Between direct to customer launches, drugstore icons, designer brands, and cleaner-for-you indie companies, there’s no denying the skincare market is saturated. If money and time were no object, sure, you could give every brand under the sun a shot. But testing too many things can be chaotic for your skin and isn’t practical from any standpoint really, even if you’re a total beauty junkie who lives for a #SelfCareSunday and can’t resist a TikTok-trending product. That’s where this hit list comes in.
Here, you’ll find the skincare brands that beauty insiders (including the Women’s Health beauty team) can’t stop buzzing about, from luxe splurges and social media darlings to tried-and-true staples and budget-friendly powerhouses. Whether you keep your routine super-simple—or you skin cycle like a total pro—this guide will help you cut through some of the noise when it comes to all the popular skincare brands out there.
You’ll also find info on the hero products and best-sellers that put these brands on the map as well as some of the key ingredients in each range, so you can identify your best skincare match and figure out what may be worth spending on. One quick warning though: You just might want to try several of these best skincare brands of 2023!
About the brand: Squalene, a lipid that’s part of healthy skin’s natural oil production, begins to plummet as we age, so companies have been trying to harness its moisturizing properties as an ingredient for years. That used to require harvesting squalene (mostly from sharks) and converting it into squalane with an ‘a,’ its more shelf-stable cousin.
Enter Biossance, a beauty brand centered on ethically-sourced sugarcane-derived squalane—it’s the bioengineered powerhouse head-to-toe hydrator in all of their products. Squalane also can improve elasticity over time and soothe redness, making Biossance products apropos for mature or more reactive skin.
The best-seller: Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
Actress and brand ambassador Reese Witherspoon swears by the brand’s Squalane + Omega Repair Cream, but don’t sleep on the best-selling Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer, especially for the summer. The consistency is ultra-lightweight, so it sinks right into your skin to plump and provide a perfect base for makeup when you want to wear it. The formula also bears the National Eczema Association seal of acceptance, so sensitive skin girlies can give it a try, too.
2. Peach & Lily
About the brand: With celebrity esthetician and K-Beauty expert Alicia Yoon at the helm, Peach and Lily has put the glowy #GlassSkinGoals trend on everyone’s radar. The brand is all about finding your healthiest complexion with gentle but still efficacious, cleaner formulas. And if you like to mask, you’ll find everything from sheet styles to wash-off treatments as part of this range.
The best-seller: Glass Skin Refining Serum
Though the brand just launched a retinal serum meant to turn back the clock without the irritation typically associated with topical retinoids, its number one bestseller remains the Glass Skin Refining Serum. Users can’t get enough of its smoothing powers and the way it improves tone and evenness by brightening dark spots and subduing redness.
About the brand: If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, Neutrogena just may be where it’s at because you really can’t go wrong with any of their products. This dermatologist-backed drugstore stalwart offers everything from anti-aging formulas for the face to solutions for dry skin and breakouts. You’ll also find makeup, sunscreen, and body care items including shower gel, oil, and creams all in their lineup.
The best-seller: Makeup Remover Ultra-Soft Cleansing Towelettes
Every medicine cabinet or cosmetics bag could benefit from a pack of Neutrogena’s best-selling Makeup Remover Ultra-Soft Cleansing Towelettes. There’s no substitute for thoroughly washing your face, but these wipes are a close second on those late nights when you want to skip the sink altogether—or when you just want a quick pass to remove the last of your stubborn mascara.
4. First Aid Beauty
About the brand: First Aid Beauty is all about loving the skin you’re in by solving the complexion challenges you may encounter seasonally or every day, spanning from general sensitivity to conditions like keratosis pilaris, a.k.a. dry, bumpy skin. With a lineup that caters to both face and body problem solvers, there’s something in this collection for you, from cleansers and exfoliators to serums, treatments, and even tinted mineral sunscreen.
The best-seller: Ultra Repair Cream
FAB’s best known for its do-it-all Ultra Repair Cream, which contains a calming-meets-hydrating mix of colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and allantoin. Reviewers rave about it for everything from itch relief to stretch mark prevention. It’s safe for both body and face application, too.
About the brand: You probably remember your parents or grandparents using Olay, and that’s a good thing. Nostalgia points aside, this tried-and-true classic has been trusted for decades. That’s because Olay has consistently delivered well-priced anti-aging moisturizers, eye creams, cleansers, and the like—for all types of skin: oily, normal, and combination—all while keeping up with innovations in formulas, featuring of-the-moment ingredients from niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to retinol and vitamin C.
The best-seller: Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer
Known as the “red jar” and affectionately referred to as a holy grail product in beauty circles, Olay’s Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer is said to soften fine lines and wrinkles in just 28 days for fresher-looking, more dewy skin. Globally, 20 jars of this cream are supposedly sold per minute, and if you’re fragrance-averse, it comes in a non-scented version as well.
6. La-Roche Posay
About the brand: Hailed as the fastest growing skincare brand of 2022, La-Roche Posay combines clinical testing and dermatological research to develop their line of relatively affordable products, which are tailored to a variety of different skin types to target everything from dark spots and blemishes to eczema, redness, and beyond. You’ll find the brand’s selenium-rich Thermal Spring Water, sourced from their Thermal Center in France, in each of its formulations; this water is said to have both calming and antioxidant-like properties, making the brand a great pick for finicky skin.
The best-seller: Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen SPF 60
You can’t talk about La-Roche Posay without talking about its commitment to preventing skin cancer via the brand’s best-selling sunscreen, Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen SPF 60. This velvety liquid spreads easily and evenly on both the face and body and is safe for sensitive skin, too.
7. The Ordinary
About the brand: Think of this brand as democratizing skincare, since its premise is essentially that effective ingredients shouldn’t mean inflated prices. The packaging may be no frills, and beauty newbies might have trouble navigating the line, which names its products by their actives. But if you’ve honed in on the skincare concerns you’re trying to address—and you know glycolic acid from lactic acid, for example—you’ll find good value in The Ordinary.
The best-seller: Retinol 0.2% in Squalane Serum
Dermatologists and aestheticians alike consistently sing the praises of retinol for its resurfacing and brightening effects, and with The Ordinary, you can get in on this anti-ager for less than $10 a pop. Even better, the brand has several concentrations available, so you can start slowly with the mild Retinol 0.2% in Squalane Serum to stave off the potential peeling and redness so many experience when adding this ingredient into their skincare regimens.
8. Tata Harper
About the brand: Clean beauty pioneer Tata Harper has found a way to make natural skincare luxurious with her eponymous brand that also prides itself on its sustainability, transparency, and high-impact organic botanicals. All of the products are made at Harper’s farm in Vermont, and you’ll find over 300 raw ingredients in her plant-forward formulas. The matte glass bottles and shiny gold caps aren’t all just for good looks either; if you want to know how fresh your product is or who made it, you can actually trace the etched batch number on the bottom of your vessel online.
The best-seller: Resurfacing Mask
Tata Harper’s award-winning Resurfacing Mask is like an instant mini facial. Slather it on for twenty minutes once a week and then rinse it off to reveal a brighter, tighter complexion. It’ll get rid of flakes and rough patches, too.
About the brand: A Gen Z favorite thanks to its wide range of affordable products for all skin types, CeraVe has become a TikTok sensation in recent years. Between acne, dry skin, and sun protection, the brand’s dozens of offerings address a wide variety of concerns, and the gentle, science-backed formulas are consistently recommended by dermatologists.
The best-seller: Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Lightweight, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, this moisturizer is a crowd pleaser that can be used on multiple skin types. It features all-star ingredient hyaluronic acid to moisturize dry skin on the face and body while also repairing and retaining your skin’s natural moisture barrier.
10. The Inkey List
About the brand: Much like The Ordinary, U.K.-based The Inkey List is another ingredient-centric brand that helps you introduce trendy-but-effective ingredients into your skincare routine without putting a huge dent in your wallet. The products are draped in minimalist black-and-white packaging and given simple names in order limit confusion during the consumer shopping experience.
The best-seller: Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Speaking of trendy-but-effective ingredients, this award-winning moisturizing serum features hyaluronic acid, which easily absorbs into the skin without leaving the skin feeling tacky or sticky. For best results, try applying it to slightly damp skin right after cleansing.
About the brand: This beloved brand features Japanese-inspired skincare products that are more than deserving of the cult following they’ve gained. It began after founder Vicky Tsai, who spent years suffering from dermatitis, found a way to heal her skin following a stop in Kyoto, Japan during a trip through Asia. In the last decade, Tatcha has introduced dozens of gentle-but-effective products centered around natural ingredients like rice powder, red algae, and green tea.
The best-seller: The Dewy Skin Cream
This hydrating cream uses antioxidant-rich Japanese purple rice to protect and help the skin recover from environmental stressors. It also includes red algae and hyaluronic acid to help the skin’s moisture barrier function.
12. Paula’s Choice
About the brand: Paula’s Choice—which was founded in 1995 by Paula Begoun—was founded on the principle that transparency in beauty matters. Years after being fired from a cosmetics counter for telling customers the truth about what their skincare and makeup products can’t actually accomplish, she began Paula’s Choice, centering ingredients while also putting an emphasis on skincare education so that consumers can know how each ingredient works and when or how to use it. The website even features an ingredient glossary and a skin type quiz that will create a skincare routine for you based on your results to take the guesswork out of product shopping.
The best-seller: Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
If you had to try just one product from Paula’s Choice, it should absolutely be the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, which happens to be the brand’s best-selling product worldwide. It launched in 2000 as one of the beauty industry’s first leave-on exfoliants, and it uses BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) like salicylic acid to unclog and minimize pores for a flawless base.
About the brand: Two decades ago, applying sunscreen was known for being a sticky, goopy, smelly mess, and plenty of us can admit to only finding it necessary to wear in the summertime or during trips to the beach. The theory that Supergoop! was founded on over 15 years ago is that it doesn’t have to be that way, and that sun protection is essential to everyday life—not just for beach days or when you know you’ll be in direct sunlight.
The best-seller: Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
This cult-favorite gives you the benefits of a sunscreen and a makeup primer in one tube: it has an oil-free formula with an invisible finish that provides a sun protection factor of 40 while doubling as the perfect base to wear underneath complexion makeup.
14. Drunk Elephant
About the brand: What do you get when you combine an ingredient-focused approach to skincare (both what’s in the bottle and what’s not in the bottle) with punchy packaging and clever product names? You get Drunk Elephant, of course. For a very long time, it was the only skincare brand that seemed to matter and its following amongst Gen Z (and even younger) has only solidified its place in the pantheon of top skincare brands.
The best-seller: T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
The OG viral face mask, Babyfacial deploys a 25% blend of alpha hydroxy acids and 2% salicylic acid to resurface skin so it appears brighter, clearer, and more youthful looking. But be warned: This product is not for the faint of heart—it tingles when you put it on—so be sure you’re prepared when you slather it on.
15. Shani Darden Skin Care
About the brand: Created by celebrated Hollywood aesthetician Shani Darden, the brand features products Darden created specifically to address what she saw as white space on the skincare shelf—a non-irritating retinol, a professional-grade peel, a noncomedogenic moisture-rich cream. She’s been dubbed the “secret weapon” behind some of the best skin in Tinseltown—and thanks to her namesake brand, you can get the same results without shelling out to visit her studio in LA.
The best seller: Retinol Reform Treatment Serum
What we love about retinol: This vitamin A derivative is the dermatologist gold standard for stimulating collagen to helps minimize fine lines and wrinkles. We we don’t love: It can be tremendously irritation. Darden noticed that too, and wanted to offer her clients an option with all of the good, none of the bad. They key is the serum’s encapsulated retinol, which slowly releases over time so as not to irritate the skin.
About the brand: You’d be hard-pressed to find a brand more beloved by dermatologists and beauty editors alike than SkinCeuticals. Their collection of products boast some of the most well-researched ingredients (retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid) at clinically-effective levels. The price is…up there. But you can be confident knowing that the formulas are top-of-the-line and, with consistent use, can make a big impact on your skin.
The best seller: C E Ferulic
The classic age-fighting ingredient combination of vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid is so effective that this formula has been copied over and over again. But there’s nothing quite like the original, which is why this product—despite its hefty price tag—remains a perennial best seller. Its best used daily before applying sunscreen to help scavenge free radicals and protect skin from damage. Don’t mind the smell (it’s been described as akin to bologna or hot dogs): It dissipates quickly.
17. Saint Jane Beauty
About the brand: What started as a chic CDB brand has evolved into a plant-powered skincare line featuring elegant products with crowd-pleasing textures and now, Saint Jane Beauty is beloved by the discerning skincare customer. Our beauty team has tried every product in the line, and choosing one standout is a challenge: There are luxurious moisturizers, botanical serums, body products, you name it.
The best seller: Luxury Sun Ritual
Our beauty director is a huge fan of this invisible, weightless mineral-based sunscreen, which is flattering on all skin tones. It shields skin from UV damage with 10% zinc oxide and defends against dryness with desert rose. Plus, the velvety texture blurs pores and tiny imperfections and is vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. It’s a win-win-win-win!
18. L’Oreal Paris
About the brand: This brand, a pharmacy staple with sophisticated formulas that bely the low price, has all of your skincare needs covered, pouring massive amounts of money into developing products that are effective and well-tolerated. L’Oreal Paris’s serums are hot hot hot right now, and for good reason: You’d can pay up to 100% more for comparable products. But honestly, why would you?
The best seller: Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Hyaluronic is known as a humectant, an ingredient that can hold onto up to 1000 times its weight in water, and it’s been a tried-and-true moisturizing staple in skincare for decades. This serum combines low-molecular weight and high-molecular weight versions of HA to ensure that the ingredient penetrates so it can hydrate deeper layers of skin and coat the top layer of your complexion so moisture stays in. Use it whenever you feel like your skin is withering and watch it spring back to life.
19. Estée Lauder
About the brand: Lauder’s products have been gracing the faces of women since 1946 when the real-life Estee and her husband Joseph started the brand in New York City with just four products. Nearly a century later, its still going strong, with discerning skincare consumers flocking to stores and sites to stock up on classics like Advanced Night Repair and Re-Nutritive Moisturizer.
The best seller: Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex
The night product that everyone knows and loves is one of the standouts of Lauder’s skincare collection. This super serum combines 7 benefits into one product, with a signature complex that increases your cell’s ability to repair themselves along with hydrating hyaluronic acid and a combination of antioxidants that protects from environmental damage and light. Our beauty director is a huge fan of the watery gel-like texture, a far cry from the thick night creams you may be used to using.
Danielle Blundell is a New York City-based lifestyle writer and editor who has written on topics ranging from home to health for a variety of publications including Rachael Ray Every Day, Redbook, Family Circle, This Old House, Elle Decor, Esquire, Domino, and Apartment Therapy. She’s a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism and has appeared as an on-air expert on Today, The Doctors, The Celebrity Page, and other local news programs. Website: https://danielleblundell.myportfolio.com/
Danielle is the beauty editor at Women’s Health. Her apartment is currently littered with beauty products, but when she’s not testing them all out, you can find her watching facial ASMR videos on YouTube, binge-watching The Golden Girls on Hulu, and reading rom-coms.
Brian Underwood is the beauty director at Women’s Health. He is an award-winning journalist with more than 15 years of experience covering beauty and lifestyle for several national media outlets and previously served as beauty and wellness director at Oprah Daily. His work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Life & Style Weekly, Good Housekeeping, and many more. He also serves as a member of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s gala committee and lives in New York City with his daughter.