Let’s get into the good stuff and break down each individual winner by superlative:
Best Clean Beauty: Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Advanced Serum
We love how upfront Acwell is about the pH levels in its products. If you need a refresher, our skin clocks in at 5.5 — and the closer it stays to that number, the fewer chances harmful bacteria has of forming and wrecking havoc. Acwell’s Licorice pH Balancing Advanced Serum has a watery, fast-absorbing formula spiked with, as its name suggests, a powerful brightening, discoloration-evening trio of licorice root extract, licorice root water, and niacinamide.
Even Soko Glam cofounder Charlotte Cho told us that Acwell is one of her favorites and consistently makes the cut for the Best of K-Beauty Awards. (The Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner, Licorice pH Balancing Intensive Eye Cream, and Licorice pH Balancing Essence Mist have all picked up awards in previous years.)
As for the “clean” designation, you can read all about Allure‘s standards for clean beauty to inform your decision — but this serum makes the cut for us.
Best Vegan Beauty: Rovectin Lotus Water Cream
Don’t let this unassuming exterior fool you. Within Rovetin’s Lotus Water Cream, you’ll find a blend of lotus flower extract, glycerin, niacinamide, and Aquaxyl (a patented hydrator) working together to majorly boost hydration levels, limit water loss, and improve elasticity and plumpness. If you’re looking for a light-as-air, gel-like moisturizer that feels soothing and cool to the touch, this is it — hands down. Take it from senior commerce writer Sarah Han, who says it’s become an absolute staple in her routine — both daytime and nighttime.
And as the category suggests, this cream is not made with any animal products.
Best Staple: Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum
When an affordable (as in, under $20) golden elixir like the Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum promises a woke-up-like-this radiance, it’s ok to hoard a bit of doubt. But we’re here to dispel those uncertainties because this soothing concoction of anti-inflammatory propolis, tone-evening niacinamide, and antioxidant-rich turmeric keeps skin feeling bouncy and looking bright. Add a few drops to your nighttime routine to calm breakouts and irritation.
The New Classic: Neogen Day-Light Protection Airy Sunscreen
It’s no surprise that so many have fallen in love with Neogen’s latest SPF, Day-Light Protection Airy Sunscreen. Upon its debut a few months ago, Han raved about the colorless, lightweight formula and its hydrating, glow-inducing, and yet barely-there texture. Despite being a chemical sunscreen (meaning it uses octocrylene, homosalate, and avobenzone filters), it’s infused with a boatload of soothing ingredients including açai, aloe, avocado, glycerin, and hibiscus to counteract any potential sensitivity, as cosmetic chemist Ginger King confirmed.
Best Night Treatment: Saturday Skin Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask
While Saturday Skin’s Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask has a fun, jelly-like texture, it’s not here to play around. In fact, it’s going to work extra hard while you snooze and infuse your skin with deep hydration — so you wake up with refreshed, supple skin. How so? Look to the key vitamins found in the bouncy formula, including vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B (niacinamide), and vitamin C (yuzu extract). All you need is a little bit of product applied on top of your moisturizer to seal in all of that barrier-repairing, skin-smoothing goodness — you’re welcome.
Best At-Home Treatment: Benton Snail Bee Ultimate Hydrogel Eye Patch
After all of the screen time we subject our eyes to (sorry), they’ll definitely appreciate a bit of pampering — courtesy of Benton Snail Bee Ultimate Hydrogel Eye Patch. Each container comes packed with 60 patches (aka 30 pairs/uses) infused with gold, pearl, diamond, and charcoal powders that firm and hydrate your delicate undereye area. Doesn’t that so luxurious? An at-home spa night never sounded so right.
Best All-Around: Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil BHA
We’re huge proponents of double cleansing here at Allure, which means kicking things off with a no-nonsense cleansing oil that seamlessly (and satisfyingly) melts every bit of makeup and pore-clogging debris away. Perfect for combination and oily skin types, Hanskin Pore Cleansing Oil BHA targets blackheads and excess sebum with exfoliating salicylic acid, as well as jojoba, olive, and fruit oils (orange, lemon, etc.) to leave your pores feeling sparkling clean — but never stripped.