I am a huge skincare addictand one of my favorite websites is Into The Gloss. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a website that covers everything Beauty related including makeup, skincare, and hair. I use this website for product recommendations and for the interviews they do.
I am only a recent skincare lover, as of the past 3 years or so. Most of my life I had perfect skin until my senior year of high school that I noticed I was having consistent issues with blemishes. During my freshman year of college, I decided to start birth control which made the problem worse. My freshman and sophomore years of college was very difficult I was struggling with Comedonal acne and Hormonal breakouts. I ignored it for a while, blaming it on the pill and thinking there wasn’t much I could do to fix it. Finally, I decided that I was sick of being insecure about my skin and trying to hide all the time and so I looked into developing an actual skincare routine.
From the first routine I tried to the routine I have locked down now, includes many failures and horrible reactions but I have stayed pretty solid with my current routine for the past year which I think is my favorite so far. Let me preface this by saying I am by no means a dermatologist or esthetician. With skincare, you have to be careful to use products that work with your specific skin type. I personally have dry to normal and sensitive skin. These are just the products that I have found, after lots of trial and error, that have not made me break out, have lightened pigmentation, and overall keep my skin healthy. So here is my Top Shelf where I discuss not only my everyday products in my routine but my must-have skincare products and why I think they’re so great!
Biologique Recherche (BR) is one of the most amazing skincare brands ever, you will see them a lot throughout this post and I will be doing a Brand Spotlight on them coming soon. It is a French brand that was recommended to me by my friend who is a huge skincare fan as well so I knew I could trust her. BR is very elusive, you can’t buy it in your local Sephora or any regular stores. Rescue Spa near Flatiron in New York is one of the only places that carry their products. I went to Rescue Spa, talked to some people about the brand, and decided to try it out. It’s an expensive brand so I have only been lucky to try a few of the products but their Lait U Cleanser is one of my favorites. It has a milky consistency and is so lightweight and perfect for my sensitive skin. When I wash my face I don’t feel like it’s stripping my skin as I do with other cleansers and it also removes my makeup. I usually use the Lait U cleanser in the morning after I wake up, it’s super refreshing.
2. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cleanser
This gel cleanser is a recent addition to the lineup and honestly she’s doing well…This whole collection from PTR is great because it’s for hydrating your skin, using hylauronic acid and marshmallow root. The consistency is jelly-like which I actually love. I recently saw some negative reviews about this product on Sephora but so far I haven’t had an issue.
The HOLY GRAIL of all skincare products; I will use this product for the rest of my life. (It’s funny because Biologique Recherche is mentioned a lot on ITG as well.) Their “Lotion P50” is not a lotion as you would expect but a chemical exfoliating toner. This is BR’s most famous product, it is the product that I always tell people absolutely changed my skin. They describe it as “A facial in a bottle!” It helps rebalance the pH in your skin and clarify it from any impurities. There are a few different options of Lotion P50 to get. There’s a difference between Lotion P50 and Lotion P50 1970. The ones with 1970 are the same as the regular except it has the added ingredient of Phenol. Phenol’s an acid that is banned in the EU (don’t let that scare you though) that does the heavy lifting of getting rid of dead skin cells and pushing any debris out. I have switched between the P50 1970 and P50V 1970. The one that works best for me is the V version which is for dry skin. There is also a P50W for super sensitive skin and P50 PIGM 400 that is specifically for hyperpigmented skin. If you struggle with acne and pimples and have tried every product ever from drug store to high end, I highly recommend you check this out. Sometimes there is a purging process when you first start using it because it is so strong but don’t let that deter you, it means it’s working!
Essences are an underrated step in a skincare routine and I don’t hear enough people talk about them. An essence helps your skin absorb the products that you put on it afterwards. It’s popular in Asian Beauty and only in the past few years is it making its way through the states. I was introduced to the this by a Sephora employee who told me than she uses it every day and when she doesn’t she immediately gets a pimple. I use it every night and it’s honestly magic water as some people like to say (but it isn’t water so don’t get fooled.) It specifically helps with dullness, dark spots, and texture. The grape water not only has a natural light scent but helps with moisturizing the skin. This is a product that is certified clean by Sephora (keep a lookout for that sticker) and vegan as well.
Now don’t let the word Placenta scare you away…The Placenta line is a popular one in BR’s products. This serum specifically is made with pig placenta (definitely not a vegan product) but it has some great benefits such as lightening pigment, calming acne, and speeding up the process of skin rejuvenation. Not only is it a unique product but its versatility makes it a staple in a skincare routine, I use this almost every night.
6. The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2%+ B5 Serum
People turn to The Ordinary because of its ridiculously inexpensive products but not only are they affordable, they actually work. Their Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum is one of my favorites. If you don’t already have Hyaluronic Acid in your routine, you must find one to add immediately. What HA does is hold on to moisture and hydration that is already in your skin to keep your skin more plump and healthy. People usually compare adding a HA to your routine as giving your skin a big drink of water. There are now many HA products on the market but for beginners, I highly recommend this one.
This is my all time favorite daytime moisturizer. It’s lightweight, gel texture absorbs straight into my skin and leaves me hydrated for the whole day. This product is also clean certified at Sephora and has 4,000+ reviews so I would say this is a popular product. The 9 different peptides that are in this product work to strengthen the skin’s natural renewal process and help with firmness and elasticity. The only thing I dislike about this product is that there’s very little in the container for such a hefty price, but it is one of the only things that has consistently helped me keep my skin clear.
Another product from BR’s Placenta line, the creme is perfect for nighttime. It is lightweight but heavy enough to keep me moisturized while I’m sleeping. This product, similar to the serum, helps with anti-aging and scarring. People sometimes mention the weird smell that the Placenta products have, but they are natural products, what do you expect? Products should have natural fragrance instead of additive fragrances that can upset your skin.
9. Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask (for nighttime)
A super popular product, the Jet Lag Mask from Summer Fridays is one of my other favorite moisturizers. What I like about this product is that it can be used as a wash-off mask or as a moisturizer that you leave on. I like traveling with this product (it is the Jet Lag Mask of course) and it is in my in-flight skincare routine. With the dry air on planes, this keeps me hydrated for hours after I slather it all over my face. This product has Vitamin C in it which is great for skin brightness and then Niacinamide, one of the best things for your skin, which is a type of vitamin B3 that works on lightening hyperpigmentation, improving wrinkles, and attacking breakouts.
10. Milk Makeup KUSH Growhouse Lash + Brow Serum
I discovered lash extensions two years ago and was obsessed just like everyone else is because you’re 10x hotter with lashes. For a year straight I was getting them and when I stopped my lashes were absolute trash. I noticed that they were bad in the previous months but I just slapped on a fill and acted like everything was okay. Even though they made me look like an angel sent down from heaven by God himself, I realized they were doing too much damage to both my lashes and my bank account. When I wanted to grow my lashes back out I started trying a few different lash serums. It wasn’t until I discovered the Milk Makeup one that I saw my lashes grow. After the first 4 months of use, my natural lashes looked like my old extensions. It has Plant Peptides which helps with the hair thickness, Hemp-Derived Cannabis Seed Extract which hydrates the hair, and then Quinoa that benefits the hair’s health. The hair that grows on my brows doesn’t need any help so I only use this on my lashes but I like that it can be used for both. I put this on as the last step of my skincare routine before my bed right above my lashes.
11. Dr. Jart+ Dermask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution
I have been saved by this Dr. Jart+ mask more times than I can count and have been using it since before it had this new name. I can tell when my skin is dehydrated because I break out in little bumps all over my face. For quick hydration, I have found that this mask is perfect and is equivalent to drinking from a 64 oz hydro flask. I am a big ‘skincare on planes’ person and for longer flights, I will make sure to have one of these to throw on halfway through the flight, so if you’ve ever been flying and saw a girl with a sheet mask on, it was most likely me.
Masque Vivant is one of the most coveted BR products. This product gets restocked only a few times a year and whenever Rescue Spa puts out an alert that it’s back in stock, I run to my computer to purchase it. There is a 7-page waitlist for this at all times…(I’ve seen it myself) This mask is brown and looks like actual poop and sort of smells like it too but you get used to it after a few uses. It’s categorized as a purifying and brightening mask. I use it all over whenever I am having issues with my skin or sometimes as a spot treatment. Legend says that if you use Masque Vivant twice a week, “you will never age.”
13. Peace Out Microneedling Dark Spot Brightening Dots
Whenever I do get a breakout, it tends to scar no matter if I pop it, touch it, or leave it alone. Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the leftover marks from acne and is a specific type of hyperpigmentation. To help with getting rid of those dark spots I have found that the Peace Out Microneedling Dark Spot Dots have helped lighten my problem areas. I have tried a few different dark spot stickers and for me, these have been the most successful. I put them on while I sleep and it’s something super easy but effective to do to help those pesty marks.
14. SuperGoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
I was recommended SuperGoop when they first became big by a Sephora employee. For years I used my regular sunscreen for my body on my face and would break out and realized that was not the smart thing to do. Some sunscreens are comedogenic which means they have ingredients that can block your pores and cause acne. After discovering Supergoop, I never have a problem with using this sunscreen for my face and all over my body. They have tons of products but their classic Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is my favorite. Don’t forget to apply (and reapply) your sunscreen everyday! (Check out my suncare post if you want to learn more about sunscreens.)
15. Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel
This is a product I have recently started using as a spot treatment for pimples. I don’t usually get a lot of spots, but when I do, they are the hardest to tackle. I have tried Mario Badescu drying lotion (their products have alcohol so don’t use any of them), pimple patches, toothpaste, eye drops, LITERALLY everything to get a pimple to go down overnight and so far this is the only thing I have ever used where I wake up the next morning and there has actually a visible difference.
16. Curel Body Lotion
Lastly, because every part of your skin needs attention not just your face, I have been using Curel Body Lotion since I was 10 years old. I suffer from dry skin all over my body and there is no better feeling than stepping out of the shower and slathering my body with Curel. It keeps my body hydrated and smooth all day.