In 2020 a bunch of my favourite skincare brands released new products I’m excited to share with you.
I was hoping to do this review sooner, but as most of you know I like putting time into testing and trying products before putting together a review and sharing my impressions.
I’ll be reviewing new products from Indie Lee, Annmarie Skin Care, Living Libations, Josh Rosebrook, and Suntegrity. All products I’ve used for at least 6-8 months, if not longer. Most I’m close to finishing.
I’ll tell you right now, they’re all winners. Some turned out to be very different than what I expected, but in a good way. All products I’ve continued using after putting together this review, and one product in particular I’ve already repurchased.
In the review video (at the top of the article) I’ve included a demo using the products so you can see them. I also share some tips and suggestions how to use each product to get the best results. For easy reference, I’ve also put together a detailed written review of each product further down this article sharing even more tips and recommendations for each product.
In this review
(click to jump)
2020 New in clean beauty review
Indie Lee Soothing Cleanser
I’ve been using Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser for a number of years. When they came out with a new cleanser for sensitive skin, I was excited to try it.
Indie Lee Soothing Cleanser is formulated to be a mild, moisturizing, and soothing cleanser for sensitive skin prone to redness and irritation.
Like Indie Lee’s other cleansers, it too is a gel cleanser that works up into a soft lather and rinses off clean. Compared to the Brightening Cleanser and Purifying Face Wash, the Soothing Cleanser is milder, a good choice for dry, maturing and sensitive skin types.
The Soothing Cleanser is formulated with rosa damascena and roman chamomille to target redness, and Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) to hydrate.
It’s described as being a “moisturizing” cleanser. I was really surprised it’s a lathering gel cleanser. When I think of a moisturizing cleanser, what comes to mind is a cleansing balm, milk, oil or cream. A moisturizing cleanser is usually an oil-based cleanser that cleanses, and leaves a nourishing residue on the skin to seal in moisture.
The Soothing Cleanser on the other hand works very differently. It’s a lathering gel cleanser that rinses off clean. It’s mild, never stripping skin or making it feel tight. The star ingredient in the formula is polyhydroxy acid (PHA) which is a very gentle exfoliating acid that lightly dissolves buildup of dead skin cells and sebum off the surface of the skin to allow your skin to absorb and retain moisture more easily.
I would say the cleanser is more hydrating than it is moisturizing. If you’re looking for a rich nourishing cleansing balm, this is not it. But because it helps draw moisture to the skin without leaving behind any residues, it’s actually a good choice for very sensitive skin that normally doesn’t tolerate much skincare products or heavy occlusive ingredients.
I love the polyhydroxy acid in the formula, it makes my skin super soft and smooth. And the more you cleanse with it, the softer and smoother your skin becomes. It’s impressive. I actually think they should have named it the “Smoothing Cleanser” because it makes your skin that smooth. You’ll feel it and see it within the first few uses.
And don’t be scared of term “acid.” Polyhydroxy acids are extremely gentle. More gentle than physical scrubs and commonly used acids like AHAs and BHA. Out of all exfoliating acids, polyhydroxy acids are the least sensitizing, making them the best option for sensitive skin, and for regular use. They have a much larger molecule than other exfoliating acids, so they only work on the surface of the skin, gently dissolving buildup and smoothing texture and fine lines. And because it’s in a cleanser that is rinsed off within seconds, this makes it even more gentle and well tolerated by sensitive skin types.
If your skin is very sensitive to exfolianting products like scrubs, AHAs, fruit enzymes, or wash cloths; I recommend this. It’ll cleanse and exfoliate your skin without irritation and you wouldn’t need any other exfoliating product. In fact, this is also a great product for someone who wants a minimal skincare routine that does more than wash and go, but also improves the look and texture of your skin. It’s basically an all-in-one mild cleanser and exfoliator. You can streamline your routine to just using this and a moisturizer, and it will help keep your skin clear, super smooth, diminish redness, and even out your skin tone.
Because it’s formulated with PHA, I prefer using it with other mild products. I made the mistake cleansing with it before applying Indie Lee Clearing Mask (which is a strong clarifying facial mask made with clay, sulphur, and AHAs), and the combination was too strong for my skin. Based on that experience, I wouldn’t recommend using the Soothing Cleanser right before applying retinol or other exfoliating acids (Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser would be better paired with strong actives like retinol or AHAs). The Soothing Cleanser works the best in a gentle skincare routine consisting of a hydrating toner, serum, moisturizer, sunscreen.
I’ve experimented a lot with the Soothing Cleanser, using it with other Indie Lee products. I love it with the rest of Indie Lee Sensitive Collection (Daily Vitamin Infusion and Daily Skin Nutrition). It also works well paired with Indie Lee Active Oil-Free Moisturizer. But for me, the biggest standout is using the Soothing Cleanser with Indie Lee Stem Cell Serum. I found the light exfoliation from the cleanser really helped the serum absorb better and deliver even better skin firming and smoothing results. Using them twice a day, they gently resurfaced my skin making it appear more youthful, super smooth, hydrated, and bright.
I do want to mention the scent. All of Indie Lee products are made without added fragrance, but they all have their own naturally occurring scent. To me, it smells like tequilla. Others have compared the scent to margaritas. If you are looking for spa scented skincare, this isn’t it! But the cleanser rinses off the skin clean, so the scent doesn’t linger.
For a gel cleanser, it’s mild. It washes away buildup, impurities, makeup and sunscreen without drying out your skin. If you wear mascara, eye makeup, or difficult to remove foundation, better to remove it first with an oil or makeup remover, and then follow it with the cleanser.
If you like double cleansing, Soothing Cleanser is a perfect second step cleanser.
CLICK TO SHOP: Indie Lee Soothing Cleanser
Annmarie Skin Care Restorative Oil Cleanser
Annmarie Skin Care makes some of the best moisturizing facial oils. Their oil blends don’t just sit on your skin, they truly moisturize (my favourite is the Herbal Facial Oil For Normal/Combination Skin). When I saw they had a new oil cleanser, Restorative Cleansing Oil, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Like their facial oils, Annmarie Skin Care Restorative Cleansing Oil is moisturizing. But what makes this product unique, it’s moisturizing and also clarifying. The blend is simple and pure, made with jojoba and castor oil, plus manuka oil, a touch of tea tree and an array of essential oils.
It’s clarifying, very brightening, and makes skin soft and supple.
This oil cleanser is suitable for all skin types, but if you have dry or maturing skin that is prone to spots, blemishes, acne breakouts or you have hyperpigmentation, sun spots or old acne marks to fade – this is a must try.
Plus if coconut oil is a no-go for you, this oil blend is coconut-free.
I will warn you, the scent is lovely (smells like honey lemon), but it is strong. If you have sensitive skin, best to use this oil cleanser as a first step cleanser, and follow it with a gel cleanser to remove any leftover residue.
I’ve used the cleanser on it’s own, as well as a first step in double cleansing. Even if you follow it with a gel cleanser, it’s still moisturizes your skin.
The lemon essential oil in the product is very brightening. This is especially good for dull skin, or for fading surface hyperpigmentation, acne marks, and sun spots. If you are looking for a cleanser that makes your skin look fresh, even, and more radiant; I recommend this.
Because I have dermal melasma, I have to be careful with most brightening products, including this cleanser. The hyperpigmentation I have is too deep for most brightening products to penetrate. So the skin around my hyperpigmentation gets lighter and brighter, but not the melasma, and it ends up looking more obvious. But I did find a way to make it work for me. As long as I use the oil cleanser as the first step in double cleansing, and follow it with a gel cleanser to remove all residues of the oil, this stopped it from overly brightening my skin. I still got all the clarifying, skin softening benefits from the cleanser, plus a more radiant even skin tone without triggering the melasma.
I’ll admit, I’m strangely addicted to the scent and I just love how moisturizing the oil is. Every night after cleansing with it, I apply 1 pump of the oil to my arms as a moisturizer. It’s helping fade sun spots on my arms and makes my skin look more youthful and soft. I love it.
If you want to read more about Annmarie Skin Care, check out my Annmarie Skin Care Sample Kits Review.
CLICK TO SHOP: Annmarie Skin Care Restorative Cleansing Oil
Living Libations Neroli Glow Polishing Creme Cleanser
We all know I’m a huge fan of Living Libations. When they came out with two new skin care products last year, I was super excited.
Living Libations Neroli Glow Polishing Creme Cleanser is an exfoliating facial scrub with a cream cleanser base. It sloughs away buildup and dead skin cells off the surface of the skin revealing smoother, softer, more supple skin.
The first thing I noticed was the mesmerizing neroli scent, and of course, the very fine texture of the scrub. This is a micro-exfoliant that effortlessly and thoroughly polishes skin without being rough or abrasive. No chunky sharp grains. In fact, the silica exfoliating grains (derived from bamboo) are soft, somewhat fibrous. They exfoliate the skin beautifully without scratching skin. And I love the milky cleanser base which is moisturizing and nourishing.
Even for my sensitive skin, I had no problem using it. And because of the nourishing cream cleanser, if your skin tolerate scrubs well, you can use it regularly.
My most favourite way of using Neroli Glow Polishing Cream Cleanser is for an at-home facial before applying a facial mask. This cleanser removes all the build up of grime, sebum and dead skin cells, prepping your skin for a mask and/or other skin care products, so they work and absorb even better.
If you have dry skin, this would be a great addition to your skin care routine. The physical exfoliation helps remove flakes and buildup, and the creamy cleanser delivers perfect moisture. Dry skin types are prone to dullness and texture, and this cleanser replenishes dehydrated skin and smooths everything out.
The cleanser itself is quite light and hydrating. It’s not heavy, waxy or oily, making it suitable for all skin types. But because of the creamy/milky base, I find it’s best suited for normal, dry or maturing skin. It nourishes your skin as it polishes. If you have oily skin, I recommend Living Libations Royal Rose Honey Mask which can be used as a mask or facial scrub. It too has an exfoliating texture, but it’s made with honey and clarifying clay, which deeply cleanses pores and is more balancing for oily and combination skin.
CLICK TO SHOP: Living Libations Neroli Glow Polishing Creme Cleanser
Living Libations Open Sky Sheer Serum
When it was first launched I didn’t quite know what to expect or what it will do. Most of Living Libations serums are oil-based, this one is not. It’s a hydrating serum made of an array of essences and hydrosols blended with a tiny hint of shea butter and oil to lock in moisture.
When you first apply it, the serum is light and extremely fluid, almost like water. But instead of disappearing into your skin like most essences and hydrosols, it quickly absorbs and hydrates skin, and leaves an ultra fine moisturizing film on the surface of your skin (from the shea butter and oils). This is what seals in moisture, making your skin velvety soft, dewy, and supple.
It’s such a unique serum that delivers hydration without being oily, heavy or sticky.
This hydrating serum is especially good for smoothing fine lines, creppy skin and texture from dryness and age. Plus, it plumps skin and helps shrink the appearance of enlarged pores. It will revive dull lacklustre skin, and give it a healthy, dewy finish.
And what makes this serum even better is the cooling and calming effect from the comfrey, cape chamomile, blue tansy and peppermint. It evens out skin tone, redness dissipates, and even my melasma fades upon application.
I just love it.
But I will say, as lightweight as this serum is, it’s potent. And to get the full benefits from the serum, I prefer keeping the rest of my skin care routine simple and plain. I wouldn’t be pairing this with super strong actives or even too many products with essential oils.
My favourite combos is using the Open Sky Sheer Serum followed by 2-3 drops of Indie Lee Daily Vitamin Infusion which is an oil-based serum containing vitamin C and ceramides. Used together, these two products make my skin look like glass. They also help fade my melasma by brightening my skin, evening out skin tone, and calming deep inflammation.
Another combo I love, which is really good for dry skin is pairing the Open Sky Sheer Serum with Living Libations Sun Dew Vitamin D Creme. These two products complement each other perfectly. The Open Sky Sheer Serum hydrates as Sun Dew face cream deeply moisturizes and replenishes the skin. I like using these two at night as a deep moisturizing treatment. I always wake up with soft, supple, silky skin.
If you have oily skin, you could use this on its own. Especially in the summer time, it would give you lightweight hydration and help balance oil production in the skin. Or, you can pair it with a lightweight moisturizer or oil. If you have sensitive skin, I recommend using a plain moisturizer like Jojoba Oil or Squalane Oil so nothing interferes with the ingredients in the serum.
I do want to mention that the 15ml bottle is tiny for this type of product. I’ll never forget the first time I used the serum and fell in love with it, only to realize that I would go through the bottle in a matter of weeks. Unlike an oil that you only use 2-3 drops, and a 15ml bottle could last months, this sort of product you’ll go through much more quickly. The 15ml is good to sample the product, but I strongly recommend the 30ml instead. The product also separates, so always make sure to give it a good shake before using.
CLICK TO SHOP: Living Libations Open Sky Sheer Serum
Josh Rosebrook Daily Acid Toner
Over the past year I’ve been using a bunch of Josh Rosebrook skin care products that have helped balance my skin. Into my mid-forties my skin has started getting more dry and more sensitive, and his products hit the spot delivering perfect moisture and nourishment while being very gentle.
When Josh Rosebrook Daily Acid Toner was launched, I was really excited to try it. It’s formulated to gently exfoliate skin without irritation.
My skin normally doesn’t tolerate toners or serums made with exfoliating acids, in particular glycolic acid. I have no problem using cleansers and facial masks made with exfoliating acids like AHAs because they’re aren’t on my skin long enough to cause irritation. But toners and serums with exfoliating acids that sit on my skin all day or night are a whole other story. As everyone’s always raving about how acid toners make their skin brighter, smoother and more supple; for me, they make my skin red, raw and badly irritated. Over the past ten years I have literally found only two acid products my skin tolerates and delivers the glow everyone’s talking about (Indie Lee Radiance Renewal Peel and Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum).
So when Josh Rosebrook came out with an acid toner that he says is gentle and will deliver the glow, I wanted to try it!
And yes, it delivers the smooth, supple, hydrated glow, and it is super gentle. In fact, I will say it’s the most gentle exfoliating acid toner I’ve tried. I’ve had no irritation or dryness from the toner, even using it every day.
The standout benefits from using Daily Acid Toner is how hydrating and brightening it is. It’s also versatile, bringing a whole range of benefits to different skin types and challenges.
For example, if you’ve had breakouts or acne that left behind acne marks, discolouration or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, this can help fade it. Plus since it’s a gentle exfoliant, it will remove buildup from the surface of the skin helping to keep skin clear and prevent clogged pores.
If you have sun damage, sun spots, fine lines or texture, this too can help fade the dark spots, smooth skin texture and diminish the appearance of enlarged pores.
It’s also very hydrating, so it helps balance sebum production in the skin, and keeps skin fresh, supple, and youthful looking.
If you have dry skin, I find the light exfoliation not only brightens and softens skin, but also helps moisturizers absorb and replenish skin a lot better. This toner doesn’t contain any drying alcohols, and it draws moisture to the skin making it a great option for dry and dehydrated skin types.
Overall great product.
And the results and benefits are pretty immediate. It’s not one of those products that you have to work up to using every day to see any changes in your skin. In fact, I recommend going slow, start with using it once or twice a week. You’ll notice the brightening and hydrating benefits pretty immediately, and as you continue using it, your skin will become smoother, clearer, more radiant.
Just keep in mind, since it’s made with glycolic acid, it’s important to wear sunscreen every single day because it can make skin more photosensitive.
Everything about this acid toner is great, but I did have one challenge. As I mentioned in the above review of Annmarie Restorative Cleansing Oil, I have dermal melasma that doesn’t respond well to most brightening products. And this toner is SUPER brightening. Most people get radiant luminous skin using brightening products that evens out their skin tone and fades imperfections. Unfortunately for me, the hyperpigmentation I have is too deep, so the skin around my melasma becomes lighter and brighter, but not the dark patches (and then they start looking more obvious in contrast).
I have this problem with 90% of brightening products I’ve tried. Luckily it’s temporary, once I stop using the product my skin goes back to normal in a few days. But if I like a product, like I did the Daily Acid Toner, I try to find ways to use the product without triggering the melasma.
In this case I tried reducing the amount of toner to just a few drops, and also diluting it with other products. But still, it’s too brightening for my skin causing the underlying hyperpigmentation to become more noticeable.
So instead of using it as a leave-on toner, I tried using it as a 5-10 minute treatment. I applied it to clean skin, left it on for about 10 minutes and then rinsed it off with cold water, followed by moisturizer and spf. This worked! I still got the exfoliating, hydrating and skin smoothing benefits from the toner, but rinsing it off stopped it from overly brightening my skin.
And by the way, most people don’t have dermal melasma, so it’s probably not something you need to worry about. In fact, most people love brightening products because they turn dull tired skin into fresh luminous skin, and they really help even out skin tone. The Daily Acid Toner does that. But if you have dermal melasma with similar issues using brightening products, I would be cautious using it. Same if you have active acne, pimples, or irritated skin – even though it’s a gentle exfoliating toner, it does contain exfoliating acids and better to use it when your skin is strong and healthy, and not when it’s broken out or inflamed.
CLICK TO SHOP: Josh Rosebrook Daily Acid Toner
Suntegrity Pressed Mineral Powder Compact SPF 50 (Translucent)
Suntegrity is my favourite sun care brand. When they launched a new mineral sunscreen powder, I had to get it immediately.
Suntegrity Pressed Mineral Powder Compact SPF 50 is unique. It’s a pressed powder that comes in a portable compact making re-applying sunscreen super easy on the go. The finish is semi-matte and translucent. It blurs excess shine and smooths skin texture without looking chalky, heavy or dry.
I used to have very oily skin and over the years I’ve tried a lot of sunscreen powders (you name it, I’ve probably tried it). Majority were disappointing. When applied, either they created a thick plume of powder (which is awful to inhale), they looked heavy and cakey, or, they were too difficult to dispense and apply. Either you got too much powder, or not enough.
A pressed mineral powder like Suntegrity’s is so much easier to use. You have full control how it applies and how much to use. Plus, the mineral sunscreen powder comes in a compact with a built in mirror and compartment to store the applicator puff it comes with, making it easy to use anywhere.
What’s even better, the mineral powder is made out of just four ingredients. The chance of getting breakouts, clogged pores or having a bad reaction is minimal (great for acne-prone and sensitive skin).
What I like about sunscreen powders is how easy it is to reapply, especially during the hot summer and re-applying sunscreen over makeup. But, I will say, I wouldn’t rely on just sunscreen powder for sun protection. You still need to use a sunscreen cream or lotion as your base. If you know how sunscreen works, you need a generous coating of a sunscreen product on your skin to get reliable sun protection. A powder just won’t do it on its own. Best to use a sunscreen cream, moisturizer or lotion as your base, and use the sunscreen powder as a top up, for re-applying sunscreen every few hours throughout the day.
Sunscreen powders are also great for areas of the face that needs extra protection. Let’s say you have sun spots, hyperpigmentation or melasma you want extra protection from the sun, or, there’s parts of your face that gets burned or tanned easily. Along with your regular sunscreen, you can use the sunscreen powder as a top-up that you apply on your skin throughout the day, adding extra layers of sun protection in seconds.
Suntegrity mineral powder sunscreen is very lightweight, finely milled, translucent, and suitable for all skin types and skin tones. It offers broad spectrum sun protection, the active ingredient is 25% zinc oxide.
I’ve tried it on a bunch of friends and family with a variety of skin tones including my husband who is Indonesian with a deep skin tone. The sunscreen powder doesn’t have pigment or makeup coverage, its translucent, and blends into all skin tones.
The mineral powder does have a brightening effect on the skin. What surprised me the most, the finish isn’t flat matte. The powder helps blur excess shine and pores but without making skin look dry, old or chalky. In fact, it has a way of blurring oily shine and imperfections, but allowing skin to still look and feel hydrated with some of its natural sheen coming through. So all skin types can use it, including dry and maturing.
For optimal sun protection using Suntegrity Pressed Mineral Powder, I recommend using the Powder Puff that comes with the compact, or Suntegrity Velvet Sponge. Both pick up a good amount of product and apply it evenly on skin creating a thin protective layer. If you use a powder brush to apply the sunscreen powder, it’ll just apply a light dusting of powder, which isn’t enough product for adequate sun protection.
Suntegrity Powder Puff vs. Velvet Sponge?
I’ve been asked if there is a difference between using the Powder Puff that comes with the powder compact, and using Suntegrity Velvet Sponge which is sold separately?
Yes, there is a difference in finish, but very slight.
Both applicators apply a thin, even layer of powder on skin for proper sun protection. But, Suntegrity Velvet Sponge has a way of blending the powder more easily into skin making it even less visible. This is probably due to the ultra fine velvety texture of the sponge, and its ability to get into tiny crevasses of the skin.
For dry or maturing skin types that normally avoid using powders because they can emphasize lines, texture and dryness; the Velvet Sponge applies the powder with a skin smoothing finish without emphasizing dryness or texture.
For oily skin types that want to blur shine or have more of a matte finish, Suntegrity Powder Puff works better at absorbing excess shine and moisture.
For my 45 year old skin that normally shies away from a full face of powder, I personally prefer the Velvet Sponge. But I do use both. In the morning I apply the powder with the Velvet Sponge, and during the day when I’m out, I re-apply the powder with the Puff inside the compact.
Tips for using Suntegrity Pressed Mineral Powder
I’ve been using this powder for many months and have a bunch of tips how to get the most sun protection and best looking finish.
- Allow your moisturizer, foundation or sunscreen at least 5-10 minutes to absorb and dry down before applying the sunscreen powder.
- If you are in a rush and can’t wait for your moisturizer or makeup to dry down, apply a light dusting of the Pressed Mineral Powder with a makeup brush before applying the powder with the Puff or Velvet Sponge. The light dusting of powder will absorb excess moisture and create a smoother canvas to apply the powder.
- The powder is firmly pressed. The easiest way to pick up product from the pan is using a light circular motion with the Powder Puff or Velvet Sponge over the pressed powder.
- Apply the mineral powder using a light pressing motion with the Powder Puff or Velvet Sponge (not a sweeping motion). This ensures you’re getting sufficient product for sun protection, and blends in seamlessly.
- If you have dry skin that gets flaky, best to exfoliate regularly. This will help prevent powder from clinging to dry spots or flaky, peeling skin.
- Best to wash the Powder Puff or Velvet Sponge regularly (like you would makeup brushes) to avoid buildup of bacteria and breakouts. You can purchase extra puffs and sponges here.
- If you use Suntegrity Velvet Sponge to apply the powder, the sponge needs to be dry, not wet.
- Suntegrity Pressed Mineral Powder Compact is refillable. When you finish the powder, keep the compact and just buy a replacement powder refill.
As for using the Pressed Mineral Powder Compact with other Suntegrity face sunscreens like the 5 in 1 Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 30, Impeccable Skin SPF 30, and Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30 – it works great with all of them. If you find the 5in1 Tinted Sunscreen or the Moisturizer & Primer too emollient, the powder works great as a finishing powder to blur excess shine.
If you haven’t tried Suntegrity face sunscreens, I highly recommend them. Check out my Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Sunscreen and Mineral Sunscreen & Primer Review