We tested and reviewed hundreds of skincare products in 2020, but these 11 stood out from the rest
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- As members of the Insider Reviews team, we try a lot of skincare products.
- We know shopping for great skincare can be overwhelming and expensive, so we made this list of the best products we've tried in 2020.
- Keep reading for a roundup of the items that have become a fixture in our routines.
When it comes to skincare shopping, it's too easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. A quick search on Sephora for moisturizers for sensitive skin yields over 200 results. At Ulta, you'll find a selection of 440 different face washes.
With new products constantly releasing and new trends making headlines every week, it can be hard to keep up with what's what in skincare. You probably don't have the time or energy (or desire) to scroll through pages of eye creams until you find one you like. And, you definitely don't want to spend a ton of money testing them all out.
Luckily, the Insider Reviews team has tested a lot of skincare products over the course of the past year. Now we're here to share our favorite finds with you. Whether you're looking for a serum to target a specific skincare concern or just for some inspiration to upgrade your beauty routine, we've got you covered.
Below, you'll find the best skincare products we've tried in 2020.
Weleda Skin Food Light Nourishing Cream
Weleda Skin Food Light Nourishing Cream, available at Ulta, $12.49
I have very dry skin — and I live at altitude in Colorado, which means it's near impossible to keep my face from flaking. But I also have incredibly sensitive skin. I love Weleda's face cream because it's thick and incredibly hydrating, but not greasy (although it does need a minute or two to soak in fully). I use it morning and night, but it's also really nourishing if I have a random dry patch mid-day. The smell is lovely and it doesn't make my skin freak out. FWIW, Weleda also makes an "original ultra-rich" version of this cream which I love as a hydrating barrier before I head out to ski, or before bed sometimes in the winter, but for everyday use that one is quite thick and the "light" is better. —Rachael Schultz, health + fitness reviews updates editor
SeSpring Cleanse It Out Gel Cleanser
SeSpring Cleanse It Out Gel Cleanser, available at SeSpring Skin, $14.99
I've been a beauty editor for nearly a decade, and while I've been lucky to try hundreds of skincare products in that time, I've realized that my oily, breakout-prone skin responds well to two things: prescription medication to keep my zits under control, and a very basic skincare routine. Lately, that routine has involved SeSpring's Cleanse It Out Gel Cleanser. The new Korean brand is focused on simple, affordable products, and its cleanser is just that. Packed with ingredients like camellia, lotus, and lavender, this gentle gel cleanser keeps my skin squeaky clean while controlling oil — that's really it. It's simple and to-the-point, which is what I love about it. — Maria Del Russo, style & beauty guides editor
SeSpring So Rich Hydrating Gel
SeSpring So Rich Hydrating Gel, available at SeSpring Skin, $24.99
I've also been using SeSpring's lightweight So Rich Hydrating Gel as my daytime moisturizer, and my skin has never felt so moisturized and bouncy. Unlike other gels, this one doesn't have a sticky, tacky texture to it. It feels like a gel, but applies like a cream, and keeps my skin well-hydrated all day. A little goes a long way, too, and the moisturizer adds a dewy brightness to my face, which I love. Simple isn't always a bad thing, and SeSpring capitalizes on that fact. Since they just launched this year, I can't wait to see what else the brand puts out. — Maria Del Russo, style & beauty guides editor
Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40
Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40, available at Supergoop!, $17-36
During quarantine, my "makeup routine" has consisted of one single product: Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40. I typically use a tinted sunscreen as the final step in my skincare routine, but there's something special about Glowscreen that has made me start hoarding bottles. It has a slight pearlescent sheen, which might sound awful if you're someone like me who usually hates anything shiny in my skincare or makeup. But Glowscreen melts into your skin, giving you a glow instead of a sparkle. It also serves as a perfect base if you plan to wear other types of makeup. Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin B5 provide major hydration. And while you'll definitely need to reapply if you're planning on spending a lot of time outside, Glowscreen still offers the A+ sun protection that Supergoop! is known for. It's sunscreen that doesn't feel like sunscreen, and that's a gift if you ask me. — Maria Del Russo, style & beauty guides editor
Glow Recipe Pineapple Vitamin C Serum
Glow Recipe Pineapple Vitamin C Serum, available at Sephora, $49
I'm not really one for kitschy skincare products (I'm a big fan of more clinical brands like Dr. Dennis Gross and Perricone MD), but I really fell for this pineapple serum from Glow Recipe this year. It's not a new product, but it was new to me when I first tried it back in April. The serum's texture is almost like an oily jelly, which sounds very weird, but feels like silk on the skin. It's the product that's gotten me closest to the enviable state of "glass skin," and it's so hydrating that sometimes I skip moisturizer altogether after using it, which is basically unheard of for anyone with skin as dry as mine. I wish it were unscented, but that's about my only complaint. — Sally Kaplan, style and beauty senior editor
Maelove Night Renewer
Maelove Night Renewer, available at Maelove, $27.95
I regularly recommend Maelove as a great one-size-fits-all option for people who want efficient skincare without frills or mark-up. I've tried nearly every Maelove product, and the Night Renewer is the company's best product in my experience. It uses 10% medical-grade AHA, a blend of soothing ingredients, and hyaluronic acid to gently resurface the skin for better texture and tone overnight — without being either harsh or drying. It took the company a few years to come up with something gentle but effective, and they nailed it here. I can tell a difference after just one night of use — my skin is softer, my pores appear smaller, and my tone is a bit more even (the latter results getting better with repeated usage). It's the product I gift people as an introduction to the brand, and one of the only skincare products I pack for a short trip. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Dr. Dennis Gross Peel Pads
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel, available at Sephora, $88
Like Sally, I count Dr. Dennis Gross as one of my go-to skincare brands. The prices are steep, but the results are typically the best I find. I've been hearing about the cult-favorite Peel Pads from my teammates for years, and I finally tried them this year. The Peel Pad is a two-step process that exfoliates with AHA/BHA to improve texture and reduce dullness, dark spots, and the appearance of fine lines. While effects showed up for me after only a few days, I noticed better texture and tone and slightly less obvious frown lines after a month of consistent usage. Though I'd still recommend retinol for "buying time" where signs of aging are concerned, I consider these peel pads an excellent complementary tool — and a quick pick-me-up because of the fast effects. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Mario Badescu Facial Spray
Mario Badescu Facial Spray, available at Ulta, Nordstrom, and Sephora, $7
I used to feel about facial mists the way that "realists" feel about Valentine's Day — a shameless commercial opportunity. But, I tried the Mario Badescu rosewater and aloe facial sprays at the recommendation of my coworkers, and I'm an enthusiastic convert. I have combination skin that skews dry and can be acne-prone, and facial mists have become my key to achieving dewy, Glossier-level hydration without clogging pores or looking greasy. I spritz it onto my face and neck every few hours. Constantly reapplying moisturizer throughout the day is messy, and I prefer the lit-from-within glow I get with mists over the sheen that moisturizers can impart. (To be clear, I use moisturizers at night and in the morning). I also liked the Drunk Elephant Sweet Biome Spray and loved the YTP Adaptogen Mist with Peptides, but they're considerably more expensive. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash
Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash, available at Ulta, $30
This creamy, foaming facial cleanser is gentle and effective. I love using it daily, because it never dries out my skin and it works equally well whether I'm wearing makeup or not (the silky, creamy formula removes mascara gently, for instance). Even though the formula is mild, I can still see a tangible positive impact. After washing it off, my face feels firm, clean, and evenly hydrated. It's the perfect neutral. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Maelove NIA 10 Calming Serum
Maelove NIA 10 Calming Serum, available at Maelove, $27.95
After the Night Renewer, the Maelove NIA 10 Calming Serum is my favorite product the company makes. It's great for reducing redness, but I'm most impressed with its ability to calm my blemishes and diminish the apparent size of my pores. After patting it into my skin, it feels like my face tightens on command. It also helps reduce inflammation in my blemishes immediately, and they seem further along in the healing process the morning after using than they would be on their own — and that's without drying them out. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Face Primer
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Face Primer, available at Sephora, $38
I'm extremely picky about primers because most don't mix well with powder foundation (my go-to). This new one from Ole Henriksen, though, is creamy and hydrating but absorbs quickly so you don't have to worry about a cakey mess. I also love the glowy effect you get from the shimmery, vitamin C-packed formula. It's a bit intense to wear on its own, but once you add foundation on top, your skin looks illuminated. —Ashley Phillips, style and beauty editor
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