“Ok, V, I need your advice on a moisturizer. What have you been into lately? I bought some Le Mer when there was a sale and I do actually love it, but the price doesn’t justify a rebuy right now.”
Ask V, and boy shall you receive. Last summer, my friend Meredith sent me this text. We chatted about different moisturizers over iMessage for a bit, and I told her in passing I should make a Google Doc like this to send to all my friends who asked me for similar recs. But then I thought, Maybe this is a perfect Ask V question! And then I realized: I should list out all of my favorite products, from the ones I’ve talked about on the blog, to my never-fail-me standbys, to recent faves, all in one post, so I have a single place to send friends, family, readers, or all of the above, in perpetuity! And here we are. The most massive beauty post of all time, which will remain a living post I’ll update regularly. While I’m definitely going to keep testing and trying new beauty goodies that get their own posts in the future, I’ll also add the items here, so there’s one master post with all my recs.
You might notice I mined my beauty archives for this baby! A lot of my favorites from those old posts are here, along with plenty of products I’ve never talked about. You might also notice some items I’ve written about in the past weren’t included, either because I haven’t repurchased in a while and can’t remember what the product was like, or because even though I liked it at the time, I’ve found something I like even better, which I’ve recommended instead. Where it makes sense, I’ve discussed some brands generally, since they’re widely available and I’m hoping you’ll find it helpful!
Another note: while not all the products in my bathroom are natural, long time blog readers know I try to make it a focus where I can, so the products below include TONS of items that live in the non-toxic spectrum.
So like I said before, this post really is MASSIVE. You can’t name something a “beauty bible” and have it not be, I suppose! But to make it easier, I’ve included some little jump menus for each section (use it below!), as well as jump menus within long sections, like Skincare, to get you to the products you’re interested in. Have fun, and share any questions you have in the comments!
Jump to each section:
Herbivore Pink Clay Soap // Not into the idea of bar soap as your facial cleanser? Try this one! Bar soaps last for-ev-er, and it gives you an excuse to display a pink soap in a pretty dish by your sink (I use an antique, hand-painted saucer that was my great grandmother’s!). This soap is always a reliable option for gentle cleansing. It foams and cleanses well, but never leaves my skin feeling dry or stripped. The scent is very mild, and it can double as a body soap bar when you travel! | Shop Herbivore Pink Clay Soap
Origins Checks and Balances // This has been the cleanser I have used over the longest period of my life—off and on since I was in college! It foams really well and does what it’s meant to do. I must confess though, I’m really bummed out by the change in packaging design from last year (design snob alert: I can’t with that font mix). These days, this one feels like it strips my skin more than other cleansers, though this may be a function of my getting older. But in my 20s and into my early 30s, this was my absolute favorite! | Shop Origins Checks and Balances
Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm with Rosewood // I bought this Darphin balm on a whim (and on sale) in the autumn, and oh has it become a favorite little luxury. The smell is very woody and spa-like. The cleanser itself is exactly the texture of a lip balm or like Vaseline, which at first, feels odd to spread all over your face. But when you add water, the balm turns creamy and smooth, and you won’t believe how clean it rinses off, given the original texture. It’s not greasy or oily at all! It leaves your skin feeling very soft and hydrated. It’s a great Sunday night cleanser, especially in winter, when you want to pamper yourself before a longer skincare routine. | Shop Darphin Cleansing Balm
V’s Skincare Tip
If you like to take hot showers, try turning the temp down while you wash your face. Hot water can disrupt the natural oil barriers on your skin, stripping it and potentially kickstarting a breakout cycle. If you are acne prone especially, be sure you only wash your face with lukewarm or even tepid water, which is a lot gentler!
Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Cleansing Foam // I like how readily available this cleanser is—you can find it at Whole Foods and Target, no problem. Andalou is a Bay Area-based, all natural brand that has a huge range of products at good price points, making it a fantastic brand to know if you are just diving into naturals. The 1000 Roses line is specifically for sensitive skin, and I like using this one in the shower sometimes, when I wasn’t wearing makeup anyway and my skin needs something extra gentle. If you wear foundation, this may not cleanse as deeply as you need. However, if you have sensitive skin and go without makeup regularly, it’s a solid, affordable option! | Shop Andalou Naturals Cleansing Foam
Mamonde Petal Spa Oil To Foam Cleanser // This is a relatively recent new addition to my cleanser arsenal, but boy has it been love since first try. Mamonde is a Korean skincare brand, which I originally discovered after getting a sample of this product as part of an order I placed through Soko Glam. The cleanser itself starts out with a thicker gel-oil consistency. One word of caution if you are looking for a thinner, oilier feel to your oil-based cleanser—this isn’t it. You massage the gel-oil into your face, then apply a little water. Like magic, it foams up and becomes creamy and wonderful. What I really love is the smell—if you’re a rose lover like me, you’ll be obsessed. The cleanser washes away clean, and my skin feels smooth and hydrated after using, with no redness, no irritation, and no stripped feeling. I have a feeling it’ll be my winter cleanser obsession. | Shop Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser
Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk // When I lived in New York, this was my favorite cleanser to use in the dead of winter, when my skin was super dry, generally pissed off about the cold, and needed something extremely gentle. In San Francisco, I found the humidity didn’t play well with this one, so I stopped using it. However, I can definitely recommend to anyone with very dry skin, and who lives in a cold environment. It is SO gentle! You might need to double cleanse with it if you are wearing a lot of makeup, since it is so non-stripping that it might not get all your makeup off! | Shop Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk
Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin // My favorite drugstore cleanser! It’s not natural at all, but if you have sensitive skin, or are acne prone, it is a good cleanser to mix into your regimen. This is typically what I’ll use at night if I’m showering before bed and need to get my face clean before my nighttime routine, without a lot of fuss. It’s really no-frills, but it does what it needs to. It’s not stripping, per se, but it will leave me feeling drier than the Mamonde or the Darphin, so if my skin feels like it needs some extra moisture at night, I’ll skip using this in the shower and instead cleanse at the sink. | Shop Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
Acure Brightening Facial Scrub // There’s a reason there is only one exfoliant in this category. It is literally the only exfoliating product I have bought continuously in the last seven years! I first reviewed Acure’s Brightening Facial Scrub wayyyy back here (seriously, in 2012!), and it’s still my go-to facial scrub. I use this probably twice per week, but never when I am breaking out. Use only the tips of your fingers when you massage this one into your skin, as if you go much harder, it can be too rough. I love it though—and, it’s readily available in big box stores and at Whole Foods! | Shop Acure Brightening Facial Scrub
Avène Thermal Spring Water // I don’t know that I can really classify this spray as a toner, but on occasion that’s what I’ll use it for. I’ll also use it to refresh the skin, as a final spritz with makeup, on sunburns, on bug bites that really itch, even on razor burn. In short, Avène’s Thermal Spring Water has magical properties, and I insist you keep a small bottle in your bathroom just in case. It’s also a godsend if you are having a breakout or some other major skin irritation, as it’s just really calming and feels amazing when you spray it on. | Shop Avène Thermal Spring Water
Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner // This toner was released in the fall of 2018, to rave reviews everywhere. I only recently began using it, and so far, I really like it. I can’t provide a full endorsement yet since it’s such a new addition to my skincare stockpile, but I thought it worth mentioning since it’s such a hot little toner right now! Once I’ve used it for longer (or even repurchased), I’ll update my notes here. | Shop Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner
Thayers Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera and Rose Petals // Want to keep things really simple? Get thee a bottle of Thayers Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel is one of the most commonly used ingredients in toners, especially those that promise smaller pores and breakout prevention. Thayers formula is alcohol-free, so it’s non-drying, and also includes aloe vera. I’ve used this on its own as a toner, but I always keep a bottle around for mixing up my own facial mists, like this one. | Shop Thayers Witch Hazel
V’s Skincare Tip
What’s the difference between a toner and an essence? A toner will work to balance the skin’s pH level, and removes the last bits of makeup that your cleanser didn’t. By contrast, essences provide moisture and often nutrients that prep and nourish the skin before a serum or moisturizer. In my mind, I think of toners as still being part of the skin cleansing process, while essences start to change the texture and hydration level pretty significantly!
Rosewater // Some people use rosewater as a toner, but for me, it always feels very hydrating, so if I use it, it’s either an essence, or as a finishing spray. I love how easy it is to find this stuff, too—I like Heritage Store’s Rosewater, which is readily available online, at Whole Foods, and basically any natural foods store ever. Pro tip: if you buy the version with glycerin, you can use it to set your makeup. The glycerin is extra hydrating, and gives off a dewy glow. For my money, the results look very similar to MAC’s Fix+ Spray. No surprise there—glycerin’s the second ingredient in that product! | Shop Heritage Rosewater
May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden // I reviewed this spray here, and I still luuuurve it. The fragrance is one of the most unique blends I’ve ever come across, and even though I duplicated it pretty well here, it’s not quite the same. This is the most beautiful essence to use prior to moisturizing, or as a makeup setting spray, or as a facial refresher midday. It’s truly gorgeous…but it’s pricey! | Shop The Jasmine Garden
Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence // Want to use an essence similar to SKII without paying the price? This is your play. Missha is one of the most well-known skincare brands in Korea, but has stayed relatively under the radar here in the States. I started using their First Treatment Essence this summer, and have tried all the varieties—the original “Intensive,” the new-ish “Intensive Moist,” as well as the spray form. All are really good! I always travel with this little mini bottle now too, and I swear it saves my skin after time zone changes and gross airplane air. If you buy a non-spray version, simply dispense some of the liquid into your palm, then push it into your cheeks and forehead. I let it sit for a few seconds, then continue on with a serum! I use some form of this essence both morning and night. | Shop Missha Time Revolution Essence
CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence // I hesitate to put this product into the Essence category, because it is so gel-like it can be used as a serum or ampoule (which we’ll get to in a minute!). But the brand labels it as an essence, so here I shall leave it. If you’re freaked out by the idea of using products with snail mucin (read: slime), don’t be. They’re delightful. Applying this is like spreading on the most cooling, wonderful, soothing gel. A gel packed with nutrients, moisturizers, and healing properties, which also leaves your skin feeling plump and dewy. I tend to get dry on my cheeks, but a little dot of this after the Missha essence and my cheeks feel super soft and hydrated, all day long. A little goes a LONG way, and for $19, this bottle will last you for quite a while. | Shop CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
Shop Exfoliants, Toners, and Essences
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum // Tata Harper has had a place in my beauty cabinet for around seven years. I still swear by her Resurfacing Mask (below!), and this Rejuvenating Serum is a favorite, too. I’ve used it off and on over the last several years, but recently got back on the train and have been using regularly in the evenings. The texture is thicker than you might expect from a serum, but I find it really calming for the skin. Some mornings, I’ll mix a little of this with the Resurfacing Serum, which provides a great base before moisturizer. And if you like floral scents, you’ll love this one! | Shop Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
Tata Harper Resurfacing Serum // I started using Tata’s new-ish Resurfacing Serum this past summer, right before my trip to Korea. Once there, my skin began freaking out due to the stress, the sweat, and the humidity, and I swear this serum was the only thing that kept my skin in half-way decent shape. It imparts a beautiful, subtle glow under your moisturizer, and has ingredients that help reduce redness, too. Whenever I use it, I’m regularly told I look like I’m glowing! If you want to try this and the Rejuvening Serum mentioned above, as of publication of this post, you can get both as a set for a good discount!! | Shop Tata Harper Resurfacing Serum
Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum // I used to use Juice Beauty’s Antioxidant Serum religiously back in the early 2000s! If you are just beginning to experiment with adding nutrient-based serums or gel serums into your routine, this is a good place to start. The product is readily available, and a little more affordable than other serums. You just dispense a few drops into the tips of your fingers, then massage into the skin before your moisturizer. It’s a vitamin cocktail for your face! | Shop Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum
Kypris Moonlight Catalyst // I think this product is very comparable to the Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum, especially in texture. I used this for about a year, and still have a bottle, but have recently been experimenting with more Korean serums in its place. I like using this product when I don’t need a lot of extra moisture, but feel like my skin could use a bit of a nutrient boost. It is a lot lighter in texture than Tata Harper’s serums. And the packaging is just gorg!! | Shop Kypris Moonlight Catlalyst
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Borabit Ampoule // An ampoule is basically just an amped up serum. While you could use it every night if you wanted, you can also get away with using only once or twice per week, because they’re so packed full of actives. I’ve been using Missha’s famed Night Repair ampoule a few times per week since the summer. It can feel a little sticky going on, but it never fails to smooth out my skin, plump it up, and ensure I wake up with even-toned, glowing skin. A lot of beauty blogs compare it to Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair—I’ve never tried it, so I can’t attest, but if you’re looking for a dupe, this might be one to try! | Shop Missha Night Repair Ampoule
Fedora Skincare // When I was in Korea, I visited the spa at the Four Seasons (one of, if not THE best spa experience of my life), and each spa suite had the entire line of this brand called Fedora Skincare (yes, I said suite—when you get a massage or facial there, you get this giant room with its own private bathroom, vanity, and shower to get ready in before and after your service). I was able to try some of the products and was obsessed…and then didn’t buy any when I left the spa. I’ve regretted it ever since, because the hotel won’t ship to me overseas…so this is mostly a reminder to myself to pick up some of their products the next time I’m in Korea, and a reminder to you to never leave behind products you discover when you are traveling abroad. | Someone please find me this stuff.
Susanne Kaufmann Hyaluron Serum // Susanne Kaufmann’s Hyaluron Serum remains the best hyaluronic acid serum I have ever tried. However, as much as I really, really, really love it and think it is incredibly effective, I can’t get past the $168 price tag for 1 oz. So I stopped buying it, and instead experimented with a LOT of different generic hyaluronic acids found on Amazon, or from The Ordinary. Let me save you the trouble: I can tell you right now that none is as good, so if you have the extra money to spend and really want a hyaluronic acid serum, buy this one. For a cheaper alternative, I would actually try the CosRX snail mucin serum mentioned up above. It’s a lot thicker, but the hydrating properties are similar. | Shop Susanne Kaufmann Hyaluron Serum
V’s Skincare Tip
all the best skincare products in the world won’t matter if you’re not taking care of yourself internally. Be sure to drink lots of water, and eat fresh, nutrient-rich foods. If you regularly experience skin redness or irritation and aren’t sure why, experiment with omitting particular foods from your diet, to see if they correspond to the inflammation. Foods that often cause my cheeks to get irritated include dairy and nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, chiles and eggplant, especially). On the flip side, eating fish and drinking at least 80oz of water in one day magically imparts a gorgeous glow on the next!
Desert Organics Tea Tree Oil Pads // If you’re experiencing a minor breakout and also want to exfoliate your skin as you treat the area, these pads are awesome. The feel of the cotton is slightly rough, so they do wonders at pulling off that final layer of dead skin and any residual makeup. I don’t advise you to use these on a really active, irritated breakout though—it will just exacerbate your symptoms. I like having these around for any blemish extractions too. They are great at dabbing at the gunk you pull out of your pores, while also disinfecting the area. | Shop Desert Organics Tea Tree Oil Pads
Organic Tea Tree Oil // Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of blemish spot treatments. Some have better results than others, and some are just plain destructive (note to self: avoid benzoyl peroxide treatments at all cost). Honestly though? I find the most effective treatment is to dab one or two drops of tea tree oil right on the spot. I use tea tree oil often enough that my skin is less sensitive to it, so I can dot the oil right on the spot without burning my skin. If you are new to it, you might want to dilute the oil with a drop or two of jojoba oil or something similar. For me though, with just a tiny dab of tea tree oil, I’ll wake up the next morning blemish free (or at least with that sucker mostly zapped!). | Shop Tea Tree Oil
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion // I’ve tried a LOT of The Ordinary’s products, and some I liked a lot more than others. This is one that always qualifies for repurchase—it’s a crazy effective Retinoid, at a crazy cheap price. I used this religiously last winter when I was battling a bad breakout cycle on my forehead (due to too-hot showers, hence my tip above!). It does a fantastic job of smoothing out the skin and promoting cell turnover. For the price, you really can’t beat it. | Shop The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution // If I’m having a breakout over a larger area, I’ll mix a little bit of The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid solution into my serum or moisturizer. Sometimes I’ll also use it as a spot treatment (if I’m not feeling tea tree oil, for some reason). Again, with such an affordable price, this is a great product to keep around for any zit emergencies. | Shop The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Solution
CosRX Triple C Lightning Serum // I absolutely adore this treatment! I use it on the nights I don’t use the Missha Night Repair ampoule, mentioned above. Triple C Lightning Serum is a Vitamin C serum that you can apply directly to skin, or mix into moisturizer. I personally prefer doing the mixing—as a last step, I’ll add a few drops into my nighttime moisturizer, mix gently, then apply to the face. The serum has a whopping 20.5% of pure Vitamin C, making it an amazing tool for brightening the skin and reducing any pigmented spots. And it’s under $30! | Shop CoxRX Triple C Lightning Serum
Shop Serums/Ampoules and Treatments
Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Hyaluronic Acid Moisture Cream // Late last spring, I got a sample of Youth to the People’s Superfood Moisture Cream in a Nordstrom shipment. I used it for two days, and was completely hooked…and then completely bummed when they were out of stock and I couldn’t get any for a while. Lucky for me, I found it at Sephora and Anthropologie soon after, and it’s been my go-to day cream ever since. I just LOVE it. The texture is amazing, it softens the skin so beautifully, keeps you perfectly hydrated, and soaks in quick. Pro tip: keep and use the little spatula they package it with. I found I would blow through a jar in a month’s time if I didn’t use, but with it, a jar can last me 2-3 months. | Shop YTTP Superfood Moisture Cream
Missha Time Revolution Immortal Youth Cream // This is a rich, wonderful night cream from Korean brand Missha. I began using it last fall and alternate it usually every other night, but it’s also so rich that on the rare night I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to deal with essences or serums or anything else, I’ll apply it on its own because I know it’ll do the job. The packaging also feels really luxe, and I would definitely repurchase. | Shop Missha Time Revolution Immortal Youth Cream
Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Day Cream // I used this cream for several years, off and on, usually alternating this with the Probiotic+C renewal cream, below. Andalou’s 1000 Roses line is great for sensitive skin—the products in this line are all very gentle, but effective, and offered at a really reasonable price point. I eventually stopped using this because I felt I needed something that offered more moisture, but for less needy skin, it’s a wonderful everyday cream! | Shop Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Day Cream
V’s Skincare Tip
You probably noticed I have a lot of skincare recs. That’s because my skin changes throughout the seasons, reacting to different weather, temperatures, and even varying levels of stress. Don’t feel bad about keeping a variety of products on hand to meet your needs. I find it’s best to really take note of my skin and give it what it wants, even if that means switching up products weekly, or even daily!
Andalou Naturals Probiotic+C Renewal Cream // The formula of this cream is similar to the 1000 Roses cream above, but a little thicker, and with a citrus fragrance instead of roses. The Probiotic+C is part of Andalou’s brightening line, so it’s packed with Vitamin C to help reduce pigmentation and brighten the skin. I often alternated using this cream and the 1000 Roses cream, but eventually wanted something a little more hydrating. I still have a jar at home though, and if I’m out of my YTTP cream mentioned above, this is my backup! | Shop Andalou Naturals Probiotic+C Renewal Cream
Trilogy Ultra Hydrating Face Cream // Like moisturizing spackle. If you have super dry skin, or little dry spots on your face, I can’t recommend this cream enough. It includes a good dose of manuka honey, which is so soothing and an emollient. You can feel (and smell!) it as you apply, and it’s fantastic. When my skin has been extremely dry, I’ve used this is as my primary moisturizer, with great results. Joe will sneak into my bathroom in the evenings and use this lotion, and really likes it (how do I know? He’ll ask me about it if I run out!). Good to know is this lotion dries a lot more matte than Weleda’s Skin Food, discussed below. | Shop Trilogy Ultra Hydrating Face Cream
Weleda SkinFood // This was one of the first natural beauty products I ever tried back in 2010 or 11ish! It’s a classic and a favorite amongst beauty junkies, because it too is like moisturizing spackle. It applies SUPER thick, and is great to dot on spots that are very dry. If you need a heavy duty moisturizer for your whole face though, I would rec the Trilogy over this, simply because this will finish like an oil, leaving you shiny. However, it is much more affordable than the Trilogy, so if you plan on wearing makeup over it anyway, it might not be an issue. | Shop Weleda SkinFood
D’Alba Piedmont Peptide No-Sebum Repair Cream // This is a lightweight cream that I’ll sometimes use as a serum. I was initially intrigued by its “No Sebum” marketing—it contains calamine powder, which supposedly will help control your sebum production. I can’t say I notice a huge difference in oil vs. not when I use it, but as niacinamide is one of the primary ingredients, I can tell you that I notice it brightens the skin effectively. When I’ve used it on its own as a moisturizer, I get a little dry in my cheeks, but if you have oiler skin or find yourself in summer, this is a great cream to try. | Shop D’Alba Piedmont Peptide No-Sebum Repair Cream
Avène Tolérance Extrême Creme // Every few years, my skin will have a monumental freakout. It might be due to stress, or an environmental change, or maybe just a couple weeks of a really bad diet, but it usually involves redness, maybe a patch of bumps or zits, and general awfulness. When my skin just won’t have it with any of my usual products, I always turn to Avène. They make a huge number of super gentle products for sensitive skin, but their Tolérance Extrême Creme is a great place to start. It’s so benign, but very moisturizing, and will play referee between you and your pissed off epidermis. | Shop Avène Tolérance Extrême Creme
MyChelle & DermaE // I know many of you are interested in trying or using “clean” or “cleaner” products. Though it’s been a while since I used either of these brands exclusively, back when I began experimenting with this beauty category, MyChelle and DermaE were two brands I turned to regularly. You can find both at Whole Foods, and they sell widely online. Both offer huge lines of products for all types of skincare concerns, and their stuff is solid! I still have zit treatment from MyChelle I will use on occasion, as well as a “cold cream” style Vitamin A cream from DermaE that I keep on hand! | Browse MyChelle and DermaE products
Dr. Alkaitis Organic Nourishing Oil // This was the first facial oil I ever tried, probably back in 2011 and 2012, and it’s still one of my faves. It makes me kind of sad that it is harder to find these days, but I think it is worth seeking out. I like this as a finishing oil after a more in-depth skincare routine, and I’ve also used it on mosquito bites to help reduce the pigmentation I get after a bad bite (just me?). I personally think this oil is on par with Vintner’s Daughter, but at a fraction of the cost (and without the wonderful floral fragrance—though it does still smell herbal and spa-like). The only thing is that it includes extracts from several grasses, so if you are allergic to grasses, don’t use this! | Shop Dr. Alkaitis Organic Nourishing Oil
Indie Lee Squalane Oil // I reviewed Indie Lee’s Squalane Oil back here, and still keep a bottle around. I tend to like more botanical based oils, but I like using this one if I’m mixing up my own oil concoctions or face mask treatments. It is super affordable, and very simple—if you’re looking for squalane, this is a great place to start! | Shop Indie Lee Squalane Oil
Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil // If all you need is squalane, I’d go with the Indie Lee above, as this is a lot more expensive. But I do like that it includes Vitamin C, which has brightening properties. As noted here, when I use this, I tend to mix it into moisturizer, as on its own, I don’t think it is moisturizing enough. I’ve only ever purchased one bottle and am still using it up—to be honest, after I finish it, I likely would not repurchase (and would instead stick to the more affordable Indie Lee). However, if your skin really loves squalane and you want an oil with some extra nutrients, this is a good one. Do note that it has no rose scent whatsoever. | Shop Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil
V’s Skincare Tip
I know some people use oil as their sole facial moisturizer, but this isn’t for me. Instead, I like to use it as a final treat to my skin on select evenings, after I’ve gone through my routine and applied my moisturizer. if you’re not into the feel of oil sitting atop your skin, trying mixing a few drops into your favorite moisturizer.
MUN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum // I’m glad I wrote this post, because I was reminded how much I freaking LOVE this serum (which is really an oil) and that yes, I do want to spend another $95 to replace my bottle which is nearly empty. I suppose the oil molecules in this are fine enough it could work as a serum, but I prefer to use as a final oil after a longer nighttime skincare routine (if I use an oil at night, I typically use either this or the Dr. Alkaitis). It smells divine, and is packed full of prickly pear, which as my friend Grace noted, is like “natural botox.” MUN’s youth serum hit the market circa 2013, so I think she may have been one of the first in the luxury naturals market to focus an entire product around prickly pear! | Shop MUN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum
Vintner’s Daughter // You’ve heard of Vintner’s Daughter by this point, right? It’s definitely a cult favorite beauty oil, and I do understand why. It smells wonderful, and I agree that it’s super effective. I got a small sample of it quite a ways back and loved how soft and supple it made my skin! The only reason it’s not on constant rotation around here is the price—and I feel like I get equally effective results with the Alkaitis. However, it’s an absolutely gorgeous oil, and if I had never discovered Dr. Alkaitis, I’d probably be ponying up. It also has a great backstory: the company was founded by April Gargiulo, who indeed is a Vintner’s Daughter (and who has a daughter of her own, which the company is named after). If you are ever in Napa, make an appointment to taste at Gargiulo…you won’t regret it. | Shop Vintner’s Daughter
Herbivore Phoenix Oil // If you’re a packaging snob and new to oils, try this one. I had a full size sample sent to me a few years ago, and really enjoyed it while I used it (you can’t beat how pretty the bottle looks on your bathroom counter!). I didn’t end up repurchasing, just because—as you can see—there are a bunch of other oils I really, really love. But as an entry point into the facial oils game, this is a great place to start. Herbivore as a brand makes beautiful products! | Shop Herbivore Phoenix Oil
Shop Face Oils
Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask // Still one of the GOATs! If you’ve never tried Tata’s famed Resurfacing Mask, get on it! I don’t know what it is about its gel like texture (and delectable scent), but this mask never fails to make you glow. I always take a bit of this mask in a small pot for long plane trips, and apply it when I get to my destination. It immediately brings my skin back to life! | Shop Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
Tata Harper Purifying Mask // I don’t struggle with acne too often, but after mistakenly buying this mask one time a couple years back, I found another great use for it: spot treatments! If you have a gnarly pimple that you want to zap overnight, try applying a little tea tree oil (mentioned above) and then smear some of this mask over it. Overnight, the mask really helps dry out the blemish. I have used it a few times over larger parts of the face, and it’s very detoxifying! | Shop Tata Harper Purifying Mask
Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask // This mask often comes free (yes, seriously!) when you buy Andalou’s Probiotic+C lotion. I think the last 3 jars of that cream came with a jar of this mask, too! But you can of course buy it on its own. I like that when you use it, you can feel all the pumpkin enzymes working their tingly magic. This mask is very hydrating and will leave you glowing. With its pumpkin-y smell, I tend to use it in the autumn! | Shop Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
Sheet Masks // Ohhhh Korean sheet masks. I get you now. If you can believe it, I had never tried a sheet mask of any kind until I was in Korea this past summer. I’m officially hooked. I know there are about a bagillion sheet masks out on the market, but some of my faves are these from Acwell, and these from Benton. I’ve also had good results with masks from Missha and Etude House, though the ones you find available here in the States are different from in Korea. Not to mention they’re like less than a dollar each over there but ugh, don’t remind me. | Shop Sheet Masks
Powder Masks // I have a big tub of this clay powder at home, and will use it to make my own masks. My favorite blends the clay, manuka honey, rosewater, tea tree oil, and turmeric, for a hydrating, yet deep cleansing mask (maybe I’ll make another batch and share the recipe!). I also like keeping a powder mask around for spot treatments. Similar to the Tata purifying mask, you can mix a tiny bit with a drop or two of water, and apply it to a zit to dry it out overnight. | Shop Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Vapour Organics Atmosphere Luminous Foundation // This has been the only “foundation” I’ve used for the last 7+ years. It was one of the first organic/natural makeup products I tried, and it’s always been so great, I’ve never looked elsewhere. Vapour’s foundation sticks are so easy to apply, and allow for buildable coverage. I typically don’t wear foundation most days, but when I want to have a flawless face, I’ll simply dot some of this along the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin, then blend with my fingers. As an oil-based foundation, it will leave you glow-y, so if you prefer a matte look, just finish with some loose powder and you’re good. | Shop Vapour Organics Atmosphere Luminous Foundation
Nu Evolution Pressed Powder Foundation // My default makeup status is no foundation or powder on my skin at all, but if I want to de-grease and provide just a hint of coverage, I reach for this pressed powder foundation. It’s actually very buildable, so if you apply it lightly, it can also work as a setting powder. | Shop Nu Evolution Pressed Powder Foundation
RMS Beauty Master Mixer // RMS makes a ton of different highlighting products, but among all of them, this is my favorite. It has more of a golden (though not bronze) tone that makes it gorgeous on cheekbones, brow bones, or on the bridge of your nose. Your skin looks really healthy and alive with this, but it’s not shimmery at all. You can also tap this product atop your favorite lipsticks, or even the eyes, for really subtle highlight. It’s a must-have for me! However, depending on your skin tone, check out RMS’ other highlight products to find the best fit for you (Living Luminizer, Peach Luminizer, Magic Luminizer) | Shop RMS Beauty Master Mixer
Juice Beauty CC Cream // I reviewed this CC Cream here, and it’s been a while since I used it! This is a great product if you’re looking for a sheer coverage BB/CC cream with SPF. The reason I think I didn’t keep using for years on end is (gasp!) I really hate the feel of sunscreen on my skin. However, were I commuting regularly or spending more time in the sun (and, you know, seeing other humans regularly all day, everyday), this would be a go-to! Note that the coverage is quite sheer, so it won’t work in place of a foundation if you are used to that. | Shop Juice Beauty CC Cream
RMS Beauty Uncover Up // The makeup to buy if you really hate wearing makeup. While you can use it as a foundation, I think Uncover Up works best as spot concealer, or to dot along small areas with uneven tone. The pots are too small to deal with if you are going for full coverage! | Shop RMS Beauty Uncover Up
Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens // Whenever I have a meeting right after work—drinks, a dinner, whatever—I will always blot my face with these before I leave (and usually dust a little bit of the Nu powder mentioned above on, too!). These are amazing at sopping up the excess oil on your skin, without forcing you to wash your face and start all over. You’ll notice an immediate reduction in shine after just one tissue! | Shop Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens
Alima Pure Pressed Powder // Before I used Nu Evolution’s powder, I used Alima’s for years. The exact one I used went out of stock, and after looking at their website, I’m realizing it’s because they changed up the product lines and no longer make it as it used to be called. However, I liked their powders so much, I can wholeheartedly recommend this line, especially if you are looking for a non-toxic powder recommendation. Alima’s products work great, and are available for sale through their site or at Credo! | Shop Alima Powders
Jane Iredale Sunbeam Bronzer // This is my favorite bronzer, and the one I get asked about most when I wear it. The color concentration of all Jane Iredale products is pretty intense, so you only need the sheerest swipe of a blush brush to deposit a lot of color (whether on cheeks or eyes!). While I love the color blend, two things to note about this product: one, I have never had it NOT break on me. I actually have a jar just for the powder from this bronzer, which I shake up after it breaks. It still works fine, but it’s something to note. Since my last purchase of the bronzer, it also seems that Jane Iredale wants you to purchase a separate compact, and buy refills. So perhaps my bronzer jar is going to be a permanent thing… | Shop Jane Iredale Sunbeam Bronzer
Kjaer Weis Cream Blush // I reviewed this cream blush here, and it’s still among my fave cream blushes out there (it’s just pricey, which is why on the whole, I veer towards the ILIA, discussed below). Kjaer Weis’ formulation is incredibly blendable, and the colors they offer are insanely gorgeous. You also can’t beat the packaging—the rotating lid to their compacts feel very chic! | Shop Kjaer Weis Cream Blush
RMS Buruti Bronzer // When I want something more subtle than the sunbeam bronzer (and also cream based), I’ll turn to my RMS Buruti Bronzer. This is a creamy, highly blendable bronzer that could also work as a contouring color if you were in a pinch. Like all RMS products, it goes on pretty sheer but is buildable, and leaves your skin looking luminous and alive. | Shop RMS Buruti Bronzer
ILIA MultiStick Cheek to Cheek // When my favorite shade of Kjaer Weis Cream Blush was sold out a few months ago, I opted to try ILIA’s MultiStick in the Cheek to Cheek shade instead. Honestly? While the color isn’t exactly the same, I love how easy it is to apply. And given the price difference, MultiStick is singlehandedly why I haven’t bought a third refill of Kjaer Weis. The formulation goes on really smooth, and blends easily with your fingertips. | Shop ILIA MultiStick Cheek to Cheek
W3ll People Nudist Multi-use Cream Stick // New to naturals? W3ll People is a brand you need to know about. They’ve been in the non-toxic makeup game for a long, long time, and I find their products are always really solid. I used their Nudist Cream Stick several years ago, until it sadly melted in a too-hot car (I was traveling and completely forgot to take my toiletry bag out of the car during a hot Texas summer…rookie mistake). They’ve redone their packaging since I used this product, and it looks a little nicer—before, it was an all white tube that didn’t feel very wow. The product itself is great though, and affordable! | Shop W3ll People Nudist Multi-use Cream Stick
Brow Food Tinted Brow Gel Enhancing Fix // Still one of my all time fave brow gels! The brush, the gel texture, the coverage—it’s good. REAL good. The only reason I ventured away from this particular product was to continue hunting for brow gels that match my exact hair shade (this one only comes in three colors, and while close, the darkest one wasn’t quite spot on for me). If this color matches for you though, GET IT! | Shop Brow Food Tinted Brow Gel Enhancing Fix
Benefit Gimme Brow // One thing I love about Benefit’s Gimme Brow is the range of colors they offer. They’re one of the few companies I’ve seen to offer brow colors in cooler tones, which better matches with my specific hair color. However, while the colors are really good, I think the coverage could be a little better (and more buildable), and I actually hate the packaging. I would repurchase this though—it’s great for days when I need very, very light brow grooming, and the color is so good I like blending it with some of my other, beefier brow gels for a bolder look. | Shop Benefit Gimme Brow
Kelley Baker Tinted Brow Gel // The gal who waxes my brows turned me onto this brand, as they sell it in the salon! I really like Kelley Baker’s Tinted Brow Gels, so much so that I just repurchased for the first time. The wand is very unique and unlike any that I’ve seen elsewhere—the brush itself is very thin, and the bristles are micro, which makes it easy to stroke the product on lightly, or build it up. | Shop Kelley Baker Tinted Brow Gel
Kari Gran Lip Whips // I love this stuff so much, I dedicated an entire blog post to it. Kari Gran’s Lip Whips remain my fave lip care product ever! I have a little pot of it in my bag, at my desk, and on my nightstand. I’m especially partial to the barely tinted Peppermint Lip Whip, though her more colorful versions are lovely too! | Shop Kari Gran Lip Whips
Henne Organics Luxury Lip Balm // I picked up Henne’s Luxury Lip Balm during a Black Friday sale at Anthropologie, and have been surprised at how much I like it. When I ran out of a pot of Lip Whip in my makeup drawer, I put this in its place and it’s been a great substitute. The packaging feels very chic, and the product itself glides on smooth. On its own, it has enough sheen to feel like a light gloss, but it also makes a great base for other lipsticks. They also offer some sheer tints; I got this one and like it. | Shop Henne Organics Luxury Lip Balm
RMS Lip2Cheek // Last fall I picked up a pot of RMS’ Lip2Cheek in the color illusive, and it’s gorgeous! This has become my everyday lip tint for work, when I want to put something simple on and feel pretty, but not made up. I dot a little of this on over the Henne lip balm or some Kari Gran Lip Whip, and it’s lovely. The color appears a lot darker in the pot than it will appear on your skin! | Shop RMS Lip2Cheek
Beauty Counter Lip Sheers // Quite a ways back, I purchased a few Lip Sheers from Beauty Counter. One of the shades ended up not being for me, but I did keep the color “Twig” and still use it on date nights! The formula glides on well, and doesn’t dry out your lips. I’m not really the type of person to rock a bold lip on the regular, so the light swash of (buildable!) color, plus nourishing ingredients is a win-win for me. | Shop Beauty Counter Lip Sheers
Shop Eyes and Lips
So here’s what you need to know about my hair.
It’s wavy. And coarse. And thick and pretty unruly. plus, it’s prone to frizz. You can imagine how fun this has been for me! The products below reflect my specific hair type and needs, so if you have straight hair, thin hair, or very curly hair, these recs might not be as applicable.
Ouai Wave Spray // One thing I will say about my hair: because of its coarse, thick texture, when you do style it, it cooperates pretty well and holds its shape beautifully. If I’m going through the trouble of straightening and then adding wave to my hair, I’ll always use this wave spray to set it and give it a bit of beachy texture at the finish. I hate the feel of hairspray, but this provides juuust enough hold! | Shop Ouai Wave Spray
dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse // I will confess (and I hope this isn’t TMI), but I’ve struggled with scalp issues for years. The more the topic of hair has come up amongst girlfriends, the more I’ve learned many other women do too. For me, it is related to stress—when I’m on vacation or taking a break from work, all my scalp issues go away. What are those issues, exactly? Flakes, itchiness, just sensitivity generally. However, I’ve recently phased out using shampoo (which always seemed to irritate my head more) and instead have been using this ACV hair rinse. Sometimes I use a homemade version too (I might publish the recipe at some point, if I decide it’s really good). But not agitating my scalp with harsh cleansers (or natural cleansers that don’t really work) has definitely helped with scalp irritation. Surprisingly, this rinse has a light lather to it once you work it in, so it still feels like your hair is clean and fresh. | Shop dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment // Still having scalp issues? Try this gel treatment. You rub it into your scalp prior to styling, and it really helps dry things out (in a good way, not a dry hair way!), as well as soothe the skin. I don’t recommend using it without heat styling, as the texture of your roots will be a little funky. But with a blowdry after application, this not only makes your scalp feel great, it also extended the life of blowouts. | Shop Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment
V’s Haircare Tip
So, I really dislike dry shampoo, and try to avoid it for the most part. But if I have to use it, my favorite is this one from Virtue. It surprised me by going on colorless, not smelling terrible, and working well (it’s especially good at volumizing roots!). The mini size is great for travel.
Kerastase L’Huile Original Hair Oil // Still my ultimate finishing oil! This used to be called Elixir Ultime. It’s not natural, and totally full of silicones, but if I want really straight, smooth hair with no frizz, a couple drops of this as a finishing touch will ensure my hair is super shiny and that the style lasts for a few days. | Shop Kerastase L’Huile Original Hair Oil
Christophe Robin Regenerating Hair Mask // THE BEST EVER. This mask is expensive, but worth it. I like to use it every few weeks, when I have time to hang out and relax on the weekends. Like all masks, you should leave it on for a few minutes, but if you REALLY want to let it do its thing, apply it in the shower and then clip your hair up with the mask still in it. Wrap a towel around your head if needed, hop out, and then hang for twenty minutes. Read a book. Do a face mask. Relax! Then, hop back in the shower and rinse it out. Your hair will be the softest and silkiest its ever been. Proof? Refer back to my hair type, above. If it works for me, it’ll work for you. | Shop Christophe Robin Regenerating Hair Mask
Alterna Caviar CC Cream // If I have to spend an hour of my time (minimum!) drying and then heat styling my hair, it had not only turn out well, it damn well better last a few days. Alterna’s Caviar CC Cream remains my favorite hair styling cream. It smells nice, is never sticky or heavy when it dries, adds lots of shine, smoothes things out, and heat protects. I’ve repurchased over and over again! | Shop Alterna Caviar CC Cream
Beauty Counter Body Butter // Of all the Beauty Counter skincare products I tried, this one stands out as my favorite. The scent is really light and fresh and pleasant, and it soaks in quickly too. It’s a great product to use in the winter, when your arms and legs need extra moisture. The only thing that holds me back from purchasing all the time is it’s $36, and given the amount I would use daily, it gets pricey quick. But, if you’re trying a bunch of things from Beauty Counter, give this a try and indulge with it after your bath days! | Shop Beauty Counter Body Butter
Ellis Brooklyn Body Milk // It’s no secret how much I love Ellis Brooklyn products. Two of her scents, Rrose and Fable, are my go-to perfumes. The company also makes these gorgeous body lotions, that correspond with the perfumes and will surprise you with how fragrant they are. In fact, the whole goal of these “body milks” was to make a perfumed body lotion that actually had staying power, and smelled like its matching perfume. They definitely succeeded! I also find the formulation to be very moisturizing, and it makes my skin really soft. | Shop Ellis Brooklyn Body Milk
EO Body Lotion // This is my everyday body lotion. It’s affordable, available everywhere, soaks in fast, and does the trick. When I want to splurge and luxuriate, I’ll use the Ellis mentioned above, but most days, it’s the Everyone lotion by EO! | Shop EO Body Lotion
Borage Therapy Dry Skin Lotion // If you have extra dry skin that isn’t responding well to regular lotion, look for the Borage Therapy brand at Whole Foods. They make a few different formulations that work wonders on dry, irritated skin. | Shop Borage Therapy Dry Skin Lotion
Mokoto Oils // I ordered a few different oils from Mokoto a couple years ago, and think they’re pretty good. On the whole, I don’t think I’m really a “body oil” type person, just because I tend to shower at night and hate getting in bed oily. However, these oils are fantastic for your bikini area, regardless of whether you shave or wax (or do nothing). Mokoto’s bottles have a spray dispenser on them, making them perfect for small area application. The oil itself makes the skin and hair soft, which can of course help with in-growns. I find the result is similar to that pube oil from Fur, but with a lot more product volume and a nicer bottle. | Shop Mokoto Oils
Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish // I love using this body polish in the summer time! It smells coconut-y and wonderful and feels so great as you smooth it over your skin. The coconut oil leaves you feeling soft, and it doesn’t hurt to look at the pretty pink jar in the shower each day! | Shop Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish
Herbivore After Sun Body Mist // I have so many friends who have asked me about this stuff, for as many times as its been a lifesaver on group trips to the beach or to the mountains. This body mist feels so good on skin that got a little too much sun. It’s cooling and moisturizing, and I’ve found helped heal very mild sunburn overnight. | Shop Herbivore After Sun Body Mist
Oh my god, that was a lot. I hope you enjoyed my Beauty Bible and maybe found a product or two you want to try (and end up loving!). I love talking all things beauty, especially skincare, so if you have any questions or things to add (or products YOU love and wanna tell me about), please feel free to share in the comments below! And check back, as I’ll be updating this post over time!