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Trust Us: These Are the 10 Skincare Brands That You Can Always Rely On

As a bit of a rule, we beauty editors don’t like being asked “What’s the best…” questions. Not because we don’t know what the best products around are, but because tastes and preferences vary so vastly. While the best retinol for one person might be something gentle, for another that product might seem ineffective. Most of the time, when someone asks after the best anything, we’ll have to ask what your requirements are first.

However, when it comes to skincare brands, I’m a little more inclined to make sweeping recommendations. The reason is that some popular skincare brands just get it right every single time. Out of the thousands of brands out there, there are only a few that manage it, I’ll admit, but I believe the ones that do to be the very best.

They are the brands that just seem to really understand the skin’s health. They don’t get sucked in by trending ingredients and instead focus on skincare products that give the skin exactly what it needs to stay healthy. It’s not to say that every single one of the products in that brand’s offering will be suitable for everybody, but rather everybody will find a great skincare product that suits them.

In order to make a definitive list of the best skincare brands around, I didn’t think it smart to compile a list of my favourites. In a bid to make this as fair as possible, I reached out to everybody I know to get their insights. I received a huge number of nominations from Who What Wear editors to beauty PRs and every beauty buff and lover who follows me on Instagram.

After considering every single brand suggested, I used my own knowledge as a beauty editor to whittle it down to 18. The criteria for making it onto the list were simple: Is there a single product in this brand’s offering that I would be loath to recommend? Of course, it makes sense that these brands also offer some of the best products out there in terms of formulations. So without further ado, behold (in no particular order) the 18 best skincare brands in existence.

1. Stella McCartney Beauty

Luxury vegan beauty may sound too good to be true, but Stella McCartney made it a reality with the launch of her eponymous skincare brand in 2022. Comprising the staples of a basic skincare routine—cleanser, serum, and moisturiser—the capsule collection targets the skin’s three key functions of regeneration, hydration, and protection. From the well-designed refillable packaging to the naturally-sourced ingredients that make up the product formulas, Stella has compromised at nothing to offer true sustainability—for both skin and the planet.

Hero products:

Stella McCartney Beauty

Alter-Care Serum

Formulated with 99% naturally-derived ingredients, this powerful serum nourishes, hydrates, and revitalises skin. Skin is left firmed and plumped, with wrinkles and dark circles visibly reduced.

Stella McCartney Beauty

Reset Cleanser

This two-in-one cleanser is designed to replicate the benefits of a double cleanse, while reducing the steps in your skincare routine. It melts away makeup and pollution, leaving skin feeling refreshed and balanced.

2. Templespa

If you’re not yet acquainted with Templespa’s formulas, then allow me to introduce you. You’ll find Templespa products in the most luxurious of spas and hotels, and its skincare is seriously efficacious too (not to mention many of the products are award-winners too). The founders work alongside doctors, artisan herbalists and botanists to create luxurious products that have now garnered a devoted following around the world. The beauty of the products is that they are both results-driven and sensorial to use—making taking off your makeup less of a chore and more of a luxurious ritual. The brand also boasts a number of awards and 5-star reviews amongst its skincare, too.

Hero products:

Templespa

Let’s Concentrate Skin Glowing Serum

The Let’s Concentrate Skin Glowing Serum is a Who What Wear UK favourite and one of the brand’s bestsellers. Think of this as a shot of brightening vitamin C. Paired with alpha arbutin, it helps to brighten the skin, fade sun damage and pigmentation and improve the appearance of acne scarring. The addition of zinc and magnesium help to keep breakouts at bay, too.

Templespa

Windows of the Soul

Dark circles? You have to try this. You only have to look at the several 5-star reviews to know that this eye cream really works to help brighten dark under eye circles with a carefully formulated cocktail of brightening ingredients that won’t upset sensitive skin either. The gel-cream consistency cools the eye area and sinks in quickly, making it great prep for concealer application.

3. La Roche-Posay

I know I said that this list was in no particular order, but I would like to point out that if I had to choose only one skincare brand to label the best, it would be La Roche-Posay. Out of the 50+ nominations I received, La Roche-Posay was by far the most recommended. Traditionally a French pharmacy brand (although now available just about everywhere), it is a brand adored by skin experts who really know their stuff. I’m talking dermatologists, aestheticians, beauty editors and influencers. It puts efficacious ingredients that target some of the most common skin issues, from rosacea and irritation to acne and ageing, at the forefront of its formulations. The branding is minimalist, and the packaging doesn’t ooze Insta-worthy shelfie, but what’s inside is exceptional.

If you experience breakouts, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar range is considered the gold standard, while Toleriane is a go-to for those with sensitivity, and Lipikar is without a doubt one of the best bodycare ranges out there for those with eczema. Oh, and the suncare is second to none.

Hero products:

La Roche-Posay

Anthelios Uvmune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50

This has to be my favourite product from the brand. The perfect daily SPF for just about everybody, there isn’t a dermatologist out there who doesn’t recommend it. It’s lightweight and non-greasy and has an invisible finish on the skin. If you don’t own this and aren’t already applying a facial SPF every day, buy it right away.

La Roche-Posay

Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel

If you have oily skin, I’d definitely recommend giving this a go as the glycacil and zinc work together to reduce sebum. I find it to be the perfect cleanser to use when the weather has warmed up as you don’t need as much additional moisture making a light-weight foaming gel like this one a great option.

4. SkinCeuticals

Another skincare brand that really champions science is SkinCeuticals. It’s (a lot) more expensive than La Roche-Posay, but the active ingredients it delivers are much more powerful too. It was created after decades of research into skin cancer and the power of antioxidants. A straight-talking clinical brand (seriously, I’ve been recommended this stuff by both dermatologists and plastic surgeons), it delivers high-octane ingredients that really work. In fact, the brand’s vitamin C serums are regarded by many to be the best skincare products in existence. No skincare product is worth bankrupting yourself over, but if you have the money to spend on your skin, SkinCeuticals is the way to go.

Hero products:

SkinCeuticals

C E Ferulic Antioxidant Vitamin C Serum

Yes, I have had to choose two products from SkinCeuticals to hero—the offering is just too good. Out on top is this stuff. C E Ferulic is the crème de la crème of vitamin C serums, formulated to protect the skin against ageing aggressors and help boost glow while it’s at it. The first time I was ever introduced to this serum, the brand handed me two slices of apple. We all know that when apple oxidises, it turns brown. However, when one drop of this antioxidant serum is applied to one slice of apple, the reaction doesn’t occur anywhere near the rate of the untreated slice. The apples are not to be eaten, of course, but this proves a very impressive test to showcase just how well this product stops ageing oxidation in the skin. The results also speak for themselves. After just a few weeks of using this product, skin appears glowier, more even in tone and significantly more youthful. No other vitamin C serum out there comes close to how brilliant C E Ferulic is.

Skinceuticals

H.A. Intesifier Serum

If you have a dry skin type, you’ll massively benefit from this potent concentration of hyaluronic acid. It’s not only deeply hydrating but also helps to plump out crow’s feet and fine lines for a smooth skin texture.

5. Paula’s Choice

It’s not a great thing for a beauty editor to admit, but there are very few brand founders who I am willing to trust implicitly. Most have an agenda that pushes their products or champion a belief that might not necessarily put skin health first. (When you really love your own products, it’s only natural for this to sometimes happen.) The founder of Paula’s Choice, Paula Begoun, however, is someone who really knows her stuff. She has pretty much dedicated her life to demystifying the complex world of skincare and formulating products that are backed up by proper science (not the sort of small studies a lot of other brands latch on to). The products are simple to shop and come with easy-to-follow guidance. It’s safe to say the results are pretty spectacular too.

Hero products:

Paula’s Choice

Skin Perfecting 2% Bha Liquid Exfoliant

This is probably one of the most well-known and well-loved Paula’s Choice products out there. It is essentially a salicylic acid toner/treatment that helps decongest pores and prevent further breakouts. If you use it twice a week, you can expect to see clearer skin basically from the get-go.

Paula’s Choice

Clinical 20% Niacinamide Treatment

Great at improving the overall skin tone and texture, supporting skin barrier function, softening fine lines, reducing redness and minimising the appearance of the pores. In short, a hero product all round.

6. Elemis

Most of the brands on this list are all substance but lack a certain “style.” Sadly, really efficacious skincare tends to be this way. However, a lot of respected dermatologists admit that while fragrance-free, sulphate-free, fun-free skincare is typically the best way to go, the very best skincare products are the ones you actually use. Elemis is a brand that straddles this line expertly. A spa brand first, the products are luxurious and joyful to use while delivering really great results, too.

Hero products:

Elemis

Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

This is potentially one of the best cleansing products in history. It’s adored by every Who What Wear editor on the team thanks to its sensorial, spa-like formula. Just massage the rich balm into dry skin, add water to turn it into a soothing milk and flannel off to reveal the glowiest skin of your life.

Elemis

Pro-Collagen Marine Cream

A perfect pick for all skin types, it contains mimosa to take down inflammation, rose to calm and the brand’s iconic padina pavonica marine algae to deliver a serious hit of hydration. One of my all-time favourite day creams. https://www.detikindonesia.id/

7. Augustinus Bader

Please trust me when I say that recommending really expensive skincare products makes me feel very uncomfortable. However, it would be irresponsible for me to discredit certain skincare brands based on their price tag. Because, yes, while Augustinus Bader products (and a couple of others on this list) are ludicrously expensive, they’re also really very good. All of the products are formulated with the brand’s TFC8 complex, which aims to nourish and tackle virtually every major skin concern out there.

Hero products:

Augustinus Bader

The Cream

This cult cream is adored by celebrities far and wide (including Victoria Beckham). It is an intense moisturiser that aims to streamline your routine so that you can forgo other serums and lotions. It soothes, plumps, hydrates and gives skin a healthy-looking radiance that is genuinely hard to come by.

Augustinus Bader

The Body Cream

This cream gives the same benefits as outlined above, but for your entire body. Yes, please.

8. CeraVe

When it comes to affordable skincare, it can be very tricky to find a brand that hits the nail on the head every time. Many brands bring out huge lines that leave us feeling confused and let down by false claims. CeraVe, however, has a tight edit of products that really do deliver everything that they promise. The products are formulated alongside dermatologists and, as a result, give skin the essentials. In fact, most dermatologists will say that CeraVe’s affordable cleansers are the best that money can buy.

Hero products:

CeraVe

Hydrating Cleanser

Although this is dubbed a hydrating cleanser, that’s not to say it is just for those with dry skin. In fact, it’s the perfect cream cleanser for just about everybody. It’s fragrance-free and doesn’t irritate skin in the slightest. Instead, it delivers the perfect fuss-free cleanse and provides a hearty dose of barrier-restoring ceramides and hyaluronic acid while it’s at it.

CeraVe

Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF50

A lightweight and deeply hydrating day cream that also offers a high UV protection. Made with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and CeraVe’s famous ceramide complex, it soothes skin as it works.

9. Sunday Riley

Alongside the above, Sunday Riley is another brand that is amongst the most-nominated for this roundup. The brand’s ethos is “Powered by science, balanced by botanicals,” and I would say that sums it up quite nicely. The active ingredients are powerful and do their job expertly, and the botanical extracts also do their job to create a more luxurious user experience. The “natural” fragrances can take a little while to get used to, but the amazing results will have you repeat-buying for eternity.

Hero products:

Sunday Riley

Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream

Asking me to choose just one Sunday Riley skincare product to champion is like asking a mother to choose her favourite child. Honestly, there isn’t a single Sunday Riley product that isn’t fantastic in its own right. However, this moisturising cream is suitable for everybody and anybody. It’s rich, luxurious to use and leaves skin plump and glowing beyond belief. It’s ideal for dry winter skin and irritated, flushed skin come summer, too.

Sunday Riley

Luna Sleeping Night Oil

If you have sensitive skin prone to acne and redness yet find that retinol causes irritation, give this a go. It features an ingredient called trans-retinol ester plus blue tansy, which is a super soothing, anti-inflammatory extract. When I first used it, I was alarmed with just how blue the formula is, but it quickly absorbs into the skin and doesn’t stain.

10. Dr. Barbara Sturm

I have written about the wonders of Dr. Barbara Sturm products a lot purely because I get asked about them a lot. It seems as though every celebrity out there swears by the power of this brand, which makes sense seeing as Sturm herself is a facialist to the stars. The products are eye-wateringly expensive but are also exquisite. Do you need to part with the cash to get great skin? Absolutely not. However, the science-backed formulas do their best to convince you otherwise.

Hero products:

Dr. Barbara Sturm

Enzyme Cleanser

Do not use this cleanser if you have sensitive skin—it means serious business. With exfoliating enzymes, it starts off as a powder and transforms into a foaming wash once mixed with water. After just one use, skin is left glowing and pores are near-on invisible. If you have oily skin like I do, using this once a week will totally change the way you feel about your skin.

Dr. Barbara Sturm

Hyaluronic Serum

This is definitely at the pricier end of the scale for a hyaluronic serum, but if someone is looking to invest, I always point them in the direction of a doctor-led skincare brand. It’s a deeply hydrating, and acts as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.

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