It's been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Prevention believes that the only person with the power to decide what's pretty is you. Our goal isn't to promote one standard of beauty. Rather, we believe you should enhance what makes you unique with products that improve your skin and hair, imparting subtle changes that give you reason to celebrate — if only for a minute (privately!) — your beauty.
But where to start? With so many products available, how do you know which really work, are safe, and won't be irritating? Which ones will hydrate your skin, make your complexion smoother, or give you hair that's thicker, shinier, or softer? That's where Prevention comes in. The award winners presented in this series not only make you look great, they also strengthen the health of your skin and hair. And that is definitely something to make a fuss over.
Best Body Wash: SheaMoisture Olive & Green Tea Body Wash
This all-natural cleanser took top honors in part because of what it doesn't contain: Its rich, creamy lather comes from coconut oil and a sugar-beet derivative instead of sulfates, which can be irritating and drying. Judge Joel Schlessinger, MD, was also impressed that the formula has no skin-irritating synthetic fragrances — something our testers, who raved about the light honeysuckle scent, were excited to learn. But in the end, the addition of skin-boosting ingredients gave this body wash the win. "The green tea extract helps protect skin from damage and also has an anti-inflammatory effect," Dr. Schlessinger says. Plus, the formula contains avocado oil, which is rich in vitamins and minerals that help moisturize and regenerate skin cells.
Best Body-Hair Remover: Schick Hydro Silk Razor
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All razors remove hair, but this slick-looking instrument actually improves the condition of your skin in the process. The blades are surrounded by a slim head coated with a water-activated moisturizing serum. "As you shave, the serum delivers proteins, vitamins, and shea butter to rejuvenate skin," judge David Bank, MD, says. Multiple testers noted how the moisturizers made for a cleaner shave, but they also liked the easy-to-grip handle and the way the head maneuvered over tricky spots such as knees and ankles.
Best Self-Tanner: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body with Active Vitamin D
It's hard to develop self-tanners that do more than tint skin, explains judge Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist. But this formula also "speeds cell renewal and kick-starts collagen production," Dr. Bank says. More important, it created the best bronze our testers had ever gotten sans sun — without the funky faux-tanner smell.
Best Sunscreen: L'Oreal Paris Sublime Sun Hydra Lotion Spray SPF 50+
Every dermatologist will tell you that sunscreen is the best anti-aging product. So what makes this one the best of the best? In addition to blocking UVA and UVB rays with a blend of photostabilized (won't deteriorate with exposure to UV light) sunscreens, it has "vitamin E and white grapeseed extract, which work together to protect against free radicals and keep skin healthy and youthful looking," says Dr. Bank. Our testers also liked how the continuous spray allowed for one-handed application, and they preferred the lotion-formula mist to clear mists, because it left skin moisturized without feeling sticky and they could see where they were applying it.
This lotion promises to improve the texture and elasticity of skin, and Dr. Schlessinger was able to prove it does just that. "The before-and-after photographs we took clearly showed better skin texture and tone," he says. What magic ingredient was responsible? He hypothesizes that it's moisturizing glycerin, but there's also a cocktail of botanicals — including extracts of algae, mushroom, and flowering southernwood, a variety of sage-brush — with antioxidant qualities that can help protect skin from damage and dehydration. Testers' favorite benefit was the fact that, over time, skin felt softer even on days they didn't use it.
Best Hand Cream: Philosophy Hands of Hope Hand and Cuticle Cream
This rich cream wowed, hands down. Testers were fascinated by images showing how much better the backs of their hands looked after using it for 6 weeks: "We noted enhancements in roughness, scaling, and even brown spots," Dr. Schlessinger says. But several creams offered similar perks. So why did this one stand out? According to the testers, it was the only one that hydrated without making hands either slippery or smelly — one tester's husband liked the simple tube and un-scented formula so much, he started using it too.
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