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Today, I wanted to share a post featuring some of the amazing products I've tried over the past 6 months or so that in someway changed my skin or my outlook on skincare. I know I do an overall beauty favourites post at the end of the year, and I'm sure several of these products will make an appearance, but I wanted to do something a little more in-depth, specifically focusing on skincare that's really made an impact within my routine.

First up is a product I was actually a little lukewarm on when it first launched, but it's since proven to be a reliable staple in my skincare routine: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser | £13.95 (supersize) | full review. What I appreciate about this is that it's a simple, solid everyday cleanser and the reason it changed the game for me was less about what it did for my skin per se and more about what a fantastic all-rounder it is. It's the kind of cleanser that can be used to remove makeup but also as a moisturising morning or second cleanse. It has this creamy-balm texture that does melt down but doesn't get too oily too quickly. At the same time, it has enough slip to it to make quick work of the sort of makeup I wear on an everyday basis and it emulsifies really easily on contact with water, so the makeup can easily be wiped away with a damp cloth. It's so handy to have something like this in my arsenal, especially for when I'm travelling. Squalane is a gentle skin-similar plant oil that replenishes the skin and is safe for most skin types and this is a very simple formula that should be suitable for even the very sensitive-skinned.

A real standout brand for me this year has been PSA Skin and I have not one, but two products from them to talk about today (as well as a full review on the collection and Allies of Skin once I'm done testing everything). First up is the PSA Skin Heroine Mandelic & Licorice Glow Toner | £28 | which is on this list because it is, of course, a fantastic product, but also because it introduced me to the gentler side of acids. Mandelic Acid is an AHA just like Glycolic, however it's larger molecular size means it's absorbed more slowly by the skin and therefore is less likely to cause irritation. With my regime of retinol and Vitamin C, I was really finding that alternating with a glycolic or salicylic acid toner was a bit much, however this is a chemical exfoliator I truly can use every day if I so wish (I know they all pretend to be suitable for AM and PM on a daily basis, but I've never been about that life!) Licorice also has skin-brightening abilities to help with hyperpigmentation and acts as an antioxidant. This has helped with my skin's tone and texture, does a great job at removing dry patches of skin, makes my skin feel incredibly soft and smooth and also gives that immediate glow boost, without any sort of sensation or irritation. After over-exfoliating then falling a bit of of love with acids as a result, they're back in my everyday rotation, thanks to this product.

The next thing I loved from the brand was the PSA Skin the Most Hyaluronic Acid Super Nutrient Hydration Serum | £34. I'd been very much into using basic single-ingredient(ish) hyaluronic acid serums for a couple of years, but then this product came around and proved to me that a blend can not only deliver just as fantastic results as a pure HA serum, but actually can cram in a bunch of other beneficial ingredients. Hyaluronic acid, of course, pulls water into the skin and this formula contains multiple weights so it can get that water into the different layers of the skin. This product also contains moisturising safflower oil, hydrating panthenol and kombucha (which may act as a natural probiotic, balancing the bacteria that lives on the surface of our skin). This serum just does what I need it to every time; it's hydrating and plumping, leaving my skin soft and moisturised with a lovely, non-tacky finish. It's an everyday staple that I've already got a backup of!

Next we have the Vitamin C serum that made me change my mind about Vitamin C. Admittedly, I don't think I was as well-versed on the matter a year ago; I didn't know that much about Vitamin C's stability issues, the sort of packaging I should be looking for it in and the sorts of formulas that are worth my time, effort and money. However, fantastic Vitamin C is out there and the Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C Serum | £57 | is one such product. I honestly wasn't expecting such a fantastic, effective formula from what I'd perceived as an 'Instagram brand' known for its cute masks and pretty packaging. However, as it transpired, I shouldn't have judged a product by its packaging. This comes in an opaque bottle with a pump to protect the formula from oxygen and light, which can both degrade Vitamin C. It's formulated with ascorbic acid (the most well-researched form of Vitamin C) and ascorbyl glucoside (a form of Vitamin C that helps stabilise ascorbic acid). There's also niacinamide in there (I know many say you shouldn't mix the two, but this really relates to individual serums, not when they're formulated to work together) to help with redness, oil production and protecting the skin against the elements. I've used Vitamin C formulas that have given me a lovely glow, and that's great, but this was the first one that gave me a real, noticeable difference to my skin's tone and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Another product that's related to my changing tastes in acids is the Farmacy Honeymoon Glow Resurfacing Night Serum | £55. I used to use an acid toner most days and that was how I included exfoliation in my routine, but as previously mentioned; I've been more into Vitamin C and retinol this year, so finding a product like this that can give amazing results just from using it once or twice a week has been a great way of fitting acids in (I primarily used this before discovering the PSA formula, though still reach for it now and again). This is a blend of lactic (a relatively gentle AHA, particularly great for dry and mature skin types), glycolic and salicylic (the pore-penetrating BHA amazing for breakouts and blemish scarring) acids. There's also hyaluronic acid and moisturising, antibacterial honey in the formula. It's gentle but it works! Even just using this a couple of times a week, it gives me that gorgeous glow boost by the following morning, alongside those longer-term benefits of smooth, clear, even skin. It's also incredibly gentle, non-drying and non-irritating. 

Retinol has always been a bit of a love / hate product with me; often the side-effects and the time it took to see results seemed to outweigh the benefits. That was until I was introduced to another member of the retinoid family: retinal, in the form of the Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3* | £45. I do have a full brand review coming very soon on Medik8, because I've really enjoyed their products as a whole, however my game-changer of the bunch was this treatment serum. It delivered results that were visible and some of the most dramatic I've seen in my skin for a long time, all in just a couple of weeks. Retinal delivers the retinoid results of smooth,  clear skin, reduced skin texture and less visible fine lines far faster than retinol and this product specifically has worked better for me than ones I've tried for about double the price. It's official: retinoids are an essential part of my routine.

I've long been resigned to the 'fact' that I have dark circles and it's hyperpigmentation that no eye cream is going to help. In steps the Murad Vit-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector* | £56. I think this probably goes hand-in-hand with my Vitamin C journey; a good Vitamin C formula can definitely help hyperpigmentation, I'd just never really tried a super-effective formula in that sense and the same goes for eye cream. Yes, it's expensive, but Vitamin C is one of those areas where I'd honestly just invest in a really effective formula after a lot of research. I know eye creams aren't 'necessary' but personally when it comes to actives like retinoids and Vitamin C; I don't want to use my face serum around the delicate eye area, I want a treatment that's specifically formulated not to irritate the thinner skin around the eyes. Anyway, this eye treatment is amazing and has really helped the appearance of my dark eye area, something I'd thought was impossible!

I'm sure no one who follows me on Instagram will be surprised to see this product here! It's the Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream* | £69. This entire collection and the moisturiser specifically really taught me this year about the importance of looking after the skin barrier and ensuring I replenish it. I wrote a post recently on the protect, treat and repair skincare method, and I was definitely someone very focused on 'treat' to the detriment of protecting and repairing my skin. I feel like I've now found the balance and this cream has been an important part of it. I've been using it since April and have already hit the bottom of the tub and got myself a backup! It's a nourishing, simple, fragrance-free, ceramide-rich formula that softens and smooths my skin beautifully, alongside replenishing its natural store of fatty acids and preventing water loss. I absolutely love this stuff; I've been using it as a night cream during the summer but would absolutely wear this during the day as we head into autumn / winter. If my skin is feeling reactive or has been sensitised, or if I'm using an intense treatment; this is the product I reach for.

Following on from my previous point; this year I discovered Korean sunscreens and realised that I can get broad-spectrum high-protection product that's affordable, doesn't leave a white cast, has a light texture and doesn't pill up or otherwise ruin my makeup. The Dr Ceuracle Cica Regen Anti-Dust Sunscreen SPF 50+ PA++++* | £24 | full review | was the first I tried. It's a lovely, moisturising lotion that makes sunscreen easy to wear. As a melanated person; I haven't always taken sun protection seriously, but we all need to be wearing it. Not just for the obvious reasons of not getting one of the most preventable forms of cancer, but also because if you don't; there's literally no point in the rest of your skincare routine. We're all more likely to do things when they're easy and fuss-free, and this sunscreen truly is.

Finally, we have the product that taught me that a fantastic skin recovery product can also feel luxurious and an absolute treat to use: the Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil | £27 (15ml). It's packed full of amino and omega fatty acids, which really replenish, plump, nourish and soften the skin. It's gentle and, despite containing all natural ingredients, it's free from fragrant essential oils that can cause irritation. I love having a luxury oil that I can use on my skin alongside stronger treatments or when my skin is feeling a bit sensitised, and I know it won't cause me any irritation whilst feeling beautiful and special to use. It's nothing overly greasy but it does my skin the world of good when I use it. Function and form!

Have you tried any of the products mentioned? Have you tried anything new over the past several months that has changed your approach to skincare?

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Read more posts from this series here!


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