Skincare Products On Heavy Rotation

I’ve pared down my skincare significantly in the last couple of years. The process started as an effort to utilise the absolute shit ton of products I had at the beginning of my blog hiatus (let’s call it 3 years ago now) and somewhere along the line I realised a semi-minimalist lifestyle appeals to me (I’ve also gotten rid of ¾ of my clothes and a whole lot of other things too but that’s a story for a different day).

But back to skincare. I finished a lot of products and gave away a whole lot more. While I still buy and receive products regularly, I’ve drastically reduced my stockpile. Aside from a boat load of Avéne* products and the weird and wonderful things I buy when I travel, I have a pretty good handle on my cosmetic arsenal with *only* one well organised storage crate full of extra cosmetic and personal care products.

Here are the products that have earned permanent spots:


If you’re a returning reader, you may remember I’m a big advocate of cream and oil cleansers, but not of spending a lot of money on them as they’re very literally washed down the drain within two minutes. Nothing has changed there.

My favourites are both from Avéne – Gentle Milk Cleanser, R230 for 200ml, is a very creamy cleanser that feels like silk on your skin. The pump bottle packaging is compact and practical, and I want to kick myself – it took me two years to try it because it had the word ‘milk’ in the name (as opposed to the preferred cream or oil).

The second one is Avéne Xeracalm Cleansing Oil, R230 for 400ml. This product is intended for dry, itchy skins (particularly eczema) and can be used from forehead to toe. It took just as long to try this because I had trouble wrapping my head around a head-to-toe wash being suitable for my face, but it’s GREAT. It forms a delightfully creamy foam (it’s soap-free, don’t fret) and it’s spectacular at removing eye makeup.


I’m not a fan of granular scrubs – you can read more about it here if you haven’t yet. I’m largely underwhelmed with new development in this area, but I can’t complain too much because I haven’t been looking too hard.

I use either Nimue Exfoliating Enzyme, R650, or Lamelle Cathepzyme 1 or 2, R575.


There are a bucket full of serums that I would happily use if I could afford it, but I definitely don’t NEED all of them.

One of my non-negotiable staples is a retinol serum or cream – you can read a post I wrote about retinol here. I asked my GP for a script and I’m now using a 0,05% Retin-A cream (0,5mg tretinoin per gram if you’re wired that way round) which is more potent and a fraction of the price of most cosmetic serums at somewhere between R200 – R300 a tube, depending on which brand the pharmacy has in stock.

It’s fairly strong for my skin type, so I use it once or twice a week. I used it on sensitised skin last week (long flight + heat rash) and I had patches that peeled and went scaly for a week so don’t let the apparent low concentration fool you. If you prefer a more buffered version there are some product recommendations in the link above.

My skin also loves a bit of hyaluronic acid, and I’m a big fan of The Ordinary HA + B5 serum. I just bought a 2-year supply in Australia as it’s super affordable (less than R150 a bottle, which lasts between 2-3 months). Locally there’s a reseller here – understandably the imported price isn’t the same.

These are the only two treatment products that I use religiously at the moment – I’ll add others from time to time when I feel like changing up my routine.


I’m pretty dead set on my old faithful, which is an eczema cream called Ducray Dexyane MED** – gotta love a bit of French pharmacy skincare.

As it’s intended to treat chronic eczema – which I don’t suffer from at all, FYI – the focus is on controlling inflammation, itching and severe dryness. It has a semi-occlusive texture which serves as a great barrier against the elements. It has contributed greatly to my skin health in recent months.

I managed to squirrel away a decent supply from my former colleagues as we had some available for testing – the brand isn’t available in SA. While I do alternate or layer this with more active moisturisers, I keep going back to it.

Not Another Poppie skincare


I happily rotate masks as the need or whim arises, so I’m not going to single out masks here as it will become long winded. I’ll write a separate post on them instead.


I use Bioderma Photoderm Max SPF50+ Tinted Aquafluid, R250, on makeup-free days. It has a liquid consistency and settles to a semi-sheer, glowing finish.

On most days I use Avéne Anti-Ageing SPF50, R230. It contains a few added anti-oxidant benefits and has a great texture.

In emergency situations I’ll top up with The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi Protection Face Mist SPF30 Spray, R250. I’m not 100% on board with all the ingredients so I only use it when I need to top up sunscreen over makeup – it’s brilliant in that respect, as you can spray and go over anything without smudging or disrupting even mascara and eyeliner.

I’ll be getting into the dirty details about SPF ingredients and their safety for both yourself and the environment in a separate post.

Do you have products you’re loyal to? Please share with us!


*For just over three years I worked for Pierre Fabre, the pharma company that is responsible for, among others, Avéne products. I didn’t work on Avéne, but I was exposed to the brand daily.

**Ducray is also a Pierre Fabre brand



  1. Marné
    Jan 14, 2020 / 8:42 AM

    Since reading about it on your blog a few years back, I’ve been using the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Intensive Daily Moisturiser something-something. I’ve been enjoying it ever since and always go back to it.
    For sunscreen it’s always Heliocare (have you tried it?)

    • Chantelle Bester
      Jan 15, 2020 / 4:46 AM

      Glad you have a trusty moisturiser 🙂 I’ve used Heliocare before but haven’t in a while. I know it’s a good brand though.

        Jan 17, 2020 / 12:10 PM

        Both my husband and I use heliocare, it’s one of the few things I really spend money on when it comes to skincare. I would love your take on their range and the ingredients.

        • Chantelle Bester
          Jan 18, 2020 / 7:51 AM

          I haven’t used it in a while but you’re the second person to ask so I’ll look into it again and try a product or two. Will post something on it x

  2. Jan 14, 2020 / 1:31 PM


    So happy to see you back in action, it’s made my whole year already haha!

    I adore the Avene Cleansing Milk, so am keen on trying that oil now, as it would be the ultimate product for my skin in winter.

    In terms of chemical exfoliants, have you tried the Optiphi Refine-Foliant? I have honestly not tried anything I love more, it’s gentle in that it doesn’t sting/tingle/irritate, but I can feel an immediate difference after the first use, and the following morning my skin feels even softer. I spoke to my facialist who said to leave it on for 5min the first time and build up to gradually leaving it on overnight, but as my skin is already accustomed to acids the first time I waited 5min and when my skin felt fine I left it on for another 5min with no irritation whatsoever.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Jan 15, 2020 / 4:41 AM

      Thanks Siobhan! Definitely try the cleansing oil, I think you’ll love it. I’ve forgotten about Optiphi’s Refine Foliant, it’s a GREAT one for baby smooth skin. I’m going to get one again when my current ones run out, thanks!

  3. Ayesha
    Jan 14, 2020 / 8:14 PM

    Welcome back!

    • Chantelle Bester
      Jan 15, 2020 / 4:38 AM


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