Cruelty-Free Skincare I’m Loving

My skincare routine changes often. Why? BC it’s basically 90% of my job is to get new products and test them out and present my favs and least favs and why. With this recent skincare boom I have been receiving MASSIVE amounts of skincare in PR packages. A lot of times I’ll toss what I’m not interested in into my donation pile, but I keep a lot of it to test out. Skincare is super important to me. It’s safe to say that I’m a skincare hoarder.

To help you decide what might work for you and what might not, I will tell you that I have combo skin – depending on the time of year, but typically I’m dealing with a combination of dry and oily, or right in the middle of both.

There’s one brand I’ve been continuously using since I was around 16 years old: Dermalogica. It’s really pretty humbling to now receive free product from them in PR kits when I used to spent SO much of my paycheck on their products. Skincare is one thing I do not skimp on when it comes to how expensive it is. Quality isn’t cheap. BUT I also don’t think I’d really be pitching a full line of $300 skincare items either, unless there was a specific product or products that I TRULY saw a difference with. I’m also the type of person that doesn’t notice details too much when it comes to diets, skincare etc so it takes a lot to impress me. lol

The list below will be in order of use. For example, I will be talking about how to remove makeup first, so on and so forth.

First things first. Melting the makeup and dirt away is the first thing on my to-do list when it comes to my skincare routine. No matter what time of day it is. TBH I only wear makeup maybe twice per week right now, but when I do, I usually want to remove it a couple hours after applying it lol.

Here are some of my favorite products to use to melt away makeup!

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup – I love the consistency of this cleansing balm. It’s much like the consistency of coconut oil (when it ISN’T melted of course). This makes it great for traveling, as oils always inevitably seep out and into the rest of your stuff. It smells amazing and makeup just falls apart beneath this product. It’s AWESOME for waterproof makeup and difficult liquid lipstick.


NYX Cleansing Oil – I love the price point on this product. It definitely won’t break the bank, but it gets the job done! It melts makeup off seamlessly. It also has no scent, which is great for those of you who have sensitive noses.

Dermalogica Precleanse Balm – This balm is almost the same consistency as the first product I mentioned. It is slightly more solid and a tad more difficult to get out of the bottle if it gets cold (similar to coconut oil as well). I just had a thought – obviously coconut oil has no skincare in it other than the good, natural ingredients it contains, but I’d be curious to see how these makeup melters stack up against a $4 jar of coconut oil! Dermalogica delivered this product to the market a year ago. I used it to remove tough Halloween latex and makeup and it worked SO well.

Face Halo – You’re in for a serious treat if you’ve never heard of Face Halo. Face Halo is a round microfiber cleansing cloth that is soft and gentle, duh. It’s AWESOME for traveling when you want to minimize the amount of skincare/products you’re packing. All you do is get it wet with warm water, and gently wipe off your makeup. I was shocked the first time I used it, you can see my IG video here, the makeup just stuck to the cloth with almost no effort. You haven’t even heard the coolest part yet though, this thing can be washed around 200 times in the washer and reused!! SCORE.


I’ll skip right to my cleansers if I don’t have any makeup on. However I will also sometimes use cleanser right after using a makeup melter. Why? Cause I’m anal about getting all of my makeup off. You probably don’t really need to, but you can never be too careful right?!

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel – This is the product I’ve been using since I was 16! This is my wee baby travel sized one (it fit better with the other bottle okay!). This cleansing gel is gentle on your skin but tough on acne and any other imperfections. I love it. It doesn’t smell like much.

NXN Soft Touch Gel to Milk Cleanser – You guys have heard me talk about NXN before. I’ve really been enjoying their line, I truly see a difference with their skincare, which is why it’s on this blog post (and on my IG, YT etc)! They have very clean products, meaning there aren’t a bunch of nasty ingredients that are bad for your skin. One thing to note, they offer a monthly skincare box only, I don’t believe you can get the products as singles. BUT this (I think) is super helpful bc you get skincare shipped right to you each month, and you can change your preference (depending on your skin) monthly to fit your skin’s needs.

Exfoliators play a very important role in my skincare regimen. Since I wear lots of makeup, I usually have some clogged pores and skin that needs to be rejuvenated and exfoliated. I typically use an exfoliator 2 x per week, depending on the specific exfoliator. I also like to do some REAL good exfoliating sessions using my Clarisonic before and during my period.

NXN Glow Remedy Powder to Foam Exfoliator – Wow that’s a long product name. I’ve been using this exfoliator for a while now and it always leaves me skin feeling soft and lovely.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – One thing I love about this more mild exfoliator is that you can use it every day if you want to. I find that keeping up with a light exfoliating is super helfpul towards the goal of clear skin. Think of it like a little skin polish. It prevents too much build up.

I’m pretty busy, so finding time to just chill with a face mask on isn’t super often. But as I’ve been seeing some great results, I’ve been forcing myself to do it more. I also really hate rinsing face masks OFF which is another reason I don’t do them as much as I should. Who can relate?!

NXN Power Detox Clear Complexion Mask – I swear by this freakin’ mask. It shrinks my pores and pulls out all the nasties in my skin. I highly recommend.

Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask – This is jam-packed with two types of vitamin c that smooths, brightens and evens your skintone. From the brand:  The formula features two types of Vitamin C: a water-soluble vitamin C derivative that absorbs quickly for an immediate glow and an oil-soluble vitamin C derivative that remains in skin longer, providing antioxidant protection from UV damage for brighter, more even-toned skin over time.

Ah serums. One of my favorite things! The amount of different serums and night time serums is INSANE. I change up the ones I use every single night depending on what my skin needs. Here are some I find myself using a lot. This includes oils as well, I consider those a “serum”. I’m going to copy and paste the description of each product BY the brand bc typically there’s some sciencey stuff involved with these and I don’t want to convey any information incorrectly.

Murad Revitalixir Recovery Serum – First off, this stuff smells amazingggg. Okay, now from the brand: Sphere-infused serum for the face and eyes smooths stress lines, reduces under-eye puffiness and dark circles, and renews vibrancy immediately and over time. A skin-relaxing blend of neuropeptide, paracress and cannabis sativa seed oil helps smooth while boosting softness and moisture. Niacinamide refines texture as wild indigo helps calm stress signals and visibly reduces under-eye dark circles. Caffeine re-invigorates tone while minimizing under-eye puffiness.

Dermalogica BioLumin-c Serum – Dermalogica’s Age Smart BioLumin-C Serum is a high-performance vitamin C serum that optimizes skin’s own defenses to brighten, firm and help dramatically reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum – Instantly brightens; target fine lines, wrinkles, pores and dark spots. This groundbreaking age-defying serum, powered with AHAs and bakuchiol—a natural alternative to retinol— fights all major signs of aging and more. It targets fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots, firms and reduces the look of pores.

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil – This amazingly absorbable oil delivers clinically proven results to reverse the signs of aging and incredible antioxidant benefits against environmental stressors and free radicals. Look for a noticeable reduction in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, redness and blotchiness with improvement in skin’s elastic feel.

I forgot about the lip area for a long time, until I started receiving PR packages with lip products and trying them out and putting two and two together. Caring for delicate skin around your lips is just as important as smearing eye cream under your eyes! You know when you see little old ladies and their lipstick has bled up their lip into the little wrinkles? Yeah, that’s somewhat preventable with good skincare.

Dermalogica Lip Treatment – This is a nightly lip treatment that you won’t regret. From the brand: Anti-aging lip and perioral treatment smoothes the appearance of laugh and feather lines while you sleep. This rich overnight formula firms, hydrates and restores skin on and around the lips.


I use eye cream like it’s going out of style. If I’m too lazy to put serums and moisturizer on, the one thing I will put on is eye cream. I even put eye cream on the lines between my eyes too. Yes, that wrinkles quickly for me, thanks Dad! When applying eye cream, take care not to PULL or tug at your skin. You want to use your ring finger (bc it’s the weakest) to pat your eye cream into place.

Tarte Cosmetics Rainforest of the Sea Pack Your Bags Undereye Patches – Damn, another long name! These are great for traveling and for life in general. Now these aren’t an eye cream per se, but they definitely deliver some much-needed relief to tired, puffy eyes. I love to use these on long flights or in the morning if I have to wake up early and do my makeup or look DECENT. These patches will hydrate and soothe your undereye area. They are vegan-friendly too!

Dermalogica Stress Positive Eye Lift – Stress positive is literally a lifestyle I’ve been trying to master for so long! Erase tired, stressed looking eyes. I love how this product feels, the applicator is metal and cool to the touch helping relieve puffy eyes. From the brand: Active, cooling cream-gel masque energizes skin to reduce visible signs of stress. High-performance formula minimizes the appearance of puffiness and dark circles, increases skin luminosity, lifts the eye area and helps restore skin barrier integrity.

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye – This is anti-aging. It smooths and brightens. It soaks in quite nicely and helps minimize small wrinkles around the eye area including crows feet.

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum – I love the ingredients in this product. It helps minimize the look of wrinkles. Your skin will just drink this stuff up. From the brand: This potent treatment minimizes the look of wrinkles and crow’s feet while infusing skin with a nutrient-rich Marine Kelp Complex to lift, firm and visibly brighten dark circles. See more revitalized, youthful-looking eyes starting in just 1 week.*

We all know and love moisturizers. So I don’t need to say much here. But I will say, many women (and men that have oily skin) that I’ve spoken to tend to think that applying moisturizer before makeup application causes their makeup to slide off. This is true, but only if you’re using the WRONG type of moisturizer for your skin type and activity! If you’re about to put makeup on, (whether you have dry skin, oily skin or something in between) you want to use a water/gel based moisturizer that will quickly soak into your skin rather than an oil-based cleanser that will take longer to soak in and even though, will leave an oily feel to your skin. Aside from that, you want to make sure you wash your dirty little face before even putting moisturizer on. Don’t even go there til that’s done. Back to the bathroom, MARCH!

Some moisturizers are MEANT to be worn at night. They’re heavier – they basically create a moisturizing, anti-aging cocoon for your face, which is awesome, but don’t confuse these with a daily moisturizer. Oh, AND don’t forget to clean your pillowcase, OFTEN. Gotta get all that sludge off!


Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon – This product has essential oils in it that create a calm, relaxing space for great sleep (and great skincare). From the brand: Revitalizing treatment gel-cream transforms skin overnight by optimizing nighttime skin recovery. Motion-activated essential oils work all night to promote deep, restful sleep for healthier-looking skin by morning.

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Perfecting Moisturizer – This product helps even skin tone and lighten dark spots (which I struggle with), it also hydrates and smoothes skin. Basically everything you could ask for in a moisturizer. Skin will absorb this product quickly too! From the brand: Antioxidant moisturizer hydrates, evens skin tone, smoothes skin texture and helps improve the look of dark spots and discoloration.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream – I love the component this is in, I like how easy it is to get to. No more moisturizer getting stuck under your fingernails when you scoop it out (ugh I hate this so much). Now THIS moisturizer is full of amazing oils, but this is a NIGHT TIME type of moisturizer, or day time if you’re hanging out at home for the day. You wont want to put this on before makeup, but if you have dry skin and you want to try it out, use a small amount of product and give it at least 10 minutes to soak into your skin before applying makeup. From the brand: Formulated at an ideal (and skin friendly) pH level of 5.5, Lala Retro™ has the luxurious texture of a rich face cream, without feeling suffocating or heavy.


Anndddd we’re done. Until next time. Hope you enjoyed! What are your holy grail skincare products? Tell us below!


Kristen Leanne


  1. Maylea
    November 29, 2018 / 2:35 AM

    Great article! I love all of your skincare advice! 🖤

  2. Louise Sharpy
    December 4, 2018 / 12:55 PM

    This is so helpful and so detailed. A lot of great information. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this !! I really need to “up my game” on my skincare. Especially with getting older !!! Love you tons. !!! Xoxo enjoy the Holidays

  3. Jessica
    December 4, 2018 / 3:57 PM

    You should try the Aftershow Treatment Cleanser by Jordan Samuel Skin. It will remove EVERY ounce of makeup! Blows me away and I’m on my third tube 👍🏻 It’s a gel to oil consistency and has done well with my semi-sensative skin ❤️ Ps – vegan and cruelty free!!

  4. April 6, 2020 / 7:00 AM

    Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

    • kristenleanne
      May 8, 2020 / 10:19 AM

      I am on Twitter! KristenxLeanne

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