38 Best Skincare Products Our Beauty Scientists and Editors Swear By

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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



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.

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

Best Anti-Aging Serum

Smart Custom Repair Concentrate Serum



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. 

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

Best Anti-Aging Day Cream

Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Anti-Aging Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 30



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.

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

Best Face Serum

Metacell Renewal B3 Serum



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.

  • Measurably reduces wrinkles
  • Brightens and firms skin

Best Face Cleanser

Soothing Cleanser



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. 

  • Effectively and deeply cleans
  • High lather

Best Face Peel

Rapid Reveal Peel



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.

  • Evens skin tone
  • Minimizes lines
  • Tester favorite

Best Drugstore Face Moisturizer

Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream



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. 

  • Highly hydrating
  • Quality ingredients
  • Affordably-priced

Best Face Moisturizer

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+



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.

  • Powerful hydrating effects
  • Lighweight texture

Best Face Mask

TimeWise Repair Lifting Bio-Cellulose Mask

Mary Kay


  • Firms skin
  • Pampering

Best Skincare Treatment for Glowing Skin

Cellular 3-Minute Peel

La Prairie


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.

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

Best Natural Moisturizer

Resveratrol Lift Night Infusion Cream



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.

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

Best Dermatologist-Formulated Scrub

Exfoliating Polish

Zo Skin Health


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.

  • Smooths skin
  • Not messy

Best Face Mask for Acne

Clear Proof Deep-Cleansing Charcoal Mask

Mary Kay


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.

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

Best Skincare Tool for Oily Skin

Oil-Absorbing Volcanic Face Roller



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.”

  • Instantly absorbs oil
  • Mattifies skin
  • Good value

Best Multipurpose Skincare Product

Healing Ointment



$5.49 (58% off)

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.

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

Best Face Moisturizer for Combination Skin

No7 HydraLuminous Water Surge Gel Cream



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.

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

Best Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Calm + Restore Oat Gel Facial Moisturizer



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.”

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

Best Drugstore Face Serum

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum



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.

  • Smooths and firms skin
  • Minimizes pores
  • Could be irritating

Best Night Cream

Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer



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.

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

Best Day Cream

RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Day Moisturizer SPF 30

L’Oréal Paris


$13.97 (22% off)

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.

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

Best Eye Cream

Absolue Revitalizing Anti-Aging Eye Cream



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.

  • Effectively moisturizes
  • Firms skin
  • Luxurious formula

Best Drugstore Eye Cream

SkinActive Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream



$10.55 (30% off)

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.”

  • Boosts firmness
  • Raises skin hydration
  • Bargain price

Best Anti-Aging Face Cream

Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Anti-Aging Crème



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.

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

Best Face Sunscreen

LiftActiv Sunscreen Peptide-C Face Moisturizer with SPF 30



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.

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

Best Drugstore Face Sunscreen

Matte Effect Sunscreen SPF 30

Hawaiian Tropic


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.

  • Matte, sheer finish
  • Gentle formula
  • Bargain price

Best Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen

Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer with SPF 30



$16.49 (31% off)

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. 

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

Best Face Scrub

Brightening Facial Scrub



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.

  • Deeply purifies skin
  • Brightens
  • Good value

Best Overnight Face Mask

Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque



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.

  • Highly moisturizing
  • No rinsing needed

Best Face Oil

Nourishing Rose Oil

Laura Mercier


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.  

  • Hydrates skin
  • Made with natural oils

Best Drugstore Face Oil

Cocoa Butter Formula Moisturizing Skin Therapy Oil for Face



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.

  • Softens skin
  • Contains nautral oils
  • Affordably-priced

Best Neck Cream

Skin Active Triple Firming Neck Cream



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.

  • Minimizes neck lines
  • Smooths skin

Best Makeup Remover

Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover



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.

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

Best Lip Treatment

Anti-Aging Lip Treatment



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.

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

Best Anti-Wrinkle Skincare Product

DermalQuench Liquid Lift + Retinol Advanced Resurfacing Treatment

Kate Somerville


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. 

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

Best Anti-Aging Eye Cream

Restore & Renew Multi Action Eye Cream



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.

  • Measurably reduces eye area wrinkles
  • Firms skin

Best Antioxidant Serum

Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Vitamin C Serum



$20.70 (37% off)

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.

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

Best Eye Depuffer

Nutritious Super-Pomegranate Radiant Energy Eye Jelly

Estée Lauder


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. 

  • Instantly refreshes eyes
  • Light, cooling formula

Best Breakthrough Skincare Product

EGF Serum



  • Cutting-edge ingredients
  • Reduces wrinkles

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