We’ve made it to the end of 2020! And what a year it’s been! This year was a lot for multiple reasons, but thankfully we’ve made it through.
It wasn’t easy not to see my family and friends, and working from home was not the best for my mental health – I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. But, through it all, this year has forced me to reflect on the things that matter most.
In regards to beauty, I was a little overwhelmed with all the new launches this year. I feel like everyone is coming out with a skincare line now.
This year, I gravitated toward some innovative new formulas, particularly when it came to actives. And it was nice to try familiar products formulated in a way that I appreciate and like more.
So, here’s my round-up of 2020 beauty favorites.
Before we get started, I want to clarify that not all of these products are newly launched in 2020. They’re just products that are either new to me or products that I’ve been reaching for consistently throughout the year and love the most.
CLEANSERS & CLEANSING TOWELS
You all know how much I love cleansing. It’s one of my favorite steps in my skincare routine. It also sets the foundation of your skincare routine. And I preach about how double-cleansing has been a game-changer for me. So, it’s no surprise that I tried a lot of cleansers this year!
My Top 3 Oil & Cream Cleansers:
- Deviant Skincare Cleansing Concentrate – You’ve already seen this creamy gel-oil textured balm in my fall skincare routine and winter skincare routine blog posts and on social media. This unique formula glides on my skin like butter, provides a beautifully luxurious sensorial experience, and leaves no residue behind. It removes all of the stubborn and challenging eye makeup, and it’s fragrance and essential oil-free.
- HoliFrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash – Here’s another fragrance-free balm that I fell in love with this year. I reviewed this on the blog earlier this year here, and it’s in my summer, fall, and winter skincare routines. It comes in a squeezable tube, which is a genius way to package an oil balm because I don’t have to worry about scooping anything out or contaminating it. This oil cleanser comes out like a salve, spreads wonderfully, and removes all of my makeup!
- Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Softening Cream Cleanser – I’ve always associated Paula’s Choice with their actives and never really took the time to try any of their cleansers until this year. And I’m delighted I did. This non-sudsy cream is so nourishing, removing light makeup, oil, and dirt without any irritation.
My Top 3 Water-Based Cleansers:
- Holifrog Superior Omega Nutritive Gel Wash – This is another cleanser in my summer, fall, and winter skincare routine blog posts. I have a review here.
- Klur Gentle Matter Daily Moisture Cleanser – This is a fragrance-free and SLS-free non-foaming cleanser created by a black, female licensed esthetician, Lesley Thornton. I purchased this in June, and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. It looks and feels like luxury, and the small size is perfect for traveling, especially if you don’t want to check a bag.
- Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser – I also love (and still reach for) the Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser, which was in my 2019 Best In Beauty List. This non-foaming gel cleanser has a great slip on the skin and leaves my skin feeling less congested, smoother, and more hydrated. Here’s to another gel cleanser that’s not even remotely drying.
My Favorite Face Cloths:
You know that I’ve been using my Clean Towels faithfully for two years now. They reduce the transfer of bacteria, oil, and dirt like washcloths can do.
- Clean Skin Club Clean Towels XL – I can’t talk about cleansing and not discuss my favorite Clean Towels from Clean Skin Club. These disposable, biodegradable towels are large, soft, and durable. They’re a staple in my routine. For more details on them, check out my review here.
- Clean Skin Club Clean Towels (Travel) – Clean Skin Club came out with a travel size version of their Clean Towels this year. I was very excited. Now, I don’t have to put my Clean Towels in a zip lock bag anymore when I travel.
**Make sure to use my promo code BEAUTYINCOLOR at checkout for 20% off your purchase.**
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I prefer to exfoliate my face using an acid toner. The three I reached for the most this year was:
- Biologique Recherche P50V 1970 – This is a cult-favorite product that was in my 2019 Best In Beauty List. It’s strong but effective. I use it the most when I have skin congestion. For more details on the P50V 1970, check out my blog post discussing my initial thoughts here.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant – This toner is packed with salicylic acid to gently resurface, increase collagen production, decongest pores, and make stubborn blackheads disappear. When I use this, I’m left with radiant, even-toned skin, all without irritation or inflammation. You can check out my Paula’s Choice personal page and my brand review here.
- Pestle & Mortar NMF Lactic Acid Toner – It’s mild and soothing. Still, it leaves my skin smooth and hydrated, helping with any texture or patchiness.
I love a good face mist. It’s an easy way to start adding hydration to your skin. And the products that follow penetrate better since your skin is damp.
My Top 3 Face Mists:
- Youth To The People Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist – This ultra-fine mist is hydrating and soothing. It contains adaptogens like Ashwagandha & Reishi, which both combat redness dehydration. This face mist also includes pentapeptides, which help to calm sensitive and reactive skin.
- Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate The Mist – Here’s a mist that’s been in my summer, fall, and winter skincare routines. It’s formulated with red seaweed and cucumber extracts, which are both incredibly hydrating ingredients that offer antioxidant properties.
- Caudalie Grape Water – This has been a staple in my routine for years. It’s simple and effective.
I love serums! Out of all our skincare products, serums are the ones that work the hardest and will usually be the ones that transform our skin. This year, I’ve tried many new serums. I have quite a few that are newer to my routine, so there will be a lot of reviews in the first quarter of 2021, but here are my favorites for 2020:
My Top 2 Vitamin C Serums:
Unfortunately, I only have 2 Vitamin C serum favorites this year. I’m pretty picky when it comes to Vitamin C serums too. I’m trying out one from Naturium and Pestle & Mortar, but they haven’t been in my routine long enough to review them, much less make them a favorite.
- Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster – Everyone knows this is my favorite vitamin C serum, outside of the cult-classic Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. That one is so damn expensive, though. The C15 Super Booster has a thin, watery consistency and absorbs quickly into my skin without having to wait before layering on other products. Feel free to watch me use it in my morning routine here, or check out my Paula’s Choice review here with more of my thoughts on this serum.
- Hyper Skin Brightening Vitamin C Serum – This is a new Vitamin C serum this year, and I’m thrilled I’ve been able to try it. It’s effective at brightening my skin and clearing dark spots from hyperpigmentation.
My Top 3 Hyaluronic Acid Serums:
You’ll always see a hyaluronic acid serum in my routine. It has great skin-boosting benefits by attracting and retaining water. And by drawing in moisture, it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by dehydration and aging, so your skin looks fuller, smoother, and more supple. These serums are all new to the list this year.
- NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex – This is one of the most advanced hyaluronic serums that I’ve ever tried. It immediately leaves my skin plump, healthy-looking, and hydrated.
- Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster – As I stated in my Paula’s Choice brand review, this liquid-gel textured formula contains hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and panthenol to help lock in moisture, keeping my skin hydrated and ultimately moisturized.
- Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum – This has a goopy liquid texture that beautifully spreads over my face. And it absorbs into my skin fast so I can layer it easily with other products. It also contains aloe vera, which has anti-inflammatory properties in addition to being hydrating.
My Top 3 Anti-Aging Serums:
Anti-aging serums target firmness, dullness, wrinkles, and discoloration…and I want help with all of that!
- NIOD (CAIS) Copper Amino Isolate Serum – This peptide serum is one of the most popular serums from the NIOD line. This serum targets skin aging signs, including visible texture issues, visibly enlarged pores, and dullness. I’ve seen overnight improvement in the texture, radiance, and firmness of my skin.
- Bioeffect EGF Serum – I have raved about this serum in the past. I even have a review of the serum and a few other products from the line here. This serum makes my face look more hydrated and plump, and my skin feels soft and supple.
- Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster – Peptides help stimulate collagen production, improve elasticity and hydration, and support cell renewal and turnover. This serum has a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly and layers easily. Check out more details on this serum in my blog post here.
My Top 3 Skin Barrier Serums:
These serums provide comfort to reactive skin. They’re all made with ingredients that soothe and calm inflammation, help alleviate dry patches, and strengthen the skin barrier to ensure my skin’s outer layer can protect me from outside irritants.
- NIOD Modulating Glucosides – This serum is really like a first aid kit for damaged skin! Anyone struggling with redness, sensitivity, rosacea, or eczema will love this serum.
- Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief – This serum is formulated to repair, nourish, and rebuild a damaged skin barrier. It’s incredibly calming and soothing, especially when my skin is irritated. But, since tamanu oil is a hefty oil, I like to keep my routine simple when I use it.
- Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum – This fatty serum/emulsion is fortifying and nourishing. It’s full of ceramides and antioxidants that provide skin barrier strengthening nutrients to promote healthier skin. Check out my review here.
My Top 3 Retinol Serums:
I’ve experimented the most with retinol this year. I mean, it’s such a great ingredient. Retinol promotes skin cell turnover, slows down collagen breakdown, and thickens the skin where wrinkles start forming.
In my experimenting, I’ve learned that my skin can get easily irritated by it. And what works best in my skincare routine right now is using retinol in an oil form. I think retinol oils are a great way to begin your retinol journey.
- Paula’s Choice CBD Oil + Retinol – This retinol oil is one of my favorites. The CBD, meadowfoam seed oil, and other non-fragrant plant oils help calm the skin and mitigate potential irritation. So, I haven’t experienced any irritation or dryness. I’m even comfortable using this without feeling the need to buffer it.
- Jordan Samuel Skin Retinol Treatment Oil – This is another gently,non-irritating formula. I’d recommend it as a great starter retinol option if you’ve never used retinol since it’s quite gentle but still effective.
- AbsoluteJOI Skin Refining Night Oil with Retinol and Vitamins C+E – This is my favorite product from the AbsoluteJOI Skincare line. It’s gentle, effective, and keeps my skin nourished. Make sure to get 10% off your purchase using this link & the promo code BEAUTYINCOLOR.
Moisturizers are an essential part of our skincare routine, but finding one that works for you can be daunting. There are so many moisturizers to choose from, and your moisturizer preference can be so subjective. A good moisturizer helps lock in all the goodness you’ve put on your face beforehand. It also helps prevent water loss. I have a great blog post on how to choose a good one for your skin needs here. I enjoy quite a few moisturizers. But, there are only three that made the list this year.
My Top 3 Moisturizers:
- Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer – This moisturizer has a unique whipped texture. It’s formulated with ceramides, omega fatty acids, plant oils, and botanical antioxidants, strengthening the skin barrier. This moisturizer is fantastic at keeping my skin nourished and replenished, especially during the winter months. Check out my review here.
- SkinFix Barrier+ Triple Lipid Peptide Face Cream – This creamy moisturizer is formulated for dry and dehydrated skin. It’s a rich, luxurious cream that contains lipids to restore your skin barrier. It also contains peptides, so it helps to hydrate and replenish your skin.
- Youth To The People Adaptogen Cream – This is a rich and creamy yet lightweight moisturizer. It’s perfect for soothing, moisturizing, and calming my skin. It fights signs of fatigue and protects against free radicals. And it’s combined with peptides and nourishing plant oils.
I want to give an honorable mention to Good Science Beauty’s Hydrating Face Cream. I like this moisturizer a lot. I have a mini-review on the Good Science Beauty’s Hydrating Cream here. FYI: My discount code BEAUTYINCOLOR will give you 25% off any Good Science Beauty products at checkout.
No single skincare factor is more critical to preventing aging than wearing sunscreen. I have to admit that I haven’t yet found a mineral sunscreen I like. I’m slightly impatient with sunscreen because I don’t want to rub it in forever or have to wait to let it settle to not see a white cast on my face. But, I’m determined to try to find a mineral sunscreen that works for me. Hopefully, that happens in 2021. In the meantime, here are my top 3 sunscreens for 2020.
My Top 3 Sunscreens:
- Paula’s Choice Youth Extending Hydrating Daily Fluid SPF 50 – I fell in love with Paula’s Choice’s Youth-Extending Fluid 50 two summers ago now. I use this sunscreen all year round. It’s lightweight, fast-absorbing, non-greasy, and leaves no white cast! Check out my review on the product and the brand here.
- Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF 50 – This SPF is pricey, but I love the serum-like consistency and how easy it rubs into my skin without leaving a white cast. It also contains green tea leaf extract to protect my skin from the damaging effect of free radicals.
- Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 – This sunscreen blends seamlessly on my complexion. It’s invisible, weightless, colorless, scentless, and helps smooth the appearance of my pores. It can double as a primer too.
My Top 4 Body Products:
- SKNMUSE Cacao Body Butter – This soft whipped body butter is my go-to during the colder months. It’s extremely rich and luxurious and keeps my skin moisturized, where I don’t need to reapply moisturized hours later. I also enjoy it after a long shower or bath in the summer months.
- Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Body Wash – This is a creamy, soap-free body cleanser that contains natural colloidal oatmeal and rich emollients that clean, moisturize and relieve itchy, dry skin.
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream – I used this body gel-cream all summer long. It hydrates without making me feel like an oil slick during the hot, humid summer days in NYC. This body gel-cream was included in my Body Care Favorites from this summer.
- Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Oil – This is a lightweight oil that turns slightly frothy and milky when you use it and rinses clean without leaving residue on your skin. This is another product that was included in my Body Care Favorites.
As far as makeup goes, I still find myself gravitating towards a natural, sun-kissed look. I’ll always gravitate towards easy and quick things, which correlates to bronzers, mascaras, eye pencils, and lipsticks.
My Top 3 Complexion Products:
- NARS Matte Bronzer Powder – Samoa – This is a muted, medium-dark brown with subtle, warm red undertones and a matte finish. I wear this a lot during #winedownwednesday.
- Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer – Coco Naughty – I love the glow this gives me!
- Pat McGrath Sublime Perfection Concealer – MD24 – This creamy concealer blends beautifully, brightens under the eye, and hides the appearance of blemishes.
My Top 3 Eye Products:
- Pat McGrath FetishEyes™ Lengthening Mascara – I love this so much that I stocked up on 2 more during Pat McGrath’s holiday sale. I mean, I couldn’t beat the price! (They were $10 during the sale). This formula is made with conditioning peptides to strengthen and protect, while panthenol hydrates and helps keep them super soft and non-flaky. It’s great for a doey-eyed look.
- Pat McGrath PermaGel Eyeliner Pencil – The PermaGel Ultraglide pencil has a creamy formula and a very black pigment, which I love. One glide on the eye you’re done! And I appreciate that it doesn’t run even though my eyes water often.
- Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz – Soft Brown – I like my eyebrows to look put together but natural. Using this eye pencil helps me create hair-like strokes that look like the real thing.
FYI – Loreal’s Voluminous mascara is still my holy grail drugstore mascara option. It has been a staple in my makeup bag for over ten years!
My Top 3 Lipsticks:
I either go for a nude gloss or a red lip. If you didn’t know, I love a red lip. I think it’s classic and can elevate any look! I just didn’t wear it as much this year with all the masks and the one’s I did stayed on! So, here are my top 3 lipsticks this year.
- The Lip Bar Bawse Lady (use promo code BEAUTYINCOLOR at checkout for 10% off your purchase)
- NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil – Mysterious Red
- Pat McGrath LUST Lip Gloss – Bronze Divinity
This year forced me to grow my hair out and take care of it myself. I have to admit that I love to have my hair done, but I don’t really like doing it myself. Yet, I made sure to keep it together, especially since I saw you all during #winedownwednesday. These three hair products were great for me during COVID, leaving my hair soft, manageable, and shiny while not weighing my hair down.
My Top 3 Hair Care Products:
- Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind™ Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfoods Hair Mask
- Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Shampoo & Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Hair Mask
- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Multi-Action Leave-In
Those are ALL my favorites of the year!
Thank you SO much for your support in 2020. It has been one hell of a year, and you stuck with me through it all. I’ve been able to share my love of skincare, beauty, and wellness with other like-minded people. And I have experienced so many great opportunities I had no idea would even manifest. This community has been so wonderful!
Here’s to 2021 and creating more content, memories, and connections! And here’s to having way more fun!
Happy New Year, beauties!