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Drugstore Beauty Awards: Best in Skincare

In Cetaphil & Aquaphor we trust.

This isn't our first time talking the thrills of the drugstore beauty aisle(s). We've drilled so many beauty editors and makeup editors on their favorite buys and go-to cheap thrills should they find themselves in a Walgreens, we like to think we have a considerable wealth of knowledge on the best buys out there. So, what better to do than compile our picks (and those by editors and Cov-alum alike), by category, for your next impulse purchase to accompany the usual tampons and toilet paper? Over the next few weeks we'll be breaking them down for your buying pleasure; with skincare coming at you first. There's the obvious abundance of Cetaphil & Aquaphor, but also collective fan-girling over a Korean-inspired gel-based Neutrogena moisturizer. Dive in & get shopping.

 

Cleansers


 

“[For skincare], I love my Cetaphil bar.”- Julie Van Daele, Founder, Well-Received

 

“I think my travel essentials would be Neutrogena’s Grapefruit face wipes, which I love. I try not to travel with any makeup on because I just think it’s better to be able to clean your face as much as possible, and I use those because they’re easy to throw in my bag.” - Gigi Hadid, model

 

“A lot of times I will just wash my face with Cetaphil." - Bethany Cosentino, Best Coast 

 

“What I use is something called Witch Hazel to cleanse and exfoliate every day. You’ve got to exfoliate, you know?" - A$AP Rocky, Rapper

 

"I start off with brushing away lovely morning breath with Tom's toothpaste, then proceed to wash my face with Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile soap.” - Cipriana Quann, Blogger, Urban Bush Babes

 

“Used twice a day and/or at the gym, Yes to Tomatoes face wipes will seriously diminish any and all acne problems. People who are less inclined to wash their faces—men, children—will be amazed at how good their skin looks, not realizing that much of the reason is that they're simply willing to use the wipes!” - Jean Godfrey June, Editor-at-Large, Lucky Magazine; Consultant

 

“My new college friends introduced me to Neutrogena makeup wipes and I have never turned back.” - Amber Venz-Box

 

“For my face, I use Cetaphil.” - Shiona Turini, Consultant

 

"I always wash my face with Cetaphil cleanser; it’s so gentle and never irritates my skin. I use witch hazel as a toner to follow.” - Alana Zimmer, Model

 

“I try to keep my beauty routine pretty simple so I can keep it quick. I use a Neutrogena cleanser and a Clarisonic brush.” Nicky Zimmerman, Designer

 

“I wash with Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap. I like the added chill the peppermint gives my skin, makes me feel extra clean.” - Vashtie Kola, Artist, Director, DJ, Designer

 

Moisturizers


 

"I love Sudocrem Diaper Rash Cream. Put it on any spots or redness overnight and it disappears by the morning. Great for chapped lips too! Put it on overnight, you do look a bit like Casper The Friendly Ghost but if you’re not out to impress that evening, it’s fine." Wendy Rowe, Make-up Artist

 

"I am a product junkie. I love trying new products all the time but if I can only pick one, it has to be Eucerin Aquaphor Original Ointment. It is the most simple and inexpensive product but I use it daily on myself and for my work. For myself, I use it as a lip balm everyday and on my body in the winter time. I also use it when I get a burn or skin irritation. For work, I use it as lip balm as well on every client, or as a highlighter when I want a subtle, dewy finish on the skin. I sometimes mix it with lipstick to sheer out the texture or with pigments to create cream eyeshadows." Hung Vanngo, Make-up Artist

 

“For my skin, I'm addicted to Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream. I'm really sensitive to fragrances in skin care—the slightest hint turns my face into a red, itchy mess—and a lot of lotions made for sensitive skin still contain natural fragrances that can cause irritation. But not this one: it's 99 percent natural and uses cotton extract to help block irritants from getting into your skin. It's the only moisturizer I've found that really nourishes while being completely irritant-free.” - Victoria Kirby, Beauty Director, Redbook Magazine

 

“If you are looking for a good drugstore sunscreen for the face, I love Ocean Potion Clear Zinc SPF 45. It's also great under makeup.” Fiona Stiles, Make-up Artist

 

“Some newer products, like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, have hyaluronic acid as a main ingredient (it functions like a magnet for moisture), so they even work well for dry types." Ying Chu, Executive Beauty Director, Glamour Magazine

 

“If you're looking for a drugstore find, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is a nice option. I especially love that it comes in two formulations: normal and extra dry." Felicia Walker Benson, Beauty Editor; Social Media, Bergdorf Goodman

 

Yes to Cucumbers SPF 30. All the Yes-To SPFs blend better than any other natural, non-chemical sunscreens. And they feel more moisturizing. And they smell nice. I like the Yes to Blueberries for face, too.” - Jean Godfrey June

 

“Aquaphor: In the winter, Aquaphor to me is like Windex was to the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I slather it on my lips, use it on dry cuticles and put it in my hair to deal with static and flyaways. It's the perfect product. I have at least 6 small portable tubes in my various bags and stashed in coat pockets, and I have a giant tub that sits on my counter for any emergency moisturizing needs. My motto in the winter? 'Put some Aquaphor.'"Cheryl Wischhover, Freelance Writer & Beauty Editor

 

“When I know I’ll be outside a lot—skiing, hiking, running from show to show—I’ll apply Aquaphor to my skin. A makeup artist taught me that it’s a great protectant against windburn. I’d worried that it might make me break out, but so far, so good!” - Jane Larkworthy, Beauty Director, W Magazine

 

Nivea is super moisturizing and doesn’t leave the skin too greasy. It blends well with most foundations, which is key.” - Francesca Tolot, Make-up Artist

 

“Neutrogena has been very clever as per usual and decided to capitalize on the Korean beauty trend, so they released this genius hyaluronic acid moisturizer called Hydra Boost Gel-Cream. When I tried it on my hand at the event, I literally laughed and said, "Wait—I'd use this!" (No shade intended—I was just raised by a mother with a penchant for Sisley, Guerlain and CHANEL.) But this product really changed my tune: fragrance-free, dye-free, paraben-free, etc... and it's got a delightful texture that instantly plumps the skin without leaving any film or residue behind. It's a great option for pre-makeup, especially because gel moisturizers keep oil at bay throughout the day. If you don't want to pay for toner or a man in your life is complaining about razor burn or you have a sunburn, cut, or otherwise irritated skin, keep a bottle of this in the cupboard."Phillip Picardi, Digital Editorial Director, Teen Vogue

 

“The two drugstore beauty staples I will go to my grave hoarding because they are just too good to leave behind are Burt's Bees Lip Balm (original flavor only—vitamin E and Peppermint) and Aveeno Positively Radiant SPF 30 Moisturizer. I have one of these lip balms in every purse and coat pocket I own. You could have the most jacked up chapped lip situation (side-eye: Polar Vortex) and I promise this formula will restore and soften them like nobody's business. The pepperminty tingle adds a nice refreshing kick, too. But more importantly, it's natural. Think about it this way: we all end up swallowing pounds of lip balm a year (so gross). Safe ingredients suddenly seem more attractive, no? The designer ones may look pretty in packaging but they never ever live up to the hype in my book. Now for my love affair with Aveeno. It's the moisturizer I used before I was a beauty editor and—even after many dalliances—it's the one I always return to. Light enough to use all balmy summer and rich enough to keep my skin dewy during the coldest winter ever, it's my number one skin staple year-round for balancing out combination skin brilliantly. If it were $100, I would still buy it in bulk (a.k.a. call it in). Luckily for us all it's under $15."Elaine Welteroth, Beauty & Health Director, Teen Vogue

 

"In the fall, I took a magical vacation to Maui. It was hotter and sunnier there than usual, and between trips to the swim-up bar and naps in the cabana, I ran through my bottle of fancy—and expensive—facial sunscreen in the first week. I picked up Neutrogena Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen as a stop-gap, but after one use, I was a total convert. It absorbs quickly, is water resistant and feels super-light on the skin—and there's zero greasy residue, which, if we're being honest, was a problem with the ritzy stuff I had been using. I will never go back."Anne-Marie Guarnieri, Deputy Editor, Fashion & Beauty, Refinery29

 

"My single favorite drugstore product? Aquaphor, hands-down. I have every size—from the tub (next to my bed) to the tiny tubes (in pretty much every bag and pocket). I use it as a lip balm and a cuticle salve, a foot cream and a brow tamer. I use it as makeup—tapped along the tops of my cheekbones as a highlighter or over lipstick for a little extra sheen. And after a recent encounter between my face and the sidewalk (beware the black ice!), I started slathering it on almost immediately and my abrasions disappeared by the end of the week. It’s miraculous stuff." Jenny Bailly, Beauty Director, Allure Magazine

 

“I use Biotherm’s UV Supreme Sunscreen. If there is light, I wear sunscreen whether I’m indoors or out.” - Miju Bijou, Blogger

 

"I definitely can't live without Aquaphor; it is seriously the best product for dry skin." - Aimee Song, Founder, Song of Style

 

“I cannot say enough good things about Olay's Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream. Like, I want to marry this face cream. This drugstore skin cream rivals the effects of some of the most expensive creams I've tried, and at a much cheaper price. It's made with amino-peptides and marine proteins to nourish and help you wake up with princess-worthy skin. Plus, it never breaks me out and feels luxurious when applying."Faith Xue, Editor, Byrdie

 

"I may be the very last person to the Aquaphor party (not sure where I've been this whole time), but these little tubes may have singlehandedly saved me this winter. I've always had issues with chapped lips, but that's pretty much gone away since I started regularly using Aquaphor a few months back. It's sort of a must, I feel, before applying any lip color in the winter. I also like to dab a bit on my upper cheekbones for all-day hydration—it gives the prettiest not-too-shiny sheen.” - Simone Kitchens, Associate Beauty Director, Glamour Magazine

 

Body


 

“For the body, I like Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion. It has a gleam to it that leaves your skin looking fabulous. It also photographs (on the body) like a dream, too.”Katie Jane Hughes, Make-up Artist

 

“For body, I don’t think I could live without Nivea’s Smooth Sensation Body Lotion. I use it religiously." - Shiona Turini, Consultant

 

"Product wise, I am a big fan of Burt’s Bees. I really like their Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream as well as their Hand Salve. These are super moisturizing and very affordable.” - Susan Schell, Hand Model

 

"Herbacin Kamille Hand Cream is a drugstore staple, but doesn't get enough love. It contains a TON of glycerin, which is hydrating and soothing. So if you're prone to cracked knuckles, ragged cuticles, or sandpaper hands, or find yourself washing your hands constantly because you don't want to get the death cold that's going around, this is exactly what you need in your bag at all times, all winter long.”Anne-Marie Guarnieri, Deputy Beauty Editor, Refinery29

 

“I use moisturizer and shower gel from Kiss My Face.” - Tracee Ellis Ross, Actor

 

“On my body, I’m all about Vaseline’s new Intensive Care Healing Serum Advanced Relief (the white one), which basically applies serum skincare technology to your body lotion—more potent hydrators that penetrate more deeply and absorb without a trace. It does the job of those really, really rich body creams without the gross cloying under your winter sweaters."Elaine Welteroth, Beauty & Health Director, Teen Vogue

 

“My mainstay is Jergens Original Cherry-Almond Body Lotion. Nothing moisturizes better (even in the dead of winter)—and because I've used it since college, the scent comes with so many different memories. No matter how many body lotions I'm sent or that I try out, this is the one that I actually BUY at Duane Reade—in the jumbo size—every month!”Leah Wyar, Executive Beauty Director, Cosmopolitan Magazine

 

"When it comes to skincare, many people believe that expensive and fancy is always better, but as someone who tries it all I've yet to ever find a better body wash than Dove. I used Dove soap as a kid, and once the loofah craze hit in the '90s, Dove was the first brand I tried. It remains my go-to and is always in my shower. My dermatologist recommends it for my sensitive skin, and I love how it leaves my skin feeling smooth, soft, and hydrated even during the harsh winter. My current faves are the Deep Moisture and Pistachio Cream Purely Pampering varieties."Joanna Douglas, Senior Fashion & Beauty Editor, Yahoo

 

"I can't live without: Eucerin cream.” - Kelis, Singer

 

Sally Hansen Leg Makeup, I have fair skin and I like to wear short stuff... so I need some tanner. Sally Hansen makes it look like I am wearing pantyhose and gives me an immediate tan. I don't travel or leave home without it.” - Amber Venz Box

 

"I can't leave the house without Vaseline!”Suki Waterhouse, Model

 

“I'm currently loving Nivea's In-Shower Body Lotion. It's like a body lotion... that you put on in the shower... then rinse off. Game-changer. For someone with perpetually dry skin, this product is a lifesaver. It smells nice (not too over-powering), and I put it on as the last step in my shower routine. After rinsing it off, I towel dry and don't have to apply another moisturizer–my skin is already soft and hydrated. It's a wintertime must. (Plus, if your skin is really dry, you can always a apply a body lotion on top to double the hydration benefits.)” - Faith Xue, Editor, Byrdie

 

"I've tried every luxe body lotion but always end up back with Kiss My Face Tropical Coconut Moisturizing Spray, which costs about ten bucks at the drugstore. It smells like real coconuts (because it is made with coconut oil) and in about 30 seconds your entire body is soft and smooth. And the spray-factor is genius.” Alexandra Parnass, Beauty Director, Harper's Bazaar

 

“I moisturize with Almond Oil by Now Foods, which keeps my ashiness in check.” - Vashtie Kola, Artist, Director, DJ, Designer

 

Extras


 

“I love to take baths—and I counter their supposed drying effects with a ton of bath oil, especially Lemon Body Oil from Burt's Bees because it's subtle and soothing and energizing all at once.” - Jean Godfrey June, Editor-at-Large, Lucky Magazine; Consultant

 

“My in-flight essentials are Avène Spring Water Spray that keeps my skin hydrated.” - Nicole Warne, Founder, Gary Pepper Girl

 

“[For skincare] I use Egyptian Magic.” - Erin Heatherton, Model

 

“I’ll even put on Bio-Oil at night.”Kym Ellery, Designer

 

"One of my favorite things to pick up at the local drugstore (or at Whole Foods) is Heritage Rosewater. This delicately scented rose petal spray has earned a permanent spot on my vanity table and in my studio. The rose essence is very calming so it makes the perfect cold weather toner. In the summer I keep it chilled in the fridge for a refreshing spritz. It's ideal for misting over makeup, great all over the body post shower and I like to spray it on my freshly laundered sheets.” - Robin Black, Make-up Artist; Founder, Beauty is Boring

 

25 Days of Gifts

Because it's not enough to just select our top picks for gifting this season, we're also giving them away!

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