Gemma Chan definitely knows how to make an impression. Her turn in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians was unforgettable, and we’re waiting with baited breath for Don’t Worry Darling to land next year (Chan, Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine star). In the meantime, Chan is working on a podcast about Asian American civil rights, and using her position as a L’Oréal Paris spokeswoman to promote self-care’s role in building confidence and asserting equality. To that end, the actress and activist recently revealed her full beauty routine — and the intel is juicy.
In a video for Vogue released earlier this month, Chan walked viewers through exactly what she relies on to maintain her glowing skin. As expected for any celebrity, she invests in some pricey finds like Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream, celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech’s Facial Massager, and Foreo skincare tools. Yet alongside those triple-dollar-sign buys — The Rich Cream fittingly goes for $265 a bottle — are two hard-working products in the under-$20 range.
The first? L’Oréal’s Revitalift Derm Intensives Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, an all-important base layer. Hyaluronic acid is in tons of products these days because, as researchers say, it has a “unique capacity” for retaining hydration — it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which keeps that dew-making moisture on your skin. With that power, it’s no wonder Chan says the serum “works really well” to wake her face up on tired mornings after late nights, or that the serum’s garnered over 18,000 five-star Amazon ratings.
“I’ve been breaking out so badly from constantly having to wear a mask,” writes one 30-year-old with skin they describe as extremely sensitive and dry. “I added this serum to my skin care routine, and I got instant results overnight. My face is so dewy and moisturized, I’m literally glowing for the first time in years.” Others write that it instantly fills in deep wrinkles, and more still say that after trying “everything on the market,” the Revitalift serum gave them silky, glowing skin.
That efficiency is rivaled by the next steal in Chan’s routine. “My secret weapon is a caffeine eye cream,” she explains. “[I] just very, very gently dot under my eyes. Hopefully [it] encourages a bit of drainage of the puffiness,” Chan says of The Inkey List’s $9.99 Caffeine Eye Cream. Reviewers say it does the trick: They credit the formula with taking puffiness down quickly and keeping it down all day, on top of brightening under-eyes and dark spots.
“Holy crap, it really does reduce puffiness,” writes a shopper of the impact. “I’ve been using this product consistently (AM and PM) for just over a week, and I already notice such a difference. I don’t look like a zombie anymore.” Others say the cream’s moisture lasts all day, even for dry eyes — and at $10, it bests even more expensive products. Shop it at Sephora, and keep scrolling to see the rest of Chan’s routine for blockbuster-ready skin and makeup.
When it comes to skincare, there always seems to be a hot new ingredient of the moment. Does anyone remember salmon milt? The latest It ingredient? Humble jojoba oil, harvested from the seeds of a North American bush, is a multi-purpose has withstood the trends and test of time. Rose Ingleton, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, frequently recommends jojoba oil to her patients. (The Jamaican-born derm also has her own skincare line, which is spiked with superfruits from her native home). Here are the five reasons she loves it so much:
It’s just like human sebum (and that’s a good thing).
It may be weird to think that the oil made by pressing jojoba plant seeds is so close to those produced by the human body, but nature is wild! “This means it can actually absorb into the skin rather than sitting on top of it like most oils,” Ingleton says.
Sensitive skin will love it.
“If your skin is particularly sensitive and irritated by active ingredients, pure jojoba oil is a good option for moisturizing your skin,” she adds. Anybody who suffers from eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, or just plain old finicky skin can benefit from slathering their face and body with the golden oil.
You can truly use it all over.
Hair, cuticles, even to soothe chapped lips—jojoba can be an all-body experience. Ingleton’s tip for maximum hydration and absorption? “As with any oil, applying it to slightly damp skin and hair is always going to work best.”
No clogged pores, here!
Jojoba oil’s bio-similarity to human sebum means that it’s non-comedogenic. “Acne-prone skin types may also see a benefit because it has some anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties,” Ingleton adds. (Hint: coconut oil is comedogenic, so jojoba oil is better if you’re looking for an oil-based makeup remover.)
It plays nice with harsher ingredients.
Retinol? Don’t be scared of it you’re using jojoba oil in your routine. “Because jojoba oil helps with dryness and irritation, it’s a great match for pairing with prescription topicals or with retinol serums,” Ingleton says. She suggests using Retxurizing Retinol Booster Serum from her own line (which has been designated as Clean at Sephora).
Whether you’re about to jet off to a green-list tropical island or settle into a staycation, it’s time to make sure your summer skincare routine is at its tip-top shape. From dehydrating heat and pore-blocking humidity to those extra strong and damaging UV rays, sunny climes can have myriad effects on our skin.
So, what can we do to protect it? To find out more, VOGUE asked some of the industry’s leading K-beauty and skincare experts for their tried-and-tested tips.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #58 series on my blog.
1. Sarah Oh, founder of skincare and K-beauty blog, Oh My Gloss
“Heat and humidity make our pores produce more sweat and oil, so skin can feel grimier and dirtier than usual [in the summer]. However, it’s important to keep our skincare routine gentle, even when washing our skin. People tend to over-wash and use harsher face cleansers around this time — these strip the skin, causing dryness and sometimes prompting the skin to produce more oil.”
“Using a low-pH cleanser is a gentle yet effective way to wash away daily impurities while keeping the skin healthy. In K-beauty, cleansing is the most important step, so doing this properly will set your summer routine for success in motion. Technique tip: work on sections of the face for up to a minute, make small rolling motions with your fingertips.”
“My husband and I love using the 107 Chaga Jelly Low pH Cleanser. It washes off clean, doesn’t leave behind a film, and the crushed green tea leaf powder and the aged vinegar in the formulation give your skin a mild exfoliation.”
2. Elisa Lee, founder of K-beauty product website,Dot Dot Skin
“Sunscreen is a must, every single day, even if you stay indoors or you go out for a few minutes. I like Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream as it doesn’t leave a white cast, it’s not sticky and it looks great under make-up. Reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is also needed. I recommend putting it on your neck and hands too, and using a lip balm with SPF — these are the areas that people forget, but they’re so important. Also, wear caps or hats to protect your face from the sun.”
“During the summer, I love using cooling products — I suggest storing sheet masks and eye patches in the fridge for an extra cooling effect. I love using skincare tools and I put those in the fridge as well, such as Fraîcheur Paris Ice Globes. My favourite tool is the icing roller that I massage over my sheet mask.”
“My biggest skincare tip for summer is a three-part mantra, but honestly it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Keep it cool, keep it simple and keep it calm! First of all, for me, everything that comes after cleansers lives in the fridge during summer. There’s nothing more refreshing than a chilled sheet mask or a gel eye patch. When my skin is hot, it’s also red and angry, so cooled-down products help soothe it. I’m obsessed with sprays, but since I have dry skin, I want my mists to be more than just water. The Farm Stay It’s Real Collagen Gel Mist is like a moisturizer in a spray, and I love it.”
“Warmer months aren’t the time to use chemical exfoliants. A good philosophy is that summer is for maintenance, winter is for treatments. Sunscreen is always key, but it’s of utmost importance when we’re spending more time outdoors.”
“My skin gets a lot of heat, and that’s one of the areas that the aestheticians at Shangpree Spa in Seoul helped me understand how to treat. Ms Joo-Eun Kim, the spa director, explained that when my skin is hot, I should only use my hands to apply skincare as cotton pads and other tools can cause further heat friction. She also made me aware that red, dry skin makes moisture leave much more quickly, so it’s important to rehydrate with toners and cooling sheet masks.”
5. Sarah Lee, co-CEO and co-founder of beauty brand Glow Recipe
“Growing up in Korea, we would always observe our mothers and grandmothers perform their beauty rituals. It was a common practice for them to rub cold watermelon rinds on our backs in the hot summer months. It would instantly soothe and heal our heat rash, so this superfruit became the inspiration behind our first product — the Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask — and has since become a Glow Recipe signature to achieving natural, glowy skin. Watermelon is rich in water content, vitamins, amino acids and anti-inflammatory minerals, which is why it works as a skin hydrator and soother.”
“This mask is a great calming treatment after a day out in the sun — you can use it as the last step of your bedtime routine as an overnight mask, or as a 10-minute wash-off treatment for instantly soothed and plump skin. As well as watermelon, it has hyaluronic acid and AHAs to gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin, which makes it ideal for all skin types. I love putting it in the fridge at least 30 minutes before application for an extra cooling experience. Our early beauty memories have driven the innovations that we bring to Glow Recipe and they remind us of the efficacy of natural ingredients.”
“Another tip to beat summer skin buildup is treating yourself to a clay-infused facial treatment. Traditionally, clay masks can be too harsh for all skin types, especially sensitive or dry complexions — which is why we recently launched the Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial. Our hyaluronic-acid-infused whipped clay frees skin of cell buildup and draws out impurities, while chemical exfoliants, watermelon enzymes, BHA and PHA help clear congested pores. Combined with gentle, exfoliating blueberry-seed powder, this five-minute facial encourages softer, brighter, and clearer-looking skin.”
6. Christine Chang, co-CEO and co-founder of beauty brandGlow Recipe
“Watermelon is a soothing and calming ingredient that blends beautifully with a range of active elements. We love formulating products that intend to hydrate, smooth and balance the skin with watermelon extract, leveraging its calming and soothing properties.”
If, like me, you’re on an eternal quest to quench your dehydrated skin, there is an exciting new skincare gem destined for your face. CeraVe’s new Hyaluronic Acid Serum, which launched in the UK this week, is exactly that, and at less than £20, it’s a product I feel compelled to shout about.
If you haven’t yet heard of – or tried – CeraVe, consider this post your call to action. A budget brand that develop formulas under the discerning eye of dermatologists, it offers skincare that harnesses the power of ceramides to fortify the skin barrier, as well as other innovative ingredients. From the Hydrating Cleanser to the Facial Moisturising Lotion, those that know about it swear by it, and dermatologists regularly recommend its products to their clients for good and gentle home skincare. It is, quite simply, pharmacy skincare at its finest.
The new Hyaluronic Acid Serum is just as stand-out as its now-cult companions in the range. Unlike the jelly-esque texture of traditional hyaluronic acid (HA) formulas (which can often feel quite tacky, and not for everyone), CeraVe’s offering is delivered via a lightweight, ceramide-rich cream that essentially offers a two-in-one hydrator. Tom Allison, founder of the brand, explains why: “We were really thinking about what HA does and what is unique about it. It’s a wonderful ingredient, it attracts water to the site of application and is one of the most effective humectants out there,” he says. “But what it’s not going to do is help mitigate why you’re dry in the first place.”
The resulting “creamy serum” contains a high concentration of the HA active, but in true CeraVe style, also tackles the issue of transepidermal water loss (or dehydration) through an impaired skin barrier. That, after all, is what actually makes the skin dehydrated in the first place. “It takes advantage of HA but also restores the skin barrier at the same time,” he says. As well as HA, ingredients include glycerin, vitamin B5, three different ceramides, and the brand’s patented MVE technology, all of which works hard to keep the skin barrier strong and healthy, while locking hydration in.
If you want a healthy-looking glow without having to put on a full face of makeup, stocking up on one of the best tinted moisturizers available will go a long way to perfecting your routine. These multitasking products combine all of the hydrating benefits of a moisturizer with the sheer-to-medium coverage of an everyday foundation—making them the MVP to any beauty lover’s bag. They’re also an absolute summer beauty essential; tinted moisturizers have a lightweight texture, are easy to apply, and often include SPF to help protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Just try to name a more efficient beauty product—I’ll wait.
As you’d expect, there’s a whole slew of tinted moisturizers on the market right now—and across a range of finishes, skin concerns, and budgets. Which is why Glamour editors were asked about their all-time favorites. From Glossier’s Skin Tint to Fenty Beauty’s new Eaze Drops, scroll down to read their reviews and shop the best tinted moisturizers.
Best Overall: Tarte Cosmetics Maracuja Tinted Moisturizer
The perfect blend of moisturizer and medium coverage—I love the glow that Tarte’s tinted moisturizer gives my skin. It lasts all day and helps my makeup go on more smoothly and more evenly. Plus, it has good-for-your-skin ingredients like hydrating maracuja oil, hyaluronic acid, aloe, and turmeric. —Jessica Radloff, West Coast editor
Best for Evening Skin Tone: Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint
It would be impossible to talk about no-makeup makeup without mentioning Glossier. The quintessential millennial beauty brand (which is also a hit with Gen Z), basically cemented the less-is-more beauty mentality in the early aughts that’s all but mainstream now. When shopping for summer-friendly makeup essentials like a tinted moisturizer, the big G is an obvious brand to consider, thanks to its skin-care-first positioning that feels ideal for scorching summer days spent gallivanting and fully vaxxed. I love how Skin Tint evens out my tone and blurs pores without feeling cakey or like it’s adding to any skin congestion. I’ll definitely be keeping this in my makeup bag all season long. —Erin Parker, commerce writer
Best Drugstore: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral Primer With SPF 50
Meet one of my all-time favorite drugstore finds. This pocket-size product is formulated with SPF 50, so I feel comfortable applying it without extra sunscreen. The tint also provides medium coverage, which is nice during the winter months when my face looks like a pale zombie’s. The formula is packed with hydrating vitamin E—and it’s gentle enough to not irritate my keratosis pilaris–prone skin. —Talia Abbas, commerce writer
Most Natural Finish: Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint
I’m shocked at how much I love Fenty’s Skin Tint. I typically would never go for a satiny finish since I have supremely dry skin and fine lines, but this somehow does not accentuate either. The color match is absolutely perfect (which is saying something because it’s usually hard for me to find a flawless fit for my medium skin), and the coverage is just my type: It easily evens out my skin tone but is light enough to actually look natural. (It really, truly looks like skin.) The only thing I wish this product had was more moisturizing properties to make it appropriate year-round. —Shanna Shipin, commerce managing editor
Best Clean Formula: Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
I thought the perfect tinted moisturizer didn’t exist…until I tried Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint. Packed with plant-based squalene, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, the formula is incredibly lightweight and hydrating—and the matte finish gives my skin this lit-from-within look that I’m obsessed with. The 30-shade range and addition of SPF 40 make it a full-package deal. —T.A.
Best for Moisturizing: Urban Decay Stay Naked Hydromaniac Tinted Glow Hydrator
I’m not usually a fan of tinted moisturizers, mostly because they rarely offer enough coverage and feel watered down. Urban Decay’s is different. Not only does it moisturize, but the tinted formula also provides such fantastic medium coverage that I don’t need foundation or powder. The tip is also super skinny, so I never have to worry about applying more than I need. It stays all day, doesn’t settle into my pores, and keeps my skin hydrated. Totally sold. —J.R.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint Clean SPF 30 Foundation
I’m a firm believer in full-coverage foundation thanks to my acne and hyperpigmentation, but the Sunshine Skin Tint is seriously making me reconsider my stance. Though it really only covers any slight redness, it makes my skin look so dewy and glowing, it’s worth a few pimples shining through (or some carefully placed concealer). Though I’m acne-prone, I’m also dry, so I appreciate the moisture from the oils in the formula, and it just makes my skin look so healthy and fresh. The roller applicator is really fun to use, and I appreciate the fact it has SPF 30. —Bella Cacciatore, beauty associate
More of a foundation than a tinted moisturizer, what makes Supergoop!’s CC screen so, well, super, is that it has SPF50 and offers fantastic protection, plus total coverage. It also comes in a ton of different shades, which I love since it’s typically hard to find something to match my super-pale skin. —J.R.
Best for Hyperpigmentation: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer With SPF 50+
Pregnancy caused some dark spots to appear on my cheeks and around my mouth, so I’ve been on the hunt for a fuller-coverage formula to cover them up without having to slather a ton of product on my face. I found my holy grail with It Cosmetics. A single pump is all it takes to conceal and make me feel instantly put together. And though the product has a medium-to-thick texture, it doesn’t irritate my eczema-prone skin. —S.S.
I’ve probably used this tinted oil more than anything else throughout the entirety of quarantine. All you need is a few drops to instantly brighten and even your skin tone while adding a sun-kissed, dewy glow. Just be sure not to go overboard with application, otherwise it can turn out shiny. Sometimes I’ll go for something more matte, like the Fenty Eaze Drops, but this is one of my favorite skin-care/makeup hybrids ever. —E.P.
Best for Covering Redness: Erborian CC Red Correct
On hot summer days when I don’t want to wear foundation, this CC cream with SPF is all I need. It evens out my red complexion and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin one bit. I’ve stocked up out of fear of not having it on hand. It’s that good. —Kat Thomas, assistant fashion editor
Best Luxury: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30
No tinted moisturizer list would be complete without this classic. There’s a reason it’s so beloved: It really hits the perfect balance between foundation and skin tint. It covers what you want it to, while still letting skin shine through. I also like that it has a more natural finish for days when I don’t want to be super dewy. I’ve also noticed the staying power is pretty unmatched for a moisturizer—I can wear it all day without the coverage fading away. —B.C.
Best for a Matte Finish: Origins GinZing SPF 40 Energy-Boosting Tinted Moisturizer
Origins’ tinted moisturizer is a great everyday workhorse thanks to the addition of SPF 40. It doesn’t come in a ton of shades, but it just kind of blurs into your natural color, giving you a smooth, matte finish without looking like you’re wearing makeup at all. —Emma Wartzman, producer
Best Budget: Garnier SkinActive Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream Anti-Aging
This was my go-to in high school, and I stand by it. It’s much thicker than other tinted moisturizers I’ve used, so it provides pretty decent coverage. It feels really nice and hydrating on my skin, and I definitely appreciate the anti-aging ingredients more now than I did 10 years ago. The only drawback is it has only one shade. —B.C.
Best for Soothing Irritated Skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30
This is my peak-summer and dead-of-winter must-have when my skin decides to flare up with all the eczema and flakiness it can possibly muster. It’s made with soothing colloidal oatmeal, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E—three ingredients my dry skin soaks right up and that I feel comfortable using while pregnant. Bonus points for also including SPF 30 protection. —S.S.
Best for a Sun-Kissed Glow: Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
What I love most about Drunk Elephant’s tinted moisturizer is the luminous glow it delivers. It makes my face look like some bronzed goddess who spent the first half of the year vacationing in the French Riviera (a girl can dream). The texture is not greasy at all and blends seamlessly into my dry skin if you want to build for more coverage. I personally just use two squeezes so I can let my natural freckles shine through. —T.A.
The Inkey List — for those who may not know and consequently have been seriously missing out — is a U.K.-based brand that made its way to Sephora shelves worldwide back in 2019. Brand co-founder and chemist Mark Curry along with co-founder Colette Laxton were devoted to creating a brand that introduces effective ingredients into your skincare routine without asking you to spend more than $15. In other words, you get to save some money while you watch your skin thrive.
Not only is the brand very reasonably priced, but it’s also very easy for a consumer to navigate and shop. Each product in The Inkey List is named after its main ingredient. For example, if you want to try a hydrating hyaluronic acid, it makes a serum that’s simply called Hyaluronic Acid. The same goes for exfoliating glycolic acid; the brand offers a Glycolic Acid Toner. You get the gist. And if you’re confused about which ingredients you need for your skin type, concerns, and goals, it has you covered with plenty of helpful information.
With more than 30 affordable, ingredient-centric products in The Inkey List’s lineup, it’s hard to know what you may want to start with. While I enjoy a lot of the products, I’ve narrowed it down to nine of my favorite products.
Oat Cleansing Balm
The Inkey List’s Oat Cleansing Balm is formulated with oat kernel oil to keep skin moisturized and colloidal oatmeal to reduce redness. This surprisingly luxurious face wash will strip all the makeup and dirt off your skin but will never strip your skin of moisture. And that’s why it won a 2020 Best of Beauty Award.
For just $8, the Hyaluronic Acid is a great pick if your skin needs a burst of hydration. Just a dime-size amount of this lightweight serum and your dry, dehydrated skin will be thanking you for quenching its thirst.
The Caffeine Eye Cream does for your eyes what a cup of coffee does for the rest of you: make you look more awake. The formula is made up of caffeine that reduces puffiness and Matrixyl 3000, a peptide that cosmetic chemist Ginger King says will help to boost collagen to firm up the skin and minimize fine lines. When the two are combined, you’ll be looking like you had a full night’s rest (even if you didn’t).
The Salicylic Acid Cleanser gets a gold star for helping acne-prone skin get — and stay — clearer. This formula features 2 percent beta hydroxy acid to exfoliate skin and unclog pores, and its zinc compound helps reduce inflammation.
The Glycolic Acid Toner features 10 percent of its star alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, to minimize the look of pores and fine lines. It also has witch hazel to help control excess oil. After just one use, you’ll notice smoother, brighter skin.
The Kaolin Clay Mask is ideal for getting all that gunk out of your pores. The mixture includes kaolin and smectite clays, which work together to remove gunk from pores and absorb excess oil. All in all, this mask will leave skin looking even and feeling clean.
After winning a Best of Beauty Award in 2019, the Rosehip Oil is still an all-time favorite. It’s made of 100 percent pure rosehip oil, which promotes softer and smoother skin. Apply a couple of drops as the last step in your skin-care routine before you go to sleep, and you’ll wake up with glowy, moisturized skin every time.
According to Miami board-certified dermatologist Roberta Del Campo, tranexamic acid is an increasingly popular ingredient for treating discoloration. “It’s known to help not only lighten [hyperpigmentation] but decrease recurrence,” she says, and that’s exactly what the Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment does. After your pimple heals and becomes a dark spot, just apply a pea-size drop of this magic potion every night, and you’ll surely notice a difference in your skin after about a month’s use.
Get your glow on with the Vitamin C cream. The formula is 30 percent L-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that brightens dull skin. Another perk: Use this moisturizer before your morning makeup routine and you can say hello to a smoother canvas for your foundation.
The brightening skincare ingredient can tackle hyperpigmentation.
As far as brightening skincare ingredients go, vitamin C is an A-list star. However, there are other effective ingredients that can treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne, sun damage, or melasma that deserve some time in the spotlight, too.
Tranexamic acid is one such ingredient having a moment, with more and more skincare influencers and beauty brands shining light on its benefits and including it in product formulas. While tranexamic acid can be effective on its own, it works even better as an ensemble with other dark spot-fighting ingredients such as vitamin C, kojic acid, niacinamide, and more.
What Is Tranexamic Acid?
“Tranexamic acid is a synthetic form of lysine, which is an amino acid needed to make proteins,” says Dr. Shari Marchbein, board-certified dermatologist in NYC. “It works by decreasing the production of melanin and we know that the oral form is much more effective at treating melasma than topical form. That being said, serums and other products that contain this ingredient have a lot of potential to help improve hyperpigmentation.”
The ingredient originally was used as a hemostatic agent to help blood clots, but recently has been utilized as a brightening ingredient to help minimize hyperpigmentation as well as melasma.
What Are the Benefits of Using Tranexamic Acid?
One of the major benefits of tranexamic acid is that it plays nice with other brightening ingredients, so you can really zero in on hyperpigmentation.
“There are many treatments for dark spots and these often work well together including licorice, niacinamide, kojic acid, tranexemic acid, retinoids, chemical exfoliants [such as glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid], and more,” Dr. Marchbein says. The dermatologist often recommends serums with tranexamic acid and other brightening agents be used in the same routine for the ingredients to work synergistically to improve post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma.
Tranexamic acid is also a safer, effective alternative to hydroquinone, a potentially irritating bleaching ingredient. “There aren’t many options when it comes to safe, effective skin lightening bioactives,” says Krupa Koestline, clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants. “Hydroquinone is banned in the EU and restricted in many countries due to its safety concerns. Tranexamic acid has shown promising evidence as a plasmin inhibitor and therefore an effective treatment for UV induced discoloration, dark spots, and redness.”
What Are the Side Effects of Tranexamic Acid?
All skin types can use tranexamic acid, but like adding any other new ingredient to your skincare routine, it’s best to do a patch test to ensure you won’t experience irritation.
It’s also important to wear SPF when using tranexamic acid, along with other brightening ingredients, because the sun can make hyperpigmentation darker.
“Remember that before you spend your money on antioxidant serums, brightening ingredients, and retinoids to improve the tone of your skin and hyperpigmentation, the most important and first step is diligent daily sun protection,” Dr. Marchbein says. “It is key to reduce the appearance of brown spots (otherwise you are literally throwing your money away).” The dermatologist recommends a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher should be applied to the face, neck, and ears every day — even in the winter.
How Do You Add Tranexamic Acid to Your Skincare Routine?
Dr. Marchbein says to use tranexamic acid once or twice a day. “I also layer tranexamic acid containing serums over Vitamin C serums and under SPF in the morning and under retinoids at nighttime, so this can safely and effectively be combined with multiple other actives.”
The active can be found in serums, moisturizers, and toners, so it’s entirely up to you what step of your routine in which you want to incorporate it.
That being said, Koestline says serums are a popular way to go. “Most people do like using actives in their serum layer since you’re applying it before other products.”
Shop Tranexamic Acid Skincare Products:
SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
Dr. Marchbein is a fan of this serum by SkinCeuticals, which she often recommends to patients treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma. It’s infused with tranexamic acid, along with kojic acid and niacinamide, another two tried-and-true brightening ingredients.
Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment
In addition to niacinamide, the all-star cast of Peter Thomas Roth’s discoloration treatment includes tranexmic and kojic acids, alpha arbutin, and pentapeptide. The lightweight cream can be applied twice a day on clean skin and is best followed by a moisturizer.
Puffiness? Dark circles? Dryness? Crow’s feet? This eye mask by celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas checks all the boxes. It’s powered by brightening tranexamic acid, collagen-boosting matrixyl, soothing allantoin, and hydrating licorice root extract.
If post-breakout dark spots, hyperpigmentation, or dullness are your main skincare concerns, try swapping your usual moisturizer for this overnight treatment. Powered by tranexamic acid, vitamin C, and acai berry extract, it targets areas of discoloration and boosts overall radiance.
Dr. Marchbein says SkinMedica’s Lytera 2.0 serum is another great option for treating discoloration. It combines tranexamic acid with niacinamide, phytic acid, phenylethyl resorcinol, and a marine extract blend to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation without drying out skin.
Have you heard about slugging? As slimy as it might sound, it’s a Korean beauty skincare trend made popular a few years ago that has recently had a renaissance thanks to TikTok, on which it’s going viral. Check Reddit and you’ll also see a number of threads enthusing about it. “Slugging is a trend that centres around putting a thick layer of Vaseline or petroleum jelly on your face as the final step in your skincare routine,” explains Maree Kinder, founder of Beauty & Seoul.“The idea behind it is to act as a seal or barrier to prevent moisture loss from skin.”
Taking the concept of fortifying the skin barrier to new – and somewhat greasy – heights, to many (those for whom a moisturiser is more than enough, thank you very much) the thought of slapping on some Vaseline onto skin is a no-no. But those who do it swear it helps to leave skin hydrated, plump and glowing. The trend emerged after, Kinder says, a Korean actress claimed it was her secret to “chok chok” skin, which is that dewy finish that has also become popular in the UK.
But does it work? While some skin types can take this hefty way to retain moisture, most dermatologists are wary of the trend: “I worry that excessive amounts of petroleum jelly will clog pores, especially if you already suffer from acne-prone skin,” says Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, founder of SKNDOCTOR. “Vaseline is occlusive, meaning it forms a barrier – pure occlusion can trigger breakouts in acne-prone skin types.”
Kinder, who hails from Korea and grew up in the UK, also admits that few of her South Korean friends actually partake in the trend, but does point out that the method can work for dry skin types. Dr Ukeleghe agrees, explaining that slugging on “small, dry patches, shouldn’t be too problematic for the skin as petroleum jelly can be soothing and moisturising” but she advises avoiding applying it in a blanket manner. It’s comedogenic so there’s a high chance you’ll break out in spots.
What both experts agree is that there are products that promise that same dewy, plump skin without the risk factor. Ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide work to help bolster the skin’s barrier, leading to better retention of moisture in the skin, and subsequently a healthier appearance. “Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydrating molecule,” adds Dr Ukeleghe. “It’s a natural component in our skin but, applied topically, helps bind and retain moisture.” She recommends following with a nourishing moisturiser to keep everything locked in.
Meanwhile, good quality facial oils may also be excellently deployed as the last step in your skincare regime to lock hydration in and leave skin luminous. Finally, Dr Ukeleghe recommends making use of overnight masks in lieu of Vaseline. Sticky situation averted.
If you’re a fan of hybrid beauty products that do it all in one step, Amazon shoppers think you’ll love Garnier’s SPF-infused serum creams.
The Garnier SkinActive Green Labs serums are available in three different versions: Hyalu-Melon for plumping, Pinea-C for brightening, and Canna-B for “pore perfecting” and mattifying. The three-in-one product is a serum, moisturizer, and SPF 30 sunscreen. Formulated without parabens, mineral oil, or dyes, the serums are non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t clog pores), provide all-day hydration, and are suitable for all skin types and tones, according to the brand. The multi-use serums have become quite popular over the last few months — so much so that they’re selling out at retailers like CVS, according to a brand representative.
Fortunately, all three serums are still in stock at Amazon, and they’ve collectively racked up hundreds of positive reviews since launching. Shoppers say the serum creams are so moisturizing that they’ll leave your skin “dewy and glowing,” and are even “as good as $100 products.” Each serum also comes with a sample of Garnier’s popular micellar cleansing water.
Customers seem to particularly love the Pinea-C serum, which is formulated with vitamin C and pineapple to tackle dull skin and dark spots. One shopper wrote: “This multitasker feels indulgently soft and rich on my face, which has stayed pleasantly hydrated and nourished all day. It combines several steps in my morning routine into one application, saving me time and multiple coins.”
Shoppers also say they’ve noticed a “major pore reduction” when using the Canna-B serum, which is made with blemish-fighting niacinamide. The mattifying serum “works great for oily skin,” but still leaves skin “moist and supple for hours,” according to reviewers.
If your skin concerns include fine lines, customers rave that the anti-aging Hyalu-Melon serum, made with hyaluronic acid and watermelon fruit extract, has made them look “10 years younger” after just a few days of use. Others note that it smells refreshing, and thanks to its creamy texture, “a little goes a long way.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.