A dermatologist even called it “filler in a bottle”.
If you’re on the quest to turn back the hands of time, this buzzy new launch from Murad may be just the miracle you’ve been looking for.
After seeing the 32-year-old brand’s Targeted Wrinkle Corrector all over TikTok, editors decided to dive a little deeper and reach out to experts about the latest line-smoothing miracle worker that, according to an official release from the brand, promises to erase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles “instantly” — and they didn’t mince words.
“I would call this filler in a bottle,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sheila Farhang tells PEOPLE. “It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid, which is what most filler products are made of, and when you apply this to the skin, it creates an anti-aging benefit by its ability to pull in water and plump fine lines.”
“This product is also formulated with peptides, which are proteins that contribute to the elasticity, or the ‘bounce back’ of the skin,” she says.
Buy It! Murad Targeted Wrinkle Corrector, $78; murad.com
Seconds Cassandra Bankson, skincare expert and medical aesthetician, “This is one of the best over-the-counter products you can get when it comes to combating fine lines and wrinkles. I see many clients who aren’t ready or interested in Botox or fillers, but are still looking to combat forehead wrinkles and fine lines. Skin care won’t give you the same results as injectables, [but] this one packs a punch.”
It does so thanks in part to plant-derived squalane, “which is phenomenal for skin barrier support and moisturization, so your skin is going to look noticeably better with each use,” Bankson adds.
We then turned to the pages (and pages) of rave Murad reviews praising the powerful peptide-meets-hyaluronic treatment.
One satisfied shopper said they saw “a noticeable difference right away,” while another reviewer said, “It worked so well for me [that] I immediately bought another tube in case it sold out. I am an older woman with significant frown lines, and those lines were immediately minimized after I applied the serum.”
Here’s how to use it: Tap a small amount of the cream on clean, dry skin (don’t rub) and watch it fill your wrinkles immediately — even stubborn, deep-set lines — flooding the vacant space with hydration and leaving behind smooth, plump, younger-looking skin. It’s ideal for anyone with glabella lines (more commonly referred to as “elevens”) around the forehead, as well as those with concerns around the eyes and lips.
Shop this anti-aging secret weapon at Murad for $78 and put your best face forward.
“Squalane — which is the vegan version of squalene — has wonderful hydrating properties and maintains our skin’s own moisture barrier,” triple board-certified dermatologist and Terasana Clinical‘s Skintellectual Dr. Mamina Turegano shares with InStyle. “Our skin naturally produces squalene (with an “e”), but production decreases as we age.“
Fortunately, squalane (with an “a”) absorbs well into the skin and helps to replenish lipids with no side effects. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and microbiome-nourishing properties, according to Dr. Turegano.
What Are the Main Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?
Ever been out all day in the summer, on a blazing hot day, then come back home and thanked God you stored a few water bottles in the fridge the night before so you can feel alive again? Think of hyaluronic acid as that same type of water storage — but for your skin.
“Hyaluronic acid is important for moisturizing and maintaining elasticity in the skin,” explains Dr. Turegano. “Our skin also naturally has hyaluronic acid. It serves as a humectant, meaning that it pulls in water or moisture in skin cells, which allows the skin to feel more hydrated and ‘plump.’ This not only gives your skin moisture and glow, but it can also diminish fine lines in the skin.”
Why Should I Pair These Two Ingredients Together?
Simple: the two work together as a team to help draw in moisture, then lock it in.
“While hyaluronic acid pulls in water to hydrate the cells, the squalane serves more to build the moisture barrier and keep the hydration in the skin, as opposed to evaporating,” Dr. Turegano shares. “I recommend using a hyaluronic acid serum, then layering the squalane on top of that.”
What Type of Skin Ailments Can Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane Relieve?
Pretty much anything that has to do with, or stems from, dryness. Dr. Turegano adds that squalane itself can help to soothe sunburns, treat acne (because of its anti-inflammatory properties), and can even be used for dry cuticles and nails. Hyaluronic acid, on the other hand, can help with wound healing.
Both ingredients can also be used to hydrate dry hair.
Which Skin Types Are These Ingredients Most Beneficial For?
Any and everyone who can get their hands on them, pretty much.
“Even acne-prone, oily, or sensitive skin would benefit from squalane and hyaluronic acid,” the derm shares, adding that it’s also helpful for anti-aging. “There are serums that make higher concentrations of hyaluronic acid that would be more helpful with advancing age to help replenish the natural hyaluronic acid that we naturally lose with age and to help diminish the appearance of fine.”
Is There a Catch?
Nope! It’s really not too good to be true — unless you’re just not a fan of oils in the case of squalane. But luckily, you’ll still have options.
“There are still plenty of creams, lotions, or gel-based moisturizers that incorporate squalene into the product,” says Dr. Turegano. “But not all squalane is also created equal. I would look for squalane derived from sugar cane — as opposed to olives or sharks — since it is more consistent in quality and is more sustainable. With hyaluronic acid, I do recommend adding a separate occlusive moisturizer layer over the hyaluronic acid product, which allows it to keep the moisture in place. This is more important for those with dry skin.”
Another plus? Both of these ingredients are non-irritating, even if you have sensitive skin.
Among the many skin-care ingredients on the shelves, few have attained the hero status of retinoids. That’s the umbrella term for all forms of vitamin A, which include prescription-strength tretinoin along with over-the-counter derivatives. The very word retinol stirs a certain reverence, given its proven efficacy in minimizing wrinkles, speeding cell turnover, and clearing up acne—and that’s despite a well-known drawback. “Retinoids are very irritating to the skin,” says New Jersey dermatologist Naana Boayke, MD. It’s a testament to retinol’s abilities that many users have the patience to tolerate the mild discomfort, which often appears as redness, dryness, and occasional flaky skin.
But for some, retinol is simply too harsh. Plus, the ingredient can pose a challenge in the summer, given that it increases sun sensitivity, thereby making skin particularly prone to redness and burns. (SPF is a must.) That’s where retinol alternatives can be advantageous. These new, up-and-coming actives tout results comparable to retinol, but without the telltale side effects.
“Mineral-, marine-, and plant-derived ingredients have been found to have retinol-like biological pathways,” says Marisa Plescia, a research scientist at clean retailer NakedPoppy. Those shared effects range from stimulated cellular renewal to collagen synthesis, she points out.
Chief among these gentler substitutes is bakuchiol, which is derived from the babchi seed. “It’s a ‘functional analog’ to retinol, meaning it has similar chemical, physical, biochemical, or pharmacological properties,” Plescia says, noting a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Another promising ingredient is rambutan, which, she says, supports natural collagen synthesis through a mechanism similar to retinol and bakuchiol. “We are seeing this with other botanical sources, such as moth bean extract and certain algaes,” she adds.
They’ve proven so appealing that some products even pair actual retinol with retinol alternatives, such as Dr. Dennis Gross’s Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream, which offers a skin-renewing trio of rambutan, bakuchiol, and retinol. While the evidence behind retinol alternatives is still growing, there’s enough promise to make such a product worth incorporating into your routine.
Dermalogica Neck Fit Contour Serum
As the delicate neck and décolletage areas are particularly vulnerable to the effects of sunlight, this formula takes a strategic approach. Not only does it combine peptides and rambutan to smooth lines (a sign of the aptly named tech neck) and address discoloration, but it also features a dedicated Flex Lift Contour technology, which creates a mesh-like network on skin to lift and tighten.
Herbivore Botanicals Moon Fruit Serum
Herbivore isn’t new to the world of retinol alternatives, but this addition to its portfolio is a welcome one. The formula pairs bakuchiol with plant-based peptides that help to further firm skin, and simultaneously hydrates to give skin a touch of radiance. Its fruity scent has proven polarizing, but early reviews suggest that it’s worth it.
The Outset Restorative Niacinamide Night Cream
One of the mainstays of Scarlett Johansson’s new, minimalist-minded skin-care line, this velvety night cream pairs bakuchiol with a proprietary Hyaluroset complex—a plant-based alternative to hyaluronic acid that deeply hydrates skin—giving it the power of a serum and moisturizer in one.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Renewal Serum
As Plescia mentioned, marine ingredients can often replicate the effects of retinol—as is the case with this serum, which is anchored in red algae, alfalfa, and stevia extracts. It’s designed to target signs of sun damage in particular, such as uneven tone and fine lines.
Tula Skincare Wrinkle Treatment Drops Retinol Alternative Serum
Delivered in an appealing dry-oil texture, which leaves behind no greasy or slick feel, this serum combines bakuchiol, alfalfa sprouts, and stevia to spur cellular turnover. Meanwhile, probiotic and prebiotic extracts (a hallmark of the brand) bring balance to the skin barrier.
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
Powered by bakuchiol, this elegant serum is ideal for more sensitive types: The blend of sugarcane-derived squalane and niacinamide work in equal measure to soothe skin, keeping it calm and comfortable.
Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème
One of the first brands to debut bakuchiol in skin care, Ole Henriksen has come to showcase the ingredient across its offerings. In this lightweight eye cream in particular, it works alongside orchid-derived stem cells to firm and brighten around the eyes, minimizing both crows’ feet and dark circles at once.
True Botanicals Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster Serum
Encased in vegan capsules to guarantee freshness (and therefore efficacy), this serum offers a blend of vitamin A–rich botanical extracts, such as buriti and carrot root oils, which skin then converts into retinoic acid upon application. In other words, the formula works in concert with the skin’s natural processes.
Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream
Formulated with guidance from a dermatologist rooted in clean beauty, this staple in singer Alicia Keys’s skin-care line delivers radiant skin with a blend of bakuchiol and ceramides. In keeping with the brand’s ritual-minded ethos, it also contains malachite, a stone that signifies transformation.
From acne and rosacea to simply not knowing where to start with a good skincare routine, we turn to dermatologists for all manner of skincare concerns. Given that they have seen, done and experienced it all when it comes to the skin, what are the questions they get asked most often? And what advice do they give? British Vogue sat down with three experts to find out.
Does your diet affect acne?
“For the vast majority of people, acne purely comes down to your hormones and genetics,” says Dr Anjali Mahto. “That said, there is a small, select group of people that may be sensitive to dairy and refined sugars. I don’t recommend people cut things out of their diet at random because I think that can lead to issues around food restriction and disordered eating. But if you are noticing that your skin is breaking out when you eat dairy – and I’m not talking about a splash in your coffee, but huge amounts or taking whey protein supplements – there is probably some benefit in switching to a plant-based alternative that’s got a low GI index. Think unsweetened soy milk or almond milk, which are both better than oat milk.” Dr Justine Kluk agrees, stating that dietary changes alone are not enough to control acne. “They can form part of the management approach alongside prescription treatment, but don’t replace it in most cases,” she says.
Is the SPF in moisturiser equivalent to the one in sunscreen?
“The SPF in your moisturiser is tested the same way as an SPF in sunscreen, so an SPF 30 moisturiser should provide an SPF of 30,” explains Dr Justine Kluk. “The main issue is that these formulas are less likely to be rub and water resistant and may be applied a lot more thinly than sunscreen. It’s for this reason that they may not offer the same level of protection. It is also worth noting that moisturisers containing an SPF may not contain any UVA protection and, as a result, will not protect against UV ageing.”
Do collagen supplements actually work?
“If you look at the majority of data, at this moment in time, there isn’t any really good evidence that collagen supplements actually work,” says Dr Mahto. “That’s essentially because collagen is a protein – just like eating a piece of steak or tofu is protein. All that will happen is your gut breaks it down into constituent amino acids and doesn’t think, ‘I need to send it to the skin’, so it gets passed around the body. Also, if you’ve got enough expendable cash to be buying collagen supplements – they’re not cheap – you’re probably also the kind of person who is wearing sunscreen and following a good, healthy diet and using a retinol, so it becomes tricky to figure out whether it’s the collagen supplement working or the other things. I’m sceptical, but if you can show me good data that works, I’m willing to change my position on it.”
Will my breakouts ever go away?
“They might, but the reality for many women is that they often continue into the thirties and beyond,” says Dr Sam Bunting. “The good news is that the right anti-acne skincare routine will often be a highly effective plan for tackling premature ageing too, so your skin may well look better and better as time goes on.”
What is the right age to start having injectables?
“Lots of people ask if they’re too young or too old for injectables,” says Dr Mahto. “Generally, people that are in their mid-thirties onwards have figured out whether it’s a reasonable time to get started. Usually what I say in this scenario, is that it’s not actually about your age, it’s more about how your skin is ageing. That depends on your individual genetics – how your parents age – as well as how much sun exposure you’ve had, your diet, how stressed out you are and how you sleep. You can have somebody in their late twenties who’s had very little sun and their skin is ageing beautifully and they don’t need any injectable treatments. On the other hand, you could have a 28-year-old who has a really expressive face, they’ve enjoyed sunny holidays and outdoor sport, and they’re starting to get lines when their forehead is at rest or noticing a loss of volume in fat in their face. For someone like that, it might be a reasonable time to start. Different ethnic groups also age differently – somebody who has really fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes will start to get wrinkles more quickly than somebody who has Asian or Black skin, because their melanin will protect them. The flip-side is that those with Asian and Black skin tend to start losing volume in their faces more quickly, so they tend to need filler before they need Botox.”
Is my skincare routine working?
“I think there is still a basic lack of understanding around what you actually need in a skincare routine and what you don’t,” Dr Mahto says. “People buy into the buzz about the latest ingredients – whether that’s niacinamide or tranexamic acid – but actually the average person does not need to be using every single one of those ingredients. What you’re trying to do is use as little as possible on your skin, and to look for ingredients that target multiple things. Vitamin A is anti-ageing, good for acne and pigmentation – so why use niacinamide and tranexamic acid and retinol when you’ve got one ingredient that will do a really good job of that? I spend a lot of time stripping back people’s routines, rather than adding things in.”
Will anyone be able to tell if I’ve had Botox?
“Not if it’s done well,” points out Dr Bunting. “I talk to patients about softening strong expression lines and releasing the tension from the face nowadays – it’s a far cry from the frozen faces of the ’90s. Microdosing means no one else ever has to know.”
It’s been a pleasant phenomenon over the past few years to see celebrities champion cleaner beauty products. The evidence on endocrine-disrupting chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and PFAS is there, thanks to research over the last two decades — so to see figures like Jennifer Garner, Brooke Shields, and Scarlett Johansson discuss their favorite clean products is wonderful. The downside: Many cost a significant chunk of change. But drugstore brands like Cocokind and Acure offer smart, safe products for less money, as does OG player Burt’s Bees. And according to shoppers, the latter sells a rosehip Facial Oil that leaves wrinkles “almost completely gone.”
The minimalist vial of golden oil calls in a mix of ingredients to help skin look its best, with rose seed extract at top billing. Jojoba oil, borage oil, and vitamin E make up a supporting cast of smoothing moisturizers, and bakuchiol lends an anti-aging angle. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Melanie Palm, MD, previously told InStyle that bakuchiol helps improve the appearance of skin texture, photo-aging, and wrinkles, and rejuvenates the expression of collagen in the skin — essentially handing you many of the end goals of retinol without the irritation.
With just a single drop of the oil nightly, one Amazon reviewer saw the frown line on their forehead smooth out, and their laugh lines turn less pronounced — plus, the moisturized look “lasts for days” rather than dissipating as you blink. A 44-year-old said two weeks of use likewise left their wrinkles smoother and face clearer, and a third person recognized a difference immediately. “The small wrinkles around my eyes were almost completely gone,” they wrote. “People cannot believe my age.”
Per the same thrilled reviewer, the under-$20 face oil rivals “very expensive” products’ effect on crow’s feet. Fans report its brightening power is just as excellent: A 36-year-old who “smoked for many years” wrote that the oil has “changed [their] life” — it toned down their persistent dark circles to such a degree, they said they’d give it 10 stars if they could.
A final 69-year-old commented that there’s “simply no comparison” for soft, supple, pliable skin. Between the results, ingredients, and price, it seems like Burt’s Bees Facial Oil is a velvet hammer that does no wrong. Get it for $19 at Amazon or Ulta Beauty.
Nothing compares to the sheer joy one feels when it’s time to lay down under steam for a facial. Of course, that relaxation only takes place after long hours of researching and scrolling through the facial services menu to determine what treatment is worth the money and the hour-long block in your day. Allow me to help make your search easier: Get a HydraFacial.
Apparently this magical 30- to 60-minute treatment tackles everything from dehydration to discoloration, aging to acne, and uneven skin texture. Ready to book? Honestly same. But here’s a brief explainer on everything to know before your first HydraFacial.
What is a HydraFacial?
According to board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad, “The HydraFacial is the only hydra-dermabrasion procedure that uses patented technology to cleanse, extract, and hydrate.” And yes, HydraFacial is a branded experience. Spas have to be registered and licensed to market themselves as offering HydraFacials.
The 60-minute treatment is divided into three key sections, the first being Cleanse + Peel. “HydraFacial uncovers a new layer of skin with gentle exfoliation and relaxing resurfacing. The Activ-4™ serum removes dead skin cells to reveal healthy skin and the GlySal™, a mixture of glycolic and salicylic acids, delivers the benefits of a peel without post-peel scaling,” he explains.
The second step is to Extract + Hydrate. The HydraFacial removes debris from pores with painless suction and nourishes with intense moisturizers that quench skin. “The patented, automated vortex suction painlessly cleans out pores with the exclusive Beta-HD™ serum and Antiox+™ serum nourishes and protects with antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid,” Ostad continues.
And finally, the third step is to Fuse + Protect. “A HydraFacial saturates the skin’s surface with antioxidants and peptides to maximize your glow. Targeted, proprietary skin solutions are delivered to address specific skin concerns. Patients maintain results at home with Daily Essentials™ featuring the same ingredients used in the treatments,” he adds.
What do HydraFacials do for your face?
For those who wear makeup a lot or simply want a deeper clean than usual, HydraFacials are a great way to cleanse the skin. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anthony Rossi Jr., “facials such as HydraFacials are a way to remove the buildup of sebum and debris that cover the top of our skin. It helps to loosen and unclog pores, and combines an exfoliation process of removing the top layer of dead skin cells, the stratum corneum, with hydration and cleansing of water.”
HydraFacials help to brighten the skin. “After treatments like [HydraFacial] or any that help to exfoliate the top layer, skincare will penetrate better and makeup will be applied easier. The stratum corneum is the epidermis’ layer of protection and one of the main barriers to the penetration of topicals,” he adds.
How does a HydraFacial differ from microdermabrasion or a traditional chemical facial peel?
There are a few key differences. For example, microdermabrasion treatments use manual extractions, while a HydraFacial uses a vacuum-like tip to cleanse deeper down than traditional extraction. Additionally, chemical peels use acids and are most effective on lighter skin tones, whereas HydraFacials can be used on all shades.
“[The treatment] takes its name from the root word hydrate—this ability to moisturize the skin separates the HydraFacial™ from all other skin resurfacing procedures,” explains Boston-based, board-certified dermatopathologist Dr. Gretchen Frieling. “The treatment is soothing, refreshing, non-irritating, and immediately effective.”
Do HydraFacials hurt?
HydraFacials shouldn’t be painful. Essentially, the machine’s handpiece holds spiralized treatment tips with vortex technology which, as acts like a mini vacuum on your skin. The most uncomfortable part of the treatment is definitely the exfoliation in section one. Camkiran likened the feeling to a “cat licking my face.” That’s a cute way of saying it was sandpapery, but not excruciating.
Despite the official website’s claim that “patients compare the sensation to a light massage,” I would say it’s a bit more like a dental cleansing for your skin (and p.s. I love the dentist). Somewhere between not painful and not pleasant lies the HydraFacial. However, this is an active facial, meaning in the words of another prominent beauty editor, Deanna Pai: “The HydraFacial device is a huge machine with various attachments that whirr and suck and spin.” In summary, it’s noisy—and if you fall asleep during this treatment you are on a different level of zen that I definitely envy.
Is it safe for all skin types?
HydraFacials can be performed on most skin types, including very sensitive complexions. But, those with active rashes, sunburns, or rosacea should abstain from HydraFacials, which can cause further damage or flare ups. “You also should not do this if you have open wounds or excoriated areas. These areas are already prone to inflammation,” Dr. Rossi adds. Also, pregnant woman should always consult with their doctor first. “Some of the ingredients used during the HydraFacial, such as salicylic acid, haven’t been tested or proven safe during pregnancy,” adds Frieling.
Can you customize your treatment?
“The treatment is highly customizable,” explains Ostad. “Your skincare professional will work with you to understand your unique skin concerns and recommend a personalized treatment for you.” An aesthetician can use the exfoliator at varying intensities, and leave acids on the face for differing durations.
How many treatments do I need to see results?
“Many patients report seeing visible skin refinement and an even, radiant skin tone after just one treatment,” explains Frieling. And yes, I co-sign this. My skin has receipts. 60-minutes and change later I emerged a glow-ier, dewier version of myself that lasted into the latter half of the week.
The good news? The smooth results and hydration may last five to seven days or even longer. The bad news? One treatment per month is recommended for improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, oily and congested skin…which ain’t cheap people!
Are HydraFacials worth the money?
With a price tag ranging from $199-$300, it’s certainly an investment. It’s wise to book a treatment before a big event or quarterly to reset your skin after a seasonal change. But if you have the bread, ball out because your skin will look lovely.
Cleansing your skin is the most pivotal part of your skincare routine since it creates a clean slate for your serums and creams. However, removing your makeup is not exactly the most exciting part of your routine — especially if you’re wearing waterproof mascara or long wear lipstick. Rubbing and scrubbing your skin with a makeup wipe or washcloth eventually gets off every trace of product, but there are better options out there that don’t cause redness and irritation, and dare I say, make you look forward to washing your face at night.
Enter: Cleansing balms.
Made with high amounts of hydrating ingredients like butters and oils, these cleansers effectively and effortlessly break up and melt off makeup, dirt, and sunscreen while simultaneously moisturizing your skin. “They typically come in a tub and you only need a little bit,” says Shari Sperling M.D. a New Jersey-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Sperling Dermatology. “A cleansing balm can be used in a double cleansing regimen with the balm being the first step to cleanse your skin from makeup or sunscreen.” After using a cleansing balm, it’s recommended to follow up with a water-based cleanser to further clean pores and ensure all of that makeup and gunk gets rinsed away. Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm topped our list thanks to its gentle yet effective formula.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best cleansing balms for every skin type and budget.
What We Love: This three-in-one balm nourishes skin, removes makeup, and cleanses skin at the same time.
What We Don’t Love: The scent can be a bit strong for some.
With an extensive list of nutrient-rich oils (like elderberry, starflower, and lavender, to name a few), this cleansing balm offers skin-firming and collagen-boosting benefits on top of being really good at removing makeup. “I can confirm that the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm will get every speck of glitter and waterproof mascara off,” says Shannon M. Bauer, Senior Commerce Beauty Editor at InStyle. “Although most cleansing balms do this, there’s something special about the way it transforms from balm to oil to milky wash — it happens in distinct phases.“
While you can use the Elemis cleanser daily as the first part of your double cleansing routine, it also makes for a great weekly hydrating mask. Thanks to padina pavonica, an algae native to the Mediterranean, the formula supports a hydrated skin barrier by drawing moisture into the skin and making sure it doesn’t escape again. Regardless of the way you use it, be sure to rinse it off when you’re finished to avoid potentially clogging your pores.
One thing to note: Bauer found the balm’s scent a little strong. But because it smells like eucalyptus, lavender and chamomile, she said she was able to look past it.
What We Love: The solid balmy cleanser melts into a luxurious oil to melt away makeup without stripping the skin of moisture.
What We Don’t Love: It can leave an oily residue on the skin post-cleanse.
The nourishing cocktail of vitamin E and jojoba, avocado, eucalyptus, and clove leaf oils deliver a heaping dose of hydration in this budget-friendly pick. Designed to glide onto skin and lift stubborn makeup — even longwearing, matte lipstick — with ease, this cleansing balm is the perfect alternative for someone who swears by single-use cleansing wipes. Whether for skincare or sustainability reasons, there’s no doubt this balm, which is housed in a 50% post-consumer recycled plastic tub, will replace your existing cleansing method.
Like other cleansing balms, it transitions from a balm to an oil when in contact with water, so don’t be surprised if your skin feels slightly oily after application. Just be sure to follow up with a foaming or gel cleanser afterwards to remove any remnants of the balm from your skin.
Ingredients: Vitamin E, Jojoba oil, Avocado oil, Eucalyptus oil | Size: 2.3 fl. oz. | Scent: Eucalyptus
Best for Waterproof Makeup: Farmacy Green Clean Meltaway Cleansing Balm
What We Love: This fan-favorite cleansing balm removes waterproof makeup gently and effectively with the help of botanical oils, turmeric and moringa extracts, and papaya enzymes.
What We Don’t Love: Some say their eyes burned a bit after using it.
If I had to pick my desert island product, it would be this cleansing balm. Between the gentle ingredients, sorbet-like texture and barely-there scent, I find myself re-purchasing this product every time I hit empty. Formulated with sunflower and ginger root oils, it breaks down makeup, sunscreen, and other pore-clogging gunk and grime that accumulates on my skin throughout the day without stripping my skin of moisture. After using it, my skin feels soft (not tight) and there’s never any makeup residue on the towel when I pat my skin dry. The texture itself is noteworthy; it doesn’t feel oily or thick, but rather lightweight and milky, which is perfect for someone that has oilier skin like me. And as for the fragrance, the balm smells subtly fruity, but nothing too overpowering.
Several shoppers shared that while the balm took their makeup off painlessly, they experienced a slight burning sensation in and around their eyes. According to Diane Hilal-Campo, M.D., a board-certified ophthalmologist based in New Jersey and founder of twenty/twenty beauty, this is common with cleansing balms. To avoid irritation in your delicate eye area, she recommends removing the makeup on your eyes separately. “Try saturating a cotton pad or microfiber cloth with an oil, such as poppy seed oil, or an eye-specific makeup remover,” she says. “Press it against your closed lid to help break down the makeup. Then, gently swipe it away and repeat until your lids and lashes are fully clean.”
Best for Dry Skin: Holifrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash
What We Love: The squeezable tube keeps the balm from getting contaminated by dirty fingers.
What We Don’t Love: Formulated with thick oils, this balm might not be best for those with acne-prone skin.
In a perfect world, you would use a spatula to scoop out your cleansing balm from the jar. In reality, you’re probably using your grubby fingers. It might not seem like a big deal, but your face is vulnerable to bacteria buildup (read: acne and skin infections), so keeping contamination to a minimum is key. That’s where Holifrog’s balm comes in. The squeezable tube prevents the balm from getting tainted and makes it easier to distribute the exact amount of product you need for your cleansing session.
The non-foaming makeup remover is infused with a mix of nourishing antioxidant oils and fatty acids, making it a great choice for dry skin types. However, because thick oils can sometimes clog pores, those with acne-prone skin might want to skip it and opt for a more lightweight option instead.
Best for Oily Skin: Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm
What We Love: This balm contains enzymes to exfoliate as it removes makeup.
What We Don’t Love: Some shoppers found their skin was irritated after using the balm in conjunction with other exfoliating products.
Glow Recipe is known for their absolutely addicting yet incredibly effective skincare products — and this fruity cocktail of a cleansing balm does not disappoint. Like other similar products, it starts out as a balm and softens into a milky oil that dissolves makeup. And although balms are often synonymous with hydration, this one actually exfoliates, too. Thanks to the namesake papaya enzymes, the formula gently breaks down dead skin cells to help skin feel smoother and look more radiant.
It’s worth noting that since the balm contains a gentle exfoliant, it’s important to perform a patch test to avoid irritation. Corey L. Hartman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Birmingham, Alabama, previously told us that it’s best to apply a small amount of a new product to the underside of your wrist. “The skin is thin in that area and also sensitive, so it reacts similarly to skin on the face,” he says. If you have no reaction, the product should be fine to use on your face without issue. It’s also pertinent to know that you should be careful when using this product alongside other exfoliants like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to avoid over-exfoliating your face.
Ingredients: Papaya enzymes, Papaya extract, Blueberry extract | Size: 100 mL | Scent: Tropical fruit
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Youth to the People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm
What We Love: The lightweight ingredients clear away pore-clogging debris without irritating active breakouts.
What We Don’t Love: The formula can get clumpy towards the bottom of the jar.
Very aptly named, this superfood-infused balm from Youth to the People is a dream come true for those with acne-prone skin. The fast-melting cleansing balm works to dissolve every last trace of long-wearing makeup, water-resistant sunscreen, and excess oil before they get a chance to wreak havoc on your skin. Best of all, it rinses clean and leaves skin soft, hydrated and never coated in an extra layer of grease. With ingredients like hyaluronic acid and moringa seed oil, you can rest assured that using this balm won’t contribute to acne breakouts, but rather help prevent dirt and grime-induced ones from forming in the first place.
After getting to the bottom third of the jar, I noticed that the formula began to get clumpy. It’s nothing to worry about, since it still works just fine, but just know that you might need to smooth the product out a bit in your hands to eliminate the clumps before massaging it into your skin.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm
What We Love: This velvety-smooth balm is chock full of simple, nourishing ingredients, including omegas 3, 6 and 9.
What We Don’t Love: We wish it came in a smaller size so it could be brought in a carry-on.
If you have super sensitive skin, chances are you’re afraid to put anything new on your skin. Trust us when we say that this fragrance-free formula — which contains a barrier-repairing complex of coconut-derived fatty acids —keeps calm and cleans skin. It contains omega-rich jojoba oil and meadowfoam seed oil to give the balm its soothing texture that cleanses without friction or tugging. It melts on contact with the skin and leaves your complexion skin feeling smooth, hydrated and fresh. Our one complaint is that it doesn’t come in a mini size that can be tossed in a carry-on and used on a plane.
Most cleansing balms are oil-based, which binds to the makeup or junk on your face to lift it away. Oils listed high up on the ingredient list are at a higher percentage in the formula, and therefore more effective. While you’re looking, be sure the cleansing balm you pick is alcohol-free. According to Geeta Yadav, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, alcohol should be avoided. “The whole point of using a cleansing balm or oil is to keep your skin balanced and nourished,” she says. “Alcohol strips the skin and negates the hydrating effects.” In order to get the most bang for your buck, Dr. Yadav recommends seeking formulas that offer additional benefits. “Consider ingredients like oatmeal to soothe, fruit enzymes to gently exfoliate, or hyaluronic acid to pull extra hydration into the skin,” she explains.
It might not be top of mind at first, but the packaging that houses each cleansing balm matters. Most jarred cleansing balms come with mini spatulas, but, admittedly, it’s a lot easier to just stick your finger in and scoop some out. As you might expect, it’s not exactly the most hygienic, especially since it’s something you repeatedly do. If you don’t think you’ll use the spatula each time, consider a cleansing balm that comes in a tube. This way, you can squeeze out the perfect amount every time and never have to worry about contaminating the rest.
As with all skincare, your skin type is important. The type of skin you have (and the concerns you want to address) determine which products and ingredients will work best. Dr. Yadav says that for those with acne-prone skin, non-comedogenic products are key. “There are plenty of balms out there that can effectively cleanse the skin without triggering breakouts or congesting pores,” she says. “I especially like products formulated with jojoba oil as it is very similar to your skin’s natural sebum; whereas coconut oil can be too heavy for those prone to breakouts.“
Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream isn’t new to the beauty space, but it does continue to wow celebrities and shoppers with its star lineup of ingredients that produce visible results. It’s no surprise that celebrities like Amal Clooney, Kate Moss, and Khloé Kardashian praise the Magic Cream’s anti-aging benefits and hydrating qualities.
Much like celebrities, dermatologists also are impressed with the cream’s formula. Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, tells InStyle that Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream Moisturizer is packaged with outstanding ingredients. “A good moisturizer contains humectants to hydrate, emollients to support the skin barrier, and occlusives to lock in the moisture — and this product contains all three: glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, shea butter. The hyaluronic acid not only locks in moisture but acts as an anti-aging agent.“
According to Dr. King, hyaluronic acid “is found naturally in our skin, where it holds water and helps to keep the skin hydrated, dewy, and plump.” It’s also a potent humectant that can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, which helps keep the collagen in the skin healthy. “The collagen in our dermis forms the structure of the skin. Natural hyaluronic acid binds to collagen and links to water molecules, giving skin its plumpness,” Dr. King explains.
There are other notable anti-aging ingredients in the Magic Cream like peptides (short chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds). According to Dr. King peptides “stimulate collagen production in skin and act as growth factors, stimulating skin cells to turn over more quickly.”
Shoppers are shocked by the efficiency of the cream, too. According to one shopper, the Magic Cream Moisturizer is…magic. “So, I’ve been dealing with dry and rough skin around my mouth and on my chin this past week. I didn’t know what to do because I’ve never had problems with my skin before. Thankfully I received the Magic Cream complimentary from Influenster. My skin started to feel better within two uses of the cream. It really is magic.”
Another Sephora shopper says that the moisturizer “has everything that I am looking for in a moisturizer,” including “hyaluronic acid, which helps plump up the skin with collagen. And [it] also has rosehip and camellia oils, which help hydrate dry skin. This is my first time using any of Charlotte Tilbury’s products, and for sure won’t be my last.“
Per a final review, the results speak for themselves. “A few uses and my skin feels amazing. I have a few different moisturizers that I use daily. However, this one jar does everything that all three of mine do. It glides on the skin like butter and has a very light, fresh scent. The rosehip in the moisturizer is so hydrating but not oily. I used it at night when I first got it, when I woke up the next morning, my skin looked plump and hydrated.” For plump and hydrated skin, snag the Magic Cream now at Sephora.
Idris and Sabrina Elba have it going on — in more ways than one. The partners in life and business are hosting a podcast, Coupledom, and now, launching a skin-care brand, S’Able Labs. (That’s Elba’s spelled backwards!)
“We’re a partnership, and skin care is something we can share. We are both on the same page about feeling good externally and it helps us approach our day,” Idris Elba tells Allure. There’s no “his” or “her’s” here. Instead, S’Able Labs is all about “us-care,” the idea of looking after yourself, so you can look after others — and intentionally sharing moments with the people around you. “We all have skin we want to nourish and protect and hydrate,” says Sabrina Elba, and, she adds, “when you feel good, you do good.“
Together, the duo has created a line of three products — cleanser, toner, moisturizer — to help with the “feel good” part of that equation. It’s a simple lineup, but each product is formulated with hard-working ingredients, several of which have been thoughtfully sourced from Africa. “There are powerful ingredients on that continent,” says Sabrina Elba. “Some of my fondest memories are of sitting underneath the massive baobab trees in East Africa,” she says.
The superfood baobab, packed with anti-inflammatory properties, is the star ingredient in the aptly named S’Able Labs Baobab Moisturiser, a lightweight formula that goes heavy on hydration with the help of shea butter and squalane.
Each of the products are infused with The Elba’s experiences. “Somali women have been using qasil, [a powder made from the leaves from the gob tree], for centuries,” says Sabrina Elba. “I’ve watched my mom put this green stuff on her face forever. It’s a great natural soap full of antioxidants,” she tells Allure. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King confirms this ingredient is both an effective cleanser and exfoliator.
The S’Able Labs Qasil Cleanser combines the Somalian plant with shea butter and purifying kaolin clay. “We both loved the way the cleanser felt on our skin. It provided immediate smoothness and softness — but unlike some exfoliating cleansers, it wasn’t the least bit irritating,” says Allure associate features director Dianna Mazzone, after testing it with her fiancé Herman.
For editorial assistant Talia Gutierrez and her partner Austin, the S’Able Labs Black Seed Toner added some fun to their multi-step routine. “We enjoyed spritzing each other’s faces — a couple’s thing,” she says. “And we both appreciated the ultra-fine mist that left our skin dewy while feeling clean and hydrated, too.” They both sealed in the hydration with a penny-sized scoop of the S’Able Labs Baobab Moisturiser. “A little goes a long way,” says Austin.
Well, Allure sat down with Idris and Sabrina in a cozy, colorful room at The Whitby Hotel in New York City to chat about their exciting new brand S’Able Labs, how they like to use the products, and their favorite ways to practice “us-care.”
IDRIS: Self-care quickly became “us-care” when we were in lockdown [during the pandemic]. We realized that only when you’re really good with yourself, are you good with someone else.
SABRINA: It’s become such an educational process for me to talk about skin care with my partner who, you know, only used Vaseline until very recently [laughs].
When we created the S’able Labs, we wanted it to be something we could use together.
IDRIS: It’s not man or woman. It’s just human. We are both humans.
SABRINA: Idris will use the [S’able Labs Black Seed] toner as aftershave and I use it to set my makeup. It doesn’t need to be so specific.
IDRIS: I know how our [S’able Labs Baobab] moisturizer feels on my skin, Sabrina knows how it feels on her skin, and we both know that actually makes us feel good.
SABRINA: So much of my beauty routine is [about] being prepared for the day, so I don’t have to spend time in the bathroom, like having lash extensions, or my brows laminated. Even though I never look like I’m wearing heavy makeup, I’m always trying new things. If I’m going to try a color, it’s probably on my lips. And I’ve been trying colorful eyeliner recently, which is so fun. But Idris loves the no-makeup look [on me]. He says, “Oh, you look so great in the morning when you just wake up.”
IDRIS: I just sit in the makeup chair and get whatever done to me if I’m in a film. [And] I do make it a point to brush my teeth, but I’m not a flosser. Sabrina is a flosser.
SABRINA: How do you get away with so many things? I get jealous of how little you have to do [before] you walk out the door.
IDRIS: I will shave! I’m the guy who gets new growth by five o’clock in the afternoon, so I keep on top of it. And I shower every day, sometimes twice a day. I just got a fresh haircut and, honestly, my energy levels feel different. My clothes feel different.
A haircut does that for me. I’ve gotta make sure the hair looks right. Buying new sneakers definitely makes me feel good. There’s something about stepping in fresh shoes. And I started swimming early in the morning. It feels so alien to jump into cold water, but it’s invigorating.
SABRINA: So much of the dream treatment for me is about where I am and who I am with. We went to Iceland recently and we were in the Blue Lagoon getting a massage.
IDRIS: That was incredible.
SABRINA: Yeah, it made it so much more impactful. If I’m in a beautiful setting, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bad massage.
IDRIS: Also, hot yoga in a hot climate is different. It’s not hot yoga, it’s just yoga. Something about the elements being natural rather than having a heater… Everyone’s sweating. But it’s the fact you’re warm and supple, and the environment is great.
SABRINA: Music is [another] form of self-care for us. We sit together, listen to an album… We fell in love listening to an album on a couch. It was A Tribe Called Quest…
IDRIS: The newest one. And Sampha.
SABRINA: We were just listening to music and that was so therapeutic for us and allowed us to bond. And also, if Idris serenades anyone, I’m pretty sure they fall in love pretty quickly.
IDRIS: Don’t put that out there [laughs]. They’ll be like, “You’re good at this! Sing!“
SABRINA: Idris is so passionate about music. And it’s that [same] passion that’s bled into our relationship and anything we approach together.
The serum doesn’t beat around the bush with its name, and calls in double-fermented Uji green tea, Akita rice, and Okinawa algae to provide high levels of exfoliating lactic acid. Together, the brand says those three ingredients comprise 73 percent of the serum, so the periwinkle bottle is a potent resurfacer. Combined with moisture-drawing hyaluronic acid, plumping sugarcane-derived squalane, and hydrolyzed collagen and elastin, the effects have earned the serum over 1,200 five-star ratings on the brand’s site.
“My skin looked luminous and dewy, and fine lines around my mouth, eyes, and forehead seemed to disappear,” wrote a fan of the “definite” plumping action they saw within weeks. A 52-year-old reviewer confirmed the “unbelievable” difference in their wrinkles and newly even skin tone, and a third person said their skin is the most hydrated it’s been in 15 years.
Those profound changes are right in line with what editors and shoppers have come to expect from the luxury brand. Its mineral sunscreen has garnered nonstop laurels since launching in March; Jennifer Aniston uses its lip mask; and its concealer-eye cream hybrid is a “miracle product,” according to well-versed editors. The Dewy Serum plays up that same multitasking facet, toeing the balance between an exfoliant, moisturizer, and anti-ager that leaves wrinkles “practically gone.”
“My skin looks so new and young, I was asked for my ID the other day,” wrote one user, and another person said their formerly “very visible” pores were distinctly reduced by the fragrance-free formula. Others wrote that their redness is now less pronounced, as are their under-eye circles, and a self-described “very picky” esthetician dubbed it a plumping “drink of hydration” when swiped across their lips.
Between the gorgeous bottle, smart ingredients, and fast results, the Dewy Serum’s hold on Tatcha’s best-seller list is easy to understand (per the brand’s website, it even outranks the beloved lip mask and Meghan Markle-approved Rice Polish). If you’d like to try the exfoliating and moisturizing wrinkle-reducer, the Dewy Serum is $88 at Tatcha’s website and Sephora.