Skip To Content
  • Do Better badge

19 Life-Changing Skin Care Products That Are Actually Worth Your Money In 2017

Everything from face cleansers to body oils!

Hey guys! Beauty editor Essence here with some skin care recommendations to try in the new year. I get a lot of questions about products, so I thought I'd put some of my all time faves in a big ol' list. Think of me like Oprah, and these are all my favorite things. Except I'm not sending you home with any of them because I'm mad broke.

Essence Gant

I've broken them up into seven categories: face cleansers, face moisturizers, face and body scrubs, lip balms, body soaps, masks, and body moisturizers.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

1. So Mule Hell Trading Co. Tea Tree Clear Complexion soap is what I'm currently using, and it's my absolute fave!

Essence Gant / BuzzFeed

I started using this soap as a face cleanser about eight months ago and fell in love with it. I've used other cleansers in between, but this one has def been my fave. The brand, Mule Hell Trading Co., uses natural ingredients, and they're all listed on the front of the label. I love the way it makes my skin feel, and it keeps my complexion radiant and even. Check out #6 in this review for more on why I'm obsessed with this soap.

Pros: Super affordable; natural ingredients; clears and evens skin; can also use as a body soap

Cons: None

Get it here for $6.

2. I also used Auspect Total Clean for about three months and really liked it.

Cleansing your face with Total Clean every morning is like waking up to a burst of citrus goodness! The scent is orangey and fresh, and the liquid cleanser feels REALLY good on your face. It claims to be rich in antioxidants and botanicals that calm your skin. My skin always feels really soft and fresh after I use it.

Pros: Pleasant scent; feels smooth on face; leaves skin feeling clean

Cons: Not expensive but not cheap either

Get it here for $33.

3. Clinique's 3-Step System held me down for my early adult life.

Clinique's 3-step is my OG skincare regimen, and I often recommend it to people looking for solid products. It comes with cleanser, clarifying lotion (toner), and moisturizer. There are also different formulas for dry and oily skin. This set kept my skin on point for all of my early twenties, and it lasts for a long time! The thing I like is that you can really see your skin improve shortly after using it. Blemishes fade and your skin just looks super clear and bright.

Pros: Improves appearance and feel of skin with use; customizable by skin type; good price for three products

Cons: None

Get the dry or oily formula for $46.

4. Bragg Organic ACV stops any kind of pimple from surfacing on my face.

Some people mix apple cider vinegar and water as a face wash or toner, but I just keep it around as a spot treatment. You know how you can feel when a pimple is about to raise its pesky little head because your skin feels tender in that area? Well, every time I get that feeling I drench a cotton ball in this ACV and rub it where I feel the pimple forming. I do this every morning and night β€” after my cleanser but before my moisturizer β€” for however many days it takes the tenderness to be completely gone. If I do it as soon as I feel the pimple forming, it goes away before it actually shows up on my face.

Pros: Organic; little money for a lot of ACV; it works; it lasts forever

Cons: Smell isn't the best

Get it here for $9.49.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

5. Clinique Superdefense has been my FAVE and most consistent face moisturizer for about three years now!

I use the combination oily to oily skin formula, but they also have one for very dry to dry combination skin. No matter what other products I try, this is the moisturizer I always find my way back to. It's super-rich, but not heavy, and my face feels so soft after I put it on. There's also a glow factor to your skin after you put on this stuff.

Pros: Has SPF 20; a little goes a long way; rich and creamy; skin is visibly more glowy after use

Cons: Pretty pricey for a tiny jar

Get the combination oily to oily skin or very dry to dry combination skin formula for $48.

6. Sometimes I use a dab of Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in really dry weather.

Sometimes when it's really cold, or when I run out of moisturizer, I'll work just a dab of coconut oil into my face. I really like how soft and radiant it makes my skin feel and look. Coconut oil is def a case-by-case scenario, though. It's magic for some people, and it's a tragedy for others. I've read reviews where it's clogged people's pores and triggered breakouts or allergic reactions.

Pros: Doesn't cost a lot; natural and organic; leaves skin soft and radiant

Cons: Can have adverse effects, but so can anything

Get it here for $13.95.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

7. Rad Soap Co. Suga-Bubs Moon Candy is the coolest scrub I've ever put on my friggin body!

Essence Gant

This can be used as a body and face exfoliant, but I mainly use it on my face. There's a warm sensation when you rinse it off, and your skin literally feels like a baby's. You can read my full review here, though.

Pros: Looks really cool; makes skin care more fun; leaves skin feeling very soft; you get a lot for your money

Cons: None

Get it here for $20.

8. Frank Body Creamy Face Scrub is so good I considered drinking coffee when I first tried it. And I hate coffee.

This face exfoliator, made from ground coffee, is so good, y'all. I even got my mom hooked, and she is SUPER picky. Frank Body Creamy Face Scrub smells like a good cup of morning JOE, so it helps wake you up in the morning, too. It's abrasive enough to get all the dead, dry skin off your face, but it's gentle enough that it doesn't hurt or anything.

Pros: Smells yummy; leaves skin super soft; reasonably priced

Cons: None

Get it here for $25.95.

9. Kiss My Grits Lip Scrub leaves my lips mad kissable.

You can get the full story of my love for Kiss My Grits here. To sum it all up really quick though, it's made from real grits and has been my best friend these cold months. Scrubbing a little on your lips gets that top dry layer of skin off and makes your lips feel extra soft.

Pros: It works; if you get a little in your mouth it tastes salty; it's well-priced

Cons: None

Get it here for $12.95.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

10. Tony Moly Banana Lip Balm smells good and it's adorable, so yeah.

I love this stuff because 1) it's actually really good lip balm, 2) you can attach it to your key chain, and 3) it smells like real bananas!

Pros: It works; it's easy to carry; smells delicious

Cons: None

Get it here for $10.

11. Lano 101 Strawberry Ointment is like that one friend you can call for anything.

It's an ointment that serves as a multipurpose balm. Translation: This shit works on dry lips, ashy knuckles, dusty elbows. YOU NAME IT! I use it as a lip balm most of the time. It smells really yummy, and it has a good, thick texture to it.

Pros: Moisturizing formula; multipurpose; smells yummy

Cons: None

Get it here for $13.50.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

12. This Woodlot Amour Bar Soap makes me feel like Mariah Carey πŸ’….

I associate all things fancy β€” like this soap made with white clay, Himalayan pink salt, palmarosa and rose damask, and black pepper essential oil β€” with Mariah Carey. It's a soap truly fitting for a diva! The Amour soap smells incredible, literally like roses, and it feels so therapeutic in the shower. You just feel like everything is gonna be okay while you're getting your scrub on.

Pros: Smells good; it's exfoliating; has real rose petals in it; automatically upgrades your bathroom

Cons: One bar costs more than a pack of basic soap

Get it here for $9.

13. Rad Soap Co. American Beauty Bar also makes me feel like Mariah Carey.

I love a good soap. I take my shower time very seriously because it's setting the foundation for the rest of your look and get-ready experience. The American Beauty soap makes my skin feel clean, and it also smells really good as you're lathering up. It's not too perfume-y though, which I love!

Pros: Makes skin feel fresh; smells good; Decent size bar

Cons: $10 for one bar

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

14. I'm not even a pumpkin person, but this Farmhouse Fresh Pumpkin Puree Splendid Dirt Mask is the truth. / Essence Gant

This mask is pretty great. If you're really into pumpkin stuff, you'll be delighted to know that it smells like some kind of yummy pumpkin baked good. But also, it's a good treatment for your face, and there's a warm sensation as it sits on. I read reviews where it "decongested" skin and purged impurities. I can't really speak on that because there wasn't anything visible that needed to be purged from my skin the times I used it, but it did make my face feel really good β€” especially after I followed up with my moisturizer!

Pros: Smells yummy; a little goes a long way; leaves skin feeling fresh; good pampering experience after long days

Cons: Kind of hard to see significant improvements

Get it here for $17.38.

15. IDK if Too Cool For School Pore Tightening Egg Cream Mask actually does anything, but it feels soooo good!

Essence Gant / BuzzFeed

I wrote about this mask in detail here. Basically, I don't think it gives you the superior, poreless epidermis of an ageless Gabrielle Union or anything, but it feels good and gives you a cute little glow afterward. The glow-up in my before and after is hella real! It's super cheap, and it's a quick and nice self-care thing to do when you just want to relax.

Pros: Easy on the coins; makes skin feel soft and look radiant

Cons: Doesn't seem to tighten pores

Get it here for $6.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

16. Vaseline has never failed me, even in the harshest of winters.

Every year around December, I trade in all my fave lotions and body butters for the ol' faithful Vaseline. New York winters are brutally cold, which means your skin is left brutally dry. There comes a time in the winter months when Vaseline is the only thing that keeps my skin soft and radiant. I've been using this stuff since I was a little girl, and now, only a few weeks shy of 30, it still holds me down.

Pros: It works; it's cheap; it's sold everywhere; Softens hard spots and heals peeling, cracked skin

Cons: None

Get it here for $4.41.

17. LIHA Gold Shea Butter feels like a dream on my skin.

Essence Gant,

Liha's Shea really melts like butter into your skin, making it feel so smooth and soft. In the GIF above you can see how easily it melts in my hands! It's made from raw Shea butter in Nigeria, and the brand claims it's a good balm for people with eczema.

Pros: Raw, organic, 100% ethically sourced shea; Moisture-rich; chic packaging; rich in vitamins A and E; can add coconut oil to it to stretch product

Cons: Slightly pricey

Get it here for $38.93.

LIHA is based in the UK so pricing, with shipping, is converted from GPB to USD at checkout.

18. A few spritzes of Kopari Coconut Body Oil makes my skin look shiny and sexy like a video girl's.

So after I get out of the shower, I always moisturize my whole body with a lotion or butter. Recently I got turned onto the brand Kopari, and sometimes I mist just a little of its coconut body oil on top of my skin. It's the last layer, after my lotion, and gives my skin some extra softness and a nice glow. It also helps keep the other moisture locked in so I stay nice and smooth all day.

It's important to note that I don't use this if I have on Vaseline. Vaseline needs NO assistance.

Pros: Leaves skin glowy; not greasy or sticky; you don't need a lot; smells good but not too strong

Cons: Price for coconut oil is a bit extra

Get it here for $34.

19. Kinda pricey, but I love Jojoba Lemon and Coconut Hand Cream.

Just to keep it 100, $22.95 is pricey as hell for some hand cream. But I really, really like it. I keep it on my desk so that I can use it after I wash my hands at work or if I slip up and have an ashy moment. It smells good, but the thing I love most is the creamy texture. You only need a really little, and it makes your hands feel really soft.

Pros: Smells good; creamy texture; a little goes a long way

Cons: Pricey as hell for a doggone hand cream

Get it here for $22.95.