I know I’m not the only one who is happy to close the book on this long and trying year and welcome in 2021. But with the end of the year comes a review of all of the skincare products that I tried this year. Since skincare is my favorite topic on this blog, today I’d like to discuss my favorites: the 10 best skincare products of 2020.
I still use many of my 2019 skincare favorites practically every day, so you’ll see that a few of the skincare products in this post were also in my skincare favorites from 2019. Some of the products on this list were new launches this year. Others have been on the market for a while and I’ve finally had a chance to try them.
This post contains affiliate links, and any purchases made through these links will result in a commission for me at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for additional information. A sample product was gifted to me from Good Molecules. Opinions expressed here are my own.
The Best Skincare Products of 2020
I’ve tried so many products in 2020 and honestly, this list was hard to narrow down. I am including products in this best of post that I reach for day after day that really stand out in the sea of skincare products currently on the market.
As usual, most of my favorite skincare products of 2020 are from the drugstore. The drugstore has so many wonderful skincare brands and products. In fact, I can’t wait to share some posts in the upcoming months on some of the best skincare at the drugstore. Until then, here’s a look at the best of 2020:
Heimish All Clean Cleansing Balm continues to be my favorite cleansing balm. This cleanser is a Korean cleansing balm that is like a spa day in a jar, thanks to the soothing scent of its citrus herb oil blend. This solid cleansing balm melts on your skin and emulsifies when water is added to dissolve makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and oil to leave your skin clean without feeling dry or leaving any residue.
It comes with a spatula and has a flip-top lid which makes it so easy to use. This is the perfect first cleanse to remove makeup in a two-step cleanse. (The first step removes makeup and the second step cleans your skin.) This cleansing balm is hypoallergenic and ideal for all skin types, even those with sensitive skin.
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It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser Hydrating Cleansing Serum is a cleanser and a serum in one and is formulated with collagen to support elasticity, niacin, a B vitamin, to improve skin barrier function and promote a more even skin tone, and hyaluronic acid for hydration.
This gentle face wash also contains peptides to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, ceramides to help the skin retain moisture and support the skin barrier, and colloidal oatmeal to moisturize and soften the skin while providing anti-irritation benefits.
Keep in mind that all of these ingredients are rinsed off your face, so the benefits are not what they would be if it was a leave-on product. Even so, I just love the silk creamy texture of this cleanser. It foams very slightly and is so gentle. Although it can be used to remove makeup, I love using this cleanser by itself in the morning or as the second step of a two-step cleanse in the evening. It’s sulfate-free, soap-free, and ophthalmologist-tested.
I must admit, Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence was a pleasant surprise. This lightweight essence helps to brighten skin, improve elasticity, and evens skin tone while hydrating and moisturizing skin. It is formulated with 96% snail secretion filtrate to hydrate and repair the skin. Panthenol moisturizes, soothes, and heals the skin. Sodium hyaluronate hydrates the skin.
I wasn’t sure about applying snail slime on my skin, but this essence is so lightweight and silky and very calming. This essence is also very hydrating and soothing and feels like a lightweight serum on the skin. It does feel a bit slimy at first, but it sinks in quickly without any stickiness. It’s perfect on days when my skin is irritated or extra dry. It comes in a huge 3.38 oz bottle, so it is also an excellent value.
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid is my favorite hyaluronic acid product. This serum is formulated with multiple molecular weight hyaluronic acid at 2% to reach different layers of your skin for better hydration and plumping. It also contains Matrixyl 3000, a peptide that reduces the look of wrinkles and fine lines.
Don’t let the name fool you. Hyaluronic acid is not an exfoliating acid like alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic and lactic acid. Instead, it is a gentle moisturizing skincare ingredient and humectant that is very hydrating. Hyaluronic acid is hugely effective for hydration as it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water.
This serum is not only effective but has a nice feel on the skin. I’ve tried so many hyaluronic acid serums that sit on my skin or take forever to sink in. Not this serum. My skin drinks it up and it leaves no stickiness. As a bonus, it has anti-aging benefits from Matrixyl 3000 peptide. All this for $7.99. A no-brainer!
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While the drugstore keeps upping its game with an increasingly large selection of effective and non-irritating over-the-counter retinol serums, I keep returning to this Granactive Retinoid from The Ordinary.
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is a combination of two forms of next-generation retinoid actives: a 2% concentration of Granactive Retinoid and a sustained-delivery form of pure retinol in a protective capsule system.
Granactive Retinoid is a solubilized Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR) complex. If you are wondering what that is, per The Ordinary’s website, HPR is an advanced form of retinoid that offers a better effect against signs of aging than retinol, retinyl palmitate, and most other non-prescription retinoid formats.
I love the texture of this milky emulsion. It sinks into my skin and dries quickly with zero irritation. I wake in the morning with brighter, smoother skin with better clarity. Although this needs to be refrigerated after opening, I think it’s worth it for the consistently excellent results that I see.
NOTE: Retinoids and exfoliating acids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it is important to wear sunscreen while using these products and for a week afterward. Please see The Ordinary’s website for complete usage instructions.
Ever since I started this blog, I’ve sung the praises of Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment ad nauseam, but it’s only because I think the product is that good. Sunday Riley Good Genes exfoliates away dull surface skin to reveal a brighter more radiant complexion. Lactic acid helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and discoloration.
If I want more radiant skin with better clarity in the morning, I will reach for this treatment the night before. It creates a short-lived tingling sensation upon application and immediately plumps the skin.
This treatment has been clinically proven to plump fine lines and wrinkles in as little as 3 minutes. It really helps when my skin is congested and on the verge of a breakout by exfoliating dead skin cells and revealing a fresher more luminous skin tone.
Good Molecules Priming Moisturizer is a new favorite from the brand Good Molecules. If you are looking for a smoothing moisturizer and primer in one product, this is a good one. It is formulated with shea butter, macadamia seed oil, and a naturally derived silicone alternative to hydrate, moisturize, and plump the skin, prepping it for makeup application.
Macadamia seed oil is an emollient that makes skin soft and supple while shea butter moisturizes and soothes the skin. Vitamin E offers antioxidant benefits and sodium hyaluronate acts as a humectant that helps the skin hold on to water. A plant-based naturally derived silicone alternative helps smooth the texture of skin and plump fine lines. Fatty acids of olive oil moisturize and help support the skin barrier.
This fragrance-free moisturizer is the perfect daytime moisturizer with its smoothing and priming benefits. It leaves skin hydrated, soft, and creates the perfect canvas for makeup application. Makeup spreads easily and wears longer.
NOTE: Good Molecules was kind enough to send me this moisturizer and a few other products to try. I liked them so much that I bought a bunch more. Keep an eye out for an upcoming post that will review several Good Molecules skincare products.
I am a huge fan of the entire line of Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 products launched in 2019. Just a few months ago Olay introduced new Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 MAX products that contain 20% more retinol. These products are potent and really work to reduce the appearance of the visible signs of aging. In the new collection of MAX products, I’ve really been enjoying Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Max Night Face Moisturizer.
This moisturizer is formulated with Olay’s proprietary Retinoid Complex to reduce the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. It also contains vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, to brighten, soothe, and smooth the skin, plus Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 for additional wrinkle reduction.
Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Max Night Face Moisturizer leaves my skin pillowy soft and is the perfect ending to my nighttime skincare routine. I make sure that I don’t use any other potent actives underneath the moisturizer (like exfoliating acids or vitamin C). In the morning, my skin is brighter and clearer. My skin simply looks healthier with a more even skin tone and texture.
I could have chosen any of the Retinol 24 products for this favorites post. Yet I chose the Olay night moisturizer because I haven’t found that many retinol moisturizers that I love. This is one of them. The noticeable improvements to the visible signs of aging make this retinol moisturizer stand out.
Mineral sunscreens are tricky because the mineral UV filters always seem to deposit a white cast on your skin. While mineral sunscreens avoid the questionable ingredients found in chemical sunscreens, the white cast is usually unavoidable. This mineral sunscreen minimizes the white cast (on my pale complexion) and hydrates the skin, making it a great option for dry skin.
Regenerist Mineral Sunscreen Hydrating Moisturizer SPF 30 is a new mineral sunscreen favorite because it is enriched with good-for-your-skin ingredients in addition to SPF 30 protection against broad spectrum UVA/UVB rays. It contains a small amount of niacinamide to brighten and balance the skin plus Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, known as the collagen peptide. This peptide helps to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and support collagen and elastin formation.
The sunscreen is formulated with 17.5% zinc oxide sunscreen which can be very whitening, but somehow Olay has found a way around this. It does appear white when first applied but it dissipates quickly. The resulting skin feel is that of a lightweight and hydrating moisturizer.
NOTE: Please keep in mind that I have a light skin tone, so there may be a more noticeable white cast on deeper skin tones.
E.l.f. Cosmetics introduced their CBD skincare collection this year and I must admit that I love the entire line, including the face moisturizer and body cream. But I especially love this lip oil and use it every day. e.l.f. Cosmetics 5 MG CBD Lip Oil is formulated with 5 mg of Full Spectrum CBD in a sunflower seed oil base. It also contains Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, vitamin E, and olive fruit oil.
This lip oil also infused with notes of peppermint and vanilla. This is such a lightweight and refreshing lip oil. It’s not sticky or too oily. It simply leaves my lips incredibly soft and smooth.
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Final Thoughts on The 10 Best Skincare Products of 2020
This year was a good year for skincare. (It had to be good for something!) I think my biggest takeaway is that I saw drugstore skincare brands really stepping up and offering some fantastic treatments and formulas at very affordable prices.
If you are a skincare junkie like me, please let me know in the comments!! What are your favorite skincare products of 2020? I’d love to know…
Thanks for reading and until next year…