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True story—I’m pretty deep into my 30s and was recently denied a frozen margarita at a TGI Friday’s in New Jersey. Yes, I was trapped in the Garden State without alcohol at a chain restaurant, but the fact someone thought I was under 21 years of age made up for it (kind of.)
The truth is, I subscribe to the school of thought that your skin should be your opus and I’ve been taking care of mine religiously since my first-ever paycheck. I love when strangers ask me what products I’m using and I never have a shortage of gurus to recommend to friends and colleagues.
If your idea of a fun Friday night is (wine and) Googling “when to start dermarolling” we can definitely be friends. And—as this first step in our newfound friendship—I’ve compiled a guide to the under-the-radar beauty brands and specific products I swear by—and that every woman should know. Fair warning: After using these, you won’t want to forget your ID at home, like, ever.
Skin-care obsessives already know Georgia Louise as one of the world’s greatest facialists and epidermal goddess, but if you haven’t tried her personal line yet I can tell you it’s PURE MAGIC.
Until this product, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with retinol. I’ve felt the need to love it for it’s anti-aging benefits, but my skin has always been too sensitive even with limited usage and introducing it gradually. All that changed with Georgia’s Vitamin A Serum ($130). If you want to introduce a retinol treatment into your routine, this gel-like serum goes on smooth and has never irritated or dried out my skin. Other must-haves from the line include: The Balm ($80, currently sold out but worth the wait) and Vital Finishing Serum ($150, which are like the tears of baby unicorns).
The foundation of glowing skin is Vitamin C serum, and Medik8’s CE Tetra Serum ($115) is my MVP. This serum contains 7% Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate which is said to have 4-times the potency of L-ascorbic acid…i.e.: they had me at professional strength. This is the first product I apply religiously every morning on clean, toned skin. Add the phrase “Pro-Collagen” and it’s automatically desert island status. Check out Glow Oil ($75) and Red Alert ($75) while you’re at it. You’re welcome.
I stumbled upon this all-natural line on the skin-porn website Beautyhabit in my never-ending quest for night creams with scents that won’t offend my husband. He and I are both loving the often sold out Crème De Fleur Complexe Rejuvené ($150). Not only does it smell amazing, but a small amount of this lightweight cream is incredibly moisturizing. Pricey but a little goes a long way. Part of the brand philosophy is “Perfumery as Medicine” and using flowers which contain the highest healing vibrations of all plants… all of which appeal to my inner moonbeam and fascination with essential oils (which is an entirely different story but I digress). I’m also currently obsessed with their Pur Face Oil Concentré ($85) and my next splurge will be Lucense Illuminating Floral Extract ($130).
I won’t lie, the design snob in me was initially drawn to this line’s cool, minimalist, instagramable packaging. Combine that with certified organic botanical ingredients and products that smell amazing and I’m hitting add to cart without a qualm of regret. What’s inside this pretty packaging definitely delivers and the Watermelon & Vanilla lip balm ($23, hello anitoxidants!) has become the kind of staple where I get nervous when I’m down to half a tube. If you’re as addicted to face mists as we are at StyleCaster then definitely check out the Hydra-Mist+: Desert Lime & Amino-Peptide ($31) and I also love their Anti-Oxidant Facial Oil: Rosehip & Camellia Seed ($44).
This South African brand created by Skincare expert and plastic surgeon Dr. Des Fernandes is always on my shortlist and the SPF 25 ($36) is my go-to sunscreen. Besides protection from UV rays, the most important thing about sunscreen for me is I don’t want to feel sticky or chalky. This hypoallergenic formula contains micronized titanium dioxide and antioxidants and I forget I’m wearing it the second I put it on. I’ve also been loving the C-Quence Eye Gel ($86). This line is not sold through their site and can only be bought at authorized retailers. Pro-tip, email email@example.com and they’ll ship it to you!
Shamara Bondaroff, holistic microcurrent guru to all the NYC cool girls, slathered Christine Valmay’s Vita Repair Skin Serum ($75) on me after our first session. If you’re noticing a reoccuring theme with my love for serums, you would be correct. Glow and scent are the two top priorities for me in a product and this amazing smelling mix of vitamins and flowers does just that. Nothing depresses Shamara more than dehydrated looking people so when she says this works it’s going to tune up the thirstiest of skins. Also worth checking out, Nanoestique Serum ($49.50, who doesn’t love an ampoule?) and the Gold Collagen Mask ($17.50, hello 24k gold flakes!).
Like our beauty editor, the quest for finding a “perfect” light weight moisturizer is super real and never ending. I’m constantly trying new moisturizers but Pratima’s Alma Collagen Cream ($45) is the one I keep coming back to. Recommended to me after a treatment at the namesake Ayurvedic spa, the blend features organic Ashwagandha (know as Indian Ginseng), Alma and Rose which are personally hand-made by Dr. Pratima Raichur. She also performs ancient healing mantras on all of her products (sign me up). If you’re familiar with Ayurveda and know your Dosha, I highly recommend trying one of the essential oils (I happen to be Pitta, $40) or a mask (I love the Sandalwood Rose, $48).
A few years ago, super facialist Julia March commended me on my skincare regimen but suggested I add peptides to my layering cocktail. Peptides are molecular links of amino acids that promote collagen growth and help repair skin (aka. you need these). Julia recommended Luzern’s Serum Absolute WE3 ($140) and I’ve been using it religiously ever since. Also packed with Swiss apple stem cells, it feels like gel but once it dries you forget it there. I put it on after Vitamin C and wait a few seconds before laying my moisturizer on top. If you’re into Swiss Alpine plants and all they have to offer, check out the Vita-O2 Glacial Toner ($40) and Pure Cleansing Creme ($42).