2017 marked my 33nd year in existence and consequently my first foray into real high end skincare.
I am cheap as all hell (and you’ll see that in my daily facial cleanser) but after receiving some gifted products from the best estheticians in town — Toska Husted of Toska European Spa and Deborah Nelms of Esthetique Studio — I have finally seen the light of quality products and am trying to commit to them.
Debbie has done my waxing for years now and I met Toska on a media assignment earlier this year to cover her work (she’s worked on major celebs). Both have sent me on my way with generous hauls of full and sample size products but it wasn’t until the last few months that I’ve really hunkered down and committed to an at-home routine.
Debbie introduced me to Naturopathica, a line of organic, environmentally friendly, plant-based products, and Toska introduced me to Bioligique Recherche, an ultra high end French line with a cult following. I’m a believer.
(Now they’ll just have to tie me down and force a facial routine on me in 2018. Baby steps.)
I also went out on my own earlier this year and made some upgraded skincare purchases at Sephora in a fit of 30-something skin woe rage. That’s when I got hooked on Josie Maran products.
Here’s everything I’m using right now [Amazon links are affiliate links and marked with a *].
A few things I want to note before we dive in…
(1) Skincare is extremely individualized. Everyone’s skin behaves differently and requires different things. This is what’s working for me right now.
(2) I’m new to fancy products and any kind of formalized skincare routine. I’m sure I will learn things and probably switch things around over time.
(3) My personal vegetarian lifestyle extends to non-food products which means I avoid wearing leather, fur, feathers or other animal-derived products and have committed to cruelty-free beauty and home products that aren’t tested on animals. I’m not perfect but I try to be intentional here. Everyone approaches life differently. That’s ok. This is how I approach my life. Biologique Recherche is the only brand on this page whose animal testing policy is unclear to me.
(4) I am supremely insecure about my IRL skin versus my photographed skin. iPhone cameras and good lighting (I don’t use filters 99.9% of the time) can erase a wealth of imperfections. Fine lines, pores and other skin complaints exist in real life in a way they just don’t show up in photographs. When I say I’ve seen improvements in my skin, I mean the skin I look at and critique every day in the mirror. I know how to manipulate lighting and angles to present what I want to present online. When I notice a change in my harsh, horrendous real life bathroom light, that’s when I know something is working.
[Amazon links are affiliate links and marked with a *]
Everyday facial cleanser — My everyday face wash is Alba Botanica’s pineapple enzyme Hawaiian facial cleanser*. I’ve been using Alba products for years because they’re not tested on animals and are readily available at Target and TJMaxx. Nothing fancy here. I would love to see myself commit to a higher end face wash in 2018 but, you know, I’m cheap.
Micellar water — I follow my cleanser up with a cotton pad soaked in Yes to Coconut’s ultra hydrating micellar cleansing water* to pick up any residual makeup. Again, nothing fancy and available pretty much everywhere. I’ve been told I should do this step BEFORE cleansing but I like ending the cleanse with the cotton pad because I can see what it’s picking up. If I use a liquid cleanser last I’ll never know if there was any lingering makeup left over. That’s my science anyway.
Exfoliating cleansing powder — One of my jackpot Sephora finds this year was Josie Maran’s argan exfoliating cleansing powder*. I’ve never seen a dry facial cleanser so I was curious. It’s amazing. I keep it in my shower and use it every other day or so (but you can use it daily) and LOVE how smooth it makes my skin. You just put some of the dry powder on wet hands to make a paste. It’s awesome.
Balancing exfoliator / toner — Ok, the holy grail. Toska uses Biologique Recherche products in her spa and the combination of them + her will change your life. P50, in particular, is what she recommended as the #1 place to start if you’re trying to prioritize what to buy (they’re not cheap). If you’re local in CLT you can buy it at her spa. If not, get it online here. People call P50 Jesus in a bottle (if Jesus in liquid form makes your face look younger, I guess). It’s aggressive (you may notice tingling/burning and redness) but ok to use daily, which I do. It goes on as a toner as the last step of my cleansing process before moisturizer, morning and night. This is the only one of the products in my bathroom that I haven’t confirmed does NOT test on animals. I just can’t find anything anywhere.
Daytime moisturizer — Debbie gave me Naturopathica’s vitamin C revitalizing lotion* and recommended it as a daytime moisturizer. It’s very light and not oily at all. The instructions say to put it on after your serum but I’m a skincare beginner and don’t have a serum yet so I use it as my step 1 moisturizer. If you’re local in CLT you can get it at her studio.
Tinted moisturizer + SPF — Quite possibly my favorite everyday purchase of the year was Josie Maran’s tinted argan daily moisturizer with SPF 47*. I have super dry skin (not flaky but just devoid of all moisture) so I love the dewy moisture-rich nature of an argan oil-based product. It gives kind of a natural highlight all over your face. When people say “your skin is glowing!” it’s because I have this on. I don’t wear foundation as part of my everyday makeup routine so the light tint on this + some concealer helps even everything out. The discouraging thing about this product is that there seems to only be one shade of available tint, which is frustrating for and certainly not very inclusive.
Night cream — Naturopathica’s argan & retinol wrinkle repair night cream* is my first attempt at using retinol since having a horrendous experience with a cheap product I got a few years ago. Retinol can be pretty aggressive and cause irritation, which tore my face up with the cheaper product. But I read something this year that retinol is the #1 skincare product every 30-something should be using so I still want in on it. With Naturopathica’s night cream I only had some mild irritation and flaking around my nose while my skin adjusted to the retinol.
That’s it! And LOL, at “it” because it’s actually a whole hell of lot and, especially in writing, looks excessive, out of control and certainly expensive. I get it.
One thing that will help me justify these products (as I’ll be gearing up to purchase the high end gifted products myself when I run out in 2018) is noting how long the products last.
I’ve had my Naturopathica products for a month and they’re not even 1/4of the way gone (so I figure they’ll last me 4-5 months). My Josie Maran products were purchased in October and are about halfway gone so I figure those have a 4- to 5-month lifespan. And I tear through my P50 in about 2 months (I’m not sure if that’s fast or slow usage for that). When you run the prices over the lifespan of the products, it’s a less horrifying purchase.
Got a cruelty-free product you swear by? Hit me up. I love trying new things.