Once a year, I like to give you a list of all the products I used and loved in the last 12 months—and the time has come for my 2017 edition!
Consider this a beauty cheat sheet, if you're looking for my most recent recommendations in one handy place.
(That's also why I no longer do a version of this list for new launches, because most of the time, I'm not impressed beyond the marketing hype to actually include them in my routine!)
If you'd like to see how I actually layer this stuff onto my face, take a look at my fall skincare routine. I'll be sharing a winter one shortly, with some recent purchases that I haven't talked about yet!
Until then, here's a look back at my favourite products, from head to toe:
- Creamy cleanser: I can't say enough good things about Schaf Facial Cleanser—it's quite possibly the PERFECT cleanser. Unlike most cream formulas, it rinses clean and is 100 percent natural. I use it a lot in colder weather, as it's non-drying. I'm also nearly done my tube of First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser (reviewed here), which is also a nice one, although not as natural.
- Foaming cleansers: When I want a deeper clean, I reach for a sulfate-free foam or gel format. Consonant Natural Foaming Face Wash and Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser have been part of my routine for years and I still love them. I also went through a lot of Graydon Face Foam (reviewed here), and have just about finished the bottle!
- Gel cleansers: My favourite affordable gel cleanser is Derma E Purifying Gel Cleanser, which I love for oilier skin in the summertime—I just bought a second tube! The Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser and COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser were also part of my rotation.
- Oil cleanser: I double cleanse at night whenever I've worn heavier makeup or sunscreen, and my oil of choice is coconut. I follow this method with a soft cloth. The Kopari Coconut Melt (reviewed here) looks pretty on your countertop, but you can also just get a big tub of Nutiva from the health food store and it will work just as well.
- Micellar cleanser: Bioderma Sensibio H2O is always one of my staples, on a Shiseido Facial Cotton pad. It's great to remove makeup prior to any of the cleansers. I also use it daily, on a Precision Q-tip, to clean up mascara and eyeliner mistakes.
- BHAs: I made the switch from AHAs to BHAs in 2017, and haven't looked back! You can read more about their benefits here. My Holy Grail product—and probably the single most important thing in my entire routine—is the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. It's what I rely on daily to keep my skin clear, bright and smooth. I also use the Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid sometimes, although I think it's more drying.
- AHAs: To fade the pigmentation I always get in the summer, I doubled up on acids for a while and used Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 PIGM 400 in addition to the BHA, along with P50 Corps for my body. Earlier in the year, I also used Lotion P50 (which is no longer available in Canada) and P50T (reviewed here). I still love 'em, but if I had to choose, I'd go with BHAs—applied the same way, twice a day, I think they're more beneficial and less irritating.
- Mists: The two mists I used the most in 2017 were Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence and Caudalie Grape Water. I often apply them under face oil in place of a serum. I also spritz them over makeup so it looks more dewy/natural, and throughout the day to refresh my skin.
- Serum: No surprise here—my all-time favourite serum is still Consonant HydrExtreme (reviewed here). I don't use hyaluronic acid, as this works so well for me!
- Essences: In a quest to find some alternatives for those of you who can't get hold of HydrExtreme, I've been experimenting with essences. So far, I really like Omorovicza Omoressence and COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
- Oils: The big development here was that I discovered squalane oil in 2017... and now all other face oils are practically dead to me! Seriously, it works so well that I have no plans to EVER stop using it. You can read more about its benefits here. In the name of research, I tested squalanes from four different brands: Indie Lee, Peter Thomas Roth, Biossance and The Ordinary. I can't tell the difference between them at all, but I will say that Peter Thomas Roth and The Ordinary have the best and sturdiest packaging.
- Creams: I don't use face creams that often anymore, as I don't find I need them with my usual serum/oil combination. But if I do want extra moisture, my favourite is the silicone-free LXMI Crème du Nil (reviewed here). For eye cream, I was using Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel for a few months, but I started developing a bit of irritation. That skin is so sensitive, this often happens to me with eye formulas! So now I'm just sticking with squalane there. I also use squalane instead of lip balm!
- Face: For city days when I want a lightweight sunscreen to wear under makeup, my favourite is Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30. But when I need the BEST possible protection, CyberDerm Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30 is always my go-to. Also in my rotation in 2017 were Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer, CyberDerm Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 and Rocky Mountain Soap Company Vanilla Coconut Natural Sunscreen SPF 31. You can see more of my face sunscreen recommendations here.
- Body: I save the best stuff for my face and look for larger, more affordable formats for my body. In 2017, I used new Attitude Sensitive Skin 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 and Neutrogena Sheer Zinc SPF 50. You can see more of my body sunscreen recommendations here.
Best Skin Treatments
- Vitamin C: Rather than L-ascorbic acid, which is notoriously unstable, my favourite way to get vitamin C is via The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%, which is light enough to apply all over my face. I also like Hylamide C25 Stabilized Vitamin C Booster, but it does have an oilier texture.
- Niacinamide: Although it's marketed as an acne/oily skin treatment, I use The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% for niacinamide's brightening effects. It's hard to say whether the vitamin C or niacinamide are more effective—I alternate both!
- Retinoids: I tested A LOT of retinoids in 2017, beginning with Resurface by Shani Darden Retinol Reform (reviewed here). It's the one I'd recommend most for acne-prone skin. I also tested a new, non-irritating compound called "granactive retinoid." It's found in CyberDerm Retin+Erase (initial review here) and The Ordinary Granactive Retinoids in Squalane (reviewed here). Then, I tested The Ordinary Retinols in Squalane (reviewed here)—which l'm still using now because their ingredient is the most proven for anti-aging.
- Masks: In 2017, I added a few new masks to my collection, including the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (natural BHAs), Herbivore Brighten Pineapple Enzyme + Gemstone Instant Glow Mask (fruit enzymes) and Odacité Synergie Immediate Skin Perfecting Beauty Masque (clay, charcoal, enzymes, acids, vitamin C and probiotics!!). I also still use the tried-and-true Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant (reviewed here).
Best Skin Gadgets
- Red light therapy: If I could only use one gadget, it would have to be the Red Light Man Red Light Device. I usually just lie in front of it for 20 minutes or so, repositioning it every so often until I've covered all of my face. You get an immediate glow, and it's incredibly beneficial for ALL skin issues—and good for your health, too!
- Cleansing: The Foreo Luna 2 is still my cleansing brush of choice, because it doesn't collect bacteria and is gentle on the skin. I use it at night, when I can't be bothered with double cleansing.
- Microcurrent: After reading this article, I was inspired to try microcurrent treatments with the NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Device. I *think* I can see a difference, but the challenge is to keep up with the treatments! In 2018, I'm thinking about trying microcurrent facials.
- Microdermabrasion: Although I wouldn't say it's necessary with daily acids, I do a home microdermabrasion treatment every once in a while with PMD Personal Microderm. It's a great device to use once a week if you can't tolerate acids.
- Face massage: You know when you can just tell you're holding onto tension in your face? I've been massaging it out with the Clarisonic Smart Profile Uplift (reviewed here). My only issues with it are that it's kind of noisy, and it's expensive if you're not going to use the cleansing head (like I said, I use the Luna).
- Lip plumping: This is a totally frivolous one, but I was so excited about the new PMD Kiss Lip Plumping System (reviewed here). I still use it for a little lip volume boost before going out!
Best Skin Makeup
- Foundation: I didn't switch up foundations at all in 2017, because RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up in 11 still has the best ingredients, and works perfectly for my needs! I apply it with the RMS Beauty Skin2Skin Foundation Brush for a sheer, lightweight coverage. See this tutorial for application tips. If I need my skin to look a little more perfected, I will reach for one of two silicone-free liquid foundations from Sappho New Paradigm: the Essentials Foundation in Leisha (lighter coverage) or the Liquid Foundation in 3 (higher coverage). They reformulated twice in 2017, but this was my original review.
- Concealers: For the eye area, I also use RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up in 11. For blemishes, I spot conceal with opaque, waterproof concealers. I had two on rotation in 2017: Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer in Medium and Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer in Light Beige 3 (which I've been using for years and years). I've decided that the latter is still the best, as it's drier and requires no setting. Note: I always apply apply these with a tiny lip brush. Japonesque used to make the best ones, but I ordered a replacement last month and their quality ain't what it used to be!
- Powder: ILIA Soft Focus Finishing Powder was a new purchase for me in 2017, and it's the best powder I've EVER used—yes, even better than RMS Beauty's! The texture is just amazing; non-slippery and very oil-absorbent (and it's silicone-free, of course). I use the Clinique Eyeshadow Brush to apply it only in the T-zone—never a big brush.
- Highlighter: I know the brand has released other highlighters now, but for me, nothing beats the original RMS Beauty Living Luminizer.
- Blush: I prefer cream blushes, and my RMS Beauty obsession continues there. The shades I relied on most in 2017 were RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Curious (a limited edition orange, so grab it before it's gone!), Spell (dusty rose) and Paradise (coral). All of these, I apply with the RMS Beauty Skin Blush Brush, which makes a huge difference. If I need more staying power, my favourite powder blush is Gabriel Blush in Petal.
- Freckles: The finishing touch to my skin makeup, if I have time, is a scattering of faux freckles. It just makes you look cuter and more natural. The most budge-proof product for the job is Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Taupe (not Blonde, which is too red). You need to dab them on with a tiny brush, like the Real Techniques Silicone Eyeliner Brush, then soften with a fingertip.
Best Colour Cosmetics
- Eyeshadow: New to my routine in 2017 were RMS Beauty's recently launched Swift Shadows (powder eyeshadows). Sunset Beach SB-43 is good for all over the lid, while Enchanted Moonlight EM-61 is nice for subtle shading. Truth be told, though, I still prefer the RMS Beauty Eye Polish (cream eyeshadow), which creates a shinier look and can be applied with your fingers. My go-tos from that range are Myth (taupe) and Lunar (champagne pearl).
- Eyeliner: Nothing has changed on the eyeliner front; I'm still wearing waterproof browns: Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner in D-62 and Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kôhl Eyeliner in Sumatra. Sometimes I switch it up and use a discontinued navy shade of Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner for night. I love to blend the liner out from my waterlines with an older version of the Urban Decay Pro Smoky Smudger Brush—highly recommend!
- Mascara: I exclusively wear tubing formulas now, since nothing makes me look rougher than smeared mascara under my eyes! In 2017, my two favourites were Estée Lauder Double Wear Zero-Smudge Lengthening Mascara and Revlon Mega Multiplier Mascara, although I also have Surratt Relevée Mascara, Clinique Lash Power Mascara and Lise Watier 24 Hrs Glam Mascara in my stash.
- Brows: I was scrambling here, as I ran out of Maybelline Brow Drama, and couldn't find it anywhere (I think it might be discontinued in Blonde in Canada!). So then I switched to Givenchy Mister Eyebrow for control, with Yves Saint Laurent Couture Brow in Ash Blond to define the fans and Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil in the Universal Shade to perfect the shape.
- Lips: The only lip products I'm really loyal to, year after year, Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm in 004 Coral Glow and Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment (all shades). Both of those are tinted balms. For lip colour, I love anything in the orange/coral family, such as Chanel Rouge Allure Ink in 158 Highway, Chanel Rouge Coco in 414 Sari Doré and RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Curious. For lip liner, I like Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Iconic Nude, and for gloss, I like RMS Beauty Lip Shine in Sacred and Sublime. Aside from that, I wear whatever luxury brand's lipsticks have crossed my desk, from Armani to Guerlain.
- Shampoos: I only used sulfate-free shampoos on my fine hair in 2017, rotating between new Kérastase Aura Botanica Shampoo (reviewed here), Nature Clean Pure Body Shampoo and World Clean Hair and Skin Cleanser (reviewed here). I kinda stopped using dry shampoo!
- Conditioners and masks: My two favourites here were World Repair Deep Conditioner for Hair (reviewed here) and new Phyto Phytoelixir Intense Nutrition Mask (reviewed here). For a lighter condition I use Kérastase Aura Botanica Conditioner (reviewed here).
- Stylers: I bought Captain Blankenship Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray in 2017 and it's amazing for getting a beachy texture. For hairspray, I like World Up Natural Holding Spray (reviewed here).
- Hair tools: No changes in this area—I'm still relying on my trusty Mason Pearson Brush (reviewed here), T3 PROi Professional Hair Dryer (reviewed here) and Drybar Tress Press Digital Styling Iron.
Best Bath, Body and Fragrance
- Soap and body wash: I'm not loyal in this category, but a couple products I used in 2017 were Graydon All Over Soap and 365 Everyday Value Unscented Vegetable Glycerin Soap (the purest soap on the market!).
- Body scrub: The all-natural Odacité Invigorating Jasmine Mimosa Body Scrub is one of the best body scrubs I've ever found.
- Body lotions: I find shea butter does the best job here, but not just any shea butter—it has to be a creamy texture like Enfleurage Organics Shea Butter. (Don't get the Now one, it's really dry and flaky.) I also like to moisturize with coconut oil, such as Kopari Coconut Melt. I stopped using self-tanner for these reasons!
- Hands and feet: My hands don't usually get too dry, so I don't go through a lot of hand cream, but a new one I discovered in 2017 (and like a lot) is the Kopari Coconut Balm (reviewed here). For feet, I think urea is one of the best ingredients, and the Atrac-Tain Cream is the only urea-based cream that I've found without petroleum. I also do Baby Foot every so often.
- Deodorant: I converted to natural deos a few years back and haven't missed antiperspirants since. I think Schmidt's Natural Deodorant is the best, but Consonant Dealkalizing Deodorant and Captain Blankenship Lime & Vetiver Cream Deodorant are great choices, too.
- Fragrances: I've been using natural, essential oil-based perfumes for so long now that mainstream scents smell weirdly synthetic to me! Recently, I added Lina Hanson Satori Perfume Oil to my collection and love it. The other rollers I use all the time are Tata Harper Irritability and Stress Treatments, Province Apothecary Parfum Botanique No. 19, and when I want to make a bold impression, Child! I still treasure my Rich Hippie collection (in Rich Hippie, Bliss and Flower Child)... they're just so ME. When I feel like vanilla, I wear Lavanila Vanilla Grapefruit.
- Nails: I got really tired of my nails always peeling in 2017, and constantly fixing chipped polish. So, after reading this article, I decided to go polish-free, and my nails have improved so much! Before that, I was using Essie Treat, Love & Colour... now I'm relying on buffing with Revlon Crazy Shine. I do still wear polish on my toes; I find Dior Vernis Gel Shine and Long Wear Nail Lacquer has the best brush, and I always love Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour shades.
- Oral care: Same as in 2016, I'm brushing my teeth with baking soda and a hydrogen peroxide. You can read more about that method here. I'm very loyal to Philips Sonicare toothbrushes, and recently upgraded to the 9300 DiamondClean Smart Sonic Electric Toothbrush (reviewed here). I also floss with Dr. Tung's Smart Floss—once you try it, you will never go back to the regular waxed kind!
So there you have it—a complete inventory of my 2017 beauty loves!
For what it's worth, you should be aware that I did purchase most of these items myself (and would do so again), instead of receiving them as PR samples. So I really do stand behind what I'm recommending here.
And as you can probably tell, I'm very much focused on skincare these days. I truly believe that is the reason why I can go so sheer with my foundation. (I'm also just feeling a more minimal, natural look in general—perhaps that's the Glossier effect, or just being too busy/lazy to experiment too much!)
Have you tried any of these products?
What were your top products of 2017?