Use this Peppermint Vanilla Lip Scrub to gently exfoliate your lips before applying balm or lipstick! It can be used daily or as needed.
Aside from food, photography and travel, skincare is one of my favorite hobbies. I’m tempted to start a separate skincare blog, but I honestly don’t know when I’d find the time. Testing products brings me joy, and I have to make an effort not to go overboard for the sake of both my wallet and skin. I’ve been wanting to write a post about my favorite products for ages, but it seemed out of place here.
While I mostly buy products, sometimes I DIY a few basic skincare items, such as lip and body scrubs or facial mists. As I began making a new batch of lip scrub last week, I realized this was as good an opportunity as any to finally write about my other big hobby. Then the post got so massive that I realized I needed to break it up into two parts. Apparently I have a lot to say! In Part I, I’m covering cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreens. In Part II, I’ll go over toners, chemical exfoliants, serums, and other actives. I’ll also describe how I work all of these products into a routine, since I don’t pile everything on my face at once! Some people can do that; my pores get irritated with too many product layers at once.
I’m including links to where you can purchase everything I use (the Amazon links are affiliate), but I was not paid to promote these products (I swear I’m not a spokesperson for Hada Labo). Before we dive down the rabbit hole, I want to cover a few things: my skin type, goals, and the ingredients I look for.
The list below might seem excessive. I’m not saying you need five moisturizers, sunscreens, etc. I’ve tried many, and these are my top picks. Keep in mind: what works for me might not work for you, even if we have a similar skin type.
My Skin Type
Dry/dehydrated, occasional dry patches around my T-Zone, sensitive, acne (papulopustular) rosacea on my chin that is kept under control with topical Metrogel at night. If I don’t use the gel every day, I get painful cystic outbreaks. I’ve come up with a great system for shortening their lifespan, so feel free to contact me if you’re dealing with them.
I’m focused on anti-aging, hydration, and having fun. Aside from the acne rosacea, I’ve been very lucky. No one can guess my age, which makes it almost fun to say “I’m nearing 40.” No crows feet or wrinkles yet. I figure it’s now or never with the anti-aging routine.
Scientifically proven ingredients and sun protection are my main focus. Price point is important; I don’t want to pay $75 for a serum if there’s an effective one available for $15. None of the products listed below are over $30; most are cheaper. Like milk, Vitamin C serum has a shelf life. Why spend a lot of money on something that’s going to expire, pretty packaging, or a “luxury” brand name?
In terms of fun, I love experimenting with Asian Beauty trends. They have less science to back them up, but they’re cool and inexpensive so I don’t care.
I look for the following active ingredients: hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants. I’m currently incorporating retinoids, but it’s a slow process due to the sensitivity. I use gentle chemical exfoliants a few times per week, either BHA or AHA. No physical exfoliants on my face; they’re too harsh. I’m fine with scrubs on my lips and body.
Additional ingredients within the above mentioned categories: Vitamin C (specifically L-ascorbic acid), niacinamide, ceramides, matrixyl, and coenzyme q10.
On the less scientifically proven side of things, I look for certain facial oils, such as marula and rose hip) and fermented ingredients.
You’ll notice many repeat brands in Part I & II. I do branch out but with caution because of the rosacea. I trust CeraVe, Hada Labo and CosRX: they’re fragrance free and haven’t caused reactions. I avoid fragrance. Certain scents cause migraines, and I’ve had to abandon products I like because of this. Some of the products I use do have mild scents, but they’re subtle and don’t bother me. I’ll note which ones do for those who are also sensitive to smells. Unfortunately, I can’t use most of the best Vitamin C serums because of this issue.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O – This is a great makeup remover, though it’s not always effective with waterproof mascara. If it misses anything, the oil cleansers catch the residue. I use it mainly on my eyes, but also my entire face if I want to remove my makeup before I’m ready for my evening routine.
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – This is and will always be my holy grail cleanser. It’s gentle, doesn’t sting my eyes, and my skin feels hydrated and soft after I use it. It’s the only cleanser I use in the morning. However, I don’t feel it does a good enough job removing makeup and sunscreen, so in the evening I use it after starting with an oil-based cleanser.
Hada Labo Gokujun Cleansing Oil – I didn’t believe in the double cleansing method hype until I tried it. Now, I refuse to skip it even when I travel. It gets rid of every last bit of sunscreen and makeup! My skin has never looked better. If I ever decide to go minimal with my routine, I will always keep the double cleanse. This product is cheap, fragrance free, and it gets the job done.
Heimish All Clean Balm – Cleansing balms are great for travel since it’s one less liquid to pack, and this one is my favorite. I used this originally for oil cleansing instead of the Hada Labo oil, but I find the packaging to be cumbersome at night. I transfer it into a smaller tub for travel. This product has a very mild scent that does not linger.
Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam – This is a gentle, silky cleanser that has a great price point. I’m actually not planning on repurchasing it, but I wanted to include it anyway since I think it’s a great option, especially for those with oilier skin. I’m now using the CeraVe in the morning and evening, but for a long time this was my second cleanse in the evening.
Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Hydrating Cream – Listen, you only need one moisturizer. If I had to pick a favorite, it’s this one. However, I struggle with the price. It’s $29 for 2 ounces, and if I use this one alone, I go through it too quickly. I love it for traveling because it’s small and does everything I need a moisturizer to do. But I’m sparing with it at home, and I save it for when my skin is acting up.
CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion – This is too light weight for me in the winter, but it’s perfect in the summer. It’s all I use in the morning when my skin isn’t overly dry (The “AM” version has sunscreen, and I prefer to use a separate one, which we’ll get to next). A drop of Stratia Liquid Gold mixed in, and it’s just as good as the Paula’s Choice. The price is right, and it has ingredients I want.
Stratia Liquid Gold – This stuff is indeed liquid gold. Tons of amazing ingredients, and a little goes a long way. Sometimes I add a drop of this to other products to supercharge them. Lately, I’ve been using 1-2 pumps as my nighttime moisturizer.
Hada Labo Rohto Gokujun Perfect Gel – This is a very heavy gel that feels slick and tacky at first, but it absorbs in well. I expect the tub to last for ages, because I only need a tiny amount to cover my face, neck, and the back of my hands. I mainly use it in the evenings, but it’s fantastic under makeup.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment – This isn’t exactly a moisturizer, but when I have dry patches, Aquaphor is my holy grail. My trouble spot is mainly my nose. If I add a very thin layer of this on top of dry patches after moisturizer before bed, they are gone in the morning. I also use it on my lips. Great stuff, great price.
In my opinion, Japanese and Korean sunscreens are a million times better than anything I’ve tried in the US. These are thin, have no white cast or strong smell, and they look great under makeup. I actually want to wear them. They’re also very inexpensive, though I have to order them off Amazon or ebay. This is perfectly safe to do, just make sure you’re buying from experienced sellers with high ratings.
All of the sunscreens I currently use are chemical as opposed to mineral-based. Some people with sensitive skin can’t use chemical sunscreens, though I haven’t had any issues. If you know you can only use mineral sunscreens, check out this video from Gothamista. I may try some of her suggestions eventually when my current stash runs low. I prefer chemical options because they’re lighter and don’t leave a white cast. However, I do go for something heavier if I know I’ll be out in extended, intense sunlight (such as a beach day). All of the below options are for everyday use.
You can probably find all of these on both Amazon and ebay for various prices. Make sure to research your sellers!
Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel SPF 50/PA+++ – This is the sunscreen I use on my body, mainly my neck, arms and the back of my hands. It’s thin, light, and doesn’t leave white marks on my clothes!
Missha All Around Safe Block Waterproof Sun Milk SPF50+ PA+++ – A newer favorite of mine, I’m currently loving both this and the Bioré equally for a “milky” sunscreen option. What I love about both of them is that they aren’t drying on my skin, yet they dry down semi-matte, which looks great under makeup. So many sunscreens look fine under makeup while I’m getting ready inside, but as soon as I’m out in sunlight I think I look like a greaseball. Especially if I’m wearing dewy foundation. If you have oilier skin, these will both function as a makeup primer. However, if I have an especially noticeable dry patch on my nose, these sunscreens do make it more noticeable.
Bioré UV Perfect Milk SPF50+PA++++– See above. I probably won’t repurchase both since they’re so similar. Missha is the current favorite; you get more for your money.
Hada Labo Gokujyun Perfect UV Gel Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ – I love this sunscreen so much. It makes me look slightly dewier/shinier out in daylight compared with the milky options, but it’s top pick when I have dry patches or I want extra hydration.
That’s all for now! Once Part II is live I will link to it from here. For now, enjoy this lip scrub. It’s great to use on its own or before applying lipstick. Please don’t pay $10 for an overpriced scrub; you probably have everything you need at home!
This peppermint vanilla lip scrub will keep your lips smooth and soft! It's much cheaper than versions you'll purchase online and in stores.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, olive oil, peppermint and vanilla extract.
If desired, add a bit more peppermint and or vanilla extract for additional flavor.
To use: gently massage a small amount over your lips to exfoliate, then lick or wipe off the excess sugar.
You can substitute other flavor extracts and/or oils.