Throughout the rest of December, I’ll do some roundups of my favorite products of 2015. These aren’t necessarily products that came out this year, just ones that I’ve fallen in love with in the last 12 months. For my final year-end post, I’m covering creams and sleeping packs – those lovely, occlusive products that end your routine.
As someone with prohibition-level dry skin, creams are my best friend. In fact, I saved this subject for last because I love creams so much that I figured I’d have a hard time choosing. Surely it would be a challenge to narrow it down to just three creams I discovered this year! Surely!
Then I looked at my skincare cabinet, and realized I was mistaken.
You see, I discovered Cerave PM last year, and since then, nothing has truly measured up. Cerave PM is intensely moisturizing without a hint of greasiness, it absorbs quickly and completely, it layers beautifully – it’s even got 4% niacinamide, for crying out loud. It’s the perfect moisturizing cream, and try as I might, I haven’t found anything this year that tops it.
So, here’s two sleeping packs and a DIY.
Dr. Jart+ Premium Firming Sleeping Mask
In a move that surprises exactly no one, the only product I’ve ever given a full 5 out of 5 is on my favorites list.
I love this product every bit as much as the first time I smoothed that thick, brown, luxurious gel onto my face. It has a killer ingredients list, ranging from scientifically-proven powerhouses like niacinamide, ceramides, and cholesterol, to traditional Asian extracts like licorice root and Cnidium.
But a great ingredients list can only tell us so much. The true test is in how well it works. And hoo boy, does this thing WORK. When I apply this after all my other products at night, I wake up to unbelievably bouncy, firm, even skin. It sometimes doesn’t even feel like my real face. But it is. It is my real face. Just better.
Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask
A close second in my lifetime ranking of sleeping packs, Sulwhasoo’s rich cream is kind of like the yin to Dr. Jart+’s yang. What the Jart+ gel lacks in moisturizing and soothing power, the Sulwhasoo has in spades. A nice layer of the Sulwhasoo before bed and I wake up to plump, hydrated, happy skin, every time. It’s moisturizing enough that I can use this as my only cream at night.
Plus, while Dr. Jart+ smells faintly of Elmer’s glue, this Sulwhasoo mask has my favorite scent of any skincare product I’ve ever used. It’s fresh ginger, with a rich herbiness that’s distinct but not overpowering. This cream is like a sleeping pack plus aromatherapy all rolled into one.
The cream itself is rich enough to function as a fantastic heavy moisturizer before bed, but you can also just use a little bit as a daytime moisturizer (assuming you’ve got normal-to-dry skin). Like the Dr. Jart+, it’s a little on the pricey side, but a tube will last you forever.
Liquid Gold (my DIY ceramide milk)
It feels a little weird posting a product I made myself as one of my favorites of the year – like, who the fuck am I, the queen of England? – but honestly, I really do love this stuff, and I’ve worked really hard on it. So, YOLO, it’s on my list.
I first wrote about my DIY moisture barrier liquid in this instructional DIY post. Since then, the formula has changed substantially as I’ve tried to find the most effective and cosmetically elegant formulation possible. I’m now up to five plant oils (olive-derived squalane, cranberry seed, rosehip seed, sea buckthorn seed, AND sea buckthorn berry), I’ve added a few ingredients like cetyl alcohol and glyceryl stearate to stabilize the emulsion and make it spread easier, and I’ve fine-tuned the formulation process to make sure the final product is smooth, creamy, and rich (and stays that way – emulsions are tricky!).
I’ve still got a few more tweaks I need to make, but I feel really, really good about where it’s at. After a few name changes, I think I’ve landed on one, thanks to a suggestion from wonderful test subject Katie: “Liquid Gold”. It’s a reference both to its (I hope) magical healing properties, and its somewhat off-putting color (a couple of the oils in it give it that bright orange hue).
I use it religiously morning and night as my first cream step – it has a sort of liquid-cream, milky texture. It’s a little slow to absorb, but once it does, I find it does a stellar job plumping and hydrating my skin. It’s also done amazing things at healing my perpetually raw chin, thanks to my bearded boyfriend, and I find my skin can tolerate the tretinoin and exfoliants I throw at it much better than it could before I used this stuff.
It’s not for sale, but I love DIY so much that I always make way more than I need. You can sign up to get a free bottle, in exchange for telling me all your thoughts about it and helping me make it better.