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38 Best Skincare Products Our Beauty Scientists and Editors Swear By

Consider this your go-to list of the best skincare products of all time.

best skincare products

As anyone who's ever perused the aisles of a beauty store or even a drugstore can tell you, finding the best skincare products is hard. That's why each year Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists rigorously test all types of skincare ingredients and products, from moisturizers to cleansers, exfoliators, anti-aging treatments and more, including drugstore picks and high-end beauty brands and everything in between: to find the ones that measurably show results in Lab tests and that consumers also love using.

In the testing process, GH Beauty Lab scientists send label-masked skincare products from hundreds of brands to a panel of thousands of women across the country and solicit real, unbiased feedback from consumers with a range of skin types. They also take scientific measurements in the Lab using instruments to evaluate the results, such as the Corneometer, which measures skin's moisture levels, and the Visia Complexion Analyzer, a digital imaging device that can track changes in skin, including the size and depth of wrinkles, pore size and dark spots.

Here, a definitive list of the GH Beauty Lab's top-tested best skincare products and dermatologist-recommended brands for your skincare routine no matter what your skin type — from combination to oily and acne-prone to dry and sensitive — or goals (glowing skin, natural products and more). Meet your new holy grail treatments proven to to be the number one performers in their categories, thoroughly evaluated or tested by the GH Beauty Lab's scientists for efficacy and safety:

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Best Drugstore Face Cleanser
Daily Facial Cleanser

  • Thoroughly cleanses skin
  • Gentle, non-drying formula
  • Good value

With a powder-fresh scent and mild suds, Cetaphil topped the GH Beauty Lab’s face wash test for cleansing thoroughly yet leaving skin soft. Several testers remarked that it was gentle and great for sensitive skin. “It didn’t overdry, strip or irritate,” one raved. Testers ranked it highest of all cleansers, with 86% saying they’d continue using it. Plus, it scored well for rinsing off easily and making skin feel hydrated.

Best Anti-Aging Serum
Smart Custom Repair Concentrate Serum

  • Effectively firms skin
  • Minimizes dark spots and pores
  • Brightens and evens skin tone

Scoring points for softening, firming, brightening, evening skin tone and minimizing pores and brown spots, this Clinique formula was the clear winner in the GH Beauty Lab's anti-aging serums test. In Lab assessment, the peptide serum was best at boosting firmness, by 24%, and reduced the look of pores and hyperpigmentation (dark spots) by 7%. Plus, 100% of testers agreed it had a nice texture. 

Best Anti-Aging Day Cream
Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Anti-Aging Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 30
Roc Skincare

  • Smooths skin's texture
  • Reduces wrinkles and firms
  • Fast-absorbing and gentle

Lightweight and mild, Roc’s formula was a heavy hitter for smoothing lines and skin texture in the GH Beauty Lab’s anti-aging day cream test. Digital imaging showed that the cream improved skin’s texture by 11% in four weeks; it also rated highly for diminishing wrinkles and firming. Testers commented on how quickly it absorbed and how smooth their skin felt after use.

Best Face Serum
Metacell Renewal B3 Serum

  • Measurably reduces wrinkles
  • Brightens and firms skin

  • Pricey

The winner of the GH Beauty Lab's face serum test, SkinCeuticals’ formula, with high levels of vitamin B3 to stimulate cell turnover, earned raves for visible wrinkle softening, brightening and firming. “I could see plumpness in my skin the next day — I was shocked,” a tester said. “Almost immediate results on my fine lines,” another remarked. The light liquid was the best of the serums tested by the GH Beauty Lab at reducing wrinkles, by 5% after four weeks of use.

Best Face Cleanser
Soothing Cleanser

  • Effectively and deeply cleans
  • High lather

Suds up and deep-clean your complexion with this SkinCeuticals foam infused with glycerin and cucumber extract, a winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s face cleanser test. It earned near perfect points for effectively cleansing: 96% of users reported that it deeply purified their skin. Yet it also wasn't over-drying: "Instead of feeling tight and dry, this facial wash left my skin feeling much more silky, nourished and smooth and rinsed off easily," a tester noted. 

Best Face Peel
Rapid Reveal Peel

  • Evens skin tone
  • Minimizes lines
  • Tester favorite

The winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s at-home facial peel test from a brand know for its professional spa-level products, this Dermalogica lactic acid formulation rated best with testers for evening skin tone and reducing lines, with 100% confirming that they’d use it again.

Best Drugstore Face Moisturizer
Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

  • Highly hydrating
  • Quality ingredients
  • Affordably-priced

The GH Beauty Lab’s gold-standard moisturizer at a great value, Good Housekeeping Seal star Olay delivers near-record levels of hydration with a mix of hyaluronic acidniacinamide and peptides. In Beauty Lab moisturizing tests using the Corneometer device, the formula boosted skin’s hydration by 68% three hours post-application, one of the highest moisturization scores in Lab history, and maintained the top spot after 24 hours. 

Best Face Moisturizer
Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+

  • Powerful hydrating effects
  • Lighweight texture

A GH Beauty Award winner, the classic Clinique lives up to its reputation, effectively hydrating skin for hours in GH Beauty Lab assessment despite a lightweight feel. Calculations with the Lab’s Corneometer device, which measures skin hydration levels, showed that it increased moisture by an impressive 43% over six hours after application.

Best Face Mask
TimeWise Repair Lifting Bio-Cellulose Mask
Mary Kay
Mary Kay

  • Firms skin
  • Pampering

Treat your skin to an at-home “facial” with this Mary Kay sheet face mask, which is backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal. An impressive 87% of testers said their skin looked and felt firm after they used it twice weekly for two weeks. 

Best Skincare Treatment for Glowing Skin
Cellular 3-Minute Peel
La Prairie
La Prairie

  • Visibly boosts skin's radiance
  • Gentle formula
  • Reduces blemish-causing bacteria

  • Pricey

Despite a potent blend of lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids, La Prairie's formula was a winner of the GH Beauty Lab's facial peels test for being super-gentle on skin. “My skin looked smoother and brighter as soon as I washed it off — my family even noticed!” one tester revealed, “yet there was zero stinging.” It scored highest in Lab digital-imaging evaluations for improving radiance and tied for first in reducing breakout-promoting bacteria.

Best Natural Moisturizer
Resveratrol Lift Night Infusion Cream

  • Powerful moisturizer
  • Naturally-derived ingredients
  • Smooths skin texture

With grape seed oil and the antioxidant resveratrol (derived from grape vines), this silky Caudalie cream proved to be a powerful hydrator and smoother. "It didn't leave my face greasy," a tester said. "My skin felt soft when I woke up," another reported. It scored among the highest in the GH Beauty Lab's night cream test, increasing moisturization 43% over six hours. The Lab's Visia complexion analyzer's digital imaging also showed a 12% improvement in skin texture.

Best Dermatologist-Formulated Scrub
Exfoliating Polish
Zo Skin Health
Zo Skin Health

  • Smooths skin
  • Not messy

From a brand developed by a dermatologist, this baking soda–based ZO Skin Health polish left skin silkiest in the GH Beauty Lab’s test of face scrubs. “My skin still felt smooth a day later,” a tester remarked, and several liked that a little product went a long way. It was most popular with users, ranking above the rest at making skin satiny, having the right exfoliation level and being the least messy of all the scrubs evaluated.

Best Face Mask for Acne
Clear Proof Deep-Cleansing Charcoal Mask
Mary Kay
Mary Kay

  • Purifies skin
  • Reduces oil and shine
  • Doesn't over-dry skin

Clarify acne-prone and oily skin with Mary Kay's face mask, a GH Seal star and Beauty Award winner. Made with two types of clay, it reduced skin’s oil 89% and shine 84% in 15 minutes, GH Beauty Lab data analysis found. Even though it has intense purifying effects, it doesn't dehydrate skin, instead leaving it "silky and soft," a Lab expert tester reported.

Best Skincare Tool for Oily Skin
Oil-Absorbing Volcanic Face Roller

  • Instantly absorbs oil
  • Mattifies skin
  • Good value

A GH Beauty Award winner, Revlon's first-of-its-kind rollerball wand is a reusable, less wasteful alternative to oil-blotting papers or face powder, absorbing grease with porous volcanic stone. “It mattified my oily T-zone as if I’d powdered it,” Aral said. GH Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek marveled that "it works so well.”

Best Multipurpose Skincare Product
Healing Ointment
Now 27% off

  • Reduces skin dryness
  • Works on face, eyes, lips and body
  • Bargain price

Heal chapped lips and beyond with the GH Beauty Lab’s go-to multipurpose salve, a GH Seal Star and Beauty Award winner. Lab data evaluation confirmed that it effectively decreased skin cracking and dryness. Layer it on face and lips before bed to nourish skin and help prevent moisture loss while you sleep.

Best Face Moisturizer for Combination Skin
No7 HydraLuminous Water Surge Gel Cream

  • Lightweight, non-greasy hydration
  • Increases radiance
  • Good value

Like a cool drink for a combination complexion, No7’s moisturizer hydrates parched skin with lipids, glycerin and plant-derived sugars without heaviness or greasiness, thanks to a featherlight gel-like texture. The GH Seal star and Beauty Award-winning formula increased skin’s moisturization for three days post-application and 84% of testers said their skin looked glowing after one week of use, per Lab data evaluation.

Best Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin
Calm + Restore Oat Gel Facial Moisturizer

  • Instantly relieves irritated, red skin
  • Fast-absorbing and non-greasy

Instantly quench and relieve a dehydrated face with Aveeno’s GH Beauty Award-winning advanced formula, which melds a next-generation water-based gel texture and nourishing, anti-inflammatory colloidal oat. The light moisturizer “melts in with no greasiness or tackiness and cools and calms dry, irritated skin patches on contact,” reports GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann. “My skin looked better the next day: less red and not rough.”

Best Drugstore Face Serum
No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum

  • Smooths and firms skin
  • Minimizes pores

  • Could be irritating

GH Seal star No7 was the best bargain in the GH Beauty Lab's face serum test, delivering results on par with or better than pricier options. It earned the best marks for smoothing skin's texture and received strong scores for improving firmness and diminishing pores. Described as “lightweight” by many, the serum made skin “look younger” and wrinkles “less visible,” though some reported slight irritation.

Best Night Cream
Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer

  • Softens and hydrates skin
  • Firms and brightens
  • Good value

A night moisturizer and skin-smoothing retinol treatment in one, GH Seal star Olay was a winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s night cream test thanks to its noticeable brightening, softening, firming and wrinkle-reducing effects. The cream raised skin’s firmness by 27% over four weeks of use, according to the Lab’s Cutometer device, which gauges skin laxity. 100% of testers agreed it made skin feel softer and also ranked it best at brightening.

Best Day Cream
RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Day Moisturizer SPF 30
L'Oreal Paris
L’Oréal Paris
Now 24% off

  • Minimizes dark spots
  • Evens skin tone
  • Increases hydration
  • Great value

The star (and best value!) of the GH Beauty Lab’s anti-aging day cream test, L’Oréal Paris topped Lab and tester assessments for reducing UV spots, evening skin tone and moisturizing, absorbing fast with a silky finish. The vitamin C and glycolic acid cream received the highest score for minimizing UV spots, by 11% over four weeks, and boosted skin’s hydration by 28%. “It decreased the appearance of my wrinkles and made my skin brighter and more radiant,” one raved. “My skin stayed hydrated throughout the day,” another said.

Best Eye Cream
Absolue Revitalizing Anti-Aging Eye Cream

  • Effectively moisturizes
  • Firms skin
  • Luxurious formula

  • Pricey

Lancôme’s luxe, vitamin-packed cream won the “gold” in the GH Beauty Lab’s eye treatments test, proving worth the splurge for hydrating and firming. The formula scored highest for increasing skin moisture, by 41% over six hours, in testing with the Lab’s Corneometer machine. It was also near the top for boosting firmness — by 29% over four weeks of use per calculations with the Lab’s Cutometer machine. Several testers noted a visible difference: "I received many comments (more than I ever got  when using any other product) on how great I looked," one said.

Best Drugstore Eye Cream
SkinActive Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream
Now 25% off

  • Boosts firmness
  • Raises skin hydration
  • Bargain price

The lowest-priced winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s anti-aging eye treatment test, Garnier’s cream effectively firmed and moisturized eye area skin. Made with shea butter and caffeine, it increased skin firmness by 32% and hydration by 31%. "It really seemed to diminish my dark circles so that I used much less concealer!" a tester raved. "It also was a great moisturizer and seemed to brighten."

Best Anti-Aging Face Cream
Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Anti-Aging Crème

  • Improves wrinkles and dark spots
  • Effectively moisturizes
  • Affordably-priced

A GH Beauty Lab favorite and Good Housekeeping Seal star, this luxe-feeling Roc cream is based on the research-verified ingredient retinol, which speeds up skin cell turnover to reduce dark spots and wrinkles starting in as little as seven days. In clinical tests, volunteers’ skin looked 32% smoother and more radiant after one week of daily use. The formula improved the look of wrinkles and dark spots by 46% over eight weeks and kept skin moisturized for a full 24 hours, data revealed.

Best Face Sunscreen
LiftActiv Sunscreen Peptide-C Face Moisturizer with SPF 30

  • No white residue
  • Non-sticky and non-irritating
  • Softens skin

  • Pricey

Boosted with anti-aging and antioxidant ingredients like peptides and vitamin C, Vichy’s chemical SPF lotion was a top performer in nearly every category in GH Beauty Lab face sunscreen testing, including moisturization and gentleness. 100% of testers agreed that it had an appealing texture, was easy to apply and didn’t cause irritation or breakouts. It also scored highest for sun protection and making skin feel hydrated, as well as not leaving a white cast, being sticky or interfering with makeup. “I didn’t even notice I was wearing sunscreen,” one marveled.

Best Drugstore Face Sunscreen
Matte Effect Sunscreen SPF 30
Hawaiian Tropic
Hawaiian Tropic

  • Matte, sheer finish
  • Gentle formula
  • Bargain price

The most affordable winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s most recent face sunscreen test, this Hawaiian Tropic lotion, a matte-finish mineral and chemical SPF combo, stood out for its mildness and classic “summery” coconut aroma. The fast-absorbing liquid rated well for not irritating, running into eyes or leaving a white cast on skin. “I have extremely sensitive skin, and this didn’t cause irritation,” one reported. “Works much better than anything I’ve used,” a second said.

Best Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen
Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer with SPF 30
Now 38% off

  • Measurably moisturizes skin
  • Broad-spectrum sun protection
  • Good value

For high level sun protection plus proven hydration in one bottle, look no further than Olay's GH Beauty Award-winning moisturizer with added broad spectrum SPF 30. In Lab measurements with the Corneometer device, the GH Seal star raised skin's hydration levels by 31%, more than any other SPF 30 previously tested. "It moisturized my skin and made it smooth and healthy," a tester noted. 

Best Face Scrub
Brightening Facial Scrub

  • Deeply purifies skin
  • Brightens
  • Good value

Number one in the GH Beauty Lab’s face scrub test, Acure’s formula clarifies skin with a blend of walnut shell powder and green clay. It earned a perfect score for deep complexion cleansing in a test of full-coverage makeup removal and ranked best among testers for purifying and brightening. “My skin was the softest it’s ever been after using this product," a tester noted. "My facial skin definitely looked refreshed, smoother and brighter — I felt like a no makeup day was completley okay," another marveled.

Best Overnight Face Mask
Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque

  • Highly moisturizing
  • No rinsing needed

Amorepacific’s overnight mask won the GH Beauty Lab’s test, upping skin's moisture level by a whopping 49%. The no-rinse mask is like a super-strength night cream: Swap it for your go-to product before bed whenever you need an extra hydration boost.

Best Face Oil
Nourishing Rose Oil
Laura Mercier
Laura Mercier

  • Hydrates skin
  • Made with natural oils

Laura Mercier's potent infusion of 10 botanical oils (coconut, sunflower, safflower, jojoba, rose and more) received the highst score in the GH Beauty Lab's face oil test of 56 formulas. It raised skin hydration by 12% over six hours in the Lab's Corneometer measurements. "Skin felt immediately softer and looked dewy," a tester reported.  

Best Drugstore Face Oil
Cocoa Butter Formula Moisturizing Skin Therapy Oil for Face

  • Softens skin
  • Contains nautral oils
  • Affordably-priced

The best bargain of the face oils in the GH Beauty Lab’s test and a GH Seal star, this Palmer’s 10-botanical-oil blend (with argan, apricot and almond oils) effectively boosted skin’s softness. In testing using the Lab’s Corneometer device, it increased skin moisture by 8% without feeling heavy. Skin had a "healthy glow" and "... the lines are gone!" two testers reported.

Best Neck Cream
Skin Active Triple Firming Neck Cream

  • Minimizes neck lines
  • Smooths skin

Reduce the rings around your neck with this shea butter and amino acid cream, which earned the highest marks for softening wrinkles in the GH Beauty Lab’s test of anti-aging neck treatments. The “rich” formula “improved my neck — I love it!” a tester said. “Both my neck and my décolletage looked smoother,” another reported. It was better than all others evaluated at minimizing the look of testers’ neck lines and wrinkles, based on standardized digital imaging.

Best Makeup Remover
Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover

  • Removes even waterproof makeup fast
  • Not irritating
  • Great value

Neutrogena’s affordably-priced formula was a top performer in the GH Beauty Lab’s test of 29 eye makeup removers for getting rid of stubborn waterproof mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow. Lab tests found it removed waterproof makeup quickly, and testers liked the product's scent, said it didn’t irritate the skin around their eyes, and found it effective at removing eye makeup completely. Volunteers were pleased with its ability to moisturize, as well as remove "even the toughest mascara" with little effort.

Best Lip Treatment
Anti-Aging Lip Treatment

  • Plumps lips
  • Softens skin
  • Fast-absorbing and non-sticky

  • Pricey

A winner of the Beauty Lab's anti-aging lip treatment test, this VenEffect cream made lips look fuller after four weeks of use: "It made my lips feel soft and smooth and appear fuller," a tester said."I will definitely continue to use it." Volunteers also rated it high for its non-sticky texture and fast absorption.

Best Anti-Wrinkle Skincare Product
DermalQuench Liquid Lift + Retinol Advanced Resurfacing Treatment
Kate Somerville
Kate Somerville

  • Minimizes lines and wrinkles
  • Effectively reduces dark spots
  • Minimal to no irritation

The gold-standard anti-aging ingredient retinol, which stimulates cell turnover to boost collagen, is the powerhouse in this GH Beauty Breakthrough Award-winning Kate Somerville serum, dispensed as a special foam for faster absorption. After four weeks of use, 76% of testers saw diminished lines and wrinkles, and a nearly 10% reduction in UV spots was measure in the Lab test, with little to no irritation. "This faded the dark spots on my cheeks and plumped both my fine and my deep lines," a tester said. "I got compliments on how even-toned and bright my skin was," another raved. 

Best Anti-Aging Eye Cream
Restore & Renew Multi Action Eye Cream

  • Measurably reduces eye area wrinkles
  • Firms skin

Zero in on pesky crow’s feet and sagging skin with No7’s retinol and peptide blend, which topped the GH Beauty Lab’s anti-aging eye treatment test for lessening lines and firming. The cream reduced eye-area wrinkle size and severity by 13% in digital imaging with the Lab’s Visia Complexion Analyzer device, and firmed skin by 28% in Cutometer calculations after four weeks. “I noticed a decrease in lines,” a tester reported.

Best Antioxidant Serum
Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Vitamin C Serum

  • Protects and brightens skin
  • Even skin tone
  • Good value

Feed your skin vibrancy-boosting “vitamins” via Roc’s GH Seal star and Beauty Award-winning antioxidant serum, blended with powerhouse brightener vitamin C balanced by emollient castor oil and glycerin. After four weeks of once-daily use, 94% of users found that their skin tone was visibly more even and 100% had brighter skin in an expert assessment, GH Beauty Lab data evaluation revealed.

Best Eye Depuffer
Nutritious Super-Pomegranate Radiant Energy Eye Jelly
Estee Lauder
Estée Lauder

  • Instantly refreshes eyes
  • Light, cooling formula

Estée Lauder’s innovative bouncy, jelly-like eye treatment, a GH Beauty Award winner, is more than just fun to play with: It’s packed with caffeine and fruit extracts (blueberry, pomegranate, cranberry) to refresh sleepy, puffy eyes on contact. The formula produced an immediate cooling effect that “made exhausted eyes feel more awake,” tightened the undereye area and softened the look of bags, testers said. 

Best Breakthrough Skincare Product
EGF Serum

  • Cutting-edge ingredients
  • Reduces wrinkles

  • Pricey

The winner of a GH Beauty Breakthrough Award, GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D., was impressed by this groundbreaking epidermal growth factor serum; independent studies show it reduced both wrinkle size and depth.

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