Great makeup begins with great skincare. Prep your skin with CeraVe Moisturizer ($11; target.com), a lightweight daily moisturizer for normal to dry skin. Follow up with Estee Lauder Illuminating Perfecting Primer, ($38; nordstrom.com), a luminous face primer that hydrates and brightens skin for a dewy finish. The duo will ensure a flawless base that keeps makeup in place all day.
Concealer and Foundation
Beginners can eliminate the risk of caked-on foundation by adding an opaque concealer to their kit. L.A. Girl concealer’s ($3; walmart.com) creaseless formula camouflages imperfections, allowing you to use less foundation. When paired with Makeup Forever’s HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($43; sephora.com) no one will be able to tell where your skin ends and the makeup begins. Bonus: It lasts for 24 hours and comes in 50 shades.
Eyebrow Pomade and Spoolie Brush
Among the most important features on your face: Your eyebrows. Every beginner needs a tool like the dual-sided Anastasia Beverly Hills brush ($18; macys.com) to sculpt perfect arches. The brand’s Dipbrow Pomade ($21; sephora.com) is also a beginner favorite as it’s easy to apply, smudge-proof, and waterproof — so it’s great even for oily skin types.
Eyeliner and Mascara
For a beginner, skip the false lashes and go straight for an all-star mascara and liner combo. Tag-team Kat Von D Tattoo Liner ($20; sephora.com), which gives the illusion of thicker fringe, with a few swipes of Benefit’s They’re Real Lengthening Volumizing Mascara to add dramatic length ($25; sephora.com).
Nude and Red Lipstick
No kit is complete without a super versatile nude and red lip color that can take you from day to night. Try Chanel Rouge Coco Shine ($38; chanel.com) for a hydrating nude and MAC Lipstick ($17; maccosmetics.com) for a universally flattering bold red that stays put for hours.
Brushes and Tools
In order to put apply your makeup properly, you’ll need to use the right tools. The Beautyblender ($20; sephora.com) is perfect for effortlessly blending foundations, blush, and concealer. For precise eye makeup and dusting on powders reach for Sonia Kashuk’s brush set ($40; target.com).
Blush and Highlighter
Add healthy color and a subtle glow to your skin with a classic blush and highlighter. Nars and Becca have both created cult favorites that are must-haves for every kit. Nars Blush in Orgasm, $30; sephora.com. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector, $41; sephora.com.
If you’re experimenting with eyeshadows, this Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eye Shadow Palette ($42; sephora.com) is perfect for you. It offers a range of everyday nudes, plus a hint of bright colors to play around with.
Q-Tips and Makeup Wipes
Even pros make mistakes — and dabbing a Q-Tip ($3; target.com) into lotion is their secret for instantly erasing errors. And for those nights when you’re too lazy to wash your face, makeup wipes will be your best friend. Try Cleanse by Lauren Napier ($40; net-a-porter.com), which comes with 50 individually packaged wipes you can throw in your travel bag to use on-the-go.
Of course, these are the basics to help get you started. The more you work, you will realize the need for more products, textures, and colours. Some additional items to this list include:
You may be inclined to believe the most transformative results come from expensive skincare products, but affordable options can be just as effective. This year, L’Oréal proved that to be true — one of its best-selling face creams earned the number one spot as the top-selling collagen moisturizer in America under $12.
As skin matures, it tends to produce less collagen, so the lightweight formula of the L’Oréal Collagen Face Moisturizer aims to rectify the loss by providing an instant surge of hydration, leaving skin smoother and more plump with consistent use. It can be applied both morning and night across the face, neck, and chest to smooth out deepening fine lines and wrinkles. Since the non-greasy anti-aging hero is non-comedogenic, it won’t ever clog up pores.
Nielsen data was used to determine that the moisturizer is a best-seller, and a number of Amazon shoppers swear by the anti-wrinkle treatment, too. The product has nearly 8,000 five-star ratings from them, with one reviewer claiming it’s “the best cream for anyone who wants to slow down the aging process.”
“I’m a very critical person and I must say that L’Oréal has killed it with this cream,” wrote another. “It actually makes my skin feel tighter without the feeling of uncomfort. The moisture in the cream really does what it says, it acts as a filler! And I can definitely tell the difference. This is going to be a part of my daily routine and I’m happy to say a part of my life moving forward!”
“Expensive creams don’t have a chance with how well this works,” said another. “The wrinkles on my forehead are no longer there, and the wrinkles on my chin are getting less and less noticeable. I will never need to change the facial cream I use again. I am 68, almost 69 years old, and my facial skin is now really soft, smooth and there are no blotches anywhere anymore.”
Shopping for a new moisturizer sounds great…until you’re actually shopping for a new moisturizer. Walking the aisles of Sephora or Target can feel a little like navigating the wild wild west of skincare, especially when you have dry skin. Dry types often need more attention: you want something hydrating enough to prevent flaking and painfully tight, parched skin. On the flip side, you don’t want something that’s going to clog your pores or leave you feeling greasy.
Considering not all face creams are created equal, where do you begin? Rather than spend your hard-earned money on products that may or may not work, ELLE editors brought in some major celebrity facialists for their suggestions on the best moisturizers for dry skin. Ahead, shop the products they use on their A-list clients.
FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN: iS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion
Celebrity esthetician Angela Caglia, the skin whisperer behind the glowy complexions of Helena Christensen and Minnie Driver, knows a thing or two about multitasking your skincare routine. For dry skin types that are also prone to breakouts, Caglia recommends her own line’s Detox Serum. “It’s made of hyaluronic acid to hydrate, chlorophyll to oxygenate the cells, and tea tree oil to help with breakouts.” She adds, “It’s perfect to replace your moisturizer in the summer for acne-prone skin.”
FOR UNDER MAKEUP: Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream
Yolanda Mata, better known by her Instagram handle, Yoli Glo, is sought after by YouTube stars like Patrick Starrr and Desi Perkins. She recommends prepping skin for makeup with Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Cream, saying, “it’s a deeply hydrating formula that glides onto the skin providing nourishment and hydration, while the Japanese purple rice leaves the skin glowing, protected, and prepared for smooth makeup application.” She also adds, “it’s something no one should live without, worth every penny.” Consider us sold.
FOR UNDER MAKEUP: Sanitas Balancing Moisturizer
If you’re looking for pre-makeup hydration, Gina Mari suggests Sanitas Balancing Moisturizer. She explains, “it contains niacinamide (B3), a powerful vitamin that promotes healthy cell function. It also leaves the skin with a matte finish for consumers who don’t want to look shiny or greasy.”
FOR EXTRA HYDRATION: Koh Gen Do Macro Vintage T3 Premium Oil
If your skin is feeling extra dry (even more than usual), Tokyo-based Koh Gen Do brand director and celebrity esthetician Megumi Setoguchi, recommends upgrading your go-to moisturizer. She suggests adding one to two drops of the Koh Gen Do T3 Premium Oil to your daily face cream. “Its light, water-like consistency easily penetrates dry, hardened surface skin and supports the hydration from within to bring suppleness,” she says. “During the dry winter months, I apply it over my makeup, even on hair and the body—it gives skin a beautiful glow.”
FOR EXTRA HYDRATION: Nurse Jamie EGF Stem Cell Complex
Nurse Jamie, the celebrity skin expert behind big names like Lea Michelle, Jessica Alba, and Lisa Rinna, among many others, recommends a fan favorite for super dry complexions. She says her namesake Nurse Jamie EGF Botanical Complex“provides intense hydration with hyaluronic acid and epidermal growth factor to increase cell renewal.” Finally, added shea butter also helps lock in hydration. Nurse Jamie says, “I love the stuff; I’d bathe in it if I could!”
FOR A NATURAL FORMULA: Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream
If you prefer to pick up your moisturizer on your next Target run, Caglia suggests you load up on Burt’s Bees’ Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream. Packed with rice and cotton extract, and soothing aloe, this formula provides tons of hydration without the addition of harsh irritants. Caglia adds, “this moisturizer is great for all skin types.”
FOR A NATURAL FORMULA: Angela Caglia Soufflé Moisturizer
If natural ingredients are an essential detail in your skincare selection, Caglia recommends giving her own Soufflé Moisturizer a try. “The texture is light, and it’s filled with the most soothing and brightening ingredients, like goat’s milk and essential fatty acids,” she says. But even if natural products aren’t your priority, she boasts the formula “will convert a long time La Mer user after one application.”
FOR A SPLURGE: Amore Pacific Time Response Skin Reserve Gel Crème
Mari says, “for the ultimate splurge, I love Amore Pacific’s Time Response Skin Reserve Gel Creme. At a whopping $450 for a 50ml jar, it’s a splurge, indeed. She describes it as “a gel texture that’s really lightweight and the 24-hour release formula leaves the skin hydrated for hours.” As it turns out, you really can put a price on amazing skin.
FOR A SPLURGE: La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream
La Mer’s The Moisturizing Soft Cream is, without a doubt, a cult-favorite in the beauty world. Nurse Jamie suggests it’s worth every penny saying, “incredibly light,” and not just light, “basically weightless, but really great for dry skin types since it is super replenishing.” And it’s a good thing it gets her stamp of approval because, at $335 for a 60ml jar, it’s definitely a commitment.
Digitally savvy make-up, a product trend loved by beauty professionals for its camera-ready luminosity, became more relevant than ever when we found ourselves socialising and working from our homes. Thanks to technical formulations and sheer textures, this wave of on-screen glow-givers enhance rather than erase, championing picture-perfect skin that, crucially, still looks natural in reality.
Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lip & Cheek Glow in Colour of Passion
A magical NEW! addition to Charlotte’s ICONIC Pillow Talk collection! Colour of Passion is a deep blushing berry-pink cream blush & lip tint.
Ultra-lightweight and comfortable, the moisturiser offers a barely-there feel on the skin, perfect for even bare-skin enthusiasts. Offering up to 24 hours of hydration, the moisturiser evens out the skin tone and provides a radiant finish. Antioxidants help to reinforce the skin’s natural defences against the damaging effects of daily environmental aggressors such as pollution. Enhance the natural beauty of your skin with this glowing formula.
Infused with a host of skincare benefits, the weightless foundation utilises Butterfly Bush Flower Extract to help protect the skin against potential damage caused by environmental aggressors. Hyaluronic Acid releases a nourishing burst of hydration, helping the skin to better maintain a supple and silky appearance.
Infused with light-reflecting micro-minerals that impart a fresh, dewy glow, the lightweight cream embraces your skin with essential moisture to plump and cushion. An energising blend of Kombucha, prebiotics and fermented Ginger is what powers this nourishing formula, bringing collective anti-ageing properties. Also enriched with fermented Green Tea Seed oil, the formula supports a healthy barrier function and respects the skin’s delicate microbiome.
The best in bronze, NARS presents the award-winningBronzing Powder.Available in four shimmering shades, this fabulous bronzer graces the skin with a sun kissed glow. Creating natural looking luminosity, the velvety texture melts into the skin for effortless blendability. Crafted from diffused powders, the formula delivers warmth and definition wherever you choose, bronzing the skin with a tanned tone. Finely milled, the powder is silky smooth and super blendable, applying evenly for a seamless finish. Thanks to its long lasting formula, this bronzer solemnly swears to stay in place all night long, keeping your makeup perfect so that you feel fresh and fierce. Choose the best, and don’t settle for less, with this infamous bronzer.
This lightweight Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray not only sets make up while blurring imperfections, it also hydrates and grants a dewy finish. Undetectable on the skin and applied via the finest mist you’ll ever come across, this hydrating mist creates a smooth, even and naturally radiant appearance for a healthy-looking complexion. The spray’s water-resistant properties also enhance foundation for maximum staying power, setting it in place for up to 24 hours. It’s our new obsession and it’s about to become your too.
Flecked with micro-shimmers, La Mer’s velvety bronzing powder creates a luminous sunkissed glow. It’s formulated with the vitamin-rich Miracle Broth™ to support a nourished, hydrated complexion with every swipe. Blend on the high points of your face to mirror a fresh-from-the-beach tan or use it to softly contour.
Perfect for everyday wear, Marc Jacobs Beauty’s light-reflecting Glow Away Dewy Coconut Face Luminzer with a doe-foot applicator makes it effortless to spot highlight your features for a dewy, lit-from-within look. With soothing and skin-conditioning ingredients, the lightweight, serum-like formula feels cushiony and blends like a dream.
For plumper, dewier skin, dermatologists recommend adding hyaluronic acid to your skincare routine.
Hyaluronic acid. Although somewhat difficult to say (and even harder to spell), the skincare ingredient, commonly found in your favorite serums, sheet masks, and moisturizers, is an important addition to your daily skincare regimen. That’s because the ingredient, a molecule that occurs naturally in the skin, binds to water to plump up your skin and give it that dewy, glowy effect. But hyaluronic acid does so much more than boost skin’s moisture levels, which is described by skincare experts to better explain the benefits of the ingredient.
What is hyaluronic acid?
“Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that occurs naturally in the skin, [and] it helps to bind water to collagen, trapping it in the skin, so that skin can appear plumper, dewier, and more hydrated,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, a dermatologist in Santa Monica, California.
Basically, hyaluronic acid increases hydration in the skin, which can keep your skin looking fresh, full, and bouncy. “The collagen in our dermis forms the structure of the skin,” Shainhouse says. “Natural hyaluronic acid is bound to collagen on one side and links to water molecules on the other, giving skin its plumpness.”
Why is hyaluronic acid so important?
As we age, we lose collagen and hyaluronic acid naturally, so the skin becomes dehydrated more easily. Also, harsh weather, heaters during the wintertime, certain skincare products, and underlying skin conditions can cause tiny breaks in the protective skin barrier, allowing water to escape. That’s why creating a tailored skincare regimen with moisturizing products can be extra beneficial.
“Hydrating skincare ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, glycerin, colloidal oatmeal, urea, propylene glycol, and sorbitol all act as ‘humectants’ that attract water to the skin in an effort to hydrate it,” Shainhouse says. These ingredients are widely used in products, such as moisturizers, eye creams, and serums, says cosmetic chemist Sandra Bontempo.
By using these products, like the Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster, you’ll firm the skin around the eye area, increase moisture to get rid of puffiness, and soften fine lines on the rest of the face, says Bontempo. “Hyaluronic acid penetrates easily, which is why it works so well when applied topically,” she says. “Our skin is the largest organ in the body and absorbs up to 60 percent of nutrients we apply to it.”
Additional perks of hyaluronic acid include its lightweight, watery nature, and ability to lock in moisture from the environment and deeper dermis to fully hydrate the skin, Shainhouse says.
Who should use hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is great for all skin types, says Shainhouse. In general, “[the ingredient] is nonirritating and does not trigger acne, rosacea, or allergic skin reactions,” she says. There is, however, a small chance of any adverse side effects.
Those with dry and/or more mature skin will benefit the most from using hyaluronic acid, says Bontempo. “As we age, our bodies produce less of it, so replacing hyaluronic acid topically will make the most impact on those of us who are middle-aged and older,” she explains.
Hyaluronic acid has the word “acid” in its name, but there’s no reason for sensitive skin types to tread lightly — it’s safe for everyone. “There are no known side effects of utilizing hyaluronic acid, as again, it’s produced in our bodies,” says Bontempo. “Definitely talk to your doctor if you do experience side effects from a product that contains it — it could be due to another active or inactive ingredient.”
There’s also an injectable version.
Hyaluronic acid also comes in the form of an injectable. “In dermal fillers, hyaluronic acid presents as a gel-like product that, once injected, attracts water to regenerate volume and recreate lost structure,” explains Shereene Idriss, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “This, in turn, helps reduce the overall sunken or sagging appearance of the face, and softens the overall look of lines and wrinkles.”
Currently, the only Food and Drug Administration-approved hyaluronic acid fillers are Restylane, Restylane Silk, Restylane Lyft, Restylane Refyne, Restylane Defyne, Belotero, Juvederm, Voluma, Volbella, and Vollure. These fillers can be used for nasolabial folds, marionette lines (folds that run vertically from the corners of the mouth down to the chin), cheek augmentation, undereyes, lips, and dorsal hands, says Idriss.
Fillers can vary, so it’s important to discuss your options with your dermatologist to make sure you get the right one for you. “The different types of hyaluronic acid fillers are to a cosmetic dermatologist what the various types of paintbrushes are to a painter,” explains Idriss. “They are made up of the same ingredient, but depending on the size of the formulas’ molecules and how they are strung together, they vary in density, lift-ability and longevity.”
And it’s reversible.
Just because it’s injected into your face, doesn’t mean it’s permanent. Hyaluronic acid fillers are reversible, so if you’re not happy with the results, or a blood vessel has been blocked during the injection process, your dermatologist can insert the enzyme hyaluronidase to dissolve the filler within a matter of minutes.
“The enzyme works quickly — the material starts to dissolve immediately, and is completely done within 24 to 48 hours,” Min S. Ahn, a Boston-based facial plastic surgeon, previously told Allure. However, he warns, those with bee allergies should use caution — and talk with a dermatologist — before signing up for a hyaluronidase-based procedure, as the enzyme is highly prevalent in bee venom.
Hyaluronic acid fillers aren’t for everyone, though.
Hyaluronic acid fillers are for most, except those who are pregnant. There isn’t much data surrounding pregnancy and fillers, but dermatologists tend to avoid injecting those expecting for fear of the unknown. Also, skip these fillers if you have an active skin infection. First, treat the infection, and then proceed with your appointment once you’ve been cleared by your dermatologist.
Therearerisks with injectable hyaluronic acid.
If you’re considering getting hyaluronic fillers, there are a few minor risks to keep in mind. “With any injectable treatment, bruising and swelling are the most common side effects,” says Idriss. “The good news is that these shortcomings are just that — short-lived.” Any tenderness should resolve over a few days.
You can reduce the likelihood of bruising by avoiding blood-thinning agents, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and red wine a week or so before treatment. In addition, agents, such as arnica and bromelin, may help decrease swelling and bruising, too. The biggest worry is the unintentional injection into a blood vessel, which may result in tissue death, scabbing, and scarring, says Idriss, but your dermatologist will be able to treat it to prevent damage.
Dermatologists consider retinol the holy grail of noninvasive wrinkle-prevention. When applied topically, this vitamin A derivative stimulates collagen production and cell turnover, which reduces the appearance of fine lines, evens out complexion, and unclogs pores.
That said, retinol does have its drawbacks. Side effects can include dryness, peeling, and skin irritation, and some people may see their acne flare up. So before you start slathering these products on your face and neck, you’ll want to keep a few tips in mind.
“To reduce irritation, start every other night with the product and move up to every night only when tolerated,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and assistant clinical professor at the George Washington University Medical Center. “Add extra moisturizer when using, and use only a very mild, creamy cleanser to compensate for the extra dryness.” You’ll also want to guard your skin with SPF 30—retinol may make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Though you can ask your doc for a prescription-strength retinoid—which is a much stronger version of what you can buy over the counter—the derms we spoke to said drugstore and beauty counter brands do the same thing, and that it just may take longer to see results. Read on for the retinol recommendations from Dr. Tanzi and other top skin doctors.
Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Moisture, Night
“I recommend this product to my patients all the time because Neutrogena is a reliable company and the products are easy to find in any drugstore. The ingredients are of good quality and I have never had anyone complain about any skin reaction or difficulty managing this retinol.” —Jessica KrantMD, board-certified dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of NY and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate
“This is a great intro-to-retinol product because if features microencapsulated retinol complex, which delivers results without the irritation and drying.” —Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
Neocutis Nouvelle Plus Retinol Correction Intensive Anti-Aging Cream
“One of my favorite retinols utilizes only 0.6% retinol in a special microbead formulation that helps penetrate the skin deeper with less skin irritation and less flaking. As an added bonus, it contains melaplex, a hydroquinone-free skin-brightening complex, that diminishes the appearance of dark spots and evens out skin tone. We recommend our patients start applying retinol two to three times a week, just before bedtime and slowly progress to nightly as tolerated.” ––Ulysses Scarpidis, New York City plastic surgeon, Scarpidis Aesthetics
“A key goal within any retinol skin care program is maximum retinol effectiveness with minimized potential for irritation. Because of this, high potency nano-encapsulated retinol formulations such as Amarte Wonder Cream (which also contains multiple potent natural antioxidant ingredients) are ideal. They will ensure maximized retinol efficacy with a virtually non-existent potential for irritation.” ––Craig Kraffert, MD, Redding Derm
“I love recommending the HydroPeptide Anti-Wrinkle Polish & Plump Peel to clients as it’s an extremely effective over-the-counter option for brightening skin and tightening pores. Instead of retinol, which can be irritating to sensitive skin types, it actually utilizes Retinyl Palmitate—an ester of Vitamin A that’s converted to retinoic acid once absorbed by the skin. I use it weekly, on Sundays, (which is my pampering day!), to ensure my skin always has a healthy glow.” –– Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, MPhil, Vibrant Dermatology
“One of my favorite OTC retinoids is Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30. It works against fine lines during the day with a unique sunscreen and moisturizer hybrid. A glucose derivative is combined with this retinol formula to help brighten discoloration. I especially like that it contains hyaluronic acid which holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water.” ––Jeanette Jacknin M.D. and Brand Ambassador for ZSS Skincare Solutions
“When patients want a particularly gentle formulation, I like SkinMedica Retinol Complex .25. It is one of the mildest non-prescription retinols available and is in an elegant moisturizing formulation.” —Dr. Krant
Once a hard-to-find novelty, Korean beauty (or K-beauty) is now just as accessible as drugstore staples. You can thank Glow Recipe for that. While it’s currently best known for its adorable fruit-shaped skin-care products and clean ethos, the brand got its footing by creating a marketplace for Americans to shop the best products Korea had to offer. Now the company focuses solely on its own skin-care range, which takes the glow-forward philosophy of Korean skin-care routines and distills it into a smaller number of steps that are simple to follow and fun to use.
To say Glow Recipe has been a smash hit would be an understatement. It’s beloved by bloggers and editors, and one of its signature Watermelon Glow Sleeping Masks is sold every 3 minutes! In addition to having some of the best-smelling products out there, the brand also uses no parabens, SLS, SLES, phthalates, or mineral oil, among others. Add on the Instagram-bait packaging and the fact that no product tops $50, and it’s no wonder Glow Recipe is one of the brands talked about the most.
Glow Recipe Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask
I’m not usually a huge fan of sweet-smelling beauty products, but it’s truly impossible not to love the scent of Glow Recipe’s watermelon line. And if there’s only one product you have to try, it’s this subtly plumping, gently exfoliating overnight mask—which racked up a 5,000-person wait list at Sephora after it first launched (and a Glamour Beauty Award in the Readers’ Choice category). That’s how strong the word of mouth is on this gem. Sleeping mask might make you think of a thick night cream, but the consistency is more like a gel that instantly sinks into your skin. I put it on before bed, let its combo of amino-acid rich watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, and gentle AHAs go to work, and wake up with noticeably dewier-looking skin.
If you love bakery-style banana pudding, you will be overjoyed when you unscrew the lid of this cream and smell dessert. Even though it looks dense, it’s more bouncy gel cream than buttery lotion, which means it spreads into the thinnest of layers despite being packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients like centella asiatica and turmeric. Miraculously, it achieves the same level of hydration it usually takes several serums to accomplish, taking any dehydrated skin from parched to plump and keeping it that way. Truly, this is how the universe intended bananas to be used.
Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Face Mask
I’m always looking for that natural dewy glow, and this retinol wonder delivers. Its bouncy texture sinks right in and magically depuffs the skin overnight. It feels as if I’ve woken up from a luxurious facial.
Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer
It was the scent that got me—light and cool, like a summer day with no plans—but the moisturizer itself that made me a true fan. It’s so gentle on dry and irritable skin, which is harder to find than you’d think. I especially love that it actually makes my skin feel hydrated all day without the need to slather on a thick or sticky cream.
I love a good lipstick but also suffer from chronically dry lips, so wearing it becomes a whole thing. This all-in-one from Glow Recipe combines a lip scrub, lip balm, and tint to make it a little easier. The scrub gently exfoliates away flakes before dissolving away, and the balm it leaves behind keeps the lips coated in moisture all day. My favorite part (besides the watermelon scent) is the poppy-pink tint for that perfect Popsicle flush.
Vitamin C serums are notoriously hard to formulate since the ingredient is difficult to stabilize, but this serum has three different forms to maximize its stability and potency. It also has AHAs to gently exfoliate and is paired with hydrating and soothing ingredients so it’s not too drying. After a few weeks of regular use, reviewers noticed a brighter complexion, reduced hyperpigmentation, and pores that appear smaller. It’s gentle enough that it won’t triggered rosacea or cause any dry patches to crop up. Plus, the sunny golden hue and irresistible scent are half the reason why it’s so attractive to use.
This all-in-one hydrating, exfoliating, and pore-tightening toner from Glow Recipe has truly outdone itself. With a bouncy texture (thanks to the watermelon and cactus extracts), it preps your skin for the steps to come in your skin-care regimen and smells absolutely incredible. Ever since applying this toner both day and night, my skin is soft to the touch and more radiant than ever before.
If the word retinol sends you running, don’t be scared of this eye cream. The brand used encapsulated retinol here for gentler, slow-release results that minimize the risk of irritation and sensitivity. The idea is that you get the benefits of retinol (speeding up cellular turnover, smoothing your skin’s surface, and spiking collagen production) without the stronger side effects (drying, flaking, and peeling—my unholy trinity). Along with retinol, avocado provides a brilliant dose of inspiration for the packaging, while also adding antioxidants and a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect. Additionally, there is hyaluronic acid (in two forms) and squalane, which are two of the best ways to receive potent hydration. What you get in the end is a formula that balances smoothing and brightening effects with plenty of moisture, so there’s no risk of dryness or irritation, even with daily use.
My skin-care routine is something I look forward to as soon as I wake up and the second I get done with work. The first step is a great cleanser, and I love this blueberry one. The texture is on the thicker side for a gel, which is ideal for removing makeup from the day, especially stubborn mascara. I also love that it doubles as a clarifying mask when you leave it on for about five minutes. A perfect two-in-one for bouncy-smooth, hydrated skin.
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.”
Kate Somerville RetAsphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream
This two-in-one night cream diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and evens out skin texture and tone. Plus, this formula packs its retinol in a lipid shell, meaning it minimizes irritation and dryness that can sometimes occur as a result of retinol.
Relying on a blend of vitamin B3 and retinol, this night serum works to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and enlarged pores — and keeps skin hydrated for 24 hours (hence the name). One reviewer, who said she’s been using Olay products since she was 14, noted that the product is “like fine wine.” She added: “Olay has tapped into the Fountain of Youth with this new line.”
If you’re down with the latest trends in retinol, then you may have heard of retinyl retinoate, an alternative to retinol that is said to boast the same benefits as its older sister (like increased collagen production and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles) minus the skin irritation. Verso’s rich night cream also contains antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, as well as hyaluronlic acid and jojoba.
Scoop this Neutrogena pick up at your local drugstore and you’ll start to see benefits in a week. Anti-aging retinol and hyaluronic acid work together to plump and moisturize skin, reducing the look of deep wrinkles, including pesky crow’s feet.
If you’re looking for a brightening and anti-aging eye cream you can use morning or night, this one might just be your new go-to. It contains light-reflecting particles to instantly soften the look of dark circles and keeps fine lines around the eyes in check with time-released retinol.
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream
If you’ve been using a product with .5 percent retinol and looking for a little more oomph, consider this night cream from SkinCeuticals, which contains 1 percent retinol — plus ultra-soothing chamomile, frankincense, and shea butter. “The difference is amazing,” one reviewer, who has used the product for over a year, wrote. “At 62, my skin looks better than three years ago. My sun damage is gone.”
Naturopathica Argan & Retinol Wrinkle Repair Night Cream
If you’re looking to target fine lines and wrinkles but are prone to irritation, try this retinol night cream from Naturopathica. It uses encapsulated retinol plus argan plant stem cells and castor oil for a natural dose of moisture.
If you have sensitive or dry skin but want to start using a retinol cream, then this formula may be a match made in heaven for you. Not only does it address wrinkles, dullness, and dark spots, but it also serves as a skin-soothing moisturizer thanks to the addition of lactic acid, an exfoliant and humectant.
It’s hard to beat The Ordinary when it comes to an affordable and non-irritating retinol serum. The formula was created without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates and uses two forms of retinol known to cause less redness and irritation.
This budget-friendly cream is Amazon’s “most wished for” moisturizer, which really just means one thing — you need to get your hands on it STAT. And with no oily residue and the ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, there’s really no reason not to place an order.
Cult-favorite millennial brand Drunk Elephant finally released a retinol cream and it was worth the wait. Along with gentle 1 percent vegan retinol it contains ingredients like passionfruit, apricot, marula and jojoba oils to nourish and moisturize skin while fighting fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.
A roundup of retinol products really wouldn’t be complete without this drugstore staple. The RoC formula targets fine lines and wrinkles in the eye area and helps improve the appearance of dark circles and undereye puffiness in as little as four weeks.
La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Aging Retinol Serum
If you like the lightweight feel of a serum, then this retinol treatment might be the pick for you. The topical treatment also includes lipo-hydroxy acid which acts as an exfoliator and visibly reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet. One reviewer said she has noticed overall smoother skin and fewer breakouts after using the product for a month. She added: “I’ve had a record number of mornings in the last month where I’ve looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Yeah, I look good today.’”
If you have ever wondered what it takes to get (radiant, even-toned, healthy looking) skin like Chrissy Teigen’s, your prayers have been answered. Taking to Instagram on Tuesday to document her “simple” skincare routine, Teigen acknowledged she was feeling pretty pleased with the state of her face: “For you kind folks asking me to drop the skincare regimen, I will admit I am def proud of my skin lately and feeling myself!” she wrote.
Teigen namechecked iS Clinicals’ cleanser and lotion as her two beauty ride-or-dies, and the only things she uses consistently (“they’ve always been so good to me”). Her chosen skincare products show she’s a fan of a clever formulation that works hard to keep skin in good shape. The iS Clinical Cleansing Complex, as it’s more formally known, contains white willow bark extract (a natural source of exfoliating salicylic acid), and sugar cane extract to refresh, resurface and boost glow in tired skin, without leaving it feeling tight. Meanwhile the Moisturizing Complex contains hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and vitamin B5 to keep the skin hydrated and plump, and the skin barrier strong and intact.
The Twitter queen also regularly deploys the wonders of Dr Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta Peel Pads “on and around” her nose and chin which, she says, makes a huge difference, as well as Dr Simon Ourian’s Firm and Fade Cream when she’s not feeling great. There you have it: the surprisingly minimal skincare routine behind Teigen’s radiant glow.