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2020 is a year of revelations. When it came to skincare, it was about rediscovering old favourites (because let’s be honest, we decided to finish or give second chances to products we abandoned) and reviving skincare routines (because makeup was out, it was time to pay attention to our skin!). Personally, I’ve had a crazy year – full of ups, down and down-unders. There was the goal of clear, glowing skin and then, there was hormonal acne and now my skin is somewhere between healthy and happy give or take an acne bout or two.

My skincare journey this year

This year, I also rediscovered some really amazing skincare gems – ones I would never imagine making a difference. Essentially, my skincare regime was about two things: I discovered J-Beauty and rekindled my love for K-Beauty ( I love Japanese skincare and will continue to vouch for it and now it’s coupled with my favourite K-Beauty faves!) and also made sure I included a few new layers to my skincare routine – hello double-cleansing, oils, Gua-sha routine and skincare essences. Add in a few French skincare favourites and we have a bunch of interesting things to look into.

I have also loved investing in skincare hybrids or multi-purpose products. This list is varied, totally random but one thing is for sure – every product is accountable in bringing my skin to glowing heights and everything in this list is as effective as they come. It’s also a good time to inform you that I suffered a bit from hormonal acne (mid-30s and erratic food habits have made my hormones go nuts) so I also came across new brands that helped me navigate the skincare space a little differently.

The best skincare products in 2020

Without future ado, my picks for 2020 – ones that changed my life and might change yours too. Skincare is personal, but a good word can make you look them up better, so here you go.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

This year was all about acid exfoliation and while last year was all about the Pixi Glow tonic, this year belonged to Paula’s Choice. The fact that this is perfect for those with blackheads and redness is an added plus – but for me, this was about cleaning up my skin and adding in the glow. It’s also not trash, it’s super gentle and definitely a must-have. Reddit made me buy The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and that was another gem I discovered this year – my skin was happy. The gold standard in exfoliating for sure.

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Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

I’ll admit, I wasn’t too hot on them at first. Because that greasy face is not my thing. But honestly, these three oils changed my life this year. The Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil is a winner on all counts because this was mild retinol that really gave my skin that much needed glow, it was so rich and reduced the pores too. The other two oils that really caught my eye and worked on my skin were the RAS Luxury Oils Skin Clearing Elixir, so good for pigmented skin and definitely the Sapphire Botanics Glow Night Repair Serum, another lightweight oil that sinks in and gives you gloriously glowing skin overnight.

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Conscious Chemist Ritual Cleanser + Facial Cream

This year, I discovered the power of basic skincare – by basic, I mean, a good facial cleanser and a facial cream that is simple with it’s ingredients and does the job of protecting the skin’s barrier. In that sense, Conscious Chemist has been my go-to Indian label for my skin needs – their Facial Cream is the perfect one to seal all your serums with and the facial cleanser is perfect for those who have dry skin like mine – its so very hydrating.

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Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying, Hydrating & Plumping Daily Skin Booster

So, this year, I was completely not happy with my Vitamin C options, I used the Ordinary one and just wasn’t happy. So I went into serums that really did do the job of hydrating and making sure I have even skin tone. Daughter’s Earth Eternal Youth Rejuvenating Serum is just right to start off this serum journey for me. It was lightweight and took care of hyperpigmentation and sun damage. The other serum that did make a difference? The Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum that’s great for hydrating the skin. I also bought the highly acclaimed Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying, Hydrating & Plumping Daily Skin Booster which is by far the best hydrating serum I have ever tried. 

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French skincare: Noreva and Filorga

This year is not about organic or sustainable labels for me – it is about those that are Dermat-based and clinical in a way. In the sense, I went far into French skincare and unearthed some gems, thanks to my hormonal acne that needed basic skincare to calm it down. The Noreva Trio White Night Time Depigmenting Care was an amazing discovery, it made my skin smoother and calmer, while the Filorga Foam Cleanser gave me all those gentle, calming feels. 

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Tools: Gua Sha + Facial rollers

Now, this is new to me – I’m not the kind of person who can do elaborate skincare regimes and ideas. But Gua Sha was tried because someone sent me one and boy, that was nice. I don’t know if skin is firmer or brighter or healthier but it sure gave my skin those ‘looked-after’ feels. Ditto with facial rollers – they gave me such feel good vibes and smoother skin. I got mine gifted by RAS and it was just so much easier to work with, so luxe as well.

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Makeup removal and Double Cleansing

This year, I learnt two things. Double-cleansing and makeup removing through towels. And when it came to double-cleansing, nothing could beat the cult product Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil I bought from Tokyo. The POREfinist2 Sakura Refreshing Cleansing Oil is so smooth, so effortless and definitely a cult product for me. Shu Uemura created the first cleansing oil in the 1960s and it works on the skin without stripping it. This is also the year I said goodbye to my cotton pads and extensive tugging of skin with makeup removers and settled into towels – Makeup Eraser India, Simply Nam Makeup Removing and Cleansing Towel and an obscure towel that resembled a Makeup Eraser I got from Spain for two Euros at Primark. All if them worked wonders – I am a convert.

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SK -II Essence

I’ll be honest, I could never understand the importance of Essences until I met this gem. What put Japanese label SK -II on the map is the Essence; though the company has more than a handful of products known for their brightening, anti-ageing, and hydrating benefits. What makes it unique? SK -II is the only company to use Pitera as an ingredient to create this iconic product. My skin was overjoyed and responded by making sure it stayed smoother, firmer and so beautifully hydrated. I’m discovering J-Beauty and I’m in skincare heaven these days. 

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Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II

It’s the year of classics and nothing can beat the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II when it comes to making sure you glow. This cult night serum gave me smoother skin while making sure my hyper pigmented skin is taken care of as well. ANR is a great beginner anti-ageing serum for those who don’t want to go near the harsh retinol. I know I will always have one in my cupboard just in case.

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Heliocare 360 Water Gel

Sunscreens are ubiquitous but not all of them are made alike. This year, I’m happy to report that I loved researching and getting my hands on those that really upped my skincare regime. The #HELIOCARE360WaterGel really made my skin sing, it helped repair the barrier too. The ultra-light texture didn’t give me. white cast and really gave my skin all the love. Ideal for sensitive skin like mine.

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Latha Sunadh
Deputy Editor
When she's not trying on a new serum, researching on yet another classic fragrance and sharing lip balms with her 5-year old daughter, Latha Sunadh keeps it reined in with a nice song and a good book. Special skills include obsessing over handmade, home-made and handcrafted luxuries.