The “Best of Beauty” Skincare Standouts (3 stars or higher)
Avène Cleansing Foam ($20) – This basic (but good) cleanser for combination or oily skin rinses easily and removes most forms of makeup. The take-home message, though, is that you don’t have to pay this much for a good cleanser if you don’t want to. See our list of Best Cleansers for options that give you more bang for your buck.
Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10, Maximum Strength ($6.49) – This is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to fighting acne-causing bacteria. Its potent formula contains 10% of the topical disinfectant benzoyl peroxide, the maximum amount approved for sale over-the-counter!
Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask ($25) – If you're in the mood for a little beauty treat, or just want to stack the deck in your battle against oily skin and blackheads, this clay-based mask is a great option. Bonus: It can also (temporarily) help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores!
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30 ($38) – This moisturizing yet sheer cream feels pleasant on skin (how many SPF products can you say that about?), provides broad-spectrum protection, and includes a skin-benefitting array of antioxidants. Cheers to Drunk Elephant!
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment ($36.95) – This anti-acne product earns its stripes due to its blend of benzoyl peroxide + antioxidant vitamin E + soothing ingredients to help reduce redness from blemishes. Although pricey, it’s a great product to clear breakouts without leaving skin dry or flaky.
Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Daily Sunscreen SPF 50 ($12.49) – If you have combination skin, listen up: This surprisingly light, thin-textured moisturizer provides broad-spectrum protection via its gentle mineral actives, and it’s great for sensitive skin, including those struggling with rosacea. Winning!
Olay ProX Anti-Aging Nightly Purifying Micro-Peel ($39.99) – This is an excellent leave-on AHA exfoliant for all skin types due to its effective glycolic acid formula—a rare find at the drugstore (or even from pricier brands, for that matter).
Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash ($7.79) – Ditch the bar soap and opt for this tried-and-true moisturizing body wash for dry skin. Its budget-friendly price is the cherry on top! Tip: Replace your drying liquid hand soap with this and enjoy smoother, softer hands during cold, dry winter months.
St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion ($25) – We were skeptical that this in-shower self-tanner would work given its unusual application method, but guess what? It delivers! Not only did we find it less prone to streaking than your typical self-tanning body lotion, it offers other traits that give it an innovative edge.
The “Best of Beauty” Skincare Duds (2 stars or lower)
Acure Organics Argan Stem Cell + Chlorella Growth Factor Brightening Facial Scrub ($14.99) – The exfoliating agents in this scrub are a blend of dried kelp, which is an iffy choice due to its borderline overly abrasive texture, and lemon peel, which can exacerbate redness and inflammation. Making matters worse, the inclusion of essential oils add to the potential to irritate skin.
Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel ($25) – Sadly, this product’s main ingredient is alcohol, and at this amount, it’s is a problem for all skin types. The irritation it causes can hurt skin's healing process (hello, red marks from acne that take forever to fade) and potentially cause more oil production, which, in turn, can trigger more acne. That’s not our idea of an "Acne Solution!"
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream Extra-Dry Skin ($18.99) – This formula is just about as basic and bland as it gets, which leaves extra dry skin wanting for more. Its jar packaging is also unfortunate, making its water-based formula more prone to developing bacteria and microbes. Do your skin a favor and check out our Best Moisturizers list for superior alternatives.
philosophy renewed hope in a jar ($47) – This cream contains more fragrance than the called-out superstar ingredient hyaluronic acid, yet fragrance isn’t the least bit anti-aging; if anything, it is pro-aging! Adding to the issue is the jar packaging which allows the delicate beneficial ingredients to break down. Renewed hope? More like false hope.
RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream ($22.99) – For a product marketed to sensitive skin, we are puzzled by the inclusion of a potentially sensitizing sunscreen ingredient (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) and fragrance. This turns out to be a questionable choice for anyone, let alone those with sensitive skin.
Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Restoring Cream ($99) – While this is a good formula for dry skin, its jar packaging hinders the effectiveness of the impressive amount of antioxidants. So close, yet so far, Shiseido!
SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector ($90) – Alcohol is pro-aging and incites inflammation that can damage healthy skin, so although it's not a major ingredient in Advanced Pigment Regulator, it's presence over proven skin-lightening agents is disappointing in this formula… especially given the price!
Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($75) – Spending $75 on this cleanser gets you a hard-to-rinse mix that contains potentially skin-damaging citrus oils, other fragrance ingredients, and abrasive ground apricot seeds. This is a poor choice for anyone, and don’t even get us started on the price!
To see more of the latest product reviews from all brands, check out the New Reviews Section, and be sure to check out our Allure’s “Best of Beauty” Makeup Winners, Reviewed list, too!
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