The 11 Game-Changing Skincare Products We Tried in July

Including a lip serum that acts like filler

Updated 07/31/18

When you test out a makeup product, it's instant gratification (or disappointment). Within seconds of application, you're able to tell immediately how well it does what it claims to do. And if it does the opposite, you can make a game-time decision about tossing. With skincare, however, things get a bit trickier. It can take up to 12 weeks to yield actual results from your skincare (or longer for brightening treatments). But sometimes those rare gems come along that you swear have made a difference in your complexion. And of all the products we've tried this month (there were a lot), these are the ones we found made our skin look noticeably better, brighter, clearer, and overall more radiant.

Here are all the products we'll continue using well into the next season.

Amanda Montell Bio Picture
Intense Brightening Cream
Dr. Loretta Intense Brightening Cream $75

As a freckly faced lady, brightening creams have been everything for me this summer, and this chicly packaged one by the dermatologist-founded brand Dr. Loretta is a new favorite. The 20% concentration of L-ascorbic acid (vitamin c) is super high quality, so you know you're getting the best antioxidant protection.

Faith Xue Bio Picture
Charcoal Chai Tea Pore Refining Glow Pad
Whamisa Charcoal Chai Tea Pore Refining Glow Pad $25

I discovered these glow-boosting pads in my bathroom during a recent trip with Glow Recipe to the Hamptons, and upon looking at the ingredients list, I knew that I'd have to try them. Long story short: They didn't disappoint. I was suffering from a weird breakout of small red bumps all along my face and used these pads (which promise to detoxify and purify the skin) before bed. When I woke up, I couldn't believe how much better my skin looked. The breakout wasn't 100% gone, but it was definitely way less noticeable. I've been using these pads a few times a week and love how glowy my skin looks. The ingredients are chock-full of antioxidants, natural botanicals, and brightening ingredients like licorice root—aka too good to pass up for the price.

Lindsey Metrus Bio Picture
Shower Gel
Rahua Shower Gel $38

Shopping for a shower gel requires me to put on my detective cap: Sulfates and artificial additives are toxic to my skin and make me itch like I've got poison ivy, so the more natural, the better. I'm in love with organic brand Rahua's shampoos, so I thought I'd give its proprietary shower gel a try. Even the label was enticing: palo santo, eucalyptus, arnica—it sounded like a spa treatment in a bottle and I couldn't wait to try it.

After working into a lather, my shower filled with a sinus-cleansing aromatic blend I could've stayed engulfed in for hours. And the best part—no itching whatsoever afterward.

Self Tan Coconut Dry Oil Tan Body
James Read Self Tan Coconut Dry Oil Tan Body $35

I love using oil after showering to rehydrate my skin, so finding one with a sunless tanner built-in is a win-win. It's suggested to use a mitt when applying, but I'm so impatient that I just use my hands, and then make sure to rinse well afterward. The color is subtle at first but buildable (and believable). It's the prettiest sun-kissed bronze—no orange streaks—and it fades beautifully without any dreaded pilling or splotchiness.

Hallie Gould Bio Picture
Aloe Hyaluronic Moisture Boost
Monastery Aloe Hyaluronic Moisture Boost $79

Monastery caught wind of the fact that I was suffering from a terrible sunburn one Monday morning—I spent the weekend at the beach in weather that was cloudy but deceitful—and sent over its Aloe Hyaluronic Moisture Boost to help. Let me tell you: It helped. The cooling, calming, milky gel serum calmed my sunburn, yes, but my soul as well. It's made with two different hyaluronic molecules to increase absorption into your skin. Then the aloe, clary sage, and lavender help to restore and rebuild any damaged surface cells (e.g., a sunburn). It worked like an absolute charm and smells so incredible I'd use it every day regardless of the state of my skin.

C+C Vitamin Summer Lotion
Natura Bissé C+C Vitamin Summer Lotion $67

I'm a certified vitamin C serum fanatic—it's the only ingredient I've found to make a difference in my skin tenfold, every time I apply. Natura Bisse's newest drop, a potent summer lotion brimming with vitamin C, offers a blend of aloe vera, antioxidants, and essential oils. It moisturizes dry, irritated skin, fights free-radical damage, fades dark spots, and instantly smoothes and soothes your skin. It's the best summer all-over formula to slather on post-shower.

Maya Allen Bio Picture
Coconut Lip Glossy
Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy $13

Coconut oil and lip gloss are two of my favorite things. So a hybrid of both? Um, made for me. I have really dry lips that require lots of upkeep. Throughout the day, I have to continuously lather them with hydrating formulas. However, one coat of this silky gloss does right by them for hours. I'm more than obsessed with its faint yet alluring coconut scent. And truly in love with how it keeps my lips coated in moisture for much longer than I'd expect with other glosses. I've even started applying a bit on top of matte lipsticks for a sultry shine. In short, this goes with me everywhere.

Erin Jahns Bio Picture
The Optimist Hydrating Essence
Maya Chia The Optimist Hydrating Essence $58

I'm obsessed with Maya Chia, and it goes without saying that I become more and more infatuated with pretty much every new product I try. (It just gets better and better although I would quite willingly write an ode to the brand in its entirety—you just can't go wrong.) Although this delightful mist isn't quite available yet, it will be soon, therefore I recommend putting it on your wishlist stat. (This coming from someone who doesn't even like mists!) But this mist is different. First of all, the volume of each spray is supremely fine, so you don't feel like you've just run through a sprinkler circa your childhood. As such, it lightly adheres to the complexion, delivering hydration (but never grease) and imparting the dewiest glow that feels legitimately refreshing. (I've been left unconvinced by so many others.) It also has some pretty badass ingredients when it comes to skin improvement and is expertly formulated with aloe, sake, white tea extract, chia seed oil, licorice root, and more. Oh, and here's a trick: I've been using it in lieu of water to saturate my Beautyblender pre-foundation. Game. Changing.

The Blue Cocoon
May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon $180

Okay, so this aquamarine do-it-all balm isn't exactly new, per se, but it is new to me. And I'm obsessed. So here we are! Although it arrives and prettily sits on your vanity in its mystical solid blue form, upon application, it instantly melts into a lightweight oil composed of noncomedogenic fare like camellia, shea butter, marula, blue tansy, baobab, myrrh, lavender, etc., and so forth. It's just delicious—for your skin, that is. I still always hesitate to apply any kind of oil to my T-zone (I'm just so acne-prone), but I've been spreading the lightweight elixir on my dark circles and forever-parched lips before bed every night and have been stunned by the healing and thirst-quenching results. Honestly, I just want to bathe myself in it. It's expensive but worth the investment.

GENIUS Liquid Collagen Lip 0.34 oz/ 10 mL
Algenist Genius Liquid Collagen Lip $35

I feel like I end up reviewing some kind of lip-plumping potion (be it makeup or skincare) each and every month, but I like what I like, and I especially like super-plump, ultra-hydrated lips. And this month, it was this indeed genius little tube from Algenist, which completely delivered. It's vegan, it's slippery (not sticky, which I love), and it's formulated with active plant collagen and the brand's sustainably produced alguronic acid. I've been using it for a week, usually in the mornings as I apply my other makeup to let it soak in and work its magic, and I've definitely noticed my lips have fewer lines and just appear a little perter. It does have a not-so-great taste, so I would avoid ingesting it all costs (don't sip anything directly after application or lick your lips).

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