January 12, 2017

Beauty Hall of Fame

2016 felt like the year that I tried hundreds of beauty products. Out of the bunch, I wanted to compile a list of my best of the best, my holy grails and the products I wouldn’t want to be without. Some I’ve been using for years and years and some are newer additions that I’m so excited to have found. Below is a breakdown of my skincare,  makeup and beauty favs.


Kate Somerville Exfolikate: Typically, I’m a fan of acid exfoliators rather than physical, but this is the exception. I use Exfolikate once a week, usually on Sundays and it beautifully preps and opens my skin for any products that follow. On days that I use this, I will NOT use P50 or any other exfoliator (chemical or manual). I’ll usually follow with a moisturizing cream and seal it in with a favorite oil.

SkinCeuticals Serum 20 AOX+: When I visited my dermatologist several months ago, she insisted I incorporate both a retinol and a vitamin C antioxidant into my routine. Applying this serum after cleansing and before sunblock creates a shield that protects against environmental damage and prevents against accelerated aging. I’ve also noticed a lot of my hyperpigmentation fading, something I attribute to this product and my use of retinol.

Shani Darden Retinol Reform: Speaking of retinol, ever since my post, I’ve had a bunch of you comment and email me to tell me that you swear by Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform. Being the skincare junkie that I am, I had to see was the hype about. It’s also part research, right? Well you all were not kidding! Seriously, my skin thanks you! What makes this product so great is that it’s a strong retinol, but with a moisturizer base so you don’t get that dry feeling that you may get from other retinols. No wonder she’s the esthetician to the stars.

Biologique Recherche P50: I’ve spoken about my love for P50 countless times. It truly is one of the best products in the market! At one point, I ran out and stopped using it for several weeks and I noticed a serious difference in how my skin looked. Rather than going into it again, you can check out my original post here.  Currently I’m using the P50 1970 several times a week.

Bioloique Recherche Masque Vivant: This balancing mask is at the top of my holy grail list. Yes, it’s probably the worst smelling face mask you’ll ever use, but I’ve gotten so used to it, the smell doesn’t bother me anymore. What makes this mask so great (and smelly) are the live yeast extracts which are loaded with amino acids and vitamin B. This means skin is purified balanced and toned. I always exfoliate with P50 first and then apply the mask after for 15-20 minutes and wash off with a face cloth.

Sunday Riley Good Genes: Yet another acid, but this time around it’s lactic, the gentlest of them all. I use this several times a week and my skin is left brighter, my pores are reduced and it’s loaded with a ton of anti-aging properties. Like most of Sunday Riley products, I just wish it wasn’t so expensive, so if you’re trying for the first time, get a sample to make sure you love. I’ve also gotten a ton of questions asking whether I use this in conjunction with the P50 and the answer is no. On nights that I use Good Genes, I’ll use a much milder exfoliator like Pixi Glow Tonic. 

Sunday Riley Juno: I’ve expressed my love for face oils here and while I love all of the ones I posted, this is the one I’ve repurchased several times. It’s pricey, but even in the harshest winters, my skin feels nourished and never dry.

Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm:  Ever since I started using a cleansing balm to double cleanse, I cringe at the thought of how I used to wash my made-up face (a little foaming cleanser, water and done). Out of everything I’ve tried, this balm remains my favorite to break down all makeup and sunblock without drying my skin out.


Lancome Artliner: On most days, I wear a thin line of black liquid liner on my lid. Out of all of them, this one stands above the rest. The felt brush makes it so easy to apply, the color never fades or smudges and  always looks beautifully pigmented.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer: Even when I’m not wearing eyeshadow, I use this primer. It prevents my lids from looking oily and gives my liquid eyeliner something to grip on to.

MAC Lip Primer: An absolute must before applying any pigmented lipstick. It keeps my lips moisturized without cracking or peeling and makes the lipstick go on so much smoother.

MAC Blot Powder: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve repurchased this. This is my favorite product for taming my shiny forehead without ever looking cakey.

Nars Creamy Concealer: This concealer does the best job of actually concealing without caking. I use this under my eyes, on any red spots and on blemishes.

YSL Touche Eclat: I’ve raved about my love for Touche Eclat in the past and years later, it’s still at the top of my list. While the highlighting effects are subtle, it makes such a difference in making my eye and brow area look so much brighter. There are days I’ll use this by itself but when I need an extra boost, I’ll apply a bit of this over the Nars Creamy Concealer.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector: The prettiest highlighter I’ve ever used. It blends like a dream and makes my skin look fresh and dewy rather than a shiny disco ball.

Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lipgloss: When I’m not wearing a bright lip, chances are, I’m wearing this. Hands down, my favorite lipgloss out there! My favorite colors are Bellini and Pastel.


Nexxus New York Emergencee Treatment: When my hair is in major need of some TLC, I rely on this protein treatment to whip it back into shape. If I don’t have much time, I’ll use it in the shower: shampoo, apply the Emergencee, rinse out and finish with a moisturizing conditioner. If I have more time, I’ll actually get out of the shower for each step and leave on both the treatment and conditioner for 30 minutes each. FYI: There is such a thing as using too much protein, so make sure you don’t overdo it.

Mason Pearson Brush: Pretty much the Rolls Royce of brushes. When I tell people how much this (mostly) hand-made brush cost me ($150), they look at me like I’m crazy. I get it, paying this much for a hairbrush seems absolutely ridiculous! However, I can assure you that once you use one, there’s no turning back. What makes it so great: it’s super gentle, never tugging at your hair or causing any breakage. On the contrary, the bristles glide through your hair and stimulate your scalp like no other brush. The stimulation promotes blood flow to the scalp which in turn, promotes healthy hair growth and redistributes your natural oils. I find that my hair looks smoother, glossier and significantly less frizzy than when I use any other brush. My favorite is the nylon and boar mixed available here and currently, Dermstore.com is having 25% off their entire site with the code HAPPY18.

K’erastase L’Incroyable Blowdry Lotion: I own an embarrassing amount of hair products, especially anything that claims to cut down frizz. Out of my bunch, this is the one I reach for the most! It makes my hair way smoother in texture and repels humidity, something I had the unfortunate pleasure of testing out on a 90 degree/99% humidity day.

Harry Josh Pro Dryer: This dryer not only cuts my drying time in half but it makes my hair way smoother, shinier and less frizzy. 

T3 Styling Wand: I finally took the plunge and splurged on this curler and I’ve been so happy with it.  Tip: I ended up getting it at Sephora and the Sales Associate told me that I could take it home, try it and if I wasn’t 100% happy, they’d take it back.

Nexxus New York Promend Heat Spray:  I’ve become diligent in using a heat protectant spray prior to using heat. I posted about this product here and since incorporating it into my routine, I’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in damage caused by heat.


And there you have my favorites! How about you guys? Are there any products that you’d recommend and you can’t live without? I would love to hear!

Also, I know sometimes these type of beauty/skincare posts result in a lot of questions. If you have any, ask in the comment section below!



  • Trendique

    The Mason Pearson hair brush looks so nice!!! <3

    xo Vanessa from http://www.Trendique-Magazine.com

    • BrooklynBlonde

      it’s the best!

  • Rach

    This is so helpful!! I definitely want to try out the serum!


  • Shannon Berkeley

    When you use the BR masque vivant over the P50, how long do you wait after exfoliating with P50 before applying the masque, since you’ll end up washing it off when you wash the masque off?

    Just to clarify, do you use the SkinCeuticals serum and Shari Darden retinol as your daytime treatments under sunblock, and then your Biologique Recherche and Sunday Riley exfoliators as your nighttime treatments under a face oil and/or moisturizer?

    And finally, do you recommend any particular face sunblock? Do you use it as a moisturizer, or is it in your makeup primer?

    Lots of questions, but I use lots of the same products, so just trying to sort out the best order for them all – thanks!


    • BrooklynBlonde

      Hi Shannon,
      I usually wait about 2-3 minute before applying the masque. The reason I use the P50 before is that it “opens” the skin up to allow the mask to work better.

      For the SkinCeuticals serum, I use that after cleansing, (occasionally toning in the morning with something milder like the Pixi Glow tonic) and before sunblock. I NEVER use retinol in the morning since retinol makes your skin incredibly sensitive to the sun.

      At night, I switch things up a lot depending on what my skin needs but yes, often I’ll use the P50 and then some creams. Or I’ll Retinol. I never use the P50 with retinol or any other acids as I think it might be too much for me. But those with less sensitive skin possibly handle it more.

      For sunblock, I love the one from Shiseido or from Control Corrective. In the summer, I’ll just use the sunblock in replace of my moisturizer. During dryer months, I’ll dap a little face lotion on first and then apply my sunblock on top.

      Hope this helps!

  • Kathleen @ Carrie Bradshaw Lied

    Love this post! I have several of the beauty items and look forward to trying the others. I just got the MP brush and it’s been on my lust list for years! Also have that curling wand and it’s THE best!

  • Ewa Macherowska

    Great post! Thanks 😉


  • Adriana

    I love the Sunday Riley serum!

    The Black Blush

  • Angela Chang

    Do you like the p50 lotion or the p50 1970 lotion better?

    • Angela Chang

      do you use your p50/p50 1970 lotion before your retinol reform? is there a wait time?

      • BrooklynBlonde

        Hi Angela,

        I kind of alternate between both. If my skin is hormonal and acting crazy, I’ll use the 1970, but if not, I’ll use the regular. I know it’s not realistic for people to buy both, so if I had to pick, I’d go with the 1970. It will turn your skin red after using, which is perfectly normal!

  • Supersoar

    This post is very useful to me, love your work!

  • sel

    Helena, with your experience in the fashion and beauty industry, do you know of any skincare and make-up brands that have organic certification? Since doing my own research on the ingredients used in the majority of personal care and skincare products, I have discovered that a great number of the ingredients are toxic and hormone disrupting and cancer causing. Therefore, I refuse to use them. I use natural oils on my skin – rose hip oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera gel and coconut oil. But, I would really love to know if you know of any lipsticks that are made with natural, organically certified ingredients. I can do without blush, eye shadow, nail polished etc, but I miss lipstick. Thanking you in advance.

  • nat

    oooo great products! That styling wand looks great

  • Benedetta

    These products seems all so good!!!!
    Be Happy with Fashion

  • Fariha

    Thanks for sharing your recommendations! I’ve been wanting to try the Nars concealer for some time. If it doesn’t cause caking, then I think I’m definitely going to give it a try.

    Lovely blog, by the way. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Fariha | http://blog.farihawajid.com

  • Alexa

    Can I ask why you are using the 1970 p50 lotion over the new formula? I read your post about it and ordered the new formula and my skin is breaking out like crazy now! (Been using for about a week now) I’ve read that happened to others. Did it happen to you? And do you recommend the 1979 formula over the new?

    • Alexa

      Oops 1970

    • BrooklynBlonde

      Hey Alexa,
      ugh! I’m so sorry to hear your skin is freaking out. Trust me, I’ve been there and I know how upsetting that can be. I do love both, depending on how my skin is behaving. If it’s acting up and breaking out, I tend to reach for the 1970 as it has more antiseptic properties. But on the occasion that I’ve run out, I use the newer formula. I truly like both!

      Often they say it takes a few weeks for the P50 to “balance” out your skin. Are you using anything else that can be contributing to the breakouts? Years ago, when my skin was breaking out like crazy, I started with the newer P50 and that + proper cleansing really helped my skin but it took a few weeks. Let me know!


  • Janine

    Hi there. You did not comment on Unit U Luxury Intense Mask. When do you use it and why do you like it? Thank you

  • Mel

    Loving the products you shared! Skincare is so important to me especially during the winter months 🙂


  • instagram viewer

    Thank you for this list! I also have that dryer ^^ just chose it randomly because my old one is too small. Wanna try all this list~~

  • Kate

    Helena, Would you recommend your dermatologist? Who is he/she?

  • eve

    Hi there,

    I love your blog and all the content you provide. Can you share with us what was your pregnancy regiment. What products did you use that were “pregnancy safe”?


  • Marissa Valdenegro

    I was wondering what kind of skin type would you say that you have? I have really oily skin, so I was wondering whether the Mac Blot Powder would work for me?

  • Nicole Sioui

    Hi Helena, as always, I’m more than enthusiastic to sample your beauty list recommendations.Recently, I tried Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment. Turned kind of red and was wondering if you do too?? Then after some research is what I found – The next best thing to seeing Kate Somerville for an appointment…. Well, we don’t think so, not even remotely so. Packaged in an opaque tube, this ordinary topical scrub contains plastic beads as the scrub particles, plus lactic acid. You’re supposed to apply it to your skin, massage for 30 seconds, then leave it on for up to 2 minutes, then rinse. That’s not much time for the lactic acid to work, but the pH of this scrub is too high for exfoliation to occur regardless of how long you leave it on your skin. Actually, leaving this on your skin for even 1 second is a mistake: it’s fraught with irritants, including geranium, rosewood, cinnamon, orange, and patchouli oils. No wonder the company states that redness (flushing) may appear several minutes after removing this from skin; it’s not “increased circulation” in a healthy sense—it’s increased circulation as a direct response to intense irritation, and that’s bad for skin. 🙁

  • Driving Directions

    The set of product is awesome, maybe I will buy a set to make up.

  • Ihsan

    Thanks for sharing your recommendations! I’ve been wanting to try the Nars concealer for some time. If it doesn’t cause caking, then I think I’m definitely going to give it a try.

  • Skyler mapes

    I wonder if this brush will work with curly hair when it’s wet? I only wash my hair 1-2 times a week and have been looking for a great brush!


  • Jimmi

    This is so helpful!! I have several of the beauty items and look forward to trying the others.

  • tubidy

    I’m happy to follow your site.. http://tubidyfb.com

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