Beauty is not something I normally talk a ton about on my blog and Instagram but I shared this photo of my current favorites (both new and old) on Instagram recently and a few of you reached out requesting a review, so I wanted to get something up for you.
Before I start, I thought I'd share that I am by no means a beauty expert but (at almost 30 years old—ack!), I've definitely had my years of trials and can say I have always done my research on products. I have crazy sensitive, reactive skin, so I am not going to put something new on my face without knowing what it is and when I find something that works, I am LOYAL.
For reference, I've always thought I had combination skin but I am noticing more dryness (especially seasonally) in the recent years and (sadly) fine lines. I do notice hydration is key for me and I will get shiny if I am not hydrated. Which makes sense because oily skin is usually producing excess oil to compensate for being dehydrated/dry.
Here are the things I want my skincare to address: dryness/hydration, dullness, fine lines, lack of radiance, plumpness, and (my most stubborn skin problem), hyperpigmentation, aka, acne scarring. Even if I have the tiniest spot—it leaves a mark behind. Womp womp. Finding products that can do all of these things without breaking me out is a true miracle. While I do prefer using more natural products, it's still something I am working towards for my entire regime so you will find a mix of several brands and lines.
Without further ado, here are a few of my current beauty favorites.
1. Sunday Riley Good Genes: This is one of the newer additions to my collection and it's something I was very excited to try. This little lactic acid treatment has some major hype/holy-grail/miracle status surrounding it and was even sold out in-store at Sephora. After reading countless reviews, it's something people are saying has significantly changed the appearance of their skin. Like, made scarring fade within weeks. Can now more confidently be makeup-free. All that jazz. Naturally, I had to get my hands on it. So what is it?
"A treatment formulated with high-potency, purified grade lactic acid that immediately exfoliates dull, pore-clogging dead skin cells to reveal smoother, fresher, younger-looking skin."
This claims to do all the things from plumping to brightening to addressing hyperpigmentation and even claims to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in 3 minutes. I started with a free sample from Sephora and while I can't say I noticed a huge effect on fine lines in 3 minutes, it performed well enough to warrant shelling out $105 on 1-ounce. I know it's a lot but this product truly is incredible. For me, the biggest difference has been on stubborn hyperpigmentation on my cheeks. I'm talking those tiny red marks that take months (even more than months!) to fade have been fading in as little as 3 weeks of use. It smells AWFUL but it's really a small price to pay (besides the $100) for such amazing results. I can confidently say it is helping to even out my skin, address dry patches, it seems to be plumping and I am noticing the most drastic effect on redness and those pesky, never-seem-to-fade spots.
Out of all of these products, this is the one I'm most excited about as I feel it's making the biggest (and most immediate difference) in my skin. Really my goal of any skincare product is to help me feel more confident without makeup and this product is doing that. If you have been fed up with never-ending hyperpigmentation, I would recommend running out for a sample of this STAT! Do note, if you are worried about price, you can also find this in the Total Transformation Kit exclusive to Sephora for a slightly more digestible price. However, I did not go that route as it comes with the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil (which does have rave reviews!) but I am sensitive to essential oils and I only wanted to test out one at a time.
How I use it: I have been using this 3-4 times a week and apply it as my first step after cleansing, at night only. You can also use it as a 10-minute "flash" facial and as a primer. Neither of which I have tried—yet!
2. Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil: Another newer addition to my collection but I had been wanting to incorporate an oil into my everyday skincare regimen for some time and when I came across the Drunk Elephant line, it sounded like just what I had been searching for. I've tried others (like argan oil and a couple more fragranced oils) in the past but never had a great experience. Either they didn't seem to have a huge impact or a began noticing clogged pores, irritation and milia (those small white bumps). What it is:
"A wonder-working luxury facial oil, high in critical antioxidants, to deeply moisturize, nourish, soothe, and rejuvenate your skin while restoring its youthful glow."
Oils can be the magic addition to your routine and provide deep hydration while delivering potent, skin-loving antioxidants. In my experience, oils often include essential oils (think lavender, rose, rosemary, lemon, peppermint, etc) and silicones for slip which are things I know my skin HATES. What really drew me to this oil (and this line!) is that they are free of silicones, sensitizing dyes, perfumes and those fragrant, potentially irritating essential oils.
This is another product I got a sample of first and I noticed an immediate difference in the overall texture and smoothness of my skin. It feels hydrating yet lightweight on the skin and really seems to help boost the radiance and glow factor both while it's on the skin and longterm. Note: it does claim it doesn't leave a residue behind but I didn't find this to be a "dry" oil which absorbs without leaving any shine. This definitely leaves some slip and shine on the skin. But maybe I just overapply! Either way, this is hydrating enough on my skin to use as my sole nighttime moisturizer but I still like to add a separate moisturizer on top.
How I use it: As of now, I use this at night only, after my Good Genes, after other water-based products or before any other heavy treatments. Personally, I don't use it during the day as I haven't found it makes the best base for my makeup. However, I will occasionally pat it on top of makeup to refresh/rehydrate later in the day. The best way to apply an oil? Warm it up in your hands and pat/press (don't rub) into the skin.
3. Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream: I discovered this when I got it as a sample with my Marula Oil purchase and it is pretty perfect. What it is:
"A breakthrough protein moisturizer that combines an unprecedented array and concentration of actives for improvement in the appearance of skin’s tone, texture, and firmness."
With sensitive skin, somehow a moisturizer is usually the scariest thing for me to try. Too heavy and I risk a breakout. The wrong ingredients and I risk irritation. I find too often that natural lines are also the ones that use plant oils and natural fragrances but these are often the ones that can have the most irritating effects. I love how the Drunk Elephant line uses clean ingredients and none of the potentially irritating, "bad" stuff. This cream is also formulated with a proper PH level to keep your skin healthy and strong. It's ultra soft and smooth and feels incredibly hydrating and I think plumping. Somehow it feels like it has the "smoothing" properties silicones give yet it DOESN'T have silicones which is incredible. Very hydrating and my skin drinks it right up.
How I use it: This is my last step in my nighttime routine. I apply it on top of my Marula Oil.
4. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: Another pricey product a lot of people wonder if is worth the hype. Personally, this one is difficult to explain why I love it. But I really do. (Love it!) What it is:
"An award-winning signature essence that moisturizes and brightens, revealing youthful-looking, radiant skin."
This is made from Pitera which is rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids that have really amazing anti-aging and hydrating properties. It's a watery formulation and while I can't completely explain what it does, including it in my routine definitely makes me feel more hydrated, even-toned and honestly, younger! For me, I guess it feels brightening yet not in a, "I put highlighter on my face" way, just in a naturally brighter and more youthful way.
How I use it: I apply this both morning and night. It's the first thing I apply to clean skin in the AM and PM. I will use it on the nights I am not using the Good Genes. It's another one that is most effective when you warm it up in your hands and pat in an upwards motion on your face.
5. Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Wake Up Balm: I actually discovered this Global line after receiving a sample of the Global Anti-Aging Mask Boost and adored the instantly radiant look it gave my skin. When I have the mask on, it literally gives me a glowy, radiant finish that seemed to instantly mask or "blur" any imperfections. Naturally, I wanted to emulate this on a daily basis and not just in mask form. This is when I discovered the Wake Up Balm. What it is:
"A balm that firms and deeply nourishes your skin."
That is not very descriptive but all I can say is it's amazing. It doesn't give as strong of a "blurring" effect as the mask but it definitely helps instantly with luminance/radiance, fine lines and plumping. It is amazing for days when your skin feels especially blah and uneven and can really help instantly transform the look of the skin. Really great after a night out.
How I use it: I have found I love this as a primer! While it doesn't make my makeup last longer (in fact, it might be the opposite), I find that it helps keep my makeup from feeling cakey later in the day. I do alternate my everyday makeup routine but this has become my favorite go-to, especially for ease during the work week. I've discovered that mixing this with my foundation creates the most supple, easy-to-apply, tinted moisturizer. It just glides on and looks natural with minimal effort.
6. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid Emulsion: This is a new-to-Sephora line and, truth be told, I haven't had enough time to try it out yet! The prices of this brand are crazy low (I'm talking $8-$10) and this was the only product that wasn't sold out! So I snagged it. A retinoid is something that can make the biggest difference in the skin but typical retinol comes with very irritating effects when you first start using them. Apparently, this next-generation retinoid gives you the same amazing effects without the drying and flaking that is normally associated with retinol. What it is:
"A stable serum emulsion of a next-generation retinoid active that achieves better reduction in visible signs of aging than retinol—without irritation."
My Thoughts + How I use it: Stay Tuned!
A few more things not included in this re-stock photo...I also use the Pevonia Propolis Soothing Concentrate daily which really helps soothe the skin and fight breakouts (don't buy this from Amazon/Walmart, I've heard it's not the same!) and always, always apply my Image Skincare Prevention+ 50 SPF in the morning. This is a holy grail sunscreen for me. It feels so hydrating on the skin yet isn't heavy and makes a great makeup base.
I have also recently been seeing an esthetician for (hopefully) more regular facials and it's something that makes such a drastic difference in the skin if you can find someone you love. Since my skin has been so dry, she recommended I do NOT wash my face in the AM and it's something I've been implementing for the last month and a half. I can honestly say it's making such a huge difference in my skin because I'm not washing off the natural, good-for-you oils my skin is producing at night. I've noticed my skin is less dry and feels less stripped, more supple and happy—ha! Note, I do rinse my face with cool water in the AM but do not cleanse.
Let me know if you have any additional questions. While I am no expert, I would be more than happy to help in any way I can!
As always, thank you so much for reading!