College Beauty Awards: Serums, Masks, Moisturizers & More Skincare Winners

Skincare is having a moment right now, in a bigger way than ever before, and it’s easy to understand why it carries a greater weight for college women, because this is the first time many are developing a dedicated beauty routine. There’s finally significance to washing your face with more than just water, and you can witness in real time a powerful eye cream somehow reversing your all-nighter.

There are a lot of good formulas out there, but when creating a best in skincare award, we wanted to zero in on products that align closely with college-aged skin goals — basically, the ones that make you extra poreless, dewy and translucent. These picks hit high and low for a student budget, and they have an undeniable x-factor, no matter your skin type and condition. Get ready to clear a shelf for these pots, tubs and bottles of goodness.

  1. 1. Brightening Cleanser

    Indie Lee, sephora.com, $34; shop now

    This indie cleanser is effective for everyone, regardless of your skin type. It removes all your makeup, so you don't need to spend extra money on wipes. The glass bottle also looks so chic on a bathroom counter? It's basically decor and skincare in one. 

  2. 2. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm

    Banila Co., cvs.com, $20; shop now

    If you haven't mastered the art of double cleansing yet, this balm will help you get there. You scoop it out on to dry skin, and massage all over your face and neck. This cleanser is oil-based, so it's perfect for breaking down heavier makeup. It may seem counterintuitive to wash your face with oil, but trust us, it's magic. 

  3. 3. Sugar Strawberry Exfoliating Face Wash

    Fresh Beauty, sephora.com, $33; shop now

    For an exfoliator, this face wash is actually so gentle and dainty, which is why it earned such high marks from our community. It targets pores with real strawberry and little sugar crystals, so your skin comes out polished and smoothe.

  4. 4. Kind to Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes

    Simple, ulta.com, $8; shop now

    Ask any student to show you their makeup bag, and you'll find a pack of these wipes right at the top. They're so consistent and easy to use for all skin types. Plus, if you're trying to cleanse in a dorm, wipes can make it that much easier. 

  5. 5. SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Cleanser & Makeup Remover

    Garnier, ulta.com, $9; shop now

    The last thing your eyes need at the end of a long school day is tugging and pulling. That's why on top of being an effective makeup remover, this micellar water is also best case scenario to break harsh rubbing habits. 

  6. 6. Gentle Skin Cleanser

    Cetaphil, ulta.com, $14; shop now

    Glad someone got the memo that Cetaphil is still an all-time fave of ours. It beats out so many high-end products for everyday cleansing, mainly because the gentle and effective formula never goes out of style. 

  7. 7. Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

    The Ordinary, sephora.com, $9; shop now

    Wipe this solution on your skin and watch your pores disappear overnight. Seriously, the texture results from this toner are immediate — and so is the accompanying glow. Just make sure you use SPF regularly during the day because AHA can increase your sensitivity to the sun. 

  8. 8. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

    The Ordinary, sephora.com, $7; shop now

    If you're constantly moisturizing and oiling but not seeing any results, you need to incorporate hyaluronic in your skincare. It feels a little sticky when you first press it on, but it soaks into skin immediately and delivers hydrating results right away. Make sure to layer moisturizer on top of it to finish off your routine! 

  9. 9. Moisture Surge 72 Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

    Clinique, ulta.com, $21; shop now

    This daily moisurizer can sit with us. Moisture Surge is a cult classic for instant hydration, and the recent re-formulation means dewy skin will last you for 72 hours. It's definitely thicker in texture, but still absorbs quickly so you can follow with your makeup routine right away. 

  10. 10. Unseen Sunscreen 

    Supergoop!, sephora.com, $32; shop now

    Most sunscreen gets a bad reputation for the greasy, white residue it leaves all over your face. This amazing formula from Supergoop! is the antithesis. It's invisible, full-coverage, and also a primer that feels velvety under your makeup without pilling. Right? Chills. 

     

  11. 11. What A Melon Overnight Face Mask

    Bliss, ulta.com, $15; shop now

    Considering the accessible price point, this mask is actually pretty potent. Not to be dramatic, but watermelon is our fave ingredient of the year for how glowy and radiant it makes your skin. Combine with an overnight formula, and you've got a mask that puts your regular night cream to shame. 

  12. 12. Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask

    Farmacy, sephora.com, $38; shop now

    Sometimes even the most heavy duty moistuizers aren't enough to give your skin the hydration it needs. Enter: this genius mask that warms and plumps your skin with a rich honey blend. It spreads on like soft butter, and has a surprisingly smoky scent that users love. 

  13. 13. Coconut Detox Mask

    Kopari, koparibeauty.com, $38; shop now

    It sounds gross, but sucking dirt and impurities out of skin is one of our favorite hobbies — and this clay mask totally owns the skin detox competition. It feels different than other clay masks that we're used to because it's nourishing and adept at calming inflammation. Keep this around for an excellent multitasker. 

  14. 14. AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

    The Ordinary, sephora.com, $7; shop now

    Hel-lo exfoliation. This little bottle is packed with various acids that deliver the same results as a spa-grade facial for only $7. Need we say more? If you're new to peels, just make sure to follow product instructions carefully because this is powerful stuff. 

  15. 15. Easy A Gentle Resurfacing Pads

    Higher Education Skincare, highereducationskincare.com, $24; shop now

    Looking for an exfoliator that's more dorm-friendly? These resurfacing pads are so easy to use on your face and neck, without making a huge mess. Also, there's no need to rinse, so you can let the solution dry directly on your skin. 

  16. 16. Self Tanning Drops

    Isle of Paradise, sephora.com, $29; shop now

    When you need a little glow or want to extend your tan by a few days, these drops should be a permanent fixture in your medicine cabinet. What we love most about this self-tanner is that you can control the shade by using more or less drops, so it's easy to get the exact results you want. 

  17. 17. GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream

    Origins, sephora.com, $32; shop now

    For the longest time, we were trying to figure out if eye creams were completely useless or absolutely necessary. Since this cream from Origins made the list, you can guess we have our answer.

    Many eye products are great for moisturizing or preventing fine lines, but in college you need a formula specific to puffiness and dark circles. Dab this on under your eyes and watch the exhaustion from your all-nighter literally disappear. 

  18. 18. Sugar Lip Treatment

    Fresh Beauty, sephora.com, $24; shop now

    Once you hit college, you should absolutely upgrade to an adult lip balm, and this is it. It's tinted with SPF, and ultra-moisturizing. Our favorite is the Rosé finish because it has the subtlest hint of color that's perfect for day time, like lip balm but with a little more oomph

  19. 19. Deep Cleansing Pore Strips

    Bioré, target.com, $8; shop now

    If you're kind of obsessed with your pores, these will totally level up your skincare routine. Use a strip weekly for blackhead maintence, and just wait for the satisfaction of seeing all the little bloops that come unclogged from your skin. 

The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you'll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.