I started compiling this post of favourites, back when Spring was a whole lot more wintry than it is at the moment — It’s like 30 degrees right now so it appears we are quickly veering into Summer territory around these parts. I’ve been slowly gathering the products that I’ve been loving and relying heavily upon — most of which are new but there’s a returning favourite or two. I only recently realized that perhaps I let the collection pile enough… Note: I totally thought I had published this months ago…
This essence toner is so underrated that I wasn’t even sure it was still made. It’s a lightweight essence toner or traditional asian ‘lotion’ that’s perfect to use on the skin immediately after cleansing, or first thing in the morning. It’s fragrance free and doesn’t contain anything irritating, which has been especially important as I’ve been adjusting to using tretinoin. It’s soothing and hydrating, formulated with glycerin, some notable repairing probiotic ingredients, antioxidants like centella asiatica and caffeine, acetyl glucosamine and sodium hyaluronate. This is a light product that adds plumpness, bounce, hydration and radiance to my worn out and sensitized skin.
This k-beauty favourite has been a welcome addition to my serum arsenal. It contains 5% of the wonder ingredient, niacinamide, if my memory serves correct, along with ten probiotic ingredients including bifida ferment lysate and lactobacillus ferment, glycerin, a host of antioxidant-rich ‘superfood’ ingredients, a few plant oils and a ceramide. Quite far down on the ingredient list, it does contain some citrus-derived essential oils but they don’t actually bother my skin – probably from their low concentration. I certainly haven’t been using this serum long enough to see long-term effects, but I definitely see the soothing, anti-inflammatory and moisture-boosting qualities of this serum. I can tell it will provide brightness and barrier-repair long term, which is exactly what my skin needs.
One thing I’ve done in the last six months or so is I’ve started to try to treat my skin as if its not an enemy that needs to be aggressed in order to improve it. Incorporating serums and treatments with hydrating and barrier-supporting ingredients rather than just dose upon dose of active ingredients has been one of the main ways I’ve done this. This milky serum, while expensive, has been a great way to treat my dry and sensitive skin holistically. It contains squalane, glycerin, panthenol, adenosine, four different types of hyaluronic acid and nothing fragranced or notably problematic. It’s expensive — so I’ve been lucky enough to snag it on sale through FabFitFun and hope to continue purchasing it discounted in the future — but is the hyaluronic acid serum of my dreams. It’s soothing, plumping, hydrating and reparative with a more substantial milk texture. I love using it daily as the last step before my moisturizer.
I’ve tried to get on board with the anti-inflammatory ingredient, azelaic acid, before but I found the ingredient sensitizing with the rest of the actives in my routine and I struggled with the stingy prickly sensation after application. A lot of my skin issues are inflammation based, so I was happy to discover that I could use this milky serum a few times a week without irritation or prickliness. It contains 10% azelaic acid, stabilized with a salicylic acid ester, along with colloidal oatmeal, aloe and green tea. It functions as an antioxidant but I love it for the anti-inflammatory activity it has. As someone who struggles with redness left after blemishes and sensitivity in the centre of my face, I’ve enjoyed reaching for this. The texture is really nice and hydrating on my drier skin, but isn’t heavy.
I was initially very resistant to buying this moisturizer because it was expensive and was housed in jar packaging, unlike the majority of the moisturizers in the line, thus leaving the ingredients susceptible to losing their stability and potency; however, once I tried this whipped balm moisturizer I could understand the packaging choice completely. The moisturizer is so thick that I assume it was likely difficult to put in the brand’s traditional airless jar. I’ll gladly be repurchasing again, hopefully with some sort of discount code. The texture is precisely like a whipped balm without being overly heavy. It is possibly the least stinging moisturizer I’ve ever tried and is perfect on my pissed off skin that’s currently adjusting to tretinoin and has been suffering from daily mask wearing. I can happily report that this fragrance-free moisturizer is so concentrated that it will lasts months and months on my dry thirsty skin, as minimal product spreads easily. The rich cream contains glycerin, shea butter, a bunch of ceramides, honey, some peptides, cholesterol, green tea extract and a host of other reparative soothing extracts. After use, my skin is calmer, much less tight and with a generally less pissed off skin barrier. This cream is rich but not greasy or heavy and I love that it’s fragrance free.
As someone who is incredibly eczema prone and whose adjustment period to daily mask wearing was a tumultuous one, these healing ointments have greatly improved the quality of my skin life and maybe my life altogether. I had been waiting to try the Cerave traditional ointment to come to Canada for years, so when I saw that the product was available under the baby line, I had to grab it. It’s another petrolatum-based ointment that’s enriched with panthenol, three ceramides and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid. It’s a great balm for my sensitive chapped lips, is great to help heal and protect irritated skin around my mouth, nose and chin from mask wearing and soothes eczema and retinoid dermatitis.
I’m feeling hesitant to talk about a Purito sunscreen-containing product after the recent Purito (and other Korean sunscreen) controversy. However, this sunscreen-makeup hybrid has been a firm favourite of mine. It comes in three tints and Light Beige — the one I’m using — works well to camouflage any sort of redness or discolouration on my skin with its pale-ish greige cast without clinging to dry patches and somehow making my skin look worse. It’s fragrance and alcohol-free, contains niacinamide, three ‘cica’ ingredients and iron oxides. It’s a combination sunscreen featuring four filters — titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, octinoxate and octisalate — along with the visible light protection of iron oxides. I have worn this mid-day in the sun and actually have faith in the SPF 38 PA+++ protection. This has been a staple everyday tinted sunscreen product, with medium coverage that doesn’t cling to dry patches or bits of texture. The glowy finish is flattering, as well, especially when you’ve pissed off your skin spectacularly.
I have a love-hate relationship with concealer overall. I need it to cover my dark circles and I’d like to use it elsewhere, but I find it creases like nothing else in this world, clings to dry patches and looks dry and heavy. Since trying out more moisturizing concealers that aren’t so full-coverage upon first application, such as this one, I’ve been converted. It sheers out nicely underneath my eyes, offering medium but buildable coverage and blends out nicely over large areas of the face — even those with dry patches and uneven texture. I can use it on just specific spots without it looking weirdly different from the rest of my face. I love that this concealer is available in such a variety of shades, doesn’t contain alcohol or fragrance and features niacinamide, urea, three vitamin c derivatives, sodium hyaluronate and peptides, amongst other things. Also, I’ve gotten to the place with my skin that I’m happy just wearing concealer for the first time in my life and this one is ideal for buffing out on my cheeks, chin and around my nose. The ingredients are also really friendly for dry irritated skin, which is something I’m well versed in thanks to mask-wearing and tretinoin use.
Curlsmith’s most recently launched curl cream has proven itself as my favourite curl cream — and I’m a girl who adores curl creams of many varieties. It’s moisturizing enough to clump my curls, has protein to encourage bounce and ringlets and is light enough to give that fluffy effect without compromising on definition. It also has a substantial light flexible hold on its own; I pair it with a gel for wash days but I’m sure many use it by itself and use it on its own when I’m restyling or refreshing my hair. It features sweet almond oil, pvp, hydrolyzed rice protein, shea butter and a bunch of plant extracts.
While I wear sunscreen on my face, neck and surrounding areas all year long, it’s during the Spring, when the weather suddenly becomes a whole lot warmer and sunnier that I’ve fallen back in love with this one. It has a lovely milk texture that’s moisturizing and soothing on my eczema-prone body skin that doesn’t feel greasy or heavy. This sunscreen is a hidden gem available in the Canadian sunscreen market, with incredibly robust UVA protection. It’s a chemical sunscreen — but one with these newer generation filters that are photo stable and much easier to tolerate on sensitive skin — featuring avobenzone, octocrylene, Tinosorb M and Tinosorb S. It’s not water resistant but it’s actually a favourite of mine for a day outdoors with heavy sun exposure because the protection is so good and because I’m actually willing to apply a generous amount. One of the filters is a hybrid filter so it has a slight pale cast that goes away fairly quickly. The formula is impressive, containing the newer generation UVA filters, but being formulated without drying alcohol simultaneously. It’s also a sunscreen I enjoy using on my face, but I primarily use it on my body.