After many many years of searching, I can say I have finally found my HG skincare routine for the fall/winter. Here I share with you what has worked for me. However, please do keep in mind that everyone's skin is different so what works for me may or may not work for you.
Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel ($26USD for 5 oz)
Every day after removing my makeup with Kirkland's Makeup Remover, I wash my face with Boscia's Purifying Cleansing Gel. This can be purchased directly on Boscia's website or at Sephora.
The Purifying Gel comes in a sturdy plastic bottle with a pump that's very easy to store and use. It also comes with a pump guard to avoid leakage during traveling. Boscia's products all have Sephora's natural seal. This contains no parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes/fragrances, Phthalates, GMOs, and Triclosan.
I was first introduced to Boscia by a Sephora SA who advised me to buy the introductory kit. I have been hooked ever since and this is my second bottle of the Purifying Gel Cleanser. As noted, it is soap-free so it doesn't dry out my skin and is safe to use even with contacts. One pump is more than enough for my entire face. I usually apply a small amount to my damp face, massage to a lather, and rinse off. The gel does turn into a foam once it comes into more contact with water.
I would not recommend this to fully remove long-wear foundation, but it is great as a gentle face wash in the morning and after removing eye makeup. I am running out of this cleanser and will definitely repurchase for a third time.
Kiehl's Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner ($21USD for 4.2 fl oz)
I apply this toner every day, once in the morning and once at night before applying moisturizer. This comes in 3 sizes starting from 4.2 fl oz, 8.4 fl oz, to 16.9 fl oz as the super size. I started off with the smallest bottle and repurchased the current 16.9 fl oz. This can be purchased on Kiehl's website or Nordstrom.
The toner comes in a regular plastic bottle with a flip-top cap. I was attracted to this toner because it is alcohol-free, which doesn't dry out my skin, and it has Calendula, a plant known to have anti-inflammatory properties. This particular product is the most expensive toner in the entire range offered by Kiehl's because of Calendula.
As claimed by Kiehl's, this toner does soothe and improve problem areas on my skin. It doesn't aggravate the redness on my cheeks or my acne. I usually apply a small amount on a cotton pad and wipe all over my face. The toner is not sticky and doesn't sting, dry, or tighten my face. It is great to moisturize dry or irritated skin as well. If you're curious, below is a close up picture of the toner with Calendula petals. Towards the end of the bottle, some of the petals will come out on the cotton pad but I'm not bothered by this. I will soon re-purchase the super size bottle for the third time.
Kate Somerville Exfolikate ($19USD for 0.5oz)
I have heard a lot of praise about Exfolikate throughout the beauty community. Since my skin is very sensitive, I was quite weary because some have mentioned this is a very strong exfoliator. Luckily, a Sephora SA gave me a small sample to try out and I've been hooked ever since.
Currently you can find Exfolikate in 3 different sizes ranging from 0.5 fl oz at $19USD to 5 fl oz for $175USD at Sephora. I purchased my 5 oz Exfolikate along with the Exfolikate Body 5 oz on sale at Sephora for $125USD. This is part of The Ultimate Exfolikate Kit with an original price of $165USD. If you're interested, this kit is now only available here at Nordstrom.
Exfolikate comes in a simple squeeze tube and a flip-top cap. The texture is a slightly gritty green goo that has a distinct, but not unpleasant smell. I use this once a week by applying a small pea size on my damp face. I wait for about 23-30 seconds and rinse off just as shown in the directions. When I first used it, my face stung quite a bit but now my skin is used to the sensation. After I rinse it off, I am left with smoother, brighter skin that's not red or irritated. Exfolikate doesn't dry out, irritate my skin, or cause acne. In fact, it has helped clear up my skin and slowly fade post-acne scars.
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Acne Clearing Exfoliating Treatment ($65USD for 2oz)
This is a new product from Kate Somerville, specifically targeted for acne-prone skins. I purchased this at Sephora after using a small sample for a week. Exfolikate Acne only comes in one size and can be purchased at Sephora or Kate Somerville's website.
Similar to Exfolikate, this comes in a small squeeze tube with a flip-top cap. I use Exfolikate at the beginning of the week and this at the end of the week to clean out my pores. The texture of this is creamier and less sticky compared to Exfolikate. I would squeeze a pea size amount of this baby blue cream and apply it on my damp face. This has Tea Tree Oil, Salicylic Acid, and AHA to exfoliate, clear out pores, and reduce acne scaring as advertised. If I have a bad skin day, this helps reduce and eliminate swelling pimples. It does rather well on cystic acne as well.
Juice Beauty USDA Organic Facial Moisture Concentrate ($36USD for 1 fl oz)
After cleansing or exfoliating and applying toner, I would apply this as a night time moisturizer. I purchased this at Whole Foods after reading rave reviews on it. This is a USDA Organic certified product, which means it contains ingredients that are certified as 100% organic. You can also purchase this directly from Juice Beauty's website or Skinstore.
The moisturizer comes in a plastic bottle with a pump and protective cap. All I need is one to two pumps to cover my entire face. I usually rub the oil between my palms and then smooth it onto my face, covering even the areas with acne.
I know it may sound weird to slather a mixture of organic essential oils onto combination, acne-prone skin but it really does work. My face is left with a shiny film after applying this moisturizer so I only use it at night. If there is a painful pimple on my face, I will wake up with it greatly reduced in size and soft, moisturized skin. This does not cause me to breakout and reduced the blackheads on my nose. I have been using it every day for the past couple of weeks and it has worked wonders for my skin.
Philosophy Hope In A Jar Oil-Free ($38USD for 2 oz)
This is also a new product from Philosophy's Hope In A Jar skincare line. I impulsively purchased this at Sephora without much expectations. I had used the original HIAJ in the past and hated it because my skin broke out from an allergic reaction. Unlike HIAJ, this is in a convenient slim squeeze tube.
Hope In A Jar Oil-Free has a very different texture compared to the original. It is more like a light cream and not a mousse-like texture. The smell are both the same but I'm not bothered by it. I use this after applying toner, and before applying makeup every morning.
I wholeheartedly expected this to break me out like the original HIAJ but it has worked very well in moisturizing my face. This has salicylic acid to help keep bacteria and acne in check and does not contain silicone. I have already purchased a 2nd tube as a back up once I run out of this tube. I love this moisturizer and will continue to repurchase.
After following this skincare routine for the past couple of months, my skin has been smoother and clearer. Having a regular routine of cleansing, exfoliating, toning, and moisturizing has done wonders for my skin. It also helps that I read all of the ingredients before purchasing a skincare product to avoid those that may cause allergic reactions. I am now a huge supporter of organic, natural skincare, especially calendula and essential oils.
Have you tried any of these products? What is your HG skincare routine?