2009 Editor’s Choice Awards — Part 5 — Skincare & Bodycare
Just a quick note about skincare: skincare is very individual. What works on my skin may not work on yours, and what works on your skin may not work on mine! These awards are completely based on my experience with these products. All products have been tested on my skin for no less than two weeks but typically four to six weeks.
My skin is acne-prone, sensitive around the eyes and above the lip, normal-to-dry (drier in the winter), and I’m 23 – so I don’t have too many (hopefully not, at least) signs of aging.
Each award is broken down into a best high-end winner and budget-friendly winner. For each award, the winning brand/product gets a brief description of why, and where appropriate, a link to any in-depth review.
Share your favorites in the comments!
Part 5 focuses on my favorite skincare and body care products — from daily cleansers to evening creams to scrubs. These were not restricted to new products in 2009; any brand, any product, from any time can win.
Best Facial Cleanser (High-end): Chanel Exfoliating Mousse
Chanel Exfoliating Mousse ($45.00) is an easy, lightweight cleanser that lathers and foams just a smidgen with the lightest micro-exfoliating beads/particles. This is a product I just keep coming back to, despite trying other cleansers since I originally reviewed it. I’d also like to comment on just how much product you get for your $45 — this isn’t a cleanser you’ll be replacing every month or two. This is easily four months or more worth of product! My skin always feels clean (but not tight) and refreshed after using this. You can read my full review here.
Best Facial Cleanser (Budget): Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($7.99) is the world’s best cleanser to go to whenever my skin is out of wack. Whenever I feel like nothing’s working, I turn back to Cetaphil. It’s gentle, soothing, and great for my skin, even when it’s sensitive.
Best Daily Facial Exfoliator (High-end): Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser ($22.50) is a gentle cleanser that softly exfoliates and can be used on a daily basis. I love the lightness of this cleanser. It’s almost like a milky cleanser, because even though it lathers up, it’s not a traditional foaming lather. It’s very cleansing, and I’ve really enjoyed using it. (I tend to use this in the morning, since I keep it in my shower!) You can read my full review here.
Best Daily Facial Exfoliator (Budget): Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub
Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub ($7.49) is a soothing cleanser with rounded exfoliating beads that leave skin feeling soft and clean. I love that it’s from Aveeno, which is one of my favorite brands for reliable, no frills, no fuss – just results products.
Check out Best Foaming Cleanser, Gel Cleanser, Makeup Remover, Wipes, Exfoliator, Cleansing Oil, Moisturizers, Creams, and many more!
Best Foaming Facial Cleanser (High-end): Philosophy Purity Made Simple (Foaming)
Philosophy Purity Made Simple (Foaming) ($21.50) is a cult-favorite and with good cause. It really does cleanse extraordinarily well without making skin feel tight or dry. It removes most makeup (not so good on the waterproof or ultra long-wearing eyeliner, but I haven’t met a facial cleanser that can do this — that’s what eye makeup remover is for!) and doesn’t require tough scrubbing to do so. My boyfriend actually felt like PMS (Foaming) made a huge difference in his skin and has gone through several bottles over the past two years! So it gets his vote, too 🙂 You can read my full review here.
Best Foaming Facial Cleanser (Budget): Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser ($7.49) is a great chamomile-based cleanser that foams up and feels lightweight. It doesn’t leave any tight feeling behind, but you do feel cleansed and refreshed. I really like how gentle it is on the skin–I’ll be turning my boyfriend onto this after he runs out of Philosophy Purity Made Simple, actually!
Best Gel Cleanser (High-end): Renee Rouleau AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel
Renee Rouleau AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel ($35.50) is one of my favorite cleansers, period, but it’s definitely the best gel cleanser I’ve come across. I love the jojoba beads in it, because it gives you this very gentle, soft scrub without being harsh. They’re described as “skin polishers,” and that’s really what they are. Love, love this stuff. You can read my original review here.
Best Gel Cleanser (Budget): L’Oreal Skin Genesis Pore Minimizing Gel Cleanser
L’Oreal Skin Genesis Pore Minimizing Gel Cleanser ($6.39) is a fantastic, affordable cleanser that cleans the skin and gets rid of makeup quite well, too (which is just not something every cleanser can do or is even designed to do). It has a clean floral scent that does linger a bit, but I didn’t find it irritated my skin (but you may want to do a patch test yourself). If you’re more of a cream type, you may want to try the Cream Cleanser — very similar, just a creamy version.
Best Makeup Remover (High-end): Lancome Bi-Facil
Lancome Bi-Facil ($26.00) is an oil-based eye makeup remover that is absolutely phenomenal at removing even the most stubborn, long-wearing makeup. This is a popular pick for makeup removers, and I have to agree with the majority on this one. It really works, and one bottle will last you ages.
Best Makeup Remover (Budget): Neutrogena Oil-Free Makeup Remover
Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover ($5.79) is a great oil-free makeup remover that gets rid of even stubborn waterproof mascara and long-wearing eyeliner. One bottle will last you quite awhile, so there’s no need to worry about going through this stuff. Sometimes I’ll use this as a spot cleaner for brushes between uses as well. Since it’s oil-free, you don’t have to worry about any oily residue either. Not all oil-free makeup removing products are effective at breaking down makeup (since you usually need oil to do so), but this one is tops.
Best Makeup Removing Wipes (High-end): MAC Wipes
MAC Wipes ($26.00) are, surprisingly, a really good deal and work well to remove makeup from your face, lips, and arms (if you’re a beauty blogger… you know what I mean!). I don’t like the majority of wipes on my eyes, just because I have very sensitive eye-lids that tend to burn when I come into contact with wipes, so I don’t use these on my eyes (you’re actually not supposed to!). These are just so excellent at removing makeup from skin, I always have a few packs under the sink.
Best Makeup Removing Wipes (Budget): Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes
Neutrogena Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes ($7.99) are easy-to-use makeup wipes that quickly remove dirt and makeup and leave you feeling clean. I like that this doesn’t leave behind any greasy residue, and I love that it can be used around the eyes, too (on me, I have to do so sparingly, just ’cause of how sensitive my eyes are in particular).
Best Facial Exfoliator (High-end): Kate Somerville ExfoliKate
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate ($85 to 175.00) is an incredibly pricey, but effective exfoliator. This is one of those products that left me a little disappointed initially, but after a solid two weeks of use (about twice a week), it really does impart this glow after you use it. For me, the regular version is just fine–never makes my face red–but if you have more sensitive skin, you may want to opt for the Sensitive version. I do fully recommend you use this at the sink at least once, so you can see the difference before and after, but I do like to use it more in the shower (with all the steam). I’d also recommend trying to obtain a sample from your local retailer (like Sephora) before plunking down the cash for this one. The price is high, so it is one of my goals for next year to try and find something comparable but more affordable!
Best Facial Exfoliator (Budget): Biore Pore Minimizing Refining Exfoliator
Biore Pore Minimizing Refining Exfoliator ($11.99) is a really great way to keep skin looking its best and sloughing off those dead skin cells. I like using this two or three times a week, because any more feels a little harsh and unnecessary (which is why I do like a gentle, daily cleanser/exfoliator and then a more intensive exfoliator for other times). It really lives your skin soft and smooth.
Best Cleansing Oil (High-end): shu uemura Cleansing Oil
shu uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil ($62.00) is the orange-colored cleansing oil, but admittedly, it’s the only shu oil I’ve tried, but I have such a huge bottle, I’m not in any hurry to move onto the next (plus, I like it, obviously!). This does an amazing job at removing my makeup, including long-wearing eyeliner and mascara. It doesn’t feel greasy or heavy, and it keeps my skin hydrated and never stripped.
Best Cleansing Oil (Budget): Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is one my favorite multitasking at-home solutions. I like jojoba oil for how effective it is at cleansing and removing both dirt and makeup, but it also leaves my skin feeling very soft and smooth. I haven’t found any commercial cleansing oil at a budget-friendly price tag yet, other than just plain ol’ jojoba oil.
Best Toner (High-end): NARS Hydrating Freshening Lotion
NARS Hydrating Freshening Lotion ($36.00) made me a believer on the magic of toners. I seriously never understood why toners were a must or why I should bother at all with one. I love, love, LOVE this product. NARS has a surprisingly strong line of skincare, actually, with Hydrating Freshening Lotion being one of my favorites. It really keeps skin hydrated and exfoliated. I use this often on my lips right before I do lip swatches or on dry patches (on my face) right before I apply makeup. You can read my full review here.
Best Toner (Budget): Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Lotion
Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Lotion ($15.00) is a gentle, easy-to-use toner that’s effective at helping soothe skin and give it a fresh feeling without alcohol. Mario Badescu is one of my favorite brands to go to for skincare, because the products have always worked well for me and they’re priced just right.
Best Hand Cream (High-end): Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection Complete Day Cream
Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection Complete Day Cream ($50.00) is hands-down the best moisturizer I’ve used on my hands. It keeps them silky smooth, makes them look more even, and lasts for hours and hours without reapplication. The only downside to the product is the price tag, which is hefty, but I find it worthwhile since it keeps even the driest parts of my hands hydrated, which I haven’t found any other product to do as well. You can read my full review here.
Best Hand Cream (Budget): Nivea Smooth Indulgence Hand Cream
Nivea Smooth Indulgence Hand Cream ($5.99) keeps your mitts soft and smooth throughout the day without having to reapply every hour. I like the size, because it fits into your purse nicely and doesn’t feel too bulky, too.
Best Daytime Moisturizer (High-end): Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer
Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer ($65.00) is an all-time favorite for no fuss moisturization. I love using this during the day, because it’s lightweight and non-greasy. I would love to see a version with SPF 15 or 30 come out, though — that would just put me over the moon. I can’t believe I discovered this over a year ago! It was probably one of the first moisturizers I finished in awhile, actually. I recently purchased another this past Sephora F&F sale. You can read my full review here.
Best Daytime Moisturizer (Budget): Olay Complete All Day UV Defense Moisture Lotion
Olay Complete All Day UV Defense Moisture Lotion ($10.99) is an old favorite. I used to use it before I ventured into higher-end skincare, but it’s something I continuously recommend to those on tighter budgets or don’t want fussy skincare. It has SPF 15 in it, which is a nice touch in a daily moisturizer, too. It hydrates without feeling greasy and can be worn easily under makeup!
Best Evening Moisturizer (High-end): Origins Make a Difference Ultra-rich Rejuvenating Cream
Origins Make a Difference Ultra-rich Rejuvenating Cream ($36.00) is a new favorite for me — it is actually the last skincare item I had lined-up for testing in 2009! This is an extremely hydrating cream that is perfect for night time, because it does take ten or so minutes to sink into skin, but it feels divine. During the winter, I often get dry patches around my chin and the like, and usually the only thing that keeps those at bay is Osmotics’ Cream Extreme (which I like more as a spot treatment than an all over cream — very heavy, though effective!). I haven’t had a single dry patch since making this part of my night time skin regimen, so I’m quite pleased.
Best Evening Moisturizer (Budget): Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream ($13.99) is a nice creamy that doesn’t feel too rich, but it’s certainly not lightweight like a lotion. It sinks into skin quick enough that it could actually be used during the day, if you really wanted. It also has a lil’ anti-aging properties in it (Retinol, though low on the ingredient list), but I can’t speak to the effectiveness quite yet… maybe in a few years (but I’ll cross my fingers and hope for never!).
Best Sunscreen (High-end): Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream for Face SPF 55 PA+++
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion for Face & Body SPF 55 PA+++ ($38.00) is a non-greasy, lightweight lotion that provides you with excellent protection from both UVA and UVB rays (so important that you cover BOTH!). I love that it’s water-resistant and sweat-resistant. I’m always cautious about the sunscreens I use on my face, but Shiseido is my favorite for a good facial sunscreen.
Best Sunscreen (Budget): Neutrogena Dry Touch
Neutrogena Sunblock, Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55 ($9.49) is a nice, lightweight sunscreen for the face that never irritated me or made me feel greasy. I wore it during my family’s vacation to Hawaii in 2008, actually, and it kept me sunburn free the whole time! It’s also available in SPF 30, SPF 45, SPF 70, and SPF 85.
Best Facial Mask (High-end): Prescriptives Instant Gratification
Prescriptives Instant Gratification ($45.00) is an amazing exfoliating facial mask. Seriously, I love this stuff, and it’s nearly two years since I first tried it. I really contemplated choosing another winner, because Prescriptives is going bye-bye come January, but I couldn’t. At least I can Prescriptives one last award before they close, because this is and was such a standout product. I’ll be picking up another tube, and I do hope Estee Lauder will re-release this product under another one of their brands. You can read my full review here.
Best Facial Mask (Budget): LUSH Fresh Face Masks
LUSH Fresh Face Masks ($7.95) are really relaxing, soothing products. They have several different face masks to choose from, and they’re only available in-store (at least for U.S. customers). My personal favorites are A Crash Course in Skincare and Cupcake, but I do like Catastrophe Cosmetic and Brazened Honey. I kind of like to vary it up, because I have a soft spot for all of them. They just feel like an indulgence, and they’re not badly priced. Plus, I think for every four or five empty pots, you get a free face mask. It adds up quickly! You can read my reviews here.
Best Body Scrub (High-end): Kiehl’s Gentle Exfoliating Body Scrub
Kiehl’s Gentle Exfoliating Body Scrub ($25.00) is a creamy, slightly lathering body scrub with extremely fine particles. It’s almost more like a body polisher (but it’s a little coarser than that), actually. I personally love, love the Lavender scent, because I find it relaxing and it always reminds me to just breathe. You can read my full review here.
Best Body Scrub (Budget): Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub
Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub ($16.99) is an exfoliating sweet treat for the body with its sweetly sugared scent. It uses mashed up brown sugar, so it’s actually a much finer scrub than the typical sugar scrub is. It also contains almond oil, which makes it a lot more moisturizing–always a good thing. The tub will pretty much last you forever, too!
Best Body Wash (High-end): Philosophy 3-in-1 Shower Gel
Philosophy 3-in-1 Shower Gel ($16.00) are my not-so-secret obsession. I have a total “gotta try ’em all” mentality with these, because they’re constantly coming out with new, limited scents. I find that one big 16 oz. bottles lasts two people (me and my boyfriend) over a month, and let me tell you, the boyfriend has no concept of skimping whatsoever! I just love how often they hit the nail on the head with the scents. Pumpkin Spice for the win!
Best Body Wash (Budget): Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash
Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash ($8.79) is an affordable option for getting your body clean with lots of lather and a pleasant clean scent. I love the way my skin feels clean but not stripped after using this.
Best Body Moisturizer (High-end): Crabtree & Evelyn Soothing Body Lotion
Crabtree & Evelyn Soothing Body Lotion ($19.50) is lightweight and hydrates really well. I surprised myself with this one, because I really didn’t think it was going to be moisturizing enough for my lizard legs, but it is. This is one of my favorite ways to treat myself before I go to bed at night. I love to take a shower, scrub down with Kiehl’s Lavender Body Scrub, then moisturize with Crabtree & Evelyn’s Lavender Soothing Body Lotion. Ahh, relaxation!
Best Body Moisturizer (Budget): Lubiderm Advanced Therapy Triple Smmoothing Body Lotion
Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Triple Smoothing Body Lotion ($8.49) is a great three-in-one kind of product. It contains AHAs which help with skin renewal by removing dead skin cells, but it also keeps skin super moisturized and therefore smooth. I like that it does live-up to its three-in-one claims. I love this as a gentle but effective moisturizer. I’m always on the hunt for affordable, well-hydrating body creams, because my sister suffers from even drier skin than I do, so I like to pass on my best recs to her!