Hundreds of products come across our desks every month, but not all of them deliver on their claims or live up to the hype. (Not everything that goes viral on TikTok is a miracle worker.) This is our exclusive curation of the best-in-class skin-care products receiving rave reviews from our team and hitting shelves right now.
ILIA Beauty Bright Start Activated Eye Cream ($46)
The brand’s first eye cream is a major success with hundreds of five-star reviews. The slight pink hue and addition of light-reflecting pearls make tired under-eyes perk up with a nice glow, and the cooling applicator allows you to roll it on without getting your fingers messy. The formula firms and smooths with peptides and sea fennel (a plant-based retinol alternative), as it also de-puffs with caffeine. Give it a minute or two to dry before applying makeup on top.
“I found so many eye creams didn’t work with concealer or provide all the benefits I was looking for,” says ILIA founder Sasha Plavsic. “Bright Start targets my concerns and feels amazing in the morning as a wakeup call for eyes. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a cooling effect with an applicator that doubles as a massage tool.”
EltaMD Oil-in-Gel Cleanser ($34)
Safe for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone, this rich gel cleanser transforms into a silky oil as you massage it into your skin, melting away the day. After you massage everything in, add water to create a milky emulsion and then remove it with a wet wash cloth, or you can use it in the shower. It’s really effective at removing sunscreen (even water-resistant types) and longwear makeup, too.
Key ingredients include what the brand calls “an advanced cleansing complex” of vitamin E, pumpkin enzyme, meadowfoam seed oil, and turmeric root extract. If you double-cleanse, this would be your first step.
StriVectin Peptide Plump Line Filling Bounce Serum ($89)
This quick-to-absorb serum utilizes the brand’s exclusive Alpha-3 Peptide to not only target skin’s natural collagen and elastin, but also its hyaluronic acid, which all three deplete as we age. I love that it’s quick to absorb and leaves my skin feeling and looking super smooth (I didn’t pill when I layered other products on top either).
In a clinical study, 96 percent of participants had plumper- and smoother-looking skin in eight weeks, and 93 percent showed improvement in the look of forehead frown lines.
Shani Darden Skin Care At-Home Triple Acid Signature Peel ($125)
Finally all of us who aren’t lucky enough to experience Shani’s magic facials in LA can reap the benefits of her signature resurfacing peels at home. “Before a big event, my clients come into the studio for a professional-grade peel. I created this so everyone could experience a red-carpet glow at home,” says the brand founder and celebrity aesthetician.
The peel is two steps: Brush on the lactic, glycolic and mandelic acid solution, let it sit for one minute (it gets a little hot and tingly), and then apply the neutralizing clay mask with your fingers (or a different mask brush) and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse and follow with a hydrating serum or moisturizer (no strong actives!). “You’ll really feel this peel,” Darden says. “You may experience a ‘spicy’ tingle when you neutralize it with the Mask, but don’t worry, this is normal—it’s actively working to dissolve dead skin cells and clean out pores.” You get eight peels per box, which should last you at least a few months.
Dior Capture Totale Le Serum (Starting at $100)
The brand is relaunching its best-selling Capture Totale Le Serum this month, debuting a new formula with more natural ingredients, less fragrance (one of my only complaints about the prior formula) and more sustainable packaging. Key ingredients include a hyaluronic acid poly-filler, Tuscan iris from the Dior Garden in Tuscany, and the longoza flower, which Dior has been studying for more than 30 years in a Madagascan rainforest.
With new ingredients comes new claims. In clinical testing, the serum proved to visibly smooth fine lines and wrinkles four hours after application, skin firmness levels doubled in seven days and 80 percent of visible signs of aging were radically corrected in one month.
La Roche-Posay 10% Pure Niacinamide Serum ($40)
Skin-care’s multitasking darling niacinamide is the star (it’s a 10-percent concentration) in this anti-aging serum that minimizes discoloration for a more even skin tone. Sensitive skin types can use it too thanks to the brand’s addition of its soothing Thermal Spring Water (a French skin-care secret).
In a consumer self-assessment study with 101 people, participants saw “visible improvement in dark spots in just one week.” The brand reports that the size of the dark spots, the number of dark spots and the color of the dark spots were visibly reduced (on the face and hands). In a clinical study, after eight weeks, participants experienced a 35-percent visible reduction of skin discoloration, and dark spots continued to fade three weeks after use was discontinued.
Medik8 H.E.O Mask ($68)
This two-step overnight hydration mask infuses skin with intense hydration, boosts the skin’s natural moisturization function and supports the skin’s barrier.
This is our winter skin savior,” says the brand’s director of research Daniel Isaacs. “We wanted to do something to address this really important core skin-care need. We went back to core principles—humectants, emollients and occlusives (H, E and O)—because the best moisturizers contain all three. We developed a ratio of H, E and O that would give us the longest-lasting, deepest hydration and moisture, and then we went even further to split it into two steps: Step 1 is our pure humectant gel packed with glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Wait for that to absorb and then apply Step 2, which is our nourishing emollient and occlusive cream that locks everything in for 72 hours so you just need to use it twice a week. It completely transforms your skin’s texture.”
Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Retinol Serum ($92)
This high-dose retinol is the perfect partner for the brand’s top-selling moisturizer, Dynamic Skin Recovery. The creamy serum treats four signs of aging (pore size, texture, tone and wrinkles) and is gentle enough to use every night without irritation.
“Retinol can sometimes be a pain to use, and you have to skin cycle and use it every second Tuesday when the wind blows to the east [laughs] because you have to build up retinol receptors in your skin, or else you’re get the negative side effects like dryness and irritation,” says Heather Hickman, vice president of education for the brand. “What makes this serum unique is that it preserves and maintains the health of the skin barrier with no peeling, no redness, no irritation—just results.”
“We used three types of retinoids: retinol, encapsulated retinol and granactive retinoid, which is fantastic because it doesn’t have to go through all the conversion steps and rather interacts directly with the retinoid receptor. It’s potent and stable,” says Dr. Angela Murphy, vice president of R&D for the brand. “In our two-week clinical study, 30 volunteers saw an improvement in the reduced appearance of wrinkles, pores, dark spots and uneven texture.”
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Rich Barrier Moisturizer ($58)
Different from the brand’s best-selling Water Drench Hydrating Moisturizer, which provides lightweight hydration, this Rich Barrier Moisturizer is for those with skin that is showing signs of barrier damage, like dryness, redness and irritation. With continued use, it helps increase the look of skin’s thickness, firmness and elasticity by repairing its barrier. It also works to minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles by plumping skin up with long-lasting hydration.
In a clinical study, 94 percent of users showed immediate skin barrier strengthening, and the formula proved to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles both immediately and over time. In a consumer percent study, 96 percent of participants agreed their skin felt less dry and chapped after one week of using the moisturizer, and 94 percent agreed their skin looked renewed with a healthy glow.
Pacifica GLOW BABY Super Lit SPF Lotion ($20)
Why not get a little glow from your daily sunscreen? This antioxidant-infused SPF 30 combines a high concentration of zinc (20.8 percent) with vitamin C and kakadu plum for serious mineral protection with brightening benefits. The universal tint also contains unique mineral pigments to reduce the chance of a white or gray cast, which many mineral formulas leave behind. The addition of apple cell extract also works to minimize the appearance of fine lines over time.
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