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.
“Before ALASTIN puts out any product, we go through extensive research, including gene expression studies and in-vitro biopsies to ensure that the ingredients we’re putting in products are actually doing what we want them to do,” says Lindsey Vanderbilt, the brand’s vice president of marketing. “We also studied the pathways of pigmentation and the ways it forms, so that we could find ways to block it and minimize it, which we’ve accomplished with our proprietary PATH-3 Technology.”
The lightweight serum (it’s not greasy at all and absorbs quickly) is clinically proven to help reduce the appearance of surface pigmentation and minimize recurrent pigmentation underneath the skin, as well as protect against future damage with a host of antioxidants. It also helps decrease inflammation and redness in the skin, which is a huge bonus.
“The exciting thing here is that we did our clinical study head to head against 4-percent hydroquinone,” says Vanderbilt. “We went against the gold standard. We also know that hydroquinone can be quite irritating, so we wanted to make sure our product was tolerable across all patients and skin types. This serum can also be used twice-daily long-term, whereas hydroquinone cannot.”
BL+ The Retinol Cream 0.3% ($160)
If you’ve ever tried BL+’s The Cream, consider this its retinol-infused cousin. It’s rich and luxurious, but not greasy, and it somehow disappears into my skin very quickly, leaving it feeling baby-smooth. The secret to its anti-aging power lies in its barrier-strengthening BL+ Complex, which is a mix of microalgae and silica from Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon water (the brand has actually pioneered a new way of cultivating microalgae in its research facility at the Lagoon).
The addition of 0.3.-percent retinol (a great starting point for vitamin A newbies or those who are sensitive to higher concentrations) gives the fragrance-free cream even more line-smoothing capabilities, and also accelerates cell turnover and boosts collagen production. It does all of this without any dryness, flaking or irritation, which you may find is the case with other retinol products.
HERO Cosmetics Pimple Correct Gel Pen ($20)
When you feel a pimple coming on, reach for this non-drying spot treatment, which is infused with 2-percent salicylic acid, exfoliating lactic and azelaic acids, niacinamide, tea tree, and aloe vera to go after breakouts effectively but gently. In a self-assessment study on 46 participants over the course of 14 days, the gel formula visibly reduced early-stage pimples in 24 hours without dryness.
I love the click pen format, too, so you never have to touch your blemish with your finger, whether it’s clean or not. The tip of the pen is made of non-porous TPE silicone, so you can just wash it off after you use it (you can apply it up to three times a day). You can also apply a Mighty Patch sticker after using the spot treatment to really come at the zit from all angles.
For those suffering from estrogen-depleted skin as a result of perimenopause or menopause (dry, thinning skin), or signs of photoaging like dark spots, this highly targeted serum is rejuvenation in a bottle. A little background on the brand: It was founded by scientist and dermatologist James E. Fulton Jr. MD, PhD, who co-developed Retin A—yes, THAT Retin-A—back in 1969 and changed skin care as we know it. Fast-forward to present-day, and the late Dr. Fulton’s daughter Susan (brand CEO) wanted a better solution for her midlife skin concerns, so she studied her dad’s notes, and hence, this serum was born.
The star is the brand’s GFP Complex—a unique mix of vitamin A and growth factor technology with select amino acids and mandelic acid—that helps promote collagen production and regulate cell turnover, so estrogen-depleted skin feels smoother and plumper. It essentially repairs the skin’s support matrix at the cellular level, helping with crepiness, too. In clinical trials, FF3 Biointensive GF was applied to the skin once daily (at night) for 90 days, and results showed “an increase in moisture retention, significant visible improvements in skin elasticity and skin texture, a reduction in fine lines, wrinkles and laxity, and a firmer structure and smoother texture.”
If you’re in the market for a hydrating, anti-aging night cream that does all the hard work for you while you snooze, this is it. The combination of prebiotics, ceramides and hyaluronic acid melts into skin, providing a nice cushiony effect to a tired, parched skin barrier (the outermost layer of skin), and reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. In a clinical study, it proved to lock in in hydration for a whopping 72 hours, and 10 out of 10 women showed improved radiance after eight weeks of use at nighttime.
“Night is a key moment for skin repair, but skin also loses more moisture. This provides overnight skin barrier repair night after night for visibly younger-looking skin,” says Dr. Annie Black, the brand’s international scientific director.
According to the brand, “there’s 70 years of science” in this new collection. In a first-of-its-kind study, OLAY scientists conducted a clinical trial that assessed people’s skin throughout the day and they found that our skin is more dynamic than we ever realized before and our moisture levels are constantly changing, and it’s even true for younger generations like Gen Z.
This new serum relies on a patent-pending formula to penetrate 10 layers underneath the surface of the skin and hydrate for 24 hours. The key ingredients responsible for that big-time claim are hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and peptides that work together to repair the skin barrier and keep moisture trapped inside the skin.
“This is unlike any other hyaluronic acid product on the market due to the innovative formulation and the revolutionary style in which the brand sourced the clinical and consumer data for product development during the pandemic,” says Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson, P&G’s principal scientist. “We knew it was important to create a formulation that amplified the benefits of hyaluronic acid and kept skin hydrated for 24 hours without reapplication. With the extreme climate of today’s world, strengthening the skin barrier is key in delivering a promise of consistent hydration to consumers.”
If you’re a fan of the brand’s chemical exfoliant Triple Berry Smoothing Peel (beauty editors are obsessed), Rouleau says this new scrub should be used in tandem for even better skin.
“Physical exfoliants once got a bad rep, but they are actually essential in both your in-office facial and at-home skin-care regimen,” says Rouleau. “Every single one of my facials starts with a chemical exfoliant to dissolve dead skin cells, but in order to truly remove those cells and tackle any hyperpigmentation or discoloration issues, I always follow up with a physical exfoliant to buff away dead skin. I created the Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub to partner with our cult-favorite Triple Berry Smoothing Peel, mimicking the results of my signature facial treatments. The Scrub is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin due to perfectly round jojoba beads for that exfoliating one-two punch.”
Additionally, both products are packed with antioxidant-rich blueberry, raspberry and strawberry extracts that help brighten dull skin, so it’s a double whammy in the radiance department, though you can use either product on its own as well.
One of the best ways to help minimize summertime skin damage is a great resurfacing serum, and this new one from PCA Skin is the real deal. Gentle enough to use every day, even on sensitive skin, it employs a mix of slow-release Glycolic Arginine Complex, lactic acid (AHA), lactobionic acid (PHA) and hydrolyzed prickly pear flower extract to banish dull, dead skin cells to reveal all the healthy, glowy ones underneath.
The reason it’s so gentle comes down to its hydrating properties—thanks to plant-derived saccharide isomerate—which make it a really well-balanced formula. In a clinical study on participants ranging from Fitzpatrick types I-VI who applied the serum twice daily to their whole face, after 12 weeks, their skin was markedly smoother with a decrease in overall facial redness, which indicates a healthier skin barrier.
If you have fine lines, dark spots, congested pores, acne or all of the above, this is the treatment to try. The skin-perfecting power comes from granactive retinoid, which converts directly into retinoic acid in the skin, allowing you to receive big benefits—clearer, smoother, younger-looking skin—without any dryness or peeling.
You can use it every day, but if you do experience any sensitivity or irritation, take it down to every three days until your skin adjusts, and then you can work your way back up.
“You’re always going to want to use this at night on clean skin, and after you exfoliate, if you do exfoliate that evening,” says brand founder and aesthetician Kerry Benjamin. “Apply two pumps—it has a creamy texture that absorbs really nicely into the skin—all over your face and neck. Then you can apply your moisturizer, and you’re finished for the evening.”
For those who love skin nutritionist Kat Burki’s cult-favorite Form Control Marine Collagen Gel (Julianne Moore, Linda Evangelista and Carey Mulligan are fans), this new neck gel contains the same super nutrient technology, which includes the brand’s signature KB5 Complex, plant stem cells, silk amino acids, vitamins B3 and B5, wakame bioferment, reishi mushroom and snow mushroom. Together, they work to firm and rejuvenate the skin on the neck and décolleté for a healthier, more youthful look.
In a six-week clinical study performed by Bioscreen, the gel was found to lift and plump the skin both in the short-term and long-term.