Over the past 12 months, the skincare category has grown exponentially as we’ve invested in our self-care. Now, more than ever, we need products that help close the gap between our best intentions and the stressful reality of daily life. Here are the formulas that we believe are truly worth your while.
Best Eye Make-up Remover
We love the sensation of swiping a reusable cotton pad, soaked with this refreshing formula, over our face and feeling the make-up and any daily unpleasantness from the day lift away. This formula is so light and gentle, there’s no need to rinse it off – and nutrients like cucumber and thyme stay behind to nourish skin.
We used to think skincare was all about serums and masks, but we’ve since learnt that, actually, a great complexion starts with the very first step: cleansing. Enriched with detoxifying clays and antimicrobial extracts, as well as calming essential oils, this gentle formula neutralises free radicals and helps our skin look completely clear and luminous.
Best All-Round Serum
The brainchild of our cover star Tina Craig, U Beauty is the only brand we know of that uses SIREN Capsule Technology – patent-pending molecules strategically designed to draw complexion-wrecking damage away from healthy skin. The compound’s formula also consists of other complexion heavy hitters, such as antioxidants, retinol, and vitamins C and E.
Best For Uneven Skin Tone
Swiss beauty brand Elixseri approaches skincare like we do fashion. They have formulated a line-up of five hero pieces… for the face. Each one targets a particular concern and uses natural ingredients to get the job done. Our favourite is a gentle resurfacing serum called Opening Act, which we like to layer on first before any other treatments.
Founder Deepika Patel created Ilody as skincare that works with modern women’s lives, drawing on her knowledge of Eastern plant botanicals and ayurvedic-inspired formulas. A good place to start: the Luxmi Hydrating Radiance Serum, which has soothing kombucha extract, antioxidant-rich snow mushroom and vitamin-packed bearberry leaf to brighten skin.
There is some serious science underpinning this effective formula: Neurophroline is a plant extract that helps block the production of cortisol in our skin cells, which is what leads to redness, inflammation and dullness. When you smooth it on, the formula is able to regulate that response to stress, while nourishing the skin with ingredients that help soothe and replenish.
Best Eye Treatment
The skin around our eyes is so delicate that signs of ageing often show up here first, so we’re converts to investing in dedicated formulas that repair damage and refresh tired-looking skin. Aurelia’s clean formula is a standout: it has probiotics to calm and boost collagen, and arnica to diminish darkness.
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare
Best Vitamin C
This powdered vitamin C supplement for your face helps brighten the skin’s surface, stimulate collagen production and prevent damage from stressors. Simply add two or three shakes to your serum, moisturiser or water and apply. The result is radiant-looking skin that, over time, becomes healthier and more resilient.
The Nue Co.
Best Face Oil
You know that shift you feel in your complexion when the heating and the elements start to take their toll? This nourishing range of oils is the antidote: attuned to your skin’s needs as the seasons change, they smell almost as good as they feel. This one is infused with essential oils, fruit and plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, to smooth dull, tired winter skin.
Best Daily SPF
The ultimate beauty transformer, a few drops in moisturiser or foundation adds sun protection to your favourite formulas. This clever product also contains vitamin E and beta-glucan, antioxidants that protect cells from the damage caused by pollution and other environmental aggressors.
Dr. Barbara Sturm
Best Face Peel
If you don’t already have an overnight exfoliating formula in your skincare arsenal, then this mask will be a game-changer. The conditioning peel has 10% lactic acid, as well as vitamins and antioxidants, so you wake up with smoother and brighter skin. If you’re prone to blotches and blemishes, it helps clear that, too.
Best For Acne-Prone Skin
Adding this weekly mask to our regimen makes all the difference when stress starts to show up in our complexions. Just massage onto clean skin and leave for 15 minutes: fruit acids stimulate cell production and skin appears refreshed and feels significantly smoother and softer as soon as you’ve rinsed it off with warm water.
It’s truly unfair that pimples don’t stop when we begin to tackle ageing concerns. One of the best skincare steps we’ve come across to tackle pimple-prone areas without a drying effect is this botanical-packed toner, which leaves skin smoother and softer. It has salicylic acid to exfoliate as well as organic rosewater and grape water to help reduce shine and soothe the skin.
The best way to ensure your skincare formulas are working hard – and to find your glow, even in the depths of winter – is to slough away radiance-sapping dead cells that build up on the surface. We love that Zelens’ resurfacing pads use a gentle blend of lactic, citric and salicylic acids to renew the outermost layer of skin.
Best For Sensitive Skin
Nothing quenches a dry, tight-feeling complexion faster than this lotion, which leaves skin hydrated and feeling significantly more comfortable all day long. A hyper-gentle, fragrance-free formula that is suitable for the most sensitive faces, this also makes a great make-up base.
Best Day Cream
This is the daytime formula we switch to in the warmer months, when we want non-greasy hydration that will last, while still getting the benefits of anti-ageing ingredients that work behind the scenes to keep our skin looking smooth and feeling soft. There’s also a combination of ginger, bisabolol and panthenol to calm irritated areas, which inevitably crop up.
Dr. Barbara Sturm
Best For Stressed Skin
Inspired by the brand’s cult formula, Phyto Corrective Gel, this cool-on-contact mask has double the concentration of green botanicals, like cucumber, thyme and olive extracts, to create a soothing mask that’s basically a salad for your face. All ingredients are calming and purifying to help counterbalance angry complexions.
Best Night Treatment
Sometimes, a product really lives up to the hype: we’re obsessed with this K-beauty night-time treatment, that has a one-two punch of ingredients that resurface the skin, as well as actives that leave it plump and super-hydrated. Thanks to the watermelon, hyaluronic acid and AHAs packed into this, you’ll wake up with skin that looks brighter and smoother.
Best Face Mask
We might not be travelling across time zones right now, but after one too many glasses of vino, this face-saver will ensure that while you might feel a little rough in the morning, you won’t look it. Here’s what’s in it: chestnut extract activates the skin’s natural exfoliation process, vitamin C brightens and niacinamide tackles uneven tone.
Best For Hyperpigmentation
Over the past year, as we shelved facials for at-home treatments, we have been loving CurrentBody’s anti-ageing device, which you only need to use for 10 minutes a day, three to five times a week. It is easy to operate and delivers the perfect dose of red and near infra-red light to improve skin tone, texture and firmness.
Best Face Tool
Like many of you, we’ve taken facials into our own hands in the past several months – which includes treating our skin with hi-tech tools. Our favourite is the Bear, which emits an electric current that, when used regularly, stimulates cell renewal and boosts collagen. Our skin definitely feels firmer after several weeks of dedicated use.
We love the philosophy underpinning Beauty Pie, founded by Marcia Kilgore, the brains behind mega-brands Bliss and Soap & Glory. The idea is simple: you can pay a retail price for the formulas (which are excellent), or, for a small subscription fee, buy them for the price it costs to make them in the lab.
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