Welcome to Who What Wear UK's inaugural Next in Beauty Awards 2023. Here, we are crowning and celebrating the very best in beauty. From the game-changing newcomers that are industry innovators, to the tried-and-tested classics that remain a worthy mainstay in our skincare cabinets and makeup bags alike. To help us find the very best in beauty, we called upon our esteemed panel of industry experts, hard-to-please editors and in-the-know influencers, who put each and every single product to the test. We enlisted our judges to document and share their testing for every product they tried, so you can see all the winners in action—as well as those very important before-and-after results. After much testing, swatching and reviewing, the results are in. Join us in celebrating the best in our Supercharged Skincare category.
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Who What Wear UK Next in Beauty Awards 2023: Best in Supercharged Skincare Winners
Farmacy's Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm has become a mainstay in many of our judges' bathrooms since testing, for its ability to make light work of removing even the most stubborn of makeup. Its balmy plant-oil texture glides over the skin, making makeup removal fuss-free whilst delivering a healthy dose of nourishment, and the addition of papaya enzymes helps to gently exfoliate as the balm emulsifies into a luxuriously milky texture. "I loved this so much," says makeup artist Lan Nguyen-Grealis. "It's calming, smells great and is effective without any irritation."
It also captured deputy editor Maxine Eggenberger's attention. "Since trialling it, Farmacy Green Clean has become a non-negotiable in my skincare routine, replacing my previous cleanser," she says. "This luxurious–feeling balm instantly melts into an oil-like consistency and effortlessly erases my makeup (even waterproof mascara) and any impurities, leaving my skin clean and soft. Unlike so many other cleansers I’ve tried, it doesn’t strip the skin—instead, when I woke up after using it the previous evening, without having applied any products afterwards, my skin felt nourished and hydrated, and had a glow to it that I don’t usually expect to see at 6:30 in the morning," she notes, adding, "I appreciate the eco-friendly packaging and the sheer volume of product—you can really make this cleanser stretch out. A solid month of using and I’m only a quarter or so into the tub, so there’s definitely a value-for-money aspect to consider."
Fans of Paula's Choice will know founder Paula Begoun's no-nonsense skincare ethos, which permeates every single product she creates. You won't see any fluffy ingredients here—just the ones that are truly proven to work. 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant has become one of the brand's hero products, earning a loyal fanbase of people with oily and acne-prone skin. Formulated with 2% salicylic acid, it helps to unclog pores and reduce breakouts and blackheads, all whilst soothing the skin thanks to the addition of green tea. The lightweight toner absorbs easily without leaving a greasy residue, but imparts a subtle glow—who doesn't love both long-term and instantaneous results?
"I’ve used this religiously for years and I love it—in my opinion, nothing else compares if you’re looking to address blemish or acne-prone skin," says Who What Wear UK beauty editor Eleanor Vousden. "It’s one of the handful of acne products that really works. When used consistently, it really helps to keep breakouts at bay and clear impending spots swiftly whilst also fading scarring and pigmentation. I find it also leaves my skin really glowy, which is an added bonus."
Freelance beauty editor Mollie Burdell is also enamoured. "I already knew I loved this product. As someone with oily, blemish-prone skin, I always make sure to have a bottle of this in my skincare stash. If I’m in the midst of a breakout, I’ll use it consistently all week by sweeping it across my face with a cotton pad in the evening. It calms the redness from the breakouts, helps to dry the spots out and leaves my skin with a lovely glow."
It takes a very impressive eye treatment to win over our hard-to-please panel. However, Bioeffect's EGF Eye Serum delivered visible results that blew us all away. This powerhouse eye serum harnesses epidermal growth factors derived from barley, which work to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, brighten dark circles and plump the delicate skin around the eyes. It's also a joy to use, with a cooling rollerball applicator that depuffs as you apply, and the hydrating results are instantaneous thanks to the hyaluronic acid. In fact, it's one of the few products that made a difference to dark circles amongst our testers.
"When it came to skincare products, I always thought eye creams and serums were overhyped. That was until I tried Bioeffect's EGF Eye Serum," says Eggenberger. "The star ingredient, epidermal growth factor, is a natural protein that boosts skin-cell renewal whilst minimising fine lines and puffiness. Its hydrating power ensures a radiant look, and it's just about the only thing that can soften my dark circles."
We love a face mask for those moments when we need instant results, whether it be before a night out (or the morning after) or when our skin just needs a helping hand. Gold Collagen's Hydrogel Masks were a firm favourite amongst our judges. Unlike other sheet masks out there, these come in two sections to ensure a tailored fit to both the lower and upper face, but what's really special about them is the results they give. They left our judges' skin intensely hydrated, plumped and soothed, and were a big hit with makeup artist Mira Palmer for makeup prep.
"My face felt hydrated, soft and smooth after this. The masks are great for all face shapes because each comes in two parts, and the second-skin technology has a cooling effect on the skin, with lots of skin-loving ingredients such as pearl extract, hyaluronic acid, botanical complex and glycerine. Plus, you get four masks in a box, which is brilliant."
The masks are also ideal for those with sensitive skin. "I was unsure about trying a face mask as I have sensitive skin, but the Gold Collagen Hydrogel Mask left my skin smooth, hydrated and radiant without any redness or reaction," says Who What Wear UK commerce writer Florrie Alexander.
With more and more people becoming aware of the importance that SPF plays in our skincare routines to defend against the damaging effects of the sun, it's all the more important that our SPF is one we want to wear religiously. Every. Single. Day. Beauty Pie has knocked it out of the park with its Featherlight UVA/UVB SPF 50. Featherlight by name and featherlight by nature, this silky lotion is undetectable on the skin. It sinks in fast—without leaving a white cast, FYI—and offers comprehensive broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays with SPF 50, whilst priming the skin for makeup perfectly. It's ideal for all skin types, and the cherry on top is the addition of peptides and antioxidants that lend a further helping hand to the skin. It's a holy-grail SPF amongst many members of the Who What Wear UK team.
"What I love about Beauty Pie’s sunscreen and primer is that it really is a two-in-one," says Who What Wear UK branded content editor Rebecca Rhys-Evans. "Not only does it provide essential protection for the face, it’s also a gorgeous primer before makeup. Thin, not at all greasy, but definitely possessing a dewy feel, my foundation glides onto the skin with ease and looks just that little bit better once applied."
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Tanning your face can feel like yet another additional step in your routine, so we love than Tan-Luxe has streamlined the process with its hyaluronic acid serum that's infused with a gradual tan formula that comes in two shades: Gradual for fair skin and Deep for those who require a deeper-looking tan. You can use more drops for more glow and maintain the results by applying daily. Perfect for tanning aficionados and beginners alike, this tanning serum delivers a streak-free tan without the tell-tale DHA smell that's often synonymous with self-tanners. As Tan-Luxe so perfectly puts it: "No streaks. No Smell. No Drama." And our judging panel gave it a glowing review.
"This is a really lovely product that combines a facial tanner with serum and a mega hydration boost," says Who What Wear UK managing editor Poppy Nash. "It was really easy to apply and I like that you don't have to add drops into a moisturiser and mix. It feels like you’re getting all the benefits of skincare with a bonus tan. I used it once my holiday tan had faded and was really happy with the results. I’ll re-purchase!"
Hyperpigmentation can be a tricky concern to treat, but Dermatica's Clarifying Azelaic Acid 20% Cream delivered incredible results for our judges, working to reduce dark spots and blemishes alike. The 20% azelaic-acid formula helps to brighten hyperpigmentation to encourage an even-toned complexion, however, our judges noted how very gentle the formula is, particularly on sensitive skin. The efficacious formula also contains squalane and glycerin, which work in tandem to hydrate and reinforce the skin's barrier.
"I have suffered with hyperpigmentation for as long as I can remember, and many products promise to eliminate this, but very few have actually managed it," says Who What Wear UK social media editor Joy Ejaria. "As someone with sensitive skin, I usually steer clear of products that contain acids. However, this one is different, because one of the benefits of azelaic acid is that it combats inflammation. There was a noticeable difference in my skin’s texture after first use, and within a few weeks I noticed the stubborn dark spots left behind by pimples had faded away," she says, adding, "What’s great about this cream is that despite the high percentage of acid, it doesn’t interact with other actives, and you can use your usual moisturiser after it."
Not all lash serums are created equal. Uklash's Eyelash Serum was a standout for our judges, who saw incredible results in the length, thickness and health of their eyelashes. Enriched with peptides, pro vitamin B5 and green tea extract, the ingredients work in tandem to keep lashes in their growth phase for longer, resulting in beautiful, long lashes that are noticeably thicker after a couple of months of use. However, our judges began to see results after just a few weeks. There is also a sensitive version for those who have easily irritated skin.
"This stuff is simply amazing," says Who What Wear UK ecommerce analyst, Sophie Cookson. "I was actually already using it before testing began for the Next in Beauty Awards, following almost a year of eyelash extensions. I started to notice my short, stubby and sparse lashes becoming longer, stronger and glossier after around three weeks of nightly application. I’ve recommended it to so many people."
A lip treatment has to be impressive to be offered a permanent position in our handbags, but Ultra Violette has become a mainstay amongst our editors. With a choice of tinted balms, SPF 50 and a cocktail of skin-loving ingredients such as cocooning shea butter and nourishing cacao seed butter, our testing panel loved the finish of this cushioning balm that doubles up as a luxe gloss.
"This feels and looks like more of a lip gloss than a balm, and it works nicely with other lip products," says Who What Wear UK editor-in-chief Hannah Almassi. "It moisturises for the whole day, and I found myself repeatedly coming back to this as a subtle, glossy lip balm that makes for a great replacement for lipstick or other products. It stays on for approximately three to four hours, too."
When we're contemplating spending upwards of £100 on a luxury moisturiser, we want to see a serious return on investment. And ARgENTUM Apothecary's La Potion Infinie ticked all the boxes. From opening the tarot-inspired jar to the visible results on the skin, it's a luxurious experience from start to finish.
"I know beauty is found within, but I love this tarot-themed casing and apothecary-inspired vessel—it all feels very special indeed," says Eggenberger. "The texture of this cream feels incredibly luxurious, which you’d naturally expect from such an investment. It can feel quite rich on first use, but my skin drank it up and I was left with a velvety finish which my makeup looked better layered on top of," she adds.
"The formula also boasts colloidal silver, which as research tells me, is actual microscopic flakes of pure silver that act as an antioxidant, working hard to erase fine lines, tighten wrinkles and aid in settling pigmentation. Bougie? Yes. Brilliant? Also yes," says Eggenberger. "I was particularly impressed at how it softened the lines that have started to become more defined on my neck—an area I know a lot of us want to see results in. I get toxin injections on my frown lines every nine months or so, but after using this, I'm not sure I'll need my next top-up."
A truly great makeup remover is hard to come by, but Tatcha's The Camellia Cleansing Oil was proclaimed a game-changer by our judges. The silky oil, containing Japanese camellia oil, effortlessly melts away makeup (and even waterproof mascara), emulsifying into a skin-softening milk that leaves the skin cleansed, but never compromised. How very clever of Tatcha to revolutionise the chore of taking off your makeup into a sensorial ritual.
"Tatcha is renowned for its luxurious textures that are a joy to use, and this oil cleanser is no exception," says Vousden. "I love this so much that I actually look forward to taking my makeup off in the evening. The silky oil removes everything (even waterproof mascara and heavy makeup), emulsifying into a milky texture upon contact with water that leaves skin perfectly clean and ready for a second cleanse. It’s by far the best oil cleanser I’ve ever tried. Hands down."
With the importance of the skin barrier having become more widely acknowledged in recent years, we applaud Cultured Biome One Rich Cream for its ability to repair, restore and soothe compromised skin—doctors and editors amongst are judging panel were singing its praises.
"I like this cream very much," says cosmetic doctor Dr Sophie Shotter. "It delivered a surprising amount of hydration for what felt like a light, non-greasy formulation. It absorbed easily and my skin looked more hydrated as well as feeling it."
It also received high praise from Who What Wear UK copy editor, Georgia Seago, who found that it was ideal for her psoriasis. "A dream moisturiser for someone with chronically dry, sensitised skin. I sometimes get psoriasis on my face, and this doesn’t irritate my skin at all. In fact, it soothes and calms the dry, inflamed patches whilst feeding the microbiome and fortifying the skin barrier—exactly what you need when you’re dealing with an inflammatory skin condition," she says. "And even though it’s a rich cream (which I usually avoid for fear of clogged pores), it leaves me glowing rather than greasy."
Some products are so iconic and efficacious, they barely need an introduction. One of those is Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Serum Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, which scored exceptionally well across our judging panel. With its ability to plump lines, firm the skin, hydrate and even skin tone overnight, it seems there is nothing this serum can't do. The soothing and fortifying formula sinks into skin quickly, delivering visible results—fast. And the fact that it works across all skin types and age ranges plays into its universal appeal.
"An all-round favourite, this softens the skin and sinks in well. It's oil-free, making it great for oily skin types," says freelance beauty editor Ata-Owaji Victor. "It can be used as a treatment serum after cleansing and before moisturising, and whilst it’s touted as a nighttime product, I loved using this serum during the day to stave off dehydration," she adds.
Eggenberger was also hugely impressed by this serum's results, and she even said she'd bathe in this serum if she could. "Okay, I get it now—Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair is truly a game-changer! I first tried this in my mid-twenties, when, let’s face it, I probably didn’t need it. Now, giving it a whirl in my mid-thirties, I've noticed a remarkable improvement in my skin's texture and radiance since incorporating it into my nightly routine," she says. "It's lightweight, non-greasy, and leaves my skin feeling incredibly refreshed and my fine lines all but erased. Plus, a little goes a long way, and I enjoy the precision of the droplet dispenser. A must-have for anyone looking to wake up with glowing, revitalised, hydrated skin. If I could, I’d bathe in the stuff."
With so many retinoid products on the market, it can be tricky to find an effective formulation that works for most skin types. However, Medik8's Crystal Retinal range was universally adored by our judging panel, and boasts impressive credentials, treating concerns such as wrinkles and acne. Retinal (a form of retinoid under the vitamin A umbrella), its star ingredient, is 11 times more effective than retinol, and is far gentler on the skin, meaning less irritation and making it suitable even for sensitive skin. The product is available in progressive strengths, so you can find a concentration that works for your skin before progressing up the ladder as your skin adjusts.
"I’ve used Medki8’s Crystal Retinal on and off for 18 months. As a long-time sufferer of mild acne, it’s the only product that I’ve found that truly makes an impact, or rather a reduction, to the blemishes on my face, without any severe dryness or other side effects," says Rhys-Evans. "There have been moments where I’ve tried other kinds of retinol serums or treatments, but this is the one I always come back to."
Natasha Ndlovu, creative consultant and influencer, loved the results and is planning to step up to the higher strength with her next tube. "I've heard good things about this brand and I'm slowly increasing my usage of this retinal," she says. "So far, my skin is reacting well to it."
One of the most innovative products amongst our esteemed skincare winners is Skin + Me's Daily Doser, which is a very deserving winner of our Best Serum category. Skin + Me's bespoke service allows customers to receive a prescription serum that has been tailor-made for their skin on the advice of the brand's online dermatology team. All you have to do is upload a couple of photos of your skin and your personalised serum will be sent in the post. We applaud Skin + Me for democratising access to prescription formulas and making skincare simple, all whilst providing real results, which our editors are all too happy to shout about—giving 10/10s across the board.
"My Daily Doser was tailored to my needs and quickly got to work at reducing spots. My skin has been clearer and looking healthier since I started using it," notes Who What Wear UK news writer Natalie Munro. "It's so easy to use and I've noticed a difference in my skin after a month of using it, confirms Ciara Richards, Next in Beauty's marketing manager.
LED masks are an investment purchase, so we really put our entries through their paces to find the very best of the bunch. The winner? The Light Salon's Boost LED Face Mask, which gave our panel noticeable results, receiving high acclaim from facialists and editors alike.
"I recommend The Light Salon Advanced LED Mask for its visible results, including less redness, reduction in pigmentation from melasma; and brighter, firmer skin," says Donna Bartoli, skin expert, facialist and content creator. "It has the same wavelengths as used in professional treatments at The Light Salon itself, giving users the same experience but at home. It’s an investment, but because of it’s powerful wavelengths, if used consistently it can work out at very little pence per use," she adds.
"I loved using this LED mask," says Nash. "I’ve tried others before, but the flexibility of this one from The Light Salon really made it stand out from the crowd. I used it for six weeks and felt my skin looked noticeably smoother and healthier, with a lovely glow. I can’t wait to see what six months looks like," she says.
Highly Commended Supercharged Skincare
Our testers whole-heartedly agreed that CeraVe's Hydrating Cleanser deserved a special shout-out. After all, this is the cleanser you'll find in pretty much every beauty-lover's bathroom—everyone from dermatologists to editors love it for its effective formula and affordable price tag.
"This cleanser does what it says—gentle yet effective cleansing," says consultant dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed. "Skin doesn’t feel tight afterwards, and it effectively removes impurities, dirt and sweat. The addition of HA and ceramides protects and restores skin hydration, and it's also a very good price point. The only downside is that it doesn't remove makeup."
"I love this cleanser, it has been part of my skincare routine for over a year now," adds Who What Wear UK shopping editor, Remy Farrell. "The texture is extremely lightweight. I've used some cleansers which can cause irritation but CeraVe soothes it out."
We love instant gratification, and Kate Somerville's Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment delivers it by the bucketload. If you're yet to try it, you too will audibly gasp at the glow this treatment gives the skin.
"This is dubbed ‘Hollywood’s two-minute facial’ and I can see why," says Vousden. "When you need your skin to look radiant stat, this delivers instantaneous results. With a cocktail of exfoliating acids, it helps to slough away dull skin cells, paving the way for an unrivalled glow, an even complexion and soft and smooth skin. It is very potent, but there is also a gentler version for sensitive skin."
"This is such a great, quick exfoliating treatment," says brand founder and creative director Estée Lalonde. "I love that it has a slight physical exfoliating texture as well as a chemical component—I love a quick result!"
One of the first brands to bring ingredient-led skincare to the masses at affordable price points, The Ordinary continues to wow us with results-driven products that won't break the bank. Mutli-Peptide Eye Serum is a standout that we wanted to highly commend. Designed to address fine lines, dark circles and puffiness, the serum texture melts into the skin to plump and cool on contact, leaving the eye area revitalised and refreshed—for less than £20.
"This is a fantastic product," says Lalonde. "I love the texture because it’s great to use in the morning under makeup."
Another SPF we wanted to give a round of applause to is L'Oréal Paris' Revitalift SPF 50+. This lightweight and very reasonably priced SPF impressed our judging panel with its clever formulation and non-greasy formula that helps to boost skin health as it protects.
"I recommend L'Oréal Paris Revitalift SPF 50+, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has added skincare to hydrate," says Bartoli. "It’s a correctional SPF, reducing existing dark spots whilst preventing new ones from occurring. It’s featherlight on the skin, leaves no white cast or stickiness and sits well under makeup," she says. "An added bonus is the price—it’s budget skincare with high efficacy."
"This is a great everyday sunscreen," adds Next in Beauty head of awards Fiona McIntosh. "It leaves a satin finish so it's great for anyone who doesn’t like the 'sunscreen-y' feel or too much glow."
A favourite amongst our judges with sensitive skin is Bioderma's Sensibio Defensive Serum.
"I knew I liked Bioderma skincare, but after trying this serum, I have fully fallen in love with the brand," says Who What Wear UK junior beauty editor Grace Lindsay. "This product is so gentle on the skin yet really effective, and it left my complexion feeling softer than ever. Not only that, but I really noticed a difference in how my skin looked after using this for just a couple of weeks."
Who What Wear UK shopping editor Remy Farrell is also a fan. "Gentle, calming and easy on the skin, this light serum locks in hydration, leaving skin feeling softer and smoother without irritation."
Our final round of applause is for Zutta's LED Mask, which our testing panel loved for how it boosted their skin at home, without having to step foot in a clinic.
"There are a lot of LED masks out there, but I love the pliable, comfortable material of this one, combined with its ability to change between red, blue or mixed light," says beauty journalist and influencer Laura Pearson. "This mask does work so well at minimising the appearance of dark spots and making the skin look smoother, firmer and brighter."
Almassi also saw brilliant results. “This cleared up my blemishes in just two uses on the blue-light setting—wow. I love that this is easy to charge up and therefore move about in, rather than having to be plugged into a socket somewhere, and the fun designs make it feel like a more attractive and special investment skin tool."
Photo:Who What Wear UK