When it comes to upgrading our skincare regime, it’s tricky to know where to start. With that in mind we’ve chosen some of the most hardworking products to transform a tired complexion, from budget buys to luxury big-hitters.
With a cacophony of skincare brands promising to plump, tighten and basically leave you with complexion smoother than a Barry White ballad, finding the right products can be a minefield – and a costly one at that.
From the tried-and-true classics to those just hot off the press, us beauty boffins at Stylist have cut through the marketing spiel and cherry-picked 30 of the best supercharged skincare products to invest in right now.
OleHenriksen Truth Serum
There was a 10,000-strong waiting list for the OleHenriksen brand ahead of its launch into Boots in February 2019. The wait was worth it - the line has something for everyone, all as enjoyable to use as they are effective. This particular formula concentrates on brightening using powerful Vitamin C and collagen.
Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Cream
The trials on this new line-buster are impressive. After just two weeks, participants had 16 per cent less wrinkles - after two months, it was almost a quarter less.
The instant effects are undeniable, too. Think a smoother, velvety, more resilient complexion.
Allies of Skin Bright Future Overnight Facial
If your skin is particularly knackered, three nights with this should turn things around. This potent peel works while you sleep to speed up cell turnover with the help of glycolic and lactic acid, together with good ol’ retinol. It helps sweep away dead skin cells and encourages the skin to produce collagen and hyaluronic acid to boost elasticity.
NeoStrata Refine Sheer Hydration with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Adding daily UV protection to your skincare regime is a must. As well as protecting skin against damaging UV rays, this mattifying moisturiser targets oily complexions and also helps to create a more even skin tone with its hero ingredient NeoGlucosamine.
Omorovicza Midnight Radiance Mask
Ideal if you’re dealing with that tricky combination of fine lines and congestion, this contains spot-fighting salicylic acid while red algae and hyaluronic acid deliver a hefty hydration hit to plump out fine lines. Expect to see results the morning after.
Skin Design London Vitamin C Antioxidant Glow Serum
Like retinol, Vitamin C is a powerhouse ingredient in skincare. A potent antioxidant, it works to brighten the skin by tackling pigmentation and helps to protect and repair skin from sun exposure. Wear it in the morning under sunscreen to boost the effects of your SPF.
Clarins Extra Firming Day Cream SPF 15
This is a smart pick for putting a bit of bounce back into lacklustre complexions. Its secret weapon is a special plumping extract called kangaroo flower. Clarins’ scientists identified the number of young cells promoting skin renewal drops by around 55% in mature skin – leading to a loss of volume. This special extract helps to preserve them, leaving skin happy and plumped.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II
This beloved night serum is a cult classic and for good reason. Not only does it rehydrate thirsty complexions but it helps treat sun damage, fine lines and lost elasticity. This incarnation has been supercharged with a special algae-based complex to boost the skin’s own natural renewal process while you slumber.
LIXIRSkin Night Switch Retinol 1%
Retinol’s often lauded as the ‘gold standard’ in youth-boosting and it’s not hard to see why. Derived from Vitamin A, few things are better at boosting collagen and tackling pigmentation. This potent night treatment - to be mixed with the accompanying Lixirskin Universal Emulsion - is a good place to start.
The idea behind Lixirskin’s ‘Night Switch’ line - created by skin doctor Colette Haydon - is genius, too. Use one of the serums for four weeks, have a few days break, move on to another (such as the AHA formula) and repeat the cycle. The constant change is designed to have the ultimate transformative effect.
Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
As one of the world’s leading stem cell and biomedical pioneers, Professor Bader channelled his research working with burns patients to create his unique skincare line. The clever range was developed to support the skin’s natural renewal process with a patented complex that’s designed to ‘unlock’ your skin’s innate code for tissue repair.
There’s a lighter version of the turbo-action moisturiser although the rich texture’s best if you need some serious nurturing. With devotees include Demi Moore and Diane Kruger, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a nightly face massage.
Darphin Lumière Essentielle Instant Purifying & Illuminating Mask
As we mature, our skin’s shedding process slows down causing congested pores and dullness. This two-part face mask first aims to purify with kaolin clay, followed by a hyaluronic acid-rich second step to leave skin bright and glowing. Your mind will feel as rejuvenated as your skin thanks to essential oils of citrus, ginger and cedarwood - a ‘Self-care Sunday’ essential.
Goldfaden MD Bright Eyes
Stress or fatigue can take its toll on the fragile skin around the eye area. Infused with soy peptide and rice bran extract, this formula works to tackle fine lines, dark circles and puffiness in one fell swoop to leave you looking bright-eyed.
Foreo UFO Smart Mask Treatment
Take your masking routine to the next level with this clever gadget. Attach a Foreo mini sheet mask and the device will combine heat and T-sonic pulsations to maximise the ingredients’ absorption. But the pièce de résistance is the collagen-boosting LED light it emits. A high-tech facial that fits in the palm of your hand.
Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle and UV Damage Corrector
This award-winning serum is well on its way to attaining iconic status - and it’s no wonder.
Use just three drops twice a day and in 12 weeks, it promises 63% of the visible wrinkle-reducing power of a laser thanks to resurfacing clarisage and glucosamine.
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane
We’ve already extolled the virtues of retinol but if you’re keen to test the waters, here’s where to start. Combined with hydrating squalane, the risk of irritation is tempered but the line-blitzing, pigmentation-busting prowess still delivers. At under-£12, it’s a no-brainer, if you ask us.
Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream
Most retinol serums will be too potent for the eye area but this deceptively lightweight concoction is specifically designed for the job. It does battle with fine lines and crow’s feet to firm and brighten without irritation. All delivered via a cooling gold applicator, it comes with a side-serving of hydrating hyaluronic acid.
Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate for Night
Liz Earle has attained cult status by proving that natural-based products can be just as impressive as their high-science counterparts. This is a blend of oils - including neroli, lavender and chamomile - in a base of Argan oil that plumps, smooths and rebalances the skin. Apply it at night and wake to a complexion that’s visibly brighter and more rested-looking.
La Mer The Regenerating Serum
La Mer’s moisturisers have an almost legendary reputation in beauty circles. This could be to do with ‘The Miracle Broth’ - the secret elixir that forms the base of all their products. Combined with other powerful anti-ageing ingredients, this serum reduces lines and totally renews the look of your skin for lift and radiance.
Dr Sebagh Instant Fix Eye Lift Gel
If you’re battling with sagging skin around the eyes, this lightweight gel instantly tightens and lifts. It stars hyaluronic acid – a humectant that binds water to the skin – and dramatically transforms tired, crepey lids.
Dr. Levy Switzerland Intense Stem Cell Booster Serum
A worthy investment, what this lacks in jazzy packaging it makes up for in potency. Using an exclusive Argan tree cell extract, it stimulates fibroblast-producing dermal stem cells (the first ever formula to do so), bolstering elastin and collagen levels so wrinkles are drastically reduced.
Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream
Another brilliant value drugstore choice, this boasts tonnes of loyal fans. Why? It works. Skin’s left firmer and plumper - and in turn, more youthful. Great for grabbing in Duty Free to pop on before a long-haul flight.
Alpha H Liquid Gold Ultimate Perfecting Mask
Fast fix alert! When your stressed, parched skin needs a hydrating boost before a big event, this mask will up the ante with renewing glycolic and lactic acid, calming tazman pepper and softening shea butter.
Pop on for 10 minutes for a post-facial glow.
No 7 Protect and Perfect Intense Advanced Serum
This now-iconic serum rocketed to fame back in 2007 when BBC documentary ‘Horizon’ subjected several serums to rigorous clinical tests. Boots’ No 7 Protect and Perfect was the only one to live up to its claims that it repaired damaged skin and reduced fine lines, thanks to a star peptide complex Matrixyl 3000. There have since been all different incarnations but this ‘intense’ and ‘advanced’ formula gets our vote. A trusted classic we just keep coming back to.
Immunocologie Oxygen Treatment Crème
A godsend for tired sluggish skin, the secret weapon in this is the special Vital Oligo Science delivery system that mimics the skin’s own metabolic process. It promises to speed up collagen production and shift toxins, while delivering a hefty oxygen hit. Added to the mix are protective and reparative magnesium sulphate, together with lactic and glycolic acids to exfoliate and brighten. In short? It’s an all-smoothing, all-brightening wonder.
Algenist Regenerative Anti-Ageing Moisturiser SPF 20
With SPF 20, this makes a fabulous daily moisturiser but that’s not all. It’s spiked with Vitamin C, Alguronic Acid and Apple Stem Cell Extract for an all-day regenerative action. Protect and treat in one smart hit.
Murad Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum
If pigmentation is your primary bugbear, you’ll want to add this fast-acting treatment serum to your arsenal. It works its magic on existing dark spots with Vitamin C and plankton extract while niacinamide and Hexylresorcinol help prevent new ones. Use it morning and night for the first signs of improvement within just one week.
Sisley Black Rose Instant Youth Cream Mask
You’ll spot this hard-worker in plenty of insiders’ kits. If you want a home treatment that delivers luminosity in 15 minutes. this is it. The cocktail of Black Rose, Vitamin E and red vine leaf immediately lifts sallowness and fatigue. Use it two or three times a week for a truly transformed complexion.
Emma Hardie Amazing Face Lift and Sculpt Firming Neck Treatment
Emma Hardie is one of the UK’s pioneering facial specialists - she can totally transform your skin and the contours of your face through her skilful massage techniques. Using a powerful combination of actives and oils, this roll-on treatment helps to revitalise the often overlooked neck and décolleté areas.