The Skincare Icons That Have Stood The Test Of Time
The Skincare Icons That Have Stood The Test Of Time

The Skincare Icons That Have Stood The Test Of Time

With products launching every week, it’s easy to get swept up in the newness of the skincare world. While many turn out to be worth the hype, only a handful ever earn cult status. Here are some of the select few that will always have a place in our cabinets…
By Rebecca Hull

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.

Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water Sensitive Skin, £13 | Bioderma

Bioderma’s micellar water used to be an industry secret. Often smuggled back from Paris Fashion Week, it finally made its way over to the UK a few years back, introducing non-French consumers to the cleansing power of ‘micelles’. These tiny round balls of cleansing molecules are suspended within the micellar water so, when you sweep the formula over your skin, they cling to dirt and make-up, removing it quickly and gently. Now, one bottle sells every three seconds around the world, and it’s widely considered to be the best micellar water of all time. 

Available at

Eight Hour Cream, £31 | Elizabeth Arden

This silky balm was invented in the 1930s by Ms Arden herself. Originally used to soothe cuts, burns, windburn, dry skin and more, it’s now used more for aesthetic purposes – think glossing up the skin, brushing up brows and soothing lips. The best part is, wherever you apply it, it always feels nourishing. We love using a little on dry cuticles, too. 

Available at

Black Rose Cream Mask, £140 | Sisley Paris

Few products are as iconic as Sisley’s Black Rose Cream Mask, a recipient of countless accolades. Today, one tube is sold every three minutes globally. There’s no denying it’s an investment and a special treat, but if you’re inclined, you’re guaranteed to like the results. The pink-toned cream formula instantly plumps and brightens skin, which is why it’s often dubbed ‘youth in a tube’. Cocooning and nourishing, the silky cream is beloved for its ability to hydrate and add radiance at speed – ideal pre-event, post-flight or any time your skin needs a quick fix. The best part is, despite its luxe texture, it applies almost imperceptibly on the skin, absorbing fast with zero greasiness. No wonder A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence, Salma Hayek and Emma Stone love it. 

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Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, £29.60 (was £37) | Clinique

It’s been on the market for more than half a century, yet one bottle of this still sells every four seconds worldwide. Its gentle formula and lightweight texture suit all skin types, while powerhouse ingredients boost hydration for healthy looking skin. A big part of its appeal is that it leaves your complexion feeling buttery soft, never sticky or greasy, making it an ideal pre-make-up base. As well as soothing dryness and irritation, it works wonders to reduce any feelings of tightness. Developed by dermatologists, it was formulated so that everyone could tolerate its ingredients that promise to strengthen your skin’s barrier – they include sunflower seed oil, barley extract and fruit extracts. There’s also glycerine and urea, work together to retain skin’s moisture reserves. You’d be hard pushed to find any negative reviews. 

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Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum, £24.95 | No7

This iconic serum grew in popularity after being put through its paces on the BBC back in 2007. Under scientific scrutiny, it was one of few formulas that showed impressive results against fine lines and pigmentation. Full of vitamins A, C and E, it has a silky texture that absorbs quickly and gets to work removing dullness while simultaneously strengthening skin’s collagen for a firmer appearance. After its TV appearance, the serum sold out that same evening. To this day it’s one of No7’s most popular skincare products, offering results that get better with time. 

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Advanced Night Repair Serum, £65 | Estée Lauder

Launched in 1982, this was the world’s first skincare serum and remains one of the most popular. Full of hard-working ingredients, it has a lightweight texture that helps it get deep down into your skin’s dermis to fix specific concerns. Hyaluronic acid is one of the top ingredients, working to comfort the skin, soaking it in hydration for a smoother, healthier-looking complexion. There are also plenty of antioxidants to stimulate skin’s elasticity and protect it from the dulling effects of pollution and UV. It has over 25 worldwide patents attached to it, making it one of the most revolutionary serums out there.  

Available at Esté

Crème De La Mer, £305 | La Mer

Few luxury facial creams go on to stand the test of time, but 50 years after its first launch, Crème de la Mer’s has passed with flying colours. Whenever our skin looks dry or feels lacklustre, this really works to pull it back from the brink and confer an immediate healthy, fresh glow. It’s also one of the best formulas we’ve tried for soothing allergies, taking down inflammation and ridding any redness –be it on body or face. There’s eucalyptus oil inside, alongside hand-harvested and fermented ingredients including natural sea kelp, which is known to retain moisture and regenerate skin’s cells. Trying is believing, and we can understand exactly why this rich, buttery moisturiser still tops the charts today.  

Available at Crè

Nivea Crème, £5.99 | Nivea

Always a good sign – Nivea’s good, old-fashioned pot of crème has a formula that’s unchanged decades after launching. Unfussy and stripped back, there’s something nostalgic about the smell and texture of this water-based cream. It feels so hydrating, but is never greasy or sticky. It can be used everywhere and by everyone – whether you want to soften dry hands, arms, legs or feet, it will get to work fast. It also acts as a nice base for any make-up you apply.  

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Cicaplast Soothing Face & Body Balm B5, £18.90 | La Roche-Posay

One of the most popular products in French pharmacies, Cicaplast is lauded for a formula that works hard for sensitive skin types. A firm favourite with dermatologists and industry insiders, it immediately helps to soothe irritated and dehydrated skin. Launched over 40 years ago, one tube now sells every minute worldwide. The simple and effective formula features clinically proven active ingredients that overhaul your skin and cater to more specific needs – you’ll find it helps with everything from dehydration to speeding up scar repair and soothing conditions like eczema. It’s ideal for those who are post-procedure, and has also been used to prevent nappy rash, itchiness and heal minor wounds caused by issues like mosquito bites. In short, you still can’t beat it. 

Available at

Bi-Facil Instant Eye Makeup Remover, £12.80 (was £16) | Lancôme

One of the first bi-phase eye make-up removers, this one has a formula that is activated as you shake it. The idea is it gently and thoroughly removes all traces of make-up – that includes stubborn, waterproof formulas – without pulling or tugging at the skin, and it really works. Tested by ophthalmologists, it’s also safe for contact lens-wearers and those with sensitive eyes. Gentle and fast to work, it’s perfect if you want to avoid any stinging feel and are keen to take care of the skin around your delicate eye area.  

Available at Lancô

C E Ferulic Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum, £165 | SkinCeuticals

This has been described as the gold standard vitamin C product, and deservedly so. Launched in 2005, the serum continues to be recommended by dermatologists and skincare professionals around the world. Why? Because it’s so much more than your average vitamin C serum. It contains three of the most important antioxidants for skin, working hard to protect against environmental stressors and combat fine lines, wrinkles and discolouration. It also protects against free radicals, which are known to damage the cell wall in your skin, causing premature ageing. And the moment you use it, you’ll see a difference. Picture brighter, fresher, suppler-looking skin. This one’s an investment, but a proven good one for those looking to slow down the ageing process and gently plump the skin. 

Available at

Blue Orchid Treatment Oil, £43 | Clarins

The formula of Clarins’ Facial Treatment Oil has never changed. Silky, lightweight and plant based, it features several active ingredients to boost skin’s circulation and, in turn, radiance and elasticity. There’s also nutritious vitamin E, fatty acids and omegas 6 and 3 to plump the skin up and give it a firmer, fresher appearance. A little goes a long way too – just a few drops are all you need to boost sluggish skin. The oil is ideal for those suffering with dryness as it seals in hydration and prevents further moisture loss. As it is full of gentle ingredients, all skin types can use it – even those who suffer with breakouts.  

Available at

Cellular Water Mist, £23 | Institut Esthederm

Institut Esthederm was among the first to launch a seriously effective facial mist. Still the best of its kind, this one is a super-fine mist that deposits cooling mineral water onto your skin. The idea is that its patented formula mimics the mineral and trace element-laced water found in the skin to yield soothing results. It immediately calms inflammation, provides a hefty dose of hydration, and adds a dewy radiance to skin we think is unrivalled. Unlike some mists, it doesn’t cause a wet or sticky feel – and it works brilliantly over make-up, keeping pigments fresh and preventing anything from creasing or caking up. A summer essential, but also a staple for anyone seeking some on-the-spot skin nourishment. 

Available at

Creme De Corps, £57 | Kiehl’s

If you ask us, this is Kiehl’s most iconic product. There was a time where people would go mad for this formula, stockpiling bottles at a time to ensure they were never without. Full of cocoa butter and sesame oil, it’s incredibly rich, in a satisfying, luxurious way. It cocoons skin in moisture and soaks up all dry patches. Thick, with a custard-like appearance, it smells good too – just make sure you take time to work it in. We love that it gives skin a slight sheen, especially along the shins and the arms. 

Available at

Daily Microfoliant Exfoliator, £65 | Dermalogica

Launched in 2001, Dermalogica’s Microfoliant is a super-fine powder formula that transforms into a soft exfoliant when mixed with a dash of water. One is sold every 30 seconds globally and it’s easy to see why. Soft and easy to tolerate – unlike many other exfoliants on the market – it benefits from rice powder, which has phytic acid inside and is known to brighten and lift the skin’s radiance. Couple that with salicylic acid and papaya enzymes, and you have a formula that works hard to slough away unwanted texture, while keeping your skin’s barrier soft and in check. No wonder 10 million units were sold in its first year after launching. There’s also soothing allantoin and colloidal oat inside, which work nicely for those with severe sensitivities.   

Available at

Skin Food Cream, £14.95 | Weleda

Most of us probably recognise this bright green tube. Created by Swiss-German health brand Weleda, it’s multipurpose and seriously nourishing for all skin types. Created from 100% natural ingredients – think almond oil, rosemary, chamomile and calendula – it was designed to sooth skin and heal any rough, inflamed areas. It’s become a favourite of many make-up artists who now use it like a primer, as well as a face mask before big events. It’s also loved by the likes of Victoria Beckham, Alexa Chung and Adele, thanks to its cosseting texture and botanical smell. It’s all very impressive for a product that has never relied on large advertising campaigns.  

Available at

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