The vitamin that makes orange juice so nutritious also happens to be one the the most powerful players in skincare. Obviously, we’re talking vitamin C.
Apart from being your saving grace during a cold that just won’t quit, the vitamin can help brighten dark spots, even out skin tone, and support collagen production. In other words, there’s a reason why there are so many serums with Vitamin C — it’s a versatile ingredient that can work wonders for the skin.
Whether your dermatologist recommended adding one to your routine, or your friend is swearing by their vitamin C splurge and you want in on the hype, here are a few of the best out right now.
No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence
At less than $30, you can’t really beat the price of this radiance-boosting vitamin C-based serum, which promises results in two weeks.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Serum
Your secret to curing dull winter skin? This serum, which not only helps prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, but evens out your skin tone and gives it that healthy glow you’ve been missing since August.
This L-ascorbic acid-based serum delivers on warding off free radicals and the signs of aging, but it’s also made with pumpkin ferment extract and pomegranate enzyme to exfoliate dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin.
Now this is a powerful one. It’s made with vitamin C and E, as well as ferulic acid to help those two components do their jobs of neutralizing free radicals and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles way better. It also keeps working on your skin for 72 hours.
Dior just one-upped your glass of orange juice with a serum that’s made with murunga plum, a fruit that the brand claims is 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges. That, combined with AHAs and antioxidant-rich ingredients, makes this glow-boosting tonic a must-have for winter.
I feel as though physical exfoliation is one of the most satisfying skin-care practices because of the instant gratification it can provide (hello, immediately refreshed skin). Not only does exfoliation feel amazing and leave skin instantly more luminous; a good face scrub paves the way for the serums and moisturizers to follow, according to board-certified dermatologist Jeannette Graf.
“Exfoliating can help skin-care products penetrate 20 percent better,” she tells Allure. But here’s a word to the wise: As with most things, there is such thing as too much of a good thing in the case of scrubbing your face. You can avoid over-exfoliation by capping your scrub sessions to a maximum of three times per week.
Whether you need something that’s extra gentle for sensitive skin or want a scrub with a little extra oomph for perpetually clogged pores, I’ve got you — and your wallet — covered. Happy scrubbing, folks.
Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
It’s not ideal to use a face scrub every day, according to dermatologists — so if you’re going to kick up your exfoliation, use the most gentle scrub possible to prevent damage to your skin barrier. The daily scrub from Cetaphil is packed with pH-balancing glycerin, so it hydrates while it sloughs away dead skin cells.
If you’re prone to acne, dullness, and hyperpigmentation, here’s a prime pick for you. The itty-bitty granules in Bioderma’s Exfoliating Gel physically exfoliate until they burst with salicylic and glycolic acid, which chemically exfoliate away impurities. With this formula, you’re getting twice the exfoliation in one product.
Dermatologists love the Best of Beauty-winning Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser from Neutrogena, and the scrub version is full of all the same clarifying ingredients, plus tiny microbeads that give an added boost of physical exfoliation.
No7 Radiant Results Revitalising Daily Face Polish
No7’s Daily Face Polish contains ginseng root, which, all by itself, comes with a multitude of skin benefits. According to dermatologists, ginseng contains all sorts of antioxidants and vitamins that prevent fine lines, acne, and even hyperpigmentation.
You can always count on an Aveeno product to be gentle on even the most sensitive skin types, and its Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub is no exception. With antioxidant soy extract, gylcerin, and jojoba oil, this scrub exfoliates just as much as it soothes and nourishes.
Just like the treatments available at Bliss Spa locations, the Micro Magic scrub will leave you feeling totally refreshed. It’s basically a gentle, at-home version of a microdermabrasion that sloughs away dirt and oil with volcanic pumice while its aloe vera soothes and de-puffs.
If sensitive skin plus physical exfoliation sounds like a recipe for disaster, let the Ultra-Fine Scrub by La Roche-Posay change your mind. Super-fine pumice particles — suspended in a cooling gel formula — provide just the right amount of grit without feeling scratchy. Plus, this stuff leaves skin with a quenched suppleness you might expect from a water-based gel moisturizer.
This L’Oréal Paris sugar scrub is everything a sugar scrub should be — but better. The Pure-Sugar Scrub is infused with not one but three different types of sugar, suspended in a creamy mixture of coconut oil and cocoa butter. The skin-softening formula isn’t overly abrasive, yet it leaves skin visibly glowing after one use. As you probably guessed by the ingredients, the formula smells like baking batter — but just like real batter, you definitely shouldn’t eat it. That said, it does doubles as an excellent lip scrub if you’re compelled to use it near your mouth.
Oily-skinned folks, listen up. The creamy white exfoliator from Simple contains rice powder to absorb excess oil, and the gentle silica particles — a replacement for microbeads — work to manually slough off dead skin, leaving you positively glowing.
Yes To Coconut Energizing Coffee 2-in-1 Scrub & Cleanser Stick
In case you prefer toting your cleansers around in stick form, consider this portable scrub by Yes to Coconut, which makes exfoliating way easier than ever. Not to mention, Yes To’s coconut and coffee combo smells amazing.
Olay Micropolishing Cleansing Infusions Facial Cleanser with Crushed Ginger
This micro-polish cleanser from Olay reminds me of formulas that are five times its price. The tiny granules feel pleasantly sandy and break down into a creamy consistency as you cleanse, leaving skin visibly glowy post-rinse. Plus, the formula has a zingy scent that smells like summer and happy days, thanks to crushed ginger and citrus.
Fun fact: This concoction from St. Ives was born after the brand asked fans which scrub they’d like to see next on shelves. This enlivening coffee and coconut combo won. Fans of the (albeit, controversial) Apricot Scrub will love how this provides the same level of super-deep exfoliation (thanks to an infusion of crushed walnut) with the added benefits of skin-softening coconut and circulation-promoting coffee.
Citrus scents in the shower are a pick-me-up as much as they are a wake-me-up. The grapefruit extract in Yes To’s citrusy scrub is naturally high in vitamin C (so it boosts collagen production and helps reduce hyperpigmentation), as well as lycopene, which naturally aids in protecting skin from UV damage.
The beaker-like nozzle of Bioré’s Charcoal Pore Minimizer makes you feel like you’re in chemistry class every time you use this black scrub. The charcoal powder pulls out oil and pollutants like a magnet, and it all rinses away with the gel.
The super-creamy formula, which features kiwi seeds and alpha-hydroxy acids (which you can read more about here), leaves your skin smoother than ever — and yet it’s astonishingly nonabrasive. The pearlescent mint-green color is so stunning!
Ah yes, it’s winter again. Forget your bones, you can probably feel it on your face, now home to dry, flaky skin. Seeking solace in a favourite face oil or moisturiser might seem like the only answer (and they can help, more on this later), but there are a number of other things to be aware of when it comes to your winter skincare regime. If you refuse to let your skin suffer as a result of plummeting temperatures this year, read British Vogue’s seven rules of winter skincare – they’re simpler than you might think.
Keep your skin barrier strong
“As we move into winter, our skin is exposed to variations in temperature and humidity, as well as wind and rain, which can place stress on our delicate skin barrier. It’s the perfect time to rethink your skincare routine to battle environmental stresses,” explains consultant dermatologist Dr Thivi Maruthappu. The key indicators of skin barrier disruption are tight, irritated, itchy, and dehydrated skin.
Even in the months when the weather is less temperamental, our skin barrier is subject to disruption – excess use of stripping skincare products and external aggressors like pollution can all affect it – but it’s especially important it’s looked after in winter. Look for skincare that contains ingredients like niacinamide (try Paula’s Choice Clinical 20% Niacinamide Treatment), which “increases ceramide production in the skin, is anti-inflammatory and fights uneven pigmentation”, explains Maruthappu, as well as ceramides themselves (check out CeraVe), lipids, and richer creams that lock moisture in.
Medik8’s new H.E.O. Mask is exactly the tonic for winter skin, as it contains humectants, emollients and occlusives in optimal ratios, to first deeply hydrate, and then lock in moisture. Use it once or twice a week to tackle dehydration and dryness. Maruthappu is also keen to point out that upping your intake of healthy fats helps moisturise the skin from within – look to her Instagram page for sources of barrier-boosting fatty acids. “Look after your skin barrier and it looks after you,” she says simply.
Nail your nighttime regime
It’s at night that our skin goes into repair and restore mode, so it’s key to get your evening skincare routine in check. Facialist Debbie Thomas recommends cleansing with a non-drying acid cleanser – “look for polyhydroxy acids (PHAs), as they are the kinder cousins of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)” – like Exuviance’s Gentle Cream Cleanser, and then following up with an active product. “I alternate retinol with peptides, which are the second most proven ingredient when it comes to skin health and regeneration after retinol, and then apply a ceramide-rich hydrator to seal in the actives and protect the skin,” she explains.
Thomas is quick to warn about retinol, however, and says that though you might assume winter is the best time to start using it, the skin is already prone to becoming irritated and dry in the cooler months, so it’s important to tread carefully. “It can take several weeks for the skin to acclimatise to retinol use – it’s common to experience some dryness and redness – so if your skin already goes this way in winter, the combination of both could be unbearable and difficult to deal with. My main advice is not to overdo it.” Those already using retinol can continue as normal.
Dial down the exfoliation
When flakes strike, sometimes it feels like the only route is to exfoliate them away. Actually, this can further impair the skin barrier, leading to more skin issues. “I tend to advise reducing the frequency of exfoliation to once or twice a week,” says Maruthappu, “And avoid combining physical exfoliants, like grainy scrubs, with chemical exfoliants, like alpha or beta hydroxy acids, as this can lead to redness and irritation – particularly if you are also using a retinoid product.” The secret? Don’t overdo it with your skincare – less (and gentle) is more.
Load up on antioxidants
One of the biggest challenges for our skin in winter is the constant changes in temperature – moving from the heat to the cold outside wreaks havoc on our skin. Spending time inside with less fresh air also has its issues: “Recycled air has more toxins in it and central heating removes water from the atmosphere, which in turn removes water from the skin,” explains Thomas, who is a big fan of keeping an air purifier in the room you spend the most time in to promote healthy skin.
Antioxidant-rich skincare is also important, as it helps defend the skin against micro-toxins caused by recycled air, as well as those from pollution, UV and blue light damage, all of which are very much real, even in the depths of winter. Look for ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, resveratrol and niacinamide.
Avoid oils if you’re oily
Don’t assume that the cold months mean you have to switch your favourite moisturisers for face oils. While drier skin types can benefit, oilier ones should steer clear. “I generally recommend face oils for those with dry skin, as oils tend to sit on the skin surface and prevent further moisture loss,” says Maruthappu. “But the added benefit of a separate moisturiser can help to moisturise deeper layers of the skin. I tend to advise against oils in oily or acne-prone skin, as this can trigger breakouts by causing further congestion.” Those with oily skins should instead stick to non-comedogenic formulas that contain ingredients like dimethicone, ceramides or hyaluronic acid.
Heavier isn’t necessarily better
Just as with oils, thick and heavy formulas aren’t always best for the skin – although they do have their place in some skincare regimes. Thick, nourishing balm cleansers are a wonderful way to treat skin to some pamper time – try Chantecaille Rose De Mai Cleansing Balm – but they won’t necessarily hydrate skin. “If you apply a lot of heavy products to the surface, your skin’s sensors read this as not requiring true hydration, so they won’t absorb the required water into the deeper layers of skin,” explains Thomas. “After a time, the deeper layers become lazy and unhealthy, which eventually means more dryness and more irritation on the upper layers.” To remedy this, look to lots of hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid (a popular one is Oskia’s Isotonic Hydra Serum), and squalane, and simply seal them in with good hydrators, as mentioned earlier. “The best way to hydrate your skin is from within, so drink lots of water too,” advises Thomas.
Vitamin D supplements are a must
If you’re already an avid British Vogue reader, you’ll know the importance of taking a vitamin D supplement in winter; most in the UK aren’t getting enough year-round, let alone in the colder months when the days are shorter and darker. It’s important for our skin, too. “Vitamin D is key for the skin’s defences,” says Thomas. “Inflammatory conditions, like acne, rosacea, and eczema often flare up when we are deficient in it.” On top of that, a lack of it can negatively affect our mood, causing further hormonal imbalances, and meaning our skin is infinitely more likely to misbehave.
If there’s one brand that’s proved it’s worth the hype, it’s Glossier. Basically every new launch immediately lands on top of the best Glossier products charts. It’s not hard to see why: Glossier is a master class in brand identity (see: its millennial pink packaging, “G” merch, and dreamy but realistic ads), it’s perfected the art of the no-makeup makeup look, and it’s got a fanbase so loyal that shoppers will patiently wait (often out the door of its showrooms) to get their hands on whatever just hit the shelves.
But just like with anything that seems too good to be true, those who aren’t fully aboard the Glossier train often wonder whether its products are actually worth it. Does Boy Brow really transform your eyebrows in few single swipes? Is Cloud Paint seriously as good as its painfully cute tube would lead you to believe? Do the Body Hero products actually feel as divine as they look in the ads? If the Glossier reviews ahead have anything to say, the answer is a resounding yes.
Scroll on for GLAMOUR’s honest Glossier reviews to see what’s absolutely worth spending your money on.
Glossier Boy Brow
There’s a reason this product is Glossier’s top seller (and inspiration for so many copycats): It’s awesome. I love everything about it—its tiny tube, its teeny brush that separates and grooms so well, its super-sticky, nonflaky, semiwaxy formula that holds hairs in place for days. Even better, Glossier finally expanded its shade range to include an auburn shade for redheads like me. —Lindsay Schallon, senior beauty editor
Everyone says the last thing they want in a concealer is cakey-ness. Having makeup visibly settle into the fine lines we all have isn’t cute and defeats the purpose, for me, of wearing makeup to begin with. What I love about Glossier’s Stretch Concealer is its texture. It’s so lightweight and dewy that it’s almost impossible for it to cake up. I started using it not just under my eyes to cover circles but also on my eyelids to give my face a more pulled-together look, as well as to cover redness under my nose and at the corners of my mouth. It looks super natural—some might say too natural if ultra-full coverage is the goal—but it works wonders for me when I don’t feel like a full face of foundation and want a light glow while still hiding my skin issues. —Perrie Samotin, digital director
I don’t always wear makeup—but I will wear lip balm, which is why the Balm Dot Com formula is so appealing to me. It’s light and moisturizing without being sticky, but is tinted in these gorgeous shades that make it seem like I tried. Cherry is my go-to color, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them. —Shanna Shipin, commerce editor
I love how the Lash Slick formula goes on evenly and the brush “combs” so each lash is accentuated. I also appreciate that the tiny fibers add oomph without turning my lashes into spider legs. Whereas other mascaras go on wet and immediately leave dotted marks below my brows, Lash Slick magically stays put—from the moment I put it on until I wash it off at night. I was nervous, since it’s water-resistant, not waterproof, but I’m happy to report that it doesn’t flake or smudge. —Kimberly Fusaro, branded content director
I’ve been a fan of Glossier since day one, and most of its products have made their way into my daily routine (hi, Boy Brow!). But my love runs deepest for its Milky Jelly Conditioning Face Wash. The texture is unique—the only way I can describe it is cushiony—and it never leaves my skin feeling tight or stripped. I use it in the morning on dry skin and at night after an oil cleanser or micellar water to remove makeup. The smell is incredible: It’s like roses and lipstick, but it’s subtle enough not to irritate my sensitive skin. I will always have a bottle in my bathroom because it works, and it honestly just makes me happy when I use it, which is what beauty is all about. —Bella Cacciatore, beauty assistant
Normally I’d roll my eyes at anything being called “aesthetic skin care”—meaning, a product that imparts skin-care benefits but also looks incredible on—but that’s exactly what this oil-serum hybrid is, and the glow it gives your face is impossible to scoff at. Futuredew gets its skin-glistening magic from light-reflecting minerals, but it’s also got all the things you’d look for in a great hydrating serum: jojoba, grape seed, evening primrose, and rosehip oils, along with squalane to help lock in moisture. The number of compliments I’ve gotten on my skin has increased tenfold since I’ve started using it. No lie. —L.S.
I won’t lie: When I first tested this by drawing swatches on my hand, I was unimpressed by the pigment payoff. But when I tried it on my eyes, I realized that’s where it’s magic comes to life. The buildable formula makes the whole experience less high-stakes. If your line goes awry, it’s fine, because it isn’t intense dark black until you draw a few layers. This means less of a heart attack for those who haven’t mastered a cat eye and more versatility from day to night. The brush tip is superthin and glides along your lash line for a subtle vibe that feels very Glossier, and the control is top-notch! When I washed my hands, the swatches didn’t budge. —Erin Parker, commerce writer
With all the handwashing I’ve been doing since COVID hit, this rich—but not sticky—hand cream has been a godsend. It smells like the brand’s fragrance, You, which is clean and fresh with a slight hint of florals. I wish I were going more places these days, because this is the kind of cute packaging you never get sick of pulling out of your bag. —L.S.
Glossier’s reformulated Generation G lipstick is a new favorite of mine. I love how comfortable and moisturizing it is. I use the color Zip, which is sheer and buildable, so I can apply it on the go, but still packs such a punch that I don’t need to wear anything else with it. It’s the perfect red lip for those who are a little bit color-shy like me. —Khaliha Hawkins, producer
Until Body Hero, I believed the one metric that mattered in lotion was how well it moisturized. I was a noob! Innocent and impressionable! But as soon as I found this (attractive!) stuff, I learned the truth. A good lotion will make your legs look longer, your skin feel dewier, and your bod smell like a fresh-picked flower. I’ve reordered it three times. —Mattie Kahn, culture director
I’m all in on highlighting pretty much 365 days of the year—but most especially when I’m feeling a little run-down. The combo of crystal extracts and actual moisturizing oils in Haloscope ensures that I look fresh-faced and dewy while it hydrates my skin at the same time. A dash on my cheeks, brow bones, and the bridge of my nose, and I’m good to go. —Abby Gardner, news writer
I used to swear by Nars Orgasm Blush—and it’s still a fave!—but ever since I tried Glossier’s Cloud Paint, I have trouble using anything else. Cloud Paint is incredibly easy to apply (I use my finger), and it blends seamlessly on my cheeks. The tiny tube is also deceptive; it actually lasts me months even though I use it every day. As for the color, I’ll alternate using Beam and Puff between seasons. Beam is orangey, so it gives a pretty glow in the summer, whereas Puff is a light pink that looks great when I’m more pale. —B.C.
After I cleanse my skin at night, I swipe this glycolic acid toner all over my face and neck in order to remove excess makeup residue and keep my skin smooth. Thanks to powerful hydroxy acids (AHA, BHA and PHA), it works to gently exfoliate, unclog pores, and fight breakouts. I’ve totally seen a difference since I added it to my routine. —Jillian Ruffo, contributor
I have my eyebrow routine down pat: I apply a primer/growth serum and use my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz and that it’s. Two products and I’m done. However, after trying Glossier’s Brow Flick in Black, I realized that my eyebrows were missing some serious definition. Brow Flick definitely made my brows stand out more than they originally did, and as I grow them out to be the big bushy brows I want, it’s become the perfect subtle addition to my routine. The tip is thin and precise, and you can wipe/brush out any mistakes you make. —K.H.
I’ve been a fan of the Body Hero lotion since it launched, but lately I’ve been more into oils, so this couldn’t have come at a better time. Like its older sister, the packaging is cool and expensive looking, and it makes me smile every time I see it in my bathroom. The oil itself is super lightweight—it’s a dry oil so you can put jeans on right away or roll around in clean sheets without leaving a mess—but it feels really nourishing and lush. My favorite part, though, is the scent; the perfect soapy neroli that makes me smell like a rich European baby. I have no complaints. —B.C.
Glossier’s shimmery Lidstar eye shadows have been a mainstay in my makeup bag for years, so when the brand revealed it was launching matte eye shadow, I had high hopes. While I wish the packaging were a bit more interesting (really, how can you beat Lidstar’s mini test tubes?), the formula more than makes up for it. The colors are matte, yes, but they still go on with the sheer, buildable consistency Glossier’s eye shadows are famous for. The dry-down, meanwhile, looks like powder without any of the telltale dryness or cakey-ness. My favorite is the blue shade, Pool, that reminds me of the powder blues that were big in the late ’90s—but look perfectly in place for 2020. —L.S.
Let me preface this by saying I am not a bar-soap girl, and yet I am obsessed with this exfoliating bar. First of all, I hate how much body scrubs leave a trail of grounds at the bottom of my tub, and a lot leave my already oily skin feeling like there’s a thin film over it. This is hydrating yet tough on rough patches of skin, and I love the little well on the bottom of the bar that lets you drop a bit of body wash on top so you can cleanse and exfoliate in one fell swoop. —L.S.
This may be a hot take, but I don’t use many—if any—Glossier products in my daily routine. (I know, I know.) There is one exception, though, and that’s Wowder. The loose powder manages to give my skin a matte yet dewy appearance without feeling too cakey. It’s like putting an IRL filter over your skin. —Anna Moeslein, senior editor
It’s kind of incredible how easily these eye shadows wake up your face. I seriously put it on in the back of a cab without a mirror—that’s how easy they are. With one swipe and smudge on your lid, it leaves the prettiest soft wash of color behind. Most days I wear Lily, the lilac color, with mascara (my current fave is by Maybelline), and it gives the illusion I put much more thought into getting ready. And if I had a late night out? I’ll put Moon in the inner corners of my eyes to brighten them. —L.S.
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.”
Ah, retinol. When it comes to defense against fine lines and maintaining a healthy glow, there’s no ingredient in skincare more lauded. The irony? Even though the revolutionary youth-enhancing active is a mainstay of drugstores, department store counters, and dermatologist offices alike, it still manages to mystify. And thus, is often misused or underutilized.
What is Retinol?
To bring it back to the basics, retinol—alongside other retinoids, such as retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate—is essentially a derivative of vitamin A, which is one of the body’s key nutrients for boosting cell turnover. “It’s added to topical skincare products to promote skin renewal, brighten skin tone, reduce acne, and boost the collagen production,” explains New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD. “It also functions like an antioxidant to help address free radical damage, which leads to visible signs of aging.”
Who is Retinol best for?
While retinol can be beneficial for most skin types, it’s not one-size-fits-all. “Retinoids are notoriously difficult to manage for people with sensitive or easily irritated skin,” says Krant. “Technically speaking, everyone could use one, but not everyone is able to figure out how to make it work for them. The conditions that make it the trickiest are rosacea, dryness, contact allergies, and general sensitivity.” She recommends people with sensitive skin try using Adapalene (like Differin), which has a gentler effect on skin and is FDA-approved for treating acne, but can also be used for antiaging.
“I always try to get my patients on the highest retinoid that they can tolerate, but because of initial redness and dryness, this often requires starting at a lower strength and building up over time,” says Marchbein, who recommends Skinbetter AlphaRet Cream (which you can get through a derm) or the CeraVe Renewing Retinol Serum as entry-level products.
Pay attention to what percentage of retinol you’re using too: 0.05% is a good place to start if you don’t have sensitive skin, and you can work up to stronger amounts over time. If you have more serious acne, your doctor can prescribe you a prescription retinoid (adapalene or tretinoin), that will be more potent, but can also be more irritating.
What side effects does retinol have?
Retinoids have a reputation for being a harsh on your skin—you can expect some dryness, redness, and peeling—but according to Krant, this is just a side effect of the retinoids effectively turning over cells. While this irritation can be, well, irritating, it can be managed with the proper routine. Marchbein recommends using acids (like AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs) sparingly when using a retinol, and to be careful with treatments like chemical peels and lasers (i.e., tell your derm or skin tech what retinol you’re using before getting a treatment so they can make a proper assessment). If you’re fighting acne, she recommends not layering benzoyl peroxide and retinoids, since they can cancel out each other’s efficacy.
How do you use retinol in your skin-care routine?
“Retinoids are the backbone of nearly every good skin-care routine,” says Marchbein. “I recommend using both a vitamin C serum and retinoid daily, since they serve different purposes and work synergistically to help your skin look its best.” Since vitamin C protects your skin from free radical damage caused by the sun and pollution, your serum should be applied in the morning, whereas retinoids build collagen and help repair, so they should be used at night.
She also says to stick with gentle cleansers (she likes CeraVe), and to always follow your retinol with a moisturizer, especially those with hyaluronic acid and ceramides. If your skin is really irritated, you can try buffering, where you apply moisturizer before retinol to reduce side effects. Most derms also recommend easing into retinol, starting with application once a week, and working up to every other or every night, depending on how tolerant your skin is.
No matter what, “a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ should be worn religiously every day of the year, not only to prevent skin cancers, wrinkles, and sun spots, but because retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun,” says Marchbein.
Begin in Your Mid ’20s or Early ’30s
Thirty has long been the banner year for introducing retinol into one’s routine, but motivated by early signs of aging, such as sun spots or crows feet, or simply eager to get a head start and utilize the latest technologies, many women are starting before then and under the careful watch of their dermatologist. “Your mid-twenties are a great time to start using retinol,” says Ellen Marmur, M.D. “Many patients who have used it for years swear by it.”
Integrate Retinol Slowly and Gently
“Balance is critical,” cautions Bowe. “Retinol can be very irritating if used too frequently or if the formulation is too strong for your skin.” She recommends starting off with a pea-sized amount of a low percentage over-the-counter formula (.01% to 0.03%), and using it “two times per week, slowly increasing the usage to give the skin a chance to acclimate.” And in that spirit, there’s a spate of new time-release formulas fit for skin types prone to redness or breakouts. “They’re a good option for people who have sensitive skin,” explains New York dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD. “It releases the active ingredient over time and may offer less irritation.” In terms of prescription retinol versus something over the counter, the former is much more potent with a higher percentage of retinol and one may graduate to it over time, says Bowe.
Don’t Stop At Your Face
When applying a retinol-infused elixir, don’t neglect your neck or décolletage, which are areas notorious for showing the signs of aging, yet often neglected. “If those zones seem too sensitive for your current formula, add a squirt of ceramide-enriched moisturizer before smoothing it on, or pick up a separate retinoid made specifically for the area in question,” says Bowe. “They typically contain a lower dose of vitamin A, zero fragrance, and loads of soothers.”
As fall approaches and temperatures drop, skin tends to become dryer. On top of richer moisturizers, face oils, and serums, a hydrating face mask every now and then can help the skin retain moisture. “Hydrating masks are so important because they replenish the skin with moisture that was lost through time,” says Samantha Mims, in-house esthetician at Brooklyn Face & Eye. “With weather getting colder, now is a great time to start incorporating those H20 masks in your routine.”
Here, 14 hydrating face masks to add into your skin-care routine this fall (and beyond!), to give your skin the nourishing boost it deserves.
Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask with Vitamin C
Esthetician and Fenty Skin ambassador Sean Garrette considers this overnight concoction one of the best face masks because “it plumps, hydrates, and soothes stressed and dehydrated skin.” It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid, squalane, and antioxidants like vitamin C, prickly pear, goji, açaí, and vitamin E.
Breakouts on the rise? This mask is soothing, hydrating, and purifying. Created by Temi Shobowale, the Botanical Masque is perfect for reducing inflammation thanks to chamomile flower extract. Kaolin clay, which is detoxifying, helps to remove impurities from the skin. It’s also brightening and energizing due to the vitamin C within the maca root.
While nourishing the skin, this face mask helps to fight against damage with vitamins B12 and E. CBD helps to soothe and smooth the skin’s texture, reducing redness and inflammation. If you’re looking to combat hyperpigmentation, this mask’s shiitake mushroom extract will lend a hand.
This gentle exfoliating mask is an all-in-one facial treatment in a tube. It offers a great hydrating reset for skin in need. Standout ingredients include chestnut extract, which offers a natural exfoliating experience; vitamin C for a brightening boost and skin-barrier nourishment; and anti-aging niacinamide, which also helps with pore reduction, smoothing fine lines, and wrinkles.
This mask is great for sensitive skin. It’s a favorite of Mims, who recommends it for its “hydrating components like hyaluronic acid, in addition to its botanical extracts like geranium and rose to help fight bacteria and inflammation.”
Filled with aloe vera and rose water, this facial mask is equally soothing and hydrating. It’s part cleanser and part exfoliant, helping to keep hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, and overall skin dullness at bay.
Jacq’s Clarifying Green Smoothie Face Masque and Scrub
This mask’s bentonite clay removes impurities from the skin’s surface, while ginger essential oil hydrates and shields skin—call it the perfect ingredient for a self-care Sunday. Bamboo charcoal, Dead Sea salt, and tamanu oil offer an extra-clarifying boost.
Speaking of green, this powder-turns-gel mask is filled with superfoods you’d want in your smoothie, like spirulina, mango juice, chlorophyll, and chlorella. The results? Clearer, healthier, dewier skin.
Thankfully, toners, like the rest of your skincare routine, have evolved over the years. Today, many toners are alcohol-free, and instead, are used to refresh and treat the skin before you apply the rest of your serums and creams — without making you extra dry.
One such example is exfoliating toners, which are infused with chemical exfoliants such as AHA and BHA acids, which help to loosen and break up the dead skin cells clogging your pores, while also minimizing dark spots, and improving overall skin texture and tone. These formulas often include soothing and hydrating ingredients to balance out the exfoliation.
“The use of a toner can have the added benefit of mechanical removal of skin debris,” says Dr. Melanie Palm, board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in San Diego, Calif. “Simple application of a skincare product such as a serum does not lift off dull skin cells.”
Dr. Palm also notes that a toner can help balance pH level for the skin microenvironment.
When choosing an exfoliating toner, it’s important to consider your skin type and its needs. Dr. Palm says that those concerned with aging can benefit from using a formula with AHAs such as lactic or glycolic acids.
Acne-prone skin can see an improvement with BHAs such as salicylic acid, or a combination of both AHAs and BHAs. As for sensitive skin types, they may fair well with PHA acids, which are larger in molecular size and more gentle on the skin. The same goes for mandelic acid, an ingredient that is great for rosacea or redness.
While an exfoliating toner can be used daily, it’s best to introduce it slowly into your routine to prevent irritation. And if you have sensitive skin, Dr. Palm recommends using a liquid exfoliant once or twice a week at first to gauge how your skin handles it. She adds that if you are using anti-aging products such as retinoids or retinol, gradually start to use the toner over a period of days to weeks. But when in doubt, follow the usage instructions on the back of the bottle.
Finally, don’t expect clear, brighter skin over night.
While you may see some instant improvement, like a bit of a glow, it can take much longer to experience the full benefits of incorporating an exfoliating toner into your skincare routine.
“It takes 30 full days for the epidermal layer of the skin to turn over,” says Dr. Palm. “Therefore, I tell most patients to use a new topical product for two to three months (two to three cycles of epidermal turnover) to gauge response by the skin to active ingredients. However, many patients may notice changes prior to the three month mark.”
The discussion surrounding the ‘R’ word is a frenzied one. Retinoids (the umbrella term for retinol products) are powerful enough to improve skin texture, pigmentation, and tone in just a few drops of serum or dollops of cream. The transformative effects on your skin are due to very potent formulations, which have caused retinols to garner a lot of differing opinions — and even more questions. When should you use them (along with when should you definitely steer clear of them)? How do the formulas work? Are they compatible with sensitive skin? And even, how do you refer to them? Are they retinols? And what’s retin-A? These questions and more have confused many a skin-care fanatic.
Below are 11 myths about retinols and the truth behind them.
All these ingredients starting with ‘R’ (Retinol, Retinoic Acid) basically do the same thing.
Yes and no. Prescription formulas contain retinoic acid, the magic ingredient that fights visible aging; nonprescription alternatives need to be converted into retinoic acid by the skin at the cellular level. “In off-the-shelf formulas, the ingredient called retinol is the only derivative of vitamin A worth using,” says Dana Sachs, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School. “There’s a lot of literature showing that while retinol is more gentle than retinoic acid, biochemically it does exactly the same thing — it may just take longer to see results.” The same can’t be said for the derivatives called pro-retinols (aka, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, and retinyl linoleate), which are the most gentle — but weaker, too. Of the formulas shown here, Retin-A requires a prescription, but the others are available over the counter: Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 contains retinol, while Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream has retinyl propionate, a less irritating form of vitamin A.
Retinoids work by exfoliating your skin.
Honestly, we thought they swept away dead skin cells, too. “There’s often peeling and redness, but that’s a side effect of the irritation, not a true and even exfoliation like the one you get from an ingredient like glycolic acid,” says Sachs. “The peeling is certainly not why people start looking better. In fact, it’s why most people give it up.” Retinoids work at a much more profound level by affecting gene expression and causing enhanced collagen production, skin smoothing, and an evening of pigmentation.
You shouldn’t wear retinoids during the day because they increase your risk of sunburn.
Are you sitting down? “This is one of the biggest myths out there,” says Sachs. It’s true that retinoids break down in sunlight, which is why they are bottled in opaque packaging and are still best worn at night to make sure they aren’t rendered inactive. However, they do not make the skin more prone to sunburn. “This misconception came about because in some early studies, people described putting on a retinoid, walking into the sun, and immediately burning. But that redness is likely related to heat exposure,” says Sachs. “Clinical studies have shown pretty definitively that retinoids do not lower the MED — or minimal erythemal dos — of human skin, which is the amount of UV light you can take before the skin burns.”
You should always apply retinoids to dry skin.
Sometimes, even doctors break the rules: “I know the instructions on the box often recommend waiting until your face is completely dry before applying a retinoid,” says Sachs. “But there’s no evidence in the scientific literature I’ve seen that shows damp or wet skin exacerbates sensitivity.” And while we’re on the topic, applying a retinoid to damp skin doesn’t maximize its potency, either. “Nothing having to do with application decides how much of the retinol is converted into retinoic acid, the form of vitamin A that actually repairs skin,” Sachs says. “That’s solely related to your skin’s chemistry and retinoid receptors.”
You’ll need to wait four to six weeks for your retinoid to really work.
We wish. Turns out it’ll be double — or even triple — that amount of time, according to Gary Fisher, a professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School. “Many over-the-counter formulas claim you’ll see results within weeks,” says Fisher. “But in my experience, it takes an average of 12 weeks for retinoic acid to produce noticeable changes in the skin. So stick with it for at least that long to see the benefits.”
Gentle retinoids can be just as effective as stronger ones.
“The words ‘sensitive skin’ on a label (such as on RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream shown here) are often code for a low concentration of active ingredients,” says Sachs. However, dermatologists still recommend them because these lower concentrations (and soothing supplemental ingredients) make them the perfect gateway retinoid. “Once a patient with sensitive skin has tolerated a tube of that over a period of several weeks, we can then graduate to a stronger retinoid knowing the skin cells are now better adapted to handle it,” says Jonathan Weiss, an Atlanta-based dermatologist.
You should stop applying retinoid if your skin gets irritated.
In the words of our high-school cross-country coach, push through it. Irritation that flares up after adding vitamin A to your regimen is “all part of the process,” says Weiss. “We’ve seen clinically that after two or three weeks the skin cells adapt to the retinoic acid and begin to tolerate the ingredient.” The caveat: We’re talking about reasonably flushed, drier-than-usual, lightly peeling skin. “If the discomfort is prolonged or very uncomfortable, use it once a week or switch to a weaker formula,” says Sachs.
You can’t take your retinoid on vacation.
“A change in climate won’t suddenly make your skin react to a retinoid you were tolerating a few days earlier at home,” says Weiss. Once skin cells have adapted to the strength of the retinoid you’re applying, any irritation (called retinoid dermatitis) generally stops. “It’s unlikely to flare up again until you switch to something stronger,” says Weiss. Still, if you’re jumping on a long-haul flight or going skiing, it’s a good idea to layer a heavier moisturizer over your retinoid to avoid dryness, which makes skin more susceptible to irritation in general.
OK, but you shouldn’t take it with you on your beach vacation.
We’re still processing the fact that retinoids don’t increase your risk of sunburn, too. But get this: Combining retinoids with island hopping may even be a good thing. They not only boost collagen production, but may also have the potential to stop photoaging before it starts. “They’ve been shown to prevent the rise of collagenase — the enzyme that breaks down collagen — after UV exposure,” says Sachs.
Don’t put retinoids around your eyes. The skin there is too sensitive.
Not only can you, you really should — that’s where most of the damage shows up, says Weiss. “Studies have shown that people who apply retinoids right up to the eyes get the best results.” And if you get it in your eye? “It may sting a little, but it won’t do any harm,” says Weiss, and the skin there is no more likely to get red or flaky than anywhere else on the face.
The skin-smoothing benefits of retinoids plateau after six months.
“Several clinical studies have shown that prescription retinoids will significantly improve skin for over a year,” says Weiss — and Johnson & Johnson recently completed a trial demonstrating that over-the-counter retinol smooths wrinkles and fades blotches over 12 months, too. OK, so what are you supposed to do after the year is up? The answer isn’t to rush off and embrace a new ingredient (peptides, anyone?). Your skin may just be ready for a stronger prescription retinoid, says Weiss.
Dryness, dullness, signs of aging, or acne? There’s a toner for that.
Toners are one of skincare’s most fiercely debated topics, right next to physical exfoliators and eye cream. Here’s the thing: I would be skeptical of toners myself had I not witnessed their miracles firsthand. Honestly, I don’t feel like my skincare routine works effectively if I don’t prep my skin with a toner first.Toners act as the next nourishing and replenishing step after cleansing, and are meant to prep and prime your skin for skincare products to follow. Plus, with skincare technology getting better and better, toners are integrating ingredients that are clinically known to be effective. Just like hyaluronic acid in your serum will give your skin amazing hydration, the same ingredient in a toner will give you those skincare benefits in a lightweight, easy step.
For Problem Skin: Eve Lom Rescue Toner
For skin that comes with all the relatable concerns—redness, acne, unwanted bumps, irritation–this toner is a great solution for those issues and more. Formulated with AHAs and natural extracts, skin is gently exfoliated and soothed for great all-over improvement.
If you have the fun problem of dry skin that’s also sensitive, this hydrating spray toner is gentle enough to use daily. It comes in spray form that can either be spritzed directly on the face, or onto a cotton pad to be swiped on. With witch hazel, water, and cucumber extract, this toner feels lightweight but still offers a necessary dose of hydration.
For Dull Skin: Goodhabit Rescue Me Texture Magic Exfoliating Toner
This toner has a powerhouse of ingredients that work hard to resurface and brighten skin. With AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs, it might seem like this product isn’t gentle enough for sensitive skin. On the contrary, however, even those with sensitive skin can use this toner daily. An amazing bonus? This toner helps blocks the effects of blue light on the skin.
For anyone trying to get ahead of aging concerns and control unsightly breakouts, this toner was made for you. Formulated with lipo hydroxy acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid, this toner sloughs off dead skin while also purifying clogged pores. With daily use, you can look forward to firmer, brighter skin.
If toners seem to always cause sensitivity to your skin, this aloe vera-infused toner is the perfect pick. Irritation and redness have been historically treated with aloe vera, and this product utilizes the ingredient’s soothing properties.
For Irritated Skin: Feuillete Smooth Water Essence
If you’re a newbie to the whole toner business, this product is a great beginner product. There’s nothing this toner doesn’t do–it brightens, hydrates, and soothes. Whether your skin is sensitive, oily, or dry, this toner can treat all concerns. As an added benefit, it’s also fragrance-free for anyone with perfume sensitivity.
For Uneven Skin: Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener
For skin that is suffering from dryness, aging, or an uneven texture, this product is the key to solve all those issues. With a myriad of Japanese superfoods, this gentle toner plumps the skin and softens roughness caused by these skin concerns.
For Bumpy Skin: Sisley Paris Botanical Floral Toning Lotion
Formulated with natural extracts, this toner turns irritated, rough skin into a softened, hydrated textured. It is alcohol-free, which makes it a good option for dry and sensitive skin that is suffering from bumpiness, roughness, or redness. To truly immerse yourself in the French lifestyle, use this toner twice a day and soak in the goodness.
For Inflamed Skin: Truly CBD Jelly Toning Solution
This jelly-textured toner, which contains glycolic acid and CBD, is a hero for skin that needs effective exfoliation but is prone to inflammation. Glycolic acid effectively exfoliates while CBD calms the skin. For anyone that has sensitive skin and is hesitant to use chemical exfoliator but wants to be free of the pollution and dead skin cells that clog pores, this product is for you.
For Severely Dehydrated Skin: Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid
If your dry skin leaves you with flakes, rough patches, and uncomfortable tightness or cracked areas, this toner is the perfect solution. Packed with moisturizing ceramides, this toner soaks into the skin to deliver long-lasting hydration.
For anyone who wants to carry summer with them wherever they go, this watermelon-scented toner delivers tightening and exfoliating effects without stripping the skin. With PHA and BHA acids, it gently exfoliates and reduces the appearance of pores. Not to mention, it’s also incredibly hydrating thanks to the hefty amount of hyaluronic acid.
For Aging Skin: Guerlain Abeille Royale Anti-Aging Fortifying Lotion Toner
This toner is water-light and formulated to treat signs of aging. Guerlain Royal Jelly, black bee repair technology, and honey all work together to protect the skin from future aging, while also reversing fine lines and wrinkles. Even better, Guerlain partnered with Brittany Black Bee Conservatory to sustainably source their ingredients while protecting the bee population.
For Oily Skin: Shani Darden Skin Care Sake Toning Essence
While toners and essences often get lumped into one category, this product takes the best of both to treat oily skin. With sake water, niacinamide, and natural extracts, this toner brightens skin, controls oil production, all while diminishing the appearance of pores. A cult-favorite product, this toner has a host of fans that rave about its effectiveness.