Skincare 101: my top products

Happy new year, or as they say in Laos, Sokdee Pi Mai!

While I don’t do new year resolutions (I prefer birthday resolutions because that’s when my year really starts), I do promise to keep this blog updated more often!

Inspired by my recent trip to Paris, the mecca of all things skincare product related, and my favourite beauty vlogger, Estee Lalonde, I’m going to kick off 2016 with a list of my all-time favourite skincare products. What better way to start the new year than shaking up your skincare routine!

I recently told a male friend: make-up is not about covering your skin, but enhancing your best features. This means that looking after your skin, which is the only one you’re going to have in this lifetime, is so crucial to looking your best.

Cleansers:

I love, love, love this cleanser! I was given a sample of it when purchasing some other products, and while I was apprehensive at first (it’s green and smells funny), I was converted! A gentle gel that doesn’t foam, this contains papaya enzymes which act as a natural exfoliant, leaving your skin smooth and clean, whilst also not stripped of your skin’s natural moisture. If you suffer from acne, I highly recommend mixing this with Proactiv to give it an extra boost; which leads me to my next product…

I think anyone who has suffered serious acne has probably tried this product. I started using it as a teenager and continued using it in my early twenties whenever I had a case of bad breakouts (often). Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to use it with the set (though it helps) and a little bit mixed with a gentle, non-foaming cleanser, goes a long way.

I am a big advocate for non-foaming cleansers, as I think they’re gentler on the skin and keep your skin moist and supple. However, I was given this cleanser as a sample at Sephora and while it does foam slightly, it is super gentle and makes your skin feel so fresh. According to Sephora’s website, it’s free of parabens, sulphates and other nasty things so if you have sensitive skin then this cleanser is the one for you.

Yes, all the reviews are true! This is one of the best cleansers you’ll ever use and is worth every hard-earned dollar! Smells divine and feels luxurious on the skin, this cleanser is the ultimate in spoiling yourself. The only thing I didn’t like was the ‘process’ of cleansing which requires using a muslin cloth, warm water and some massaging/exfoliating. When you’re tired after a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is a multiple-step process just to clean your skin. The Morning Time Cleanser, is a great alternative, but doesn’t compare to the original.

Exfoliants:

This rightly deserves top spot – one of the best exfoliating products I’ve ever used, I’ve only just rediscovered how amazing this scrub is. I started using this in my early twenties after reading reviews about it, and I was addicted. The only reason I stopped using it was because it is quite expensive, but it lasts ages as you only need to use a tiny bit each time. I bought a travel-sized tube last year, and it has lasted me over 12 months (I use it two to three times a week) so a large tube will last you much longer!

A mix between a cleanser and an exfoliant, this is something you can use everyday. I only used it after a sweaty gym workout, as it gives your skin that extra clean feeling and makes it glow just that little bit more. If you love The Body Shop products, then I recommend trying this, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a twice-daily product due to the exfoliant factor which can aggravate your skin.

Toner:

Guilty! I am a fan of Mario Badescu’s products and this toner is amazing. I haven’t used it the past six months as I can’t get this product in Laos and I can’t wait to start using it again! It cleans the extra dirt off your skin that your cleanser might have missed, whilst not stripping your skin of it’s natural moisture. Perfect for combination skin, I wouldn’t recommend this for sensitive or dry skin.

Everyone raves about the Bioderma Sensibio H2O micellar water (I’m personally not the biggest fan) but what they don’t talk about is the Sebium version, for oily/combination skin. I bought a travel size version, because why not and it was cheap! I only started using it properly six months ago when I was breaking out and oh-em-gee, it was wonderful! My skin cleared up quickly and it really just zapped those zits – I really recommend this for the odd breakout, but not for everyday use. For that I’d recommend…

Admittedly, I only started using this about three weeks ago but it’s worked wonders! I bought it in London around mid-December and I was breaking out pretty badly around my nose and cheeks. After a few applications of this, they were gone! I’ve been using it twice a day ever since, and I can count the number of pimples I’ve had since then on one hand. ONE HAND, PEOPLE. It’s definitely one of those ‘miracle’ products that countless blogs are dedicated to, and you too will soon erect a shrine in its honour.

Moisturiser:

My love of French pharmacies knows no boundaries, and it’s thanks to the recommendation of this product (amongst many) by a pushy saleswoman, who turned out to be right about all the products she sold me! Made by the same company that owns La Poche Rosay, this is an excellent moisturiser for anyone who’s skin is healing from surgery, acne, laser procedures etc. You could even use it if you’re not recovering from any of these things! The thing I love most about it is how it has smoothed the surface of my skin and helped reduce my acne scarring significantly. It’s got a lovely, velvety texture and doesn’t feel greasy or oily. Perfect for under make-up and to use over serums. Unfortunately, it’s only sold in France so if you are heading over there, or know someone who is, get it now!

A wonderful moisturiser for all skin types, especially combination skin. I used the formula that was developed especially for Asian skins and I was hooked. It’s non-greasy and keeps skin matte throughout the day, whilst also helping to heal and resurface your skin. You don’t need a lot so a 30ml bottle goes a long way.

My favourite scent ever is rose, and one of the key ingredients in this cream is the essential oil of Bulgarian rose otto, making it so wonderful to use. This is great for people with normal to dry skin, however those with combination could get it away with. It is so luxurious and once you apply, you just want to put more on! I love this for when my skin is feeling a bit grey and I need a boost, especially under make-up. It’s a bit pricey, so if you decide to buy a tube, save it for those days when your skin needs a pick-me-up.

Serums:

If you’re looking for a night-time serum that’s affordable and as effective as the super expensive serums, look no further than Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Serum. This has transformed my skin and I love waking up and seeing my skin glow! Filled with goodness and magic (ok, not really magic but definitely goodness), you will never use any other night-time serum every again. You only use a little each time, so a 30ml bottle (used properly) can last you six months.

Another product recommended to me by the pushy French pharmacy saleswoman, I used this every day for three months and it changed my skin. Even my mother, my harshest critic when it comes to my skin, was amazed at how much better it looked – my acne scarring had reduced so, so much, my skintone was even and texture was smoother. I used this in conjunction with the Filorga moisturiser and it’s something I would definitely use throughout my life. Be warned – it can make your skin react a bit when you first use it, but perservere and you will be rewarded.

Treatments:

Not recommended for those suffering serious acne as it’s far too harsh for your skin; this is better suited for those who have the odd breakout or get recurring acne in a particular spot. This is also great for people who want to even out their skin tone and want a great anti-aging product. I would suggest getting the individual packets rather than the tubs as the pads can dry out, especially in the middle, and it saves space on your dressing table. I highly recommend using a serum following application (I used Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Serum) as without one, you will do more harm than good to your skin. Start with normal strength, and if you feel your skin needs an extra boost after a few months go up to extra strength.

Another Mario Badescu product to make the cut – the best pimple lotion you will ever use. Not recommended for acne, use this for the odd breakout you have. The dual formula looks weird, but it’s as simple as dipping your cotton bud in and applying lightly to your pimples. Do not shake the bottle, however tempting it may be, as you’ll curse yourself for having to wait several minutes for the formula to settle back into layers again.

Masks:

My all-time favourite face mask, I always come back to this. My mum bought this for me as a teenager and it works every time to deep cleanse and detox my skin. It smells weird and is a sickly blue-green colour, but I promise you nothing else will clean your skin like this! It is a bit difficult to find – I’ve seen it in Priceline and Woolworths, so if you do find it, stock up! A tube of the mask costs $10 at Woolworths and lasts you months.

The most cleverest invention ever! I bought a whole stack of these on my recent holiday with the intention of wearing them on the plane. I ended up only using them a few times when my skin was feeling particularly lacklustre, however, I do like them! They come in cute little boxes and a little goes a long way. I used the avocado one (nourishing and moisturising) and the rose one (moisturising and luminizing) which both left my skin feeling amazing when I woke up. Cheap and cheerful, they’re a great addition to your skincare routine when you need a pick-me-up.

Before I finish, I have to write a small disclaimer: I am NOT a dermatologist or skin specialist and my opinion on these products are based on my own experience. Everyone’s skin is different and what works for me, may not work for you. I haven’t used every product in the world, and what I’ve listed above is what I’ve tried and loved based on my own skin type and troubles.

Have I missed anything? Comment below on products you’ve tried, tested and can’t live without!

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