beauty, skincare must-haves

may skincare must-haves

hi, friends!

no outfit post this week; delaney and i were supposed to shoot last weekend but she ended up having to fly out to los angeles to shoot a music video!  she’s the coolest.  so instead of an outfit, i thought it would be fun to do a beauty post this week!  wanted to take the time to share some of my favorite skincare and beauty products right now.  although i don’t change up my skincare routine that often, i do regularly try new products or use certain items more frequently due to the season or my skin’s behavior.  as such, i’m hoping to make this a regular feature on the blog, so stay tuned for more!  i’m learning more about skincare, and not everything will work for every person, but i’m doing my best to show you how i’m taking care of my 20-something skin.

old favorites

kiehl’s creamy avocado eye treatment
this was the first eye cream i ever bought and used consistently.  it’s a great first eye cream; it is hydrating, smooth, and lightweight.  a little goes a long way, but sometimes i apply it with a heavy hand like a “mask” if i feel i need to.  i use it daily under makeup, but i usually go for something more hydrating at night since my skin is on the dry side.  i’m still on the hunt for a nighttime eye cream that i love.  i wouldn’t say that the formula for this product is anything groundbreaking, but it’s a great basic for me that causes no sensitivity (which i’ve experienced with other eye creams) so i will continue to buy it until i want something more powerful.
cost per ounce: $51
total cost: $48 for .95 oz

primera miracle seed treatment essence
essences are a key category for korean beauty; they are like a toner in that they are a liquid, but they are hydrating and designed to prepare your skin for the serums, ampoules, and creams to follow.  i bought this essence when i first got my feet wet with korean beauty, and it ended up being a really great buy for me.  i really like the idea of essences, and my skin has really responded to them.  you can even layer them for extra hydration and plumping.  this particular product has a relatively simple formula that my sensitive skin really likes – i have used this when i’ve experienced a flare up and it is soothing and hydrating; its key ingredient is lotus seed extract and the brand is committed to formulating products with minimal chemical ingredients, no fragrances, no parabens, and no colorants.  basically, you apply this after you cleanse and tone, and for me i’ve found the best way to do so is to pour about a dime sized amount in to the palm of my hand, rub my palms together, and then pat it all over my face and neck (this is also how i apply serums or oils).  i don’t use the cotton pads this item comes with because i feel like it wastes the product.  there are so many essences on the market that it’s a bit overwhelming, and i’d like to try some others, but i will continue to buy this product for its fragrance-free formula and simplicity.  buy it here for $10 off your order.
cost per ounce: $11
total cost: $57 for 150ml

blossom jeju camellia seed oil
so, many of you may know that facial oils are extremely popular and run the gamut of pricing, from the affordable to ultra luxurious.  oils can be intimidating, especially for those with oily skin, and i don’t think they are necessarily for everyone.  i was nervous to try it but when i was reading about korean skincare and trying to find products that would suit me, i stumbled across this oil from blossom jeju and figured it was worth trying.  it’s made from the seed of the camellia flower (which is coco chanel’s signature flower, y’all) and that’s all that’s in the bottle – no other oils or fillers.  this oil is said to be among the most easily absorbed, and i can tell you that that is definitely true, even as compared to other facial oils i’ve tried.  this stuff soaks right into my skin and does not leave me feeling greasy; rather, my skin looks glowy and hydrated after i use it.  you really only need a few drops, and you could even just add a drop to your moisturizer if you wanted to make it less intense.  on a more superficial note, this oil smells incredible (herbal, floral, but not too strong) and that in an of itself makes you want to use it more.  i use this in both am and pm routines (although not typically on the same day) after serums, but before moisturizer.  it soaks right in and layers great.  if you have normal or oily skin, you could likely use this instead of a lotion, especially in the coming season.  there are many other facial oils i’d like to try, but i have a feeling i will continue to come back to this one due to its simplicity and efficacy.
cost per ounce: $43
total cost: $30 for 20ml

new favorites

dr. dennis gross ferulic acid retinol triple correction eye serum
i’ve had this eye serum for a couple months now and i love it.  it applies very smoothly and a little goes a long way.  goes great under makeup, so you can actually apply this during the day.  this is a gel-like serum, so i follow it up with an eye cream because my skin is too dry to use this alone, but you could definitely use it solo if you’re more normal or oily.  ferulic acid is an antioxidant ingredient used to improve skin tone and texture and combined with retinol, this serum does a great job of smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.  i don’t have a lot of wrinkles under my eye, so i’m doing this more preemptively, but i do have a few that have been bothering me.  with consistent use of this product, i’ve noticed a difference in the texture of my skin under my eyes. i like to use this once a day, typically in the morning; i was at one point using it twice a day and noticed some sensitivity.  dr. dennis gross also does not do any animal testing, which i love.  this is going to be a staple in my routine.
cost per ounce: $136
total cost: $68 for .5 oz

banila co. clean it zero
ok, so i’ve actually had this cleansing sherbert for a while but didn’t really use it.  to be honest, i really don’t like the scent of this product – it’s very strong and fruity.  however, i recently decided to give it a try when i was dealing with a lot of sensitivity, and now i love it!  my skin really hates cleansing and reacts strongly and quickly if it isn’t a fan of a product.  this cleanser is applied dry — you massage it in for a few seconds to get your makeup broken down, then apply a bit of water to emulsify.  massage again and rinse clean, and you will be surprised that all your makeup is gone!  i’ve always had issues getting my makeup off completely, and this is the first cleanser that successfully removes all of my mascara.  this is a korean skincare cult classic, and the koreans believe in a dual cleansing system; one oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and sebum, followed by a water-based cleanser to remove sweat, dirt, and other water-based products.  this is classified as an oil-based cleanser and can be followed with another cleanser.  i am still trying to find a good water-based cleanser, so for now i’ve been following this product with an old friend, cetaphil cleanser or sometimes just using it alone.  as mentioned before, my skin really hates cleansers so i have to be careful not to overdo it.  because i don’t like the scent, i’m going to re-buy it in their “pure” formula, which is designed for sensitive skin, when i run out.  buy it here for $10 off your order.
cost per ounce: $6.00
total cost: $18.00 for 100ml

the ordinary advanced retinoid 2%
ok, so.  most of y’all have probably heard of retinol and the importance of retinol products in maintaining youthful-looking skin.  retinol is a clinically-proven ingredient that is shown to reduce signs of aging — wrinkles, fine lines, and hyper pigmentation.  it’s that one ingredient that even your dermatologist is using on their skin.  retinol products can be extremely difficult to use due to the side effects — peeling, sensitivity, dryness, and general discomfort.  retinol is available in a variety of products from drugstore to ultra luxury brands and prescription-strength, but the ordinary has created a next-generation retinoid (a kind of derivative of retinol) that is designed to reduce that sensitivity while still being effective.  because my skin is so sensitive, i’ve only been using this product about twice a week (only at night); however, i’ve already noticed a difference.  the day after i use it, my skin feels incredibly smooth and is visibly improved.  i’ve yet to experience any peeling or dryness as a result of this product.  and the best part is it’s incredibly affordable.  i bought a lot of the ordinary’s products and will do a more in-depth review once i’ve used them for a longer period of time, but this item was an instant hit!  please note: retinoids increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, so if you order this product, please use a sunscreen the day after you use it — always!
cost per ounce: $9.80
total cost: $9.80 for 30ml

drunk elephant c-firma day serum
as you may or may not know, vitamin c is a very well-researched ingredient that has powerful positive effects on your skin; it’s known to increase brightness/”glow,” can reduce hyperpigmentation, and is able to improve the appearance of sun damage.  this serum is a 15% concentration of ascorbic acid, which is a very potent (albeit unstable) form of vitamin c.  vitamin c is highly unstable in general, and must be properly stored and kept unexposed to air; the packaging of the serum appears to keep this in mind (it should be noted that you should be wary of any vitamin c product that is packaged in a clear vessel or that uses a dropper).  the addition of ferulic acid adds additional defense for your skin and stability for the several other antioxidant ingredients (including pumpkin!), hyaluronic acid (a well-known hydrator), and marula oil (a signature oil for the brand – also a hydrator), results in a very well-rounded serum suitable to dry or normal skin (because of the oil, oilier skin types may find it too heavy).  it’s pricey but overall is very well-formulated, so the price seems appropriate.  i took the plunge when sephora was running their 10% off event, so it softened the blow.  i’ve not been using it for that long, but i notice a difference instantly upon application, and am looking forward to long-term benefits.  i have a feeling this will become a staple that i will repurchase.  i use this during the day, under makeup, and with spf.
cost per ounce: $80
total cost: $80 for 1 oz.

that’s a wrap, folks! ➸

many thanks for reading!
hope y’all are enjoying my beauty posts. would love to know your thoughts in the comments!

➳ alyssa

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