Gemma Chan definitely knows how to make an impression. Her turn in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians was unforgettable, and we’re waiting with baited breath for Don’t Worry Darling to land next year (Chan, Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine star). In the meantime, Chan is working on a podcast about Asian American civil rights, and using her position as a L’Oréal Paris spokeswoman to promote self-care’s role in building confidence and asserting equality. To that end, the actress and activist recently revealed her full beauty routine — and the intel is juicy.
In a video for Vogue released earlier this month, Chan walked viewers through exactly what she relies on to maintain her glowing skin. As expected for any celebrity, she invests in some pricey finds like Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream, celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech’s Facial Massager, and Foreo skincare tools. Yet alongside those triple-dollar-sign buys — The Rich Cream fittingly goes for $265 a bottle — are two hard-working products in the under-$20 range.
The first? L’Oréal’s Revitalift Derm Intensives Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, an all-important base layer. Hyaluronic acid is in tons of products these days because, as researchers say, it has a “unique capacity” for retaining hydration — it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which keeps that dew-making moisture on your skin. With that power, it’s no wonder Chan says the serum “works really well” to wake her face up on tired mornings after late nights, or that the serum’s garnered over 18,000 five-star Amazon ratings.
“I’ve been breaking out so badly from constantly having to wear a mask,” writes one 30-year-old with skin they describe as extremely sensitive and dry. “I added this serum to my skin care routine, and I got instant results overnight. My face is so dewy and moisturized, I’m literally glowing for the first time in years.” Others write that it instantly fills in deep wrinkles, and more still say that after trying “everything on the market,” the Revitalift serum gave them silky, glowing skin.
That efficiency is rivaled by the next steal in Chan’s routine. “My secret weapon is a caffeine eye cream,” she explains. “[I] just very, very gently dot under my eyes. Hopefully [it] encourages a bit of drainage of the puffiness,” Chan says of The Inkey List’s $9.99 Caffeine Eye Cream. Reviewers say it does the trick: They credit the formula with taking puffiness down quickly and keeping it down all day, on top of brightening under-eyes and dark spots.
“Holy crap, it really does reduce puffiness,” writes a shopper of the impact. “I’ve been using this product consistently (AM and PM) for just over a week, and I already notice such a difference. I don’t look like a zombie anymore.” Others say the cream’s moisture lasts all day, even for dry eyes — and at $10, it bests even more expensive products. Shop it at Sephora, and keep scrolling to see the rest of Chan’s routine for blockbuster-ready skin and makeup.
If you struggle with dehydrated skin and fine lines and wrinkles, you’ve probably tested serums that promise to solve those skin concerns — and you’ve probably struggled with them, too, if they didn’t contain superstar ingredients that treat signs of aging, like hyaluronic acid. Luckily, Amazon shoppers have pinpointed a powerful formula you can add to cart right now.
Over 6,100 of them would likely recommend the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum, if the number of five-star reviews says anything. It’s crafted with pure hyaluronic acid, which deeply hydrates the skin by holding in moisture and helps it to look plumper. “Hyaluronic acid is widely used in skincare as a humectant, [a substance that helps the skin hold onto water] and can often be found as the key ingredient in serums, oral supplements, dermal fillers, and eye drops,” Dr. Lian Mack previously told InStyle.
La Roche-Posay’s formula blends it with vitamin B5, which moisturizes and helps to reduce acne inflammation. According to the brand, the dermatologist-tested serum is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin.
The hyaluronic acid serum has a rich texture that doesn’t feel greasy or weigh down the skin — instead, according to shoppers, it’s light and refreshing, absorbing instantly. You can expect immediate plumpness after use and an overall reduction in fine lines over time, says La Roche-Posay.
Reviewers on Amazon are practically drinking it up. “This serum actually worked beautifully. And I am seventy!” one wrote. “What I like best are the results. About two months in, I looked in the mirror one morning and noticed my little eye wrinkles were just plain gone… I use it generously at bedtime, and in the morning, always over clean skin. I don’t notice any scent at all. It literally glides on like silk. Afterward, It feels a little sticky at first, but that dissipates. I’m so pleasantly surprised by the obvious results. It really did exactly what it claimed it would! My complexion looks tighter, very moisturized, soft, and smooth.”
Another shopper added, “I have a small amount of rosacea on my cheeks that comes out in the winter and if I use certain face products. I did research on switching my skincare routine and, honestly, have fallen in love with this stuff. It’s gentle, and my skin has been looking better and better. A small amount does go a long way, but I for sure will be buying again.”
And they confirm that the results the brand promises really come through. One shopper wrote, “it revived the plumpness of my skin and smoothed fine lines. Just love the La Roche-Posay line of products because it is ideal for sensitive skin! Just recently started using this product and immediately saw great results in a few weeks.”
Even if you think you’ve tried it all before, try La Roche-Posay’s hyaluronic acid serum on Amazon for only $30 and watch your fine lines and wrinkles disappear.
The world of beauty can be overwhelming, as much for our cabinets as our wallets. But rest assured: a high-powered cosmetics arsenal need not break the bank. Take it from the stars of Vogue’s Beauty Secrets, who have revealed that some of their most prized products are in fact some of the best priced.
See La Roche-Posay’s $14 Serozinc Toner, a mattifying mist that has earned Naomi Campbell’s seal of approval. What’s more? The Kendall Jenner–beloved Mario Badescu Facial Spray—laced with soothing green tea, cucumber, and aloe—rings in at just $12; spritz it on before applying a layer of Sydney Sweeney’s go-to $16 Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre or a $19 hyaluronic-acid-infused primer that’s a mainstay in Jessica Alba’s Dopp kit. Gigi Hadid, meanwhile, swears by Maybelline’s Lifter Gloss. Delivering an ultra-moisturizing, ultra-shiny finish for only $7, it’s one makeup must-have that will leave you anything but high and dry.
Below, shop the best beauty products under $20 on Amazon, as chosen by Vogue’s Beauty Secrets stars Gigi Hadid, Emma Chamberlain, and more.
You will have heard it a million times before: wearing a face SPF every day is key to healthy – and healthy-looking — skin. A good sunscreen blocks the harmful effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, which wreak havoc on the health of our skin and its cells, leading to decreased collagen and elasticity, fine lines, pigmentation, and an increased risk of skin cancer if an SPF is not used.
Historically, SPFs have been sticky and greasy, quick to clog pores, and prone to imparting a grey hue over darker skin tones. The good news is that now, thanks to much-improved formulas and innovative technology, there are plenty of facial sunscreens that protect your skin while also being a pleasure to use. Look for formulas that have both UVA and UVB protection (find out more about sun protection here), a minimum of SPF 30, and a formula that suits your skin’s specific needs.
Another factor to consider in your sunscreen selection is its effect on the environment. While the science around exactly how damaging sunscreen is to our oceans is inconclusive, what ingredients should we be looking out for to make the best choice possible? Here, the marine biologist Professor Cinzia Corinaldesi from the Università Politecnica delle Marche and Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55, provides a five-step guide.
Avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate
The main chemicals to watch out for are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are commonly used in sunscreen to absorb UV light. “We [have] demonstrated that oxybenzone, octinoxate and enzacamene caused complete coral bleaching even at very low concentrations,” says Professor Corinaldesi. Octocrylene is another chemical that’s potentially harmful to marine life, with the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory compiling a handy list of the ingredients we should try to avoid.
“Certain organic filters have been identified in water sources worldwide and there seems to be a suggestion that they are not easily removed by common wastewater techniques,” adds Dr Mahto. “Many of the filters have also been found in various species of fish worldwide — the impact of this is uncertain on the food chain.”
Opt for a mineral sunscreen instead
Mineral sunscreens, which typically contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are thought to be less harmful to coral reefs in comparison to their chemical counterparts. “Mineral sunscreens rely on inorganic filters, which form a physical barrier on the skin surface,” explains Dr Mahto.
It’s worth remembering, though, that some research suggests zinc oxide can also pose a danger to marine life. “Our studies indicate that zinc oxide nanoparticles are very harmful to marine organisms,” says Professor Corinaldesi, but adds that titanium dioxide with surface coatings — as found in Green People’s scent-free SPF 30 — “has a much lower impact on coral reefs”.
Look for non-nanoparticles
Particle size matters, too. While nanoparticles can be absorbed by coral reefs, research suggests that larger non-nanoparticles (a label you’ll see on lotions) are better for the environment. Ren’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 uses non-nano zinc oxide, while Stream2Sea’s sunscreens contain non-nano titanium oxide. “Consumers should look out for sunscreens that use non-nanoparticles because nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are expected to be more harmful to marine organisms than non-nanoparticles,” explains Professor Corinaldesi.
Read beyond the ‘reef-safe’ or ‘ocean-safe’ labels
The increase in demand for eco-friendly sunscreens means that a lot of brands are now marketing their products as ‘reef-safe’ or ‘ocean-safe’. This usually means they don’t contain oxybenzone and octinoxate — the two chemicals banned in sunscreen by countries such as Hawaii — but they could still contain other chemicals on the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory list that are potentially harmful to the environment. “Consumers should check the ingredients on the label of the products,” Professor Corinaldesi comments.
Don’t forget the packaging
Beyond the ingredients in sunscreen, it’s important to consider the packaging as well, with discarded sunscreen bottles contributing, in part, to the 8m tonnes of plastic that end up in our oceans every year. Brands such as Green People are using recyclable plant-based packaging made from sugar cane; a much more eco-friendly option compared to traditional plastic containers.
From barely-there textures to subtly-tinted creams for when you don’t feel like wearing makeup, shop British Vogue’s edit of the 20 best SPFs for your face below.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-Shine Sun Cream Gel SPF50+
If you suffer from blemishes, you may find that sun protection leaves your skin feeling greasy and prone to breakouts. La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Anti-Shine Sun Cream Gel is specifically designed for people with those concerns, offering a non-comedogenic, feather-light formula with a velvet finish alongside SPF 50 protection.
Doubling up as both a moisturiser and an SPF 50 sunscreen, Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense is an industry favourite, perfect for those with sensitive skin thanks to its oil-free, fragrance-free formula. It doesn’t leave a chalky residue either, making it a good choice for darker skin tones.
With tranexamic acid and niacinamide, this is a supercharged SPF that’s as good at protecting skin from the sun as it is preventing and reducing discolouration. Put simply, it’s an excellent choice if you want an SPF that works really, really hard.
Utilising Shiseido’s WetForce technology, which makes the formula work harder when it comes into contact with water or sweat, this Clear Suncare Stick is particularly brilliant for holidays, humid environments, or when playing outdoor sports. The handy stick packaging means it slots easily into your bag and can be rolled onto areas of the face and body as and when needed.
Making great SPFs its speciality, Supergoop’s latest launch is the Glowscreen SPF 30, a formula that offers the dewiest, most luminous glow, as well as an SPF of 30. With hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, niacinamide, and protective cocoa peptides, it doubles up as a skincare staple too – and you’ll actively look forward to applying it each day.
Especially good for those with sensitive or reactive skin types, Avène’s Intense Protect is as light as silk and ultra-gentle. Not only does it contain the brand’s soothing thermal spring water and pre-tocopheryl, a powerful antioxidant, but it also houses TriAsorB, the first organic sun filter that absorbs and reflects UVA, UVB, and blue light. A must-try.
Drying perfectly matte, making it a great base for make-up, Heliocare’s 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50 is a cult classic loved by those in the know. Ideal for acne-prone and sensitive skins, it protects against UVB, UVA, infrared‐A and visible light.
Non-toxic to marine life, this formula protects skin from UVA and UVB while offsetting free radical damage from the environment, thanks to potent antioxidants grape juice, sunflower shoot extract, and astaxanthin.
Facialist to the stars, Kate Somerville also has this easy-to-use spray-on SPF in her product repertoire. Not only will it protect skin from the sun, but thanks to a light-diffusing silicone powder and hyaluronic acid in the formula, it helps to set make-up, mattify and hydrate skin. What’s not to love?
Offering a customisable approach to sun protection, Dr Barbara Sturm’s Sun Drops can be worn undiluted as a serum or a few drops can be added to your regular skincare for lightweight SPF 50 protection. It’s a high price point, but it goes a long way, and works well on all skin tones.
From blue and UV light to pollen and indoor pollution, this intelligent formula is packed full of antioxidants to protect the skin from all manner of external aggressors. Using organic mango leaf extract, it is delightfully lightweight in texture and promises eight hours of hydration while doing its protective thing.
A formula just as luxurious as its packaging, this Sisley number comes in a stick applicator to make applying your sun care a breeze (and will prevent SPF spillages while travelling). With a slight tint to it, expect a little complexion perk up, while ingredients like shea, camellia oil and mango butter hydrate and smooth skin.
A multitasking formula, Ultra Violette’s Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial Skinscreen offers factor 50 protection, and contains an array of skincare ingredients – from peptides to vitamin C-rich kakadu plum – to combat free radicals. It is clear (so won’t leave a white cast) and helps to protect from blue light, while also leaving skin primed and ready for make-up. Put simply: it’s excellent.
For those who still want to look like they’ve spent an optimal time in the sun (even if that’s not the case), this serum delivers an immediate sun-kissed bronze glow while deeply hydrating skin (thanks to hyaluronic acid and squalane) and protects skin from the sun.
A formula that is packed with skin-saving ingredients, Dr Lancer’s SPF will improve skin texture, boost glow, and prime skin ready for make-up – all while doing its main job of fending off UVA and UVB. A brilliant option and great for all skin tones.
Great for all skin types, especially those prone to breakouts, this SPF feels like a moisturiser but acts as an all-bases-covered skin-protecting formula. From blue light to pollution, it’s got your skin covered for every eventuality, plus it contains multi-weight hyaluronic acid and skin-softening emollients to leave skin in excellent nick in its wake.
When you live in a city, the effects of pollution on your skin are as much a threat as sun damage. Luckily Chanel has the solution in the form of the brand’s UV Essentiel Multi-Protection Daily Defender, which gives broad-spectrum SPF 30 or 50 protection as well as creating a barrier against pollution and free radicals.
When you see someone with super long eyelashes, it’s easy to assume that they have extensions. Getting your lashes to look as lengthy as you want without settling for a set of falsies or making a salon appointment probably seems too good to be true.
But, the real deal is possible with the help of an eyelash growth serum. These treatments are enriched with conditioning peptides and fatty acids that stimulate and promote growth.
The best part: They’re pretty simple to apply, too. After removing your makeup and cleansing your face, all that’s required of you is taking a few extra minutes to brush the serum along the base of your eyelashes. Don’t expect to see results right away, but with regular continued use, you’ll start to notice your eyelashes are longer and stronger over time.
Best Overall: Revitalash Advanced
Original, one-of-a-kind, Ophthalmologist developed eyelash conditioner that enhances the look of lashes and protects against breakage, while improving health, flexibility and strength, for lashes that thrive, naturally.
Best for under mascara: Rimmel Lash Accelerator Serum
Rimmel lash serum is a conditioning and fortifying gel that can be used on eyelashes and eyebrows. The ophthalmologist and dermatologist-tested formula works around the clock, promoting healthier growth. A unique hybrid applicator allows for precise application to lashes, lash lines or brows. The clear eyelash and eyebrow growth serum is quick drying. It can be worn alone or under mascara for easy, ongoing use.
Best for hydration: Vichy LiftActiv Serum 10 Supreme with Hyaluronic Acid
LiftActiv Serum 10 is a power serum that revitalizes the skin’s appearance in only 10 days. Skin appears rejuvenated and shows an overall reduction in appearance of wrinkles, improved appearance of complexion and firmness.
Best for stronger lashes: Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For, Turbo Conditioning Lash Enhancer
A potent blend of 11 percent peptide complex and biotin helps improve the look of natural lash length, thickness, density, and fullness, while a 10 percent conditioning complex, aloe vera, and Tahitian plankton extract help moisturize, soften, and enhance the appearance of dry, brittle lashes for luxurious results. This product is ophthalmologist and dermatologist test, is safe for contact lens wearers, and is suitable for sensitive eyes.
Talika’s Mythical Plant Complex was discovered in 1948 by Danielle Roches, a nurse at the Ophthalmological Unit of the Paris Hospitals, who formulated an herbal healing cream to treat victims of war with eye burns.
Beyond its regenerating power, she discovered that her formula made her patients’ eyelashes and eyebrows grow spectacularly. That’ s when she created Talika.
Today, our unique treatments, combining age-old secrets and cutting-edge technology, offer a complete range for eyelashes, eyebrows and the eye contour area.
Best for lashes & brows: MILK Makeup Kush Lash + Brow Serum
Hemp-derived cannabis seed extract* conditions to strengthen hair for healthier-looking lashes and brows. KUSH Growhouse™ peptide blend improves the appearance of lash and brow thickness. Aloe, B5, and quinoa combine to support healthy hair follicles for longer-looking lashes and brows.
This 94-percent natural formula means you don’t have to worry about irritation or eye/skin discoloration. See results beginning in after four weeks, with full payoff after 12 weeks. It’s formulated without prostaglandin, and ophthalmologist-tested.
*The cannabis seed extract in KUSH Growhouse™ is hemp-derived and non-psychoactive.
Disclaimer: This product is not intended for hair growth or for the treatment of hair loss.
Best for brittle lashes: LashFood Photo-Medic Eyelash Enhancer
Use with eyelash extensions to get longer lasting bond life. This product is Ecocert certified, dermatologist tested and approved, and vegan. It is free of gluten as well as cruelty- and irritation-free. It is formulated without prostaglandin, silicone, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, mineral oils, phenoxyethanol, PEG, petrochemicals, GMOs, and formaldehyde donors.
LashFood is safe, effective, and no prescription is required. Its distinction lies in its drug-free cosmetic alternative category, providing users with results without the side effects. LashFood packaging components are made with Ecocert compliant and sustainable materials. Ingredients have been evaluated for its environmental impact (biodegradability and ecotoxicity).
Best for fullness: DIOR Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum
Gentle on sensitive eyes, Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer’s new balm texture coats each lash with a dense and airy film. Enriched with cornflower floral water, the formula upgrades the radiance, intensity, and color of the mascara. The primer comes in a new iconic Dior couture case.
Best applicator: Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum
This powerful, hydrating formula helps condition and restore lashes and brows, leaving them with a healthier and shinier appearance. It’s formulated with arginine, which is known to help restore the condition of hair-like lashes and brows. It easily absorbs to quickly deliver ingredients with no mess while helping to hydrate the lashline and brows. It’s designed with a flocked tip applicator to comfortably reach small areas between lashes and into your lashline.
Best drugstore option: No.7 Lash Impact Lash Serum
This No7 Lash Impact Lash Serum with its unique blend of ingredients gives visibly fuller, thicker and darker looking lashes in just 8 weeks (as tested by consumers.) Use the serum every night for at least 8 weeks.
This beautifying serum, formulated with Biotin and Panthenol, helps to promote eyelashes to look more lush. High performance conditioning agents and Pumpkin Seed Extract, rich in essential fatty acids improve the look of thin or sparse lashes. Use daily for camera-ready lashes.
If, like me, you’re on an eternal quest to quench your dehydrated skin, there is an exciting new skincare gem destined for your face. CeraVe’s new Hyaluronic Acid Serum, which launched in the UK this week, is exactly that, and at less than £20, it’s a product I feel compelled to shout about.
If you haven’t yet heard of – or tried – CeraVe, consider this post your call to action. A budget brand that develop formulas under the discerning eye of dermatologists, it offers skincare that harnesses the power of ceramides to fortify the skin barrier, as well as other innovative ingredients. From the Hydrating Cleanser to the Facial Moisturising Lotion, those that know about it swear by it, and dermatologists regularly recommend its products to their clients for good and gentle home skincare. It is, quite simply, pharmacy skincare at its finest.
The new Hyaluronic Acid Serum is just as stand-out as its now-cult companions in the range. Unlike the jelly-esque texture of traditional hyaluronic acid (HA) formulas (which can often feel quite tacky, and not for everyone), CeraVe’s offering is delivered via a lightweight, ceramide-rich cream that essentially offers a two-in-one hydrator. Tom Allison, founder of the brand, explains why: “We were really thinking about what HA does and what is unique about it. It’s a wonderful ingredient, it attracts water to the site of application and is one of the most effective humectants out there,” he says. “But what it’s not going to do is help mitigate why you’re dry in the first place.”
The resulting “creamy serum” contains a high concentration of the HA active, but in true CeraVe style, also tackles the issue of transepidermal water loss (or dehydration) through an impaired skin barrier. That, after all, is what actually makes the skin dehydrated in the first place. “It takes advantage of HA but also restores the skin barrier at the same time,” he says. As well as HA, ingredients include glycerin, vitamin B5, three different ceramides, and the brand’s patented MVE technology, all of which works hard to keep the skin barrier strong and healthy, while locking hydration in.
Jennifer Garner is full of surprises. I can’t say I was expecting her to be the hilarious Instagram video creator that she is, or for her to team up with Jill Biden to promote vaccinations in West Virginia. One thing slightly more routine? For Garner to be transparent as a window about the specifics of her beauty routine — and while her adoration for Neutrogena skin care is well-known, she says the brand’s most recent addition is making all the difference.
According to an interview with PEOPLE published in May, the pep in Garner’s step — and skin — is thanks to a recent Neutrogena release focused on firming skin with anti-aging benefits. Speaking to Neutrogena’s new Rapid Firming Peptide Contour Lift Face Cream, Garner says, “It just gives the skin a real youthful vibrancy, and a kind of bounce to it.”
The Neutrogena moisturizer is part of the brand’s new firming collagen and peptide-centered line, reliant on a dermatologist-developed micropeptide that it claims can deeply penetrate skin to counter depleted collagen and elasticity. For background, peptide products based on enhancing collagen are an ongoing skincare trend; Jennifer Aniston and Kourtney Kardashian advocate for ingesting collagen and tons of Amazon’s best-selling skin products revolve around the ingredient, including serums that have skyrocketed in popularity.
The reason: Our body’s natural collagen production weakens as we age, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner previously told InStyle. Collagen is composed of three polypeptide chains, so using them topically can stimulate your skin to pump up its collagen creation and return youthful texture to your face. Since launching last month, the reviews for Garner’s favorite new cream back up the science and its promise of a “visibly lifted, firmer-looking” appearance.
“Beyond making my skin look and feel smoother, healthier, and more rejuvenated, the serum and cream have helped firm and tighten the skin along my cheeks and jawline,” one shopper in their 50s writes. “My cheekbones appear more pronounced, my face looks less puffy, and my skin no longer looks/feels crepey. I enthusiastically recommend these products to others my age who are trying to achieve firmer, younger-looking skin.”
Another person testifies that the fast-absorbing, lifting cream plumped up their fine lines within a week, bringing a hefty dose of moisture to super dry skin and cinching in their sagging neck. “For that alone, it gets five stars,” the reviewer says. “It also helps with those stupid lines around your mouth, and I swear there’s an improvement with less pronounced marionette lines, so I don’t look like I am super unhappy all of the time.”
In just under two weeks, the cream fades forehead wrinkles into a shadow of their once-pronounced self, tones down laugh lines and under-eye puffiness, and scraps rough patches altogether. Others say the immediate tightening effect blurs and smooths fine lines from the jump, and within a couple weeks firmed up their jowls without requiring the “guts or the money” needed for more invasive work.
Garner’s use of the cream and lack of furrowed wrinkles only makes sense — she comes off as a chronically happy person, and while no one’s joyous 24/7, it could be Neutrogena’s innovation that makes it seem that way. Try the drugstore’s newest wonder for $30 and see the changes for yourself.
The Inkey List — for those who may not know and consequently have been seriously missing out — is a U.K.-based brand that made its way to Sephora shelves worldwide back in 2019. Brand co-founder and chemist Mark Curry along with co-founder Colette Laxton were devoted to creating a brand that introduces effective ingredients into your skincare routine without asking you to spend more than $15. In other words, you get to save some money while you watch your skin thrive.
Not only is the brand very reasonably priced, but it’s also very easy for a consumer to navigate and shop. Each product in The Inkey List is named after its main ingredient. For example, if you want to try a hydrating hyaluronic acid, it makes a serum that’s simply called Hyaluronic Acid. The same goes for exfoliating glycolic acid; the brand offers a Glycolic Acid Toner. You get the gist. And if you’re confused about which ingredients you need for your skin type, concerns, and goals, it has you covered with plenty of helpful information.
With more than 30 affordable, ingredient-centric products in The Inkey List’s lineup, it’s hard to know what you may want to start with. While I enjoy a lot of the products, I’ve narrowed it down to nine of my favorite products.
Oat Cleansing Balm
The Inkey List’s Oat Cleansing Balm is formulated with oat kernel oil to keep skin moisturized and colloidal oatmeal to reduce redness. This surprisingly luxurious face wash will strip all the makeup and dirt off your skin but will never strip your skin of moisture. And that’s why it won a 2020 Best of Beauty Award.
For just $8, the Hyaluronic Acid is a great pick if your skin needs a burst of hydration. Just a dime-size amount of this lightweight serum and your dry, dehydrated skin will be thanking you for quenching its thirst.
The Caffeine Eye Cream does for your eyes what a cup of coffee does for the rest of you: make you look more awake. The formula is made up of caffeine that reduces puffiness and Matrixyl 3000, a peptide that cosmetic chemist Ginger King says will help to boost collagen to firm up the skin and minimize fine lines. When the two are combined, you’ll be looking like you had a full night’s rest (even if you didn’t).
The Salicylic Acid Cleanser gets a gold star for helping acne-prone skin get — and stay — clearer. This formula features 2 percent beta hydroxy acid to exfoliate skin and unclog pores, and its zinc compound helps reduce inflammation.
The Glycolic Acid Toner features 10 percent of its star alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, to minimize the look of pores and fine lines. It also has witch hazel to help control excess oil. After just one use, you’ll notice smoother, brighter skin.
The Kaolin Clay Mask is ideal for getting all that gunk out of your pores. The mixture includes kaolin and smectite clays, which work together to remove gunk from pores and absorb excess oil. All in all, this mask will leave skin looking even and feeling clean.
After winning a Best of Beauty Award in 2019, the Rosehip Oil is still an all-time favorite. It’s made of 100 percent pure rosehip oil, which promotes softer and smoother skin. Apply a couple of drops as the last step in your skin-care routine before you go to sleep, and you’ll wake up with glowy, moisturized skin every time.
According to Miami board-certified dermatologist Roberta Del Campo, tranexamic acid is an increasingly popular ingredient for treating discoloration. “It’s known to help not only lighten [hyperpigmentation] but decrease recurrence,” she says, and that’s exactly what the Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment does. After your pimple heals and becomes a dark spot, just apply a pea-size drop of this magic potion every night, and you’ll surely notice a difference in your skin after about a month’s use.
Get your glow on with the Vitamin C cream. The formula is 30 percent L-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that brightens dull skin. Another perk: Use this moisturizer before your morning makeup routine and you can say hello to a smoother canvas for your foundation.
The brightening skincare ingredient can tackle hyperpigmentation.
As far as brightening skincare ingredients go, vitamin C is an A-list star. However, there are other effective ingredients that can treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne, sun damage, or melasma that deserve some time in the spotlight, too.
Tranexamic acid is one such ingredient having a moment, with more and more skincare influencers and beauty brands shining light on its benefits and including it in product formulas. While tranexamic acid can be effective on its own, it works even better as an ensemble with other dark spot-fighting ingredients such as vitamin C, kojic acid, niacinamide, and more.
What Is Tranexamic Acid?
“Tranexamic acid is a synthetic form of lysine, which is an amino acid needed to make proteins,” says Dr. Shari Marchbein, board-certified dermatologist in NYC. “It works by decreasing the production of melanin and we know that the oral form is much more effective at treating melasma than topical form. That being said, serums and other products that contain this ingredient have a lot of potential to help improve hyperpigmentation.”
The ingredient originally was used as a hemostatic agent to help blood clots, but recently has been utilized as a brightening ingredient to help minimize hyperpigmentation as well as melasma.
What Are the Benefits of Using Tranexamic Acid?
One of the major benefits of tranexamic acid is that it plays nice with other brightening ingredients, so you can really zero in on hyperpigmentation.
“There are many treatments for dark spots and these often work well together including licorice, niacinamide, kojic acid, tranexemic acid, retinoids, chemical exfoliants [such as glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid], and more,” Dr. Marchbein says. The dermatologist often recommends serums with tranexamic acid and other brightening agents be used in the same routine for the ingredients to work synergistically to improve post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma.
Tranexamic acid is also a safer, effective alternative to hydroquinone, a potentially irritating bleaching ingredient. “There aren’t many options when it comes to safe, effective skin lightening bioactives,” says Krupa Koestline, clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants. “Hydroquinone is banned in the EU and restricted in many countries due to its safety concerns. Tranexamic acid has shown promising evidence as a plasmin inhibitor and therefore an effective treatment for UV induced discoloration, dark spots, and redness.”
What Are the Side Effects of Tranexamic Acid?
All skin types can use tranexamic acid, but like adding any other new ingredient to your skincare routine, it’s best to do a patch test to ensure you won’t experience irritation.
It’s also important to wear SPF when using tranexamic acid, along with other brightening ingredients, because the sun can make hyperpigmentation darker.
“Remember that before you spend your money on antioxidant serums, brightening ingredients, and retinoids to improve the tone of your skin and hyperpigmentation, the most important and first step is diligent daily sun protection,” Dr. Marchbein says. “It is key to reduce the appearance of brown spots (otherwise you are literally throwing your money away).” The dermatologist recommends a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher should be applied to the face, neck, and ears every day — even in the winter.
How Do You Add Tranexamic Acid to Your Skincare Routine?
Dr. Marchbein says to use tranexamic acid once or twice a day. “I also layer tranexamic acid containing serums over Vitamin C serums and under SPF in the morning and under retinoids at nighttime, so this can safely and effectively be combined with multiple other actives.”
The active can be found in serums, moisturizers, and toners, so it’s entirely up to you what step of your routine in which you want to incorporate it.
That being said, Koestline says serums are a popular way to go. “Most people do like using actives in their serum layer since you’re applying it before other products.”
Shop Tranexamic Acid Skincare Products:
SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
Dr. Marchbein is a fan of this serum by SkinCeuticals, which she often recommends to patients treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma. It’s infused with tranexamic acid, along with kojic acid and niacinamide, another two tried-and-true brightening ingredients.
Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment
In addition to niacinamide, the all-star cast of Peter Thomas Roth’s discoloration treatment includes tranexmic and kojic acids, alpha arbutin, and pentapeptide. The lightweight cream can be applied twice a day on clean skin and is best followed by a moisturizer.
Puffiness? Dark circles? Dryness? Crow’s feet? This eye mask by celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas checks all the boxes. It’s powered by brightening tranexamic acid, collagen-boosting matrixyl, soothing allantoin, and hydrating licorice root extract.
If post-breakout dark spots, hyperpigmentation, or dullness are your main skincare concerns, try swapping your usual moisturizer for this overnight treatment. Powered by tranexamic acid, vitamin C, and acai berry extract, it targets areas of discoloration and boosts overall radiance.
Dr. Marchbein says SkinMedica’s Lytera 2.0 serum is another great option for treating discoloration. It combines tranexamic acid with niacinamide, phytic acid, phenylethyl resorcinol, and a marine extract blend to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation without drying out skin.
When I discovered powder sunscreen, it was a total game-changer. They’re basically UV blockers (like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) in a powder form that can be easily brushed on skin throughout the day when you need to reapply your SPF, all without messing up your makeup. In fact, depending on which one you try, they’re actually pretty excellent for mattifying oily skin or even adding a little bronzed glow to your face. Genius, right?
BEST MULTITASKING POWDER SUNSCREEN :
Paula’s Choice On-the-Go Shielding Powder SPF 30
Not only does this SPF 30 powder protect you from UVA and UVB rays with zinc oxide, it uses antioxidants (specifically vitamin C and vitamin E) tohelp minimize free radical damage and ceramides (they’re essential for a healthy, functioning skin barrier) to prevent moisture loss throughout the day.
I love this powder sunscreen for two main reasons (beyond the fact that it shields skin with SPF 30). The first being that the brush head is removable (you can easily pop it off to clean and disinfect the brush hairs as needed) and the second is that it’s refillable! Once you finish up the powder, just recycle your empty powder pod and replace it with a new one.
This powder sunscreen feels practically weightless and has a translucent matte finish, so it works on just about every skin tone. Another bonus: It layers perfectly (no clumps or caking) over liquid, cream, and powder makeup products too.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Any time I talk to a dermatologist about powder sunscreens, this top-rated one from Colorescience always comes up in the convo. The tried-and-true mineral formula protects skin from UV rays with SPF 50 and comes in four different shades (fair, medium, tan, and deep) that never look chalky or ashy on skin.
This powder sunscreen with SPF 30 is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it ideal for days when you’re hanging by the pool or sweating like crazy. I like to apply my regular cream-based facial sunscreen in the morning and then layer this one on top throughout the day as a touch-up.
Oily skin types, get excited. This powder sunscreen doesn’t just shield your face from UV rays, it keeps it nice and matte too. As soon as you dust the translucent mineral formula over your skin, it’ll soak up excess oil to keep your face grease-free for hours.
The last step in your makeup routine should 100 percent be a layer of this powder sunscreen. It provides you with your daily dose of SPF 30 AND sets your makeup for up to 12 hoursof transfer-proof wear.
If you’ve got sensitive skin, this soothing powder sunscreen is for you. The gentle, non-irritating formula is made with anti-inflammatory zinc oxide to protect skin from sunburns and photo-damage, plus redness-reducing chamomile and green tea.
This translucent SPF powder is made with all-natural and organic ingredients (like aloe vera, passion fruit, and rosemary oil), making it a legit option for anyone who is into the green beauty scene. Buff it in to protect your skin from UV rays, take down shine and excess oil, and minimize redness.
Supergoop Poof 100% Mineral Part and Scalp Powder SPF 45
Think of this brush-on powder with SPF 45 as a dry shampoo/sunscreen hybrid. Apply it to your part to soak up excess oil (just like a dry shampoo) and protect your scalp from getting burned. And don’t worry, it won’t leave behind any weird, white-ish residue.