As much as I like obsessively researching skincare product and adding to the stash, I must say that I’ve been enjoying and reaping the benefits of relative consistency in my routine. Note, I do say relative simplicity… And with everyone spending much more time holed up in their homes and hopefully practicing social distancing, I think we’ve been reaching for a little bit more skincare self-care. I figure it’s a fitting moment to share some of these favourite products of mine. This could also double as a 2019 skincare favourites post which I now realize I didn’t write… Oops.
Paula’s Choice Defense Gel-to-Cream Cleanser ($18 US): As someone with drier and more reactive skin, I’m not sure why I even tried this gel cleanser but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it. It’s a soothing gel cleanser that emulsifies into a slightly foamy (but not stripping) cream. It’s soap-free but contains a few gentler detergent agents that provide the slight foaming effect. It’s the gentlest and most soothing gel cleanser I’ve ever tried and removes makeup much better than most skin cleansers — but not as well as a balm or cleansing oil. However, it will remove a full face of makeup with a warm microfibre cloth and I have the kind of skin makeup likes to cling to for dear life. It contains a bunch of soothing agents like oat amino acids, aloe, green tea, liquorice root and sodium PCA. I attribute the cleanser’s soothing quality to the inclusion of these antioxidants, anti-irritants and skin replenishing ingredients.
Tarte Knockout Tingle Treatment Toner ($51 CDN): I was resistant to trying this acid toner but I love it. I hate that it’s marketed as if tingling is a sign of a product working and don’t completely understand the inclusion of a few weird potentially irritating plant extracts (onion bulb, horseradish, myrrh and a few others) and am kind of ambivalent about the acetic acid it contains. However, this is the acid I use most nights and love the smoothing results, radiance, even texture, hydration and overall clarity it brings to my skin. I’m fairly convinced that the liquid toner texture that includes a penetration enhancer makes it a particularly potent acid exfoliant that my temporamental skin likes. It contains niacinamide as the second ingredient and uses both BHA and AHAs to exfoliate the skin. It uses the gentler gluconolactone, lactic acid, citric acid, malic acid, phytic acid and salicylic acid. I love it but this might not be the most gentle acid exfoliant to start with. I notice results quickly using this toner without any sort of tingling.
Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US): I’ve waxed poetically about my love of this soothing milky toner so I’ll keep it brief. It contains fatty acids, cell communicating ingredients like epigallocatechin gallate, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and plant oils that really help to restore and maintain the skin barrier and add lightweight hydration and plumpness that isn’t fleeting. It’s also a necessity for whenever I’ve pissed off my skin.
Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($37 US): A few times a week, I will skip the acid toner and use this serum instead. I don’t find it has quite as much resurfacing oomph as the toner but I love it’s hydrating serum texture, combination of glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and tartaric acid and the inclusion of pore-penetrating salicylic acid at a 0.5% concentration. It’s a brilliant potent water-binding exfoliant that’s loaded with peptides, glycerin, ceramides, skin soothing ingredients and antioxidants. As a result, it’s an excellent serum and exfoliant that gets you the benefits of a 10% AHA that’s easy to tolerate.
Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Emulsion ($28.92 CDN): This emulsion is essentially a humectant based product that could act as a moisturizer that I apply before my moisturizer or sunscreen. It’s fragrance free, doesn’t have anything irritating in it and features five kinds of hyaluronic acid, urea, allantoin and mineral oil. The bottle lasted me nearly a year and I noticed my skin holding onto moisture much better without adding any real producty feel to the skin.
The Ordinary “B” Oil ($9.20 CDN): This rich fragrance free plant oil blend is economical and just so close to Sunday Riley’s Juno in my experience. It’s super anti-inflammatory and soothing with squalane, a variety of antioxidant-rich plant oils and some novel extracts, sourced from algae that research suggests are also anti-inflammatory in their own right.
Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 ($33 US): This is actually the only synthetic or chemical sunscreen product that my reactive skin has been able to tolerate and I credit that to the gentle formula, loaded with antioxidants and anti-irritants. It has a comfortable cream-lotion texture that never feels oily, thick or greasy, while providing my drier skin all it needs in a moisturizer. It contains shea butter, allantoin, niacinamide, liquorice root and oat kernel extract. It uses a combination of broad spectrum filters but I wouldn’t use it for a day in direct sunlight for hours as these filters have stability issues over time. This moisturizer is one I happily reach for often; makeup applies wonderfully over it and it doesn’t seem to migrate into my sensitive eyes.
Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29 US): I’m more of a daily mineral sunscreen girl at heart and this is likely the best one I’ve tried. It offers great broad spectrum stable protection and the cast is offset by the slight beige tint the ingredients have. I don’t think relatively fair to medium skin tones would really experience a cast because of the slight tint the ingredients naturally have. The formula also leaves a luminosity to the skin without visible shimmer particles or anything of the sort. It’s an emollient moisturizer that doesn’t feel overly thick or heavy, whilst adding a substantial dose of hydration. The formula contains glycerin, liquorice root extract, kiwi extract, argan oil, some fatty acids and peptides, a couple of different vitamin c derivatives along with other antioxidants. It’s really soothing on dry or parched skin as well.
L’Oreal Revitalift Cicacream ($27.99 CDN): This more affordable moisturizer has been a solid favourite in the last year or so that I’ve had it. It’s recognized for skin health by the Canadian Dermatology Association for being fragrance free and ideal for weakened skin. It contains glycerin, sesame seed oil, shea butter, cacao butter and a notable amount of centella asiatica. It feels comforting on the skin and definitely helps to protect and rebuild the skin barrier and fights inflammation. The centella also supposedly increases collagen production significantly.
REN Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask ($62 CDN): This is a thick occlusive cream that does wonders for pissed off skin and/or an impaired barrier. It’s an excellent product for when I’ve overdone Differin and the acids or when my skin gets crazy dry and angry when I get sick or the weather changes. It contains lactobacillus ferment, which is an non-living probiotic with demonstrated ability to enforce the skin barrier and soothe and hydrate the skin, along with algae extract, a potent water-binding antioxidant, a few other probiotic ingredients and arnica flower extract. It’s not a cosmetically elegant cream to slather all over the skin and leave on overnight — although I do do this on occasion. However, it nips irritation of any sort and a problematic barrier in the bud without stinging on the skin in the slightest.