I have sensitive, combination skin: it is very dry, except around the nose, where it's greasy as all get out. I'm also middle aged. I go for products that are hypo-allergenic (scent is very important here), for dry skin (I just avoid putting stuff on my nose), gentle cleansing, and anti wrinkle or plumping.
The most important thing I learned is that the price or brand name does not say a single thing about the effectivity of any given product.
This is my my dressing table, these are all brands I have a lot of experience with:
1. This is Bath and Body body lotion with lavender and vanilla scent. It smells divine but it's a bit thin for every day use, so I only use it occasionally in summer. I now have the shower gel from this line, and LOVE it.
2. Dr Hauschka body lotion. Their products smell great and don't make me break out. Their facial products don't do very much else, but body lotion is something I use a lot.
3. La Roche-Posay is a hypo-allergenic brand that is sold only at apothecaries over here. This is good stuff for moisturising. Their anti-ageing stuff doesn't do squat.
4. Vichy is another brand that is sold as hypo-allergenic and only available at apothecaries, but it's heavily perfumed and makes me break out. This is body lotion, that won't be a problem, and since winter is coming I can use all the body-lotion I can lay my hands on. I do not get anything else from them (On edit: Not true. They have a cleanser that works like a charm to get make-up off, but looks and feels like water. I'd get that of I saw it at work again). They belong to L'Oreal.
5. Marbert anti-ageing Super Booster. Does not make me break out, I use it under a moisturiser, it helps plump my skin.
6. Givenchy skin targetters. It's a pore minimiser. Meh.
7. Ren restoring facial serum. This is sold as a high end, hypo-allergenic, green brand, but it breaks me out liek whoa.
8. Lancaster Suractif non stop lifting mask. I use this very rich cream mask as night cream in winter. It's heavily perfumed but does not make me break out, and works well.
9 and 10. Sothys. Both are pore minimisers. I put a little over moisturiser and it makes my skin look even and glowy. I like them a lot. Sothys also makes a "sculpting" body serum that is very nice as a body lotion in summer. You can't really buy this in stores, only at beauticians.
11. Ariane Inden primer. I use this the same way as the above, over moisturiser to make my skin look even. This brand has an anti-ageing serum that I like a lot (comes in capsules, oooh).
12. Dermalogica Ultracalming face serum. I actually bought this in a store once the tub I got from work ran out. It's my summer moisturiser.
13. Biodermal. This is an anti-scar cream which I use for the spots where some moles were removed a couple of months ago. The brand is generally good, great for moisturising and properly hypo-allergenic.
14. Roc anti wrinkle. I use it under my moisturiser and it works a bit. I'm a BIG fan of Roc in general. Is a Johnson & Johnson company.
15. Lush Celestial moisturiser. This is the stuff of the gods. I buy this in the store all the time. When my skin is being difficult I just use this for a while and all is well. Be warned: it smells like vanilla.
16. Biotherm skin energetic. Okay but can be a bit much. I use it occasionally because my skin gets overfed if I use it too much. And then I break out. Owned by L'Oreal.
17. Sisley Express Flower gel mask. I'm a huge fan of Sisley when I can get it at work, their store prices are not worth it. I use this as a night cream. It's very nice. Their products do work.
18 Shiseido Benefiance wrinkle lifting concentrate. Another brand sold as hypo-allergenic but is not. I can use it if my skin is good shape otherwise. It works somewhat.
19. Anna Sui Dreams perfume. I buy Anna Sui stuff because the packaging is awesome :)
Other brands I'm always pleasantly surprised about are Bodyshop, L'Occitane, and Kiehls. They have good stuff that can really work. I have bad experiences with Clinique, Clarins and Philosophy.