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.
Shiseido WASO SHIKULIME Color Control Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF 30 ($36)
When I was first introduced to Shiseido’s original WASO collection years ago, I was hooked. The formulas were smart and the textures were innovative. Now there’s an upgraded WASO line hitting the market—it features new key ingredients from four regions in Japan—and this oil-free, fragrance-free moisturizer has become a fast fave. Scientists discovered that its key ingredient, Shikuwasa lime extract, “enhances the expression of caspase-14, an important enzyme for skin barrier and moisturizing functions. Great for normal to oily types, the orangey-tinted formula adapts to your skin tone with a slight blurring effect, eight-hour hydration and an SPF 30 shield.
WASO is also Shiseido’s most sustainable launch to date: The vegan ingredients are locally sourced and the packaging features outer caps made of 30-percent upcycled rice husk, outer jars made with 95-percent recycled plastic, 10-percent sugarcane-derived polyethylene for tubes, and cartons made of FSC-certified paper.
Exponent Beauty Time Rewind Retinol ($98)
The newest addition to Exponent Beauty’s Active Powder collection (others include Vitamin C, CoQ10, Green Tea Resveratrol and Probiotic Enzyme), this 0.25% Retinol powder allows the formula to be preserved in its most potent state rather than degrading rapidly once exposed to air, light and water.
When loaded into the chic white Activator (pictured here) and mixed with the brand’s Quadruple Hydrator (it only takes 10 seconds), you get a light gel-cream serum that feels great on skin. You just push and twist the lid like a child-medicine lock, and then mix. Apply it once a day before bed under moisturizer or night cream, and let the line-smoother work its magic while you snooze.
In clinical testing on 29 participants over four weeks, 100 percent showed a clinically significant decrease in global facial fine lines and wrinkles, and 76 percent showed a clinically significant increase in skin firmness.
PCA SKIN Pigment Gel Pro ($120)
From dermatologist-favorite PCA SKIN comes this hydroquinone-free discoloration-fighting serum that helps fade the size and intensity of existing dark spots while helping prevent new ones from popping up. The brand’s proprietary SynerPro Complex—a mix of tranexamic acid, 4-butylresorcinol, hexylresorcinol, and purified licorice root—is responsible for the lightening action, which works on all skin types and tones, and even helps minimize the appearance of stubborn melasma.
In a clinical study on 48 participants using the serum twice daily over 16 weeks, 74 percent of people saw a reduction in discoloration after just four weeks, as well as significant changes in overall brightness and the size and intensity of their dark spots at 16 weeks.
The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Revealing Serum ($30)
Two powerhouse skin-care ingredients, 10-percent vitamin C (the brand’s highest concentration ever in a product) and bakuchiol marry in this silky, vegan, oil-based serum that suits all skin types, even sensitive. Over time, it helps even skin tone and texture for a brighter, smoother complexion. It has a dewy finish, so if you fall more on the oily side, you may want to stick to nighttime use only, or apply a mattifying moisturizer or foundation on top.
In a user trial on 112 women over eight weeks, 86 percent agreed their skin’s natural glow appeared improved. The sustainable packaging is another plus: The bottle is made of recycled glass and recyclable, and in true Body Shop fashion, the ingredients were sourced ethically from farmers and artisans across the world using fair-trade practices.
CeraVe Skin Renewing Eye Cream ($25)
The latest launch in the brand’s Skin Renewing line, this lightweight eye cream is formulated with CeraVe’s signature ceramide trio, hyaluronic acid for hydration and plumping, and niacinamide, which helps with hyperpigmentation and is also an antioxidant.
“It also contains peptides, which are an anti-aging ingredient, but they’re gentle,” says Metairie, LA dermatologist Mamina Turegano, MD. “They signal to collagen to build more collagen and also increase moisturization in the skin, which can reduce lines and wrinkles. Another ingredient I like in this eye cream is caffeine, which can help temporarily tighten the skin and help with under-eye bags and lines. It can also help with dark circles by constricting blood vessels, and many times dark circles can happen because of blood stagnation in the area. My first eye cream I started using in my 20s was the CeraVe Eye Repair Cream, so I’m excited about this one because it’s sort of an upgraded, anti-aging version.”
Youth To The People Polypeptide-121 Future Cream ($64)
This pillowy, lightweight moisturizer is the first to feature polypeptide-121, a next-generation, bio-designed vegan polypeptide chain that comprises more than 180 amino acids found in human collagen. So what does that mean for your skin? Peptides send signals to your body to generate more collagen naturally, so this innovative chain supercharges that process, leading to firmer skin and the fading of fine lines and wrinkles over time.
It’s also fragrance-free, good for all skin types and boasts the bonus of two ceramides that help keep skin moisturized with optimal barrier function.
Clinical Skin Vitamin C Pro-Collagen Serum ($120)
An antioxidant powerhouse with a calming lavender scent, this anti-aging serum looks and feels like an oil, but sinks into skin with a matte finish and no greasy residue. A laundry list of heavy-hitting actives includes 20-percent L-ascorbic acid, glutathione, ceramides, vitamin E, caffeine and a medley of botanicals (lavender extract is responsible for the natural scent).
In a 12-week clinical study of 27 participants using the collagen-boosting serum morning and night, users reported an improvement in skin firmness by 84.7 percent and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by 26.2 percent.
DOCTOR BABOR CLEANFORMANCE Herbal Balancing Toner ($45)
Anyone with large pores or oily skin who is looking for a multibenefit toner should try this one. Loaded with soothing prebiotics, aloe vera, witch hazel and 4-percent niacinamide, the ingredient lineup is 95-percent naturally derived, vegan, plant-based, dermatologist-tested, and suitable for all skin types.
Another secret weapon is mastic tree resin extract from the Greek mastiha tree, which is used in skin care for its mattifying, pore-minimizing properties. The herbal-citrus scent comes from natural rosemary and neroli essential oils, which also help lock in moisture.
The A Method Pearls of Retinol 0.5% ($104)
We know brand founder and dermatologist Dr. Tina Alster’s standards when it comes to skin care: nothing but the best, especially when most of her patients look to her products to maintain the results of their in-office treatments like lasers and injectables. This fragrance-free nighttime firming serum contains pearls filled with micro-encapsulated all-trans-retinol that remain stable until pumped into your hand, when they then mix with the hydrating serum base.
This unique delivery system provides a microdose of anti-aging, line-smoothing retinol mixed with hyaluronic acid, panthenol and 24K gold to minimize the harsh side effects often associated with retinol like dryness, redness and irritation.
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