The 50 Skincare Products That Have Made Our Skin Smoother, Better, and Brighter

Updated 04/18/19

It goes without saying that as beauty editors, we try a lot of products. So much so our favorite products often get lost in the shuffle as we continue to test, review, and research new brands. There's so much out there that it's entirely possible to fall in love with a formula and forget about it a few weeks later. Talk about lovin' 'em and leavin' 'em. 

So to make sure you hear about those aforementioned gems, the ones we've cherished for longer than most, we made a comprehensive list. Yes, 50 of the best face products and why we can't quit them. Keep scrolling for everything you need and more when it comes to smoothing, brightening, moisturizing, and all-around perfecting skincare.

Erin Jahns, assistant editor

Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser
Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser $68
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"I absolutely love anything from Tata Harper, and for whatever reason, the brand's formulas seem to love me back. Perhaps it's due to the organic, natural origin of the ingredient lists or the luxe yet effective formulations—I don't know. Regardless, this clarifying pick is still on the newer side from the brand, and I've been smitten with how clean (yet hydrated) it makes my skin feel ever since I had the opportunity to try it. I love to use it in the morning and am convinced the lively herbaceous scent helps wake me up.”

Odacite Synergie[4] Immediate Skin Perfecting Beauty Masque
Odacité Synergie[4] Immediate Skin Perfecting Beauty Masque $59
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"Typically, I'm not into clay masks. But every so often, I like to use this one if I feel like my skin needs a more intensive clean-out. (Like, once or twice a month.) It's one of the few clay-based formulas that doesn't leave my skin tight, cranky, and pink. Instead, it's left brighter, clearer, and healthier. Probably due to the addition of papaya enzymes, fruit acids, and vitamin C."

Crop Natural Purifying Tumeric Mask
Crop Natural Purifying Tumeric Mask $30
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"I'm just waiting for the day when the rest of the world finally realizes how amazing this brand is. And until then, I will keep singing its praises. Though the naturally derived, organic skincare line features multiple amazing masks, this one—crafted with aloe vera, chamomile, orange peel, ylang-ylang, honeysuckle, Kakadu plum, vitamin E, lime, patchouli, and turmeric—delivers the brightest results I have ever seen. Plus, it just feels so gentle and relaxing on top of the skin. I use it once a week or so."

Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF
Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 $65
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"Another Team Byrdie obsession (countless editors swear by it), this SPF formula from Tatcha is the least sunscreen-y sunscreen I've ever tried and never leaves my skin greasy, chalky, or clogged. I apply it immediately after cleansing and toning each morning, and it also looks great under makeup."

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Soap Free Cleanser
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Soap Free Cleanser $15
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"At just $15, this dermatologically tested cleanser lacks all the things acne-prone skin doesn't want (sulfates, comedogenic oils, soaps, and fragrances) while boasting all the things it does want, such as skin-brightening niacinamide, plumping ceramides, and glow-enhancing antioxidants."

Thayer's Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner with Rose Petal
Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner With Rose Petal $9
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"Even if you're oily and acne-prone like I am, keeping skin hydrated is still key to maintaining a healthy complexion. And unfortunately, many toners can be horrifically dehydrating. If you're on a budget, both wellness editor Victoria Hoff and I swear by this rose, aloe vera, and witch hazel toner. The perks: tightened pores, decreased oil, and increased hydration. I recently used this for almost a week straight instead of my usual morning cleanser, and my easily riled skin wasn't phased in the slightest."

Tammy Fender Essential C Tonic
Tammy Fender Essential C Tonic $55
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"I'm obsessed with both Tammy Fender herself and her dreamy and holistically designed skincare line. (This at-home peel made my skin look newborn-esque in luminous translucence.) And though I've been impressed with the majority of her products, this tonic is a standout. It purifies and eliminates potentially congesting toxins while maintaining the complexion's moisture barrier. (Noticing a theme yet?) Plus, thanks to the addition of orange peel, it brightens as deliciously as it smells."

SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense $98
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"While SkinCeuticals' C E Ferulic seems to get all the love, my breakout-prone skin actually likes this new launch better. I don't have severe pigmentation, but I have had issues with lingering scars from past breakouts. I've been mixing three to five drops with my SPF every morning for about one month now and have already seen a big difference. In addition to HEPES (which the brand says activates the skin's natural enzymes to help break the bonds stubbornly binding dead skin cells to the surface for superior exfoliation), the serum also features niacinamide, kojic acid, and tranexamic acid."

Avene Soothing Eye Contour Cream
Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream $27
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"This eye cream was first recommended to me by a dermatologist after I had complained about my consistent dark circles. At $27, this eye cream is more affordable than most but still does it all in one fell swoop—de-puff, de-circle, and protect (from free radicals, premature wrinkles, and the like)."

Hallie Gould, senior editor

Eve Lom Cleanser
Eve Lom Cleanser $80
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"I don't think I'll ever be able to quit this cleanser. It's the only face wash I've ever used that yields as favorable results. Serums and moisturizers are important, but according to celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, the cleansing portion of your skincare routine is perhaps the most important."

La Prairie Skin Caviar Absolute Filler
La Prairie Skin Caviar Absolute Filler $605
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"Recommended to me by our editorial director, Faith (she told me it 'plumps your wrinkles upon contact'), this moisturizer lives up to the—very expensive, I know—hype. It's infused with potent 'caviar absolute,' an ingredient that targets the loss of volume in your skin and almost immediately restores tone and density. It refines contours, firms, lifts, and contributes to increased elasticity, as it should for the price. But when something works, it's hard to ignore. If you're into a splurge, this is without a doubt the cream to buy.

Plus, it allows me to push back Botox appointments."

Banana Bright Eye Creme
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème $38
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"This new (and arguably life-changing) eye cream was formulated by Danish skincare brand Ole Henriksen. Previously, I pretty much subscribed to the idea that no product would ever make a visible difference in my under-eye circles, darkness, and bags. It's genetic, I'd tell myself, cursing my parents. And while the tendency for my under eyes to look hallow and collect extra fluid is part of my biology, this eye cream is the only one I've ever tried that's made a difference."

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic $166
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"On its own, the combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamin C and E enhances my skin's protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals, improves signs of aging and photodamage, reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and brightens my complexion each time I use it."

Chuda Healing Hydrating Cream $80
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"Believe me when I tell you this cream is worth its salt—the results speak for themselves. I've been using it on my body, face, and lips (it has plumping properties). It lives up to its claim that it can heal sunburns and blisters in a matter of hours. In fact, an editor in the office had an ill-fated experience with an at-home waxing kit and a pretty serious burn. I gifted her with a sample of Chuda's cream, and her face was practically healed 24 hours later."

Calming Serum
Dr. Barbara Sturm Calming Serum $250
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"I found and fell in love with Dr. Barbara Sturm Calming Serum ($250), a concentrate sent from the gods to rebalance and calm any irritated skin and help reduce redness. It's an active plant-based complex that works to strengthen your skin's natural defenses, minimizing a sensitized reaction (in this case, the irritation I experience post–make out). Purslane (one of the line's hero ingredients) calms inflammation and protects your skin."

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970 $67
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"I've probably written about my love for Biologique Recherche's Lotion P50 1970 about as many days as I've been at this job. That's because, well, it changed my life. And I presume it could change yours. I drench a cotton pad with the bottle's contents and swipe it carefully over my face (twice a day, as suggested by my facialist) and feel a flush of tingling. It's a sensation that doesn't hurt or feel uncomfortable, but instead, it feels satisfying and exciting in that 'I can tell this is working' kind of way.

It balances your skin's pH, erases dark spots, shrinks the look of pores, and evens your skin over time. It's amazing."

Biologique Recherche Masque VIP 02
Biologique Recherche Masque VIP 02 $146
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"Biologique Recherche Masque VIP02 is an oxygenating, moisturizing antipollution treatment that restores stressed, asphyxiated skin—which is exactly what happens when you're hungover (guilty). Its formula is rich in moisturizing botanical ingredients and contains an oxygenating complex that stimulates epidermal regeneration. I especially love to use it post-peel to calm and soothe any irritation or redness."

Stick it in the refrigerator prior to using it and apply a thick layer all over, but especially under your eyes and around your lips. You'll be glowing in 30 minutes.

NARS Monoi Body Glow II
Nars Monoi Body Glow II $59
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"When I opened the packaging, my nose was immediately met with the loveliest coconut scent. It smells like a tropical vacation bottled up and sent to your front door. Plus, it is so chic—perfect for your burgeoning beauty vanity. The oil itself is authentic Monoï de Tahiti oil (the result of macerating the native tiare flower in refined coconut extract for at least 10 days). The process slowly infuses the oil with nutrients as well as that delicate, natural fragrance. There's even an original tiare flower in each bottle."

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask $62
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"Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask was another product I kept in my medicine cabinet but never tried (I'll blame my undying love for Renée Rouleau's Triple Smoothing Berry Peel, $87). Once I did get into it, however, I realized the two formulas serve different purposes. The mask has a really cool texture, kind of like Jell-O, and is made to be used more often than the other. It's super gentle, never causes redness or irritation, and works perfectly to smooth and retexturize before a night out. In fact, I don't really understand why, but it (temporarily) fills and flattens my forehead wrinkles to the point where it looks as if they never existed to begin with."

Faith Xue, editorial director

Women's Bright Future Overnight Facial
Allies Of Skin Bright Future Overnight Facial $120
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"It's been a long time since I've used a skincare product that produced results this noticeable in such a short period of time, so please believe me when I say that though this mask may be expensive, it really, truly delivers. It's already sold out on the website (with a full five-star rating), but you can still snatch it up at Barneys.com. Apologies in advance to your foundation, because chances are high you'll be ditching in the very near future. Sleep tight."

Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel
Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel $89
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"It really is so amazing. I love a product where you can see instant results. I'm very impatient. I try so many products so when I use something once and I can see the result right afterward, that's really impressive. It's made with berries and it has a lot of fruit acids in it, so when you put it on, it smells amazing; it smells like jam. And when you rinse it off, it just takes away all those dead skin cells and leaves your skin looking really soft and bright. It's very gentle. I use it before bed and then put on my favorite serum afterward, wake up, and my skin is glowing." 

Ole Henriksen Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub
Ole Henriksen Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub $28
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"The actual experience of using the scrub aside, the one thing that truly blew me away with this product was the fact that it left my skin feeling the softest it's ever been since I turned 13, before I started my acne phase. I haven't changed many diapers in my life, but my face felt like what I imagine a clean, lightly powdered baby bottom feels like (and I'm going to stop with that analogy now before it gets creepy). It was so buttery-soft. I stood in front of the mirror for a few minutes stroking my skin like Gollum whispering 'my precious' to the one ring to rule them all."

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence $179
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"It makes a huge difference in balancing oiliness, and my skin is noticeably duller on days I skip this step." 

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum
Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum $185
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"I don't usually like face oils, but it's filled with amazing natural ingredients, and I know that when I use it, I'll wake up looking like I got eight hours of sleep, even if it's far from the truth."

Express Flower Gel Mask
Sisley Express Flower Gel Mask $140
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"This mask is an OG in my travel beauty rotation, and you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands for me to give it up. It's specifically designed to give major hydration to dull, dry skin, which makes it perfect to use during long-haul flights. You're supposed to apply a thick layer to your skin, then tissue any excess off after a few minutes, but I like to apply and then let it sink in completely without removing it at all. It's made with a bunch of soothing botanical ingredients like white lily, rose, and iris, and the gel-like texture feels like a tall glass of water for your skin without being sticky at all."

Medik8 beta Gel
Medik8 Beta Gel $68
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"I get this random breakout that flares up in the middle of my forehead without warning, which used to be the bane of my existence—luckily, I've discovered Medik8 BetaGel ($68), which literally clears it up overnight. It's a miracle worker, and I've gotten all my friends hooked."

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Jelly Sheet Mask
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Jelly Sheet Mask $8
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"I brought this watermelon-scented mask with me on a recent trip to Paris and could not believe how good my skin looked after landing. The texture of this mask is like a translucent jelly, which makes it way less conspicuous to use than most sheet masks. I loved how pleasantly cooling and refreshing it felt immediately upon using. Ingredient-wise, it's made with soothing watermelon extract, hydrating amino acids, hyaluronic acid, brightening licorice root extract, and more to help your skin stay hydrated in the stuffy airplane air.

Plus, it smells like a watermelon popsicle."

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum $20 $15
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"I received a tiny vial of this cult-favorite serum in one of Ole's travel kits and have included it in my travel toiletry bag ever since. The vitamin C brightens, but I also love that the formula sinks in instantly and doesn't pill up when you layer a moisturizer over it."

NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Kit
NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Kit $325
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"I love how easy to use this beauty gadget is—I'm generally too lazy to figure out most devices, but this one is so simple thanks to the NuFace app you download on your phone. My face feels more lifted and toned after a week of use, and honestly, sometimes I notice a difference after just one session."

Lindsey Metrus, managing editor

Tria Beauty Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light Device
Tria Beauty Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light Device $113
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"While not a remedy for deep, cystic acne, this device penetrates a bacteria-killing blue light deep within the skin to destroy those pesky breakouts that result from P acnes. I find it therapeutic to lie on the bed with my eyes closed and glide it along (freshly washed) skin for a few minutes a day. I swear it works, especially when I've got tiny bumps from greasy summer skin."

L'Oreal Paris Go 360 Clean Anti-Breakout Cleanser
L'Oréal Paris Go 360 Clean Anti-Breakout Cleanser $20
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"Not only does it help protect my skin from blemishes, but it also gets off all of my makeup in just one washing. I don't use the little silicone scrub brush it comes with but instead use the Proactiv Deep Cleansing Brush ($45)."

Kiehl's Since 1851 Ultra Facial Cream
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream $23
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"It's light enough that it doesn't make my face greasy but still hydrates like a champ."

Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask
Bioré Self Heating One Minute Mask $8
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"I'll use this mask to help draw out impurities and get my skin back in shape. It feels so good to apply (it truly does get super warm!) and revamps my skin to a tee."

Skin Miso Pore Beauty Nose Pack (10 Week Set)
Skin Miso Pore Beauty Nose Pack (10 Week Set) $22
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"I think the key to removing deep blackheads (and estheticians tend to agree) is to extract them physically. This can be tricky because too much pressure can make matters worse, so finding a way to lift the clog from the pore first makes for a much easier process. These nose packs from Skin Miso do just that by lifting sebum to the surface so you can go in with a comedo remover and gently remove any buildup. It also comes with a 'silky essence' to help prevent future clogs. I've noticed such a difference in the number of blackheads on my nose after using this.

Plus, it's so satisfying to get all the gunk out."

Renée Rouleau Redness Care Firming Serum
Renée Rouleau Redness Care Firming Serum $45
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"I use a few pumps of this serum to strengthen my skin and reduce redness for a younger, less irritated complexion."

Proactiv Acne Clearing Body Spray
Proactiv Acne Clearing Body Spray $35
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"This summer, I'm getting married in a backless dress (I'm a masochist, I know), so I've been stockpiling products I think will help prevent my back from looking like a mini galaxy of constellations. So far, this spray has been my saving grace. I spritz it on the affected areas (which is genius since it's so difficult to reach your own back) before bed, after a workout, in the morning—whenever I think of it, and I've honestly noticed a huge difference in my skin already."

Burt's Bees Micellar Cleansing Towlettes
Burt's Bees Micellar Cleansing Towelettes $5
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"I try to limit my makeup-wipe usage to just a few times a month (aka when I'm too exhausted to stand at the sink) because they certainly don't cleanse as well as traditional soap and water. But recently, I came across these wipes and actually find that my skin looks more radiant in the morning after I use them. I still follow up with toner, serum, and moisturizer, but these wipes come soaked with a magnetic gentle cleanser that lifts just about every last inch of makeup off. They're also incredibly soft—no scratching whatsoever."

Derm iNSTITUTE Anti-Oxidant Hydration Gel Masque
Derm Institute Derm Institute Anti-Oxidant Hydration Gel Masque $120
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"I wish I could say I were shameless enough to wear a sheet mask on a plane (Faith is really on to something with the Glow Recipe mask, though…), but I'd rather not scare my seatmate when the quality of my flight is largely dependent upon how decent they are toward me. So when I want the effects of a mask without the Michael Myers effect (the fictional killer, not the Shrek actor), I reach for these gel packs. They're all the good stuff you get from a sheet mask minus the sheet, including aloe, algae, shea butter, and ceramides.

I'm always insanely glowy post-flight after patting one on."

Brandless Facial Cleanser $3
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"The packaging, just like the formulations of the brand, is simple and chic. Something about this cleanser, in particular, gives off a certain je ne sais quoi. The ingredients don't hurt either. It's formulated with grapefruit extract, and it lathers up to strip your skin of dirt, oil, and makeup without leaving it raw or irritated."

Maya Allen, assistant editor

SUPERMUD Activated Charcoal Treatment
GlamGlow Supermud Activated Charcoal Treatment $24
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"I've yet to meet a mask as hardworking as this one. Bold statement, I know, but it's true. This Supermud Mask has a texture that you have to mentally prepare yourself for. It's far from gentle, but when you're dealing with blackheads, it's not time to play nice. This mask is full of activated charcoal and six acids. Whenever I need a heavy-duty skin overhaul to zap blemishes and unclog my pores, I reach for this. It might not be the most relaxing mask, but it gets the job done and my skin feels totally renewed afterward."

Retexture Pad 10% Glycolic Facial Treatment
Cane + Austin Retexture Pad 10% Glycolic Facial Treatment $60
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"If I'm on a mission to transform the texture of my skin, which turns dull and uneven when I'm tired and stressed, I slather these pads all over my face. I tend to get blackheads the most on my nose. So annoying. And these pads contain 30% glycolic acid, which lifts dirt and smoothes over those rough surfaces. Since I have sensitive skin, I use one pad every two days as a preventative measure."

M-61 PowerSpot Pads $24
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"These little gems are made of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and witch hazel to deep-clean your pores and diminish the look of dark spots. Honestly, one of these is all my skin needs when blackheads creep in. What I love the most is how soothing they are because of the tea tree oil. My skin is prone to scarring, and sometimes blackheads even leave behind little marks. I find that they fade away quickly when these pads are in rotation."

Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner Pore Purifying Mask
Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner Pore Purifying Mask $42
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"The name explains it all—this mask is essentially a vacuum cleaner for your face. Don't be scared, though. It's safe. When your pores are in need of an overhaul (aka, you spot a blackhead), this acid-filled mask will lift dirt, debris, and oil."

Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay
Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask With Rose Clay $28
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"Made of Mediterranean rose clay, this mask is good for you for many reasons. For one, clay-based masks take the power back from your pores by ridding your skin of gunky buildup. And if you're dealing with dark spots or acne-prone skin, this will lighten them and leave your skin looking radiant. I'm very into this mask because it works magic when it comes to exfoliating. My skin always feels baby-soft and rejuvenated after leaving this on."

European Wax Center Smooth + Refine Body Polish
European Wax Center Smooth + Refine Body Polish $16
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"Sometimes scrubs are too harsh, but this creamy, gel-like exfoliator leaves my skin rejuvenated, smooth, and polished-looking. But probably the biggest draw is that it's infused with ingredients that reduce the thickness of hair regrowth between waxes. It's perfect for the summer!"

Restorative Radiance Masque
Tammy Fender Restorative Radiance Masque $235
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"I've been using this restorative radiance mask for years, and I give it all the praise for my skin's glow-up. It's full of natural things like floral waters, lotus, and baobab. My face feels like a baby's bottom afterward and looks so luminous. The soft pink shade seeps right into my pores, and for a full 24 hours after, I don't need to put on as much face oil, because my skin is so hydrated."

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