Let's face it—there are a lot of beauty products with 5-star reviews out there. Should we give credence to Debby from Arizona's rave review? Unclear. So, I asked people I trust greatly (read: my colleagues and yours truly) to share which highly-rated products they've actually tried and would gush about just as hard as random reviewer #249.
I happened to do this little exercise on products from Dermstore, a retailer beauty editors swear by for the best in skincare. Scroll down to see the products myself and my trusted fellow beauty experts would give top marks to—from the disgusting yet gratifying foot treatment to the hair towel that is "seriously life-changing" with the before and after photos to prove it.
What I Say: "Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to score a giant pack of Good Genes samples. I'm talking about a six-month supply. My skin had never been happier. It helped lighten discoloration from old acne scars and overall just made me glowier. I swear while I was using it, it felt like my skin reverse aged a good few years. I'm glad my colleague brought this duo up because I'm itching to get Good Genes back into my rotation again, and even better if it comes with a power product friend to match."
What My Colleague Says: "The fact that this dynamic product duo has a 5-star rating is no surprise to me. When I came out on the other end of a hormonal acne battle in my mid-twenties, it was these two formulas that helped restore my skin's smooth texture and even tone when I thought I'd never see a day where it wasn't badly scarred and bumpy. Between the resurfacing power of Good Genes (which uses purified lactic acid to exfoliate the skin and even out hyperpigmentation) and the smoothing effect of Luna Sleeping Night Oil (which deploys a blend of retinol and blue tansy to lessen the appearance of fine lines and calm the skin), this product pair provides serious results. I think I purchased this set three or four times, and by the end of my journey with it my skin was totally transformed."—Courtney Higgs, associate beauty editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I found Sunday Riley about a half a year ago and immediately purchased this kit so that I could begin my retinol journey. The kit had rave reviews from customers and those reviews all stand up. I have very sensitive skin, and whenever I change products I usually go through a 'settle in' phase complete with breakouts and irritation. That did not happen when I used these two products together. I eased into it and began every other night building to every single night. Both these products have been a part of my daily regimen for that time, and I've noticed a big difference in the smoothness of my skin. I feel like it has halted the wrinkles I was beginning to get on my forehead and around my mouth."
What My Colleague Says: "I've been using this salicylic acid serum consistently for over a year, and it has really helped keep my acne under control. It doesn't even feel like an acne product and instead feels like a lightweight, hydrating serum (although I still need to follow it up with a moisturizer). It controls oiliness around my chin, unclogs pores, and features all non-toxic ingredients like vitamin E, peppermint oil, and rosewater."—Erin Fitzpatrick, senior news editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I love this serum. I’ve only been using it for three weeks, and I can tell a difference in my skin complexion and acne scarring. I also used to get a lot of whiteheads, I have seen a major reduction in those as well! I will continue to use this product."
What My Colleague Says: "I've been using these Alpha Beta peel pads from Dr. Dennis Gross once a week since high school, and they've been my favorite skincare secret ever since. The chemical exfoliant is designed to give you a quick at-home facial peel that helps reduce fine lines, clear discoloration, and tighten your skin. Trust me when I say these are a must-buy."—Kristen Nichols, managing editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "It's a little pricey, and I thought I could find something in a lower price range. I've searched high and low, and there is just nothing that compares. I use them five days/week so the box stretches a little longer, and I'll never be without them again. Nothing has kept my skin as clear, bright, and smooth as this peel!"
What My Colleague Says: "This eye serum–gel hybrid has such a hefty price tag, but the results really do what the name suggests. I use it daily and can definitely say I've noticed more lift around my eyes in addition to less puff, fewer fine lines, and far less shadowy circles. Plus, I'm addicted to how smooth and feathery-light the texture is. It's a dream underneath makeup."—Erin Jahns, beauty editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "A little goes a long way. I had the same bottle for more than six months. I immediately started noticing improvement: eyes were more hydrated, eliminated bags, and reduced appearance of wrinkles. Love this stuff."
What My Colleague Says: "I can't live without this Bioderma micellar water. It takes off every trace of makeup with a cotton pad and doesn't require any water. It used to only be available overseas but now it can be delivered straight to your door through Dermstore."—Kristen Nichols, managing editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "After purchasing and trying this micellar water, it is the only one I will ever use again. It's gentle of course with a great formulation that just works for my skin. I use this whenever I take off eye and face makeup. It doesn't irritate my skin or cause redness, which I find happens with any other micellar water. Not much else to say—it's fairly simple, which makes it such a perfect cleanser."
What My Colleague Says: "I'll be honest—I was an eye-mask hater before, but these have officially changed me. I'm impressed with how effective they are at firming and getting rid of that under-eye puffiness that happens when you skimp on sleep or drink one glass of wine too many, so they come in clutch when I want to fake a full eight hours. Most importantly, they actually stay up. So yeah, they're the real deal."—Anna LaPlaca, associate editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I absolutely love these eye gels from Skyn Iceland. They are cooling, refreshing, and help with puffiness and dark circles. I have tried a lot of different brands of eye gels, and these are my favorite. They stay put and have the right amount of liquid to absorb. I do find them expensive compared to those where you get 30 pairs in a tub for 10 bucks, but get them during a sale, and they are worth it."
What My Colleague Says: "I don't really think it's necessary to spend a lot of money on a simple moisturizer, so I don't. I have been using this CeraVe one for years (I'm pretty sure it was originally recommended to me by a dermatologist—they love this brand). You can certainly use it on its own if you just want to give your skin a break, but I usually apply it after retinol and AHA/BHA serums since my skin is dry. One of the key ingredients is hyaluronic acid and it's lightweight and oil-free, so if you're less dry than me, your skin will probably like it too. The bottle lasts a really long time, making it one of the best deals on Dermstore if you ask me."—Allyson Payer, senior editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "This moisturizer is a great one. It's not too expensive and it gets the job done. It sinks right into the skin and doesn't leave a dewy finish, just a natural skin-like finish. It does exactly what a moisturizer should do at a really fair price."
What I Say: Dr. Hauschka's products are clean, which is something I look for especially in my lip products since I end up accidentally eating a fair amount of it. This logic actually stands up and isn't just a feeling I have, as the EWG has a higher standard for lip products than other beauty products because of ingestion. The balm has a lovely herbal scent, and I just finished up a pot that I had for years since a little goes a long way. I also find I don't have to reapply as often as other lip balms. I look forward to trying the fingers-free stick version next.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "This stuff is awesome. Not only do I put this on my lips, but also on any dry spots on my face. Because of the St. John's Wort, it calms my skin down and takes redness away. My lips are never chapped and I don't have to constantly reapply. Holy grail status!"
What My Colleague Says: "This eye cream is a super-hefty investment, but it's one of the only formulas (and, no joke, I've tried hundreds) that address all of my under-eye concerns. It boasts tons of cutting-edge ingredients that separate it from the pack like the brand's signature Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (a balanced, naturally secreted and stabilized mixture of natural messenger proteins), Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (which addresses fine lines and wrinkles), plus Boron Nitride (which instantly counteracts dark circles or discoloration due to how it manipulates the optical diffusion effect of light)."—Erin Jahns, beauty editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I finally finished the whole bottle after four months. I don't like to write reviews unless I am done with the whole product, but this is amazing! This will last you a long time. I think mine could've lasted for six months or so, but I would use it morning and night, and at first, I would use way too much product. You only need very little, because it is very thick and rich. If you use too much product it will pill up, especially if you apply serums underneath. I have used several eye creams, and this one, unfortunately, is my favorite. I hate that it's so pricey, but it's definitely worth it. I was starting to get some very small fine lines (crows feet and some texture on my under-eye area) this diminished them greatly! When I apply this at night, I would wake up with my under-eye area feeling really smooth. This is the only eye cream that I can actually feel the difference in my eye area and have seen improvements."
What My Colleague Says: "If you walk into any dermatologist's office, you'll bound to see EltaMD sunscreen. It's because all dermatologists seem to swear by it and for good reason. It's extremely lightweight and so, so good for your skin since it's packed with niacinamide and zinc oxide. I can point to the fact that it's the highest-rated product at Dermstore and tell you I've been using it for years with amazing results, but it won't impress you as much as this: I just got back from a four-day camping trip in 100-degree heat, during which I hardly washed my face (gasp, I know!) and applied this to my skin every five or so hours. My skin? Clear as day with zero sun damage. Sold yet?"—Aralyn Beaumont, copy editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "Love it. It's the only SPF I've found that doesn't make me breakout. If anything, I'm convinced it helps keep my acne at bay. Only downside is that it's not waterproof, but for daily wear and everyday activity, it's perfect."
What I Say: This sunscreen has the consistency of a gel primer. It is so radically different than most sunscreens that I think it will make a sunscreen user out of the most stubborn anti-SPF people. There is absolutely no time wasted on rubbing it in because it has the consistency of a serum or primer. I would even say it makes you a little glowy, in the best way.
What My Colleague Says: "Even though I always knew that I had to wear sunscreen every day, I would sometimes forget, or feel too lazy to put it on (I know—bad Sarah!). I think a big part of my forgetfulness was that the face sunscreens I had were so thick, heavy, and greasy. But then Supergoop's Unseen Sunscreen entered my life. It's so lightweight and goes on smoothly without that icky finish. I don't mind putting it on every day. In fact, it's actually one of my favorite steps in my morning skincare routine. Am I sunscreen nerd now? Yes, and I don't hate it. I like to rotate between this one and Supergoop's Glow Screen, which leaves your skin absolutely radiant."—Sarah Yang, managing editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "This feels just like primer. It's amazing. I've turned many a friend and even my SPF-phobe mom onto this sunscreen. I've had so many people ask, 'Are you sure this will actually protect me from the sun?' just because it doesn't feel like sunscreen at all, in a good way!"
What My Colleague Says: "I feel like every single person in the world talks about this serum (from celebs to editors to skin experts), but this multitasking serum really is worth the hype (and I'm not even a serum person!). I use it every other night after I cleanse and before I add my hyaluronic acid serum and moisturizer. In short, it's single-handedly improved my acne (and stubborn acne scars), evened out my skin texture, and boosted the overall luminosity of my complexion. It even has anti-aging benefits like preventing and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. It's one of the few skincare products that literally everyone can benefit from." —Erin Jahns, beauty editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I am a huge fan of the entire IS Clinical range, but if I could only choose one item to carry on using, it would be this. Prior to using, I had a lot of skin discoloration and issues with skin clarity. This product has vastly improved my skin clarity and given me even skin tones throughout. I highly recommend this product!"
What I Say: A luxury hairbrush is one of those things that seems like an unnecessary splurge, but I find it's a way to add a little joy to a daily ritual. It has something called a pneumatic cushion that stimulates blood flow and exfoliates the scalp. Buy it for yourself or for a nice gift.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I was skeptical of purchasing an expensive brush. However, I changed my mind! I'm so glad I did. My daughter loves it!!! It helps her hair from falling out. She has severe eczema. I highly recommend this product. You won't be disappointed."
What I Say: There are so many compelling reasons to switch to a silk pillowcase. It's better for your skin, your hair, and doesn't absorb your night time skin routine. If there's any better time to upgrade your sleep situation, I think it's now! Plus these stand up to constant washing.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I have definitely noticed that I am getting fewer breakouts since I switched to this silk pillowcase. My hair is also very fine and thin, and when I used to sleep on a regular pillowcase, I would wake up with multiple knots in my hair even if it was tied up. However, since switching to the silk pillowcase, I have noticed that I do not really get knots in my hair anymore, and there is less fallout. Although it is pretty expensive, I definitely think it was worth the money!"
What My Colleague Says: "I've never been a fancy brush person, but once I got an Insta-famous Artis brush, I became obsessed. They're so easy to use and are perfect for applying both makeup and skincare products evenly and gently. The only problem is that once you get one, you'll want to keep buying all the different sizes for different uses!"—Nicole Eshaghpour, senior market editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "These brushes are like silk against the skin, making it so simple to perfectly blend liquid, powder or cream foundation, blush, and bronzer. I love the Artis brushes for eyes and lips as well. They're fabulously easy to use and clean (especially with the Artis mat). Brush number seven might be my favorite. They just feel so lovely! Amazing tools for beginners and experts alike!"
What My Colleague Says: "I got a NuFace a few years ago. It got damaged because I left it near my sink (don't make the same mistake). I now have it safely hidden away in my medicine cabinet. That means I've purchased this face tool twice in four years—that's how well it works! One time I had a bad reaction to Botox and my eyelid was drooping, but I lifted it up with this device every day until the botox faded. For lifting and toning the face, you have to use this every day, and there are periods when I won't use it for months (i.e., this entire quarantine), but it truly works with consistent use." —Natalia Sztyk, graphic designer
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I'm a believer. I am 32 and just starting to notice some wrinkles and signs of aging. I have considered Botox for forehead and filler for smile lines. My smile lines are pretty deep. I bought this thinking it is so much less money than filler that it was worth a try, even if it just bought me a little more time. I used it on and off for a few months and was convinced it was a waste of time. However, during quarantine, I started using it every single day religiously. In week three of daily use, I noticed a major change in my skin. The smile lines went from deeply etched lines to barely there. Think it is worth trying first if you are considering medical options. Also, you must use it every day, or it won't work."
Left: Air-dry without any products
What I Say: I'm not sure what took me so long to get into the microfiber towel turban game. It is seriously life-changing. I have been air drying my hair now more than ever in quarantine, and it looks drastically better when I use this hair turban. Why? Well, it cuts the drying time by at least 75% for me, so that means less time for me to do all the things that make air-dried hair frizzy like fiddle with my strands or press it up against the back of a chair or the couch. It also turns the air-drying process from a several hours long affair to under an hour. I know not to touch your hair when you get out of the shower to reduce frizz (previously, I didn't wrap my hair in a regular towel), so I don't miss the mass of dripping hair making my blouse wet either. Lastly, I find my natural wave can really come out since the fabric doesn't disrupt the pattern.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I was curious about these but never bought one until a friend confessed to me that she had been using the same turban for about 10 years and loved it! Since she has fabulous hair, I had to try it. This towel is amazing. It reduces the amount of time my hair takes to dry, it fits well on my head, and it never makes my hair frizzy! Love it! I'm going to need a backup soon!"
What I Say: For me, this is the summer of the air-dry, and this product helps my hair's natural wavy texture to be its best self. I'll also note that my hair isn't super thick. I would say it's in between thin and medium-bodied, so super-emollient products can weigh down my hair. Most leave-in conditioners would make me a little nervous, but this one doesn't make my hair greasy or heavy feeling at all.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "This leave-in conditioner is lightweight and all you need for wet hair in the summer. I put a dime-size amount in wet hair and air dry. Even in the Florida humidity, this leaves my hair shiny and frizz-free!"
What My Colleague Says: "More out of boredom than anything else, I started using this brow-growth serum at the beginning of quarantine to try to help my brows live their best life until the next time I'd be able to see a professional. I'm usually a skeptic about these types of products (plus, many are irritating!), but this serum works. I've had so much new growth where hairs refused to grow before, and I also love that it's double-ended, so it works double-duty as kind of a clear brow gel and setting situation. I have to use it every morning now."—Erin Jahns, beauty editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "Hello, Lily Collins' brows of my dreams! I am getting compliments all over the place because of this wonderful serum. I tint my brows every six weeks or so, and along with this serum, it's like I've undone all the damage I did over-tweezing in high school. It's a blessing in a bottle, and my tube has lasted 4+ months using once daily, so the cost per use is totally worth it for gorgeous, full brows."
Shop the R + Co Television Perfect Hair Conditioner ($24).
What My Colleague Says: "I never used to spend a lot of money on shampoo, but after a friend recommended R+Co, I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm now hooked. You can really tell the difference. Not only does this specific shampoo smell amazing (makes me feel like I’m in a spa), but my hair legit feels smoother and softer. It's not as stringy feeling as it has been in the past."—Bobby Schuessler, senior market editor
What I Say: I received a sample of this shampoo and conditioner duo, and was blown away when I smelled it. It is my favorite hair scent I've ever smelled in my life, and I've tried all the most beloved haircare scents like Oribe. The scent is slightly androgynous, so it doesn't smell perfumey like a lot of shampoos. If you've tried Nécessaire products and love the more 'real' (versus more mass-produced and commercial smelling) and 'natural' (but not crunchy hippie) type scents they offer, this is the perfect hair scent for you. I'd say the smell is my favorite part, but it also made my hair soft and added a nice body. I'll be purchasing the full size asap.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "Smells amazing! I received this as a sample in my last order and couldn't wait to use it. I actually allowed my hair to air-dry the day I used it which is the ultimate test, as my hair does not tend to air dry nicely. My hair was surprisingly smooth and my natural wave was accentuated without looking like a lion's mane by noon!"
What My Colleague Says: "I was searching for the longest time for an anti-frizz styling cream to tame my flyaways, and ever since trying Virtue's The Polish Un-Frizz Cream, I've never looked back. I apply a small amount to my damp hair from roots to ends and blow dry or air dry as normal, allowing it to work its magic. It not only eliminates my frizz, but it makes my wavy hair look so much more sleek and smooth. I highly recommend!"—Judith Jones, market editor
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I use this as a styling cream before blow-drying my hair and then following with a curling iron. It makes my hair dry a bit faster and with way, way less frizz. Since its thick like a balm, I apply it to my hair in sections so it distributes better. Great scent and easy packaging."
What I Say: My love for Weleda products, and its moisturizers, in particular, knows no bounds. They are clean, affordable, and have this wonderful herbal smell. I know a ton of celebrities and dermatologists adore their products too. The original cream is quite thick, so I just use it on my hands before bed, but I've heard its light cream is great for the face.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I decided to purchase this item after it came highly recommended by my dermatologist. It does not disappoint. I've used products from Cetaphil to La Mer and everything in between. Weleda by far is my favorite rich moisturizer. My skin soaks it up with no irritation and wakes up feeling great! A little goes a long way."
What I Say: All the things I love about Weleda's cream also apply to its body butter. If you're going to get one of the two, you get more product per ounce with the body butter.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "This is the best body butter. My bathroom cabinet Is typically a graveyard for body butter, but this one gets used! It does all that it claims… moisturizes, repairs, and nourishes without leaving you greasy or sticky in cold or warm weather."
What I Say: Ahh, the joys of Baby Foot. I can't think of a better time to take the plunge with this disgusting, yet gratifying foot treatment while staying at home. Cue up a movie so you can sit in the booties with the treatment for the requisite one hour. Your feet will take a few days to start peeling, and daily foot soaks in plain bath or sink water will help push the process along. Once the peeling really gets going, it's somewhat shocking. Your feet will look like a snake molting its skin. You can gross your friends out by sending your friends pictures of your peeling to bits feet. Just a suggestion! After several days, the peeling process will stop, and you'll be left with beautiful baby smooth feet. Just don't forget to vacuum up all the skin bits you'll have inevitably trailed around the house.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "It is everything you have heard it is. I am absolutely shocked at how well this works. COVID-19 has ended my pedicure days until there is a vaccine. My feet have become a hard, cracked horror show. Immediately after my feet felt super moisturized. Then nothing happened for about four days. I kept soaking my feet daily as suggested. Day four showed some slight peeling. Then, by day five giant hunks of dry skin fell off in the warm water soak. The hard, gross areas are gone. There is no pain or discomfort at all at any stage. I will be doing it once a month. Also, soak your feet well right before the first use."
What I Say: Grown Alchemist is one of my favorite super luxurious clean brands. With the amount of aggressive hand washing I've been doing the past several months, an indulgent cream is a completely justified purchase. This one smells divine and absorbs quickly enough that you can touch your phone or computer soon after.
What an Enthusiastic Reviewer Says: "I love hand cream and have at least eight different brands on my nightstand right now. This, however, is the one that I tend to use the most because the smell is amazing and the consistency is very moisturizing without leaving my hands greasy."
Next: My Favorite Luxury Beauty Brands Rarely Go on Sale—Except for Right Now
Kat Collings has over 15 years of experience in the editorial fashion space, largely in digital publishing. She currently leads the vision for editorial content at WhoWhatWear.com as the site's editor in chief, having risen through the editorial ranks after joining the company in 2012. Collings is a Digiday Future Leader Awards nominee, was named Buzzfeed's best fashion Instagram accounts of the year, and is a member of the CFDA Awards Fashion Guild. Prior to Who What Wear, Collings worked on styling projects for brands such as Vogue, Teen Vogue, Lucky, and Oliver Peoples. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in communications and calls Los Angeles home.
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