December 13, 2020

SKINCARE Favorites 2020 - What to do when our skin is stressed out?

This year had been a heck of a ride - from getting my PayPal hacked to receiving spoof/phishing emails, getting impersonated online, dealing with Instagram/social media scammers and finally an enforcement notice from Adsense! I guess I have seen all kinds of stress that a blogger can imagine! Oh yes and the pandemic we are all living in, is an all encompassing stressor which has exposed how misinformation, fear and panic affects our society and changes consumer behaviour across the globe. Until last year, I was keen on recycling and questioned every bit of plastic or non-paper packaging for my beauty products but this year disposables were on my mind. Using alcohol sanitizers, when I always use non alcoholic ones (yes that is a thing, in case you are wondering :D) and what the heck is the difference between the microorganisms they can kill?! 

In all this uncertainty and anxiety my skin suffered the most. I would workout on most days, go for a run, talk to my friends and family and above all, sanitize everything with wipes and disinfectant sprays often exposing my hands and face to irritants and abrasive chemicals. I also washed myself everyday - because COVID misinformation was/is real! After returning home from groceries, dental appointment, workout routine or even after just a walk around the neighbourhood, I felt the need to shower with an aim for removing any germs that might have been caught in my pores, my hair or anywhere on my body!!! 

My skin suffered this abuse and it did not like it - it reacted! This post is about all the skincare products, I used throughout 2020 and how my skin went through phases of healing, irritation, pores to being poreless and finally at a happy place. 

This year I had to get my skincare products online from Sephora or from the grocery store. Since Sephora is in a shopping mall which is a bit far from my house, I avoid at all costs. I literally did not visit any big shopping centres this year and shopped at stores closest to my house.. also because I have to browse around a lot more in a major shopping mall which means more exposure and wearing masks longer - and the longer I wear a mask, the more maskne I get - so I limited my shopping time. 

Grocery Store Skincare Favorites 2020
Let's begin with my picks from the grocery store to cleanse and soothe my face. Most of these were purchased in a rush and after only checking the label for sensitive skin, so I can be sure it won't break me out. 

NEUTROGENA Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser

This became my favorite facewash and now I can not imagine ever not using this. This has a non drying, non irritating formula that is designed for sensitive skin. I have switched between the creamy formula and the foaming formula this year and currently I am using the foaming formula. I love both of them but I prefer the foaming formula just a touch bit better because I love the foam on my skin! I know that is so weird and something I still need to train myself to do because surfactants can be drying but this cleanser by Neutrogena cleanses skin without leaving it feeling dry. I absolutely love it and I have used this for over nine months now, so that means it really is amazing!! 

GARNIER Micellar Water

Though I am not a huge fan of using cotton pads to remove my makeup and I actually don't even use makeup wipes any longer, because I started to feel that it irritated my skin. I love my cleansing oils for effectively removing waterproof makeup but when I ran out of it, I had a hard time removing my mascara. 

So even though Bioderma Sensibio would be my first preference but at my local Walmart I found this Garnier Micellar Water. It works just as good as my favorite Bioderma Sensibio and it costs just $9 so I did not think twice before getting it. I hate using a cotton pad to use the Micellar Water but its effective for removing makeup, so I can deal with that, and then I wash with the Neutrogena Cleanser, even though no rinse is required, but over-washing habits are hard to break. 

So this Garnier Micellar Water is another amazing skincare product I discovered this year, which I will continue repurchasing.  

COPPERTONE Pure & Simple Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50

Sunscreen is a huge deal for me and my favorite is the one from Vichy called Ideal Soleil SPF 50 which is a matte finish, does not give a white cast and is fairly water resistant. I would get it any day from Shoppers Drugmart but when the pandemic hit, I had to pick which stores I wanted to line up outside for. And grocery stores always won, because food is essential!!

I grabbed Coppertone Pure & Simple Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50 during one of my summer grocery shopping frenzy where I had to brave the long line ups and had to, like HAD to get a sunscreen for myself. I did not expect much from this and it's not exactly how my dream sunscreen would be. 

This is a mineral sunscreen and it gives me the whitest glow on my face ever. I try to use a decent amount of sunscreen on my face and neck for maximum protection and it does make me look like a ghost. If I put on my tinted lip balm with this, then I look like the geisha - just kidding! I hope you got what I mean. 

In terms of performance, I feel this sunscreen is superior to a lot of the others I have tried before. It protects me from sun burns and it does not dry out my skin as much as other sunscreens do. It also has a good SPF 50 and it does not turn greasy over the day. I usually do reapply every couple of hours if I can remember :P but when I out hiking I am guilty of not reapplying as frequently as I should. 

Overall, I like this readily available, non irritating, non clogging sunscreen for my face.

Aloe Gel

With all the sun exposure, due to all the extra hikes I did this Summer and Fall, I needed something to soothe my skin from all the heat and sun. This aloe gel was actually recommended by my doctor who saw the redness on my skin and recommended that an aloe gel will soothe it. 

This product contains alcohol and that is why I wouldn't recommend this as a must have, but for some reason this cooling, soothing gel did wonders for the redness on my face after sun exposure. It literally calmed my skin down and on some days during the lockdown, this was the only skincare product I used! 

Shop my Grocery Store Favorites

Sephora Skincare Favorites 2020
One thing I learnt this year is I do not need a lot of skincare products to get results. I am sharing my favorite products but I do not recommend using them all in one routine. I have used these throughout the year and have changed skincare products as my needs changed. These are recommendations based on my experience and how I tried to nourish my skin during a pandemic when I did not have quick access to beauty products and did not want to spend too much on skincare. 

FRESH Soy Cleanser

The year started with me using Fresh Soy Cleanser but when the pandemic hit Canada, I was out of a cleanser! I still had my micellar water and my face scrub, so I still felt I could go on for a few days! But the lockdown wasn't days! It was weeks, that turned into months of long lineups and delayed parcels, hence Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Cleanser entered my life and I will never overspend on a face wash. If you are still ordering from Sephora, then Fresh Soy Cleanser is great for all skin types and gives me the freshest, cleanest skin ever! 

REN Daily AHA Toner

I used up my Jack Black Scrub by mid of 2020 (and I wont recommend it for sensitive skin) and found a 50ml bottle of this REN Daily AHA toner, sitting in my samples box. I got it for free from Sephora with one of my orders, and I thought "this must clean my pores", so I can use it before I decide where and which facial exfoliant I should get.
During this year, I tried hard to keep my pores clean, but the lack of a professional facial treatment negatively affected my skin health. Though I still had my Dr. Dennis peeling pads which I finished a few months ago, I started using the REN AHA toner, after cleansing every night. 
The results were cleaner, tighter pores. I am planning to get a full size of this once I am done with my current favorite routine of Guerlain Abeille Royale

KORRES Petal Soft Cream Exfoliator

This is a relatively new product in my routine and I am currently using it. I exfoliate with the Korres Petal Soft Cream Exfoliator twice a week and I love the results on me. It just sloughs away any dead skin that just needs a gentle push. I love how soft and smooth my skin feels after using it and even though it smells like roses, it did not break me out. I love it! 
Remember when I shared how badly Tatcha's Deep Clean affected my skin. My face was a red bumpy, pimple ridden mess! I am so happy I recognized quickly that its Tatcha's Deep Clean that caused acne and irritation on my face and after my skin healed, I moved to this gentle face scrub by Korres.

GUERLAIN Abeille Royale Routine - Toner, Watery Youth Oil and Double R Serum

After cleansing my skin, I hydrate with Guerlain Abeille Royale Lotion Toner which instantly adds hydration and nourishment to my skin. I follow with a gentle massage of Youth Watery Oil and the Double R Serum. You can read my full review here. The Guerlain Double R Serum has a gentle peel in it which helps in keeping pores clean and I have noticed a major difference in pore size on my face. It looks almost poreless if I  remove all the peach fuzz. 
I love this routine which I perform in the morning and the evening. Guerlain Abeille Royale products are expensive and may not fit every budget, but I started using these in October and I have only used about 20% of the Lotion Toner and 10% of the Youth Watery Oil and about half of the Double R Serum. So I think it will last me another 6 months which makes it worth the price tag because I really do not need anything else after these three products on my skin!

ESTEE LAUDER Advanced Night Repair

If I could pick one serum for the rest of my life it would be the Estee Lauder ANR. Its so worth the price and it gives that skin that clarity and radiance which few products can help achieve. I can't decide if I love the Guerlain Double R Serum more or the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum. These are both amazing products but I would say pick one or the other. Do not layer on serums unnecessarily because too much of a good product is also a bad thing. 
I only use as needed and find that a dropper of the Estee Lauder ANR is enough for my entire face and neck. This serum is not as moisturizing as the Guerlain Double R Serum so I have to layer on a night cream like my favorite La Prairie Skin Caviar Cream or a face oil when I use this. 

I keep the Estee Lauder ANR routine separate from my Guerlain Routine. If I am using Guerlain Abeille Royale in the morning, I would use the ANR at night. 

CAUDALIE Vinosource Night Oil, SOS Serum and Moisturizing Sorbet

I shared this routine during summer time this year, when my skin was thirsty and needed a boost of hydration. You can catch up on my reviews here for SOS serum , click here for Overnight Oil and here for the Moisturizing Sorbet
I absolutely loved this routine for more humid, hotter days as these products tend to mattify my skin while keeping it hydrated. I would love to follow this routine again in summers or if I go on a tropical vacation (dreaming). 

PEACE OUT Wrinkle - Retinol Patches

This year I also noticed some extra lines on my face and though I had been using antiaging products, I still hand not added a retinol to my skincare routine because every retinol cream would break me out. I felt that this product is a great way to introduce retinol to a targeted area on my face. A little bit more research led me to understand that I should use retinol on targeted area and not all over my face. May be that was the reason why I got those breakouts in the first place. 
Anyways, so these Retinol Patches by Peace Out did show some results! They softened my forehead line, which I noticed in every sunny photo I took. I did a detailed review here, if you would like to read more. 
After using these patches, I got a 0.5% prescription tretinoid from the dermatologist and added that to my routine (I know that way too low but anything higher gives me flaky skin so I am slowly building tolerance). I used it only on my forehead and even though I can still see that line, it is not as obvious as it was. 

Shop my Sephora Favorites 

Body Care Favorites 
Olive Oil 

I literally did not use any fancy body care products this year. The pandemic taught me that good old olive oil is great as an all over body lotion and since I 'do' have a little extra time now after shower, I slather olive oil all over my skin. I never over apply and a little goes a long way. I have been using it for the past 8 months now and my skin feels amazing. 
I also realized that unlike coconut oil or any other oils, olive oil is fairly non greasy and does not transfer to clothing! It does have a scent though, but in my pjs, I really don't care and I always apply a deodorant and a perfume if I change into something nice for heading out to the groceries. :P  

Petroleum Jelly 

This works as good as my favorite L'occitane Shea Butter and the L'occitane Hand Balm!  Ever since I started using Shea Butter on my hands and feet, I had never looked back, until - you guessed it -the world started to change. I love that petroleum jelly has no other ingredients than just petroleum. 
I always get the unscented original version and apply this to my hands, elbows, lips and feet, after shower and before going to bed. I often apply petroleum jelly before wearing socks and it keeps all the moisture locked in, so my heels are nice and soft all the time! I also use a pumice stone and foot brush to exfoliate my feet once a week in the shower, or after a bath, so it removes all the dead skin.  
I never over apply because Petroleum Jelly because it is sort of a gross sticky feeling, but since it protects my hands and feet, its totally worth it. I would highly recommend that if you are a petroleum jelly hater, like I was, give this affordable option a try and you will be so happy to see how it helps your skin from losing moisture throughout the day and keeps it looking hydrated and youthful.   

Okay so I guess I am done with all the skincare favorites for this year. You might have noticed that I did not include a face mask, which I religiously used until 2019 and a lip balm. That's because I really did not feel I need those for myself anymore. If I layer on petroleum jelly at night and wear a lipstick during the day, then there is no need for a lip balm. I still do love my L'occitane and Burt's Bees lipbalm, but its no longer a must have for me. Maybe things will change and I will be wowed by some amazing innovations in skincare, but during this extremely painful and stressful year, these are the skincare products that helped my skin recover from all kinds of stressors, they are what I used and loved and would highly recommend you all to try. 

When our skin is under stress due to the environment or excessive use of household cleaners, sanitizers or even when our mind is agitated and we keep touching our face causing breakouts, its best to pause and rethink your habits and skincare routine. Simple acts of drinking more water, going out for a run, taking to a loved one on the phone or video call, taking the time to massage your face and/or body after a shower, help release anxiety. Whenever we make an effort to calm ourselves down and believe that everything will be okay, most of the time everything does become okay! Or at least we develop the emotional strength to face it with dignity and strength.  

Take care of yourself and your skin! 

Spot any favorites? 

Share yours with me :) 

Happy Holidays!!

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