At long last, I’ve put together this page dedicated to my current favourite skin care products. SO EXCITED. It’s something you’ve been asking for for a long time, and I’m so happy it’s finally ready to share.
A few quick words before we dive in…
I’m not a skin care pro, just sharing what I personally enjoy! And what I enjoy is always evolving. I love trying out new products and do so fairly often. I’ll try to update this page if any of my faves change. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line below and let me know what your current favourites are, too—I’d love to hear about them! (Though please avoid using links, as they often go to spam.) We can have a big ol’ skin care party up in here!
As far as skin care “manifestos” go, mine’s a bit like this: I try to support cruelty-free products with reasonable price points as much as I can (bonus points if they’re local/Canadian companies, too. I’d still like to find more in the future!). I also like to use a combo of homemade and store-bought products. And although I’ll occasionally make an exception if a product is super effective, I try to use products at the lower end of the Environmental Working Group ratings scale.
As of June 2017, all of the products below are reported as being cruelty-free. Most are vegan, with a few exceptions (homemade raw honey cleanser, facial sunscreen/moisturizer, power peel). Since companies occasionally change their formulations and partnerships, this info is subject to change.
This page is not sponsored, and I have no affiliation with any of the listed brands. Additionally, none of the products were given to me for free. However, there are some affiliate links (through Amazon and Shop Style) below, and I will earn a small commission if you purchase through my page. Thank you in advance for supporting what I do!
I receive a lot of offers from consultant-based brands (such as Arbonne, DoTerra, BeautyCounter, etc.), and while I appreciate them greatly, I’m unable to accept.
I’m also unable to answer questions about whether certain products or ingredients are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I would suggest consulting with your physician if you have any questions/concerns!
Okay, let’s dive in, shall we?!
Homemade Almond facial scrub
About this scrub: Simply add a tablespoon or so of finely ground almonds (I grind whole almonds in a food processor) into your hand along with a dime-size amount each of water and oil (I use avocado or olive oil, but you can use any oil you like), then mix it all up. Gently scrub the mixture into your skin; as you do, it’ll become quite “milky”. If you find you don’t like the scrub, you can throw the leftovers into a batch of muffins!? ;)
My take: This super-easy homemade scrub is pretty fun. Thanks to The Social for sharing a similar version that inspired me. I keep a stash of ground almonds and avocado or olive oil in my bathroom, and try to use the scrub once every week or two. It leaves my skin glowy and feeling smooth without drying it out!
About this product: This facial scrub gently exfoliates and removes dirt and oil, while also nourishing and restoring your skin’s cells.
My take: This is a nice all-purpose facial scrub that gets the job done, and I love that it has a beautiful green hue thanks to the French green clay and kelp. I don’t know how “brightening” it is, to be honest, but it’s definitely effective as an exfoliator! And like other Acure products, the price is fair. I use it in the shower since it’s easy to rinse off in there. I tend to let it sit on my skin for several minutes (almost like a mask), and then rinse it off at the end of my shower.
I use a few different methods for facial cleansing: store-bought cleansers, oil cleansing, and raw honey cleansing. I’ll talk about each below!
About this product: This antioxidant-rich facial cleanser featuring African red tea extract and vitamin C cleanses, hydrates, and refreshes your skin. Though it’s great for all skin types, it’s especially suited for those who suffer from dullness and mild dryness because it removes makeup, oil, and impurities without sucking out your skin’s moisture.
My take: At first I was thrown off by the foam as I’ve never been a big fan of foam cleansers, but this cleanser has grown on me. It seems a bit creamier than other foam cleansers I’ve tried. While I can’t say this is the best cleanser I’ve ever used, it’s decent and I appreciate that it doesn’t make my skin feel tight. I like pairing it with the Ole Henriksen Complexion Sponge (below), which I believe comes in the Power Peel box (described below).
About this method: There are many different methods for oil cleansing, but this is how I personally do it. First, I put on a shower cap to protect my hair. Then I rub a quarter-size amount of olive or avocado oil onto dry skin. (There’s no need to cleanse your skin first as oil is a great makeup remover. However, if you have a lot of makeup on, it might be worth cleansing first!) I massage the oil in for about 30 to 60 seconds, on all areas of my face. After that, I run a facecloth under hot water and wring it out. Making sure that it’s not too hot, I place the cloth over my entire face for 1 minute to “steam” my skin. After a minute, I rub the excess oil away using the warm, wet cloth to gently exfoliate and remove makeup. Afterward, my skin is left glowing! This method is quite hydrating for the skin.
My take: Oil-cleansing is something I showcased on the blog many years ago, and several years later, I still enjoy it. The process is more time-consuming than regular cleansing (think 3 to 4 minutes versus 1 minute) so I don’t do it as often as I would like, but I try to fit it in a few times a month. Oil cleansing is great to do before bed—I find the leftover oil on my skin is a wonderful overnight moisturizer!
Raw Honey Cleansing
About this method: With its antibacterial properties and skin-nourishing enzymes and probiotics, raw honey makes a wonderful natural cleanser. It’s gentler than many soaps, and can be a great option for acne-prone skin as it doesn’t strip moisture and “good” oils from the skin, but does reduce bacteria and “bad” oils. (Source)
My take: Cleansing with raw honey leaves my skin quite soft. I was skeptical when I heard about this method, but it is a fun change. If I have time, I like to leave the honey on my face for 5 minutes as a mask before rinsing it off. It’s a good mask to put on before a shower, as you can leave it on while showering and rinse it off just before getting out.
About this product: This alcohol- and fragrance-free natural astringent tones and soothes skin, and can also be used to help with common skin care issues like blemish control, insect bites, mild sunburns, and varicose veins.
My take: I’m going to warn you, pure witch hazel smells pretty horrible (in my humble opinion), and you can probably tell by now that I try to avoid products with perfumes. So, I try to dilute its strong smell by adding essential oils (shaking before each use); right now I’m adding lavender essential oil as it’s great for calming the skin. I use this toner at night after cleansing, when I want to make sure I’ve gotten all my makeup off. (I don’t find I need to use it during my morning routine.) Just pour a bit onto a cotton pad and wipe away!
Zion Health Hydrating Face Mask (above left)
About this product: Made with French rose clay, this hydrating face mask has a gentle cleansing action, drawing toxins and oils to the surface to be washed away. Meanwhile, the mask’s exfoliating and polishing properties increase circulation to diminish inflammation and puffiness.
My take: This was a random find at HomeSense (HomeGoods, if you’re in the US), but I really love it! Even though it’s a moisturizing mask, I find its main benefit is brightening the skin. I love to follow it up with the Andalou Naturals Rosewater Mask below. I try to do a moisturizing treatment every week or two, as my skin is naturally on the dry side. This mask has sort of a strange mousse-like texture that spreads into a thick cream once on the face. I find there’s some tingling when rubbing it on my skin. After about 10 to 15 minutes the mask is nearly dry to the touch, and then I wash it off with a washcloth or sponge. My skin looks brighter, tighter, and smoother after using it!
Andalou Naturals Rosewater Mask (above right)
About this product: This mask features alpine rose stem cells to deliver deep hydration that soothes and nourishes your skin. Meanwhile, the natural properties of pomegranate work to tone and tighten, and aloe vera and hyaluronic acid combine to refresh your skin’s moisture barrier.
My take: This was another random find at HomeSense (did you know they have a natural products section?! It’s pretty fun!). As I mentioned, I use this mask after the Zion mask whenever my skin is feeling dry and looking dull.
About this product: This two-step facial treatment detoxifies and brightens skin to retexturize, diminish dullness, and fight the signs of aging. In just 10 minutes, it polishes away dry, dead skin to reveal your natural glow. It tingles and feels quite warm when on the skin, so it may not be the best choice for sensitive skin.
My take: This mask isn’t what I would call life-changing, but it is a decent “refresher”. It makes my skin a bit more bright, smooth, and even.
About this product: This professional-strength resurfacing system smoothes and brightens the look of skin. It’s an at-home three-step AHA peel and microdermabrasion process: Almond Polish Facial Scrub, Instant Transformation Lemon Facial Peel, and Chamomile Comfort Mask. (Don’t be fooled by these natural-sounding names, though; this product contains a lot of chemical ingredients.) It can cause a lot of redness and irritation, so may not be suitable for sensitive skin.
My take: This peel leaves my skin looking bright, glowy, and super refreshed. The results are dramatic. My skin usually has a lot of redness immediately after using this peel, but I use it at night and the redness is gone by the time I wake up. Due to how strong this product is, I recommend doing a test patch before a full application. Since peels tend to make skin photosensitive, I’m super careful to wear a lot of sunscreen on my face the week after the peel (and a hat when outdoors…always!), and I avoid using it during the summer months. I also don’t use it while pregnant or breastfeeding. Pro tip: There’s quite a bit of product in each treatment and I find that you can get two applications out of a single treatment. So, if you have a roomie or family member, it might be fun to split it with them and do the mask at the same time.
Face Oil + Serum
I’m not super loyal to any single serum or oil product right now. I like to try new ones often, and I’ve tried a lot (many of which I left out of this post because I felt like the higher-end options weren’t any more effective). It seems like most of them tend to do a great job at locking in moisture and creating a subtle glow! You can apply them directly to the face, or add a few drops into your regular moisturizer. In the summer, I tend to only use facial oil and serum before bed, and not in the morning, as I don’t find my skin needs extra moisture. Here are some I currently have in rotation.
The Ordinary 100% Plant-Based Squalane (above left)
About this product: Lightweight and suitable for all skin types, plant-derived squalane is an outstanding hydrator; its emollient properties help prevent loss of hydration and protect skin’s suppleness. Squalane can also be applied to hair to protect against heat damage, boost shine, and reduce breakage.
My take: I still can’t get over the amazingly low price points for The Ordinary’s skin care products (and their parent company, DECIEM, is Toronto-based, too). This is the first product I’ve tried from this brand, and I’m really pleased with the quality (and it’s $7.90 CAD, to boot). I like to use this plant-based squalane in rotation with my serums and oils. I put it on immediately after washing and toning my face to help lock in moisture.
Skin Essence Nourish Facial Moisturizer Serum (above right)
About this product: The wide variety of nutrients in this serum naturally tone skin for a bright, youthful glow. Rosehip and neroli help nourish and rejuvenate, while vitamin C stimulates collagen production to improve elasticity.
My take: This is another lovely facial oil from a Toronto-based company. It has quite a strong citrus scent (thanks to the orange oil, I believe), so if you’re opposed to strong-smelling citrus scents it’s probably not the right oil for you. I don’t mind it, though, and find it pretty uplifting! I also find that this product can sting the eyes a bit (my guess would be the orange oil again), so I have to be really careful not to rub it over my eye area.
Shea Terra Organics Moroccan Argan Oil (below left)
About this product: This product is 100% pure cold-pressed Moroccan argan oil—fragrance-free, alcohol-free, and undiluted by other ingredients. Loaded with vitamins A and E and high in anti-aging plant squalene content, it helps repair skin and offers all-day moisture protection.
My take: I love that this argan oil is certified organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed. It was important to me to find a pure argan oil (without any other ingredients), and as far as I can tell, this one fits the bill. The bottle is generously-sized (100 mL, which seems giant next to my serums), so I feel like I’m getting a good value. In the evening, I gently rub several drops of this oil into my face before using my overnight moisturizer. (I don’t tend to use it during my morning routine unless my skin is really dry.) Apparently, you can also use this on the ends of your hair and cuticles, but I have yet to try it. Be warned that unrefined argan oil has an earthy—and to some, off-putting—aroma. I don’t notice the smell after applying my evening moisturizer on top, though.
Kosmea Radiance Boost 24/7 Youth Boost (below right)
About this product: Harnessing the power of camellia seed oil and lemongrass, this fast-acting, sunny-hued serum works to restore your skin’s natural glow.
My take: This is a really nice mid-range serum. It gives my skin a subtle glow and locks in moisture nicely. That said, when I finish this serum I will probably try out another brand of serum because I like to “play the field” when it comes to serums. ;)
About this product: This face cream is lightweight, but oh, so rich. It’s fast-absorbing, sinking deeply into your skin to provide abundant hydration and glow. Meanwhile, 100% pure argan oil nourishes your skin with essential fatty acids and vitamin E, and a blend of watermelon seed oil, shea butter, and fresh cucumber extract softens and smoothes.
My take: I apply this after my facial serum or oil each night. I try to let it absorb for 5 minutes before going to bed, just to make sure it doesn’t rub off on my pillow. I always buy the unscented version and I’m so glad they offer this option as I’m not a fan of fragrances/perfumes. I’ve gone through a couple of jars of this face butter already, and will definitely keep buying it!
Facial SPF + Moisturizer
Paula’s Choice Hydralight Shine-Free SPF 30 (above left)
About this product: This lightweight, fragrance-free sunscreen provides broad-spectrum mineral-based sun protection, while also strengthening and repairing skin with the aid of soothing anti-irritants and antioxidants. It provides a shine-free finish, and works wonderfully under makeup.
My take: I can’t tell you how many natural sunscreens I’ve tried over the years, only to be disappointed. This has been my go-to for the past several months. I quite like it, and love that it doubles as my daytime facial moisturizer. It’s not too thick or goopy like a lot of sunscreens I’ve tried in the past, and it doesn’t leave quite as much white residue on the skin after application (although it does leave a bit, which goes away once absorbed). After cleansing in the morning, I apply this sunscreen, rubbing it all over my face, neck/décolletage, and tops of my hands. I let it soak in for a couple minutes if I can, and then proceed with makeup (if applying).
About this product: This aerosol-free spray sunscreen provides broad-spectrum, water-resistant sun protection. It’s also paraben- and phthalate-free, and contains no synthetic fragrances.
My take: While this is a “kids” sunscreen spray, our whole family is hooked on it and it’s all we use (except for the facial sunscreen I personally use, above). My daughter loves that we don’t have to rub a thick cream into her skin (one of her biggest nightmares!). You can’t beat how fast a spray is, and I love that it uses no chemical or flammable propellants! It does leave a sticky residue on my hands after rubbing it into the body, so I recommend lightly rinsing your palms with water after use.
About this product: Andalou’s body lotion hydrates and replenishes skin to nourish, soothe, and soften. It comes in a variety of fun scents.
My take: I’m OBSESSED with this brand of lotion, and I adore this Aloe Mint scent (it’s so cooling and I love using it after a workout and shower). I’m also in love with the Mandarin-Vanilla–scented lotion. I like that the cream isn’t too heavy; it feels light while still moisturizing well.
About this product: This detangler contains things like shea butter, jojoba, and quinoa proteins to naturally soften, nourish, and strengthen your hair.
My take: I originally bought this one for my daughter, and then I ended up buying it for myself, too. I use it after each shower as a leave-in conditioner. I don’t think this product is a miracle worker, though, as I find I still have some tangles after using it. So you could say I’m on the hunt for a new detangler (feel free to share your recs if you have any!).
About this product: This shower gel not only cleans, but also conditions by blending emollient-rich rosehip oil with coconut water and gentle, cleansing botanicals. They have an amazing variety of scents, too.
My take: This is my go-to shower gel right now. It suds up very nicely, and I love the candycane-like “Aloe Mint” scent!
About this product: This moisture-rich shaving cream is packed with natural ingredients like vitamin E, lemongrass, aloe, and olive and coconut oil that help soothe and soften skin, providing a smooth shave. It’s also paraben- and phthalate-free. Simply lather with wet hands, apply, shave, and rinse.
My take: This shaving cream has the consistency of a creamy liquid hand soap. Weird, right? At first I was skeptical since I’m used to shaving foam, but I really love it. It suds up a lot and leaves the legs soft after rinsing. I love the Pomegranate-Grapefruit scent as it’s pretty energizing…no surprises there!
About this product: This coconut-flavoured lip balm does it all: it moisturizes, smoothes, and adds a beautiful pop of glossy shine. Formulated with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that soothe and hydrate, as well as an emollient that imitates your skin’s naturally occurring omega fatty acids, this lip conditioner/gloss stands out from the crowd.
My take: This is my favourite 2-in-1 vegan lip conditioner and gloss! I love how healthy it makes my lips look and feel. It’s glossy and leaves a noticeable shine, but doesn’t feel gunky (as long as I use just a tiny amount…a little goes a long way with this product!).
Liquid Hand Soap
About this product: This gentle hand wash works up a beautiful lather that, thanks to an argan oil–rich formula, nourishes and moisturizes as it cleanses.
My take: I love this liquid hand soap. It’s become my new go-to since finding it at HomeSense. I can’t wait to try out the Brown Sugar Vanilla scent! Gahhhhhh. :)
Well, there you have it! If I’ve left out a product (such as shampoo and conditioner), it’s because I currently don’t love one enough to make a recommendation. I’ll try to update this page as I discover more. :)