Finding good skincare products can be overwhelming—there's always a buzzy new ingredient you absolutely have to try or an update on a formulation that promises a slew of benefits you didn't know you needed. Having access to these products is undoubtedly a perk of being a Who What Wear editor, but it also has its setbacks.
On the one hand, it helps us discover products we really, truly love, which we can then reiterate to you firsthand. On the flip side, the potency of really great products is sometimes diluted by the sheer volume of moisturisers, serums, balms, and oils we road-test. As such, we thought it was high-time to cancel out the noise and simply focus on the skincare buys we know—from months, if not years of use—work.
Editors and experts from both sides of the Atlantic have come together to each reveal the five skincare products they use daily and would recommend over and over again. Scroll below to discover what these Holy-Grail buys are and read why our team is so impressed by them.
HANNAH ALMASSI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"This feels so pure and yet so effective! I actually hate washing my face in the shower or bath, so being able to use a good cleanser with a damp cotton wool (or reusable bamboo!) pad is my preferred option. I also love her Luminescent Base as a lightweight moisturiser, but I'm not made of money!"
"I never used to be much of a toner girl but have really come to appreciate the pore-smoothing results they can bring. I like the super-mild exfoliating properties of this—it feels effective but never harsh."
"I have a few different serums I swap around with, and they really range in price. Sometimes I'll use La Roche Posay's B5 but if I'm feeling really fancy I do love this more expensive Vitamin C-packed serum from Skin Design London. I've taken the advice of many of my beauty industry friends. First, I apply my serums, then follow up with a few minutes of jade rolling to really press the goodness into my skin and help smooth out some wrinkles that have developed on my grumpy morning face!"
"Tata Harper's 'green' beauty products are by far some of the best eco buys I've tried. This illuminating moisturiser is satisfyingly glowy and gives a nice finish on days where I'm not fussed about using a tinted moisturiser—most probably during the height of summer."
"Sometimes I'll add in an extra layer of Pixi Rose Flash Balm (this came recommended to me from Emma Spedding as she always has such great skin) but my final step is really to use a good SPF tinted moisturiser, especially as I'm using an acid toner earlier in the routine. Helio works for me but I would really urge them to up their shade range—it's so limited and therefore not going to work for many of the women who I'm sure would be interested to use it!"
EMMA SPEDDING, EDITOR, WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"The pro-collagen cleansing balm has been the one constant in my skincare routine over the past decade—every morning it gives me a spa-like feeling, thanks to its rich, nourishing formulation, however it is calming for my at-times sensitive skin. At £44 a pot it's not cheap, but it's the one skincare item I will always invest in and will never deviate from."
"As you can probably gather by now, I want my skincare to be as hydrating as possible and have been impressed by all of the Sarah Chapman products I have tested. This is a new addition to my routine, and is a hyaluronic acid-based serum that has been helping give some glow to my stressed skin (thanks 2020)."
"I have found other vitamin C products a little too strong for my sensitive skin, however, this powder is super easy to use as you simply mix it in with your daily moisturiser, and it really does brighten my complexion, without being too potent. It's my skincare pick-me-up, especially this winter."
"Prior to this year, I wouldn't have included a face mask in my five hero skincare products, however, after a year of masking, it has become an essential part of my weekly skincare routine. This clay and charcoal mask is my current favourite."
"Given the price tag I'm not always able to use this Elemis moisturiser, but I stock up on birthdays and Christmas. I do certainly notice the difference when I can upgrade to use the marine cream, as it's highly hydrating and just feels heavenly on my skin."
TAMERRI ATER, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, VERSED
"I think double-cleansing with a cleansing balm or oil is a must in every skincare routine, especially if you wear makeup. Day Dissolve really dissolves away the makeup, sweat and grime that builds up on your skin throughout the day. It feels like a luxury spa item at an affordable price. I absolutely love it."
"I'm literally obsessed with my Foreo. I've been using one for years after making the switch from a Clarisonic and needing to buy replacement brushes. This tool deep cleans the skin with a vibrating technology that I also believe helps with toning and firming. I literally cannot live without this. Did I mention I'm obsessed?"
"This product is close to my heart because as a black woman, I've struggled to find a 100% mineral sunscreen that didn't leave an unattractive white or purplish cast on my skin. I would never develop a product that I don't love using so it was imperative that we made this a truly inclusive product. Sunscreens should be worn all year round and they help protect against sun damage that can cause wrinkles, increased hyper-pigmentation and more importantly skin cancer."
"Skinceutical products are pricey but they work. I love Discoloration Defense because it's effective, lightweight and easy to layer under other products. Consistency is key with treating hyperpigmentation, so I try to use this at least a few times a week."
"One of my main skincare concerns is dark spots/hyperpigmentation, and I live for products with chemical exfoliants. Weekend Glow has a mixture of effective skin brighteners including lactic, glycolic and kojic acid. This formula is the real deal but is non-irritating. It's a must-have in my daily routine."
ERIN JAHNS, BEAUTY EDITOR, WHO WHAT WEAR US
"If I could only use one cleanser for the rest of my life, it would be this one from renowned facialist Shani Darden. In fact, it's so good, that if I wasn't a beauty fanatic and if it wasn't my job to test tons of new skincare products, I'd probably adopt a one-step skincare routine featuring this cleanser and this cleanser, only. It's so benign and gentle, but it really does get your skin clean and leaves you with a plush, super-hydrated complexion."
"I went through a very dark phase a while back where I pretty much attacked my skin with every scrub and acid-spike product I could get my hands on in an effort to get my hormonal acne under control. (Spoiler: It totally backfired and just made my skin worse.) Now, I know to keep my physical scrubs like this one from Versed to a strict, once or twice per week cadence to keep my complexion smooth and detoxified without disrupting the delicate skin barrier. This one from Versed is my absolute favourite for so many reasons. A: It smells great, and I'm a sucker for a dreamy smelling facial product, and B: it's non-toxic, 100% plant-based, and the superfine microcrystalline is an earth-friendly, biodegradable alternative to micro-beads."
"I'm all for an easy-to-manoeuvre multi-tasking product and if the said product also blesses my skin with a dewy hit of moisture, that wins it even more brownie points. This handy hyaluronic acid booster was part of Versed's initial launch (so it's an oldie but goodie!) and I still regularly keep it tucked in. my medicine cabinet so I can easily re-up my favourite products with even more hydration—something especially essential this time of year when the weather is like a moisture-sucking vortex vacuuming my face."
"Any product that gives my impatient self a satisfying dose of instant gratification instantly wins me over, and this brilliant mask is a repeat crowd pleaser. First of all, the easy-to-pack packaging is a game-changer if you're travelling, and second, there's something super delicious about this mask's epic combination of rosehip seed oil, aloe leaf juice, and plant-derived collagen alternative that my finicky skin laps right up. I'm never not surprised at how much brighter, hydrated, and more even my skin looks after just ten minutes of wearing this mask. Pro top: Store it in your fridge!"
"I was never really a face mist person until celebrity facialist Melanie Grant turned me onto this specific formula from IS Clinical. It has totally converted me! I love how versatile it is, and honestly, it's hydrating enough for me to use a moisturiser in the summer or when I don't have time to do my full skincare routine morning or night. Plus, it has so many amazing ingredients that provide instantaneous and long term skin perks. It's filled with antioxidants to help fight free radicals and neutralise skin-compromising pollutants, and the hero ingredient—copper PCA—regulates your skin's pH levels and kicks natural collagen production into overdrive for a smoother, plumper, all-around-livelier complexion. I'm hooked for life."
COURTNEY HIGGS, ASSOCIATE BEAUTY EDITOR, WHO WHAT WEAR US
"Acne hasn't been a concern of mine for a while now, so the fact that I'm so drawn to this cleanser even surprises me. It's so good. As I said, I'm almost obsessive about cleansing my face and this velvety cream cleanser is the perfect follow-up to my beloved cleansing balm. Any trace of literally anything that's left after the first step of my double-cleanse is rinsed away with ease, without leaving my skin feeling stripped or tight. Plus, the tactile experience is so luxe."
"I've been using these acid-soaked peel pads for years now and I have to believe they're a big part of my skin's current condition. After using them my skin is visibly brighter and more glowy. I'm 31-years-old, and not that that is old by any stretch of the imagination, but I would just have expected to see some skin texture peaking through by this point. My mom has really great skin, so I wasn't expecting any extreme premature ageing, but I'm constantly amazed at how bouncy and smooth my skin is at this point. Maybe it's genetics, maybe it's these glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid peels. I don't plan on discontinuing my use of them to find out!"
"For me, cleansing is perhaps the most important part of my skincare routine. I spent too much of my teens and early twenties being that girl who would consistently fall asleep with her makeup on (I know, major cringe), so now carrying out a thorough double-cleanse is the only way I can rest easy after wearing makeup or even just sunscreen. This minty cleansing balm is the perfect first step of that double-cleanse as it melts away makeup with ease and leaves my skin feeling tingly fresh. I love it so much."
"This is the eye cream that made me believe in eye creams. I was never opposed to wearing eye cream before, I just always kind of thought it was one of those products that we all used for peace of mind, and not because it actually did anything. Like all eye creams (how many times can I say eye cream in a minute?!), this one takes some time to show any signs it's working, but I used to have some subtle fine lines and a tiny bit of darkness under my eyes that disappeared after the first few weeks of use. It has the perfect blend of peptides and antioxidants (plus a little retinol palmitate for good measure) to keep the delicate skin around the eyes smooth."
"As a Black woman, I know first hand the struggle of finding great sunscreens that feel good on the skin and don't make me look like a ghost. The white cast is real, and it's humiliating and I can't believe how many brands still get it so epically wrong. Well, Versed got it so right with this formula. It's soft and spreadable (although I've found that kind of pushing it into the skin rather than rubbing helps to negate pilling) and is almost moisturising enough to wear on its own al a daytime moisturiser. And I only say almost because I'm addicted to dewy skin and this one doesn't quite get me to dolphin levels of slick. A sunscreen that looks and feels good and actually has nourishing ingredients in it? Couldn't ask for more."
MAXINE EGGENBERGER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, WHO WHAT WEAR UK
There are a few moisturisers in my rotation, but this is fast becoming my favourite. My first time trying Bobbi Brown's Vitamin Enriched Face Base was by way of a sample pot but, after just one use, I was hooked. Marketed as a primer and moisturiser combined, never before has my skin looked so smoothed and plumped as it does after using this cream. Plus, it smells divine. I also really rate the newly released eye balm.
Speaking of eye balms, this one from Estée Lauder is a game-changer. I've had a few fine lines begin to appear around my peepers this year, but one use of this eye cream wipes them out completely. I even applied it to my deeper frown line to see if it would help, and it has practically disappeared. In an attempt to make it last longer, I've taken to using it every other day but honestly, if I could bathe in this stuff, I would. Unlike other high-performing creams I've tried, this formulation doesn't irritate my eyes in the slightest.
It took me years to find a cleanser that actually takes off my eye makeup (I'm all about mascara and liner) without drying my skin, so I count my lucky stars that I finally happened upon this vegan formulation. What I love about this Tropic cleanser is how nourishing it is. I swear, my skin looks firmer and brighter after I use it, and feels incredibly soft to boot. So much so, I've read reviews from other fans saying they use it as a leave-on moisturiser on makeup-free days.
Twenty-twenty was the year I officially became obsessed with vitamin C beauty products. I dread to think how much money I've spent trying new formulas during lockdown, but it was totally worth the investment as it helped me unearth this brilliant serum. After a couple of months of use, my skin has never looked so radiant and glowy—not to mention plumper and more taught.
For the best part of a decade, every face scrub I tried was underwhelming, and I'd sworn them off as a waste of money. That was until I bought this frugal scrub from Apivita on a holiday to Greece, and my opinion was completely changed. Made from finely ground olive seeds, the scrub effectively buffs away any dead skin lurking on the surface. Trust me, after just one use, your skin will feel softer than it ever has and will have a noticeably improved texture. I've just ordered a tube, and I really think you should, too.