I mentioned in my previous Kiehl’s Haul that the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser is my favorite cleanser ever. And it is. I thought I’d do a little rundown of products I feel similarly passionate about.
1) Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat, $4.99 on Amazon for .5 oz.
Okay, just now creating that link I realized how much cheaper this is on Amazon than Duane Reade and now I’m kicking myself for ever paying more for it, especially since I’ve gone through like, 5 bottles since I discovered it a few years ago. It dries out quickly and gets thick easily, but honestly, I don’t mind replacing it often because it’s such a lifesaver. I do my own manicures19 times out of 20, and it’s because of this stuff that I’m able to do so. It smooths polish to a professional finish in literally a minute or less. I also find that it’s super long lasting and chip resistant. You do have to be careful because it will shrink the underlying polish if it’s still too wet, but for someone who is impatient like me, Seche Vite is a dream come true.
2) Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser, $19.50 for 5 oz., $10 for 2.5 oz.
The whole Ultra Facial line is pretty great. The toner has a more substantial consistency than other toners, a bit thicker, which feels like it’s doing more than just wetting your face with water. The moisturizing cream has an almost gel texture, but it soaks into skin and really does moisturize for 24 hours. But it’s the cleanser that stands out. It checks all of the major requirements: non-stripping, makeup removing, nicely foaming, clean rinsing, gentle, and effective. Your face feels actually clean afterwards, but not tight or flaky, and without any weird residue or build up. It doesn’t have any fancy claims or technology, but I always feel like those anti-aging ingredients are better left to serums and creams that stay on your skin for longer than 60 seconds. For cleansers, all I want is something that will get the job done quickly and prep skin for other products. People rave about Cetaphil and other inexpensive gentle cleansers, but I never feel like those actually get my skin clean. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser is the perfect balance.
3) StriVectin-AR™ Advanced Retinol Day Treatment with Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $99 for 1.7 oz.
Yes, okay, this is expensive. Too expensive. Confession: I originally picked it up hugely discounted from a Birchbox employee sale because it was a good value and I’ve liked StriVectin products in the past. I didn’t expect to get hooked. To me, it’s worth the full price since I use it in the morning as a 1) serum, 2) moisturizer, 3) spf, and 4) primer. All in one. If I were to buy 4 products to do the same job as this one, it would definitely cost more than $99. It also does amazing things for my skin. It’s been clearer, smoother, and glowing. I have gotten more compliments on my skin since starting to use this in January than probably ever in my life. Even my husband asked what I was doing differently. One tube has lasted me over two months with daily (generous) use. Also here’s a tip: If I squeeze out too much in my early morning, pre-coffee, stupor, I put what’s left on the backs of my hands. My mom always says that you can tell someone’s age by checking out their hands, so a little extra anti-aging boost there can’t hurt. Seriously, an incredible product.
4) Becca Mineral Blush in Gypsy, $32 for .2 oz.
Described as “ballerina pink”, this blush is my holy grail. The slightly lavender tones do something with my skin tone to make it look naturally and innocently flushed. It also has a golden sheen that makes it work as a blush and a highlight in one. I never have to worry about putting on too much since it blends out so easily and it’s both pigmented enough and light enough to work for a large spectrum of skin tones. The formula itself is very soft, so you will kick up a good amount of powder when you go in with your brush. I know that bothers some people, but I don’t mind it. I bought this for the first time about a year ago and it hasn’t left the rotation. If the one in the photo looks brand new, that’s because it is. My original is shattered beyond repair, too embarasing for photos, but I continue to use it even though I bought a brand new one weeks ago, simply because I can’t bear to waste it. It’s that good.