Ladies and gentlemen, here are my top products of 2020 🙂
I won’t add my personal commentary of how peculiar and upsetting 2020 has been, the past is in the past. While I took a necessary online break, I was far from retiring behind the scenes. I continued all my testings and copywriting/consultant work, but unfortunately blogging took a backseat.
2020 having been a physical, emotional and professional rollercoaster, my skin became a direct reflection of the ongoing turmoil. Breakouts, dry skin, redness, sensitivity, flakiness, dehydration, my skin went through every stage. This year’s selection is showcasing the products that navigated the storm seamlessly by performing efficiently. They do exactly what they’re supposed to do and they do it brilliantly. For the previous editions, head over
I’d go as far as calling it the product of the decade. Axiology is, in my opinion, on the way to become a powerhouse in sustainable beauty. I applaud their constant strive for innovation towards building a cosmetics brand that cares about minimizing waste and going straight for products that are efficient and void of compromising ingredients. The balmies are 100% zero-waste, since the tube and cap were disposed of. Zero-waste products do have the reputation to look bland and perhaps, unrefined, but Axiology showed that sustainability and esthetics are fully compatible.
Formula-wise, in true Axiology fashion, the Balmies are creamy enough to blend seamlessly onto the skin and they are packed with nourishing oils. The versatility of these lip-to-lid balmies is outstanding. You have nested in a cute recyclable red box, products that can be used as eyeshadows, highlighters, blush, and lipstick. Did I mention that they are also vegan? Hats off, Axiology for thinking this product through and through.
I had the opportunity to give the matte lip crayons a try and I must say that they do live up to the hype. They stay on all day, with a gorgeous matte finish and their large range of shades make it very hard to resist grabbing a couple of them. Not to mention that they feel supremely comfortable on the lips without any drying effect. If you’re looking for a matte, creamy lip product that can stay intact from AM to PM, this is it. No need to dwell on it any longer, the Bite Beauty lip crayons do their job amazingly well.
Madara’s venture into makeup is a resounding success for me. I am so used to serum-like foundations (hello Gressa!) that everything else will appear too heavy or cakey to me. Then Madara came along and shook things up. This is a true medium to full coverage foundation that looks impeccable. It has this silky and dewy finish and feels weightless. For a cream foundation, it almost looks undetectable once worn, because it does not settle into fine lines or smudges at the end of the day.
One of those foundations that do not require any specific skin prep, amazing for dry skin but also suitable for all skin types because it is aloe vera-based and void of clogging and comedogenic ingredients. Add to that a boost of antioxidant-rich extracts of blueberry and peony root and multi-molecular Hyaluronic Acid, vitamins C and E. The result: a fantastic foundation (vegan formula).
More than a lip balm, it’s a proper lip treatment for dry and cracked lips. Formulated with Australian fermented papaya, it is high in Vit. C and specific enzymes that provide gentle exfoliation. Shea butter, macadamia, and jojoba seed oils will nourish and restore softness and moisture. My lips stay smooth for a while every time I apply this lip balm, I don’t need to reapply it every few hours as with other regular lip balms. Their Vapour balm is also a fantastic alternative to Vick’s Vaporub.
Versatile and fool-proof. There’s no way to use this product wrong because Saie came up with a high-class formula. The Glowy super gel is a water-based illuminator with unrivaled versatility. It can be applied as a skin primer, as a topical highlighter over foundation, or with your foundation. Every combination works and the finish is stunning. It is sheer, non-glittery so it delivers a lit-from-within glow that looks superb.
My top tip? If you have powder makeup that you’ve left aside because it is a bit chunky or simply because you’re rotating towards more hydrating products, just mix a tiny drop of supergel with your powder makeup to revive it and you enjoy an amazing dewy cream product. I love to mix it with my mineral eyeshadows and blushes.
Not your average lip balm. The clear version also doubles as a little dewy highlighter and glossy eyeshadow. The tinted one works both for lips and cheeks. The formula is sophisticated and was meant to cater to as many people as possible. Vegan, conscious, and rich in botanical extracts. You’ll find a delightful exotic blend of vanilla shea butter, plum kernel oil, seabuckthorn, babassu, and berry wax. The use of multifunctional active ingredients such as Panthenol seals the formula thanks to its anti-inflammatory and moisturizing attributes. This will help reduce the risk of dry and dehydrated skin. LDB also came up with an oil-soluble Hyaluronic acid for extended hydration.
Not sticky at all, very comfortable on lips as it creates this nourishing and protective coat all over them. I noticed a difference when I started using LDB lip balms. They are also fragrance-free which is also why they are so versatile and safe to use. Completely new to me was the use of a resin from the Araucaria spruce, which is what provides the glossy shine that you normally get with silicones and other synthetic film and gloss agents. Not related to the formula itself, but one of the great things about Lovely Day is that you can choose to opt-out card boxes and extra packaging (note: all their card boxes are made from recycled plant residues).
ELATE is another prime example of a cosmetics company going the extra mile to offer sustainable solutions and elevate green beauty. Not only is their mascara nested in this gorgeous bamboo packaging (as is the whole line) but the formula is A+. It elongates and defines the lashes beautifully without any smudges or clumps. Even after 3 months (which is a green mascara’s “expiring” date), it would still perform as new.
French beauty is constantly referenced in standard beauty/fem magazines for its less-is-more approach and effortlessly chic tendency. If there’s one brand that embodies this spirit, it’s Absolution. You can’t go wrong with them. This is THE product to create a fool-proof smoky eye look. The formula is creamy and the product blends like a dream. The metallic sheen gives instantly a luxe feel to the look. I love to use it as mono eyeshadow all over my eyelids, but you can also use them as liners.
FR: La crème de la crème. Selon moi, Absolution a su créer un univers autour de la beauté libre, élégante et moderne. Les crayons sont tellement simples à utiliser et le rendu est digne d’un maquillage fait par un professionnel. Les couleurs sont riches et irisées, avec un effet flatteur sur toutes les carnations. Le smoky eyes à portée de main.
I had the pleasure to test out three different cleansers from this delightful Swiss brand. All stood out but I ended up choosing the gel cleanser because I’ve found gel formulas to be trickier to master. This one is not sticky and provides immediate relief and hydration. Nazan Schnapp’s line incorporates crystals and her formula and this version is infused with purple Amethyst. The stone itself according to ancient Ayurveda, reiki practices, and alternative medicine, is full of negative ions, which help to attract positive energy. In skincare, amethyst has some detoxifying and boosting properties.
In the formula, you’ll find a gorgeous array of ingredients that you don’t commonly find in gel cleansers. Jasmine (great source of antioxidants, toning, and moisturizing benefits) pomegranate (another great source of antioxidants) white Lily (soothing; anti-inflammatory and brightening) peony (antifungal, antioxidant and antibacterial) gardenia (rich in ferulic acid to support collagen and elasticity), pomegranate, aloe vera and rice water.
When all else fails, go back to basics. Squalane never disappoints but finding a high-quality oil is key. FYI got the memo. My skin got so reactive (never underestimate the nefarious effects of stress) during this pandemic, that I had to put away my regular beauty routine and reach for simple, less-than-5-ingredients blends. If you read this (post) you know that squalane is part of my skin rescue team.
The FYI Squalane oil provided healing to the irritation and dryness I was experiencing linked to compromised skin barrier. Another bonus is that you can use it for lips, hair, hands, body because it is intensively nourishing without being clogging. This could not be a better introduction for me to this brand.
Had I not received the Beauty Heroes Box, I’d have gone past this product. Pai used to be amongst my holy-grail brands because they understood early on the importance of keeping the skin’s biome as calm as possible. Many of their products have been reviewed on the blog. However, I found myself drifting away a few years ago after having the impression that Pai was detaching themselves from the green beauty community and bloggers and reaching instead for big influencers and Youtubers. Perhaps, I will share in another post my feeling about the tribulations of being an ethical and green blogger. That being said, their marketing strategies did not alter their formulation and standards when it comes to ingredients, and I wholeheartedly salute that. Yet, Light Work reignited the spark, I used it up to the very last drop. Using it felt like re-connecting with an old friend who you’ve been separated from due to life circumstances.
It’s an emulsifying cleansing oil with Pai’s signature ingredient, rosehip oil, and in addition to leaving the skin clean without disrupting its balance, it’s an oil packed with essential fatty acids omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9, plus antioxidant carotenoids. I was initially startled by the presence of citrus essential oils which can be irritating, but Pai passed the “sensitive skin” test with flying colors because it is formulated to the T. My fussy skin felt calm and balanced. Pai also has developed a volcanically sourced CO2 supercritical extraction method to derive a unique blend of Andean rosehip fruit and seed oils, which is according to them, more ” effective, fresh and long-lasting than traditional cold-pressed oils”. What I can say with certainty is that it is indeed a high-quality oil cleanser.
Switzerland is coming in strong here. Rescue diver is the ultimate skin-quencher. Designed to preserve the skin’s collagen production. Elixseri is specialized in high-performing, science-driven serums incorporating phytoactive. Their patented “Bio-regenerative technology” contributes to maintaining a healthy skin microbiome to promote auto-repair and skin regeneration. Elixseri is focused on using actives that rebuild the extra cellular matrix in the skin to maintain its elasticity and develop products high Antioxidants, polysaccharides, amino acids, prebiotics, and multi-level hyaluronic acid (which has been proven to be efficient) for optimal skin health.
Rescue Diver contains Hyaluronic acid in varying molecular weights has the ability to the skin barrier and restore the moisture on different levels. It has been shown that MW HA contributes to the decrease of trans-epidermal water loss and ultimately plays a part in wrinkle formation. What I noticed is that my skin would feel much more calm and hydrated after each application. I tested it during a phase where my skin was reacting to most of my skincare products so I used the sample I had to the very last drop. It improved the overall skin appearance (firmer and brighter, decongested and less tired appareance).
My first foray into Retinol. Fully deserving to be in the top products of 2020 line-up. Naya is a brand that I got to discover during the first Indie Beauty Expo in London and since then my admiration for this brand keeps growing. Cacay + A contains 3 ingredients: cacay, soybean oil, and retinol. Naya’s star ingredient, cacay oil has been dubbed as a plant alternative to retinol. It is bursting with essential fatty acids and nutrients key for optimal skin health. Naya does have a pure cacay oil in her line, but Cacay + A is on another level.
Retinol is a non-prescription alternative to retinoic acid. It is a derivative of Vit. A and is reportedly more gentle than retinoic acid and yet is also capable to have an action on fine lines, collagen boost, and cellular turnover. Retinoic acid is acting faster than retinol so patience is key when using the Cacay + A. I am not aware of the precise dosage of retinol in the formula° but I did not experience any irritations. The product is also essential oil- and fragrance-free so all the conditions were reunited for minimizing any skin reactions.
°EDIT: Sarah, the founder, left a comment on the amount of Retinol: “we are using 0.3% of Retinol in the Cacay Oil + A. In Germany, where we develop and manufacture our products, the maximum concentration of retinol in products is not allowed not exceed 0.3 percent. In many cases, a higher concentration would cause skin irritation, because the vitamin A acid may then cause irritations. We are using pure Retinol. Nowadays there is a huge variety on the market and with that the percentage changes and many misunderstandings emerge.”
Is it possible to “overmist”? Asking for a friend. I was hooked, I can’t tell if it’s because I am in dire need of some sunshine and until then I have to resort to topical Vit. D but my skin loved it. The source of vit. D used in the mist comes from Shiitake mushroom. What makes the OLO mist special is its feeling on the skin, it instantly provides hydration without any stickiness. By incorporating emollient oils and vit. E you have the impression that you restore your skin to balance after a few sprays. It tackles itchiness and discomfort instantly. If I were to do a top 5 of face mists, Botanical D would assuredly have a spot in the listing.
I used to be hooked on Tata Harper’s resurfacing face mask because it would make my skin glow after each use. This is the cleanser version, never has my skin looked more fresh and glowing after cleansing. It emulsifies with water and leaves the skin luminous and soft. Just looking at this gooey rosy texture fills me with joy. Influenced by Mayan beauty rituals, the rose papaya balm contains Tepezcohuite, which holds antifungal and astringent properties.
To balance things out, the formula also contains aloe vera and moringa oil to soothe and nourish dry and flaky skin. Last but not least, it is also a cleanser with some gentle exfoliating benefits thanks to its content of natural fruit acids from Mango, papaya, and pomegranate. Hence why the skin looks radiant after each use. Mawena is a brand to watch (by that I mean to support), they have created a distinctive visual identity along with unique formulas.
FR. Une pépite. Une texture hyper agréable, alliée à une composition exceptionnelle. Ce gel/baume hybride enveloppe la peau, et une fois rincée, revèle un teint lumineux et frais. J’aime tout, le packaging coloré et joyeux, les ingrédients selectionnées avec soin, la texture fondante, la philosophie et l’éthique de la marque…Mawena sort du lot à tous les niveaux et c’est cela sa force. Je recommande à 1000%.
Apicia is a wellness and beauty company centered around bee products. Their face mask is an amazing cocooning, nourishing whippy cream. It is formulated with honey (high in B vitamins, crucial for skin health), pollen (rich in essential amino acids, key for strong hair, nails, and skin), and aloe vera (soothing and anti-inflammatory)
It restores stressed, dry, flaky skin to a calm and soft state. I use it usually as an overnight face mask. You can easily layer your skincare on top of it. This is a must-have for fall/winter to give the skin some tender loving care – especially during the winter with the freezing temperatures and the face masks which can irritate the skin over time.
FR: Une très belle découverte, j’ai découvert Apicia pendant la pandémie quand je faisais des recherches sur le pollen frais, et lors de ma commande, je n’ai pas pu résister d’inclure ce masque. D’ordinaire, les masques au miel ont une tendance à être trop riche pour ma peau, mais le masque ultra réconfortant fait partie des exceptions. Son effet cocooning fait un bien fou aux peaux stressées et asséchées. On retouve une peau de bébé, toute douce et calme.
When you know, you know. I feel like Agent Nateur does not need any introduction, and once you try this brand you can’t go back. Insomnia, stress, and lack of sunshine were starting to hit a toll on my eye area and I decided to be proactive about it and invest in a solid eye product. It has this jelly texture that is soothing and cooling; it does not feel sticky which is a real prowess when it comes to eye gels. I used it to the very last dollop. I had no milia with it, it absorbs like a dream. Now that I am out of it, I see a difference, especially for my dark circles which look more proéminent again. I can vouch for its brightening and plumping benefits thanks to its well-rounded formula which includes caffeine, cucumber, chamomile, and calendula, and worth noting pitaya, hawkweed, and daisy flower extract.
If I squirted too much product, apply. it around my mouth and on my forehead. I am mad about the scent, which is a subtle delicate rosy/cucumber scent and I wish it could be bottled in a perfume. Dewy, It gives a gorgeous sheen so it almost doubles as a highlighter. The only “blow” is the price (It was a treat to myself, haha, that’s how I could justify it). They changed the dispenser which is a major plus because the former pump was not ideal. But again, it is doing a wonderful job because it nourishes the sensitive eye area. While it blends seamlessly, it feels like you are leaving a protective coat around your eyes.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but gold comes close too – including in skincare. It contains a retinol-like plant extract derived from Bidens Pilosa which is supposed to promote cellular renewal and benefits of retinol minus the irritation. The nourishing benefits are provided by contains Rosehip Oil and Argan Oil making it rich in omega 3 and 6 which The golden shimmers come from sustainably sourced mineral Mica and I can’t help but sing Goldfinger in my bathroom every time I apply this mask.
What I can attest is that every time I use the Bio-retinol mask, my complexion revives. It feels like a mini-workout for the skin, while I am letting it sit, I can feel my face warm-up (no tingling or irritations) and I think that it gives the circulation a much-needed boost. I did not experience any irritations so that’s another major good point and it has been part of my weekly routine. I am just addicted to that glow post-masking.
I was introduced to it thanks to the lovely Sarah from Amazingy. After years of green beauty endeavors, I am still amazed by how innovative brands can be. Beuti’s enzymatic gel cleanser is one-of-a-kind. It’s a cleanser, it’s an exfoliant, it’s a mask and it performs exceptionally well. The gel texture emulsifies effortlessly and just like, Evolve’s bio-retinol mask, my skin looks energized after each use.
The star ingredient is fermented pomegranate which performs like glycolic acid to provide mild exfoliation. The result is an improved skin radiance and refined texture. It also has rose clay and I had forgotten how amazing clay-based cleansers work on my skin and Remove impurities so well while keeping it calm. Copaiba balsam has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, but can also boost collagen and fade scars., It also has essences of Iris, Laurel, and Myrtle to heal, soothe and keep skin glowing. A must-have for bright, decongested skin.
A stunning line from New Zealand. I am always on the hunt for sun-protective products and Emma Lewisham has released a gem that is a moisturizer with SPF 30. It absorbs like a dream, the “white cast” effect is minimal and resorbs within a few seconds. It is packed with nutrients and it does a fabulous protective job. Formulated with Hyaluronic Acid (to support skin elasticity); sea buckthorn (high in essential fatty acids and bursting with Vit. A to brighten and stimulate collagen production) and one of my favorite ingredients organic prickly pear (with its soothing and cell-renewing benefits, high content in Vit. E). I found myself reaching for it every day, my skin looked plump and hydrated enough for the day.
This is not a new product, but Ayuna reformulated and tweaked their sun-protective tinted moisturizer. I remember having a bit of an issue with the strong scent of the previous version which is no longer the case with the updated formula. If you like Josh Rosebrook’s tinted day cream, you’ll love Velo just as much. The tint is subtle and ensures that there’s zero white cast. It is so soft and applies smoothly without any issues. No sticky feeling or discomfort, it is lightweight with a soft coverage to even out the skin naturally.
Formulated with mineral light protection, antioxidant-rich vitamin E and argan oil and marshmallow root helps to bring some resistance to pollution-induced skin damage. The use of postbiotics (produced during the fermentation process of probiotic bacteria, such as enzymes, peptides, peptidoglycan-derived muropeptides, polysaccharides, cell surface proteins, and organic acids) elevate the product and guarantee balanced and calm skin.
Madara is a brand I have been using for years, and to this day, I am still eagerly anticipating their upcoming releases. I had heard of Cica creams via the Korean beauty realm and when Madara decided to come to the rescue of skin plagued by Maskne and irritations, I knew I had to. CICA refers to extract of Centella Asiatica, which has been reported to have high soothing and calming properties. Besides, Madara added Hyaluronic acid, bisabolol, shea butter, and ceramides to ensure that this cream tackles dry, irritations, and moisture loss.
This restored my cheeks to a calm state. I used to get flaky skin all over my cheeks and chin in addition to irritations, and over several weeks of use, I noticed a significant improvement in my overall skin health. Another brilliant product by Madara. I have also never used up a product so quickly.
A minéral-rich hair tonic for a stressed and irritated scalp. Works wonders for me. I use it every morning and I move on with a scalp massager for optimal absorption. While I am still having issues with thinning hair, my hair loss has considerably slowed down and I do think this product has helped in my overall scalp health.
If you asked me today to choose between a jade Roller and a Kansa wand, I’d choose the latter. While I do love both, it’s just that the Kansa is currently more suited to my personal needs. Kansa does a stellar job at decongesting and relieving puffiness, tension and dullness. If you experienced sinus/congestion issues, a Kansa wand really helps to alleviate the pain and discomfort.
You may be aware that I never pushed for solid shampoos on my blog for the simple reason that I had not found a formula that catered to my fine and oily hair. Turns out that following the massive shedding I went through last year, the only shampoo that helped me manage was the caffeine shampoo bar from Natural Wisdom. After a couple of uses, my hair loss diminished and my scalp no longer turned oily and flat after one day of washing. Highly recommend it, this is an excellent formula for fine, flat hair.
It’s a marvelous post shower oil because it immediately improves the dryness linked to showering. My skin drinks it up. The clever selection of oils such as Pumpkin seed and sea buckthorn oils provide the necessary amount of and fatty acids. OLO uses a patterned active “antileukine 6″®, derived from antioxidant-rich sea botanical to “help defend against environmental stressors and dryness and to help smooth and firm the appearance of the skin”. I am a sucker for little details and the spray dispenser that OLO chose is brilliant. It makes oil application fuss-free and spill-free. I feel like I’m a true gardener, but instead of watering my plants, I am oiling my body haha. Simply put, it’s an invitation to treat our body more mindfully.
What were your top products of 2020? Let me know if you have any questions regarding the products mentioned above.
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