There’s nothing I love reading, watching and writing more than a favourites post or video but doing them on a monthly basis has proven excessive for me. Happily, we’ve reached the point in my year to do my winter themed favourites. It was actually really difficult to edit myself down to this many and I can easily say these were the products I enjoyed using and relying on when I wasn’t at home, complaining of tiredness and overthinking.
I feel slightly ridiculous that I couldn’t narrow it down further than three cleansers, but when you have skin that hates surfactants and harsh cleansing like mine does, you really appreciate the good ones, as I have done. I’ve been loving this affordable fragrance-free cleansing balm. It removes makeup quite well (but requires more product than some makeup annihilating balms) and leaves the skin wonderfully hydrated and soothed. It uses sweet almond oil, oat kernel oil, candella wax and almond glycerides. I love how practical the tube packaging is — even though it can separate. I use it most nights to melt makeup and sunscreen happily and remove it after emulsifying with a microfibre cloth. It’s very gentle around my sensitive eye areas and is a gentle skin cleanser in its own right.
This cleanser actually has enough delicious oil content to break down makeup and sunscreen without scrubbing or rubbing, but I actually enjoy it best as a treatment cleanser, or on the rare mornings I want to cleanse my face. It’s expensive but I honestly only use a little bit and would probably have never bitten the bullet if it wasn’t included in the Caroline Hirons Summer Kit. It contains fragrance but no essential oils and includes grapeseed oil, jojoba seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, goat milk, milk protein, lactic acid and honey as ingredient highlights. The texture is a nice cream that leaves my skin soothed, glowing and hydrated. I tolerate it well even on my eczema patches, although it can kind of burn under the eyes if used to remove makeup — but this is probably because I have eczema patches around my eyes. I’ve been using for months and months and I’m happily going strong. It helps with texture, dry patches, general dryness and sensitivity.
I’ve been a long term devotee of Cerave’s traditional Hydrating Cleanser but I love this one even more. It has a creamier lotion texture that foams slightly — but in a non drying way — and features amino acids, salicylic acid and natural moisturizing factors along with their classic ceramides. Unlike the original cleanser (since its most recent reformulation), this never makes my uber-reactive skin sting and it leaves my skin moisturized and comfortable afterwards. It does contain a little bit of salicylic acid so I don’t tend to use it to remove eye makeup but it does remove makeup better than Cerave’s other cleansers. It’s a great cleanser especially for skin with an impaired barrier from using actives, mask wearing and the like. It’s soap-free of course and uses very gentle cleansing agents.
This thicker gel texture more closely resembles a serum in my opinion, but I haven’t gone a day without applying it in months. It’s 96% snail mucin, along with betaine, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, arginine and allantoin and serves as a fantastic humectant serum, with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s profoundly soothing on an impaired barrier, fights transepidermal water loss, plumps up the skin, aids in skin healing and helps to prevent and treat scarring. I find it helps fade pink marks left on my skin after a breakout or reaction in a more timely fashion while keeping my skin hydrated and soothed. The bottle is huge, too, so its excellent value for money. I know I included it in my last few favourites posts but I couldn’t help myself.
This is another repeat favourite of mine but I do love reaching for it as a mild daily chemical exfoliant in a lightweight cream vehicle. It acts as a humectant, formulated with mandelic acid, gluconolactone, acetyl glucosamine and squalane. It’s perfect for when my skin is feeling a bit too fragile for a heavy-duty acid toner but I still want the gentle resurfacing of an acid, along with the hydration of a humectant. It also has a pink sheen that’s nice and brightening, yet subtle.
This winter, I got right back onto the facial oil bandwagon on a daily basis, applying this fragrance-free oil blend on my cheeks, around my chin and mouth and under my eyes, where I experience flaking and irritation, exacerbated by daily mask wearing. It has made a huge difference in the severity of my flaking, dry patches and radiance of my skin, when applied just before moisturizer. I’ve always found the combination of cold-pressed omega-rich oils anti-inflammatory and soothing. No matter how angry my skin has been, this oil doesn’t burn, sting, or have any sign of reaction.
I’m onto my second container of this moisturizer this winter even though I’ve had plenty of others on rotation. It’s a lightweight whipped cloud cream that’s fragrance-free, kind of bland in the best way, and either super low on silicones or silicone-free and thus, never pills, even with the skincare layering I’ve been doing. It’s a beautiful comforting cream that works well as a barrier under a mask while sinking into the skin and leaving a demi-matte finish under makeup. It contains shea butter, omega-rich plant oils, fatty acids, amino acids, ceramides, an antioxidant or two and a bunch of skin-soothers. It’s great for an impaired skin barrier and generally angry skin.
This mask is the only mask I’ve reached for with any sense of regularity, because it’s fantastic for skin that’s suffering with dermatitis, eczema, redness, soreness and any sort of irritation. It’s that one product that never stings — despite the fact that it contains fragrance including fragrance derived from essential oils — even during the throes of flaking painful skin that can barely even be touched with water without potent discomfort. Coincidentally, this is a favourite product to throw on after hours of mask wearing. It contains shea butter, a bunch of emollients, lactobacillus-derived probiotics, algae extract and an angel dusting of white mushroom extract. The product leaves a definite film to the skin but I don’t mind as I tend to rinse off or pat off excess or leave on when my skin is in need of dire help. After use, my skin is calmed, soothed, less reactive and definitely moisturized. I notice an immediate reduction in redness and inflammation when I use this and am able to follow with the regular steps of my skincare routine.
This winter, I had the delight of an experiencing a months long eczema flare. Applying creams like this one, loaded with shea butter, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, emollients such as petrolatum and dimethicone has helped keep my dry itchy legs and arms under control. What particularly helped about this formula is the 1% pramoxine hydrochloride, which relieves the unbearable itchiness that accompanies eczema with none of the side effects that ingredients like menthol have. This cream reminds me of the original cream formula but with an added richness and whipped texture from the addition of shea butter and the itch relief. When used with ointments on the individual patches of concern, this kept me from itching patches for long enough to let them heal.
This shampoo not only is clarifying without ruining my waves and curls or turning my hair into a literal lion’s mane of tangles, but also has kept my scalp happy and not itchy, dry or flaky throughout the entire season. I tend to reach for this gentle exfoliating sulfate-free shampoo in between more standard shampoos. It uses perlite, a volcanic rock, for exfoliation rather than irritating beads, keeps my scalp soothed with probiotic ferments and clarifies without traditional sulfates. My scalp is super happy afterwards and all product build-up is removed, without that stripped feeling. It’s concentrated — so I still haven’t gone through the tube — and has a delicious subtly fruity spa scent. It also contains vinegar without smelling like vinegar.
While I’m certainly not wearing makeup everyday, I have been enjoying wearing it 2-3 times a week. When I have been actually reaching for a lip product, I’ve been playing with this warm kind of rusty rose colour. The formula is a comfortable semi-matte kind of finish that lasts well without being drying or clinging to dry patches. I’m not selling the colour either, but it’s incredibly flattering, adding colour to the face without actually being a bold lip. It also easily applies at full opacity and works nicely as a stain with lip balm on top for more of a subdued flush.
On the days I’ve been wearing makeup, I’ve enjoyed playing with eyeshadow. I think I’ve been reaching for this formerly limited edition palette the most. The formula is pigmented, buttery and a little bit powdery, and there’s a nice combination of spectacular metallic shades and practical matte shades of varying depths. Although this palette reads quite cool, I actually found it quite neutral on my warm undertones with a mixture of shades on both spectrums included in a neutral but not boring colour story. I love the mixture of different light-to-medium metallic shades to play with on the lid, of course I like the matte peach pop in the crease, and I love that the palette includes a matte black and matte chocolate brown with an impeccable formula. I like the shadows for an easy slap on kind of eye look but I love them for when I want a glitzier smoky eye. It’s kind of frustrating that the palette has to be bought in the vault form but I can’t complain, having missed out on it the first time around.
Christian Dior Miss Dior Le Parfum ($122 CDN | 40 mL)
I’m hesitant to include my staple scent over the colder months, as it — like all good things it seems — has been discontinued. It’s the warmer spicier big sister to Miss Dior in its standard version that captures some of the magic that previous iterations of the scent had for me. It’s not the kind of scent I would ordinarily expect to reach for in cooler months, spent mostly at home in casual attire but I learned that I love this heady scent applied lightly into clothing; it makes me feel cozy, sophisticated and put together. I get compliments when I wear it, especially when it has been applied to clothes days before — it has that kind of longevity. It’s a patchouli and rose scent with added warmth from amber and vanilla.