Best of the Best: My Favorite Crap From 2017

How the hell is it January already?!? 2017 was a crazy-fast year for me, and it seems that I packed about three years of stuff into it. In fact, when I was thinking back over the year, brainstorming for this post, there were a handful of items that I feel like I’ve been using forever, but nope. So, I decided to edit the list of ‘my favorites’ down to my favorite new (to me) products of the year. So … without further ado, I present my best gals of 2017.

Best of Skincare 2017

I just recently finished up my first bottle of Sekkisei medicated lotion … that I’ve used religiously, twice a day, since just after New Years this year. That was one long lasting bottle! I have a new bottle already in the rotation because this has quickly become a ride-or-die product for me. This is considered a quasi-drug in Japan: more effective/powerful than regular drugstore products, but not enough to require a prescription.

japanese skincare
My one true love, Kose’s Sekkisei medicated lotion

This specific product is meant to “offer clear, snow-white, fine-grained skin that is both moist and translucent.” Fancy. What it does for me is fade my acne scars and even my skin tone. Literally nothing has ever made a dent in my post-acne pigmentation issues before this … it would be six months for redness from one pimple to finally fade. That’s a long time, especially when your acne flares up like mine did.

This retails for 5,000 yen for a 200 ml bottle in Japan, but it’s literally ALWAYS on sale. Keep an eye out right after the first of the year for super nice fukubukuro, or lucky bags, from Sekkisei in the department stores. Generally they will have clear ones … where you know exactly what you’re getting, and they will package a full-size and lots of other goodies together for the price of just the full sized product. And be careful; you want the bottle labeled “medicated,” which means it’s been proven to show results.

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask
Super brightening, pretty affordable, non-drying. WIN.

Chronologically, the next big find for me is this clay mask from Korean skincare brand innisfree. This doesn’t make my skin feel super tight and dry like many clay masks. I don’t use it for miraculous pore suctioning, because it’s not a miracle worker there (what is? If you know one, let me know!). What it does do is brighten and even out my skin amazingly. In one use. If my pores are especially gross (when are they not), I will use a BHA toner like Stridex maximum strength pads or the one from COSRX before putting this on. After using it, my skin is already brighter. I then do whatever skincare steps like normal, and go to bed, and in the morning … poof … good skin day. I bought mine direct from innisfree, but Amazon also sells it (and a ton of other k-beauty goodies).

This time last year, I had never heard of P50. For the uninitiated, P50 is an acid toner from French company Biologique Recherche. It’s a true cult classic, referred to by its fans sometimes as “Jesus in a Bottle” or “Trash Face.” The latter is due to the scent which is potent (mostly vinegar and it goes away). It’s expensive … real expensive … at $65 for a bottle, but like Sekkisei, it lasts for a super long time. So, why would anybody spend that for a bottle of stank ass toner? Because it really is a facial in a bottle. Use it at night, and wake up looking like a damn miracle. I promise.

 It comes in a variety of formulas, depending on your skin’s experience and tolerance of acid toners. I’ve used the two strongest, P50 and P50 1970 (the OG version which contains phenol and burns so good). I’m not sure which I prefer of the two at this point. I really do like the burn of the 1970 version, but I wonder if the slightly gentler regular P50 isn’t actually a tiny bit more effective. I don’t know, jury is still out for me (skincare fanatics generally say 1970 is the best of the best). It’s not so easy to buy. To purchase, you will need to go to a Biologique Recherche shop/spa, or an authorized seller of it on the interwebz. A friend mailed me my first (fun size) bottle, and I bought the second (full size) from Paul Labrecque in New York (they shipped quickly and free to my APO address, and included lots of samples).
I bought a box or two of these Naruko sheet masks in Taipei over Memorial weekend. Actually, I bought about seventy boxes of sheet masks in Taipei, but that’s neither here nor there. Mostly with sheet masks I get instant hydration and plumping, but I haven’t seen massive differences between too many of the different ones (I do have some favorites, though). This mask is a miracle though. Like the innisfree clay mask, this mask reduces my redness and clears/brightens my skin immediately, and my skin looks even better in the morning.  Psssst … it appears they’re having a big sale right now … run don’t walk!
This is the only mask I’ve tried that has the ear holes and double chin strap on it … weird, but thankfully it doesn’t make any hair it touches look greasy. I haven’t tried anything from Naruko that I dislike, but these are amazing and I highly recommend them. If you don’t have a Watsons stop or Taiwan trip in your near future, you can order from the Naruko US website (they run sales periodically as well).
My final skincare pick is another cult classic among skincare nerds, Stratia’s liquid gold. This is very fairly priced at $24 for 60 mL. It contains a host of amazing ingredients to gently repair your skin’s barrier. It’s perfect anytime of year, but is an especially great layer to put on in the winter. It mixes beautifully with oils as well. You have to order, but Stratia has fast shipping and free shipping above a certain threshold. Excellent customer service (and I hear great things about the rest of their line, though I can’t personally vouch for anything but this one).
Best of Makeup of 2017

Again, these are the best products that I’ve discovered this year. There are tons of others out there that I can sing a thousand praises for but these are the best of 2017.

In order of application, the Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother is still a huge winner for me. I was skeptical of how tiny this bottle was in my original review but I’m just now almost finishing it so … it’s tiny but mighty I guess. This is great at blurring the skin without leaving a thick, silicone layer like a lot of pore smoothers do (this means it plays nice with more foundations than a regular silicone primer does). It also absorbs excess oil without drying your skin out. You can apply it later in the day over makeup as well to blot oils.

Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Nude Water Fresh Makeup (why is this name so looooooong?) is another big win for me this year. I HATED the  OG Double Wear. It looks like a matte mask on pale people. This is the complete opposite. It evens out redness and discoloration and looks like your skin. It’s comfortable to wear, doesn’t cling to dry spots or accentuate pores. Not too matte or too shiny. It’s just terrific. Downside: despite being an expensive foundation at $, it doesn’t come with a pump. Can we please peer pressure the cheapos at Estee Lauder to quit with not including a hygienic pump with their foundations? Dude, even drugstore foundations are including them now.

The friend that mailed me my gateway into P50 also sent this highlighter: the essence pure nude highlighter. This is a beauty blogger and influencer favorite for a reason. It’s less than $5 from Fred Meyer or Ulta and it is hands-down my favorite highlighter (including my expensive ones from Sephora). There is no glitter or metallic element to it at all, it just makes your skin glow like a young person’s. You can use it just on your cheekbones, on all the high points, or even all over your face. I’m very excited to pick up a backup while I’m in the states since we can’t buy it in Okinawa. ** edit: you may have to order; I’ve been to four stores in two states and can’t find it in stock anywhere!

Finally, you probably know my undying love for Heroine Make mascara, the mascara that will never let you down. Seriously; my friend messaged me recently telling me that she had worn it during her 34ish hour labor and delivery of her twins last month, and at the end of it all, her lashes were still in full effect.

But this is a favorites of 2017, and 2017 is the year of Loreal Lash Paradise. Clocking in at about $8, it’s a really pretty mascara. It holds a curl pretty well, and thickens and lengthens without looking clumpy or spidery. My mom asked me if I had gotten lash extensions when she face timed me while I was wearing it (of course, face time resolution probably helped my lashes out in this case). I have the waterproof one and it’s still not 100% transfer-proof (it is also difficult to remove, but Heroine Make’s mascara remover destroys it because … Heroine Make, man). It’s not going to take Heroine Make’s spot in my summer mascara spot, but it’s perfect for the winter. I love it.

That’s a wrap for the best of the best this year. Have you tried any of these? What would you add to the list?

Sales and Steals for the Last Minute Holiday Shoppers (Hey, Sometimes it Pays to Wait!)

I know, so much gifting content! I have lots of fun stuff up my sleeve for you guys coming up … but for now, in the thick of holiday gifting season, I have a lineup of some cyber sales and discount codes for you guys. Some of these are time sensitive (expiring soon), so look soon.

(note: some links are affiliate links; you don’t pay more but the retailer may kick back a bit to me).

The most time sensitive is funky, vintage style clothing & housewares retailer ModCloth … they’re giving a free grab bag out ($100 USD value) with any $150 domestic purchase 12/7 ONLY.

Get your GWP Grab Bag with any $150+ purchase at Modcloth! 12/7 – 12/8 Only.

Nordstrom is always a good bet during the holidays (anytime) because of their fast, free shipping and free return shipping. Their customer service is top-notch as well. They’re currently offering personal 10 point days for Nordstrom Rewards cards members. They also have a number of beauty brands marked down 15% (price matching with Macy’s), which ends 12/11. No code required for that.

NORDSTROM REWARDS – Personal 10 Points Day. See Details.

High end Korean skincare company Laneige is doing a 12 Days of Delights program. Similar to Sephora programs, each day has a different special gift with purchase.

Curly haircare company Ouidad is offering 20% off site wide (excluding liters) with the code TWENTY17. This expires 12/10.

AFFILIATE ONLY 20% OFF SITE WIDE (Excludes Liter Sizes) Expires: Dec. 10, 2017 Coupon Code: TWENTY17

FOREO, the premier silicone face cleansing (and other devices) device company (like a Clarisonic but no brush heads to mold or replace), has GIFT SETS up to 34% off right now. Try code 15SNOW for 15% off and free shipping over $50.

Super affordable (and surprisingly good, for the most part) e.l.f. cosmetics is running free shipping on ANY order (this is pretty rad as filling up a cart with enough e.l.f. products to make a free ship minimum can be tough, it’s so inexpensive). This promo is running through 12/18. They have a few other sales if you spend more: Spend $25+ and get a FREE 4-Piece Gift Set or Spend $40+ and get a FREE limited edition e.l.f. hat. Use code 25REWARD or 40REWARD. Use code: 25REWARD on orders $25+ or 40REWARD on orders $40+. Valid 12/5-12/11.

Our gift to you! Free shipping on all orders. No code required. Shipping discount applied at checkout. Valid 11/27-12/18.

Are you a Bare Minerals girl? They aren’t giving away the store … YET.  They are running free shipping through 12/21. They have a small free GWP over $100 through 12/7. BUT … if you use the mineral foundation and/or mineral veil, they have super rad, limited edition holiday versions of these right now. And, between 12/8-12/12 (patience, patience …) you get 20% off your whole order and a free eyeshadow palette of your choice over $75. Their newest, gigantic eye palette has gotten really great reviews so far (probably not up for free though, le sigh).

They’re so pretty!

25 Karat Gifting! Receive 20% off your entire order, plus spend $75 and get an eyeshadow palette of your choice at! Enter code 24KRT at checkout. Offer valid 12/8-12/12.

Amazon has a few interesting sales going on … first, if you’re prime you may be asked at checkout to, in exchange for a longer wait for your items (a handful of days), they will send you a $5 coupon to be used for beauty items. (This has happened just once to me this week with multiple orders so I’m not sure how this works). They also have clippable coupons for a bunch of stuff you can stock up for if your skin is dryer than the Sahara this time of year:

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Ointment Body Spray, 3.7 Ounce 25% off Eucerin Original Healing Rich Creme 16 oz (Pack of 2) 25% off

Some L’Oreal (mostly complexion products, definitely not mascara) has 20% coupons: L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation Makeup, 102 Shell Beige, 1 fl. oz.

French company Mustela has a few of their great baby skincare products on sale like Mustela Newborn Arrival Gift Set, 15% off.

Still need gifts? A ton of The Body Shop gifts are 30% off, like this one:The Body Shop Satsuma Festive Picks Small Gift Set.

Well, that’s what I’ve dug up so far … have you found any stellar deals or sales this season on gifts? I find that the closer to Christmas we get, the more likely the deals are going to be on express shipping charges. Not all of us are as organized as others, you know (cough, cough, me).