Today I have my last 2018 favourites post which is all about my favourite cruelty free skin care products. It may be my last favourites post, but it’s certainly not least, as I love skin care. If I had to choose between skin care and makeup, I would choose skin care in a second. I know how much skin care has done for my skin, and how important good quality skin care products are. Some people with good genetics can just wash their face with water and put on any moisturiser and go, but that is not me. I have eye eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, melasma and very sensitive skin, so skin care is really important to me. My skin is normally dry, but I can get it to be around normal if I am dedicated to my skin routine. As with my previous posts, I’ll also let you know about any products that really didn’t work for me and products that I have my eye on. Don’t forget to read my previous 2018 favourites posts—my favourite complexion products, my eye makeup favourites and my favourite lip and nail products.

Favourite skin care products from 2018 - polish and paws blog
Cruelty free skin care favourites from 2018

Cleanser

I have tried a lot of cleansers in my life time and the vast majority of them have been way too harsh on my skin. Everyone, even those with oily skin, should be looking for a gentle cleanser that doesn’t damage the lipid barrier of the skin. SLS in particular is an ingredient that I stay away from in my skincare as I find it too irritating. I have thankfully found a couple of cleansers that do cleanse the skin but aren’t too harsh.

The cleanser I use the most is the La Mav Hydra-Calm Cleansing Creme. I did a full review on it earlier this year, and I’ve repurchased it since then. If I’m travelling, then I will always have a mini Trilogy Cream Cleanser with me. Trilogy make great mini travel packs which contain their most loved products, which I buy for every trip I take. If I couldn’t find my La Mav Cleanser, then I would happily buy a full size of the Trilogy Cream Cleanser or the Trilogy Very Gentle Cleansing Cream to use daily. The other cleanser that isn’t too harsh on my skin is the Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser. It is however more expensive than the others at $49 for a 150ml tube, compared to $32.95 for La Mav (100ml) and $22.95 for Trilogy Cream Cleanser (100ml) or $39.95 for Trilogy Very Gentle Cleansing Cream (200ml), and I do prefer the others more.

I personally prefer a gel or cream cleanser over a balm or oil, but if you’re looking for a balm cleanser, then the Trilogy Make-up Be Gone Cleansing Balm is a good one. It does have coconut oil in it, which typically doesn’t go well with my skin, but I didn’t have any problems with this product.

I always use a face washer with my cleanser to help wash my face. My favourite cloths are the Eye Of Horus Bamboo Cleansing Cloths that come in a pack of 4. They’re much softer than any other face washer I have tried, which is what I need for my sensitive skin. I did buy a pack of the Face Halos last year after I saw everyone raving about them, but I didn’t like them. They’re far too harsh on my skin and they don’t take makeup off by themselves, which is what they claim to do. Plus they’re a microfiber, so there will be micro-plastics going down the drain with every use. Which is why I now have 8 of the Eye Of Horus Bamboo cloths, so I don’t run out of them between washes.

If I am leaving the house, then I will always put sunscreen on, and maybe makeup too, so on those days I make sure to cleanse my skin properly. But being so sick, there are many days where I don’t leave the house and don’t have the energy to do a full skin care routine, and that’s when I use my WotNot Ultra Hydrating Face Wipes for Dry and Sensitive Skin. Sometimes the dry version is sold out and I’ve had to buy the normal or oily versions and they work just as well. I’ve never come across a face wipe that is as soft as the WotNot wipes and the ingredients are also really gentle on my skin. I always have backup packs of these wipes around so I don’t run out. I buy more whenever I make a Flora and Fauna (affiliate) or Nourished Life (affiliate) order.

Cruelty free skin care favourites from 2018 - La Mav Hydra-Calm Cleansing Creme - polish and paws blog
La Mav Hydra-Calm Cleansing Creme

Soothing

I always include some sort of dedicated soothing product in my skincare routine because of my eczema, rosacea and sensitivity. One product that I couldn’t live without is the MooGoo Eczema And Psoriasis Cream with Marshmallow, Elderberry and more. This newer version works a lot better for me than the original did, but some people prefer the original. Both versions are vegan friendly. For the first half of the year I used it with the Soothing MSM Moisturiser, but I think the Eczema cream works just as well with any moisturiser.

I also use the Trilogy Very Gentle Calming Serum most days to help soothe my skin. I even have a mini dropper bottle that I got in a travel pack a few years back, that I refill every time I get on a plane so that I can apply it during the flight. It gives an instant cooling effect to the skin, which is nice.

Hydrating

For the first half of the year, I used the Nip + Fab Dragons Blood Fix Hyaluronic Acid Shot as my hydrating serum. But I moved on to the La Mav Hyaluronic Acid Hydra-Max Serum during the second half of the year. I prefer the packaging of the La Mav, with it’s twist top pump, over the Nip + Fab’s glass bottle dropper, as I am very clumsy and worry about breaking the glass bottle all the time. Drunk Elephant make a hydrating product called B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum which is a nice, non-irritating product, but I find the La Mav serum more hydrating.

Cruelty free skin care favourites from 2018 - Trilogy mini skin care kit - polish and paws blog
Trilogy mini skin care kit

Moisturiser

My go to day time moisturiser is the La Mav Hyaluronan Daily Moisture Creme, as it is hydrating but it sinks into the skin really quickly, so there’s no residue that will interfere with sunscreen or makeup. I will sometimes use the Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream if I want to change things up, but I probably prefer the Trilogy Very Gentle Moisturising Cream over the normal Trilogy Moisturiser.

My favourite night cream is the Trilogy Replenishing Night Cream. I haven’t found another night time moisturiser that I love as much as this one. It is really hydrating and feels lovely on the skin, but it’s not too much that it causes milia or breakouts. I love that it comes with a spatula so you can remove the amount of cream you need without contaminating the rest of the product. I keep the jar in its original box so that I don’t lose the spatula, but it could be even better if the spatula attached to the jar, it’s not a big deal though. I also used the MooGoo Full Cream Moisturiser for a while which is nice on the skin but it does contain Hyrdrolysed Milk Protein, so it’s not suitable for vegans. It also doubles as a nice body moisturiser too if you want a multi-use product. I did try the Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream as people were raving about it, but I found it less hydrating than the Trilogy, and it causes milia for me in places that I’ve never had milia before.

Exfoliation

I have struggled to find the right exfoliation products because of how sensitive my skin is. Any sort of physical exfoliant is generally far too harsh for my skin, so I stick to gentle chemical exfoliants. My favourite is Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, as the 5% lactic acid is gentle enough on my skin. I would like to find a more affordable cruelty free lactic acid product though. If my skin is doing really well then I can use the Nip +Fab Glycolic Serum, but the 5% Glycolic acid can be a bit too much if my rosacea is active. A lot of people recommend the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum but it is a 12% mix of glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic acids, so it is just far too harsh on my skin. I react terribly to anything with salicylic acid which could be just my skin sensitivities or have something to do with my medication allergy, but either way, I wish more brands would make products without it.

Cruelty free skin care favourites fom 2018 b- Sunday Riley The Power Couple set- Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment and Luna Sleeping Oil - polish and paws blog
Sunday Riley The Power Couple set- Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment and Luna Sleeping Oil

Treatment

There are quite a few products in my routine that I would count a ‘treatments’ whether it is a pimple treatment, a pigmentation treatment or a rosacea treatment.

For blemishes, I use the Body Shop Tea Tree Targeted Gel. I used to use the Elf Acne Fighting Spot Gel with Aloe, but I haven’t seen it in Kmart for a very long time. Neither of these are amazing pimple treatments, but they’re the only ones that don’t cause peeling and irritation, which always makes the spot look a lot worse and take longer to heal.

It took me a very long time to get a Vitamin C product into my daily skin routine, as my skin was just so sensitive to it. I can now finally use the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum every morning, which I’m really happy about. I have tried other Vitamin C products, but none of them work as well as this one. It has 15% l-ascorbic acid, 0.5% ferulic acid and 1% vitamin E. I do wish they would make a half-size bottle though, as the product goes off after 6 months and I struggle to get through a whole bottle in that time. It has a light orange colour when it is good to use and a much darker orange colour when it isn’t good anymore. I want to try the Maelove Skincare Glow Maker which has 15% L-ascorbic acid, 1% vitamin E, 0.5% ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid, but I don’t know how to get it in Australia. I emailed the brand and they said they would be shipping here by the end of 2019, lets hope it’s sooner rather than later.

I’ve only just started to include a mild retinol product in my skin routine, but I hope to eventually increase the strength that I can use. I’m currently using the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil as a way of slowly introducing my skin to a retinol. It has 2% trans-retinoic acid ester which the brand claims is 90% less irritating than traditional retinol. When I know my skin has fully adjusted to this, I will be looking for something with a higher strength from brands like Medik8 or Skinstitut. Drunk Elephant has just launched a retinol cream called A-Passioni, which will suit people already using retinols, and Pixi Beauty recently released a Retinol Tonic that is supposed to be used like a toner, and could be a good way to begin including retinol in a skin routine.

I also use the Trilogy Botanical Lightening Treatment to try and help lighten my dark patches. I unfortunately have medication induced melasma, which is the hardest sort of pigmentation to treat. I am hoping to try a couple of sessions of Picosure laser this year, but the chances of it working while I’m still on the medication are low. It’s very expensive so I just don’t think I will be able to afford the number of sessions I would need to get a decent amount of lightening. If I go through with it, I will certainly put a blog post up with all the details.

I also use a medicated cream with 20% azelaic acid to help my rosacea. It’s not something I want to name as it is classed as a medication, but there are brands out there making azelaic products, they’re just not available at this percentage in Australia except in pharmacies.

Cruelty free skin care favourites from 2018 - Drunk Elephant skin care products - polish and paws blog
Drunk Elephant skin care products

Oils

There are so many facial oils on the market now that it can be hard to decide on which one to choose. An old favourite of mine and cult product is Trilogy’s Certified Organic Rosehip Oil. They even make a light oil version of this for those who don’t want a heavy oil. I personally like really nourishing oils, I don’t mind the texture. An oil I really like, but I can’t bring myself to buy a full size of is the Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil by Sunday Riley. It is quite a dry oil, but it is really soothing on the skin. I just can’t justify spending $105 on a facial oil when there are so many others that are more affordable. Other oils that I have tried and are nice on the skin are the Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil, Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil and Tarte Maracuja Oil. The one I always buy and have on hand however, is the Trilogy Oil.

Cruelty Free Skin Care Favourties from 2018 - Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil - polish and paws blog
Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil

Eye Cream

I have tried a lot of eye creams and most of them either sting my eyes, cause irritation or create lots of Milia. I was so happy when I tried the La Mav Anti Dark-Circle Eye Gel early last year. You can see my full review on it. It is a light gel formula that doesn’t cause milia or irritation but still hydrates the eye area. I’ve also tried the La Mav Firming Eye Lotion which is good too, but my dark eye circles are a bigger concern than wrinkles for me at the moment.

Cruelty free skin care favourites from 2018 - La Mav Anti Dark-Circle Eye Gel - polish and paws blog
La Mav Anti Dark-Circle Eye Gel

Body

I am not very good at looking after the skin that is not on my face, so I don’t use many body products. The body cream I use (when I use one), is the Natural Instinct Skin Drink Body Lotion. It has a very runny consistency, so be careful when squeezing it out of the tube, but it hydrates the skin nicely. It’s one of the few body moisturisers I’ve found that doesn’t contain coconut oil. I’ve tried a lot of body creams that have coconut oil in them, and I just break out all over my body which never happens otherwise. I also used the MooGoo Full Cream Moisturiser and Post Hair Removal Creams for a while. I got the big pump versions from the MooGoo website (affiliate) which last a really long time. If there is something that gets really dry, like my knees or elbows, than I will use the Weleda Skin Food. It is too greasy for me to use on my face, but it is perfect for dry body areas.

I am a lot better at exfoliating my body than I am moisturising it. Twice a week I use the Skin Juice Berry Buff Smoothie Body Scrub. I really like using this one for Keratosis Pilaris, as it is gentle but still effective at exfoliating the skin. It actually has lactic acid included in the formula, so it’s a physical and chemical exfoliant. I don’t know much about this brand at all, but I really like this product. The other body exfoliation product that I have is the Eco Tan Pink Himalayan Salt Scrub which comes in a tube rather than a pot, so this is what I use when travelling. It seems to have won lots of awards, so it is a widely loved product. I found both of these products on Nourished Life (affiliate) and bought them without seeing any blog reviews on them, but I’m glad I did.

Sunscreen

My favourite sunscreen is still the Eco Logical Face Sunscreen (SPF 30+) but I also use the WotNot 30 SPF Facial Sunscreen + Primer sometimes too—I get them both from Nourished Life (affiliate). I tend to use these physical sunscreens over a chemical one as they’re better for irritated skin. If my skin is doing ok then I can use the Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen SPF 50+ which works as a moisturiser and sun protection. I included my favourite lip SPF’s in the lip balm section of my favourite lip products blog post. I have tried a lot of sunscreens so I can do a big sunscreen review post, but I keep delaying it to try more. So I think I will just write it up with what I have and I can do more parts at a later date if I have any to add.

Cruelty free skin care favourites from 2018 - Mecca Cosmetica face and lip sunscreens - Polish and paws blog
Mecca Cosmetica face and lip sunscreens

On My Radar

I really like my skin care routine at the moment, but there are always more products I would like to try. I would like to try the Trilogy Age-Proof Overnight Mask and Very Gentle Hydra-Mask to see what they’re like. I would also love to try a lot more of the La Mav skin care products, in particular their vitamin-c and nectar products like the Intense Moisture Nightly Repair Nectar, Antioxidant Rich Nightly Repair Nectar, Vit-C Advanced Nightly Repair Nectar and Daily Vitamin C Brightening Serum. 100% Pure has a combined vitamin C and retinol product called the Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Potent PM Serum that looks interesting. It has 10% Vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate), 10% Niacinamide, 10% Vitamin E, 1% CoQ10 and 1% Retinol. I need to get my skin used to retinol before I consider this product though. A brand that is on my radar, but I haven’t tried anything from yet is Ren Clean Skincare. I’m also keeping a close eye on Revolution Skincare as they’re releasing active skin products at very affordable prices, and the whole range is cruelty free and vegan. They have a dedicated calming range that looks like something I might like. I would also love to try more indie skin care brands and brands that are dedicated to both being cruelty free and environmentally friendly.

One thing I stayed away from in 2018 was the craze of crystal rollers, Gua sha tools and crystal facial sculptors. I love the idea of using something that helps with facial circulation, and I really love crystals (I am a qualified crystal and reiki practitioner after all), but I haven’t been able to find somewhere that is making good quality tools at a reasonable price. The Kora Organics Rose Quartz Heart Facial Sculptor looks like a lovely tool, but it is so overpriced at $72.95. So if you know of a place making good quality but affordable facial tools, let me know. I will keep looking and hopefully find something to share with you this year.

Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.  Polish and paws cruelty free beauty blog
Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.

As with my other posts, I just want to quickly touch on the the fact that I hope 2019 is a year for change in the beauty community and that more influencers and brands take honesty, transparency and integrity more seriously. I am here to give honest reviews to my audience, and that will never change, but I hope to see happen more often in the wider community.

What do you think of my favourite cruelty free skin care from 2018? Is there something I really need to try? My favourite cruelty free skin care brands are obviously Trilogy and La Mav. They’re not budget brands, so I do tend to wait for sales to stock up. I buy my Trilogy products from Priceline or the Trilogy website, and get my La Mav from Nourished Life (affiliate), Flora and Fauna (affiliate) or the La Mav website. One of the products I can’t live without is the MooGoo Eczema Cream and I get mine from the MooGoo website (affiliate). I get my Drunk Elephant and Sunday Riley products from Mecca, but they don’t have sales. Don’t forget to read my previous favourites posts, and let me know what your favourite items from 2018 were. If you want to keep up with what I’m posting, you can sign up to email updates to get my blog posts sent to your inbox or you can find me on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Alinta McMurdo