As a former beauty editor and co-founder of a subscription beauty box company, to say I’ve tried hundreds of beauty products over the years would be a serious understatement. I’ve slathered, scrubbed, masked, and moisturized using high-end and drugstore brands, all in the name of research. Some products were one-and-done, while others earned a permanent spot in my medicine cabinet. Although no longer a beauty editor, I am still a product junkie and easily influenced by the ‘Gram.
When J-Lo launches a line that claims to give you her youthful glow, or Gwyneth rolls out something to turn back time, I’m trying it out faster than you can say “add to cart.” Over the years, however, the market has become saturated with celebrities throwing their designer hats into the skincare ring. So, how do you know which celebrity-backed lines are all hype and which ones actually deliver? Trial and error. I recently put a few to the test, and here are my top five picks that will save you some legwork when it comes to putting your best face forward.
1. YSE Beauty by Molly Sims
This line, developed by model Molly Sims, is a recent addition to my collection thanks to the recommendation of a friend who swears by the Morning Cocktail Vitamin C Serum for radiant skin. Pronounced “wise,” Sims created the line because she struggled with dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Designed to “give good face,” what I love about the collection is its simplicity. It’s a four-step morning and night routine that lightens and brightens all skin types. A simple quiz can help you determine which products suit your specific concerns.
While I agree with my friend about the Morning Cocktail, my personal MVP in this collection is the Skin Glow SPF 30 Primer, with its combination of Niacinamide, Spirulina Maxima Extract, and Sodium Hyaluronate that moisturizes, brightens, and prevents sun damage. I use this as the last step in my morning routine, and my skin looks so luminous that I now skip foundation. It’s that good! With no single item over $100, it’s a lot of bang for your beauty buck. Learn more at YSEbeauty.com.
2. GOOP Beauty by Gwyneth Paltrow
When you constantly hobnob and partner with health, beauty, and wellness experts like GP does, it stands to reason that the products that bear your name will have some serious research behind them. But do GOOP Beauty products deliver on their sometimes-pricey promises? In my experience, some do! The recently released Youth-Boost Peptide Serum, which I bought for its promise to firm and lift, among other things, has made good on its word, and ditto for the Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator that leaves me looking and feeling like I just had a mini-facial. However, my favorite holy-grail GOOP Beauty product is the 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel.
The results from this overnight exfoliator are so good that I must force myself to follow the instructions and only use it once a week. Simple and mess-free, you swipe the dual-textured pads across your face, neck, and chest before turning in. Overnight, the powerful blend of glycolic acid, fruit extracts, and hyaluronic acid goes to work, and you wake up looking like you got the best night’s sleep ever. It seems pricey at $125 for a 12-pack at first, but when you consider that you only use it once a week, it comes out to less than your weekly fancy coffee drinks. Learn more at goop.com.
3. Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford
One of the first celebrity skincare lines on the market, Meaningful Beauty, debuted in 2005. Thanks to a friend in the industry, I had the privilege of being part of a focus group for the brand (yep, I’m in one of the OG infomercials). I received the entire line Crawford developed with Dr. Jean-Louis Sebagh, a world-renowned aesthetic specialist, to try for free. Fast forward nearly 20 years, and I’m still a fan of the brand that utilizes super antioxidants from a melon grown in the South of France.
A few standouts that I reach for on the reg include the Youth Activating Melon Serum, which I’ve loved since the focus group days for its plumping effect, and the Revive and Brighten Eye Masque, which is a must-have for looking well-rested, even when you’re not. Learn more at meaningfulbeauty.com.
4. J. Lo Beauty by Jennifer Lopez
I’m the first to admit I was skeptical about this one, although I’m not sure why, given that I’m a big fan of all things J. Lo the entertainer. But at the end of the day, you can’t deny that the girl knows a thing or two about looking her best both in and out of the spotlight. That glow is real and doesn’t just come from being in love with Ben Affleck.
After watching Ms. Lopez use her That Limitless Glow sheet mask on Instagram, I grabbed one from Sephora. Then I grabbed another and another, and another because holy glow up! This is hands-down the best sheet mask I have ever used. It delivered instant lifting and tightening as promised, thanks to a blend of Japanese rice sake and yeast-derived ferments and a lit-from-within radiance from a slew of moisturizing ingredients, including niacinamide. My only complaint with this two-piece mask is that it can be a little tricky to unfold and apply (I tore my first one in the process), and at close to $50 for three, it’s a little pricier than other sheet masks.
Nevertheless, this is my new go-to product before any event or when I just want to face the world with that J-Lo confidence. Now, if I could figure out how to get her derriere. Check out the entire line at jlobeauty.com.
5. SKKN By Kim Kardashian
Is there anything the Kardashians don’t put their brand on? Love ’em or hate ‘em, this is one family who knows how to use beauty treatments to their advantage, so it only makes sense that Kim K. would launch a line of aesthetically beautiful products called SKKN. But pretty, refillable packaging isn’t everything. The proof is in the protocol, which includes nine (!) products made from clean ingredients chosen for their ability to rejuvenate and nourish skin.
According to the website, Kardashian, who suffered from psoriasis, designed the products to marry “elevated simplicity and innovative science.” A nine-step ritual hardly seems simplistic, and admittedly, I have not them all, but I can say that the $95 Night Oil is a treat worth the indulgence. Made with 14 different oils, the lightweight formula absorbs quickly and won’t leave an oil slick on your pillow. Plus, it adds an extra layer of moisture to your nighttime creams, leaving you fresh-faced and dewy in the morning. You can find the entire line at skknbykim.com.
Celebrities are people just like us, with the same skin concerns, only they tend to have more professional resources on speed dial to combat the problems. In other words, don’t write off a skincare line just because it has a celebrity name attached to it. These people rely on the knowledge of some of the industry’s top experts to keep them looking their best, and they are bound to have picked up a few tips along the way. There’s a good chance that even if you don’t embrace the full lineup, you’ll find a hidden gem or two in a celebrity’s collection.