Thayer’s Witch Hazel

You really don’t know what you have until it’s gone! Or until you put it in the back-most corner of your closet for an extended period of time.

This is an alcohol-free (!) toner. If you flip the plastic bottle that it comes in on it’s side, the toner comes out in drops. It’s basically water. You can apply this with a cotton ball or a tissue, it’s not recommended to use your hands because of how quickly it absorbs into skin. I liked to use it after I washed my face, to take off any residual dirt or makeup.

The claim is that Thayer’s Witch Hazel will reduce your pore size. I trialed this for about four months to see if that was really true — it wasn’t. It did make my skin feel “refreshed” (and it’s rose scented, so of course I love the smell), and it does a really good job of removing makeup. And it didn’t break me out! But I didn’t feel like my skin was making any significant changes with it. In fact, if I didn’t immediately follow this up with moisturizer, I felt that my face was getting very tight (obvious solution: apply moisturizer within a few minutes of using this toner). Convinced that swiping my face with a tissue with this product every day was doing more damage than good, I shelved this for a few weeks.

My skin was crazy congested during those few weeks. Coincidence?! Maybe. But I really overlooked how well this removes makeup and dirt, thus eliminating some of the catalysts for breakouts. My face cleansers just can’t get into my pores the same way this stuff does.

So, back into my regular rotation this goes. For $7-9 at basically any drug or grocery store, I absolutely recommend this product. ~A

Buy Thayer’s Witch Hazel here:https://amzn.to/2Ef8ajr

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes (just make sure to use a moisturizer right after!)

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

cetaphil gentle skin cleanser

The holy grail cleanser for anyone with any acne issues, ever. It won’t cure your acne, but it will never make it worse, and does it’s job well to give your skin a clean slate for the day.

For $10-13, this pump bottle comes with enough product to last you at least 4-5 months, depending on how often you use it. One pump should be enough if you add a little water in to lather it. Apply it to your face, and wash it off. Simple. It’s incredibly basic — the cleanser comes out faintly white and it’s easy to lather up. It has no distinct smell.

In terms of removing makeup, this isn’t the best in the world and you might need go through the motions a few times to remove any extra product. But if you’re just looking to remove excess oil or grime from your face from the day or night (without stripping 100% of the natural oils from your face), then this is definitely your product.

I have tried the regular version of this (not labeled gentle skin cleanser), and it seemed about the same — maybe a tiny bit more drying, but nothing that prevented me from using up the whole bottle.

There really isn’t too much to say about this cleanser — it is, again, basic, but does the job starting your skin back at zero pretty well without being too drying, and a lot of people love it for that reason. I HIGHLY recommend this product if you have any type of acne. ~A

If you’d like to go back to basics with your skincare, click here: https://amzn.to/2SIPld6

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: n/a

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Resounding yes!

Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser

Ponds Cold Cream

This product has been around forever (since the early twentieth century, according to Wikipedia), and it’s in every grocery store in existence. Until two months ago, I ignored it completely, until it was at Target for $4 and I impulse bought it.

This product is a white cream cleanser. It’s, as the title would suggest, cool to the touch. The instructions on the back say to use it as cleanser. I was hesitant to do so because there’s definitely mineral oil in it, and my sensitive skin is very… particular to what oils end up on my face, if any at all. But I tried it anyway (no patch testing, yee-haw!). Although it required a little more manual effort of pushing the product around on my face than my normal foaming cleansers would seem to require, it actually did take off my makeup more effectively than aforementioned foaming cleansers.

I did this for a day or two. I am convinced it did cause a small breakout on my chin, but there’s no way to prove that. Needless to say, at that point, I started using the product only around my eyes, since it’s totally awesome at removing eye makeup.

There is an instruction on the back that suggests you do not have to wash off the product after applying it. After cleaning off my eye makeup one night, I decided to leave a few swipes “on”, under my eyes, right on top of my beautiful dark circles. It felt kind of nice, actually — the skin around my eyes tends to get irritated because of how sensitive my eyes are, and this product is super cooling (and, said product does not cause further irritation to my eyes!). And I SWEAR the next morning my circles looked a bit fainter. Placebo effect? Who knows. But I still do it to this day. Even if it’s just mind trickery, I’ll take it! ~A

To try out this oldie-but-goodie, click this link: https://amzn.to/2SOvycc

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5 (as an eye cream, or eye makeup remover. As an actual makeup remover, 4/5)

Longevity: 4.5/5 — if left on

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser

Cerave Foaming Cleanser

This cleanser is highly coveted by many, but I personally am just not feeling it. The caveat here is that I have a tough time with cleansers, generally speaking, and I try to avoid using them when I can.  I originally picked this up when I realized that the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser isn’t super-phenomenal at taking off makeup. I figured, hey this one is a foaming cleanser ergo it will remove my makeup, and it’s from Cerave who has never let me down in terms of pumping their products full of hydrating ingredients, so I won’t feel like I’ve completely stripped off the first layer of my skin after washing.

The product comes out as a clear liquid from a pump. It doesn’t really smell like anything in particular, maybe a bit like something you would smell from a generic handsoap, with substantially less fragrance. It’s supposed to foam up when you apply water and rub it against your skin, but I… don’t really think it does that? Am I wrong? Ok, it foams a TINY bit. Doesn’t matter. The next issue is, no matter how much product I pump out, it’s seemingly never enough to get my entire face, and I need to pump out more. Good thing this is kind of a big bottle, right?

In terms of makeup removal, it does… okay. Again, not great, but it’s not like this product is exactly screaming out “makeup removal” on the packaging (rather, not at all), so I’ll give it some credit. Certainly, it does a better job of stripping off oil and product than it’s sister hydrating cleanser.

What this product is really good at, though, is making your skin feel dry as a desert after you’re done washing. As I mentioned before, I try to avoid cleansers and it’s for this very reason — that is their purpose, to strip you dry of all the gunk on your face. But considering Cerave goes out of their way to advertise the ceramides and HA, I just feel like… I shouldn’t feel like that? I don’t know. I certainly feel like my skin barrier’s been disrupted.

Over time, I’ve discovered my secret combo: mix the Cerave hydrating cleanser and the foaming cleanser together! That way, it’ll take off my makeup and ever-so-slightly keep my skin hydrated, simultaneously. So I guess I’ll keep the foaming cleanser around, so long as it’s sister cleanser stays on my bathroom sink. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.75/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes