The 11 Best Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin

It’s a tale as old as time for anyone with sensitive skin: One of your favorite brands has come out with a new moisturizer. The ingredient list? Intriguing and full of potential benefits. The packaging? Ridiculously cute and would look great alongside the products in your medicine cabinet. So, you add it to your cart. When your new moisturizer arrives around five days later, you immediately rip it open, take in its sweet fruity smell, and slather it on your face. Like clockwork, your skin starts to flush and itch; or, maybe you feel fine until the next morning when you discover you have a full-blown breakout.

For sensitive skin, finding staple products for your routine that are effective, fun to use, and non-irritating can feel like an impossible feat — especially since sensitivity manifests itself in a few different ways and can be caused by a variety of things. That’s why we consulted with leading dermatologists to find the best moisturizers for sensitive skin that will keep your complexion smooth, soft, and (most importantly) comfortable. Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer proved to be our top option thanks to its sensitive skin-friendly formula that features nine peptides to strengthen the skin barrier — but we also found 10 others that are just as effective

Ahead, find the 11 best moisturizers for sensitive skin.

Best Overall

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

What We Love: On top of moisturizing, it strengthens the skin barrier with nine different peptides.

What We Don’t Love: We wish you could buy refills for this product.

While retinol is commonly touted as the holy grail of anti-aging ingredients, it can be too harsh for reactive skin and those with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. That’s where peptides, the hero ingredient of this rich Drunk Elephant moisturizer, enter the picture. Peptides are the building blocks of proteins — including collagen and keratin — which help keep skin firm and smooth. Plant-derived antioxidants (including water lily stem cell extract and soybean folic acid) round out the formula to improve overall skin texture and tone.

With a slew of gentle yet effective ingredients, this moisturizer is as caring as can be for your complexion, and it has been a staple in my sensitive skin routine for years. What I love most about it is that it can be used day or night – the creamy texture is hydrating enough to help skin repair itself overnight, yet light enough for day time usage, too. In fact, I always use this as my ‘fall back’ product because I can count on it to rebalance any irritation that occurs from testing other beauty products. Overall, there’s nothing I would change about the formula, but I would love this moisturizer even more if refills were available for purchase, rather than having to buy all new packaging when I inevitably use up the last drop. 

Price at time of publish: $68

Skin Type: Sensitive, combo, and dry Size: 1.69 oz.  Active Ingredients: Peptides, Waterlily stem cell extract, Soybean folic acid, and Glycerin

Best Oil-Free Moisturizer

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin

What We Love: The oil-free formula is ideal for those who have acne-prone or oily skin.

What We Don’t Love: If you have dry skin or experience eczema, this moisturizer doesn’t provide quite enough hydration.

More likely than not, you’ve probably seen this cream in your mother or grandmother’s medicine cabinet — since Neutrogena introduced the formula in 1983, it has been a mainstay for just about every skin type. The wildly affordable, gentle moisturizer is especially safe for reactive skin, and anyone who prefers a lightweight lotion over a heavy cream. With zero fragrance, oil, or alcohol in the formula, there’s no need to stress over potential irritation or greasy residue. Simply put, the water-based moisturizer doesn’t have any bells or whistles, but it’s effective, layers nicely with other products, and works especially well for those with sensitive skin. Just note that if your skin leans dry, you may want to opt for a heavier moisturizer, but otherwise this pick can’t be beat.

Price at time of publish: $12

Skin Type: Oily and acne-prone | Size: 4 fl oz. Active Ingredients:Glycerin

Best Daytime Moisturizer

REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream

What We Love: This moisturizer helps neutralize redness.

What We Don’t Love: It contains sesame oil which is a common allergen.

Finding an adequate daytime moisturizer for sensitive skin can feel like a daunting task — you want something that feels weightless throughout the day, but still imparts intense hydration to keep skin comfortable. That’s where REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream comes in: This moisturizer feels like a splash of cool water on stressed-out, redness-prone skin thanks to lingonberry seed oil, which is rich in omega fatty acids to support the skin barrier, and licorice and seaweed extracts, which help calm irritation. Just a few dabs of the soothing formula can keep skin hydrated and supple, while simultaneously acting as an invisible shield to ward off pollution and other external aggressors. Plus, the brand is dedicated to making the planet a better place, so you can feel good knowing that this product is vegan, cruelty-free, and made from recycled materials.

It’s important to call out that while this was created with sensitive skin in mind, the formula does contain sesame oil, which is a common allergen, so be sure to avoid it if you have a sensitivity to the ingredient. 

Price at time of publish: $50

Skin Type: Dry and redness-prone | Size: 1.7 oz. | Active Ingredients:Lingonberry seed oil, Licorice extract, Seaweed extract, and Shea butter

Best Drugstore

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

What We Love: It’s a classic and can always be trusted to replenish hydration levels.

What We Don’t Love: The texture is extremely thick.

Don’t want to spend a ton of money on a moisturizer? Look no further than CeraVe’s tried-and-true moisturizing cream. Formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin barrier-strengthening ceramides, it instantly seals in moisture, which is key for preventing irritating flare-ups. The best part? It can be used on the face and body, essentially making it a one stop shop for fixing all of your dry skin blues. This is also an ideal pick if you experience eczema, as it has the National Eczema association’s seal of approval. Though the thick, velvety texture is a key selling point, if you’re not a fan of heavier moisturizers you may want to select something else. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Skin Type: Dry and eczema-prone | Size: 19 oz. Active Ingredients:Glycerin, Ceramides, and Hyaluronic acid

Best Reparative

Kiehl’s Centella Sensitive Cica Cream

What We Love: This product contains D-panthenol — a star ingredient when it comes to repairing the skin barrier and restoring hydration.

What We Don’t Love: It can feel a bit tacky on skin.

Don’t underestimate this little tube: What’s inside packs a serious dose of moisture. In addition to leaving the surface of the skin soft and smooth, Kiehl’s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free cream repairs the skin barrier to prevent future dryness and helps reduce visible redness and fine lines. The secret is D-panthenol (also known as vitamin b5), which is this product’s star ingredient. Overtime, D-panthenol increases your skin’s ability to retain moisture. Essentially, when you apply this daily, your skin barrier becomes stronger, and though the slightly tacky texture can be off putting to some, the results are worth that minor inconvenience. 

Price at time of publish: $44

Skin Type: Dry to normal Size: 1.7 oz.  Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Cacao seed butter, and D-panthenol

Best for Night

EltaMD Intense Moisturizer

What We Love: It provides 12 hours of hydration.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not ideal for daytime use.

Most heavy-duty moisturizers are thick, rich creams that never fully absorb into skin — but let us introduce you to the exception. Known as the “melting moisturizer,” this EltaMD formula soaks into skin and locks in hydration for up to 12 hours, all while relieving redness and irritation. The simplistic formula is made up of just two ingredients: Petrolatum and paraffin, both of which are powerhouses at retaining moisture and warding off outside irritants. On nights when I’m feeling extra dry and flakey, this is the one thing that gets my skin back to normal by morning. Consider it a foolproof pick for sensitive skin types that also suffer from excessive dryness.

Price at time of publish: $15

Skin Type: Dry and eczema-prone Size: 2.8 oz. Active Ingredients:Petrolatum

Best Fragrance-Free

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer

What We Love: It features colloidal oatmeal to soothe any red, itchy, or flaky skin.

What We Don’t Love: Because it has a lightweight texture, you might need to apply multiple layers to quench severely dry skin. 

First Aid Beauty is dedicated to creating simplistic skincare products that work for all skin types — especially sensitive skin — and this moisturizer (which I consider the bread and butter of my routine) is no exception. On top of hydrating skin with a mix of nourishing and soothing ingredients like meadowfoam seed oil, colloidal oatmeal, avocado oil, and ceramides, this lightweight formula leaves skin feeling smooth, making it ideal for wearing under makeup. I prefer to use this on days when my skin is feeling pretty normal (read: not too dry) because I find when I’m experiencing any sort of dryness I need to layer it on to quench my skin’s thirst. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Skin Type: All  Size: 1.7 oz. Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, Avocado oil, Shea butter, and Meadowfoam seed oil

Best for Hyperpigmentation

Obagi Medical Obagi Hydrate Facial Moisturizer

What We Love: This moisturizer is ideal for rebalancing dehydrated skin without being too overbearing (i.e. it’s not thick or difficult to spread onto skin).

What We Don’t Love: It’s hard to get every last drop out of the bottle.

With an allergy-tested formula, Obagi Hydrate Facial Moisturizer is less likely to cause irritation compared to other creams. Plus, I was overjoyed to discover that this product is made for all skin types because Obagi is known for their intense and clinically proven anti-aging products. Powered by hydromanil — a super nourishing plant-based ingredient — this moisturizer helps skin retain hydration while simultaneously improving the appearance of hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.

Many reviews discuss the size of the product as small for the price, and that it’s difficult to get every last drop out of the bottle. With this in mind, there are more affordable sensitive skin moisturizers that come in larger sizes (CeraVe is a great example of this) but this is a good moisturizer to use as a more targeted approach to sensitive, hyperpigmented skin. 

Price at time of publish: $52

Skin Type: Combination to oily | Size: 1.7 oz. Active Ingredients:Glycerin, Shea butter, Allantoin, and Mango seed butter

Best Anti-Aging

Shani Darden Skin Care Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer

What We Love: This product is packed with anti-aging ingredients like red algae extract and hydrolyzed collagen.

What We Don’t Love: This is a lightweight product best for targeting specific skin concerns — so if you need more hydration, we recommend topping it off with a face oil.

For oily, acne-prone skin that also leans on the sensitive side, opt for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that won’t further clog your pores or leave a greasy film on your face. Shani Darden’s fragrance-free, oil-free moisturizer has a silky, serum-like texture that quickly absorbs into skin for a shine-free finish. It uses hydrolyzed collagen and red algae extract to provide anti-aging benefits, helping to restore elasticity and firmness. If you struggle with uneven skin tone, dullness, or a lack of radiance, this is a great moisturizer to try because it gives you that healthy, happy skin glow — similar to how your face looks after a fresh facial. That said, it isn’t the most hydrating moisturizer, so if you need a little extra hydration you may want to apply a face oil over top. 

Price at time of publish: $48

Skin Type: Oily to dry, and mature  Size: 2.5 oz. Active Ingredients:Sodium hyaluronate, Collagen, and Red algae extract

Best Gel

Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

What We Love: This moisturizer is ideal for all skin types. 

What We Don’t Love: We wish it was fragrance-free, however, the scent is subtle.

Even if you’re not skincare-obsessed, you’ve probably heard of Aqua Bomb: This water-based gel moisturizer is one of the most widely talked about moisturizers within the skin care community, and it quickly becomes a staple for anyone who tries it because it’s ideal for all skin types. Made with antioxidant packed lady’s mantle (an ingredient that protects newly formed elastin within your skin barrier), malachite, and oat husk, the formula works to hydrate dry skin, fight free radicals, smooth the appearance of pores, and even skin tone. I always find myself falling back to this trusty cream because it feels like a refreshing splash of water on skin. And though it’s not fragrance-free, the scent is subtle enough to not irritate even the most sensitive complexions. 

Price at time of publish: $38

Skin Type: All Size: 1.68 oz.  Active Ingredients: Lady’s mantle, Malachite, and Oat husk

Best with SPF

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer With SPF

What We Love: It contains SPF 30, so you don’t have to layer another sunscreen on top. 

What We Don’t Love: It’s thicker than most SPF moisturizers we are used to, making it somewhat uncomfortable to reapply throughout the day.

If you’re looking for a basic SPF moisturizer, this is the only product you’ll ever need. Packed with ceramides and niacinamide, it supports your skin barrier, minimizes the look of pores, and mattifies, while providing SPF 30 sun protection. We suggest applying this in the morning (it layers well with makeup) and reapplying SPF with a powder or spray throughout the day due to how thick it can feel if layered multiple times over. 

As someone with sensitive skin, I like to keep my skincare routine minimal, and this moisturizer/SPF hybrid has been something that has really helped keep my skin in check. I love that it can be used year round, too — you’ll always catch this in both my ski bag (winter sunburns are a thing too!) and in my beach bag over the summer. 

Price at time of publish: $21

Skin Type: Dry to Normal Size: 2.5 oz. Active Ingredients:Ceramides and Niacinamide

What to Keep in Mind 

Skin type  

While sensitive skin is a skin type, it can teeter in between dry and oily as well. This is important to keep in mind to truly find a product that will work for your skin. If you lean dry, you’ll want to look for a formula that provides intense hydration like REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream or Kiehl’s Centella Sensitive Cica Cream. On the other hand, if you tend to feel oily look for lightweight, oil-free creams like Shani Darden Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer or Neutrogena Oil-Free Ultra-Gentle Facial Moisturizer

Key ingredients 

Before detailing ingredients that sensitive skin can really benefit from, it’s important to know what to avoid — particularly fragrance. “While fragrances can add to the sensorial experience of using a skin care product, they commonly can lead to skin allergies and irritation,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist. On the flip side, ceramides, vitamin b5, colloidal oatmeal, and shea butter, are key ingredients for repairing and replenishing a compromised skin barrier, and are pretty tolerable for those with sensitive skin. (First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer includes a few of the aforementioned ingredients)



Best Collagen-Boosting Creams, According To Experts

Collagen is a protein that gives your skin its structure, elasticity, and strength; and according to board-certified dermatologist and founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics, Sheila Farhang, M.D., we “lose approximately one percent of our skin’s collagen each year starting at the age of 20.” (Scary, I know.) This can manifest as sagging skin, fine lines, and other signs of aging. We can make up for the inevitable loss with “collagen skincare.” You know, moisturizers that either contain collagen-supporting ingredients or the actual protein itself. There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for these products.

Skincare With Collagen-Boosting Ingredients

These ingredients work to maintain your youthful complexion by stimulating your skin’s process of creating collagen, according to cosmetic chemist Ginger King. She goes on to say that these ingredients include vitamin C, peptides, Centella Asiatica (a.k.a. Cica, a flowering plant) extracts, and glycosaminoglycans (a fancy-sounding polysaccharide that help maintain your skin’s existing collagen).

Collagen-Infused Skincare

There are also creams that are swirled with the protein itself, but be warned: experts say that just because a product contains the protein doesn’t mean it actually helps improve your complexion. “Collagen is structurally a very large molecule,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, who goes on to explain that if the molecule is too large, it won’t penetrate your skin. Farhang suggests looking to see if the products have reputable studies behind them or are dermatologist recommended before purchasing.

To take the guesswork of which collagen creams are worth the splurge, we curated the below list with the help of the industry’s top experts. Read on to learn more.

Sisley Night Cream with Collagen and Woodmallow

This indulgent cream contains soluble collagen to combat signs of aging and leaves skin feeling soft and moisturized. It’s also one of Farhang’s top picks for collagen-infused skincare.

PCA Skin Collagen Hydrator

This comfortable-wearing cream is one of Zeichner’s picks collagen-boosting products. “It offers light moisturizing and skin-protectant benefit,” he says.

Peter Thomas Roth FIRMx Collagen Moisturizer

This collagen-infused moisturizer also includes different types of collagen (including plant-derived and marine) collagen-boosting ingredients (like peptides) to combat signs of aging. 

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Marine Cream

Farhang’s second pick: This silky, fragrance-free pick from Elemis. “It uses plant-based ingredients that stimulate collagen production,” she says.

L’Oreal Paris Collagen Moisture Filler Day/Night Cream

This clinically-tested formula uses the protein to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Pond’s Rejvueness Anti-Wrinkle Cream

This night cream combines exfoliating hydroxy acids with collagen to help plump, firm, and moisturize the skin,” says Zeichner. Use this dermatologist-tested formula at night, as the acids can up your skin’s sun sensitivity.

Dr. Loretta Concentrated Firming Moisturizer

Formulated by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, this lightweight moisturizer contains peptides to help firm skin and increase its resilience. 

Loum Firming Cream

This consumer panel-tested moisturizer contains plant-derived collagen and bakuchiol (which acts similarly to exfoliating retinol) to boost elasticity and give you a younger-looking complexion.

Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream

This cream is beloved by beauty pros for its gentle exfoliation (thanks to vitamin B3) and overall plumping effect (that’s the mix of hyaluronic acid and peptides working).


Gigi And Bella’s Go-To Facialist On The Simple Home Skincare Tricks To Try Now

Whether you know Israeli facialist Mimi Luzon’s name or not, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the fruits of her labour via a number of very beautiful faces. A supermodel favourite, everyone from Gigi and Bella Hadid to Kaia Gerber, Irina Shayk and Sara Sampaio has enjoyed her facials. She is also the brains behind the now infamous 24 Karat Pure Gold face mask that frequently adorns those famous visages – in fact, you might call her the modern day Midas.

I believe in using the three ‘diamonds,’” she tells me over the phone. “That is, good hands, good product and good machines. When I started [as a facialist] over 30 years ago, I was obsessed with machines and devices in my treatments, but now I think that the three of them together offer the best results.” She name-checks Alma laser, which helps do everything from rejuvenate skin to zap capillaries that cause redness, as well as other lasers, radiofrequency, IPL and tools that she combines with excellent skincare formulas and her expert hands for gold-standard facial treatments.

On the subject of her hands, she puts them to work extracting blemishes and blackheads, applying product, and massaging, using a technique which has evolved over her years doing the job. “Many years ago my massage technique was more stimulating, but now I use ‘effleurage’ [a series of massage strokes to warm up the muscle before deep tissue work] to calm the skin, because the machines do all the stimulation; my hands now do the relaxation and help reduce wrinkles.” She uses the effleurage technique from the very top of the face down to the heart area, ensuring the neck and décolletage are well cared for.

She is also emphatic that tackling skin ageing via brilliant facials (that include different, non-invasive devices), and great products can “prevent [plastic] surgery and lots of injections, like filler”. In the age of Covid-19 and numerous lockdowns, however, she has had a wholly hands-off approach to skin, going from a rather jet-set lifestyle to sending her clients products and teaching them what to do via Zoom. “I miss the personal connection,” she says. The people she treats, she says, are like friends, which is one reason she believes she has such a strong model client base – a close-knit community, they all talk to one other – and nothing sells a service quite like word of mouth.

As for the gold? Well, that came about after she noticed her clients were after formulas that offered real results. They were prepared to spend money on luxury skincare, but wanted to see something happen to their skin – no mean feat given most skincare formulas require playing the long game to see a difference. In the search for a good product that would cater to their demands, she began looking into concentrated formulas, eventually asking a lab to create a pure gold mask after observing its glow-boosting effects at a skincare exhibition in Hong Kong. “They told me it was really expensive and that it’s to be used as flakes or [gold] dust… but I wanted it in its pure form,” she says.

Having combined the gold leaf with her Anti-Wrinkle Mask (which is full of firming peptides), she notes that it stimulates the skin, improves collagen production and has a lifting effect. “Also, it’s gold, and every woman wants the gold!” she laughs. An easy DIY job, you apply the cream mask first, then press the gold leaf on top. The results are really quite remarkable, and it’s a bestseller not because of the vast number of likes it generates on Instagram, but because it actually works. 

Here, Luzon shares her top home skincare tips to deploy in lockdown.

Make use of good acid formulas

I really believe that anyone can treat themselves if they have good products. These days, lots of dermo-cosmetic brands sell great acid products. You can start with a lactic acid that is low (around 3.5 per cent), and then you could go up to 10 per cent. Same with glycolic acid – start with a lower percentage and then [as your skin gets used to it], move to a higher percentage. You will see results.”

Don’t be afraid to use masks

People are often afraid to use a mask, or say they don’t have time. Years ago, I was at a big conference and learned that the Japanese use masks everyday. I use a different mask every day. You can buy all kinds of masks and play with them. You can do one for five minutes and see results, especially if it’s concentrated, and a lot of masks you can sleep in.”

Play with your products

I think with treatments and products, it’s a game. Taste all the flavours and don’t be afraid to mix things together, like serums. Pretend they are cocktails! Just play with them.”

Make do with what you’ve got

There are so many at home skincare tools on the market, but even I often use cold spoons on my eyes [to depuff].”


In Search Of A Budget Retinol?

As someone who hates jumping on a bandwagon, I often – to my detriment – avoid new beauty products that are generating a lot of buzz. (I know, it makes no sense.) That’s why it has taken me a whole year to try No7’s Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate, which you probably heard about back when it launched last May. It attracted a waiting list of 100,000 before it was even available to buy, has had rave reviews, and has become Boots’s best-selling retinol product. So… pretty good then. 

We all know the benefits of retinoids. From treating acne to stimulating collagen and elastin production to helping improve uneven skin tone, it is one of the most effective active ingredients in skincare. There are many different types, from retinol to retinaldehyde, and dermatologists recommend incorporating some form of the ingredient into your skincare routine as collagen levels start to decline, which happens absurdly early at around the age of 27. (You can, of course, start using it earlier.)

The tricky thing with retinoids, however, is that they are known to irritate the skin. Since I am emphatically not willing to suffer for results, I seek out intelligent products that work hard, which is why I love this ultra-light (and affordable – it is £34), cream. Containing 0.3 per cent retinol, it cleverly occupies the sweet spot between a concentration that actually works and one that doesn’t irritate the skin, meaning I haven’t experienced any flakiness, redness or itching while using it. That is, in part, because it cleverly gets delivered directly into the skin – encapsulation technology takes it through the skin barrier and allows the retinol to be absorbed quickly. Hello, fast results.

For a long time, the perception was that the higher the percentage of retinol in a product, the better it works,” Dr Mike Bell, head of science at the brand, explains. “However, our breakthrough scientific research with our partners at the University of Manchester has found that 0.3% retinol delivers virtually the same age-defying benefits as a higher concentration retinol, but with minimum irritation. It is a real game-changer.”

The formula also contains a blend of peptides to improve elasticity (cue plump, glowy skin), as well as an ingredient called bisabolol, which comes from German chamomile and helps to calm, soothe and further mitigate any irritation the product might cause. It works to smooth, soften fine lines and reduce pigmentation, while also giving skin that juicy, youthful glow. So yes, it’s ultra-clever, but besides my increasingly even-toned, healthy-looking skin, I’ve barely registered that I’m using it at all – which is exactly the skincare vibe I am here for.


The 13 Best Brightening Eye Creams of 2023

Best Overall

Replenix Tinted Brightening Eye Cream

What We Love: This eye cream is made with potent, medical-grade actives that work to provide long-lasting anti-aging benefits to skin around the eyes.

What We Don’t Love: This eye cream is not suited for dry skin.

Made with a powerful combination of medical-grade ingredients, this tinted eye cream works overtime to combat dark circles and puffiness on the spot, while also providing long-term benefits to the skin. Edelweiss flower is infused into the formula, which is clinically proven to help tighten aging skin around the eye. Additionally, fractionated hyaluronic acid protects the skin’s barrier, while a dynamic blend of peptides aid in healthy collagen production.

Aside from the product’s extended advantages, this cream also instantly brightens dark circles due to its blendable pigment that addresses hyperpigmentation. Its illuminating tint works well with all skin tones, giving under-eye areas an immediate pick-me-up. If you have dry skin under your eyes, we recommend priming the area with a hyaluronic acid serum before putting on this eye cream just because this product is not extremely hydrating.

Price at time of publish: $58

Benefits: Brightens, tightens, and depuffs | Active Ingredients: Edelweiss flower, Fractionated hyaluronic acid, Collagen-boosting peptides| Size: 0.29 fl oz.

Best Budget

The Inkey List Brighten-i Eye Cream

What We Love: This lightweight, cruelty-free formula is safe for all skin types.

What We Don’t Love: This cream can pill if too many products are applied on top of it.

If you’re looking for a hydrating eye cream that combats dark circles, The Inkey List Brighten-i Eye Cream is just the thing you need. For starters, this lightweight formula works well with all skin types including dry, aging, and oily. Plus, it performs well as a primer under makeup. (Just be sure to only layer makeup on top of this, as additional moisturizers or serums can cause this product to pill.) These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg, though, because the brightening capabilities are also extremely impressive.

This very affordable formula includes an ingredient called Brightenyl — also known as diglucosyl gallic acid — which helps prevent skin discoloration while fading existing hyperpigmentation,” explains Geeta Yadav, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology. . “This makes it an ideal formula for someone who has genetic discoloration rather than temporary dark circles caused by blood pooling under the eye. This cream also contains brightening pigments that cosmetically brighten the appearance of dark circles.”

Price at time of publish: $12

Benefits: Brightens, hydrates, and primes | Active Ingredients: Brightenyl, Mica mineral | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best Splurge

Chanel Le Lift Flash Eye Revitalizer

What We Love: This two-in-one product comes with a roll-on serum and hydrating under-eye patches.

What We Don’t Love: Only 10 sets of under-eye patches are included, and they can’t be purchased separately.

Treat your eyes to some serious TLC with this luxe Chanel product. It comes with a hydrating, intensive roll-on serum that restores elasticity and radiance to aging skin, as well as 10 hydrating under-eye patches that smooth fine lines. Per the instructions, you can either use this product once a week for 10 weeks or once a day for 10 days in a row — sort of like an eye care boot camp. When used in the boot camp model, you’ll notice that after the entire course the skin under your eyes will be smooth, supple, and lifted. Alternatively, if you choose to use this for 10 weeks in a row, you will still notice the same results, they just won’t be as immediate. Pro tip: If you run out of under-eye masks, continue using the serum and top it off with a thick moisturizer.

Price at time of publish: $130

Benefits: Brightens, firms, hydrates, and depuffs | Active Ingredients: Ginseng root extract, Morning glory extract | Size: 0.17 fl oz.

Best Drugstore

L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Anti-Aging Eye Cream

What We Love: The formula is non-greasy, so it quickly absorbs into skin.

What We Don’t Love: Since this product contains pro-retinol, it might be too strong for those with sensitive skin.

L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Eye Cream is an awakening eye product that incorporates the cooling powers of the metal tip applicator to instantly decrease puffiness. The formula is packed with hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate under-eye wrinkles, as well as vitamin C, which is an anti-aging skincare stalwart known for its ability to brighten skin. The non-greasy, paraben-free formula also quickly absorbs into skin, creating a smooth base for makeup application. Additionally, it contains pro-retinol, which reduces wrinkles over time.

After just one week of using this eye cream, you’ll notice the skin under your eyes is more supple and soft. For the best results, we suggest using it two to three times a week to start, so your skin can adequately build up a tolerance to the retinol. Once your skin is comfortable with it, you can use it up to five or six times a week.

Price at time of publish: $16

Benefits: Brightens, tightens, and depuffs | Active Ingredients: Pro-retinol, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Dry Skin

Shani Darden Skin Care Intensive Eye Renewal Cream

What We Love: This hydrating eye cream is made with silk tree extract, which visibly fades dark circles.

What We Don’t Love: Some customers complain that the product’s pump can be faulty.

This effective eye cream – which was created by Shani Darden, one of Hollywood’s most notable estheticians – took two years to perfect. The vegan formula is infused with nine age-defying actives, including potent peptides, silk tree extract, squalene, and niacinamide. These powerhouse ingredients work together to firm, brighten, and hydrate skin at every level. The thick cream can be applied both in the morning and at night, and keeps skin moisturized under makeup.

What we especially love about this product is that it works well with all skin types. Even though the formula itself is rich, it doesn’t make the under-eye area feel greasy or oily. It’s also ideal for aging skin, since it can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and crow’s feet. We do wish it came in a different container, or a better pump as it tends to get jammed with continued use.

Price at time of publish: $68

Benefits: Brightens and firms | Active Ingredients: Silk tree extract, Squalane, Niacinamide, Ceramides | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Oily Skin

Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester CCC + Ferulic Brightening Under-Eye Cream

What We Love: This eye cream penetrates the deepest layer of the skin’s surface to provide maximum brightening benefits.

What We Don’t Love: This product has a mild, almost smoky scent that some people don’t like.

This formula is not a cream, but a serum, giving it a very lightweight and fast-absorbing texture that is ideal for those with oily skin,” says Dr. Yadav. “It features three forms of vitamin C and ferulic acid — all potent antioxidants — to fight and fade multiple forms of discoloration under the eye caused by hyperpigmentation.” (These forms of discoloration can include black, blue, and red under-eye circles.) Additionally, this product is made with peptides, which work to combat the appearance of puffiness and bags. Not to mention, the addition of vitamin E minimizes discoloration and dark spots over time, meaning this product provides long-lasting results.

Price at time of publish: $40

Benefits: Brightens and smooths | Active Ingredients: Vitamin C ester, Vitamin E, Ferulic acid | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Sensitive Skin

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

What We Love: This eye cream is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and suitable for all skin types.

What We Don’t Love: If too much is applied, it can pill under makeup.

When looking for an eye cream that is suitable for sensitive skin, board-certified dermatologist Jenny Liu, M.D., recommends finding a product that is fragrance-free and made with nourishing ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide. This drugstore favorite is ideal for all skin types, including sensitive, aging, and dry skin. Formulated with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, it hydrates and plumps the under-eye area, as well as helps maintain the skin’s protective barrier. The rich formula delivers long-lasting moisture to skin, smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles over time.

Price at time of publish: $13

Benefits: Brightens, plumps, and hydrates | Active Ingredients: Ceramides, Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Dark Circles

Dr. Koo Private Practice Replenishing Eye Serum

What We Love: This lightweight serum instantly absorbs into skin and smooths out fine lines.

What We Don’t Love: This product is made with retinol, which might be irritating for some skin types.

This product is formulated with a fantastic blend of ingredients, including retinol, peptides, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Yadav. “Together, they help strengthen the delicate skin under the eye while helping to reduce fine lines and improve blood flow — combined, these benefits improve the appearance of dark circles for a more youthful and brighter eye.” It also helps to depuff bags and reduce the appearance of fine lines, making the skin under the eyes appear smoother and plumper. Just one dollop of this lightweight serum goes a long way, meaning you won’t have to worry about restocking it for months.

Price at time of publish: $200

Benefits: Brightens and tightens | Active Ingredients: Retinol, Caffeine, Aloe | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Puffiness

UpCircle Eye Cream with Cucumber, Hyaluronic Acid + Coffee

What We Love: This vegan eye cream is gentle on skin and made with 99% natural ingredients.

What We Don’t Love: This rich formula does not pair well with heavy concealer.

UpCircle’s entire ethos revolves around using leftover ingredients to create sustainably-sourced skincare products. Coffee grounds are one of the most common ingredients you’ll notice across the brand’s formulas – and it’s one of the main ingredients in this brightening eye cream. Here, caffeine is used to brighten skin, maple bark extract helps to provide anti-inflammatory benefits, and hyaluronic acid gives skin a boost of moisture. This product’s vegan and 99 percent natural formula is safe for all skin types, even as it works overtime targeting dark circles, fine lines, puffiness, and wrinkles.

Price at time of publish: $23

Benefits: Brightens, depuffs, and tightens | Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid and Coffee oil | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Wrinkles

RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Under Eye Cream for Dark Circles & Puffiness

What We Love: This hypoallergenic formula simultaneously targets puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines.

What We Don’t Love: Since this product is made with retinol, it might make skin flake.

To find a good eye cream that will target wrinkles, Dr. Liu recommends looking for products that have ingredients like peptides and retinol. This RoC favorite is made with pure retinol, which addresses signs of aging like fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness. Despite containing retinol, which can cause sensitivity, the hypoallergenic formula is safe enough for all skin types — just be aware to only use the product three times a week when starting out, as this will help skin adjust to the retinol. After about a month, you’ll notice that eyes look and feel refreshed and revitalized.

Price at time of publish: $13

Benefits: Brightens, tightens, depuffs, and smooths | Active Ingredient: Retinol | Size: 0.25 fl oz.

Best Priming

Florence by Mills Look Alive Brightening Eye Cream

What We Love: This lightweight eye cream is made with shea butter, which helps to hydrate skin for hours.

What We Don’t Love: Since this product leaves a satiny finish, it’s not best suited for oily skin.

Made with a blend of good-for-your-skin ingredients like peptides (which visibly brighten dark circles), caffeine (which combats under-eye bags), apricot kernel oil (which softens and smooths skin), and shea butter (which adds a boost of hydration), this Florence by Mills eye cream will give your skin the pick me up it needs. It’s formulated with extremely smooth silver-white pigments that illuminate skin, giving it a natural glow and satiny finish. Since this eye cream is so light and nourishing, it works well under concealer and foundation because it provides a hydrating base for skin. For best results, let this eye cream absorb into the skin before applying makeup.

Price at time of publish: $18

Benefits: Brightens, depuffs, and hydrates | Active Ingredients: Caffeine, Green coffee oil, Apricot kernel oil | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Morning

Alastin Restorative Eye Treatment

What We Love: This eye cream smooths out wrinkles, making eyes look awake and refreshed.

What We Don’t Love: One pump of this product goes a long way, so be sure not to use too much.

According to Kristy Bailey, M.D. a double-board certified dermatologist, medical director, and founder of FCP Dermatology MD, Alastin Restorative Eye Treatment can increase your elastin content by 250 percent. “Dark under-eyes are generally due to thin under-eye skin, allowing you to see the structures under the eye,” she explains. “If there is a valley or hollow under the eye, then the best way to brighten the under-eye is to fill in that hollow. If the hollow is removed, then light shines off the under eye differently making it appear brighter. Picking an eye cream with caffeine and peptides can help give you a morning refresh.” Luckily, this dermatologist-approved product is made with both ingredients. The peptides in this eye cream help to reduce the appearance of puffiness and smooth out fine lines, while the caffeine works to minimize dark circles. To really make eyes look awake, use this cream on your upper eyelids, too.

Price at time of publish: $90

Benefits: Brightens, firms, and depuffs | Active Ingredients: Caffeine, Niacinamide, Shea butter | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

Best for Night

SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair

What We Love: This eye cream is infused with boron nitride, which helps to diffuse the look of skin discoloration.

What We Don’t Love: This rich formula takes time to fully sink into skin.

This thick eye cream has the ability to deeply hydrate and nourish skin, which helps to reduce the look of fine lines and dark circles. Made with a blend of powerhouse ingredients including hyaluronic acid to moisturize skin, peptides to smooth out wrinkles, and boron nitride to combat discoloration, this high-end product makes eyes look youthful and revived after just one week of use. Plus, it contains retinyl palmitate, a natural lipid-soluble form of retinol that works to keep wrinkles at bay. “Try to find an eye cream that contains a bit of very low-dose retinol,” says Dr. Bailey. “It will help produce collagen under the eye and adress fine lines.”

Price at time of publish: $95

Benefits: Brightens, firms, and hydrates | Active Ingredients: Boron nitride, Hyaluronic acid, Retinyl palmitate | Size: 0.5 fl oz.

What to Keep in Mind 

Skin Type 

When it comes to picking out a brightening eye cream (or any skincare product for that matter), be sure to choose the right formula for your skin type. For example, if the skin under your eyes is dry and dehydrated, choose a product with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter or hyaluronic acid (like Replenix Tinted Brightening Eye Cream or  L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Eye Cream). If you have an oily complexion, opt for a lightweight eye cream or gel that won’t weigh skin down (like The Inkey List Brighten-i Eye Cream or Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester CCC + Ferulic Brightening Under-Eye Cream). By choosing a product that best caters to your skin type, you will notice more effective results.

Mixing Ingredients 

Since eye cream is usually the first or second step in a skincare routine (after a light serum or toner, and followed by sunscreen or makeup), it’s important to be wary of what products do and do not mix well together. In terms of serums, lightweight serums (like hyaluronic acid) can be applied underneath eye cream if the skin needs an extra boost of hydration. If you are using an eye cream with retinol in it, it’s OK to use a hyaluronic acid serum before applying your eye cream. Although, if you like to use a vitamin C serum in your skincare routine, do not mix it with an eye cream that has retinol in it because layering these potent ingredients can cause irritation. (The same goes for vitamin C and niacinamide.)

Be sure to also always wear sunscreen on top of eye cream, as the under-eye skin is delicate and prone to wrinkles. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re using an eye cream with retinol.


7 Expert Tips On How To Repair Your Skin Barrier

The biggest skincare lesson worth learning this year? Good skin health is all about a robust skin barrier. Blame it on the red, itchy skin many of us have suffered from thanks to overzealous use of actives, or perhaps it’s the switch to a more intuitive approach to our skincare routines – whatever it is, skin barrier health is trending, with a casual 129.5 million views on the search term “skin barrier repair”on TikTok. And long may it continue. 

In dermatology, our skin barrier is known as the epidermis,” explains dermatologist Dr Mary Sommerlad. “It can be disrupted by intrinsic or extrinsic factors, and often a combination of both. Intrinsic factors include skin barrier diseases that have a genetic component, such as eczema and ichthyosis and high levels of stress and illness.” 

Meanwhile, extrinsic factors include excessive exposure to harsh weather elements, such as too much sun or wind, or extremes of temperature (think going from a heated room to the biting cold outdoors – one reason why compromised barriers often show themselves at this time of year); exposure to potential chemical irritants, such as certain active skincare ingredients, like AHAs and retinoids; and soaps containing SLS or any physical irritants that can scrub the skin. Not to mention pollution, smoking, poor sleep and allergens. 

Skin barrier aggressors are everywhere, but the most overwhelmingly common reason for impairment in consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto’s clinic is “the overuse of actives and using too many products all at once”, she says. “The skin becomes overwhelmed, and, as a result, the barrier becomes compromised.” 

How to know when your skin barrier is impaired

If you struggle to keep moisture in and your skin feels dry and tight, you might be suffering from an impaired skin barrier,” says Dr Emma Craythorne, consultant dermatologist and chief medical officer at Klira. “It can be ashy or flaky, and can feel irritated (or sting) after any chemical formula is applied. You might also experience acne breakouts, rosacea and eczema.” 

Skin might also appear redder or darker than its original colour, plus itchiness is a common symptom. “The texture is likely to change, and feel bumpier and rough,” says Dr Sommerlad. Those with sensitive skin are more predisposed to suffering from an impaired skin barrier, so need to be extra vigilant about keeping it strong and healthy.

Age is also a factor, says facialist Sarah Chapman. “As we get older, our skin slows down its own production of lipids, ceramides and hydrators, which are three key components that make up the skin barrier.” 

So, how to repair your skin barrier when it’s kaput?

Simplify your skincare routine

The first thing you should do is identify and exclude any triggers that may be contributing to skin barrier damage. “Strip your skincare routine back and keep it simple,” recommends facialist Katharine Mackenzie Paterson. “Think cleanser, moisturiser and SPF – remove any retinoids or acids, in particular.” When it comes to your cleanser, she recommends opting for a nourishing, calming and fragrance-free cleansing milk or cream, like iS Clinical’s Cream Cleanser or La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser. Stick to your skincare routine and “try not to chop and change too much because it takes weeks to get things under control”, says Dr Craythorne. “It can actually get worse before it gets better.” 

Restore and repair 

Look for ceramide-rich moisturisers and incorporate hyaluronic acid into your routine to soothe and hydrate the skin, says Dr Sommerlad. “I recommend Vichy Mineral 89 as a good serum, followed by a comforting moisturiser,” she says. With an array of restorative moisturisers for every budget on the market, Dr Craythorne recommends La Roche-Posay’s Cicplast Baume B5, Cetaphil’s Rich Night Cream and SkinCeuticals’ Epidermal Repair – all will help restore the skin barrier to its former self. 

As well as hyaluronic acid, “seek out barrier-building ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide and fatty acids,” recommends Dr Marco Nicoloso, aesthetic doctor at Ouronyx. “They will all help improve dryness and strengthen the barrier.” To take down inflammation and help instigate the reparative process, facialist Shane Cooper recommends trying red light therapy – you can use an at-home LED mask or visit a facialist. He combines it with lots of rich skincare formulas to help restore moisture. 

Gently does it

It might sound obvious, but as well as paring back your skincare routine, it’s important to avoid anything that manually exfoliates the skin, like overly rough face cloths or scrubs. “You should also use lukewarm water to avoid further irritation,” says Dr Mahto, who adds that there’s no quick fix, but if you incorporate these tips, skin should heal as quickly as possible. “I would conservatively say that you can expect to see an improvement in the barrier in three to four weeks – for longer-term damage, it can take upwards of three months.” 

Cut actives out…

Then reintroduce them slowly – but only when skin is healthy again. “Reintroduce one active at a time (for example, use retinoids for a few weeks before adding a vitamin C or liquid exfoliator back in), but if you have chronic skin barrier dysfunction, you should always opt for more gentle actives,” says Dr Sommerlad. For example, you might swap retinol for a retinaldehyde (Medik8’s Crystal Retinal is a great option) because it is gentler on the skin. In terms of acids, seek out PHAs rather than AHAs. “And use fluid-based sunscreens as they require less rubbing in than creams – I love Vichy’s Capital Soleil and Garnier’s Ambre Solaire Anti-Pollution because they also contain niacinamide,” adds Dr Sommerlad.

How to prevent further damage

Like everything in life, a healthy skin barrier is all about moderation and balance,” says Mackenzie Paterson. “Try to avoid any triggers that have caused it in the past, and don’t chop and change the products you’re using every five minutes.” Take a holistic approach to your routine and listen to your skin, especially when adding a new active ingredient, advises Chapman, who says it’s all about starting slow and allowing the skin time to adjust. 

Protection is key, so “use an antioxidant-rich serum or moisturiser and broad-spectrum SPF every morning to protect your barrier from UV, pollutants and other environmental aggressors” and prioritise sleep. That’s when the skin’s natural repairing and rebuilding processes peak, and, without it, skin can suffer. 

Lead a balanced lifestyle

Balance is key in your skincare routine, but what goes on internally also manifests on our skin, so leading a healthy lifestyle is key to healing and preventing future problems making a comeback. “Ensure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, with lots of rich fatty foods, like nuts, fruit and fish,” recommends Cooper, while Chapman’s big advice is to start taking a high-quality omega oil supplement every day. “You will notice a huge difference in your skin’s resilience and overall health.” 


If You Want to Avoid the Retinol Uglies, Add This Product to Your Routine

Perfect for dry skin.

There’s no questioning the power of retinol.

The gold standard ingredient is well-known for fighting acne, exfoliating the skin, and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The only downside are the side effects, which can sometimes include dry, flaky skin, irritation, and redness. These symptoms can show up any time you use retinol, but they’re most likely to appear when your skin is first getting acclimated to it.

Thankfully, Biossance, a squalane-powered clean beauty brand, has heard our cries and made a product that gives you all the goodness of a traditional retinol — without the hellish side effects.

Enter the Squalane + Retinol Night Serum.

To shop: $72;

Believe it or not, this is a retinol product that’s safe to use for all skin types (yes, including sensitive. However, you should always check in with a trusted derm before adding any new products to your regimen.)

The magic is all in the formula, which uses a gentle, yet powerful, time-release retinol and retinal combo to ensure maximum results that won’t burn your face off. These ingredients are paired with sugarcane-derived squalane to help provide moisture in order to curb dryness and irritation, as well as saffron and rosemary that work to hydrate and boost radiance. Rice bran extract rounds out the formula with vitamin E for antioxidant protection.

Together, you’ll be left with smooth, bright, and gorgeously glowing skin — minus the typical retinol uglies.

If you’re new to the game, the brand recommends starting off by using the product every other night, then working your way up to nightly use. And you never, ever want to use this during the day, as retinols can increase sensitivity to the sun.

To use, pump out a pea-size amount, and apply to freshly washed and dried skin before bed. Follow up with any necessary serums, and of course a moisturizer. When you wake up, expect bright, gorgeous skin — just don’t forget to apply at least SPF 40 before heading out the door.


10 Fermented Skin Care Products to Try in 2023 for Hydration, Exfoliation, and More

From slugging to squalane, we love a skin care trend that actually delivers. That’s one reason why we’ve turned our attention to fermented skin care products. If you have images of sauerkraut- and kimchi-infused serums dancing through your mind, these products aren’t quite so literal—but they do rely on the same process that blesses us with those tasty fermented foods. So, we set out to learn more about the fermentation process behind these products, what sets them apart from other treatments on the market, and whether they’re worth a try if you’re thinking about shaking up your skin care routine.

What is fermented skin care, anyway?

Lately, you’ll see skin care products with all sorts of fermented ingredients on the label, including soy, kelp, rice water, various botanicals, and even active ingredients we know and love like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and more.

When it comes to making fermented skin care ingredients, we have good old bacteria to thank, board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, tells SELF. Essentially, fermented ingredients have been exposed to microorganisms. These beneficial bugs break down the ingredients into smaller molecules, Dr. Garshick explains. The smaller the molecule size is, the easier it is for an ingredient to penetrate the skin more deeply, she says.

It’s not far off from what happens when yeast is added to grapes to produce wine, board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, tells SELF. Using fermentation in skin care may also help “enhance [the] potency” of certain ingredients, she says, which, in theory, should lead to better results.

What are the benefits of using products with fermented ingredients?

It all comes back to that smaller molecule size, Dr. Garshick says. She explains that your skin barrier is protective by design, so ingredients that can be absorbed more easily stand a better chance of having substantial effects. For example, hyaluronic acid—a beloved humectant that helps draw water to the surface of the skin—is a fairly large molecule, which makes it harder for the skin to absorb. When hyaluronic acid is fermented, it can sink deeper into the skin and work its hydrating magic more thoroughly, Dr. Garshick says. In other words, it’s possible that fermenting ingredients that we already know to be helpful in addressing common concerns like dryness, acne, dullness, and fine lines, may increase their capacity to deliver the results you want. On the flipside, because products containing fermented ingredients tend to be more potent, they could potentially cause a reaction in sensitive skin (similar to chemical exfoliants), so they should be used with some caution. If they’re more potent, they could be more irritating.

Despite its promise (and derms’ interest in it) as a trend, fermented skin care is a fairly new concept, so there isn’t a ton of specific research on it at the moment. That makes the full breadth of its effects (and possible benefits) a bit murky. Dr. Garschick points to a couple of small studies (one on animals and one on humans) that suggest certain fermented ingredients, including red ginseng and a barley and soybean formula, showed some potential in boosting skin hydration and fighting signs of aging, but they’re far from conclusive. Larger studies on diverse groups of people need to be done to better understand the possibilities of these ingredients. Ultimately, Dr. Garshick says we still have more to learn about this trend (and the skin’s microbiome in general).

This is a valuable reminder to take claims around any emerging beauty trend with a grain of salt. As Dr. Shirazi puts it: “There are potential benefits, but there’s not a lot of research on their effectiveness. So I don’t consider it the holy grail of skin care just yet.”

Who should try fermented skin care products?

While further research is needed, fermented ingredients are thought to be safe, so if someone is interested, it is reasonable to try,” Dr. Garshick says. Just make sure to note the ingredients before you apply them and avoid any known irritants; a patch test is never a bad idea, especially if you’re trying a product that has multiple active ingredients in it. Apply a dime-size amount of the product on the inside of your elbow or on your neck and check on it a day later. If you don’t see any irritation or feel itchy, you’re probably good to go.

Now that you’re a bit more familiar with fermentation skin care, here are some standout products that employ the process to potentially boost the effects of hydration, exfoliation, brightening, and more.

Ferver Fermented Enzyme Radiance Face Mask

Dr. Garshick recommends using this fermented enzyme mask from buzzy brand Ferver once a week, explaining that it exfoliates the skin without being too harsh, leaving it softer and brighter. “It also delivers antioxidant benefits as it contains red algae and helps to reduce inflammation through turmeric,” she says.

Layers Probiotic Serum

This serum uses lactic acid to gently exfoliate in combination with meadowfoam oil, which helps to lock in moisture,” Dr. Garshick says. Made with the probiotic ingredient lactobacillus ferment, it aims to support and strengthen the skin barrier while promoting an overall glowy appearance.

Sunday Riley Pink Drink Skin Firming Resurfacing Essence Face Mist

Sunday Riley, a cult-fave brand around here, reaps the benefits of fermentation in this delightfully pink treatment essence. Dr. Garshick explains that it contains a potent combination of peptides (chains of amino acids that provide the building blocks for collagen), fermented honey, pink yeast filtrate, and kelp, which work in tandem to soothe, moisturize, and restore skin. “It is also rich in antioxidants to protect against free radical damage,” she says.

Bliss Mighty Biome Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer Concentrate

Nourishing yet lightweight, this moisturizer “uses prebiotic beta-glucan to attract water and boost moisture, as well as the postbiotic lactococcus ferment lysate to help stimulate cell renewal,” Dr. Garshick says, referring to those beneficial bugs we mentioned earlier. She explains that prebiotic and postbiotic ingredients, when used topically, may help maintain a healthy skin barrier and reduce inflammation.

Vichy Minéral 89 Prebiotic Recovery & Defense Concentrate

The experts we spoke to recommended this Vichy serum that contains niacinamide “to help calm inflammation and regulate oil production,” Dr. Shirazi says. Not only does this ingredient offer a host of benefits for people concerned about fine lines and dullness, but it’s also useful for those with acne-prone skin. In other words, it’s a great entry point into the world of fermented skin care, regardless of your skin type.

Andalou Naturals Deep Hydration Multi Correcting Cream

The vegan collagen in this face cream is made via plant-based fermentation, while the hyaluronic acid is made with wheat and plant fermentation. “Together, these ingredients help to boost hydration while plumping the skin,” Dr. Garshick says. Plus, the cream is intensely moisturizing without feeling remotely heavy or greasy.

Venn Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil Serum

The main ingredients in this vegan, top-rated face oil from K-beauty brand Venn are fermented root extracts that increase the skin’s radiance while retaining moisture for as long as 24 hours after applying.

Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence

This brightening essence from Korean skin care brand Neogen is known to appear in beauty experts’ skin care routines for its ultra-lightweight consistency, which makes it a breeze to apply. It contains several fermented ingredients, including bifida ferment lysate and saccharomyces ferment filtrate, which can moisturize the skin and make it appear more supple. And, for those who want to avoid possible irritants, this product is fragrance-free.

Ferver Fermented Ginseng Eye Cream

Another option from Ferver, this eye cream can help thwart fatigued skin and dark circles. It soothes, brightens, and de-puffs the delicate skin around your eyes with the help of fermented ginseng, as well as our go-to brightening active ingredient vitamin C.

Drunk Elephant Sweet Biome Fermented Sake Spray

Drunk Elephant’s refreshing, antioxidant-rich facial spray has a foundation of fermented ingredients (including kombucha and fermented rice water) that create a veritable cocktail of benefits: “This product incorporates amino acids, fatty acids, electrolytes, and ceramides, which work to hydrate and refresh the skin, while helping to support a healthy microbiome,” Dr. Garshick says.


What Is Dermaplaning and Should You Try It?

If you’ve seen beauty enthusiasts on social media carefully gliding small razors across their faces, you may have wondered what the heck dermaplaning is, what it can do for your face, and whether it’s actually safe to try at home.

Yes, the skin-care trend might look like an easy DIY treatment for exfoliating skin or getting rid of peach fuzz, but many experts say you should avoid trying this one at home in most cases. Plus, dermaplaning is not recommended for all skin types or for people with certain skin conditions.

Below, dermatologists explain what you should know about dermaplaning, including the risks, the benefits, how often you should dermaplane, and how much the treatment can cost (which may affect how often you can have dermaplaning done).

What is dermaplaning, exactly?

Facial dermaplaning is a cosmetic procedure that involves gently scraping your face with a scalpel to remove the epidermis—your top layer of skin—and small hairs, Jenny Kim, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology, medicine, and nutrition at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, tells SELF. Traditionally, people have the procedure done in a dermatologist’s office; however, you can find blades at the drugstore marketed for at-home use, like this Schick Hydro Silk tool ($6, Amazon), or you can splurge on a sonic device like Dermaflash Luxe+ ($200, Dermaflash) for an at-home experience closer to the dermatologist’s office. That said, it’s safer for a professional to perform the treatment in most cases. (More on this below.)

During a dermaplaning session performed by an expert, a dermatologist (or licensed esthetician in practice with a dermatologist) uses a medical-grade scalpel to scrape across the surface of the skin. The treatment typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes, and the dermaplaning cost can be anywhere from $40 to more than $150, depending on where you live and where you go (it will be more expensive to get a treatment from a board-certified dermatologist because they have more training).

Is dermaplaning the same as shaving?

Not exactly. Facial dermaplaning does involve shaving off layers of skin—primarily just that upper epidermis, the very top layer, Desmond Shipp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. That exfoliating effect is why dermaplaning is often done in combination with facials (in what’s known as a “dermaplaning facial”), he adds.

With an in-office dermaplaning procedure, dermatologists typically use a no. 10 scalpel blade or an electric-razor-like device called a dermatome, according to Dr. Shipp, whereas shaving entails a straight razor blade or a three- to five-blade razor. Another key distinction: Shaving is meant for hair removal, not exfoliation—it only cuts hair at the skin level, and should not remove any layers of skin.

One more difference with dermaplaning is that the scalpel or dermatome also allows for a smoother, closer removal of those tiny, fine facial hairs known as peach fuzz, since the blades aren’t guarded like a body-hair razor is.

What are the benefits of dermaplaning?

It can remove peach fuzz.

The main reason people do it is to remove the vellus hairs on their faces, which, again, some people refer to as peach fuzz. Everyone has these fine vellus hairs coating their bodies, and they serve a purpose: Vellus hairs keep us warm and add another layer of protection to the skin. But some people’s vellus hairs are thicker and/or darker (so more visible) than others, and depending on how they feel about that, they might want to have them removed. Removing peach fuzz with dermaplaning also “allows makeup to go on much smoother, and can make skin look and feel more rejuvenated,” Dr. Shipp says. (In other words, your baby-smooth face will likely glow.)

Of course, dermaplaning is just one way to do that. There are many at-home hair removal kits that may get the job done. However, board-certified dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton, MD, tells SELF that typical hair-removal methods like waxing and threading don’t always provide the results people are looking for (especially in terms of exfoliating and removing finer hairs), which makes dermaplaning an appealing option.

You may have heard that shaving hair on your face makes hair grow back thicker—that’s technically not true. But it may look thicker or darker, since shaving can cause hairs to have a blunter tip as they grow out, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, Dr. Shipp asserts that the hair doesn’t typically grow back thicker or darker following an in-office dermaplaning session that was done with a precise scalpel.

People might also try laser hair removal for longer-lasting results, Jeanine Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New Jersey, tells SELF. But note that your hair can still grow back with this method, it takes several sessions to see changes, the cost per session ranges from $300 to $400, and people with darker skin are generally more prone to hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and burning after laser hair removal compared to people with lighter skin.

And it can also help exfoliate your skin.

While the biggest reason Dr. Ingelton does dermaplaning at her office is to remove vellus hairs, she says that the blade also gets rid of a superficial layer of dead skin called the stratum corneum. This can make your skin look brighter, help your skin-care products sink in better, and help your foundation go on smoother. In Dr. Ingleton’s practice, dermaplaning is often an add-on done before other treatments like microdermabrasion or lasers like Fraxel in order to get a jump-start and exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells before these exfoliating procedures.

When it comes to exfoliating, there are no studies showing how dermaplaning compares to other treatments like retinoids or chemical peels, says Dr. Kim. That’s one reason why Dr. Downie prefers to use peels over dermaplaning—even for sensitive skin—and doesn’t offer dermaplaning in her practice. “Peels help to improve texture, tone, acne, and fine lines,” she says. “They are not equivalent at all, and many peels give deeper exfoliation than a scalpel.”

What are the cons of dermaplaning?

While it might feel like getting rid of these hairs is easy to do at home with an inexpensive blade, most professionals warn against it if you have the option of seeing a dermatologist for the treatment. Any blade you get over-the-counter won’t be as sharp—or as effective—as the medical-grade scalpel used at a doctor’s office. And there’s always a chance that you’ll cut yourself in the process of dermaplaning your own skin (since you’re not trained to perform the procedure), potentially causing scarring.

Anytime a sharp object goes near your face, there is a risk of damage to the skin. “The main risk is cutting the skin, which can lead to infection, scarring, and dyspigmentation,” Anthony Rossi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, tells SELF. It’s easy for skin to get infected from bacteria if you don’t properly clean it (or if the tool you’re using isn’t clean) beforehand—and if there’s an active infection in one area of your skin, you can end up spreading that to other areas of your face as you dermaplane, adds Dr. Rossi.

Dr. Downie also says that she’s seen people with scarring after a session of dermaplaning gone wrong. Although some medical spas offer dermaplaning, she recommends seeing a professional board-certified dermatologist for this kind of procedure. Board certification is an extra step that shows a physician completed advanced training in their specialty. (You can find a board-certified specialist by visiting the American Academy of Dermatology website.)

Dermatologists can assess the full picture of your skin’s health and make sure dermaplaning is right for you, says Dr. Rossi. Also, dermatologists may be in partnership with trained aestheticians who offer dermaplaning, and if you’re going to see an aesthetician for this treatment, it’s best to see someone who’s in practice with a dermatologist.

How often should you do a dermaplaning session?

In order to keep the hair away, you might have to get treated about once a month. (Of course, the exact timeline will look different for each person.) Dr. Kim says this is not a treatment you should do too frequently. Your epidermis helps protect you from allergens and other potential irritants in the outside world—dermaplaning too often may irritate or damage that top layer of protection, she says. Again, this is why it’s best to consult with a physician who can help you decide on the appropriate frequency for your skin and needs.

How to take care of your skin before and after a dermaplaning session

For the best exfoliation results, it’s smart to prep your skin by steaming your face—either as part of your in-office treatment or with an at-home steaming method, like hopping in a hot shower—before a dermaplaning session. “The heat will loosen dirt and sebum and help to remove the dead skin cells easier. It also makes the skin more pliable, softer, and the vellus hairs easier to remove,” says Dr. Rossi.

Rehydrating your skin post-dermaplaning is just as important in order to protect the epidermal barrier you’re exfoliating, Dr. Rossi adds. Since you’re removing that layer of dead skin cells and stripping the skin of that outer protective barrier, you’ll want to wash your skin with a gentle cleanser and then apply a rich moisturizer (think hydrating, skin barrier-protecting ingredients like hyaluronic acid and strengthening ceramides).

You’ll want to keep up the moisturizing for a couple of weeks too. Since the skin cells in the epidermis take about 14 days to turn over (or up to 40 to 50 days as you age) and create a new outer layer of skin, it’s important to moisturize your face to replenish the barrier of the skin that was just removed, Dr. Rossi explains.

After a dermaplaning treatment, you should also stay out of the sun as much as possible until your skin barrier restores and you stop seeing redness, tenderness, or swelling. “You have to coat your skin with sunscreen afterward because you’re going to be more sensitive to the sun,” says Dr. Downie. The exfoliation exposes a new layer of skin that isn’t typically exposed to sunlight, so it can more easily cause U.V. damage. “You also have to be cautious of retinol and glycolic acids,” adds Dr. Downie, for that same reason.

Dermatologists recommend that people with sensitive skin use a light moisturizer like Vanicream ($36, Amazon) because it doesn’t contain fragrances or other irritants, which may inflame your already-sensitive skin.

When should you avoid dermaplaning?

There are a few instances where you should think twice before signing up for a dermaplaning facial or other dermaplaning treatment. For one, you’ll want to avoid dermaplaning if you’re experiencing an active acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema flare-up, since the treatment could cause further irritation and excessive skin peeling, says Dr. Rossi. There’s also a chance that the blade could nick a pimple, adds Dr. Downie, which means it would take longer to heal. 

Also, tell your dermatologist if you have a history of cold sores. “If you have a breakout of cold sores, you need to be on an anti-viral medication like Valtrex, and the physician needs to avoid the area,” says Dr. Downie. Without the use of a preventive oral anti-herpes medication, the cold sores can spread due to microtears in the skin.

The bottom line: Consulting with a dermatologist will help ensure the safest possible dermaplaning experience—and the best, most glowing results.


How To Incorporate Glycolic Acid Into Your Skincare Regime, According To Dermatologists

Famed for its ability to brighten and refine skin texture and tone – as well as reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, breakouts and blemishes – glycolic acid is a routine essential, and with good reason. That said, as an active ingredient, a little bit of homework before you introduce it into your regime is a must. Here’s what you need to know.

What is glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant that belongs to a family of acids known as alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs – a term you’ve probably heard being bandied about in skincare circles. Widely used and derived from sugar cane, other AHAs include lactic, citric and mandelic acids.

What is glycolic acid used for?

Glycolic acid works as an exfoliator by loosening the glue that holds dead cells to the skin’s outer surface, the stratum corneum, helping to reveal the younger, fresher cells underneath. “Exfoliation should be a regular part of your skincare routine,” advises consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. “It gives an instant improvement to the appearance of skin by removing the dull, dry layer of upper skin cells. Superficial exfoliation will not only make the texture of the skin look better, but will also improve age spots and uneven skin tone, as well as allowing better penetration of your serum or moisturiser.” Possessing the smallest size molecules of all the AHAs means that glycolic acid is easily able to penetrate into the skin, so it’s a hugely effective way to improve cellular turnover. Thanks to its ability to penetrate the dermis – the layer of skin beneath the epidermis where collagen is secreted by fibroblast cells – it helps promote collagen synthesis too.

Is glycolic acid suitable for all skin types?

Glycolic acid is effective when used on normal, combination and oily skin, but sensitive skins should be wary of diving straight in, as it can cause irritation. Just as you’d use retinol sparingly to start with, exercise caution when it comes to trying glycolic for the first time. “Start with a low concentration once per week and gradually build up frequency, then build up concentration slowly depending on skin needs and tolerability,” advises consultant dermatologist Dr Zainab Laftah at HCA The Shard

Seasonality can also impact how well it’s tolerated. “As [glycolic acid] is effectively stripping away the upper layers of skin cells it can make your skin more sensitive to sunshine; using sunscreen is therefore essential,” warns Dr Mahto. Happily, for those trying to navigate the confusing world of pregnancy-safe skincare, glycolic acid (in low concentrations) is on the accepted list of ingredients to use – particularly welcome news if you’re experiencing hormonal dullness or breakouts. If you do find yourself unable to tolerate it, all is not lost: “Lactic acid is a mild gentle chemical exfoliant and a good alternative for those who are unable to tolerate glycolic acid, or have a history of sensitive or dry skin types,” notes Dr Laftah.

What’s the best form of glycolic acid to use?

If you’re new to this AHA, an easy way to incorporate it into your routine is through a cleanser, which won’t come into contact with skin for too long and is quickly washed off. It’s also a good litmus test for sensitivity as glycolic acid is immediately neutralised on contact with water. Once you’ve acclimatised you can move on to leave-on formulations including toners, serums and moisturisers, where concentration will be a little higher. “The ideal concentration used at home is between 8 to 15%,” advises Dr Laftah. 

While products like cleansers and toners that contain small amounts can be used daily, most people find once or twice week is sufficient when using anything stronger. Higher concentrations of glycolic acid will naturally yield more intensive results and offer an instant skin glow, but these should only be used by professionals. “Glycolic acid can also be used as a medical-grade chemical peel, only available in clinic, in higher concentrations of 30-70%,” adds Dr Mahto. “It should ideally be started at low concentrations and built up to avoid skin irritation, particularly in pigmented skin.” As well as the concentration, pay attention to the pH of your chosen product; those formulated with a higher pH are done so in order to weaken the acid’s strength, and therefore minimise potential irritation to the skin. If the pH of your product sits between three and four then it is guaranteed that the strength of glycolic is as it is stated on the bottle.

Are there any ingredients you should avoid while using glycolic acid?

Although it can be used seamlessly with other AHAs and BHAs, including pore-refining salicylic acid, there are some standout skincare ingredients that should be avoided while you use glycolic. “Due to the increased risk of skin dryness and inflammation glycolic acid and retinoids should not be used simultaneously,” warns Dr Laftah. If you’re desperate to reap the skin-boosting benefits of both, start using one and work up to tolerance gradually. Once you’ve established that, introduce the other slowly and only use them on alternate days. The two used together at the same time is a recipe for serious irritation, no matter how robust you think your skin is.

Can glycolic acid harm the skin?

Although it’s a gentle exfoliant, as with anything active, overuse can cause damage, particularly to the skin barrier, the skin’s first line of defence against harmful pollutants and pathogens. In the winter months particularly, the skin barrier is often compromised by colder temperatures and fluctuating central heating anyway, so caution against being too overzealous with your glycolic, especially if trying it for the first time. If you have overdone it, you’re likely to experience dryness, flakiness, redness and irritation. “The good news is [that] this is reversible,” says Dr Laftah. “By stopping the chemical exfoliant, hydrating the skin and treating any active inflammation, the skin barrier can be restored.

The best glycolic acid products to try