11 Skincare Products We Buy Over and Over (and Over)

This is the shit we’re gonna need on a post-apocalyptic island.


My roommate’s skin looks like it’s made of baby giggles. It looks like she cashed out her 401k to commission a team of scientists to develop a skincare program for her under lock and key. So when I found out her entire routine was to wash her face with soap and water, I was pissed at her for like ten minutes. She forgave me for that, because she’s perfect, but then I did a bad thing. I started pushing products on her like drugs. At first it was really fun — an uncomplicated departure from my chemical-laden convos with my sister and cousin who know more about skincare than actual dermatologists — but a couple months later she sent a text that made me question what I’d done.

“I just heard collagen in moisturizers is good for anti-aging. Do you know about this?”

Her skincare innocence and probably some of her savings were lost that day. I could only assume my pushing was responsible. But while I do mourn the time and money she will lose for caring about this stuff, I’m also kind of excited for her. A little because I’m a sucker for new routines and pretty bottles that smell good, definitely, but also because I just love skincare. A lot of it has worked for me, like for real worked. That’s the part of beauty I love to talk about. The stuff that’s memorable, that really makes a lasting impact, a difference you can see and feel. I never get bored of it.

I asked everyone at Man Repeller to tell me what their hands-down favorite product was — the thing that changed everything, that they’d take on a desert island. That’s the good shit right? Above is what they told me. Below is where I’d like you to share yours. I’ll even let you tell me it’s soap if you’ll let me be mad at you for a few.

Want more team skincare recs? Here are all our favorite acne products!!!

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Hilary

    I want to live in this photoshoot – the colors, the fab paper cutouts !! <3

    After trying countless different routines for my cystic-acne-prone, sensitive skin (probably a mix of Kate and Harling), and eventually abandoning chemical-laden products (Proactiv, etc.) for natural ones, my current favorites are those by Indie Lee and SW Basics. Definitely want to try Harling's and Kate's picks from this list after reading. I love the SW Basics Cream moisturizer, (it's just shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil) but I have to use it *very* moderately otherwise it leads to some breakouts (which is a tricky game to play in the winter, when my skin is both its usual oily but with added patches of dryness).

    From Indie Lee, my fav product is probably her Squalane Oil, which has really helped balance my skin out. Wish teenage-me had known that oil would help my oily skin more than anything ;[

  • there is something very cruel about knowing someone with perfect skin and finding out they solely use soap and water…they don’t even *need* moisturizer because their skin has the naturally dewy glow of an angel.

    anyway i am not that person but i have fallen for a lot of one love organics products, much to my wallet’s dismay.

  • katikeyes

    Nivea Creme in the big blue tub. My mother uses it, my grandmother used it, and now I’m addicted to it. I’m pretty acne prone, and I’ve had fewer break outs since using it too. I glop it on every night. Really helps with winter skin.

    • katikeyes

      Also spironolactone, duh.

    • jess

      and here I thought it was my little secret! Blend it with a drop or two of lavender oil in your hand and its even better x

      • katikeyes

        trying this tonight!

  • Lillian

    Moms love to remind you that oil = less wrinkles

    • pamb

      As a 51 year old with skin so oily I need to blot about an hour after putting on makeup: I look younger than other women my age. I think it’s due to the oil.

  • Petra Cozianu

    Johnsons baby wipes for removing makeup and then a cold water rinse every day, followed by Pai Rosehip oil as moisturiser once every three days. My skin is very sensitive and it can get dry if I wash it with soap, but also I break out if I use a daily moisturizer. The rosehip oil provides just enough moisturizing that lasts for 3 days without clogging my pores

  • Mon Valdés

    I have really dry skin, and I love my Kiehl’s Midnight recovery oil, I use it every single night as a “serum”, which I follow up with moisturizer, my favourite is the Embryolisse lait-creme concentre, which I use both morning (before makeup) and night. And two times a week I use Sunday Riley’s Luna oil + Good Genes combo, and it’s like magic! I don’t have acne or any other severe skin issues, but these products are my holy grail, and they make my skin feel amazing!

  • Inkygrl

    Retin-a. My derm says everyone should use it. I mix it w moisturizer so it’s not too drying. It’s made a huge difference in the texture of my skin long term. Almost 50 and my skin looks 30. Also sunscreen obv.

  • Abby

    Yes to P50. It’s really saving me this winter and I can tell a big difference when I don’t use it.

  • Zoe

    I’d need crates of Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer (because even on a humid island my skin would be as dry as the Sahara) and African Black Soap which I’m convinced does magic on my skin.

    • African Black Soap <3 instead of shower gel changed my life.

  • Samantha Lee

    I don’t have any products I’m obsessed with – I’m pretty new to actually trying to take care of my skin (embarrassingly I’ve never washed my face at night). BUT I am wondering if anyone’s found something really good for wrinkles? I’m in my 20s but have already noticed some pretty severe “neck rings” that I’m not too happy about and would love to take care of before they get worse. Anyone? Anyone?

    • Sarah

      you can try tons of different expensive things but really sunscreen and retinol is the answer

      • Samantha Lee

        Yeah, I’ve thought about looking into Strivectin, which I know isn’t cheap. I’ve also heard of laser treatments but am a little concerned doing something like that.

        • Sarah

          I am not sure that Strivectin does much. I tried it once and didn’t see to many results. But, that is probably the case with most products. If you do some research you will see that really retinol is what will actually work – it started as a prescription strength acne medication but they realized that it was also making wrinkles fade and making people look younger. You can get a prescription (although it is best if you can say its for acne, because then insurance will give it to you for cheap- i know that some derms are having to ask you what you want it for and if you say acne its much cheaper then if you say wrinkles) or you can look for beauty products that contain retinol, but the prescription is probably much stronger. Here is a link to MR’s explanation of it. http://www.manrepeller.com/2017/01/retinol-use.html

          My suggestion would be sunscreen every day on your neck – i mean EVERY day, retinol if you can, and then also anytime you put on face products make sure you also spread them down on to your neck. You could also try Bio Oil, its relatively cheap and effective at lessening lines/scars.

          • Sarah

            oh also, start washing your face and using products every night. Consistency is key (in other words, retinol once a week when you think about it won’t do much)

    • Alice

      If they’re on your neck, could they have been caused due to poor posture? The only things that have been proved to work on wrinkles are spf and retinol, my favourite spf is from A’Pieu pure natural sun cream spf 45(it’s a chemical one and if you’re in the US available on amazon) because it’s alcohol free and looks good under makeup.

      • Samantha Lee

        Probably caused by a number of things – dry skin, sleeping posture, never took care of that area. I do wear moisturizer with SPF in it, but I’m trying to find something that will reduce the look of them (while I obviously try to prevent them from getting worse). Thanks for the suggestion!

    • katikeyes

      Those rings are your “venus rings.” They mean you’re beautiful. Google it! It’s a thing, I swear.

      • Samantha Lee

        Haha, I had never heard of that. Thanks for the encouragement, even though I’d rather be without them! 😉

  • I’ve not tried most of these products before, but I probably should!
    Aleeha xXx

  • Sarah

    I second CeraVe, my sister’s expensive NYC dermatologist recommended it to her – I have been using it for 2-3 years and never had such consistently good skin. I still get occasional hormonal zits but my acne breaksouts/black heads are a thing of the past! It really seems to work and often drug stores will do BOGO half off so then you are only paying $20 every 3/4 months…not bad. I also use their Foaming Face Wash cleanser in the morning and then The Body Shop’s Seaweed deep cleanser at night – I never thought TBS would be a go to skincare place for me but I LOVE the seaweed line. The night treatment in this line works great if you feel a breakout coming – I will use it after showering on a day where I sweat a lot of wake up with great looking skin. I think I might have to try the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery serum!

    also, Retinol!

  • Lauren Caudle

    dōTERRA Frankincense Oil + Trilogy Rosehip Oil day and night. My skin finally loves me back!

  • Marley Arviso

    Last year I developed adult acne as well (soooo cooool) and I have a bad habit of picking zits as soon as they pop up, which means I’m left with a of scarring post zit. The Pixi Glow tonic really helps fade those spots quickly and makes and existing zits heal quicker 🙂 My skin is also very dry so I usually follow up with Glossier’s super bounce or Herbivore’s Phoenix cell regeneration facial oil and then top it all of with First Aid Beauty’s Ultra repair cream. YAY HYDRATION!

  • 808kate

    Glossier milky jelly, Timeless C+E Ferulic serum (Skinceuticals dupe but it’s never oxidized and like 1/5th the price), Futurederm retinol, and Olay Hydra Firming Cream. Forever and ever

    • Sarah

      I have been thinking about trying Olay for forehead wrinkles, do you think it makes a difference?

      • 808kate

        I’m not sure, but a lot of the Olay products have ~4% niacinamide which is a high concentration and good for hydrating and hyperpigmentation. I think retinol is the best for lines, I was getting some faint forehead lines (I’m 29) and after using a retinol for about 6 months they were gone.

  • nicolacash

    My desert island products – the Dr. Jart+ Micro Water, Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, and Olay’s Micro Sculpting Cream w/SPF 30 <3

    • Kay

      Benton snail bee!!!!! It is the business!!! If there is a god it will never be discontinued

      • KatSmln

        anyone tried Benton Fermentation Essence? Currently using Snail one but thinking about change. Which one is better for acne prone skin?

  • starryhye

    CeraVe, Retin-A and rosehip oil. Those 2 could get me through the apocalypse. I’m thinking of jumping on the P50 band wagon but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

    • Sarah

      recommendation on brand of Rosehip oil?

    • Emmmmieee

      I’m 1000% in your boat! Sames! Rosehip oil, CeraVe, + Retin-A for the absolute win. What should we do about P50? The love for it is so intense, it scares me.

  • Basil

    Sunscreen is the first thing. I grew up in a hot and sunny country, but left in my late teens to move to a cold and rainy one. Man it made a difference – I have fewer wrinkles than friends who continued to live somewhere sunny as I pretty much didn’t see the sun for a decade.

    I’ve used the Eve Lom cleanser for so long I can’t remember, and I’m too scared to change. It’s an oil based cleanser, but a pomade-y texture. You massage it into your skin, and then remove it with a worn muslin cloth. It’s amazing – gets rid of all the dirt (and make up) and doesn’t dry out your skin.

  • jess

    Mario Badescu Seaweed cleanser and Nivea Creme. Nivea creme + lavender essential oil is my winter skin saviour!

  • Anna-Liisa Springham

    Definitely Kiehls Avocado eye cream and i would sit on the island making rose water

  • Meg S

    I went to South Korea on vacation a year and a half ago. That’s all it take me to convert to the Korean skin care routine. One of my go-to things is Sum:37 rose cleansing stick. I’m also addicted to Shu Uemura’s cleansing oils. Son & Park Beauty Water is a wonderful thing. Trouble spot patches are amazing. Various brands make them, and they all work about the same. Put one on at night and your pimples are smaller and less red in the morning. Too Cool for School’s dinoplatz blotting papers come with a puff that picks up the blotting paper. Laneige’s water sleeping pack (water sleeping mask if you buy it at Target) is a requirement for me. It seals on everything you put on your skin before bed, plus adds another layer of moisture.

    I need to jump on the Retinol train but I’m not sure where to start.

    • Kay

      Paula’s choice resist intense wrinkle repair retinol is really good, it has made an obvious difference in my youthiness.

      • Meg S

        I’ve heard good things about Paula’s Choice, I know one of my friends uses it. Thanks for the recommendation. Have you used the C15 booster? I’m debating whether to get one or both.

    • Sarah
      • Meg S

        No idea how I missed that. Thanks!

  • doublecurl

    Paula’s Choice BHA <3 <3

  • A

    Bioderma, cleans my skin without drying it out. That and REN evercalm cleanser. I want to try retinol but I don’t know in what form would work for my skin which is prone to redness.

  • Aggie

    Ole Henriksen vitamin C serum collagen booster! I have had a lot of acne and this helped get rid of the dark scars left on my skin, it also plumps your skin in a magical way. Whenever I don’t use it I realize how much I am starting to age. Plus it has a citrus scent which makes it even more pleasant to apply in the morning 🙂

  • Shan

    I have dermographism, too, Patty! I was recently diagnosed after a particularly bad flair up, but I realized I had been dealing with it all my life. I find pure coconut oil works best for the itching.

  • Lili

    Acure Sensitive face wash is my holy grail! I try to be as au naturale as possible. But, “Manuka honey as face wash,” is no match for waterproof eye make up and heavy foundation… Plus I break out easily and often, and this face wash doesn’t harm my skin at all.
    I spent a good thirty minutes reading labels at my local organic grocer, only to realize that this was the ONE face wash that wasn’t like spreading horse shit across my face. 🙂
    (Okay that’s a little extreme, but you get the point.)

  • Anaid Chrietzberg

    CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, CeraVe PM moisturizer, LaRoche Posay No Breakout SPF, Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tint Moisturizer…for mornings.
    Bioderma Sebium Micellar, CeraVe FFC, CeraVe PM moisturizer and the occasional dabbing of Mario Badescu Drying Cream… for night.

    Forever and ever and ever.

  • Yue

    I’ve bought the Hada Labo Lotion over and over. I have dry skin and it’s glow in a bottle. Although I’ll usually mix it with a few drops of oil (been using the Sunday Riley Juno oil).

  • I love reading about skincare and now I have a few things added to my Beauty Products Pinterest board! Would love an article on what order to put things on in your beauty routine because it does make a difference. There are some interesting youtube videos on the 10 step Korean skin care routine which are fun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6Sskl5PJqA

  • Olivia Stone

    Great guide! I have to admit I really need a good back up to my Solvaderm damn it solds like pancakes! I need the next best thing! Thanks for this hon YOU ARE A LIFE SAVER!!!!

  • Skincare is basically my number one passion in life but it took me reading a book about French women and how they take care of their skin that I finally got it down. It SO doesn’t matter what you use, just that you have a process to TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN and that you stick with it. And SUNSCREEN. I’m so lazy, I hate a routine, but what kicked me in the pants was French model Jean Damas saying she takes care of her skin so she doesn’t need to rely on makeup (like foundation) which basically causes the vicious cycle of your skin not looking it’s best. Since then, I’ve religiously used La Roche Posay’s Effaclar line twice daily for cleaning, follow it with their toner (the French ADORE using toners) and my skin has *never* looked better. I also just recently splurged on SK-II Essence and my smile lines have nearly disappeared. I’m so in love with my new routine because my oily, acne-prone skin is finally behaving and I can wear less makeup now! The secret is just consistency.

  • Pudenda Shenanigans

    I love, appreciate, and support Manrepeller, but why not elevate yourself and not use vulgar language? It’s not necessary and takes away from the excellent content of the article.