GLOW Skincare Series | Best Exfoliators of 2017

Best Treatment | Kate Somerville

I tried Kate Somerville's ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment a few years ago after attending the Nordstrom Beauty Trend Show and it was such a fabulous addition to my routine. I never got to try the cleansers or anything, but this one was a gem. Like many of my favorite skincare products, this exfoliator consists of clinical strength and natural ingredients. Papaya, pineapple and pumpkin enzymes are key ingredients that help enhance exfoliation, but I know it's the cinnamomum cassia leaf oil that captured my heart. The scent is wonderful (I'm big on scents)! Aside from that, it is not an abrasive exfoliator -- it's actually gentle and gets the job done.

Best Exfoliating Textile | Muslin Cloth

The first time I used a muslin cloth in my skincare routine, it was with my EVE LOM Cleanser. EVE LOM actually sells muslin cloths to repurchase even after owning one of their products, but you can also get them on Amazon with multiple cloths. This textile is great for exfoliating the skin with a one-step cleanser before moving to the toner and moisturizer...and it's not rough on the skin.

Best Tool for Sensitive Skin | FOREO

I never got around to trying the Clarisonic that everyone raves about, but I did try the Clinique cleansing brush through Influenster. While the two may (or may not) be comparable, I found that it was just too much for my skin even with soft bristles. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to also try the FOREO. It's so much more gentle and my skin doesn't start to feel rubbed raw after use morning and night making it my recommendation for sensitive skin! The different colors are actually meant for different skin types. Here's an old YouTube I filmed about my FOREO. It's a SUPER throwback, so don't laugh! *covers eyes*

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GLOW Skincare Series | Best Moisturizers & Illuminators of 2017

Best Pre-Makeup Glow | Peter Thomas Roth

I ordered the Peter Thomas Roth Prism Cream in a set from QVC out of which I only liked this cream and the face mask. It's great for moisturizing and adding a real pre-makeup glow that will peek through complexion makeup. A little bit of this cream really goes a long way, so a lot doesn't need to be applied. More could leave the skin shining in a much less flattering way. I recommend it under a light to medium layer of liquid foundation or alone. I also love wearing it when I don't wear makeup and just want to run errands -- I'm 100% here for a grocery stop glow!

Best Honey Hydrator | Kiehl's

I've tried a handful of moisturizers and creams with honey in the last couple of years as Manuka honey has become more and more popular. The benefits of honey are excellent for smoothing the skin and locking in moisture. If you have dry skin, the Kiehl's Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream is a must-try. It's even ideal for in between seasons when the skin tends to suffer or get a little patchy to use morning and night.

Best Affordable Day & Night Duo | derma e

Typically, I switch up my day and night creams, so they don't exactly coordinate by brand or collection. However, Derma e's Hydrating Day & Night Creams are the two I tend to gravitate towards on a regular basis. They're both very hydrating as it states in the name, but I think it's the light fragrance that I really adore. The Hydrating Day Cream doesn't interfere with my makeup and the Hydrating Night Cream keeps my skin on point as I get my beauty sleep at night.

Best Inexpensive Eye Cream | e.l.f.

Age shows up the quickest around the eyes, so for anti-aging it's important to take care of the skin around the eyes. Eye creams can get ridiculously expensive and, while I will splurge, I don't exactly want to spend $100+ on an eye cream. The e.l.f. Illuminating Eye Cream is the least expensive that I've purchased that seems to get the job done for me. It's non-fragrant, hydrating, and soothing. As a matter of fact, I use it on days when my eyes are suffering from intense allergies. Getting this eye cream is as simple as popping into your nearest Target store.

Best for Priming | Embryolisse

A few years ago at the very first Makeup Show in Dallas, I was introduced to Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. It's greatly used amongst models, celebrities and makeup artists on set and I can see why. This product is a moisturizer, primer, and makeup remover all-in-one. It may be a little pricey for some, but it lasts for a long time and a little bit goes a long way keeping the skin hydrated for 24 hours. In my opinion, this is perfect for all skin types...but definitely those with sensitive skin.

Best for Everyday & Active | Alchimie Forever

If you're always on-the-go, like to work out or are often outdoors, Alchimie Forever of Switzerland's Daily Defense Cream SPF 23 should absolutely be in your bag. The European blueberry is Alchimie Forever's signature ingredient and the antioxidants for the skin are amazing blended with Vitamins C & E and edelweiss. I like to wear it especially on my light makeup days with a tinted moisturizer first thing in the morning. It can be reapplied throughout the day and its 1.7 oz size is just under the TSA limit for liquid items, so it's a great carry-on cosmetic bag item!

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GLOW Skincare Series | Best Masks of 2017

Best After-Glow and Instagram Selfies | Peter Thomas Roth

Who doesn't like to glow? At first, I thought the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Mask was full of BS. Besides the high price of $80, I'm kind of sad that it took me so long to try it. I mean...as a college kid, I didn't have the money to spend on such an expensive mask when it first came out. Thank God for the beautiful souls at QVC coming through with the sets and easy pays though. At this point, I've now tried three of the other products from this collection -- some I love, some not so much. The gel eye patches and sheet mask were just "bleh"...but the regular mask? OMG. I love the glow I have after I use it because of the real shimmers of 24 karat and colloidal gold blended into the formula. It's also cute for cute Instagram selfies, of course.

$56-80 | Available at PeterThomasRoth.com and QVC (smaller size as well), Sephora, Ulta and DERMSTORE

Best Fresh Mask Collection | The Body Shop

While LUSH Cosmetics is one of my absolute favorite brands, right now The Body Shop has been my go-to collection of "fresh" face masks. These masks are sold individually, but I received them from The Body Shop as a PR gift. However, they're collectively amazing. They're not exactly as fresh as LUSH because they have a much longer shelf-life, but they each have a set of benefits for the skin and I can actually use ALL of them without running into nut allergy problems. I have found my favorites at LUSH, but if I want to use one of their masks that I haven't tried, then I must read the ingredients super closely as it may contain ground almonds or something...and that's just asking for trouble. Been there, done that. I always find myself reaching for. Read my full review of The Body Shop face mask collection.

$28 each | Available at The Body Shop (online and in stores) and Ulta in British Rose, Himalayan Charcoal, Ethiopian Honey, Chinese Ginseng & Rice, and Amazonian Açaí

Best for Banishing Breakouts ASAP | Glossier

Whenever I'm having a messy breakout that needs banishing like...yesterday, I turn to Glossier's Mega Greens Galaxy Pack. It's the detox mask of my life, y'all. I bought it during a Black Friday sale after wanting to try their products for a long time and fell in love with it. This is NOT a mask that I use all the time -- I use it sparingly. I only grab for it like medicine...when I absolutely need it. Times that call for this mask are: hormonal breakouts before my cycle (or other causes) and when the oil from my fro causes me to breakout on my forehead. Balancing, purifying, refining, nourishing...this mask does it ALL. Key ingredients in the formula are: leafy greens, a superfruit antioxidant blend, orange peel oil, white kaolin clay, and hydrating/moisturizing avocado oil and aloe. This should for sure be in your PMS care kit along with the chocolate, salty snacks, and Netflix subscription. No shame, girl.

$22 | Available at Glossier.com

Best Hydrating Sheet Mask | Farmacy

Once upon a time, I used to be really into sheet masks. In the last year, I've drifted away from using them and have moved on to mud masks -- I'm obsessed. They allow me to still move around and multi-task. Every blue moon, I'll pull out a sheet mask and just chill. A few months ago, I used one of the Farmacy Coconut Gel Hydrating Masks for firming. Farmacy was one of those brands I noticed at Sephora, but followed through with purchasing because even though I'm a beauty blogger, I do have a budget! I promise it exists. Maybe I've been out of the sheet mask game for too long, but I was intrigued with the gel concept. I loved that it clung to my skin and I could kind of be active while I waited. I leave them on for about 20 minutes (or 30 if I doze off) and remove the mask before pressing the remaining formula into my skin and neck. Definitely hydrating!

$24 for 3-pack | Available at Farmacy.com and Sephora (online and in stores). Also available in assorted packs.

Best for Baby Soft Skin | Charlotte Tilbury

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to a media/influencer event at Nordstrom to sit down with the Charlotte Tilbury to view and swatch products when they made their debut in the stores. She was the absolute sweetest and actually acknowledged African-American skin which made me fall in love with the beauty of her brand. We took home several products from her line, but the one skincare product that I swear by is the Goddess Skin Clay Mask. My mom and I actually took turns with it until we emptied the tube -- it is THE BEST if you want to achieve tightened pores and baby soft skin that will likely make you mistaken yourself for a newborn. Just kidding...but really, it is a stellar, light fragrant face mask that's worth the price. 

$55 | Available on Charlotte Tilbury's website and Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and Bergdorf Goodman

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GLOW Skincare Series | Best Serums of 2017

Best Customized Serum | Kiehl's

There's nothing more personal about a routine than truly customized skincare products. Kiehl's launched their new Apothecary Preparations Personalized Skincare Serum service last fall and I love mine! This is definitely a splurge for a serious skincare enthusiast or someone who really wants an effective products...and Kiehl's always delivers. In fact, it kind of reminds me of their Midnight Recovery Concentrate which I fell in love with first, but with two touches of targeted complexes that are personalized to meet to my skin concerns and needs -- texture refining and brightness for dark spots. This service is only available the Kiehl's boutiques with a specialist who will analyze your skin to help figure out the best complexes to add to the skin strengthening concentrate base (for all skin types). Read about my in-store experience.

$95 (includes concentrate base + choice of 2 complexes) | Available at Kiehl's boutiques only.

Best Overnight Renewal & Anti-Aging| Estee Lauder

It's a really tough to choose my favorite serum for overnight renewal between Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II and the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate...but there are distinct reasons why I reach for one over the other. When I want a thicker, fast-working serum, I easily reach for my Advanced Night Repair. Its main goal is to reduce key signs of aging, but it's great especially if you're in your 20s. Never too early for anti-aging if you ask me! And for my sistas, even though we all know that typically "black don't crack"...we can certainly benefit as well.

$65-185 | Available at EsteeLauder.com and counters at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Ulta, and Sephora.

Best for Ultra Hydration | derma e

Every time I use derma e's Hydrating Serum, I feel like I've splashed my face with water. Plus, the light fragrance is one of my favorites since it doesn't clash when I'm mixing brands in my routine. This serum was one of my go-to's for winter since its main purpose is to hydrate the skin which is amazing for anyone with dry skin. A key ingredient in this formula is hyaluronic acid for intense plumping moisture. I love using it in the morning with the vitamin C especially if I'm using a night serum, but even if I'm using another serum or concentrate, I'll still pair it with the Hydrating Serum. 

$30 | Available at dermae.com, DERMSTORE and Walgreens.

Best Evening Botanical Concoction | Kiehl's

I live for evening serums (and creams). In fact, the Advanced Night Repair and Midnight Recovery Concentrate were the first two I ever tried. Midnight Recovery is my favorite botanical nighttime concoction for serums. Even though I lost my serum, I still highly recommend it whenever people ask me about my favorite skincare products. I absolutely adore it. Overnight serums plus eight hours of beauty sleep will give you a genuine glow come morning. Evening primrose and lavender essential oils blended with Kiehl's signature ingredient, squalane, renew and restore the skin overnight. Like most natural products, it is multi-purpose. According to Nordstrom's website, the concentrate can even be used for healing minor sunburns, nourishing dry skin or added to bathwater. I actually haven't tried any of those additional uses with this particular product yet, but I will soon!

$46-122 | Available at Kiehl's (online and in stores) and Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Ave, and Neiman Marcus

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GLOW Skincare Series | Best Toners of 2017

Best for Adolescent Skin & Newbies | LUSH Cosmetics

I adore how calming tea tree water is and I've noticed how young some of my readers/followers are. My sister just hit adolescence a few years ago and I even recommend this toner for her as well! Lush's Tea Tree Water was actually one of the very first toners I used besides the super medicated one in the Proactiv kits back in the day. I've mostly veered away from this one just because I've run into other toners I like, but always recommend it to friends and family. A small bottle is fairly inexpensive and if you're not into skincare yet or don't have a toner in your routine, it's a wonderful product to start with.

$10.95-22.95 | Available at LUSH (online and in stores).

Best Inexpensive Drugstore Witch Hazel | Thayers

Skincare can be costly especially if you're building your routine with prestige brands. If you want an effective witch hazel toner that can be easily purchased at your nearest drugstore or grocery store, try Thayers Alcohol-Free Original Witch Hazel Astringent. Firstly, certain alcohols are extremely drying on the skin and this one is totally alcohol-free. Secondly, you won't have to worry about breaking the bank. Thirdly, it's ideal for sensitive skin and contains soothing aloe vera. It's a win!

$11 | Available at Thayers.com and Target & Walgreens.

Best Splurge & For Dry Skin | Fresh

It took a lot of reading for me to decide if I truly wanted to splurge on the Fresh Deep Hydration Facial Toner, but it looked so appealing and I had a 15% off friends and family promotion (perks of signing up for Fresh Rewards). Because $44 is a lot to spend on a product if you're not 100% sure...but I decided to take one for the team and review it. I'm glad I did. This toner is a bit different from other toners I've used and it's evident in the ingredients list. It contains more than a usual toner -- hydrogenated castor oil and rose fruit extracts. So many tend to stay way from castor oil because it's a heavier oil, but the benefits are golden and formulas that contain it aren't even heavy most of the time. Plus, this toner is infused with real rose petals...so it's definitely worth the money. I recommend it for anyone who has dry skin and needs extra hydration. Read my full review.

$44 | Available at Fresh (online + in stores), Nordstrom, Sephora and Neiman Marcus.

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