If you’re anything like us, you’re borderline obsessed with skin care. Ok, *full on* obsessed. Good skin is everything. Makeup goes on smoother. It glows all on its own (yep, without the need for illuminator!). And it gives your confidence a huge boost. And let’s not forget that great skin makes us look younger, well-rested and the picture of health.
But that search for the best skin care products to create said perfect skin takes a lot of trial and error. And we know you don’t have time for that.
Generally, a good place to start is with brands you know and trust. If you love one of their products, there’s a good chance you’ll love many.
While everyone has different things they look for in a skin care product - price, ingredients, ethos… and what works for your bestie may not work for you, recommendations rand reputation really are the best places to start. So, we did some digging for you to find out what the best skin care brands in the world are. From the brands with top-selling products worldwide, to those who’ve won a ridiculous amount of awards, to the most-loved skin care brands our Beauty Crew members keep going back to, these are some of our favourite skin care brands.
#13 / Olay
No face cream is as recognisable as the bright red jar that is Olay Regenerist. And after launching the Whip formula in 2017 (which, quite accurately to advertising feels as 'light as air'), one jar of Regenerist Whip is now sold every three minutes in Australia. But of course, this skin care brand goes way back and has actually served over 20 million women worldwide. It's beloved not only because it's accessible (you'll find it in most major supermarkets and pharmacies) but because the formulas are effective too. On a recent Review Crew © of the Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum, one member wrote: "I have been using it for about two weeks now and I can see visible differences in my skin texture. My skin looks brighter and tighter." Coincidentally, Olay’s Retinol 24 has become Australia’s no.1 retinol product in 2020.
Celebrity fans: Former Miss Universe Australia and model Jesinta Franklin praised the Olay Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Treatment for keeping her pigmentation in check throughout her first pregnancy.
#12 / The Ordinary
You’ll find few people who have a bad word to say about this brand’s formulas. Their philosophy is quality formulas at affordable prices, and they definitely deliver on both. They don’t fluff about with fancy, witty words to explain their products - they are *all* about the ingredients they pack in them. The Ordinary ranked among the top 10 skin care brands in our 2018 Generation Beauty survey (which polled over 1000 Australian women) and was one of Myer’s top five best-selling skin care brands in 2018 - their Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% were the two most-purchased products from the brand at Myer, just FYI.
#11 / Paula's Choice Skincare
The founder of Paula’s Choice Skincare, Paula Begoun, is a wealth of skin care knowledge (we call on her expertise ALL THE TIME!). She has a knack for breaking down the science of skin care into an easy-to-understand language and is dedicated to researching the heck out of ingredients before she uses them in her products. Recently, Paula’s Choice Resist Omega+ Complex Serum won Allure’s 2018 Best of Beauty Award for Facial Serum: Hydrating and the brand as a whole receives *a lot* of praise on Reddit, with many of their products achieving Holy Grail status by Redditors.
The review: “I love Paula's Choice because they are honest and transparent about their ingredients, their customer service is so helpful with coming up with a full routine (and they even help with other brand's products) and most importantly, Paula's Choice products have actually made my skin so much better! They have many ranges for many different skin types.” Milan, SUPERcrew member
#10 / SK-II
If you’re in the market for a luxury skin care brand that is worth every cent, try SK-II. It was another one of Myer’s five most popular skin care brands for 2018, with their SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and SK-II Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser the top two selling products for the brand. The hero ingredient throughout this Japanese skin care brand is PITERA™, an ingredient derived from yeast fermentation that contains over 50 micro-nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and organic acids to leave skin clearer and brighter.
Celebrity fans: In an interview with Into The Gloss, Ellen Pompeo claimed “SK-II changed my life”, and Chrissy Teigen is apparently a big fan of the SK-II sheet masks for keeping her skin hydrated during long flights.
#9 / Dermalogica
Dermalogica is a brand that’s seriously committed to skin health. Their extensive range of skin care products are all free of common irritants and ingredients like lanolin, SD alcohol, mineral oil, artificial colours and fragrances. They have no-fuss, get-straight-down-to-business kind of formulas that focus on achieving results without compromising your skin in the process. The brand has won over 320 awards worldwide! One of its long-standing hero products is the Daily Microfoliant, which has been a cult favourite around the world for years, and still takes out illustrious awards like the InStyle US Best Beauty Buys - Best Oily Skin Exfoliator 2018 (it also has an impressive five-star rating on our site, plus over 870 reviews and a five-star rating on Dermalogica Australia’s site, too). In 2017, Dermalogica was one of the top three most-Googled beauty brands in Australia and in 2018 it made the 'top 10 skin care brands' list as part of our Generation Beauty survey.
The review: “I'd have to say Dermalogica is my favourite skin care brand as they have such an extensive range to suit all skin concerns and I personally love the UltraCalming range. I keep re-purchasing items from this range, especially when my skin plays up.” Aneta, SUPERcrew member
#8 / Neutrogena
This drugstore brand is proof that affordable skin care can deliver amazing results. Available in over 70 countries worldwide, their formulas are dermatologically tested and they pretty much have a range to target every skin concern. Their Dry-Touch sunscreens are a global favourite for their non-greasy, non-whitening formulas; many of their products in the Visibly Clear range for acne-prone skin have received a four-star rating or higher by our Review Crew®; and their Hydro Boost range is a go-to for anyone who’s struggling to keep skin hydrated (so, pretty much all of us!). The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream won Allure’s 2018 Best of Beauty Reader’s Choice Award for the Best Facial Moisturiser. And the accolades continue…Their entry-level (price-wise) retinol range, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair, has been a huge hit since its launch, with special mention going to the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, which took out Allure’s 2018 Best of Beauty Award for Facial Serum: Retinol. When we polled over 1000 women for our Generation Beauty survey, Neutrogena came in sixth place as the most-loved skin care brand.
The review: “I've tried a number of their products and they generally work pretty well for me. I love their Hydro Boost line for my dehydrated, oily skin; and they are affordable, too.” Rosalind, SUPERcrew member
#7 / Go-To Skincare
We’re not surprised to find Australian beauty guru Zoe Foster Blake’s skin care brand receive rave reviews from our members; we’re BIG fans ourselves. Zoe combined her beauty wisdom from years of trialling products as a beauty editor with her passion for natural formulas that nurture skin without nasties to come up with a super uncomplicated but very effective range of skin care products. She recently added a physical sunscreen to her range (read all about it here) and last year she launched in Sephora in the US and already the Go-To Face Hero face oil is a crowd favourite over there, boasting a 4.7 star rating and 7914 loves on Sephora US’s website.
The review: “I LOVE Go-To. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and I cannot get enough of Face Hero and the Swipeys. I have the Properly Clean on regular rotation with other face cleansers but if you open my bathroom cupboard you will always see Face Hero, Transformazing sheet masks and Swipeys.” Pru, SUPERcrew member
#6 / Clinique
Clinique is a great entry-level skin care brand (their 3-Step range makes it super simple for skin care beginners to get started, and the price point is perfect) that’s easy to get hooked on for life. They have ranges that cater to all skin issues (blemishes, pigmentation, wrinkles, redness, you name it) and their skin care textures are not too heavy, not too light… In our 2018 Generation Beauty survey, Clinique was the top brand choice for Gen Y and Gen X, and also came in second place overall as the most-loved skin care brand across all generations. Clinique was among Myer’s top five best-selling skin care brands in 2018, with their Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion and Clinique Liquid Face Soap – Mild the two most-purchased products in their range. Plus, two of the three top-selling cleansers for Myer last year were Clinique ones (the Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 and Clinique Take The Day Off Cleanser).
The review: “No matter what I try, I keep going back to Clinique products. They contain ingredients that make my skin look and feel better. The products are nourishing and make my skin touchable soft.” Sarrah, SUPERcrew member
#5 / Mario Badescu
When you think of Mario Badescu, chances are you instantly picture the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. It has a worldwide rep for banishing blemishes quick-smart with a long list of celebrity fans (including Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner) regularly singing its praises. But this is more than a one-product-wonder brand. It was one of Mecca’s top five best-selling brands in 2018 (besides the Drying Lotion, its Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs & Rosewater was also a top-seller at Mecca both in 2017 and 2018 - oh, and they sell one every 20 seconds!). Amazon and Ulta both also revealed the Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs & Rosewater was among their most-purchased products for 2018. In our 2018 Generation Beauty survey, Mario Badescu was one of the top 10 most-loved skin care brands by Gen Z.
#4 / Sukin
Another Australian brand that we adore is Sukin. Our Review Crew® gave their Sukin Purely Ageless Intensive Firming Serum a 4.5 star rating after trialling it, and the Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner, Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser, Sukin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser and Sukin Facial Moisturiser all have 4.5 star ratings on our site, too. Sukin was among Priceline’s top-selling skin care brands in 2018 and three of its products ranked in Priceline’s top five best-selling moisturisers last year (Sukin Facial Moisturiser, Sukin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser, and Sukin Super Greens Face Moisturiser). And as if that wasn't enough to prove to you that Australia really loves this brand, the Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner, Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser and Sukin Facial Moisturiser all made Priceline’s list of top 10 best-sellers in skin care for January to July 2018. Oh, we're not done yet! Sukin also placed in the top 10 skin care brand list among each generation (Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers) in our 2018 Generation Beauty survey.
Celebrity fans: Emma Watson has confessed her love for their Hydrating Mist Toner in the past, making special mention of her appreciation for the brand’s commitment to offset their carbon emissions through a clean energy biomass project in India.
#3 / COSRX
The world can’t get enough of Korean skin care and COSRX is rated as one of Korea’s best skin care brands. At one point their COSRX Triple C Lightning Liquid had a 10,000-person waitlist! New York Magazine’s The Strategist reported that the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch appeared on their readers’ best-seller list 21 times in 2018 and was the top best-seller five of those times. It also landed itself on The Strategist's list of best-selling products (across every category - including fashion and homewares) for all of 2018. From the great price point (their skin care ranges from $7 for a single-use sheet mask to $45 for a ceramide cream) to the impressive skin-clearing results and unique formulas (snail mucin and Blackhead Silk Finger Balls come to mind), their approach is to make skin care that focuses on minimal ingredients with maximum function. It’s exactly what temperamental, modern-day skin needs.
The review: “My favourite skin care brand is COSRX. From their AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, Advanced Snail Essence and gel cleanser, I can always trust their products to target specific skin care problems, such as uneven skin tone or dryness. And I actually see improvement in my skin after using them!” Alex, SUPERcrew member
#2 / Drunk Elephant
One of Mecca’s top-selling skin care brands for 2018, Drunk Elephant’s products may come with a high price tag, but their formulations are unique and super hard-working, so consider it money well invested. The American skin care brand was founded by Tiffany Masterson who suffered from numerous skin issues and set out to create a range of formulas free from toxins and what she refers to as the ‘Suspicious 6’ (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrance/dyes and SLS) because she believed they were at the root of her skin struggles. Drunk Elephant launched in 2014 and by 2016 it was named Sephora’s top-growing skin care brand (in the US). Its cult following continues to grow and, according to Refinery29, Drunk Elephant now makes up 50 per cent of the top 10 skin care best-sellers at Sephora in the US. Its popularity hits closer to home, too, with Drunk Elephant Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream recently winning the award for the Best Moisturiser in Mecca’s 2018 Beauty Election (as voted by their customers).
#1 / Estée Lauder
When Refinery29 did a little research into the most popular skin care brands around the world a few years back, Estée Lauder came out on top. It ranked first as the most talked-about brand in the US, UK, Spain, Russia, Taiwan and United Arab Emirates, and it was among the top five brands here in Australia, as well as Brazil, India, Canada, South Korea, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Thailand and Norway. Phew! Refinery29’s findings also noted that Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II was the most popular product, earning it bragging rights as one of the best skin care products in the world. Further proof that the Advanced Night Repair is THE top product in Estée Lauder’s vast skin care line-up, it was one of Ulta’s most-popular beauty products in 2018, too. Other stand-out products from the brand include the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, which regularly makes appearances on celebrity Instagram feeds, and their Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask, which was one of the top three best-selling cleansers at Myer last year.
Would you prefer to use organic skin care products? Check out our list of the best Australian natural and organic skin care brands. Or, if you’re a big fan of French pharmacy buys (think affordable, uncomplicated yet efficient), these are the products worth buying.
Main image credit: Getty
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.