Following this month’s theme of “treat yourself,” today I’m sharing some of my favorite skincare treats and splurges. I’ll highlight some items I view as game-changers based on what I’ve tested focusing on things I believe are worth the splurge to pamper the skin. For a bit of background on my skin, I have normal but sensitive skin. This winter it leans on the slightly dry side, but still is relatively normal. I’m in my early 30’s right now and a year ago, my skin went through some changes with major break outs causing some scars and texture issues. I spent the last year working to streamline my skincare routine and am really thankful that it’s returned to it’s normal state over the past few months. I’ll be sharing more about my skincare routine later, but for today I want to highlight items I feel are good for pampering.
Up first is sunscreen. I’ve always hated wearing sunscreen on the face because of the strong sunscreen scent or greasy feel. I don’t like wearing layers of product under my foundation and powder and since I’ve always spent the majority of my day indoors I thought it was pointless to wear extra sunscreen. So many have emphasized the importance of protecting your skin and wearing sunscreen has become a priority. Unfortunately, I since I can’t tolerate the sunscreen smell, I have had to splurge on sunscreen for the face. Three that I really like that won’t turn the face white and that don’t have that traditional sunscreen smell include:
1 / Clarins UV Plus HP Multi-Protection Day Screen SPF 40 ($41 for 1.7 oz) is my latest sunscreen discovery. It’s a lightweight white fluid that has a semi-matte feel. I picked this up because of recommendations from friends and also wanted to take advantage of the Nordstrom gift with purchase going on right now (details here). I like that it doesn’t feel runny or have that greasy fluid feel. It stays put and doesn’t feel like you have anything on the skin. Straight out of the bottle there is a very faint fresh linen-like scent but once on the face, there is no detectable scent. I love that it doesn’t turn the face white.
2 / Chanel UV Essentiel Complete Sunscreen UV Protection SPF 50 ($55 for 1 fl oz) is something I’ve used for years. Chanel has three different sunscreens with SPF 20, 30 and 50. This is a lightweight product that is very fluid. The color is also white but it’s transparent on the skin. I’ve used and repurchased this numerous times because it layers well over moisturizer and under foundation. My husband and I have shared this for years. This one is heavily fragranced though, so if you have a super sensitive nose and can’t wear fragranced skincare products, you may want to skip this one.
3 / Shiseido Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 43 ($32 for 1 fl oz) is something I discovered a couple months ago. I adore Shiseido as a skincare line, but was really disappointed to find almost all their facial sunscreens left a white cast on my skin. Since I wear medium to full coverage foundation daily, it didn’t really matter in the end, however, I prefer sunscreens and skincare that doesn’t leave a white residue on the skin. This one comes in three colors which makes it the perfect tint + sunscreen in one. The color selection is pretty limited but the color is sheer enough to be quite forgiving on the face. I found Shade No. 2 to be the best match although for an exact match I’m really in between No. 2 and 3. It’s a lightweight sheer coverage tint that can be worn as a base for your regular makeup.
Next up includes facial cotton and cleansing water. Both of which aren’t really necessities but these three have been life-changing for me.
4 / Cle de Peau Beaute Cotton ($20 for 120 pads) is hands down the best facial cotton I’ve tried. It comes in a box which keeps the cotton’s shape in tact. I used to use Shiseido’s facial cotton for years, but a friend insisted I try the ones by Cle de Peau and the difference is really noticeable. The Cle de Peau is sturdier and larger in size compared to other cotton. It’s soft, silky, doesn’t separate and glides on the skin without leaving any cotton remnants or fibers on the face. It’s the ultimate luxurious splurge for the skin and I can’t recommend it enough.
5 / Caudalie Cleansing Water ($14 for 3.38 fl oz) is a classic favorite for me. This refreshes the skin and cleanses it gently. I wouldn’t recommend using it in place of a cleanser on a regular basis, but I like to use this to remove all my makeup at the end of the day and then follow up with a regular cleanser if I have long-wear foundation or powder on. It doesn’t irritate the skin and does a good job at removing makeup (not eye makeup/mascara though).
6 / Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water ($39 for 10.15 fl oz) is the best cleansing water I’ve tried. I’ve tried lots of different cleansing waters from NARS, Dior, Lancome etc. and the Koh Gen Do is my most repurchased cleansing water. I’ve found it’s the most effective but is still very gentle on the skin. It’s definitely worth the splurge.
Testing out masks can be very expensive. For me it’s hard to splurge on a $50+ box of sheet masks or any mask in general unless I can test a small sample first, so I’ve relied on online reviews and blog reviews heavily before splurging. Four skin pampers I adore:
7 / Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective™ Clarifying & Hydrating Intensive Treatment Masque ($58 for 6 sheets, 0.85 oz each) is a surprisingly good sheet mask that I think is highly under-rated. I don’t know why it’s a limited-edition product or exclusive to Nordstrom because it’s amazing. I’ve tried a number of sheet masks and this one is very gentle but makes a visible difference in the texture, appearance and clarity of the skin. After use your face is left hydrated and super soft.
8 / SK-II Facial Treatment Mask ($17 for 1 sheet, or $135 for a 10 pack) is something that has reached cult-status but is an extremely expensive splurge. I resisted buying the box for a long time because I couldn’t justify spending that much on a mask without having tested it. I took the plunge a year ago and have no regrets. Due to the price tag, I do try to limit use to one per month. If you’ve been interested in this but didn’t want to splurge without testing, the good news is that they now offer this mask in a 1 sheet option for $17. There are a number of good sheet masks on the market, the SK-II is my favorite in terms of how it leaves the skin glowing.
9 / Glamglow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment ($69 for 1.2 oz) is something I discovered last August. It’s one of my top picks for clarifying masks that is super effective at drawing out impurities from the pores. I like that you can feel it work on the face but it’s still gentle enough for my super sensitive skin. I’ve repurchased this four times since my initial purchase – it’s that good. Use for this one varies for me from 1 to 3 times per week. I like that it’s non-irritating.
10 / Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment ($69 for 1.7 oz) is something I discovered thanks to my readers. I had a couple mini sample packets from gift with purchase events but was a bit nervous about testing this one. A number of readers recommended that I use the Supermud first and then follow with the Thirstymud right after for the ultimate at-home facial treatment. I tried this and it’s pure genius. It seemed a bit odd to apply something to dry out the skin and then apply something right after to put the moisture back in the skin, but the combination is really quite amazing. To those who recommended this tip to me, THANK YOU!!
For face mists, I’ve used the MAC Fix+ for years but it is extremely lightweight. It’s a good basic refresher for mid-day or even to prep the skin for foundation but there are others I’ve tried that are better in terms of how they impact the skin.
11 / Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($18 for 1 oz) is the ultimate spa-like facial mist. Spraying it on the face instantly lifts the mood and makes you feel like your skin has gone through a mini facial. It is heavily fragranced with a minty touch so I know it won’t appeal to all. I personally really like it. It cools and refreshes the skin and pores will tighten with this spray. I like that it doesn’t interfere with your makeup. My mom really likes this one too.
12 / La Mer “The Mist” ($65 for 3.4 oz) is an amazing facial spray. It dispenses a fine mist that is fragrance free. It’s really good at calming any redness or irritation and suitable for super sensitive skin. The packaging makes this well worth the splurge – the spritzer dispenses a perfect spritz of mist evenly over the face. If you’re in the market for an unfragranced face mist that refreshes the face, this is a good one to look at.
13 / Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist ($90 for 1.7 oz) is something that has been on my radar for a long long time. It’s used on me at almost every Chanel makeover I’ve had. I couldn’t bring myself to splurge on it. For me it’s the best thing you can splurge on for a face mist – but it’s still quite a splurge. If this were priced at the $60-$65 price point I would say hands down “you need this.” At the $90 price point it’s a stretch and for me it was hard for me to part with that much money for something this size. This is one of those products I really adore but I do believe it’s overpriced. Am I happy I bought this? Absolutely yes. Will I repurchase? I don’t know.
I hope you found this roundup of skincare treats and splurges helpful. As always I’d love to hear about your skincare favorites. What do you like to use to pamper or protect your skin to give it that extra love and care?
This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All items purchased by me. For more information refer to my disclosures.
SK-II Skin Refining Treatment (1) has been a miracle worker in improving my skin. It’s a night time skincare treatment that helps to refine the skin and remove dead skin cells overnight. I have been using it regularly since September and it is gentle but very effective at clearing up the complexion and giving it a more radiant look.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette (3) has been a staple this past month. During my move, I had most of my beauty items packed away in bubble wrap and boxes, I kept a small handful of things in a makeup case for regular use. This was one of them, I used this almost exclusively the past few weeks. It’s versatile and goes with just about any kind of look. Swatches and review can be found here.
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Moonlight (4) is a new shade I discovered in the Mini Caviar Stick Eye Color Set for this holiday. I just reviewed it a few days ago but purchased it the first week of October (sometimes testing takes a long time for me). I will definitely be purchasing the full size of this color soon. It’s the perfect platinum warm taupe shimmer.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard and Ginger (5) are my two newest concealer discoveries. I’m super picky when it comes to concealer (I’ve used Clé de Peau Beauté and By Terry almost exclusively for years, swatches of all Cle de Peau Beaute shades here). I’ll have a full review up next week, but the NARS lives up to the hype. It’s quite incredible.
Wayne Goss Brush #16 is a large super soft domed brush (6). I bought it from Beautylish which describes it as being “designed for controlled application and pristine blending.” This brush is one of the largest shadow brushes I own. I’ve been using it to apply Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder under the eyes. It’s a soft but dense brush that picks up the powder nicely and gives smooth application.
Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder Shade 2 is another new favorite (7). The powder comes in three shades, I was matched to #2 which is a very good match for my Chanel 30 / Tom Ford Bisque 04 skin tone. I’m normally not a fan of pressed powders because I find that they look chalky or end up darkening my face (I prefer powder foundations instead). This one by Charlotte Tilbury changed my outlook completely. I saw it applied on my friend who is very fair in Shade 1. The artist brushed it over her skin as a touchup without adding any foundation or concealer and the effect was quite incredible.
Urban Decay Naked2 Basics (8) is the best matte eyeshadow palette I have tried. You can see swatches in this post here. I’ve been reaching for this one quite frequently as my no-fuss go-to everyday kind of palette.
By Terry released six tinted shades of her cult classic Baume de Rose called the Baume De Rose Nutri-Couleur. I splurged on four of the shades but I’m smitten with the plum shade in Fig Fiction (10).
Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil (11) is a regular favorite. The past month I’ve been using it more frequently as my hands and fingers have been dryer than normal. It smells like lush coconut. Works like a charm to fix dry cuticles.
Tom Ford Spanish Pink (12) is my favorite nude pink lipstick of the moment. There’s nothing like it that I’ve tested. It has just the right amount of warmth in it to make it look slightly peachy but not too much. Swatches here.
Since my last trip in April I’ve been on the hunt for more mini-sized beauty items for travel and testing. One area I always neglect in packing is skincare for face and body. I almost never check in luggage so I’m limited to one carry-on and therefore subject to the one quart-size bag rule for liquids. Squeezing in all the items into one bag is a challenge for me but I’ve learned that skipping out on good skincare usually results in ruined skin that takes weeks to recover (at least for me). This time I took extra care to plan in advance and did quite a bit of research in the weeks leading up to the trip looking for good travel-sized minis. This is what I brought with me, all of which fit perfectly into one quart sized bag. I love minis for skincare anyways as a way to test out new items without having to splurge on the full size.
SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser ($70 for full size) was part of a mini gift with purchase from Saks, I frequently check the Special Offers page before stocking up on the full size, this is one of my favorite face cleansers, when I don’t have minis of my regular face cleansers, I squeeze some into a little disposable container
Caudalie Cleansing Water (50 ml/1.69 fl oz) the mini size is part of The Favorites Set ($32) which I’ve been a huge fan of, this is a gentle makeup remover that makes the skin feel clean and moisturized (FYI there is a Caudalie GWP online for a Deluxe Size Divine Oil with $50+ purchases using code DIVINE through July 2nd)
MAC Cleanse Off Oil / Tranquil ($10 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz) is one of the mini to-go sizes for MAC skincare, I bought this to test out since I’ve been a huge fan of the regular Cleanse Off Oil, I find the Tranquil version to be more gentle with a moisturizing feel, I prefer the Regular version to remove makeup before cleansing (with long-wear makeup, I’ve found I need a few extra steps to remove every trace of primer, concealer, foundation, powder and blush)
Chanel Gentle Biphase Eye Makeup Remover ($34 for the full size) is a mini I stock up on with gift with purchases during Chanel events, it’s the best I’ve tried (I favor it over Lancome) that removes waterproof mascara and long-wear eyeliners without stinging the eyes
Giorgio Armani Regenessence 3.R Pre-Regenerative and Retexturizing Lotion ($53 for the full size) is my current toner of choice, it makes the skin feel really and soft and helps to smooth out the surface before serums or moisturizers, I got the mini size with a Neiman Marcus gift with purchase event and saved the bottle, I refill it with the full size when I go on trips or weekend getaways
Caudalie Divine Oil ($9 for 15 ml/.05 fl oz) is a must-have for me, I use it almost daily for the legs and arms, I love how this one smells refreshing and especially how it absorbs into the skin quickly, it’s often available in value sets like this Sephora Summer Crushes set and I’ve seen it in seasonal duos, I bought my first Divine Oil because my friend said, “at $9 you won’t be crushed if you don’t like it, but you will, you need to try it, it’s amazing” – she was right, I’m rarely without this one (it’s often in my purse)
Caudalie Divine Legs (25 ml/0.84 fl oz) in the mini size is usually part of yet more value deal sets, there’s one for $32 that comes with a 50 ml Divine Oil + 25 ml Divine Legs, I have super sensitive skin that often reacts to tanning and bronzing products, although this one from Caudalie doesn’t tan, it does give a nice bronzed leg effect that I found very natural, since there were mixed reviews on Sephora, I thought getting the set with the mini was good to try, I tested the Divine Legs this past weekend rubbing quickly into the legs after moisturizing with a light layer of the Divine Oil, it dried quickly but I was able to work it in quickly before it set, I wore a black dress and skirt over the past few days so I didn’t notice any transfer to clothing, I’ll have to test this one out a few more times but I liked it and didn’t experience any irritation
Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter (30 ml) is a new addition to Tatcha’s Travel Sized beauty, if you’re on their mailing list you might recognize this as one of the past gift with purchases they offered (they have special promo codes), this one will this one will be available for purchase mid to late July, you can read my full review here, some might wonder if I brought a body oil with me, did I really need to bring a body lotion as well? I could have gotten away with bringing just one, but I like the Tatcha for it’s soothing qualities, sometimes my skin acts up and gets itchy from being dry, the Tatcha Indigo line works wonders for hydration and soothing
Chanel Sublimage La Creme Texture Fine ($390 for the full size 1.7 oz) is one of the most amazing face moisturizers I’ve tried and also one of my biggest splurges, it hydrates the skin and keeps it looking smooth and clear, there are often minis available with gift with purchases, sometimes counters have samples to give out (they are more friendly with samples if you make a decent sized purchase)
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum ($15 for 0.5 fl oz/15 ml) is one of my favorite serums, I love the small travel/trial size which is available at a good price, it’s often part of deal sets as well such as The Works, the best part is the mini packaging comes with a super convenient pump dispenser making it easy to use
Tatcha Camellia Beauty Oil ($33 for 10 ml) is the cutest mini-sized beauty oil, it’s the perfect size to test out in case you’re hesitant about oils in general (I am), when I travel, my skin tends to dry out a bit, I used this at night before bed to smooth the skin and give it an extra boost of hydration over night, on regular days, I use the oil for day 1-2x per week alternating with my regular serum/moisturizer routine, it gives the skin a super hydrated refreshed feel without feeling heavy (more thoughts on this one here)
Tatcha Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream ($29 for 3 ml) came with a Barneys gift bag event offer, I love testing out mini eye creams and this one is super tiny which was good to fit into the corners of my quart sized bag, I found this one to be a bit heavy for my needs, it’s a rich creamy eye treatment I found good for overnight hydration (applied in small doses) but for everyday it will probably be too heavy for my skin type, this is the beauty of minis, you can test items to see how they work for you before committing to the full size
Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray ($14 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz) has had so many raves on Sephora so I made a quick stop to one of the stores during my trip and picked one up. It’s described as a weightless spray that keeps your makeup looking fresh for up to 16 hours. I attended a wedding over the weekend in semi-humid weather and thought this would be the perfect time to test something like this. Most of the wedding was indoors and it didn’t last 16 hours so I couldn’t really test this to see if it lived up to its claims. I did like the lightweight feeling, it spritzes a super fine layer of mist over the face evenly (huge plus for me) and it kept my makeup looking fresh and melt-free for around 7 hours.
Clinique Color Correcting Superprimer ($27 for 1 fl oz, review here) was my primer of choice for the weekend for its smoothing properties, you can see the difference in the texture of the skin once applied, it works well under liquid foundations as well
Origins Clear Improvement Mask Pods ($8 for 4 one-time use pods) is another item I picked up during my trip, I loved the concept of the one-time use pods and am usually skeptical about pore-cleansing masks since most usually are either too strong and sting the skin or so gentle it feels like nothing (my favorite from MAC was discontinued). I used one pod during my trip and was really impressed with how well this cleansed and tightened the skin, after one use pores were visibly smaller, there is a slight tingly feeling but it did not irritate or sting the skin, based on the reviews I’ve read and my experience with one pod, this one shows a lot of promise
All the liquid/gel items in my zip-loc quart size bag – yes, they all fit including a mini perfume and bottle of Chanel foundation 🙂
Overall this trip I felt like I packed all the essentials (and then some) for skin care face and body. I did skip bringing shampoo, conditioner and shower gels and relied on what was at the hotel (I was really happy that they had Neutrogena). I ended up using everything I brought with me along with the two items I purchased on the trip at Sephora. I don’t travel often so it’s taken a few tries for me to get the right mix of products while I’m away from home. I think this time I’ve finally found my perfect mix of items for skincare. (If you want to know what makeup I brought with me let me know in the comments below, otherwise you can see what I carried with me on previous trips by clicking on the Travel tag.)
Do you have any favorite travel sized beauty items? What items did you end up loving from mini-testing that made you buy the full size? Any new discoveries lately? Also if you ended up hating something from testing out a mini, I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Some items in this post were provided for review consideration and some minis were acquired from various gift with purchase events. Most items were purchased by me. For more information please refer to my Disclosures.