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The 2015 Favorites: First Annual Skincare Choice Dundies

Anyone else feeling the Starfish Lord & Snail Gods in this Chili’s tonight?

Now that we have confirmed I have watched far too many reruns of The Office, let us get on to the topic of tonight: Skincare. I have been indulging in skincare for a few years now, it has been a long journey of product hoarding & error. I feel like this year was the first time I finally began grasping everything: The scientific research & ingredients, budgeting, made some great friends in the community, and discovered products that actually work.

So I decided to close out the year 2015 by honoring some of my favorites for dry skin, Michael Scott style! You’ll laugh, you might cringe, and you’re wallet will definitely cry after realizing all the pretty skincare things you cannot live without in 2016!


Best Oil-Based Cleanser

Runner-Up: Kose Deep Cleansing Oil

This is the most economical [Cost effective per ounce] oil cleanser I have ever used, but that is not the main feature that makes this oil cleanser attractive. It is rice bran oil based, which does wonders for brightening my skin! It also has short ingredient list with the only potential irritant being fragrance towards the bottom of the ingredient list.

*WINNER: Earth Science A-D-E Creamy Fruit Oil Cleanser

This little known oil cleanser deserves more claim to fame because everything about this product is fabulous, from the price point to the ingredient list. This cleanser is under $10 and perfect pH of 5.5. This is also a sunflower based oil, but it definitely is not lacking in other beneficial oils such as almond, apricot, soybean & avocado.

Best Water-Based Cleanser

Runner-Up: Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel

Do not let the name fool you, this is an a papaya enzyme based powder cleanser and once you add water, this becomes the best powder based cleanser that I have ever used! It also contains green tea and provides a light physical exfoliation for those flaky skin types like mine that can never get enough of it; but it does contain fragrance, color dye & parabens for those that may have sensitive skin.

WINNER: Trader Joe’s Nourish All-in-One Facial Cleanser

Trader Joe’s is one of the most underrated skincare brands, it is definitely not your typical store brand product fare. The ingredient list rivals those of luxury brands, but everything at this grocery store costs under $12.

This $5.99 cleanser is packed with amino acids, green tea, and a host of vitamins: B5, A, E & D3. The only complaint I have heard is that this product does not taste divine if you have a tendency to open your mouth during cleansing, but cleansers are not meant for consumption!

Best AHA Exfoliant

Runner-Up:  Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel

It is a Glycolic based acid that is packed with chamomile and gentle enough to use daily, I must admit this is one of the best daily chemical exfoliants on the market.

*WINNER: Alpha Hydrox Intensive Serum [14% Glycolic AHA]

I love everything Alpha Hydrox has produced and even Paula can’t write her typical nasty “expert” reviews on the competition because Alpha Hydrox is that good! Everything by Alpha Hydrox is extremely affordable while maintaining high quality, this is mostly due to their AHA niche products.

This particular Alpha Hydrox AHA product is oil, fragrance & Paraban free so it is great for sensitive skin, despite that high percentage of AHA. It is also Glycolic acid based and short ingredient list is packed with soothing & anti-oxidant agents. This is a high percentage of AHA though so it is not ideal for daily use, but you definitely do not need to put it on daily for it to be effective.

Best Vitamin C Serum

Runner-Up: Nufountain 20% Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the single product that has made the most difference on my complexion and this Nufountain serum is a great product to do the job! It is LAA based, which means it is the best absorbing type. It has a pH of 2.5, which can be debated as too acidic for skincare,;but it is a great level for LAA to be effective.

*WINNER: Instanatural 20% Vitamin C

This is a SAP based vitamin c, which is designed to be more hydrating and better suited for sensitive skin types. It is not considered to be the most effective type of vitamin c, but this is definitely the most effective vitamin serum I have ever used.

Besides from containing vitamin c, it is packed with argan & rose oils, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants. It also contains vitamin e, which is important to skin texture in anti-aging products.

Best Hydrating Toner

Runner-Up: Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion [Moist]

This Hada Labo product is perfect for every skin type, which is a rare feat when skin types differ so greatly & have vastly different needs. However, this short ingredient list has no color dye, no oil, and no fragrance so it lacks irritant & acne triggers. The high levels of hyaluronic acid will moisturize even the driest skin types & assist any skin type with product absorption. I would go as far to declare this is a staple in every skincare wardrobe.

*WINNER: Missha Time Revolution The First Treat Essence [Original Gangsta – Zyosys]

Let us immortalize a skincare Holy Grail to many that is now retired  from the business! The Missha FTE Intensive replacement will never be able replace your fermentation & licorice root glory. Also including the niacinamide & lactic acid, you were everything I ever needed & I can promise it will not be easy to find a reasonably priced dupe for you.

You definitely deserve your place in the Skincare Hall of Fame!

Best Facial Oil

Runner-Up: Sunday Riley Flora Oil

Facial oils are a fairly new part of my routine so I am only beginning to dabble in this realm, but Sunday Riley is proving to be worth the price point. This lovely elixir contains every high quality rose oil imaginable, as well as being free of fragrance & dyes, and making it perfect for dry & sensitive skin types.

*WINNERSunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

This winner hurts my wallet so good. While I could buy 17 oils listed in this product to create my own concoction, I would much rather in-trust this task to the professionals at Sunday Riley. This is a beautiful facial oil that contains trans-retinol, every anti-aging fruit oil imaginable [Avocado, grape, chia, etc], and a number of antioxidant agents.

Best Light Moisturizer

Runner-Up: Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturizer

This is my favorite Origins product and definitely one of my favorite morning moisturizers. The 2nd ingredient is ginseng and it also contains coffee, the perfect combination for waking up dull skin in the morning. It also contains jojoba, aloe & salicylic acid. However, this product has a multitude of plant oils & fragrance so it is not ideal for all skin types. It also contains silicon so it may pill under make-up.

*WINNER: Tosowoong Propolis Sparkle Ampoule

An ampoule may not seem like the average moisturizer, but I promise you that this ampoule does far more than your average moisturizer ever could. I am also a skeptic of the trendy ingredients in the Korean beauty industry since they change as quicker than my outfits, but again honey is more than just a marketing scheme. This product is packed with hydration, containing 80% propolis and then even more honey. It is packed with botanical oils high on the ingredient lists, but it also has a number of citrus oils which may cause some irritation. It is silicone-free though so it should layer with make-up well.

Best Heavy Moisturizer

Runner-Up: SNP Bird’s Nest Revital Cream

This may sound like a heavy cream, but it is actually a fast absorbing gel and it is definitely not your typical moisturizer. The short ingredient list contains all things that are delightful, including niacinamide, ceramide, hyaluronic acid, amino acids & swiftlet bird’s nest makes it to the top of the ingredient list. While I love what this last ingredient does for me, I still grapple with the sustainability of this.

*WINNER: CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM

There is a reason why this moisturizer is infamous is skincare addict circles, you simply cannot beat this ingredient list for the price point & ease of access in North America. This moisturizer is rich in every type of ceramides, niacinamide & hyaluronic acid.

Best Sleeping Pack

Runner-Up: Laneige Water Sleeping Pack

When seeking an additional punch of hydration to a skincare routine, this Laneige product line is a go-to for many. It is packed with water, apricot & primrose root extracts, as well as silicones & emollients to seal in the hydration. This is potentially comedogenic depending on your skin type, this sleeping pack does just fine by my skin.

*WINNER: Naruko Rose & Snow Fungus Hydrating Night Jelly

Naruko seemingly can do no wrong with their perfect ingredient list & this product is definitely no exception. While it is a long ingredient list, it has all beneficial ingredients & anything with Licorice Root as the 3rd ingredient on the list immediately has my attention. None of the other ingredients disappoint such as the multitudes of mushroom & fermented extracts, ginkgo, all the chamomiles, ceramide, arbutin, and I will stop myself while I am ahead & urge anyone that is interested so far to just go try it!

Best Sunscreen

Runner-Up: Missha Time Revolution White Cure Blanc Sun Protector

In my opinion, no one does sunscreens like Missha does & no one might as well try because they are perfection. They protect against both UVA & UVB spectrums while drying matte & leave absolutely no white cast. This is more than just a sunblock though, this particular sunscreen also contains spot correctors [Dairy, rice extract, etc], antioxidants [Chamomile & green tea] & hydration [Fermentation, niacinamide, sea water, etc].

*WINNER: Missha All Around Safe Block Essence [Pink Tube]

This Missha sunscreen is more bare bones than the White Cure Blanc, but sometimes simplicity is perfection & this sunscreen is exactly that! This sunscreen also provides UVA / UVB spectrum protection and dries matte sans white cast, but this sunscreen is so light that it nearly feels like a gel. The ingredient list is not as long or as exciting as the runner-up, but the licorice extract & vitamins A-C push it to the top of my favorite list.

Best Wash-Off Mask

Runner-Up: GlamGlow Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment

I know, I know. It is a $70 clay mask, but it is a damn good clay mask! It contains a multitude of volcanic minerals & sea clay along with sooth antioxidants & botanical oils. It is also free of phthalates, sulfates & parabens, but it is definitely not for sensitive skin types.

*WINNER: Pai Copaiba Deep Cleanse AHA Mask

This sustainable mask is perfect for socially conscious shopper or the skincare addict that has no patience for chemical exfoliation wait times. This product does come at a price, but I am always willing to pay more a sustainably certified product. This product is cruelty free, vegan, organic certified, and sustainable palm oil certified. The AHAs are pink pomelo based so ideal for sensitive skin and every other ingredient is natural, this product actually justifies the extra cost.

Best Sheet Mask

Runner-Up: Tosowoong Pure Deep Sea Mask

Tosowoong is one of the luxury “AB” [Asian Brand] skincare that is definitely not just hype. This sheet mask is an amazingly light & hydrating essence that contains niacinamide & sea extract. My face is so thirsty that I usually soak up a sheet mask in 10-15 minutes, but this one easily lasts 45 minutes for me.

The main reason this does not take the top spot is the mask itself. It is too large for my petite face & it is such a stiff cotton material that it does not fold well.

*WINNER: Lovemore Snow Lotus Revival Mask

I do not know why it took me so long to try Lovemore masks, but now that I have I feel like I have been depriving myself all these past years I have sheet masked. My favorite feature of all Lovemore masks is that the material is made of 100% silk, making the masks breathable & highly pliable around your face.

This specific mask is part of the Lovemore Oriental Herbal collection that is supposed to be based upon ancient Chinese beauty techniques. However, it still brightens & hydrates skin in the modern era with a wonderful ingredient list of lotus, peony, hyaluronic acid, gingko & white tea.

… And now for the awards everyone has been waiting for tonight, Best & Worst Products of 2015!

Worst Product of the Year

Runner-Up: Sum37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick

Ah, the category everyone loves to hate!

This is a product I want to like, but I cannot. It seems perfect for the skincare addict with a nomadic lifestyle, but even though it fulfills the TSA regulations and there is no risk of the seal exploding under the airplane cabin pressure since it is a solid, there is nothing else to like about this product.

Let’s be honest, this is an expensive bar of soap. It is not even a well-designed bar of soap because it stings your eyes like a mob of angry hornets!

*WINNER: Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Overnight Spa Mask

I want to like this brand, but every product I have tried has failed on me. This particular Cosrx product fails so hard that it is the biggest skincare failure of 2015!

Let me count the ways in with I hate thee, Cosrx Rice Mask. You’re oily. You do not moisturize. You do not absorb into the skin. You make me have to actually wash my face in the morning because you’re so greasy. You have plagued my face with the worst acne I have ever experienced. I banish you to the stocks!

Best Product of the Year

Runner-Up: La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment

Beautiful skin involves experimenting with skincare, occasionally leading to failures & acne. This year has been a major year of experimentation for me & as someone who never had to deal with acne in my lifetime so far, this spot treatment has been a lifesaver. I know this is expensive for a pot treatment & many people discount French skincare brands as fussy, but this 5.5% benzoyl peroxide treatment is non-drying & oil-free. It definitely should not be discounted!

WINNER: Lirikos Marine Triple Treatment

This product is very similar to a First Treatment Essence, or hydrating toner, but this definitely is not your average toner as it contains 90% plankton extract. The niacinamide & numerous fermented extracts is just icing on the cake at this point. It moisturizes, it brightens & it is anti-aging. Now that the original Missha FTE is going out of business, this might be the replacement to a very vital step in my routine.

Anyone else make some new skincare discoveries in 2015, whether they were holy grails or product fails?

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The 2nd Annual Skincare Dundies: Favorites & Hate-Its of 2016 – The Porcelain Chronicles

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