Best in Beauty 2016: skincare

Welcome to my next 'best of' post for 2016. After this skincare post I'll bring you my top makeup picks for the year, which will round off this Best in Beauty series until 2017.

If you would like to see which products made last year's list, please check out my 2015 favourites here - and note that some of the products that made it onto last year's list are making a reappearance this year because they're that good, although I have tried to bring you some new options this time around and although I still love all the products on last year's list, these are the items that are front-of-mind for 2016.

So without further ado...

Best makeup remover/cleansing water: Unani Il-luminate Micellar Water

Full review here. It was love at first use with this product and I'm sad that it's not easy to come by in Australia (I received this bottle in a sub box) because I would have bought it by now if I could.

Yes it's a water but it's a touch thicker than water in texture - almost like a water/gel hybrid - and it does a good job of removing my makeup. Plus it smells nice to boot and I enjoyed using it, unlike any other makeup remover I've tried this year: those have been products I've barely noticed or been interested in. This one I noticed because it left my skin feeling soft, supple and hydrated after use.

Best cleanser (gentle): SebaMed Liquid Face & Body Wash

I love a good gentle cleanser in the morning - one that doesn't strip the skin - and this was the best one I found in 2016. I've reviewed it here.

It's a blue-green gel that smells soapy and clean, and the texture feels quite rich - velvety and smooth - against the skin. Indeed, the texture is one of the reasons why I liked it so much: it just feels nice and so it's a pleasure to use. It also removes makeup and grime well so it's one to keep in mind if you're after a gentle, daily cleanser that doesn't cost the earth. This ticks all the boxes for me and I can't wait to get my hands on it again.

Best cleanser (oil): Martina Organics Oil Cleanser

Full review here. Two things struck me about this product when I first used it: first, the scent is absolutely beautiful (I've always loved jasmine); and second, this is much thinner than any other oil cleanser I've used to date so it feels nice and light against the skin.

I've used a lot of great cleansing oils this year but this one is my favourite to date, if only for the scent alone. But it does do a good job of dissolving gunk and it also feels beautiful on the skin - like it's good for you - so it's one I've missed since I finished my bottle. Must source another one!

Best cleanser (clarifying): Ren Clearcalm3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser

It's definitely been a year of cleansers for me and this is another top pick, in part because of the scent but also because it's good value and you get a whopping 150ml of product in the bottle. I've reviewed it here.

It's a beautifully smooth, silky clay that feels so wonderfully creamy and cooling against the skin that I'd almost recommend it just for the texture alone! It also smells gently of these Dutch almond fingers that Mum used to buy from the supermarket (so I guess it smells of almond meal and honey to me) and I get a lift whenever I use it. I can't use it every day on my dry skin because it would be too much, but it's something I can use on alternate days and I do think it has a purifying effect. Love.

Best toning product: Alpha-H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid

This is technically more of a treatment than a toner, but you do use it as you would a toner and since I don't have a dedicated toner that I've fallen for this year, I'm calling this my top pick under this heading. I've reviewed it here.

No other product I've ever used has done as much for my skin as this one has, and if you want to know which item would win first place in any category, it's this. It brightens and resurfaces my skin like no other product on the market and I can't live without it. I always notice a huge difference when I come back to this product and it's been a favourite for years, which says enough in itself.

Best serum (for dry skin): Antipodes Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum

Full review here. Once I got over the slightly fishy scent to this product, it quickly became a firm favourite and I can't wait to buy another bottle when Priceline has its next skincare sale.

It's just a beautifully rich and hydrating product that does wonders for dry skin because it's more of an oil than a serum, and it definitely rescued me during my pregnancy when winter hit and my skin chucked a dry tantrum. I can't imagine ever being without it now and I'll be surprised if I find anything that beats it and that's as reasonably priced.

Best serum (for anyone): Elemental Herbology Cell Food

I couldn't pick between this serum and the Antipodes product so I've decided to include both because they're quite different and suit different needs. I've reviewed this one here.

I prefer this product over the Antipodes one when my skin isn't quite so dry and what I love about it is that it leaves my face looking brighter and fresher, and it smooths out my skin so I need less of my moisturiser and foundation when I use this. Plus I feel like it's doing good things for my complexion in terms of making it look and feel more even. A great product, and one that should suit a lot of skin-types.

Best moisturiser (daily): Alpha-H Balancing Moisturiser and Gentle Exfoliant

Full review here. I'm on my second tube of this now and I love it just as much the second time as I did the first time. If you're after a moisturiser that's gentle enough to use every day but still has enough punch to really wake up your face, this could be the product for you.

What I love about it is that my skin just looks brighter and more radiant whenever I apply it. My skin also feels firmer and smoother, so for this reason it's a great product to use under makeup. Also, while the description says it's for oily/combination skin, my skin is dry and this works wonders for me in terms of hydration, so don't discount it if your skin is like mine because it may work for you too. Such a great product.

Best moisturiser (treatment): Alpha-H Liquid Gold Rejuvenating Cream

I couldn't pick between this Alpha-H moisturiser and the one above it so I've included both. You use this product on alternate evenings to Alpha-H's Liquid Gold (although you can use one without the other) and the two do go hand in hand so it's worth trying them together if you can. Full review here.

When I use this, my skin looks and feels healthier, smoother and more plumped, and it softens my fine lines too. Plus it helps clarify the skin and make my skintone more even, so it's a winner in my books and I'm already on to my second one. Love it.

Best facial sunscreen: Mecca To Save Face SPF 50+

Full review here. This is the best and most reasonably priced facial sunscreen I've tried to date and I urge you to go into Mecca and grab a sample because it's honestly life-changing.

It protects my skin, never looks or feels greasy and it doesn't leave a white cast, so it's perfect for the face and it's become the only facial sunscreen I ever use. Plus you can pat it on over makeup and it won't disturb or dissolve your face, so it's definitely a winner and one of the rare facial sunscreens on the market that does its job so well. Just a great product.

Best face mask (mud/clay): Alpha-H Balancing and Pore Refining Mask

I do love a mask that only needs ten minutes to work, and I can feel the difference in my skin as soon as I wash this product off: it feels cleaner, tighter and smoother, and it looks brighter and more refined. I've reviewed the product here.

I do need to apply a bit more moisturiser than normal after I've used this because my skin feels a little on the dry/dehydrated side, but that's standard for me when it comes to clay masks so I don't mind it because the results are there. Another great product from Alpha-H, a brand who rarely sets a foot wrong in my books.

Best face mask (brightening): Ren Glycolactic Radiance Mask

I've included a few options for face masks because different masks do different things, and while the above one is better for clarifying, this one's better for plumping and brightening the skin. I've reviewed it here.

This is one of those rare hyped-up products that actually meets the hype, and also the product claims. It refreshes and renews the complexion, reduces fine lines (temporarily), and also temporarily improves skintone, firmness and radiance. Plus it combats congestion and leaves your skin healthy and glowing. Awesome.

Best treatment: Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

I wasn't sure what to call this product but I wanted to mention it, so let's call it a 'treatment' and leave it at that. I've reviewed it here.

I really don't know how to describe the results I get from this product, other than to say that it absolutely meets all its claims - a rare thing, in my experience! Yes it instantly revitalises and visibly rejuvenates the skin; yes it smooths, firms and tones; yes it reduces signs of fatigue and imperfections; and yes it evens out the complexion and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And all in one minute. What's not to love?!

Best overnight mask (pricey): Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel

Full review here. Yes this is expensive but it's worth every penny in my opinion because it's that good.

This is one of those rare products that does so much for your skin that others start commenting on how good it looks. That must mean it's doing something right! It restores and renews the skin, targets wrinkles and fine lines, and it also helps make my skin look more even so it does something towards reducing pigmentation and scarring. Huzzah!

Best overnight mask (budget): Pixi Nourishing Sleep Mask

It's rare that I like a product enough to buy it again but I can definitely see myself picking this one up again as soon as Beauty Bay has another sale. I've reviewed it here.

As soon as I use it, my skin looks and feels like it's had a drink. It's soothing and cooling when applied, and I enjoy using it for that reason alone because it feels so refreshing and gives my dry skin some instant relief. After applying it, my skin feels nourished and comfortable, and I wake up to soft, hydrated skin that looks and feels a damn sight better than it did the night before. Another product that does exactly what it says it will do. Thank golly for that.

In sum

These are my top fifteen skincare picks of the year, and believe me, I had a lot of trouble narrowing things down because I've fallen in love with a lot of skincare this year but I wanted to only bring you the best of the best.

Do let me know what your favourite skincare discoveries were this year - I'd love to hear.

Speak soon x

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