Best & Worst Skincare Products of 2015
Out of the hundreds of products we review on Beautypedia each year, typically only a few truly stand out as either impressing us or leaving us thoroughly disappointed. So, with 2015 in the rearview mirror, here are the most memorable BEST and WORST skincare products of the past year…
Best: SkinMedica GlyPro Antioxidant Serum ($120) – This is a buzzworthy AHA exfoliant to consider! The healthy dose of glycolic acid helps improve skin tone and texture, while the plant-based antioxidants and soothing extracts gently release their anti-aging prowess. Insider tip: If you don’t want to spend this much, check out the alternatives from years’ past in our top-rated AHA exfoliants section.
Worst: Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream Anti-Age + Anti-Fatigue Night Cream ($17.99) – This decadently emollient moisturizer would have been a great option for dry skin…if it didn’t contain fragrant lavender oil + other potentially damaging ingredients that pose a risk of irritation. Unfortunately, this sleeping cream isn’t the skincare dream we’d hoped for.
Best: MDSolarSciences Beauty Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($39) – Between a generous array of antioxidants and cell-communicating agents + gentle mineral-based sun protection, this “beauty balm” treats skin to a smorgasbord of anti-aging ingredients. More to love, the matte finish is ideal for oily skin and the sheer, neutral tint is a nice added touch!
Worst: Proactiv Advanced Dark Spot Correcting Serum ($50) – This formula had potential for fading discolorations but took a turn for the worse due to its potentially skin-damaging/drying amount of alcohol.
Best: First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser ($26) – A great option for sensitive or dry skin alike, this formula contains a variety of moisturizing non-fragrant plant oils and removes makeup and debris easily, yet rinses cleanly. A bit on the pricey side, but we think it’s worth the splurge.
Worst: Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser ($8.99) – This cleanser’s high concentration of benzoyl peroxide has the potential to irritate the eye area, but what really sets it over the edge is the inclusion of menthol. The cool, tingling sensation you feel is an indication of the inflammation happening below the surface of skin—that’s not good news for any skin type!
Best: Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($45) – Customize your skincare routine by mixing this moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid concentrate with your anti-aging products. The blend also contains skin-reparative ceramides and cell-communicating adenosine to nourish damaged, dehydrated skin.
Worst: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask ($23) – This is one of Laneige's most buzzed about products, but our in-depth look at the highly-fragranced overnight mask revealed it's a disappointingly bland formula. Ironically, even some of the hero ingredients Laneige calls out don’t show up on the ingredient list!
Best: M.A.C. Mineralize Timecheck Lotion ($44) – This lightweight, hydrating lotion temporarily blurs pores and fine lines while treating skin to repairing antioxidants and emollients. It also works beautifully as a foundation primer.
Worst: Clinique Repairwear Anti-Gravity Eye Cream ($40) – The fact that this eye cream comes in a jar means that even though this has an impressive mix of antioxidants and repairing ingredients, they’re not going to stay stable for long once opened.
Best: M.A.C. Lightful C Tinted Cream with Radiance Booster Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($35) – For those with oily to combination skin, there’s a lot to love about this tinted moisturizer, including a wide range of beneficial ingredients + broad spectrum sun protection. Better yet, its natural-looking finish comes in a surprisingly wide range of shades for those with fair to deep skin tones.
Worst: Biore Pore Penetrating Charcoal Bar ($6.99) – Not only can’t this product live up to its claims to “degunk pores,” it also contains highly problematic ingredients that could serve to make acne, clogged pores, and oily skin worse.
Best: Skinfix Gentle Eczema Balm ($18.99) – Whether you’re dealing with eczema or very sensitive skin, this is a simple, but excellent ultra-rich moisturizer for kids and adults alike. Super-finicky skin types, take note!
Worst: Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil ($105) – While this luxurious concoction does contain some beneficial plant oils, they’re included alongside multiple fragrant citrus oils that has potent ability to sensitize skin. This mixed bag of ingredients isn’t our definition of beauty sleep.
Best: Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Eye Cream ($32) – A longtime eye cream holdout, Paula’s Choice debut into this category of products was well worth the wait. This ranks among our top recommendations for its impressive ingredient list, intensively moisturizing and fragrance-free formula.
Worst: GlamGlow Flashmud Brightening Treatment ($69) – If we could sum this mask up in a few words it would be, “irritating formula, waste of money, and potentially pro-aging.” Ouch—and double ouch for the needlessly high price!
Best: Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Circle Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($38) – Though this won’t necessarily make dark circles disappear, it can certainly help improve their appearance with a mix of brightening pigments, vitamin C, and broad-spectrum SPF (since dark circles can appear darker with sun damage).
Worst: Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Nourishing Facial Water ($13) – Despite the hype, this “facial water” lacks the array of beneficial ingredients found in in today’s best toners, and features a potentially irritating amount of fragrance.
Best: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80) – Drunk Elephant caught our attention with this serum that combines a potent concentration of vitamin C with an array of antioxidants and plant oils. It’s a lightweight, skin-tone repairing facial oil that’s perfect for dehydrated skin. Bonus—it’s fragrance-free!
Worst: Boots Botanics Radiance Concentrate Serum All Bright ($13.99) – Though this serum contains a beneficial mix of plant extracts and skin-repairing ingredients, they’re joined by potentially irritating citrus extracts and a potent does of perfume-like fragrance. It’s a questionable formula more likely to do harm than good.
Best: Drunk Elephant Lippe ($22) – It’s too true that a good lip balm can be hard to find—and one that pampers your lips with a boost of anti-aging ingredients is even more rare! The Drunk Elephant brand impressed us again with this antioxidant and moisture loaded balm (packaged in a convenient twist-up stick).
Worst: Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask With Rose Clay ($25) – This mask delivers on its claims to absorb excess oil, but its highly-fragranced formula puts skin at risk for irritation (and it’s difficult to remove once it dries).
Best: Marc Jacobs Under (cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer ($44) – We love how this ultra-moisturizing primer sets to a slightly dewy finish, creates a smooth surface, and elongates the wear of makeup. Excellent for those with dry skin!
Worst: Sonia Kashuk Renew Micro Exfoliating Toner ($14.99) – Between an irritating mix of ingredients and failure to provide gentle exfoliation, this is a product you’re better off leaving on the store shelf.
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About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.