WWD names the 100 greatest skincare products of all time

WWD Beauty Inc has named the top 100 greatest skincare products of all time, and we're all ears.

"One of beauty’s most dynamic categories, skincare is also one of the most crowded and competitive," WWD shares. 

"It’s hard to break through: Circana reports that despite the proliferation of new brands and products, the majority of sales come from existing players."

That makes the 100 products picked for this list even more remarkable. Some of the products have withstood the test of time, others are more recent entrants on the scene, but all have combined efficacy, user experience and savvy marketing strategies to achieve hero status.

Image source: DAVID DUNAN/WWD

"Creating an iconic skincare product takes vision, vision as to how someone wants their skin to look and feel," said Estée Lauder Cos. executive group president, Jane Hertzmark Hudis.

"You need an irresistible texture and sensorial experience, discernable powerful instant and long-term results. And a compelling story when you use the product each time that keeps a consumer coming back over and over again."

To compile the list of the 100 greatest skincare products, WWD Beauty Inc polled over 600 beauty industry insiders, executives, financiers, creators, professionals and founders in an open-ballot format and asked them to submit responses.

Voters were asked to consider the following criteria: product efficacy, formula innovation, sales performance, packaging design and market impact.

WWD Beauty Inc then tabulated votes and, accounting for multiple duplicate votes from the same organisations, culled the top 100 products that garnered the most mentions.

So, without further ado, here is a selection of those top 100 products. The full list can be viewed here.

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream – A moisturiser that started a movement. 30 years of research led to the brand’s hero ingredient, TFC8, which, coupled with celebrity backers, has made Bader one of the biggest names in skincare.

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil – A pioneer of biotechnology in beauty, Biossance’s hero treatment relies on squalane paired with rose extract and oil-soluble vitamin C for the product’s brightening and moisturising claims.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser – A non-stripping cleanser comprised of hyaluronic acid and three ceramides, CeraVe sells over 20 bottles of Hydrating Facial Cleanser every minute in the U.S.

CHANEL La Crème Main – Brightening iris pallida and my rose wax supercharge this formula, which hydrates and protects hands and nails without leaving any residue.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream – With the promise of both immediate and long-term results, this beauty cabinet mainstay includes plumping peptides, vitamins C and E, as well as hyaluronic acid.

Clarins Double Serum – 21 plant extracts, two phases, one bottle. Both water-soluble and oil-soluble components combine two address all key signs of ageing. No wonder the product has won 440 beauty awards.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – America’s top-selling powder exfoliant includes rice-based powder, papain, salicylic acid and a brightening complex, among other actives, to calm skin.

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream – The peptides from which this cream derives its name, in addition to growth factors and amino acids, help to mitigate lines, wrinkles, dryness and sun damage.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Skin Protectant – This product's myriad uses - from moisturiser, to brow gel and cuticle cream - have engendered Eight Hour loyalty from influencers, makeup artists and consumers alike.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex – First launched in 1982, Advanced Night Repair has received occasional reboots, most recently the 2020 launch of Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, which has received more than 70 awards.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser – The European drugstore favorite gets its Stateside iteration with Garnier’s micellar water, which is as cleansing as it is gentle.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream – Squalane and glycerin give this cream its clinical claims, such that it hydrates 15 layers of skin. The brand’s bestselling face cream sells one unit per minute in the U.S.

L'Oréal Paris 1.5% Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Serum – L'Oréal Paris Revitalift was among the first in the mass market to democratise prestige trends, such as a dermatologist-driven focus on hero ingredients like hyaluronic acid. 

La Mer Crème de La Mer – The blueprint for every luxury face cream that followed that still reigns supreme. La Mer is powered by the brand’s proprietary miracle broth, in addition to antioxidant lime tea.

Lancôme Advanced Génifique Face Serum – A trifecta of prebiotics, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C work to brighten skin in one of Lancôme’s hero products. One bottle is sold every 30 seconds in the U.S.

Medik8 Crystal Retinal Serum – Medik8 gives anti-ageing retinol a refresh with retinaldehyde, an alternative said to work 11 times faster than traditional retinol. The formula is now available in five strengths.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel – One of the mass market’s first SKUs to shine a spotlight on hyaluronic acid - then largely reserved for prestige products - Hyrdro Boost utilises the hero ingredient for its hydrating effects and gel-like texture.

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream – Suitable for all skin types, Olay’s hero moisturiser features glycerin and niacinamide. The result is a formula that promises both hydration and improvements to skin’s texture and tone.

Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask – Black rose extract lends free radical-scavenging properties while Sisley Paris exclusive alkekengi calyx provides polyphenols and stimulate collagen synthesis.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic – Often imitated, rarely duplicated. One of SkinCeuticals’ heroes depends on its composition of 15 percent L-ascorbic acid with alpha tocopherol and ferulic acid for its efficacy. SkinCeuticals sells one bottle every 30 seconds globally.

Weleda Skin Food – Viola tricolor, calendula and chamomile layered in oils and beeswax make this clean beauty O.G. a heavy-duty, all-purpose moisturiser. Weleda sells one tube every four seconds globally.

Header image source: Getty Images and WWD