Welcome to my powder room counter, Bond Girl!
I thought I’d share some of my current skincare favorites today. I know I’d like to see what’s behind other women’s medicine cabinets too. My routine is gradually evolving, especially since I like to try new things to possibly recommend here. If this post turns out to be helpful, I can also share some additional non-daily skincare treatments I like to use and future discoveries.
Firstly, let’s cover the basics of what kind of skin I have. I’m in my mid-twenties with combination skin. I struggle to stay matte all day in my t-zone area, but my skin feels dry after cleansing, especially around the outer edges of my face and on my lips during the winter months. I also get the occasional acne flare-ups, the worst of which tend to come in waves (most likely hormonally-influenced).
My skincare product choices are usually based on effectiveness, scent, and packaging. I like quality products, pleasant scents, and beautiful, classic packaging (don’t we all!).
I enjoy using skincare products, because1) I’m trying to prevent skin aging now instead of when it’s too late, 2) makeup application is a lot smoother with skin that is well taken care of, and 3) I find it relaxing and satisfying to do any kind of beauty treatment on myself.
I’m by no means a licensed skincare professional; these are just some of my favorites from experience and may not be ideal for every skin type.
I hope my experience can help you add something new to your routine!
For Facial Cleansing
This Chanel mousse exfoliating cleanser is my current go-to, non-acne fighting daily facial cleanser (I have others I use for breakouts specifically). It works well for my combination skin during the winter time, since it’s creamy and doesn’t leave my skin completely stripped. I especially like the little exfoliating beads – cleansers with beads somehow make me feel like they’re working better! Although it claims to be foaming, I don’t find that it foams much (or maybe I don’t use it exactly as intended).
I either apply it with my hands and a bit of warm water in circular motions over the sink or put some of it on my Clarisonic brush head for extra exfoliation.
I really enjoy this Chanel toner in my routine. It’s refreshing and helps me feel a bit more matte during the day without completely drying out my skin (it does contain alcohol, just a heads up). The packaging is lovely, as with all Chanel; as silly as it may seem, I feel more compelled to use a toner like this one in my routine, simply because it’s a delightful experience. Whatever works, right?
The Bioderma Micelle Solution is my favorite makeup remover I’ve tried so far. What can I say? I’m attracted to European products. I’ve only bought Bioderma once in person at a small Asian beauty supply store in Irvine, CA. This is one of those products I almost always order online, because it’s not likely to be stocked on shelves in the USA. It’s worth the small hassle, because it’s one of the few makeup removers that doesn’t sting my eyes when I’m removing eye makeup (this particular one with the pink cap is marketed towards sensitive eyes, I believe). I put a bit on my cotton pad and hold the cotton against my eye, then gently wipe away the day’s makeup. You don’t need to rinse it away afterwards, either, which is fabulous.
I also have the tiny size of this makeup remover for travel. It’s the cutest little bottle, too!
This is the starter product that got me hooked on Caudalie as a brand. It was one of those mini checkout aisle products at Sephora that always gets us. But I’m by no means complaining, because now their serum, face cream, body oil, tinted leg lotion, and hand cream have slowly come into my life! The beauty elixir is a part-toner, part-serum mist of essential oils and plant active ingredients. If you like somewhat herbal, “European-scented” products, you’ll probably like Caudalie. Their packaging is amazing as well. I feel like I’m at a European spa when I use their line. What I love about serums in general is the fact that even though there are so many of the best vitamin c serums on the market, you literally cannot go wrong with them. It’s not like exfoliators that can be too harsh on your skin or a toner that may cause irritation (depending on the sensitivity of your skin). They just provide you with the essential moisture beneficial to keep your skin looking fresh and bright.
Lately, I’ve been using the beauty elixir on bare skin after moisturizing if I’m not planning on putting on any makeup. So refreshing! It can be used as a spray toner or as a setting spray after makeup application. It’s also perfect as a quick refresher in the afternoon or while traveling, especially with dry, recirculated air.
I ordered the Clarisonic Plus in white for my birthday from Nordstrom.com earlier this year, and I am so happy I did. Within the first use, Mr. Bond complimented how soft my skin was – without me even fishing for any compliments! I love the fact that it has multiple speeds and a timer to help you gauge how long you’ve been exfoliating. The Clarisonic brush head selection is fab, and I switch between the facial one and the body brush almost daily.
After I use my Clarisonic, serums and creams seem to absorb better and deeper. Also, makeup application, specifically liquid foundation, is noticeably easier; it’s not quite the same feeling as applying a silicone-based primer, but it comes close. Love it.
A few years ago I bought a cheapie $40 Clarisonic wannabe, which was weaker in power, lacked quality in the brush heads, had one speed and no timer, and required constant battery replacement. Needless to say, it broke within about 6 months, so I finally decided to go for the real McCoy last year.
I’ve used regular cotton pads from Target and CVS most of my life, but last year I decided to try the Shiseido facial cotton that I’ve heard beauty gurus rave about so much. At $9.50 a pack, it took me a while to decide I needed to try it, but now I’m a convert for life. They’re like fluffy, extra-soft pieces of heavenly clouds that make makeup removal and toner application a dream. If you love little luxuries, don’t expect to buy these just once – you’ll probably be hooked like the rest of us.
I still buy the regular, couple-dollar cotton pads from drugstores, but I use those for removing nail polish and things of that nature that don’t require coming in contact with my face. Also, the Shiseido cotton is relatively large and can be cut into smaller pieces. In other words, it lasts quite a while and is worth the premium price tag for “just cotton,” in my opinion.
For Facial Moisturizing
I love this Caudalie serum! The satiny product in the bottle is great, but the bottle itself with the little dropper is just genius for someone like me who loves the ritual of applying beauty products. Apply your serum before moisturizer on clean skin. I tilt my head back a bit and place a droplet of the serum on my forehead, chin, and both cheeks and then pat it in.
Highly concentrated with naturally powerful “Viniferine,” which comes from grapevine stalk, this serum reduces the appearance of existing dark spots such as acne marks, scars, and damage revealing a brighter, more even complexion. If you’re looking for a beautiful serum that isn’t hundreds of dollars, this one could be the one for you.
Interesting tip – apply any leftover serum (and moisturizer) from your face and décolleté onto your hands. Hands often age faster than other areas of our body, because we don’t treat them with as much attention as our face, for example.
I use the ‘Premier Cru’ cream during the day and at night when I have a bit more time to pamper myself, but most people would use it solely as a night cream. It’s kind of pricey, but ‘Premier Cru’ is a blend of patented Caudalie ingredients, including Resveratrol-Oleyl (for lifting and firming), Viniferine (for brightening), polyphenols (for antioxidants) and the most high-performance active ingredients at their highest concentrations to correct all signs of aging in a single step. Like other Caudalie products, it smells wonderful. I’ve been holding off from ordering another full-size bottle, because I still have a sample size from a beauty deal that was going on at Nordstrom.com when I bought the Caudalie serum.
When I’m in a rush and just need something quick to moisturize my face, I use my Melvita rose day cream. There used to be a Melvita store in Fashion Island, Newport Beach, CA, but I don’t think it’s there anymore. That’s where I first found out about Melvita. They’re an organic beauty company, and I’m a sucker for rose-scented things. It sinks in quickly and smells wonderful (if you like natural rose scents, similar to the ones at L’Occitane).
I use my RoC night cream almost every night – almost because sometimes the active ingredient can irritate the skin a bit, so I take a little break when that happens. I can’t tell you that I’ve experienced some amazing wrinkle-reversal since I don’t have many to start with, but I am all for taking preventative measures for the future. I do feel like my skin is ever so slightly more “plump” in the morning after I use it. I like it, because it’s non-greasy, penetrates nicely, and smells kind of nice!
The active ingredient is retinol, so you shouldn’t use it if you’re pregnant or nursing, and you want to be sure to wear sunscreen while you’re using the treatment. If the RoC doesn’t have enough retinol in it for you, Kate Somerville also makes a retinol night treatment. However, I’d start with a lower “dosage” if you’ve never tried retinol products.
I was introduced to Bioelements by my sister-in-law, who is a licensed aesthetician. Bioelements is a brand you’ll commonly find in high-end spas, but you can also buy it online. I have a few eye creams, but I find myself reaching for this one most often. I like it the most, because application is easy, it doesn’t cake up under my makeup, and it sinks in quickly.
Bioelements Multi-Task Eye Cream claims to reduce dark, under-eye circles, puffiness and and fine lines using lipoic acid, phytonadione, hyaluronic acid and green tea. I do have dark circles, but no eye cream or amount of sleep has ever been able to alleviate them. I think the skin under my eyes is extra thin and the dark blue blood vessels show up more prominently; my grandma has the same issue. One day I might get the vessels removed via laser, but I’m still scared by the idea of it being so close to my face (go figure – I had no problem getting LASIK, though!). But I digress – I still like the Bioelements cream, mainly for its moisturizing benefits.
I’ve tried a few “flavors” of this lovely lip balm, and Petal is my favorite. I’d recommend any of them, of course, but Petal leaves a slightly pink tint on my lips, which is kind of like the “My Lips But Better” effect. I apply this balm while I’m putting on makeup to prep my lips for lipstick or just use it as my actual lip look for simpler makeup / no-makeup days. It smells amazing and moisturizes well!
In terms of packaging, it’s probably my favorite in lip balms; the metal container gets cold sometimes, which is a strangely satisfying feeling to the touch. The twist-open feature is also a nice experience. Having it in stick form is convenient, more sanitary, and less messy than sticking your finger in a pot (even though there are some pretty amazing potted lip balms out there).
I really need to buy a second one, so I don’t have to keep transferring it from my makeup area to my handbag. It’s that good; I usually don’t buy multiples and use products up as I go. Get yourself one of these!
For Body Cleansing & Moisturizing
This is just the Clarisonic ‘Plus’ with the brush head switched out for the body one. It’s bigger and a bit sturdier to cover more surface area, of course. Must have!
I tried Molton Brown products in a hotel once in Napa Valley and knew I had to order some full-size! I went with the Coco & Sandalwood body wash, so that both Mr. Bond and I could use the same body wash; I figured it was masculine enough. Plus, I like my products pretty neutral, so clear and silver is perfect for my aesthetic. If you like coconut and sandalwood, you’ll like this particular scent – it’s an island kind of scent. Since there are so many tantalizing versions of this body wash, I think I’ll order a different one next, so we can have a more diverse Molton Brown experience, haha. A little goes a long way with this one.
This Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille Body Crème is the most luxurious body cream I’ve ever used. The scent is so delicious and lingers a while on my clothes and bedding, which I love. It’s a lightly-whipped mix of amber and vanilla, as the name suggests; I’m almost positive all of the Laura Mercier creams smell heavenly. And it’s pretty enough to leave out on the counter or next to your bath tub, if you’re lucky enough to have one of those 5-piece baths!
When I want a lighter (and faster) application of late, I use my Kiehl’s Creme de Corps in the light version. The original is a thicker consistency, like a body butter, but I already have a few thicker moisturizers stocked up, so the light version is perfect for me. It’s a great choice for men, as well, since there’s no fruity/floral/bakery scent! Creme de Corps Light is ideal for normal or dry skin and is formulated with unique, skin-soothing ingredients derived from nature – jojoba butter, olive fruit oil and sweet almond oil. Kiehl’s products are pretty no-nonsense and simply work!
If you’ve ever tried any of these products, share your experience below! Also, let us know if you’ve had any exceptional experiences with products I haven’t talked about today.