There is a time to save money (especially with this roundup of epic drugstore beauty products), and a time to splurge when it comes to quality, luxury skincare. But sometimes a product is so worthy of both the hype and the price tag, it pays for itself in quality, results, and use over time. The results you’ll get from these products will speak for themselves: ingredients are of the highest efficacy, the majority are all natural and ethical, and they aim to give you better skin in the long run, as opposed to just hiding it with quick fixes. In other words, these two dozen products are so worth it.
You win, I win, we all win when using products created by celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas. Vargas has always been ahead of the curve in products and treatments (for example, embracing microcurrent treatments, oxygen infusions, and LED light therapy long before their popularity) thanks to her passion for science and commitment to plant-based products. I’m especially partial to the Daily Serum ($85) that revitalizes and clarifies skin; think of it as your daily green juice, but for your face.
One of the true and original leaders of the organic clean beauty movement, May Lindstrom has proven that non-toxic and luxury can go hand-in-hand. The decadent Blue Cocoon ($180) is a cure-all balm, which reduces inflammation and redness, and can be used for, literally, anything: face cream, eye cream, lip balm, spot treatment for dry spots—it does it all, in impeccable (non-toxic) fashion.
The epitome of luxury, Chantecaille’s extensive research in technological innovation helps the brand lead the field in groundbreaking formulas. But don’t be fooled by the luxe skincare and makeup options, Chantecaille is beyond skin deep: giving back to a long, long list of charities is built into the DNA of the company since it’s very origin. Every product delivers, but the Nano Gold Energizing Eye Serum ($210) is revolutionary for soothing, moisturizing, erasing the appearance of fine lines and dark circles, reducing puffiness, and eliminating the look of fatigue.
All of it, everything SK-II is worth it. Nothing quite works as effectively as their catalog of products, especially when looking to repair dry skin, and utilize anti-aging treatments with preventative and mature skin. But if I had to narrow it down, truly nothing works as well as the cult status Treatment Essence ($99). The R.N.A Power Eye Cream ($135) is also worth it and has the signature Pitera for ultimate anti-aging and hydration. The Treatment Oil ($150) must be hand-made by baby angels because it infuses your skin with an unheard of amount of intense hydration for a healthy glow. No one has ever regrets splurging on SK-II.
Escentric Molecule 01
Truly one of the most unique scents—it’s a little bit indescribable too—Escentric Molecule 01 ($135) smells kind of like clean laundry, or fresh flowers, but also kind of like nothing, because it reacts with your pheromones, changing the scent slightly for each wearer. The creator Geza Schoen said, “I wanted to create something unconventional, not too perfumistic, something for my friends who said they didn’t like fragrance.” It’s perfect, unisex, and worth every penny (and last about 6+ months on average anyway).
Handmade with the greatest of care in the Bregenz Forest in Austria, all Kaufmann products excel at luxe relaxation, and the Mallow Blossom Bubble Bath ($70) is especially soothing, and it supports the immune system. I could also sing from the Austrian mountaintops about her facial sunscreen ($107) that is water-repellent, mineral-based, and protects you from the sun, and also other free radicals in the environment.
This Advanced Protection Cream ($98) is cheaper than La Mer, but more effective with organic seaweed for ultimate moisturization. It’s made in Malibu by an adorable family.
If you live your life by the WWLRD (What Would Linda Rodin Do) philosophy, then you fully know the effectiveness of this simple, lightweight Face Oil ($170) for moisturizing and preventative anti-aging. And using only a few drops at a time, it’ll last forever.
Anything, I’ll take anything this French master makes. Each scrub and mask is highly effective (I’m partial to the Sea Salt Scrub ($53) and Rassoul Clay Scrub ($53) for really deep cleans), and there is one for every single type of hair. No sulfates, parabens or gunk, just high quality products that make you into the equivalent of the noise ‘va-va-voom’.
We’ve been gifted here on Earth with Rose-Marie Swift, and she has subsequently gifted us with RMS products—all organic and oh so lovely. The Living Luminizer ($38) will literally give you supermodel cheekbones when placed on top of them as a highlighter, which makes sense because Rose-Marie is Giselle’s makeup artist. The Un-Cover Up ($36) is really something special too (I use it as a light foundation for everyday sheer coverage).
We’re all winners when we get to use Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser ($78), which is milky and soothing for all skin types, and Revitalizing Body Oil ($95) because it moisturizes like no other and can double as a scalp moisturizing mask.
C E Ferulic ($165) is way too busy working to have any friends in your skincare regime. Not to say he doesn’t play well with others, because he does. But he’s busy being the most effective worker bee in fighting aging and sun damage.
The quality of dermatologist-made products on the market is just ridiculous. We’re blessed with so many high-quality, well-made dermatologist brands that it’s difficult to list them all out. But let’s try.
Some highlights include Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream ($215), which assures happy, moisturized skin. Colbert MD Illumino Face Oil ($150) is a soothing face oil that improves the texture and tone of skin overtime. NYDG Chem-Free SPF 30 ($98) is maybe the most effective and incredible mineral-based body sunscreen on the market. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peels ($88) are a revolutionary best-seller for a reason—chemical exfoliation immediately addresses uneven skin tone and texture, and in the long run helps fight aging and wrinkles.
Royal Fern is the brilliance of German dermatologist Dr. Timm Golueke, and like the name hints, everything in the line has Dr. Golueke’s patented Royal Fern Complex. The Phytoactive Hydra-Firm Intense Mask ($188) is highly calming and hydrating with a mix of plant-based antioxidants, including fern extracts, chlorophyll, and hyaluronic acid.
37 Actives is the brainchild of Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, who created the toxin-free, high-performance range that addresses all aging concerns from fine lines to blotchiness and dehydration. The High Performance Anti-Aging & Firming Serum ($175) may very well be the most hard working step in your skin routine thanks to the firming and toning mix of plant-based ingredients.
This story was originally published on July 24, 2017, and updated on November 20, 2017.