Holy grails I buy again and again – skincare edition
Holy grail skincare, people. Holy grails. It was actually very easy to decide what’s going to be in this post – I just had to look into my backup drawer. “Backup drawer?!” I hear somebody explain incredulously. Yup, backup drawer – as I have to import nearly everything while I’m living in Shanghai, I actually have a backup drawer (or two. One’s in the fridge). So here’s what I buy again and again, because this is the good stuff – my skincare holy grails. Or the products I’d weep over if they ever were to become discontinued.
Could benefit from anti-aging products, very fair, combination. I still get breakouts, but then I also have great skin days when I don’t want to wear any foundation.
What I believe in skincare
A long time ago, I worked as an editor for a medical journal, and along the way I’ve picked up a belief in clinical research and studies (by osmosis, I guess). I want my skincare to burst with stuff that’s proven to be beneficial, and I don’t believe in studies done by companies that want to prove that their products work. I also don’t believe in skincare products that have quotes on them like ‘99% of users would recommend that product’ or ‘95% could see an improvement in their skin texture’. Pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo makes me instantly decide not to buy a product.
Over time I’ve also grown stricter about eliminating possibly harmful ingredients from my skincare – I take great care that there isn’t any alcohol or fragrance in it, and I personally also don’t like silicone in my skincare as well.
Favourite sunscreen: Skinceuticals Brightening UV Defense SPF30
I’ve mentioned my favourite sunscreen ever in passing before, but I don’t think I’ve ever explained why it’s my fave. First, there’s the pleasure of using it. It has the consistency of a thin lotion, sinks in quickly and doesn’t leave a white cast. It’s my go-to sunscreen for a reason – I wear this all year round but during the absolute heights of summer. There’s also a version with SPF50 that is a bit thicker and stiffer. Second, the formula is a good one – there’s UVA and UVB protection through a mix of chemical and mineral ingredients, mainly Mexoryl and titanium dioxide. Mexoryl is one of the best ingredients for protection against UVA rays (like Tinosorb that is included in the SPF50 version). Third, applying both liquid and loose mineral foundation over it works, although you might have to blot a few times and use some setting powder. During summer I apply it without moisturizer over a serum. In winter I actually use a moisturizer underneath. It has some alcohol in it, but right in the middle of the inci list it doesn’t bother me that much. (See the incis here.)
Favourite serum: Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging 1% Retinol Booster
If you’re looking into anti-aging products, both acids and retinol products are bound to come up. I had used various acids in various forms (pads, serums, toners) for some time, when I wanted to include retinol in my skincare routine. Retinol is one of the few cosmetics ingredients that was researched independently (not by the companies that sell it). It has been proven effective as an anti-aging ingredient (for example here). It’s said that skin should be slowly accustomed to it, so Paula’s Choice’s Booster is actually a genius idea: You can add it to any serum or moisturizer and choose the exact amount you want to apply. I usually mix it with my moisturizer and use it about every other night. Retinol is supposed to give your skin a smoother appearance and will both improve fine lines, uneven skintone and breakouts. I generally find that my skin becomes more even and more radiant when I use it. Winner. (Incis: See on PC link provided above.)
Favourite moisturizer: Beyer & Söhne Hautcreme+
Ages ago, I was looking for a moisturizer without any irritants when I came upon a review about this tiny German brand. They carry about half a dozen products, max! The legend goes that the father of the current leading team, a pharmacist, tried out the recipe for their moisturizer on the whole family. They claim that they only include ingredients that actually do something for your skin and don’t use any ‘filler’ ingredients that make up the bulk of ordinary skincare. Their ‘Hautcreme+’ (translates to ‘skin moisturizer+’) boasts of an impressive ingredients list and also of an impressive list of ingredients that aren’t included: Parabens, mineral oil, fragrance, dyes, emulgators, silicones. It’s also vegan and cruelty free. If you still need convincing – you can order sample sizes, and they ship to wherever you are. Oh, and the moisturizer is fabulous. It comes in different formulas for dry, normal or oily skin and my skin loves it. It’s great under every foundation I’ve ever used. While I use ‘normal’ in summer, in winter I switch to the version for dry skin and my skin is very happy with it. I’ve three bottles in the fridge and never want to be without it.
Favourite makeup remover/ cleansing oil: Balea Reinigungsöl
You remember the caveat I made at the beginning of the post? The one about HG products, tears and petitions if one of the products mentioned here were ever discontinued? Serious hoarding? Well, that actually happened with this cleansing oil. Which is the best I’ve ever used. Better than Shu Uemura, better than MAC, better than anything. But it was discontinued this Spring, and Balea brought it back in summer, for what was rumoured only a short time. I bought ten bottles when the news came, and I’ll get more. This stuff is cheap as chips, doesn’t aggravate even the most sensitive skin, and does an awesome job at what it’s supposed to do – cleansing. It emulgates beautifully, removes all the stuff on my face (exception: waterproof mascara, but I use a different makeup remover for that anyway) and is never, never stripping. Get it and let Balea know how awesome it is. (See incis at link above.)
Favourite special effect item: RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner
In typical pessimistic fashion I didn’t take pics of my lashes before I started using this. I wasn’t convinced this would actually work. You’re supposed to see results after about four to six weeks, and nothing happened. I was getting quite concerned, because this stuff is incredibly expensive. But nearly over night, after about seven weeks, my lashes became longer. And thicker. And just – more. Before, a MUA had called my lashes ‘teeny tiny’ (I kid you not!). After, people started to comment on them. It became irrelevant what mascara I used, because everything looked good on my new lashes. They still don’t look like fake lashes, but I’m so pleased about how they look! After two or three months, I started using the serum only every other day instead of every day. Application is super easy – apply a thin line (think eyeliner) every night on clean skin, wait a few minutes until it has sunk in and apply your usual eye cream. Done! It hurts like hell though when it drips into your eye, so be careful not to over-apply it. Otherwise, there’re no side effects. I’ll use that forever. (Incis see here.)