Please note: Shortly after writing this post, I found out that Kate Somerville had been bought out by Unilever. Sadly, she is still a cruelty free brand, but her parent company is not.
Clarisonic Plus ($245; discontinued): I have had my Clarisonic for several years, since I first started with Sephora. I had also started getting acne the summer before I started, so the Clarisonic seemed like a necessity. I have finally found a happy routine with my Clarisonic, as no two faces are the same. I use mine a few mornings a week with a glycolic cleanser. I use the Acne brushhead, which makes a huge difference. The Acne brush head is specifically designed to not move bacteria around the face. I had tried several other brush heads (Sensitive, Deep Pore), but found they typically made me break out worse. Unfortunately, Clarisonic was acquired by L'Oreal and is no longer a cruelty free brand. At present, I don't have a cruelty free alternative for you. I am, however, finding information that L'Oreal was required by their parent country to go cruelty free, so fingers are crossed that more research opens that option for us cruelty free shoppers!
Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 3% Wash ($38; Sephora.com): I use this as my morning cleanser to keep my skin clear and fresh. Glycolic acid unglues dead skin and is a must have for anyone with concerns with acne or aging. Peter Thomas Roth recently entered the mainland Chinese market and is no longer cruelty free, which is geniunely shocking and I hope it is a decision he will reconsider. In the mean time, use Dermadoctor's Wrinkle Revenge I cleanser or Anthony Logistics Glycolic Cleanser; both are available at Sephora.com.
Kate Somerville Clarifying Toner ($26; Sephora.com): I love this toner. It doesn't leave my face "tingly fresh" or any of that silliness, but it does leave it clean feeling. I love that it's alcohol free, and prefer that it doesn't tingle; tingle generally means irritation. It has phytic acid to help fade acne scars and post inflammation hyperpigmentation, and it has nordihydroguiuaretic acid to help with inflammation. It's not that expensive, and a bottle will last ages if you're not trying to soak your face and your cotton round everyday.
Kate Somerville DermalQuench Clear ($65, Sephora.com): DermalQuench Clear is my go to in the winter, and in summer I prefer the HydraClear Acne Gel. DermalQuench Clear has a low dose, encapsulated slow release salicylic acid so that it'll clear up blemishes and decongest pores, but never irritate the skin or leave you dry as a desert. It has peptides to firm and plump the skin, and hyluronic acid to give you hydration that doesn't quit. I seriously love it. It smells a little odd, but it hasn't been enough to stop me from using it. This and the Gel are must haves for my routine. Kate Somerville is a cruelty free brand, and they claim to be vegan outside of Goat's Milk in the Goat's Milk line, but I think they are forgetting that beeswax is considered a non-vegan product. If you are extremely oily and want a higher salicylic acid, I recommend DermaDoctor's Ain't Misbehavin'. It also has glycolic, nordihydroguiuaretic and salicylic acid, but it's a 2% salicylic.
Tarte Tarte Guard SPF 30 ($38, Sephora.com): I have tried many, many SPF products in an attempt to find one that didn't break me out. This one does fantastic with my skin. I am also extremely combination, so I love that this gives tons of hydration because when I put a mattifying primer on top, it is the perfect balance for my skin. I wish it were an SPF 50, but I can't have it all. Tarte was purchased by Japanese company Kose in the beginning of 2015, and I am still finding conflicting information about that company. Tarte was recertified by Leaping Bunny, so I'm hoping they remain a cruelty free brand.
Cover FX Mattifying Acne Primer ($16-$38; Sephora.com): This primer is a definitely game changer for me. It doesn't leave my face bone dry like the Becca primer that everyone loves. Instead, it keeps my skin balanced and my makeup on my face. I don't look shiny, but I also don't look like a desert; I would call it a healthy glow. Since I started using this primer, I have seen a huge difference in my skin. I am not certain that the previous primer and foundation that I thought weren't breaking me out actually were. Of course, one skin does not fit all, but it's worth a try! Cover FX is a vegan and cruelty free company.
Cover FX Custom Cover Drops ($44, Sephora.com): I mix these directly into the primer and put it all on in one step. I love being able to control the coverage. I have experimented with mixing it into other things, but I have found that this is the combination I love the most that also works the best for my skin.
Fresh Soy Conditioning Eye Makeup Remover ($38; Sephora.com): I use this to remove my eye makeup. I prefer the lotion texture or gel texture for eye makeup removers, not the liquids. When I use Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil, I skip this step, but with the Milk Oil from FAB, I need something to start the mascara breakdown. Unfortunately, LVMH owns Fresh, so you will have to draw your own conclusions about their cruelty free status.
First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser ($26; Sephora.com): I have started using this since I ran out of my Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil. I do prefer the Boscia to this, but only slightly. When I use this, I am using six pumps of it, which may be excessive to some, but I beat on a full face everyday for work so six pumps feels about right. You definitely want to shake it well every time you use it. I remove the cleansing milk oil with a konjac sponge (I have them from Sephora Collection and Boscia; Boscia is the cruelty free option). It melts off all of my makeup and leaves my skin soft and refreshed.
Dr. Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Face Cream ($125; Sephora.com): This moisturizer is incredibly unique. It is heavy and hydrating, but not oily and it doesn't really feel heavy on your skin. I was incredibly hesitant to try this due to how thick it is, but my amazing rep Enrique convinced me to try it. It leaves my skin soft, hydrated and protected. It's my favorite moisturizer to use after a peel or anything else that leaves my skin a little raw or otherwise compromised. I don't use it every night, but I certainly could. During the drying winter months it was a necessity.
Bare Bones Body Care Face Oil ($25 on sale, barebonesbody.com): I actually received this in a giveaway on Instagram and fell in love with it. It absorbs quickly, but leaves my skin so soft and hydrated. I am a huge fan of face oils, but I tend to try several different ones since they tend to be so specific to their uses. I was previously using Sunday Riley's Artemis Oil with tea tree oil mixed in, but that got to be a hassle and smelled a little odd. This one smells like hemp and citrus, but it has tea tree oil already mixed in so I'm a happy girl. My skin seems to love this one.
Kate Somerville Eradikate ($24; Sephora.com): The infamous pink spot treatment... we meet again. This spot treatment will suck the bacteria and oil out of a blemish, and calm the redness and irritation. I put it on breakouts at night as the last step of my skincare routine. It does a great job at reducing the life of a blemish. Also, if I decide to extract a blemish, this definitely goes on afterwards to draw anything left over out of the pore. I'm such a fan of this stuff that I wore it at work one day on a particularly nasty blemish because the pink sulfur was less red than the huge zit on my cheek. Unfortunately, it happened to be the day that previous Sephora CEO David Suliteneau vistited the store. What are the chances.. ha.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($15-$30; Sephora.com): These were my nightly serum for a very long time. I would use them after I cleansed and before I moisturized. When they ran out, I stopped doing that step all together because I'm pretty lazy at night. I will definitely add them back in if I feel like I need to. They're inexpensive, gentle and very effective.
REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Peel ($58; Sephora.com): This was the first peel I found that would exfoliate my skin and brighten my PIH, but didn't leave me beet red and raw. I used this peel exclusively for a year before I started finding other products that worked with my skin as well. Sadly, REN was bought out by Unilever so they are no longer cruelty free. I actually threw this away after taking this photo because I noticed the product had changed color.
Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel ($28; Sephora.com): This peel gel is a gentle, non-abrasive way to remove skin. It's gentle enough to use daily. It unglues the dead skin, balls it up and washes it away. I love to use this product below my eyes and on my cheek that frequently breaks out when there is a texture build up. One warning, if you have facial hair, it will stick to it so be prepared for that. It's still totally worth it.
Kate Somerville Glycolic Polisher (n/a; discontinued): This 10 minute peel was a staple product through Kate Somerville for years. It's essentially a glycolic acid that you can use alone as a peel or mixed into moisturizer for an overnight mask. I love this product. It was replaced by a more powerful version with retinol. I haven't tried the new version yet, but it's gotten good reviews.
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta MediSpa Peel ($125; Sephora.com): I love, love, love this peel. It does a fantastic job of fading my discoloration (both scars and PIH), as well as getting rid of texture on my skin and helping to kill active breakouts. I use this peel once a week and absolutely love it. I can't recommend it enough. It's a little pricy, but it's a four month supply.
Glam Glow ($69; Sephora.com): I have tried most of the Glam Glow products. Powermud is a great once a week detox mask that I like to use on a day off that I don't have to wear any makeup. It's a mud mask that turns into an oil cleanser, so it leaves my skin feeling hydrated and clean. It smells like apples. The Clearingmud was my go to for acne, but due to how dry it makes my skin, and the acquisition by Estee Lauder, I've started exploring other masks in an attempt to replace it. It's a great mask, I wish the brand would have stayed independent.
Disclaimer: Though I am an employee of Sephora, LLC, I do not represent them or any of their subsidiaries in an way, shape or form. All opinions expressed on this blog are my own personal experiences and opinions. Again, they in no way represent the opinion of Sephora. Thanks!