On a recent visit to a holistic spa, I found myself lying helpless on a padded recliner as my facialist Negin scrutinized my skin with a bright white light. “Your pores are extremely clogged,” she told me in a tone of mild disapproval that reminded me of my mother. It turns out that the thick mineral sunscreen I was slathering on my face every morning—in hopes of keeping my skin looking young—was actually doing harm by depositing residue into my pores. Without a proper cleansing ritual, I learned, I was doomed to a perpetually congested complexion. Alarmed (especially since my skin tends to freak out with the change of seasons), I set out on a mission to find products that cleanse effectively without causing irritation.
After test-driving a hoard of different formulas, I’ve finally settled on two products that meet my criteria. Since my skin tends to dry out as the cooler weather sets in, I’ve been washing day and night with boscia’s Purifying Cleansing Gel. The clear gel formula is non-foaming and manages to dissolve all kinds of residue, from eyeliner to sunscreen (I find that I don’t need to use a separate makeup remover). Plus, it has hydrangea leaf, which helps reduce the look of visible pores—bye-bye, unsightly T-zone.
Two to three times a week, I’ve been pairing the cleanser with my new go-to exfoliator: Benefit’s refined finish facial polish. Unlike most scrubs, which tend to be way too granular, this white clay-based formula uses fine sugar particles to smooth away dull skin cells (and it also has a sweet, non-medicinal scent). By following a diligent cleansing and exfoliating routine for the past few weeks, I find that my skin already looks better—though I’m sure another chi-chi spa facial wouldn’t hurt.
Another Benefit product the ladies at Birchbox HQ are loving: it’s potent eye cream.