the best skincare brands

What are the best skincare brands?

I’m an elitist. When it comes to skincare, only the best products will do.

And why not? You’re not exactly going to achieve the glowing, flawless skin you want if you settle for second best, are you?

But, how do you define best?

My Criteria For Picking The Best Skincare Brands

  1. Top Notch Formula: Forget those rare “miraculous” exotic extracts the manufacturers swear do wonders for the skin. If science hasn’t shown REPEATEDLY that an ingredient works, it doesn’t make the cut.
  2. Functional packaging: The best skincare ingredients are divas. When they come in contact with light and air, they throw a tantrum and stop working. So, they must come in opaque and airtight tubes and bottles for me to even consider them.
  3. Reasonable price: I don’t mind paying a small premium for something that REALLY works, but some brands charge an outrageously high price just because they can. That’s not cool.

So, what are the best skincare brands that fit these criteria for me?

paula's choice 10% niacinamide booster 01

Best Multitasking Skincare Brand: Paula’s Choice

I love Paula’s Choice because it makes my life so much easier.

Shopping for skincare is a minefield. How do you know what works, what YOUR skin needs and what irritates it?

Paula’s done all the research work for you. She doesn’t care about what ingredient is the current media’s darling. She doesn’t stop using an ingredient because the idiots at the EWG think it’s bad (#sorrynotsorry, they get it wrong WAY more often than they get it right).

Instead, she looks at scientific research. If science says an ingredient works, it makes the cut. If science says an ingredient is irritating, it gets the boot.

The best part? Each product has EVERYTHING your skin needs – nothing more and nothing less.

Here’s the deal: skin is a complex organ that needs humectants and occlusives to moisturise it, antioxidants to fight wrinkles, skin-soothers to calm down inflammation and a lot of other stuff.

Most skincare brands give you only ONE of these things. Like, a moisturizer that only moisturises. Or an antioxidant serum that only prevents wrinkles.

Not Paula’s Choice. Each of their moisturisers (and everything else they make, for that matter) has a bit of everything so it can moisturise, fight wrinkles, calm skin etc.

Best Picks:

  • 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00/£40.00): A niacinamide + antioxidants booster you can mix with your fave skincare products to moisturise skin, soothe irritations, brighten the complexion, fight wrinkles, fade away dark spots and even shrink pores. Available at Dermstore, NordstromPaula’s Choice and Selfridges.
  • C15 Super Booster ($49.00/£45.00): A dupe for Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, it’s loaded with antioxidants and skin-soothers to destroy free radicals and calm down inflammation – two of the main causes of premature aging. Available at Feel Unique, Nordstrom, Paula’s Choice and Selfridges.
  • Calm Redness Relief Repairing Serum ($34.00/£32.00): A soothing serum with antiaging properties even sensitive skin will love. Available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice
  • Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($56.00/£47.00): Turns your serums and moisturisers into powerful wrinkle-fighters. Available at DermstoreFeel Unique and Paula’s Choice.
  • Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($29.00/£26.00): A best-selling exfoliant that unclogs pores, treats breakouts and gets rid of blackheads. Available at DermstoreFeel Unique, Paula’s Choice and Selfridges.

Related: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster Review

drunk elephant c-firma day serum

Best Natural Skincare Brand: Drunk Elephant

Ok, I’m using the term “natural” very broadly here. Drunk Elephant doesn’t shy away from synthetic chemicals – IF they work and are safe.

But they do refuse to use silicones, fragrances, dyes and other chemicals with a bad rep. If you want them out of your skincare products, Drunk Elephant is a brand you want to check out.

Why? Drunk Elephant has a lot in common with Paula’s Choice. ALL their products feature actives that can really do what they claim on the tin.

Plus, they’re multitasking. Their vitamin C serum, for example, fights wrinkles, moisturises skin and gently exfoliates it to boot.

The only con is the price. Drunk Elephant is more expensive than Paula’s Choice but then they use way more natural extracts – those can cost a pretty penny!

Best Picks:

  • B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum ($52.00/£44.00): A super hydrating hyaluronic acid serum that doubles as an oil-free moisturiser for oily skin. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK.
  • C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00): A dupe for Skinceuticals CE Ferulic that fights premature aging, moisturises skin and gently exfoliates it too. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK.
  • Lala Retro Whipped Cream ($60.00/£50.00): A rich cream with antioxidants to deeply moisturise dry skin and keep premature wrinkles at bay. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK.
  • Lippe Balm ($18.00/£15.00): A moisturizing lip balm with antioxidants that treats and prevent chapped lips while helping to slow down premature aging. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK.
  • T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00/£76.00): A multitasker that exfoliates, hydrates, soothes, unclogs pores and helps prevent wrinkles. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK.

Related: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Full Review

niod modulating glucosides review

3. Best Innovative Skincare Brand: Niod

Deciem has a gazillion brands, each one with a distinct mission and personality. The Ordinary, for example, is all about bringing you actives that work for the cheapest possible price.

I’m all for that but… I’m a NIOD girl at heart. I like the brand because it pushes the boundaries, using the latest breakthrough ingredients and technologies no one else has.

And, it doesn’t charge you a premium for it. I mean, when Skinceuticals came out with its CE Ferulic serums (revolutionary for its time), it charged $150+ for it.

NIOD doesn’t think originality and breakthroughs should come with a premium price tag. If you want to be the first to use the new skincare HGs of the future, look no further.

Best Picks:

  • Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 (£38.00): A copper peptide serum to boost collagen, firm skin and keep in a constant state of repair. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Net-A-Porter.
  • Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid 30% Network (£33.33): A highly concentrated vitamin C serum that fights wrinkles and enhances skin barrier function. Available at Beauty Bay.
  • Modulating Glucosides (£21.33): A serum loaded with every skin-soother you can think of to calm down irritations, reduce redness and prevent premature aging. Available at Escentual.
  • Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (£25.00): It has 10+ forms of hyaluronic acid to hydrate every layer of your skin and plump up your face. Available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty.
  • Survival 30 (£25.00): A sunscreen on steroids that protects skin from the sun and prevents sun damage without leaving a white cast behind. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Net-A-Porter.

Related: Niod Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 Full Review

cerave moisturizing lotion

Best Drugstore Skincare Brand: CeraVe

This is the best skincare brand you can find at the drugstore. Bar none. Trust me, I’ve tried them all.

Ok, it’s better for dry than oily skin – those moisturisers are on the thick side. But hey, they’re just what the doctor ordered to strengthen your skin’s barrier and keep your skin soft and supple even in the foulest of weathers.

CeraVe products are loaded with niacinamide, ceramides and fatty acids, all the good stuff skin needs to stay hydrated and withstand the attacks from cold weather… and that we take for granted.

The downside? You won’t find many antioxidants here. Hey, they have to keep the price down somehow…

Best Picks:

  • Foaming Cleanser ($14.99): A gentle, ph-balanced cleanser for oily skin that melts away impurities without drying out skin. Available at Dermstore, Ulta and Walmart.
  • Hydrating Cleanser ($14.99): A gentle cleanser for dry skin that removes dirt and impurities while moisturising skin. Available at DermstoreFeel Unique and Ulta.
  • Moisturizing Lotion ($10.98): A lightweight body lotion that packs a super moisturising punch. Available at DermstoreUlta and Walmart.
  • PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($15.99): A thick, super moisturising cream for night time suitable for dry and sensitive skin – even rosacea prone! Available at DermstoreUlta and Walmart.

Related: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Full Review

What do you think are the best skincare brands in the world? Share your picks in the comments below.