotion on otherwise. This is the first lotion that I have ever tried that didn't make me immediately run to the sink and wash my hands.  Since going through almost every travel tube (they seemed never ending!), I have since actually purchased a tube and use it every few nights before bed, especially after an assembly. 

Photo: Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve

Another great moisturizer for the body is the Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Whipped Shea Butter. That's the small 1oz "trial size" jar pictured up there in my photo, and it, too, seems to be a "never ending" story. The 4oz jar would last me a lifetime, and both are a steal, especially that full size!  I use the original "natural scent" but it comes in several others. I might try Vanilla next time.  I use it on my elbows mostly, right out of the shower after the prescription cream above, to seal in the lactic acid and moisture.  I have used it occasionally on my legs as well. It absorbs almost instantly, and doesn't leave any slimy feeling behind, which is crucial for me, yet I feel very moisturized. 

Photo: Dermadoctor

As you've read on here in the past, I am totally obsessed with Dermadoctor's KP Duty Scrub. It works wonders on my KP, which is pretty much everywhere on me. I usually slather it on my dry skin from my cheeks down, let it sit for a few minutes and then get into the shower and scrub it off.  The results even after one use are pretty incredible, and I credit this product for making the most impact on my KP. 

Speaking of KP, the tube right beside it is my prescription cream which I will use every few days to keep the KP in check when I don't use the scrub. It doesn't smell particularly wonderful (I think it is eau de stale pee...), but it works very well. The OTC products aren't a high enough level of lactic acid on their own, but in the RX formulations they're blended in a manner that makes the 12% go much further. 

What are your Top 5 or 10 Must-Have Skincare favorites? Are you more skincare driven or makeup driven in your approach and has that changed with age? 

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