We’ve all been there: You put extra time and care into flawlessly blending and buffing your foundation, meticulously lining your lash line with kohl eyeliner, and painting on your favorite lipstick. Then, maybe the heat or nerves has caused beads of sweat to drip down your forehead and above your upper lip. Before you know it, your makeup is smudged and runny, and there’s no opportunity for you to do some quick damage control.
Luckily, there’s an extremely easy way to avoid messing up your makeup. Enter makeup setting sprays. These ultra-fine mists lock your look in place without feeling like you have an extra layer of product on your face.
That being said, there’s a ton of makeup setting sprays out there, and each come with their own set of benefits to suit various skin types and makeup styles.
Best Overall: Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Setting Spray
The MVP of setting sprays, this Urban Decay product remains a cult-favorite because it’s safe for all skin types. Although, oily skin will love that it’s infused with kaolin clay for excess oil and shine control. The microfine mist is lightweight and holds makeup in place for up to 16 hours.
Best SPF: Milani Cosmetics Make It Last Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Yes, no one wants their makeup to melt off their face, but protecting your skin against sun damage is more important than a flawless face of foundation. Luckily, Milani has combined makeup setting spray and SPF 30 into a single product. This micro mist locks makeup in place for up to 16 hours, hydrates, and shields skin from UVA/UVB rays.
This mist is a must-have for anyone (OK all of us) who are after that elusive lit-from-within glow. Made with humectants and botanicals oils, use the hydrating formula as a primer before applying makeup or refresh your skin throughout the day to keep your makeup from getting dry and cakey.
If you have oily skin, you’re familiar with melty, runny makeup. This best-selling NYX spray sets makeup while mattifying skin, combating shine, and minimizing the appearance of pores. No wonder it’s the number one setting spray in America, according to Neilson data.
Best for Long-Wear: L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Make-Up Extender
There are a ton of setting sprays at the drugstore, but not all are created equal. L’Oréal’s spray is a standout because the lightweight mist keeps makeup looking freshly applied for hours on end. Bonus: The formula is non-comedogenic and dermatologist-tested, so rest assured it won’t clog pores and lead to breakouts or cause irritation.
Best Primer: MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ Primer & Setting Spray
This two-in-one product primes skin for smooth, even makeup application and keeps it fresh all day long. Packed with green tea, chamomile, and cucumber, the spray also soothes and calms redness, making it a great option for sensitive skin, too.
It might seem counterintuitive, but spritzing this setting spray on your face after you’ve finished applying your makeup will make your look waterproof for up to 24 hours. The water-resistant formula also gives skin a smooth finish and blurs imperfections.
Best for Touchups: Fenty Beauty What it Dew Makeup Refreshing Spray
OK, this might technically be a face mist, but it was created with the sole purpose of reviving and refreshing makeup throughout the day. Better yet, you can spritz it on your face before reaching for your makeup to create a hydrated, dewy base for your foundation and concealer.
Many would say washing your face is the most important part of a skin-care routine. Now the quest to find the best face wash is even more imperative: Our vital, necessary use of face masks has led to an uptick in maskne and other irritations.
From dermatologist Carlos A. Charles’s perspective, it’s most important to find a cleanser that removes buildup, dirt, makeup, and other unwanted particles from the face without damaging the skin’s protective barrier. The founder and medical director of Derma di Colore recommends three go-to cleansers to clients: Jurlique Revitalizing Cleansing Gel because it “thoroughly cleanses the skin and leaves it feeling fresh without overdrying or stripping the skin,” and does so without parabens, polyethylene glycols, or artificial fragrances and colors; Ren Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Gel, as it cleans without being rough on the skin; and, lastly, CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser. “It removes impurities from the skin delicately and works well for those with the most sensitive skin. Also, it’s a good choice when starting a prescription-strength acne or anti-aging regimen,” Charles notes.
And while doctors certainly know best, everyone’s skin is different (and cleansers tend to elicit strong feelings), so we asked Vogue staffers to share their favorites in the hopes of making your search for the best face wash a little bit easier.
“I got this cleanser as a gift three years ago and haven’t gone back to whatever I used to use since! I have combination skin, so the biggest thing for me was to find a cleanser that doesn’t strip my face too harshly, which this one definitely doesn’t. It’s gentle, and leaves my skin feeling clean and naturally moist.”
“I love oil cleansers, and RMS’s raw coconut cream is one I always go back to. It doesn’t strip your skin like a traditional face wash, so I don’t feel like I need to immediately layer on serums and moisturizers after I rinse it off. I’ve been trying to simplify my routine as much as possible during quarantine, so this has been key!”
“I love this lightweight, fresh-scented gel cleanser. Not only is it gentle enough to use every day on my skin, but it leaves it feeling hydrated and refreshed each and every time. Plus, its compact size makes it easy to pack during weekend getaways.”
“When I told Follain founder Tara Foley that I hadn’t yet found the right natural face wash, she steered me toward Naturopathica’s Aloe Cleansing Gel. I now use it every night, and it leaves my face feeling clear without any of the tightness or dryness that I’ve experienced with other cleansers. I also find I don’t need to use much for it to be effectively cleansing and hydrating, which means the five-ounce bottle has lasted me many months (a win on the less-waste front).”
“I’m a drugstore enthusiast when it comes to basic facial care. My skin is very sensitive and I found that this is one of the only cleansers that truly caters to my skin type. Because it’s hypoallergenic, I felt confident in giving it a chance, and I haven’t looked back since. My face is always left feeling refreshed and under control.”
“I am sorry to inform you that this Eve Lom Cleanser is worth every penny. Never in my life would I think I’d be someone to pay $80 on a facial cleanser, but I am. Because of the price, I use it sparingly, but it always makes my skin look and feel much better. I love the ritual of putting it on and taking it off by using a muslin cloth that’s been soaked in warm water. Plus, you can’t beat that clean smell.”
“I’ve used this face wash since high school—thank you to my local Sephora for the introduction! Despite trying posh, highbrow cleansers and drugstore staples, I’ve found that the Philosophy wash is the only one that leaves my skin feeling and looking fresh.”
“I use Neutrogena’s Transparent Facial Bar. It’s like a tried-and-true wardrobe classic but for cleansers, maybe comparable to the turtleneck of skin-washing regimes. I’ve been using it since high school. The crisp bar, which comes in a hue of honey, lasts forever, and is under $5. How can you go wrong?”
“My favorite face wash is more of a balm. Made from manuka honey, this Naturopathica cleaner cleans effectively and without drying out my face. You can also apply it with a little brush that feels supernice on the face and, I think, gives me a little extra exfoliation bang for my buck. This is definitely a hero product for me and one of the most natural but effective cleansers I’ve found in my clean beauty searches. Plus, it smells so amazing you almost don’t want to wash it off.”
“I am very picky about face washes because I have extremely sensitive skin (eczema, rosacea, you name it!), and this has been my favorite cleanser for a year now. Once something lasts in my skin-care routine for more than a few months, it’s going to stay there forever. I love the consistency of this cleanser; it’s gel-like but not sticky, and so soothing, always leaving my skin feeling so clean!”
“I swear by Eve Lom’s cleanser (a classic for a reason!), but for an extra-deep clean I always go to Lesse’s all-natural scrub, which contains ultrafine apricot granules to gentlyexfoliate the skin—a must after long beach days (and lots of sunscreen). Plus, the charcoal-blue-colored formula is just about as pretty as they come.”
“There are very few constants in my skin-care routine, but the one product I will always go back to is Dermalogica’s Clearing Skin Wash. I can try other cleansers, but this is the one that I repeatedly purchase and always have on hand (I own the largest possible size and keep travel versions at my parents’ house just in case). My skin tends to be oily, but this saves me from needing a thousand blotting papers.”
“Tatcha was the first skin-care brand I splurged on growing up; the brand’s infamous inclusion of milky rice water brings an extra boost of moisture to my otherwise dry, and at times, flaky skin. The gentle texture combined with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and Okinawa algae (known to plump and lock in moisture), leaves my skin feeling supple and bouncy every morning.”
“All I can say is God bless Chaneve Jeanniton and every product in the Epi.Logic line! Chaneve created this face wash to soothe sensitive skin, and since using it, I never have to worry about my skin getting irritated while washing my face in the morning!”
“This is not necessarily a face wash, but I’ve been loving Chantecaille’s rosewater spray. It leaves me looking dewy and is naturally perfumed with a faint floribunda smell. Plus, it comes in the prettiest packaging designed by tastemaker extraordinaire John Derian. I spritz my face liberally each night with it so it might as well be a wash!”
Dryness, dullness, signs of aging, or acne? There’s a toner for that.
Toners are one of skincare’s most fiercely debated topics, right next to physical exfoliators and eye cream. Here’s the thing: I would be skeptical of toners myself had I not witnessed their miracles firsthand. Honestly, I don’t feel like my skincare routine works effectively if I don’t prep my skin with a toner first.Toners act as the next nourishing and replenishing step after cleansing, and are meant to prep and prime your skin for skincare products to follow. Plus, with skincare technology getting better and better, toners are integrating ingredients that are clinically known to be effective. Just like hyaluronic acid in your serum will give your skin amazing hydration, the same ingredient in a toner will give you those skincare benefits in a lightweight, easy step.
For Problem Skin: Eve Lom Rescue Toner
For skin that comes with all the relatable concerns—redness, acne, unwanted bumps, irritation–this toner is a great solution for those issues and more. Formulated with AHAs and natural extracts, skin is gently exfoliated and soothed for great all-over improvement.
If you have the fun problem of dry skin that’s also sensitive, this hydrating spray toner is gentle enough to use daily. It comes in spray form that can either be spritzed directly on the face, or onto a cotton pad to be swiped on. With witch hazel, water, and cucumber extract, this toner feels lightweight but still offers a necessary dose of hydration.
For Dull Skin: Goodhabit Rescue Me Texture Magic Exfoliating Toner
This toner has a powerhouse of ingredients that work hard to resurface and brighten skin. With AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs, it might seem like this product isn’t gentle enough for sensitive skin. On the contrary, however, even those with sensitive skin can use this toner daily. An amazing bonus? This toner helps blocks the effects of blue light on the skin.
For anyone trying to get ahead of aging concerns and control unsightly breakouts, this toner was made for you. Formulated with lipo hydroxy acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid, this toner sloughs off dead skin while also purifying clogged pores. With daily use, you can look forward to firmer, brighter skin.
If toners seem to always cause sensitivity to your skin, this aloe vera-infused toner is the perfect pick. Irritation and redness have been historically treated with aloe vera, and this product utilizes the ingredient’s soothing properties.
For Irritated Skin: Feuillete Smooth Water Essence
If you’re a newbie to the whole toner business, this product is a great beginner product. There’s nothing this toner doesn’t do–it brightens, hydrates, and soothes. Whether your skin is sensitive, oily, or dry, this toner can treat all concerns. As an added benefit, it’s also fragrance-free for anyone with perfume sensitivity.
For Uneven Skin: Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener
For skin that is suffering from dryness, aging, or an uneven texture, this product is the key to solve all those issues. With a myriad of Japanese superfoods, this gentle toner plumps the skin and softens roughness caused by these skin concerns.
For Bumpy Skin: Sisley Paris Botanical Floral Toning Lotion
Formulated with natural extracts, this toner turns irritated, rough skin into a softened, hydrated textured. It is alcohol-free, which makes it a good option for dry and sensitive skin that is suffering from bumpiness, roughness, or redness. To truly immerse yourself in the French lifestyle, use this toner twice a day and soak in the goodness.
For Inflamed Skin: Truly CBD Jelly Toning Solution
This jelly-textured toner, which contains glycolic acid and CBD, is a hero for skin that needs effective exfoliation but is prone to inflammation. Glycolic acid effectively exfoliates while CBD calms the skin. For anyone that has sensitive skin and is hesitant to use chemical exfoliator but wants to be free of the pollution and dead skin cells that clog pores, this product is for you.
For Severely Dehydrated Skin: Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid
If your dry skin leaves you with flakes, rough patches, and uncomfortable tightness or cracked areas, this toner is the perfect solution. Packed with moisturizing ceramides, this toner soaks into the skin to deliver long-lasting hydration.
For anyone who wants to carry summer with them wherever they go, this watermelon-scented toner delivers tightening and exfoliating effects without stripping the skin. With PHA and BHA acids, it gently exfoliates and reduces the appearance of pores. Not to mention, it’s also incredibly hydrating thanks to the hefty amount of hyaluronic acid.
For Aging Skin: Guerlain Abeille Royale Anti-Aging Fortifying Lotion Toner
This toner is water-light and formulated to treat signs of aging. Guerlain Royal Jelly, black bee repair technology, and honey all work together to protect the skin from future aging, while also reversing fine lines and wrinkles. Even better, Guerlain partnered with Brittany Black Bee Conservatory to sustainably source their ingredients while protecting the bee population.
For Oily Skin: Shani Darden Skin Care Sake Toning Essence
While toners and essences often get lumped into one category, this product takes the best of both to treat oily skin. With sake water, niacinamide, and natural extracts, this toner brightens skin, controls oil production, all while diminishing the appearance of pores. A cult-favorite product, this toner has a host of fans that rave about its effectiveness.
No matter how much beauty ads promise, there really is no such thing as a magical cure-all that’ll make you look like a woman who always drinks enough water and clocks eight hours of sleep each night. Even if you are that woman (secrets, please?), dark circles can still be hereditary.
However, there really is some truth to the best eye creams. No, they won’t entirely get rid of that puffiness and blueish tinge or erase wrinkles overnight, but there are a handful of options with ingredients that actually do tighten, brighten, and generally make your need for concealer a little less. Since the skin under our eyes is more delicate, targeted formulations with active ingredients like retinol (or bakuchiol), vitamin C, and caffeine can pack more pick-me-up power than your average face cream or serum.
Best Overall: Tata Harper Boosted Contouring Eye Balm
It’s not just that Tata is the queen of formulating with the cleanest ingredients—it’s that she pushes the envelope so we can have clean ingredients and clinically proven skin rejuvenation in one little bottle. This eye cream is gentle on my reactive skin and highly effective in softening lines and hydrating that thin, delicate, and previously crepey skin around my eyes. —Katey Denno, celebrity makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best Luxury: La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Eye Cream
I made it all through my 20s without undereye issues, but I swear the second I turned 30, the effects of a late-night Netflix binge (or God forbid, a night out) started to manifest on my face. And that’s when I decided it was time to call in the big guns. La Prairie’s Platinum Rare Cellular Eye Cream gets its muscle from a potent blend of peptides and hydrators to brighten, smooth, and tighten your skin. It’s basically Spanx for your eyes. —Lindsay Schallon, senior beauty editor
For someone who spends way too much time up late in front of a computer screen, this serum is like the equivalent of a cup of coffee for my eyes. It’s formulated with caffeine and green tea to jolt awake their appearance and minimize the look of dark circles and puffiness. Best $7 I ever spent. —Aimee Sy, contributor
Best for Puffiness: Sisley Paris Black Rose Eye Contour Fluid
After a few rotations around my eye socket with this mysteriously cold ceramic applicator, I was hooked. Like all of the products in the Black Rose Collection, this formula smells (no essential oils, just May Rose water) and feels amazing. Best of all, it depuffs, hydrates, and brightens and instantly makes me look more rested. —Robin Black, makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best for Tired Eyes: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex
Since I’m still in my 20s, I usually just need moisture under my eyes, but when I need something more (like when I’m hungover) this is what I reach for. I love the classic Night Repair serum, and this eye treatment is just as effective. It has a cooling gel texture, and it instantly makes me look more awake, less puffy, and as if I could be the kind of girl who meditates and drinks green juice every day. I’ve even noticed that if I use this one consistently, my dark circles look slightly better (it’s a cream, not a miracle) thanks to the brand’s ChronoluxCB complex. —B.C.
Best for Dark Circles: It Cosmetics Confidence in an Eye Cream
I have pretty bad dark circles (genetics, unfortunately) and have tried everything from very expensive products to drugstore brands. It wasn’t until this one that I noticed a difference—literally, after a day of using it. It’s super lightweight and makes it look as though I hit snooze just a little longer each morning. —Azadeh Valanejad, contributor
Over the years I’ve tried various eye creams, from drugstore buys to mysterious potions I’ve picked up from the Glamour beauty closet, but Dr. Barbara Sturm’s was my first foray into a luxe product line, and man, did it not disappoint. Just a slight tap of the cream every night has made the fine skin around my eyes look tighter and more youthful. The cream feels indulgent and rich on my skin, while still having a super-light, airy consistency. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic Dr. Barbara Sturm works with, but consider me all in. —Caitlin Brody, entertainment director
Best for Fine Lines: Tatcha The Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream
Your eyes may be the window to your soul, but they’re also the first place to show signs of aging. That’s why I’ve been using eye cream since I was a teenager. But as you get older, you need different formulas, especially if you wear makeup. The key is an eye cream that will help act as a barrier so concealer and foundation won’t settle into fine lines, but will also still hydrate. I’ve found that with Tatcha’s Silk Peony, which has a unique melting texture to smooth and blur the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It contains 30% Hadasei-3, which is the brand’s signature trio of pure Japanese superfoods, including Uji Green Tea (to detoxify), Okinawa maluku algae (to help retain moisture), and protein-rich Akita rice to nourish and go on smoothly. And as with all Tatcha products, it’s cruelty-free and formulated without sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. —Jessica Radloff, West Coast editor
Best Multitasker: Glossier Bubble Wrap Eye and Lip Plumping Cream
Wrinkles aren’t my top concern yet, so when it comes to eye cream, I’m looking for something no-fuss that hydrates, plumps, and is a great base for the gobs of concealer I need to hide my sleeping habits. Bubblewrap is the answer to my prayers; if I could bathe in it, I would. It’s a cushiony eye and lip cream that has a thin yet lush texture and is packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and avocado oil. Tapped on my undereyes, it made me look more awake, refreshed, and made my concealer glide on crease-free. While it’s a fab eye cream, I’m also obsessed with it in place of lip balm at night for full, plush lips by morning. And of course, the packaging looks perfect in my medicine cabinet. —B.C.
Best Soothing: Volition Beauty Helix AM/PM Eye Gel
I’m one of the people who think eye creams are kind of B.S.—a regular light moisturizer does that trick just fine for me—but I’ve recently noticed how damn puffy my area looks. Blame it on an excess of salt and not enough water, but I started using this collagen-rich gel, which I keep in the fridge, and found it actually works to depuff and hydrate. It also promises to blur fine lines, though I don’t have those yet, but I’m planning to stick with it, mainly thanks to its powerful helix complex, an organic compound rich in allantoin, collagen, elastin, and glycolic acid. —Perrie Samotin, digital director
Best Brightening: Dermalogica Biolumin-C Eye Serum
I’ve been obsessed with finding the right treatment for the dark circles under my eyes, and this is definitely the winner. This serum doesn’t have the stinging retinol sensation that a previous eye cream had, nor does it leave my skin feeling tacky. I’ve been using it for the last two months, and the difference is noticeable. I’m already dreading the day I have to replace it. —Khaliha Hawkins, producer
Best Primer: Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Eye Base
My undereyes are regularly dry, and my concealer always creases no matter what, until I tried Bobbi Brown’s new Vitamin Enriched Eye Base. Its creamy shea butter formula means a pea-size amount is plenty to go around both eyes. I use my fingertips to gently pat this soothing primer into my skin before concealing my uninvited dark circles for a smooth canvas that never creases. —Talia Gutierrez, beauty assistant
I’ve been slowly replacing the skin-care products in my beauty routine with ones that are plant-based—and my latest fixation is Haoma’s Eye Cream. Rich in skin-brightening ingredients like yarrow, licorice, mulberry, and CBD, this balm has an airy, velvety texture that goes on smooth and absorbs in no time. I dab a pea-size amount under my eyes after cleansing, and it straightaway makes the purplish circles feel lighter and brighter. That, and it’s the perfect second step in my morning routine to trick my mind into instant “awake” mode. —Talia Abbas, commerce writer
I’ve always been a fan of Embryolisse’s skin-care products. They’re a staple in makeup artists’ kits. The same goes for this undereye stick. It’s multifunctional: It refreshes tired eyes, diminishes signs of fatigue (like puffiness), firms, is highly hydrating, and reduces the appearance of fine lines. It also brightens your undereye area and improves texture. Not to mention it’s incredibly cooling when you glide it on. I like to use it right before I put on makeup, during skin prep. —Carola Gonzalez, celebrity makeup artist and Glamour Beauty Awards judge
Best Eye Serum: Lancôme Advanced Génifique Yeux Light Pearl Concentrate
There’s nothing I love more than popping a jade roller in the fridge and running it under my eyes in the morning to wake up. This is the eye serum equivalent. The metal applicator is cool and refreshing as you glide it on, and the gentle but tough-acting mix of caffeine, prebiotics, and vitamin E go to work to jolt life back to your undereyes. Bonus: You can use the serum on your lashes to make them look more nourished. —L.S.
I’ve tried tons of eye creams that do literally nothing, but Belif’s eye cream doesn’t have that problem: This spin-off of its moisturizer leaves my undereyes looking smooth and way less crepey within minutes. —Sarah Morse, contributor
Best Hydrating: Hada Labo Tokyo Age Correcting Eye Cream
Hada Labo makes reliably excellent skin care, and this eye cream is no different. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid, caffeine, collagen, and light-diffusing pigments. Smooth it on and it’ll blur and diminish your dark circles while giving your delicate undereye area a noticeable boost. —Sarah Wu, beauty contributor
Summer’s last weeks are upon us, and fall fever is just beginning to set in. As you ruminate over what to bring into rotation, consider a supercharged vitamin C serum right up there with a sleek coat or this season’s It boot.
For brightening up a dull complexion and erasing sun spots, vitamin C is the gold standard of ingredients, especially as the years go on. As such, getting familiar with the powerhouse antioxidant is essential for any robust skincare strategy. “Vitamin C is perhaps the most potent topical antioxidant we have,” explains dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., of the natural collagen booster. “It neutralizes free radical damage and protects the skin against UV light and other environmental aggressors, as well as blocking abnormal production of pigmentation to even skin tone and fade dark spots.” And while it’s best known for brightening, it can also be instrumental in skin firming, adds Los Angeles superfacialist Kate Somerville. “I have used vitamin C in my clinic for years to help with elasticity and tighten the skin around the neck and décolletage,” she says.
Here, how best to utilize the hero ingredient for a brighter, smoother, and plumper complexion year-round.
Choose the Right Concentration
Identifying the right concentration for your skin type is essential to how effective your topical vitamin C will be, says New York City dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler. “Begin with a low concentration of 10% and increase to 15% or 20% as tolerated,” she instructs. For oily or normal skin, L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of vitamin C and can be the most beneficial, while for dry and sensitive skin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble vitamin C, is less irritating.
Absorption of a vitamin C is largely contingent on its pH level. If you have normal skin, look for one with a low pH of approximately 3.5 for optimal absorption. If you have sensitive skin, you should use a formula with a pH of 5 to 6. “This is the skin’s natural pH and will not be as irritating,” says Wexler.
Designed to deliver a high concentration of actives, serums are the most common form of delivery for vitamin C. “They keep that ingredient stable and enhance penetration through the outer skin layer,” says Zeichner. As far as complementary ingredients are concerned, Wexler believes vitamin C works best in combination with vitamin E, ferulic Acid, vitamin B, and hyaluronic acid. “Vitamin C and E are both antioxidants and support each other,” she explains, adding that ferulic acid is another antioxidant which boosts and stabilizes both vitamin C and vitamin E in fighting free radical damage and collagen production. That being said, sensitive skin types might benefit from mixing their serum into a moisturizer, or opting for a vitamin C-infused moisturizer for gentler delivery.
To keep skin happy, take a gradual approach when adding vitamin C to your regimen. “With any active, it’s important to start slowly when incorporating ingredients into your routine,” says Somerville. “I’ve seen some amazing results with clients who’ve added vitamin C into their regimen at three times a week and worked up to daily use.” To that end, don’t expect instant gratification. “It takes several weeks of continuous use to start to see improvement in skin tone,” says Zeichner, adding that because it’s a key ingredient for prevention, some benefits will be imperceptible.
Vitamin C serums come in two broad categories: Water-based and anhydrous (which literally means “without water”). The former is more unstable and light sensitive, and is typically held in opaque or amber colored bottles for that reason, while the latter tends to be more stable, even in the presence of sunlight. No matter what kind you opt for, ensuring your vitamin C is stabilized and kept airtight in a dark, cool space is essential. “If the color becomes dark or cloudy it has already oxidized,” cautions Wexler, adding that the same is true if you detect a rancid odor.
Unlike hydroxyacids or retinol, vitamin C does not make the skin more vulnerable to sunburn. That being said, the most potent forms of vitamin C are vulnerable to light exposure, and therefore the use of vitamin C must be in conjunction with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage. The good news is that, when layered underneath sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, vitamin C protects the skin even further. “Think of it as a safety net to help neutralize free radical damage that can occur from UV light penetration despite our best protection efforts with sunscreen,” says Zeichner.
Vitamin C can do more than just help you kick that cold! In fact, this potent antioxidant can actually help transform the look for your skin thanks to its ability to boost collagen, minimize acne scars, and reduce signs of aging. But if you think a daily glass of orange juice is all you need for a glowing complexion, think again.
When ingested orally, the vitamin’s benefits barely ever make it to our skin. Instead, you’ll have to apply it topically in the form of a vitamin C serum in order to see the multifaceted ingredient start to work its magic on your skin. Besides brightening and evening out your skin tone, the versatile antioxidant also works to improve skin’s hydration and prevent wrinkles.
No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence
With 5% pure Vitamin C. Easy to mix, at-home activation. Use for two weeks for visible results. Promotes brighter, healthier and more radiant looking skin. Evens skin tone and texture.
SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic features a synergistic antioxidant combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamin C and E to enhance your skin’s protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals. In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, this formula improves signs of aging and photodamage to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while firming and brightening your complexion. Lastly, this powerful formula helps neutralize free radicals induced by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA) and ozone pollution (O3).
Murunga plum, known to be 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges, combined with alpha hydroxy acid helps to brighten the complexion and smooth skin texture. Enriched with antioxidant-boosting iris extract, this serum has a lightweight texture that offers a natural glow and energizes skin, helping it resist aggressions (stress, fatigue, and jet lag).
With almost 8,000 five-star reviews, this serum by TruSkin is one of the most popular beauty products on Amazon. The serum’s formula combines vitamin C with botanical hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to help diminish the look of dark spots, wrinkles, and fine lines while also firming and brightening your skin. Happy customers rave that this handy product started to transform their skin in just one week! A lot of reviewers have even been uploading before and after photos of themselves to show off how clear and bright their skin looks after using the serum.
Over 150,000 Sephora shoppers agree this is one of the best vitamin C serums around. Many customers love how quickly the product absorbed in their skin, while others couldn’t get over how delicious the serum’s citrus scent was. One reviewer called it a “game changer” before adding “seriously this stuff works. It has truly made my skin better.”
This potent serum is so popular it earned itself an Amazon’s Choice recommendation. You can use the powerful product on its own or add two or three drops to your daily moisturizer if your skin needs the extra hydration. One glowing review said, “This is a wonderful serum. It dramatically refined my skin’s texture and brightened my complexion. It absorbs quickly, and the smell dissipates once it dries.”
This award-winning serum combines vitamin C with hyaluronic acid and konjac root powder to help soften, smooth, and brighten your skin’s texture. Eighty-four percent of Ulta customers said they would recommend this product to their friends and family, with most customers saying the serum left their skin glowing.
You can say goodbye to fine lines and wrinkles thanks to this potent serum by beloved beauty brand Mario Badescu. Ulta customers can’t stop raving about how fast the product works. Many reviewers said they saw dark spots and acne scars fade in just five days of regular use.
Dermstore customers love this concentrated vitamin C serum thanks to its powerful anti-aging properties. Many reviewers gave it two thumbs up, saying the serum left them with healthier-looking skin that actually glowed. They also loved that it also helps prevent any future damage from pesky UV rays.
This nutrient-packed serum by InstaNatural is a best seller on Amazon thanks to the 2,700 five-star reviews customers have given it. Customers raved that the serum not only helped reduce the appearance of old acne scars but it also helped clear up current breakouts and blackheads. One happy reviewer called it, “the nectar of the gods for your skin.”
This vitamin C serum from Miranda Kerr’s skincare line Kora Organics may be new to the market, but it’s already racked up over 8,000 likes at Sephora. During a clinical study, 90 percent of participants said their skin looked smoother, while 80 percent said their skin looked brighter and more radiant. “I love this product. It’s been over a week and I noticed a difference in my skin. The smell is amazing, and the results are even better. My face is brighter and my hyperpigmentation and acne scarring is noticeably reduced,” raved one customer.
This popular serum from LilyAna Naturals is infused with jojoba oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid (along with the vitamin C) to help hydrate and moisturize your skin. The powerful product works to firm and smooth your skin’s texture, along with reducing the appearance of sunspots, redness, and other discolorations. The best part? It’s non- comedogenic (read: safe for acne-prone skin), so you’ll never have to worry about it clogging your pores or causing breakouts. With details like this, it’s no wonder why more than 3,300 Amazon customers gave the serum an impressive 4.4-star rating.
If you suffer from dull or tired-looking skin, consider this vitamin C serum from Tatcha. It is specially formulated with 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA serum that work together to soften and smooth skin, leaving you with a glowing complexion. The beloved serum has more than 60,000 likes and a 4.4-star rating at Sephora. What’s more? 88 percent of customers said they love it so much, they’d recommend it to others.
This vitamin C serum from Kate Somerville is packed with retinol to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Along with improving the tone and elasticity of your skin, the product can also help your skin look brighter, smoother, and more luminous. “Can’t say enough. Literally fixed my tired, acne-prone, and scarred skin in just a week! I have literally tried everything out there from $700 creams to $50 ones and this one is the holy grail,” raved one customer.
It seems like every day brings with it a new beauty ingredient we, as a civilization, must know about. (Cue: Eva Longoria over-pronouncing “hy-a-lur-on-ic acid” at us on repeat!) But every now and then, a substance comes along worth really, truly knowing. Hyaluronic acid is certainly one of them — particularly for anyone who favors a hydrated complexion without an oily, slick feel — but what we’re here to focus on right now is a slightly more old-school ingredient enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in the beauty world of late: squalane.
“Squalane is a saturated and stable hydrocarbon. It’s a form of squalene oil (which is a natural component of human skin sebum), which means it’s not subject to auto-oxidation, so that makes the shelf-life longer,” explains Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist at Day Dermatology & Aesthetics in New York City. In other words, squalane is a more stable ingredient derived from less-stable squalene, just in case you were about to Google “what is the difference between squalane and squalane?” Got that?
In the past, both ingredients have typically been derived from shark liver oil (like, from actual sharks), but most formulas now rely on cruelty-free, vegan (and much more sustainable!) alternatives made from olive or rice bran oil. It’s these innovative new formulas that have reinvigorated the industry’s interest in squalane, particularly as consumers seek out vegan and cruelty-free products (not to mention dewy, hydrated aesthetics that rely on intense moisture).
Dr. King notes that squalane “has emollient properties which make it a good moisturizer, able to help skin barrier function and prevent loss of hydration that impairs dermal suppleness.” She recommends it for a range of different skin types and concerns, beyond just those associated with moisture. “It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help soothe inflammatory skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and inflammatory acne.”
Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson agrees there are many benefits associated with squalane in skin care: “It is a great product for all skin types to provide moisture; at high enough levels it has anti-wrinkle properties,” she says. She also notes that while many squalane formulas are thick oils and creams, there are also other options for those who don’t want to feel greasy. “It can be made to feel lighter or heavier on the skin depending on what it’s mixed with. It’s a versatile ingredient,” says Wilson, who also notes that there are few risks associated with it on the whole.
Not all experts are fully sold on the ingredient for every skin type, though. “It can be used across almost all skin types, but I am cautious in recommending it to people with acne because it may contribute to breakouts,” notes dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
Dr. King also points out that there are times when squalane itself may not be enough, particularly for those coping with severely parched skin. “If the skin is very dry and the environment is very dry, a stronger, heavier occlusive may be needed in addition to or instead of the squalane to lock in the moisture and ensure that hydration is not evaporating from the skin,” she advises.
Beauty lovers about lost their minds when a luxury brand Tatcha released their infamous Silk Canvas primer, with claims to smooth the complexion and appear practically poreless.
At $68USD for 20g of product, this primer gained popularity very quickly. As we know, drugstore brands like to jump on the “popular” train and create a cheaper alternative.
When ELF Cosmetics introduced their Poreless Putty primer, hundreds of reviews and YouTube comparison videos emerged. Needless to say it was a success, as the company added Matte and Luminous versions of this primer to the lineup.
At $8USD for 21g of product, this primer provides the same results as its luxury counterpart, and you only need the smallest amount to give the results you’re looking for.