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The Best Facial Skincare Products from the 2021 Beauty Crush Awards

Achieve your #skingoals with these dermatologist- and cosmetic chemist-approved picks.
Pia Velasco and Claire Harmeyer
Feb 26, 2021 @ 9:14 am
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Everyone has different skin concerns—from uneven skin tone and under-eye circles to dry patches and chapped lips. But with so many skincare products on the market, it's hard to figure out how to treat your one-of-a-kind face. Let us guide you: Through testing hundreds of skincare products, we found the most effective moisturizers, toners, cleansers, serums, and more products that reigned supreme in 2021.

Best Cleanser

Cerave_Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-To-Foam Cleanser

Best Drugstore Cleanser

Unless you have a specific skin concern, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a cleanser, especially considering that it’s only on your face for a few seconds. Case in point: This CeraVe do-all. This creamy cleanser lathers when rinsed with water, yet it doesn’t strip skin of its natural oils as other foaming products do. “It removes makeup pretty well, which is a huge plus,” one tester reported. Insider tip: You can use it with or without water to both cleanse and remove makeup. Simply rinse it off at the end and you’re good to go.

$17.38
SHOP IT
Amazon
Tatcha_Cleanser

Tatcha The Rice Wash

Best Luxe Cleanser

If cleanser seems like a necessary yet unexciting part of your skincare routine, your opinion will change after just one use. “This is the first product that’s ever made me look forward to cleansing my skin,” said one tester. “It has very fine rice grains that mix with the rich texture to create this frothy, facial-like experience that makes me feel like I’m at a salon.” It even sat well with testers who have sensitive and dry skin, who said that while many cleansers make their skin feel tight and stripped, this one left them feeling nicely hydrated.

$35
SHOP IT
Tatcha

Best Serum

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  • Best Drugstore Serum
    Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen-Protecting & Brightening Serum

    Glow-boosting licorice root, hydrating glycerin, anti-aging tri-peptides, and brightening vitamin C are the powerhouse ingredients behind this gentle serum. “This replaced my tried-and-true vitamin C serum,” said one tester, adding that it made her skin brighter, plumper, and more hydrated.

    $27
  • Best Luxe Serum
    Dior Capture Totale C.E.L.L. Super Potent Serum

    Michelle Henry, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, recommends this serum above all others. “It contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and longoza to diminish wrinkles and improve the luster of the skin.”

    $85
    SHOP IT
    Sephora
  • Best Drugstore Serum for Anti-Aging
    RoC Night Serum Capsules

    The capsules are packed with retinol and vitamin E, which work together to reveal fresher, healthier skin while you sleep. With continued use, you’ll get smoother skin and will see a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.

    $21.99
    SHOP IT
    Amazon
  • Best Luxe Serum for Anti-Aging
    DOCTOR BABOR Power Serum Ampoules: Retinol Serum

    This powerful serum includes a derivative of retinol, 1% granactive retinoid, which offers lower irritation potential yet offers the same ability to even skin tone and reduce the appearance of pores. Plus, since this product also uses tripeptide-1, it increases skin elasticity and reduces signs of aging.

    $59.95
    SHOP IT
    SkinStore

Best Makeup Remover

Almay_MakeupRemover

Almay Biodegradable Oil-Free Micellar Eye Makeup Remover Pads

Best Drugstore Makeup Remover

For just removing eye makeup, it seems excessive to use a whole makeup wipe, which is why we love this small biodegradable makeup remover pad that’s made specifically for the eye area. Testers noted that it works well with sensitive skin, which is great as people tend to harshly rub their mascara off and cause irritation.

$5.99
GlowR_makeupremover

Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover

Best Luxe Makeup Remover

Wrap up your days by massaging and melting away your face, eye, and lip makeup with this rich and moisturizing balm. For this product, Glow Recipe blended soothing papaya seed oil, antioxidant-rich blueberry extract, and exfoliating papaya enzymes to melt makeup away while gently exfoliating the skin of dead skin cells and lingering pollutants. “It felt like putting lotion on,” noted one tester, while another said her skin felt “so soft and smooth” after using it. 

$32
SHOP IT
Sephora

Best Toner

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  • Best Drugstore Toner
    Versed Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution

    The formula includes exfoliating azelaic acid, renewing alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), brightening vitamin C, toning kojic acid, and bearberry extract to help fade dark spots. “It’s a great option for someone with sensitive skin that has a dull complexion or post-acne scars, like mine,” noted an HG tester.

    $18
    SHOP IT
    Revolve
  • Best Luxe Toner
    Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water

    Hydrating ceramides, replenishing fatty acids, and strengthening vitamin E make up this moisturizing toner, which testers said works quickly and effectively and is great for sensitive areas like the eyes.

    $28
    SHOP IT
    Sephora
  • Best Drugstore Toner for Acne
    Melé Refresh Even Tone Post Cleanse Facial Tonic

    Melé is the first drugstore skincare brand created specifically for melanin-rich skin. Of all its stand-out products, this mild daily tonic takes the cake as it gently exfoliates the skin, removes impurities from the pores, and corrects acne-induced hyperpigmentation.

    $21.99
    SHOP IT
    Target
  • Best Luxe Toner for Acne
    Farmacy Deep Sweep Toner

    True to its name, this toner seeps deep into your pores to gently exfoliate, cleanse, and control excess oil production without over-stripping the skin. “This toner is water-light, so the absorption is lightning-fast,” said one tester.

    $28
    SHOP IT
    Sephora

Best Exfoliator

Pacifica_Exfoliator

Pacifica Clean Shot BHA/AHA 25% Peel Solution

Best Drugstore Exfoliator

Achieve brighter, glowier skin with this 15-minute peel. It uses alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to buff away dead skin cells and decongest pores, making way for new cells to shine through. One tester noted how thin the formula is, which allowed it to sit nicely on her skin, while another said that her skin looked so much better after just one use.

$12
SummerFri_Exfoliator

Summer Fridays Soft Reset AHA Exfoliating Solution

Best Luxe Exfoliator

As the name suggests, this toner helps you set the “refresh” button on dull, tired skin. Using a concentrated 16% AHAs, this powerhouse product brightens, exfoliates, and softens your skin. “I applied this at night and woke up to my face feeling so smooth—I couldn't stop touching it,” reported one tester. Dolphin-soft skin? We’re sold.

$54
SHOP IT
REVOLVE

Best Spot Treatments

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  • Best Drugstore Spot Treatment
    Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Micropoint for Blemishes

    Each patch is loaded with 173 micropoints (three times more than acne patches from other brands), and one patch can penetrate any sized zit, shrink it down, reduce redness, and bring pus to the surface without scarring.

    $12.99
    SHOP IT
    Amazon
  • Best Luxe Spot Treatment
    Peace Out Acne Treatment Serum

    “Beyond having a proven acne-fighting ingredient—salicylic acid at 2%—it also contains niacinamide and vitamin C to brighten dark spots and even skin tone, plus triluronic acid and zinc to hydrate, calm, and help decongest pores,” explains New York-based cosmetic chemist, Ron Robinson.

  • Best Drugstore Dark Spot Treatment
    Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Micropoint for Dark Spots

    Each patch uses 173 dissolving micropoints to deliver a powerful combination of brightening ingredients like tranexamic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin C. Together, they work to smooth skin, brighten dark spots, and provide post-blemish moisture.

    $12.99
  • Best Luxe Dark Spot Treatment
    ZitSticka Hyperfade

    Each dark spot patch is layered with 24 micro darts (infused with ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, licorice root, and niacinamide) and dissolves 24 hours after applying. One user noticed a massive difference after just four uses, while another tester found that her dark spots healed twice as quickly when she treated them with this product.

    $34
    SHOP IT
    Amazon

Best Lip Treatment

Nivea_LipTreatment

Nivea 2-in-1 Lip Balm + Scrub

Best Drugstore Lip Treatment

One of the most annoying parts about having chapped lips is all that dead skin, and while lip balms are great for hydrating them, they don’t do much for the bits that need to come off. Enter: Nivea’s 2-in-1 Lip Balm + Scrub. The hybrid lip product uses plant-derived grains that gently buff away dead skin cells, and the vitamin E and aloe vera-heavy formula delivers nourishment and soothing effects. 

$4.99
bader_lip

Augustinus Bader Lip Balm

Best Luxe Lip Treatment

Augustinus Bader is a leading stem cell and biomedical expert who’s wowed A-listers (like Victoria Beckham) and skincare experts alike for his cutting-edge skincare technology, and thankfully, he launched an innovative lip treatment, too. “This lip balm gives your lips a light sheen and leaves them hydrated without feeling sticky,” said Dr. Idriss. “It's loaded in sunflower, avocado, and grapeseed oils in addition to the brand's signature TFC8 complex which encourages your skin renewal process.” If you have chapped lips that need to be repaired pronto, this is your best bet.

$38
SHOP IT
Nordstrom

Best Moisturizer

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  • Best Drugstore Moisturizer
    Honest Beauty The Daily Calm Lightweight Moisturizer

    “It absorbs almost immediately, so you feel like nothing is there,” one said. It’s fragrance-free, uses a micro hyaluronic acid and a unique calming blend to repair compromised skin, and is recognized by the National Eczema Association, too.

    $29.99
    SHOP IT
    Amazon
  • Best Luxe Moisturizer
    Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Calming Gel Cream

    “This year was the year of inflammation and skin irritation, so if we ever needed a cream to target that, it’s now,” said Shereene Idriss, M.D., a Manhattan-based board-certified dermatologist, referring to the introduction of mask-wearing and the consequential maskne many of us experience now.

    $48
    SHOP IT
    Sephora
  • Best Drugstore Moisturizer for Anti-Aging
    RoC Multi Correction revive + Glow Gel Cream

    This lightweight and non-greasy gel does the trick and then some; with a blend of vitamin C antioxidants, Shea butter, and fruit extract, testers instantly saw more luminous and plumper-looking skin.

    $22.94
    SHOP IT
    Amazon
  • Best Luxe Moisturizer for Anti-Aging
    Dr. Loretta Anti-Aging Repair Moisturizer

    Dr. Idriss told us she highly recommended it, saying, “This moisturizer delivers hydration while protecting against free radicals and offering skin firming peptides along the way.”

    $70
    SHOP IT
    Dermstore
  • Best Drugstore Moisturizer for Acne
    Philosophy Purity Made Simple Oil-Free Moisturizer

    This oil-free gel moisturizer is packed with vitamins B5, C, and E to brighten and nourish your skin. Plus, it uses bamboo extract to control excess shine for a matte look that lasts all day long.

    $28
    SHOP IT
    Amazon
  • Best Luxe Moisturizer for Acne
    BeautyStat Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream

    “This gel-cream is formulated to help repair the skin’s barrier with a proprietary combination of hydrating ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and a probiotic ancient mushroom extract that works synergistically to drench the skin in moisture," said Robinson.

    $50
    SHOP IT
    REVOLVE

Best Face Oil

Weleda

Weleda Awakening Oil

Best Drugstore Face Oil

Boost dull-looking skin with this dew-inducing face oil. Pomegranate, the hero ingredient in this product, is a well-known anti-aging ingredient and a big-time antioxidant that helps skin self-repair, retain moisture, and increase radiance. Testers raved about the refreshing and slightly citrus scent: “I love mixing a drop or two with my daytime moisturizer,” said one. “It makes my skin look instantly healthier, and the subtle scent helps to wake me up before I’ve had my coffee.”

$24.99
SHOP IT
Target
RMS

RMS Kakadu Evening Beauty Elixir

Best Luxe Face Oil

Studies show that Kakadu Plum extract has large amounts of vitamin C, making it the new buzzy skincare ingredient for achieving glowy skin. This elixir is described by the brand as “beauty sleep in a bottle,” and our testers couldn’t agree more. “It gave my skin a nice glow thanks to the slightly orange tint,” one tester noted. “It hydrated my skin really well and repaired some flaky post-cold skin.”

$42
SHOP IT
CREDO BEAUTY

Best Eye Cream

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  • Best drugstore eye cream
    I Dew Care Glow Key Brightening Vitamin C Eye Cream

    We all know the importance of a good eye cream, especially if you have puffy, dark circles. This one is formulated with vitamin C, niacinamide, and plumping coffee extract to help you fake a full night’s rest. Testers loved that it came with a metal cooling wand that helped depuff while applying the cream over the area.

    $20
  • Best luxe eye cream
    BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector

    Robinson recommends this brightening and anti-aging eye cream for its clinically-backed results. “It reduces the look of fine lines, crows feet, dark circles, and puffiness as it lifts, firms, and brightens,” he explains.

    $65
    SHOP IT
    REVOLVE
  • Best anti-aging drugstore eye cream
    Pond's Lifting & Brightening Eye Cream

    Formulated with vitamin B3 and retinol complex, this hydrating cream lifts the skin around the eyes for improved elasticity and a tighter appearance.

    $9.79
    SHOP IT
    Target
  • Best anti-aging luxe eye cream
    Kate Somerville Retinol Firming Eye Cream

     This eye cream almost instantly firms, brightens, and hydrates the skin around the eyes while reducing wrinkles in the long run, too. “Not only is it hydrating, but it’s also feeding our skin with essential nutrients to help firm and build new collagen,” Dr. Idriss explained. “It's a win-win in my book.”

    $85
    SHOP IT
    Dermstore

Best Facial Sunscreen

hawaiian_tropic

Hawaiian Tropic Matte Effect Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

Best Drugstore Sunscreen

Say goodbye to excess sweat and oil with this mattifying sunscreen. It works well with every skin type, but it’s especially beneficial for acne-prone people as the formula is non-comedogenic and absorbs excess oil. Testers loved how smooth it felt and how quickly it absorbed into the skin, and we also like that the formula is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

$9.02
SHOP IT
Amazon
elta_sun

EltaMD UV Restore Broad Spectrum SPF 40

Best Luxe Sunscreen

Apart from protecting the skin from sun damage, this physical sunscreen also works to reverse the clock on aging skin. It uses moisturizing squalane to restore bounce, ginger root extract to brighten dark spots, and saccharide isomerate to replenish dry skin. “Most physical sunscreens don’t absorb well, but this one does,” noted one tester.

$36.50
SHOP IT
Dermstore

Best Face Mask

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  • Best Drugstore Face Mask
    The Ordinary 100% Niacinamide Powder

    We love that this is a powdered skincare product, as that helps to keep the active ingredients more potent and longer-lasting. To use, simply mix a bit of powder with water, then apply to the face. If you want to use it as a serum, use more water, and if you prefer to use it as a mask (our preferred method), use more powder and let it sit on the skin for 10 minutes.

    $5.80
    SHOP IT
    Sephora
  • Best Luxe Face Mask
    Dr. Jart+ Cryo Rubber Mask with Moisturizing Hyaluronic Acid

    “My skin felt super soft after using it,” said one tester. “It had been pretty dry the day prior, but the mask exfoliated bits of dead skin off my face and moisturized the rest.” The formula uses hyaluronic acid and kelp extract to moisturize the skin and help it retain moisture, which is a must if your skin gets super itchy.

    $14
    SHOP IT
    Sephora
  • Best anti-aging drugstore face mask
    Versed Doctor's Visit Resurfacing Mask

    Holding true to its name, the Doctor’s Visit Resurfacing Mask delivers dermatologist-level results from the comfort of your home. Pencil in a weekly two or three minute appointment with this innovative product and watch your glow grow with time.

    $18
    SHOP IT
    REVOLVE
  • Best anti-aging luxe face mask
    Rodan + Fields REVERSE Radiance Mask

    In just 10 minutes, this gold cream mask refreshes skin for an immediately glowing complexion thanks to ingredients like turmeric extract, glycolic acid, and retinal-MD. After just one use, 100% of testers reported a significant, visible improvement in their skin texture, and after four weeks, 94% experienced a more radiant complexion.

    $60
    SHOP IT
    Rodan + Fields

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  • Best Facial Self-Tanner
    Tan-Luxe Super Glow Face Serum SPF 30

    “This antioxidant-packed, SPF 30 serum nourishes and protects skin while developing a healthy glow, and the hyaluronic acid in it draws in moisture and delivers all-day hydration," ays Anneke Knot, assistant beauty editor at Real Simple and Health magazines. 

    $55
    SHOP IT
    REVOLVE
  • Best cooling face sculpting tool
    BeautyBio Cryo Skin Icing Dual-Ended Roller

    Exposing your skin to the cold can reduce inflammation, redness, acne, and puffiness, and also stimulate circulation and sculpt the face if you use a roller like this one. Testers loved how easy it was to use, noting how seamlessly it rolled across the skin and how gentle it felt.

    $85
    SHOP IT
    Sephora
  • Best eye treatment
    Skyn Iceland Dissolving Microneedle Eye Patches

    After just one use, testers found that their under-eye areas looked way brighter than before. The microneedles are infused with hyaluronic acid, which hydrates and moisturizes dry skin, and a combination of peptides, which firm and smooth fine lines, wrinkles, and creases.

    $14
  • Best do-it-all tool
    Joanna Vargas Magic Glow Wand

    “I always look forward to pampering myself—especially this year—and this device helped me take my #selfcare to the next level,” said one tester. The hot setting helps eliminate build-up on the skin, the cool one helps to soothe the skin, and the added massage boost helps to sculpt the face, reduce puffiness, and help products absorb quickly into the skin when used after your skincare routine.

    $285
    SHOP IT
    REVOLVE
  • Best face roller
    KEYS Soulcare Obsidian Facial Roller

    We love how this face sculpting tool has a slightly cooling effect on the skin and how well it rolls across it, as some facial rollers tend to get stuck and make scratchy sounds. Plus, the obsidian rock, which is made from volcanic glass, is a protective stone that absorbs negative energy and clears the path for growth. Yes, please.

    $25
  • Best SPF Touch-Up
    Coola Full Spectrum 360 Refreshing Water Mist SPF 18

    Experts say that we’re supposed to reapply SPF every two hours, but that can be difficult to do without ruining your makeup. This spray, however, makes reapplying easy and enjoyable, thanks to its refreshing and mess-free formula.

    $36
    SHOP IT
    REVOLVE
  • Best non-retinol anti-aging product
    Noble Panacea Brilliant Prime Radiance Serum

    “It uses a patented delivery system that keeps the active ingredients protected as it time-releases them on the skin,” Robinson says. “With a unique combination of malachite, bakuchiol, and glycolic acid, this serum is clinically tested to deliver radiance, smoothness, and hydration.”

    $253
  • Best wrinkle spot treatment
    Freeman Micro-Darts Pro Line Care

    These invisible patches melt deep into the skin’s surface layers, filling them with hyaluronic acid and nourishing peptides. Allow two hours for the micro-darts to dissolve into the target area, then remove the patch to reveal smoother, more elastic skin, and reduced fine lines.

    $5.99
  • Best acne scar treatment
    Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel

    This scar gel uses soothing ingredients like bakuchiol, kollaren, and seaberry oil to support the skin’s moisture barrier and promote skin cell turnover, which helps heal scars in record time.

    $19.97
    SHOP IT
    Amazon

Hero Image Credits | Art Director: Jenna Brillhart, Illustrations/Animation: Sarah Maiden & Jenna Brillhart

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Click here to see all 187 winners of Hellogiggles' 2021 Beauty Crush Awards.