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Skincare: Eight over-the-counter products my dermatologist bestie recommends

Differin cleanser

Eight over-the-counter skincare products my dermatologist recommends

They say taking care of your skin is an investment, but that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. You can easily find quality skincare products at affordable prices right over-the-counter at your local drugstore or online. Though I don’t have the medical degree to back it up, my board certified bestie does, so take her word for it.

I try not to abuse my bestie for free medical advice as a general rule, but the older we get the more skincare is top of mind and something I would chat with her about anyway, regardless of that derm degree. Recently I pumped her for information on her “go-to” over-the-counter skincare recommendations and I wanted to share that knowledge with you! One of these products was brand new to me so I started using it about a month ago to put my money where my mouth is – all I can say is, I’m hooked.  If your skin is a priority along with your budget then this is the blog post for you! Check out these eight over-the-counter skincare products my dermatologist bestie recommends.



1)I’m kicking off this post with the most expensive/difficult to find item on the list, better to get the bad news out of the way first 🙂 That being said, I only use this in the morning and one little bottle lasts about two months or more, so the cost is not so bad if you think about it that way. I actually use this product mainly for acne issues, but it’s a double bonus that it works as an anti-aging treatment as well. The glycolic acid essentially works to break down the outer layer of your skin to create a smoother surface. Key benefits of this go-to over-the-counter skincare product: reduces fine lines and wrinkles, shrinks pores, fights acne before it starts, removes dead skin cells, and evens skin tone. 

Facial acne treatment

2) If you told me ten years ago that I’d still be dealing with acne in my 30s I’d never have believed you, and yet here we are, still popping pimples and paying a mortgage. Not so long ago you needed a scrip to get this acne treatment, but not anymore, and this is WONDERFUL news! It also used to be about 5 times as expensive – praise be! This over-the-counter skincare product that my dermatologist bestie recommends helps reduce the number and severity of pimples and can also help heal any break outs  that occur. I’ve been using it for years and am never without it – so take her board certification and my layman advice and add this to your acne arsenal.

Facial Moisturizer

3) I mentioned above that there was one over-the-counter skincare product my dermatologist bestie recommends that I had never tried, and now I’m hooked. Well that is this incredible moisturizing gel cream. I apply this every night after I wash my face and it is so cool and soothing on my skin, plus it smells amazing. I have to make sure my dog doesn’t lick off all of it’s super powers when I go to bed! Also as someone with extremely sensitive skin to literally everything – I can confirm this did not cause any breakouts or irritation. I literally buy one of these every time I’m at the store because I wouldn’t be able to cope if I ran out without having a backup 😉

Dove body wash and cerave cream product shot

General moisturizer

Be honest, do you use a daily moisturizer? I did not until a few years ago and then I’d hit periods of time where my skin got so dry and itchy that I couldn’t even sleep because of the discomfort. If you do not have a daily moisturizer already then consider adding one of these to your daily skincare regimen:

4) My bestie has two recommendations when it comes to over-the-counter moisturizers. The first is this Cerave lotion, a brand all dermatologists seem to love, so you know it’s good. She stresses that you need to get the cream, not the lotion, so double check when you go to buy it. This is the one that I personally use as opposed to the second, which I’m sure is just as great if she recommends it. 

5) The second over-the-counter moisturizer that my dermatologist bestie recommends is an Aveeno product that is especially helpful if you have particularly dry, itchy skin. 

Cerave product shot

Facial Cleanser

I recently did a poll on my Instagram stories asking if people washed their face every night before they go to bed and I was SHOCKED by the amount of people that do not. I am not trying to shame anyone, we all have different routines, but it truly gives me the heebie jeebies to think of all that build up going from your skin to your pillow every night – talk about a nightmare. Many experts recommend washing your face twice a day! So without further ado, here is the daily facial cleanser that my dermatologist bestie recommends:

6) I’ve used this cleanser at her recommendation for years and I swear by it. I wash my face in the morning, at night, and after any workouts. I’m aware that may be overkill, but it is recommended to wash your face twice a day. If you are acne prone like me then definitely pair this with the acne treatment above for a one-two punch on those breakouts. 

over-the-counter skincare products


7) If there is anything my dermatologist bestie wants me to tell you it is to USE SUNSCREEN! I’m certain if she could walk around and hand out free samples of sunscreen all day to everyone she sees, she totally would. Homegirl LOVES sunscreen and understandably so, telling people they have skin cancer is a really difficult part of her job. So if there is anything that you take away from this blog – make sure you apply sunscreen. If not every day, then at least when you plan to be out in the sun doing yardwork, swimming, laying on the beach, boating, golfing, running, walking the dog – anywhere, anytime, do it. These are the three over-the-counter suncreens my dermatologist bestie recommends: Elta MD, La Roche, Melt in Milk

Everything Else

8) For everything else, there is a magical elixir… just kidding it’s an ointment that soothes everything from burns, to chapped lips, to dry/irritated skin, and minor cuts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned myself and when I ask my bestie what I should do this is always her answer – so now I just keep it on hand for any and everything! I also love the chapstick version too!

Final Thoughts

I would never write an entire post recommending things that I have never tried myself and I want you to know I’ve tried and truly use all of these (apart from the Aveeno lotion and the Elta MD/Melt in Milk sunscreens).  With that, my dermatologist bestie uses many of these herself as well, which is why she is confident to recommend them to patients and also to you! HOWEVER, none of the above is medical advice nor replaces any medical advice that you have received from your physician. Let me know if you end up trying any of the eight over-the-counter skincare products my dermatologist bestie recommends or if you find any at better prices, I’d love to share those links as well! Cheers to beautiful, healthy skin!

xx, Ashley

Makeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look

Must-have makeup for a fresh-faced look

Happy Friday everyone! Can we all agree that a five-day work week after a three-day weekend is just so unfair!? I hope everyone pulled through okay 😊

Today I want to share my makeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look. Real talk: I literally never wore any makeup except for maybe a small brush of powder and some eyeliner up until about 2 years ago. I look back at old photos like what was I thinking?! Now don’t get me wrong, I still go some days without wearing a stitch of makeup – especially in quarantine – but I don’t know why it took me so long to try out more products and have a more polished look.

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Makeup myths i used to believe

I love a fresh-faced, clean, glowy look and I guess I just believed that the more makeup you wear the less you will look this way. FALSE! With the right products (and skincare regimen) you can get that glowy, fresh-faced look every day.

Another reason why I was a little bit anti-makeup is because I thought that you had to spend hundreds of dollars on products. This is another myth busted. I mean, you can absolutely spend a hefty sum on beauty products, but there are so many options that are much more budget friendly and accessible. Also, just because you may not be buying premium products, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re sacrificing quality.

The last reason that I avoided investing in nice makeup is because I’ve struggled with terrible acne since I was about 20 years old. I was worried that the makeup would exacerbate the issue and I’m sure it probably could have. Now that my acne has calmed down I’m left with acne scarring and my makeup choices help to cover them up without looking too overdone.

Makeup Must-haves for a Fresh-faced look

My makeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look includes drugstore and department store choices in an array of price ranges. Peruse my makeup bag below so that you can stock up on makeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look!

L’Oreal Lumi Glotion

I think EVERYONE will tell you that the first step before applying any makeup is to get a nice base of lotion. It helps your makeup go on more smoothly while hydrating the skin. As far as drugstore makeups go, I absolutely love the L’Oreal True Match line. I have a difficult skin tone to match, but their products always seem to blend quite nicely. This lotion has a subtle sheen that I love so much in a fresh-faced, glowy look. It’s a must-have for a fresh-faced look and is extremely affordable!

L'Oreal LUMI Glotion

Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Concealer

This has quickly become hands down my holy grail makeup choice. I would for sure bring my shape tape concealer if I were stranded on a desert island. Exaggeration? I think not! As I mentioned above, I have some prominent acne scarring on my cheeks and I’m very self-conscious about it, but it’s not a problem once I apply this. I also feel like it wakes me up! It adds a brightness under and around my eyes that just really accentuates the fresh-faced look that I’m going for. Another great thing about this product is that it lasts up to 16 hours and that’s the truth! If this is not in your makeup bag, drop everything you’re doing and add it now!

My skin color is very olive/yellow toned, so I use the light sand (20S) tone. I might go a shade darker for summer, but I could still get away with this lighter shade if I don’t end up switching. I love how diverse the tone options are for Tarte products. I think there’s an option for any skin color!

Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Concealer

L’Oreal True Match Face Powder

After I apply the concealer under my eyes and on any problem spots, I use one of my BS-Mall makeup brushes to loosely apply my true match face powder. Fun fact: before I knew anything about makeup, I would use only this powder and eye liner – cringe – but I really love this powder.

Before finding this product, I used Bare Minerals, which was so good for my extremely sensitive skin, but not really doable for my college budget. Eventually I found Physicians Formula, which I really liked apart from it didn’t stay on very long, and then somehow stumbled upon true match. I’ve been using this powder for years! It’s truly a must-have product for fresh-faced looks.

The compact comes with a sponge, but I prefer using an actual makeup brush for application. I use sand beige (apparently my skin is very sandy lol), but it’s perfect for us olive skinned people!

L’Oreal True Match LUMI Bronze It

This bronzer is absolutely a must-have for a fresh-faced look because it never looks too dark, which I think can be a big drawback with bronzers for me. It has a very delicate sparkle that I love! I use the “light” tone and it just adds a little more dimension to my look.

Bobbi Brown Brow Powder

Moving up to my eyes, which are my favorite feature if I do say so myself 😉 Everyone has a favorite part of their own look, right?! Anyway, I already have black, thick eyebrows so it’s a delicate game of not overdoing my brow powder, but if for sure makes a huge improvement once my brows are filled in. I just follow the natural shape of my brow and lightly color in any thin spots. A makeup artist used this brow powder for my wedding look (which of course was a very dewy, fresh-faced look) and I’ve been hooked ever since. I never use any other brow powder and also use this Bobbi Brown brow brush! This might be my most splurge item in out of all of my makeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look, but even then, it’s still pretty affordable.

Thrive Highlighting Stick

Another fun fact, I got this highlighting stick in one of my first Fab Fit Fun boxes and literally didn’t know what to do with it. I nearly gave it away because I was confused! I’m so glad I didn’t because it’s one of my absolute favorite products. I add this to the corner of my eyes and a little bit on my water line, then just a smidge outlining the top of my top lip. This product is seriously the key to a fresh-faced look.

I think that when thinking about must-haves for a fresh-faced look you have to keep in mind anything that adds a little bit more brightness and a subtle shimmer as well. So, for that reason, this stick plus the concealer are absolutely musts!

Thrive Highlighting Stick

L’Oreal Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner

I have literally been using this eye liner since high school and it’s a love affair that will never end! I use this on my water line and it really adds a pop to my dark eyes. It’s the most “dramatic” product of this list, but it’s necessary for me to not look asleep! Back in the days of when I wore almost no makeup this was the one thing, I would HAVE to apply for leaving the house.

I wear the Black Brown shade because although my eyelashes are coal black, the black is a little too intense for me.

Lights, Camera, Splashes Tarte Mascara

In high school biology, my teacher told this story of how a person put on mascara and accidentally scratched their eye. The eye, for whatever reason, didn’t water when this happened, which meant that it didn’t clean out the bacteria. Long story short, the eye got infected and had to be removed. QEUE ME NEVER WEARING MASCARA UNTIL I WAS IN MY TWENTIES!

Well, hopefully I didn’t freak you out with that little anecdote, but I just had to explain myself lol. I finally conquered my fears in the last few years and with that have tried and tested SO many mascaras. Nobody wants a gloppy mess on their lashes, and it’s taken me some time to find the best ones.

I rotate between two mascaras. I use Lash Paradise for days when I’m just running errands or doing something low key and I save my Tarte mascara for the weekends usually. The lash paradise is admittedly a lower quality, but still a nice option.

The Tarte mascara is amazing! I never have clumps and it just looks so natural. It also lifts and curls as you apply it, so you don’t need to bother with a lash curler! Seriously, Tarte makes such nice products.

Tarte Cosmetics Splashes Mascara

Tarte Stay Spray

Finally, once you’ve put in the time to get your fresh-faced look you want to be sure it lasts all day, so finish off with stay spray. It sets the look, is water/sweat proof, and doesn’t leave a residue. I think this is something everyone overlooks but is just so necessary to keep your makeup looking nice for a longer period.

final thoughts

So there you go lovelies, everything you need to know for the makeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look. If you are/were like me when I was so hesitant to try out any fun makeup products I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone with these tips. All of these products will simply enhance your already beautiful face! PLUS, as I’ve come to learn, makeup is so much fun and doesn’t need to break the bank. You can acquire quite a collection for really reasonable prices.

Have a fantastic weekend, thank you for reading, and if you’re looking for more beauty inspiration read my review of the best shampoos for oily hair!

Xx, Ashley

Review: Top 5 Shampoos for Oily Hair

Top 5 Shampoos for Oily Hair
Top 5 Shampoos for Oily Hair

There’s a reason why “oily hair, don’t care” isn’t a thing, it’s not a good look. If you’re reading this then chances are you’re like me and struggle with greasy roots. Trust me, I understand how frustrating it can be. That’s why I tried the top 5 best shampoos for oily hair so that you don’t have to!

I have very fine hair, but A LOT of it! My hair looks great for about the first 36 hours following a fresh wash, but then it’s like Cinderella at midnight and instantly starts getting oily. I really want to make it all the way to 48 hours, is that too much for a girl to ask?!

Now I’m not saying you won’t still need your favourite dry shampoo, but this review may help you get a little more out of those shampoo bottles (and dollars!). Check out my top 5 shampoos for oily hair and spoiler alert: the best one isn’t the most expensive!

[Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I truly appreciate your support in this way!]

Top 5 shampoos for oily hair - ranked!

  1. Bumble and bumble. Sunday Shampoo. $23.97 for an 8 fl. oz. bottle
    A true “holy grail” item that anyone with oily hair problems needs to incorporate into their hair care regimen. The description says that it’s meant to lift residue build up and I truly believe it did that. It’s a little bit more than I like to spend on shampoo (I’m on a budget!), but if it’s a one-day/week item, then it’s totally worth the price.  Of the 5 shampoos I tried, this one smelled the second best. It had a very fresh, clean smell, which is what I prefer in my shampoo. It lathered up nicely, which I’m not sure that really matters, but to me it makes me feel like it’s working – lol. After two days my hair was still looking fresh, YAS! This will forever be included into my Sunday self-care routine as I think it’s a really good reset for your scalp. (Bonus: you can get 15% off your first order on Bumble and bumble with code BB15 and/or free shipping on orders over $50!).

    Bumble and bumble. Sunday Shampoo.
    Bumble and bumble.
  2. Elvive Extraordinary Clay Shampoo. $3.42 for a 12.6 fl. oz. bottle
    About two months ago I did a Google search for the “best shampoos for oily hair” and this was one of the results. I saw the price and immediately added to cart – anything under $4.00 is worth a try! I was so beyond pleasantly surprised. For a drugstore shampoo, this is a true hidden gem. The fresh look lasts about two days and for that reason combined with the price, this has become my everyday shampoo. I also use the conditioner and highly recommend the combo! As I mentioned before, a fresh smell is important to me, and this one just smells so CLEAN. I think you’ll be really pleased if you decide to take my word on this one.
  3. DEGREASE Shampoo by Maple Holistics. $11.95 for a 10 fl. oz. bottle
    This was a solid choice as well, although I didn’t really care for the smell. It smells very herbal (the description calls it a lemon oil scent), which isn’t really how I want my hair to smell. It has hardly any lather so when you’re rubbing it into your scalp you almost get the fingernails on a chalkboard type of feeling. One thing I really do like about this one is that it’s all natural; dye free, sulphate free, and paraben free. I’ll definitely finish the bottle because I think it did a good job, but I won’t be buying it again. If you like the non-lather/herbal smell/all natural route then this is for you! It lasted a solid two days of being non-greasy, it was just missing a fresh, clean smell that I prefer.
    Top 5 Shampoos for Oily Hair
    Posing with my fave 😉
  4. Sachajuan Normalizing Shampoo. $14 for a 3.4 fl. oz. bottle (yes, I got the baby bottle because this one isn’t cheap!)
    This was the most expensive out of all five and I got a really tiny bottle to test it out before committing to the big bottle. SO glad I did it that way because I won’t be buying this one again. This shampoo claims that it is salon quality, but honestly it barely kept the oil out for one day. It took FOREVER to rinse out, granted I have a lot of hair or maybe I used too much, but the others rinsed out normally. This shampoo has quite a minty smell and I know I might be the only person on the planet to say this, but I really don’t like the smell of mint. So as soon as I opened the bottle I knew this would be a no-go. Again, it depends what you’re looking for in a shampoo for oily hair, but this really did not live up to its price. I would maybe try the others before testing this one.
  5. OGX Tea Tree & Mint Shampoo. $6.57 for a 12 fl. oz. bottle
    This shampoo received last place in my top 5 shampoos for oily hair review purely because of its smell. I literally thought I was shampooing my hair with a bottle of mouthwash. That being said, it did do a good job of keeping my hair oil to a minimum. I typically love all OGX products; I just can’t get past the smell on this one. It had a great lather and left my hair feeling very clean. If you like minty freshness then this might be at the top of your list!

    Elvive extraordinary clay

Final thoughts

Since the minty smell was becoming a theme in my review I decided to do more research as to why this was the most common fragrance in shampoos for oily hair. Come to find out that peppermint oil is known to help regulate the pH of your scalp, which means it helps prevent oil build up. So it is clearly a necessary evil (for those of us who like floral/fresh shampoo scents. Read more about peppermint oil for hair here.

Overall, you really can’t go wrong with any of these! It will depend on your budget, smell and lather preference, and how your hair and scalp react to the chemical makeup of the shampoo. If you have a full head of fine hair then I would follow the above, but DEFINITELY add the Bumble and bumble Sunday Shampoo to your routine regardless of which every day shampoo you choose. You will not be disappointed.

Happy shampooing!
Xx, Ashley