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, and as a result, we'll continue using them well into the summer.
"I realize shaving cream isn't the most exciting of products to talk about, but after deciding to banish the bottle I'd pretty much used since the age of 13 (or whenever it was I started shaving—no clue), I've been on the hunt for a more natural formula that would yield the same lathery application and flawlessly smooth finish. And true to its name, this one from Ursa Major is indeed stellar. It's infused with skin-healthy ingredients like willow bark, shea butter, sunflower, oat protein, birch sap, and aloe, my skin has never (and I mean never) felt so smooth and hydrated post-shower.
Especially post-shave. It also smells insanely wonderful."
"Aside from the fact this fast-acting (i.e. 60-second) mask contains pore-refining ingredients like bentonite and kaolin clays, witch hazel, licorice root, and aloe vera, it also bubbles. You smooth it on like a gel, and then as you massage it in, it begins to sizzle into this wonderful, slightly tingly foam. I’ll always be devoted to the brand's signature Supermud mask but couldn't believe how smooth, bright, and even my skin was after my first use of this one. And now I'm addicted."
"Thanks to this pretty, shimmery pink bottle, I now feel even more comfortable going out into public sans makeup. Plus, thanks to its hefty dose of SPF 50, I can rest assured my fair skin will be completely protected. Though it comes out looking as if it has a slight tint, the second you begin spreading it into your complexion, the color melds into your skin flawlessly. The end result is a virtually airbrushed-looking glow that helps diffuse any discoloration (I still have some minor leftover acne scarring) and even lessens the severity of dark circles and redness.
Basically, it's the most un-sunscreen-like of any sunscreen I've ever tried, and I've been telling everyone they 100% need it."
"I'm not totally sure why I was a little wary when I heard wellness brand Moon Juice was crossing over into skincare. I guess my thinking was that the brand already does supplements and smoothies so well, and why mess with a good thing? I've never been so glad to be so wrong; both of the products I've tried are nothing short of phenomenal, and I've seen huge changes in my skin just after a week of use. For example, I've been battling some lingering acne scars and discoloration after several weeks of travel, and they've virtually disappeared thanks to the Exfoliating Acid Potion, a 'magic' blend of AHA and BHA acids.
I also love that it's gentle enough that I don't feel any stinging or tingling sensation when I slather it all over my face at night. Have I mentioned my blackheads are now nonexistent, too? This shit works."
"After swiping a cotton pad soaked in the Exfoliating Acid Potion all over my face each night, I slather on a layer of the Plumping Jelly, which contains hyaluronic acid, adaptogenic mushrooms (naturally), and tocotrienols, which is a really rich complex of vitamin E. I wake up to plump, dewy skin that I usually only experience post-facial. It's really incredible—and proof that the next frontier for adaptogens and herbs is definitely skincare."
"Recently, I went to a breakfast hosted by Julee Wilson, the fashion and beauty director of Essence, and Dr. Barbara Sturm herself. I was in a room full of esteemed black beauty and fashion editors. Sturm created a line of skincare products made for darker skin tones, so she made it a point to bring all of us editors together to share details on her products. We went home with a goodie bag of products, and this hyaluronic acid serum has been my favorite thus far. I have intensely dry, dehydrated skin, and it saves the day because it's seriously like a tall glass of water for my face.
After I pat it on, my skin instantly looks bright, plump, and glowy. I have hyperpigmentation, so I love using concentrated amounts of hyaluronic acid to lighten the look of my dark spots. I just might shed a tear when I run out of this."
"My skin responds so well to acids. I truly feel like once I started incorporating gentle, acid-based products into my regimen, my skin transformed. I'd heard rave reviews about this glow tonic from Ren, so I gave it a whirl this month. Let's just say I understand what all the hype is about now. It's a thoughtful blend of lactic acid and other organic, active ingredients that are safe enough to use daily. I squeeze out a few drops onto a cotton pad and feel a slight tingly yet refreshing effect as soon as this hits my skin.
Immediately my pores look noticeably smaller and my overall complexion has a natural glow. I'm sold."
"Come (hot, muggy NYC) summer, I'm all about light hydration. The heavier moisturizers and face oils I love during the colder months turn on me and often cause me to break out when the temps rise, so I switch to lighter alternatives. I’m thoroughly impressed by RDKL's Revive Moisturizer, which is made with aloe vera, Japanese green tea extract, avocado oil, and more botanical ingredients that give my skin the perfect amount of light hydration. In fact, the entire brand itself is worth checking out—it's clean, thoughtful, affordable skincare you can feel good about using."
"I've been maintaining a strict regimen of Renée Rouleau products since they've helped smooth out my skin and keep breakouts at bay better than any collection I've used lately, but I'm always down to introduce a new serum or exfoliating product into the mix for extra glow potential. Since I'm such a big fan of La Roche-Posay's sunscreen, I knew its skincare would have matched efficacy, so I gave this serum a whirl. It's quite fragrant, but not in an overly powerful way. Aside from the scent, it's immensely plumping, as in I notice a marked increase in suppleness within minutes.
It's also much thicker than your typical serums, which feels more soothing and hydrating than a thin formula that I can almost feel evaporating off my skin."
"I am constantly on the lookout for good sunscreens (not something you'd ever heard from me until recently, but alas, this is 29). I was super excited to break open a package from Everday that came across my desk—in it was this new cruelty-free, vegan sunscreen formula made with matcha, cucumber, and jojoba oil for all the soothing, antioxidant-rich benefits your bod needs over the summer months. It's dry-touch, water-resistant (for up to 80 minutes, so remember to reapply, people), and completely unscented.
Sure, I love a coconut, vacation fragrance just as much as the next gal, but when I'm stuck at the office reapplying my sunscreen, smelling like the beach is a cruel joke I'd rather avoid."
"I cannot quit this luxurious Bulgarian rose body oil, and please, no one make me. It's thick but easily absorbent, smells like rose (but not like "grandma rose," more like peppery, modern rose), and lingers on your body for hours on end. I'm my best-moisturized self when I use it."
"As a freckly human, I'm all about exfoliation in the summer, and Sonya Dakar's just-launched clay mask is a new favorite. It's formulated with Moroccan red clay, willow bark extract, and a copper peptide complex, all of which work to clear out your pores and brighten your skin without drying it out. Plus, the mask is rose gold in color, and I'm always a sucker for that."
"I was always scared of retinol (peeling! irritation!) until I found Shani Darden's new serum, which she calls the 'gentle sister' to her iconic Retinol Reform. The product has a low-pH stabilized retinoid for deep, long-term cell turnover, plus lactic acid and vitamin B3 for glowiness, improved skin tone, and clear pores."
Next up, take a look at the best haircare products we used this month.