Style

What Beauty Products Are Worth a Splurge?

Caroline Donofrio

Here’s mine…

Like my beloved Skin Food, I had seen Tata Harper’s Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask praised everywhere. But I was unmoved. It wasn’t fun, like a lipstick. It wasn’t an everyday necessity, like a cleanser. “Eh,” I thought, and walked on.

Fast forward to one particularly low, rainy evening when I heard the siren song of self-care beckoning my name. I found myself in that most dangerous delightful of places: wandering the skincare aisle, in search of magic in a jar. “Psst,” said the mask. “Over here.” The glass jar felt weighty in my palm. I was intrigued.

Apparently, this mask would slough off dead skin cells, to reveal smoother, brighter skin. It would also cleanse and refine pores. I have skin, I reasoned. I have pores. “Fine!” I said, to no one. “I’ll try it.” 

And oh my goodness, what a mask. 

It may sound like a tall order, but this stuff really feels like an at-home facial in a jar. I start by washing my face twice, to make sure I remove any last traces of makeup and everyday grime, then slather on the mask. The formula goes on relatively clear, so you won’t frighten any members of your household. After 20 minutes, you rinse it off, and say hello to your new face. I noticed a difference — softer, brighter, glowier skin — after my very first use.

The real beauty of this mask lies not just in its ability to do as it promises, but also in its versatility. Yes, it does wonders if you apply it to your entire face. But it is also a brilliant spot treatment. When it feels like an evil underground pimple is threatening to emerge, I’ll wear a dab of this overnight and it stops it in its tracks.

What beauty products do you splurge on?

P.S. The one beauty product I always finish and the $18 hair tool I swear by.

Note: If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We recommend only products we genuinely like. Thank you so much.

  1. Safflower oil (for oil cleansing my face and using as moisturizer), cocoa butter and jojoba oil (melted together and resolidified in a roll-up tube for lotion), and a Sol à mer hat (with SPF) to wear all summer when outside walking to/from work, etc. I’m also enjoying hydrating oil sprays (I have two: Italian helichrysum and rosemary) and feel like they have been helping my skin be less dry this winter.

  2. Bea says...

    The biggest splurge would be my Vitamix…… changing to a raw diet, at least 80% vegan, smoothies and salads and raw juice has made the biggest difference in my skin I have ever seen. It makes sense that nourishing the cells from the inside would be the best treatment. It was not the reason I went on this diet, it was hoping to clear up an infection. Not only did that succeed, but my skin cleared up amazingly, all impurities just got pushed out and it got firm, smooth and clear, so much so, that people comment! I’m 44 years old. I also lost weight and feel energized and light, and healthy. This diet is a keeper! I’m planning on learning to make my own skincare products with my Vitamix, but for now I use Taspen’s Organics, raw honey, orange blossom water and coconut oil. Also Helichrysum essential oil. Love rosehip seed oil, carrot seed oil, raspberry seed oil, apricot seed oil. Always use food grade, organic, cold pressed oil, as cosmetic grade is way lower quality. Best place to get them is high end ethnic spice stores, like Kalustian’s in NYC. Lots of good info, maybe especially for those with adult acne, is the blog Minimalist Beauty, she cleared up her own skin problems and now offers a ton of info and also sells her own skin oil. I also recommend a small diffuser next to your bed, it really helps skin and also sinuses. I use a Japanese bamboo wash cloth from Trader Joe’s to exfoliate my face, works great and only cost 5 bucks. A dash of apple cider vinegar in water makes a great toner, as it lowers the ph to a skin friendly, slightly acidic 5.4
    Looking and feeling good and healthy doesn’t have to be expensive, shallow or irresponsible, as some comments suggest. In fact, caring about our world and environment is not incompatible with caring about ourselves, in fact I’d argue the opposite. Being bitter and judgmental in my book is not very helpful… there’s a fine line, you can easily turn into the very thing you despise. Instead, let’s take pleasure in the good things in life and reach out a hand.

  3. Erin says...

    By far my biggest splurge is the Dr. Dennis Gross universal daily peel pads, extra strength. I started out using them every other day and became so addicted to the result that I switched to daily. The idea of spending ~2 bucks per day on a single product was driving me crazy, but then I saw a reviewer post that she cuts her pads in half so that each pack lasts two days. Genius!!

  4. Ivy says...

    Glossier super serums! It’s a splurge for me because they’re not available in my country so I still have to order from the US. But it’s so totally worth it. Runners-up: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask and Aesop Primrose Facial cleansing masque.

  5. Bre says...

    Biologique Recherche. Any and all of it, but especially Lotion P50 and Masque Vivant and Masque VIPO2. It is so expensive and smells awful, but it is the closest thing to magic that I have ever seen in skincare.

  6. LB says...

    Forget the skin products …where did you get that jacket??? LOVE IT!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      caroline says it’s topshop from a few years ago — i agree, it’s so great!

    • Jamie Sanders says...

      Ha that’s all I was wondering!!

  7. JessicaD says...

    So I feel a little ridiculous even posting this, but hey it’s a splurge and one that I do believe is worth it (at least to me) (and why the hell am I apologizing for this, even to myself? I am worth it!): I use prescription Retin-A on my face. My splurge is that I *also* use it on THE BACKS OF MY HANDS to prevent/repair wrinkles — AND IT WORKS. It makes me irrationally happy.

    • CB says...

      WHOA why have I not thought of this/done this!? Thanks for the tip!

    • Sarah says...

      Holy what?! Like CB said…why have I not thought of this? Ingenious, trying immediately. (Thank you!)

  8. Nicole Brant says...

    That Skin Food has lime and fragrance, both of which are bad for your skin.

    • Erin says...

      The fragrance is from essential oils (it specifies this). Weleda doesn’t ever use synthetic perfume/fragrance. And it has no lime, only limonene, a terpene from citrus which is not phototoxic.

  9. Emily White says...

    Oh my goodness, Caroline, that coat and sweater took. my. breath. away. Wow, so gorgeous and so beautiful on you!! Would you please email me and tell me where you got them? xo

  10. Kennedy says...

    Based in Vermont, the Tata Harper brand knows its nichethose who equate expensive with effective, and those who buy into the fear tactics that chemicals are bad and only all-natural ingredients are good. These beliefs are common misconceptions we have dealt with repeatedly over the years, and heres the quick summation: There are good and bad natural ingredients, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredientsand with skin care, expensive does not necessarily mean better.

    Tata Harper is a real person, who created her namesake line based on the concept that natural ingredients are 100% safe and that beauty products should be free of chemicals. The chemical- free rhetoric certainly isnt a new approach to marketing skin care, but the claim is nonsense, regardless of the company, because everything, from daisies to asphalt to water, is composed of chemicals but we march on.

    Harpers marketing appeal is the claim that she and her team grow most of their ingredients on their 12,000-acre Vermont farm. If the farm doesnt supply the ingredients they need, they have them shipped in, from all over the world. Their Vermont farm-laboratory is where the products are made, in small batches by hand. That sounds interesting until you realize that batches by hand is actually true of any cosmetic, made by any brand, as hands are always needed, and batch size is irrelevant. As Tata has grown, the size of the batches has grown as well. They formulate their products using botanicals that are free of toxins and biochemically compatible with our skin. If those claims sound vaguely fertilizer-worthy, you are on the right track.

    It is important to understand how misleading the free of toxins claim is. A toxin refers to a poison, like real poisons (think snake venom, which, incidentally, is 100% natural); cosmetic ingredients are not toxins. Biocompatibility just means that a substance doesnt harm living tissue; that is, its compatible with it, rather than incompatible. Biocompatibility has nothing to do with whether or not a substance is natural in origin. For example, pacemakers are biocompatible in that they keep your heart beating without harming your body, but they certainly are not natural; on the other hand, snake venom and cyanide are both completely natural, but they certainly are not biocompatible.

    Of course, many natural ingredients do benefit skin, but many natural ingredients also are a problem for skin, including such seemingly innocuous ingredients as lavender and peppermint. Synthetic ingredients, like retinol or peptides, can be wonderfully beneficial for skin, so, ideally, the best products will contain a mix of proven beneficial natural and synthetic ingredients. When evaluating any ingredient, we always consider what the published, peer-reviewed research has shown to be beneficial or detrimental for your skin, whether its natural or not.

    Despite the science-y-sounding claims and phrases Tata Harper uses in their marketing materials, most of it is a smoke screen. (They stop just short of promising cosmetic surgerylike results from flowers and essential oils.) What this translates into is a collection of products that are so fragranced they can be mistaken for perfume. Each contains a mix of standard plant-based moisturizing agents (think olive oil, shea and mango butters, and other plant-based fatty acids) along with plant oils or extracts that are proven skin irritants, which is bad news for you!

    Tata Harper repeatedly describes their ingredients as actives, as in Active Natural Ingredients, which is a misuse of the term. Actives refers only to ingredients regulated as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as sunscreen actives, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid acne treatments, hydroquinone skin lighteners, and others. Outside of this standard, the phrase active ingredients is completely meaningless, because all cosmetic ingredients (even water) will exert some sort of action on the skin.

    Like all of Harpers products, they state that their products contain Fragrances from 100% natural clinical grade essential oils, but there isn’t any such classification or standard for essential oils. These ingredients are little more than fragrance, and fragrance isnt skin care. Perfume can be wonderful when selectively placed behind the ears and on the pulse points, but applied all over the face its 100% irritating for all skin types just about 100% of the time.

    The bottom line? The Tata Harper line is an overall disappointment, especially if you have common concerns such as acne, rosacea, dark spots, enlarged pores, or sun damage. And their prices are bizarre$45 for a 0.5 ounce bottle of rosewater, olive oil, and jojoba oil is not worth the cost, not by any stretch. We are not against natural ingredients, but if youre looking to use natural products, this line isnt the way to go.

    • Nicole Brant says...

      Way to drop the truth bomb! 👏🏻

    • Kristina says...

      Thanks for the excellent comment!

    • Min says...

      Appreciate your informative comment!

    • bonnie cohen says...

      This was so informative and interesting. You sound very knowledgeable about the beauty biz. What lines and products do you use and/or like?

    • Whoa. Has your research lead you to a product that is effective in treating skin with rosacea? I keep looking for my holy grail product but so far no luck.

    • Kennedy says...

      I am a huge fan of Paula’s Choice, which I discovered when I was still in school and my mum still bought Paula Begoun’s books. I struggled for awhile to find anything that made a difference in my skin and I was so frustrated whenever I bought something that made huge claims and never delivered. I felt like I was the one who wasn’t ‘working’, ya know. Then I stumbled upon “Don’t go to the cosmetics counter without me” by Paula Begoun, in the basement. First I just used it to find good quality products that a teenager could afford at the drug store. Eventually I decided to actually read the pages before the reviews and wow, I am happy I did. It was honestly a wealth of information and completely life changing.
      I was so impressed that I decided to look into Paula’s own product line.
      That was ten years ago. I haven’t gone a day without using something PC.
      Their website is easy to navigate and offers products for just about any skincare concern (at reasonable prices too! Imagine that) The literature for every individual product is broken down in layman’s terms, but also has citations from medical journals etc. Their brand doesn’t test on animals and has a growing focus on sustainability which are huge pluses. It’s impossible not to educate yourself when on the website.
      The other great thing about Paula’s Choice is that they have an affiliate website (beautypedia) that rates other brands using the same standards they use on their own products (just like her old books did) That goes for both skincare AND makeup. I have found many a drug store gem because of their unbiased reviews! They have an ingredient dictionary which can really come in handy and their customer review section can be very helpful as well.
      I know this may sound cult-y and possibly that I work for them (I do not), but at the end of the day, the proof is in the results.
      Some other brands I’ve found major success with (because of beautypedia) are Drunk Elephant, E.L.F., The ordinary, Inkey List, SkinFix, among others.
      I encourage anyone on the fence to have a look :)
      https://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/skincare-advice

    • Lauryn says...

      Sorry – not to be a troll here but where did you find this info? I feel like this could potentially apply to all brands of natural skin care then? Why specifically call out Tata Harper? Is this research readily available for people to look into? I only use natural products and do my best to research all the brands but it seems to me that if Tata Harper is such a poor line claiming to be better than they are then what can be said for Acure, cocokind, and the likes?

      I am not trying to suggest that you have not done your research or don’t know what you are talking about but I am curious – why Tata Harper specifically? They seem to be a higher end of natural skin care, which I think the market lacks actually given that most things can be found at Whole Foods and can be argued on their effectiveness.

      I’m no expert but felt compelled to just push and dig a little bit deeper when reading this because some of your claims seem to be a bit broad and vague, given that most natural skin care lines claim the same about essential oils and natural and locally sourced ingredients.

  11. Olga de la Fuente says...

    Forget the beauty products. I want Caroline’s coat/jacket! Could you tell me where it’s from?
    xxx

  12. The TATA Harper resurfacing glow mask seems to be working pretty swell for you. Even I have a similar kind of obsession when it comes to splurging on beauty products and i like to spend on Ayurvedic products.

  13. Kim Gray says...

    I got a bottle of Sunday Riley Good Genes for Christmas and am really loving it. I’m pregnant and my hormones have sent my skin spiraling out of control but after a month of consistent use, I’m starting to see things clear up and even out. I also love Aesop products, my favorite are the Fabulous Face Oil and the Camilla Nut Moisturizer. Plus it’s always worth shopping in store for how relaxing it is, plus the free samples!

  14. Kristen says...

    I suppose splurge products look different for each of us depending upon budget and overall perspective. A splurge for me is Sunday Riley Luna Oil (Acure has a nice Blue Tansy dupe though), Drunk Elephant Protini Cream and Korres Golden Krocus serum. I also agree with Caroline on the resurfacing mask–amazing and a personal fave. Beautycounter overnight resurfacing peel is also great!

  15. Mahalo’s Unveil balm cleanser. First, it does the trick and removes any trace of my makeup. Second, it leaves my skin feeling moisturized, and third – THE SMELL. It is just heavenly. It’s a splurge, but a little goes a long way, and I adore it.

    The other is Hurraw’s Moon Balm. I have never run out of a balm and always had many of them littering bags. Hurraw’s Moon Balm is replaced any time I’m nearly out, and I bought my husband his own as well. It is moisturizing without being heavy, and it’s perfect on your nightstand.

    I joined Beauty Heroes a couple of years ago, and discovering clean, sustainable skincare is absolutely one of my favorite things.

  16. Elizabeth Velasquez says...

    Every three months I get a Clear & Brilliant laser treatment. Works wonders for my sensitive, rosacea prone skin

  17. c says...

    i’m enjoying these intelligent and personal comments on how we approach beauty. i air on the side of no chemicals – dr bronners bar soap, witch hazel as toner and coconut oil as moisture. i also try to eat very healthy and have cut down on alcohol. i’m 35 and i’m beginning to really see and feel myself age. it’s terrifying and sometimes i wants to dive into the world of products and treatments to stop it from happening and other times i want to be a witness and see what happens to my face with out any interference, lol! i feel like i’m in for a wild ride either way.

    • jen says...

      SAME! It’s crazy, isn’t it, those conflicting feelings. From what I understand, many of the products out there that seem to be effective are so because they keep the deeper layers of your skin *inflamed*, which appears as plumping on the surface. And although it’s not invasive or a neurotoxin, it doesn’t seem great to create inflammation either. It is most definitely a wild ride, female middle age. :)

    • Min says...

      I love your attitude. It resonates and reminds me to be positive and curious despite feeling worried : ) Thank you for sharing!

  18. Megan says...

    Not a product, but a service – I get a good facial every calendar quarter. I have large pores that are prone to clogging, and my aesthetician fixes everything! Makes lots of products unnecessary and is tailored to suit my individual skin.

    • sarah says...

      I want to do this! Any advice on how to find a GOOD facialist?

  19. Gaby says...

    Lytera 2.0
    My skin looks so good next day – glowy and plumped.

    (Love a good beauty edit!!)

  20. Clare says...

    None. The beauty industry exists to make money not because it works or is needed. I’m sad how many comments this post has compared to others.

    • Ker says...

      Clare I feel the same way about the beauty industry!

      But from all the comments, it clearly brings others a (bafflingly) large amount of happiness. So it can’t be all bad. And how is my indulgence in dark chocolate or wine any better or worse than her indulgence in some pricey cream? I think we can just hope people try to reign in our environmentally detrimental indulgences (I just learned how carbon intensive chocolate is damn it) and aim for lessor evils as much as possible (fair trade? no animal testing! less wasteful packaging).

    • Sophia says...

      Some folks enjoy the feeling of a nice face mask or quality lotions. And this post doesn’t exist to shame other women about choices they make. It’s great you have an opinion that works for you. We are not all alike.

    • Clare says...

      Correct, Sophia. Lots of you care more about beauty products than the animals harmed in their testing, or the plastic waste created, or the icky chemicals contained in so many beauty products. That depresses me. I’m allowed to say that.

    • EL says...

      Wow, that was a rude response to Sophia. You absolutely should express your opinion (that’s what’s great about this space!) but so should everyone else and it’s rude to make assumptions about people you don’t even know based on their comments about what makes them happy. We all do things that are either great or terrible for the environment.

      For example, Tata Harper is certified cruelty free, so they do not test on animals and they calculate the resources that go into their products to make it as eco-friendly as possible. Is enjoyment of that worse than driving a car and contributing to emissions, or using antibiotics made by companies who contribute to the widespread use of pesticides and GMOs (referring specifically of the sale of Monsanto to Bayer)?

      Let’s educate each other about options rather than shaming each other.

    • Sasha L says...

      Clare, this is such a clear example of voluntary oppression in my opinion. Many women, in the affluent West especially, CHOOSE to participate in a capitalist system that exploits both the planet and animals, all to be more “beautiful”, a value that is completely arbitrary and destructive to the very people participating in the system. Does it make women happy? I think that’s just completely beside the point. When I think of what we women collectively could do with 1. The billions of dollars we spend on *beauty*, and 2. The TIME and effort, my gosh, it’s just completely depressing.

      As someone who actively enjoys not participating, I can tell you I have zero regrets. Letting go of chasing some ideal is completely freeing. Real happiness comes from other things, like being kind and caring. I call bull shit on the idea that *skin care* and beauty is self care. Real self care is dealing with your traumas, eating to nourish your body and spirit, moving your body to do same, sharing your love with others, caring for our collective home….. Not a flipping face mask.

      For those who say, to each their own… Sure. But your *happiness* has very real and detrimental costs for all of us. And for you, whether you are conscious of it or not.

    • Rebecca says...

      As someone with a chronic and deeply painful illness, my love for skincare and pretty lipsticks is part of the way I make peace with my body. Moisturising my skin, putting bright paint on my lips that too often are swallowing pain medication, are ways for my to find a bit of joy in interacting with a body that often harms me more than it carries me.

      I understand your point. I hope, too, that mine demonstrates that there are many different reasons that aren’t the obvious ones. I buy no products tested on animals, I buy in sustainable packaging and this process brings joy at some very hard times.

    • Lindsey says...

      I wish I had more eyes so I could roll all of them.

    • Doris says...

      So much yes to what Sasha L. said. So tired of seeing “self care” commodified.

    • Lauren says...

      Okay boomer

    • Emily says...

      There’s always a Clare to be quick to judge others and to virtue signal about their own superiority. The world we live in is complex and structured in ways that are largely beyond the control of individuals. For one, women live in an economy where looking good actually improves our employment outcomes and not all of us are privileged enough to be able to opt out of that. Further, we are all trying to do our best to limit our negative social and environmental impact in the world in such a vast number of ways (how do we shop, how do we engage politically, how do we raise our children, how do we respect difference in our daily lives, and so on) that I am 100% certain that the aggregate impact of your choices, even though you don’t care about a beauty routine, is no more or less than most other Cup of Jo readers.

    • Kathleen says...

      Try Deciem’s The Ordinary. Great stuff – low prices.

    • Dee says...

      I think we have a few more years to have commodity posts like this. Then it’s all going to change. Everything.

    • liz says...

      I agree with Sasha L here. No need for anyone to be defensive, just need to consider the facts (ie science, not testimony (because the placebo effect is real)) and properly assess what’s worth what

  21. Sasha L says...

    None.

    I don’t believe that bottles of this or that can make me, well, anything. I aim to be reasonably clean on any given day, and kind.

    Also, I care for and teach other people’s children for a living. This doesn’t afford “luxuries”, “splurges” (unless avocadoes count), or spending on anything that isn’t truly necessary. If we do have extra, I’m certainly not going to spend it on a promise in a bottle.

  22. Frannie says...

    I love Tata Harper products but read the ingredients carefully as some of the serums and moisturizers have silicone which I (and my skin) don’t love. But we are all different. The smell of each TH product really is transporting and feels spa-like. I also feel like I can’t justify spending so much (> $ 150 +) on their products unless it’s my birthday, which happens to be around their annual 20% sale off each July. Of her products I love the Purifying mask, oil cleanser, floral spray, and regenerating cleanser.
    Another organic brand that is also female-owned that I adore is May Lindstrom. Her products are the most unique-smelling (just amazingly intoxicating!) and her line is simple but thoughtful and includes all the basics except sun screen. I treat myself to one product a year from her line and have sampled about half her things. So far I loved The Honey Mud and am using The Jasmine Garden (witch hazel, oils, and the amazing smell – yes please!). Her face balm, The Blue Cocoon (received as a sample with purchase) is also the only (!) – and I’ve tried so many – face oil that does not break me out and in fact helps with early blemishes.
    May and Tata are both female entrepreneurs who built skincare companies to empower women and teach them that it’s ok to pamper yourself from time to time and it’s even better with non-toxic products that smell amazing and make you feel and look like a fresher version of your beautiful self. I love that they aren’t trying to “fix” me. They want to help me nourish my skin and body.

  23. Kristin says...

    “The formula goes on relatively clear, so you won’t frighten any members of your household.“ gahhh, I love your writing so much!!

    I splurge on super natural/organic products. My two favorite lines are Poofy Organics and Root Pretty, they are the cleanest and best performing I’ve found!

  24. Chelsea Rump says...

    Thank you for the perfume link!

  25. JOAN says...

    RED STRIDEX IS THE WAY TO GO

  26. Bec says...

    Cocokind x 100000000! Everything I’ve tried is fantastic. Great price-point, great quality, great team, great mission! You can find it at Target, Whole Foods, or their website. Their bakuchiol (however you spell that!) overnight mask is AMAZING!

    • Theresa says...

      Thanks for the tip! I can’t afford expensive beauty products, so this line looks right up my alley!

    • Tiffani says...

      I love their turmeric blemish stick, I use it all over as a face mask and it makes my skin glow!

    • Christy says...

      Love Cocokind’s golden elixir oil, it’s done wonders for my dry Colorado skin!

  27. Hanna says...

    A new trick that has worked for me with black heads on my nose is using the MARIO BADESCU Drying Lotion and using as a “mask” on my nose. I’ve only used a couple of times but have noticed a significant difference! I’ve left on for 20 min and also over night, just take off with a warm wash cloth.

    Other products that have made a significant difference is the DRUNK ELEPHANT line. Brighter, more even texture, smoother skin and less breakouts. And Laneige for baby smooth lips :)

  28. Col says...

    Differin and Clinique Smart Night moisturizer, the dry skin formula. And the miraculous spironolactone– but that’s not expensive.

    • I second this!!! A good friend who works as a makeup artist in the film industry swears by it. She gave it to me as a present after we completed a shoot together. Its honestly incredible, nothing has worked better to exfoliate my skin.

  29. Cindy says...

    I am 51 and am struggling to find skincare that helps with my current issues. I recently tried Tula and though I love the moisturizer, the anti-wrinkle serum was gone too quickly to see results and the under eye depuffer didn’t really work for me. Overall, I would buy the moisturizer again but not the other products. I just ordered an anti-aging and hydration trio (frankincense flower water, hyaluronic acid + frankincense serum and defend Aryan oil), hyaluronic acid + white rose serum, and avocado & rooibos vita cream from Elevate Botanical Beauty. Their tagline is clean beauty under $30! I can’t wait to see how it works for my skin.
    https://www.elevatebotanicalbeauty.com/

  30. Elizabeth says...

    I can’t live w/o Renova, which I think keeps my skin brighter as well as cutting down on lines/wrinkles, and Revitabrow to rejuvenate eyebrow hair growth. Both are outrageously expensive and Renova requires a prescription.

  31. Olivia says...

    where to cop this COAT!!!?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s topshop from a few years ago!

  32. Cheyenne says...

    Tata Harper is a cruelty-free brand. Thank you for promoting cruelty-free products!

  33. Carol says...

    I have been using Tula products for a few years now. The cleanser and moisturizers are fantastic and have helped my problem skin so much. And their skin primer is something I will never be without.
    I also love The Ordinary line – for the price point, it can’t be beat.

  34. AMK says...

    I found that Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum has worked wonders (It has been more effective than my $100 Skinceuticals Vitamin C serum). I then layer in a facial oil – I switch it up between Rosehip and Maracuja oil. Maracuja oil is AMAZING!!! It leaves my skin soooo soft and it is not greasy at all.

    Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum: https://www.iherb.com/pr/Mad-Hippie-Skin-Care-Products-Vitamin-C-Serum-8-Actives-1-02-fl-oz-30-ml/41598?gclid=Cj0KCQiAmsrxBRDaARIsANyiD1qXr_ju_sPo13Nlrwm_tSlW1Kx3nDhPT2Wgk3OXsnJZVsHHYCCobC4aAroBEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

    • Kim says...

      Ha! I was really disappointed with that product. I literally saw no change in my skin at all. It goes to show everyone’s skin and experience with these products are totally different.

  35. laura says...

    is it possible to have a post that goes all into SPF?

    I KNOW it’s important, but I keep reading conflicting information. Am I supposed to apply it under or over makeup/moisturizer? How often do I reapply? Is it okay to just reapply when I’m headed outside, and how many minutes before heading outside do I reapply? Which products don’t have that sunscreen smell and aren’t thick? Am I supposed to wash my hands before every application, or is it okay to apply sunscreen with unwashed hands? Do I also apply to my neck, or only face? What if my arms have a lot of sun exposure from driving? What’s the minimum or maximum SPF number my sunscreen is supposed to have? If my moisturizer/makeup has SPF, is that enough, or do I have to get a separate sunscreen?

    I know some of my questions seems silly, but I want to know!!! I want to have all the proper info. Everything I read just lists to “wear SPF!” but I want to educate myself on the specifics of it.

    • Mallory says...

      This!

    • Sara says...

      This would be great, because it is such a complicated subject with so many variables! My favorite sunscreens are all Asian beauty ones. I learned a lot from Snow White & the Asian Pear (http://www.snowwhiteandtheasianpear.com/2017/05/korean-sunscreens-summer.html?m=1), Fanserviced-B and Fiddy Snails (https://fiftyshadesofsnail.com/2018/01/12/review-skin-aqua-uv-super-moisture-milk/). Neither of these are the exact article you’re looking for, but bits and pieces of them should help with some of your questions.

    • Kari says...

      I’m with you, Laura! I hear that zinc products generally don’t look great on your face, but chemical SPF is apparently bad for you. I hear that sunscreens often clog pores but also protects from skin aging. I hear you have to reapply but I can’t imagine you can/should reapply over makeup so then what? I’m never sure what my SPF routine should actually look like in practice! Right now I just use a foundation with SPF and hope for the best…

    • Sasha says...

      I have done lots of trials with tinted Zinc spf to try and wear daily but not look whited out at work. I found that this Canadian brand makes all zinc based makeup/ sunscreen that works really well, really smooths out my skin tone that I’ve even gotten complemented on it. New studies show that chemical sunscreen can be found in blood weeks after application, and although clinical impact unknown i would rather not take risks.
      What’s great about this one is that supposedly works well on darker skin tones also, there were articles Michelle Obama used it! no matter skin tone, spf Is needed to protect us all!

      uhttps://thesunscreencompany.com/shop

    • Amy J says...

      I am aaaalllll about sunscreen, I live in So Cal and am outside more than I like because my kids play sports. I only wear a physical sunscreen – meaning zinc or titanium dioxide ingredients only and no parabens.
      So for my face – it is part of my morning skincare routine. I first apply vitamin c serum, then I use colorscience total eye 3 in 1 (I posted earlier) around my eyes, then I apply a BB cream with at least a 35 spf – I use Bare Minerals. I use a separate neck/chest moisturizer and then when that dries I use a La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral on my neck and chest if they will be exposed. I like v and scoop necks so my chest is usually exposed. Makeup with sunscreen is not enough from what I hear, especially where I live. Maybe if you live much farther north then it would be. I then apply Pur SPF powder (From Ulta) all over my face as well after the BB cream has dried. I don’t find that it has a whitish cast, but I am pretty fair. If I’m concerned about taking pictures (which is a rare occurrence anyway) I avoid all of this and just use a water based foundation with no spf).
      Having said all this, yes, all is applied with clean hands as part of my skin routine.
      If I have to reapply I use a powder sunscreen that goes right over my makeup. Colorscience makes a great one – I have also seen other brands. Sort of pricey but lasts a super long time. And you can use it on your face, neck, arms, ears, wherever. I reapply after a few hours. https://www.colorescience.com/products/sunforgettable-total-protection-brush-on-sunscreen-shield-spf-50

      For my body, whenever skin is exposed such as my arms in the summer, I definitely wear a physical sunscreen as well. Whole Foods or Sprouts sell different ones. Colorscience also makes a good one for the body.
      I was told to use at least an SPF 35 or that even higher is better.
      And always a hat or sun umbrella if I will be out for more than 20 min. Sunglasses 100% of the time.
      I know this all kind of seems like a production, but I see it as an investment in my health. I baked in the sun as a child and teenager and can’t afford any more sun damage.
      Hope you can take something away from all of this information.

    • Andrea says...

      Check out Michelle Wong (Insta: @labmuffinbeautyscience ). She’s a Chem PhD and breaks down a lot of this on her blog and YouTube videos. There’s a saved Insta story just on SPF!

    • Pat Martin says...

      Try Goop unseen sunscreen spf 40 Goes on like a primer. Velvety smooth.
      Or LaRoche-Posay Anthelios mineral spf 50 ultra light sunscreen fluid.
      Both are expensive but the awesome at not being sticky or sun-screeny and very effective.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I would also loooove this kind of info. My biggest issue is using a zinc based sunscreen and then putting my make-up on (Bare Minerals) and the combo makes my powder super orange and crazy looking. Anyone know of a zinc/natural sunscreen that plays nice with powder foundation?

    • Stacy says...

      PSA, sunscreen 15+ SPF is often FSA eligible! I tried 5 different high end sunscreens last year and finally found a few, tinted and not tinted, that I love. And tax-free!

    • Brianna says...

      I love the Glossier instant shield sunscreen. I have oily skin and it goes on like a serum, doesn’t leave my face shiny or white. I do live in Denmark and have only been using it in winter when the sun is basically non-existent so I don’t know how well it protects in full sun but all the reviews I have read say it is excellent.

    • Kristina says...

      There are great information out there on SPF – better look elsewhere. This is a product promoting blog not a skincare one. I highly recommend Caroline Hirons for anything skin care related.

    • Shannon Colleen says...

      Yes I agree 100% still trying to find the “perfect” spf for me. I would like to find a tinted one but they all appear to be too dark or too orange. I would also like it to be mineral (zinc or titanium dioxide). The bad news with mineral sunscreens is they appear to accentuate my wrinkles from all those years in my teens with zero spf :(

    • Lauryn says...

      Second this! SPF is so important and I apply every day but I am still unsure of when I should be reapplying and how often! Thank you!

  36. jill d. says...

    marie veronique’s line is actually very good for sensitive but acne prone yet mature skin… it’s pricey but it’s been so helpful keeping my skin clear and not irritated. I love the intensive repair serum for breakouts (great for hormonal breakouts) and the B3 Serum which is more like a gel and very gentle yet moisturizing. Also their gentle gel face wash is now my number one go to (and i’ve tried SOOOO many!)….

    • Megan says...

      I really enjoy their Retinol serum! Mostly though, popping in to say that as I was considering buying their toner, I laughed at the reviews that complained about the odor of the product…may have even given a classic Liz Lemon eye roll. Fast forward to this week, and opening the bottle – lol, woof.
      It is. An odorific situation. Stings the nostrils.
      It feels great on my face, but what a laughable humbling experience I now go through nightly (as someone who scoffed at these reviews, I will stubbornly use this product until the last drop!).

    • Chrystal says...

      Yes to Marie Veronique products! I’ve used the entire essential oil free line and few of the OG’s. Her products are wonderful! The Soothing B3, Intensive Repair, and Barrier Restore serum are forever staples. And her Vitamin C and Retinol serums are superior to everything I’ve tried.

    • Michelle says...

      Just ordered the sunscreen based on your advice. Thanks!

  37. Kate says...

    Pai Skincare has made such a difference for me! I have very sensitive skin and tend to get patches of eczema around my eyes and nose. Nothing worked for me and it was so frustrating. A few days of using Pai’s rosehip oil mixed with their chamomile and rosehip calming day cream made my eczema disappear! I’ve since splurged on purchasing several of their products, and my skin has honestly never looked better. They can have my money; this has changed how I feel when I look in the mirror.

  38. Amanda W. says...

    The one thing that has changed my skin is a prescription called Spironolactone. If you truly have persistent hormonal acne, most beauty products aren’t going to cut it. I had horrible hormonal acne (mostly on my back, chest, and jawline) from my teenage years to my mid-thirties. I tried so many products (prescription, organic, etc) and spent so much money, and this was a life-changer. It has cleared up my skin so much that I often don’t wear makeup; my beauty regimen as a whole has been streamlined since taking this. The only caveat is that it takes a long time to see a noticeable difference (it took a good year for my back to clear up), and it may get worse before it gets better. Sadly, my dermatologist never treated my acne as hormonal; my gynecologist was the one who recognized the issue and prescribed it to me.

    • Becky says...

      I also used spironolactone which is also used a blood pressure med. I used it for the same reason as you. I thought it was awesome as well until I nearly fainted because my blood pressure dropped so low, I had painful cramps in my knees and I started to pee so much I couldn’t drink enough water to keep up. When it works its awesome!! but my doctor did not do a great job of informing me of that. I started to really look at my hormones and the food I was putting into my body. Along with many other changes, I mentioned it in another comment, I now drink spearmint tea 3x a day and it also a very effective androgen blocker. Hormonal acne sucks. Wishing good health and happy skin!

    • I just started this a month ago. Nothing worked for my hormonal acne (and I didn’t want to stay on birth control!) Good to know spiro helps!

    • Christina says...

      Lots of comments about hormonal acne on this post, so I’ll share my experience too.

      I also took Spirolactone and discontinued because of low blood pressure; also because I didn’t believe it addressed the root cause of a hormonal imbalance.

      Seven months ago I started seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner to treat cystic hormone acne. She integrates information about all my health systems (not just skin) and prescribes a custom blend of herbs that I drink twice a day and omg plants really are powerful medicine! My skin now has so much less congestion, is brighter in color and smoother in texture.

      If you too are seeking relief from hormonal acne and ready to go on a healing journey check out http://www.tcmdermatology.org/

      For those in NYC check out Treatment By Lanshin

    • EB says...

      +1 I started spironolactone about 4 months ago. Game changer!

    • j says...

      SAME. Went off hormonal birth control for about 6 months in my mid-twenties, and my skin totally freaked out, tons of hormonal acne that didn’t respond to topical treatments. Spiro totally cleared up my skin, and I have never had any side effects!

    • kd says...

      TLDR: My beauty splurge = food/blood sensitivity test and commitment to results to clear adult acne

      Agree with a few people above. Spironolactone isn’t for everyone. I suddenly started to get what people refer to as hormonal acne while I was still on birth control at around age 27ish. I decided I didn’t want to be on BC anymore, especially if it wasn’t clearing my skin, so I bailed.

      Frustrated with my breakouts, my gyno suggested Spironolactone. I filled the prescription, but hesitated wondering if I wanted to turn to another medicinal bandaid with some intense side-effects (for some). Trying to exhaust my own efforts, I tried cutting out major food allergens/seeing a holistic provider. I saw an acupuncturist, regularly (drank the disgusting tinctures), and did a blood panel to check my hormones. I had so much stress at that point in my life that I was SURE I had an imbalance. Plus the internet acne face maps said so. Then my hormone results came back perfect. I was stumped.

      With a limited budget, I changed gears and sought out a natural acne clinic. They had me eliminate all ingredient triggers from my skincare, detergent, home products. They also gave a list of typical food triggers. My skin started to improve some, but not fully. I was still getting those deep acne spots.

      After a few months they recommended an ALCAT blood sensitivity test. It’s not cheap, but it kind of saved my life. I’ve never struggled with bad acne, so that season was a total confidence valley and made me uncomfortable in my typical makeupless routine. When the food test came back with my mild, moderate, and severe sensitivities, I immediately cut ALL of them out of my diet. My skin cleared up in a month. One month.

      I still have the Spironolactone bottle in my dresser drawer. I kept it there as a reminder that there was another option if my efforts didn’t work. Thankfully, they did! Now it’s an odd trophy reminder of my commitment to myself and the natural approach that was so successful for me. Maybe the holistic route isn’t the best path for everyone, but neither is Spironolactone.

      Had to share my experience in case someone else is out there desperately searching for a natural solution. I see you. It’s frustrating, but you’re still beautiful. Keep going. Acne is the manifestation of a deeper issue. Keep digging. And just try to remember that other people are usually too busy thinking about their own insecurities to ever notice yours. Xx

      Ps. After stopping birth control pills, I took a 2 day class on fertility awareness. It was also one of the best things I’ve ever done. I always find myself sharing what I learned about my body in that workshop 5 years ago. I’m also completely in tune now, so I know when I’m ovulating, fertile, not… Birth control works for many, but it also creates a mind/body disconnection. It worked for me for almost 15 years. And then it didn’t. If it’s not working for you (for your skin/sex life/cramps/overall health, etc.), there are options. :)

  39. Holly Warren says...

    INDIE LEE PRODUCTS!

    I used to use drug store cleansers for years.
    Never took my skincare routine seriously when I should have since I have very acne prone skin. This line is amazing, all natural products that are super affordable. Can’t recommend it enough!

  40. Johanna says...

    I’m looking for a face moisturizer that is hydrating and not crazy expensive (no more than $45). Does anyone have a product they love? I was using a regular Cerave and it just didn’t do the trick.

    • Julianna says...

      These are a few of my favorites! Beyond moisturizing, these all do different things, so it really depends on what you’re looking for:
      First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair cream (<$30) – this IS ultra moisturizing on the days when my face is the most dry!
      Andalou Naturals Perfecting Bb Beauty Balm Natural Tint Spf 30 – (<$20) – will often layer this on top of a cream/moisturizer when I want a bit of extra color
      Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer (<$30) – will use this at night, but can use both day and night when my face isn't as dry

    • Julianna says...

      PS. Not sure where you live (I’m from NYC)…but sleeping with a humidifier on during colder months (if you have the heat on) is probably my no. 1 suggestion :) That, in and of itself, leaves my skin visibly hydrated!

    • A says...

      I really like the neutrogena hydroboost moisturizer. It’s about $20 a jar, but it isn’t greasy but feels very hydrating to me.

    • Mary P says...

      Wedela skin food. The light version! Love it

    • Gretchen Alice says...

      The Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream is really, really good. I have super sensitive skin and I feel like this is the only moisturizer that makes me skin feel refreshed.

    • Laura says...

      Skin Food!

    • Ellen says...

      Check out Cocokind! It’s super clean and affordable. I love the entire line.

    • Paige says...

      Olive + M! 100% natural ingredients and their face oil is amazing!

    • Deb says...

      Eucerin Q10 lotion. it is been great on my sensitive skin

    • heather says...

      Agree on weleda skin food light!

    • Claire says...

      I love the French Embryolisse. It smells really nice, is super easy to blend, and provides great moisture for day/night, either alone or under makeup. I also am a fan of Weleda’s line of moisturizers. Simple, clean ingredients and they smell nice. I liked their Iris, Pomegranate, and Rose formulas best. While their Skin Food can be put on the face, I think that would be too strongly scented/sticky for me (with oily/combination skin).

      MyChelle is also a great line and they have great SPF moisturizers. They receive rave reviews and blend in super easily for a “natural” sunscreen. Highly recommended and reasonably priced (under $25).

    • Lisa Sarkisian says...

      1. Olay Regenerist micro-sculpting cream (two for $30-40) at Costco – use day and/or night. I used to use more expensive creams but not worth it.
      2. Cleanser: CeraVe renewal cleanser.
      3. Maelove pure argan oil is great.
      4. Retin-A cream a few times a week (prescription) helps my 56-yr-old face shed some dull skin.

    • JessicaD says...

      I use Olay Regenerist DAY cream (I HATE the smell of the night cream) and Eucerin Q10 is also good. I will also say that the Cerave, applied 2-3x after face washing, each time your face starts feeling dry (annoying, but acceptable if you’re just hanging at home), will also work. I like to rotate.

  41. Julianna says...

    I’m psyched to see this post, as I’ve recently been going down beauty-oriented rabbit holes.
    So many thoughts here…I geek out on what other people’s beauty routines look like. That said, as tempting as it is to go out and purchase all the products I see on those routine round-ups, beauty products are oh-so-very personal. I’ve tried brands from A to Z, from inexpensive $6 serums to $100 cleansers and it’s always surprising to learn what works best for MY skin. I try to stay as open-minded as possible when looking at products, and love that you can sample things at Sephora before spending $ on them (sometimes only to find out that the results are sub-par). Some longtime favorites from a fair-skinned 28 year old, who has relatively ‘normal’ skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream (less than $30 and the first thing I turn to when my skin needs a sip of water ;) ), Physician’s Formula Instaready Concealer (less than $10 and perfect for hiding imperfections when my skin acts up), Dior Lip Glow ($30 – not a ‘clean’ product, and not inexpensive by any means, but if you’re looking for a naturally glam look, this does the trick). Recently though, I’ve been trying out a couple products from The Ordinary and really love those so far (~$10/each – Hyaluronic Acid and the Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%)

    Beyond any products though, drinking water, eating as healthy as possible, making time to exercise and being kind to yourself are the best ways to shine from the inside out IMHO.

  42. Tiana says...

    My sister gets mad at me when I complain about the state of my skin, because honestly, it’s pretty great. My issue? I wish it was like in the magazines! At 31, I’m starting to realize that not even models in the magazines have that skin I wish for. (Poreless!)

    I’m using a bunch of The Ordinary at the moment, but the trouble is, as with almost any product, that I don’t see it work. Maybe I expect too much, like actually getting rid of all blackheads in my T-zone. Other than that, I can’t really complain about my skin. :/

    The one product, though, I really loved, and it can count as a splurge, was a Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask. I loved my skin on the mornings after. I was hoping Laneige Water Sleeping Mask would do the same for about a quarter of the price, but I’d rather be saving for Glow Recipe again than repurchasing Laneige.

    Over to you – I have a list of products I’d like to try, and they’re all costly. Has anyone here used and can tell me anything about

    * Nuxe Huille Prodiguese (saw someone recommending it here, I’m looking into the one with gold particles *_*)
    *Summer Fridays Overtime Mask
    *LAURA Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Souffle Body Creme?

    Thank you thank you thank you!

    • Julia says...

      A313, a retinoid, (look on amazon) is like $17 and makes my skin look poreless and LUMINOUS for 2-3 days. The only catch is that your skin has to be super super dry (like, not wet) to use it, or it gets super itchy. So I wash my face and wait for at least 45 min (without any serums/moisturizers on) before putting on the A313 (half a pea size does the trick- any more is gloopy).

    • Catherine says...

      I have used the Nuxe Huille Prodiguese because I love the smell, but never on my face. It’s a great body oil, especially in the summer, and you can use it on your hair, either as a mask before showering or just a tiny bit to tame frizz. Nuxe has an entire line that you can find on Amazon now, and even a perfume if you love the scent. I personally found the oil slightly heavy, and because it’s quite heavily scented, I was afraid to try it on my face. The gold one just has bits of shimmer, which is nice to apply to your legs in the summer.

    • Jill says...

      Tiana- I use Huille Prodigieuse -with gold particles! – on my face and love it. I like to mix it Bobbi Brown BB cream. Here’s what I do: put a little BB cream in the palm of my hand, then add a pump of the oil. Rub my hands together and press onto my face…. takes away redness, adds a lovely glow and smells so good! -as Catherine said, it’s also great on hair! :)

    • Melanie says...

      I use the Nuxe with the gold flecks. The bottle is much smaller than I expected, but you don’t need much. I’m very fair skinned. I use this on my legs in the summer and I love it. Subtle. Nice fragrance. Just a nice shimmer. If you want to be glittery and sparkly, this is not for you. It’s not too dark for fair skin. Doesn’t take long to dry.

  43. Kelly says...

    Does anyone know of a product that *actually* works to depuff the under-eye area?

    • Morgan Quinn says...

      Fillers. My friend gets them under her eyes and it looks really good.

    • sanchez says...

      Decreasing/eliminating salt the day before works like a charm – otherwise massage with a chilled jade roller to move the fluids/puffiness – works really well.

    • Liz says...

      Nope. Would love to know if something really really did work.

    • Cal says...

      I swear by Versed “the fix emergency eye mask.” It feels great, only takes a few minutes to work, and I can actually tell a difference (I tried it on one eye and not the other eye, took a pic, shared it with friends and they could all tell which one I had treated because it looked so much better!) It’s available at Target or directly on the company’s site. FYI, you can return opened beauty products to Target for a full refund if you end up not liking it.

    • MB says...

      Yes. I tried everything. All the creams and thought about fillers. The only thing that visibly helps is Murad Eye Lift Firming Treatment. It’s costs $70 (yikes) but it lasts forever. You also don’t need to use the little cotton pads it comes with. It seems to be good for the puffy-fluid filled type of eye bags I get. It does nothing for dark circles.

    • Danielle says...

      The Ordinary’s caffeine eye serum is pretty wonderful and at a great price point!

    • Kim says...

      I like the ordinary caffeine serum or Origins no puffery.

    • Megan says...

      I bought La Bella Figuera under eye serum two years ago and it works the best out of any product I’ve tried! I use it only for real emergencies (mornings I have meetings, mostly, or allergies/night tears), because it is jaw-droppingly expensive. Still working on that first bottle, though!

    • Sara says...

      Clinique All About Eyes works well for me. I think it also has caffeine as the active ingredient.

    • jaime jones says...

      the Ordinary’s ecgc caffeine eye serum

    • JessicaD says...

      I also just read that training yourself to sleep on your back, with your head elevated on a pillow really, truly works. I, however, have decided it is not worth it, and have continued with stomach sleeping. Looking into fillers…!

  44. Louise says...

    Eminence skincare has become my go-to product line. I started getting hormonal acne in my mid-twenties and it was a continuous battle for a number of years. That is, until I found eminence products. Their line has completely changed the texture of skin and I deal with way less breakouts than ever before. I’m a true believer in the Mangosteen Resurfacing Cleanser and their clearn-skin willowbark serum The boost in confidence in my skin and drop in anxiety that surrounds having acne is definitely worth the splurge!

  45. Heather says...

    Skincare has become my thing and I refuse to be ashamed of it :-)

    A few of my faves:
    – Dr. Gross alpha-beta peel pads. I use them on Thursday nights as my own little person spa night. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll throw on some Laneige water cream after (from a sample).
    – Drunk Elephant Protini moisturizer. I use a pump of this mixed with Cerave moisturizer to make it last longer.
    – Clinique make up remover (take the day off)
    – Dior Lip Glow
    – Living Proof shampoo and hair products

    In the not-splurge category, I love The Ordinary retinol, buffet, and niacinamide serums.

  46. Xen says...

    Olaplex repair oil. Wow. It has changed my hair. Totally worth the splurge.

    • Julia says...

      Thanks!!! I have been wondering whether to take the plunge and splurge on this!

  47. Alex says...

    Oh man – I’ve tried lots of skin-care products on my very sensitive, 38 year old, dry, and acne-prone skin. The only things that actually make a difference for me:
    – Staying hydrated – drink all the water!
    – Eliminating dairy from my diet (this was accidental as my breastfeeding baby had a diary protein intolerance so i did it for him and then realized holy crap my skin looks the best it ever has in my life!)
    – Not wearing any makeup at all most days except mascara. Now the only time i wear anything besides mascara is for a big work presentation or a MAJOR event where there will be photographers. And then i just accept i will have redness, pimples for a few days after….
    – Moving to a warmer, more humid place means the harsh winters don’t dry me out so badly.
    My skincare routine cabinet is now just Cetaphyl cleanser and moisturizer. And thats it.

  48. Gray says...

    For me, I would say a beauty splurge is a spa day with a facial/massage/mani/pedi. It can only afford it once a year or so but it’s such a treat.

    Burt’s Bees and the Ordinary products seem to work for my skin and are not too pricey. Not at all a splurge, but I can’t say enough good things about Essence mascaras, especially the False Lash ones. Same results as the $33 Lancome one I used to use. No flaking, smudging, comes off easily and doesn’t clump. All for the price of $4.99 (Canadian). You read that right. $4.99. Less than a Starbucks latte! The husband is thrilled haha.

  49. Kelly says...

    My prescription Retin A Micro! Worth the copay for sure. Fight wrinkles and acne with the most proven ingredient? Yes, please!

  50. Stef says...

    P50…. only product I have ever used where I can see a noticeable difference (I’m 35). A MUST HAVE! I buy it again and again.

    • Rose says...

      With or without phenol?!

  51. Mandy says...

    The best part about my favorite beauty products is I don’t consider them a splurge! The four things that have totally rocked my world are:
    – Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion (watery, what we’d call a toner but without alcohol, with five different types of hyaluronic acid. It’s like dumping a glass of water on your face and it just stays there)- $14
    – COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence (no snails are harmed! Insane moisture in a light gooey formula, helps pack in and keep the moisture in your face)- $21
    – Prescription tretinoin
    – Prescription azelaic acid (both prescriptions with insurance are less than $20)

    All of these last a solid 6+ months with daily use!

    • Laura says...

      Hands up for a fellow Hada Labo and Snail 96 addict! These two products changed my skin! I thought I had oily skin, turns out I just wasn’t moisturizing properly. <3 <3 <3

    • Lorna says...

      Mandy,
      Would you mind sharing your routine? when and how often do you use each product?
      Thanks

    • Mandy says...

      Laura- right?? Oh, you mean I’m breaking out and oily because I’m actually drying my face out to death with all of my products?? ;)

      Lorna- Happy to share! In fact the highlight of my day, I love talking about this stuff.
      AM:
      * Rinse face with cold water, pat very dry
      * About five drops of Timeless Vitamin C serum. Wait five minutes
      * half a pea sized Azelaic Acid 15% everywhere but my nose (too dry). Wait 5-10 minutes
      * 3 shakes of hada labo toner, pat and tap into my skin
      * 1 pump COSRX snail mucin + 1 pump Trader Joe’s hyaluronic acid serum, tap into skin
      * 3 pumps CeraVE PM
      * good squirt of Elta MD UV Clear 46 all over
      PM:
      * Neutrogena makeup wipe (blue package) if wearing makeup
      * wash with Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion Foaming Cleanser or COSRX low pH cleanser. Pat pretty dry.
      * 3/4 pea sized amount of .1% tretinoin cream all over, every other day (I’ve read it is just as effective shown every other day vs every day)
      * 3 shakes of hada labo toner, pat and tap into my skin
      * 1 pump COSRX snail mucin
      * (this is currently for a cold NYC climate)- a pea size of cosrx hyaluronic acid intensive cream, massage in
      * a pea size of CeraVe in a tub moisturizing cream
      * bonus depending on night- a sleeping pack like the Cosrx rice overnight mask, acure blue tansy serum or granola goat starry night oil on top

  52. Becca says...

    I’ve been using the Ordinary’s vitamin C product and it seems to work the same… for a fraction of DE prices. Might be worth looking into.

    • Sara says...

      I think skin care is so different individual to individual. The couple products from The Ordinary I tried (including the vitamin C) did absolutely nothing for me. On the high end, I also didn’t like Sunday Riley and had to end up returning it. I like some of Drunk Elephants products, but not others. I use some DE, some Olay, some Caudalie, and some Laneige and I finally feel like I have nearly the perfect routine for me. :)

  53. Jennifer says...

    I refuse to compromise on my shampoo and conditioner so I always buy Davine’s Minu line. It makes my hair so shiny and soft and I just. love. it.

    Ok, so here’s my holy grail of face items, that I do not want to pay for but really want at the same time. L’occitaine’s Divine Face Cream: https://www.loccitane.com/en-us/immortelle-divine-cream-27DC050I17S.html I was able to snag small samples of this and I swear, my face was glowing. It looked like I was radiating from within. But I am so so not ready to spend over $100 on face cream. I stalk their website to see if they ever offer the small samples for sale, but so far, no luck.

    • I love all of L’Occitaine’s products. They are pricey but some of the best out there that I’ve found.

      Another line that I am loyal to is Bluemercury’s M-61’s product line. Their powerpeel pads are amazing!

    • HH says...

      L’occitaine’s Divine Facial Cleanser. It’s gentle and singlehandedly eliminated the breakouts and shiny skin of my 20s/earlier 30s. Initially, I thought it was a splurge but the refill bag lasts me an entire year. (A YEAR!) I think $40, or even $50 for an entire year of facial cleanser is much more affordable than what I had been spending, not to mention environmentally friendlier. I’ve not tried their other products (except samples).

      I would like to know a great solution for dark circles (more sleep) and the crow’s feet that are starting to creep in. I don’t feel ready for them!

  54. liz says...

    taking notes in this comment section!

    I’m seriously torn between these great comments/reviews and my dermatologist’s implication that aside from a gentle cleanser and moisturizer (both of which she recommended could be found at cvs/most grocery stores), most skin care products do literally nothing aside from burn your paycheck. how is a girl supposed to discern!!?

    • Alexandra says...

      Liz – I’m in the same boat as you. For what it’s worth, I ran through my routine with my derm – CeraVe cleanser, CeraVe moisturizer (light during the day, thick at night), SPF, and Retin-a at night – and the ONLY thing she recommended I add was Vit C serum. I couldn’t pull the trigger on the CE Ferulic, but I looove Drunk Elephant’s.

    • Cyn says...

      Listen to your dermatologist she’s right! Some all natural basic products that are lovely and relatively inexpensive are from Fluer and Bee. My 60 year old skin loves them!

    • Morgan Quinn says...

      My dermatologist says the same thing. He actually formulates the “Nourish” line for Trader Joes and tells all his patients just to use that. I’ve been using the cleanser for years and it’s really great. I like to triple wash and at around $6 a bottle I don’t feel guilty about using that much product at all. I highly recommend!

  55. a says...

    Somewhat related – if anyone can suggest something that actually works for hormonal and/or cystic acne (ie a spot treatment) I will be forever grateful. I’ve tried prescription tretinoin, countless OTC stuff, high end, low end, you name it. I don’t get that many spots which is why I’m hesitant to try Accutane or anything – but it’s enough to drive me crazy and they’re PERSISTENT. The cortisone shots are too expensive since I usually get 1-2 spots every period..

    • Samantha says...

      cocokind turmeric stick! truly magic. and it’s $9.
      their whole product line completely eliminated all of my cystic acne

    • Vivian says...

      Hi A,

      I’ve struggled with cystic acne for my entire adult life, and thankfully, I’ve found the regimen that works the best for me. It’s essentially the Dr. Pimple Popper regimen (haha 🤣), but I just purchase things from the drugstore. The morning procedure is just 3 steps: 1) any salicylic acid cleanser, I use the pink grapefruit Neutrogena Acne Wash, 2) any 2.5% benzoyl peroxide cream, I use the Target Up&Up acne spot treatment which is a dupe of the Neutrogena one, and 3) any moisturizer. I use a Garnier moisture rescue gel cream just because it feels nice. Haha. And the night time regimen is the same three steps, but swap out the acne spot treatment in step 2 with anything with retinol in it. I use the Ordinary‘s Granactive Retinoid 2% emulsion, that I buy from Sephora. This is my daily routine that controls most cystic acne breakouts. And when I have a particularly gnarly and stubborn pimple that pops up, I use Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion overnight to help calm things down. I hope that helps! Good luck! Acne is the worst. 😫

    • SC says...

      Have you ever tried the Renee Rouleau product for cystic acne? It’s the only one I’ve ever heard of people actually liking.

    • Get a mask with sulfur in it. That is the only thing I found that helped with my cystic and hormonal acne. There is one mask from Origins that I like and a hardcore mask from Sunday Riley that works wonders.

    • Sam says...

      I don’t really get cystic acne, just hormonal acne, but I’ve had it my entire adult life. I’ve spent so much money trying all different brands (high-end, low-end, etc.), but what has worked for me for the past 5 years or so has been the Clear line from True Botanicals. It’s expensive, but if you get deliveries based on a subscription there’s a discount. I go through a toner every month and cleanser every other month, but the oil and serum last a lot longer. 2 years ago I cheaped out and tried a different line of skincare, and after giving it a few months to try to see results my skin didn’t look good, so I went back to True Botanical and am a big devotee! It’s clean too, and doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals, which is a huge bonus!

    • Summer says...

      Instagram ads got me with Zitsticka and I am never, ever living my life without them again. They’ve been the only thing I’ve found that really works for cystic acne in a timely manner! LOOOVE

    • kk says...

      Tea tree oil on the zit overnight when you feel it coming. Lessons til gone in 2-3 days for me.

    • Becky says...

      Hi A,
      I’ve been going very easy on my skin with ceravae and tatcha cleansing oil and instead focusing on what I put into my body. I’m in my 30s with super sensitive skin. Speariment tea blocks androgens. I drink 3 cups a day. I also take zinc and magnesium and a make sure a few other vitamins and minerals are in my diet to ensure a healthy cycle and it has really helped. I found healthyskinglows and jessicaashwellness on insta and they have saved my skin and my health.

    • Kari says...

      I’d had great luck with the Ordinary’s Niacinamide/Zinc product. Super affordable and I found it definitely helped reduce the number of big cystic hormonal breakouts I’d get each month. For the price tag, it’s worth a shot! Non-skincare related suggestion – acupuncture! Acupuncture dramatically helped me to balance my hormones and reduce my PMS, include those pesky monthly breakouts!

    • Jeanne says...

      My dermatologist has been treating me for hormonal acne for a couple of years now (I’m in my late 40s). I tried Retin A which was way too harsh on my skin, Differin gel didn’t work either, so now she has me on a very low dose of a blood pressure medicine that reduces testosterone and my acne has finally cleared up.

    • Ashley says...

      I second the person who recommends a sulfur mask as a spot treatment. I use the Peter Thomas Roth one and i literally put a dab on any pimples or underground pimples overnight. It’s not a good look and kind of smells but it’s the most effective remedy I have found.

      In addition to that I use a salycilic and aha combo acid serum (there are a lot on the market now) to exfoliate and keep the pores clean.
      Also I have found that rosehip oil is great for fading any pigmentation and keeping my skin from getting flaky.

    • Lauren says...

      I *think* I am finally over my cystic, maybe hormonal?, PERSISTENT acne (crosses fingers). I’m still testing whether it was this combo as my products run out, but my skin was the best it’s been when I was using Paula’s Choice Azalaic Acid booster (lasted me 6 months, will repurchase) and The Ordinary’s Niacinamide + Zinc (have repurchased many times). I also think double-cleansing at night is a must. I do that with a microfiber face towelette and micellar water then follow with a gentle salicylic acid cleanser, then put on the azalaic acid and the most basic moisturizer ever. In the mornings I either wipe with a cloth and water or use an extra gentle cleanser (Ceramedx right now). Then zinc, basic moisturizer, and sunscreen (right now Elta MD tinted. LOVE). Lastly, I was taking a zinc supplement and I think that got the healing all started, but you have to do some research on that. I think you’re supposed to take it with copper, and there are a handful of different types of zinc so don’t rely on my word! Jury’s still out if I’m gonna stay on that or not. Other than that, yes water is important and I’m 90% vegan so I don’t have a lot of dairy. Oh, and I love the Rael pimple patches!!

    • jill dawson says...

      Marie Veronique INTENSIVE REPAIR SERUM is very very good but very pricey (that being said a small bit is only needed and the bottle lasts for some time). CAP beauty usually has it in stock and they have AfterPay which is helpful….i’m on my 3rd bottle so it’s been really a game changer for me.

    • H says...

      SOKO Glam sells pimple patches specifically for cystic acne that have helped a lot in dramatically reducing inflammation and decreasing healing time. If you’re only getting 1-2 a month and you’re skin is overall good, it might be worth checking out instead of going on medications (I’ve tried months of antibiotics and testerone lowering pills) and expensive treatments (peels, facials, Accupuncture for stress).

    • Julia says...

      One thing that really helped me was to stop using skincare products with silicones— they really exacerbated my cystic hormonal acne. I switched to using RMS uncoverup for foundation and stopped using silicone-heavy primers/moisturizers (so so hard when you’re trying to cover up blemishes and scars, but with time, worth it). A313 has really helped clear up the scars.

    • Natalie says...

      Ask your doctor about the rx Spironolactone. It’s blood pressure med which in small doses helps manage hormonal acne. It’s been a life changing medication for me. I had suffered from cystic acne for all of my 20s and into my 30s. Being on anti-depressants made my doctor and husband concerned about an Accutane treatment so we decided to try this. Spearamint/Peppermint tea is also supposed to help balance hormones.

      As for skincare I feel as helped, my routine looks like this and my skin has NEVER been better:
      AM – Youth to the People Antioxidant Cleanser, Thayers Witch Hazel Unscented, The Ordinary 10% Lactic Acid, Volition Strawberry C Serum, and moisturizer with belief Aqua Bomb.

      PM – Start with Ponds Original face wipes to remove makeup, Youth to the People Antioxidant Cleanser, Thayers Witch Hazel, followed by either a sheet mask (I hoard them from TJMaxx – seriously, it’s the best place to stock up) or Caudalie Instant Detox mask. Then I alternate nights in which I use the following actives: Sunday Riley Luna, Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinol (6.5%), The Ordinary Alpha Lipoic Acid 5%. On the nights I use Luna, I follow with Lactic Acid then moisturize. On the nights I use A+ or the ALA, I follow up with C.E.O.Glow Oil.

      Every Sunday night after cleansing/toning I’ll use The Ordinary AHA/BHA mask followed by C.E.O Glow Oil.

      I’ll also use one of those pore sucker contraptions purchased on Amazon once or twice a week after cleansing* followed by blue/red light treatment. Blue light is supposed to kill bacteria and help with inflammation while red light is supposed to target discoloration, fine lines, and stimulate collagen production.

      As for a spot treatment, I have heard but never tried using a hydrocortizone cream. The low dose steroids in them are supposed relieve some of the swelling and redness much like the injection.

    • Kate says...

      I recently figured out I have an egg intolerance (it’s not super common, and no test to diagnose, just figured it out from symptoms with a dietitian) and since I cut out most egg, my cystic acne has almost totally stopped.

    • m says...

      You should try the sulfur mask by Murad (right now!! do it!!). I actually heard about this mask here on a Cup of Jo beauty uniform a couple of years ago. It is kind of expensive, but it works wonders and lasts me at least 4-5 months. I cannot go without this!! It’s my most treasured beauty secret and desert island pick. I use this mask a couple of times a week (depending on my needs; although, I find I need to use it less and less over time…once every two weeks nowadays). It is very drying, so I always pair it with the Peter Thomas Roth Rose hydrating mask (the pink one). I use these two masks in combination with the Murad time release acne daily wash for “aging” skin (crucial ingredient: Hyaluronic Acid!!), and I use the Kiehl’s ultra facial moisturizer for day/Kiehl’s midnight recovery oil for night. This five-piece routine has completely eliminated my cystic/hormonal acne for good! I haven’t had any major “flare ups” for the past 2-3 years, and just two weeks ago I was complimented on my skin (trust me, I never thought my skin would reach the point of being glowy/healthy!?!? Complimented?!). I didn’t want to try Accutane either or any of the more severe acne treatments, and I suffered horribly through my early twenties with painful cysts, especially on my cheeks/forehead. I still have minor scars/hyperpigmentation I want to treat with more intensive treatments :( The beauty products I was using previously (Estee Lauder face wash/moisturizer/masks; Neutrogena stuff; Clarisonic; apricot/charcoal masks from CVS) were WAY too harsh on my sensitive skin and stripped it of its natural oils. Paring back and using these gentler products really helped me. It took me a long time to discover that my skin just needed moisture (see: night oil & PTR mask). Non-beauty product related changes that coincided with shifts in my beauty routine: I eliminated dairy from my diet due to being lactose intolerant (although, I still occasionally indulge). I make sure to wash/swap out my pillowcase at least once a week. I stopped using makeup brushes and switched to a beauty sponge I wash daily. I swipe my phone/headphones off with a Lysol disinfecting wipe at least once a week. I know products/routines work differently on everyone, but just sharing this in case it helps anybody in the same way it helped me. Best of luck!!

    • Erica M Ramirez says...

      In my experience, hydrocortisone cream does work for reducing swelling and redness

    • Kathleen says...

      The Ordinary’s Niacinamide works for me. I’ ve recommended it to others who have found it helpful. Great price, too.

  56. Grace Clements says...

    Where is your jacket from! Obsessed.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      topshop from a few years ago!

    • Adrienne says...

      Me, too! I don’t even care about the beauty products. I.want.that.jacket. :)

  57. Christina says...

    I just have to say, I loved opening the Nordstrom link and seeing “1379 people are viewing.” It made me feel like all of us COJ readers are on the same plane of existence at the same time! xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      aww, i love that!

    • Annie says...

      I did the same last night and it was 3800+. I almost screengrabbed. The COJ bump! :)

  58. Michelle says...

    Over the past year I’ve been switching to clean products as I run out of others. In the past few months, I’ve noticed an enormous difference in my acne-prone (even after Accutane!) skin. I look better at 32 than I did at 24. I swear by Ursa Major’s Vitamin C Serum, Pete Rivko Balancing Oil (these both are very reasonably priced), BeautyCounter’s Overnight Peel and Sunday Riley’s Retinol A+. Susanna Kaufmann’s eye cream is great for sensitive eyes. After years of never leaving the house w/o makeup, most days I just put on Suntegrity’s tinted sunscreen :) Good CLEAN! skincare is so worth it.

  59. Jean says...

    I have this cream! Supposedly it was developed by a Dr. who was studying stem cells to help burn victims. In my opinion it’s an extremely overrated cream. I literally have noticed no difference :( Granted, I’m 24 and my skin concerns are very different from that of someone older, but I would have at least expected to see something for the price.

  60. Nicole says...

    Drunk Elephant is $$$, but so worth it. The products are actually effective and don’t contain any fragrance or essential oils, which is super hard to find but so necessary for my super sensitive skin. The vitamin C serum was totally life changing! My skin is so bright now : )

    • Kelly Drummond says...

      I totally second this! Their customer service is great, all cruelty free, and if you buy the little travel sets they aren’t so expensive…

    • Lauren says...

      Couldn’t agree more! I have been using DE products for several years now and truly believe they are worth the investment. I only wear a swipe of concealer (w3ll people) under my eyes for makeup because DE leaves my skin looking so good. Just tried the new f-bomb overnight mask last night and loved it!!

  61. Hayley says...

    Current faves:
    – Alpha H Liquid Gold: it’s a strong glycolic acid toner that you can swipe on your face and go straight to bed. (no cream etc) it really helps with skin texture and is the perfect single-step skincare activity to do when i feel very tired/lazy ;)
    – Odacite An Autumn On The World: it’s a 15% vitamin C serum oil that’s ridiculously expensive but extremely wonderful. i splurged when it was randomly 40%ish off on a UK website, and have been using it a few drops at a time every morning. It soothes (and protects, i hope) my dry pregnancy skin like nothing else.

    • Erica M Ramirez says...

      YES. I love Odacité!

  62. Claire says...

    Prose custom made hair care products. They are beautifully scented, and seem to be making my hair and scalp healthier. They are not that expensive, but were an indulgence for me. I like them so much I am considering committing to the subscription program, which seems pretty user friendly and also brings the price down.

  63. Heather says...

    Going to be scouring this post to see if anyone has a magic eye cream to treat these late 30’s wrinkles and creases I’m getting!

    • Morgan Quinn says...

      Botox! It’s magical. :)

    • Bridget says...

      Try the Glossier eye cream! I’ve tried a few and it’s been my favorite. And I need less concealer now!

  64. Asia says...

    I started using Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant and I love it. Trouble is, my teens love it too and it’s $$$ ;)

    • Twyla says...

      I’ve been using this for about 20 years and it’s for sure my holy grail skincare product (I don’t find it overly pricey though?). If you don’t want to share with your teens (and live in the US), Stridex pads are fairly similar and you get the same results.

    • Asia says...

      It’s pricey for me:)

  65. Alexia says...

    Seconding request for Caroline’s jacket! Love that color.

    My beauty splurge is a really nice cut & highlights.

  66. I own 95% of Drunk Elephant’s skin care products. I’ve literally tried everything to help with my acne (that I’ve had since I was 13) and nothing’s really ever worked. But this line of products made such a difference in the appearance of my skin – no my acne, redness is gone too, and everything just feels smoother. I can’t rave about DE enough! Worth every single penny (and there are a lot of them!).

  67. Favorite things (total skincare/ sephora junkie over here!)

    -Ouai leave in conditoner; I swear this is the reason my fine, thin hair has grown more in the past 3 years than my entire life, and it smells like coconut, sunscreen and the beach

    -IT cosmetics your skin but better 50+ foundation; the only thing that covers up my acne scars. (side note: I recently found a BRAND NEW one of this in a Salvation Army for $1.50 [its $50/tube], I nearly fainted)

    -The Ordinary “Buffet” serum; I use a lot of their products (LOVE the rose hip oil too) and this is one of my favorites

    -Dr. Dennis Gross peel pads. These were so expensive ($88/box of 30) that I hemmed and hawed for months, but I bit the bullet, and I am glad I did. My acne scars look faded and skin overall looks more even and brighter after I use them.

    -Kat Von D setting powder; fan for life. my foundation lasts all day.

    -belif moisture bomb; the BEST moisturizer I have EVER used. It is amazing! My skin is glowing with hydration!

    • Kari says...

      Samsies, Amanda! I love the IT Cosmetics CC cream – it’s light and hydrating and has SPF and great natural coverage. I also JUST started using Belif Moisture Bomb and really like it so far. I usually use a much heavier cream for my dry skin but I find it provides so much hydration for feeling so lightweight. I use it during the day with a little Skin Food on top in places and it’s perfect.

  68. I own 95% of Drunk Elephant’s skin care products. I’ve literally tried everything to help with my acne (that I’ve had since I was 13) and nothing’s really ever worked. But this line of products made such a difference in the appearance of my skin – no my acne, redness is gone too, and everything just feels smoother. I can’t rave about DE enough! Worth every single penny (and there are a lot of them!).

  69. Kristy says...

    BOTOX

    • MJ says...

      This! Botox makes me so happy!

    • Halley says...

      SAME! No shame in that game!

    • Morgan Quinn says...

      YES! And microneedling!

    • Lori says...

      Yes to Botox!

  70. Kristin says...

    I too splurge on Tata Harper products (face wash, serum, face oil) and Skinceuticals’ retinol 0.3. My fav mask is actually by Mario Badescu’s cucumber tonic mask and it’s crazy cheap. I would rather spend on skincare vs makeup.

  71. Cait says...

    I am obsessive about ingredients in my body products which makes most of them expensive (to me – not as far as high end stuff goes!) and I’m not sure if I have a holy grail right now. I like everything I use but also love trying new things. I’m faithful to Miessence, an Australian organic company, and I use a lot of smaller brands for makeup. The newest thing I’ve tried is an eye cream from Root Beauty (I love their Pretty Balms and blush). I got a sample and laughed out loud when I saw how tiny it was, because I’d never *paid* for a sample before! But a tiny dab goes a long way, and a few weeks later I’m realizing that I absolutely see a difference when I use it. So I will probably be buying that because smooth eye circles are worth it!

    • Cait says...

      Oh, and half the reason I wrote a comment was to say you are gorgeous, Caroline!!

  72. Julie says...

    I’m 51 and it took me decades to realize that for me it doesn’t really matter what moisturizer or serum I use – it is the cleaner that makes the difference. Now I use Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel. I use makeup remover, then cleanse with this and skin feels fresh and only needs a few drops of serum and done.

  73. Alex says...

    I get your point. I have a suspicion, too, that all of these skincare products do very little. My mom is 55, only washes her face with water, most of the time uses no cream at all, and looks fresh, her skin is clean with minimum wrinkles. BUT – I have to admit I still love the process of applying a nice face mask or serum…it’s kind of a ritual I guess….?

  74. Rosie says...

    I didn’t get any time off this summer due to a big project, but I was doing a stock up during the Sephora sale and I splurged on Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc. It was summer in a bottle. I smelled like vacation even when I was in the office. I still can’t believe I spent so much on perfume, but it made me feel so happy.

  75. Sonya says...

    I agree!!!!!!! Yessssss!!!

  76. C says...

    Earths Cure Vit c serum is amazing. It’s the absolute only thing that has worked to fade my melasma and my skin looks amazing. Even skin tone, glowing and no more awful dark patches. I thought nothing would ever work. And the price is good plus they are organic and cruelty free.

    • jen says...

      I think I’m going to try this. Melasma is the worst! So stubborn. And at one point I was just going to bite the bullet and get laser treatment and they sent me home, saying lasers would likely only make it worse because it’s not the same as other types of darkened skin. Like, what in the world? Here we are in 2020 and people can literally reconstruct their faces, but nobody can figure out how to get rid of melasma? Ugh. Thanks for the post!

  77. RAE says...

    I will praise this from the mountaintops—grapeseed oil! But let’s be real, I’m not a big hiker, so I’ll say it here. :)

    It’s ideal for all skin types and provides a nice glow. When I take the time to massage it in, my skin feels very soft in the morning. It’s so affordable from a grocery store. I use the organic Now Solutions one. I’ve used it for about eight years (along with a vegetarian diet, water, and sunscreen everyday since I was 15—thanks, mom!) as a moisturizer morning and night. It really helps keep my skin clear and even-toned. I don’t get acne anymore! You can also wash your face with it too and take off excess with a washcloth, but beware—it will ruin them, so I omit it as a face wash now. I really recommend going back to basics if you are struggling with your skin or want something low maintenance.

    • Allie says...

      I have been using this during my pregnancy! I love grapeseed oil as a moisturizer. It is also in so many EXPENSIVE products!

  78. Emily says...

    I got Skin Food upon your recommendation and now I’m obsessed! I give a tube of it at all baby showers because is there better little splurge for a new mom than soft hands and glowing cheeks!

  79. Lisa says...

    I spend less on my facial products that I ever have – I’m 46. I feel torn on this as I don’t feel one has to splurge to stop time. I believe in gentle face wash, ACV diluted as a toner. I’m using Stratia Liquid Gold as a moisturizer right now. But I’ve also used Trader Joe’s hyaluronic serum. Target sells a product called Versed that makes a great facial peel cream. $20. I sleep with a humidifier by my bed all winter. All of this said, sunscreen is the holy grail. I swear by Shiseido urban tint. Goes on light, keeps age spots from surfacing! At $35 one tube lasts 6 months. Worth it and barely a splurge when you do the math.

  80. Jane says...

    Omg! Please Caroline tell us where your amazing jacket is from? It would be the perfect thing for my NY city hall wedding in April! I’m flying from Hong Kong and I’m going to freeze!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      topshop but from a few years ago!

  81. Allison says...

    SK II Facial Treatment Masks. The price is egregious, but the result! I love sheet masks and I’ve tried them all and nothing comes close to how plumped and glowy and hydrated my face is after using an SK II mask. Cate Blanchett is their spokesperson, which is really all I needed to say.

  82. Mallory says...

    I’ve had dark sunken under eye circles my whole life that really bum me out. I finally pulled the trigger and went for under eye filler. Definitely a splurge and the results are subtle and natural but I no longer get asked if I’m sick or pulled an all nighter :)

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      can you tell me more about this? do you live in nyc? I am dying to do this but the derm I went to said I had to go back 3 times and do heat treatments and it only lasts 3 months….

    • Kari says...

      Yes tell us more, Mallory! I’ve been so interested in undereye filler but am scared to pull the trigger (also the price yikes).

    • Sophia F. says...

      Yes, PLEASE share more. I’m 33 and people have been asking me if I’m seriously ill since middle school, unless I wear a full face of makeup. I’ve taken great care of my skin other than my insane, maroon circles and hate being a heavy makeup person not by choice.

    • Sherry says...

      Under eye filler has made a difference for me as well. My dermatologist was not comfortable doing filler under my eyes, or near the tear duct, so she recommended a plastic surgeon. I have been very happy with the results and comfortable with him doing the injecting. I would recommend talking to a plastic surgeon vs dermatologist, I don’t think there is a big price difference and it is all about the skill of the injector, especially around your eyes.

  83. sam says...

    My splurge is a fragrance — Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom. It’s the only fragrance I re-purchased after the first bottle finished. It smells heavenly on me: bright and jasminey citrus peel on the top, and then finishes with this sultry woodsy orris root base that smells incredibly intimate. I feel connected with the composition on some inexplicable level. It smells like the jasmine tea we drink in my family, but also like the lilac bushes that grow outside my parents’ house, and the tangerines we’d peel on long car rides, except all bottled up and feminine and sexy at the same time (??!!).

    That said, i’ve been persuaded by all these celebrities to get a trial kit of IS Clinical — I like the hydra-cool and the cleansing complex so far, but I’m not convinced that they’re doing anything too special for the price of the whole bottle. Anyone else tried it and could sway me either way?

    • Kate says...

      I wore this fragrance on my wedding day and simply adore it :) Jo Malone engraved the bottle for me with my and my husband’s initials and our wedding date, so I’ve been saving the bottle, but you’ve inspired me to wear it more often! I can always re-buy :)

  84. Becky says...

    Laser for my rosacea! I had one session done 6 years ago and it saved my sanity. My dermatologist wrote me so many topical scripts nothing worked. My skin was burning all the time. Came out of no where. Had another session a year ago. 700 bucks a pop but I pay them off on carecredit interest free within 12 months. Best money ever spent.

    • carolina says...

      Is it IPL laser? Intense pulsed light? Dealing with rosacea but also the bumps.. did IPL a week ago and waiting for results!

  85. K says...

    La Bella Figura Modern Radiance – bought it twice and absolutely loved what it did to my skin but haven’t had the guts (or $$) to pull the trigger a third time, but I want to!

  86. Heather A says...

    Nuxe – Huile Prodigieuse and that amazing Rêve de Miel pot of lip balm
    Sunday Riley – Good Genes

  87. CL says...

    I swear by Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel. Worth every penny.

    • Erica M Ramirez says...

      Oooh, am going to try!

  88. Kirsten says...

    My biggest splurge is probably just making sure that I spend the time to actually do my skin-care routine nightly. I spent so many years feeling like it was unimportant or a waste of time to do that kind of bodily care, but this last year I’ve committed to an actual routine and not only does my skin feel/look better, but I love the rhythm that it gives my evening. I’ve got a small budget and so am always on the lookout for good cheap skincare (the Ordinary has been amazing). Also, shoutout to Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath for getting me through the dark days of winter.

    I did recently buy myself a gua sha tool, which I now adore. I’m skeptical of the anti-aging/anti-wrinkle benefits, but I carry obnoxious amounts of tension in my face and jaw and doing a nightly massage has been really helpful on that front.

    • Alina says...

      I agree! rather than spending a ton of products, get just a few that work and use those every night. I also love the Ordinary and another brand I think is similar is InstaNatural. I love their Niacinamide Serum.

    • Anna says...

      This is a helpful comment! I grind my teeth all night long. Will investigate.

  89. Hani says...

    Will forever and always espouse Paula’s Choice. Astonishingly effective, beautiful textures, no fragrance or dyes- solid.
    My current love is the 10% niacinimide booster, it blew my mind.
    Any other PC fans out there?!

    • Twyla says...

      YES!!

    • Pippa says...

      Yes! Its transparent (lists all ingredients, explains what each thing does, etc, etc). Says what is fixable and what isn’t (with a product). No added fragrance or non-sense and it packaging that is clear and simple. I have told my older friends about it and some that use v v pricey creams report their skin looks better using PC! I don’t like to be fooled by all the claims out there. No horseshit for me.

    • Kelly says...

      Yes, they’re my favorite too. My skin is so sensitive and they have quality products with no fragrance. Love their eye gel,
      BHA lotion, toners, hylauronic acid . . . I could go on lol!

  90. I guess my Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion foundation is my splurge. However, as I’m aging, I’m almost willing to pay anything to make my skin look healthier.

  91. NH observer says...

    So sorry for this tiresome grammatical question in the face of such a fun subject — but shouldn’t it be “Which” rather than “What”?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ve heard that you use “which” when there are a small number of items to choose from (e.g., which of your siblings is the tallest?) and “what” when there are a very large number (e.g., which country in the world would you want to move to?) interesting, right? we actually did a post about it here bc grammar nerds :)

      https://cupofjo.com/2015/03/a-grammar-rule-i-didnt-know/

    • NH observer says...

      Thanks so much for entertaining my question — and for the link to the other post, which I look forward to digesting! I’m delighted that other grammar nerds abound!

  92. Gigi says...

    I recently made this Tata Harper mask discovery too (thanks to a holiday sale) and it is true, i am glowy after and my skin is so so smooth! I also discovered Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C oil and I use a few drops every day in the AM to keep the glow going. It absorbs nicely and it absolutely works. Pricier purchases but worth every penny when I look in the mirror (and I also always wait for sales).

  93. Sarah Issaelkhoury says...

    I just left this as a reply to another comment, but thought it was worthy to stand alone:

    Go follow Caroline Hirons on Instagram and learn about skincare from the queen. She has been in the business for 30 years, has worked for some of the greatest companies, gives honest unsponsored reviews on her amazing YouTube channel, and will call brands out for using fake marketing ploys or playing into baseless fear marketing. Love love love her (plus she’s sort of the wicked cool Aunt we all want to have/be).

  94. Ana D says...

    Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. OMG. It works. Like, it WORKS works.

  95. joy bela says...

    p50. if you know you know!!!

  96. Sophia F. says...

    Honestly, the beauty product that was worth a splurge was a trip to the dermatologist. I came away with two prescriptions (a $5 prescription azelaic acid cream for my mild rosacea that was cheaper/better than The Ordinary’s and a melasma/hyperpigmentation treatment) that did more for my skin in a few weeks, for less money, than anything I had carefully researched and purchased myself. The appointment completely changed my beauty/skincare/self care outlook and reminded me that it’s often better to shell out the one time fee for professional help than to spend my time and money on hyped up products that may well not be right for me.

    • jen says...

      Can I ask you what your derm suggested for melasma? Mine has basically said there’s not much that can be done (outside of hydroquinone which scares me).

  97. Katie says...

    This mask is my favorite splurge too! I’ve been using it for years. Maybe I’ll use it tonight!

  98. Allegra LaViola says...

    Ole Henriksen Banana Eye cream is a wonder product for my under eye dark circles (age related…not sleep deprived).

    Just got the Keihl’s vitamin C serum and I have actually noticed a big difference in my forhead! Skin seems smoother and less dry.

    Also liking The Inky Gylceloic Acid toner.

    Tried Sunday Riley Good Genes from a Sephora sample and found it very meh. Same with the La Neige Water mask.

    Still searching for a super hydrating night moisturizer!

    • Mandy says...

      I’ve been using a sample of Laneige Cica Sleeping mask and really like it more than the water mask for hydration. I also love the Cosrx rice overnight mask. I layer either of these on top of good old Cerave in a tub and it works well for winters

  99. Sarah says...

    Rose-hip oil is the best anti-wrinkle treatment I’ve ever used on my 37 year old face. Somehow it’s not at all greasy and it doesn’t give me pimples. In the summer I don’t even bother with moisturizer or eye cream, just sunscreen and I’m good to go.

    • liz says...

      I feel this way about raw shea butter.

    • Elizabethkatt says...

      I swear by rosehip seed oil for almost any skin ailment. I use four drops twice a day and to keep away acne and redness, and also skip the moisturizer in the summer.

      Part of me wants to love some of these luxurious expensive beauty treatments, but I’ve yet to find a mask that does a better job than an egg white. Boring, and a little slimy, but effective!

    • I just started using this about a week ago and it definitely sinks into my skin better than I thought it would. I hear the word “oil” and it makes me nervous. I’ve been using the one from The Ordinary and I like it so far.

    • Mona says...

      How do you apply it? I have a little bottle but don’t know what to do with it.

    • Sarah T says...

      Could not agree more Sarah! I am 42 and have been using it for 15 years. I am regularly complimented on my skin and truly believe it has been a key factor in maintaining my complexion (+ sunscreen of course!)
      Maybe it’s a “Sarah” thing? Ha ha!

    • Kim says...

      Mona, I use the dropper in my bottle and put tiny drops on my forehead and cheeks and then rub it in. Sometimes I mix a drop in with my IT CC foundation stuff and it creates a nice dewy look.

  100. Amber Leigh says...

    Have any of you tried the splurgiest of splurges – Augustinus Bader The Cream? The price tag offends me and I’m a bit suspicious of how much of a miracle everyone claims it to be but curious if any real humans have actually tried it and can either debunk or attest to its magical properties?!

    • michaela says...

      Kate Spencer of the podcast Forever 35 tried this, and after using it consistently for a couple months, her review was that it’s…meh. Not a bad cream, but not worth the price for the results she saw. I can’t remember which episodes she discussed it on, but if you search for it on their website, it should come up!

    • Helen says...

      I did. I’m a bit of a cosmetic junkie – and also 42 with 2 you g kids so my skin has gone through hormonal changes.
      I liked the texture – felt like a serum-like cream. And it did give an immediate glow, but I’m not sure I’ll buy it again. The packaging was annoying- didn’t dispense very well and could never tell if I was using the right amount and you never knew how much was left (can’t open it). I an much more attached to my sunday riley good genes treatment at night, a good lactic acid cleanser, vit C serum for day and there are so many great moisturizers – divine immortelle from loccitane this time of year, Embryolisse, Tata Harper, and Dermalogica all have great value products.

    • Amy says...

      I got suckered into buying the body cream, and while the packaging is lovely and the cream itself creamy, I don’t feel like I’m seeing any difference in my skin. I’m a big fan of an inexpensive alpha hydroxy body lotion/cream that I get on Amazon.

    • Courtney says...

      Kate from the Forever35 podcast tried it for a month and said she didn’t notice much difference.

    • Lindsay says...

      I got a sample of it- just to prove to myself that it couldn’t be as amazing as everyone on Instagram (who all got it for free!) wanted me to think. Well… it was AMAZING. Hands down best cream ever (for my skin- I have read of some folks for whom it didn’t work). Usually I use 3 products layered and just using this one cream alone I got better results. I still can’t afford it so now I’m bummed haha.
      But I definitely recommend finding a store that stocks it and asking for a sample. I got mine at blue mercury!

    • Femke says...

      My favorite podcast Forever 35 tried it and you can hear their opinion in episode 88!

    • Hayley says...

      Kate Spencer of Forever35 tried it for a month, and concluded that it didn’t do much to her skin!

    • Erin says...

      One of the hosts of Forever 35 tried it out, and was underwhelmed. They also recently had the two women behind Chemist Confessions on, and they said they are dubious of things that are more than (I think 65-100) and that price does not always equal quality! Highly recommend checking out the Chemist confessions episode for learning about skincare in general.

    • Jean Livingston says...

      I have this cream! Supposedly it was developed by a Dr. who was studying stem cells to help burn victims. In my opinion it’s an extremely overrated cream. I literally have noticed no difference :( Granted, I’m 24 and my skin concerns are very different from that of someone older, but I would have at least expected to see something for the price.

    • a says...

      I’m actually trying it right now – I got a sample (if you live near a retailer I’d highly recommend trying to get them to make you one – it comes in an airtight pump so I don’t feel like it’s gross/unsanitary). I am 28 and trying it for acne so depends on what your goals are I guess. I’ve been trying it for about 10 days and so far.. I mean the part of my face that doesn’t have acne does look nice and glowy, but it’s done nothing for my acne so far. They also initially told me it was meant to be the only thing you use (ie don’t use retinol, etc) but I found that even using the Rich Cream, my face still felt really dry (I have somewhat dry skin). So they then suggested I add oil and/or HA. It doesn’t seem “worth it” to me to have to buy this AND oils, and I’m not totally convinced that it’s doing anything for me yet either. TBD if I’m in a purging period right now. Would highly recommend at least trying to get your hands on a sample

    • Kate says...

      I tried it for about 4 or 5 months (or however long two full-sized bottles of “The Rich Cream” lasted me). Did not notice a difference!!!

      Now I just use Skin Food (regular at night and Light for day underneath my SPF), and use the money I’ve saved on serums and acids. I have been following Caroline Hirons’ advice for a month or two and found that to be much more effective.

  101. lindsey says...

    huile prodiguese- dry oil! It smells so lovely and works kind of like a perfume but also kind of like a tonic to rub on before bed or after a shower.

    • Anna says...

      Agreed!

  102. Oh come on, half the fun of a facial mask is frightening members of your family!

    • Emma says...

      What a delightful comment…Thank You!

    • Thea says...

      Haha haha!!

    • Mona says...

      Haha so true, until I scared my 8 month old so badly she was almost inconsolable.

    • Alex says...

      Isn’t it, right !? :D

    • Sarz says...

      Haha, yes! Men are spooked easily by such things. 😂

    • Hayley says...

      hahaha i agree. i only do mud masks when my husband is home ;-)

    • Betsy says...

      Truth! My boyfriend always asks if the mask I use is really necessary. The dogs look at me like I have 3 heads! I’m terrible at actually doing it regularly. Guess I need to get better about it, and it won’t freak him, and the dogs out, when I do get around to using it!

    • Karen says...

      Have you ever had the face recognition on your phone not work while wearing a mask? Cracks me up!

  103. Kelly says...

    Marie Veronique / Kristina Haley Vitamin C and Barrier Protection serum; trying to avoid chemicals and harsh essential oils.

    • Stef says...

      I love their products! The new Vitamin C serum and Barrier Restore serum are my favorites. I love that they don’t have any essential oils or fragrance.

  104. Em says...

    hands down my favorite product recently has been Henry Rose fragrances.
    I stopped wearing designer fragrance for so long because of all the chemicals and nonsense, so when these came out I pounced. They’re EWG verified and actually smell SO amazing (also, Michelle Pfeiffer!!!)
    Plus, you can get a discovery set for $20 to try them all and see which ones you like and then you get a coupon for $20 off a full size bottle. totally recommend.

    • Melanie says...

      I love how they smell. But on me, nothing! I was so disappointed. The fragrance doesn’t last at all.

  105. Dr. Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream is my ultimate splurge. I rationalize the price since it combines several products into one (toner, moisturizer, serum) and I don’t get facials or other treatments. I bought my first one on sale and then tried to go without it to no avail. It’s ridiculously expensive I’m almost embarrassed to admit I use it!

  106. SG says...

    I hate to be the naysayer on here but is anyone else feeling like the skincare market is simply duping women from parting with their hard earned money for results that are little more than …. I don’t know…. the placebo effect? I’ve stuck with my cheap drugstore brands, am 42 years old and someone recently told me I looked like a college student. I’m not trying to shame anyone for splurging on products that make them feel great, it’s just that I feel like we are all being had… big time. For promises that are not necessarily true. I eat very healthy, drink a TON of water, use simple products and that is what I attribute my skin to. For those that remember Paco and her words of advice on finance. You can achieve your goals but you have to say no to certain things. I just feel that this market is ripe for exploitation. I do splurge on things that matter to me (we just had a very pricey kitchen renovation that has made us very happy to cook again) but this is one area where I feel like women are just being duped, and these are the things that I say NO to that allow me to save up for the things that matter (vacation experiences for my family, etc) . And yes, I was tempted to purchase that face mask too! OK off the soapbox, carry on.

    • liz says...

      Yes, I feel this way. I also occasionally buy expensive skin crap. But mostly I use shea butter and try hard to ignore the temptation. (I am a sucker for good packaging, scent, marketing.)

    • Carolyn says...

      AMEN, sis! I also hear the siren song at times and have put some money into a few products I enjoy (Beauty Counter) because of the clean ingredients. I don’t begrudge any woman the choice to purchase and use a fancy product, especially if it nourishes her in some way. However, I’m totally turned off by the way the beauty industry targets and panders to women, the embedded messages of beauty and youth as the highest merit and at all costs, and the luxury market and status symbols for skincare. UGH. And yet I too enjoy a pretty jar and a CoJ Beauty Uniform. I guess we contain multitudes.

    • Kirsten says...

      Totally get where you’re coming from, and to a certain extent it’s true. No potion is going to be some kind of miracle worker, and some of this stuff is certainly pulling the wool over our eyes. But I’ll also say that I drink a ton of water, eat healthy and exercise and with drug store products my skin looked decidedly terrible for years. I have a big multi-step routine now (not with insanely expensive products, but still) and it looks sooo much better. So depends on your personal skin too, I think.

    • Ana D says...

      I feel like some people are working with a really great genetic starter kit for their skin or hair, and for them, they can use almost any product and see great results.

      In high school I had a friend with INCREDIBLE hair. She swore by Suave shampoo and conditioner. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t the goddam products she was using; her hair was just truly incredible. When I talked to people who had similar hair to mine (curly, dry, easily frizzed) I started to triangulate products that cost more and worked better. The correlation wasn’t 100% between cost and effectiveness, but I soon learned that I’m not going to be able to use $5 conditioner and have my hair feel and look its best.

      You may be one of those people with incredible skin! Or you may not be. But there are some people who have problematic skin due to genetics and environmental factors out of their control, and they see great results from some high-octane, high price tag skincare products.

      If I was blessed with the incredible mane of my high school friend, I’d think the entire haircare industry was a giant scam. Since I’m blessed with MY particular mane, I’ve experienced that some of the haircare industry is doing the lord’s work, with some interspersed scamminess.

    • Melissa says...

      I feel the same!

    • Gigi says...

      More helpful if you could share your drugstore recommendations that have helped you feel your best so we could stop losing our hard earned money :)

    • Lori says...

      SG: So much yes.

      I used that beautiful Resurfacing face mask for a year…loved it but couldn’t stomach the cost again. I’ve found that hydration, SLEEP and the Acure facial scrub works just as well. I’m 44 and happy with my skin.
      Advice to my younger self…SUNSCREEN.

    • K says...

      I agree. Every time I look at my 85 dollar skin cream, it makes me mad. It’s totally not worth it. It’s a small jar, no way that there is some super ingredient in there that makes it that expensive.
      My husband’s cream isn’t nearly that much money – and his skin looks great.
      Frankly, being more environmentally conscious now with my skincare has helped me simplify the routine, stress less, and save money.

    • Irene says...

      Amen! This is a must-read comment.

    • Agnes says...

      That’s where ‘The Ordinary’ line came in. I buy their oils and retinols and acids for literally around $10 Canadian. They are amazing and the best thing I’ve used on my skin. Their philosophy is just what you’ve said. 100% pure squalane oil for $8? Yes. Please. And it lasts forever.

    • anne says...

      Amen, sister! 100%! That being said, after fertility treatments and pregnancy, it’s like I’m having to rediscover my skin. For me, it was worth the splurge but wait for it… just go to the dermatologist and got a script for tretinoin (generic retin-a) and mix that shit up with my store brand or coconut oil in winter! It’s way less than most of these potions and it’s been clinically proven to work. I didn’t use it during pregnancy (slight risk) but I’m very excited to start using it again. I’m 41 and until I stopped dying my hair (and I suspect putting my medicated lotion down) people thought I was *much* younger all the time. During TTC and pregnancy, I had great results just mixing organ oil and rose hip oil.

    • Angela says...

      Amen.

    • Tovah says...

      I feel this!

    • spark says...

      AMEN!! Yes to all of this.

    • Meg says...

      I completely agree with this and feel so passionately about it. I don’t know if you listen to the Beauty Brains podcast, but they tell it like it is. Of course bloggers and beauty magazine editors are going to claim something works, because you can’t sell magazines by presenting the same proven-effective products over and over again (Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Tretinoin, Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, Sunscreen, etc.) Yay capitalism.

      Do I think there are natural ingredients which are somewhat effective for which we don’t have proven studies (because it’s hard to fund a study for something that can’t be patented)? Of course.

      But is the beauty industry much like the pharmaceutical industry and perfume industry, where you have a few key manufacturers and/or labs creating massed produced formulations and there is a lot of *very similar* or *the same* formulations being marketed under different labels at drastically different price points, for no reason other than better packaging/slicker marketing? I think so. Even reputable women who we want to trust start companies with straightforward, oft-used lab formulations that you could get so much more inexpensively (if you have to have it), even if the formula itself doesn’t do anything fancier than moisturize skin.

      But what’s different to me about the beauty industry versus the perfume industry, for example, is that I think women don’t think perfume is promising them actual results, as in ‘wear this perfume and your preferred gender(s) for romantic liaisons will flock to you.’ Same with jeans or anything else we buy- we recognize it might make us feel good, but if a brand of jeans actually claimed to ACTUALLY REDUCE (or increase, whatever one prefers ;) ) the size of your bum, people would laugh.

      But skincare companies make claims that people want to believe, like this skin care will decrease my wrinkles, or it will make my skin healthier or GLOW (what an overused word!), or if I use this now it will mean that my skin will necessarily look better in the future. That irks me because there doesn’t seem to be any regulation of these advertising claims, and there isn’t a great source of truth (EXCEPT Beauty Brains- I love those guys).

      OF COURSE women should spend whatever they want on skin care, but I hope women are also aware of the fact that the industry is rife with false claims and duplicative products at different price points.

      Google Augustinus Bader skin cream ingredients. You might be surprised at the products you find where the first 7+ ingredients (signaling what is most prevalent in the formula by volume, from what I understand) are the same. Also I find it interesting that the marketing is done based on his professional pedigree, and a ‘patented formula’ that no one knows anything about, but which I suspect is just some common oils and a peptide. But also, why would any woman want to put something on their largest organ, hoping for absorption, when you *literally* cannot look up what the ingredient actually is? Sounds reasonable. (Not.)

      Google the ingredients for Lara Devgan’s Platinum Lip Plumper. She also uses her professional pedigree to sell products. You’ll smile when you find the exact dupes to her product.

      My favorite thing to do is take a product I have the Gimmes for, google the ingredients to find similar products, and throw the ingredients into an ingredient analyzer to know what I’m really getting.

      I recognize that the joy we get out of an expensive cream may be due to marketing and hype. It might feel more special to use a $200 skin cream, and more power to ya if you do (I have!! and there some products I use because they do feel luxurious even if I know they aren’t doing anything long term for my skin, or I just like the small business owner and what they are about, quite honestly), but I just really hope that people truly know that the little $200 container may be priced based on marketing and hype, not based on efficacy.

      Whew. Rant over. I’m with ya, Sis.

    • Sophie says...

      Thank you for this! I feel it too but man, these companies do such a good job at making these products shiny and ever so appealing. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth!

    • Whitney says...

      LOVE THIS. Amen, sister.

    • Savannah says...

      Not really. I think some people have great genes – and I think it sounds like you do! But some of us have struggled a lot with our skin, and I know it’s taken me a lot of time, effort, and product to get my skin where it is. You’re lucky. I haven’t been. C’est la vie.

    • Rashmi says...

      SG, am glad that your skin is happy with the drugstore products. But do know that we all have different skin requirements and what works for you may not work for anyone else.
      I take real offence as to why women are accused of being dumb anytime they choose to spend their hard earned money on something. This comment is a standard one on all beauty or clothing reviews/posts I read online. I somehow never see such comments on sports events (traditionally male). The tickets to watch one top tier game cost a whole lot more than my serums which last for months. Somehow no one ever talks of all marketers have duped men into watching a bunch of rich men kicking around a ball etc.
      The moment however its women discussing a makeup/skincare/clothing purchase, out come the “oh it’s useless and you are falling for advertisement ” comments by the dozen. Terribly frustrating.

    • Sandra says...

      Hear! Hear! As someone who has spent ALOT of her hard-earned money and Sephora — all sorts of potions (including the mask above), and seen negligible results after $1,000s Of dollars spent (“rouge” status). I am starting to question this business that seems to be exploiting my insecurities.

    • kim says...

      I think everybody is different. blessed with good skin, i don’t find the splurgy stuff worth it, but once in a while, I do find products that make a difference in how my skin feels/looks and that I enjoy enough to wash my face and take care of my skin.

      some products that i’ve found make a difference:
      -aesops exofoliating paste
      -oil of olay regenerist cream (how does it make my skin so soft?)

    • Heather says...

      I totally hear you SG! I use a sensitive bar soap for my face and Aveeno moisturizer and sunscreen. It worked for years, but after my fourth child and going through some big hormone/anxiety/health changes, my skin was terrible. I tried several natural (and inexpensive) remedies and nothing helped. A friend recommended a product* to me and after hearing her experience, and reading about the product, I paid my $40 (an unthinkable sum for me for a face cream) and gave it a try. Fast forward 6 months and I’ve bought two replacement jars and it is one of the highlights of my day to massage my face with the luscious balm.
      Along with getting the right medication, birth control, and therapy for my issues, helping my skin feel more like me has brought me lots of joy and confidence. I totally agree that it’s healthy to remember that skincare companies exist first and foremost to make money, but I don’t think it’s fair to assume the women buying these products aren’t doing so thoughtfully.

      *It’s REN Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm

    • Emily R says...

      yes, I couldn’t agree more!

    • Kimberly says...

      I am a skincare/haircare product hoarder, and I absolutely agree with you. My husband washes his face with water and look ten years younger than he is. I use products primarily from the Ordinary, Whole Foods and Target.

    • Sylvie says...

      We had a dermatologist present in Uni about this and you are right. All the ingredients are similar. Marketing and hype increase the price. Remembering this scientific fact help when I’m tempted!!

    • Sylvie says...

      We had a dermatologist present in Uni about this and you are right. All the ingredients are similar. Marketing and hype increase the price. Remembering this scientific fact helps when I’m tempted!!

    • Cay says...

      That’s nice that eating healthy and drinking a ton of water gives you good skin. I also eat healthy and drink a ton of water, and it does not make any visible difference to my face – as do a ton of women. Skincare products make a clear impact on my face. And they also make me happy. You have “good” genes. Congratulations.

      Also, the idea that women who like nice skincare products or struggle with clear skin just don’t have healthier eating habits or don’t spend their skincare money on something that “matters” is insulting. We can criticize what is rightly wrong with the skincare industry without judging other women’s choices when they’re different from ours.

    • Lexy says...

      Preach! I feel the same. I love that other people feel good about beauty rituals and trying new products, but I’m just not into it. I wash my face in the shower with water (and nothing else). Haven’t had zits since puberty. I wear daily sunscreen (not loyal to any brand, just one that’s at least SPF 50), and that’s about as fancy as I get.

      That being said, I splurge in plenty of other ways: once or twice a month I go to a local foot spa for a massage, I have a cleaning woman who comes biweekly, and I ALWAYS buy European butter (it just tastes better!).

      Life is a series of trade-offs, and I will forever trade expensive skin-care products for good butter.

    • M says...

      SG, I’ve been thinking about this too! I’ve started dabbling in skincare and while it’s no doubt fun to try new products, I do wonder how much these products are really doing. How much does having “good” skin come down to what’s outside of our control, like our genes? But of course, it’s not profitable for skincare companies to tell us we’re fine the way we are. There’s always some mythical expensive product out of our reach that will “fix” us. Food for thought!

    • Leah says...

      Yes yes yes

    • Alex says...

      I get your point. I have a suspicion, too, that all of these skincare products do very little. My mom is 55, only washes her face with water, most of the time uses no cream at all, and looks fresh, her skin is clean with minimum wrinkles. BUT – I have to admit I still love the process of applying a nice face mask or serum…it’s kind of a ritual I guess….?

    • Annie says...

      Yes ! For most big name brands you’re paying for their marketing. Anything that is promoted by a celebrity will basically include their adtronomical salary in the price of the product. There is a psychological component too that brands are well aware of, where people believe that the more a product costs, the better it is but it is simply not always the reality.
      The answer is to educate ourselves on how our body works and basic chemistry. It really helps in making informed decisions rather than blindly buying into a fad or a shiny image that will make you feel like your social status is different by the magic of this or that new purchase while you’re actually poorer for having bought it…
      I use brands like the Ordinary which use all of the same components most great skincare products have but they keep the outside very generic to keep the product cost down. I think it’s great !

    • Marti says...

      It sounds like you are blessed with beautiful skin! I’m one of the less fortunate; I drink tons of water, eat super well, omit dairy from my diet and have spent years healing from PCOS and gut issues and, yet… still, at the age of 28, I struggle with persistent cystic acne. I switched to clean products years ago but splurge on a few clinical-but-clean products that make a HUGE difference in how my skin heals from breakouts and/or helps prevent them (as best as they can) — the mentioned mask is one of them!
      Although I do think that the beauty the industry is rife with products that prey on women’s insecurities (hello, cellulite is NORMAL and wrinkles are A-OK), I also think it’s a God-send that there are products out there that help boost my self esteem when acne can be, truly, so crippling. To me, that matters A LOT.
      All that to say, I think calling out the industry’s less-fine points is a worthy cause, but keep in mind that these splurges to some are saviors to others who may not have the same good genes :)

    • Jane says...

      I totally agree! I have never bought an expensive product in my life (40 years old), have good skin and am often told I look years younger. That said, the industry is constantly telling us women we need to look young in order to be attractive, hence all the beauty products. Men are “allowed” to look their age and don’t have counters and isles catered to their skin care. Our skin also absorbs everything we put on it and I think it very alarming that women will use creams for their wrinkles when the ingredients are actually irritating to the skin, causing a reaction which puffs up the skin and therfore “removes” said wrinkles. Ladies- we are being duped!

    • MM says...

      I love the idea of luxurious skin care rituals (that gorgeous little jar!), but honestly, I feel the exact same way you do. This market exploits the collective cultural obsession with youth and wellness at the expense of women.

    • M says...

      I fully agree! I only use the things that are really proven to be anti-aging: a retinoid/retinol (by the ordinary, under 10 bucks, lasts 3 months) at night and sunscreen during the day. I add a cheap eyecream under the sunscreen in the morning and weleda skin food at night over the retinoid. My skin is in the best shape ever, thanks to the retinoid no more zits, minimized pores, very smooth surface, moisturized and protected against aging sunlight (sunscreen), plus wrinkle prevention for the future (retinoid/retinol). Also, no more milia! And not even in need for masks anymore. Cheap and efficient!

    • Maryn says...

      I feel the same way!

    • Janey says...

      Agree! I’ve used expensive products in the past and as an experiment switched to cheapo moisturiser, make up and plain cold tap water to wash my face. ZERO difference. Look exactly the same and save a load of money which I spend on lovely meals out and travels!
      However although I truly believe it to be a massive con, if it makes people feel good about themselves I guess that’s worth something

    • Martina says...

      Yep, so glad someone said that! And this is coming from a skincare addict (trying to cut down though…). I think some products do work, but so much of it is that placebo/insta effect. Lifestyle can transform your skin (and it can all be down to genetics too). Thanks for this comment! :)

    • Jane says...

      Just here to say I 100% agree with you SG!

    • Holly says...

      Yes, totally agree with you. Though I do find drugstore brands to be full of perfume.

    • Traci McDuffie says...

      I think that OFTEN! I think water is the best skin care whenever my face is looking off I drink a TON of water (and try not to wear makeup unless I’m going out) and magically my skin looks better – go figure :)

    • Nina Reis says...

      SG,
      So funny you said this. I was recently on a mission to find quality, clean, products that work very well and are under $50 per product. After years of coveting Tammy Fender’s Quintessential Serum at $175! GASP! I have only tried 2 samples and have never bought the full size bottle – because, well, $175. At 43 years old, those tiny samples are truly is the best thing I have ever put on my face. However, I restrain myself from buying it even though I get the best looking skin I’ve ever had. Recently, I found “Up Circle – organic face serum”, $20. It is different ingredients but I find the results on my face are so similar that I would never pay $150 MORE to get similar results. Its tough, right?! I think there are a few “unicorns” out there worth the money, but honestly, I agree with you – women are often getting duped. For those who want to be savvy, Pai skincare has some really lovely, hard working, very “clean” products for a moderate price point. I use their Rosehip cleansing oil ($56) and their Camomile Rosehip Calming Day Cream ($60). Both are a little more than I’d like to spend, but for my sensitive skin, they work fantastically! And yes, no shame to those who like a good splurge! Its fun!

    • I think often the difference between the high end products and the less expensive ones is packaging and marketing. I like https://thebeautybrains.com/blog/ – written by a pair of cosmetic chemists who look at how various products work and which ingredients actually matter. Clearly there are some exceptions to this but it’s awfully subjective and like you I want to use my money wisely. Sunblock, moisturizer and a little more are key along with your comments of healthy diet and lots of water – and not smoking!

    • Mary W. says...

      I agree with you.

    • a says...

      Honestly.. I used to feel the same way as you until I started actually having issues with my skin. I never had acne during high school, etc. and always had the most bare bones routine ever. A few years ago that changed – not even sure why as my diet is now cleaner than ever, I drink tons of water, etc as well.

      I started going to a derm, tried the prescription stuff, hasn’t helped. I then started adding a bunch of different things to my routine and to be honest nothing has been a silver bullet yet but it’s somewhat helped (though not perfect still).

      I do agree that this market is ripe for exploitation, but I also think that it’s a bit condescending to just be like, just use simple products and eat healthy and drink water! It’s akin to being like, lose weight by just moving more!

      It’s not so simple.

    • liz says...

      Yeah — I just posted elsewhere that I’m torn between these great reviews and my dermatologist’s comments that most of these products do absolutely nothing. Not really sure how to navigate this field so I try to keep it simple.

    • Therese says...

      Yes to this comment! I have almost never seen any real difference from various fancy skin creams. I just did an IPL laser treatment and that was amazing for my skin.

    • Katie says...

      Until recently, I bought my serum and face cream and toner from Leaf Seed Berry off of etsy. It’s really wonderful stuff and not nearly as expensive as some of the other stuff on here. It feels really glamorous to use it because I never really cared to spend time doing that stuff. However, my skin has been so dry this winter, so I just switched to washing with Noxzema at night, thinking Grandma’s skin was beautiful up until she died in her late 80s. I’ve been following up with cetaphil cream.
      It’s not that my skin is perfect now, but it looks much more dewey and the sleep lines around my eyes are fading. Plus there is less variability on a day to day basis. It’s only been four days though. I use the serum and cream from Leaf Seed Berry in the morning. I think I’m going to stick with this routine a while. We’ll see what happens when the warmer months hit, because I tend to be pretty oily.

    • Cat says...

      I completely agree and really appreciate that I didn’t have to be the first one to say it. This year I’ve realized that I can use Stridex pads and get the same results as Paula’s Choice acid serums. I can snag Hyaluronic acid from the Ordinary to add to my routine for $5 compared to Tata Harper’s $115. And then for moisturizers, my life changed when I found Sephora’s “Clean” line which contains no silicone or parabens and has adorable packaging like Drunk Elephant for 1/6 the price. With the vast amount of information found on the internet, researching ingredients and finding the least expensive options to suit your needs is easier than it ever has been. I certainly get wrapped into the marketing of luxury candles and sometimes blow my money on those. I find that easier to justify because they bring me a far more expansive sense of joy and wonder than trying to tame my complexion ever has.

    • Maire says...

      I also feel like this. I use the skincare products from Trader Joes (their Nourish daily moisturizer is like $4 and it has SPF 15 and not the kind of SPF that makes my skin break out in a rash) and occasionally like to buy fun facemasks at the drugstore. Also, I know it isn’t a “clean” product, but I have tried many fancier brands- benefit, too faced, etc. and for me, there is no better mascara than Cover Girl Clumpcrusher (the one in the green tube).

    • Denise says...

      I agree that a lot of the main ingredients can be found in something cheaper. The problem that i’ve had is to find a cheaper product that doesn’t use the ingredients that I DON’T want which is why sometimes I have to resort to a more expensive beauty product.

    • Megan says...

      YAS!!!!!!!!! to Rashmi’s comment below.
      *with the exception of pyramid schemes duping other women to sell/buy products.

    • Lindsay Marie says...

      I feel that way too. The way I eat and sleep determines how my skin is looking. I think it’s mostly genes. And lifestyle.
      I go by feel, I use products that make my skin feel moist and hydrated and soft. Occasional exfoliation. When I do fasting, my skin looks amazing.
      I do want to look into treatments at the derm that reduces age spots, fine lines etc. around 40 I will.

    • SG says...

      Wow, I definitely did not expect so much reaction to my original post! To be clear, I definitely do not feel that women are “dumb” for buying expensive skincare products. If a product works for you and your skin and you feel good about the purchase, all the more power to you. Also, I have not been blessed with magical genes and perfect skin, on the contrary my skin is extremely sensitive, and breaks out quite a bit. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of trying to “fix” my skin but I’ve come to terms and realized that for me, drinking a ton of water, eating healthy and using the simplest products is best. This by no means makes me believe that everyone else can do the same and get the same result. I simply wanted to remind folks that there is no magic “elixir” to fix your skin, and that starting with the basics can help. I’m just reminding those who may not necessarily need to spend large amounts of money when their skincare routine is just fine… also those who may be trying to get out of debt or to reach a financial goal that the beauty industry is most definitely not acting in their best interest. Like many of you have already said, most products of similar category have similar ingredients, but the marketing and the hype all add to the “buy now” hysteria that is tough to resist, especially in this instagram age. You do NOT need an expensive product to look better. You are already enough. With that said, if you have the money and it makes you feel good- go for it! If not, think twice before clicking “buy.” Just think and do some research before you buy. Is this the best use of your money or is there some other underlying need that you feel the eye cream will fulfill?Is it about the eye cream or something else altogether? Just food for thought. We’re all in this together, and I LOVE how this COJ community is so smart, opinionated (in a good way) and able to express opinions so articulately! We do not all have to agree but I love how we all make each other think.

    • Em says...

      Agree. I have PCOS and have never had great skin, but I didn’t realize why till being diagnosed at 36. What fixed it (for a while)? Being pregnant! I would be so grateful for recommendations for what to do to balance hormones naturally without having to splurge on products I’m just going to wash off.

    • Anna says...

      Hallelujah and yes to your comment, SG. Rashmi, I would absolutely post a similar comment on a male-orientated sporting site, it’s just that I rarely visit them! I harp on about the waste of money and resources chucked at pointless sports events ALL THE TIME. In the current climate emergency surely it’s more important than ever to remember how some companies play on our insecurities in order to tell us stuff we don’t need, in packaging that chokes the planet. My skin would be pretty un-glowy in an apocalypse, I’m sure. I am not perfect in this respect, not even close, but I appreciate reading comments that remind me what’s important.

  107. W says...

    ISDIN Melatonik. Got a sample form my dermatologist and figured, “Whatever. I already use Good Genes.” But goodness, the difference this made. The little bumpies disappeared off my forehead. The pores on my nose shrank and stopped clogging. Everything just looks…better. Brighter, firmer, clearer. Even my (occasional) pimples heal faster now.

  108. Josephine says...

    Just adding a comment for Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen. It feels almost like a primer and turned me into a daily sunscreen wearer!

    • Joaquina says...

      Yes, I love it even though I don’t wear make up. Leaves a velvety, smooth texture.

    • Jean Livingston says...

      Sunscreen is something I’m sorta obsessed about! Finding one in America that’s a nice texture and doesn’t leave any white cast is nearly impossible. I recommend checking out Asian sunscreens! They have a watery, almost gel like consistency that feel more like a moisturizing serum. Right now I’m using one by the brand Suncut. But if you just look up Asian sunscreens you’ll find lots of brands!

    • Joaquina says...

      Jean:
      Sunscreens made or even sold in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea
      are tested on animals. Supergoop is a fantastic option for those of us who
      only use cruelty-free products.

    • Melanie says...

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news but last I checked (a few months ago), Unseen Sunscreen (my old favorite) had a problematic ingredient that they even conceded wasn’t great and that they would be phasing out sometime this year. Not sure if they’ve done it yet. But worth looking into.

  109. Jessica says...

    I am totally in love with tata harpers Oil cleanser. It isn’t irritating, it smells good, and makes my skin look SOOOOOOO good. It was a total splurge, but well worth it. I got a sample at the makeup counter at Nordstrom before I bit the bullet because it is $$$

  110. Ashley says...

    I’d love to know your favorite masks- something super hydrating and detoxifying?

    And an eye cream. What’s your favorite eye cream?

    I use Yonka, but love all your suggestions.

    • dolly says...

      i have oily skin and these are my faves:

      Detox: Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask
      Hydrating: Summer Fridays Jet Lag (can use as a daily moisturizer, eye mask, sleeping mask (my oily skin go to), primer!)
      Eye Cream: Kiehls Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado (night), Biossance
      Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel (day or night)

    • Jessie says...

      I second the Kiehl’s avocado eye cream. I can’t live without it.

    • Amy J says...

      Algenist eye cream available at Nordstrom or Sephora. Expensive but you get a lot and it lasts a looong time. I’m almost 50 and have no lines under my eyes. (But genetics, good sunglasses and eye cream sunscreen help!) Ohhhh – LOVE Colorscience Total Eye 3 in 1 with SPF is Amazing!!! It has a hint of color so if you don’t really need concealer, it’s got you covered,

  111. Melanie says...

    Any recommendations for make-up and face products (cleansing, moisturizing, & sunblock) for sensitive skin? Specifically- dermatitis near my nose and around my mouth. My doctor said to use hypoallergenic products and that it would take at least 8 weeks to clear up. She told me this in October. I still get flare-ups (hormonal?) I switched to Simple face wash and lotion; Walgreens brand sunblock is labeled hypoallergenic. Would like suggestions 😀 I’m in my early 40s, perimenopausal and feel like I’m back in junior high 😂

    • Lib says...

      I fell in love with Cocokind… their products and mission are INCREDIBLE!!! And it’s affordable!

    • Ashley says...

      First Aid Beauty has been really good to my sensitive skin! It’s at Sephora, but it’s not insanely expensive.

    • RL says...

      Melanie, I have so many thoughts! I’ve gotten bad contact dermatitis for years. Here are my faves:
      – Cetaphil face wash (recommended by my allergist)
      – eltamd sunscreen with hylaronic acid (find it on dermstore)
      – vanicream (Walgreens or CVS have it, it’s a real life saver when things get bad)

      None of these are thrilling but they keep my skin happy so I can layer fun stuff into my routine. I’m sorry you’re dealing with contact dermatitis, I’ve found it to be at times painful and always annoying as hell 😊

    • Sarah says...

      I always use Avene products when dermatitis flares up :)

    • Hilary says...

      Melanie-

      I have sensitive skin and rosacea, and I’ve had good luck with the following:

      – Glossier milky jelly cleanser
      – The Ordinary products (I use the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%). My skin LOVES these products and looks the best it has in ages. Pregnancy and postpartum left me with a lot of breakouts and discoloration, and these have cleared it up.
      – Sunscreen: Clinique super city block works well and hasn’t irritated my skin.

    • Annie says...

      My dermatologist recommended the epionce line (cleanser and night cream), and I’ve really liked them. I have sensitive skin and am in my 40s, too.

    • Kirsten says...

      EltaMD Sunscreen or tinted sunscreen does wonders for me

    • Ana D says...

      Good luck, Melanie! Figuring out skincare solutions for sensitive skin is a true science experiment.

      Here are my Sensitive Skin Truths:
      1. My face skin and body skin are much less reactive when I use products with zero fragrance. Like, the ingredient list shall not include the word “Fragrance”.
      2. Hot water is the devil, and the devil is bad. Avoid the devil. I don’t care how good it feels, I never wash my hands or face with hot water. Warm water, OK. But hot water is incredibly stripping and makes my dermatitis worse.
      3. Soap products (face wash, body wash) are like tequila shots. USE SPARINGLY AND ONLY WHEN NOTHING ELSE WILL DO. Instead of soap to wash my face, I use micellar water on a cotton ball to clean off dead skin at the end of the day and remove any makeup. My brand of choice is Garnier Miceller Water (the blue lid version that removes waterproof makeup works best for my skin, even if I’m not using waterproof makeup).
      4. Moisture is everything. I need to stay hydrated, and moisturize my face morning and night with unfragranced products.
      5. Be gentle. Our faces are so special, even when they’re doing things we don’t like. Be so kind to your face skin. Don’t scrub it like bathroom tile or hit it with chemical peel after chemical peel. Treat your face skin with the courtesy you hope it will one day show you in return.

    • Sharon says...

      I just wanted to add, I love Vanicream cleanser and lite lotion (and cream if I need it). I had a horrible flare up of rosacea at 37 and found out I was also allergic to Cetaphil cleanser (recommended by so many). Vanicream has been a blessing to me. At this point, I would also suggest another dermatologist to get that resolved. I wanted to pass along my empathy. It was super frustrating to have horrible acne (the rosacea) out of no where with no clue what to do. Best of luck. My dermatologist put me on oral antibiotics and two topicals and we had it completely resolved in 2 months. After 6 months of struggling, trying everything.

    • I have dermatitis and I take l-lysine supplements on the rec of a coworker. Paired with generic cetaphil cleanser and lotion, and sw basics serum at night. No topical product cleared the dermatitis, only the supplement worked!

    • Melanie says...

      To all who replied- thank you, thank you, thank you!! I’m writing this all down and will try everything! I’m so excited about these recommendations. Once again, the CoJ community has been so wonderfully helpful 😁

    • KW says...

      I second Avene! Specifically the Cicalfate Restorative Cream. It’s a little pricey but you can usually find it at Walgreens. Perioral dermatitis is so frustrating—good luck!

    • Emily says...

      I have the same issues, sadly, and have had to rely on a prescription steroid cream on and off to help me with this. My skin is sensitive, but easily susceptible to breakouts when it’s unhappy, so it’s a difficult balance for me. But products I’ve found that work for me and keep things at bay with super consistent use: OLO oil cleanser (doesn’t irritate my eye area like most oil cleansers do – and I tend to get dermatitis around my eyes and my nose/mouth), Fresh soy cleanser, Herbivore botanicals Blue Tansy Resurfacing clarity mask (helps with exfoliating any dry skin that comes with the dermatitis, but is gentle for me), hydrating masks – I love the Farmacy honey mask, Herbivore’s Phoenix or Emerald oil, and Laneige’s water bank moisture cream has been a favorite of mine for the last several months – nonirritating, but hydrating.

    • Rachel says...

      I have eczema/atopic dermatitis which makes me sensitive to many products. I’ve found that minimizing the number of products I used not only streamlined my routine but made my skin much more predictable. I cleanse with either Cetaphil liquid cleanser or the Vanicream bar soap, the La-Roche Posay SPF 50 mineral sunscreen as my daily moisturizer and Aveeno Ultra Calming Night Cream at night. All of these can be found at your local drug store and aren’t super expensive. I used the Vanicream SPF 35 on my face for years but it can be pretty thick/greasy and takes a while to rub in, so I switched to the La-Roche Posay since it goes on smoothly under makeup and blends in without leaving that whitish zinc tint. I’ve had good luck with the Origins Eye Doctor eye cream. One piece of advice my dermatologist offered to me was “if it sounds like a salad bar, you should probably not use it” because plants have really complex compounds that allergy prone skin can be really reactive to.

    • Helen says...

      You want something that will help repair your skin barrier.
      Moisturizer with very few ingredients, then a barrier cream like the one from Dermalogica.
      Use gentle cleansers that don’t sudse, and keeo water cook.

    • Kate says...

      I second Cocokind. My skin is super reactive to everything lately, and I’ve also got issues with dermatitis around my nose and mouth. I found if I use their oil to milk cleanser and their facial repair oil, my skin is a lot happier. Also their chlorophyll mask is my favorite mask ever. For the dermatitis specifically, I don’t know how it works but I use Honey Girl Organics Super Skin Food, and my dermatitis started healing the week I started using it. Hope that helps!

    • Marti says...

      Hi Melanie!
      I highly recommend Mad Hippie’s oil cleanser. A lot of people feel weird about using oil to cleanse, but it’s so good for replenishing your skin and not damaging the moisture barrier — super key if you’re experiencing dermatitis!! A healthy moisture barrier allows your skin to do some important self-healing.
      This particular oil cleanser has minimal ingredients that are clean, moisturizing, cleansing AND healing. You rub a few pumps into your skin, which emulsifies all the dirt and makeup, then place a hot washcloth over your face and wipe everything off. Somehow the makeup and dirt comes off, but your skin doesn’t feel dry or too squeaky! A perfect canvas to layer on your serum or moisturizer.
      There are a lot of lovely oil cleansers out there, this is just the one that I have fallen in love with :)
      Maybe worth a shot!

    • Alice says...

      I second Avene.
      I have rosacea, and get psoriasis flare ups (the rosacea is in my eyes so I react to many fragranced creams too). My skin is dry too, but it’s generally good (now – I’m 41 and it took years to find a groove) I think because I keep it simply and don’t switch products.
      I use Avene tolerance moisturiser and rosehip, olive, or avocado oil. I use Dermalogica ultracalming cleanser (my splurge), no foundation. Sleep, water, fish oil supplements, and low level biotin also helpful for me.
      Good luck getting it sorted, I know the pain, of both skin issues and wasting money on products trying to help it.

    • Kate says...

      Hi Melanie, La Roche Posay Cicaplast B5 Baume works great for me for dermatitis flares. Stay away from foaming cleanser of any kind. My skin loves Clinique Take the Day off and Fresh soy face cleanser. Look at La Roche Posay’s Toleriane line also (they carry it at Target and CVS). It’s very gentle. They are a French farmacy brand,as well as Avene which another poster recommend, and they use more gentle ingredients than our drugstore brands tend to, while including ceremides to strengthen the skin barrier. Also, check out aesthetician Caroline Hirons’ blog, where she talks more in-depth about care for sensitive skin and journalist Sali Hughes (the Guardian newspaper) who writes great columns about care of sensitive skin ( and has a dermatitis-like condition herself). With any luck, your skin will be feeling better soon!

    • Meg says...

      Hi there! I typically get eczema outbreaks on my eyelids and around my mouth. I started using Lush products and saw a big improvement. Routine: remove make up and cleanse with ultrabland , remove product with a soaking warm face towel (I luxuriate in this moment), followed with eau roma water, enchanted eye cream and skin drink face cream. Best wishes!

    • Samantha says...

      I second Cocokind. Truly magical products that 100% transformed my skin.

    • Amanda says...

      My recommendations are boring but often sensitive skin needs boring!

      I wash with Cera ve foaming cleanser or some similar bland, gentle cleanser.

      Lotion: Cetaphil or Cera ve, the ones in the big pump bottle.

      Sunscreen: elta md clear

      All gentle, fragrance-free, but effective. I’d avoid any other products for now and try to avoid wearing makeup as much as possible. If you do wear makeup, look for fragrance-free and remove it as soon as you can.

  112. Dani says...

    Love your jacket first of all.

    I have a tight budget, so my splurge may not be as such. I have sensitive skin, and I love the Lush face masks. I like the coffee one and there is one I am trying right now for dry/dull winter skin (forgot the name); I do it once a week and notice a difference. Other than that, drink lots of water and moisturize.

    I’m in the mist of finding a moisturizer for sensitive, dry skin, but a good mask, moisturizer make all the diff.

    • Ana D says...

      Dani, Aveeno Baby Eczema therapy moisturizing cream is pretty great and it’s under $10. I use it on my face (and body) and have had great results on my sensitive, dry skin. May be worth a try. Good luck!

  113. Tala says...

    I love glow masks- but came here to tell you how beautiful you look in this picture. Keep doing whatever you’re doing

  114. jane says...

    I continue the search for the ‘right’ concealer, at virtually any price. High coverage, non-clogging, no discernable texture, therefore non-caking and non-matte. A nearly impossible ask, apparently. The one that comes closest so far is $70 yet still clogs my pores so I can’t use it.

    • Megan says...

      I have very dark circles that nothing touches, and I’ve been using the Nars Creamy Concealer recently and really liking it-definitely not cakey or matte, covers well, especially with a blender sponge.

    • M says...

      Have you ever tried a color correcting concealer? I’ve recently discovered one and it’s really helped with red or dark spots on my skin. I use it after moisturizer, before foundation or regular concealer.

    • jane says...

      Thanks Megan I’ll give that a try. The comments have also reminded me to try the RMS one. I don’t use foundation, just a concealer for circles and touch-ups so it is crucial that it’s a good one.
      Appreciate the suggestions!

    • Liz says...

      I’ve heard the Bare Minerals stick concealer is a less expensive, non-comedogenic alternative for Cle de Peau. The Bare Minerals concealer is also offered in a much wider shade range. Might be worth a try.

    • Kari says...

      I use the It Cosmetics undereye concealer and LOVE it. It’s thick, creamy and highly pigmented so you only need to use a tiny bit. A tube lasts me forever. I do find it can settle into my creases a bit but nothing a little tap to smooth out with my finger doesn’t fix. Also has a brightening, non-matte finish that I love. I like the rest of my makeup to have a radiant dewy finish and this concealer fits with that perfectly. Genetics have left me with really dark undereyes naturally and this is the best concealer I’ve used.

    • Mallory says...

      I just gave up on concealer and got under eye filler, my first ever trip to the dermatologist. Comes at a price, but it’s subtle but I don’t look so tired and haggard now.

    • Lee says...

      I really like Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage with a brush.

    • Megan says...

      Yes! Agree with Nars. $30 for a tiny jar but it does last a looooong time and covers so well.

    • Marianne says...

      I have been using Becca colour corrector under my normal concealer (either Tarte or Loreal concealer) and its made a huge difference!

    • Nina says...

      Try W3ll People, BIO CORRECT MULTI-ACTION CONCEALER, $23! I have dark circles and I think it works VERY well! Good luck!

    • Amy J says...

      I second the IT concealer. Use a pin dot on the back of your hand and tap and blend with your ring finger. A tube lasts forever.

  115. Carol Wynn says...

    I think skincare is worth a splurge. I will be running out to try this mask!
    I don’t feel like shampoo is worth spending a lot. Or mascara.

    • Rashmi says...

      Same! I basically believe anything that gets washed off immediately isn’t worth the splurge. Shampoo/face and body washes. And mascara is just plain annoying because you shell out a ton of money for a fancy one and it dries just as fast as the drugstore one.

  116. Janine says...

    I’m living for this lilac look.

    • Traci McDuffie says...

      Yes I want details on the jacket PLEASE!

  117. Joaquina says...

    A moisturizing (or not as dry) retinol is worth it to me.
    I love Shani Darden Retional Reform (not assoc. with the company at all other than shilling too much money on the product over the years).
    I’ve stopped buying pricey moisturizers or oils and I don’t wear make up. So it’s easier for me to justify the over $100 on the retinol. Thanks to Caroline’s rec, I’m now a Weleda Skin Food devotee for my face, then I apply argan oil from my local market, Sprouts, and finish off with Supergoop Unseen moisturizer.
    Pretty much every night I use retinol and I’m happy with the results.

    • Marisa says...

      Try The Ordinary’s retinol for $7. I think it’s better.

    • Kari says...

      Joaquina – Have you used other retinols before? I’m curious to know how Shani’s compares. I’ve been dying to try it but hesitated at the price tag. (Though I’m currently using Drunk Elephant which is hardly any cheaper…)

    • Sophie says...

      This is literally my routine except I don’t use a retinol! I bought one from The Ordinary forever ago but the sun exposure warnings were making me anxious (I wear Supergoop every day but I also live in AZ…).

  118. AR says...

    I recently signed up for Beauty Pie which is allegedly luxury skin care at everyday prices. So far I have been really impressed. I spent $35 and got the Uber Youth serum and the Qi energy face mask which have made an instant difference. The cream eye shadow is also exactly the same as my Bobby Brown one and only $5. Worth a try!

    • Beth says...

      I agree. I keep coming back to Beauty Pie. I’ll let my subscripition lapse when I don’t really need anything for a while. I love their super retinol cream, which I use just a couple of days a week and I recently bought their serum makeup, which I thought might be too thin for the kind of coverage I might need, but I really like it. And their colors do remind me of Bobby Brown, which I love.

  119. katie says...

    Where is that AMAZING lavender coat from?!?!? This girl needs an oh-my-gosh-how-the-hell-is-it-still-January pick-me-up “gift to self” hehe and that would be just the thing.

    • Rachel says...

      Yes! Please share! I was wondering the exact same thing – it’s gorgeous!!!

  120. K says...

    I am a skin care rookie (I finally started washing my face every night a couple months ago….I know, I know), and I am so confused by what product is for what purpose and how often they are supposed to be used.

    I’d love any recommendations for resources that explain a good daily routine for someone who only has the capacity for something quick and easy (ie 3 products max) and who has no idea if a toner is necessary and whether it comes before or after a moisturizer. Thank you!

    • stuart says...

      SAME. I’m proud of myself if I get all of my makeup off at night. Would love a simple routine example!

    • Michelle says...

      I just finally caved to the targeted Instagram ads for Curology in a moment of desperation against adult acne (ugh) and it is MAGIC. They send you a cleanser, cream, and moisturizer that is great for skin dummies like us, ha.

    • Sarah says...

      The community information on the r/skincareaddiction forum on Reddit is a great place to start! They have all kinds of help, including an ultimate “holy grail” master list of products. I found my starter-kit skincare from there and it never lets me down. Cerave foaming cleanser, red-box Stridex pads for a gentle chemical exfoliant, and as they call it, Cerave in the Tub as a nightly moisturizer. They also got me hooked on Biore Watery Essence sunscreen for daily use (so important.)

    • Jessica says...

      It kinda depends on your needs/age/skin.
      But in general:
      1) buy the simplest cleanser you can find (mild/minimalist helps prevent dryness). Many people swear by cetaphil.
      2) Use a daily moisture product that matches your skin’s needs. As you get older, you may need to layer two – one with a retinol. I use this: https://remedynorthwest.com/antioxidant-hydrating-serum/ and this: https://hylamide.com/product/subq-anti-age-30ml every day. I only added the hylamyde product after I turned 40. (tip: Don’t forget to put it on your chest & neck, too!)
      3) Do something that exfoliates your skin regularly. Whether that’s an acid or just washing with a washcloth, it’s up to you. Just help your skin slough off the dead stuff, somehow.
      That’s it. All the other stuff is extra. Masks, night creams, chemicals – all of it is just fun experimentation. Some of it does great stuff! The products can be super effective! But it’s all extra. For example, in winter I often use a skin oil blend that I made – it’s super moisturizing. But I don’t *need it*. Same for the retinol night serum I sometimes use.
      I hope that helps!

    • Anonygirl says...

      Bioclarity. You take a quiz to create a routine that works for your skin. It’s 3-5 products, depending what you add on as far as face masks and spot treatments that are for periodic use.

    • Tess says...

      YES THANK YOU ME TOO! I never got past face wash, moisturizer, and spot treatment for pimples.

    • Julie says...

      I have the most basic routine: in the morning I put apple cider vinegar on my face in the shower. In the evening I take make up off my face with water. Sometimes I’ll do a skin mask annnddd that’s it!

      Mostly I think you’ll have to play with things but I find these articles useful:

      https://eliseblaha.typepad.com/golden/2020/01/the-nine-skin-care-products-i-use.html

      https://www.younghouselove.com/favorite-household-cleaners/ (scroll down to face woo-woo things, which is where I got the apple cider vinegar trick)

      And of course, COJ has a bunch of articles:

      https://cupofjo.com/2018/07/dermstore-best-products-giveaway/

    • Hilary says...

      One of my resolutions last year was to get a skincare routine! I’ve had a lot of success with The Ordinary. I emailed someone there and they helped me set up a morning and night routine. It’s super quick and the products are all like $4-10, so I didn’t mind buying 3 or 4 of them. They have a great return policy as well.

      I’ve also liked the Glossier products, whose main spiel is basically about minimalism and just a clean, fresh-faced look.

    • Sarah Issaelkhoury says...

      Go follow @carolinehirons on Instagram and learn from the queen! Her blog is life changing.

    • Jen says...

      I love Purity Made Simple by Philisophy. It’s a cleanser that takes off ALL makeup – even waterproof mascara. Then Paula’s Choice Anti-Aging Eyecream and for day – Paula’s Choice Skin Restoring Moisturizer with SPF 50 and at night Paula’s Moisture Boost Hydrating Cream. I like Paula’s choice because her products are great and are NOT a splurge. Also, toner after cleanser then moisturizer. Not that you need a toner.

    • Jenny says...

      I’m a big fan of the blog Into the Gloss. Be warned, you can go down a rabbit hole. But they’re a good resource for finding information on products and reading about other people’s routines, which can help you figure out what you need to do.

      AM Basics – (Assuming your face is already clean) use a ph balancing toner (I like Etude House – get it on Amazon) so that your treatments can penetrate. Then use a Vitamin C serum. Let it sink in for a couple minutes. Then use a moisturizer. I also like to use a brightening eye cream because I have dark under eyes, but if you don’t then this isn’t necessary. Then a sunscreen.

      PM Basics – Wash your face really well (I always wash twice). Use your ph toner (see above). Then treatments – this will depend on what you want to treat. A good retinol or glycolic acid is great (don’t combine them! But you can use both if you alternate nights and start slowly). Or if your skin is dry you can use a moisturizer topped with an oil (I like argan oil or rosehip oil). Or you could do acne treatment. I also believe no matter how old you are you should put on eye cream.

      The Ordinary’s website has a skincare guide that is useful for figuring out products. Or go to Into The Gloss and search beginner’s skincare.

      You can then layer in masks 1-2 times a week to target specific problems (or just for fun!)

      I hope this helps. I’m super passionate about skincare :)

    • tess says...

      AM:
      1. a mild drugstore facewash (I like Cerave hydrating facial cleanser in the green bottle, ceptaphil daily cleanser, or vanicream gentle facial cleanser-my fav but hard to find; I get it on Amazon)
      2. a vitamin C cream (l’oreal 10 % vitamin C cream)
      3. if dry, a moisturizer. might be able to skip if oily. (In the winter, I use welda original skin food in the green tube)
      4. moisturizing physical sunscreen with zinc/titanium dixoide (I like glycolix elite spf 30 sunscreen)

      PM:
      1. if you wear makeup, remove with l’oreal garnier micellar wash
      2. same gentle facial cleanser from the AM
      3. glycolic acid 10% pads to exfoliate (i have the l’oreal ones now, but I also like first aid and dennis gross extra stregnth peel pads). You can alternate nights with it using retinoid cream too for wrinkles.
      5. moisturizer
      6. vaseline on lips and under eyes!

      oops that was more than three, but that’s what I do! it’s worth itttt

    • Hannah says...

      I don’t have big skin problems and I keep a pretty simple routine because of that: wash/tone/moisturize + a vitamin c serum at night and suncscreen in the day. I like the 100% Pure blog as a skincare resource, and I like their products, but only use their Vitamin C serum regularly. My favorite face washes are from Sumbody (Their C Me Glow line is great for 20’s prevantative care, and their hydration line is great for the northern climate I’m in). I tone with Thayer’s Witch Hazel, and moisturize with avocado oil. In general, apply products from lightest to heaviest.

    • Kate says...

      Cocokind’s Instagram has super helpful little stories where they talk about their products but also talk about products in general. I’m in the same boat as you–I can deal with washing my face, tossing on an oil, and then putting some sunscreen on top.

    • Alex says...

      I also reccomend checking out r/skincareaddiction on reddit! That community completely shaped my understanding of my skin! And the community doesn’t give in to hype products just because they have pretty packaging or are the next “it” thing. I’m. majorly ballin on a budget, but I’ve found some solid inexpensive recommendations there. I think the key is just consistency with what you do buy and wearing sunscreen. Doing those two things will give you better skin than like 90 percent of the people buying the next fancy product on the market.

    • Tess says...

      Hi! I’m lucky if I wash my face like, once a week. But I have found that this micellar water is PERFECT for my lazy, no routine self. Whole Foods or amazon has it – Mychelle Dermaceuticals. It’s the cleanest micellar water I could find and my mom and I are both obsessed! MyChelle Quick Clean Micellar Water, Hydrating and Antioxidant-Rich Cleanser and Makeup Remover for All Skin Types, 4.0 fl oz https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6Y3K45/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_oRpnEbWP038FA

  121. Teresa says...

    The Juliette Has a Gun “MMMM…” perfume is probably my biggest splurge. A bottle lasts me forever, it hits the right balance of sweet & warm, and I always get compliments when I wear it.

    I also wear the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Amethyst almost every day, and it’s the best one-swipe eyeliner/eye shadow. It’s a beautiful color, lasts all day long, and is SO easy to use. It’s expensive at $29/each, but one stick lasts me for the better part of a year.

  122. Carrie says...

    Well I haven’t bought it yet but my dream splurge is May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon!!!! If anyone has tried it please chime in to let me know if it’s worth it!

    • CMS says...

      I can’t speak to this as I haven’t tried either, BUT very knowledgeable shopgirl at my local apothecary swears the Evanhealy Blue Cactus balm is a great dupe for the May Lindstrom BC!

    • jane says...

      Wow! This entire line is now on my wish list. Thank you! 😩 lol

    • Jennifer says...

      Honestly, it’s good and smells lovely, but it didn’t drastically change my life.

    • jane says...

      I am fortunate to have good skin so I don’t need life changing I just need chemical free with a bit of luxury. The degree of integrity that comes with her line is a dream come true so I’m all in!

    • SharonaBop says...

      Being the most expensive product that I own, it is definitely a splurge. Is it worth it? I think so. My dry skin, made drier from retinol products, drinks up the soothing Blue Cocoon! A little goes a long way. It also has the added benefit of aromatherapy – it smells amazing.

    • Kate says...

      I caved and bought it and it smells lovely but was not life changing. I regret the money I spent on it. I have sensitive skin and it don’t find it calming. Buy a sample from Integrity Botanicals to try first. My full size jar has been sitting unused for 3 years, if that tells you anything. I do really love her oil cleanser though.

    • Robin says...

      I absolutely love Blue Cocoon! It smells heavenly, and it leaves my skin so soft and dewy. I usually put it on at night before bed. I also love Josh Rosebrook Vital Balm Cream – it’s amazing, too, and smells so good.

    • a says...

      Tried it, was underwhelmed. I actually found the smell sickeningly sweet and I didn’t think it was all that moisturizing. If you go to Detox Market’s website they will make you a sample of it (and I think 2 other samples) for about $8 or something? Might be worth doing just to try it.

  123. Sonja says...

    For about the billionth time let me wax poetic on the joy and glory that is True Botanicals. I heard of it here first (like many of my favorite things/books – way to go COJ), and resisted because well, $$$. But let me tell you – every product I’ve tried has become a mainstay in my regimen. Their mask is excellent and their Vitamin C powder is magic. And their Repair Serum is actual magic – they must use unicorn blood in it.

    I feel extremely strong feelings AGAINST MLMs (listen to The Dream – it will blow your mind and enrage you), but I swear if True Botanicals became an MLM I would consider throwing my career away and selling directly to everyone I know.

    • Kari says...

      I also listened to The Dream and was blown away!! Regardless of how anyone feels about MLMs, the history, political influence and culture they looked at was FASCINATING. And really, who didn’t grow up with an aunt or grandma buying or selling Avon or Tupperware?

    • Isabel says...

      This is such a good podcast!!!! My mom, best friend, and I are all obsessed!

    • Sheila says...

      I love True Botanicals. They are funded, in part, by Unilever. So not MLM, just giant corporate beast.

  124. Marie says...

    Quality perfumes. I really like the Pinrose brand!

  125. Emily L says...

    I bought an Elta MD sunscreen from Dermstore and they sent a sample of tinted moisturizer. I used it once and thought, “this stuff is great; maybe I’ll buy some.” I looked it up and it is Natura Bisse Diamond Cocoon Sheer Cream, and it costs a mere $225 for 1.7 oz. I haven’t purchased it, but I’m thinking about it. It would definitely be a splurge!

    • Tiffany says...

      I bought the Natura Bisse Diamond Cocoon Sheer Cream. I went to buy Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer and somehow was convinced to buy the Natura Bisse. It is expensive, YES. But it lasts forever and holy sh*t I have never received so many compliments on how my skin/makeup looks (and I generally am very low-key with makeup). Every time I look in the mirror I am impressed how put together I look. It’s some crazy magic.

  126. Gabby says...

    Ooh I’m intrigued by this mask!! Anyone know how it compares to DE babyfacial?

    • Natalie says...

      I have not tried this mask but freakin’ LOVE DE babyfacial. The Ordinary BHA/AHA mask is like 1/10 the price and I swear it works JUST as well.

    • Bobby says...

      My question EXACTLY!!! No seriously, I love the Drunk Elephant and would love to know how this compares

    • Di says...

      I have all three ;)

      The Ordinary and Babyfacial are pretty similar imho, and I rarely think dupes live up.

      The Tata Harper end results I find are similar to the above two (brighter, more even complexion) but I’ve come to prefer TH especially in the winter as it feels gentler and my skin feels less stripped after. And the TH Resurfacing serum when applied right after hits the spot.

    • Tee says...

      I have tried both. The Tata Harper mask is FAR milder than the DE. For me, I feel like I could use the Tata every day and not risk over exfoliation, whereas the DE is definitely a once weekly type product.

    • Marti says...

      The Tata mask is more moisturizing and gentle, at least for my skin! I get more glow with the Tata mask and more retexturing with the DE mask. If I’m having a breakout, I’d reach for the Tata mask!

  127. Taylor says...

    Hi CoJ fam, in need of recs!!

    I’m in my second trimester with my first and I’m getting dark blotchy spots on my chin?? I don’t think it’s melasma but I could be wrong. It looks almost like I tapped my chin with a light brown eyeshadow. I live in a big city and work normal hours so trying to find a dermo wouldn’t land me an appt for months.

    Any recommendations for discoloration during pregnancy? I usually use a pretty basic Cerave face cleanse and use a splurgy Tata Harper moisturizer that I love. Don’t use any serums or acids or masks but would be willing to buy and try something to help!

    • Teresa says...

      Not at all a splurge, but I swear by Thayers Witch Hazel Toner to even out my skin tone and prevent blemishes. It’s super gentle, smells lovely, and is affordable. The best.

    • Abesha1 says...

      My skin (all over the body) did the weirdest things during pregnancies… dark spots, discolored patches, skin tags, other things I don’t even know what to call them. My underarms, of all things, turned dark orange; I’m very fair, and my mom thought I was dirty!!! But they all disappeared after birth, even the skin tags mostly. :)

    • laurel says...

      Use a good vitamin C and don’t worry about it too much until after baby. It may go away on its own. if not find a good sunscreen and Vitamin A

    • Sara B says...

      I had the opposite problem of light spots (?) My first thoughts were Clinique and True Botanicals, but whatever you use check the ingredients to make sure it’s fine for pregnancy

    • Tricia says...

      A Vitamin C serum might help – I like the Mad Hippie one (not too pricey, but works great)

    • Mariana says...

      Hi! Prevention in key so make sure to wear spf 50 everyday, rain or sunshine if you don’t want it to get worse. During pregnancy vitamin c or similar is safe. I used (and still do) caudalie’s vinoperfect serum which targets dark spots. good luck and congratulations on your pregnancy!

    • jessica says...

      It sounds like melasma. It will fade a lot after your pregnancy is over, but till then wear sunscreen and avoid direct sunlight, as heat also makes it worse.

    • Sarah says...

      Hello from a fellow pregnant lady! Are you wearing a sunscreen with a high SPF every day? My derm said it’s the best way to prevent discoloration. Honestly not sure what to do about already-there spots though! Curious to see what others might recommend!

    • Karin says...

      Melasma sufferer here: second the commenter who said to wear 50+ sunscreen and it must be *physical* sunscreen. I have read that because heat worsens melasma, physical sun block is needed to prevent the sub-surface layers of your skin from heating up and producing excess melatonin. Chemical sunscreen protects from rays but allows heating so you still get melasma. Not totally sure if i have explained the science accurately but all I know is, since I switched to physical sunscreen my melasma is 85% better.

      Speaking of splurges, One of my “splurges” is La Roche Posay Anthelios facial sunscreen milk, which is $33 a pop, which is a lot for sunscreen When there are chemical ones for $8.99, but it’s worth it to feel comfortable going out of the house without foundation.

      I also bought Lancôme creme comfort mousse cleanser to use with my Clarisonic. It’s silly to spend $27 on cleanser but it freakin’ smells SO DECADENT!

      Final splurge: Glossier Boy Brow. It’s ridiculous to spend $16 on something that runs out after 6-8 weeks but I’ve tried SOOO many brow gels and there’s just nothing else that has the perfect combination of texture, color and the teeny brush.

    • Heather says...

      Skin Ceuticals CE ferulic acid is great for increasing brightness! It’s the one product that, although super expensive, is actually effective and you can easily notice a difference. (For real, the cost *is* really hard to swallow, but I continue to repurchase it because it works) I also have issues with pigmentation and was consulting with my dermatologist on safe products to use during pregnancy, and this was on the safe list. :)

    • Hannah says...

      Don’t forget to use sunscreen the next day when you’re applying Vitamin C serum! It will amp your sun sensitivity, so make sure to use both.

    • Kate says...

      Turmeric (you can make a paste out of it with some yogurt or olive oil and put it on your face, then wash it off–tone after to get rid of any yellow tint).

    • Kate says...

      Get a good quality Vitamin C ASAP for prevention and treatment. I like skinceuticals serum 10. It’s pricey but much more effective and shelf stable than Drunk Elephant c- firma. Then sunscreen, mineral is better- Elta MD. Congrats and good luck, Mama!

  128. laura says...

    (it’s a splurge for me but) the laneige water bank moisture cream + night mask! ahhhmazing.

    P.S. I so tried to love skin food, but overall, it was the tap water of creams for me. aquaphor is my one true love.

    • Mo says...

      I love Laneige products too – the water bank moisturizer and the sleeping mask are both so great for dry winter skin! I also love Dr Gross – the AHA daily moisturizer and the daily exfoliating pads are amazing. I use the pads once a week (saves money, lol) or before a night out where I want my makeup to go on perfectly. I also love Dior Nail Glow and Dior Lip Glow. All worth every penny!!

    • Mo says...

      Oh and the drunk elephant glycerine/jelly cleanser. It removes all makeup and doesn’t dry out my skin like other cleansers. It’s like $40 but is massive and lasts for like 9 months!

    • Laura says...

      Ooh interesting. Thanks, Mo! Seems like we have similar tastes so I will have to look into all the products you mentioned 👀

  129. Audrey says...

    RMS ‘un’ cover-up concealer is the holy grail of makeup products. It’s worth every penny of 38 bucks.

  130. Jenn P says...

    Ole Henriksen Truth Serum & the Night Transformation gel. I’ve been using the two of them, morning and night for about 2 years now and I definitely notice a difference when I’m too lazy and just put on moisturizer.

    • Quinn says...

      I’ll second the Ole Henriksen Night Transformation gel! It leaves my skin smooth and clear like no other product I’ve tried, but doesn’t feel too harsh on my aging (ack!) skin. (I’m 40.)

  131. Emilie says...

    I love these posts! I will have to try this mask.. I have to admit I have never used any kind of any mask!

    I recently splurged on Sunday Riley’s Good Genes facial ‘treatment’ after a colleague spent all of her Sephora points on 20 samples of it “because it is a complete miracle worker”. I was dubious as I could not tell what it was, exactly. A cleanser? A lotion? An oil? The answer is, all of them! I use it a few minutes after putting on my regular moisturizer and I feel like I just got a face lift — my complexion is brighter, my skin is more taut and looks less tired, and everything appears even and amazing. The reviews don’t lie, ladies! And you hardly need to use any to have a big impact. Love it.

    Also – Tax Luxe, The Face is hands down the best “colour add” product I have ever used. I don’t say “self tanner” because I am SUPER fair and don’t want to look like I just returned from Mexico in the middle of winter when everyone knows darn well I was at work yesterday. A few drops of Tan Luxe in your facial oil/moisturizer/Good Genes in the morning and I just look healthier and well-rested without having to use bronzer or self tanner. HIGHLY recommend and also, lasts forever and ever. Doesn’t come off on your pillow/blouse/kissing partner etc.

    Can’t wait to read everyone else’s recommendations and drain my bank account!

    xx

    • Kari says...

      I am with you on Good Genes! I can visibly see improvements when I wake up. I would bathe in it if it weren’t for the price tag. My husband despises the smell though – it’s strong enough that he instantly knows if I’ve used it when I get into bed. I am unmoved though, it is just too good.

    • Natalie says...

      I think it would be best to apply the Good Genes before your moisturizer! You can also mix a couple pumps with your cleanser and use it as a mask =)

    • Jean Livingston says...

      Ooooh, great to hear about Tan Luxe…I’ve been interested in trying it out!

  132. J says...

    I’m going to need your dear readers to speak to their favourite vitamin c serums. I’m just finished my skinceuticals and am desperate to NOT spend a gazillion dollars to replace. AND YET! Must I? Is it truly the hold grail? Please advise…

    • Claire says...

      Hi, i just ordered Maelove’s GlowMaker, about $28, but I haven’t used it yet. It’s supposed to be comparable to the high end stuff.

    • Janet says...

      TruSkin Vit C serum on Amazon is great and it’s only $19.99

    • andrea says...

      try the maelove glowmaker! https://maelove.com/products/the-glow-maker

      I think a lot of skinceutical fans have converted to this one thanks to its crazy affordable price tag :)

    • Carrie says...
    • Patrice says...

      You must follow Charlotte Palermino (@charlotteparler) on Instagram. I recently discovered her and she has a LOT to say about Vit C, Retinol, etc. FWIW, her fav Vit C is Skinceauticals, but I believe she was just talking about a decent budget friendly option!!!

    • Sarah says...

      The Ordinary! It’s sold at Sephora now, so affordable.

    • Anne says...

      I have tried what feels like every vitamin C serum including Mae Love. I so wanted that one to work! On my last visit with the derm I finally asked for some advice. Cover your eyes if you don’t wait to spent $160 again ;) She said Skinceuticals is the only vitamin C serum that truly works.

    • Tina says...

      I’ve tried several Vitamin C serums. I liked them all (Maelove was my least favorite, Mari Badescu was favorite). But it drove me crazy that they would oxidize so fast. Now I’m using the Versed vitamin C powder. I make a potion in the morning with the C powder, Cosrx snail serum, and a drop of Drunk Elephant D Bronzie. Put on some moisturizer and I’m good.

    • Kirsten says...

      I use Clareity which is like $13 on Amazon

    • Agnes says...

      I like Avalon Organics vitamin c products and have gone through many a jar.

    • Alexandra says...

      Drunk Elephant! Hands down the best thing I’ve added to my routine in the past several years.

    • Kate says...

      Skinceuticals has a lower priced vitin.c serum called Serum 10 that is new. It’s technically formulated for sensitive skin and is formulated with 10% L-ascorbic acid instead of 15% in the CE Ferulic formula, but my skin loves it just the same and it is $80 compared to CE Ferulic’s $160. Go to bluemercury and get a.sample.to.try and compare but I think you will find it’s virtually the same!

    • Aneke says...

      The unfortunate truth is that nothing compares to the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic – I’ve tried about ten other options. They hold the patent for a form of stabilized Vitamin C, which I suspect is what makes it so effective

    • Alex says...

      I’ve just purchased the timeless skincare’s vitamin c serum, and I’ve heard it is a dupe for the skinceuticals one. heres the link: https://www.timelessha.com/products/20-vitamin-c-e-ferulic-acid-serum-1-oz
      I’ve already seen a difference in the brightness and smoothness of my skin! I tried the ordinary’s vit c serum and saw no difference, and didn’t like that it left my face feeling sticky. I also LOVED the youth to the people vitamin c serum but it was $$$$ so I’ve had to find an alternative. Try the timeless skincare one with ferulic! Also I completely trust Gothamista on youtube with her recommendations and she has two videos about vitamin c with product recs in all price ranges. I’d highly recommend watching.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDe-zTZzYFA&t=928s
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNBWlAwMazM&t=494s

    • Amy J says...

      Second for Mad Hippie Vitamin C.

    • Glam Girl says...

      I also thirdly recommend Maelove vit c serum *glow maker*. It’s an incredible product and has really improved my skin.

    • I’ve only tried a few other Vitamin C serums, and not any expensive ones, but after a few tries I’m OBSESSED with the Andalou Naturals one, and it’s at a way cheaper price point

    • Tiffany says...

      I agree with the poster below who recommended the Timeless Skincare Vitamin C serum. I have done a ton of reading to try to better understand why some Vit C serums are $166 and others on Amazon are $13. I also loved Skinceuticals and have learned that it really depends on the percentages of the ingredients and one of the only lower-priced Vit C serum with similar percentages is the Timeless one. (Chemist Confessions is a great blog/Instagram where two actual chemists who have worked in the industry discuss these types of things… A great place to read about the science of skincare, not just people’s opinions)

  133. Tina says...

    I recently bought Living Proof nourishing styling cream. I first tried it from a sample and my hair was frizz-free for the first time EVER. Still wasn’t convinced that $38 for acceptable for a hair product. So, I used the sample sparingly. But every time I used it, I’d look in the mirror two days later and think, “wow, why does my hair look so good, I haven’t washed it in days.” It happened so many times that I felt the data was clear — this stuff was good! I snagged it when Ulta was running a 20% off special.

    • Faith says...

      I use a similar product called LOMA Calming Crème. Oh is it ever worth the splurge! It smells amazingly fruity/tropical, too.

    • michaela says...

      Okay, I might have to try this now. I just purchased some Living Proof shampoo and conditioner after a year of trying some cheaper Target-brand products that ended up totally wreaking havoc on my hair. I had used their No Frizz line before and really liked it, so I looked back in my Sephora purchase history and saw that the normal-size bottles had lasted me 6 months before I repurchased them. So that means the value size bottles ought to last me at least a year. $120 upfront for shampoo and conditioner was a huge splurge, but I justified it by telling myself that $10/month is a small price to pay for good hair days. :)

  134. cheli says...

    oh that lavender coat <3.
    where'd ya get it?

  135. Lee says...

    I’d love to know where Caroline’s jacket is from! I love that color. : )

    • Katie says...

      yes!! I am curious about that too! super cute

  136. Lisa says...

    A dermatologist appointment! This has been the game changer of my adult life. Especially the trentinoin prescription that came out of it.

  137. kash says...

    The Kora Organics Turmeric mask! It’s woefully overpriced. But damn. It really does work.

    • Di says...

      I really love it too. But just a FYI for those who already have a gentle scrub at home you like, mixing in a tiny tiny bit of turmeric powder will yield a similar result. My mom has done yogurt and turmeric masks for eons.

  138. I was in such excited suspense in the few seconds between reading the headline and the body copy, I actually laughed at myself :) That was a much-needed lighthearted break in my day. Thanks, Caroline!

  139. H says...

    Drunk Elephant Babyfacial and Protini cream, hands down! I save money by wearing a $12 perfume from Whole Foods… that’s how I justify it in my mind. ;)

    • Chelsea says...

      Wait…now I want to know about this perfume!

    • AR says...

      Second vote for Protini – on my third pot this year

    • Lindsey says...

      Good Genes, hands down, and I’m a beauty junkie. I think there are a lot of things that are gorgeous and budget friendly, but there is no dupe for Good Genes. I call it my unicorn eye leash angel face cream and my husband just rolls his eyes.

    • Lindsey says...

      My comment was not supposed to be in response to this one – sorry! Thumbs moving too quick!

    • LLH says...

      Big ups to DE protini. Ive been using it for a couple years and honestly nothing compares. Worth every cent.

  140. Denise says...

    Andalou Night Repair Cream is my special beauty buddy. I don’t use it every day, but sometimes when I want a little something special, and my skin is magical in the morning.

  141. Lauren E. says...

    Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. I have acne prone skin (I’m 34) and NOTHING has ever helped. Literally nothing. From topicals to pills, prescriptions to OTC, and everything in between. And this stuff made EVERYTHING better. My tone evened out, breakouts smoothed over, I looked more awake and alive, even in the darkest months of the north east winter.

    I seriously cannot praise it enough. If they charged $100 a bottle, I’d probably still buy it.

    • Alice says...

      I have acne prone skin at 39 and nothing ever solved it until I start using The ordinary’s niacimide+zinc serum and rose hip oil at night. Nothing shorter than a miracle for my face.
      Never had skin so clear!

    • Ash says...

      One thought—

      Dairy. Are you eating lots of cow’s milk dairy?

      Some women don’t process the hormones of the female cow well and it can cause acne. For me, eat cheese = acne.

  142. Lisa says...

    Eve Lom Cleanser. I’ve been using it for over a decade, and I can’t stop. It cleans very thoroughly, doesn’t dry out the skin and is just amazing.

    Another one is the Oskia’s renaissance mask. https://www.spacenk.com/uk/en_GB/skincare/treatment/masks/renaissance-mask-MUK200012771.html
    I was recommended it by a sales person at Space NK when my skin was a mess. It was a very cold winter and I had a newborn, my skin was so sensitive and destroyed by the hormones and weather. Within 10 minutes, your skin feels a million times better. I did it last night and put it on my lips and they were BIGGER when I took it off, I swear. It’s so good.
    I’ve had my first jar for over two years now, and it’s still going so overall totally worth the spend.

    • Shannon says...

      Eve Lom is incredible! A similar all natural one (that I think is JUST as good as Eve Lom – I’ve used both for years) is Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Balm! Credo carries it.

  143. Lindsey says...

    Vintner’s Daughter serum!! I love it so much, it really is true to the hype. I’d love to try it in combo with the new essence they came out with recently.

  144. agnes says...

    A nice haircut! Does that count?

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Yes! Definitely counts. :)