Whether you’re battling break-outs or eczema, rosacea or dullness, there’s a never-ending stream of products out there promising to truly transform your complexion.
But which ones are actually worth it? The Marie Claire UK Skin Awards judges put the best treatment products on the market through their paces, to help you find the ones that are actually worth spending your money on.
From brightening retinoids to soothing eczema balms, here are the ‘Treat’ winners of the Marie Claire UK Skin Awards 2021…
Best Treatment for Pigmentation
This powerful serum is packed full of hardworking ingredients for a results-driven effect that means pigmentation stands no chance. As well as 11% mandelic, lactic and salicylic Acids, the formula also contains 1% bakuchiol (a gentle retinol alternative), as well as eight brighteners, and seven antioxidants and peptides. In addition to exfoliation, Allies Of Skin’s serum also focuses on replenishing the skin to ensure it’s left feeling hydrated and supported, with the use of hyaluronic acid and rosehip oil. Judge Sherrille Riley says: ‘This serum was rated 10 in all three categories for the unique combination of active ingredients, beautiful design and sustainable packaging.’
Highly Commended: Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum, £75
Best Vitamin C Product
The dream vitamin C product will brighten, protect from outside aggressors like pollution, and target pigmentation and dark spots. Perricone MD’s formula ticks all these boxes and then some, with its effective formula that’s powered by the brand’s highest ever concentration of vitamin C at 20%. Also in there is ferulic acid and vitamin E, both of which work beautifully with vitamin C and help in its delivery system. Speaking of the serum, judge Alice Hart-Davis calls the formula a ‘powerful brightening serum’.
Highly Commended: AlumierMD EverActive C&E + Peptide, POR
Best Luxury Hyaluronic Acid Product
FaceGym’s beloved serum combines the power of ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid with equally-as-impressive polyglutamic acid, for noticeably bouncier, brighter skin that feels healthier and well, quenched of thirst. Judge Sherrille Riley confirmed the product is just as good as we initially thought, when she commented: ‘This serum is faultless. It ticks all the right boxes for hydration and brightness delivered in a pretty bottle.’
Best Purse-friendly Hyaluronic Acid Product
A mainstay in affordable skincare, The INKEY List’s bestselling product is still its original Hyaluronic Acid serum, which at £5.99, is an affordable way to get your fix of the wonder-ingredient. The formula is super simple and does what it says on the tin, all while delivering a lightweight, watery texture that does not feel sticky. Judge Sherrille Riley says: ‘This is my absolute favourite serum. It is easy to use and thirst-quenching for dry, dehydrated skin. The small sized packing makes it travel friendly, too.’
Highly Commended: e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm, £10
Best Retinol Product
Winner: Verso Super Facial Serum, £110
A gold standard ingredient in anti-ageing and at targeting acne, the retinol skincare field is somewhat an overcrowded one these days. But Verso’s Super Facial Serum — made with the brand’s exclusive, patented retinol 8 complex — cuts through all the noise. Tackling fine lines and pigmented areas by encouraging cell turnover, the serum also protects skin and keeps it hydrated with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid. It may be pricey, but our judges believe it’s worth the extra spend.
Highly Commended: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, £78
Best Rosacea Product
This wonder-product targets rosacea with its instant concealing effect, as well as an ingredients list packed full of redness-fighting ingredients like zeolite, provitamin B5, and urea. In addition to redness, the formula works to improve the effects of keratosis pilaris and uneven skin tone, and is suitable for hypersensitive skin. Plus, it even has an SPF 50. Judge Rose Gallagher — who suffers with redness herself — says: ‘Overall I think this is a great redness solution. It comes out bright green and melts into a soft beige to neutralise the look of redness. It is lightweight, very easy to blend, and it sits well under your everyday makeup while helping to reduce the brightness of redness.’
Highly Commended: Meder Beauty Red-Apax Concentrate, £90
Best Eczema Product
When looking for the perfect eczema product, it was important to find one that was ultra-soothing, controls itch, and feels cooling and comforting on skin. Bioderma’s Atoderm Intensive Baum is a winner in all senses, with a patented Skin Barrier Therapy that targets dryness. Dr Vicky Dondos says of the product: ‘The proof is in the pudding – this is a much loved product amongst my clients, many of whom find it extremely effective for managing eczema on their kids’ skin.’ Fellow judge Dr Anjali Mahto adds that this is an ‘effective, soothing emollient treatment for dry or eczema-prone skin, which can help boost the skin barrier and reduce water loss from the skin surface’.
Highly Commended: Salcura Bioskin Zeoderm Skin Repair Moisturiser, £19.99
Best Blemish Product
What most of us look for in a blemish product is long-term anti-inflammatory properties, and an ability to make a spot look less red and angry in an instant. PCA’s Skin Blemish Control Bar won out overall with our judges thanks to its innovative formula, blemish-fighting ingredients (such as salicylic acid), and appealing smell. Judge Michaella Bolder says that the bar, ‘Leaves skin feeling very clean and fresh.’
Highly Commended: ZitSticka Goo Getter, £18
Best Product for Acne-prone Skin
Winner: ZitSticka Killa Kit, £26.99
There are many spot stickers around these days, but the ZitSticka Killa Kit is a clear standout thanks to its 2-in-1 approach to targeting nasty blemishes. Not only does it act as a protective film to keep the spot clean and discourage touching or picking, it also uses a genius microdart technology. This technology floods the centre of any spot with targeted ingredients such as salicylic acid and niacinamide to bring down inflammation and speed up the healing process.
Highly Commended: Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier, £19.95
Best Base with Skincare Benefits
This year has seen a huge surge in hybrid makeup products that boost the appearance of the complexion while also treating it with added skincare benefits. While there were many to choose from, bareMinerals’ bestselling Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturiser Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30 is a clear standout in this arena. The lightweight tint has a gel-cream texture that blends with ease and feels more like a serum than a makeup product. It offers a buildable level of coverage, an SPF of 30, and a shade range of 20 hues to suit a range of skin tones. Judges Lisa Potter-Dixon and Katie Thomas are huge fans of the product, with Lisa stating it ‘gives a lovely, dewy finish’, and Katie adding that it is ‘amazing on all skin types’.
Highly Commended: Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA+++, £51
Best Luxury SPF Product for Face
By now we’ve all heard the importance of daily SPF use whether indoors or outdoors in a bid to protect the skin from sun damage and early signs of ageing. Murad’s SPF is fragrance-free, mineral-based and provides high factor, SPF 50 protection and shields against digital blue light damage, UVA, UVB & pollution. Not only does it offer sun protection but it will also leave your skin with a luminous natural glow, making it perfect for those makeup-free days. Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme from this year’s judging panel raves highly about this luxury SPF, saying ‘This sunscreen stands above the crowd with its antioxidants and the UVA and UVB rating.’
Highly Commended: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 30, £30
Best Purse-friendly SPF Product for Face
Not only does Vichy’s SPF lotion protect skin from harmful UV rays from the sun year-round, it also works to rewind some of the damage already done in terms of ageing (think fine lines and dark spots). The product also centres around the need to protect skin from damaging pollutants and environmental aggressors that we can often forget. For this reason, it’s a brilliant all-rounder. Judge Dr Vicky Dondos comments: ‘This has a VERY nice finish. I usually look for non-fragranced formulas, but this has a very light and lovely refreshing fragrance. It’s also high tech.’
Highly Commended: Garnier Ambre Solaire Over Makeup Super UV Protection Mist SPF50, £6
Best Exfoliating Face Mask
The Osmosis Polish Cranberry Enzyme Mask harnesses the power of cranberry enzymes to gently slough away dead skin, and leave the complexion looking refreshed with a radiant glow. As well as a face mask, the product can also be mixed with your morning or evening cleanser for an exfoliating wash. Judge Abigail James says: ‘I love this mask; it has natural plant based ingredients, and I love the natural scent. It definitely makes the skin glow.’
Highly Commended: Kat Burki Dual Exfoliating Clay, £98
Best Hydrating Face Mask
We can’t get enough of Youth To The People’s glow-enhancing mask, whose INCI list reads like a who’s who of trending skincare ingredients. With vitamin C-rich berries, squalane, and hyaluronic acid, this elixir leaves skin pillowy soft and noticeably more dewy. Judge Sherrille Riley sang its praises also: ‘This mask gets all the 10’s. It’s the first product I wanted to try. It delivers the ultimate hydration and radiance for clearer, healthier looking skin. A favourite.’
Highly Commended: Keys Soulcare Harmony Mask, £28
Best Body Treatment Product
First Aid Beauty’s KP Smoothing Body Lotion promises to target the effects of keratosis pilaris, and our judges found it does just that, and then some. The formula harnesses the power of 10% lactic acid to gently exfoliate rough bumps on the skin’s surface, while also keeping the body super soft and smooth with moisturising urea and colloidal oatmeal, and barrier protecting ceramides. Judge Vicky Dondos says: ‘[This is] simple and effective. It’s also less likely to cause sensitivity than competitors that address this very common issue.’
Highly Commended: Legology Peach-Lite, £55
Best Luxury SPF Product for Body
Yes, it may be pricey, but our judges could not stop singing the praises of this hardworking SPF that boasts a super lightweight, transparent formula and a reliable, ultra-high level of protection for skin that means it’s even approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation. ‘I like the easy absorption and the high UVA protection,’ said judge Dr Emma Wedgeworth.
Best Purse-friendly SPF Product for Body
This SPF has it all: a fair price point, lightweight, non-sticky texture that blends in with ease, a solid level of protection, and perhaps most importantly, an eco-friendly angle. Garnier now works with Ocean Conservatory to fight ocean plastic, meaning its bottles are now made from 100% recycled plastic that can also be recycled again and again. Sustainability Awards judge (and Marie Claire Digital Editor) Holly Rains said: ‘This has a great price, a great use of recycled packaging, and smells like holiday. A trusted brand that I always reach for when I’m away.’
Highly Commended: Lancaster Sun Sensitive Oil-Free Milk SPF50, £25
Best Self Tan for Body
St. Tropez’s limited edition glow kit by Ashley Graham features the brand’s powerful new Self Tan Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse, along with a hardworking mitt for perfect application. Not only does the tan have a gloriously whipped texture, it also smells great and creates a natural-looking, even golden colour that also protects skin with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and antioxidants rosehip oil and vitamin E. Judge Cher Webb spoke highly of the kit, explaining: ‘This mousse glides on with ease, with an uplifting passion fruit scent. It’s easy to apply and I like that you can apply it either as an instant tan, or one to develop overnight/throughout the day.’
Highly Commended: Amanda Harrington London Body Mousse, £28
Best Self Tan for Face
Winner: Tan-Luxe Super Glow, £35
We all want that dream facial tanner that gives us a healthy, golden glow without looking overly obvious or pigmented. Tan-Luxe’s original Super Glow serum delivers just that, with a super lightweight, non-sticky formula that feels like a skincare product, and an ultra-subtle result that will have friends questioning where you’ve been on holiday. Judge Katie Thomas says: ‘This is my winner; it’s subtle but makes you look SO healthy rather than really tanned, which is better for an everyday product in my opinion.’
Highly Commended: Skinny Tan Notox Beauty Elixir, £19.99
Best Skincare Device/Tool
Skincare tools and devices have evolved ten fold in the past few years, meaning you can feel the effects of a professional treatment from the comfort of your own home, when it’s convenient to do so. The Light Salon’s Boost LED Face Mask is the clear winner in this category; it’s portable, light to carry, and works with speed in just 10 minutes. In terms of results, it promises to plump, hydrate, calm the skin, and encourage relaxation, while also reducing the appearance of wrinkles, improving hydration, and evening skin tone — and our judges can confirm its brilliance. Adeola Gboyega says: ‘This is a fantastic product that gives the effects of an at-home salon treatment; it’s really effective.’
Highly Commended: FOREO BEAR, £279
Highly Commended: ilody Kansa Wonder Wand, £69
Best CBD product
Winner: OTO CBD Sleep Drops, £69
CBD has skyrocketed in popularity recently, so finding a product that stands out can be a challenge. Enter: the OTO CBD Sleep Drops, which are guaranteed to impress. Designed in order to soothe and calm before bedtime, these drops are taken orally underneath the tongue, and thanks to their minty flavour, can be used after teeth brushing, too. Speaking of the drops, judge Dr Kemi Fabusiwa commented they ‘massively helped’ with her insomnia, and are, ‘a lovely alternative’ for sleep problems.
Highly Commended: Wild Science Lab Root + Fruit Control Switch Repair Serum, £35
Best Skincare Supplement
Winner: HUM Nutrition Skin Squad, £44
With HUM’s Nutrition Skin Squad, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth. The four-in-one supplement has been designed to not only support a clear, even complexion, but also works to balance the gut microbiome, promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, and aid in healthy digestion. Speaking about the brand and its supplements, judge Lisa Oxenham comments: ‘These are amazing quality, using ocean plastic packaging. The brand is getting quality vits to the masses.’