Kate Somerville RetAsphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream
This two-in-one night cream diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and evens out skin texture and tone. Plus, this formula packs its retinol in a lipid shell, meaning it minimizes irritation and dryness that can sometimes occur as a result of retinol.
Relying on a blend of vitamin B3 and retinol, this night serum works to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and enlarged pores — and keeps skin hydrated for 24 hours (hence the name). One reviewer, who said she’s been using Olay products since she was 14, noted that the product is “like fine wine.” She added: “Olay has tapped into the Fountain of Youth with this new line.”
If you’re down with the latest trends in retinol, then you may have heard of retinyl retinoate, an alternative to retinol that is said to boast the same benefits as its older sister (like increased collagen production and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles) minus the skin irritation. Verso’s rich night cream also contains antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, as well as hyaluronlic acid and jojoba.
Scoop this Neutrogena pick up at your local drugstore and you’ll start to see benefits in a week. Anti-aging retinol and hyaluronic acid work together to plump and moisturize skin, reducing the look of deep wrinkles, including pesky crow’s feet.
If you’re looking for a brightening and anti-aging eye cream you can use morning or night, this one might just be your new go-to. It contains light-reflecting particles to instantly soften the look of dark circles and keeps fine lines around the eyes in check with time-released retinol.
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream
If you’ve been using a product with .5 percent retinol and looking for a little more oomph, consider this night cream from SkinCeuticals, which contains 1 percent retinol — plus ultra-soothing chamomile, frankincense, and shea butter. “The difference is amazing,” one reviewer, who has used the product for over a year, wrote. “At 62, my skin looks better than three years ago. My sun damage is gone.”
Naturopathica Argan & Retinol Wrinkle Repair Night Cream
If you’re looking to target fine lines and wrinkles but are prone to irritation, try this retinol night cream from Naturopathica. It uses encapsulated retinol plus argan plant stem cells and castor oil for a natural dose of moisture.
If you have sensitive or dry skin but want to start using a retinol cream, then this formula may be a match made in heaven for you. Not only does it address wrinkles, dullness, and dark spots, but it also serves as a skin-soothing moisturizer thanks to the addition of lactic acid, an exfoliant and humectant.
It’s hard to beat The Ordinary when it comes to an affordable and non-irritating retinol serum. The formula was created without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates and uses two forms of retinol known to cause less redness and irritation.
This budget-friendly cream is Amazon’s “most wished for” moisturizer, which really just means one thing — you need to get your hands on it STAT. And with no oily residue and the ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, there’s really no reason not to place an order.
Cult-favorite millennial brand Drunk Elephant finally released a retinol cream and it was worth the wait. Along with gentle 1 percent vegan retinol it contains ingredients like passionfruit, apricot, marula and jojoba oils to nourish and moisturize skin while fighting fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.
A roundup of retinol products really wouldn’t be complete without this drugstore staple. The RoC formula targets fine lines and wrinkles in the eye area and helps improve the appearance of dark circles and undereye puffiness in as little as four weeks.
La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Aging Retinol Serum
If you like the lightweight feel of a serum, then this retinol treatment might be the pick for you. The topical treatment also includes lipo-hydroxy acid which acts as an exfoliator and visibly reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet. One reviewer said she has noticed overall smoother skin and fewer breakouts after using the product for a month. She added: “I’ve had a record number of mornings in the last month where I’ve looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Yeah, I look good today.’”
If you have ever wondered what it takes to get (radiant, even-toned, healthy looking) skin like Chrissy Teigen’s, your prayers have been answered. Taking to Instagram on Tuesday to document her “simple” skincare routine, Teigen acknowledged she was feeling pretty pleased with the state of her face: “For you kind folks asking me to drop the skincare regimen, I will admit I am def proud of my skin lately and feeling myself!” she wrote.
Teigen namechecked iS Clinicals’ cleanser and lotion as her two beauty ride-or-dies, and the only things she uses consistently (“they’ve always been so good to me”). Her chosen skincare products show she’s a fan of a clever formulation that works hard to keep skin in good shape. The iS Clinical Cleansing Complex, as it’s more formally known, contains white willow bark extract (a natural source of exfoliating salicylic acid), and sugar cane extract to refresh, resurface and boost glow in tired skin, without leaving it feeling tight. Meanwhile the Moisturizing Complex contains hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and vitamin B5 to keep the skin hydrated and plump, and the skin barrier strong and intact.
The Twitter queen also regularly deploys the wonders of Dr Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta Peel Pads “on and around” her nose and chin which, she says, makes a huge difference, as well as Dr Simon Ourian’s Firm and Fade Cream when she’s not feeling great. There you have it: the surprisingly minimal skincare routine behind Teigen’s radiant glow.
The clean beauty market is on track to make $22 billion by 2024. Those environmentally conscious beauty enthusiasts may have already swapped out some of their old products for ones that are better for the planet, but CoverGirl is looking to make the jump to clean beauty easier and cheaper than ever with its newest range Clean Fresh.
Clean Fresh is formulated without talc, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, mineral oil, or sulfates, according to a press release. It’s also completely vegan, and since it’s CoverGirl, we also know it’s cruelty-free and doesn’t test on animals.
The range is made up of four new products: Skin Milk Foundation, Cream Blush, Cooling Glow Stick, and Lip Oil. Together, they’re designed to let you create a full face of makeup — perhaps your first full face of entirely cruelty-free/vegan/clean makeup.
First up is Skin Milk, a liquid foundation that uses coconut and aloe for a dewy, moisturizing finish. It’s launching in 14 shades with an even split along the shade spectrum. Once your foundation is on, you can go in with the Cooling Glow Stick. Choose between four shades of shimmery pink designed to highlight cheekbones or anywhere else in need of some sparkle. Add color with the cream blush, then finish up the look with the high-shine, tinted lip oil.
Many would say washing your face is the most important part of a skin-care routine. Now the quest to find the best face wash is even more imperative: Our vital, necessary use of face masks has led to an uptick in maskne and other irritations.
From dermatologist Carlos A. Charles’s perspective, it’s most important to find a cleanser that removes buildup, dirt, makeup, and other unwanted particles from the face without damaging the skin’s protective barrier. The founder and medical director of Derma di Colore recommends three go-to cleansers to clients: Jurlique Revitalizing Cleansing Gel because it “thoroughly cleanses the skin and leaves it feeling fresh without overdrying or stripping the skin,” and does so without parabens, polyethylene glycols, or artificial fragrances and colors; Ren Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Gel, as it cleans without being rough on the skin; and, lastly, CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser. “It removes impurities from the skin delicately and works well for those with the most sensitive skin. Also, it’s a good choice when starting a prescription-strength acne or anti-aging regimen,” Charles notes.
And while doctors certainly know best, everyone’s skin is different (and cleansers tend to elicit strong feelings), so we asked Vogue staffers to share their favorites in the hopes of making your search for the best face wash a little bit easier.
“I got this cleanser as a gift three years ago and haven’t gone back to whatever I used to use since! I have combination skin, so the biggest thing for me was to find a cleanser that doesn’t strip my face too harshly, which this one definitely doesn’t. It’s gentle, and leaves my skin feeling clean and naturally moist.”
“I love oil cleansers, and RMS’s raw coconut cream is one I always go back to. It doesn’t strip your skin like a traditional face wash, so I don’t feel like I need to immediately layer on serums and moisturizers after I rinse it off. I’ve been trying to simplify my routine as much as possible during quarantine, so this has been key!”
“I love this lightweight, fresh-scented gel cleanser. Not only is it gentle enough to use every day on my skin, but it leaves it feeling hydrated and refreshed each and every time. Plus, its compact size makes it easy to pack during weekend getaways.”
“When I told Follain founder Tara Foley that I hadn’t yet found the right natural face wash, she steered me toward Naturopathica’s Aloe Cleansing Gel. I now use it every night, and it leaves my face feeling clear without any of the tightness or dryness that I’ve experienced with other cleansers. I also find I don’t need to use much for it to be effectively cleansing and hydrating, which means the five-ounce bottle has lasted me many months (a win on the less-waste front).”
“I’m a drugstore enthusiast when it comes to basic facial care. My skin is very sensitive and I found that this is one of the only cleansers that truly caters to my skin type. Because it’s hypoallergenic, I felt confident in giving it a chance, and I haven’t looked back since. My face is always left feeling refreshed and under control.”
“I am sorry to inform you that this Eve Lom Cleanser is worth every penny. Never in my life would I think I’d be someone to pay $80 on a facial cleanser, but I am. Because of the price, I use it sparingly, but it always makes my skin look and feel much better. I love the ritual of putting it on and taking it off by using a muslin cloth that’s been soaked in warm water. Plus, you can’t beat that clean smell.”
“I’ve used this face wash since high school—thank you to my local Sephora for the introduction! Despite trying posh, highbrow cleansers and drugstore staples, I’ve found that the Philosophy wash is the only one that leaves my skin feeling and looking fresh.”
“I use Neutrogena’s Transparent Facial Bar. It’s like a tried-and-true wardrobe classic but for cleansers, maybe comparable to the turtleneck of skin-washing regimes. I’ve been using it since high school. The crisp bar, which comes in a hue of honey, lasts forever, and is under $5. How can you go wrong?”
“My favorite face wash is more of a balm. Made from manuka honey, this Naturopathica cleaner cleans effectively and without drying out my face. You can also apply it with a little brush that feels supernice on the face and, I think, gives me a little extra exfoliation bang for my buck. This is definitely a hero product for me and one of the most natural but effective cleansers I’ve found in my clean beauty searches. Plus, it smells so amazing you almost don’t want to wash it off.”
“I am very picky about face washes because I have extremely sensitive skin (eczema, rosacea, you name it!), and this has been my favorite cleanser for a year now. Once something lasts in my skin-care routine for more than a few months, it’s going to stay there forever. I love the consistency of this cleanser; it’s gel-like but not sticky, and so soothing, always leaving my skin feeling so clean!”
“I swear by Eve Lom’s cleanser (a classic for a reason!), but for an extra-deep clean I always go to Lesse’s all-natural scrub, which contains ultrafine apricot granules to gentlyexfoliate the skin—a must after long beach days (and lots of sunscreen). Plus, the charcoal-blue-colored formula is just about as pretty as they come.”
“There are very few constants in my skin-care routine, but the one product I will always go back to is Dermalogica’s Clearing Skin Wash. I can try other cleansers, but this is the one that I repeatedly purchase and always have on hand (I own the largest possible size and keep travel versions at my parents’ house just in case). My skin tends to be oily, but this saves me from needing a thousand blotting papers.”
“Tatcha was the first skin-care brand I splurged on growing up; the brand’s infamous inclusion of milky rice water brings an extra boost of moisture to my otherwise dry, and at times, flaky skin. The gentle texture combined with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and Okinawa algae (known to plump and lock in moisture), leaves my skin feeling supple and bouncy every morning.”
“All I can say is God bless Chaneve Jeanniton and every product in the Epi.Logic line! Chaneve created this face wash to soothe sensitive skin, and since using it, I never have to worry about my skin getting irritated while washing my face in the morning!”
“This is not necessarily a face wash, but I’ve been loving Chantecaille’s rosewater spray. It leaves me looking dewy and is naturally perfumed with a faint floribunda smell. Plus, it comes in the prettiest packaging designed by tastemaker extraordinaire John Derian. I spritz my face liberally each night with it so it might as well be a wash!”
“Because E.L.F.’s makeup and skin-care offerings are incredibly affordable and effective, wanting to fill up your cart with everything the beauty brand has to offer is a little too tempting. (We’ve all be there.) Add in the fact that you can pick up the products at your local Target, Old Navy, and drugstores, and you’ll start wondering if E.L.F. wants you to directly deposit your paycheck into its account.“
“We rounded up some tried-and-true product picks from Allure editors to make shopping E.L.F.’s vast beauty selection a little easier, more efficient, and kinder to your wallet. You’re welcome. Many of our recommendations even have a Best of Beauty Awards and Readers’ Choice Awards to their names, like best eye shadow brush and best lipstick, so you know they’re going to be amazing additions to your beauty routine. Keep scrolling to see which highlighter, eye shadow palette, and skin-care products we swear by.”
E.L.F. Luminous Poreless Putty Primer
Unlike the original version, which has a slightly mattifying effect, E.L.F.’s Luminous Poreless Putty Primer leaves the skin with a subtle dewy finish whether you choose to wear it alone or under makeup. So if you want to minimize the appearance of your pores and get a radiant glow, look no further than this primer.
If you’ve never experienced the wonders of a peeling gel, allow this Best of Beauty winner to be your introduction. Straight out of the pump, it looks like a clear gel. However, when you start rubbing it onto skin, it turns into little balls. Why? The Gentle Peeling Exfoliant picks up the dead skin cells and other grime on your face and rolls it up like eraser dust. It’s incredibly satisfying and leaves skin smooth and radiant.
The Best of Beauty-winning Cream Contour Palette contains four different matte creams — a trio of bronzes (taupe, fawn, and caramel) and one yellow-beige hue for brightening. Each are rich and intensely pigmented but once blended out, they seamlessly melt into skin for a natural-looking sculpted finish.
E.L.F.’s SuperBrighten Peel Pads may not cost you much — and yet, they actually rival some of their more expensive competitors on the market. Formulated with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), citrus (from lemon peel oil and lemon fruit extract), and witch hazel, these exfoliating treatment pads work by gently buffing away excess dead skin, which, in turn, gives the appearance of a more radiant complexion.
Washing your makeup tools doesn’t have to be a chore. Keep the Solid Sponge Cleanser near your sink, so you remember to dip dirty brushes and sponges directly into it when they need a washing. (There’s something soothing about swirling them around the charcoal-infused disc.)
Along with pristine brushes, your skin will love that you’re cleaning your brushes with the detoxifying ingredient, as it’s been said to help prevent future breakouts. And let’s be real, we’ll take all the help we can get.
Not even E.L.F. is immune to the holographic makeup hype. These color-shifting powders may look petal pink and lilac in the pan, but when brushed onto cheekbones, they transform into a hot pink and sky blue.
Made with watermelon fruit extract (yum), glycerin, and castor oil, E.L.F.’s Jelly Pop Water Gel Moisturizer soothes redness and re-hydrates parched skin in one fell swoop. It’s also super-fast-absorbing, making it an especially great option for the summer months when we’re sweating more and tend to favor lighter products.
Available in eight different shade options, E.L.F.’s Bite Size Eye Shadow Palettes (as in the same ones that went viral on TikTok earlier this year) make creating a put-together eye look easy as pie. The quad shown here is “cream & sugar” and contains a combination of neutral-toned, shimmery and matte shadows that work on almost every skin tone. Plus, the formula of these shadows is über-opaque, yet also so easy to blend.
Allure editors aren’t the only ones obsessed with E.L.F.’s Moisturizing Lipstick in Velvet Rope — our readers are, too. Velvet Rope, which is a cherry red with a golden sheen, won a Readers’ Choice Award this year for its creamy, hydrating formula that lasts all day long.
Read our guide to the best glow-givers of the year yet? If so, then you already know E.L.F.’s best-selling Baked Highlighter made the cut.
Despite technically being a powder, its ultra-buttery, featherlight formula melts into the skin like it’s nothing and never looks cakey worn on top of foundation and concealer. It also contains skin-loving ingredients like vitamin E, jojoba, and apricot seed oils, which is a nice added bonus.
Blending eye shadow ain’t easy. The Beautifully Precise Eyeshadow Brush No. 201, which recently won a Best of Beauty Award, will do all the work for you with as little effort as possible. You can pack color onto your lids with the short, dense bristles before sweeping the fluffy ends over the edges to soften them in seconds.
With all the latest palettes packed with terracotta and peach shades, the E.L.F. Mad For Matte Holy Smokes Palette has a much-welcomed mix of both warm- and cool-toned hues. On the right side, you have a peachy cream, blue-toned gray, and more neutral shades for laying down a clean base. Or, of course, you can wear just one by itself for a more minimalist look.
On the left side, you have a gorgeous teal, sapphire blue, and soft black for making your smoky eye fantasies a reality. (Hence the name Holy Smokes.) You can make sure they are all blended well with the shades situated in the middle of the palette.
No matter how much beauty ads promise, there really is no such thing as a magical cure-all that’ll make you look like a woman who always drinks enough water and clocks eight hours of sleep each night. Even if you are that woman (secrets, please?), dark circles can still be hereditary.
However, there really is some truth to the best eye creams. No, they won’t entirely get rid of that puffiness and blueish tinge or erase wrinkles overnight, but there are a handful of options with ingredients that actually do tighten, brighten, and generally make your need for concealer a little less. Since the skin under our eyes is more delicate, targeted formulations with active ingredients like retinol (or bakuchiol), vitamin C, and caffeine can pack more pick-me-up power than your average face cream or serum.
Best Overall: Tata Harper Boosted Contouring Eye Balm
It’s not just that Tata is the queen of formulating with the cleanest ingredients—it’s that she pushes the envelope so we can have clean ingredients and clinically proven skin rejuvenation in one little bottle. This eye cream is gentle on my reactive skin and highly effective in softening lines and hydrating that thin, delicate, and previously crepey skin around my eyes. —Katey Denno, celebrity makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best Luxury: La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Eye Cream
I made it all through my 20s without undereye issues, but I swear the second I turned 30, the effects of a late-night Netflix binge (or God forbid, a night out) started to manifest on my face. And that’s when I decided it was time to call in the big guns. La Prairie’s Platinum Rare Cellular Eye Cream gets its muscle from a potent blend of peptides and hydrators to brighten, smooth, and tighten your skin. It’s basically Spanx for your eyes. —Lindsay Schallon, senior beauty editor
For someone who spends way too much time up late in front of a computer screen, this serum is like the equivalent of a cup of coffee for my eyes. It’s formulated with caffeine and green tea to jolt awake their appearance and minimize the look of dark circles and puffiness. Best $7 I ever spent. —Aimee Sy, contributor
Best for Puffiness: Sisley Paris Black Rose Eye Contour Fluid
After a few rotations around my eye socket with this mysteriously cold ceramic applicator, I was hooked. Like all of the products in the Black Rose Collection, this formula smells (no essential oils, just May Rose water) and feels amazing. Best of all, it depuffs, hydrates, and brightens and instantly makes me look more rested. —Robin Black, makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best for Tired Eyes: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex
Since I’m still in my 20s, I usually just need moisture under my eyes, but when I need something more (like when I’m hungover) this is what I reach for. I love the classic Night Repair serum, and this eye treatment is just as effective. It has a cooling gel texture, and it instantly makes me look more awake, less puffy, and as if I could be the kind of girl who meditates and drinks green juice every day. I’ve even noticed that if I use this one consistently, my dark circles look slightly better (it’s a cream, not a miracle) thanks to the brand’s ChronoluxCB complex. —B.C.
Best for Dark Circles: It Cosmetics Confidence in an Eye Cream
I have pretty bad dark circles (genetics, unfortunately) and have tried everything from very expensive products to drugstore brands. It wasn’t until this one that I noticed a difference—literally, after a day of using it. It’s super lightweight and makes it look as though I hit snooze just a little longer each morning. —Azadeh Valanejad, contributor
Over the years I’ve tried various eye creams, from drugstore buys to mysterious potions I’ve picked up from the Glamour beauty closet, but Dr. Barbara Sturm’s was my first foray into a luxe product line, and man, did it not disappoint. Just a slight tap of the cream every night has made the fine skin around my eyes look tighter and more youthful. The cream feels indulgent and rich on my skin, while still having a super-light, airy consistency. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic Dr. Barbara Sturm works with, but consider me all in. —Caitlin Brody, entertainment director
Best for Fine Lines: Tatcha The Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream
Your eyes may be the window to your soul, but they’re also the first place to show signs of aging. That’s why I’ve been using eye cream since I was a teenager. But as you get older, you need different formulas, especially if you wear makeup. The key is an eye cream that will help act as a barrier so concealer and foundation won’t settle into fine lines, but will also still hydrate. I’ve found that with Tatcha’s Silk Peony, which has a unique melting texture to smooth and blur the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It contains 30% Hadasei-3, which is the brand’s signature trio of pure Japanese superfoods, including Uji Green Tea (to detoxify), Okinawa maluku algae (to help retain moisture), and protein-rich Akita rice to nourish and go on smoothly. And as with all Tatcha products, it’s cruelty-free and formulated without sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. —Jessica Radloff, West Coast editor
Best Multitasker: Glossier Bubble Wrap Eye and Lip Plumping Cream
Wrinkles aren’t my top concern yet, so when it comes to eye cream, I’m looking for something no-fuss that hydrates, plumps, and is a great base for the gobs of concealer I need to hide my sleeping habits. Bubblewrap is the answer to my prayers; if I could bathe in it, I would. It’s a cushiony eye and lip cream that has a thin yet lush texture and is packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and avocado oil. Tapped on my undereyes, it made me look more awake, refreshed, and made my concealer glide on crease-free. While it’s a fab eye cream, I’m also obsessed with it in place of lip balm at night for full, plush lips by morning. And of course, the packaging looks perfect in my medicine cabinet. —B.C.
Best Soothing: Volition Beauty Helix AM/PM Eye Gel
I’m one of the people who think eye creams are kind of B.S.—a regular light moisturizer does that trick just fine for me—but I’ve recently noticed how damn puffy my area looks. Blame it on an excess of salt and not enough water, but I started using this collagen-rich gel, which I keep in the fridge, and found it actually works to depuff and hydrate. It also promises to blur fine lines, though I don’t have those yet, but I’m planning to stick with it, mainly thanks to its powerful helix complex, an organic compound rich in allantoin, collagen, elastin, and glycolic acid. —Perrie Samotin, digital director
Best Brightening: Dermalogica Biolumin-C Eye Serum
I’ve been obsessed with finding the right treatment for the dark circles under my eyes, and this is definitely the winner. This serum doesn’t have the stinging retinol sensation that a previous eye cream had, nor does it leave my skin feeling tacky. I’ve been using it for the last two months, and the difference is noticeable. I’m already dreading the day I have to replace it. —Khaliha Hawkins, producer
Best Primer: Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Eye Base
My undereyes are regularly dry, and my concealer always creases no matter what, until I tried Bobbi Brown’s new Vitamin Enriched Eye Base. Its creamy shea butter formula means a pea-size amount is plenty to go around both eyes. I use my fingertips to gently pat this soothing primer into my skin before concealing my uninvited dark circles for a smooth canvas that never creases. —Talia Gutierrez, beauty assistant
I’ve been slowly replacing the skin-care products in my beauty routine with ones that are plant-based—and my latest fixation is Haoma’s Eye Cream. Rich in skin-brightening ingredients like yarrow, licorice, mulberry, and CBD, this balm has an airy, velvety texture that goes on smooth and absorbs in no time. I dab a pea-size amount under my eyes after cleansing, and it straightaway makes the purplish circles feel lighter and brighter. That, and it’s the perfect second step in my morning routine to trick my mind into instant “awake” mode. —Talia Abbas, commerce writer
I’ve always been a fan of Embryolisse’s skin-care products. They’re a staple in makeup artists’ kits. The same goes for this undereye stick. It’s multifunctional: It refreshes tired eyes, diminishes signs of fatigue (like puffiness), firms, is highly hydrating, and reduces the appearance of fine lines. It also brightens your undereye area and improves texture. Not to mention it’s incredibly cooling when you glide it on. I like to use it right before I put on makeup, during skin prep. —Carola Gonzalez, celebrity makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best Eye Serum: Lancôme Advanced Génifique Yeux Light Pearl Concentrate
There’s nothing I love more than popping a jade roller in the fridge and running it under my eyes in the morning to wake up. This is the eye serum equivalent. The metal applicator is cool and refreshing as you glide it on, and the gentle but tough-acting mix of caffeine, prebiotics, and vitamin E go to work to jolt life back to your undereyes. Bonus: You can use the serum on your lashes to make them look more nourished. —L.S.
I’ve tried tons of eye creams that do literally nothing, but Belif’s eye cream doesn’t have that problem: This spin-off of its moisturizer leaves my undereyes looking smooth and way less crepey within minutes. —Sarah Morse, contributor
Best Hydrating: Hada Labo Tokyo Age Correcting Eye Cream
Hada Labo makes reliably excellent skin care, and this eye cream is no different. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid, caffeine, collagen, and light-diffusing pigments. Smooth it on and it’ll blur and diminish your dark circles while giving your delicate undereye area a noticeable boost. —Sarah Wu, beauty contributor
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you most expensive luxury skincare. But in beauty, not all of the most effective products come with an astronomical price tag. Myriad affordable skincare brands offer all of the best active ingredients in effective and luxurious-feeling formulations that don’t cost the earth. “I often find that people tend to equate uber-cheap prices to a poor quality product,” says medical and aesthetic doctor, Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe. “But that isn’t always the case. A lot of these cheaper brands can afford to conduct research and create products that are highly effective.”
The problem is, consumers often assume that the more expensive a product is, the better it will be, and in a confusing and crowded skincare market where there is always a new product being touted for its miracle effects, we end up going around in circles. The reality is, a consistent approach to skincare that incorporates good quality ingredients (that you can afford to continue buying) is important for the quality of skin, so it’s worthwhile getting to know the affordable skincare brands that keep prices reasonable, without scrimping on efficacy.
If you’re wondering if there are still certain products worth splurging a little more on, Ukeleghe says the answer is yes. “You can compromise on cost when it comes to products such as cleansers and moisturisers, but I’d stress that this isn’t so much the case with serums,” she says. Every good skincare routine includes a cleanser, a moisturiser, a hydrating product and an SPF, and she says cleansers and moisturisers (read on for our pick of the best affordable options on the market), and in some instances SPF, are the products you can get away with paying less for.
“You can save on SPF as there are some great, affordable formulations on the market, however I typically find that cost does matter, particularly if you want a formulation suitable for oily, acne-prone, sensitive skin or skin of colour,” she says. Once the backbone of your routine is in place, you can add in serums and masks, utilising ingredients like retinol, AHAs, BHAs, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid according to your skin concerns, from congestion to dullness.
Being prepared to invest in a serum is Ukeleghe’s main rule of thumb, since they tend to incorporate more expensive ingredients, bumping up the price. Brands like La Roche-Posay do offer serums that manage to be affordable and effective, so make them the starting point of your hunt for an inexpensive serum that delivers on its promises.
Here is the British Vogue beauty team’s pick of 10 of the best affordable skincare brands to try now.
This French pharmacy brand is a favourite of editors, celebrities, and probably most of your friends, and that’s all thanks to its excellent formulations. There is a product for everyone: the Toleriane range is a favourite of those with sensitive skin (the new Ultra Dermallergo Serum is £28 and excellent at alleviating dryness and redness), while the brand’s Retinol B3 is a brilliant introduction to the best anti-ageing active around – and it’s great for sensitive skins too.
A brand developed with the help of dermatologists, CeraVe products are formulated around the founding principle that our skin barrier is integral to how our skin looks, performs and feels. To that end, each product contains ceramides, an ingredient that makes up half of our skin barrier, and they’re really quite brilliant. Two good entry points are the Hydrating Facial Cleanser, a product that lifts all make-up off without stripping the skin, and the Moisturizing Cream, which is a £5 tube of creamy heaven.
Renowned for its minimal prices, The Ordinary’s products don’t disappoint either. There’s a huge range of choice, but good first ports of call are the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, the Squalane Cleanser, and the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. If you become confused while perusing the website, the brand has recently launched virtual consultations on the Deciem website to connect you with team members over chat or video call, to help you decide what is best for your skin type.
Enjoy world-class skincare formulations with L’Oréal, whose consistent innovation in the skincare space makes it a rival for even the most expensive brands, without the lofty price tags. The brand’s new Age Perfect Golden Age Cooling Night Creamis £14.99, and helps re-cushion sallow skin thanks to the neo-calcium within the formula. Meanwhile, its Revitalift Laser Glycolic Acid Ampoules contain 10 per cent glycolic acid, and help to unclog pores, exfoliate the skin and leave it radiant; and the Revitalift Filler with 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid is an excellent choice for those who want to hydrate, plump, or simply boost their skin’s luminosity.
We should all aim for simplicity in our skincare routines, and Simple – unsurprisingly – offers us just that. You’ve probably tried the face wipes over the years, but a better choice is the milky Kind To Skin Purifying Cleansing Lotion or its micellar waters. The Hemp Ultra Calming Sheet Mask and facial moisturiser are two other stand-out products in the range – both leave skin feeling soothed and glowing.
Another excellent French pharmacy brand (we have a lot to thank them for), Avéne’s speciality is sensitive skin, but its products are worth exploring for all skin types. After all, acne-prone skin also tends to be sensitive too. Look no further than the Hydrance Rich Hydrating Cream and Hydrance Aqua-Gel moisturisers (depending on your preferred consistency) to moisturise, and the Gentle Milk Cleanser to cleanse the skin without drying it out. The newest launch from the range is the Cleanance Comedomed, a cream containing a milk thistle-derived active ingredient called comedoclastin, which helps to reduce sebum and stop spots from forming in the pore. A must-try.
Utilising the power of plants in its products, Garnier’s skincare products will appeal to those who like a natural approach to skincare. The Organic Lavandin Anti-Age Facial Sleeping Cream is enriched with jojoba and argan oils, and leaves skin hydrated, supple and smooth when you wake up in the morning. And if you haven’t tried its Moisture Bomb sheet masks, where have you been, exactly? The Night Time Face Tissue Mask with deep sea water and hyaluronic acid is second to none.
From face wash to eye cream, Super Facialist offers a broad range of skincare products categorised by skin issue. For those who want to encourage luminosity back into the skin, the Vitamin C range is a good choice (the Brighten Booster can be mixed with your moisturiser for supercharged results), while the blemish prone will love its Salicylic Acid line, which utilises salicylic as its star ingredient – the Pore Purifying Clay Mask is a stand out.
With some seriously cult products under its belt, Vichy gives great skincare. Its newest launch, the Minéral 89 Fortifying Sheet Mask, is made up of 89 per cent Vichy mineralising water (which is ultra soothing – and its signature ingredient), and hyaluronic acid, delivering a major boost to skin’s hydration levels. Another star product in the same range is the Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster – it’s packed full of hyaluronic acid, so ideal to use morning and night.
The Body Shop
You probably already know it makes great body creams, but The Body Shop’s skincare offering is just as strong. If you’re yet to try its Aloe Soothing Body Butter, now is the time – it’s an ideal accompaniment to facial massage, and helps to calm irritated skin. Those who suffer from spots will love the Tea Tree line, while those with mature skin should look to the Drops of Youth collection.
By now you know the drill: Every few months a new wunderkind skin care ingredient is discovered in some remote locale, and pretty soon it’s everywhere—in your masks, serums, foot creams, insert-step-in-your-beauty-routine-here. But at the end of the day, there are only a handful of ingredients that have stood the test of time and truly become essential. “In skin care, they’re the holy grail,” says Cambridge, Massachusetts, dermatologist Ranella Hirsch.
You’ve probably heard of all these by now. (Retinol, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, peptides, and vitamin C all make the list.) But you may still be a little confused on what exactly each one does—and how you should be using them. Here, I break it all down.
Retinol: For Softening Wrinkles and Fighting Acne
If there’s one ingredient lauded more than any other for its wrinkle-fighting, complexion-perfecting abilities, it’s this derivative of vitamin A. “Here’s the deal with retinol,” explains Hirsch. “We were talking about it in 1975, and we’re still talking about it now because it works.” In study after study, retinol has been shown to build collagen, decrease fine lines, improve skin’s texture, and fight acne.
The prescription version (retinoic acid, or Retin-A) acts fastest, but it’s pricey—and it can be drying. Over-the-counter retinols take eight to 10 weeks to show results (compared with six weeks with an Rx), but are normally paired with anti-inflammatories to calm the redness, peeling, or dryness; they can also cost less than a prescription, depending on your insurance, generally starting around $100.
Whichever type you use, you’ll want to ease into your retinol use slowly. “I start patients on the mildest version, one night a week at the onset,” says New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler. As your skin begins to tolerate a pea-size amount, you can eventually go up to two nights a week. But stay off harsh physical scrubs and peels while you’re using retinol; remember to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize; and use extra sunscreen for the first six months.
This tiny molecule helps lubricate joints and keep skin plump, and is one of the world’s finest humectants (elements that attract and retain water). What does that mean for skin? “Hyaluronic acid is awesome,” says Wechsler. In addition to being a terrific moisturizer, she says, it partners well with other active skin care ingredients (so you can layer it with retinol, for example, and use it daily). “The beauty of hyaluronic acid is that it doesn’t have any fine print,” says Hirsch. “It benefits any skin type, at any age. And the truth is that everyone looks great with hydrated skin.”
Doctors love vitamin C because it’s an incredible antioxidant and it stimulates collagen production—in other words, it increases glow and evens out spots. For best results, look for a high concentration, up to 20% in a serum or cream.
Vitamin C does have a downside, though: It breaks down when exposed to oxygen and light. Seek out truly airtight packaging, watch out for discolored formulas, and know that because vitamin C loses efficacy in the sun, it’s best as a nighttime product, says Montclair, New Jersey, dermatologist Jeanine Downie. But “use it on the nights you’re not applying retinol,” she adds. It’s also great in an eye cream to help soften fine lines and spots.
“Think of peptides as Legos—they’re protein building blocks,” says Hirsch of the skin strengtheners. Studies show certain peptides can boost collagen production and speed wound healing; or they can mimic the effect of Botox when applied topically. That means you’ll likely want to introduce peptides in your 30s, when you notice your skin doesn’t feel quite as firm or bouncy as it did in your 20s. They can also be used on your body to smooth and firm skin, and they may fade old scars and stretch marks. There’s emerging science that some peptides have been found to safely treat eczema.
Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide: For Eradicating Acne
Okay, these are technically two ingredients—but the pair is name-dropped so frequently in the same acne-fighting sentence that it seems a shame to split them up.
“Salicylic acid is a lipid-soluble acid, so it penetrates into oily pores to clean them out, and it’s anti-inflammatory too,” renowned dermatologist Fredric Brandt once told us. “Benzoyl is antibacterial, so together they work synergistically.”
Look for bacteria-zapping benzoyl peroxide in face washes or spot treatments. It’s widely available in drugstores, ranging from 2.5% to 10% concentrations. (To minimize irritation, start with the lowest.) Try salicylic acid in an allover toner or cream to prevent breakouts, or on pimples if you have sensitive skin—it’s gentler than benzoyl, explains Wechsler.
“My patients love, love, love AHAs,” says Downie, who explains that the powerful exfoliators are genius for clearing up sun damage, hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines. Multiple AHAs exist, but the most popular (and potent) is glycolic acid, which penetrates damaged skin to spur fresh, new skin cell production. Glycolic acid does its exfoliating work in everything from once-monthly in-office face peels to nightly washes, but it’s best not to use glycolic acid while you’re on retinols. And if your skin is sensitive, try glycolic’s less intense AHA cousin, lactic acid, which also chemically exfoliates but isn’t as drying.
Vitamin C can do more than just help you kick that cold! In fact, this potent antioxidant can actually help transform the look for your skin thanks to its ability to boost collagen, minimize acne scars, and reduce signs of aging. But if you think a daily glass of orange juice is all you need for a glowing complexion, think again.
When ingested orally, the vitamin’s benefits barely ever make it to our skin. Instead, you’ll have to apply it topically in the form of a vitamin C serum in order to see the multifaceted ingredient start to work its magic on your skin. Besides brightening and evening out your skin tone, the versatile antioxidant also works to improve skin’s hydration and prevent wrinkles.
No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence
With 5% pure Vitamin C. Easy to mix, at-home activation. Use for two weeks for visible results. Promotes brighter, healthier and more radiant looking skin. Evens skin tone and texture.
SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic features a synergistic antioxidant combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamin C and E to enhance your skin’s protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals. In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, this formula improves signs of aging and photodamage to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while firming and brightening your complexion. Lastly, this powerful formula helps neutralize free radicals induced by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA) and ozone pollution (O3).
Murunga plum, known to be 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges, combined with alpha hydroxy acid helps to brighten the complexion and smooth skin texture. Enriched with antioxidant-boosting iris extract, this serum has a lightweight texture that offers a natural glow and energizes skin, helping it resist aggressions (stress, fatigue, and jet lag).
With almost 8,000 five-star reviews, this serum by TruSkin is one of the most popular beauty products on Amazon. The serum’s formula combines vitamin C with botanical hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to help diminish the look of dark spots, wrinkles, and fine lines while also firming and brightening your skin. Happy customers rave that this handy product started to transform their skin in just one week! A lot of reviewers have even been uploading before and after photos of themselves to show off how clear and bright their skin looks after using the serum.
Over 150,000 Sephora shoppers agree this is one of the best vitamin C serums around. Many customers love how quickly the product absorbed in their skin, while others couldn’t get over how delicious the serum’s citrus scent was. One reviewer called it a “game changer” before adding “seriously this stuff works. It has truly made my skin better.”
This potent serum is so popular it earned itself an Amazon’s Choice recommendation. You can use the powerful product on its own or add two or three drops to your daily moisturizer if your skin needs the extra hydration. One glowing review said, “This is a wonderful serum. It dramatically refined my skin’s texture and brightened my complexion. It absorbs quickly, and the smell dissipates once it dries.”
This award-winning serum combines vitamin C with hyaluronic acid and konjac root powder to help soften, smooth, and brighten your skin’s texture. Eighty-four percent of Ulta customers said they would recommend this product to their friends and family, with most customers saying the serum left their skin glowing.
You can say goodbye to fine lines and wrinkles thanks to this potent serum by beloved beauty brand Mario Badescu. Ulta customers can’t stop raving about how fast the product works. Many reviewers said they saw dark spots and acne scars fade in just five days of regular use.
Dermstore customers love this concentrated vitamin C serum thanks to its powerful anti-aging properties. Many reviewers gave it two thumbs up, saying the serum left them with healthier-looking skin that actually glowed. They also loved that it also helps prevent any future damage from pesky UV rays.
This nutrient-packed serum by InstaNatural is a best seller on Amazon thanks to the 2,700 five-star reviews customers have given it. Customers raved that the serum not only helped reduce the appearance of old acne scars but it also helped clear up current breakouts and blackheads. One happy reviewer called it, “the nectar of the gods for your skin.”
This vitamin C serum from Miranda Kerr’s skincare line Kora Organics may be new to the market, but it’s already racked up over 8,000 likes at Sephora. During a clinical study, 90 percent of participants said their skin looked smoother, while 80 percent said their skin looked brighter and more radiant. “I love this product. It’s been over a week and I noticed a difference in my skin. The smell is amazing, and the results are even better. My face is brighter and my hyperpigmentation and acne scarring is noticeably reduced,” raved one customer.
This popular serum from LilyAna Naturals is infused with jojoba oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid (along with the vitamin C) to help hydrate and moisturize your skin. The powerful product works to firm and smooth your skin’s texture, along with reducing the appearance of sunspots, redness, and other discolorations. The best part? It’s non- comedogenic (read: safe for acne-prone skin), so you’ll never have to worry about it clogging your pores or causing breakouts. With details like this, it’s no wonder why more than 3,300 Amazon customers gave the serum an impressive 4.4-star rating.
If you suffer from dull or tired-looking skin, consider this vitamin C serum from Tatcha. It is specially formulated with 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA serum that work together to soften and smooth skin, leaving you with a glowing complexion. The beloved serum has more than 60,000 likes and a 4.4-star rating at Sephora. What’s more? 88 percent of customers said they love it so much, they’d recommend it to others.
This vitamin C serum from Kate Somerville is packed with retinol to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Along with improving the tone and elasticity of your skin, the product can also help your skin look brighter, smoother, and more luminous. “Can’t say enough. Literally fixed my tired, acne-prone, and scarred skin in just a week! I have literally tried everything out there from $700 creams to $50 ones and this one is the holy grail,” raved one customer.
Deep cleaning skincare is having a moment right now. Seemingly everybody is looking for the next best skincare hack — whether it’s a pore-eliminating mousse or a gentle gel exfoliator — to keep their complexion squeaky clean and blackhead-free (while still maintaining a glow, of course). If the hot weather has you browsing for something to help with clogged pores and oily skin, this Japanese face cleanser comes highly recommended by thousands of shoppers.
You may already recognize the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. Not only is it Amazon’s third best-selling makeup remover, but it has also garnered a cult-following worldwide. According to a brand representative, over 77 million bottles of the cleanser have been sold to date — and at one point, it was so popular that a bottle was flying off shelves every 10 seconds. Its simple formula, which includes olive oil, rosemary oil, and vitamin E, combined with powerful results are what makes it so popular. Shoppers say it’s helped their skin “tremendously” and is “incredible” at removing blackheads, reducing the appearance of pores, and even fighting acne.
Buy It DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, 6.1 oz, $28; amazon.com; DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, 4.1 oz; $21; amazon.com
If you’ve never used a cleansing oil before, the directions are a little different from traditional face wash. It’s meant to be applied on dry skin (don’t wet your hands or face prior), massaged for about 30 seconds, and then rinsed off with water. You can follow up with a gel or foam cleanser if you’re following a Japanese or Korean beauty routine (Amazon shoppers often purchase this CeraVe face wash to use after the DHC oil), or simply move on to the next step in your skincare regimen.
“Nothing compares to this at all. This is such a holy grail product sent from the gods,” one shopper wrote. “No crappy fillers, chemicals, additives, etc. Just simple, super effective and straight to the point. I have used this for years and have tried many others… Shu Uemura, Eclos, Josie Maran, Julep, Origins, Boscia, Burt’s Bees, Neutrogena [and] none of them are as great as this. This leaves no residue on the skin and my makeup routine used to be quite intense. Acne prone/oily/combination/sensitive/eczema prone skin people, this should be the only cleansing oil to use.”