Announcing 2021's ultimate skin essentials—our w&h clever skincare awards winners!

These award-winning products are the skin essentials you need now, selected by our judging panel

skincare awards banner
(Image credit: Future)

Getting the skin essentials right will not just boost your complexion, it can enhance your life. That's why it gives team woman&home great pleasure to announce that after months of rigorous testing and judging, the time has come to reveal our 2021 w&h Clever Skincare Award winners!

A skincare routine that works perfectly for your needs is a surefire route to looking and feeling your best. Our skin is the canvas we put our makeup on and using the best products to achieve a healthy, happy complexion can offer a huge self confidence boost. Investing in skincare can be expensive, so when you spend on a product, you need to know it’s going to work and give you the results you want—that’s where we come in. 

Our panel of beauty experts have tested each and every one of these winners to bring you 56 of the best skincare products. From the best eye cream to ascorbic acid serums and the best retinol creams, these are the ultimate award-winning skin essentials for every skin type and concern.

The clever skincare awards 2021 judging panel

Special thanks to our panel of judges whose hard work and expert insights made the woman&home Clever Skincare Awards 2021 possible. This year's judging panel included:

  • Pamela Marshall
    Clinical aesthetician and co-founder of Mortar & Milk
  • Dr Sophie Shotter
    Skin expert and founder of Illuminate Skin Clinic
  • Dija Ayodele
    Clinical aesthetician and founder of West Room Aesthetics
  • Catherine Westwood
    Group editor in chief, Women’s Lifestyle
  • Miranda McMinn
    Editor, woman&home
  • Sarah Cooper-White
    Group beauty director
  • Charley Williams-Howitt
    Group beauty director
  • Fiona McKim
    Senior beauty editor, woman&home
  • Stephanie Maylor
    Beauty editor, woman&home
  • Jess Beech
    Deputy beauty editor, woman&home
  • Emma North
    Beauty writer, woman&home

The award-winning skin essentials you need now

Serums

Emma Hardie

(Image credit: Emma Hardie)

Emma Hardie Midas Touch Super Serum

Best skin smoothing serum

Specifications
RRP: £58

'A well formulated "active" serum with equal amounts of anti-inflammatory ingredients. I like how my skin looks after use. This is a great product that is now part of my daily regime.' Pamela Marshall

Medik8

(Image credit: Medik8)

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3

Best retinol/retinol alternative joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £45

‘A more gentle vitamin A option for those who find some retinols too strong.’ Dija Ayodele

Monat Botanic Bakuchiol

(Image credit: Monat)

Monat Botanic Bakuchiol

Best retinol/retinol alternative joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £80

‘I really liked this Bakuchiol serum. It’s combined with humectants for a product that will be a good retinol alternative for many.’ Sophie Shotter

No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Night Concentrate

(Image credit: No7)

No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Night Concentrate

Highly commended retinol/retinol alternative serum

Specifications
RRP: £34

‘All the results of retinol without the irritation. No7 does it again with a great product to help us fight lines and wrinkles.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex

(Image credit: Estee Lauder)

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex

Best night time serum

Specifications
RRP: £82

‘A really lovely nourishing, yet lightweight formula. I know many who swear by this, and I can understand why.’ Sophie Shotter

Elizabeth Arden Hyaluronic Acid Ceramide Capsules Hydra-Plumping Serum

(Image credit: Elizabeth Arden)

Elizabeth Arden Hyaluronic Acid Ceramide Capsules Hydra-Plumping Serum

Best hydrating serum joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £75

‘Ideal for dry skin. These capsules absorb quickly, and leave skin glowing.’ Emma North

NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex

(Image credit: NIOD)

NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex

Best hydrating serum joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £25

‘A very good serum. It has a beautiful texture and sinks in leaving skin smooth and hydrated.’ Dija Ayodele

Katherine Daniels

(Image credit: Katherine Daniels)

Katherine Daniels Rehydrating Concentrate

Highly Commended hydrating serum

Specifications
RRP: £55

‘As well as the wonderful aroma, this is a pleasure to apply and quickly quenches dry skin.’ Stephanie Maylor

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum

(Image credit: Ole Henriksen)

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum

Best Vitamin C serum

Specifications
RRP: £53

‘Everyone should have a great vitamin C serum in their morning regime. This one is light, easily absorbed and perfect for layering with the rest of your skincare. The high percentage of vitamin C is perfect for brightening, too.’ Emma North

Root + Fruit Juice Boost Brightening Serum

(Image credit: Root + Fruit)

Root + Fruit Juice Boost Brightening Serum

Best brightening serum

Specifications
RRP: £38

‘As well as loving the fragrance, I was seriously impressed at the way this serum pepped up my skin. Dubbed a power serum, this is really the equivalent to a shot of caffeine, leaving your face energised.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Supplements

Zitsticka Skin Discipline

(Image credit: Zitsticka)

Zitsticka Skin Discipline

Best supplement for clear skin joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £36

‘I’d recommend this if you don’t know where to start with skin supplements. It’s a good all-in-one. A must-have for people who have acne.’ Emma North

Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Clear Biome

(Image credit: Advanced Nutrition Programme)

Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Clear Biome

Best supplement for clear skin joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £55

‘I think gut health is so important for good skin and these did a great job of clearing my spots. They’re small, easy to take and don’t smell – which a lot of probiotics do.’ Emma North

111Skin Reparative Beauty Dose

(Image credit: 111skin)

111Skin Reparative Beauty Dose

Best supplement for glowing skin

Specifications
RRP: £95

‘An impressive amount of vitamins and minerals in each capsule. They definitely restored some glow to my dull skin.’ Emma North

SPF

Katherine Daniels Daily DNA Defence SPF30

(Image credit: Katherine Daniels)

Katherine Daniels Daily DNA Defence SPF30

Best SPF for face

Specifications
RRP: £50

‘Perfectly hydrating and sits well under make-up.’ Emma North

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Age Correct SPF50+

(Image credit: La Roche Posay)

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Age Correct SPF50+

Highly commended SPF for face

Specifications
RRP: £25

‘Protection, plus actives to reduce wrinkles and dark spots.’ Charley Williams-Howitt

Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray

(Image credit: Sun Bum)

Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray

Best SPF for body

Specifications
RRP: £17.99

‘Simple to apply, plus it smells lovely. Big fan.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Eau Thermale Avène Intense Protect SPF50

(Image credit: Avene)

Eau Thermale Avène Intense Protect SPF50

Best SPF for sensitive skin

Specifications
RRP: £20

Sinks in beautifully. Skin is left smooth, soft and protected.’ Charley Williams-Howitt

Tools

Foreo UFO 2

(Image credit: Foreo)

Foreo UFO 2

Best skincare tool

Specifications
RRP: £249

‘A fun, clever little gadget giving a different masking experience for every skin type.’ Sophie Shotter

New Launches

medik8 glycolic

(Image credit: medik8 glycolic )

Medik8 Sleep Glycolic Serum

Best new launch joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £35

‘Cleverly releases glycolic acid slowly into the skin, with no redness or irritation. It left my skin noticeably brighter and smoother.’ Charley Williams-Howitt

Prai MenoGlow Hot Flush Cool Fix Serum

(Image credit: Prai)

Prai MenoGlow Hot Flush Cool Fix Serum

Best new launch joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £28

‘A must for anyone experiencing menopausal skin symptoms. This clever product is a must for your handbag if hot flushes are a problem. Amazingly cooling thanks to both the formula and the metal roller ball applicator, it quickly dilated any redness in my skin.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Oils

Sanctuary Spa 10-in-1 Super Secret Facial Oil

(Image credit: Sanctuary)

Sanctuary Spa 10-in-1 Super Secret Facial Oil

Best does-it-all oil

Specifications
RRP: £20

‘Great price, great aroma and gives skin a great glow. Fine lines are plumped and it sinks in a treat.’ Stephanie Maylor

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

(Image credit: Biossance)

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

Best Brightening oil

Specifications
RRP: £61

‘A luxe treat for radiant skin. The texture is so light that you can even mix it with foundation. Pricey? Sure. Worth it? Yes!’ Stephanie Maylor

TRUE Skincare Certified Organic Rejuvenating Cacay & Frankincense Facial Oil

(Image credit: TRUE Skincare)

TRUE Skincare Certified Organic Rejuvenating Cacay & Frankincense Facial Oil

Best organic oil

Specifications
RRP: £17

A savvy choice for your skin and the environment, with a light texture and beautiful scent.’ Stephanie Maylor

One to watch

Swissline by Dermalab Cell Shock Age Intelligence

(Image credit: Swissline by Dermalab)

Swissline by Dermalab Cell Shock Age Intelligence

One to watch joint winner

Specifications
RRP: from £75

‘From day and night serums and moisturisers to eye creams, the results of each product in this range really wowed me. Skin looked fresher, smoother, glowing and fine lines disappeared. A really impressive range that’s worth the investment. Top marks from me.’ Sarah Cooper-White

KEYS Soulcare

(Image credit: KEYS Soulcare)

KEYS Soulcare

One to watch joint winner

Specifications
RRP: From £10

‘Ultra-cool packaging, luxurious textures and effective ingredients. This range looks and feels so much more expensive than it is. Even better, it was founded by the musician Alicia Keys. Huge fan!' Fiona McKim

Smart Skin

(Image credit: Smart Skin)

Smart Skin

Best sustainable brand joint winner

Specifications
RRP: From £24

‘A simple, yet effective skincare regime with impressive eco credentials. The brand is natural, vegan and sustainable with lovely luxe formulas that have achieved COSMOS certification. Great plastic-free packaging, too.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Weleda Hydrating Prickly Pear Cactus Facial Care

(Image credit: Weleda)

Weleda Hydrating Prickly Pear Cactus Facial Care

Best sustainable brand joint winner

Specifications
RRP: From £14.95

‘I love Weleda. The biodynamic farming methods. The eco packaging. It’s a great brand and this new ultra-hydrating face care range is as good as it gets.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Orlaya Skin DermaDeep RF Pro

(Image credit: Orlaya)

Orlaya Skin DermaDeep RF Pro

Innovation in skincare joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £499

‘This is my new favourite radio frequency home-use device. It is able to safely heat the tissue close to a level we would in-clinic, which will deliver superior results. Comfortable to use and clinically effective.’ Sophie Shotter

Skin + Me Daily Doser

(Image credit: Skin + Me)

Skin + Me Daily Doser

Innovation in skincare joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £19.99

‘Uses prescription ingredients in a formula that doesn’t need an in-clinic consultation, just a virtual one. Totally bespoke, depending on needs, while still allowing skin to be assessed.’ Sophie Shotter 

Moisturisers

L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream

(Image credit: L'Occitane)

L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream

Best moisturiser for mature skin joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £79

‘If you love your skin to smell as good as it looks, this is the product for you! It’s a treat to use and works wonders. Used twice a day, I can see and feel the years dropping away...’ Catherine Westwood

Slow Ageing Essential Moisturiser

(Image credit: Slow Ageing Essentials)

Slow Ageing Essential Moisturiser

Best moisturiser for mature skin joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £45

‘Dewy skin – check! Glowing complexion – check! five years younger – check!’ Catherine Westwood

Palmer’s Coconut Water Facial Moisturiser

(Image credit: Palmer's Coconut Water)

Palmer’s Coconut Water Facial Moisturiser

Best affordable day moisturiser

Specifications
RRP: £7.49

‘If I could dream up my perfect summer day cream, this would be it. The delightfully airy, but deeply hydrating’ Stephanie Maylor

Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream

(Image credit: Curel)

Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream

Highly commended affordable day moisturiser

Specifications
RRP: £19.50

‘This cream is enriched with ceramides, and free from any irritants so dry, sensitive, irritable skin will lap this up.’ Stephanie Maylor

Murad

(Image credit: Murad)

Murad Intense Recovery Cream

Best night cream for sensitive skin

‘This lovely, soothing cream, although pricey, is worth the investment if you have delicate, sensitive skin in need of deep hydration and TLC. Even my husband has been stealing this at bedtime to soothe his redness-prone skin. Hands off hubby, it’s mine!’ Sarah Cooper-White

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF30 Sunscreen

(Image credit: Fenty Skin)

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF30 Sunscreen

Best luxury day moisturiser

Specifications
RRP: £32

‘It’s not easy convincing people to wear SPF every day, but anyone would love this. A silky feel, rose-tinted glowing finish and sexy, yet eco-friendly packaging.’ Fiona McKim

Best calming night cream

(Image credit: Temple Spa)

Temple Spa Repose Relaxing Night cream

Best calming night cream

Specifications
RRP: £40

‘The perfect cream to apply at the end of your night-time beauty regime, to calm the mind as well as the skin. Gorgeously rich and thick, but quickly absorbed, smells like an expensive spa and is wonderfully hydrating.’ Miranda McMinn

This Works My Wrinkles Midnight Moisture

(Image credit: This Works)

This Works My Wrinkles Midnight Moisture

Best wrinkle smoothing night cream

Specifications
RRP: £52

‘Great for drier, mature skin in need of a boost. Lovely botanical scent, good ingredients (hyaluronic acid and retinoids) to treat and plump the skin.’ Dija Ayodele

Masks

MALIN+GOETZ Detox Face Mask

(Image credit: Malin + Goetz)

MALIN+GOETZ Detox Face Mask

Best deep cleansing mask

Specifications
RRP: £36

‘This product has made it into my regular beauty regime! It’s a joy to use and left my skin the cleanest I’ve ever experienced.’ Sophie Shotter

Decree SOS Revitalising Sheet Mask

(Image credit: Decree)

Decree SOS Revitalising Sheet Mask

Best sheet mask

Specifications
RRP: £20

‘This recyclable, biodegradable mask is 100% worth the investment. It will smooth and plump lines and wrinkles before your very eyes. It’s incredible.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Sanctuary Spa 1 Minute Daily Glow Mask

(Image credit: Sanctuary)

Sanctuary Spa 1 Minute Daily Glow Mask

Best quick fix mask

Specifications
RRP: £14

‘I would really recommend this for anyone whose skin feels dull and lifeless in the mornings. It gives a real glow.’ Sophie Shotter

Eye creams

OleHenriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème

(Image credit: Ole Henriksen)

OleHenriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème

Best luxury eye cream

Specifications
RRP: £42

‘The skin around my eyes is smoother and less lined. The skin texture has improved beyond what I thought was possible and I look more relaxed and rested – I love this product!’ Catherine Westwood

L’Oréal Revitalift Filler Eye Cream for Face

(Image credit: L'Oreal Paris)

L’Oréal Revitalift Filler Eye Cream for Face

Best affordable eye cream

Specifications
RRP: £19.99

‘This product has a wonderful softening effect, both on the face, which is left feeling hydrated, but also on the eye as lines appear less pronounced. It feels rather indulgent using an eye cream for the whole face, but it definitely works!’ Catherine Westwood

Cleansers

Sarah Chapman Ultimate Cleanse

(Image credit: Sarah Chapman)

Sarah Chapman Ultimate Cleanse

Best balm cleanser joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £54

‘Love, love, love! It’s pricey, but you get so much bang for that buck as it’s a cleanser and active treatment in one. Manages to be both sensorial and hard-working.’ Fiona McKim

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

(Image credit: Elemis)

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Best balm cleanser joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £44

‘A luxury product in a generous size pot! Feels like a spa experience in just one use and leaves your skin feeling plumper, cleansed and moisturised.’ Catherine Westwood

Ecooking 50+ Cleansing Foam

(Image credit: ECooking)

Ecooking 50+ Cleansing Foam

Best cleanser for mature skin

Specifications
RRP: £23

‘LOVE! Packed with ingredients to nourish and smooth the skin. It removes all traces of dirt and make-up to leave skin fresh, not sapped of moisture. Ideal for dryer or mature skin types.’ Sarah Cooper-White

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

(Image credit: CeraVe)

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

Best foaming cleanser

Specifications
RRP: £12.50

‘I like a simple cleanser that is quick AND that removes every trace of make-up. This does that and more. It leaves skin feeling clean, not tight. I’ve got the whole family using it, it’s so good.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Exfoliators

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

(Image credit: Kate Somerville)

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

Best exfoliator joint winner

Specifications
RRP: £74

‘I recommend this to clients. It leaves skin smooth and bright.’ Pamela Marshall

StriVectin Advanced Resurfacing Daily Reveal Exfoliating Pads

(Image credit: Strivectin)

StriVectin Advanced Resurfacing Daily Reveal Exfoliating Pads

Best exfoliator joint winner

‘This refined breakouts and transformed my skin from dull to radiant and glowing.’ Emma North

Institut Esthederm Eau Cellulaire Hydra Booster Effect Mist

(Image credit: Institute Esthederm)

Institut Esthederm Eau Cellulaire Hydra Booster Effect Mist

Best toner

Specifications
RRP: £18

‘An expensive-feeling mist that leaves skin fresh and hydrated. It makes for a cooling treat on warm days, too.’ Jess Beech

Bea Skincare Luminescence Glow Bright Skin Essence

(Image credit: Bea)

Bea Skincare Luminescence Glow Bright Skin Essence

Highly commended toner

Specifications
RRP: £36

‘Incorporate into your routine a few times a week for increased radiance and glow.’ Jess Beech

Problem solvers

Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier

(Image credit: Clinisoothe)

Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier

Best for acne

Specifications
RRP: £14.95

‘This is anti-bacterial, anti- porous, antiviral and antifungal, with a skin-neutral pH. It changes skin dramatically without any irritation or disrupting the skin’s barrier like AHA’s can.’ Pamela Marshall

Tropic Pure Lagoon Blemish Prevention Serum

(Image credit: Tropic)

Tropic Pure Lagoon Blemish Prevention Serum

Highly commended for acne

Specifications
RRP: £42

‘I really like the healing aspect of this treatment. A great formulation with an active anti-inflammatory, as well has multiple forms of hydration.’ Pamela Marshall

Bea Skincare Serum

(Image credit: Bea Skincare)

Bea Skincare Luminescence Brightening Serum

Best for pigmentation (acne)

Specifications
RRP: £54

‘The combination of acids and vitamin C are the perfect combo for sorting acne scars. It’s lightweight and doesn’t cause any irritation.’ Emma North

Dermalogica PowerBright Dark Spot Serum

(Image credit: Dermalogica)

Dermalogica PowerBright Dark Spot Serum

Best for pigmentation (age spots)

Specifications
RRP: £89

‘If age spots and pigmentation are your bugbear then this is a good investment. I noticed a difference in my skin after just a week. It gives your complexion a beautiful glow and feels fresh on application, too. A pleasure to use.’ Sarah Cooper-White

Kalme Chameleon Concealer SPF20

(Image credit: Kalme)

Kalme Chameleon Concealer SPF20

Best for redness

Specifications
RRP: £19.95

‘The absolute business for rosacea or flushing, combining soothing skincare, instant redness reduction and SPF in a surprisingly light texture. A very useful product at a democratic price.’ Fiona McKim

Bareminerals Ageless 10% Phyto-Retinol Night Concentrate

(Image credit: Bareminerals)

Bareminerals Ageless 10% Phyto-Retinol Night Concentrate

Best for sensitive skin

Specifications
RRP: £52

‘The peptide-packed formula of this line and texture-improving fluid matches up to any hardcore retinol product. Expect results without irritation.’ Fiona McKim

Fiona McKim

As woman&home's Senior Beauty Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more beauty products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about a brilliant beauty find on womanandhome.com or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair dye experiments and cute shih-tzus)

Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013, working under legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know about the industry (clue: learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). 


In a previous life, Fiona studied journalism back home in bonnie Scotland and honed her skills as a features writer at publications including Junior and Prima Baby, with a brief and terrifying stint on the showbiz gossip pages of a tabloid newspaper in between. She's a skincare fanatic who can’t resist adding an extra step to her routine if it’s all the rage in Japan, loves fragrance, has fun with makeup and never turns down the chance to test a new hair tool. Basically, she loves it all.

When not slathering herself in self tan or squinting at a tiny ingredients list on a moisturiser, you’ll probably find Fiona enjoying something to do with food - cooking it, eating it, cajoling her friends into trekking across London to try a hyped pop-up in a dirty car park. 


Come to think of it, the hot dinners and beauty products are probably about even.