The Best Skin-Care Products of 2021

By Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / Honayst

When it comes to the best skin-care products, we want one thing: real results. While luxe, Instagram-worthy packaging is always tempting, it’s more of a bonus than an end goal. What really makes a moisturizer (or serum, exfoliator, or treatment) stand out from the rest is what it can do for your skin.

Thanks to continued innovation from brands big and small, these topicals now accomplish more than ever before. Between powerful, actives-packed formulations and inventive delivery systems that ensure every drop goes where it needs to, skin-care shelves are overflowing with choices that impart dramatic results, provided you use them regularly. And with brightening toners, hydrating masks, and lifting microcurrent devices this good, you won’t have any problem reaching for them daily.

All products featured on Honayst are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best Cleanser: Sisley-Paris Triple Oil Balm Makeup Remover & Cleanser

This is the best makeup remover I’ve ever used. You don’t need much for it to work. And it not only completely removes all your makeup, it also cleanses your whole face. I often had breakouts after going a few days in a row wearing makeup and using harsh removers, but those days are over. The nourishing oils in this leave my skin soft and make the balm a joy to use. It’s one of my more expensive products, but it’s worth every penny. —Lexie Brown, WNBA player

Best Toner: Augustinus Bader The Essence with TFC8, Exfoliating Toner

My skin feels so clean and exfoliated—but still moisturized—after applying this toner. I looked more glowy with an overall better complexion after just one week, and I love that it’s fragrance-free. My skin is very sensitive and usually gets irritated with most toners, but not with this one. —Julissa Prado, founder of Rizos Curls

Best Essence: SK-II SkinPower Essence

SK-II’s best-selling essence has been a staple in my routine for years because of its magic skin-plumping abilities, and the brand’s new SkinPower line is like an even more souped-up version of the original. The texture is more viscous (think more of a liquid-y serum than a watery essence) but sinks in quickly and doesn’t feel sticky. Like the O. G. , the formula is made with Pitera, an ingredient that contains more than 50 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to soften and hydrate your skin. Plus, it also has calla lily extract, dokudami extract, and peony extract to plump your skin from within. The result is extra- bouncy, supremely dewy skin you can’t stop staring at in the mirror. —Lindsay Schallon, senior beauty editor

Best Antiaging Serum: Lancôme Absolue Overnight Repairing Bi-Ampoule

I’ve used so many antiaging serums that claim to repair your skin's moisture barrier, when in fact, my skin is left dry nearly 10 minutes after application. Finally, thanks to this game changer from Lancôme, my skin stays moisturized through the night. I’ve also noticed a more even tone thanks to ingredients like sunflower seed oil and tri-ceramides, which make my skin so smooth. And there's something about mixing the dual-phased formula (activated when you shake it upon opening) that truly feels like you’re getting the most potent serum. —Jessica Radloff, West Coast editor

Best Hydrating Serum: Tatcha The Dewy Serum

Even though this product is called a serum, it has a thin, milky consistency that almost mimics a moisturizer. It’s that hydrating—which is a result of the lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, and squalane in the formula. My skin literally sucked this product up, creating a supple, vibrant, glowing look that’s perfect for the new normal of no-makeup looks. —Ty Alexander, wellness blogger

Best Moisturizer: Clé de Peau Volumizing Cream Supreme

This! Cream! I have dry-as-a-desert skin, which means I use a lot of moisturizers. I always thought my skin reacted better to oils or water-based products. Rich and creamy moisturizers would often just…sit on my skin, as if my body was rejecting them. Clé de Peau’s is the first time a whipped, buttery moisturizer has truly worked for me. I apply right before bed and wake up to the softest, glowiest skin of my life, thanks to the botanical extracts in the formula. The plumped-up “filler effect” it gives really is no joke. —Anna Moeslein, senior editor

Best Night Cream: Fenty Skin Instant Reset Overnight Recovery Gel-Cream

If you’re still skeptical over celebrity skin-care lines, let me be the first to say Rihanna’s Fenty Skin is worth the hype. This gel-cream is my favorite from the line, and all our judges who tested it agreed: putting it on is an absolute delight. The gel-cream is lightweight but still incredibly hydrating. That’s because it’s made with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and aloe to help even skin tone, soothe, and lock in moisture. The scent is also deliciously fruity. But the best part of all is that the packaging is refillable. —L. S.

Best Exfoliator: Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength 10% PHA Exfoliating Clarifying Liquid

I have dry skin that’s easily sensitized, so I was a little intimidated to try this out. I’m glad that I gave it a chance: This clarifying liquid uses 10% PHA, 5% glycolic acid, and 0. 5% salicylic acid, but the formula is gentle enough for me to use multiple times a week. I’m impressed by how it brightens my skin and helps treat my breakouts. Overall, I noticed that my complexion looks more luminous, feels softer, and has less congestion. I also really like how I no longer have to apply all of these active ingredients separately; I can just swipe this on and I’m good to go. —Adri Navidad, beauty blogger

Best Dark-Spot Treatment: Topicals Faded Brightening & Clearing Gel

This product is a game changer for hyperpigmentation: The ingredients pack a very powerful punch. I love how so many essential ingredients for treating dark spots are expertly formulated together, taking the guesswork out of how to layer these actives. It’s also formulated in a way to decrease irritation, which is paramount when fighting hyperpigmentation. —Alexis Stephens, M. D. , dermatologist

Best Eye Cream: La Mer the New Eye Concentrate

Applying undereye makeup has always been a mess for me due to having extremely dry undereyes. This quickly gave me the hydration I needed and provided a soothing feel to my skin. Plus, I really like the applicator and the cooling sensation I get from using it. It’s a lot of money for an eye cream, but the hard-working ingredients make it worth it. —Julie Kyles, TikTok influencer

Best Retinol Product: BareMinerals Ageless 10% Phyto-Retinol Night Concentrate

Hyperpigmentation has been my main skin concern for a few years now. Whenever I get a pimple, I just know it will leave a scar. I was instantly drawn in by the latest launch from the BareMinerals Ageless Phyto-Retinol Collection. Aging isn’t something I’m too concerned with at 26, but products that aim to even out your skin tone and improve texture get my attention. The main ingredient, phyto- retinol (a plant-based retinol alternative), was gentle on my sensitive skin and didn’t make me peel or flake. —Khaliha Hawkins, producer

Best CBD Product: Ellis Brooklyn Marvelous CBD Extra Rich Body Cream

The herbal scent of this body cream made for a luxurious experience, and the super buttery texture was the perfect match for the dry, itchy skin I otherwise experience all winter. —Deanna Pai, contributor.

Best Face Mask: Dior Prestige Le Micro Caviar de Rose

This beautiful mask adds a little luxury to my skin-care routine. The packaging is gorgeous, and so is the actual product inside. It’s got a super-light texture and gives brightening results. You basically give yourself a face massage, and it leaves your skin super hydrated and moisturized. It can be used as a daily moisturizer or overnight mask. I normally apply it two or three times a week. — L. B.

Best Body Sunscreen: Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+

This cute blue bottle has been a best-seller for Shiseido for years, and I’m happy to say its new reformulation—which is made without coral-reef-damaging oxybenzone and octinoxate—is even better. This invisible lotion feels very light and applies evenly on your skin. It provides a slight dewy effect without being sticky. I could still feel the moisturizing effects even after spending all day outdoors. —J. K.

Best Body Wash: Sol de Janeiro Coco Cabana Moisturizing Body Cream-Cleanser

Since my travel plans are on pause, I’m relying on a beauty escape to paradise. For now, Sol de Janeiro’s Coco Cabana body wash is delivering my vacation vibes in a playful teal bottle. Thanks to its two main ingredients, coco sugar and coconut oil, this moisturizing body wash nourishes my skin while getting me through the missing-vacation blues. —Talia Gutierrez, beauty assistant

Best Hand Wash: Diptyque Exfoliating Hand Rinse

This hand wash is a luxe addition to any bathroom. The packaging itself is an incredible showstopper, and the formula is just as impressive. Most of us don’t think about exfoliating our hands, but it’s an easy way to keep your skin feeling extra soft and moisturized. —J. M.

Best Hand Sanitizer: Henry Rose Jake’s House Hand Sanitizer

Sure, your hand sanitizer doesn’t have to be chic to work. But if there’s anything that this year has taught me, it’s that these small upgrades make a world of difference. Using my Henry Rose feels like a treat, not a chore, since it has the same summery fragrance as one of my fave perfumes, looks cute, and isn’t drying. Best of all? It doesn’t leave my hands smelling like a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the slightest. —Bella Cacciatore, beauty associate

Best Skin-Care Device: Foreo Bear

Just three minutes a day is all you need with the Foreo Bear to lift your cheekbones and jawline and treat fine lines and other signs of aging. It’s the device that brings a personal esthetician into your bathroom with gentle facial massages, a circulation boost, and immediate glow. Seriously, don’t sleep on it. It’s worth the investment. —T. A.

Best Everyday Fragrance: Burberry Her London Dream Eau de Parfum

This is truly such a sweet and fun floral fragrance. It instantly makes me feel young (yet sophisticated) with its light lemon and rose scent, and just a slight hint of musk. You really can’t go wrong with Burberry scents, and it’s not surprising that this is another winner. —Charlotte Cho, esthetician and cofounder of Soko Glam and Then I Met You

Best Nighttime Fragrance: Valentino Voce Viva

This is one of my favorite luxury perfumes. I’m a huge fan of anything with a hint of vanilla, and that is exactly what Valentino Voce Viva smells like. It’s a super-feminine scent that isn’t overpowering. —L. B.