What a year.
Usually when I sit down to write about my favorite products from the past 12 months, I’m hit with fond memories and fun experiences using each one. This feels different, though, as the products that came in clutch for me centered around what looked best on the virtual call and what cleared up my maskne. It’s truly been an unprecedented time for everyone, and our beauty and self-care routines followed as we sought practicality and comfort.
Here are some of my most-used, most-loved and most-necessary products from 2020.
Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm
The double-cleanse proved necessary this year thanks to the buildup of oil, sweat and bacteria on our skin under our masks. Rooted in the idea that like attracts like, an oil-based cleanser removes oil-based impurities from skin, while a typical cleanser that lathers then cleans skin. This balm is greasy in the best way and melted sunscreen, sweat and lots of oil and more off of my skin to clear the way for my cleanser to do its job. Though we were homebound this year, its papaya scent transported me to a tropical paradise each night. ($32; glowrecipe.com)
Summer Fridays CC Me Serum
A good vitamin C serum is crucial to skin care to fade dark spots, even skin tone and boost collagen production. Lots of vitamin C serums irritated my skin, but this serum is fragrance-free, light and smooth but never sticky, like some vitamin C serums inherently are. I applied it after cleansing and toning every morning. During my work-from-home days, it especially came in handy, as vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that combats free radicals from blue light (aka computer and smartphone screens) to keep skin bright and glowy. ($64; summerfridays.com)
It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF 50+
I try a lot of products, but I always come back to this. You can build its coverage from light to full. It also never, ever looks cakey or dry, thanks to added skin care ingredients such as snail mucin, hyaluronic acid, peptides, antioxidants and more. This helped me look refreshed and awake on Zoom calls, but I also love that it contains a mineral sunscreen (SPF 50) to keep my skin healthy and safe. ($39.50; ulta.com)
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque
Maskne is no joke, but a good ol’ clay mask always helps. Made with Amazonian white clay to absorb excess oil and draw out other gunk from pores, I used this mask three times per week to help keep breakouts at bay and shrink and treat any existing blemishes. Along with washing my masks regularly (with fragrance- and dye-free detergent) and double-cleansing daily, this mask kept my skin healthy and clear this year. ($38; kiehls.com)
Haus Labs Eye-Dentify Gel Eyeliner
When it came to makeup while wearing masks, it was all about the eyes this year. Colorful liners felt fun and freeing, and these liners produced serious color payoff. My favorites were Priscilla, a dreamy aquamarine blue shade; Grime, a vibrant true green; and Aura, a stark white. The formula is creamy and glides on super easy, and it stays put on eyes for up to 12 hours, even without a primer underneath. ($18; hauslabs.com)
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT