2017 was another year filled with new to me brands and impressive launches from some of my favorite names in beauty. There were, of course, a few re-discoveries that came back like boomerangs. All are phenomenal. Ranging from a massive British drugstore find to an impossible to hunt down fragrance, my “best of” list for the year includes ride or die staples and quite a few surprises. Initially, I had planned to round-up 17 winners. The list soon jumped to 20 and the final count is 21. Because jackpot. 🎰
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash. The ridiculously long name aside, this is hands down my favorite face wash find of the year. It leaves my combination skin feeling clean yet never dry or tight. It exfoliates with a genius blend of AHAs and fruit enzymes and has a faint citrus aroma. The slim tube travels well, too! It appears pricey but a little bit really goes a long way. $38 katesomerville.com
Plantioxidants Tea Tincture Toner. One of my 2017 highlights was discovering Plantioxidants and while I absolutely adore the masks, face oil and eye cream, my skin cannot get enough of this luxurious essence toner. Superb in its composition, this Ginseng Root and Rose Water base is chock full of antioxidants, soothing, and hydrating extracts. Think every type of tea imaginable, Hyaluronic Acid, Camu Camu, Acai, and dozens more. Non-toxic, organic, vegan, and free of things such as cruelty, gluten, parabens, etc. Warning: expensive af. $150 plantioxidants.com
Weekly At-Home Facial
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Baby Facial. Totally partial to anything that tingles, I find this blend of 25% AHA and 2% BHA to perform at extreme makeover levels. Yes, this mask stings for the first minute or two and may leave your skin slightly pink immediately after you rinse, but it provides a red carpet glow that makes that all worthwhile. Be sure to hydrate/moisturize afterward and step up your SPF game. This resurfacing action is legit. $80 sephora.com
TULA Dual-Phase Skin Reviving Treatment Pads. One of my all-time favorite launches of 2017, this double-sided pad is a weekly must-have for anyone struggling with uneven tone and congestion. The cocktail of Lactic Acid, Papaya, and Willow Bark Extracts smoothes out the skin’s texture without any stinging nor downtime. We’re talking spa-grade facial results. Major props for the monodose packaging. $59 (16 pads) tula.com (use code OMGBART at checkout to save 20% – not valid on sale items)
Serum – Hydration
Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate. Do you know who needs this serum? Everyone with a face. It is the most accommodating, hydrating, and flawless formula in the world. Packed with Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, soothing plant extracts, and firming peptides, it works solo on freshly-cleansed skin or mixed with an oil or mask. In-flight skin saviour. Did I mention it’s $29? American Dollars. Is cray. Pick up a six-pack at jordansamuelskin.com
Serum – Vitamin C
African Botanics Nutritive Molecule Serum. Clean, green, and ultra-luxurious, this antioxidant masterpiece from African Botanics is an anti-aging splurge. One that I fully support. The lightweight texture and earthy aroma are just bonuses. Loaded with Sea Kelp, Hibiscus, Vitamins C and E, and the brand’s proprietary omega-rich oil blend, this protective and brightening serum is pure perfection. A major boost to either your AM or PM routine, I layer it under sunscreen during the day to minimize the UV damage. Get it. $250 africanbotanics.com, nordstrom.com, netaporter.com
Serum – Retinol
Kat Burki Retin-C Treatment Complex. Admittedly, I am completely addicted to the Kat Burki range, but her latest launch easily tops the anti-aging charts. Rovisome Retinol, a more gentle form of ultra potent Vitamin A, is combined with Vitamin C to ensure stability and deliver impressive firmness and glow within weeks. The signature KB5™ Complex is infused with Niacinamide (my favorite ingredient), DMAE, and Arginine, which give this anhydrous serum botanical powerhouse status. The absolutely delicious aroma is just one perk of this nighttime treatment. $165 katburki.com, spacenk.com
Time Saver/Travel Must-Have
ARCONA Triad Pads. Nothing rivals these generously saturated and uber refreshing pads. Loaded with Rice Milk, Vitamin E, White Tea, Cranberry, and Grape Seed Extracts, they make for a perfect morning cleanse whenever I’m pressed for time. Although I’ve been using them for at least a decade, this year, I discovered the monodose 2 Go packaging, which saved my skin during recent travel. A single swipe cleanses, detoxifies, and hydrates like a dream. Finally, they smell amazing. $36 (45ct) $10 (10ct) arcona.com, nordstrom.com
Goldfaden MD Bright Eyes. The skincare question I get most often via DM on Instagram: what is your favorite eye cream? I am most confident recommending Bright Eyes by Goldfaden MD. It’s rich but not heavy, works beautifully under any concealer during the day, and delivers lasting hydration overnight, so you wake up bagless and de-puffed. Loaded with Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin K, Seaweed, Arnica, and Hydrolyzed Rice Extracts as well as peptides and Squalane, its pump bottle makes it all-around perfect. $55 goldfadenmd.com, spacenk.com, dermstore.com
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask. This K-beauty miracle is just so extra. Gorgeous packaging and hue aside, the bouncy and melty texture feels slightly oily upon application. Within seconds, however, it absorbs completely and works its overnight magic. You wake up like this: glowy af. Acids present: Hyaluronic, Glycolic, Lactic. Fruit: Watermelon, Pumpkin, Banana, Pomegranate, and more. Foreign and fruity – just like me. $45 glowrecipe.com, sephora.com
Clay Mask (my pore war chronicles)
Philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor. An absolutely genius ancillary to the world’s most famous cleanser, this exfoliating clay mask instantly helps refine pores and controls excess oil production. Formulated with three different clays and .5% Salicylic Acid, this express treatment delivers a refreshed look in minutes. If you’re a T-zone owner, this is your new holy grail. Visible results after a single application guaranteed. $35 philosophy.com
AMOREPACIFIC The Essential Creme Fluid. Never, in the history of ever, have I gone through a facial moisturizer faster than this bottle. Silky in texture and insanely lightweight, this runny lotion smells heavenly and delivers hours of comfort and hydration day or night. It performs like a rich cream and features the consistency of a fluid, making it my most reached-for moisturizer of 2017. P.S. my husband whose skin is on the dry side is completely obsessed, too. $98 amorepacific.com, sephora.com
Votary Clarifying Facial Oil. The moment I met Arabella Preston, the Votary co-founder at Liberty London, I knew the oils were going to be special. The Neroli & Myrrh face oil had achieved favored status until the Clarifying formula with Clary Sage and Peach found its way into my stash. Soothing, purifying, and quick-absorbing, this lightweight oil is a perfect match for my constantly congested complexion. For those looking for a retinoid infused blend, give the Intense Night Oil a try! $102 votary.co.uk, netaporter.com
Sunscreen (a daily non-negotiable)
Farmacy Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 with Echinacea GreenEnvy™ and yes that is the actual full name of the product. Breaking all the rules, this truly invisible SPF is absolutely weightless and traceless. No white cast, no odd smell. If you’re thinking of a New Year’s resolution, make this one your new habit. I can’t recommend it highly enough. $36 farmacybeauty.com, sephora.com
Sunscreen (that happens to be tinted)
Origins Ginzing™ SPF 40 Sheer Tint Release. Easily the product that got the most irl PR in 2017. This lightweight moisturizer with self-adjusting tint technology is sheer, slightly dewy, and lasts all day, giving you a fresh and rested look. Dozens of friends and a handful of strangers commented on my skin’s radiance level when I wore this gem year-round. Truly a skincare makeup hybrid, this universal broad-spectrum formula is my biggest beauty secret for skin that glows with minimal effort. You’re gonna love it. $38 origins.com, sephora.com, ulta.com
Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow. Hands down the best tinted moisturizer ever made. Let me briefly count the reasons why I don’t leave the house without a tube of this complexion transforming miracle: sheer coverage, natural peachy bronzy glow, zero shimmer, satin finish. For those among you who are ultra fair, this may be too dark. For anyone hovering on the medium spectrum, however, this is a game changer. A must-have to deplane looking rested. $40 beautylish.com
Freedom Natural Deodorant. I discovered this daily superhero in a New Beauty event swag bag completely by accident. The creamy, aluminum-free stick formula kept me dry and fresh during 10+ hour flights. No burning, no white streaks, no redness. The website has an ‘Oops!’ section where you can buy selected scents with a minor cosmetic blemish for less. My Bergamot Mint and Lavender Citrus arrived looking pretty perfect. $8.99 to $17 freebrandsinc.com
Hair (styling aid)
Fish Original Fishshape Texturising Cream. Many months ago, I received a generous box of hair care products from the iconic British brand Fish. A hair destination for over 30 years, this London based spot actually styled Kate Moss for her first modeling job. The medium to strong hold of Original Fishshape kept my choppy ‘do’ looking on point during those hot and humid days in Croatia, windy afternoons in northern Norway, and long walks through cold Tokyo neighborhoods earlier this month. The water-loving formula rinses off like a dream, too. Superb performance when compared with much pricier competitors, it is my biggest grooming surprise of 2017. $14.99 fishsoho.com, rickysnyc.com and £5.99 at boots.com
Mancera Paris Wave Musk. Acknowledging that fragrance is extremely personal, this year, Wave Musk became my new signature scent, surpassing the much loved Pomelo by Jo Loves. My best friend showed up for my birthday with a bottle she was convinced was ‘very me.’ The moral of the story: everybody needs a childhood friend like Klaudia. She nailed it. The bouquet of grapefruit, orange blossom, driftwood, and white musk is truly unique. By the way, this scent is not new. It was launched in 2011. It’s not easy to find, either. People who complement me when I wear Wave Musk: beauty editors at events, uber drivers on way to events, my brother-in-law this past Thanksgiving. $160 amazon.com
Dr. Dennis Gross SpectraLite EyeCare Pro LED Device. It sounds crazy and looks somewhere between wow and wtf but this innovative anti-aging eye care contraption is absolutely amazing. Apply your eye cream, put on the goggles, and relax for 3 minutes as the 72 bulbs of therapeutic light penetrate the skin to stimulate collagen production and reduce crow’s feet, the dreaded number 11s, and dark circles. Major bonus: the auto-shut off. Be patient as results take a few weeks of consistent use to be noticed! $159 drdennisgross.com, sephora.com
Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Ointment Body Spray. Nobody has drier elbows than yours truly and while nothing works on ashy skin better than the original Aquaphor healing ointment, it is heavy and greasy and has ruined countless shirts and sheets. The much lighter spray on version has a crackling cryo foam texture that absorbs more quickly and is definitely more user-friendly (you do need to rub it in, don’t be fooled by the marketing). Pick it up at Amazon because we all know if you go to Target, you’ll drop a couple hundred on stuff you don’t need. Should be under $10 at amazon.com.
I would *love* to hear about your 2017 favorites or thoughts on anything on my list! There was an abundance of choices for hair care and I struggled to choose a favorite. Body washes and soap bars, sheet masks, and foot creams: the same. Who wants to read a blog post as long as ‘War and Peace’ anyway, right? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
*mixed bag of press samples and purchases + affiliate links
My best find of 2017 is Exposed Skin Care. I have VERY oil my skin and have suffered with cystic acne all my life. Now approaching menopause, my hormones are fluctuating and making it even worse. I’ve tried so many products and nothing helped much…until Exposed. This skin care line has almost completely cleared my skin in less than a month. If I do get a breakout, now it is small and gone very quickly. I am so anazed and wish I had discovered this product 20 years ago (although I’m not sure it’s been around that long). It includes many natural ingredients like green tea, licorice root, and passion flower extracts im addition to the regulars (Benzol Peroxide and Salicylic Acid). I’m so thrilled with this find, I can’t say enough good things about it!
Amazing! Nothing tops the feeling when you finally found skin care formulas that work for you and deliver on their promise! Wishing you even more radiant skin in 2018!
What a great post as it is so helpful! You do a great job with your reviews and I learn so much from your instagram posts. Happy New Year!
Thank you so much! Happy New Year to you as well! x
Happy new year, and hoping it would be a perfect one!
Your blog has become my go-to website when I’m about to buy any skincare product. Thank you for detailed reviews and honest comments.
But I have one question for the clay mask since currently I’m dealing with blackheads on T-zone. Is Philosophy really the best option for this? Or Origins Active Charcoal Mask can be a good one as well?
Happy New Year and thank you so much for such kind words!!
I seriously absolutely LOVE the philosophy purity pore extractor mask. It’s hands down one of my top three solutions for blackheads and enlarged pores. Personally, I have quite an arsenal of favorites from Origins but the Active Charcoal Mask is not one of them. I know it’s a classic with a cult following but I find it do very little for my congested T-zone. I do some of their other masks though!
Have a great rest of the week! x