This is part of the L.A. Times 2021 gift guide. See the full guide here. If you make a purchase off one of our links, the L.A. Times may be compensated.
What does your brain look like on skin care TikTok? Here are the signs: suddenly inquiring if everyone in your family put on their sunscreen today. Talking constantly about something called “slugging.” Ordering pimple patches in bulk. Asking for LED devices for your birthday instead of, you know, jewelry. Having a nighttime routine that includes multiple well-researched steps.
While the world of skin care on the internet can be downright intimidating — and sometimes even filled with misinformation and faulty claims — it can also be delightful, interesting and informative. Some viral products are viral for good reason, and tips from trusted estheticians and dermatologists can never hurt.
Skin care is one of those things that’s deeply personal and highly subjective. There are different needs, budgets and desires. What’s worth it? What’s not? Here’s what’s hot in the world of internet — and real life — skin care.
Dieux Forever Eye Masks
Dieux founders Charlotte Palermino, Joyce de Lemos and Marta Freedman wanted to make an eye mask that wasn’t hell on the environment, and inadvertently made something that doubles as a killer tool for doing winged makeup. The Forever Eye Mask is an eco-friendly alternative to throw-away eye masks, and you can use it with the products already in your skincare fridge (the masks, made of pure medical grade silicone, will help creams, serums and gels penetrate deeper into the sensitive skin around your eyes). Their limited-edition Tattoo Forever Eye Masks were made in collaboration with L.A. artist David Enth.
$25 | 👉 Purchase here
Black Girl Sunscreen
When it comes to something as essential as sunscreen, SkinTok has … opinions. One of the most widely debated things is how to avoid the dreaded white cast — when sunscreen leaves a white, pasty residue on your skin — an issue that is especially prevalent for people of color trying to protect themselves from UVA/UVB rays. Enter Black Girl Suncreen, an SPF 30 lotion made cruelty-free, vegan and infused with jojoba and avocado oils.
$18.99 | 👉 Purchase here
Hydrocolloid pimple patches have taken over the internet in recent years — and Starface has found a way to make treating your zits cute AF. Beloved by Gen Z consumers and recommended by TikTok derms, Starface’s Hydro-Stars shield pimples from bacteria while absorbing fluid and reducing inflammation. The reusable case holds 32 patches, which you can purchase on a one-time basis or get as a monthly subscription.
$14.99 | 👉 Purchase here
More gift guides
Esthetician Leah Guerrero’s all-natural skin care brand celebrates “the misfits that the natural beauty market left behind” and uses ingredients you can actually pronounce and recognize for a holistic beauty experience. Handmade in Los Angeles, Brujita Skincare’s Essential Kit is a great place to dive into the brand’s extensive line of products. Think of it as a sampler kit of the Brujita basics: One cleanser, one hydrosol and one Hechizo Facial Serum.
$85 | 👉 Purchase here
Luna Mini 3
Foreo facial cleansing massagers are a key part of countless skin care routine videos on TikTok. The Swedish company has different tools for different skin types — and while skin care influencer @caressmd cites the Foreo Luna 2 as a key player in transforming her skin from irritated and acne-prone to something resembling a glazed donut — we like the Luna Mini 3 because it’s pocket-sized, relatively more affordable and convenient. The massager features a dual-cleansing surface and 12 adjustable intensities for a deep cleanse.
$159 | 👉 Purchase here
Freck Beauty’s Freck OG
Faux freckles have been a huge beauty trend in recent years — people have even gone so far to get them tattooed on their face by permanent makeup artists — so when Freck Beauty released Freck OG, which the brand says is the first-ever freckle cosmetic, it hit with a bang. Freck OG’s formula and applicator are buildable and precise, resulting in the most natural-looking fake freckles you could hope for.
$22 | 👉 Purchase here
Koolatron Cosmetic Fridge
OK, sure, you don’t need a skin care fridge … but you want a skin care fridge. This gift, admittedly, is extra, but it’s also fun. And who doesn’t love the feeling of an ice-cold face mask being thickly layered on their skin after a long day? The Koolatron Retro Portable 6 Can AC/DC Mini Fridge Cooler in aqua is the perfect device to store products that are best kept cool, like vitamin C, eye creams, ampoules, sheet masks, facial rollers, toners and benzoyl peroxide, according to a TikTok dermatologist, Dr. Zion Ko Lamm (@dr.zionko).
$59.99| 👉 Purchase here
MyKirei by KAO Yuzu Flower Foam Hand Wash
MyKirei by KAO went viral for its Yuzu Flower Foam Hand Wash, which dispenses the soap in the shape of a puffy yuzu flower. Not only is it cute, but it’s also a luxe handwashing experience, made with Japanese yuzu extract and rice water. (Also, being that we’re still in a panini, fancy soap may just be the most perfectly practical gift for our times.)
$18 | 👉 Purchase here
Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm
Double cleansing — the act of cleansing with an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser to lift dirt and impurities — is a ritual that’s all rage in the world of beauty right now. Many skinfluencers swear by Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm, a cruelty-free and vegan industry favorite that melts away excess sebum, makeup and sunscreen with its “sorbet-soft” formula, infused with vitamin E and fatty acids.
$38 | 👉 Purchase here
Topicals Like Butter Hydrating Mask
Founded by two women of color in their early 20s, Claudia Teng and Olamide Olowe, Topicals has captured the heart of Gen Z with its bare-it-all attitude and genuinely cute packaging. But it’s solidified itself with scientifically- backed formulations that are actually working for people. Topicals’ Like Butter Hydrating Mask is packed with nourishing ingredients including colloidal oatmeal, green tea and ginseng root for a formula that the brand says is beneficial in restoring the skin barrier (and if you’ve spent any time on skincare TikTok, you know how much we love a healthy skin barrier).
$32 | 👉 Purchase here
Pink Moon founder Lin Chen wanted to celebrate the role traditional Chinese medicine played in her upbringing with the Pink Moon Rose Quartz Gua Sha Facial Tool. Gua sha promotes blood flow in the skin while minimizing inflammation and releasing stagnant energy, the brand says. It’s also a great way to establish a self-care ritual at the end of a long WFH day. In other words: Treat yo’ self!
$35 | 👉 Purchase here
Skin Gym’s WrinkLit LED Mask
Fancy skin care tools are an additional part of any routine — you don’t actually need them — but the benefits of LED therapy for things like acne, skin tightening and scarring are scientifically promising. As Harvard Health explains: “Different wavelengths of the visible light spectrum correspond to different colors of LED light and penetrate the skin to different depths. Depending on how deeply they penetrate, LED lights are thought to have different biological effects.” Devices can be pricey, but Skin Gym’s WrinkLit LED Mask is a relatively affordable pick. There are three light options: blue light, intended for acne-prone skin; red light for anti-aging; and orange light for brightening.
$99 | 👉 Purchase here
Mediheal N.M.F Intensive Hydrating Mask
TikTok’s hilarious “lesbian parent” Kate “Hina” Sabatine told the Cut that these are the masks they buy in bulk. And they’re not the only one. Co-signed by Allure, Soko Glam and throngs of skin care obsessives on the internet, the Mediheal N.M.F Intensive Hydrating Mask is inexpensive, hydrating and stays put on your face — unlike other sheet masks. The mask uses N.M.F. technology, an abbreviation for natural moisturizing factor, which aims to replicate your skin’s natural moisturizers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and water-binding sugars.
$9.95 | 👉 Purchase here
Krio River No. 2 Face Oil
Krio’s River No. 2 Face Oil is “a nourishing face moisturizer featuring two of Africa’s treasured fruit oils, marula and kalahari melon oil, that feels luxurious and works to hydrate and soothe your neck and face,” explains the brand’s founder Tony Johnson. He champions a “being ashy is never cool” ethos when it comes to his skin care products — which are inspired by his Sierra Leone heritage. River No. 2 Face Oil targets acne and aging concerns while brightening the skin, thanks to fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins A, E and C.
$42 | 👉 Purchase here
More gift guides