When I hit 30, I got a fresh set of wrinkles and a bonus streak of gray hair. I kid you not. I started to take skincare more seriously and then got a little obsessed. I use a mix of natural and very un-natural products. If it’s on this list, I adore it. To use a skincare term, these are my Holy Grail items.
REASONABLY PRICED ITEMS
Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water … This is my favorite first cleanse. I don’t like oils or balms as I feel like I can’t fully get them off my face. But this removes makeup so well (even mascara!) and primes my skin for a water-based second cleanse.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser … This is a fantastic second cleanse that I’ve used for over a year. You don’t need anything fancy, just this guy.
Dr. Brenner Vitamin C Serum … I don’t love using Vitamin C serum because they are all pretty sticky. I just don’t love the texture. But it’s so good for your skin, so I persist. This one is so affordable and has everything a good Vitamin C serum needs: L-Asorbic acid + Ferulic acid.
Australian Gold Sunscreen SPF 50 … This goes on smooth, absorbs wonderfully, sits great underneath makeup, and has a great tint.
A313 Retinol … Potent and effective. Weird, Vaseline-like consistency that grows on ya. You don’t need much!
Cerave Skin Renewing Night Cream … It’s super thick and super moisturizing.
DHC Lip Cream … This is the best, most moisturizing lip balm I’ve ever found. Fight me on it. 2021 Edit: This one is really good too and much cheaper.
IF MY BUDGET WAS ONE MILLION DOLLARS
Tatcha Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser … I didn’t want to love such a fancy brand. But I really, really do. It smells amazing, gently exfoliates, and leaves my skin SO SOFT.
SK-II Pitera Essence … Pro tip: buy the small bottle first, see if you like it, and then buy this at Costco. The $200 price might scare you away, but it’s a gigantic bottle and will last you an entire year, even if you use it twice a day (like I do).
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum … Confession: I’ve never bought this because wow, it’s expensive. A client gifted it to me once though and I can’t wait to use it every day when I become a millionaire. If you have the $, this is the Vitamin C serum to buy.
Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet … What a name amiright? But this is almost like a whipped moisturizer. It’s light and fluffy and goes on so smooth and soft. Unfortunately, it’s worth every penny.
Dr. Dennis Gross Daily Peel … I use the extra strength and only use this on nights I don’t use the retinol above. They are one of my bougie-est products and I’m not ashamed.
Algenist Liquid Collagen … This product smells SO good. It’s vegan and it’s not an active so you can use it alongside retinol and it won’t make your skin react. The bottle is annoying, but I don’t care. This is definitely only one I treat myself to occasionally.
Curology … This is a personalized system where a dermatologist makes a customized retinol formula for your skin. I love it.
WHAT I WILL NOT LIVE WITHOUT
Elta MD Sunscreen … This is the only sunscreen I’ve found that doesn’t pill when layered on other products and doesn’t leave behind a white film. It’s phenomenal and I wear it every single day.
Babelash Essential Serum … Perhaps my most vainglorious product (it makes your lashes grow crazy fast and long). But I love it nonetheless. I buy the mini size and it lasts for months.
Le Volume de Chanel … Once you have fabulously long lashes from the serum above, all you’ll need is volume. This bad boy will give it to you. A $5 dupe that I love too!
The Brow Multi-Tasker … My sister drew in my eyebrows for the first time in 2014. I told her I looked like Bert + Ernie, simultaneously. Then I realized that I wanted to look like them and I’ve used this magical tool every day since. 2021 Edit: I found a $7 dupe that I adore!
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer … Is this even makeup? It’s basically moisturizer, but in my world, it’s foundation.
Elf Camo Concealer … It will take me 6 years to make it through this $6 bottle of under-eye concealer
NARS blush in Orgasm … Listen, don’t kill the messenger. I didn’t name it, I just know it’s exactly as good as it sounds.
DERMAL Collagen Face Masks … Yes, I buy the pack of 16. Yes, I love all of them.
Collagen Eye Masks … These are literal pennies for each one. And they work!
Indie Lee Blemish Lotion … This stuff is pink and clay-like and you cannot hide that you are wearing it. But mannnnn it works on pimples.
COSRX Acne Patches … It’s super gross, but these pull out the gross stuff out of pimples while you sleep. That’s just the truth.
Oh haaaaai. I have to legally tell you that some of these are affiliate links and I get a lil kickback from Amazon if you buy them. Most of the products on this list actually don’t make me any money, but a few do. This is more about me giving you my favorite things than it is about me making money. Promise. Love you, mean it.