When you take skincare as seriously as we do, you're always on the hunt for the next generation of game-changing skincare products. You know the ones—those holy-grail, often best-selling products that not only cut down on time getting ready, but also restore your skin to its most glowy, angelic state (you know, what dreams are made of). It's hard to say, but there's probably not a market as saturated as skincare, making it a tricky one to navigate. With endless options, how do you know what's worth the splurge and what's not-so-hot? Well, you read round-ups like this—so you're already ahead of the curve. Then, you weigh your options and spend accordingly, because good skincare is an investment.
It should be noted: This list includes both splurge-worthy and cost-efficient skincare, and the choice is yours. It's all about whatever works for your skin type, which is unlike anyone else's. It sounds like a tall order, but I promise you that these 50 revolutionary products really, truly measure up. It also should be noted that as you read through, you'll see some recurring ingredients that we're particularly fold of. Hyaluronic acid, for instance, is always a good idea (and pops up in many of our faves). The same goes for niacinamides, salicylic acid, AHAs, and retinols. From cleansers and balms to concentrates and masks, and get ready for a lifetime of five-star reviews of your complexion.
Let's say your skin is parched as the Sahara. Allow a very simple—and affordable—solution to take hold. This cooling gel cream is loaded with hyaluronic acid, which uses its humectant properties to draw moisture from the air into your skin. The result: Plumper, plusher skin—all day, erryday.
Two types of complexion candidates might benefit from this product. The first: someone who's experiencing pandemic stress breakouts...heyo! The salicylic acid will work to clear out pores and prevent them from clogging up and inflaming, without drying out your entire face. The second: those eager to ward off signs of aging. Niacinamide works to dull dark spots, neutralize redness, and soothe inflammation.
An Instagrammable mask that also puts in work? We'll take it. Blue tansy is a powerful floral loaded with azulene, an excellent soothing anti-inflammatory. Here, it's balanced with a cocktail of naturally occuring AHAs and BHAs from white willow bark, papaya and pineapple. Snap a pic and settle in for a deeply satisfying masking experience.
You know you're a skincare nerd when sunscreen gets you supremely psyched. Elta MD is a name you'll constantly hear from dermatologists and that's because it's effective and no-nonsense, and not loaded with fragrances and funky extras. This clear (!!!) form of zinc oxide, which is usually thick and chalky, also contains lactic acid to prevent pores from clogging.
Take the prettiest cream you ever did see and spike it with skin superstar niacinamide, longoza flower, and creamy shea butter. The result is a luxe lotion that you'll actually look forward to applying.
We're always hyping hyaluronic acid because it really is that good. This affordable little pot contains three different types—who knew—which combine to pull in moisture for up to three days. It's also particularly lightweight (which is rare for something this hydrating) so it's ideal for layering over or under SPFs or active serums.
Soak a cotton pad with this powerful little liquid, and a blend of superfruit acids and prebiotic exfoliants will clear out pores and cinch up laxity. Think of it like a micellar water, only more potent.
As winter approaches, a cleansing balm might be just the ticket for skin that gets sandpaper-dry in the colder months. And that means you can skip your makeup remover—the oil-based wax readily dissolves eye makeup, lipstick and even tenacious primers and foundations. Massage onto dry skin with your fingertips, then rinse away with warm water for clean, hydrated skin.
Here, the papaya and grapefruit extracts work to slough away dry patches and irregularities with a gentler touch than nubby exfoliants. Clear skin, no irritation? Yes, please.
Probiotics—not just for your gut anymore! Microorganisms living on the skin's surface need to be fed, and when they're fed well, they do their jobs better, which means your skin thrives. This gel cleanser contains the brand's signature blend of probiotics, plus chicory root, a prebiotic botanical to soothe inflammation and leave your complexion living its best life.
Words can't express how much beauty editors and dermatologists alike live for day creams with potent anti-aging ingredients and sunscreen. Here, broad-spectrum—meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays—SPF 15 is paired with a plush blend of antioxidant hydrators (barley, rosemary, wheat, lemon and caffeine). Skin is left snatched and quenched.
What's cool about this pricey serum is the combination of three known skin saviors: For starters, 10 percent bifidus, a prebiotic proven to enhance the skin's moisture barrier. It also contains hyaluronic acid and a hefty dose of vitamin C to brighten and scrounge up any degrading antioxidants.
Maya here: mark my words, you're guaranteed to have a good morning if you lather this cream all over your face. If you're tired of applying moisturizer multiple times per day because your skin can't escape dryness, this long-lasting hydrator will be your new holy grail. It has a creamy gel consistency full of vitamin C for a luminous, far-from-dull effect. It gives your skin this inescapable glow. Not to mention its light citrus scent will remind you of the tropics.
If your eye area needs a lift, this right here will firm the skin right up in no time. It has two star ingredients worth noting: vitamin c, the end-all-be-all for bright and awake under-eyes and CBD (which you don't often find in eye creams) to act as an anti-inflammatory agent to soothe the sensitive skin around the eye area. Together, those two do everything you'd want in an eye cream, which is to brighten, smooth and soothe.
I know, I know: this price tag is a pretty penny. However, I've waxed poetic about how much this mask is worth it, and I'll say it again. Sleeping masks are tricky. You don't want a slippery formula that will smear all over your pillows, but it also can't be too tacky, sticky and dry in five seconds. This special texture treads the line while being super hydrating and absorbent at the same time. Using natural ingredients, like saffron flowers, thyme honey and shea butter, I wake up with the most supple soft skin with the mask. And everyone deserves to wake up like that.
This cruelty-free clay mask is what clear skin dreams are made of. Made with a myriad of detoxifying clays and an impressive list of plant-powered ingredients and vitamins, this mask will push all the bad stuff out of your pores to let in light. It's called illuminate for a reason—your skin will glow and feel squeaky clean post-mask.
Wondering why this specific night cream is steadily at the top of Amazon's wish list and has hundreds of five-star reviews? Because it's that good and it's under $20. Dermatologist-backed brand CeraVe knows a lot about anti-aging and the ingredients in this night cream work together to diminish the appearance wrinkles and fine lines overtime. It uses a combo of ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier overnight and hyaluronic acid for hydration.
Unlike other body scrubs that will scratch and irritate the skin, this one uses gentle grains of brown sugar, jojoba seeds and orange peel for a soothing skin exfoliation. And of course, it carries the Acqua Di Parma legacy of an amazing scent using notes that will give you a sweet whiff of the Mediterranean sea to transform you shower into a full-out spa session.
Meet the MVP of sunscreens (yeah, I said it). Supergoop! makes applying sunscreen cool again, thanks to its incredibly innovative formula that puts all other thick, gloopy sunscreens to shame. It's a truly universal formula that's completely invisible on all skin tones. The velvety-soft texture sinks into your skin, bringing frankincense, red algae and meadowfoam seed along for smooth, sun-protected skin.
You've used shea butter before, but you've never used Hanahana Beauty's shea butter. This butter imparts ingredients from sustainable direct sourcing in Tamale, Ghana. Made in small batches with care, each jar encompasses cocoa butter, mango butter, grapeseed oil, avocado oil and more in a fluffy, whipped texture that melts right onto your skin in seconds for long-lasting hydration. This vanilla and lavender medley of a scent is unbelievable.
Ever noticed how eye creams are one of the most expensive skincare products on the market? Today's your lucky day because thanks to this $20 steal, you won't have to hand over triple digits for a formula that works. This eye cream brightens dark circles, smoothes wrinkles, fine lines and puffiness. The vitamin c, b3 and caffeine acts as a tall glass of water to wake up your tired eyes with hydration.
Treating your skin to an old-fashioned rub down with an oil-based cleanser is sometimes all you need. Emma Hardie's moringa-based balm has the works, like vitamins wild sea fennels, to shrink the size of pores, melt away makeup, and hug your skin with hydration for hours on end. It even comes with a muslin cleansing cloth to gently exfoliate and nourish the skin without stripping it of essential oils.
Not many serums can stand a chance against this skin savior. It's one of those top-shelf items you cherish until the very last drop because it truly works like a magic trick to reduce redness, calm inflammation, and hydrate the skin. This is a bestseller because it can't be put into a box—it just works. Whether you want to use it as a spot-treatment to erase a pimple overnight or as an all-over hydrator, the choice is yours.
Celebrity esthetician Shani Darden examined my acne-prone skin and suggested I start using IS Clinical's active serum asap. One does as Darden says (and the rest of the world, who swears by this product), and in just under two weeks I noticed a prominent difference in my pesky dark spots and less and less surprise breakouts. It's called an "Active Serum" because you can can actively feel it working on your skin. If your skin is super sensitive, I'd recommend easing into this combo of salicylic acid and herbs to see how you react to it.
Many times, they tell us quick skin fixes don't happen overnight. This miracle worker completely changed my outlook on that, though, because it definitely delivers baby-soft glowing skin in minutes. This at-home exfoliant is made of pure, antioxidant-packed berries that will literally eradicate dullness and bring on a major glow. It's a perfect pre-event treatment to give yourself an at-home facial when you want a renewed radiance that'll last.
With all of the FDA's regulations and changes to safe sunscreen, it's smart to lean on tried-and-true protectants that are boasted as the very best. This is where La Roche-Posay's Anthelios 50 Mineral Sunscreen comes in. This quick-absorbing, water-resistant, oil-free sunscreen leaves behind an universal tint fit for all skin tones and uses a cell-ox shield technology to protect skin from overexposure to the sun.
Meet the moisturizer of my wildest dreams. As a woman of color who is heavily concerned with dark spots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, I take claims to fade dark spots very seriously. This luxury line, complete with skincare products made specifically for darker skin tones, is endorsed by Angela Bassett and Jada Pinkett Smith—both of whom have ageless, unicorn skin. This light-weight consistency has African botanical ingredients and lumicol to stop excess sebum flow, amp up radiance, and even out the complexion.
You'd be fibbing if you didn't admit how appealing a non-surgical eye lift sounds when puffy, saggy, and tired-looking eyes are your normal. However, they don't have to be. This dual-phased eye serum features a ton of actives, caviar beads, and a gel-to-cream emulsion to literally lift the eye contour area and give you bright and bushy-tailed eyes—even when you're running on zero hours of sleep, and I'm proof because I tried it.
If you've ever wanted to work wonders on your skin, you need this do-it-all serum stat. Loved by dermatologists, beauty editors, and aestheticians alike, this powerful potion is no joke when it comes to protecting, brightening, and maintaining a youthful glow to the skin. It's made with a concentrated amount of vitamin C (15-percent, to be exact), along with vitamin E and ferulic acid to keep environmental stressors at bay keep your skin nourished and immune to the BS.
Skin enthusiasts everywhere have spoken: this moisturizer's hype is real. Its magical powers come with a triple digit price tag for a reason: the formulation was mastered by 30-year skin cell research expert professor Augustinus Bader, who created a trigger factor complex to speed up your skin's cells. The result is an especially rich, whipped texture ideal for reversing dry skin, visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles, strengthening the skin's moisture barrier, and more.
Bells-and-whistles skincare is cool and all, but sometimes you don't need a moisturizer that does your taxes and calls your grandma. Sometimes, you just want a good, lightweight, moisturizer that doesn't require a PhD to use. Behold: the No Worries lotion. It moisturizes with hyaluronic acid, rosehip, and macadamia oil, and it absorbs almost immediately, so you never feel sticky.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that all sunless-tanning products are messy, smelly, and patchy. Except for these drops. Not only are they fresh-smelling and easy to apply (just mix a few drops in with a palmful of lotion), but their tinted hues double as color-correctors, canceling out unwanted undertones for a natural-looking glow. Pick pink for fair skin, green for medium skin, and violet for dark skin.
Yes, this little tube of serum is hella expensive, but when it has the ability to clear up acne in under 48 hours (like it did for one of our editors), the price becomes easier to stomach. The formula is filled with gentle pore-clearing and bump-smoothing acids, along with a major dose of hyaluronic acid and caffeine to hydrate, plump fine lines, and reduce puffiness, all at once. Apply a thin layer to clean, dry skin overnight, then wake up with amazing skin in the morning.
Ask me what my favorite beauty product is, and I'll launch into a Shakespearean sonnet about this cream before you can finish the question. But it's not hyperbole—the formula is simple (only seven gentle, non-irritating ingredients that won't break you out) and incredibly moisturizing, making it a holy-grail product for dry, sensitive skin types.
In case you haven't heard, vitamin C is the bee's knees of ingredients, according to every single derm we've ever spoken to. Why? Vitamin C gobbles up the skin-damaging free radicals you're exposed to every day, giving you brighter (like way, way brighter), smoother, and more hydrated skin. And this little number from Drunk Elephant contains a gentle, yet effective, 15-percent concentration of the good stuff.
Squalane (not to be confused with squalene, a skincare ingredient derived from sharks that can cause you to break out) is an insanely moisturizing molecule that exists in your own body, but in small quantities. Biossance found a way to derive it from sugarcane, making it pore-friendly, incredibly soothing, and—when mixed with a bunch of probiotics, like in this lightweight gel moisturizer—a total skin-repairing powerhouse.
No matter how much abuse your skin has endured in your lifetime (we know you slept in your makeup last week, and we're still not okay with it), it'll feel pretty much new again after you slather on this cream for a few nights. The little jar regularly sells out online, which is likely due to its high-powered mix of natural fortifiers that firm skin, tighten fine lines, and calm redness, fast.
This all-natural exfoliating cleanser is one of the best of the best, not only in the green community, but in the cleanser community in general. The reason? It has the ability to gently dissolve dead skin cells and gunk, while also clearing pores with a mix of water-soluble oils and enzymes, all of which work together to stave off breakouts. Oh, and did we mention it smells like an ethereal garden of happiness? Yeah, that too.
You heard it from us first—actually, you probably already heard about it from your dermatologist, because it's that damn good—this expert-recommended eye cream hydrates with hyaluronic acid and smooths fine lines with a mix of vitamins A and E.
Finding the right moisturizer when you have oily skin can feel like a game of Risk. But this lightweight lotion takes the guesswork out of the process, since it's specifically formulated with botanical mattifiers to soak up excess oil without breaking you out.
Wipe away grime and makeup in approximately 30 seconds with this pH-balanced gel formula that touts five super-hydrating skin conditioners. And, fun fact, the cleaning agents are the same as those found in your contact lens solution, so you never have to worry about eye irritation.
The struggle is real when you have perpetually red, reactive skin, so Dr.Jart+ created a color-correcting treatment that makes your green concealer obsolete. Its main ingredient is tiger grass, an inflammation-soother that restores moisture levels in dry, irritated skin.
Yes, this is expensive, and yes, you're going to have some doubts about shelling out the money, but after approximately one week, your crazy-smooth, soft, and clear skin will have made up for the price a billion times over. This cult-favorite night treatment is 5 percent lactic acid, an AHA that gently exfoliates skin on a cellular level to clear clogged pores, plump fine lines, and fade dark spots and acne scars.
This pricey toner may seem like it's just nice-smelling water, but the magic is in its main ingredient, Pitera—a yeast derivative rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acid. Researchers at SK-II discovered Pitera after noticing that the hands of sake makers at a brewery in Japan looked startlingly youthful and smooth. Imagine what this essence can do to your face with daily use.
Fast facts about argan oil: It's a dream for oily skin, since it helps rebalance sebum levels, it's lightweight, so it won't feel greasy on your face, and it's packed with vitamin E, antioxidants, and fatty acids, which help repair and protect your skin barrier from damage. No wonder this little oil is a cult favorite, right?
Throw away your makeup wipes: This cleansing oil uses camellia and rice bran oils to dissolve even waterproof mascara and long-wear foundation in seconds, leaving you with cleaner, softer, less irritated skin.
The gentle-as-water makeup remover that was once only found in European pharmacies is now available at drugstores everywhere. And that's a good thing, because its mild formula manages to calm even the most irritated of skin, without drying it out.
A whole lot of science went into creating this moisturizer, but all you really need to know is that in less than a week, your skin will look and feel plumper, smoother, and shockingly more hydrated, thanks to time-released hyaluronic acids, shea butters, and natural retinols.
We rejoiced when this British product—which regularly sells out in the UK—was finally available stateside. High-quality ingredients like aloe vera, ginseng, and botanical extract leave your skin extra glowy, and its alcohol-free formula will never, ever dry you out.
This Instagram-favorite mask uses a blend of six skin-clarifying acids to prevent breakouts and blackheads, all while leaving oily skin looking matte and smooth. And we say that's super, indeed.
For a beauty splurge that's actually worthwhile, try Linda Rodin's celebrity-loved oil. Add a few drops of the jasmine and neroli formula to your bath to give dry skin a boost of moisture that'll last long after the tub drains.
Not only does this creamy, kombucha-infused mask smell like warm tea, but it's also fortified with sake and lychee-seed extract to brighten and soften skin with continual use.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.