The Best Face Scrubs Under $20

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.

$10 (Shop Now)

Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Gel

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.

$15 (Shop Now)

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefuit Exfoliating Scrub

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.

$11 (Shop Now)

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.

$9 (Shop Now)

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub

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.

$12 (Shop Now)

Bliss Micro Magic

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.

$13 (Shop Now)

La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Scrub

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.

$18 (Shop Now)

L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Scrub Nourish & Soften

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.

$10 (Shop Now)

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub

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.

$8 (Shop Now)

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.

$10 (Shop Now)

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.

$10 (Shop Now)

St. Ives Energizing Coconut & Coffee Scrub

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.

$5 (Shop Now)

Yes To Grapefruit Daily Facial Scrub

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.

$7 (Shop Now)

Bioré Charcoal Pore Minimizer

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.

$10 (Shop Now)

Mario Badescu Kiwi Face Scrub

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!

$15 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

The Dos and Don’ts of Mixing Skincare Ingredients

So, you’re new to skincare. Or, maybe you’ve decided it’s time to take your routine to the next level with more than just a simple cleanser and moisturizer. Either way, you’ve done the research, read some online reviews, and stocked up on products in your budget that will treat your main areas of concern. Now, you just need to figure out whether the ingredients in all of these creams, serums, and masks work harmoniously.

Welcome to skincare mixology 101. Second to picking formulas for your skin type and issues, it’s important that all of the products in your routine compliment one another so you can actually see results. “Mixing ingredients without proper knowledge of how these ingredients work and what other ingredients they may interact with will be not only a waste of money, but also time. It can also lead to frustration if less than expected results are seen (or if the skin becomes irritated),” says Dr. Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

Skin irritation is another big factor to consider when curating the product lineup in your skincare routine. “Your skincare routine should include products that complement each other in order to avoid over-drying, over-exfoliating, or irritating the skin,” adds Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology. “More is not always better.”

With the help of both dermatologists, INSTYLE editors have put together a complete guide of the dos and don’ts of mixing and matching the most popular skincare ingredients found in products.

Retinol

Ah, retinol. It’s one of the most revered skincare ingredients that dermatologists love to recommend. Also known as vitamin A, what makes retinol so great is that it promotes skin cell turnover, which can help improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin texture, dark spots, and acne. The only catch? Retinol can be extremely irritating. “Retinol is an effective anti-aging ingredient, but can exacerbate skin dryness,” explains Dr. Lortscher.

Do Mix: Retinol with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides as well as SPF.

“Make sure to moisturize; humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid can draw and hold water molecules to the surface layers of your skin, while oil-based emollient ingredients help seal in moisture.” It’s also important to keep in mind that retinol can make you more sensitive to the sun.

“SPF should be worn religiously every day of the year, not only to prevent skin cancers, wrinkles and sun spots, but because many other ingredients we apply to our skin including retinol and retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to the sun,” says Dr. Marchbein.

Don’t Mix: Retinol with vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and AHA/BHA acids.

AHA and BHA acids are exfoliating, which can dry out skin and cause further irritation if your skincare routine already includes retinol.

As for benzoyl peroxide and retinol, they cancel each other out. “It is not recommended to use benzoyl peroxide and retinoids together as they can literally cancel each other out rendering them less effective,” explains Dr. Marchbein.

Vitamin C 

“Vitamin C protects the skin from oxidative free radical damage and works best in the morning,” says Dr. Marchbein. This ingredient also brightens the skin and can even lighten dark spots.

Do Mix: Vitamin C with antioxidants and SPF.

When vitamin C is used with other antioxidants like vitamin E, it can boost results and efficiency. The same goes for wearing vitamin C under sunscreen. “Vitamin C serums should always be layered under sunscreen because they compliment one another and will protect skin against UV damage,” explains Dr. Marchbein.

Don’t Mix: Vitamin C with retinol.

In contrast to vitamin C, retinol and retinoids build collagen and help repair the skin, so they’re best used overnight. Since vitamin C thrives in the daytime, it’s best to keep these ingredients separate from each other because they have such different functions.

AHA/BHA Acids 

Salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids are all effective exfoliants that can improve skin texture, tone, and in the case of SA, treat acne. That being said, all three of these acids can dehydrate and irritate skin. The bottom line: When using products with AHA or BHA acids, follow up with a hydrating product.

Do Mix: AHA/BHA acids with moisturizing ingredients and SPF.

“Moisturizing after applying AHA and BHA is extremely important so as to limit irritation. Look for ceramides, petrolatum, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin to hydrate and soothe skin,” says Dr. Marchbein. Using a product that combines multiple low-level AHA and BHA acids can be an extremely effective way to exfoliate and unclog pores.

Like retinol, AHA/BHA acids can cause sun sensitivity. While you should be wearing sunscreen every day regardless of what products are in your skincare routine, it’s extra important to not skip this step when you’re using these ingredients.

Don’t Mix: AHA/BHA acids with retinol.

“I strongly caution those also using retinoids for acne or anti-aging as the combination with various acids may cause excessive skin sensitivity, irritation, and redness. In fact, AHA and BHA should not typically be used together with retinoids on the same day,” explains Dr. Marchbein. “Also, be careful combining various acids or even physical and chemical exfoliants, as this can lead to irritation and even eczema.”

Benzoyl Peroxide 

Benzoyl peroxide can be a game-changing addition to your skincare routine if you have acne-prone skin. The caveat? It’s another drying ingredient. “Because acne treatments in general can cause dryness and irritation of the skin, combining them together needs to be done with caution and every other part of the skincare routine (i.e. cleanser and moisturizers) need to be extremely gentle and ultra hydrating, respectively,” explains Dr. Marchbein.

Do Mix: Benzoyl Peroxide with gentle hydrating ingredients, SPF, and topical antibiotics.

Along with moisturizing ingredients that can buffer the dehydrating effects of benzoyl peroxide, the acne-fighting component can be used in conjunction with prescription topical treatments like clindamycin. SPF should also be worn every day.

Don’t Mix: Benzoyl peroxide with retinol, acne prescription tretinoin with caution.

As previously mentioned, benzoyl peroxide and retinol can deactivate one another when used together. While prescription acne treatments can be used with BP, tretinoin requires extra care.

Dr. Lortscher explains: “Depending upon how the product is formulated, benzoyl peroxide may inactivate tretinoin somewhat if they are mixed together in the same bottle. They do appear to work just fine in our experience, when applied to the skin one after the other — and it does not matter in which order, just rub one product in gently and completely before applying the other,” he says. “If you want to minimize any chance of interaction if you are using tretinoin, apply the tretinoin-containing formulation in the PM, and use your benzoyl peroxide in the AM, or use a wash-off benzoyl peroxide cleanser rather than layering a leave-on benzoyl peroxide.”

Niacinamide 

Otherwise known as vitamin B3, this antioxidant is an anti-inflammatory that can brighten skin and even out discoloration.

Do Mix: Niacinamide with (almost) every ingredient in your skincare routine.

“Because niacinamide is anti-inflammatory, the skin reacts very minimally to it, and side effects such as irritation are unusual,” Dr. Lortscher explains. “It should be compatible with most other skincare products, and for best results, use a leave-on product such as a moisturizer.”

Don’t Mix: Niacinamide and vitamin C.

Although they’re both antioxidants, vitamin C is one ingredient that’s not compatible with niacinamide. “Both are very common antioxidants used in a variety of skincare products, but they should not be used one right after the other,” says Dr. Marchbein. “Their potency is significantly diminished when used together, unless application is spaced by at least 10 minutes between each serum.”

SPF

If you’re going to use one skincare product, make it SPF. It’s the only way to effectively protect skin from cancer and environmental aggressors, which can lead to premature signs of aging. Given its importance, SPF can be layered over any skincare ingredient.

Do Mix: SPF can (and should) be used in any and every skincare routine.

Don’t Mix: SPF with makeup or moisturizers.

Yes, SPF can feel like an extra step in an already-extensive skincare routine, but don’t try to take shortcuts. “Don’t mix your sunscreen with your makeup or moisturizer and apply as one—sunscreen should be applied as a single layer to preserve the protection factors,” says Dr. Lortscher.

INSTYLE article

This Drugstore Secret Is the Key to Smooth and Glowy Skin

I would say the end skincare goal for pretty much all of us is healthy, smooth, and glowy skin. We’ll pay a lot of money for products from cleansers to moisturizers to serums to get there. The only hitch is that there are many paths to “good” skin, and it all depends on your skin type. The products you use for your oily skin might not exactly work on your friend with dry skin.

One skincare item that can help across the board? A good exfoliant. Now, the specific product you choose depends on your skin’s needs, but some exfoliation every now and then will help slough off dead skin cells, reveal smooth skin, and encourage skin renewal. If you have oily, acne-prone, or combination skin, it might help to exfoliate once or twice a week. For sensitive and dry skin types, however, you might be better off limiting your usage to once a week or even less frequently. Bottom line: Everyone should keep an exfoliating product on hand, no matter their skin type.

There are different types of exfoliants, too. Mechanical ones are the scrubs, sugars, and brushes out there. Chemical exfoliants contain ingredients like alpha hydroxy (glycolic and lactic), beta hydroxy (salicylic), and polyhydroxy acids. While the word “chemical” might sound scary, these products are often much gentler on the skin than the mechanical exfoliants since some of those scrubs can be irritating or harsh.

The sheer volume of exfoliating products out there can get overwhelming and can range from high-end to budget friendly. While I love the splurge-y exfoliants that really do the work, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a quality item—there are a ton of drugstore and affordable buys.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Facial Scrub ($5)

This exfoliating scrub is gentle enough for everyday use because it has a moisturizing soy extract and jojoba and castor oils. It’s also noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser ($7)

Neutrogena’s cleanser is both a mechanical and chemical exfoliant. It contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids to brighten the skin’s complexion and reduce the appearance of pores.

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub ($16)

With superfine granules, this scrub is okay to use on sensitive skin. It’s formulated with skin conditioners and vitamins to nourish and soften skin.

L’Oréal Revitalift Bright Reveal Facial Cleanser ($5)

L’Oréal’s daily cleanser is another mechanical and chemical exfoliant combo. It has micropearls and glycolic acid, which work to slough off dead skin cells and improve skin tone and texture.

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser ($22)

CeraVe’s cleanser is a great option for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It’s formulated with salicylic acid to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin D to smooth and hydrate the skin.

Burt’s Bees Refining Cleanser ($9)

If retinol irritates your skin, this cleanser might give you the same benefits without any problems. It’s formulated with bakuchiol, which is a gentler, natural alternative to retinol. The cleanser will smooth wrinkles and hydrate (thanks to vitamin E).

Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub ($6)

As its name suggests, this scrub really gets deep into skin to clear pores and remove dirt, oil, and makeup. When you apply it, you’ll feel a tingly, cooling sensation, which is so refreshing.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent Toner ($24)

Formulated for acne-prone and oily skin, this toner can be used to unclog and tighten pores. It contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and castor oil to prevent any irritation or dryness.

Honest Beauty Beauty Sleep Resurfacing Serum ($28)

This is one of the more unique exfoliating options on our list since it’s a serum that works to resurface skin overnight for a glowier complexion in the morning. Ingredients include five AHAs to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Purifying Cooling Gel and Exfoliating Face Scrub ($9)

This salicylic acid scrub works hard at clearing acne and clogged pores, but it won’t leave your skin irritated since the formula is a cooling gel. It’s never been more refreshing to exfoliate!

Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Gel ($15)

Oily skin gets relief with this gel scrub. It has both mechanical and chemical exfoliants, like microbeads and glycolic and salicylic acids, to remove dead skin cells and promote cell renewal. Antioxidants, laminaria, and vitamin E work to leave the skin soothed and radiant.

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub ($23)

Formulated with rice granules and vitamins B5 and E, this scrub works for all skin types to improve dull skin. It doesn’t contain dyes or perfumes.

Avène Gentle Exfoliating Gel ($20)

Here’s yet another mechanical and chemical combo. This exfoliating gel purifies pores and increases cell turnover thanks to exfoliating microspheres, salicylic acid, and zinc gluconate. It also contains spring water to soothe redness and inflammation.

Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub ($6)

This scrub not only works to unclog pores and slough off dead skin cells, but it also has acne-fighting benefits, courtesy of salicylic acid. And because it clears out dirt and oil, it can prevent future breakouts.

L’Oréal Pure-Clay Face Mask ($10)

Use this face mask up to three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes to even skin texture and leave your face looking glowy. It’s formulated with clay, red algae, and volcanic rock to exfoliate and smooth the skin’s surface.

WHOWHATWEAR article

What Is Retinol & How To Use It (Everything You Need to Know)

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.”

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The 10 Best Micellar Waters, According to Thousands of Reviews

Originally a French skincare staple, micellar water is a multitasking product loved for its ability to cleanse skin and remove makeup, all in one step. It’s a great alternative to makeup wipes and face washes, especially for busy people, because it’s gentle yet effective. 

As dermatologist Dr. Fayne Frey previously told InStyle, micellar water works by using micelles (a.k.a. tiny molecules that remove dirt, makeup, and other impurities) to cleanse your skin, and it doesn’t contain soap or other ingredients that might cause irritation. And it’s super easy to use, so there’s no reason to skip it at night. All you have to do is soak a cotton pad with micellar water and gently wipe your face to remove the day’s grime—no rinsing required.

These are the 10 best micellar waters to buy in 2020:

Best Overall: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water 

With an average 4.6-star rating across over 6,800 reviews, Bioderma’s micellar water is the most popular one on Amazon. It’s great for all skin types, and it’s even gentle enough for sensitive skin. Plenty of customers call it their “holy grail” skincare product because of how well it works. “I fell in love the first time I used it,” wrote one shopper. “Removes my face makeup easily and gently and does not irritate my very sensitive skin. It also does not leave a greasy residue.” It’s available in a few different bottle sizes (even a small one for travel!), and you can also opt for a bottle with a pump instead of the traditional cap. 

Buy on Amazon $5-15

Best Value: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

At just $7 for a generously sized bottle, this micellar water from Garnier will get you the most bang for your buck. It works super well on different skin types, and thousands of Amazon shoppers agree. Reviewers say they rely on this affordable option to take off their makeup at the end of each day, and there’s even a version designed for waterproof makeup. “After I washed my face with this cleanser, I actually felt like I could ‘feel’ my face,” one person wrote. “Like this entire time there has been a small layer of yuck keeping me from that fresh, clean feeling.” 

Buy on Amazon $9

Best for Waterproof Makeup: L’Oreal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water

If you’re looking for a micellar water to remove heavy or waterproof makeup, then consider this option from L’Oreal. Even though it’s tough enough to remove the most stubborn long-wear makeup, it’s still dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested for safety. One customer raved about how well it removed their “full glam” makeup look: “The thing that literally made me say ‘wow’ out loud was my lipstick removal,” they wrote. “I have been wearing the same stuff for years and it stays all day/night with zero transfer, but it can be a pain to get every last trace of it removed. In just three swipes, my lipstick was gone! And no heavy rubbing or scrubbing!”

Buy on Amazon $9

Best Drugstore Option: Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

This micellar water from drugstore brand Simple is another budget-friendly option, especially for anyone trying micellar water for the first time, since it comes in a small 6.7-ounce bottle. Shoppers especially love that the formula uses simple ingredients (including vitamins B3 and C) to remove impurities from the skin without causing irritation. “It’s gentle on the eyes and I don’t feel like I need to wash my face after removing my makeup,” said one customer.

Buy on Amazon $7

Best High-End Option: Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water

Based on all of the Sephora shoppers who’ve given it five-star reviews, this micellar water from Lancôme is worth the splurge. Not only do customers say it removes their makeup well, but they love how it makes their skin feel after applying it. “This is one of my most favorite ‘buy it again’ products,” wrote one person. “It’s incredibly gentle, smells delicately amazing, and is such a huge time saver because it works on eye makeup too.” 

Buy at Sephora $40

Best for Oily Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micellar Cleansing Water

Specially formulated for people with oily skin, La Roche-Posay’s micellar water won’t leave your face looking greasy after each application. It uses the brand’s signature Thermal Spring Water, an antioxidant-rich solution that soothes skin while removing dirt and makeup. Another notable ingredient is zinc, which can help fight oil and acne without clogging your pores. “I’m absolutely horrible about washing my face before I go to bed, so I’m always looking for products that are quick and easy,” said one customer. “This got off all my makeup and did not sting my eyes or leave my skin feeling irritated, as most toners do. And even though I didn’t rinse it off, my skin actually felt clean.”

Buy on Amazon $16

Best for Sensitive Skin: Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water

Although micellar waters are generally safe for sensitive skin, Caudalie’s version contains two calming ingredients that make it stand out from the rest: organic chamomile and grape water. The chamomile extract moisturizes sensitive skin, while the organic grape water (found in many of the brand’s best-selling products) reduces redness and soothes skin. And since the rest of this micellar water’s ingredients are considered clean and safe, it’s even earned the “Clean at Sephora” seal. “[It] feels very gentle and refreshing and will last much longer than those 25 packs of harsh makeup remover wipes,” wrote one customer. “I am extremely acne-prone and have not noticed a problem there either.”

Buy $14-28 on Amazon or Sephora

Best for Dry Skin: Garnier SkinActive All-in-1 Hydrating Micellar Cleansing Water 

If over-washing your dry skin leaves your face feeling tight or irritated, using a hydrating micellar water can help prevent that. This one from Garnier is similar to the one featured above, except it uses rose water and glycerin to moisturize skin. Shoppers say it leaves their face “fresh and clean.” One person wrote: “I have very dry, acne-prone skin and this cleanses without being too harsh or drying…I use this with an exfoliating cotton pad and it works wonders for my skin.”     

Buy on Amazon $7

Best Anti-Aging Option: IT Cosmetics Miracle Water Micellar Cleanser

This powerful option from IT Cosmetics is packed with skincare ingredients that make it an anti-aging treatment and makeup remover all in one. The multitasking micellar water contains collagen and peptides, which will smooth and firm your skin while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. “It leaves my skin soft with a noticeable glow and doesn’t dry out or aggravate my sensitive skin,” wrote one customer. “I’ve found that it really helps keep my skin balanced even in the dry Canadian winter.”  

Buy at Sephora $38

Best Wipes: Burt’s Bees Micellar Cleansing Towelettes

Even though they’re not in liquid form like the others on this list, these Burt’s Bees wipes use micellar water to cleanse your skin without the need for cotton pads. Each resealable pack comes with 30 wipes so you can feel fresh and clean, even while on the go. In addition to the micellar technology that removes makeup and impurities, they also contain rose water, which is a calming, anti-inflammatory ingredient that shoppers say makes the wipes smell amazing. “Loved how they got off all my makeup and made my skin feel so refreshed after,” one person wrote. 

Buy on Amazon $6

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The 14 Best Retinol Products of 2020

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.

Buy on Amazon $69

OLAY Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum

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.”

Buy at Walmart $20

Verso Night Cream

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. 

Buy at Dermstore $90

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Face Moisturizer

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.

Buy at Walmart $18

Dr. Brandt Skincare 24/7 Retinol Eye Cream

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.

Buy at Sephora $55

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.” 

Buy at Dermstore $88

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. 

Buy at Dermstore $120

Jordan Samuel Skin Retinol Treatment Oil

Thanks to the addition of soothing and hydrating marula oil, this retinol treatment oil works as a moisturizer, too — so you can apply as the last step in your skincare routine and call it a night.

Buy on their website $43

Skinbetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream

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. 

Buy on their website $125

The Ordinary Advanced Retinol 2%

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.

Buy at Sephora $10

LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream Moisturizer

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.

Buy on Amazon $20

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

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. 

Buy at Sephora $74

RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream Treatment

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.

Buy on Amazon $18

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.’”

Buy on Amazon $50

INSTYLE article

10 Of The Best Affordable Skincare Brands To Try Now

Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you most expensive luxury skincare. But in beauty, not all of the most effective products come with an astronomical price tag. Myriad affordable skincare brands offer all of the best active ingredients in effective and luxurious-feeling formulations that don’t cost the earth. “I often find that people tend to equate uber-cheap prices to a poor quality product,” says medical and aesthetic doctor, Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe. “But that isn’t always the case. A lot of these cheaper brands can afford to conduct research and create products that are highly effective.”

The problem is, consumers often assume that the more expensive a product is, the better it will be, and in a confusing and crowded skincare market where there is always a new product being touted for its miracle effects, we end up going around in circles. The reality is, a consistent approach to skincare that incorporates good quality ingredients (that you can afford to continue buying) is important for the quality of skin, so it’s worthwhile getting to know the affordable skincare brands that keep prices reasonable, without scrimping on efficacy. 

If you’re wondering if there are still certain products worth splurging a little more on, Ukeleghe says the answer is yes. “You can compromise on cost when it comes to products such as cleansers and moisturisers, but I’d stress that this isn’t so much the case with serums,” she says. Every good skincare routine includes a cleanser, a moisturiser, a hydrating product and an SPF, and she says cleansers and moisturisers (read on for our pick of the best affordable options on the market), and in some instances SPF, are the products you can get away with paying less for.

“You can save on SPF as there are some great, affordable formulations on the market, however I typically find that cost does matter, particularly if you want a formulation suitable for oily, acne-prone, sensitive skin or skin of colour,” she says. Once the backbone of your routine is in place, you can add in serums and masks, utilising ingredients like retinol, AHAs, BHAs, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid according to your skin concerns, from congestion to dullness.

Being prepared to invest in a serum is Ukeleghe’s main rule of thumb, since they tend to incorporate more expensive ingredients, bumping up the price. Brands like La Roche-Posay do offer serums that manage to be affordable and effective, so make them the starting point of your hunt for an inexpensive serum that delivers on its promises.

Here is the British Vogue beauty team’s pick of 10 of the best affordable skincare brands to try now.

La Roche-Posay

This French pharmacy brand is a favourite of editors, celebrities, and probably most of your friends, and that’s all thanks to its excellent formulations. There is a product for everyone: the Toleriane range is a favourite of those with sensitive skin (the new Ultra Dermallergo Serum is £28 and excellent at alleviating dryness and redness), while the brand’s Retinol B3 is a brilliant introduction to the best anti-ageing active around – and it’s great for sensitive skins too.

CeraVe

A brand developed with the help of dermatologists, CeraVe products are formulated around the founding principle that our skin barrier is integral to how our skin looks, performs and feels. To that end, each product contains ceramides, an ingredient that makes up half of our skin barrier, and they’re really quite brilliant. Two good entry points are the Hydrating Facial Cleanser, a product that lifts all make-up off without stripping the skin, and the Moisturizing Cream, which is a £5 tube of creamy heaven. 

The Ordinary

Renowned for its minimal prices, The Ordinary’s products don’t disappoint either. There’s a huge range of choice, but good first ports of call are the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, the Squalane Cleanser, and the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. If you become confused while perusing the website, the brand has recently launched virtual consultations on the Deciem website to connect you with team members over chat or video call, to help you decide what is best for your skin type.

L’Oréal Paris

Enjoy world-class skincare formulations with L’Oréal, whose consistent innovation in the skincare space makes it a rival for even the most expensive brands, without the lofty price tags. The brand’s new Age Perfect Golden Age Cooling Night Creamis £14.99, and helps re-cushion sallow skin thanks to the neo-calcium within the formula. Meanwhile, its Revitalift Laser Glycolic Acid Ampoules contain 10 per cent glycolic acid, and help to unclog pores, exfoliate the skin and leave it radiant; and the Revitalift Filler with 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid is an excellent choice for those who want to hydrate, plump, or simply boost their skin’s luminosity.

Simple

We should all aim for simplicity in our skincare routines, and Simple – unsurprisingly – offers us just that. You’ve probably tried the face wipes over the years, but a better choice is the milky Kind To Skin Purifying Cleansing Lotion or its micellar waters. The Hemp Ultra Calming Sheet Mask and facial moisturiser are two other stand-out products in the range – both leave skin feeling soothed and glowing.

Avéne

Another excellent French pharmacy brand (we have a lot to thank them for), Avéne’s speciality is sensitive skin, but its products are worth exploring for all skin types. After all, acne-prone skin also tends to be sensitive too. Look no further than the Hydrance Rich Hydrating Cream and Hydrance Aqua-Gel moisturisers (depending on your preferred consistency) to moisturise, and the Gentle Milk Cleanser to cleanse the skin without drying it out. The newest launch from the range is the Cleanance Comedomed, a cream containing a milk thistle-derived active ingredient called comedoclastin, which helps to reduce sebum and stop spots from forming in the pore. A must-try.

Garnier

Utilising the power of plants in its products, Garnier’s skincare products will appeal to those who like a natural approach to skincare. The Organic Lavandin Anti-Age Facial Sleeping Cream is enriched with jojoba and argan oils, and leaves skin hydrated, supple and smooth when you wake up in the morning. And if you haven’t tried its Moisture Bomb sheet masks, where have you been, exactly? The Night Time Face Tissue Mask with deep sea water and hyaluronic acid is second to none.

Super Facialist

From face wash to eye cream, Super Facialist offers a broad range of skincare products categorised by skin issue. For those who want to encourage luminosity back into the skin, the Vitamin C range is a good choice (the Brighten Booster can be mixed with your moisturiser for supercharged results), while the blemish prone will love its Salicylic Acid line, which utilises salicylic as its star ingredient – the Pore Purifying Clay Mask is a stand out.

Vichy

With some seriously cult products under its belt, Vichy gives great skincare. Its newest launch, the Minéral 89 Fortifying Sheet Mask, is made up of 89 per cent Vichy mineralising water (which is ultra soothing – and its signature ingredient), and hyaluronic acid, delivering a major boost to skin’s hydration levels. Another star product in the same range is the Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster – it’s packed full of hyaluronic acid, so ideal to use morning and night.

The Body Shop

You probably already know it makes great body creams, but The Body Shop’s skincare offering is just as strong. If you’re yet to try its Aloe Soothing Body Butter, now is the time – it’s an ideal accompaniment to facial massage, and helps to calm irritated skin. Those who suffer from spots will love the Tea Tree line, while those with mature skin should look to the Drops of Youth collection.

VOGUE article

The 10 Best Micellar Waters, According to Thousands of Reviews

Originally a French skincare staple, micellar water is a multitasking product loved for its ability to cleanse skin and remove makeup, all in one step. It’s a great alternative to makeup wipes and face washes, especially for busy people, because it’s gentle yet effective. 

As dermatologist Dr. Fayne Frey previously told InStyle, micellar water works by using micelles (a.k.a. tiny molecules that remove dirt, makeup, and other impurities) to cleanse your skin, and it doesn’t contain soap or other ingredients that might cause irritation. And it’s super easy to use, so there’s no reason to skip it at night. All you have to do is soak a cotton pad with micellar water and gently wipe your face to remove the day’s grime—no rinsing required.

These are the 10 best micellar waters to buy in 2020:

Best Overall: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water 

With an average 4.6-star rating across over 6,800 reviews, Bioderma’s micellar water is the most popular one on Amazon. It’s great for all skin types, and it’s even gentle enough for sensitive skin. Plenty of customers call it their “holy grail” skincare product because of how well it works. “I fell in love the first time I used it,” wrote one shopper. “Removes my face makeup easily and gently and does not irritate my very sensitive skin. It also does not leave a greasy residue.” It’s available in a few different bottle sizes (even a small one for travel!), and you can also opt for a bottle with a pump instead of the traditional cap. 

Best Value: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

At just $7 for a generously sized bottle, this micellar water from Garnier will get you the most bang for your buck. It works super well on different skin types, and thousands of Amazon shoppers agree. Reviewers say they rely on this affordable option to take off their makeup at the end of each day, and there’s even a version designed for waterproof makeup. “After I washed my face with this cleanser, I actually felt like I could ‘feel’ my face,” one person wrote. “Like this entire time there has been a small layer of yuck keeping me from that fresh, clean feeling.” 

Best for Waterproof Makeup: L’Oreal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water

If you’re looking for a micellar water to remove heavy or waterproof makeup, then consider this option from L’Oreal. Even though it’s tough enough to remove the most stubborn long-wear makeup, it’s still dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested for safety. One customer raved about how well it removed their “full glam” makeup look: “The thing that literally made me say ‘wow’ out loud was my lipstick removal,” they wrote. “I have been wearing the same stuff for years and it stays all day/night with zero transfer, but it can be a pain to get every last trace of it removed. In just three swipes, my lipstick was gone! And no heavy rubbing or scrubbing!”

Best Drugstore Option: Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

This micellar water from drugstore brand Simple is another budget-friendly option, especially for anyone trying micellar water for the first time, since it comes in a small 6.7-ounce bottle. Shoppers especially love that the formula uses simple ingredients (including vitamins B3 and C) to remove impurities from the skin without causing irritation. “It’s gentle on the eyes and I don’t feel like I need to wash my face after removing my makeup,” said one customer.

Best High-End Option: Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water

Based on all of the Sephora shoppers who’ve given it five-star reviews, this micellar water from Lancôme is worth the splurge. Not only do customers say it removes their makeup well, but they love how it makes their skin feel after applying it. “This is one of my most favorite ‘buy it again’ products,” wrote one person. “It’s incredibly gentle, smells delicately amazing, and is such a huge time saver because it works on eye makeup too.” 

Best for Oily Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micellar Cleansing Water

Specially formulated for people with oily skin, La Roche-Posay’s micellar water won’t leave your face looking greasy after each application. It uses the brand’s signature Thermal Spring Water, an antioxidant-rich solution that soothes skin while removing dirt and makeup. Another notable ingredient is zinc, which can help fight oil and acne without clogging your pores. “I’m absolutely horrible about washing my face before I go to bed, so I’m always looking for products that are quick and easy,” said one customer. “This got off all my makeup and did not sting my eyes or leave my skin feeling irritated, as most toners do. And even though I didn’t rinse it off, my skin actually felt clean.”

Best for Sensitive Skin: Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water

Although micellar waters are generally safe for sensitive skin, Caudalie’s version contains two calming ingredients that make it stand out from the rest: organic chamomile and grape water. The chamomile extract moisturizes sensitive skin, while the organic grape water (found in many of the brand’s best-selling products) reduces redness and soothes skin. And since the rest of this micellar water’s ingredients are considered clean and safe, it’s even earned the “Clean at Sephora” seal. “[It] feels very gentle and refreshing and will last much longer than those 25 packs of harsh makeup remover wipes,” wrote one customer. “I am extremely acne-prone and have not noticed a problem there either.”

Best for Dry Skin: Garnier SkinActive All-in-1 Hydrating Micellar Cleansing Water 

If over-washing your dry skin leaves your face feeling tight or irritated, using a hydrating micellar water can help prevent that. This one from Garnier is similar to the one featured above, except it uses rose water and glycerin to moisturize skin. Shoppers say it leaves their face “fresh and clean.” One person wrote: “I have very dry, acne-prone skin and this cleanses without being too harsh or drying…I use this with an exfoliating cotton pad and it works wonders for my skin.”     

Best Anti-Aging Option: IT Cosmetics Miracle Water Micellar Cleanser

This powerful option from IT Cosmetics is packed with skincare ingredients that make it an anti-aging treatment and makeup remover all in one. The multitasking micellar water contains collagen and peptides, which will smooth and firm your skin while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. “It leaves my skin soft with a noticeable glow and doesn’t dry out or aggravate my sensitive skin,” wrote one customer. “I’ve found that it really helps keep my skin balanced even in the dry Canadian winter.”  

Best Wipes: Burt’s Bees Micellar Cleansing Towelettes

Even though they’re not in liquid form like the others on this list, these Burt’s Bees wipes use micellar water to cleanse your skin without the need for cotton pads. Each resealable pack comes with 30 wipes so you can feel fresh and clean, even while on the go. In addition to the micellar technology that removes makeup and impurities, they also contain rose water, which is a calming, anti-inflammatory ingredient that shoppers say makes the wipes smell amazing. “Loved how they got off all my makeup and made my skin feel so refreshed after,” one person wrote. 

InStyle article