Favorites of 2016


This year was a bit of a weird one for me product-wise. I tried a lot. Like a lot. I haven’t posted as much as I should have, so that’ll be a resolution! Anyway, There were a few items that got repurchased because they worked (and because I enjoyed using them). Then there were things that worked, but I just didn’t enjoy them and of course things that didn’t click with me at all (see some here and I’ll post some others). Here are items that have been repurchased once or more this year:


I have gone through so many First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum bottles that I’ve lost count. I tried to cheat with other HA serums, but nah. I really enjoy this one. It has the plumping and light moisture of an HA and aloe infused gel plus the calming of oatmeal. Speaking of oatmeal, I also went through several travel sized pots of Tatcha’s Triple Recovery Soothing Cream. Then I came to my senses, sucked it up, and sprang for the full size. Read about both of these in my Ode to Oatmeal post.

My number one oil find of the year, and only facial oil repurchased this year is Laurel Whole Plant Organics Sun Repair Facial Serum. It is a gorgeous blend of oils that does what it says on the label. It’s a pleasure to use–warmly scented, moisturizing, gentle yet effective. I accidentally lost half of my second bottle to a spill, so I decanted it into a roller bottle. I am not going to waste a single drop. Never again! Read my review here.

I spent much of the year being a cleanser floozy–especially with balms and cream cleansers. And you know what? I don’t like cleansing balms in tubs all that much. They feel too heavy. So I used up a bunch of stuff and and stuck with a trio made up of two long time faves and one new comer. My long-time first cleanse love, Tatcha One-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. In writing this, I realized I never reviewed it. How is that possible? This iconic cleansing oil feels lovely and as you massage it in, it breaks down all of your makeup–including mascara. You can splash it off, but I converted to the washcloth method this year so I wipe it away with a muslin cloth. The newbie that stuck this year is Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel. I alternate it with the Tatcha. I also haven’t done a proper review, but the hype on this one is real. The gel melts into an oil, but somehow retains a bit of the heft of the gel without the waxy heaviness that I hate about balms. It has a delicate rose smell. It’s infused with vitamins and enzymes. I look forward to using it–it’s just pleasurable as skincare should be. For second cleanse: Yuli Halcyon. This powerful but delicate gel cleanser is the truth. I haven’t come across anything like it. Reviewed here.

I don’t have a favorite spray toner this year. I have tried quite a few and nothing has stolen my heart. However, I do want to give an honorable mention to Serozinc. I don’t use this every day, but when my skin is acting up, this puts it in check post haste. Totally deserving of its cult status.

I have quite a collection of masks at the moment. I only finished and/or repurchased two: Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask and Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. These both do what their names suggest. I would say the PTR mask is more powerful, but both live up to their reputations. I reviewed the TH mask here. I have been doing post mask special soothing with Skinceuticals Photo Corrective Gel. It’s anti-inflammatory, soothing, and cooling. I hate the thyme scent, but it works wonderfully.

Having never believed in facial scrubs, this year I felt maybe I needed one. It was going through a rough patch–literally, like my whole face was looking rough. I decided to splurge on the Oskia Micro Exfoliating Balm. It’s pretty freakin’ gorgeous. It is a balm that transforms into a scrubby milk and it leaves your skin soft and refined AF. It has ingredients you expect in a leave-on cream (vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, D & E; and minerals: MSM & zinc glycine, prebiotics, omegas 3, 6 & 9, rosehip, kukui nut, and sweet almond oil) but you scrub it in and wash it right down the drain because you’re fancy like that. But you use the least amount possible each time because you’re not that damn fancy.

Haircare and Bodycare

I am going to start with another cult product, Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray. It costs a ton, but this cross between dry shampoo and voluminizing hairspray is worth it. Sorry, it just is. If you know of an affordable dupe, let me know!

So to take the sting out of that wildly expensive fave, I am going to tell you that Say Yes to Carrots Shampoo and Conditioner are great. They are cheap, free of many nasties (but not organic) and work well on my normal to oily hair. Body oils are an easy category to spend a lot of money on–there are so many gorgeous options, especially in green beauty. My fave is Weleda Sea Buckthorn Body Oil. It has a lovely citrus scent, is very moisturizing and I think it has a firming effect. Best of all, it’s pretty affordable.

I am loving reading and watching everyone’s faves. I may do a makeup post…we shall see!

Laurel Whole Plant Organics Sun Damage Repair Facial Serum


Hey! It’s been awhile. I have been trying lots of stuff and am catching up on telling you about it, beginning with  Laurel Whole Plant Organics Sun Damage Repair Facial Serum. It was the August selection for Beauty Heroes subscribers–a great deal as you got the full sized bottle for $39 versus $88 and it came with a sample of their body oil and a mask.

I finished the first bottle of serum and am on bottle two (and I bought a third and gave it to my sister). So clearly, I think this is an excellent oil, er serum. It is one of those products that does what it says–repair. Within about about 2 months, it significantly lightened sun damage on my cheeks. I had one spot–about the size of a finger print on my right cheek. As I used the oil, I began to discern that the spot was actually a cluster of spots, not one big spot. With use of the serum and religious use of sunscreen, the individual parts of the whole became smaller and lighter–to the point that I don’t see the big spot. I barely see the little ones. I got that result by using it every night in the summer. The directions say to use it day and night, but I stuck with my Drunk Elephant C-Firma in the day (it has the vitamin C feulic acid combo that I think helps sunscreen work better and it is a lighter oil). When using the Laurel Sun Repair Serum every night this summer, I pretty much skipped acids and other retinol-based products. This has oils that contain vitamin A, so it does help with turnover and renewal. The serum kept my face hydrated, bright, and soft. I think it has enough heft to really tackle dry winter skin too, so it is still.

This contains a gorgeous blend of oils and has a light, warm sandalwood scent.  Here is what is in it:

Jojoba Oil*, Rosehip Seed Oil*, Red Raspberry Seed Oil*, Almond Oil*, Sesame Oil*, Sea Buckthorn Oil*, Cranberry Seed Oil˚, Pumpkin Seed Oil*, Red Grape Seed Oil*, Tamanu Oil*, Rosemary Extract*; in-house biodynamic proprietary blend of Scarlet Pimpernel*, Calendula*, Gotu Kola*, Licorice*, Bilberry Fruit*, Comfrey*, Chamomile*, Red Clover*, Marshmallow*, Rosehip Fruit*, Nettle*, Horsetail*; essential oil blend of Sandalwood*, Carrot Seed*, Helichrysum*, Cistus*

* certified organic

The Not Repurchasing List


I am on yet another mission to finish things and in doing so, I have identified several things I don’t plan on buying again. In this post, I am going to focus on why they didn’t quite work for me. In every single case, there are other products in the ranges of these brands that I love. So, this isn’t about hating on any brand, because most of these have rave reviews, but we all have different preferences and skin type.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer (1,7 oz, 25) I purchased this after trying and really liking Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser. This is a light, fluffy lotion. It is hydrating and greaseless. All things I love. The problem? It eats up my makeup. It lasts half as long if I wear this underneath.

January Labs Restorative Tonic Mist (4 oz, $24) I purchased this because of Caroline Hirons. She makes me do things. This is loaded with really nice ingredients and is clean (aloe, rose calendula). Nice right? The problem: It is stingy. I think it’s the lime oil. I love citrus scents, but I am learning that it just doesn’t work in my skincare.

Andalou Naturals Lemon Creamy Cleanser (6 oz, $12.95) Somehow I forgot that I really didn’t like the Andalou Illuminating Toner. Why? Stingy. Citrus. As as cleanser it work–gets makeup right off with a wet washcloth. But I hate the way it feels, especially around the eyes.

Sunday Riley Tidal Enzyme Water Cream (1.7 oz, $65) I purchased this to use as a light moisturizer in the summer. It is ok. That’s pretty much all I can say about it. I didn’t notice anything special in terms of plumping, hydrating or brightening. There are just too many other things I reach for. I keep forgetting to use it.

Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum (1 oz, $230) I have had this for awhile. It is the most expensive of the bunch–I purchased it on sale and with a gift card to cover about half the cost and it was still pricey. That alone will keep me from repurchasing. However: this stuff works. Of all of the products in this post this one did its thing after just one application. I saw brighter skin immediately. It has a light, lotiony texture that I like a lot. It also has a strong scent like many TH products. The problem? If I use it on consecutive days, I break out. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. There are tons of ingredients in it.