Good skincare is like magic—it’s personal, it’s intimate, and finding a product that’ll yield real results is downright tingle-inducing. We chose the products that make us feel best (and really work) so you can find the formulas that’ll help keep your skin healthy, hydrated, and happy. Below, take a look at our 2022 Beauty Award Winners in the skincare category.
Best Gel Cleanser
- Super-comforting, hydrating gel formula
- Includes chamomile essential oils to soothe irritation and redness
- Leaves your skin feeling bouncy and fresh
Find even more of our favorite cleansers here.
“Fact: I’m obsessed with cleansers, and this gentle, cushiony, and hydrating gel cleanser is my absolute favorite. It houses marine peptides (for hydration), hydrolyzed algin (for protection from free radicals like pollution), and chamomile essential oils (to soothe irritation and redness)—all the while being a pleasure to apply. Pro tip from Dr. Loretta herself: Leave it on for a minute or two to get the full benefits.” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
Best Cream Cleanser
- Clinical tests show it takes two weeks to see a visible difference
- Formulated with sensitive skin in mind
- Smells incredible
“Using this cream cleanser feels like a spa experience. I love how aromatic it is but also effective at lifting congestion and clearing impurities. I like to use it by massaging it onto damp skin and buffing it away with a warm damp muslin cloth to feel instantly refreshed.” – Sofie Pavitt, NYC-based esthetician and owner of Sofie Pavitt skincare studio
Best Oil Cleanser
- A mix of cold-pressed plant oils and vitamin E
- Removes dirt and stubborn makeup in seconds
- Thick, soothing, and warm to the touch
Learn how to use oil cleanser in a double-cleansing routine here.
“I wasn’t kidding when I said I was obsessed with cleansers. This soothing, thick, and comforting cleansing oil removes makeup in seconds flat (without leaving behind a taut, dry feeling) courtesy of vitamin E and cold-pressed plant oils sourced from Europe. Apply it to dry skin and massage it in as the first step in a double-cleansing routine (or use it solo; it’s that good).” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
Best Cleansing Balm
- Hydrating formula
- Calms the skin
- Ingredients include Kalahari melon, moringa oil, and tiger grass
“This jelly-to-oil-to-milk cleanser is perfect for removing makeup (and many applications of SPF) without irritating the skin, leaving it super soft. Key ingredients include Kalahari melon, moringa oil, and tiger grass to reduce fine lines and dark spots, unclog pores, and boost overall skin health.” – Jasmine Phillips, social media editor
Best Firming Moisturizer
- A blend of peptides, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E
- Soothing, reparative, and firming to the skin
- Boosts elasticity
Find more of our favorite firming face creams here.
“This cult-favorite Kate Somerville moisturizer took over a decade to perfect—and it shows. Brimming with plumping, hydrating, and firming ingredients (peptides, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E, to name a few), it’s deeply reparative and replenishing to the skin each time you apply.” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin
- Lightweight moisturizer
- Hydrating formula without the shine
- Helps repair the skin barrier after one hour
Check out more Byrdie-tested moisturizers for oily skin.
“If you’re looking for a hydrating moisturizer that will limit shininess, this is the one for you. The gel formula glides on smoothly and leaves you with all-day hydration minus the shine. It plays well with my SPF and foundation, and I sometimes even skip primer when using this product.” – Jasmine Phillips, social media editor
Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin
- Yields a glowing, radiant finish
- A blend of good-for-you ingredients like fatty acids, ceramides, and glycerin
- $1 of every sale goes to an organization fighting for reproductive justice
“Brimming with all the good stuff—fatty acids, ceramides, glycerin, urea, and squalane—Dieux Skin’s Instant Angel moisturizer feels like silk, butter, and clouds all rolled up into one. That and it’s made my skin healthier and happier than ever before. Instant Angel is deeply moisturizing and nourishing, comes at an amazing price point, and is created by a brand that genuinely cares about its consumers. The pricing is transparent, the practices are sustainable, and the ingredients are divine. It’s hands down the best of the best. The glowing, angelic finish isn’t bad either.” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
- Feels refreshing and invigorating upon contact
- Key ingredients include thyme oil and plant glycerin for radiance and moisture retention
- Suitable for all skin types but especially great for dry skin
Find more of our favorite toners here.
“This invigorating toner works to heal and hydrate your skin with just a few sprays. It’s packed with thyme oil to stimulate blood circulation to give your skin that ever-elusive glow, as well as glycerin to retain moisture. You can mist it directly on your skin (I’m a drench kind of girl) or pat it on gently with your fingertips.” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
Best Chemical Exfoliator
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Doubles as a rinse-off mask or nightly booster
- Key ingredients include lactic acid and gluconolactone (a gentle alternative to AHAs)
Learn more about the differences between chemical and physical exfoliators.
“I love to use this as a 10-minute rinse-off mask once a week for an exfoliation boost. I also love the option of adding a drop to my moisturizer in the evening whenever I feel like my skin needs the extra help.” – Joyce de Lemos, cosmetic chemist
Best Physical Exfoliator
- Made with three exfoliating acids and jojoba beads
- Formula encourages cell turnover
- Boosts skin radiance and softness
“This cleanser effectively treats clogged pores, texture, and hyperpigmentation by combining physical (jojoba beads) and chemical exfoliation (salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids). The exfoliating jojoba beads are smooth and round (unlike the popular apricot shell powder), making them less irritating on the skin. It also is an excellent option for those whose skin is too sensitive for leave-on chemical exfoliants.” – Tiara Willis, licensed esthetician and skincare influencer
Best Retinol Serum
- High-dose concentration with three different retinoids
- Treats wrinkles, dark spots, acne, and uneven texture
- Clinically shown to deliver results in two weeks
Find more of our favorite retinol serums here.
“This revolutionary, high-dose retinol serum contains three different retinoids for triple the effect, plus soothing ingredients like squalane to prevent the skin from drying out (which is common when using retinoids). In a study conducted by the brand, Dermalogica found that the majority of participants saw a reduced appearance of wrinkles, pores, dark spots, and uneven texture in just two weeks.” – Holly Rhue, associate editorial director
Best Serum for Hyperpigmentation
- Safe for all skin types
- Improves the look of existing dark spots and targets future dark spots
- Key ingredients include vitamin C, salicylic acid, and glucosamine
Check out more ways to even your skin tone here.
“This year, I’ve been able to get my breakouts under control, but the hyperpigmentation that even the tiniest pimple leaves behind lasts for months. That is until I started incorporating Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interruptor into my routine. This serum is formulated with Gyokuro extract, which helps quell the look of irritation, and rice bran extract, which is a potent antioxidant and nonirritant. Most importantly for me, it’s formulated without oils, so it doesn’t affect my acne-prone skin with daily use. I applied this serum twice a day mindlessly for about a week and saw a noticeable difference. I couldn’t believe it. My dark spots were much less noticeable and much easier to cover with makeup. Now that it’s a part of my daily routine, hyperpigmentation is hardly an issue. If you struggle with dark spots, this is worthy of space in your medicine cabinet.” – Star Donaldson, senior social media editor
Best Calming Serum
- Gentle serum to soothe irritated, dry, and/or sensitive skin
- Lightweight and non-greasy
- A blend of oat flour, oat extract, and oat oil work to soothe skin and strengthen your moisture barrier
Find more of our favorite serums here.
“I have supersensitive skin that is prone to dermatitis and eczema. The oat extracts in this serum are incredibly calming and bring down redness and inflammation when my skin feels irritated.” – Joyce de Lemos, cosmetic chemist
Best Hydrating Serum
- Lightweight, hydrating gel
- Key ingredients include white water lily and two types of hyaluronic acid
- Quenches and plumps skin
“This serum is supercharged with a cocktail of humectants (glycols and glycerin) to hydrate the skin. I also love the water lily extract for added soothing and hydration.” – Joyce de Lemos, cosmetic chemist
Best Face Oil
- Elegant, lightweight formula
- Ingredients include sea algae and rich in vitamins A, C, and E
- Brand utilizes wild-harvested ingredients whenever possible
See more of the best face oils we’ve tested.
“Historically, I haven’t been much of a face oil user, but Katini Skin has converted me. The brand’s blends are elegantly formulated and feel lightweight, not greasy. I’ve been particularly partial to the Clarity Facial Oil: Its combo of tsubaki, rice, and sea algae even my skin tone and cultivate a brighter complexion, making it ideal for someone who frequently battles with hyperpigmentation (it’s me; I’m someone). I love that I can seal in the rest of my routine with an oil that will continue to further my clear-skin goals while leaving me with the glowiest finish.” – Eden Stuart, associate editor
Best Hydrating Face Mask
- Key ingredients include dipeptides and hyaluronic acid for comfort and moisture
- Helpful for reactive skin and redness or irritation post-treatment
- Cooling on contact
Check out 16 of our favorite face masks here.
“This mask is deeply calming and soothing for reactive skin—it uses dipeptides as well as cucumber, thyme, olive extracts, and hyaluronic acid to cool, comfort, and smooth your skin with every use. It reduces redness, feels incredible, and is my secret weapon post-treatment (i.e., lasers, microneedling, et al.).” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
Best AHA Mask
- Gentle enough for sensitive skin
- Powerhouse combo of AHAs (glycolic and mandelic acid) and BHAs (salicylic acid) for clear, even skin
- Gorgeous turmeric yellow color
Learn more about the difference between AHAs and BHAs, as well as how to use them.
“Let’s cut to the chase: This AHA formula actually evens out your skin. I noticed fading in a few of my baby sunspots and an overall radiance and brightness in my complexion after a month or so of consistent use. Considering the price (there are a lot of expensive masks out there), this is great value if you prefer the one-and-done results of a weekly AHA mask treatment over the daily application of a toner or solution (me too, TBH). The real clincher, however, was the lack of irritation. There was no “adjustment period” to this product and, thankfully, no redness to contend with. It got along with my finicky, sensitive skin right away. And that’s what makes it a winner.” – Madeline Hirsch, news director
Best Overnight Mask
- Sophisticated formula
- Hydrates skin overnight
- Strengthens and repairs the skin barrier for plump, glowing skin
“I have literally never had a skincare product work so quickly and so dramatically. I tested it while I was adjusting to a prescription retinol, and it got rid of all my irritation and crusty flakes in two days. I was worried it would break me out, as many richer creams do, but the cushy texture only helped calm any red pimples that were brewing. It makes my makeup apply better in the morning and makes my skin feel plump and bouncy—even in the dead of winter. I generally believe pricey skincare is a bit of a scam, but I truly can’t live without this stuff.” – Bella Cacciatore, news editor
Best Clarifying Mask
- Made with bamboo charcoal, white China clay, and lecithin
- Addresses dullness, clogged pores, and oiliness
- Can be used once or twice a week
“When my skin is in need of a total reset, I turn to the Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask. It’s formulated with bamboo charcoal to remove excess oil and white China clay to absorb environmental toxins. Adding this to my routine once or twice a week keeps my pores clear and my skin refreshed.” – Olivia Hancock, editor
Best Facial Sunscreen
- Elegant, lightweight formula
- No white cast
- SPF 30
Read all about more of our favorite sunscreens.
“In the office, I am notorious for skipping my sunscreen—it’s easy to when there are so many bad formulas out there—but this one has truly made me a believer. It feels like a luxurious serum and doesn’t leave behind any white cast, weird pilling, or heavy greasiness that’s typical of a mineral sunscreen. Instead, it perfectly preps my skin for makeup, leaving behind a slight luminous finish that isn’t sticky. I’m not mad at the additional skincare benefits like squalene and chamomile for soft, soothed skin.” – Bella Cacciatore, news editor
Best Eye Cream
- Illuminates, hydrates, and firms the under-eye area
- Made with niacinamide, vitamin C, peptides, and green caffeine
- Can be used on the under-eyes, eyelids, in between brows, and inner and outer corners
Find more of our favorite eye creams here.
“Like many people, my under-eye area can often look dull and dark. Glow Recipe’s newest eye cream is my best defense against both concerns. The vitamin C complex and niacinamide blend target the look of dark circles, making them appear more vibrant. Plus, the formula’s peptides and green caffeine reduce puffiness.” – Olivia Hancock, editor
Best Lip Balm
- Made with peptides to visibly plump and reduce fine lines
- Comes in scented and unscented options
- Shines like a gloss (without the stickiness)
See more Byrdie-approved lip balms formulated to hydrate, treat, and protect.
“Rhode’s Peptide Lip Treatment is the best lip balm I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. It feels like a comforting, billowy blanket wrapping my lips in moisture and happiness with every application—and I’m not even exaggerating. Aside from shea butter, cupuaçu, and babassu, the key ingredient is peptides, which, when applied topically, work to visibly plump and reduce the look of lines around your lip area.The product comes in scented and unscented options; keeps my lips hydrated, soft, and plump; and even shines like a gloss (without the stickiness).” – Hallie Gould, senior editorial director
Best Face Mist
- Incredible for sensitive and sensitized skin
- Calming, soothing, and repairing
- Key ingredient is hypochlorous acid for redness and/or irritation
Learn more about what to look for in a face mist.
“I recommend this facial mist to all of my clients dealing with stressed, irritated skin. It holds the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, so it is truly a product for even the most sensitive skin. Calming, redness-reducing, and repairing: I love it.” – Sofie Pavitt, NYC-based esthetician and owner of Sofie Pavitt skincare studio
Best Acne Spot Treatment
- Visibly shrinks whiteheads overnight
- Contains a medical-grade gel that absorbs and traps gunk
- Chemical-free and great for sensitive skin
Find more of our favorite acne patches here.
“These pimple patches have been my saving grace. Once I see a whitehead, I pop one of these babies on, and it’s either gone or significantly smaller in six to eight hours. I’ve always been pretty skeptical about pimple patches, but these get the job done and stop me from ‘accidentally’ popping my pimples.” – Jasmine Phillips, social media editor
Best At-Home Peel
- Made with glucosamine and alpha/beta acids
- Formulated for all skin types
- Helps you achieve smoother, tighter, and more radiant skin
“I’ve been trying to be more consistent about exfoliating, and BeautyStat’s Universal Triple Action Daily Peel has made it easy. All you have to do is massage the gentle peel onto your skin for 20 seconds. The product promises smoother, tighter, and more radiant skin. I can confirm it definitely delivers on those claims.” – Olivia Hancock, editor
- Tones, lifts, and contours the face
- Reduces lines and wrinkles
- Easy to use
Check out our guide to beauty gadgets that really work.
“After hearing many of my colleagues rave about NuFace’s Trinity+ Facial Toning Device, I finally caved and tried it out. Even though it had earned the seal of approval from my trusted peers, I was still skeptical. Could a little device you use at home really lift and tone your face in a few minutes? It turns out that it can. Consistency is the key here, but with enough repeated use, your face really will look snatched. This will be the easiest addition to your daily skincare routine with the biggest impact.”