Talking Skin Care: 21 Favorite Products

I usually focus on food here, but another part of wellness involves self care. And today I want to share 21 of my favorite skin care products with you. As well as a few tips and other skin care anecdotes about acne and more.

I love taking care of my skin. And not just for a glow-y skin effect. Skin care for me is a relaxing ritual that makes me feel good. At the end of a long or challenging day, I crave a mini at-hone-facial. I get home, maybe chug some water first to rehydrate, then wash my face, massage a warm washcloth over my skin and maybe do a quick mask or exfoliate. I use products that smell uplifting, using essential oils or other natural plant-based aromas. I spritz my face, use a toner pad and finish up with a light serum or moisturizer. By the end of my routine I feel refreshed, more relaxed and ready to transition into recharge, see-ya-later-stress mode. Bonus effects of self-care skin-care routines: glowy, happy skin.

I am learning to embrace "aging," - I use the quotes because I am only in my thirties, still a young thing in so many ways. I am constantly trying to teach myself to embrace getting older. There are so many things I love about it!

Taking care of my skin each day is one way I show respect to my body, love it, and help it stay as healthy and happy as possible, so it can continue serving me! And our skin serves us well..

Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies! It changes swiftly and responds to our environment. It plays an important role in regulating body temperature, it stores water, fat and metabolic products. It protects your body from outside germs and toxins and is truly our first line of defense as we navigate life! It is delicate and sensitive to the environment and responds so well when we learn to take care of it.

So with that, here are a few of my favorite skin care products and a few tips too...

I also updated this post to include my remarks on Fresh and online bullying..

....I Use These Products! It was very important to me to actually photograph a few of the products in this round-up. I grabbed them directly from my bathroom. I wanted to show that I am not just picking things off the internet that might work. I frequently buy a good chunk of these and have tried every single one. Some are new faves that I cannot wait to re-stock and others are old faves.

Even with my faves, I am still constantly trying new things. Sometimes I get free products sent to me and other times I buy new products.

Some of my favorite brands are not even on this list, just because I haven't really bought them recently for whatever reason. Trust me, there are SO MANY awesome brands out there these days.

Perfect Skin. Ha! Does that even exist? Maybe in Photoshop-land. But real skin bends and wrinkles and darkens and sheds and becomes oily and dry and clogged or purified and back around again. Real skin is constantly changing. It is helping you survive, hugging you every second of the day. And over time, you will learn to listen to your skin's needs - in the same way that you have are teaching yourself to listen to your body in other ways: hunger cues, energy levels, sleep needs etc.

I know my skin pretty well by now.
It is very fair and sensitive and easily burns, but then tans and stays pretty sturdy when it has a bit of color. I freckle. I get super itchy and bumpy when my cats accidentally poke me with their claws. If I stay out of the sun I keep a very fair complexion, with the usual fine lines in all my expression-y places.

I have struggled with hormonal adult acne since college. It sucks. It gets bad and then it gets really better and sometimes almost goes away completely. Actually, it is doing pretty good right now, fingers crossed. But I deal with it. I know what makes it worse and why I get breakouts and that helps me understand my skin a bit more. I know stress and wearing makeup over long periods of time are the worst things for my skin. Luckily, I have a job where I can go makeup free for days and days.

Day to day, I love to wash my face and put on a serum or moisturizer. I use tea tree oil daily and do about 2-3 facial masks a week. I am in love with the main three masks that I rotate: charcoal, black tea and magic clay. (Links below)

For my acne, I also take something called EstroBlock, the main ingredient being DIM. DIM is (basically) a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. I am sure it doesn't work for everyone, but it has done wonders for me. Obviously, always consult your doctor about supplements.

Skin care isn't just about what we put on our skin -- it is mostly about how we take care of ourselves internally. Our skin responds to whatever is going on inside. And frustratingly, for women especially, a lot of the hormonal stuff we just cannot control. Some things help, but sometimes you just have to ride it out and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!

Stress, hormones, travel, the environment, our diets, how much sleep we get, water we are drinking, allergens and so much more -- these are all factors in the health and happiness of our skin.

And with that, my five lifestyle must-do's for healthy skin:
1. Drink enough water - stay hydrated.
2. Zzzzzzz - Get enough sleep.
3. Manage stress. Laugh. Do happy things. Dance. Play. Don't let the challenges of life take over your mindset. Focus on the good.
4. Eat well - lots of plants! Eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and veggies and nutrients. Vitamin C especially!
5. Routine. Start a skin care routine that makes you feel good! Take care of your skin. That includes sunscreen.

Easier said than done! But important reminders. Now for the good stuff!...

21 of My Favorite Skin Care Products In My Bathroom Right Now

Fave Faves: If you see a (***) next to the title, it is a product I am 100% addicted to...

Fresh Products...
I adore Fresh. It is probably my favorite go-to beauty brand. They do not test on animals (see FAQs) and many of their products are vegan-friendly.

Side note about Fresh products and some emails I have received at the bottom of this post.

Here are three favorites..

1. Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask*** - $92
This is probably my number one favorite mask on the planet. I love how it makes my skin feel while it is on and after you remove it. It feels like an instant facial for my skin. I use it at least once every two weeks and usually before special events.

2. Black Tea Age-Delay Firming Serum*** - $75
A favorite serum of mine. When I use it I sometimes don't even need a moisturizer because it feels so silky and hydrating.

3. Umbrian Clay
I am a huge fan of anything from Fresh's Umbrian Clay line. I love the oil free moisturizer when I am feeling acne-prone. And I love the bar. It seems expensive, but it it such a high quality clay bar! I use it on my face and whole body. If you use it in a bath your whole tub gets silky and clay-infused. Oh and it doesn't dry your skin at all as you might think clay would!

Really, ALL the Fresh products are amazing. They are splurge purchases for me, but when I get confused about what brands to buy I always lean towards Fresh and never feel let down. My favorite thing about them is that they have the most gentle and lovely aromas that never feel fragrance-y. Fragrance is my number one "no no" when it comes to my fave beauty products. With Fresh, and really all of the brands listed here, the rose products smell like real roses -- the citrus products like real oranges, the lavender like... you get it :)

Favorite Beautycounter Products right now..

4. Number 3 Balancing Facial Mask*** - $48
I am obsessed with this clay and charcoal mask! It is my favorite thing when I feel oily or I get a breakout on my chin or forehead. In just one use I feel like my skin is back in balance. The rich charcoal texture is so cleansing and purifying. But it doesn't dry out my skin, instead it leaves it feeling silky. Love this. Plus, Beautycounter never tests on animals and is safe skincare.

5. Cleansing Balm*** - $80
I bought one jar of this stuff MONTHS ago and it is still going! I love it so much. I always use it when I have a big event or video shoot and I am wearing a lot of makeup. It is literally the only thing that makes me feel like I have truly removed ALL that grimy makeup -- without over oiling up my skin. Makeup comes off easily and my skin feels fresh and hydrated and silky. I am also so impressed how long this jar has lasted me. Must have for makeup removal! Oh and if you compare it to using like a straight up coconut oil - sure it does a similar "natural make up remover" job, but the coconut oil always stays on my skin a bit and leaves me feeling shiny and oily. This doesn't.

6. Rose Mist. - $35
I am a sucker for rose water-anything. So Beautycounter's Nourishing Rosewater Mist is a favorite of mine. The aroma is SO light and natural. I adore it.

7. Lipgloss*** - $29
This product contains beeswax, FYI for those avoiding bee products. As a vegan who is ok with honey products once in a while, buying a tube of this once every 3-4 months is worth it for me. I want my lip products to be safe, since we always end up eating some of it! This gloss has such a beautiful and hydrating shine and I love the color options.

Beautycounter Special: Spend $150 and you will get a FREE Rejuvenating Night Cream ($75 value!) - offer ends 8/27 Also check out my post: my 10 favorite vegan Beautycounter Products

Kate Somerville...

8. I love Kate Somerville products. They have a very strong 'no testing on animals' policy and most products are vegan.

They say... "There are no animal derived ingredients in any of our products except for Goat Milk Cream." - source

I have a few fave products but my number one, go-to facial exfoliator has been ExfoliKate for a few years now. It is so lovely and feels so cleansing and purifying on my skin. It gives you a smooth surface of skin in just a few minutes.

Exfolikate *** - $24-$85

Favorite Whole Foods Brands: The two brands I love most that you can buy at Whole Foods are Alba and Andalou. And these products are all very reasonably priced. The masks are around $3 and travel so well because they are "single servings."

9. Andalou Masks*** - under $4
I love them all actually. You can buy them at Whole Foods. Luminous Face Mask is my fave - single serving size (I get two uses out of this though).

10. Andalou Toner - $13
Blossom Leaf Toning Refresher - I just love the smell because it reminds me of a fancy spa. It is soothing and a bit hydrating for a toner.

11. Alba Kukui Nut Body Butter
*** - $7.50
I tried this a few weeks ago for the first time and hated the smell at first. But then a few times into it I was addicted to it! Haha. It smells like vanilla buttercream frosting. One person told me I smelled like cinnamon buns and Krispie Kreme donuts. LOL. The best part is that is is very hydrating and nourishing. So you might love or hate the bakery-ish smell!

-- Skin Brushing Side Note! Another huge part of my skin care routine is skin brushing. I buy a new skin brush every few months.

12. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Marula Miracle Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner - $22 for both
I usually hate non-salon shampoos and conditioners. But I was so shocked when I loved this shampoo! I actually have yet to try the conditioner, but I look forward to checking it out the next time I need to stock up.

And if you are curious about safe hair care, Beautycounter has some new hair care products that are receiving rave reviews. I haven't tried them yet, but they are definitely on my list to try.

13. Andalou 1000 Roses Complex Color Care Deep Conditioning Hair Mask*** - around $6
I love this little mask pack that I can pick up at Whole Foods. I usually get three uses out of it. It is very nourishing. I put it on and leave it there for at least ten minutes and my hair feels hydrated and silky when it dries.

My Favorite Facial Cleanser...

14. YOUTH TO THE PEOPLE - Age Prevention Superfood Cleanser*** - $36
This cleanser comes in a glass jar, with a pump and contains kale, green tea, spinach and vitamins. I love it so much. I have bought it three times in a row - which is a big deal for me! I really love this brand, I need to try more products from them.
This cleanser is 100% vegan, using cold-pressed extracts made in the USA, 100% recyclable packaging, no fragrance/parabens and no animal testing.

15. Tea Tree Pads*** - $14 for 100 pads
Desert Essence Tea Tree Cleansing Pads are something I use after I wash my face. I also use them whenever my face feels oily or like it needs some freshening up. These are inexpensive and they really work to clear your face of bacteria - naturally and gently. You can find these at Whole Foods or buy them online to save a few bucks and buy in bulk.

16. Magic Mask*** - under $10, as an Amazon Prime add-on item
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Deep Pore Cleansing, - I had this mask just sitting in my closet for months before I actually used it. And I LOVE it. I can only leave it on for about 10 minutes because my face gets so tight and itchy, but once I remove it my face feels transformed. Perfect for acne-prone skin. Very purifying and I love the fluffy texture. The jar comes with a powder and you mix the powder with a splash of apple cider vinegar. It isn't a miracle-worker (nothing is) but I do agree that is is kinda magical!

17. Jojoba Oil*** - $20 for two pack
Another Desert Essence product I love and can find on Amazon or Whole Foods. I add a few drops to my body moisturizer or use all on its own. Jojoba and Kukui nut oils are my favorite for body hydration and healing and keeping skin soft and youthful.

18. EO Deodorant Wipes*** - $16 for 24
I am obsessed with these! They are so perfect for after working out or using in the middle of or at the end of a long, busy, stressful day. I love both the lavender and tea tree aromas. They use essential oils to cleanse and purify. I just wipe in my armpits (getting glamorous here!) and instantly feel refreshed! You can buy these at Whole Foods, but save some money by buying in bulk online.

19. Milk Makeup Vegan Natural Deodorant*** - $14
Speaking of deodorant. I still really love this one by Milk Makeup. Clear and light lavender-y. It doesn't have the power of those crazy strong and very chemical-laden drugstore brands, but it does the trick for me and I love the feel and smell of it. It is warming and very little odor at all. "This formula combats odor with natural and organic ingredients. Lavender oil soothes and nourishes skin, and keeps underarms feeling fresh and smelling clean all day."

20. Sunscreen!
The most important thing you can do for your skin is sunscreen. Even in cooler months. Seriously guys, I see how differently the skin on my shoulders (too much sun) has "aged" compared to the skin on my belly (never really sees the sun) and sun-aging is real. Kinda a silly example, but trust me young people in their teens and twenties, start a sunscreen habit early and thank me later.

- I love all the Beautycounter sunscreens. They contain beeswax, but if you are OK with that they are simply awesome natural sunscreen options for face and body.

- Alba Mineral Sunscreen - I love all the Alba sun products and their sunscreens are so wonderful

- Any sunscreen you will use that hasn't expired! (Mineral is preferred) Some reports say that sunscreens last three years, but others say a year. Whatever the truth, my advice is to be certain by updating your sunscreen ever year.

- Face Sunscreen Powder - I am obsessed with Eminence Organic Sun Defense Powder. The sunscreen is built into a lovely powder brush. I first bought this from Burke Williams Spa and have bought them ever year ever since. A quick brushing removes any shine from your face, adds a glow and protects your skin. There are other brands out there too, but this is my fave.

21. Eminence Products! I totally forgot my other favorite natural, vegan-friendly product line, Eminence. I love a few of their masks and moisturizers. But I really adore their eye products. My eyes are super sensitive, so I love that their products never irritate them. Eminence Biodynamic Bearberry Eye Repair Cream is a favorite I have tried.

Another brand I LOVE if you are ever in Iceland, ha is Soley Organics. I cannot find them anywhere in the USA though!

Vegan Natural Makeup! Ok, so I didn't even dent the "makeup" conversation because that is a whole other world of options. But I will say that some of my fave brands are Tarte, Beautycounter, Kat VonD, OCC, Pacifica and 100% Pure.

So those are just a tiny chunk of my favorite natural, no-animal-testing, mostly-vegan beauty products. There are so many options out there these days! I would LOVE to hear what some of your faves are in the comments section. What did you use on your skin today that you loved?

Other brands I LOVE and just haven't used lately for whatever reason...
- OSEA - upscale, spa-quality vegan brand that has really awesome masks and moisturizers
- Origins
- SKYN Iceland - their eye gel pads are my fave!
- Tata Harper
- Herbivore Botanicals
- Thayers Toner
- Fave essential oils: WellScent

If you have any specific questions about makeup or skin care leave them in the comments and I am happy to help if I can.

resource: Interested in learning the basics about the largest organ in your body: all about skin from PubMed Health.

Side note about Fresh..

Side note, a few people have commented on social media, saying that "Fresh tests on animals."

First off, I appreciate people who kindly ask questions here on my blog (like one person below - thank you), but the random people who quickly judge and vilify on social media are a huge problem online. It makes everyone feel unsafe and like the internet is a very unfriendly and judgmental place. This really brings to light the bullying problem we have in the vegan community and it needs to STOP.

But back to basics of why I posted Fresh here - I only promote and use cruelty-free brands -- and from my research on the Fresh website, they have a very progressive and strong stance on NO animal testing. The Fresh website..

If this is inaccurate, how in the world would a consumer know that? If there is a problem with transparency with Fresh and other global brands, please please please direct your frustration towards the brands and not those online just trying to share and learn just like everyone else. The world is not a perfect place, but with our passion and compassion, we can make small steps.

I am not a beauty blogger, so I do not spend days and weeks researching hidden theories about brands. Information regarding ingredients (vegan + cruelty-free statuses) should be easy to receive online but sadly, it is often very complex for many reasons I won't go into.

I am not going to change the content of this post. But I will share that according to many beauty bloggers, Fresh tests on animals in China because it is required by law. I honestly do not know if that is true info since the Fresh website is pretty clear and contradictory on that and says they DO NOT test on animals. Confusing, right?

Perfection is not the goal for me because no one is perfect. I try the VERY best I can for the animals. That is why I am vegan. When it comes to beauty products I try my very best, but if I am still learning and often get frustrated (as a vegan blogger) I know many of you out there must be too. So I offer compassion. We can all only do the best we can. And lifestyle changes do not happen overnight. Let's be loving to ourselves and each other.

I applaud Fresh for their strong stance on wanting to find non-animal testing methods. They are one of the largest beauty brands in the world and I thank them for at least being on the right side of intentions. It hugely SUCKS that China is so awful to animals and requires testing by law (according to beauty blogs I have read).

I have reached out to Fresh for more transparency on their USA site FAQs.

If you have anything loving and supportive and positive to say on this topic, feel free to.

And to anyone out there being bullied online, in any way, you are not alone. It happens to all of us. And it sucks. But learning to ignore and move on from toxic people is a huge and important life skill.

Those who bully need to think twice because sensitive people like me can take their words very deeply. Luckily I have grown very strong in my ten years of blogging, but I still feel for sensitive young people getting bullied for various reasons.

Bottom line: bullying is never ok.

Quite a tangent! But I needed to say all that because I am really passionate about creating safe and uplifting, happy and supportive spaces for people online.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon and Beautycounter affiliate links. Buying from my links allows you to support my blog and purchase amazing products for your self-care routine. Much thanks!
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