Let’s get right to it. This year I found some really great products, but those that made this list were not only great, they were great without my expecting them to be. I love a good surprise, and these products knocked my socks off when I least expected it. Let the roll call begin!
Miss Flower and Mr. Honey Essence Stick by Banila Co.
I picked this guy up during my visit to Seoul, and I had absolutely no expectation of this being any good at all. Banila is definitely a Cutesy Brand, but some of their products are really good, and the Miss Flower and Mr. Honey essence stick is one of them. While I can’t imagine using this honey scented product all over my face, it’s really good for targeting sensitive, dry areas on my face, such as my under eyes and lips. I use this underneath a concealer for plumping up the skin and preventing creasing caused by my fine lines, and sometimes I just swipe it over my lips for a little extra moisture. I like it a lot and glad to have it in my arsenal.
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion
I low-key hate that I really like this toner. (Japanese products listed as “lotion” are almost always toners, and this is no exception). I got it as part of an SK-II sampler set (because I, like everyone else, really wanted to try the essence) and I had no reason to believe it would be a winner, especially since I am already in love with my Whamisa toner. But I decided to give it a shot, and the SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion is…well, it’s wonderful. I love it. I love the texture and consistency, and I love how hydrated and bright my skin feels and looks after using it. I never use cotton pads with my toners, I just put it directly on my skin. It makes me happy. But it’s expensive. And that makes me sad.
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm
I absolutely love cleansing balms, and earlier this year I found one I really liked only to discover that after prolonged use it irritated the shit out of my skin, and I had to stop using it. I was super bummed, but unwilling to be deterred I finally gave the Clinque Take the Day Off cleansing balm a try, and I was not disappointed. I LOVE that it’s unscented (I have a love-hate relationship with fragrance in skin care) and I love how thoroughly it removed my makeup. For a long time I was doing a first removal pass with micellar water, but my skin let me know in no uncertain times that it DID NOT LIKE micellar water, so I had to stop that, too, and I was not at all convinced that any cleansing balm could adequately remove my foundation and sunscreen. Luckily, I was wrong. This stuff works, it’s non-irritating, and has no fragrance. Plus, I’ll be honest, I love the way it looks on my countertop. The packaging is a win for me. Wins all around. Thanks, Clinque!
Laurel Skin Antioxidant Facial Serum
I am a sucker for elegantly designed, artfully crafted small-batch skin care. I love knowing that someone created this potion in her kitchen, not a lab, and that she uses this product herself. In particular, I love that Laurel Skin Antioxidant Facial Serum blends everything I care about in skin care: ingredients that do exactly what they claim to do, a feminine, modern, elegant aesthetic, a hint of hippie/organic goodness for good measure, and a natural sensibility without being cloying, preachy, or, frankly, full of shit. I tried this oil hoping that it might be a replacement for my beloved and damned expensive Vintner’s Daughter, and while it was definitely not a replacement for that, it earned a place in my routine as my go-to antioxidant, and I’m really glad I bit the bullet and gave this lovely, delightful oil a try.
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream
I came very late to the Drunk Elephant party, and the only reason I even stumbled onto this gem was because I needed to spend $11 at Sephora to keep my VIB Rouge status. (Does anybody else purposefully call it VIB Rogue? I feel like we should start a club.) Anyway, a friend suggested I buy a little sample set of Drunk Elephant’s Lala Retro + jelly cleanser and YOU GUYS. First, I was super skeptical of both products (Mainly because I’m skeptical of everything.) But the whipped cream is luscious. I absolutely love putting it on at night. Again, there’s no fragrance, and it just sinks into the skin. It’s so good. I really like the jelly cleanser, too, but I haven’t tried it enough for a verdict. Jury’s still out.
Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream
As a marketer, I’m wise. I know that when products claim to retexturize, lift, and firm they are full of shit. A moisturizer can’t really even do any one of those things (with the tepid possibility of retexturize) let alone do all three of them. This is me casting a huge side-eye on that claim and yet–I love this product. For my combination skin, the Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream is the perfect weight and texture, doesn’t have any fragrance (there’s a theme!) and sinks really nicely into the skin. Although it claims to be suitable for day and night use, I don’t like it under my makeup, as it’s a teeny bit on the heavy side for my taste. But when I use it at night I do tend to wake up with happy, rosy skin.
That’s it for my list. What were some of your more unexpected favorites of 2017?