There are lots of fun and exciting components of being a beauty editor, but as much as we love sitting at our desks and swatching the latest and greatest to hit our beauty closet, there's definitely more action during our day-to-day work. Recently, my Who What Wear beauty colleague Courtney Higgs and I were in a meeting detailing the most important beauty trends, products, and brands of the previous quarter, and we noticed a pretty interesting list: the top 20 best-selling skincare brands, ranked.
As skincare-obsessed beauty editors, our interest was piqued to see which brands WWW readers are hoarding and loving. We immediately started to discuss our favorite brands from the list, the cult-favorite products we love (plus some that we don't), what brands didn't make the list, and so on and so forth.
Inspired, we decided to turn the conversation into a guide featuring said the top 20 skincare brands our readers love and the one (yes, only one!) product Courtney and I would purchase from each. Curious to see what products made the cut? Keep scrolling! All of our must-haves and recommendations lie just ahead.
1. The Ordinary
Hydration is by far my top skincare priority at this stage of my life, so hyaluronic acid is an ingredient I seek out above all others. It’s truly my favorite substance on earth (besides water, of course). There are really pricey HA serums out there, but I love that this one by The Ordinary is so affordable, so pure, and so effective.
As someone who consistently deals with congestion and breakouts, a weekly exfoliation treatment is essential. Fun fact: My mom and I both love this affordable peel from The Ordinary. It features a mix of cell-sloughing AHAs and BHAs (from lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acids), which make my skin look and feel smoother, brighter, more clearer.
This little bottle contains two of my favorite forms of makeup remover: micellar water and oil. I love that it’s like a double cleanse in one bottle, although I always follow up with a traditional cleanser after using.
To be fully transparent, I definitely prefer Glossier's makeup selection to its skincare. (I think Lash Slick ($16) is the best mascara ever made.) That said, Balm Dotcom is one of the brand's most cult-loved products, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't keep a tube of this shimmery Birthday Cake number in my makeup bag at all times. I also appreciate that it doesn't contain coconut oil (as so many lip products do these days!) because it never makes the skin around my lips break out.
I know makeup wipes are really bad for the planet, but I just love these ones! I’m working on it, okay?
Ask any facialist and they'll tell you how great light therapy is for your skin—especially if you're someone like me who struggles with acne and residual stubborn scarring. I would snap up this affordable handheld device in a heartbeat!
4. Drunk Elephant
Marula oil is one of my favorites for sealing in the goodness of my skincare. A few times a week, I like to pat this luxe oil into my face as the final step in my nighttime routine.
I keep my skincare routine pretty basic, but I love to experiment with different types of masks. This is one of the brand's most iconic products, and it's basically like a facial in a bottle. Think brighter, tighter, smoother skin in just 20 minutes.
5. Dr. Jart+
I’m not using this one religiously at the moment, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s one of the thickest and most moisturizing creams I’ve ever used.
I know you're sick of hearing about my acne-prone skin, but as someone who's tried a boatload of spot treatments, these micro-tip patches are one of the only overnight solutions that have actually helped any on-the-cusp bumps.
I only recently committed to using eye cream daily (actually, twice daily), and this was one of the first options I took seriously. I trust the brand implicitly at this point, so that helped rid me of my skepticism around this particular category.
Like pretty much everyone, I've been a longtime fan of Bioderma's beloved micellar waters. (They're the best for makeup removal—even the most stubborn waterproof eyeliner or mascara!) That said, the brand's Sébium version is more strategic for someone like me with acne-prone skin, as it's non-comedogenic and has special ingredients like zinc and copper to help tone and detoxify the skin.
Anyone who knows me knows I stan a good face mist. This one is among my favorites. On top of being packed with lots of good ingredients like red algae and squalene, I love how fine the mist is and that it doesn’t disrupt your makeup if you spritz it midday.
This handy stick is brand-new from Tatcha and it's quickly made it to the top of my favorites list. (I don't board a plane without it!) It's basically a solidified serum featuring lovely ingredients like hydrating squalane and Japanese lemon balm. If you're prone to dryness or scaly patches, it's the perfect antidote.
8. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare
I cannot stress enough how much I love this modeling mask. It’s seriously my favorite Sunday skincare ritual for soothing my skin and revealing the most plump, dewy version of my face. I wish I could bathe in this stuff.
Celebrity facialist Shani Darden told me to start using these anti-aging peel pads once or twice a week, and the frequency of my breakouts has definitely decreased since. I absolutely hate traveling with lots of skincare products, so I love that I can throw a few of these in my bag to use them whenever and wherever.
There are lots of facial sunscreens on the market now that don’t show up ghostly or ashy on brown skin, but that wasn’t always the case. For a long time, EltaMD was one of the only brands that offered a truly sheer facial sunscreen. Aside from being one of the first SPFs black people could use, it’s also one of the best.
Ditto! This is the only sunscreen I'll let touch my face, and it's probably the most frequently recommended by the most trusted facialists and dermatologists. There's also a tinted version, but I like the classic one. It looks great under makeup, doesn't pill, doesn't clog my pores, and even has a high dose of hyaluronic acid to keep my face balanced and hydrated.
Although this isn’t heavily featured in my routine anymore (it was one of my go-to cleansers in college), I’d still reach for it without hesitation if I found myself without cleanser on a trip or something.
I'm someone who is always wearing self-tanner, and—fun fact—using too many oils on my skin actually strips the color faster and contributes to patchiness and uneven fade. I keep this oil-free, hyaluronic acid–rich lotion on my bathroom vanity for immediate application post-shower. My skin stays free of flakes and scales and my tan lasts so much longer than when I use my stash of body oils or rich, oil-infused creams.
I know people really love the lip version of this mask (ahem, Erin), but this all-over face mask is really the move, in my opinion.
I keep the vanilla version of this lip mask on my nightstand and apply a thick layer about 15 minutes before I plan to turn the lights out. It drenches any dryness with lasting moisture, it smells delicious, and when I wake up my lips are noticeably hydrated and plump. It is a bit sticky, but since it's an overnight treatment, I don't mind.
12. La Roche-Posay
French pharmacy skincare is such a treat, in general, but this sunscreen is truly one of my favorites for all-over sun protection.
Hands down, this is the best drugstore cleanser for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin. In a panic, I once picked it up while traveling because the cleanser I had packed caused a slew of whiteheads. Eek! After cleansing with this formula two or three times, my skin was back to normal. It's truly miraculous. It is strong, though, so I would only use it a few nights a week and alternate it with a hydrating, gentle formula.
Weleda is famous for Skinfood (which is, indeed, super wonderful), but I've been really stoked about the brand's new clarifying line, and this oil-balancing face lotion, in particular. It has great ingredients like willow bark, witch hazel, and licorice root, which work in tandem to tone the skin, purge pores, and infuse the skin with antioxidants and other glow-boosters.
14. LilyAna Natuals
While I don’t use this retinol cream regularly (I’m super careful about the amount of exfoliators I use on my face at any given time), I’ve always been impressed by the Amazon fame this cream has gained. It currently has over 8000 reviews, which is just wild.
LilyAna reigns supreme on Amazon as one of the retailer's best-selling skincare brands. I have yet to try any of its organic formulas, but since I'm obsessed with eye creams, I have my eye on this anti-aging number. MVP ingredients include rosehip seed oil, organic hibiscus flower extract, and vitamins C and E. Sounds dreamy, right?
15. Ole Henriksen
I love a good cooling clay mask whenever I just feel like my skin is getting over oily or my clogs appear unusually enlarged. I don’t go crazy with this one (maybe because I don’t mind a little pore visibility), but whenever I do use it, my face feels so squeaky clean after.
I can count on my hand how many primers I actually like and use pre-makeup application, and this skin tone–evening and brightening formula from Ole is one of them. (I also love the Banana Bright Eye Cream!) You can wear this primer on its own or before your concealer and foundation. It's laced with all types of skin-loving additions like vitamins C and E, along with illuminating pigments inspired by longtime secret, banana powder.
I’m one of those people who covers every inch of my body in lotion daily. I like this one from Cetaphil because it’s cheap and doesn’t have a scent that would compete with my fragrance du jour.
This might seem weird, but I'm someone who always keeps a basic bar of soap in my bathroom, and it's the only thing I used to wash my makeup brushes! So many brush cleaners have strange ingredients or oils that ultimately clog my pores, so I trust Cetaphil's no-frill formula to do the job, instead. I also keep a bar in the shower!
I’m not strict about using toners or essences daily, but I really love this Caudalíe one. I love everything the brand makes, honestly, but this essence visibly evens out my skin’s tone and texture and give it a little radiance boost whenever I need it.
I'll just say it: Every single beauty lover should own this product from French skincare brand Caudalíe. I use it 24/7 and am addicted to the smell, the super-fine mist of the spray, and the way it makes my skin look instantly more radiant and healthy.
18. Mario Badescu
I’m so basic for this one, I know, but applying a dab of this pink drying lotion on a zit is like wrapping myself in a nostalgia blanket. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
I am pretty darn obsessed with this lavender-spiked elixir from Mario Badescu. I feel like some of the other formulas get more love, but this calming mix of chamomile, lavender, and aloe is what my sensitive skin craves. I love spritzing my Beautyblender with it (before and during application) to give my face some extra TLC and dewiness.
19. Sunday Riley
Say what you will about Sunday Riley, but the products work. This retinol sleeping oil is one of the products that most helped to get my skin back on track after a bout of cystic acne in my mid-twenties that left my skin textured and scar-ridden.
This eye cream is magic in a bottle if you're someone who deals with dark circles and any level of under-eye shadows. It looks amazing underneath concealer or on its own for no-makeup days, and thanks to the mix of caffeine, mica, and other botanicals, it basically acts like an IRL filter for your face. I've used it for years and still can't shut up about it.
Castor oil is my secret hair-growth weapon. The delicate hairs around my hairline and my eyebrows get coated in the stuff regularly.
I've wanted to love so many lash- and brow-boosting serums, but my eyes are extremely sensitive and usually end up red, runny, and all-around miserable. This formula is one of Amazon's best-selling beauty products and uses safe, natural ingredients in addition to being vegan and cruelty-free.
This article was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.