How to Layer Products in Your Skin-Care Routine Correctly

There is no such thing as a single “correct” skin-care routine, but there’s definitely an optimal way to apply your products. Whether you’re a minimalist who prefers sticking to a three-step routine or the type of person willing to undertake 11 steps daily in pursuit of glass skin, the way you layer your chosen products has a big impact on how well they work. The more product-intense you go, the more important this order becomes.

There’s a reason cleansing comes first, serum sits beneath moisturizer, and sunscreen goes on last. Understanding this order will ensure your favorite skin-care products work effectively—because no one wants to splurge on a luxury serum only to render it useless because of misapplication. If you’ve ever looked at a tube of retinol or a bottle of face oil and wondered exactly how (and when) to use it, wonder no more. Below, dermatologists and skin-care experts explain the most effective way to apply every single product in your routine.

The Best Order to Apply Skin-Care Products

The easiest way to break it down is to refer to the table above, which lays out the best order for your separate morning and night skin-care routines. “The principle behind ordering is to cleanse your skin, open your skin so products can soak in, add actives on, then seal with moisturizing products,” says Morgan Rabach, M.D., dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical NYC. Below, the detailed breakdown of every single step in your daily skin care routine.

1. Makeup Remover/Cleansing Oil

Unless you went to bed with makeup on (please don’t), there’s no reason to do this step in the morning. But at night it makes your cleanser’s job a lot easier.

Removing all makeup from your skin should always be your first step at the end of the day,” says Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare. Look for formulas that are effective enough to melt away waterproof mascara, but still gentle on your face—like micellar water. You can also double-cleanse with an emulsifying oil, which gets rid of the need to buy cotton rounds.

2. Cleanser

Do this step: Morning and night.

Now that your makeup layer is gone, you can proceed with washing your face. “A cleanser gets rid of dead skin, pollutants, oils, dirt, and bacteria,” says Rabach. Both she and Ciraldo recommend also doing this step when you first wake up in the morning, in order to prep your skin to absorb the active ingredients in your other products.

The best cleanser for you will depend on your skin type. “It’s important to pay attention to what’s in your cleanser and what’s not in it,” says Ciraldo. She recommends avoiding sulfates, which can have a harsh, stripping effect on your face, and looking for actives that suit your needs. “For normal or dry skin, I favor a hydrating cleanser with peptides,” she says. “If you’re oily or acne-prone, use a mild exfoliating cleanser with salicylic acid, which dislodges the dead cells that can clog pores.

3. Eye Cream

Do this step: Morning and night.

The first product to go on your face? Eye cream. The reason is simple—because you’ll probably forget to do it otherwise. Ciraldo recommends patting eye cream on gently with your ring finger (this way you’ll tug less at the delicate skin there) all the way around your eyes, not just underneath them. If you’re worried about eye cream causing your concealer or eye makeup to smear, choose a more lightweight option, like a hydrating gel that sinks in quickly and stays put.

For the best results, look for ingredients like peptides—which help tighten your skin and depuff—as well as antioxidants. Rabach recommends formulas that contain hydrating hyaluronic acid, brightening caffeine, and ceramides (these lock in moisture and help strengthen your skin barrier).

4. Toner/Essence

Do this step: Morning and night.

Both toners and essences are meant to help further prime your skin to absorb active ingredients, but the one you choose will depend on your skin type. Old-school toners were meant to balance skin pH and counteract alkaline soaps, before soap-free cleansers became popular. Now toner usually refers to liquid formulations geared toward oily skin that’s in need of gentle exfoliation and resurfacing. Ciraldo says those with oily or acne-prone skin should look for toners with ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid.

Essences, on the other hand, tend to be more hydrating. Rabach recommends looking for actives like hyaluronic acid, which will flood your skin with moisture that you can lock in during subsequent steps. To apply, soak a cotton pad in liquid and gently pat it over your face. Alternatively, you can use your hands to do the same thing.

5. Serum

Do this step: Morning and night.

This is the step where you’ll deliver the bulk of active ingredients to your toner/essence-primed face, and it’s important to do it early on in your routine. “Serums are formulated with smaller molecular-weight actives so they penetrate into deeper skin layers,” says Ciraldo. “If you apply your serum after a thicker formulation, the active ingredients may not penetrate as well.

While you should apply serum twice a day, you shouldn’t be using the same formulation. “Serum actives differ for day and night,” says Rabach. During the day, she likes to choose serums with antioxidants that protect skin from daytime stressors like free radicals (caused by UV rays), pollutants, and blue light. The most popular ingredient for this is vitamin C, which you will have no problem finding in serum form. (Just make sure to choose one that’s properly stabilized for maximum effect.) At night, opt for a serum with peptides and growth factors to repair skin.

For both daytime and nighttime serums, Rabach also has a general list of ingredients she likes to look for across both formulations: Niacinamide to reduce redness, hyaluronic acid to pull moisture into your skin, and alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs), which help boost collagen and even out skin pigmentation. Ciraldo further splits up her preferred serum ingredients by skin type. “For acne-prone skin, look for stem cells, retinol, and green tea,” she says. “For dehydrated skin, look for lipids, hyaluronic acid, and peptides. And for hyperpigmented skin, look for vitamin C.”

6. Retinol

Do this step: At night only.

Retinol truly deserves its own essay, but the short version is this: The vitamin A derivative boosts collagen production and increases the rate of cellular turnover. “Retinol reduces fine lines, reduces pore size, increases collagen and elastin production, takes off dead skin, reduces oil production, unclogs pores, and evens out skin tone,” says Rabach. Whether you want to clear breakouts or fade fine lines—or basically do anything to your face—retinol is your friend.

On the flip side, this is a strong ingredient, and beginners should proceed with caution when adding to their routines. Potential side effects can include flaking, dryness, retinol burn, and increased sensitivity to the sun, which is why you should stick to applying it at night. Dermatologists often recommend easing into daily application slowly. “Start three times a week for the first week or two,” says Ciraldo. From there, you can gradually increase the frequency of application.

Most will apply their retinol layer after their serums and before moisturizer, but there is one exception. If your skin has trouble tolerating retinol and you want to minimize its side effects, you can buffer it instead. Retinol buffering refers to a technique whereby you mix your retinol with your moisturizer and apply it as a single step. This helps you still get the benefits, but decreases the potential for irritation. To take it a step further, you can also apply retinol over your moisturizer. Experiment with this step, and see where it fits best in your routine.

7. Moisturizer

Do this step: Morning and night.

Moisturizers are there to simultaneously hydrate and seal in hydration, which is why these formulas tend to be heavier than the layers that go underneath. “You should use moisturizers with humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which pull in water,” says Rabach. “I also recommend looking for ceramides, which seal the outer layers of skin.”

Ciraldo says that many of her patients prefer to use separate formulas for their morning and nighttime routines. This has more to do with how moisturizers feel than anything else. You can use a lightweight formula in the morning that blends better with your makeup and reserve a heavier cream for evening. Ciraldo’s additional tip is to double up on your serum and moisturizer actives. For example, if you use a vitamin C serum in the morning, you can layer a vitamin C moisturizer right on top to boost the benefits.

8. Spot Treatment

Do this step: Morning and night.

You need to use spot treatments on active breakouts only, but if you’re experiencing acne, you can apply a leave-on spot treatment both morning and night to speed up its healing cycle. According to Ciraldo, you should spot-treat after you’ve applied your moisturizer, not before. This helps make sure the product stays on top of the pimple, and doesn’t go on the rest of your face. “If you’re using a strong acid and then smear moisturizer all over your face, you run the risk of the product getting on more sensitive areas,” she says. You’ll also dilute its effectiveness. Wait for your a.m./p.m. moisturizer to sink in, then carefully pat over the affected areas.

The two most common over-the-counter ingredients for spot treatments are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Rabach differentiates them like this: Benzoyl peroxide helps kill acne-causing bacteria, while salicylic acid gently exfoliates and dries out your oil glands.

9. Face Oil

Do this step: Morning and night.

If there’s one step in your daily skin-care routine that surprisingly divides experts, it’s face oil. The most common recommendation is to apply it last at night and second-to-last before sunscreen in the morning. That’s because oils are occlusive, says Mona Gohara, M.D., dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine. Meaning, they help trap moisture in your skin. This is why Renée Rouleau, celebrity esthetician and founder of Renée Rouleau Skin Care, says you should think of face oils as a topcoat. “Oils provide a protective barrier to help prevent moisture from evaporating,” she says. “Anything applied over it may not be offering as much benefit to your skin because it can’t get through.”

However, some derms advise their patients to take this step earlier in their routines (usually before moisturizer), depending on the formulation of the oil they’re using. “Some oils are designed with ingredients that hydrate, others to brighten or even to strengthen your skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Ciraldo also says it’s okay to mix oils with your moisturizer if you prefer.

Whichever way you land, the important thing is that you don’t overdo it—with face oils, a little goes a long way. To apply, warm about two to three drops of oil in your palms and pat lightly over your face.

10. Sunscreen

Do this step: In the morning only.

What derms unanimously agree on is that you should wear sunscreen every single day to prevent UV damage—whether or not you go outside. Sunscreen needs to go over face oil in order to be most effective. “You do not want anything to stop the sunscreen from working, or making it less effective,” says Gohara. “Putting an oil on top of your sunscreen can decrease it’s efficacy.”

There are two types of sunscreens to choose from for your final step: physical and chemical. Physical blockers contain minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and work by reflecting light away from your skin. Chemical blockers, on the other hand, work by absorbing light and converting it into heat, preventing it from penetrating into your skin. Rouleau says that mineral formulas are often better for sensitive skin, while chemical formulations tend to be thinner and spread more easily.

Chemical formulas also come with the benefit of not leaving a white cast on darker skin tones. While mineral sunscreens traditionally cast an ashy tone, Zeichner points out that brands have begun formulating better physical sunscreens to counteract that. “The newest formulation technology has brought us micronized sunscreens that rub in to your skin much better than ever before,” he says. “So using a zinc-based sunscreen no longer necessarily means your face will have that white cast. No matter what your personal preference is, there are sunscreens for every need.”

GLAMOUR

The Best Drugstore Mascara? Here Are the Top 5, According to the Pros

When it comes to cheap thrills, few things leave a beauty lover more elated than having the best drugstore mascara in tow; a tried-and-true tube that curls, volumizes, defines, and comes with a price tag that encourages you to layer it on liberally. From richer color payoff to smoother, creamier textures that don’t flake or smudge, the offerings at the pharmacy are only getting better, furthering the stakes when it comes to what you ultimately toss in your basket. To take the guesswork out of your next trip to the store, Vogue asked a panel of pro makeup artists about their top picks for effortlessly full, fluttery lashes. Here, the best drugstore mascara formulas to stock up on.

L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara

An all-time favorite pick for four of the makeup artists we spoke with, L’Oréal’s Voluminous Mascara comes out on top. “I’ve been using this mascara forever and it’s a staple in my kit,” explains celebrity makeup artist Gita Bass. “It’s super black and adds incredible volume and curl, and never clumps or flakes.” On top of the aforementioned aspects, fellow artist Alana Wright can’t get enough of the brush, which she considers the perfect size, shape, and density “to still able to reach those tiny lashes in the inner and out corners of the eyes,” she says. Another bonus is the gentle, non-abrasive formula. “It doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive eyes,” says Los Angeles-based makeup artist Autumn Moultrie. While Carbon Black is the most popular shade, both Moultrie and editorial pro Akiko Owada also like reaching for Black Brown, which can have a softer effect. “It provides clump-free lashes, it doesn’t run, and it’s easy to control,” adds Owada of the formula’s all-embracing appeal.

Shop at ULTA $9

Covergirl Lashblast Volume Mascara

For bolder, more intense lashes, Covergirl’s Lashblast is another tried-and-true go to. “I love its creamy texture, which gives you volume and length instantly in one coat, and it’s easy to layer it for more drama,” explains French makeup artist Cedric Jolivet. “I find the silicone brush [makes it easy] to grab the lashes from the root, and it totally works on short lashes!” Makeup artist William Scott, whose clientele includes Padma Lakshmi and Mette Towley, agrees. “It’s perfect for those who want maximum volume on the first swipe, and with a lash comb, it can be spread over the lashes to make them more fluttery.” There’s just as much to love about its waterproof formula: “It will dry a bit faster, which help the eyelashes to stay curled,” says Jolivet of why it’s worth the extra time spent removing it at the end of the day. “I always curl the lashes first, but I noticed a lot of mascaras don’t hold a curl and make your lashes looks heavy… not this one!

Shop at ULTA $10

Neutrogena Healthy Volume Mascara

For Matin, who counts Angelina Jolie as a longtime client, it’s all about Neutrogena’s Healthy Volume Mascara with its nourishing ingredients and jet-black pigment. “It’s a true volume mascara that doesn’t dry out the lashes,” he says of the formula, which is supercharged with vitamin E-rich olive oil and protective sweet almond. “It stays flexible and won’t crumble throughout the day.” Another major draw? “It has a giant brush!” adds Matin. All the better to coat every little lash lash.

Shop at Bed Bath & Beyond $8

Maybelline Sky High Lash

It’s by far one of the best mascaras on the market—and relatively newer, too,” says Colby Smith, who works with Dua Lipa and Charli XCX, of Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Sky High mascara. “I love that it’s super black,” he continues. “A few coats and you really get that full long lash. It has the look of a high end mascara without breaking the bank.

Shop at ULTA $12

L’Oréal Telescopic Mascara

For soft, supple lashes, you can’t beat L’Oréal’s Telescopic Mascara, insists Scott. “I love its applicator and slick formula, which make it easy to apply to bottom lashes and give long and defined lashes all around,” they explain, emphasizing the lengthening powers of its patented plastic-bristle comb brush. “It’s very versatile in that one swipe delivers length and the wand makes it easy to keep the lashes separated, and the formula builds nicely to add some volume.” 

Shop at ULTA $11

VOGUE

14 Best Beauty Products Under $20, According to Gigi Hadid, Naomi Campbell, and More

The world of beauty can be overwhelming, as much for our cabinets as our wallets. But rest assured: a high-powered cosmetics arsenal need not break the bank. Take it from the stars of Vogue’s Beauty Secrets, who have revealed that some of their most prized products are in fact some of the best priced. 

See La Roche-Posay’s $14 Serozinc Toner, a mattifying mist that has earned Naomi Campbell’s seal of approval. What’s more? The Kendall Jenner–beloved Mario Badescu Facial Spray—laced with soothing green tea, cucumber, and aloe—rings in at just $12; spritz it on before applying a layer of Sydney Sweeney’s go-to $16 Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre or a $19 hyaluronic-acid-infused primer that’s a mainstay in Jessica Alba’s Dopp kit. Gigi Hadid, meanwhile, swears by Maybelline’s Lifter Gloss. Delivering an ultra-moisturizing, ultra-shiny finish for only $7, it’s one makeup must-have that will leave you anything but high and dry.

Below, shop the best beauty products under $20 on Amazon, as chosen by Vogue’s Beauty Secrets stars Gigi Hadid, Emma Chamberlain, and more. 

Skin Care

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

Shop on Amazon $9

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber, and Green Tea

Shop on Amazon $12

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Shop on Amazon $14

iUNIK Tea Tree Relief Natural Facial Serum

Shop on Amazon $18

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre

Shop on Amazon $16

La Roche-Posay Serozinc Toner for Oily Skin With Zinc

Shop on Amazon $16

Epicuren Aloe Vera Calming Gel

Shop on Amazon $15

Makeup

Lano Strawberry 101 Ointment Multi-Balm

Shop on Amazon $14

L’Oréal True Match Super Blendable Powder

Shop on Amazon $11

Honest Beauty Everything Primer, Glow With Hyaluronic Acid

Shop on Amazon $19

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Plumping Mascara

Shop on Amazon $10

Almay Smart Shade Skintone Matching Makeup

Shop on Amazon $15

Maybelline Lifter Gloss With Hyaluronic Acid

Shop on Amazon $9

Jillian Dempsey Khôl Eyeliner

Shop on Amazon $15

VOGUE article

6 Essential Things to Know Before Using Retinol and Retinoids

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, it’s often underutilized or misused.

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.” The way dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, sees it, it’s the ingredient that does it all in dermatology, both cosmetically and medically. “I consider it a gold standard in skincare and often explain it to my patients as something that sweeps away dead skin cells, clogged pores, and dull skin,” she explains.

Here, experts break down how to carefully incorporate the powerhouse ingredient into your regimen to achieve a supernaturally fresh-faced complexion, now and for decades to come.

Begin in Your Mid 20s or Early 30s

Thirty has long been the banner year for introducing retinol into one’s routine, but  many women are starting before then, 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—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.” Moreover, you should skip your retinol product on the day before you exfoliate (Bowe recommends exfoliating two to three times per week). “Exfoliating is abrasive and irritating, and you do not want to compound the skin irritation by heightening your skin’s sensitivity,” she says, adding that if you’re getting certain in-office treatments like lasers, microneedling, microdermabrasion, you will want to take a break from your retinol. In the spirit of not overdoing it, 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 Fusco. “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.

Watch Out for Harsh Side Effects

While certain side effects, such as mild irritation, dryness, and sun sensitivity are normal as your skin adjusts to the active ingredient, intense flaking, redness, and burning are not—and those with especially sensitive skin, or who struggle with conditions like rosacea or eczema, should be wary of retinol or shy away from it all together. “If you cannot tolerate retinol, don’t worry,” says Marmur. “It’s not the only anti-ager! There are plenty of amazing anti-aging ingredients, such as wild indigo, that work beautifully without any irritation or sun sensitivity.”

Use Retinol Only at Night and Wear SPF Every Day

“Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays and sunlight decreases the efficacy of the product,” explains Bowe, who instructs patients to only use retinoids at night and be diligent about applying a daily broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher during the day. Moreover, with retinol use, one should always be conscious of the weather forecast and trips to hot locales. “It should not be used during seasons or vacations when individuals will be spending extended time in direct sunlight,” warns Fusco.

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 overlooked. “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.”

VOGUE article

Jennifer Garner’s $30 Bouncy Skin Secret Gets Rid Of Wrinkles And Depuffs Skin

Jennifer Garner is full of surprises. I can’t say I was expecting her to be the hilarious Instagram video creator that she is, or for her to team up with Jill Biden to promote vaccinations in West Virginia. One thing slightly more routine? For Garner to be transparent as a window about the specifics of her beauty routine — and while her adoration for Neutrogena skin care is well-known, she says the brand’s most recent addition is making all the difference. 

According to an interview with PEOPLE published in May, the pep in Garner’s step — and skin — is thanks to a recent Neutrogena release focused on firming skin with anti-aging benefits. Speaking to Neutrogena’s new Rapid Firming Peptide Contour Lift Face Cream, Garner says, “It just gives the skin a real youthful vibrancy, and a kind of bounce to it.” 

The Neutrogena moisturizer is part of the brand’s new firming collagen and peptide-centered line, reliant on a dermatologist-developed micropeptide that it claims can deeply penetrate skin to counter depleted collagen and elasticity. For background, peptide products based on enhancing collagen are an ongoing skincare trend; Jennifer Aniston and Kourtney Kardashian advocate for ingesting collagen and tons of Amazon’s best-selling skin products revolve around the ingredient, including serums that have skyrocketed in popularity.   

Shop now: $30; amazon.com

The reason: Our body’s natural collagen production weakens as we age, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner previously told InStyleCollagen is composed of three polypeptide chains, so using them topically can stimulate your skin to pump up its collagen creation and return youthful texture to your face. Since launching last month, the reviews for Garner’s favorite new cream back up the science and its promise of a “visibly lifted, firmer-looking” appearance.

“Beyond making my skin look and feel smoother, healthier, and more rejuvenated, the serum and cream have helped firm and tighten the skin along my cheeks and jawline,” one shopper in their 50s writes. “My cheekbones appear more pronounced, my face looks less puffy, and my skin no longer looks/feels crepey. I enthusiastically recommend these products to others my age who are trying to achieve firmer, younger-looking skin.” 

Another person testifies that the fast-absorbing, lifting cream plumped up their fine lines within a week, bringing a hefty dose of moisture to super dry skin and cinching in their sagging neck. “For that alone, it gets five stars,” the reviewer says. “It also helps with those stupid lines around your mouth, and I swear there’s an improvement with less pronounced marionette lines, so I don’t look like I am super unhappy all of the time.” 

In just under two weeks, the cream fades forehead wrinkles into a shadow of their once-pronounced self, tones down laugh lines and under-eye puffiness, and scraps rough patches altogether. Others say the immediate tightening effect blurs and smooths fine lines from the jump, and within a couple weeks firmed up their jowls without requiring the “guts or the money” needed for more invasive work.  

Garner’s use of the cream and lack of furrowed wrinkles only makes sense — she comes off as a chronically happy person, and while no one’s joyous 24/7, it could be Neutrogena’s innovation that makes it seem that way. Try the drugstore’s newest wonder for $30 and see the changes for yourself.    

INSTYLE article

The Best Retinol Products For A Well-Timed Skin Reboot

The long, dark days of winter are officially behind us, but the effects may linger in the form of dull, lackluster skin. Fortunately, the seasonal shift brings a sense of renewal, the welcome shedding of layers—and there’s no reason that should stop with your wardrobe.

“Spring is an ideal time of the year to start incorporating retinol into your routine,” says Onyeka Obioha, M.D., a dermatologist in Los Angeles. She joins a perpetual chorus of experts championing the ingredient as a means to brighter, smoother skin. Plus, she adds, “in warmer months, people are able to better tolerate it.”

For the uninitiated, retinol and other derivatives of vitamin A (together, they fall under the umbrella category of “retinoids”) count among the hardest-working ingredients in the skin-care realm. Vitamin A offers a multitude of benefits for skin: Thanks to its ability to speed cell turnover and spur collagen production, it can help smooth out wrinkles and fine lines, brighten dark spots and discoloration, and even quell breakouts. (The prescription-strength form called tretinoin—known by its brand name, Retin-A—originally launched as an acne medication before people realized its broader utility.) “When it comes to visibly improving the texture and appearance of your skin while preventing signs of aging, retinol is unmatched,” says Austin-based esthetician Renée Rouleau

There is a common downside. Because the ingredient is so powerful, explains Rouleau, “it can also come with unwanted side effects, like dryness, flaking, irritation, and sensitivity, for a lot of people, especially during the first four to six weeks.” (Retinoids are not advised for those who are pregnant or nursing.) Although over-the-counter forms of retinol tend to be milder than the derm-prescribed counterpart, it’s still wise to wade in slowly. Obioha recommends starting with a pea-size amount three nights a week, then gradually increasing from there. Following up with daytime sun protection is of utmost importance, since retinol can increase skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

Even if you’ve had a touch-and-go experience with retinol in the past, recent formulations designed with tolerance in mind offer an incentive to dip back in. There’s no better time for a fresh start.

Shani Darden Retinol Reform Serum

Created by Los Angeles aesthetician Shani Darden, this cream combines retinol with lactic acid and anti-inflammatory niacinamide. It’s a strategic pairing, with the lactic acid delivering immediate smoothing and hydrating benefits while retinol gets to work from within.

Shop $88

StriVectin Super-C Retinol Brighten & Correct Vitamin C Serum

While vitamin C certainly has a starring role in many retinol products, it doesn’t always match the power of a dedicated vitamin C serum. Not so with this dual-action serum, which offers that dream team at high concentrations to improve skin tone and texture.

Shop $103

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Topical Retinoid Acne Treatment

If you’re experiencing acne lately, you’re not alone. “Warmer temperatures and an increase in humidity can cause buildup on the skin, which clogs pores and can result in breakouts,” says Obioha. This powerful treatment uses adapalene, which is the sole prescription-strength retinoid available without an Rx, to help maintain a clear complexion.

Shop $30

Dermalogica Retinol Acne Clearing Oil

As protective face masks are still de rigueur, so is maskne. Retinol can help. “It can work to increase skin cell turnover and unclog pores,” says Obioha. Salicylic acid in this oil offers acne-fighting benefits on the spot, while the retinol works to prevent future breakouts.

Shop $80

RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules

Concentration isn’t the only thing that matters in a skin-care formula—potency does, too. These sealed, biodegradable capsules keep the combination of retinol and antioxidants fresh and at peak efficacy until it’s applied to the skin.

Shop $25

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Why settle for one type of retinol when you can have three? This potent cream consists of a fast-acting retinol, a time-release version, and a retinol booster for peak efficiency. Lest your skin starts to feel dry just reading that, not to worry: Niacinamide gives it proper credibility as a calming night treatment, too.

Shop $82

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil

To amp up the power of this night oil, retinol is paired with salicylic acid, which is prized in its own right for its ability to gently lift dead skin cells. In practice, this ultimately clears the way for retinol to better penetrate—in turn yielding results in as little as one week.

Shop $23

IT Cosmetics Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream

Retinol is uniquely equipped to handle signs of aging. “Retinoids actually build collagen and thicken the dermis layer of the skin, which makes the skin appear plump and healthy,” says Obioha. This hybrid formula pairs both free and encapsulated retinol molecules—the better to reach multiple layers of skin—with soothing niacinamide.

Shop $69

Clinique Smart Night Clinical MD Retinol Serum

Fine lines and deeper wrinkles can’t be blamed on a single culprit. Conversely, their treatment approach isn’t singular, either. That’s why this serum combines retinol with a collagen-boosting blend of peptides, vitamin C, and botanical extracts, which together work to firm and smooth skin.

Shop $70

VANITYFAIR article

The Best New Skincare Products Hitting Shelves In May

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray

Sun Bum’s Mineral Sunscreen Spray makes applying SPF easy. Its spray nozzle effortlessly coats skin with just one spritz — just apply 15 minutes before you’re exposed to the sun and then reapply every two hours while you’re out and about. The formula is made mineral-based and made of zinc oxide, but don’t worry about any white cast issues, this formula is basically invisible. Once the sunscreen is all evenly applied, make sure you pat it in to ensure it’s fully absorbed and ready to protect.  

$18 (Shop Now)

Sara Happ Lip Elixir Intensive Treatment

Reapplying lip balm to avoid chapped lips can require constant vigilance, but not anymore. Sara Happ (a long-time favorite brand known for its lip scrubs) just launched its first lip balm-gloss hybrid. Created with hyaluronic acid, this lip treatment makes lips feel smooth and soft.

$34 (Shop Now)

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer

Since Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Cloud Moisturizer was such a success when it first launched years ago, the brand finally formulated a version of the iconic cream with sunscreen. This non-greasy moisturizer shields skin from the sun while hydrating with hyaluronic acid, so get ready to have skin that’s protected, hydrated, and soft as a cloud.

$52 (Shop Now)

Kate Somerville Delikate Recovery Serum

The Kate Somerville Delikate Serum is ideal for those who have sensitive skin. Its lightweight formula is made with cucumber seed oil to help calm and soothe redness, as well as ceramides to help protect and strengthen the skin’s barrier.

$85 (Shop Now)

Ole Henriksen 3 Mega Wonders

Ole Henriksen is bringing together three of its game-changing products to create the ultimate kit: 3 Mega Wonders. Included here is the Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner, the Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum, and the C-Rush Brightening Gel Crème, three products that work together to give your skin a serious glow. Stick with this trio and you’ll have hydrated, radiant skin in no time.

$74 (Shop Now)

Kylie Skin Sugar Lip Scrub

When I found out Kylie Skin was launching a lip exfoliator, I thought, It’s about time the queen of lip kits dropped a prepping product. This formula is made with a mix of nourishing oils (jojoba and grape seed) and vanilla-scented sugar, which leaves lips soft, kissable, and hydrated after a gentle scrubbing.

$20 (Shop Now)

Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream

Perfect for all skin types, Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream is a lightweight undereye cream formulated with avocado to improve hydration and date seed extract to give the eye area a subtle glow. 

$46 (Shop Now)

Thrive Causemetics Moisture Flash Active Nutrient Toner

Thrive Causemetics Moisture Flash Active Nutrient Toner is a pH-balancing liquid exfoliant that helps smooth and brighten skin. The witch hazel in the formula cleanses and targets unevenness, while salicylic acid aids with any pore congestion and acne. Get ready for bright, even, clear skin without added dryness.

$36 (Shop Now)

Kinship Mint Mud

In my opinion, the Kinship Mint Mud mask was practically made for an at-home facial. The refreshing treatment clears out pores, thanks to kaolin clay, while lactic acid gently dissolves dead-skin build-up, brightening skin. Above all else, you’ll love how it smells: like a freshly opened sleeve of Thin Mints.

$23 (Shop Now)

Goodhabit Rescue Me Clean Scene Micellar Gel

A full face of makeup is no match to the Goodhabit Rescue Me Clean Scene Micellar Gel. Just one pump of the formula, which is made of hydrating hyaluronic acid and chamazulene (to help with redness), whisks away any makeup, including those of the waterproof variety.

$38 (Shop Now)

Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum

If you’re looking for some serious luminosity, look no further: Laneige just dropped Glowy Makeup Serum to make any base makeup more radiant. Apply two pumps as the last step in your skin-care routine and apply your makeup as normal; the diamond mineral powder in the formula will create a translucent glow that looks gorgeous on all skin tones.

$32 (Shop Now)

Versed Guards Up Mineral Sunscreen

Even though we’re indoors right now more than ever, it’s still super important to wear sunscreen. Versed Guards Up Mineral Sunscreen boasts SPF 35, and its finish is creamy — not too dewy, not too matte — is a great option. Oh, and it never leaves a white cast on any skin tone. A winner in my book.

$22 (Shop Now)

Then I Met You Honey Dew Lip Mask

Then I Met You Honey Dew Lip Mask is a versatile pick because it can be used as a glossy daytime balm or an intense nighttime treatment. The squalane in the tube will leave lips feeling moisturized, while the honeydew melon will soothe the sensitive and delicate skin on your lips.

$22 (Shop Now)

Juice Beauty Prebiotix Instant Flash Facial

Give yourself an at-home facial with the Juice Beauty Prebiotix Instant Flash Facial. This all-in-one treatment acts as an exfoliating mask and cleanser. Plant beads and tartaric acid exfoliate away dead skin while iris extract and prebiotic ingredients help encourage balance, giving skin a fresh-faced glow.

$52 (Shop Now)

Chantecaille Radiance Elixir

Hydrate and replenish your complexion with Chantecaille’s new Radiance Elixir. This illuminating serum will give your skin a healthy, fresh glow. Either wear it alone or mix it with your foundation — either way, you’ll be feeling lavish and radiant with just one drop.

$210 (Shop Now)

Neutrogena Soothing Clear Turmeric Mousse Cleanser

Turmeric is well-known for its soothing properties, which is why it’s an ingredient great for calming acne breakouts. Neutrogena’s latest launch, Soothing Clear Turmeric Mousse Cleanser, utilizes this ingredient in a lightweight formula that removes dirt, oil, and makeup from pores without stripping the skin of natural oils.

$10 (Shop Now)

Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb Aloe Vera

Belif’s True Cream Aqua Bomb just got a soothing upgrade. The new Aloe Vera version gives you the same hydration of the original gel-cream (thanks to the glycerin and ceramides), but it contains the aforementioned aloe, which is known to calm irritation and acne.

$38 (Shop Now)

Heyday x Supergoop! Defense Refresh (Re) Setting Mist

To celebrate the Supergoop! Defense Refresh (Re) Setting Mist’s fifth anniversary, it’s getting a complete makeover — at least package-wise. Over the course of five months, Supergoop! will be releasing its SPF-packed setting spray in five newly-designed packages. This month, the skin-care brand has partnered with Heyday for a bright yellow bottle that just brings me a lot of joy.

$30 (Available May 1 at supergoop.com)

Malin+Goetz Resurfacing Face Serum

Asking for bright and smooth skin just got a lot easier, thanks to Malin+Goetz’s new launch. The Resurfacing Face Serum is made with glycolic and lactic acids to exfoliate dead skin cells and vitamin C to give you a more radiant complexion. All you need is two or three drops before moisturizer and you’ll be good to go.

$70 (Available May 1 at malinandgoetz.com)

Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator SPF 25

Get dewy-looking skin with Clinique’s new Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator SPF 25. It’s made of hyaluronic acid, aloe water, and a sugar called trehalose to provide moisture for up to 12 hours. In addition to broad-spectrum SPF 25 to give you some protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, it also has a sheer tint to give you a touch of color and glow.

$39 (Available May 1 at clinique.com)

Elemis x Olivia Rubin Collection

Who doesn’t love a gift set? In this Elemis and Olivia Rubin collaboration, you get seven full-sized products from the skin-care brand (Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, Peptide Night Recovery Cream-Oil, and Sea Lavender & Samphire Body Cream to name a few) all housed in a super fun rainbow-colored makeup bag designed by the British fashion designer.

$99 (Available May 1 at elemis.com)

ALLURE article

The Best Eye Creams That Work Wonders For Dark Circles

Packed with eye-opening ingredients like caffeine and hyaluronic acid, these top-rated picks help you fake a full night’s rest.

The use of eye cream is a heated debate: half believe slathering the undereye area with decadent creams can help minimize the appearance of dark circles over time, while the other half seems to think they’re moisturizers in tiny tubs and offer nothing more than a placebo effect. There is one thing we can agree on: no one wants to look like they got roughly four hours of sleep.

Ahead, you’ll find the most luxurious and effective ones — packed with eye-opening ingredients like blood vessel-constricting caffeine and skin-plumping hyaluronic acid — to help fake a full night’s rest, no matter how many hours of Zzz’s you have or have not managed to squeeze in.

Peter Thomas Roth Vital-E Microbiome Moisture Defense Eye Cream

The integrity of the skin barrier is so important to the look and feel of your skin, especially in the very delicate undereye area. The 2020 Best of Beauty-winning Peter Thomas Ross Vital-E Microbiome Moisture Defense Eye Cream relies on prebiotic and probiotic ingredients, as well as powerful antioxidants to protect skin and ultimately reduce the look of lines and puffiness.

$55 (Shop Now)

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème

The hint of yellow tint in 2020 Readers’ Choice and Best of Beauty Award winner Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème — which doesn’t actually contain banana, by the way — instantly brightens and color-corrects dark circles. Vitamin C and collagen support skin’s clarity and elasticity. 

$39 (Shop Now)

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Manuka Honey Eye Gel

Equipped with a cooling rollerball applicator, L’Oréal Paris’ Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Manuka Honey Eye Gel won a 2020 Best of Beauty Award for its depuffing and dark-circles-reducing abilities. The soothing combination of manuka honey, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid is especially perfect for dry, mature skin. Gently pat in any excess product with your fingers.

$20 (Shop Now)

RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream

Retinol near your eyes sounds scary, but with this gentle cream you’ve got nothing to fear. RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream, an ophthalmologist-tested 2020 Best of Beauty Award winner, slowly releases the vitamin A derivative to fight fine lines around your eyes. And because it also contains hyaluronic acid, it does all this with lots of hydration.

$20 (Shop Now)

Dr. Loretta Tightening Eye Gel

Dr. Loretta’s peptide-packed Tightening Eye Gel nabbed a 2019 Allure Best of Beauty Award for best de-puffing eye cream for the ability to improve the area’s contour. But there’s a bonus: The proprietary Chromabright complex fades uneven pigment, making this a great pick for dark circles too.

$60 (Shop Now)

Kiehl’s Youth Dose Eye Treatment

Wake up tired eyes with Kiehl’s Youth Dose Eye Treatment, made with pro-retinol (a proprietary retinol derivative), vitamin C, and grapeseed extract. The trio works in tandem over time to brighten and minimize the appearance of lines and dark circles.

$40 (Shop Now)

Tatcha The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment

Like a tinted moisturizer for your undereyes, Tatcha’s almost-too-pretty-to-use The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment is available in three versatile shades to instantly mask discoloration and improve the appearance of skin.

$48 (Shop Now)

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado

This little white jar with its signature green text by Kiehl’s is a mainstay on top shelves around the world. Avocado oil in Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado is one of the most potent natural moisturizers and works to nourish and hydrate the eyes.

$50 (Shop Now)

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream

Drugstore fave Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream is packed with potent hyaluronic acid, which as you may know, helps lock hydration into the skin. It’s one of those good-for-everyone picks: light enough for oily skin, hydrating for anyone, and the gel texture makes it cool to the touch.

$15 (Shop Now)

Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream

Hydrate the delicate undereye area with a formula that’s infused with hyaluronic acid, peptides, and avocado protein extract. Plus, brightening ingredients like date seed extract mean less concealer over time.

$46 (Shop Now)

Olay Eyes Brightening Eye Cream

Olay Eyes Brightening Eye Cream is formulated with vitamins and a light-reflecting complex to revive tired-looking skin — and the ghosts of sleepless nights.

$33 (Shop Now)

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex

Not getting enough of those all-important z’s? Keep ’em guessing with Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex, a luxurious gel-cream that combats the side effects of sleep deprivation, UV damage, and pollution buildup.

$64 (Shop Now)

Dior Capture Youth Age-Delay Advanced Eye Treatment

Call it bright eyes in a bottle: Dior’s Youth Age-Delay Advanced Eye Treatment features a fast-absorbing gel to address concerns including sagging skin, dark circles, and puffiness.

$75 (Shop Now)

Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb

Like a tall glass of water for your undereye area, Belif’s Moisturizing Eye Bomb kicks hydration into overdrive. The line-smoothing cream promises long-lasting moisture and a visibly radiant finish.

$48 (Shop Now)

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eyes

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eyes was born of studies about dark undereye circles. As it turns out, the blue ones are due to a lack of microcirculation, which can result from fatigue and are worse in the morning because we sleep horizontally; brown circles can result from sun exposure, genetics, and even excessive rubbing of the eyes. If you didn’t even know undereye circles came in two types, there’s good news: This innovative LRP product was created to target both.

$43 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

15 Best Foundations For Dry Skin

Kosas Tinted Face Oil Foundation

This foundation is perfect the person who still wants their skin to look natural and dewy. Thanks to a concoction of oils like avocado, meadowfoam, red raspberry, jojoba, rosehip and more, this foundation gives your skin all the hydration it needs while offering an enhanced glow and light coverage.

Buy on their website $54

Perricone MD No Makeup Foundation Serum

This foundation gives the skin a moisturizing boost with a thin veil of makeup that includes vitamin E oil, antioxidants, and peptides. The foundation not only works to cover blemishes but also reduces wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and dull-looking skin with neuropeptides, daisy flower extract, and bisabolol.

Buy at Dermstore $60

Black Opal Even True Foundation

This hydrating liquid foundation is an all-in-one complexion perfecter. Not only does it nourish skin with licorice root extract but also hides imperfections like hyperpigmentation, acne and more well with its lightweight and full coverage formula. The hypoallergenic formula is also safe for sensitive skin.

Buy on Amazon $23

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer

Hoping for a dewy finish? Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer should be your go-to. It not only protects the skin from sun damage with an SPF of 30, but it also takes away the appearance of skin impurities and adds hydration with macadamia, tamarind seed extract, and kukui seed oil.

Buy at Sephora $47

Fenty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation

This liquid foundation offers medium coverage and is perfect for those with dry skin because of the infused grapeseed oil and sodium hyaluronate, which helps replenish the skin. The easy-to-use tube is perfect for the girl on the go.

Buy at Sephora $36

Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator SPF

This paraben- and fragrance-free tinted moisturizer offers a full day’s worth of nourishment for all skin types. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid and aloe water for maximum skin health and dewiness. SPF coverage protects skin from environmental aggressors as well.

Buy at Macy’s $53

Armani Beauty Neo Nude Foundation

If you’re in need of an instant hydrating and skin-plumping fix, this foundation should be in your rotation. Hyaluronic acid and moisturizing glycerin are the stars of this buildable coverage show. 

Buy at Sephora $40

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint Foundation

This lightweight, water gel and hyaluronic acid formula not only leaves the skin more hydrated, but is also oil-free and non-comedogenic, so you don’t need to worry about it clogging your pores.

Buy at Target $13

The Lip Bar Skin Serum Foundation

This foundation has a built-in brush to make application easier for the busy body. The formula lasts for eight hours and is deeply nourishing thanks to hyaluronic acid and Irish moss extract.

Side note: I really don’t like the applicator, it gets very dirty and messy very fast. If you can find another way to use the actual product, such as dispensing some on the back of your hand and then applying it, you’ll love it.

Buy on their website $28

Tarte Babassu Foundcealer Skincare Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20

This foundation is vegan, hypoallergenic, and hydrating—perfect for those with sensitive and dry skin. The coverage is buildable so you’re able to play around with what suits you best on any given day. Babassu, vitamins A & E, hyaluronic acid, fatty acids and antioxidants offer skin nourishment and a plump feel.

Buy at Dermstore $39

Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation

This foundation not only includes SPF 35 to protect the skin, but also pansy extract, which keeps the skin from drying out throughout the day. The coverage lasts for 24 hours, with a glowing finish that avoids looking too shiny or oily.

Buy at Sephora $52

Chanel Les Beiges Foundation

This foundation features light protective pigment and antioxidants which lessen the damage caused by pollution, free radicals, and blue light. It’s also made up of 40% water which helps to keep the skin hydrated.

Buy on their website $60

UOMA Beauty Say What?! Foundation

This foundation incorporates berry extract for hydration, along with a formula that delivers a flawless, pore-blurring finish. It’s also vegan and paraben-free, making it great for all skin types.

Buy at ULTA $39

Dermablend Cover Creme Full Coverage Foundation

Dermablend’s foundation delivers all-day hydration through a smooth, creamy formula, while also protecting the skin with SPF 30. The coverage stays on for 16 hours, and works wells even over acne, rosacea, and vitiligo.

B uy at Dermstore $39

Mented Skin Foundation

This stick foundation is easy to apply, offers buildable coverage, and moisturizes thanks to sodium hyaluronate, castor oil, and grape seed oil.

Buy on their website $30

VOGUE article

This $12 Retinol Night Cream Is So Good, Shoppers Have Been Using It for Over A Decade

Whether you’re a 13-stepper or keep it narrowed down to the basics, every skincare routine should have a reliable night cream in its roster. After cleansing away the day, a hydrating cream is the finishing touch that works its magic while you sleep, a perk that’s safe to say both the highly invested and relaxed can get behind. 

And when that night cream is packed with anti-aging ingredients like retinol at a price of $12, Amazon shoppers say it’s worth shouting about from the rooftops. 

With hundreds of reviews praising its wrinkle-reversing and hydrating benefits, Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is one of the retailer’s overall best-sellers alongside some heavy hitters in the category of facial night creams. The hypoallergenic and fragrance-free pick is so beloved by shoppers, some say they’ve been using it for more than a decade. 

The secret to the cream’s clock-fighting power lies in its inclusion of retinol, a derivative of vitamin A that reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. “This cream works,” one reviewer shared. “I bought this cream because, for years, I have been using sunscreen on my face and not on my neck. I live in Florida, so I’ve developed droopy and wrinkled skin on my neck. Within a week of using this [cream], the appearance of my neck has greatly improved! I’ve been FaceTiming a lot with family during the quarantine, and they’ve noticed as well that my neck looks way better and less wrinkly. I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve seen an effect!” 

Even with powerful retinol in its formula, the best-selling Neutrogena cream deeply moisturizes thanks to a blend of vitamin B5 and E, which specifically work to smooth and soften skin. And since it’s oil-free, you don’t have to worry about it causing pore congestion. 

“When I woke up after the very first night of using this cream, I already noticed a dramatic difference,” another shopper said. “I’ve suffered from dermatitis on my forehead for as long as I can remember and have been trying for years to find a product to bring it down. Well, this is it. After one night I already saw my bumps go down significantly. I don’t know what it has done to my skin but I am very grateful for this product!” 

From fading dark spots to improving adult acne, this is one product you don’t want to skip!

Shop now: $12; amazon.com

INSTYLE article