In this blog post, we’ll be picking the 2020 top favorites (aka the product that outperformed the others) in each product category; from first cleansers to treatments, sunscreens, and everything in between. As always, all skincare products can be purchased/preordered from Eve Beautique (Nigeria). Grab a snack and let’s dive in, this one is long and worth it!

Pre-cleanse

Before we move on to which one outperformed the others (for me), can we appreciate the fact that 2020 was the year that I finally got into cleansing balms/oils? At this point, you’re probably judging me, thinking I’ve been using facial wipes? LOL, no way! I’ve always been a micellar water girl for pre-cleanse.

Hanskin Cleansing Oil PHA, Hidirose Cleansing balm
Hanskin Cleansing Oil PHA, Hidirose Cleansing balm

TOP FAVE: The one from Hidirose is a rich creamy balm, melts down sunscreen and makeup effectively, emulsifies well when mixed with water, and rinses off completely (not even the slightest oily film is left on the skin). Oh did I mention that Hidirose is a Nigerian brand? Proud moment, I know!

The Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil PHA has similar properties except that it is lightweight. It does a good job on a regular day with sunscreen and light makeup. If only it had more body to it, it would have performed better in breaking down a full face of makeup.

As for the Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil, it’s not too thick, has enough weight to work into a full face of makeup. The downside is that it didn’t emulsify well, and left an oily film after rinsing off. A flannel (or makeup removing cloth) is needed to work with this one. Good thing I got to try some sachet samples so I didn’t bother purchasing the full size.

Don’t sleep on trial-size samples this year, guys!

Cleansers (Face Wash)

L-R: Mamonde Petal Spa, COSRX Low pH Good Morning, Wishtrend Acid-Duo Cleanser, Replenix Acne Cleanser, Etude House BB Foam, Hidirose Non-active Wash
L-R: Mamonde Petal Spa, COSRX Low pH Good Morning, Wishtrend Acid-Duo Cleanser, Replenix Acne Cleanser, Etude House BB Foam, Hidirose Non-active Wash

Obviously, it took me so long to try cleansing balms/oils because of some horror breakout stories I read about them. Then, I came across Mamonde Petal Spa Oil to Foam Cleanser. An oil- and foaming cleanser in one? Of course, I had to try it out. It did live up to its claim of taking off sunscreen & makeup but sometimes (for heavy makeup), it took two steps to achieve this. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well with my skin so I repurposed it to my brush cleanser. It’s a great way to cut steps and I believe it’s worth trying.

Everyone got that one product they always go back to when others fail; it’s Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser for me. Not new to it, it’s basic, gentle, compatible with my skin, gets the job done, everything an oily-combo skin would want in a regular gel cleanser (except the scent), but it’s not my favorite.

TOP FAVE: The Wishtrend Acid-Duo 2% Mild Gel Cleanser ticks all the boxes for me. Gentle, low pH, non-stripping, deep cleansing, a sprinkle of exfoliation… you name it. If I had to choose one cleanser to use all year, it’d be this one. It’s a bit above the average cleanser price range but it’s worth it. Click here for a detailed review.

Replenix Acne Cleanser is one that I don’t reach for often. I got it as a treatment (for acne) rather than a daily cleanser. It is quite gentle for a product with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide. Thanks to short contact therapy, it delivers without irritating.

Watch how I incorporate it into my routine here.

Again, don’t sleep on samples in 2021. From sachet sample to 30ml trial size of Etude House B.B Deep Cleansing Foam, I can say that I have fallen in love and on my way to purchase the full size (150ml). This is not your everyday cleanser, as it has some physical exfoliating properties; rice bran powder and alladat. However, it’s a great pick-me-up if your skin is feeling congested. It would have been my favorite if it was not so DRYING.

I only started using the Hidirose Non-Active Foaming Wash in December and I’m bored of it already. It claims to be a low pH, gentle cleanser without any active ingredients. I appreciate the idea of a gentle cleanser like this, but the consistency is a bit off to me. It’s not a gel, not a cream base, not whipped; it’s more like a runny lotion-serum consistency. If you enjoy rich foaming cleansers, this one will disappoint.

Exfoliants

Told myself at the beginning of 2020 that I was going to try more exfoliating acids that year. Safe to say it was a success!

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%, Hidirose Gentle Resurfacing Liquid, Stridex Pads Maximum strength
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%, Hidirose Gentle Resurfacing Liquid, Stridex Pads

If you miss physical exfoliation and want to feel like you’re watching your skin peel off in the drain, then you should look into Dr. G’s Brightening Peeling gel. I mean isn’t that what most cellulose-based peeling gels do? It was worth the while but nothing spectacular. You can find a more info in this empties’ review.

TOP FAVE: I tapped into the magic of beta hydroxy acids (BHA) last year and Stridex Pads did it for me. A savior for congested skin, excess sebum, clogged pores, blackheads, and whiteheads. I have a detailed review post here.

Being a glycolic acid girl, I must say I was well pleased with The Ordinary Lactic acid 10%. Gentle yet so effective at exfoliating and brightening the surface of the skin.  Great for sensitive skin looking to exfoliate with alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs).  My second favorite in the 2020 exfoliation category.

To be honest, I only tried the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA because everyone and their grandmother were raving about it for so long. I wanted to know what the hype was all about and if it was any different from the Stridex pads which also contains 2% salicylic acid. The truth is there’s not much difference. We’ll save a detailed comparison post for another day but from my top fave verdict, you should know which one I prefer.

Still new to this, but, so far the Hidirose Gentle Resurfacing Liquid has been good. Another great option for sensitive skin as it contains 5% Lactic acid, 5% Mandelic acid, and 1% Salicylic acid. It is gentle on the skin and multitasking.

Hydrators

Farm Stay All-in-one Ampoule, Etude House Relief Toner, COSRX Advanced Snail Mucin Essence
Farm Stay All-in-one Ampoule, Etude House Relief Toner, COSRX Advanced Snail Mucin Essence

TOP FAVE: Farm Stay All-In-One Ampoule Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid. Some of the key ingredients include marine collagen, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and adenosine. This one is my favorite for several reasons; it is multitasking, it hydrates and plumps the skin, antioxidant support, plus you get a bang for the buck (250ml). I shared a detailed review in this post.

Etude House SoonJung pH 5.5 Toner contains some amazing ingredients like glycerin, panthenol, and madecassoside. It’s great for soothing but doesn’t do much for hydration. It’s worth being in your skincare arsenal for those days the skin is irritated or inflamed.

After finding a favorite in the Farm Stay’s ‘Hyaluronic acid’ ampoule, I thought the ‘Honey‘ flavour will be just as good or even better. Well, I was wrong. The Farm stay honey ampoule was meh; it just sits there on the skin, barely moisturizing, doesn’t sink in or penetrate as a water-based ampoule should. I didn’t hesitate to bid it good riddance.

Another purchase that was made out of curiosity. I couldn’t escape the hype around the COSRX Advanced Snail Mucin Power Essence. Yeah, it does hydrate the skin to an extent, but it’s more of a moisturizing essence than a hydrating one. Perhaps the hype raised my expectations for the product, but there’s nothing spectacular about it if you ask me.

Antioxidants

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10%, Ezanic 20% gel, Wishtrend Pure Vitamin C 15%, UrbanskinRx Retinol Rapid Repair, Differin gel
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10%, Ezanic 20% gel, Wishtrend Pure Vitamin C 15%, UrbanskinRx Retinol Rapid Repair, Differin gel

It’s quite difficult to choose a favorite in this category. It would have been The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, but for the piling. It’s a good product with several benefits for the skin; brightening, sebum (oil) control, texture improvement, but the formula is not elegant which makes it incompatible with other products. I mean you can make it work but it’s tiring.

How many days old were you when you found out that azelaic acid is also an antioxidant? Well, now you know. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is another product I adore and could have easily become my favorite if not for the formula. I did see notable results from using it as explained here, but the texture could use some work! Of course, I went hunting for other options and found Ezanic Gel. The Ezanic gel contains 20% azelaic acid in a cream-to-gel base, and it gives me everything The Ordinary one does but without the messy application.

We’re not going to revive the horrible experience I had with the Wishtrend Pure Vitamin C 15% Serum but if you’re curious, you can read all about it here. It will make a good antioxidant serum if that is all you are seeking from it.

Retinoids

Although the Urbanskinrx Retinol Rapid Repair contains retinol which is a Vitamin A derivative, it’s worth separating it from the other antioxidants as it is more of hyperpigmentation treatment.  It is too early to conclude but so far it has done a decent job at fading the most recently acquired spots.

TOP FAVE: aka ‘Top skincare purchase in 2020’ – Adapalene 0.1% Gel (Differin)! Check out this detailed 12-week review to know what the hype is all about.

Moisturizers

L-R, Top to Bottom: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask, Zenzia Hyaluronic Acid Ampoule Cream, Fadeout Advanced Night Cream, Tony Moly Green Tea Gel, Missha Total Ceramide Cream
L-R, Top to Bottom: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask, Zenzia Hyaluronic Acid Ampoule Cream, Fadeout Advanced Night Cream, Tony Moly Green Tea Gel, Missha Total Ceramide Cream

Unsurprisingly, this category is filled with Korean brands. The Zenzia Hyaluronic acid Ampoule Cream is the moisturizer you reach for when you’re looking for an affordable, lightweight but deeply hydrating cream. It’s more suitable for oily to combination skin types, especially in summer. It’s cheap too! 70ml of product for about $11.  I have zero complaints about this one but it’s not my favorite of all that I tried in 2020.

Dr. Belmeur Clarifying Moisturizer; another affordable, lightweight moisturizer that caters to oily, acne-prone skin. This is great for the AM routine as you can layer it without having to worry about looking shiny during the day. It gives a cooling effect upon application and has a minty smell to it. 120ml for about $23.

Tony Moly The Chok Chok Green Tea Gel Cream was quite basic. Like most gel creams, barely moisturizing, barely hydrating, just vibes. Thanks to its green tea content, it provides antioxidant properties as well. You can read more about my experience with it here.

The FadeoutAdvanced Night Cream was a ‘lockdown made me do it’ purchase and it would have been my dream moisturizer, but for the stinging. Whew! It made my skin so bad, I shared tips on how I managed the stinging effect here. Other than this con, it is a rich moisturizer, keeps the skin bright & radiant, and is affordable.

TOP FAVE: The Missha Near Skin Total Ceramide Cream ticked most of the boxes for me. It is non-irritating, provides lasting moisture, non-greasy, contains replenishing ingredients like fatty acids. ceramides and cholesterol. I’ve gone through 3 tubes of this already, it’s that good. I have a post dedicated to it here.

Another moisturizer I truly enjoyed was the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask. My favorite thing about it is the exciting jelly texture, it helps to brighten the overall skin tone and keep the skin radiant, although not as moisturizing as the one from Missha. You can find more info in this demo video.

Sunscreen

Bioré UV Aqua Rich, Kosé Suncut Essence, JMsolution Marine Luminous Sun Stick, Missha Aqua sun gel, Solimo Sensitve Sun Cream Top 2020 sunscreen
Bioré UV Aqua Rich, Kosé Suncut Essence, JMsolution Marine Luminous Sun Stick, Missha Aqua sun gel, Solimo Sensitve Sun Cream

In 2020 I found another sunscreen to replace my OG – Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence. Less dewy (although I don’t mind some glow),  more affordable, less perfumed, more resistant to water and sweat; Kose Suncut Essence SPF 50+ was (and is still) that girl!

I also found a sunscreen that made reapplication seamless; JMsolution Marine Pearl Luminous Sun stick (TOP FAVE). It glides on like a dream and leaves a shiny (not greasy) finish. I spoke more about it and the other sun sticks from JMsolution in this post.

Missha Aqua Sun Gel SPF 50+, I’ll have to say was my least favorite of all the sunscreens I tried in 2020. It’s not a bad product, it’s just my preference. Although my skin leans towards the oily side, I do not fancy a matte finish and this one is quite matte! I don’t like the scent too. Again, more details (pros and cons) about this sunscreen here.

Finally, sunscreen for the body because protection against UV rays isn’t limited to the face. Solimo Sensitive Suncream Body Lotion is a decent, broad-spectrum SPF 50+ in a 200ml bottle (bang for the buck, too). The only downside is that it is oh so GREAZZZYYY! I know it’s designed to be used on the body but even at that. It takes foreevvver to absorb into the skin and would stain my clothes if I don’t blot it lightly.

Of course, I’ll be bringing some of these products into 2021, because this year we are all about repurchasing (products that are worth it) and less product-hopping. If you made it this far, do share your top 2020 beauty purchase with us in the comments.

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