Gemma Chan definitely knows how to make an impression. Her turn in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians was unforgettable, and we’re waiting with baited breath for Don’t Worry Darling to land next year (Chan, Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine star). In the meantime, Chan is working on a podcast about Asian American civil rights, and using her position as a L’Oréal Paris spokeswoman to promote self-care’s role in building confidence and asserting equality. To that end, the actress and activist recently revealed her full beauty routine — and the intel is juicy.
In a video for Vogue released earlier this month, Chan walked viewers through exactly what she relies on to maintain her glowing skin. As expected for any celebrity, she invests in some pricey finds like Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream, celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech’s Facial Massager, and Foreo skincare tools. Yet alongside those triple-dollar-sign buys — The Rich Cream fittingly goes for $265 a bottle — are two hard-working products in the under-$20 range.
The first? L’Oréal’s Revitalift Derm Intensives Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, an all-important base layer. Hyaluronic acid is in tons of products these days because, as researchers say, it has a “unique capacity” for retaining hydration — it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which keeps that dew-making moisture on your skin. With that power, it’s no wonder Chan says the serum “works really well” to wake her face up on tired mornings after late nights, or that the serum’s garnered over 18,000 five-star Amazon ratings.
“I’ve been breaking out so badly from constantly having to wear a mask,” writes one 30-year-old with skin they describe as extremely sensitive and dry. “I added this serum to my skin care routine, and I got instant results overnight. My face is so dewy and moisturized, I’m literally glowing for the first time in years.” Others write that it instantly fills in deep wrinkles, and more still say that after trying “everything on the market,” the Revitalift serum gave them silky, glowing skin.
That efficiency is rivaled by the next steal in Chan’s routine. “My secret weapon is a caffeine eye cream,” she explains. “[I] just very, very gently dot under my eyes. Hopefully [it] encourages a bit of drainage of the puffiness,” Chan says of The Inkey List’s $9.99 Caffeine Eye Cream. Reviewers say it does the trick: They credit the formula with taking puffiness down quickly and keeping it down all day, on top of brightening under-eyes and dark spots.
“Holy crap, it really does reduce puffiness,” writes a shopper of the impact. “I’ve been using this product consistently (AM and PM) for just over a week, and I already notice such a difference. I don’t look like a zombie anymore.” Others say the cream’s moisture lasts all day, even for dry eyes — and at $10, it bests even more expensive products. Shop it at Sephora, and keep scrolling to see the rest of Chan’s routine for blockbuster-ready skin and makeup.
The long, dark days of winter are officially behind us, but the effects may linger in the form of dull, lackluster skin. Fortunately, the seasonal shift brings a sense of renewal, the welcome shedding of layers—and there’s no reason that should stop with your wardrobe.
“Spring is an ideal time of the year to start incorporating retinol into your routine,” says Onyeka Obioha, M.D., a dermatologist in Los Angeles. She joins a perpetual chorus of experts championing the ingredient as a means to brighter, smoother skin. Plus, she adds, “in warmer months, people are able to better tolerate it.”
For the uninitiated, retinol and other derivatives of vitamin A (together, they fall under the umbrella category of “retinoids”) count among the hardest-working ingredients in the skin-care realm. Vitamin A offers a multitude of benefits for skin: Thanks to its ability to speed cell turnover and spur collagen production, it can help smooth out wrinkles and fine lines, brighten dark spots and discoloration, and even quell breakouts. (The prescription-strength form called tretinoin—known by its brand name, Retin-A—originally launched as an acne medication before people realized its broader utility.) “When it comes to visibly improving the texture and appearance of your skin while preventing signs of aging, retinol is unmatched,” says Austin-based esthetician Renée Rouleau.
There is a common downside. Because the ingredient is so powerful, explains Rouleau, “it can also come with unwanted side effects, like dryness, flaking, irritation, and sensitivity, for a lot of people, especially during the first four to six weeks.” (Retinoids are not advised for those who are pregnant or nursing.) Although over-the-counter forms of retinol tend to be milder than the derm-prescribed counterpart, it’s still wise to wade in slowly. Obioha recommends starting with a pea-size amount three nights a week, then gradually increasing from there. Following up with daytime sun protection is of utmost importance, since retinol can increase skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
Even if you’ve had a touch-and-go experience with retinol in the past, recent formulations designed with tolerance in mind offer an incentive to dip back in. There’s no better time for a fresh start.
Shani Darden Retinol Reform Serum
Created by Los Angeles aesthetician Shani Darden, this cream combines retinol with lactic acid and anti-inflammatory niacinamide. It’s a strategic pairing, with the lactic acid delivering immediate smoothing and hydrating benefits while retinol gets to work from within.
StriVectin Super-C Retinol Brighten & Correct Vitamin C Serum
While vitamin C certainly has a starring role in many retinol products, it doesn’t always match the power of a dedicated vitamin C serum. Not so with this dual-action serum, which offers that dream team at high concentrations to improve skin tone and texture.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Topical Retinoid Acne Treatment
If you’re experiencing acne lately, you’re not alone. “Warmer temperatures and an increase in humidity can cause buildup on the skin, which clogs pores and can result in breakouts,” says Obioha. This powerful treatment uses adapalene, which is the sole prescription-strength retinoid available without an Rx, to help maintain a clear complexion.
As protective face masks are still de rigueur, so is maskne. Retinol can help. “It can work to increase skin cell turnover and unclog pores,” says Obioha. Salicylic acid in this oil offers acne-fighting benefits on the spot, while the retinol works to prevent future breakouts.
RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules
Concentration isn’t the only thing that matters in a skin-care formula—potency does, too. These sealed, biodegradable capsules keep the combination of retinol and antioxidants fresh and at peak efficacy until it’s applied to the skin.
Why settle for one type of retinol when you can have three? This potent cream consists of a fast-acting retinol, a time-release version, and a retinol booster for peak efficiency. Lest your skin starts to feel dry just reading that, not to worry: Niacinamide gives it proper credibility as a calming night treatment, too.
To amp up the power of this night oil, retinol is paired with salicylic acid, which is prized in its own right for its ability to gently lift dead skin cells. In practice, this ultimately clears the way for retinol to better penetrate—in turn yielding results in as little as one week.
IT Cosmetics Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream
Retinol is uniquely equipped to handle signs of aging. “Retinoids actually build collagen and thicken the dermis layer of the skin, which makes the skin appear plump and healthy,” says Obioha. This hybrid formula pairs both free and encapsulated retinol molecules—the better to reach multiple layers of skin—with soothing niacinamide.
Fine lines and deeper wrinkles can’t be blamed on a single culprit. Conversely, their treatment approach isn’t singular, either. That’s why this serum combines retinol with a collagen-boosting blend of peptides, vitamin C, and botanical extracts, which together work to firm and smooth skin.
While Drunk Elephant originally started as a skincare brand, the company has since expanded its product line into the body and makeup categories — and most recently, hair care. As always, you can rest assured that each product is designed to keep your skin (and now hair) healthy, nourished, and radiant, thanks to the innovative vitamin-, antioxidant-, and mineral-infused formulas.
There’s plenty of praise to be sung for this brand, and a long list of products to choose from. If you’re new to Drunk Elephant or already a fan and looking to try the latest launches, I’ve narrowed down several — 11, to be exact — of the top picks that I think are worthy of a spot in your routine.
B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
Applying serum before your moisturizer is one of the easiest ways to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy since many are packed with highly concentrated doses of active ingredients. The B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum features a lightweight formula containing brightening pineapple ceramide and hydrating vitamin B5. It’s also infused with sodium hyaluronate, which cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos tells Allure is “very effective for plumping lines.”
The Best of Beauty Award-winning C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum is another great option. The vitamin C- and antioxidant-rich serum repairs sun damage. It also features pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extract, both of which help to dissolve dead skin cells, thus reducing the appearance of pores and overall dullness.
You already know the importance of wearing sunscreen daily (even indoors), but with so many options on the market, it can be challenging to narrow it down. The ultra-lightweight Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 pretty much eliminates the guesswork. It’s designed for — you guessed it — everyday wear. The editor-favorite sunscreen has won an Allure Readers’ Choice Award three consecutive years in a row, and it’s easy to see why. The creamy, silicone-free formula is ideal for even the most sensitive skin types and contains 20 percent zinc oxide (to protect the skin from harmful UV rays), as well as antioxidant-rich algae, sunflower sprout extracts, and raspberry seed oil.
A-Passioni Retinol Cream picked up a 2020 Best of Beauty Award after one Allure editor credited the product for reducing hyperpigmentation and breakouts. Retinol is one of the most versatile, dermatologist-lauded skin-care ingredients and can do just about anything, including brightening skin, reducing wrinkles, and minimizing breakouts. That said, it’s an all-around win for a range of skin concerns.
With professional facials few and far between these days, the T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial at-home peel is a more-than-suitable substitute. It’s designed for weekly use and is formulated with 25 percent alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids — and two percent beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), otherwise known as salicylic acid. These chemical exfoliants eliminate dead skin cells and smooth texture. The creamy, non-traditional formula will leave your skin feeling fresh, clean, and rejuvenated. No wonder it won a Best of Beauty Award.
Once you’ve smoothed skin over with a peel, top it off with the brand’s moisturizing Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil. It’s a pure one-ingredient oil packed with skin-restoring and vitamin E-infused marula seed oil to protect against free radicals and pollution.
The Best of Beauty-winning Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is chock-full of soothing fruit extracts and oils including marula, baobab, and Kalahari melon seeds to keep skin moisturized and nourished. The oil-based cleansing balm also features bamboo and charcoal powders to gently exfoliate dead and dry skin.
Drunk Elephant’s Lippe Balm is especially ideal for the winter months when many of us suffer from dry, dehydrated, and chapped lips. The buttery balm is also made with moisturizing avocado oil, which is rich in fatty acids, along with mongongo oil to keep skin smooth, and hydrating peptides.
For a natural-looking, all-over glow in any season, try the antioxidant-rich D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Bronzing Drops. The lightweight formula is infused with soothing cocoa extract, fine line-eliminating peptides, rejuvenating vitamin D, and vitamin F (fatty acids), the latter of which promotes a healthy skin barrier.
If you’ve yet to dive into the greatness of micellar water, you’re surely missing out. The beloved, ultra-gentle cleaning format gently grabs dirt, tones skin, and removes makeup all at the same time — and all without stripping or harming the skin. The hydrating, non-irritating E-Rase Milki Micellar Water offers a milky formula with nourishing omega fatty acids. “This is a great ceramide-based micellar water that’s perfect for removing makeup pre-wash,” board-certified dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson previously told Allure.
Knots won’t know what hit ’em when the Wild Marula Tangle Spray makes contact. The leave-in treatment works three-fold to detangle, condition, and act as a heat protectant, thanks to moisturizing sacha inchi and pracaxi seed oils. Strengthening amino acids, on the other hand, will help prevent breakage-induced dryness that can settle in during colder winter months.
As we say “so long!” to the winter and enter the spring, it’s time to switch up our skincare routine because when the months change, your regimen should too. So, to help you out, I’m going to keep on sharing the newness that I know you’ll love so much.
SK-II Skinpower Airy Milky Lotion
SK-II’s Skinpower Airy Milky Lotion is an airy, lightweight moisturizer that will plump up your skin as it’s hydrating it. Inside the little red jar, you’ll find a formula filled with calla lily extract, dokudami extract, and peony extract, which work together to give skin a bouncy, healthy look and feel.
If your skin is looking tired or dull, try the Versed Auto-Save Advanced Restoring Serum. Its formula has ferulic acid to diminish dark spots and shea butter to moisturize. Not to mention, there’s also microalgae in the mix, which will assist in brightening.
Elizabeth Arden Visible Brightening CicaGlow Concentrate
Ready to glow? Elizabeth Arden has you covered with the new Visible Brightening CicaGlow Concentrate. This treatment is made with niacinamide and cica to help diminish hyperpigmentation and soothe skin. The top green liquid is loaded with vitamin C to brighten, while the orangey bottom has all the exfoliants in it, like chestnut extract. Shake them together, and say hello luminosity.
Clark’s Botanical Jasmine Vital Oil is made with a fast-drying, non-greasy formula that features virgin hemp and cottonseed oils to give skin a dewy, hydrated finish. Pat on a dropper-full of this oil before makeup, and you’ll have that glow-from-within vibe within seconds of applying.
Pimples can be a pain, but let’s not forget the dark spots that come after a breakout, too. With Dermalogica’s PowerBright Dark Spot Serum, you can diminish that hyperpigmentation in no time. Its ingredient list features niacinamide and shiitake mushroom, which will help brighten that unwanted discoloration (while simultaneously hydrating it) in no time.
Chapstick Total Hydration Sea Minerals Exfoliator Lip Balm
Chapstick’s Total Hydration Sea Minerals Exfoliator Lip Balm features shea butter to moisturize and sea salt extract to buff away dead skin. This stick formula is also super convenient — the sleek, compact tube is tiny enough to go just about anywhere with you.
When you apply Isle of Paradise’s Self-Tanning Butter before you go to bed, you’ll wake up with the most natural-looking tan. The gradual formula has a faint green hue that works as a color corrector, so not only will you look bronze, but your tone will be nice and even.
Dial’s Clean Gentle Body Wash comes in three scents: Fragrance-Free, Waterlily, and Aloe. It’s a vegan formula that leaves skin feeling hydrated, soft, and silky (thanks to the flower oil on the ingredient list) as it cleanses.
Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser With Goji Berry Extract
If you love Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser, you’re going to adore this limited-edition version. Like the original, this wash has meadowfoam seed oil, which melts away leftover debris and makeup, as well as goji berry extract, a Chinese fruit known to be a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation.
Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel es Créme
Ole Henriksen’s latest eye cream, Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Créme, is — you guessed it — made with bakuchiol, a natural alternative to retinol. The pretty lavender formula also has orchid stem cell to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
When you mix one pump of Curél’s Makeup Cleansing Oil with water you get a milky texture that instantly lifts makeup and even stubborn waterproof mascara. For that, you can thank the castor oil in the formula, which also leaves the skin feeling soft and looking dewy.
Founded by model Emily DiDonato, new skincare brand Covey launched with three products in its collection, including the First of All Cleanser. It’s made with hydrating ingredients like aloe leaf juice and babassu oil to remove all dirt and makeup effortlessly without stripping skin.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Firming Collagen Cream
Made with colloidal oatmeal to calm the skin and niacinamide to reduce redness, First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Firming Collagen Cream is a dream for eczema- and acne-prone skin. Not to mention its thick texture is perfect for what’s left of these dry, winter days.
Elemis just launched its first-ever essence: the Pro-Collagen Marine Moisture. It’s made a hydrating blend of hyaluronic acid and sea spring water to plump skin and diminish dryness. Gently pat the treatment into your skin after cleansing and instantly reveal glowiness.
Join me in welcoming Peace Out’s first cleanser: the Blemish Balm. Work this exfoliating formula into your skin in the morning and at night, and you’ll start to notice a clearer complexion, thanks to its salicylic acid. Plus, this jar also has hydrating hyaluronic acid in it, so don’t worry about drying your skin out.
Kate Somerville’s Kateceuticals Total Repair Cream is formulated with hyaluronic acid and squalane to hydrate and a powerful blend of ceramides and peptides to smooth out any fine lines. Consider it a one-stop shop for softer, plumper skin.
Get ready to scrub all of your skin concerns away with Thrive Causemetics’ Smart Microdermabrasion 2-in-1 Instant Facial. It’s made with a blend of alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate and beta hydroxy acids to reduce the appearance of acne and enlarged pores. Use this treatment twice a week to reveal your softest, brightest skin.
If you’ve been on the internet within the past year, chances are you’ve read about The Ordinary or have seen photos of its minimalistic products (picture what face serums would look like if Apple made them). The Canadian skincare brand has everything from facial peels to zinc serums at super affordable prices — which is why it’s amassed a cult-like following.
Because the brand has so much to offer, it’s hard to figure out what to start with, especially when anti-aging is on your mind. There’s a ton of competing information out there when it comes to skincare, which is why I usually opt for reviews from Reddit and advice from dermatologists.
There are no skincare fanatics out there quite like those on beauty subreddits. They’ve tested out every product imaginable, and give raw advice and reviews like a best friend. When it comes to what works and what doesn’t, Reddit doesn’t hold back. Here’s what they have to say about some of The Ordinary’s anti-aging offerings.
“I’ve had a great response to Alpha Arbutin from the Ordinary. I really notice a difference that I hadn’t achieved with retinol or vitamin C, which are commonly used. Something to keep in mind if you try the common solutions and don’t see the results you’re after.”
“The alpha arbutin works on my dark spots. I noticed they fade faster than my usual routine. I also use niacinamide for my whole face to target oiliness. The AA, I patch it only on my dark spots. But you have to combine it with regular exfoliation and sunscreen.”
Best to combat puffy eyes: Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
“At the moment I have a cold that morphed into a sinus infection (the JOY!). I’m even puffier than usual. Normally I would patch test, but what with not feeling well and looking like a freaking basset hound I thought screw this sh*t and put it on. It bloody works! You can see the difference almost immediately (this coming from me is a high praise :)”
Best for fine lines and wrinkles: Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion
“It eliminated most of the fine lines on my forehead (I’m 28, combo skin, prone to breakouts). Makes my skin very smooth too! I started on the 1 percent in squalane in December but I think that made me break out so I switched back.
It did take me a couple of months to really see the difference though, but I read somewhere retinoids take at least min six to eight weeks to reach their top effect (the anti-aging part at least, don’t know about the acne prevention)… But I’m really happy now!“
“I currently [use] the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, it’s only been two days and my skin when I wake up is so glowy and well-hydrated. I’ve been letting it sit at night for about 30 mins before adding my Ponds Hydrating Cream.”
Best for evening skin texture: Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
“I’ve been raving about this stuff on this sub for a while now (and being consistently downvoted for some reason). It really is a game changer. I can’t use it every day because my skin is very thin and sensitive but on the days I do use it it gives me porcelain skin.”
Whether you’re a 13-stepper or keep it narrowed down to the basics, every skincare routine should have a reliable night cream in its roster. After cleansing away the day, a hydrating cream is the finishing touch that works its magic while you sleep, a perk that’s safe to say both the highly invested and relaxed can get behind.
And when that night cream is packed with anti-aging ingredients like retinol at a price of $12, Amazon shoppers say it’s worth shouting about from the rooftops.
With hundreds of reviews praising its wrinkle-reversing and hydrating benefits, Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is one of the retailer’s overall best-sellers alongside some heavy hitters in the category of facial night creams. The hypoallergenic and fragrance-free pick is so beloved by shoppers, some say they’ve been using it for more than a decade.
The secret to the cream’s clock-fighting power lies in its inclusion of retinol, a derivative of vitamin A that reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. “This cream works,”one reviewer shared. “I bought this cream because, for years, I have been using sunscreen on my face and not on my neck. I live in Florida, so I’ve developed droopy and wrinkled skin on my neck. Within a week of using this [cream], the appearance of my neck has greatly improved! I’ve been FaceTiming a lot with family during the quarantine, and they’ve noticed as well that my neck looks way better and less wrinkly. I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve seen an effect!”
Even with powerful retinol in its formula, the best-selling Neutrogena cream deeply moisturizes thanks to a blend of vitamin B5 and E, which specifically work to smooth and soften skin. And since it’s oil-free, you don’t have to worry about it causing pore congestion.
“When I woke up after the very first night of using this cream, I already noticed a dramatic difference,” another shopper said. “I’ve suffered from dermatitis on my forehead for as long as I can remember and have been trying for years to find a product to bring it down. Well, this is it. After one night I already saw my bumps go down significantly. I don’t know what it has done to my skin but I am very grateful for this product!”
From fading dark spots to improving adult acne, this is one product you don’t want to skip!
In the over-the-counter battle against breakouts, there are a few key players you should know about, and salicylic acid is at the top of that list. Simply speaking, salicylic acid is one of acne’s biggest enemies. You reach for a product within the second you see a zit invading your face. You slather it on a pimple overnight and oftentimes, you wake up in the morning with a pimple that is dried up and much less noticeable. But, what exactly does salicylic acid do, and what are the best ways to reap its benefits?
What is salicylic acid?
First off, let’s establish what salicylic acid is. It’s a little complicated, but the exact structure of salicylic acid is important in explaining why (and how) it works so well. When it comes to skin-care products, there are two classes of acids you’ll see often: beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).
“Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid,” says cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller. “[This] means the hydroxy part of the molecule is separated from the acid part by two carbon atoms, as opposed to an alpha hydroxy acid where they’re separated by one carbon atom.”
Furthermore, salicylic acid is actually derived from willow bark, says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, and it belongs to a class of ingredients called salicylates. Are you still with me? Good, because this is where it gets fun. “This structure is important because it makes salicylic acid more oil-soluble so it can penetrate into the pores of the skin,” Schueller says.
Both alpha and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate the skin, but AHAs are water-soluble, while BHAs are oil-soluble, explains New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Sejal Shah. Examples of AHAs, for reference, include glycolic and lactic acids.
“Generally, oil-soluble ingredients penetrate through the lipid layers between the skin cells more readily,” Shah explains. In other words, oil-soluble ingredients can penetrate the skin at a deeper level than their water-soluble counterparts.
Robinson sums up their differences succinctly. “AHAs work well on the skin’s surface to loosen old, dead skin and reveal fresh newer skin,” he says. “Salicylic acid works deeper [and is] able to penetrate into the pores to unclog them.”
What does salicylic acid do for the skin?
What all of this means is that salicylic acid can get deep into your skin to do its job. This quality is precisely what makes salicylic acid such a potent ingredient for targeting acne — especially for blackheads and whiteheads.
Once it penetrates the skin, salicylic acid “dissolves skin debris that clogs pores, [acts] as an anti-inflammatory and also helps red inflamed pimples and pustules go away faster,” explains Naissan O. Wesley, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.
The ingredient can penetrate so deeply into skin that actually breaks down the connections between skin cells, according to Schueller and Wesley. “Once it has penetrated the skin, the acid part of the molecule can dissolve some of the intracellular ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together,” says Schueller.
Salicylic acid is also an exfoliant.
This breaking down of skin cells also promotes exfoliation. Salicylic acid is considered a keratolytic medication, which means that it’s perfect for supreme exfoliation. “Keratolytic medications cause softening and sloughing of the top layer of skin cells,” says Rachel Nazarian, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Salicylic acid also loosens and breaks apart desmosomes (attachments between cells in the outer layer of skin). “This ‘desmolytic’ action encourages exfoliation of skin and unclogging of pores,” says Sue Ann Wee, a dermatologist in New York City.
“One thought etiology of acne is that the skin cells do not behave normally, and rather than sloughing off through a healthy skin cell cycle, they stick together and clog the pores, creating cysts and blackheads,” says Nazarian. “Salicylic acid aids in removing and loosening these skin cells and helps to dissolve the blackheads.”
Salicylic acid works best on blackheads and whiteheads.
Schueller says there are three factors that contribute to acne: an abnormal sloughing off of skin cells, excessive oiliness, and the action of P. acnes bacteria. “Salicylic acid helps with the first cause by dissolving the type of skin debris that clogs pores and causes acne,” he says.
Therefore, the best acne to treat with salicylic acid are blackheads and whiteheads. “Salicylic acid can directly dissolve the keratin plugs and regulate the skin cells,” says Nazarian. “It does have some effectiveness against cystic acne due to its antibacterial activity, but less so than the classic blackheads and whiteheads.”
Who should avoid using salicylic acid?
You can actually use too much salicylic acid, which can become a problem. “The primary negative side effect of salicylic acid is its ability to irritate and dry skin in those that are very sensitive or those who overuse it,” says Nazarian.
“Depending on the concentration and the number of applications, some people may experience dryness, peeling, redness, and some skin irritation,” says Schueller. For this reason, those with skin that’s already severely dry or sensitive should consider avoiding SA altogether. It’s also not the best choice if you are pregnant or taking certain medications, including blood thinners.
What’s more serious: “Applying salicylic acid or any salicylate to very large portions of your body can lead to salicylate poisoning.” So just don’t apply a layer of it all over — stick to only acne-prone areas.
What are the best salicylic acid-containing skincare products to use for acne?
As with many things in life, the answer to this question depends largely on the individual. “Depending on the severity of their acne, I may recommend an [SA-containing] acne wash, such as SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser, which contains a blend of salicylic acids,” says Wesley. “For mild acne that just occurs every so often, an acne spot treatment can be helpful, especially when applied early.”
As far as concentrations go, the Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to make acne-fighting claims for salicylic acid-containing products if they use it at levels between 0.5 percent and 2 percent, so that is the full range you’ll find in over the counter skin-care products. For chemical peels performed at the dermatologist’s office, the concentration may be as high as 20 to 30 percent, Wesley says.
Salicylic acid isn’t just for blackheads, according to experts. “At lower levels, salicylic acid can speed up the desquamation process and aid in conditions such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, which are caused by a slowing down of skin cells sloughing off,” says Schueller. Pretty cool.
Packed with eye-opening ingredients like caffeine and hyaluronic acid, these top-rated picks help you fake a full night’s rest.
Peter Thomas Roth Vital-E Microbiome Moisture Defense Eye Cream
The integrity of the skin barrier is so important to the look and feel of your skin, especially in the very delicate undereye area. The 2020 Best of Beauty-winning Peter Thomas Ross Vital-E Microbiome Moisture Defense Eye Cream relies on prebiotic and probiotic ingredients, as well as powerful antioxidants to protect skin and ultimately reduce the look of lines and puffiness.
The hint of yellow tint in 2020 Readers’ Choice and Best of Beauty Award winner Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème — which doesn’t actually contain banana, by the way — instantly brightens and color-corrects dark circles. Vitamin C and collagen support skin’s clarity and elasticity.
L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Manuka Honey Eye Gel
Equipped with a cooling rollerball applicator, L’Oréal Paris’ Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Manuka Honey Eye Gel won a 2020 Best of Beauty Award for its depuffing and dark-circles-reducing abilities. The soothing combination of manuka honey, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid is especially perfect for dry, mature skin. Gently pat in any excess product with your fingers.
Retinol near your eyes sounds scary, but with this gentle cream you’ve got nothing to fear. RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream, an ophthalmologist-tested 2020 Best of Beauty Award winner, slowly releases the vitamin A derivative to fight fine lines around your eyes. And because it also contains hyaluronic acid, it does all this with lots of hydration.
The 2020 Best of Beauty Award winner (which was tested by ophthalmologists) slowly releases the vitamin A derivative to fight fine lines around your eyes. And because it also contains hyaluronic acid, it does all this with lots of hydration.
Dr. Loretta’s peptide-packed Tightening Eye Gel nabbed a 2019 Allure Best of Beauty Award for best de-puffing eye cream for the ability to improve the area’s contour. But there’s a bonus: The proprietary Chromabright complex fades uneven pigment, making this a great pick for dark circles too.
Wake up tired eyes with Kiehl’s Youth Dose Eye Treatment, made with pro-retinol (a proprietary retinol derivative), vitamin C, and grapeseed extract. The trio works in tandem over time to brighten and minimize the appearance of lines and dark circles.
Tatcha The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment
Like a tinted moisturizer for your undereyes, Tatcha’s almost-too-pretty-to-use The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment is available in three versatile shades to instantly mask discoloration and improve the appearance of skin.
This little white jar with its signature green text by Kiehl’s is a mainstay on top shelves around the world. Avocado oil in Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado is one of the most potent natural moisturizers and works to nourish and hydrate the eyes.
Drugstore fave Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream is packed with potent hyaluronic acid, which as you may know, helps lock hydration into the skin. It’s one of those good-for-everyone picks: light enough for oily skin, hydrating for anyone, and the gel texture makes it cool to the touch.
Hydrate the delicate undereye area with a formula that’s infused with hyaluronic acid, peptides, and avocado protein extract. Plus, brightening ingredients like date seed extract mean less concealer over time.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex
Not getting enough of those all-important z’s? Keep ’em guessing with Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex, a luxurious gel-cream that combats the side effects of sleep deprivation, UV damage, and pollution buildup.
La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eyes was born of studies about dark undereye circles. As it turns out, the blue ones are due to a lack of microcirculation, which can result from fatigue and are worse in the morning because we sleep horizontally; brown circles can result from sun exposure, genetics, and even excessive rubbing of the eyes. If you didn’t even know undereye circles came in two types, there’s good news: This innovative LRP product was created to target both.
Pitera is the ingredient that has made SK-II the global phenomenon it is today. And while I’d assume it’s pretty highly concentrated in its fan-favorite essence, the SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Eye Cream has eight times more of the ingredient than any product before it. The result? A rich, deeply hydrating treatment that nourishes the area and provides vitamins and nutrients to brighten, firm, and prevent damage from pollution.
If you’ve never heard of snail slime in skincare, allow me to introduce you to the game-changing ingredient. Also referred to as snail mucin, the additive is hailed as an effective solution for a hoard of skin concerns, from age lines to inflammation to dull skin. While such a transformative ingredient sounds pricey, it’s actually quite the opposite. Just look to the Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Eye Cream — shoppers say it performs “magic” on their under-eyes for only $14 per jar.
With an increasing amount of glowing reviews, the anti-aging eye cream just may be one of Amazon’s best kept skincare secrets. Shoppers can’t stop repurchasing the treatment out of fear they’ll run out, while others claim it’s the first “holy grail” product they’ve ever truly discovered.
“This cream has transformed my face,” wrote one reviewer. “I’ve been using it with the serum from Mizon for like a month now, and the two of these are the most incredible products I’ve ever had. I haven’t had dark circles, while lines, acne, and scars have gone away. This stuff is magical. I have a combination of dry and oily skin, and it has magically become dewy and poreless.”
In addition to snail mucin, the dermatologist-tested eye cream features other top-notch ingredients. Niacinamide tackles dark shadows and uneven skin tone, while adenosine and peptides smooth over fine lines and lift sagging skin. You can also expect the cream to greatly reduce dryness and puffiness around the eyes, according to reviewers.
“Within the first week of using this eye cream, I am hooked,” said another shopper. “It has made the area around my eyes brighter, and it looks like I got a mini facelift. I have tried other eye creams and always give up at around the two week mark because I’ve never seen a difference. I definitely will be buying this again.”
The formula is free of parabens, artificial colors, and fragrances, which shoppers with sensitive skin say is a major benefit — no irritation or negative reactions here. Plus, it offers a lightweight, fast-absorbing feel that boosts hydration under the eyes tenfold.
The vitamin that makes orange juice so nutritious also happens to be one the the most powerful players in skincare. Obviously, we’re talking vitamin C.
Apart from being your saving grace during a cold that just won’t quit, the vitamin can help brighten dark spots, even out skin tone, and support collagen production. In other words, there’s a reason why there are so many serums with Vitamin C — it’s a versatile ingredient that can work wonders for the skin.
Whether your dermatologist recommended adding one to your routine, or your friend is swearing by their vitamin C splurge and you want in on the hype, here are a few of the best out right now.
No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence
At less than $30, you can’t really beat the price of this radiance-boosting vitamin C-based serum, which promises results in two weeks.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Serum
Your secret to curing dull winter skin? This serum, which not only helps prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, but evens out your skin tone and gives it that healthy glow you’ve been missing since August.
This L-ascorbic acid-based serum delivers on warding off free radicals and the signs of aging, but it’s also made with pumpkin ferment extract and pomegranate enzyme to exfoliate dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin.
Now this is a powerful one. It’s made with vitamin C and E, as well as ferulic acid to help those two components do their jobs of neutralizing free radicals and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles way better. It also keeps working on your skin for 72 hours.
Dior just one-upped your glass of orange juice with a serum that’s made with murunga plum, a fruit that the brand claims is 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges. That, combined with AHAs and antioxidant-rich ingredients, makes this glow-boosting tonic a must-have for winter.