As much as I want to gush about and play tribute to the products that have gotten me through this transition into fall, I think I’m going to lose my mind if I have to stare at this full overflowing bag of empty products for much longer… and this is just the skincare empties to start with.
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($44 CAD | 125 mL)
This is the gentlest balm cleanser that I’ve ever tried and suitable for every single skin condition that I can think of (and trust me I’ve suffered with a few) and absolutely annihilates makeup and sunscreen without irritating any part of the face or eyeballs. It doesn’t really use traditional oils that some report as clogging, so it would be appropriate for those who are oil-hesitant, has a super minimalist ingredient list and doesn’t include fragrance or anything irritating. I’ve actually been venturing out from using this one because it’s gone up in price, the fact that I love the balms with more traditionally oily and nourishing textures and the variety of balms on the market that I want to experiment with.
The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm ($13 CAD | 150 mL)
This is another uber gentle fragrance-free cleansing balm, but it has packaging that has its limitations and it is nourishing and soothing in ways the Clinique is not. I’m quite a fan of the tube packaging for ease and sink-counter storage but it can be an absolute pain to squeeze out at times — but I don’t have really have significant issues with that and seem to actually have the determination to get the product out. It features sweet almond oil, oat kernel oil and a plant-derived wax to melt down makeup and and these in combination with the oat kernel flour leave the skin hydrated and calmed. It isn’t quite the makeup annihilator that the Clinique is but it will remove mascara and waterproof eye makeup with a little bit of patience. It does emulsify but many will find the film kind of unappealing and likely due to the tube packaging and the oils it contains, the mixture can come out kind of separated — but melts down with ease in the way that coconut oil and shea butter does. I have a fresh one to start on after I go through the cleansers I’m working on and currently have in my stash and will likely particularly enjoy during the winter.
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser ($53 CAD | 120 mL)
This cream cleanser was one of those things that I didn’t realize I loved until I was at the very end of the tube. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase two backups on sale, which speaks to how much I’ve grown to love this cleanser. It’s a real treat in cleanser form. There’s enough oil content that it melts makeup well, but doesn’t remove tenacious eye makeup with quite as much ease as a cleansing balm or oil. The cleansing agents are really gentle, the grape seed oil, jojoba seed oil, avocado oil and coconut oils are high enough on the ingredients list to really nourish the skin and the honey and lactic acid add a boost of humectants to the formula. It’s scented but not with essential oils and after I use it, my skin always feels soothed, comforted and less dehydrated afterwards.
Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence ($49.99 CAD | 150 mL)
I adored this watery first essence in the summer when it was beyond hot, humid and muggy as anything, and I finished it at the tail end of the summer. However, the water-light texture wasn’t ideal for my thirsty easily irritated skin, especially as things got cooler and my skin did its temperamental thing. Ingredients-wise, this essence relies on the probiotic-rich bifida ferment lysate, soothing humectant saccharomyces ferment, green tea, a variety of amino acids, replenishing ingredients and barrier-supporting niacinamide. It was rich in humectants, soothing ingredients and antioxidants but I’m not sure the texture was for me. It was super refreshing in the summer, without the irritation of essential oils or menthol or anything among that variety. I’m not sure the water-like texture is for me, however.
Dr Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Essence ($43.69 CAD | 150 mL)
If the Neogen was a product that’s great but not the ideal product for me, this essence exemplifies the kind of essence essentially for me. It’s a more traditional essence to be used later on in the routine but is also a milky moisturizer on steroids simultaneously. It contains emollients, glycerin, green tea, saccharomyces ferment, sunflower oil, sodium hyaluronate, cocoa seed extract, centella asiatica and ceramide np. It’s a kind of separated liquid consisting of tea and separated emollients that becomes a beautiful milk when shaken before use. It’s gloriously soothing, hydrating and moisturizing, even on compromised and irritated skin. It’s wonderfully anti-inflammatory and plumping and doesn’t even require a separate moisturizer. I often used it without a moisturizer over the top and I’ve already ordered a backup.
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule ($37.29 CAD | 50 mL)
This “ampoule” quickly became my favourite gentle daily non-active serum. It’s currently in the mail from Stylevana and the name is changed but the ingredients look identical. It does contain niacinamide but not in a ridiculous percentage that could lead to irritation and rather helps support the skin barrier. I would guess that it contains somewhere in between 3-5%, which is the sweet spot for many of its benefits. It also contains bifida ferment lysate, ten different probiotic ingredients and extracts, glycerin, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate and some oils including essential oils, which oddly enough don’t bother my skin whatsoever — but they are towards the end of the hefty ingredient list. I love this serum because it’s a great humectant, supports the skin barrier in a variety of ways and is instantly soothing. It helps that it never stings over a thoroughly pissed off skin barrier. It’s the perfect serum when you don’t want to come near your face with anything irritating and want to nourish and rebuild it instead.
Dr Dennis Gross B3 Adaptive SuperFoods Stress Rescue Super Serum ($96 CAD | 30 mL)
Thanks to the 2020 Caroline Hirons Summer Kit, I was able to try this pricier serum. I used it primarily last year but then I kind of left it towards the back of my skincare organizer, only to finish up recently. I really enjoyed this milky serum and the ingredients worked for my skin concerns but unfortunately some of the essential oils the formula contains irritates my skin around the mouth and cheeks with consistent use. It contains barrier-supporting niacinamide as the fourth ingredient, sweet almond oil, squalane, a bunch of antioxidant rich plant extracts and fatty acids. It’s a shame really but the essential oils were just not suited for my skin.
The Inkey List Brighten-I Eye Cream ($12.99 CAD | 15 mL)
This eye cream was a great everyday one for my sensitive dry under eyes, especially in the mornings under makeup and around tired eyes. It doesn’t sting like the majority of things do around my sensitive allergy-prone eyes, and the metal tip felt very soothing and awakening in the morning. The subtle cosmetic brightening effect was great for brightening dark circles. It contains glycerin, mafura seed butter, a man made antioxidant, mica, ginseng and centella asiatica. It was brightening, laid amazing under makeup, was soothing and affordable.
The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + EGCG Depuffing Eye Serum ($6.70 CAD | 30 mL)
I’m not sure why I slept on this product for so long; the ingredient list makes this one of the most robust and sophisticated formulas that The Ordinary has produced. My eyes are a problem area, being sensitive, dry, suffering from dark circles and prone to creasing with any kind of makeup, but I do not suffer with puffiness which is the primary concern this product corrects. I enjoy the thick gel texture that doesn’t migrate, adds substantial moisture with its oilier texture and doesn’t make my eye area burn randomly. It contains a number of antioxidants, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid. Caffeine and the green tea derived antioxidant both are potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory activity and have some research to support that they help with dark circles. I would repurchase because it actually has helped with the appearance of my under eyes and I enjoy it in the way I have enjoyed the Niod Fractionated Eye-Contour Concentrate at a fraction of the price. It doesn’t have the same sophisticated formula of peptides and amino acids but I get the same experience using it, especially when being incredibly sleep deprived.
Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb ($50 CAD | 50 mL)
This was an awesome moisturizer especially in the warmer weather months because of the cushiony lightweight cream texture and kind of refreshing feel it leaves behind. It contains a bunch of antioxidant-rich plant extracts including a number of fermented extracts, macadamia oil, panthenol and oat kernel extract. It’s really plumping, soothing and moisturizing and really helps with dull potentially flaking skin. I normally shy away from jar packaging but I’m willing to look beyond it for this product. It’s not fragrance free either but it didn’t irritate my skin and I would happily use again. It’s great for skins with dryness and irritation that helps without feeling suffocating.