Quality over quantity. It’s a nifty little phrase that applies equally well to people and skincare. For example, I can basically count all of my friends on my hands, but they’re the best so I want for nothing. I have everything I need! I’d love a similarly curated skincare routine, but intriguing new humans cross my path less often than intriguing products do, making it quite hard to stay loyal. Counterpoint: more is more. Applies great to windows, white shirts, and recommendations—but not so much to skincare. So how do we proceed? We want the best products, but we need a lot of recommendations to figure out what exactly those are, and we can’t rely on our friends for those recommendations because we only have like 10 of them—they’re great but they are an edited bunch, keep up please.
As I noticed while moderating Into The Gloss: The Group, a Facebook forum we created because you guys love to talk skincare long-form, it turns out there are some clear crowd favorites in even the trickiest product categories. If nearly 13K people on the internet keep suggesting just one or two products, they have to be pretty darn great. So, here are your ride-or-dies, holy grails, and can’t-live-withouts. I’ll see you around The Group—and if you’re not on Facebook, please keep the recommendations coming in the comments.
The Acid Exfoliant: Sunday Riley Good Genes
This lactic acid exfoliator is loved by skincare masochists and sensitive snowflakes alike.
“Good Genes is amazing for acne and anti-aging. I have The Ordinary dupe and it’s not the same thing. On my second bottle. It’s worth it.” —Adriana Ahner-Bray
“Good Genes. I swear it’s the only product I’ve seen actual results results from, can’t let go so many years later.” —Marina Kran
“Sunday Riley’s Good Genes! It has cleared up SO many of my horrible acne scars, I’m so thankful I found it!” —Dani Marie
“Good Genes is so good I can’t not have it. If I put it on at night, I wake up with the most glowing, poreless, smooth, even skin. It’s seriously amazing.” —Madison Jill Miller
“Sunday. Riley. Good. Genes. So expensive. So effective.” —Faith Morrison
The Vitamin C: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
Featuring a supporting cast including vitamin E, ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid, with no hotdog water smell.
“Drunk Elephant’s vitamin C broke me out like crazy. Thought I was allergic to vitamin C, but now I’m using Mad Hippie’s vitamin C a year later, and I love it!” —Jacqui Moore
“Mad Hippie’s vitamin C serum is vegan and cruelty free! It’s a little bit sticky, but nice, and it’s got hyaluronic acid so I never feel like it dries me out.” —Katie Lee
“I’ve been using Mad Hippie for a few months now and love it. And it’s affordable!” —Abbi Pittman
“Mad Hippie is my go-to right now! It also gets big ups because it doesn’t smell like much of anything at all.” —Clare Richardson
“I’ve used the Mad Hippie vitamin C serum! I loved it. I used the entire bottle and feel like I saw a difference in my skin’s glow.” —Madison Richard
The Eye Cream: Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème tied with The Ordinary Caffeine Solution
Not only do you need eye cream, but you need two of them: a peachy tint helps neutralize dark circles, while caffeine brings down puffiness.
“The Ordinary Caffeine Solution is fab. I don’t really think eye creams do that much, but you can actually FEEL this serum working.” —Dena Taya
“I’ve had perpetually dark circles since I was a kid, and to lighten them up a bit I use Banana Bright Eye Cream by Ole. It goes on smoothly and plumps them up just enough to make a noticeable difference. You can still see the shadows, but the cream gives them this lovely, soft look.” —Charisma Dawn
“Ole Henriksen Banana Bright for dark circles, The Ordinary Caffeine Solution for puffiness and fine lines. Thank you genetics for blessing me with all three.” —Jenna Inzitari
“I’ve got the Banana Bright Eye Cream. It goes on very easily and soaks in brilliantly. It keeps my eye area looking moist and because there is a bit of yellow coloring in the product, it helps with dark under eyes.” —Sam Russell
“I panicked and ordered three bottles of the Caffeine Solution on Tuesday! No one else makes a remotely similar product, and my tired eyes need it in the morning.” —Renee Estrada
The HA Serum: Hada Labo Gokujun Premium Hyaluronic Solution
The Japanese beauty solution for high-tech hydration you can buy on Amazon.
“Hada Labo’s Premium Gokujun Lotion is my HG. Affordable and not difficult to get in the US anymore, has 5 different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, and the finish isn’t sticky like some other HA toners!” —Lauren Nguyen
“I use the Hada Labo Premium. Literally my skin has never looked better. It’s not irritating. It’s a no-brainer.” —Patty Nash
“It’s fragrance-free and feels like thickened water, so it is non-offensive and gentle. I’m sure there are good products with this ingredient, but I know for a fact this one doesn't pill and is easy to layer, so I really like it!” —Diana Czarny
“Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Acid—apply when your face is wet and let air dry. Makes my skin so bouncy and soft!” —Kate Lyons
“Hada Labo! Changed my life.” —Hayley Forsyth
The Mascara: L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise tied with Glossier Lash Slick
One for volume and one for length, both under $20.
“For years, I thought I had to use high-end mascaras for my lash type. But I was recently in a bind and picked up a tube of the L’Oreal Lash Paradise and it is so. Good.” —Jill Pioter
“Glossier Lash Slick!! It looks like you have had lash extensions in the most natural way. It separates lashes and doesn’t go clumpy. It’s really nice and easy to get off. It says that it’s not waterproof, but I’ve never had a problem with it smudging.” —Lily Jackson
“I LOVE L’Oreal Lash Paradise. It’s pretty much the same as Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. It curls, lifts, volumizes, and is super dark.” —Helina Patel
“Lash Slick and I’m never going back. I just re-ordered—if I want waterproof I use L’Oreal Voluminous, but I find I need it less and less. Lash Slick got me through my wedding day, so it passed the ultimate test!” —Clare Richardson
“No matter what I use on my top lashes, I ALWAYS finish it off with Glossier Lash Slick. It’s the best thing ever to add a touch of length and separation. It’s also the only thing I use on my bottom lashes since it doesn’t smudge or flake all day!” —Anna Galipo
The Concealer: Nars
“I have both Nars concealers, and it really depends on the day and the time of year for which—I like both. RCC never ever ever looks dry when I put it on my face and it’s great for both spots and under the eyes. It’s just so natural but also covers. The Soft Matte I’ve been enjoying a lot more recently for unevenness on my face with and without foundation.” —Emily Ziller
“I’ve tried I don’t know how many concealers, and Nars Soft Matte is one of the only ones I like. It does a good job of covering my dark circles but still looks really natural. Also it doesn’t separate or slide off my face!” —Ariana Focaraccio
“I use Nars Soft Matte concealer and am a convert from liquid! I was a disbeliever before, but I wear it without foundation and it works great.” —Lucy Negash
“I know it’s cliche, but Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer has never failed me! I think it has better staying power than anything, including the Soft Matte, but Soft Matte is much drier than Radiant Creamy if you’re looking for something mattifying.” —Suzie Roux
“NARS MATTE CONCEALER DON’T SLEEP ON IT.” —Emily Ferber
Photo via ITG