Vanessa (she/her)'s shop

2021 Skincare Standouts

Here are all my picks from the #2021SkincareStandouts challenge that I co-hosted with @devsday on Instagram

I got this in PR & almost immediately gave it away bc I didn’t need another eye cream open. I had recently splurged on buying a Biologique Recherche Creme Contour Des Yeux VIP 02 eye cream I had wanted for a long time, so I was ambivalent about even trying the LRP one. But a friend mentioned that their sister really loved this, so I decided to give it a try. Lo & behold, I was impressed!! In fact, I stopped using the expensive BR VIP02 bc I liked this more. They are similarly lightweight but still moisturizing & the main thing I really like is that the LRP does a better job at keeping my under eyes moisturized all day (so the fine lines are less noticeable).
This is my absolute favorite morning cleanse (or 2nd cleanse). Quin & I both use this every morning. I have bought countless tubes & it is one of the few things I keep backups of. It has a great pH that ensures my skin’s acid mantle is healthy & happy, gentle surfactants, it is non-foaming & has a really beautiful silky slip (meaning the gel cleanser doesn’t disappear as soon as you start massaging it on your face), & has a touch of salicylic acid to help keep pores decongested but it isn’t too much to use daily. It also has ingredients to calm, soothe & hydrate. I just love it & won’t be without it. *My JSS affiliate code VANESSA15 take 15% off all products*
My criteria for a top pick in this category is that I want it to not make my contacts cloudy, it needs to emulsify fully & rinse clean without the need for a wash cloth. I personally love to have an oil cleanser that smells amazing because that makes taking off my makeup turn into a lovely sensorial experience. This year I tried a lot of different oil-based cleansers & there are a lot that I liked. But the one that really stood out was the emma lewisham Illuminating Cleanser (*received in PR but I purchased replacement) I used the Emma Lewisham at the beginning of the year & I loved it. I love an oil cleanser w/ some enzyme exfoliants (which this has) & it smells great & checks off all my other boxes. (For really stubborn mascara I do a swipe of a micellar water to remove every last trace). When I finished it in May I had so many other oil cleansers to try I told myself I wouldn’t buy a replacement until I worked through those. The reason I knew I had to pick it for today is bc I constantly MISSED IT—which is rare when I am trying so many different products. But it just brought me a lot of joy. The packaging is beautiful (& you can buy refillable pouches). It is pricey, but when I recently saw it was available on Net-a-porter w/ a free shipping deal I bought it ASAP.
Usually I get easily bored with moisturizers, but every day I couldn't help but reach for this one. It's just so perfect for my oily, acne-prone skin and its a pleasure to use. Perfect for my oily/combo, acne-prone skin. I use this as my daily moisturizer. It is lightweight but still provides the perfect amount of hydration. It absorbs beautifully. It feels soothing when I am breaking out. It doesn't mattify my skin, but seems to help balance oil production. (Use code VANESSA20 to save 20% on any Omorovicza product!)
Whenever I use it, it leaves my skin looking & feeling so much better. It has a 30 mth shelf life & it took me just under 2.5 years to finish it bc I really only used it when my skin needed it. I love that it doesn't get hard or or feel tight/dry. I apply a thin layer & rinse off after 3 minutes (I LOVE the efficiency of it). I could go on & on about the blend of ingredients that are both potent yet soothing. When I finished my jar a couple mths ago I tried some other things to see if there was a more affordable option, but in the end I am going to end up buying the Z. Bigatti again to have it in my "mask wardrobe"
The acid toner I used the most in 2021 was the BR P50 1970 I have tried a lot of BR P50 formulas & I always go back to P50 1970. (I find the P50 to be the harshest on my skin; it also has the lowest pH FWIW. P50 Pigm400 was almost TOO gentle for me, & P50V1970 was very similar to P50 1970 but I preferred the latter bc it has sulfur and burdock root,supposedly anti-fungal & sebum regulating).  It has a Chloraseptic scent & cooling/numbing sensation. Quin hates the smell of it (no surprise there ) but it doesn't phase me.
I love to use this alongside retinoids. Leads to epidermal thickening & eventually contributes to younger looking skin. Helps to reinforce the skin's barrier, support DNA recovery & promote wound healing. Defenage uses synthetic copies of ?- and ? defensins (i.e., they aren't human-derived) to specifically target and wake up the dormant LGR6+ master stem cells to repair the skin's barrier, thicken the epidermis which eventually contributes to younger-acting and looking skin. The best place to buy is on their website. You need to create an account and they will usually give a code for a free travel size or some benefit (note that they will say you were saving money by creating an account. But you are not. You are paying the same amount that it sold for everywhere else. They mark up their price on their website to make it seem like they’re saving 25%). They actually don’t allow any retailer to ever offer any sales, so the only place you’ll ever find a deal is on their website, where you can get points and sometimes they will send out unique coupon codes for a discount or for a travel size item
This has .05% retinal which is the minimum level I like to use because studies have found that after 18 weeks of use, retinal at .05% was as effective as prescription retinoic acid at .05%. This formula is great because it also has peptides, and humectants, and soothing ingredients. It is a one-stop-shop for a night routine. (Use code VANESSAB20 to save 20%, but you have to create an account to see the discount)
This is my favorite vitamin c serum. I use up one bottle in 3-3.5 months. In addition to 15% L-Ascorbic acid, and the right percentages of Ferulic acid and Vit E plus some other great ingredients (one of which also helps with increased cell turnover--which is another way to fade pigmentation). See my post on Instagram to find out more about how it helps with pigmentation and in my vit c story highlights I show some before and after photos.
The PC Discoloration Defense has 5% niacinamide in it, so I skip using the PC Niacinamide booster while using that. But I found that I really like to use the 10% niacinamide Booster because aside from pigmentation it really helps to reduce redness in my cheeks and even out my skin tone. So for that reason I prefer the option 1. Plus the NIOD Re:Pigment really does outperform the Discoloration Repair for me. My Husband had better results than I did with the Discoloration Repair and we think that it was better at recent discoloration rather than long-standing discoloration.
Around age 30 I started to hate my eyelids... they started to really sag and the loose skin really made me insecure. What I LOVE about the EGF eye serum is that I don't hate my eyelids anymore. And I am still so shocked that it works so well. I actually accepted the first tube in PR and I fully expected to be let down (they had images of people that showed really impressive before and afters and I am used to those being misleading...). But the joke was on me because I was actually blown away and now I have purchased many many tubes of this and I don't plan on stopping (one thing that makes it slightly less painful is that I have a Skinstore affiliate discount code for 25% off- code is VANESSA). I'm not saying this will work for everyone. But it works for me. I shared some messages that I have received over the last year from people that tried it & also had good results. One thing to note is that if you are used to an eye cream to really moisturize the eye area, you will want to still apply an eye cream on top (but it can be a more inexpensive one if you consider that the EGF eye serum is doing the heavy lifting). On my instagram feed you can see before and after photos!
This is part SPF part skincare. It has Matrixyl 3000, DNA repair enzymes & more. It works great under makeup and has amazing blend of UV filters (but you can't get them in the US so I buy through EU websites). The biggest downside of this for me is the price. So I like to rotate this with the Eucerin. It does have a fragrance but I find it dissipates quickly and I'm ok with it.
This has a creamy lightweight texture, no white cast (even on deeper skintones). Also protects against high-energy visible light. I found this from @glowskinguy and he didn't steer me wrong! This will sometimes pill later in the day if I don't apply a foundation on top, but it usually doesn’t pill. It's such a beautiful texture. Quin loves this one too.
Love this on weekends with the Chanel Water Tint on top. This one takes a bit to set. At first I was worried this would leave me a greasy mess, but it didn't. I have tried a lot of tinted SPF and they are either too dark, or they are a good color match but they make me greasy. This one is actually a nice neutral shade and it doesn't make me greasy (but I do set my face with powder after I use this).
This is like a SPF with skincare in it. This is so light and I love that similar to the ISDIN this is like a skincare serum housed in a sunscreen. My only issue is that I actually like using a separate moisturizer and I find this works best if I skip a moisturizer because it is hydrating enough on its own.
Since 2017 my holy grail spot treatment has been this product - nothing has topped it yet. ? I've found that my skin does best with a combo of < 2% Salicylic acid PLUS Glycolic acid for spot treating hormonal or inflamed blemishes.The PTR combines those 2 ingredients AND, importantly, has hydrating ingredients to prevent cracked, flaky skin around a blemish AND it has aloe, arnica, & licorice root to help fade redness from the spot & soothe inflammation. Once a pimple appears, I will apply it a couple times a day (just dabbing on top of makeup if I need to). If I catch a bump early, this will usually flatten it, or it will help it quickly come to a head & then go away. It is also great at helping get rid of stubborn texture (i.e., those hard, little bumps that sit under the surface & never turn into whiteheads). I also love it for preventing and treating ingrown hairs. The bottle is huge & has a 2 yr PAO-- thankfully you can also buy a travel size to see if it works for you before buying the big guy.
pimple patches are a godsend. Once a pimple has come to a head or been popped I slap one on to help stop further picking and to suck out all the gunk. HeroCosmetics mightypatch are more expensive than some others but they stay on the best for me so I don’t need to keep reapplying a new patch. They also will stick even if I have a thin layer of PTR acne gel on the spot. I also like the Black Cosrx invisible patches, but the circles are a little small.
To keep blackheads under control, I like to use #PaulasChoice 2% daily pore refining treatment. I switched to this one from the Black bottle bc I liked that it has peptides in it & a lighter texture.
I have been doing a split-face comparison of these two products for 2 months. I find both to be equally good at strengthening my skin's barrier. And when my skin is irritated, both were good at calming redness and soothing skin. The NIOD makes my skin slightly more tacky than the Replenix, but it is MUCH cheaper.
This has nourishing, healing, moisturizing & skin softening properties while also providing antibacterial, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and clarifying benefits—good for both preventing & gently treating acne. I will put this on top of a popped pimple & this will help to suck out the gunk & it even calms redness a bit; it is super soothing & feels healing (especially when I apply it on angry pimples or irritated skin); I love the moisture it provides--if my skin is dry and sensitive from retinoids this also works wonders.?
Cryo sticks are a must have in my opinion. Amazing for reducing puffy eyes (or puffiness of the entire face!). The shape makes them nestle perfectly in the eye socket and glide under cheek bones..Feels so nice when I have a headache. Also great to relieve jaw tension and to run them down the back of the neck for neck tension. As a nice bonus these also work to chill a glass or wine (or my cousin has used them in a pinch as an "ice pack" in a lunch box). They really do stay cold for a long time! Sidenote: I have a review after multiple uses of it with Before/after photos in my Masking III stories about the Charlotte Tilbury Cryo-Recovery Lifting Face Mask which I thought was a total waste of $55 for me... these depuff much better and are half the price).
For my skincare routine before a big day, I always apply a hydrating serum (Algenist, delivers the most plumping in just one product vs multiple steps) and I always use #sundayriley Good Genes as a sort of plumping primer, if you will. I use it either before or after moisturizer and I just focus on applying it directly on top of lines that bug me. And sometimes I will use Good Genes all over my face the night before an event. here is an older review:
For my skincare routine before a big day, I always apply a hydrating serum (Algenist, delivers the most plumping in just one product vs multiple steps) and I always use #sundayriley Good Genes as a sort of plumping primer, if you will. I use it either before or after moisturizer and I just focus on applying it directly on top of lines that bug me. And sometimes I will use Good Genes all over my face the night before an event.
For plumping up fine lines and moisturizing skin I reach for Self-Care Sunday Nourishing Face Mask. It was a tough choice here but I chose Tula because it was the most affordable and most enjoyable to wear & I've used it the longest. The trick is to use a thick layer (2.5-3 pumps) and then really leave it on as long as you can.
The first product that immediately came to mind for this theme was Jan Marini Face Transformation Cream. Last year that this was my special treat moisturizer because there were a lot of nights in 2021 that I didn't even want to wash my face at night but this face cream actually made me want to wash my face just so I could put this on. That was true in 2021. It was always a treat to use. It always brought me joy. It has great ingredients (like a blend of different peptides, growth factors, antioxidants, squalane, sodium PCA, vit c derivative and more), but the reason I adore this is the texture & the smell (light orange/floral/creamy scent). It isn’t greasy, it absorbs easily & It makes my skin soft & legitimately puts a smile on my face. My husband also uses this as his night cream and he loves it. We wait until there’s a 30% off sale to buy it because it is $110 normally.
I asked my mom what product sparked joy for her, and she texted back to say it was the PTR Vital E face cream because of its texture, smell and how it melts into the skin ($75 for 1.7 oz—always wait for a sale bc you can usually find one!). For those of you that follow along with my #sandysays series where I share my mom’s favorites, you’ll know she also adores the eye cream from this line. It does have a really unique texture that does truly melt into the skin when it warms up on your fingers. She’s gone through multiple jars of this and many jars of the eye cream. If you want to see her talk about the eye cream, you can check out my “Famstagram” story highlights.