Category Archives: Beauty

The art of face washing

We do this ritual in the morning to look and feel refreshed and awake (even when we likely get less than six hours of sleep). And then we wash the day off of our faces in the evening, removing all traces of makeup, as well as any dirt and excess oil.

But a cleanser is a cleanser, right? Don’t they all do the same job? Hardly. Our readers gave us their two cents about which face cleansers made their faces squeaky clean — without leaving their skin feeling like the Sahara. What face wash was ranked No. 1 by TotalBeauty.com readers?

See the 17 best facial cleansers now to find out.

This list of skin care products has got something for everyone. There are face wash formulas for all different skin types, from sensitive to acne-prone to combination to dry to oily and even those of us with rosacea. You can choose from bars or pump soaps, mild or deep facial cleansers and take your pick from exfoliating, creamy, foamy or even frothyface washes. You’ll see that these best face cleansers give our readers their best skin ever and helps them put their, um, best face forward every day.

 

Why it’s great: Looking for an “extremely gentle and pure” cleanser that “melts away impurities”? You may find it in this luxurious face wash. “This is the best cleanser that I have ever used,” says one reviewer. “It leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean with a fresh scent.”

Why it’s great: Readers say there’s a lot to like about this “all-natural” cleanser, which is “replete with beneficial, delightful ingredients.” One reviewer highlights the soothing texture, which “starts out like a grainy scrub, then melts into a foamy lather and rinses clean.” Another adds, “This balanced my skin [and] gave me a glow and the right amount of moisture.”

The power to treat any and all of your complexion concerns

If you haven’t yet jumped on the glycolic acid bandwagon, it’s time to do so. The alpha-hydroxy acid is a tried-and-true favorite ingredient among skin docs for its multi-tasking abilities. “Not only is it a great exfoliator, but it also stimulates the production of both collagen and hyaluronic acid,” explainsDeirdre Hooper, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at LSU. Translation: There’s really not much that it can’t do. Improve texture? You bet. Fade spots? Yep. Help with breakouts? Check. Keep skin smooth and wrinkle-free? Obvi. (We could keep going, but you get the picture.)

Since there’s no shortage of glycolic acid-based products out there — you’ll find it in pretty much every category, from peels to cleansers to lotions, — we’ve narrowed down the options. Ahead, seven glycolic acid products that are most definitely worth trying.

For those with especially sensitive skin, a face wash with glycolic acid is a great place to start, says Hooper. (As much as we love it, it is still an acid and can potentially cause some irritation as your skin gets used to it.) Cleansers typically contain a lower concentration of glycolic acid, plus, it’s getting washed off fairly quickly, Hooper adds. Glycolic acid cleansers dissolve dirt, gently exfoliate and help improve skin’s radiance and texture. This product from SkinCeuticals has added glycerin to keep your complexion hydrated.

There’s a reason this at-home peel is a cult classic. Formulated with a combo of glycolic acid plus other alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (not to mention a whole slew of additional anti-agers like retinol and resveratrol), these are gentle enough for daily use. At-home peel pads are the ideal way to reap the benefits of glycolic acid and can easily be worked into your routine, notes Hooper. Use this glycolic acid peel to minimize pores, fine lines and dullness.

Products you need to take care

Twelve-step Korean skin-care plans, complicated acne treatments, lasers, peels, masks, oh-my. It’s enough to make even the most seasoned beauty girl’s head spin. So let’s bring it back to the basics, shall we? We asked top skin docs to weigh in on the only three products (plus one bonus add-on, for you overachiever types) you really need, no matter what your skin type. Finally, an easy way to figure out what skin-care products you should use — and what you can skip.

1. Simple cleanser: A basic face soap or wash will do; don’t waste time searching for one with lots of added active ingredients. Not only does your skin not need it, but any money spent on these pricey formulations will, quite literally, be washed down the drain, points out Dr. Jordan Carqueville, MD, a dermatologist in Chicago. Save your moolah and pick-up a drugstore option, like the Dove White Beauty Bar, $5.49 for four bars, one of her faves.

2. Moisturizer with SPF: Everyone needs moisturizer, and sunscreen is a non-negotiable (repeat, non-negotiable), so why not combine the two? Look for a product labeled broad-spectrum (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with at least SPF 30, and be sure to apply in an even layer across your entire face to ensure adequate protection. Try the new CeraVe Skin Renewing Day Cream with Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $22.99.

3. Basic night cream: When you don’t have to stress about any kind of complexion imperfections, don’t worry about using super potent night creams, just focus on straight-up hydration and opt for a rich moisturizer. Carqueville recommends Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, $27.50.

Moisturizers for Oily Skin

There’s an adolescent beauty myth out there that moisturizers for oily skin simply aren’t necessary. We’re here to tell you that that skincare fabrication is all fiction. All skin types need nourishment, and oily skin is even more prone to over producing sebum when it gets too dry. Depriving your oily skin of moisturizer can kick off a vicious cycle of oil production and clogged pores. But not all moisturizers are created equal — especially when it comes to oily skin.

Matte skin (and lips) may be trending at the moment, but it was never exactly cool to have oil seeping through your foundation. Thankfully, brands have started to make products specifically formulated to soak up excess oil while keeping skin fresh. The mattifying moisturizers of today understand the battle for shine-free skin — you can leave the blotting papers at home.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite moisturizers for oily skin, from drugstore classics to new indie buys. What do they all have in common? You’ll be shine-free without sacrificing nourishment. Here, your guide to superstar moisturizers for oily skin.

 

Just pretend your face is on a Hawaiian vacation when you slather on this moisturizer, which contains actual volcanic extracts. The key ingredient helps soak up extra oil — picture the spongy texture of volcanic rock absorbing all the extra shine you want to keep off your face. As we learned from their cult favorite mud masks, Glamglow is brand that definitely knows moisturizers for oily skin, so just pat this on and let it work its magic.

We probably don’t have to sell you too hard on French beauty products, but Bioderma’s addition to the market is a must for anyone in search of matte skin. Its anti-reflective technology means you’ll look much better in selfies. It also works to regulate sebum production, meaning there’s less chance you’ll look shiny when you forget to moisturize.

Acne Products That You Need to Have

When you’ve struggled with annoyingly dependable breakouts for more than 15 years (and you’re only 28), you become an expert at acne-concealing life hacks. For example: I can tell you every date spot in New York City that has flattering, ambient lighting. I know the out-of-pocket cost of injecting an overgrown, painful pimple with cortisone. I can also give you a long-winded review of everything from spironolactone to Accutane, all of which promise to clear up your skin if you can endure side effects for months — or sometimes, years.

I’ve been battling hormonal acne since the age of 10. I know it’s a cliché statement, but I truly have tried everything to fight breakouts. And though I did a stint on Accutane four years ago, my picture-perfect skin didn’t last.

Until, on a whim, I tried a day-and-night serum treatment. In the past four months, it has made me a #makeupfreemonday poster for the very first time. I’ve not only noticed next to no breakouts, but many of my acne scars are fading, too. The star ingredient — retinol — might be due the credit. As dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, explains: “Retinol helps to loosen the trapped, gunky dead skin cells that have shed into the pore and combine with sebum to create comedones and trigger inflammation. It also helps exfoliate skin cells and fade acne-related skin discoloration.”

The funny thing is that most serums — as they are traditionally defined — aren’t intended to be acne fighters. Even so, dermatologists say that because of their rich and robust ingredients, they can help hormonal acne sufferers overcome their monthly cycle of breakouts. Why?

“These topical solutions can deliver powerful ingredients to the skin without irritation,” explains Dr. Gary Goldenberg, MD, dermatologist and co-founder of Goldenberg Dermatology in New York City. “Serums containing tea tree oil, salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acid can help fight blackheads and whiteheads and prevent breakouts,” he says. “These are especially effective as part of an overall acne regimen, which includes a gentle cleanser and a moisturizer with sunscreen.”

After 18 years of hating my skin, I couldn’t be more thankful for its new appearance. Here are some acne-fighting serums that could help you gain the smooth, blemish-free skin that you’re definitely deserving of, too.

Change the Way You Wash Your Face

If you haven’t already met the cleansing stick, then prepare yourself for a life — and skincare regimen — that’s about to change for the better. Cleansing sticks are exactlywhat they sound like: a solid cleanser in the shape of a stick. They’re spill-proof, leak-proof and travel friendly, which means you can toss one into your gym or weekender bag without a worry (or a side-eye from your friendly TSA agent).

Even though they’re a relatively new category, cleansing sticks are no gimmick. They work really well, and we predict more brands will formulate their own in the months and years to come. Here are 12 awesome options that just might convince you to change the way you wash your face.

Charcoal is still enjoying its moment as a trendy skincare ingredient, and for good reason. It’s long been used as a natural way to detox the skin, and Boscia’s Charcoal Cleansing Stick does just that. It’s especially great for reducing pore size and zapping excess oil.

Pur isn’t messing around with this deeply cleansing, exfoliating stick. It’s loaded up with Moroccan lava clay to give dirt and oil the boot, and it contains jojoba seed extract to restore moisture to dull skin. It’s recommended for congested and acne-prone skin, specifically.

Blackheads? What blackheads? A’Pieu’s Pore Management Blackhead Cleansing Stick sends those pesky buggers on a permanent vacation. This Korean brand is yet to be sold widely in the states, but you can find it on e-commerce sites that ship directly from Korea.

Here’s another blackhead-targeting cleansing stick. This one, by Korean brand Etude House, utilizes a small amount of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and lemon water to break down blackheads and refresh your pores. Because of its potency, it’s more of spot treatment than the other full-blown facial cleansers on this list.

Best Face Serum

When it comes to skin care, the one question we as beauty editors get most often is, What is a serum? Followed by, do I need one? For a beauty product, face serums are strangely complicated: They’re in between a moisturizer, an oil and an essence. You apply serums directly to the skin after cleansing, before your moisturizer, in order to deliver potent anti-aging ingredients into your skin. Many are formulated with hyaluronic acid or vitamin C, the same moisturizing and complexion-brightening ingredients we see in moisturizers and other skin-care products, but in stronger, more effective formulas that penetrate deeper into the skin.

Most serums target a specific skin care concern, like sun spots, fine lines, sagging or dull skin. Others tackle multiple problems at once. There is one downside to extra-effective skin care: The price. Face serums use higher quality ingredients and higher concentrations than your daily moisturizer. Plus, it takes a lot of research and development to create a supereffective serum. The good news: As serums grow more popular in mainstream skin care, we’ve seen drugstore brands launch affordable versions that are as good as the pricier stuff.

There’s a reason why so many beauty products give vitamin C top billing. This powerhouse antioxidant helps brighten skin and protect against wrinkles and fine lines. Since it neutralizes skin-damaging free radicals, a vitamin C-packed serum means you’re working on your skin both present and future. This 10% vitamin C serum contains three forms of vitamin C for triple the antioxidant power. That explains the price tag, but it also means a stronger attack on discoloration and fine lines.

How dry your complexion

Whether your skin suffers from seasonal dryness (oh hi, winter), or just seems to be perpetually parched, a dry complexion can be problematic when it comes to makeup application… especially if your goal is to create a fresh, dewy, oh-so glowy effect. So we asked celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor to walk us through a step-by-step tutorial on combatting that dryness to make your skin look healthy, radiant and anything but dry. Check out these top tips and makeup picks, perfect for any dry-skinned gal.

We’re mildly tempted to insert an obligatory ‘duh,’ here, but we’ll refrain. It goes without saying, but no matter how moisturizing the makeup is that you’re using (more on that in a minute) starting with this important skin-care step will ensure that your canvas — i.e. your complexion — ends up looking as fresh as possible.

Sotomayor suggests using a moisturizer that contains heavy-hitting hydrators like jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid or glycerin. We like the newCetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion, $12.49, which contains hyaluronic acid, yet doesn’t feel heavy or greasy. Slather it on, then reach for your makeup, stat. “Applying makeup immediately afterwards ensures that it will go on the smoothest,” he says.

Primers are a makeup must for their ability to boost the staying power and longevity of any products you apply on top, and they can also be yet another way to get an extra boost of moisture into your skin: “When your skin is dry, you need to up the ante by making sure that every product you use is hydrating and combatting that dryness,” explains Sotomayor. Point being, seek out a primer that specifically says it’s moisturizing.

Sotomayor uses La Mer The Perfecting Treatment, $240, which has the added benefit of a slightly pearlescent finish, a nice option when you’re trying to create radiant skin, he adds. The one caveat: If you’re trying to also conceal fine lines or wrinkles, opt for a hydrating formula without any added luminescence, since it may accentuate what you’re trying to hide. In that case, a plain moisturizing formula, like e.l.f Hydrating Face Primer, $6, is perfect. Either way, avoid anything that’s mattifying or shine-stopping (and a lot of primers are), as that’s the last thing you want for your dry complexion.

Help Kill Your Hangover

So, you went a little crazy last night. You said “yes” to a few too many rounds of flaming shots, performed a few too many whips and far too many nae naes, and now you’ve found yourself with a splitting migraine and zombie-like complexion. We’ve all been there.

Hangovers are no small inconvenience, and according to Lori Kenyon Farley, certified nutritional consultant and co-founder of Project Juice, they can have some pretty gnarly effects on your skin health. Hangovers mean fatigue, dehydration and the proclivity to binge on greasy foods, all of which can cause your skin to look dull, bloated and greasy.

Of course, one of the best things you can do for your hangover is to chug water and replenish your electrolytes. But if you want to infuse your skin with vitamins, antioxidants and other goodies from the outside in, try one of these luxe face masks. These sheet, clay and gel masks are specifically formulated to de-bloat, de-puff, rehydrate and treat other icky side effects of going too hard the night before. Here, nine hangover masks to help you bounce back, the beauty junkie way.

What it is: Leaders Daily Wonders What Happened Last Night Revitalizing Mask, $4

What it does: Restores the healthy dewiness that drained from your skin last night like Miller Lite from a beer funnel.

How it works: Apply this one-use-only sheet mask to clean skin, leave on for 15-20 minutes, and the ginseng and Artemesia extract-packed formula will get to work revitalizing your dull complexion. The mask is packed with an entire bottle of serum for a serious dose of hydration (think: an IV for your face). After use, pat the leftover product into your skin, chase with a large tumbler of cucumber water and marvel at your refreshed complexion.

Amazing in Your Snapchat Story

In the age of Instagram, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories, a beauty product is only as good as its ability to make people double-tap. Take, for example, the popularity of sheet masks: They may be a dime a dozen now, but the 4-for-$10 favorite was only a niche Korean novelty until models started appearing on social media wearing them like an accessory. See what we mean?

There’s nothing wrong with being popular, but when you scroll through your feed to find one sheet mask after another, you may start to wonder if there’s something a little more interesting out there. Something … different. Bonus points if it’s alien-looking enough to spark a long comments thread about what the hell it is.

The oft-ignored peel-off mask fits the bill — and then some. Smooth on one of these antioxidant-rich, oil-absorbing, wrinkle-reducing formulas, let it dry, and then peel it off your face like you would Elmer’s glue from your hands as a kid, and you’ve got the making of a great Boomerang. Film yourself tearing it off abruptly in front of your easily startled roommate, and you’re a viral YouTube sensation.

Oh, and did we mention that they’re all kinds of amazing for your skin, too? Sheet masks, step back: Peel-off masks are here, and they’re giving you a run for your inherently Instagrammable money. Just don’t get any in your eyebrows.

Good for: Tightening, brightening, softening and pore minimizing — basically, this spa-inspired mask is a one-stop shop for all of your skin-improving needs.

Standout quality: Packed with healing aloe vera, natural exfoliating (and blemish-fighting) acids and a potent botanical blend, this formula leaves no complexion woe unaccounted for. If you don’t know where to start with peel-off masks, start here.

Good for: Anyone who wants a clearer, more youthful, better-hydrated complexion. Your skin will be so bright, your friends will have to wear shades. (Har har.)

Standout quality: Even the most sensitive skin types won’t take issue with this gentle exfoliating formula, which contains soothing rosehip and moisturizing lecithin but leaves out harsh, drying alcohol-based ingredients.