First Cleanse - Elemis Pro-Collagen Naked Cleansing Balm* | £46 | full review
This is a product I originally tried last year but I got it back in my stash in 2022 and I've honestly not put it down since! The Elemis cleansing balm is a classic already, loved by many people over many years, but this stripped-back, less oily, less fragranced version has just been my go-to lately. In truth, I love it in all its iterations. It has a smooth, buttery texture that melts down effortlessly on the skin into an oil to shift makeup and sunscreen. It emulsifies and can be removed easily (along with the day's makeup and general grime) without leaving residue (though my skin is always nice and soft after use).
First Cleanse Honourable Mention - Laneige Cream Skin Milk Oil Cleanser | £26.50 | full review
This light, emulsifying milk has really been my go-to one-step gentle evening cleanse and it also works really well in the morning. It's non-stripping and softening for my skin and can remove an everyday level of makeup and sunscreen. It emulsifies and doesn't leave any excess behind after use. It's one of those slow-creeps that's made it into my regular rotation by stealth!
Second or Morning Cleanse - Cipher Cloud Melt Hybrid Cleanser | $68 | full review
This is my perfect creamy-gel non-foaming gentle cleanser. It has some body to it but melts onto the skin into something more water-based. It's effective but completely non-drying and contains ingredients such as PHAs (for hydration and mild exfoliation), panthenol to soothe and aid in hydration of the skin, anti-inflammatories and added moisturisers and hydrators.
Second or Morning Cleanse Honourable Mention - Sali Hughes Clean Sheet Morning Cleanse* | £10 | full review
This is kind of like the Laneige cleanser in that it can work for a number of different purposes, but as it's marketed as a morning cleanse: I'll put it here! It comes out as a sort of light creamy-balm and it does melt down and emulsify with water, which is why I think it's good for removing everyday makeup too. It smells great, it feels luxurious and it washes clean off the skin, so you get a nice, moisturising cleanse to start of your morning routine.
Vitamin C or Antioxidant - Geek & Gorgeous C-Glow 15% Vitamin C Serum | £11.74 | full review
I've spent well over a year testing out alternatives to a certain £150 pure form ascorbic acid serum, so imagine my delight when the most stable, effective and non-irritating option was less than £12! This really impressed me in terms of its power to improve uneven skin tone and you're also getting protection from free radical damage and premature ageing, plus those all-important collagen-boosting benefits.
Vitamin C or Antioxidant Honourable Mention - Sunday Riley CEO Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Cream* | £60 | full review
This isn't a serum and I was torn on which to include out of this and the serum, but I felt the moisturiser deserved the slot. This formula uses a gentle Vitamin C derivative that doesn't have the stability issues associated with pure ascorbic acid. It really brings the juicy glow to my skin and I love the texture of this moisturiser; it's creamy but lightweight, moisturising my skin without overwhelming it. It's a pretty perfect one-step day cream with a little something more.
Chemical Exfoliant - Youth to the People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity* | £32 | full review
I'm all about a multi-acid and I'm all about a gentle acid, and this formula combines both! It has a punchy 2% salicylic acid to tackle breakouts, a gentle 3% mandelic acid to give you a glow boost and reduce hyperpigmentation and 1% PHA for hydration (and a very mild exfoliating action). It smooths, brightens and evens out my skin as well as helping with breakouts whilst giving my skin zero irritation.
Retinoid - Skin Rocks Retinoid 2 Serum* | £75 | full review coming soon...
I won't go too much into this one as I'm doing a deep-dive review very soon but this formula combines a 0.5% concentration of gentle granactive retinoid with a means-business 0.05% of retinal. Retinal is my favourite retinoid because it gives me all the results (boosting collagen, helping with uneven skin tone and smoothing the skin) without any of the retinol nasties (such as irritation and drying). Plus it's in this lightweight, layerable, non-pilling, non-staining formulation with added moisturisers. This is the more advanced of the two options in this line, designed for experienced retinoid users. And - as an experienced retinoid user - I'm impressed!
Retinoid Honourable Mention - Medik8 Crystal Retinal 20* | £ available via Medik8 clinics only | full review
I feel like I can't keep including this every year but I still had to give this a mention, and I did in fact try this particular concentration for the first time in 2022! This product line is what got me into retinal and actually what converted me into being a committed retinoid user. 20 is the strongest available iteration Medik8 do right now and it's still not at all irritating, though if you're new to retinal, you need to go all the way back down to 1 and work your way up...
Multi-Active Treatment - Cipher Night Shift Holistic Tone Balancing Treatment* | $132 | full review
This is a creamy, lightweight, easily-layerable, gentle powerhouse! It contains alpha arbutin, licorice extract and niacinamide to fight uneven skin tone, soothing Beta-glucan and madecassoside plus moisturising ingredients. It's compatible alongside other actives in my evening routine, it's gentle and it's highly effective!
Non-Exfoliating Toner, Mist or Essence - Laneige Cream Skin | £26.50 | full review
Whenever I'm not sure what my skin needs: I reach for this! It's a milky toner that can double as a one-step product to use under your sunscreen, depending on your skin type. It's calming, hydrating and moisturising but completely non-tacky. It's a great buffer for when I'm using stronger actives and it's one of those products I can consistently reach for and know will work for me.
Non-Exfoliating Toner, Mist or Essence Honourable Mention - First Aid Beauty Wild Oat Hydrating Toner* | £20 | full review
When it hasn't been the Laneige, it's been the FAB! This is a little bit lighter in texture and - alongside soothing oat, moisturising honey and squalane and hydrators such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid - contains some very mildly active ingredients like fermented extracts and licorice extract.
Everyday All-Rounder Serum - Zelens Power B Vitamin B Concentrate* | £90 | full review
It almost feels insulting to call this a niacinamide serum, because it's so much more than that! It’s a combination of B vitamins for the skin including B3 (niacinamide) and B5 (panthenol). Niacinamide is a great all-rounder for hyperpigmentation, oily skin and a compromised skin barrier and panthenol assists in soothing and hydrating the skin. It also contains fermented ingredients, humectants, skin-soothers and natural moisturising factors. All in a lightweight serum that’s gentle and highly compatible with my key actives! It’s just a great all-rounder I find myself instinctively reaching for all the time.
Moisturiser - Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream | £52 | full review
This is pretty much a perfect moisturiser to me: it’s formulated with the 3 components of the skin’s lipid barrier (ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids), humectants to pull in water, skin-healing peptides and nourishing shea butter. All this goodness is packed into a surprisingly light and fluffy formula that doesn’t suffocate my skin and works for AM (under makeup) and PM. It’s been a go-to this winter in particular.
Moisturiser Honourable Mention - Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream* | £35 | full review
I couldn’t not also mention my go-to during the summer months! I often find water-based moisturisers disappear into nothingness on my skin and I’m left no more moisturised or hydrated than I was before, but not this one! This hyaluronic acid-based water-cream melts effortlessly and feels light on my skin but provides hydration that lasts and gives my skin a plump, fresh, dewy look, which I absolutely love.
Oil - Summer Fridays Heavenly Sixteen All-in-One Facial Oil | £53 | full review
I often think that you’re either an ‘oil person’ or ‘not an oil person’ so this category is obviously for the former category. I must admit, this formula is a little pricey for the product type but my honourable mention is far more affordable. I just had to be honest about which formula I’ve been reaching throughout the year and it’s this non-greasy cocktail of squalane, meadowfoam seed oil, Vitamin E, sunflower oil, cranberry seed oil, rosehip oil and more. It’s lightweight, packed full of antioxidants and using it always ensures I wake up the following morning with soft, moisturised, glowing skin.
Oil Honourable Mention - Bondi Sands Wonder Potion Hero Oil* | £9.99 | full review
This is another lovely, light oil and it actually combines the oil-based ingredients with glycerin for hydration, so it’s more of an all-rounder than most facial oils. This also contains sunflower oil, Vitamin E, rosehip oil and also adds in sea buckthorn oil as an antioxidant source. I love how silky this is on my skin and how it always leaves my complexion glowing and my skin feeling plump.
Lip Balm - this one hasn’t change from last year, it’s still the Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm* | £21 | full review
Everyday Sunscreen - Glow Hub Sun Silk Face Cream SPF 30* | £12 | full review
I personally think that here in the UK, when it’s not summer, an SPF 30 is going to be fine for most people only getting incidental sun exposure and you can get some really nice, elegant, easy-to-wear formulas at this protection level. This is a light, moisturising sunscreen lotion with added extras that can easily be used as a one-step product if you’re busy in the mornings and works beautifully under makeup. You’re getting a nice level of broad-spectrum protection with a formula that will suit pretty much any skin type and is so easy to work into your ‘every single day’ routine. And all for £12!
Summer-Proof Sunscreen - Bondi Sands Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ for Face - Fragrance Free* | £6.99 | full review
Although not a new discovery for 2022 it was kind of a rediscovery as I got it last summer, used it up and loved it and got it again for my holidays this year. It’s a lotion that sinks in with no white cast, it’s moisturising (I find some sunscreens really drying to apply and reapply throughout the day) and it provides an Aussie-approved high level of broad spectrum protection and really impressive water resistance for when you’re getting hot and sweaty exercising or on the beach. I also find it works really nicely under makeup so there’s nothing not to love here! And again, the price-point is the cherry on the cake.
Mineral - this is another area where I’ve not found anything that comes close to the Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++* | £66 | full review
Let me know what you think of my top skincare picks for 2022 - what were yours?
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