My Current Routine

For the sake of documenting a moment in time, and perhaps to reflect in five years to ask myself “why on Earth did I use that?”, I wanted to list some of my current skincare favorites. I recently went on a short trip, which is always great for forcing yourself to decide on which products are truly must-haves (and also useful in those moments where you think to yourself, “why did I forget to pack that?!).

Now, of course, I don’t use all of these every single day, but everything listed is in heavy rotation. All of these products have been in my routines for a minimum of five months — some have been in my routine for over six years. I can say that all of these have maintained or improved my sensitive, acne-prone skin. Everyone’s reactions are different, but if I had to recommend products to someone with skin issues, these would all be included in that list.

AM Routine

  • COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray
  • Melano CC Gel (although I’m not 100% sold on this one yet…)
  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
  • Rohto Skin Aqua Super Moisture Milk SPF50

PM Routine

  • COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (I obviously love this)
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater Spray (same with this, I would spritz this every hour on the hour if I could)
  • Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner

PM Exfoliant Options:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA
  • The Ordinary 5% Lactic Acid
  • Epiduo
  • Derma-E Anti Wrinkle Eye Cream

PM Moisturizer Options

  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
  • Cerave PM

PM Heavy Moisturizers — “Last Step”:

  • Bio-Oil
  • CosRX Honey Ceramide Cream
  • HadaLabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Solution


  • IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Illumination – Medium
  • Maybelline Stick Corrector Concealer (under eyes, and on/around eyelids with careful blending)
  • NYX Tinted Brow Mascara in Brown
  • L’oreal Lash Paradise
  • Physicians Formula Eye Booster Pencil Eyeliner
  • Physicians Formula Mineral Glow Pearls in Bronze (used as bronzer)
  • Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in Molten Rose Gold

Essence Extreme Lasting Eye Pencil

Another cheapie that’s worth a try while filling up your basket at Ulta with things you don’t need, but “it’s only 2.99, so I might as well!”

Packaging for this eyeliner is the a very common twist up pencil. This is a gel-like, wax-based pencil. Due to the softness of it’s composition, be careful while applying, since the tip can fall off. However, this happens far less often for this eyeliner than I’ve seen with others in the same gel-liner category (I’m looking at you, Colourpop!)

I LOVE how this applies. Absolutely beautiful and smooth. Due to the ease of application, I can finish my look in under 30 seconds for each eye. I have this in “But First, Espresso” (dark brown) — like with other Essence products, dark browns do skew more black and it’s hard to make out any tinges of brown, but that’s okay with me. The problem I have with the majority of eyeliners is that it can be difficult to line the skin right above the root of your lashes. But this “bleeds” just enough to pick up to make that a non-issue.

Now, unfortunately… again, like most gel liners, this transfers like CRAZY. Although it does “dry” quickly after initial application, I’ve definitely noticed transfer lines throughout the day while wearing this. Oddly enough, though, I’ve never looked in the mirror and been like, “Wow all the eyeliner is gone from where I initially applied it!”, despite all of the transferring. The look really will stay for very close to eight hours, a well-intentioned stab at living up to it’s “Extreme lasting” label.

I probably wouldn’t rebuy this due to the transferring issue. But for a $3 pencil, the overall application is outstanding, and it didn’t cause any issues for my sensitive eyes!

Can’t get to Ulta? Pick up the product here:

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Colourpop Creme Gel Liner

I think the search for my holy grail eyeliner is going to last for a lifetime! This creme gel liner definitely wasn’t the one for me.

This is an easy-to-use twist-up eyeliner tube. The eyeliner itself is so smooth and lightweight that it’s really easy for the product to break off entirely while you’re pushing up the product. It happened twice to me with one eyeliner, which is really annoying!

I picked up Brouhaha and Show Me, which are two different shades of brown. I liked the pigment, they were relatively true to their color equivalency (ie: Show Me was lighter than Brouhaha, and both actually showed up with brown coloration, not black).

Application is AWESOME with these. Gel-cream eyeliners go on so smoothly! It’s really easy to get a thick line with these without having to go over it, again and again. I liked the look I was able to get with this.

However… these types of eyeliners are also notorious for transfer. I don’t think they ever truly dry. And this eyeliner is no exception. Every time I checked the mirror, there was a smudge on my upper lid. The irony of this is that the eyeliner is relatively difficult to get off with water and cleanser!

As far as irritants go, this isn’t too bad — I didn’t experience any stinging, redness, or fall out material into my eye. Still, overall, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, especially not for the price point of $14, unless they had a foolproof way of preventing pigment transfer. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eyeliner

Physicians Formula Shimmer

I am not yet well-practiced at applying liquid eyeliner — in the meantime, I’ve been on the hunt for a non-irritating, long-staying pencil eyeliner. I picked up the pictured trio of light brown, dark brown and black for $7. There’s a couple other shade ranges, most of which revolve around particular eye colors. It’s also worth noting that these do not sell individually, only in packs of three.

This comes in a twist up plastic tube, so there’s no need to sharpen a dulling pencil. Packaging is visually basic, twist up is fine, amount of product is standard.

Application is DIFFICULT! I was scared I’d somehow cut my eyelids open getting this on! You have to press down REALLY hard. The pigment on the lighter shade of brown is non-existent. Even the dark brown needs several — no, MANY, layers of product to “show up”. The black is a little bit better than the dark brown, but not by much. In any case, if you can manage to apply this product, it will seem lightly-colored in comparison to other, same colored eyeliners. There are glitter specks in this product, but they’re very subtle.

The good aspects about these eyeliners is that they have a fantastic longevity, and minimal transfer to the upper eyelid. This stayed on me for 8+ hours with only a very faint trace of the pigment going where it wasn’t supposed to be. Maybe that’s the trick to a long-staying product: near-impossible application.

Another positive about this eyeliner is that it didn’t cause any irritation for me at all. My eyes are very sensitive, and I didn’t experience any burning or itching on or around my eyelids throughout the day.

The good parts about this product make me really want to give this product a positive review since it’s so hard for me to find non-transferring and non-irritating eyeliners. But the application is just… unbelievably difficult. You’ll need more time than usual to apply the product if you want any pigment at all. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon

Marc Jacobs Highliner

What the… why does this get such good reviews? Did I get a faulty product, or something? Oh man.

This is a gel crayon, so I would expect that the color gets applied relatively easily, without having to push down too hard. Not so with this eyeliner. With a surprising amount of force, the color does come out okay, I guess, but not as thick and rich as other gel crayons usually do on the first go. Alright, fine, I guess I’ll just have to go over it a few … more… times. Nothing new to report here, just a normal eyeliner with slightly shinier packaging at a super high price point ($20-$25!!!!), with normal black coloration and harder-than-usual force required to apply it.

I wore this eyeliner over three days. Two with my Lash Paradise mascara (which doesn’t irritate my eyes or flake very often), and one day without anything (I know, I know, eyeliner without mascara is apparently a makeup sin). Every single one of those days, my eyes burned and subsequently started to tear up after fifteen minutes. This is never a good situation to be in when you’ve just hopped into your car for a forty minute commute. This eyeliner is not for people with sensitive eyes! I cannot stress that enough. Either that, or I really did buy a defective product. But I’ve applied so many other eyeliners onto my eyelids — heck, I’ve even used them on my waterline — without tearing the way I did with Highliner, so I know it’s not me being sensitive to eyeliners in general.

When I was stuck to carry out the sentence of having this on my eyes for a little bit longer than usual sitting at work, I noticed that it started to transfer onto my upper lid after two hours of wear, even with finishing spray and primer/concealer having been applied underneath, so the longevity was trash, as well.

There are better eyeliners out there for people with sensitive eyes. There are better, easier to apply and smooth eyeliners, period. This product is absolutely not worth the price — or any price, at all. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 0/5.