There are so many skincare products on the market that sometimes the easiest thing to do is just to buy the stuff you've heard of a million times. But are super-hyped products always worth it? As a beauty editor, I've tried so many moisturizers, serums, toners, and masks (rough life, I know) that I've become pretty desensitized to what's buzzy and try my best to pay attention to what really works.
Sometimes the cult-loved stuff really does live up to its reputation, but often there are sleeper hits hiding on less-visible shelves that are either cheaper or have higher-quality ingredients. In an effort to help you get the most out of your purchases, I've put together this honest list of eight products you've likely bought due to how much air time they get, plus eight swaps to consider instead next time you shop.
Keep scrolling to take my beauty editors' take on overrated versus underrated skincare.
Having a jar of La Mer's iconic $175-per-ounce moisturizer on your vanity is certainly a fashion statement. But if what you're going for is a rich night cream that will seal the skin's moisture barrier while infusing it with soothing, hydrating ingredients like omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, brown algae, aloe, and antioxidants, consider giving this fairly new, cutely packaged brand a try.
No shade to Drunk Elephant, whose eye cream is Sephora's best seller. But if you're looking to switch things up and save a little dough, I'm really into Caudalie's nourishing, brightening formula, which offers similar ingredients like stabilized vitamin C, vitamin E, and peptides.
Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser has a cult following I don't want to mess with, but my favorite cleansing lotion comes from this French drugstore brand that boasts a delightfully short, gentle ingredient list, perfect for super sensitive skin types. The product is free of detergents and irritants but still works really well to cleanse the skin and remove light makeup.
Facial rollers are definitely cool, and we love this one from Nurse Jamie for improving skin firmness and circulation. But learning the right facial massage technique can be just as effective—and all you need is your hands. This video demos a quick facial-massage method created by an esthetician at Japanese skincare brand Koh Gen Do that I personally swear by. (The moisturizer above is amazing for performing your massage but you could also swap in a more affordable option like Cerave's daily lotion, $10.)
The beauty community loves fun, flashy peel-off masks, but if you're looking for pure efficacy without all the bells and whistles, may I recommend these sheet masks from celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas? The deeply hydrating sheets are soaked with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients to lift and plump up the skin.
I've heard dozens of celebrities name Mario Badescu's drying lotion as their spot treatment of choice, but esthetician Renée Rouleau's lesser-known formula is mine. Whenever I find a rogue blemish, I dot this camphor, sulfur, and zinc oxide-packed formula on at night and wake up to an amazingly noticeable improvement.
If you're into hypnotic-smelling, radiance-inducing oils, I suggest stepping up your product game with this fancy blend of Ayurvedic herbs and saffron, which is lightweight in texture and always leaves my skin almost unfairly glowy.