Best of Skincare 2016
I'm asked all the time what products I use, but being the skincare junkie that I am, the list is too long to put in an Instagram comment. Also, that list is ever-changing. As I've mentioned before, I tend to be a grass-is-greener type when it comes to skin products and am always looking for something better. However, some have stood the test of time.
Here is my comprehensive list of my personal go-to skincare products this past year. Remember, what works for my skin might not yours, but I'll do my best to explain how each has worked for me. Next year it may be a whole new list, but these products were my 2016 staples...
This cleanser is pretty basic but I like that it doesn't leave my skin feeling dry and tight. I use my Clarisonic in the AM instead of PM because I find my skin looks better when I exfoliate in the morning after using retinol at night.
There's nothing I can say about the P50 that I haven't said on my blog post reviewing it. This stuff is liquid gold and probably the single most indispensable item in my entire arsenal. For those once-in-a-blue-moon days where my skin just can't handle it, I use the Boscia toner which is really gentle.
Serum: Paula's Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum  + a few drops of Tarte Maracuja Oil  in the Winter
I've tried a LOT of serums but this has been the combo my skin drinks up best. The texture of the Paula's Choice serum takes a little getting used to (it reminds me a bit of... um... a liquid you might use in the bedroom) but it really has made a difference in my dry skin. And despite its greasy-seeming texture, my skin absorbs it within minutes. The Tarte oil is the best oil I've found for face (including Argan), and I've tried way fancier/pricier ones.
Eye Cream: MAC Lightful C Vibrancy Eye Cream 
My big challenge with eye creams is that they a) don't burn my eye area (this has been an issue with some products while using retinol), and b) don't leave my under-eye area feeling tight. (To me, tight = dry) This is one of the few daytime eye creams I've found that doesn't do either. It supposedly brightens but I'm not sure whether it lives up to that claim or not. My fantasy day eye cream ticks the above boxes but also doubles as a primer while lessening under eye crepiness, but until I find that product (which may not exist), I'm reasonably content with this one.
Moisturizer: Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream 
I have the same beef with moisturizers that I do with eye creams. If my face doesn't feel hydrated throughout the day, I'm pissed. This was my favorite cream this year in terms of keeping my skin from flaking throughout the day, and I tried some that were way more expensive. Plus it just smells like a dream.
I love how liquid-y this sunscreen is and how long a way a little goes. There's an initial white cast but it fades really fast to totally clear, which is really solid for an SPF of 42. I also love how it looks under makeup... it almost doubles as a primer.
Hydrating Mask: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask 
Now, I'm not 100% sure on how much this stuff actually does, but I love it nonetheless. It smells like heaven, seems to hydrate, and is perfect for things like plane rides. I wouldn't say I see a massive before/after difference, but the pleasure of using it negates that.
Exfoliating Mask: REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask 
This is one of my Holy Grail items. Since I'm a dry skin girl, my issue is more about flaking than acne. I use this once or twice a week, usually before putting on makeup (alas, usually putting on foundation alerts me to the flaking in the first place, forcing me to start over and put this on). I leave it for 10-15 minutes and wipe clean with a hot, damp facecloth. This stuff is POWERFUL and has been my dry-skin, pre-makeup savior many, many times.
Cleanser: Philosophy Purity 
Like so many other women, I skip the makeup remover and just cleanse with Purity. It is unbeatable when it comes to removing makeup, plain and simple. The times I've been stuck traveling without it and forced to use some other cleanser (from the highest to lowest end), I'm always disappointed and reminded of how well this stuff WORKS. I'm so dependent on it that when it's one of Sephora's 100-point reward items, I get 10 since they're perfect for travel.
Treatment: Retin-A Micro Gel 0.1%  prescription only, every other night + Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Hydrating Gel  on off nights
It took me a long time to find the right balance with retinol and I've found that using it every other night is what my skin likes best. I have a love-hate relationship with retinol in that I can't just go on autopilot when using it; even after years of using it, I am still constantly gauging how happy my skin is. That said, it's really cleared my skin up and its age-preventing benefits can be read about all over the internet. For off nights I use a glycolic product which I've found (with a lot of trial and error) to really help fend off daytime flaking. The Peter Thomas Roth glycolic gel does the trick without being too harsh.
Thanks to P50 and retinol, acne's not my big concern anymore, but Mother Nature is still generous enough to present me with a hormonal gift on my face now and again. I'm a big essential oil lover and swear by organic tea tree oil for preventing pimples from getting worse. Since I apply it directly on my face, Aetos' is my favorite since it's both organic and non-GMO, and it's a total steal for the amount you get. For the stubborn zits and that turn into something I'm dying to squeeze, I force myself to resist and instead use the Nexcare patches. (I've found these don't work before the whitehead stage.) These literally absorb the oil from the zit and, even if it's still red the next day, it's always significantly shrunken in volume. (Nothing concealer can't cover!) They're also very satisfying to look at the next morning in that gross, Bioré strip kind of way. :)
Honestly, I'm not sure why I still use this. I've used it for probably a year and a half now, ever since reading this very convincing review, and... well, it might work? I frankly don't know. This is the one product I really wish I had taken some sort of "before" photo with because I have no idea whether this stuff does anything or not. This probably means I should move on.
Eye Cream: Paula's Choice Resist Anti-Aging Eye Cream 
This stuff is no frills. It's so thick I have to warm it between my fingers and pat it on—I know that's how you're supposed to apply eye cream but this stuff literally couldn't spread if I wanted it to. But, despite the fact that it's a disaster under makeup making it only nighttime friendly, I like it. It's really non-irritating; it doesn't burn the eye area nor my eyes if any seeps in. Not sure how much it's done on the wrinkle front but it's undeniably hydrating, which is half the battle.
Moisturizer: Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream
My nighttime moisturizer is the one product I have truly no loyalty with. I have a constantly wandering eye for the best night cream, but I do always keep this very clinical-smelling cream on hand. This stuff has cured many a dry patch for me before, so while it's not the most luxurious or spa-like cream, it's one I always come back to.
Let me know your thoughts!
I could also put together a Best of Makeup 2016 if there's an interest; let me know in the comments below...