Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide24 Hydrating Moisturizer
For plump skin, try Olay’s Collagen Peptide24 Moisturizer. Its lightweight formula has vitamin B3 to brighten your complexion and collagen-boosting peptides to firm skin and diminish fine lines. When the two work together, you’re looking at a hydrated, smooth complexion.
If there’s anything 2020 taught us, it’s that we need to wash our hands all the time. With hand-washing comes dry skin and the Yes to Avocado Hand Cream will fix those dehydrated, cracked hands right up. The avocado-based formula replenishes skin, and hyaluronic acid will maintain hydration.
If you didn’t get enough sleep, that’s OK because Mario Badescu’s Caffeine Eye Cream will make you look like you got a full night’s rest. The moisturizer in this tub is filled with caffeine for brightness, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and jojoba oil to help treat dryness.
Dermalogica’s Neck Fit Contour Serum is filled with firming ingredients to give you a tight, line-free neck. The list includes rye seed extract, which smooths skin, and resurrection plant to strengthen the area. It’s applied with the built-in roller bar that also gives a cooling effect.
Clinique Smart Night Clinical MD Multi-Dimensional Repair Treatment Retinol
The Clinique Smart Night Clinical MD Multi-Dimensional Repair Treatment Retinol flattens out fine lines with the power of retinol. Plus, it also has hyaluronic acid and squalane to give you a boost of hydration while you sleep.
The new Simple Instant Glow Cleansing Wipes do way more than flawlessly take off stubborn makeup. Each cloth is made with niacinamide to brighten skin and glycerin to moisturize. So once your skin is clean, it’s also glowing.
Meet the Inkey List’s first spot treatment: Succinic Acid Acne. This magical little tube is loaded with succinic acid, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps to reduce oil levels in your skin, as well as salicylic acid to exfoliate, sulfur powder to unclog pores, and hyaluronic acid to ensure skin stays hydrated.
L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t bronze up your complexion. The L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Drops give fairer skin tones a subtle glow when you mix five drops of this serum made with dihydroxyacetone (a sugar that when mixed with proteins on your skin makes it tan) and hydrating hyaluronic acid with your favorite moisturizer.
Your skin’s about to be drunk in love with Drunk Elephant’s Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray. It’s a cocktail of coconut water, vitamin F, and sake extract to calm redness and hydrate the skin. Use it as a step in your skincare routine after cleansing or as a refresher during the day.
The blend of alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids in the HoliFrog Halo AHA + BHA Evening Serum is going to give you clearer skin once you start using it for a few weeks. Not to mention, this formula is packed with moisturizing oils like that of rosehip and prickly pear, so no need to worry about all of those acids drying your skin out.
If you add one thing to your skincare routine this season, make it a high-quality oil.
It wasn’t so long ago that “oil” was a dirty word in skincare. The only time you’d see it on a label was when paired with the phrases “-free” or “-reducing.” Thankfully, conventional wisdom has reversed course to be inclusive of the millennia-old practice of treating skin ailments with nourishing oils.
With the season change upon us, there’s no better time than the present to supercharge your routine with a hydrating, oil-balancing, or anti-aging oil. Dermatologists tested countless oils and rounded up the best options for every concern and skin type, from brands like Sunday Riley, Tata Harper, Vintner’s Daughter, and more.
Keep scrolling to find out why each of these oils made best in class.
Best for Glowing Skin: Sunday Riley C.E.O Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil
The secret to glowing skin is actually quite simple: It’s vitamin C. The powerful antioxidant fades pigmentation and lends an overall brightness to your complexion. This lightweight oil by Sunday Riley is chock-full of the stuff, in the form of THD ascorbate, a shelf-stable variety. Turmeric extract also imparts a warm radiance to the skin.
Best for Wrinkles: Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil
This luxurious, all-natural facial oil by Tata Harper is formulated with rosehip oil-derived retinol, one of the best-researched, most-proven anti-aging ingredients. This oil’s keystone ingredient, plus a cocktail of other antioxidants, will reduce the appearance of wrinkles and plump out fine lines while fighting free radicals and slowing signs of premature aging.
This non-greasy oil is a great choice for those with congested skin or clogged pores. A rich blend of carrier plant oils contains benzyl salicylate, a form of salicylic acid, an oil-soluble exfoliant that breaks down acne-causing bacteria. Those sensitive to smells should be forewarned: Effective though this product may be, it’s on the pungent side.
Best for Extremely Dry Skin: Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum
Whether you naturally suffer from dry skin or you’re gearing up for a long season of moisture-sapping winter air, this rich cult-loved oil from Vintner’s Daughter is the bottle you need on your vanity. A plush blend of 22 active ingredients found in natural oils like grapeseed, hazelnut, and bergamot peel work together to relieve tight, cracked, and thirsty skin.
Best for Dehydrated Skin: Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil
Dehydrated skin is first and foremost in need of hydration, then moisture. Prep your skin barrier with a watery toner like Indie Lee’s restorative CoQ-10 Toner, and then follow up with a non-irritating squalane oil from the same brand.
Best for Oily Skin: Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil
Though using an oil to manage oil production may seem counterintuitive, sometimes it’s exactly what sebaceous skin types need the most. This elegant blend by Biossance puts squalane — a lightweight, fast-drying olive-derived oil — at the core of its formula, which will help manage shine. The oil also includes tea tree oil, an astringent and anti-inflammatory agent.
Best for Combination Skin: Supernal Cosmic Glow Oil
A newcomer to the scene, this emergent face oil by a former creative director is destined to be one of the most beautiful items on your shelf. But more than just a pretty face, Cosmic Glow Oil achieves the unachievable with a formula that is at once moisturizing and oil-balancing. The luxurious, pleasantly fragrant blend penetrates quickly, making it a great option for combination skin and daytime use.
Best With Makeup: Costa Brazil Kaya Anti-Aging Face Oil
Skincare freshman Costa Brazil isn’t playing around when it comes to moisture. With ingredients sustainably sourced from the Amazon Rainforest like Tucuma, Brazil Nut and Pataua extracts, the brand’s signature product, Kaya, takes on the aging process as naturally as it does powerfully. Better yet, this satin oil pairs excellently with makeup, and can even be mixed directly in with your foundation.
Best Drugstore: Milani Prep+Soothe Camellia Face Oil
If you’re in between bottles, need a substitute while traveling, or just prefer to buy cosmetics while stocking up on other vanity essentials, this oil by Milani is a great, affordable drugstore choice. A blend of grapeseed, camellia seed, moringa seed, and six other oils, plus anti-aging ingredients like tocopherol, add up to make this weightless blend with a satin finish. The quick-drying formula makes this product appropriate to wear comfortably beneath makeup.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Antioxidant Face Oil
A general rule of thumb for sensitive skin is to use products with as few ingredients as possible — that way, you’re eliminating the number of triggers that may disagree with your skin. This best-selling oil from Drunk Elephant uses just one ingredient: high-quality virgin marula oil. This single-origin oil delivers omegas 6 and 9, and is absorbed quickly.
If you’ve heard of Bio-Oil before, it was likely in a Kardashian kontext — Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney have all at one point or another extolled the virtues of this vaguely medicinal-looking bottle of skin oil. Anecdotally, reviewers tend to agree with the assessment of this product as a valid mechanism for fading scars.
Best for Firming: Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Facial Oil
This elegant blend from Herbivore calls upon floral oils to fight signs of aging. Orchid extract hydrates skin, while camellia flower oil and jasmine sambac oil increase elasticity. The blend’s bouquet of botanical garden-worthy ingredients makes for an oil that’s as naturally fragrant as it is skin-strengthening.
Best for Rosacea: Cliganic USDA Organic Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is a solid choice for those with rosacea, and is even recommended by the Rosacea Foundation. The carrier oil contains anti-inflammatory agent myristic acid, which can reduce redness. This 100 percent pure jojoba has over 3,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, and is Amazon’s choice for “jojoba oil.”
Best Multi-Use: NOTO Botanics Rooted Body + Hair Oil
For the multi-tasking minimalist, we can’t recommend this versatile, all-natural oil from breakout brand NOTO enough. With palo santo wood oil as its hero ingredient, this face, body, and hair oil will re-energize your cells and soothe your mood at the same time.
When you’re on the go, it’s most comfortable to pair down your routine to just the essentials, and finding a good oil will help you on your way. This three-piece kit from F.Miller includes a face oil, body oil, and moisturizing lip balm, each with just a handful of ingredients (that you can actually pronounce). Take this set in its included canvas satchel with you on the plane and reapply generously. By the time you land, your face will be glowing, and your lips and hands will feel totally nourished.
More of a micellar water than a conventional oil, this syrupy product harnesses the power of ingredients like castor oil as a cleanser. The suspension uses droplets of oil within a watery solution to attract grime away from the skin. Pair that with nourishing vitamins deposited on the skin, and you’ve got a gentle yet hardworking formula that’s nothing like conventional cleansers. Follow up with Glossier’s Milky Jelly for best results.
There are a lot of reasons you might want to try a cleansing balm in place of your regular liquid, wipe, or bar cleansers. For starters, there’s the change of season. As temperatures fluctuate, it gets harder to keep your skin hydrated. “A balm is an effective option to remove dirt and oil without overly drying the skin,” says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. (Having flaky, parched skin no matter the season is another key motivator to switch things up.)
There’s also a more practical consideration: If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like washing your face, several of the following require no water. Massage, wipe away, and allow the leftover goodness to soak in, leaving your skin even more supple. Face wash plus night cream in one swoop? That’s our kind of win-win.
Whether you are looking for an affordable pick (how’s $10 sound?) or you are looking splurge on your skin, here, 11 of the best no-fuss formulas to try.
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm
The combo of sunflower and ginger root oils in this balm-to-oil formula work to cleanse skin from dirt, oil, and pollution buildup, while papaya extract gently sloughs off dead skin cells. Together, they make one rock solid cleanser.
The Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is an Allure 2019 Best of Beauty winner for many reasons. Yes, it will remove makeup in a flash, but its formula is what makes it really stand out. Infused with fruit extracts (blueberry, kiwi, and strawberry) to slough off makeup, dirt, and grime, and a blend of nourishing oils (marula and baobab), your skin will feel baby smooth once you’re done double-cleansing.
The Inkey List has been doing skin care right since day one, and its Oat Cleansing Balm is yet another great launch. Formulated with oat kernel oil to keep skin hydrated and one percent colloidal oatmeal to reduce redness, this luxurious formula will never strip your sensitive skin of moisture.
Waterproof mascara can be nearly impossible to remove, but the Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm makes it possible. The non-greasy formula efficiently melts away waterproof formulas, leaving skin hydrated and velvety soft. (No wonder it’s an Allure 2019 Best of Beauty winner.)
The cleansing balm version of the iconic Pond’s Cold Cream has quickly become a staple in its own right: it’s a highly effective makeup remover that nourishes skin as it wipes away dirt and grime. This drugstore option is great for all skin types (it’s even gentle enough to use on sensitive skin) — and that’s why it won a 2018 Best of Beauty Award for best cleanser under $10.
Made with an impressive cocktail of botanicals like smoothing lavender and chamomile, the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm takes you straight to the spa. Warm a scoop between your palms, massage into your skin, then gently wipe away with a damp cloth. Because some of the balm will be left behind, the collagen-boosting and antioxidant-rich blend will have more time to get to work.
Test the cleansing balm waters by starting out with a lightweight formula like the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm that gently lifts dirt and makeup sans one bit of elbow grease. Plus, the creamy formula is less occlusive than some waxier balms, so it will feel more comfortable on slicker skin.
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Balm
Dark burgundy lipsticks and stay-put metallic shadows don’t stand a chance against this creamy soufflé of botanical oils and hydrators in the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Balm. Once all that mess is taken care of, a layer of high-performing ingredients, like retinyl palmitate, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and ceramides stay behind to work as a line-reducing serum.
At first touch, this Best of Beauty-winning product feels just like its name — goopy. But after swirling a scoop of the Goop by Juice Beauty Luminous Melting Cleanser into your face, it instantly softens and disappears, which makes sense considering coconut oil is the second ingredient. (It also contains olive oil and a veritable English garden of dreamy botanical essential oils.) You may balk at the price, but in this case, you do get what you pay for: The product is formulated with 75 percent organic content and includes a white linen cloth to stylishly wipe all the balm away.
T’is the season of flaky, chapped lips… which is why we keep our pockets, purses, and nightstands stocked with an arsenal of positively conditioning lip treatments. And you can trust I’ve tried every product under the sun: medicated balms, do-it-all salves, SPF spiked tubes, tasty, all-natural scrubs — I’ve even slapped on sheet masks made just for the mouth.
Here are some of mine, and ALLURE editors’ picks for this season:
Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm
Don’t let the millennial-friendly packaging fool you: Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm is widely loved for a reason. Not only does it work wonders on dry, cracked lips — as well as chapped areas anywhere on the body — but it’s also lightweight, non-sticky, and leaves behind a silky sheen that doesn’t disappear after an hour. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Nuxe Paris’s Reve De Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm is a classic French pharmacy favorite that’s beloved by bloggers, YouTubers, and beauty editors alike. While it has a thick, balm-like consistency thanks to its beeswax base, the formula never feels greasy or chunky on your lips. Instead, it dries down to a subtle matte texture and restores moisture within minutes.
Kosasport’s LipFuel Hyaluronic Lip Balm glides on smoothly with zero stickiness, yet moisturizes like an overnight mask, thanks to heavy-duty hydrators, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and konjac root. For anyone unfamiliar with the latter ingredient, it works by creating a gel-like barrier between the lips and outside aggressors that affect dryness. Choose between two shades (cool pink and dusty rose) and one clear option.
A 2019 Allure of Beauty winner, Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask works overtime to ensure lips are moisturized, supple, and smooth-as-silk by morning. Infused with berry-derived antioxidants and vitamin C, as well as its proprietary “moisture wrap” technology, you’ll notice a visible difference in dryness after just one use. The intoxicating fruity scent doesn’t hurt either, though if that’s not your jam, it also comes in vanilla and apple lime.
A word from Allure beauty editor Paige Stables: “Even though it’s designed to use as an overnight mask, I also love it during the day,” she says. “A thin layer of the antioxidant-rich balm adds the prettiest subtle sheen to lips, and it layers nicely with lipstick, too.”
Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins — including A, C, and E — Dr. Pawpaw’s Multipurpose Soothing Balm delivers an intense dose of nourishment to the lips, as well as anywhere else on the body that could use some T.L.C. Additionally, its main ingredient, plant-derived fermented pawpaw, is lauded for soothing dry, irritated lips on contact. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also fragrance-free and vegan-friendly, making it suitable for so many different people.
Shiseido’s Sun Protection Lip Treatment SPF 35 is everything you’d expect from a brand that takes sun protection so seriously. This sleek little tube contains a whopping SPF 35, thanks to a mixture of both chemical and physical protection. Amazingly, it doesn’t taste the least bit like sunscreen, though it can leave a subtle white cast (but it’s nothing a little bit of lipstick layering can’t fix).
Fresh’s Sugar Tinted Lip Treatments are a beauty editor staple, and it isn’t hard to understand why. They feel rich and moisturizing on lips, and depending on swipe strength, the color can range from a sheer tint to a juicier, more saturated sheen.
Sun Bum’s SPF 30 Mineral Lip Balm is zinc-based and made of minerals that soften and smooth lips. Additionally: skin-smoothing cocoa butter and SPF 30 protection — with a dash of vitamin E provide sun protection. Not to mention, this packaging is undeniably adorable.
By Terry’s Baume de Rose Balm is formulated with ceramides and shea butter that help repair lips’ natural moisture barrier, addressing the problem for the long term instead of just temporarily. It also layers well with lipstick, keeping lips moisturized without causing it to slip and slide around.
Yes to Coconut’s Lip Oil is a Best of Beauty award winner — and for good reason. The silky oil won’t disappear from lips the way other balms do. Instead, it leaves them pampered and glossy with a healthy, stick-free shine.
As far as we’re concerned, the only thing better than a lip balm is a tinted lip balm. Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment comes in five hues (plus one clear option). Add a side of protection — SPF 25 and antioxidants from lemon peel — and consider all your bases covered.
Dry lips, listen up. Coola’s Liplux SPF 30 Organic Lip Sunscreen contains pretty much every skin-softening ingredient imaginable: aloe, beeswax, coconut oil, raspberry seed oil, and jojoba seed oil. Not to mention, the aqua tube reminds us of days spent by the pool.
Clarins’ Instant Light Lip Oil is one of those products that we could keep smearing on our lips all day because it feels slick, smells like vanilla, and makes lips super shiny while hydrating them at the same time.
“Malin + Goetz’s Mojito Lip Balm is as shiny as a gloss, so it’s great as a last step in your makeup routine. Not only is it really nourishing, but it’s also incredibly slippery, which feels awesome on dry, parched lips.” — Sophia Panych, former digital deputy beauty director
Hourglass’s No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil is so good that you can slather it on before bed and still feel it on your lips the next morning. It’s a little sticky, so we find nighttime is the safest time of day to apply it without added mess. Plus, the gold applicator tip looks incredibly fancy.
Shea butter fans, listen up: Supergooop’s Açai Fusion Lip Balm contains the hydrating ingredient, plus a dose of SPF 30. Initially, the formula is a pale pink, but it sheers out to a nice, neutral glisten.
Carmex Lip Balm is an oldie but a goodie. The iconic formula (which contains petrolatum, menthol, and camphor) has been soothing cracked lips for almost 80 years. One application, and it’s no surprise why we keep going back to it every winter.
There’s a chance that Marc Jacobs’ Lip Lock SPF Lip Balm is the chicest lip balm we’ve ever laid eyes on — but it’s more than just a pretty face. It’s spiked with shea butter, avocado oil, and a sweet, minty flavor. Add the fact that it contains SPF 18 (not the recommended SPF 30, but still SPF, nonetheless), and you have yourself a balm that’s both sexy and smart.
Korres’s Lip Butter is as rich and creamy as the name suggests, which is precisely what makes this a coveted editor favorite. That, and the fact the gorgeous tints provide the perfect dose of color without skimping on moisture.
“Makeup artists love this balm for their male clients because it’s exceptionally hydrating but doesn’t leave any shine behind. After hearing that, I had to give it a try, and of course now I’m hooked. I use it when I’m wearing a bold lipstick. I put it on before I start my makeup and let it settle as I apply base, blush, and eye makeup. Once I’m ready for lipstick, my mouth is perfectly prepped.” — Sophia Panych
In addition to being insanely hydrating, Smith’s Rosebud Salve has the slightest hint of pink, making it one of the easiest way to boost your natural lip color if you’re going for a no-makeup makeup look. Makeup artist Diane Kendal keeps tins of the stuff in her kit at all times.
Almost every Allure editor has Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment floating around their houses. It’s great for every dry patch — elbows and knees in the winter, itchy skin in the summer — and takes off the most stubborn eye makeup. But we particularly love it best as a lip balm. It’s not the sexiest, but it really soaks into chapped skin.
RMS’s Beauty Lip & Skin Balm was created by makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift, whose celebrity clientele includes a lineup of former Victoria’s Secret bombshells (Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, Karolina Kurkova). It can’t exactly promise Angel status, but the organic coconut oil balm will keep parched lips soft and supple all day long.
La Mer’s The Lip Balm is a bit extravagant for an everyday lip product ($60, to be exact), but the marine extracts do a heck of a job healing severely parched lips in record time. Reserve the little pot as a nighttime treatment and lips will be soft and lush by morning — and remain that way all day long.
Drunk Elephant’s Lippe Lip Balm is short and squat, so the shape is more like a glue stick than a typical lip balm. The natural formula contains peptides, along with a bunch of moisturizing oils, so in theory, it should also ward off signs of aging in addition to keeping lips hydrated. It’s also lightweight and fairly matte, so your lips don’t end up looking overly glossy.
It’s a tale as old as time for anyone with sensitive skin: One of your favorite brands has come out with a new moisturizer. The ingredient list? Intriguing and full of potential benefits for your skin. The packaging? Ridiculously cute and would look great alongside the products in your medicine cabinet. So, you add it to your cart.
For sensitive skin, finding staple products for your routine that are effective, fun to use, and non-irritating can feel like an impossible feat — especially since sensitivity manifests itself in a few different ways and there are multiple causes of it.
Dr. Morgan Rabach, board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical in New York City, says “skin that reacts strongly to most stimui, including environmental and temperature, products, skin with a decreased barrier function, and allergic skin (like ezcema which also has a decreased barrier function),” can all be categorized as sensitive skin.
To top it off, not all skincare products are created equal. But figuring out what type of sensitive skin you have is the first step to finding a moisturizer that won’t result in instant irritation such as redness, burning, itching, which can be followed by peeling or a breakout.
“Look for a moisturizer with few ingredients and with active ones including ceramides, which help seal the outer layers of skin, and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Rabach.
She also recommends avoiding formulas with fragrance, preservatives, and dyes, which are all common triggers for sensitive skin. Isopropyl alcohol, exfoliants like AHA acids, retinol, and added sunscreens (especially chemical ones) can also cause irritation.
With so many potentially irritating ingredients to look out for, finding a moisturizer that isn’t going to piss off sensitive skin can feel like a full-time job.
Here are 8 super hydrating moisturizers that are gentle enough for sensitive, reactive skin.
This wildly affordable, gentle moisturizer is safe for reactive skin, and anyone who prefers a lotion over a cream. With zero fragrance, oil, and alcohol in the formula, there’s no need to stress over potential irritation or greasy residue.
Don’t underestimate this little tube, it packs a serious dose of moisture. In addition to leaving the surface of the skin soft and smooth, Kiehl’s hypoallergenic, fragrance, and alcohol-free moisturizer repairs the skin barrier to prevent future dryness and helps reduce visible redness and fine lines.
With an allergy-tested formula, Obagi’s Hydrate Facial Moisturizer is even less likely to cause irritation. Powered by hydromanil, a super nourishing plant-based ingredient, this moisturizer retains hydration while simultaneously improving the appearance of hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.
For oily, acne-prone skin that also leans on the sensitive side, opt for a lightweight oil-free moisturizer that won’t further clog your pores or leave a greasy film on your face. Shani Darden’s fragrance-free, oil-free moisturizer has a silky serum-like texture that quickly absorbs into skin with a shine-free finish.
While retinol is commonly touted as *the* holy grail of anti-aging ingredients, the skin-renewing ingredient can be too harsh for reactive skin, and those with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. That’s where peptides, the hero ingredient of Drunk Elephant’s rich moisturizer, enter the picture. Peptides are the building blocks of proteins, such as collagen and keratin, which help keep skin firm and smooth. Plant-derived antioxidants and nutrients round out the formula to improve skin texture and tone.
Don’t want to spend a ton of money on a moisturizer that won’t set off your sensitive skin? Look no further than CeraVe’s tried-and-true cream, available at any drugstore. Formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin barrier-strengthening ceramides, it seals in moisture, which is key for preventing reactions and flareups of skin conditions such as eczema. No wonder this moisturizer has earned the National Eczema association’s seal of approval.
Most heavy-duty moisturizers are thick, rich creams that never fully absorb into skin — meet the exception. Known the “melting moisturizer,” this EltaMD formula soaks into skin and maintains hydration for up to 12 hours, plus it relieves redness and irritation. Consider it a foolproof pick for sensitive skin types that also suffer from excessive dryness.
On top of hydrating skin with a mix of nourishing and soothing colloidal oatmeal, avocado oil, and shea butter, this lightweight moisturizer leaves skin smooth like a primer, which makes it ideal for wearing under makeup.
Whether you’re dealing with hyperpigmentation, skin dullness, dark marks, or sagging skin, seeking out the best vitamin C serum is likely important to you. “I look at vitamin C as that little black dress in your closet. It’s definitely one of those things you must have. It works to boost circulation, amplify the skin’s complexion and stimulate collagen production,” founder of Dermasaa and in-house esthetician at Brooklyn Face & EyeSamantha Mims tells Vogue.
For those reasons, Mims has a few go-tos that she recommends to her clients: Epi.logic’s Daily Dose Serum, Skin Regimen’s 15.0 Vitamin C Booster, and the Solavedi Organics Rx Remedy. “Each treatment serum is developed to address concerns associated with aging,” she notes. Mims adds that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way when it comes to applying the serum– what’s more important is what you do afterwards. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental factors such as pollution and UV light. So whether you’re deciding to use your serum in the morning, evening or both, it’s important you’re following up with a layer of broad spectrum sunscreen daily.” Celebrity esthetician Vanessa Marc, of Vanessa Marc Spa—who counts Jasmine Tookes, Alton Mason, and Justine Skye as clients—recommends Teami Blends Vitamin C Serum because “it has hibiscus and vitamin C in it. This product is all natural which makes it vegan, plant-based, and cruelty free.”
As for Paula Bourelly, MD, a dermatologist at Olney Dermatology Associates, she recommends products with ingredients like arbutin and ubiquinone, as they both have “brightening properties which help to lighten brown spots, and as antioxidants the ascorbic acid and tocopherol add another layer of defense to traditional sunscreens.”Citrix C Pro-Collagen, Brightening Serum by Topix is her favorite product to recommend to her patients who struggle with hyperpigmentation issues like melasma and freckling. She suggests using it in the morning before applying SPF 30 or higher.
Here, 21 options to help you find the best vitamin C serum to give your skin the radiance boost it deserves.
Avya Skincare Anti-Aging Power Serum
Avya skincare was created by co-founders Deepika Vyas and Tanuj Makra, MD with the skin needs of people of color in mind. Their Anti-Aging Power Serum is a one-stop-shop for improving the skin’s surface. It’s filled with Avya’s signature ingredients: hyaluronic acid for hydration; Vitamin C for brightening, collagen boosting, and free radical prevention, and Niacinamide to reduce pore size.
This serum contains vitamin C in its purest form, with a unique patented formula of Stable 20% Pure Vitamin C and Stable Epigallocatechin Gallate, which is a skin-aiding ingredient found in green tea. The two ingredients work well together to prevent signs of aging, alongside squalane for moisture and tartaric acid which helps the skin absorb product more easily.
Epi.logic Skincare Daily Dose Vitamin C + Multivitamin Defense Serum
Created by oculofacial plastic surgeon Dr. Chaneve Jeanniton of Brooklyn Face & Eye, this serum protects skin from free radical damage, smooths wrinkles and brightens skin with its Vitamin C and antioxidant-rich formula.
Hyper Skin Hyper Clear Brightening Clearing Vitamin C Serum
Hyper Skin is a brand “hyper-focused on treating the needs of people of color,” says founder Desiree Verdejo. The line’s debut product, Hyper Clear, helps to heal hyperpigmentation while simultaneously enhancing glow with its blend of vitamin C, vitamin E, kojic acid, hyaluronic acid, turmeric and bearberry.
A mix of antioxidants help this serum brighten and tighten the skin. Other notable ingredients include Konjac root (an Asian flower that helps soften and smooth the skin), plant-derived Ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid, and vitamins C and E.
Packaged in an oxygen-free environment so that ingredients are preserved to their full potency, this serum includes dermatologist recommended 10% natural Vitamin C, L-Ascorbic, which works to increase skin’s glow, even skin tone, and improve collagen production.
This serum prevents aging in all of its forms: sensitivity, dehydration, dullness, uneven skin tone and wrinkles, and replaces it with a radiant, glowing complexion thanks to Vitamin C, Phytosterols Complex to soothe sensitive skin, and Saccharide Isomerate Extrace that regulates pore size.
Youth To The People Superfood Firm and Brighten Vitamin C Serum
This lightweight product is great for all skin types and is vegan, and free of parabens, sulfates, and dimethicone. Its vitamin C helps to fade hyperpigmentation, while hyaluronic acid aids in hydration.
This light pink, grapefruit-scented serum works to lift, brighten and smooth the skin with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. The hibiscus flower leaves within it were brewed into an antioxidant-filled red tea.
When it comes to our skin-care routines, there’s no step perhaps more indulgent than doing a face mask. Whether you prefer a deep-cleansing clay mask or a hydrating overnight gel formula, there’s no better form of beauty T.L.C. than devoting 20 to 30 minutes to take care of your skin. “[Face masks] are designed to deliver high concentrations of active ingredients to your skin,” Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Allure. “Generally speaking, masks are used intermittently to help give your skin a boost when it needs it.”
And while our desks are continually graced by new product launches on the daily (a tough job, we know, but someone’s got to do it), we’re taking a step back to spotlight the best face masks that left our complexions brighter, dewier, less congested, and just generally glowed-up. Happy masking!
Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea and 3% Sulfur
Those with acne-prone and oily skin will love the Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea and 3% Sulfur, which is made with a blend of clay, sulfur, azelaic acid, and fruit extracts. It was even created by a dermatologist for his own clients. According to Lancer himself, “Acne and aging are triggered by the same mechanisms,” and his skin-care products take on both with a double whammy. Because of this, the mask won a 2019 AllureBest of Beauty Award.
Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Mask With Colloidal Sulfur
Part of Dr. Dennis Gross’s DRx Blemish Solutions collection, the Clarifying Mask With Colloidal Sulfur relies on some of least-drying acne-fighting ingredients — colloidal sulfur, bentonite clay, and kaolin clay, to be specific — to help clear up breakouts. Worn overnight, it makes a noticeable difference on the angriest blemishes without causing any additional irritation. In fact, your skin will even feel soothed come morning.
The Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Mask pumps out as a gel and soaks in as a cream, which is a cool enough reason to give it a try, but you’ll keep coming back to it for the brightening vitamin C delivered via moisturizing squalane.
There are a lot of reasons to hate pollution, but what it does to your skin is the one that hits closest to home. One way to fight back against its dulling effects: this Burt’s Bees Restoring Antioxidant Mask. Of all of its natural ingredients, green tea takes the spotlight as the antioxidant powerhouse. The formula hydrates to give skin a noticeable boost while preparing it to face another day outside.
Renée Rouleau promises, if you use the Rapid Response Detox Masque right when you sense a breakout coming on, this calming gel formula will essentially interrupt the erruption. But it’s not just for acne — Rouleau also recommends it when you’re puffy after partying and even to soothe skin after waxing.
Old-school mineral ingredients, such as calamine, zinc, and pink clay, are modernized with the VENeffect Skin Calming Mask. The 2019 AllureBest of Beauty winner can be slathered all over your face to slough away dead skin cells and banish breakouts, or you can dab it on blemishes to clear them up overnight.
Herbivore Botanicals’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask
The serious tingle factor from Herbivore Botanicals’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask will let you know it’s working. And thanks to the alpha and beta hydroxy acids and white willow bark, skin will be left looking and feeling smooth post-rinse and beyond.
A pore-purifying powerhouse, this 2019 Best of Beauty-winning maskemploys glycolic andsalicylic acids to gently exfoliate and suck up oil. Tiny beads in the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner get massaged into skin, releasing iris root and rose extract to nourish skin as the mask tightens.
Just like electrolytes in a drink help rehydrate your body, the electrolytes in this formula bring your skin back to a more hydrated, supple state. You can also thank ceramides, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants for their barrier-replenishing help.
It takes a lot for a mask to call itself a not one, not two, but three-time Best of Beauty winner. Fresh’s Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask is an all-star in our book due to its potent antioxidant-rich formula, and the fact that it leaves skin feeling “rose-petal soft.”
A whopping 25-percent alpha hydroxy acid formula packs a serious punch in Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, which quickly won over skin-care fanatics with its gentle yet effective approach to at-home exfoliation. “Ingredients such as matcha and milk thistle contain potent antioxidant and anti-pollution properties, which help to condition and soothe redness,” Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, tells Allure.
First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger and Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask
Like a Jello shot for your skin, The First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger and Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask is a cooling jelly mask (and AllureBest of Beauty 2019 pick) that hydrates and brightens skin with antioxidant-packed ingredients, like ginger, turmeric, and vitamin C. Plus, lactic acid gently exfoliates to leave your face feeling all radian, fresh, and new.
If the (skin) thirst is real, consider the Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask a complexion oasis. The cooling gel formula not only feels incredible on skin, but if you’re a fan of the brand’s toner, consider the duo a match made in skin-care heaven.
When it comes to acne-fighting masks, the GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment is a game-changer. After leaving it on for 10 minutes, you can visibly see the oil drawn out from your pores (yuck, but in a good way), and after rinsing, skin is left looking brighter than ever.
Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay
The Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay is adored by many a beauty editor, and it’s easy to see why: It instantly minimizes the appearance of pores and leaves your complexion looking beyond glowy — and clocks in at under $30.
Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask
Not all mud masks are created equal. Case in point: Peter Thomas Roth’s Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask doesn’t leave your complexion feeling the least bit parched, so if you’re looking for a mask that will decongest skin without drying it out, look no further.
“SK-II’s Facial Treatment Mask offers a super-luxe hydrating experience,” says Idriss, who encourages patients to save the remaining essence (which there’s a ton of in that little packet, FYI). “The power player here is pitera, a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids, that work together to stimulate cellular repair and promote more efficient skin regeneration. The results are a brightened, moisturized, and smoother skin surface.”
Breakouts don’t stand a chance against Sunday Riley’s Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask. And unlike other formulas, Saturn addresses much more than just blackheads; it also clears congested pores, hormonal acne, and emerging zits.
Don’t sleep on Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask, which, as one Allureeditor put it, is the beauty product equivalent of skin-care commercial models rinsing their faces serenely “by dramatically splashing water on it in slow motion.”
Dermatologists consider retinol the holy grail of noninvasive wrinkle-prevention. When applied topically, this vitamin A derivative stimulates collagen production and cell turnover, which reduces the appearance of fine lines, evens out complexion, and unclogs pores.
That said, retinol does have its drawbacks. Side effects can include dryness, peeling, and skin irritation, and some people may see their acne flare up. So before you start slathering these products on your face and neck, you’ll want to keep a few tips in mind.
“To reduce irritation, start every other night with the product and move up to every night only when tolerated,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and assistant clinical professor at the George Washington University Medical Center. “Add extra moisturizer when using, and use only a very mild, creamy cleanser to compensate for the extra dryness.” You’ll also want to guard your skin with SPF 30—retinol may make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Though you can ask your doc for a prescription-strength retinoid—which is a much stronger version of what you can buy over the counter—the derms we spoke to said drugstore and beauty counter brands do the same thing, and that it just may take longer to see results. Read on for the retinol recommendations from Dr. Tanzi and other top skin doctors.
Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Moisture, Night
“I recommend this product to my patients all the time because Neutrogena is a reliable company and the products are easy to find in any drugstore. The ingredients are of good quality and I have never had anyone complain about any skin reaction or difficulty managing this retinol.” —Jessica KrantMD, board-certified dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of NY and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate
“This is a great intro-to-retinol product because if features microencapsulated retinol complex, which delivers results without the irritation and drying.” —Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
Neocutis Nouvelle Plus Retinol Correction Intensive Anti-Aging Cream
“One of my favorite retinols utilizes only 0.6% retinol in a special microbead formulation that helps penetrate the skin deeper with less skin irritation and less flaking. As an added bonus, it contains melaplex, a hydroquinone-free skin-brightening complex, that diminishes the appearance of dark spots and evens out skin tone. We recommend our patients start applying retinol two to three times a week, just before bedtime and slowly progress to nightly as tolerated.” ––Ulysses Scarpidis, New York City plastic surgeon, Scarpidis Aesthetics
“A key goal within any retinol skin care program is maximum retinol effectiveness with minimized potential for irritation. Because of this, high potency nano-encapsulated retinol formulations such as Amarte Wonder Cream (which also contains multiple potent natural antioxidant ingredients) are ideal. They will ensure maximized retinol efficacy with a virtually non-existent potential for irritation.” ––Craig Kraffert, MD, Redding Derm
“I love recommending the HydroPeptide Anti-Wrinkle Polish & Plump Peel to clients as it’s an extremely effective over-the-counter option for brightening skin and tightening pores. Instead of retinol, which can be irritating to sensitive skin types, it actually utilizes Retinyl Palmitate—an ester of Vitamin A that’s converted to retinoic acid once absorbed by the skin. I use it weekly, on Sundays, (which is my pampering day!), to ensure my skin always has a healthy glow.” –– Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, MPhil, Vibrant Dermatology
“One of my favorite OTC retinoids is Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30. It works against fine lines during the day with a unique sunscreen and moisturizer hybrid. A glucose derivative is combined with this retinol formula to help brighten discoloration. I especially like that it contains hyaluronic acid which holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water.” ––Jeanette Jacknin M.D. and Brand Ambassador for ZSS Skincare Solutions
“When patients want a particularly gentle formulation, I like SkinMedica Retinol Complex .25. It is one of the mildest non-prescription retinols available and is in an elegant moisturizing formulation.” —Dr. Krant
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.’”
Summer’s last weeks are upon us, and fall fever is just beginning to set in. As you ruminate over what to bring into rotation, consider a supercharged vitamin C serum right up there with a sleek coat or this season’s It boot.
For brightening up a dull complexion and erasing sun spots, vitamin C is the gold standard of ingredients, especially as the years go on. As such, getting familiar with the powerhouse antioxidant is essential for any robust skincare strategy. “Vitamin C is perhaps the most potent topical antioxidant we have,” explains dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., of the natural collagen booster. “It neutralizes free radical damage and protects the skin against UV light and other environmental aggressors, as well as blocking abnormal production of pigmentation to even skin tone and fade dark spots.” And while it’s best known for brightening, it can also be instrumental in skin firming, adds Los Angeles superfacialist Kate Somerville. “I have used vitamin C in my clinic for years to help with elasticity and tighten the skin around the neck and décolletage,” she says.
Here, how best to utilize the hero ingredient for a brighter, smoother, and plumper complexion year-round.
Choose the Right Concentration
Identifying the right concentration for your skin type is essential to how effective your topical vitamin C will be, says New York City dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler. “Begin with a low concentration of 10% and increase to 15% or 20% as tolerated,” she instructs. For oily or normal skin, L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of vitamin C and can be the most beneficial, while for dry and sensitive skin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble vitamin C, is less irritating.
Absorption of a vitamin C is largely contingent on its pH level. If you have normal skin, look for one with a low pH of approximately 3.5 for optimal absorption. If you have sensitive skin, you should use a formula with a pH of 5 to 6. “This is the skin’s natural pH and will not be as irritating,” says Wexler.
Designed to deliver a high concentration of actives, serums are the most common form of delivery for vitamin C. “They keep that ingredient stable and enhance penetration through the outer skin layer,” says Zeichner. As far as complementary ingredients are concerned, Wexler believes vitamin C works best in combination with vitamin E, ferulic Acid, vitamin B, and hyaluronic acid. “Vitamin C and E are both antioxidants and support each other,” she explains, adding that ferulic acid is another antioxidant which boosts and stabilizes both vitamin C and vitamin E in fighting free radical damage and collagen production. That being said, sensitive skin types might benefit from mixing their serum into a moisturizer, or opting for a vitamin C-infused moisturizer for gentler delivery.
To keep skin happy, take a gradual approach when adding vitamin C to your regimen. “With any active, it’s important to start slowly when incorporating ingredients into your routine,” says Somerville. “I’ve seen some amazing results with clients who’ve added vitamin C into their regimen at three times a week and worked up to daily use.” To that end, don’t expect instant gratification. “It takes several weeks of continuous use to start to see improvement in skin tone,” says Zeichner, adding that because it’s a key ingredient for prevention, some benefits will be imperceptible.
Vitamin C serums come in two broad categories: Water-based and anhydrous (which literally means “without water”). The former is more unstable and light sensitive, and is typically held in opaque or amber colored bottles for that reason, while the latter tends to be more stable, even in the presence of sunlight. No matter what kind you opt for, ensuring your vitamin C is stabilized and kept airtight in a dark, cool space is essential. “If the color becomes dark or cloudy it has already oxidized,” cautions Wexler, adding that the same is true if you detect a rancid odor.
Unlike hydroxyacids or retinol, vitamin C does not make the skin more vulnerable to sunburn. That being said, the most potent forms of vitamin C are vulnerable to light exposure, and therefore the use of vitamin C must be in conjunction with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage. The good news is that, when layered underneath sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, vitamin C protects the skin even further. “Think of it as a safety net to help neutralize free radical damage that can occur from UV light penetration despite our best protection efforts with sunscreen,” says Zeichner.