From skincare to makeup to hair/body, here are my top beauty discoveries from this past year.
The truth is that if I just did a regular 2018 favorites, I’d be repeating most of the products from 2017. I was very fortunate to have tried a ton of products last year, some great, some good, and some not so good. Of all everything I’ve tried, the following have really stood for me.
Of all the cleansers in my collection, this is the one I reach for most. PC doesn’t f*** around when it comes to ingredients, and this is full of antioxidants, skin-soothers, and gentle surfactants. The gel to milk formula feels comfortable on the skin and leaves it feeling clean and balanced. My only complaint is actually that it’s unscented so it’s not as fun to use, but otherwise this is about as perfect as cleansers get for me.
I never thought I’d love bar soap this much but here we are. First of all, this is high pH so I don’t recommend using it regularly, but as an occasional deep cleanser it is amazing. Skin feels really clean and fresh as if I just did a mud mask, but it’s not drying. I love pairing this with a sheet mask for some serious glow that lasts all day.
I’m all about gentle exfoliation and this peel really hits the mark. It’s easy to use (just add water and it lathers ever so slightly), non-irritating, and leaves my skin silky soft instantly. While peeling gels deliver similar results, the balls are kinda messy and occasionally I’ll find some still stuck on my skin even after a lot of rinsing. A little goes a long way with this, so I’d recommend the travel size (available in sets) over the full-sized product.
I reviewed this in detail, but in a nutshell it’s a beautifully formulated lotion that’s moisturizing without being heavy. The way they source and process their green tea (the key ingredient here) is just incredible, and taught me that a product’s efficacy is more than just its ingredient list. This leaves my skin plump, hydrated, and velvety soft, plus it comes in a chic pump bottle that just oozes elegance.
I reviewed this already, and it’s tied with the Klairs Supple Prepration Toner as my hg toners. I love the simple research-proven ingredients and how they’re the ideal ratio to hydrate and nourish the skin. It also feels very comfortable on the skin, lightweight and non-sticky, and is a product all skin types will enjoy.
Guys, the glow this gives my skin is insane. Not that shiny glow you get from oils, but a translucent, lit-from-within glow. No wonder it’s called the “lightbulb serum” in Asia! It puts the 4 previous brightening products I’ve mentioned to shame (actually it works in synergy with the FTE) and I’ve already repurchased it. So good and worth every pretty penny.
2020 update: The Neogen Real Ferment Micro Serum works just as well and is so much more affordable!!
I’m usually not a fan of all-in-one products because jack of all trades, master of none, but Venn did it. This All-in-One Concentrate works best in a minimal routine, as it’s meant to replace your serums and moisturizer. It’s full of excellent ingredients like peptides, amino acids, and green tea extract, and despite the lightweight texture, it’s enough to keep my skin moisturized during the dry winter nights. While I don’t think I could ever stop using my serums and creams, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who wants a no-fuss routine. Just cleanse and apply this (plus spf in the mornings), and you’re good to go.
$185 at Venn Skincare
I already raved about this $1 miracle in a tin, and while there are definitely better moisturizers out there, you honestly can’t beat its value. When your skin is feeling extra dry, irritated, or a combination of both, a thick layer of this will do wonders. As for whether it’s a dupe of La Mer, I think La Mer is still superior, but guys, this is ONE DOLLAR.
While I love Japanese sunscreens, I do find a lot of them too dewy, even for my liking. This sunscreen has high UV protection (spf 50+, PA++++) using stable filters, and it’s hydrating without the shiny finish! While I’ll still rely on my La Roche Posay Antihelios XL for outdoor activities, this is now my favorite daily sunscreen, by far. I’m not a fan of the silver label rubbing off, but minor inconvenience I’m willing to overlook for a winning formula.
If you have sad short lashes like mine, are patient, and are willing to use this religiously everyday, it will deliver results! I started using it around July/August and by October I noticed that my lashes were significantly longer. Like if I curled them and applied a layer of my hg Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara, it looked like I had falsies. Bad news is that if you stop using this, your lashes go back to being sad and short, so make sure you stick to it!
I love supporting small businesses and am thrilled to discover Luvmilk and their amazing collection of gourmand scented bath & body products. Each jar is freshly made and full of skin nourishing ingredients like oat extract, aloe, and of course goat’s milk. It’s moisturizing without being heavy, and the scent really lasts. Rabbit Cafe smells like a blueberry donut, and Magical Girl (another scent I bought) smells like creamy marshmallows!
I thought I loved the Luvmilk ones more but I can’t get over how fast this cream absorbs and how silky it makes my skin feel! This is even more lightweight than the Luvmilk lotion, but is equally hydrating and has some skin firming ingredients as well. Scent wise it’s not as strong, but equally pleasant!
It was between this and the Olaplex 3, and while the latter is magical for my dyed hair, it’s a pain to apply and doesn’t work for non-chemically treated hair. But since Prose is customized for your unique hair type, it will work specifically to tackle your hair issues! Mine is formulated to restore moisture and shine and it does a fantastic job at that.
$38 at Prose
I never thought I’d love a pressed powder until I tried this darling. It’s everything I want in a pressed powder – weightless, translucent, blurring, and just mattifying enough to not suck all the glow from my foundation. I do wish it came with a it’s own brush for touching up on the glow, but otherwise this is about as perfect as pressed powders get.
I actually don’t remember when I bought these, it may have been late 2017, but I’ve used them so much in 2018 they absolutely deserve a spot here. These have a glossy finish initially, then dries down to a beautiful stain that lasts through drinking and eating. 407 is your classic dusty rose that’s flattering for everyone, and 416 is a muted red that’s one of my fall/winter lipstick picks.
Raved about them on Instagram already, but I love the minimal design, the beautiful selection of shades, the non-toxic formula, and how easy they are to apply. Just a single layer and I get an opaque even coat that lasts up to 8 days! My favorite shade is No. 25, which is a beautiful dusty rose that should flatter all skin tones, but I also really like No. 02, a sheer baby pink for nude nails.
$18 at Sundays, buy 3 and get 20% off
I’ve also started using a few products at the end of 2018 that I’ve really been enjoying, and while I haven’t used them long enough to qualify them as a favorite discovery, I still want to give them a shoutout here:
- Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 W – I gave into the hype, and while I did purge initially, I’ve moved past that phase recently and I’m starting to notice smoother and brighter skin. Jury is still out on this, but it looks very promising!
- Lily De Mai Bliss Mist* – I just reviewed this on Instagram and I’m seriously impressed by both the product and brand. With how things are going, this might become one of my favorite mists.
- Huanjisoo Pure Perfect Cleansing Oil* – Also briefly reviewed on Instagram. I can usually figure out after the first use whether or not I’ll enjoy a cleanser, and lets just say the first few impressions of this cleansing oil has been excellent.
Thanks so much for reading, as always, I know I can be ridiculously verbose, so kudos to you for getting through my ramblings! I hope your new year is off to a great start, and I wish you guys all the best in 2019!
Also if you’re in the US, don’t forget to enter my Formulate personalized shampoo + conditioner giveaway! You can read my review here, but in a nutshell, their shampoo was my favorite out of the 3 personalized hair care brands I’ve tried. Highly recommend them if you struggle with finding shampoos that work for your finicky hair and scalp!