2015 favourites: best skincare products

I've been putting off doing my 2015 skincare favourites because I knew I had so many products I've used and loved since I started blogging, but when it actually came to picking out the best ones it wasn't as hard as I thought!

As I mentioned in my other 2015 favourites posts, I'm going to use existing photos rather than take fresh ones of everything because many of the empties are long gone, and I'm also limiting this post to products I've already reviewed (meaning that some products I'm currently using won't get a mention).

So without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top skincare picks for 2015:

Best Facial Exfoliants: Alpha-H Gentle Daily Exfoliant and Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser

This Alpha-H product is a new discovery but I knew within the first few uses that it had earned a permanent place in my skincare armoury. Full review here.

It's a powder product that you mix with water to form a paste, and somehow it does a remarkable job of exfoliating without the use of harsh grains. My skin always looks brighter and feels smoother after using this, and even though I've only been using it for a few weeks, I can't imagine life without it!

There was no way in hell I could choose between this Suki exfoliant and the Alpha-H one, so I decided to include both of them as winners under this heading. I've reviewed the Suki product here.

This product is just divine to use: it smells like lemony heaven (ha) and leaves my skin feeling beautifully clean. If I had to get picky, I would say that the Alpha-H product does a better job of exfoliation but this one is more enjoyable to use and less of a hassle because you don't need to mix it.

But I love them both and plan to use them FOREVER.

Best Facial Wipes: Essenzza Fuss Free Naturals, Natural Facial Cleansing Wipes

Another product I plan to use forever. I've reviewed these wipes here.

I like the green ones the best but that's only because I like the smell of those - otherwise I can't detect any difference between the three types. These have plenty of moisture and they come with a smooth side and a rough one, so they exfoliate and cleanse well and do a great job of removing makeup.

I need to get myself some more of these: I've run out and I miss them!

Best Facial Cleanser: Alpha-H Liquid Gold Anti-ageing Cleanser

Full review here. I'm surprised by how much I love this product since I normally prefer foaming cleansers, but this one is too good to ignore.

It leaves your skin feeling fresh, clean, soft and supple, and I think it has a brightening and resurfacing effect too. It also dissolves makeup and grime unbelievably well, and I don't need to double-cleanse with this product because it does enough on its own.

I've finished my tube but it's on the wishlist for next year and I can't wait to use it again.

Best Toner: Nivea Daily Essentials Refreshing Toner and Happy Skincare Raindrops on Roses Hydrating Tonic

I couldn't pick between these two so it's another tie under this heading.

The Nivea toner smells so wonderful and refreshing that I get a lift each time I use it - so much so that I've been known to open the bottle and give it a sniff when I need a pick up! I've reviewed it here.

My skin loves it and my face looks fresher and brighter after use. It's not harsh or astringent, and it somehow manages to be gentle while still getting the job done. It's great for removing not only dirt but also makeup, plus it costs a measly $8 at full price. Bargain!

This toner from Happy Skincare costs more than three times the Nivea product but that's still not a ridiculous price for decent skincare. Full review here.

It really does smell like raindrops on roses, and it's a great refresher and plumper. It feels nice on and my skin looks and feels clearer, cleaner and fresher when I use it - plus it offers some rejuvenating and youth-promoting results.

I haven't bought one of these for a while but I reckon I'm just about due for another one...

Best Serum: Darphin HydraSkin Intensive Moisturising Serum

I obviously haven't used great serums this year because this was the only product that stood out and I would have preferred to mention it if I'd been through a full size, but this little sample did last almost a month because I rationed it (I only used it on my face) so I was still able to get a good sense of it. I've reviewed it here.

It's a super lightweight product that feels like water to the touch and has a faint, refreshing fragrance. You wouldn't think that something this watery would pack so much punch, but it does and it leaves my face looking less lined, brighter and more fresh - plus my skin feels hydrated and just happier overall. This one's on the wishlist so I hope I can pick it up sometime next year.

Best Face Cream: Alpha-H Liquid Gold Rejuvenating Face Cream

Full review here. Few skincare products make a huge and noticeable difference to your skin, but this one certainly does. When I first used it, I noticed the change immediately and the benefits were even more marked over time.

When using this, my skin looks and feels healthier, smoother and more plumped, and it's had an impact on fine lines too. I'm dreading the day that I finish this travel-size (it's my second one) because I'll have to buy the full size and it ain't cheap. Still, it's worth it and it's hardly the most expensive skincare product on the market (plus Alpha-H is often available on sale, so it's worth waiting for promotions).

Best Eye Cream: Mario Badescu Glycolic Eye Cream

I'm so glad I've finally managed to find an eye cream that's this good and does this much for my dry, sensitive eyes without costing a bucket. This little gem costs $26 AUD and it far outperforms many other eye creams I've tried that cost over a hundred. I've reviewed it here.

I love this because it's super thick and hydrating, and while it might be a little heavy/greasy for some, my dry skin loves it. Mind you, I do only use it at night because it's too full-on to wear under makeup (I think it's too slick to use for daytime). But if you're no longer in your twenties and need something extra nourishing, this is a good pick and it won't break the bank.

Best Facial Treatment: Alpha-H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid

Full review here. I'd say most beauty-lovers would have heard of this product, and it really does deserve all the hype.

Like the Alpha-H cream above, this is an excellent resurfacing product that leaves me with glowing skin. I always notice the difference in my skin when I stop using it and then start again, and I can't imagine ever being without it. It's a cult product for a reason and I urge you to try it if you haven't already.

It also has an effect on fine lines and is good for targeting break-outs, so it's a kind of 'catch all' product that really delivers.

Best Face Mask: Cellilux Glacial Mineral Gel

Full review here (and please excuse the photos - it was one of my earliest posts!). It's hard to imagine that my yearly winner under this heading will ever be another mask: it's one of the few masks that makes a real difference to my skin, that meets all its claims, and that's so good that my skin suffers without it.

This product exfoliates, resurfaces and has a plumping and smoothing effect. I also think it does something towards fine lines and evening out skintone. The only downside is that it costs almost $70 AUD and it's not easy to find in Australia. I'm desperate to buy another one but sadly I'll have to wait until we can afford it.

Best Oils (Face and Body): Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse and Happy Skincare Organic Tamanu Oil

Both these oils are multipurpose but I prefer the Nuxe oil for my body and the Happy oil for my face. There's no real reason for that, although the Happy oil costs a bit more and does more for redness so I guess that's why I divide them that way.

The Nuxe oil is a cult product for good reason: it's hydrating and smells divine, plus it works well for your hair, body and face so it's a useful one to have in your kit. Plus a little goes a long way so a bottle lasts for ages. I've reviewed it here.

This Happy oil is just divine and I miss it but I have so much skincare to get through that I can't justify a purchase at the moment.

It's lovely and thick and so moisturising - everything about it just feels good for your skin. It smells like walnuts and leaves my skin beautifully soft and plumped. I want more of it! Plus Happy Skincare is an Australian brand and I do love supporting home-grown companies.

Best Body Cream and Best Self-tanner: Garnier Body Summer Nourishing Lotion

Full review here. I've put these two categories together because this product is a clear winner on both fronts. 

Not only does it deliver a natural, even tan, but it's also a super nourishing body cream that my dry skin can't get enough of. Plus it smells good and feels so silky against the skin. And it's cheap!

'Nuff said.

Best Facial Spray: MAC Fix+

As you may know, I'm not a huge MAC fan - I just feel like I've been there, done that and have better options - but this product and MAC's Strobe Cream are staples for me and I keep coming back to them. I've reviewed Fix+ here.

It's hard to imagine that any other spray will ever beat this one: what I love about it most is that it takes five years off my face whenever I use it. Plus it just seems to make your makeup merge together and look more polished and natural. I've heard that MAC has brought out some new 'flavours' for this and I'm desperate to try them, so watch this space.

Best Body Scrub: Mr Bean Coffee Bean Scrub, Coconut and Villainess Dulces en Fuego Smooch! Body Scrub

Oh how I love this Mr Bean stuff. I've reviewed it here. I love it so much that I picked up the LHI Spring Eco box purely because I saw that it included this product, and I'm glad I got the mandarin version the second time around so I could try it, but I do prefer the scent of this coconut one hands down.

Every time I open this product, I get a lift. It smells like coffee and coconut in a rich, complex way and I enjoy using it for that reason alone. It also adheres to the skin better than most dry scrubs - maybe because it's not quite dry - meaning you don't wind up losing half of it in the shower. It also exfoliates well without being too harsh and there's something hydrating about it too.

Damn I miss this product: even just looking at it makes me crave it. If only Violet Box hadn't closed operations, otherwise I'd still be using it. Full review here.

It smells out of this world divine, has a nice texture and does a good job of exfoliating the skin. It's also an interesting product because I've used nothing else like it, so it's worth checking out if you're sick of the same old scrubs.

Best Handcream: Camille Beckman Glycerine Hand Therapy and Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme

Ever since having a baby, I've started using handcream on a daily basis. Not only that, I need a heavy duty handcream that's not too light. This means both my choices are on the heavier side so they mightn't suit everyone.

The Camille Beckman product (reviewed here) is the lighter of the two but it still packs a punch. It comes in nice packaging that I'm happy to have on display and everything about it just feels luxe. Plus it smells divine and does a great job of hydrating my parched hands.

This Burt's Bees handcream isn't for the faint-hearted and I say this for two reasons: first, it's so heavy that I can only use it overnight because it does leave a slick feeling on the skin for a good while; and second, it absolutely reeks of fake almonds and if I didn't love the cream so much, I would have dismissed it for the overpowering scent alone.

But it's been a staple for me this year and this is my second tub. The first was a sample size that lasted ages, and that's another good thing about the product: it's not expensive and you only need the tiniest amount each time, so it's a worthwhile investment. This tub has lasted six months and there's barely a dent in it. On top of that, nothing else I've tried has hydrated my hands quite so well, and I've been through a good few handcreams this year so that's saying something.

In sum

Phew! I was beginning to think I would never get through this post. Obviously, Alpha-H products agree with me: the brand has cleaned up this year!

Can't wait to discover some new favourites in 2016.

Let me know what your top skincare picks are for this year - I'd love to hear them : )

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