I should begin my reminding you all that I’m about as novice as it comes when it comes to skincare. But in the past few years I’ve been trying to branch out and give my skin a little more love and care. Recently, quite a few brands that I’ve admired from afar offered to send me some of their new product to try – almost all of them clean beauty – so I was eager to give it a go. I’ve been using all of these for at least 1 month now to really get a true sense of how they work and if I’d incorporate them into my routine. I’m happy to say that the below 5 items made the cut.

  1. Kiehls Micro-Dose Retinol Serum – I’ve been afraid to try anything with retinol for years now. I’ve read all sorts of things like it takes a month or so for your skin to react then calm down. It makes your skin super sensitive to the sun. Etc. All of it just felt like too much hassle when I otherwise slap some moisturizer on and call it a night. But when Kiehls offered to send this low dose micro Retinol cream I was curious. I’ve been using for about two months now and I can honestly say I love it. I use it every other night and haven’t experienced any sensitivity or adverse reactions. In fact, I kind of felt like I could see the positive effects (subtle lessening of fine lines, more even skin tone) right away. I’ll definitely be repurchasing when I run through this bottle.
  2. Merit Mascara – I was frankly skeptical about “clean” mascara. For some reason I felt like it wouldn’t last all day or wouldn’t have the same kind of volume as my regular brand? Consider me converted. This doesn’t smudge, clump or flake at all on me and I typically have mascara on for like 14+ hours on a work day. Gives the same if not better volume as my old brand and the biggest benefit is that it doesn’t irritate my eyes at all, which used to sometimes be an issue for me.
  3. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick – My skepticism over clean mascara also extended to lipstick until I tried Urban Decay’s Vice options. The satin/cream and matte finishes both have nice saturated, long-lasting color (my favorite is ‘The Big One’ – a warm red) and when you think about how much lipstick you ingest while wearing it.. it’s kind of a no brainer to make the switch to a cleaner option.
  4. Beauty Counter Overnight Resurfacing Peel – I’ve never tried Beauty Counter before but heard plenty of people singing their praises for years now so was eager to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve been using this overnight resurfacing peel on the nights when I don’t use the micro-dose retinol serum and the combo is proving to really even out my skin tone. This one helps to minimize pores too which I love and generally feels like the perks of using a mask without the messiness or annoyance of having to rinse it off. I’m the absolute laziest when it comes to nighttime routines so this is a clear winner for me.
  5. Beauty Counter VitaminC Serum – It smells like a cross between oranges and eucalyptus to me and has this really great consistency that’s thicker than a serum to me but lighter than a lotion, if that makes any sense? Either way, I’ve been using this every morning since I got it and it gives me this even, glowy, dewy complexion – like I just walked out of a facial appointment. It’s pricier but I don’t even use moisturizer in the morning’s anymore with this and a little goes a long way – so worth it in my opinion.