All I want for Christmas is spectacular skin

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Welcome my darlings to the week before the big sales start.  Or what is usually the week before the big sales start. Many of the sales started early this year.  Even so, each year around this time, I look at products I’ve tried and liked enough to want to continue using or products that I tried in a sample size and want to give a full sized version a go in the upcoming year. When stocking up on skin care, it really pays to hit the sales.

As I start looking over things, there are always a few memorable stand outs that I don’t have to think too hard about.  There are always more I see pop out at me when I start to look over my previous posts and start seeing forgotten gems.  As I could literally go on for hours about various products, I have decided to attempt to limit each section to three or four items. There are some categories that will flaunt that decision with flagrant disregard for my attempt at control, but I will try to keep this post from becoming too massive.

Also throughout the week I’ll try to hit all of the categories I am currently reviewing for my own Cyber Monday/Black Friday Sales extravaganza.

Also in an attempt to keep the length of this skincare post semi reasonable, I have put masks in their own special category. We’d be here for days if I didn’t split them out.

So welcome to the skin care roundup. As we all know whether you are dressing up or dressing down for the holidays great skin is your best accessory for every occasion. Any of you reading this site on a regular basis probably realized, I am the sort of person who favors a multitude of steps to my skin care routine.  Some of the steps I do every day, others I only do on occasion and some fall somewhere in between.  I generally decide what steps I am using based on what my skin needs at the time. 

Breakouts call for one set of steps while dry patches and dullness call for a different regime. So I adjust.

I know some people are minimalists, but I really enjoy the routine of skin care.  It helps me wake up in the morning and it lets me unwind in the evening.  Whatever your routine, here are some products that I have enjoyed, that I will be repurchasing (or have already stocked up on) and that I would recommend to those looking for products to try.

We’ll start with makeup removers.  I am partial to cleansing balms as I find them neater to use and less likely to spill as they get knocked over.  While I have more or less cornered a powder room for my skincare/beauty needs and am usually the only one using that bathroom, when someone else does use it they tend to rocket through like a whirling dervish.  I’ve gotten many an apologetic look as something was knocked over and spilled by accident. Then there is the invariable look of shock when they realize how much that tiny little bottle they knocked over costs. Being the only female in the house lets me cause shock and awe quite frequently.

As the only skin care term my babydoll has managed to pick up has been ‘Cold Cream’ and it is the term he uses for every skin care product that exists (he is quite proud of knowing it actually) and believes that nothing in the bathroom should cost over $10 he has suffered some major shocks.

the travel size

Plus, when you are working in a space with hard surfaces and frequently wet and or greasy hands, things happen.  The two cleansing balms that are on my top tier right now are The Elemis Cleansing Balm and the Versed Skincare cleansing balm.

Both are excellent products that don’t require a lot of product to work and so last quite a while. The Elemis Cleansing Balm is a thick, custard like consistency and has a slightly floral, slightly botanical scent. I have tried for a while to fully identify it but the scent just smells like Elemis.  Several of their products have the scent. I personally like it. I also like the fact that it leaves my skin feeling soft as well as clean.  This is not a product that will strip your skin.  It just removes the makeup.

The Elemis Cleansing Balm actually features in several of the brand’s  holiday kits this year. I believe it might actually be in their advent calendar as well.  It is one of their top sellers, which is easy to see why.  They have a set of three cleansing balms as a pack, one in the original (which I tried and loved) one that is rose and one Neroli (orange) in case you wanted to try out different scents. Purchasing them together gives you a discounted price. 

And if you are looking for a deal (as well as a fantastic gift for either you or a skin care lover on your list), one of the sets, the Glowing SkinCare Stars, actually includes both the Cleansing Balm and the Dynamic Resurfacing  Pads that I’ll mention a little further down.  I actually picked up this set for my mom for Christmas. Not only does it contain two of my favorites (which I know she’ll love, but there are plenty of other extras in the bag. There are other kits of course and all worth checking out, but that is the one I ordered as a gift this year. I love kits because they let you try out a whole bunch of products at the same time.

The Versed cleansing balm is a little different.  It too removes the makeup and doesn’t strip your skin, but it has a more solid consistency.  It has the feel to it of a giant lip balm. To get it out of the jar I generally ran a tiny skin care spatula across the top of the product and then gathered up the product into my hands.  The heat from my hands melted it a little and then I rubbed it onto my face. 

It has a scent that is more menthol than floral and reminded me of Vick’s Vapor rub. While the scent is not my favorite, I was willing to use it because the product worked so well. And to be honest the scent dissipates quickly. It is also relatively inexpensive.  The product is on the large side and costs only $17.99 for a full size.  

Next time I order one I am planning on adding a couple of their tinted lip oils (they are $9.99 each).  While the Versed Cleansing Balm can be purchased at my local Target, they don’t stock the lip oils for some reason. It’s one of those small annoyances. 

The last time I replaced my Versed cleansing balm I just went to Target and picked it up.  I forgot I was going to order it because of the lip oils. So now I have to order them separately.  Of course I’ve also been eyeing their Winter Unwind Gift set. I’m thinking of trying it out for my post-holiday de stressing. So I may just order that and a lip oil since I have the backup balm in my skin care drawer.

While there will be a post later in the week regarding tools and other items, I have to mention that this is where I use my Makeup eraser.  I know the Makeup Eraser can just be wet and used with just water, but I really prefer applying the cleansing balm and then using a wet makeup eraser to take everything off.  I find it removes more and it requires less rubbing on my skin. And I must confess that while my Makeup Eraser is good and can still take several years more worth of use (my last one I used for three years before my babydoll saw mascara and eyeliner stains and decided it was an oil rag and used it in his workroom), I have been eyeballing the SpongeBob Squarepants exclusive Seven day set.

Not only are they seven smaller Sponge Bob Character decorated cloths, but with seven of them I could use one each day and send it through the wash instead of just using different parts of the same cloth all week.  I know that sounds a little extra but it really is more hygienic.  Plus, how can you look at them and not want them. They are so cute and the entire set is only $25. I’m actually contemplating picking up the set in the name of hygiene.  And fun. Can’t forget fun.  (although if you want a non cartoon themed cloth, the seven day sets also come in a classic black as well.)

Because I favor a double cleanse, my routine generally moves from makeup removers to actual cleansers.  I love the cleanser category and have had some really good luck with products lately. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few stinkers in there, but they shall not be discussed here. Only good products need apply for this post. 

The first is from Malin + Goetz.  I have used their Grapefruit cleanser for years and even though there are lapses, it is one that I return to often. It has a fresh scent and a slight (ever so slight) exfoliation to it. It is one of my favorite scents to wake up to and a really great clean.  I will admit I like it more in the morning than I do at night, just because the scent is more of a wake me up scent.   

At the moment not only is the cleanser for sale regularly but the cleanser also comes as part of the Saving Face Limited Edition Set.  It comes with the cleanser, the Vitamin E moisturizer (which I have heard great things about especially from friends trying to soften or reduce scars) and the detoxing  face mask (which I must confess I know nothing about). But as with most kits, buying the set is more cost effective than buying them separately. 

I love holiday sets, I know I’ve said that before and I will probably say it again. The value is usually pretty good on sets and I almost always find something new that I never would have picked up on its own or that I had never heard of.  Like the Malin+Goetz Detox Face Mask. Of course sometimes I fall in love with something that is limited edition in itself and I have to wait a whole year and hope they bring it out again the following winter, but that is another story and usually involves peppermint scented items.

Other people go for the Pumpkin spice, for me it is the peppermint that gets me every time. I’ve already picked up the peppermint chapstick that only comes out this time of year. And I’m sure there will be more peppermint themed items coming my way before the season is done.

This actually makes it pair well with the Erno Laszlo Original Black Soap.  While I love the way this soap makes my skin feel and adore the clean I get from it, the bar soap does make a bit of a mess.  It is black soap (from charcoal) as the name implies and when you lather it the drips splash black around.  That is it’s only real drawback actually.  While it is a good soap to use both morning and evening, I tend to use it at night more often because I somehow mind less cleaning up at the end of the day than I do at the start.  I put a soap dish in the bathroom just to keep some of the smudges contained so ‘clean up’ really means wiping away a few drips. I just prefer it in the evening to the morning.

It all begins with the cleanse – the essential first step to skincare success. Shop Erno Laszlo cleansers today!

The Purlisse Blue Lotus 4 in 1 Cleansing Milk is one cleanser I have no problem using morning or evening and would highly recommend picking up. It foams nicely and washes off clean. In fact I tested out a whole bunch of products from the Blue Line for Purlisse a while back.  I found all of the products in that line to be excellent, the moisturizer in particular was excellent for shifting seasons. It is the Purlisse Blue Lotus Balancing Moisturizer and balancing is what it does best.  It really worked well with the shifting seasons for me.

One of the most fun cleansers I tried this year was also from Elemis.  It is the Cica Superfood Calming Foaming cleanser.  Seriously, a face full of fun foam that also cleanses your skin and leaves it soft?  It was one of those cleansers that after I used it, I wanted to just leave my face bare for a while to simply enjoy the clean skin. I have a backup already purchased and awaiting it’s moment to emerge from the skin care drawer. Not only is it one I would repurchase, but it is one I already have repurchased.  It went on sale in the summer and I snapped it up. I am not ashamed to say it is one I will watch for and pounce on anytime a sale emerges.

While I need to wrap up the cleanser section there is one more cleanser I really need to mention.  That is the Olay Gentle Cleanser. This is a different one.  I don’t use it in my morning or evening routines.  I tend to use this one solely after my workouts.  After a good sweat I need a really gentle cleanser that will keep my skin from feeling that post workout sweat grossness, but won’t damage the skin by overly cleansing it. 

This is where the Olay Gentle cleanser shines.  It is one of those products I repeat buy just for this purpose and then forget to mention because it is not in either my morning or evening routines. One quick pump of product, a bit of water and I am feeling fabulous.  Usually this Cleanser costs $9.49 but it is currently on sale for $7.14. 

The same can be said for the Regenerist Cleanser as well.  It is usually $9.49 and now on sale for $7.14. While I love the gentle cleanser (and will repurchase it) I wanted to try something else so I picked up the Regenerist Cleanser to try. I just started using it so I haven’t posted the review yet but I am already really liking the product. The review will actually be up either next week or the week after, I just wanted to mention it for those stocking up. I think it is a very good cleanser to try out.

For those of you looking for ease of purchase, as well as discounts, Olay now has a subscription service.  You pick your products and decide when you want them delivered and the products are 30% off their usual price.  There is no commitment and you can change up your order any time, so if you haven’t run out of eye cream yet, but are almost out of moisturizer you can adjust what products get sent to you so you aren’t stuck with too much of any one thing.  It’s actually a really cool system, especially if you are trying to reduce the number of times you go out to restock products.

At the moment I have three toner products worth mentioning. The first is from Elemis. What can I say? I love the brand. I know, you are probably getting tired of hearing that, but this is the last Elemis product on today’s list.  Promise. But the Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Toner pads just had to be mentioned. They are fantastic.  Not to dry, not to wet, they tone the skin and provide a light exfoliation.  They are fantastic.  Hands down, full stop. Fantastic.

The other two toners I need to mention are both from Pixi. One is the Glow Tonic exfoliating Toner and one is the Clarity Tonic.  Both are really nice and I will be picking them both up repeatedly for a while.  (don’t worry I still have several other toners to test out before my next Pixi purchase). The exfoliating toner is a nice gentle chemical exfoliant that is gentle enough to be used daily and the Clarity Tonic helped me have more good skin days.  Between this and the Peace Out Acne Dots I had a surprisingly long run of good skin days despite the wearing of the face masks.  (I did have a masking trick that helped a well, but that is another post oh and as a quick note you can get 15% off your first purchase at Peace Out Skin Care.).

While I still love my Skin and Co Truffle Therapy Face Gommage and will still be picking it up again, repeatedly, there were two new physical exfoliates that came my way this year  that are not only worth mentioning but worth repurchasing.  The first was the BKind Sensitive Skin Face Scrub.  It was not only an excellent product but it is ethically sourced and has a host of other fabulous claims.  I did find it left a little bit of a waxy feel to the skin when I rinsed it off, but as I tend to use exfoliators after removing my makeup and before I do my second cleanse, I didn’t mind this so much. 

The second new exfoliator that I tried and loved this year came from Nuxe.  It was the Nuxe Insta-Masque Exfoliating mask and it had the consistency of a jelly. While technically it falls under masks, I used it as an exfoliator.  It only sits on the skin three minutes so I would apply it, let it sit while I brushed my teeth and then massaged and rinsed.  

The exfoliate mixed in was both gentle and effective and I very much enjoyed using the product.  I think I actually pouted and sighed when the product ran out.  Because of the consistency it was surprisingly moisturizing as well and is one of the few exfoliates that I have tried that I could actually use every day.  I stuck to three days a week when using it, but I could have used it more often without damage to the skin which is not something I can say for a lot of other products I tried this year.  Many were tested, only a few made my repurchase list.

Nuxe also has this style of Inta masque in a purifying and smoothing formula and a detoxification one if exfoliating is not your thing.  Both of those are actually on my list of products to try.  I know I will probably mention that again with masks, but it seemed appropriate to mention it here as well. I suspect all three will end up in my skin care drawer by the end of the year.  But the Nuxe Intsta-masque exfoliating mask was better than a lot of other exfoliators I tried this year.

The same thing can be said for the serum category.  I tested out a lot of serums this year and I have to say only two really stand out without me having to look them up.  The first is the Timeless Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum.  I had such fantastic results with that serum that I think it is going to be a staple for a while.

The second is the Volition Snow Mushroom Water Serum.  I know, it sounds strange, but it was a fantastically hydrating serum.  This serum and the Volition Sunscreen were my saving graces this summer.  I spent a lot of time outside on the walking trail instead of going to the gym.  One product kept my skin safe while I was sweating it out and the other made certain my skin was healthy and hydrated.  Seriously if I could give a bottle of the Volition Sunscreen to everyone I know, I would. As it is my mother and aunts each got one as a gift this year. I absolutely loved that sunscreen and have already purchased it for myself. It sits beautifully under makeup and does not feel at all like sunscreen. In fact they market it as the sunscreen for people who hate sunscreen, which quite frankly was me.

The Snow Mushroom Water Serum doesn’t smell earthy it just smells light and fresh.  It absorbed well into the skin without feeling heavy or greasy (or clogging pores) and was fantastic throughout the summer time.  I have already picked up a second bottle and when it arrives I will be stashing it away for use in the spring and summer. While I’m sure it would be lovely to use in the winter, it was so good in the spring and summer that I am holding it in reserve while I test out other products. As I am writing this Volition has a 30% off sale going on that you might want to check out. It started before the holiday sales.

And this brings us to the moisturizer category.  Here we once again start with Volition.  The Celery Green Clean Moisturizer is super lightweight and again I really enjoyed using it this summer.  It has a light green, celadon like color and smells fresh and clean.  It absorbed well into the skin and was never greasy.  It was a fantastic day cream.  I found myself wanting something a little heavier at night especially if I had too much sun during the day, but as a summer time day cream it was fantastic. It also helped reduce the size of my pores a little bit, which really helped with my skin’s texture. And that is year round good.

The Dior Capture Care and Protect DreamSkin Moisturizer was also one I might want to use a separate night cream with, but I have no problem finding a good night cream to balance it out.  The Dior Moisturizer was fantastic to use.  It made my skin feel like silk.  It does have that French rose skincare scent to it which isn’t for everyone, but it is a very light scent that doesn’t linger.  Personally, I like the scent. I also like that the container is reusable so that there is less waste.  When you finish with it, you can order a new insert and just fit it into the existing container. I like the less waste almost as much as I liked this moisturizer. 

There are three moisturizers that I only tried in sample form but are high on my list to give a full size trial this coming year.  These are the Skinceuticals Lipid Moisturizer, The First Aid Beauty Coconut Water Gel Cream and the Peter Thomas Roth Hungarian Thermal Water Mineral Rich Moisturizer.  I enjoyed all three samples a lot and will be picking up full sized versions soon so that I can give them a full test.

There is the final Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizer I tried that I will also be picking up, but it felt more like a night cream to me. As I don’t really have a go to night cream at the moment, I will be delving deeper into this category in the near future as well.  I liked the Avocado Sleeping Mask from Glow Recipe and will be repurchasing that one at some point, but I wasn’t so over the top in love with it that it is going to be my standard.  There is plenty of room for experimentation.

Okay my darlings, deep breaths. We have made it through the skin care category. It was a long review., I know and thank you for sticking with me. I know I took a few extra byways as we went down that path. And, okay so I didn’t do fantastically well narrowing it down to three products per category and as a consequence this is a bit of a longer post than I planned. 

There are just so many good skin care products out there.  Even knowing I didn’t stick to my three I know there are some that I completely forgot and will remember as soon as I post this.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t good, or that I won’t be posting about them (or purchasing them as soon as they go on sale) it just means I had to constrain myself.

And yes, this was me constrained.

Just remember that whether you are celebrating your upcoming holidays in a glittering gown or in a fluffy bathrobe, good skin is always in style.Hopefully this post will help you find something for you and maybe something for someone on you shopping list this holiday season.

While I did mention a few ongoing sales, here are a few my skin care lovers out there might want to remember.

Peter Thomas Roth is having their 50% off select Kits Sale. It runs through November 19th so it is a pre holiday sale. I really like this one and get pulled into it every year. I think their kits are a great way to try different products. In fact the Peter Thomas Roth moisturizers I tested this year all came from Kits. I was able to determined which I liked but wasn’t gaga over as well as which ones I really wanted to buy in the full size. I ended up being oddly surprised by which one I fell in love with. I seriously didn’t think it was going to be the Hungarian Thermal Water mineral Rich Moisturizer. In fact I think that was the free sample I got when I purchased another kit to actually try out. Surprise! The free sample won the day.

The SkinStore is also having a boat load of sales. Here ae a few you might be interested in. First there is the 15% off select SkinCeuticals Bundles which runs through November 26th. From now until November 19th you can get a Beauty Bag (ten piece set) worth $95 with $150 purchase. Just use the code EXTRABAG. There is also a Buy 2 get 25% off with the code BUY2GET25 which is also good through November 19th.

For those looking for Stocking Stuffers you can use the code STOCKING to get 28% off Stocking stuffers from brands like ARCONA, beautyblender, Bioderma, Dermablend, DERMAdoctor, DHC, Eyeko, First Aid  Beauty from now until November 19th. And there is also a 25% off Clean Beauty gifts going on with brands like Alterna, Codex Beauty, First Aid Beauty, Jurlique, Koh Gen Do, KORRES, Pai, Patchology. There is no code for that one as the discount is applied in the cart, but that discount runs until November 19th as well.

Happy Holiday Shopping.

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