We rounded up the best skin care products of the year, and it wasn’t easy: Whether you’re copping your first serum or honing a six-step routine, there’s more bottled science out there than ever.
The Best Skin Care
The Best Exfoliator: Herbivore Prism Exfoliating Glow Facial
Blackheads, be gone. Herbivore’s acid facial (a lot more pleasing than it sounds, promise!) packs a mighty punch to exfoliate and shed any dead skin sitting on your face—but not so much that you’ll look sunburnt after. Use it once a week for 10 minutes for a deeply clean glow.
The Acne Fighter: Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Cleansing Foam
If you’re still working to keep oil, acne, and ingrowns at bay, then 60 seconds with a quality face wash twice a day is in order. The Dr. Jart tea tree product is a powerful option that will keep those pores in check—the salicylic acid in it cuts through gunk like dish soap in TV commercials. But it does it without leaving your face dry and uncomfortably tight.
The Switch Hitter: Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum
This is neither a toner nor a serum—and that’s why we like it. A lot of you complain about wanting to keep your routine down to as few steps as possible, so consider this a solution to consolidating the middle of your routine (the toning and the serum-ing that happens after cleansing and before moisturizer). Fat Water includes witch hazel to keep oil at bay and niacinamide to bring overall brightness to your complexion. Just pop a couple drops in your hands, slap it on, and move on with your morning.
The Eye Brightener: Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Eye Serum
Everything in the dark must come to the light—including those circles under your eyes. If you’ve got blue or brown under your eyes, vitamin C products are a must for brightening the area. Kiehl’s formula has 10% C, but is rounded out with peptides to provide hydration that’s restorative for that thin under-eye skin.
The Best Retinol: Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil
This one’s for all of us at the awkward intersection of both acne and wrinkles. Retinol is one of the most powerful line-fighting ingredients we have, but it’s typically not known to play well with the other stuff in your medicine cabinet. Dermalogica solved for that by stabilizing retinol in an innovative oil formula, which allowed them to add acne-fighting salicylic acid. A lot of guys need to keep using salicylic in their routines—even into their 40s—to combat greasiness, enlarged pores, and ingrown hairs. Now, you can fight all those annoyances and signs of aging with one product.
The No-Brainer: Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster
Hyaluronic acid is a hero ingredient for skin care heads, widely used for its plumping and hydrating effects—essential for anyone developing fine lines and wrinkles. (It’s coming for us all.) Apply a couple of drops of this guy directly or mix with your go-to moisturizer for mighty, all-day hydration.
Ultra-Flattering Sunscreen: Supergoop Glow Oil SPF 50
SPF 50 is a good idea if you’re experiencing prolonged sun exposure, but most sunscreen makes you look chalky and pallid. Never fear: This SPF makes you look like you’ve been moisturizing daily since birth.
The Best Clay Mask: Beneath Your Mask Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask
This is a classic mix-your-own mask: It looks like mud, goes on thick, and stays there until you wash it off. (It’s up to you whether you want to mess with cucumber slices.) Because it’s loaded with targeted ingredients—botanicals, zinc, vitamins C and B—it’s a gateway to both a relaxing evening and intensely clear skin.
The Best Serum: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C is an essential part of any aging skincare routine, mostly because it helps to brighten the skin, fading away any tell-tale dark spots caused by the sun. Ole Henriksen’s latest has an impressive 15% Vitamin C, plus some other good-for-you ingredients that make it versatile for use both day and night. In other words, if David Blaine wanted to make the dark spots on your mug disappear, this is what he’d use.
The Best Makeup
Gateway to Makeup: Glossier Futuredew
Folks who wear makeup sometimes use a product called primer. It comes with “blurring” ingredients (typically silicones that minimize the appearance of pores) and “light-reflecting particles” (usually teeny, tiny pieces of glitter, undetectable to the naked eye but make you look like you’re glowing when applied all over). Futuredew is one of the best primers out there—especially for guys who need a little extra coverage but don’t want to commit to wearing a lot of concealer or a layer of foundation. You don’t even have to call it makeup if you don’t want—Glossier doesn’t. But this stuff is glow in a bottle, like a real-life Instagram filter.
Skin Smoother: Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Concealer
Tired of seeing that pimple every morning on Zoom? We have the technology to fix that. A lot of concealers tend to cake or crease, which means getting an “undetectable” look can be impossible. Shiseido’s Synchro Skin—a long-lasting, medium-to-full coverage formula—does neither of these things, and it holds up all day.