5 Department Store Skincare Products I Can’t Live Without

I’ve been promising I’d do a series on my favorite skincare items because, well, I love skincare more than most people. Even back in the days when I spent 2 hours per day on makeup, I was just as obsessed with skincare. Now I put on makeup maybe once a week but who’s counting…

Because my skin does NOT do well with using the same products every single day, I have a variety of favorites that I rotate throughout my week. While I undoubtedly utilize more than I will be sharing in each post, I wanted to share my top 5 — starting with Department Store finds — as a good place to start if you’ve never put too much thought into your skin, or if you’re simply interested in finding some great additions. Every item shared, has been used for 12+ months (most for years).

Note: I have combination oily skin. My skin gets very oily throughout the day, but easily dries out in specific areas (especially my nose and around my mouth.)

I decided to start with Department Stores (my favorite being Nordstrom) because if you’re online shopping while stuck at home — ugh, Corona — then you might already be purchasing from these stores and can easily add on a skincare item or two. All item names will be hyperlinked. So let’s get to it…

Department Store Favorites

1. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser

What it is: a foaming daily cleanser made for all skin types. While it is strong enough to improve overall skin clarity over time, it is gentle enough to use both morning and night. This cleanser helps to balance oily skin but doesn’t over-dry.

Why I like it: while it starts at $38 for 4 ounces, a little goes a long way. This is an easy, go-to type of cleanser that has always felt good on my skin no matter if I have zero blemishes in sight, or if I’m struggling with a flare up (which unfortunately started happening around 27 when my thyroid, liver, etc. became out of whack.) Especially on a day where I used a strong mask, this is the perfect “less aggressive” cleanser to use at the end of the night. I will also add that the entire ExfoliKate line is pretty damn amazing. 

2. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid*

What it is: a liquid exfoliant (never knew such a thing existed before this!) that removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores. **Disclaimer, the link shows only a 1 ounce bottle as that’s the biggest they currently have available. But, generally speaking they have much bigger bottles and even do sales a couple times a year for two bottle bundles.**

Why I like it: I LOVE this product for two reasons. It has potentially been one of the most effective products in assisting with the texture of my skin (I used to have the most smooth, perfect skin ever but upon having many health issues, something I’ve struggled with is the texture… not always pimples, but often unevenness in color and texture.) Additionally, if I use this in the morning — especially before putting on makeup — it does wonders for making my face less oily throughout the day.

3. Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate Serum

What it is: an extremely powerful Vitamin C serum.

Why I like it: I’ve actually written about this product before but it never gets old. Every person should be using a product with Vitamin C and this one has about the highest available percentage on the market. When you first put it on it can make your skin feel warm and even a bit tingly, but I actually love it. I’ve been using this one for so many years that I sometimes wonder if it has contributed to my lack of wrinkles (especially considering how much I love to be in the sun!) Though I suggest most people use this at nighttime as it is heavier, even someone with oily skin like myself can use this as a great base — before primer — when doing a full face of makeup. It really gets into the pores making your skin look flawless and in the longterm, eliminating wrinkles and fine lines. It really has that plumping power!

4. Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment

What it is: a very strong and relatively inexpensive — $26 — acne spot treatment that will last.

Why I like it: I should probably start by saying that this is not one of those products you would really leave on and forget about… for two reasons. 1) it smells pretty bad (like sulfur) and anyone around you will dislike it very much, and 2) it looks like pink chalk on your face. That being said, it really dries up any blemishes. You do have to be careful to not use it too frequently as you may start finding excessive dryness if you overdo it. Because I am a psycho and my main area of uneven texture is my forehead, about once per week I will use a q-tip and spread it all over my forehead for about 45 minutes. It is AMAZING how even the texture is when you wash it off and my then thirsty skin is ready for whatever products I want to use to reintroduce moisture.

5. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream

What it is: another Kiehl’s product I adore, fast-absorbing gel moisturizer. I will admit, I used 2 before that I also really liked (one from Bobbi Brown and one from MAC.) But this one is just as if not more amazing (especially for people with oily skin!)

Why I like it: it’s non greasy! You need to moisturize every day and every time you wash your face in order to maintain youthful skin, but for someone with oily skin it can be particularly difficult to find what to use during the daytime. This is it. I never feel like my skin is lacking moisture, but there’s no heaviness like you’d often find in traditional creams. Anyone can use this product and I really can’t imagine a single person not liking it. It is also fragrance free so it’s great for individuals with sensitive skin.

2 Bonus Items

(Because let’s be honest, picking just 5 was really hard!)

6. Bobbi Brown Extra Face Oil

What it is: this is an amazing face oil… that also happens to be a bit pricey at $72. While it is meant for people with normal to dry skin, I absolutely disagree. It is moisturizing and soothing as it contains Vitamin E, sesame, almond, olive and jojoba oils.

Why I like it: I do not wear this face oil during the day (as it makes my oily skin look that much oiler) but I love to wear this to bed. It smells AMAZING (sorta like the yummy essential oil smell you expect when you get a massage) and moisturizes without being too heavy on my skin. I cannot wear a lot of night creams as they’re too heavy and cause my skin to breakout, but this oil doesn’t do any of that. It soothes and plumps my skin which makes it amazing after exfoliating or face-masking. You also do NOT need to use a lot so even with regular use this will last you a very long time.

7. C. O. Bigelow Rose Salve

What it is: an all-purpose balm (that I use every single day on my lips.) Oddly, this item that is usually available at Nordstrom, isn’t currently on the website. That being said, typically during the holidays, you can get packs of 3 for $15 at Nordstrom even if you can’t find it at other times of the year. You also always have been able to purchase this product at Bath & Body Works and it isn’t there either… so I’m kind of freaking out, but did find it for you guys on Amazon.

Why I like it: I’ve definitely written a whole post on this product before that you can check out here, but it is the only thing I let come near my lips. It has a delightful smell, and works wonders on my lips. Literally no one ever catches me without it, and when using regularly — plus staying hydrated of course — I never deal with chapped lips even as the seasons change, during the hottest summers, and the coldest winters. It is a must have.

So there you have it… my all-time department store favorites! Next week, I will share more skincare products you can find elsewhere… which also means different price points too!

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