2020 favourites . skincare

hey, there

yes, it’s been a while.

let’s just jump into the skincare products that have sparked some joy (and great skin days) over last year, shall we?

if you’re here for the links, scroll to the bottom!

Caroline Hirons and her skincare kits

This woman was a delight to follow last year (and still is this year), not least because she didn’t mind a bit of “stepping out of her lane” and advocating for just causes, raising awareness and money, calling out brands what were out of line with their workers, and even debunking industry myths. All whilst holding a strong brew and head-banging to some great Rock songs (and throwing some amazing skincare recommendations in the mix, of course).
Her Insta lives were instrumental to my sanity, especially because it helped me restore some faith in humanity – even on (some of) those who hold some power and own up to it and the responsibility that comes with it, using their huge platforms and influence for a greater good. When you get to a certain point, it would be a lot easier to just stick to profit and moisturisers.

Enough fangirling, let’s talk about her seasonal kits, which hold usually a full routine of products CH herself rates and loves, two per season, curated to cater to either dryer/more mature skin, and normal to oily. The value always comes to at least 40% cheaper that buying those same products at retail price. I got the Spring Kit for normal to dry skin, and it didn’t disappoint. Caroline is the queen of textures and everything she recommends is usually a luxurious experience (backed with highly performing ingredients, of course).
From the kit, the standouts to me were:

  • Niod Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex – a hyaluronic acid complex with some avant-garde iterations of this seemingly simple ingredient, absurdly lightweight, hardly tacky after being absorbed, and immediately plumping to the skin. I’m no stranger to HA and have no problem with thicker viscous formulas (as long as well conceived and not pilling), but this was NIOD just staring at me blankly and saying “hold my beaker”…
  • Oskia Super C Capsules – a vitamin C derivative delivered in a delightful oil base the left my skin feeling elasticised and glowing without feeling too heavy or greasy. I have given it more love in the winter time, when my skin has been dryer, ergo, able to enjoy the experience even more.

– by the time this is posted, the Winter Kits for 2021 are out. they can’t ship to the EU at the moment because Brexit, but let’s hope it’s all solved in time for the Spring Kits…

Paula’s Choice serums

Paula’s Choice has my heart when it comes to serums. They combine so many scientifically-proven-to-benefit-your-skin ingredients and create such complete concoctions that are just so elegant on the skin – it is impossible to replicate all the benefits just by layering single-ingredient products without going over the price of one of these serum… and ending up a pilling mess, too. Also, most of us are not cosmetic scientists and formulators… it gets to a point where I don’t want that faff and unknown outcomes. For me, single-ingredient formulas have their place as an add-on for specific situations, but not as a go-to for a more demanding routine.
Despite not being super affordable, these products are, in my opinion, totally worth the investment – if needed, combined with getting more affordable cleansers, hydrators, moisturisers…

— Better yet, Paula’s Choice offers the chance to buy small travel sizes of their products, which allows you to give them a good test run before committing to the full size. That’s how I got hooked on all of these, by the way ;)

  • Resist Anti-Aging Omega + Serum – filled with skin-soothing and repairing ingredients like Omega 3 and 6, cholesterol, and fantastic lightweight emollients, this creamy serum is a must for helping to strengthen (and repair) the skin barrier. It’s a great companion for retinoids and other resurfacing products (to prevent harsher side effects), on a simple hydrating and soothing routine, or when my skin is going berserk and I have to cut down on everything else;
  • Resist Anti-Aging Ultra Light Anti-Oxidant Serum – a concoction of, among other things, anti-oxidants like resveratrol and ubiquinone (coQ10) and a good vitamin C derivative in a very lightweight fluid serum that I loved using in the spring/summer, when my skin was oilier;
  • Resist Anti-Aging Anti-Oxidant Serum –another concoction of anti-oxidants, vitamin C derivatives, emollient products in a gelly-oil formula that glides on the skin and leaves it super glowy (a bit like the Oskia Capsules in terms of finish, but with a bit more of a complex formula, no perfume, and 40€ less expensive…). I’ve been using this in dryer times and rejoicing;
  • C15 Super Booster – water based L-Ascorbic Acid at 15% is the most well-researched version of this ingredient, and that’s what this is all about – with a bit of Ferulic, Vitamin E and other lightweight soothing emollients and humectants thrown in the mix. Such a light liquid serum, sinks in beautifully, and pairs like a dream with any other products, especially under the PC Serums.

This type of water-based L-AA formula is well know for oxidising quickly, though, so make sure to keep it in a cool dark place, don’t pump the pipette more than needed and, if you can, maybe share the product with someone in your household, to make sure you use it all up before it becomes ineffective.

the Geek and Gorgeous surprise dupe

it’s a tiny Hungarian brand that develops products a few notches above one-ingredient formulas at incredibly affordable prices. They work with small fresh batches, which is so nice. I have been gleefully using their niacinamide, but the one I really wanted to talk about is

  • C Glow serum – guess what? a water-based L-Ascorbic Acid serum with some Ferulic acid and Vitamin E thrown in the mix… It is slightly more viscous than Paula’s Choice, but still layers under other products with no problem. It has a less complex formula, with less emollients, but the main characters are all on stage, up and front. The price? 10,50€

— Oh, and they sell tiny dropper bottles for you to decant batches of the product so that the main (bigger) bottle can sit in the fridge less disturbed, optimising the life span of your vitamin C serum. Genius!

so raved about I had to try it – from Medik8

Need me some vitamin A on my mug, and this year I finally got to try Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6. Retinaldehyde is, on your skin, only one conversion stage away from becoming retinoic acid (the most powerful version of vitamin A, commercially known as tretinoin), whereas retinol is two conversion stages, and other derivatives and esthers are even further – rendering them less strong, and, of course, less harsh.
Yet some studies show that, although being almost as powerful as tretinoin, it has far less harsh side effects – none, to some people.

I had to try it.

My face usually falls off when on tretinoin and it’s super hard to manage. With this, I had no side-effects, while reaping all the benefits of this fantastic ingredient.

The formula comes in a lightweight cream that spreads beautifully, but be warned: it is not “moisturising”, so make sure you add a lightweight moisturising step with something like the PC Omega serum, or a moisturiser after letting this product set for a while.

As always, with retinoids, do start low and slow and build up depending on your skin’s tolerance, to prevent barrier damage. Medik 8 Crystal Retinal starts at 1 and goes up to 10, so you also can use the concentrations in your favour.

the life-changing SPF

My skin is extremely prone to hyperpigmentation. As soon as the sun is out, I get two shades darker, without even leaving the house. My blemishes immediately become dark spots, no matter what I do and how slathered in all the right things I am.
You can imagine how surprised I was that this summer I did not get to use my “summer” shades of foundation…
All thanks to this gem, P20 Suncare For Kids SPF50. This is a bomb of a sunscreen, with all the right filters (check out Cyrille Laurent’s review to geek out more on that part), an over-the-charts UVA protection (which is frequently disregarded as secondary), it’s extremely long-lasting and water-resistant, and it comes in 100ml or 200ml bottles – as they all should. Plus, it’s formulated without unnecessary irritants like fragrance, and on me it leaves no white cast (it seems to have hardly any on darker skins, but I can’t speak for that).

The downside is that it is a cream and it stays dewy. I can work around it in the summer with lightweight skincare, no moisturiser, and more mattifying makeup, and work with it when my skin is dryer and I actually live for the dewy finish. Also, you can only get it easily on Amazon (at least Uk and Germany have them), which is annoying because I don’t like Amazon…
But all in all, it’s all worth it. When it comes to intense sun and/or prolonged exposure, this is my hero.

two science-based skincare accounts

Get your facts straight, don’t let brands fear-monger you and tik-tok challenges and old-timey nonsense wreak havoc on your skin. We’ve gotten to an age where we have eradicated diseases, we’ve developed computers, cars and so many other commodities because we’ve trusted the people who actually know and study these fields. Let them share their knowledge with you, knowing that yes, your skin is your skin and your personal experience ultimately dictates your choices, but the right content is what informs them.

Lab Muffin Beauty Science has fantastic vídeos where she debunks myths, explains how it works on a molecular level and basically geeks over everything skincare science.
The Eco Well posts regularly on Instagram with super useful infographics, but also makes great long-form content: podcasts and vídeos with incredible panels of actual skin experts like aestheticians, dermatologists and cosmetic formulators.

Here’s the links, you lazy scoundrels

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