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Yes, skincare shopping is fun—but it can also be incredibly daunting. It seems like every day, heck, every hour, there’s a new product out there claiming to be an absolute must-have that you can’t live without. The point being, there’s certainly no shortage of products to pick from, and it’s enough to make even the most seasoned beauty aficionado’s head spin. So to make things (much) easier for you, we set out to find the best of the best skincare available—the creams of the crop, as it were. Whether you’re a minimalist or you're looking to create an extensive regimen, we tapped top dermatologists to weigh in on their faves, plus added a few of our personal must-haves to compile this ultimate list.
Read on for the best skincare products for both face and body.
Best Daily Moisturizer: L'Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care Normal/Oily Skin
Anyone and everyone needs a moisturizer in their daily routine, and this one fits the bill as the perfect simple and straightforward option. It delivers lightweight hydration for up to 72 hours (thanks to aloe and hyaluronic acid), and comes in both this version, which is great for normal to oily skin, as well as a slightly more moisturizing one for normal to dry skin.
Best Sunscreen: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion SPF 50+
Like moisturizer, sunscreen is another non-negotiable, no matter how simple or extensive of a skincare routine you’re curating. This is a go-to for dermatologist Jordan Carqueville, founder of The Derm Institute of Chicago. She says the mineral-based formula applies and blends in seamlessly, and also offers the added benefit of containing protective antioxidants to act as a second layer of defense against free radical damage.
Best Gentle Cleanser: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
When it comes to choosing a cleanser, the simplest is usually best. All you need is a formula that will remove dirt and makeup but is gentle enough that it won’t strip or dry out your skin—just like this pick. Three types of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide keep it nice and hydrating, yet, unlike many other gentle cleansers, it still delivers a pleasantly rich lather.
Best Tinted Sunscreen: Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
True story: If we were forced to only use one skincare product for the rest of our lives (horrors), this would be it. Yes, you get your daily dose of SPF, but the multi-tasking formula also offers the perfect amount of hydration and a subtle tint that delivers just enough coverage to make your complexion look even and glowing.
Best Moisturizer with SPF: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV SPF 30
If you’re one of those people who has trouble remembering to apply sunscreen daily, opting for a moisturizer with built-in SPF is your best bet. Try this one, a favorite of board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ife J. Rodney, founding director of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, MD. “It contains ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin to keep the skin hydrated for up to 48 hours, and is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores,” she says. Plus, while many moisturizers cap the SPF at 15, this has SPF 30, the level recommended for daily use by the American Academy of Dermatology.
Best Exfoliator: Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel
Use this peel weekly and prepare to watch your skin transform before your eyes. A blend of alpha-hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes leaves your complexion smoother, more even, clearer, and generally glowier, and it’s also packed with antioxidants, always a good thing. Try using it on your hands, chest, or even to address KP on the backs of your arms, too. The delicious smell (it honestly could be mistaken for raspberry jam) is just an added bonus.
Best Mask: Klur Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask
If your skin is in need of a reset, look no further than this purifying mask from Klur. Formulated with potent antioxidants and bio-dynamic plant extracts, it helps to decongest the skin of daily environmental debris while soothing it with a blend of calming panthenol, calendula, and cacao. The result? Skin that’s smoother, brighter, and oh so glowy.
Best Anti-Aging Cream: LilyAna Naturals Face Cream Moisturizer
Broadly speaking, anti-aging products can cost you a pretty penny, making wallet-friendly alternatives (that actually work) all the more noteworthy. Case in point: This affordable option that’s packed with natural ingredients like vitamins A, C, and E, meadowfoam seed oil, and more. It’s ideal for targeting a wide array of concerns, from spots to wrinkles, and works well on a variety of skin types, too.
Best Luxury Anti-Aging Cream: Augustinus Bader The Cream
The cream that both Hollywood celebs and Byrdie editors alike swear by really is worth every penny. Bader (a German physician, scientist, professor, and researcher) developed a proprietary complex known as TFC8, which is said to help the skin renew itself naturally—and the results continuously have us coming back for more. It’s also meant to take the place of all of your other serums, toners, and moisturizers, which makes the price tag more reasonable.
Best Eye Cream: Youth To The People Dream Eye Cream
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most delicate on your body, so it’s super important to make a dedicated eye cream a part of your regimen. This is one of our absolute favorites. It's rich and creamy but not greasy, loaded with hydrating ingredients as well as vitamin C and goji berry extract. It’s also super gentle and is less likely to irritate sensitive skin.
Best Retinol: Differin Gel
Rodney says retinol is one of the best ingredients you can look for in a night cream—it's highly effective at stimulating cell turnover and collagen production, leaving your complexion smoother and more even. While this may be called an acne relieving formula—and indeed, it may be great for that—you can also use it as an effective anti-ager to reap all of those said benefits.
Use it only at night, and apply no more than a pea-size drop for your entire face.
Best Retinol Alternative: OLEHENRIKSEN Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème
Yes, retinol is great, but not everyone can tolerate the potent ingredient. Enter this alternative, which uses bakuchiol, a plant-based ingredient that’s been shown to offer similar effects as retinol without causing any irritation. It’s a favorite night cream of Rodney’s, who says it’s ideal for sensitive skin and lauds it for also containing hydrating shea butter.
Best with Vitamin C: BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner
When it comes to powerful vitamin C products, BeautyStat’s Universal C Skin Refiner doesn’t mess around. Formulated with 20% of L-ascorbic acid—the highest percentage of pure vitamin C allowed for use in skin-care products—as well as other skincare greats like squalane, EGCG, and tartaric acid. This serum claims to refine skin texture, brighten the complexion, and reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and redness. It’s no wonder it sold out in less than 24 hours when it first launched.
Best Acne Treatment: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx Blemish Solutions Acne Eliminating Gel
In our experience, using this gel for only a few days knocks out even the most stubborn of blemishes, as close to a miraculous complexion clearer as you can get. It contains both the often-used salicylic acid to help dissolve excess oil and unclog pores, but is unique in its use of monk’s pepper, an ingredient that helps address oil production and ensures the oil produced isn’t as thick (and therefore is less likely to clog pores).
Best Drugstore Acne Treatment: Stridex Medicated Acne Pads
This is one of Carqueville’s favorite for acne relief. Thanks to its two-percent concentration of salicylic acid, she says a quick daily swipe of these pads on any breakout-prone spots helps both treat existing breakouts and ward off new ones.
Best for Acne Scars: My Topicals Faded Brightening and Clearing Gel
Acne scars are no match for this powerhouse brightening and clearing gel from Topicals. It’s chock full of skin-care superstars like centella asiatica leaf extract, kojic acid, azelaic acid, and tranexamic acid. Not only will this product help fade your most stubborn marks and scars, but it’s also great for smoothing out rough texture and reviving tired-looking skin. Just be warned: This stuff is pretty potent, so you won’t want to use it with AHAs, BHAs, or retinol.
Best Antioxidant Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
There are plenty of antioxidant serums on the market, and many of them really are incredible. But this OG is unparalleled; its carefully studied combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid are formulated in a perfect ratio to work synergistically, offering serious protection against skin-damaging free radicals. It smells a little funky, but that’s a minor drawback compared to the outstanding brightening and anti-aging results it delivers.
Best Hydrating Serum: PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum
Dealing with super dry skin? Carqueville recommends layering a hyaluronic acid-based serum (this one is her favorite) underneath your moisturizer to help keep skin hydrated longer. The hyaluronic acid in the formula attracts water to and traps it in the skin, offering instant plumping effects, and creating the perfect base for makeup, too. Have an oily complexion? Use it solo in lieu of moisturizer.
Best K-Beauty Serum: Seoul Ceuticals Day Glow Serum
Korean beauty products—and skincare K-beauty products, in particular—are really on a whole other level. This particular serum is one of the most beloved ones out there, packed with a 20% concentration of antioxidant-rich, line-smoothing vitamin C.
Best Body Wash: Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash
If you’re anything like us and often, erm, "forget," to apply lotion after you shower, using a moisturizing body wash is the next best thing. This budget-friendly one is the most hydrating option we’ve found, loaded with a moisturizing complex that leaves skin feeling next-level silky after even just one wash. Plus, it’s also pH-balanced and super gentle.
Best Body Wash for Breakouts: Curology Acne Body Wash
Banish blemishes on your back, chest, booty, or anywhere else on your body with this sudser. It contains salicylic acid, a derm-favorite ingredient for unclogging pores and combating excess oil, in a two-percent concentration that’s enough to be effective without over-drying or irritating your skin. Plus, it foams up nicely and rinses off cleanly, both important criteria for any type of body wash.
Best Body Scrub: Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator
Don’t forget that the skin below your chin can benefit from regular sloughing sessions, too. We always have this scrub stashed in our shower; it relies on a combo of physical (bamboo charcoal) and chemical (glycolic and salicylic acids) exfoliants to effectively yet gently remove dead, dry, cells. Bonus points for the chic packaging and scents, though there’s also a fragrance-free version that’s great for those with sensitive skin.
Best Stretch Mark Cream: Botanic Tree Anti Stretch Mark, Scars and Prevention Cream
Okay, so TBH, there’s no topical cream that will completely fade stretch marks, but many can certainly help—like this one. Hydrating cocoa and shea butters are paired with centella asiatica (AKA tiger grass), which helps promote skin healing, to help minimize the look of both stretch marks and scars.
Best Body Lotion: Nivea Breathable Body Lotion
For those who don’t love having to wait around for a body lotion to soak in, this newbie is a great choice. The unique formula relies on microgels that make its consistency much less thick and much more absorbent than any other lotion we’ve ever tried, so much so that it literally seems to disappear into skin in mere seconds. But don’t worry, it somehow still imparts tons of hydration.
What to Look for in a Skincare Product
Consider what you’re trying to get out of the product, then make sure it contains active ingredients that can meet your needs. For example, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are great ingredients to look for if you want to get rid of acne. However, if your goal is to fade spots or fine lines, try looking for a retinol product.
Concentration of Active Ingredients
While the percentage of some ingredients (retinol, certain acids) is often disclosed on product labels, your best bet is to see where said active ingredients are listed on the ingredient label. The further up they are, the higher the concentration.
The backbone of every great skincare product—and skincare routine—is hydration. From cleansers to serums to moisturizers to masks, you don't want your products to leave your skin feeling dry and tight. Look for products that have moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid to help maintain your skin barrier.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough skincare products from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.