The Most Innovative Skin-Care Products At The Drugstore Right Now

The future of beauty is here — and you’re invited. Check out the rest of our 2018 Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Awards winners and honorees for a full look at the products, brands, and people that are breaking the rules and redefining beauty standards, one lipstick at a time.
When it comes to buying beauty products at the drugstore, you generally know what to expect: You walk in, head to the dental-care aisle to get the toothpaste you came in for, then suddenly black out and by the time you come to you're in the checkout line with a basket full of "essentials" you probably don't need. (And forget about shopping online — with all those coupons, you could stock up on enough "essentials" to last you the next decade.)
But right now, there's much more to the drugstore beauty section than the usual moisturizers, masks, and Banana Boat sunscreens — and it's proof that "innovative" and "affordable" are not two mutually-exclusive concepts in the world of beauty. Rather, the formulas you'll find on shelves these days are new, exciting, and like nothing you've ever seen before, at the same low prices you've come to expect from, well, the drugstore.
Ahead, the five coolest skin-care products that just launched at drugstores... as if you needed another reason to "go buy band-aids."
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
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Uniquely packaged in an easy-to-use twist-up stick, this brightening oil — with a pleasantly-surprising dose of sun protection — is as convenient as it gets, and such a game-changer we even gave it an award. Pop it in your carry-on to immunize yourself against dry plane-cabin air, or into your overstuffed work tote to combat moisture-zapping office heating systems. (We've all got 'em.)
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Dark circles, puffiness, that weird furrow you get between your brows from staring fixedly at your computer screen for hours: This unique hydrogel mask eases those symptoms of a long, stressful day on contact, while strengthening seaweed extract replenishes the delicate eye area. It's exactly what your pre-bedtime wind-down ritual is missing, especially considering it leaves the bottom half of your face uncovered, so you can soothe your weary eyes and sip wine unencumbered at the same time.
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Bridging the gap between low-maintenance makeup and high-functioning skin care, this tinted balm is the dream: an easy, swipe-and-go tint in varying shades of sheer, flattering neutral, with the very necessary addition of SPF to protect the delicate skin on your lips from sustaining sun damage. (It's a thing.)
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From the classic brand behind the scrub you used to slough off your prepubescent acne comes this much gentler cleanser, which is as brightening and soothing as it is travel-friendly. With a base of natural coconut oil, infused with apricot and honey extracts, it leaves skin feeling soft and refreshed no matter where you are — even if you're hastily washing your face in an airport bathroom during a layover.
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This powerful serum has already amassed a cult following since it launched earlier this year, with five-star reviews across the board — and for good reason. Ginseng extract, vitamin C, and an array of peptides make quick work of brightening dull, tired skin, and a touch of salicylic acid smooths uneven texture and keeps skin clear without triggering dryness or irritation. It's the rare formula that packs benefits for all skin types, and it works well under makeup, too.
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How many cleansers do you know of that come packaged in ball form? Very few, probably. This highly-concentrated formula is packed inside a thin latex sphere; all you have to do is wet the ball and massage it in circular motions over your face to create a light, floral-scented lather. It's a lot of fun, and surprisingly long-lasting — it should last up to 45 days when used properly.
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Forget SPF 4 tanning lotion and aluminum reflectors: The future of sun-kissed summer skin is not a fast track to melanoma, but rather the advent of products like this one, which provides SPF 30 and bronzing benefits in one 360-degree spray (as in, you won't need any help covering those hard-to-reach areas on your back). It's also cruelty-free, water-resistant, and uses mineral UV protectants instead of chemical, so you've really got nothing to worry about. (Except, of course, for reapplication.)
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With just 11 ingredients in this potent formula, you get more of the good stuff — like the powerhouse combo of 15% vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, and a soothing antioxidant boost from vitamin E — and less of the... other stuff. The dropper bottle might be tiny, but it packs quite a punch, and the addition of the French brand's signature thermal water means your skin gets all the firming, strengthening vitamins and minerals it needs without any extra filler.
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When your skin is crying out for heavy-hitting moisture, this fast-absorbing night cream will more than suffice — without actually feeling heavy. Surprisingly lightweight, and with zero greasiness, it smooths away dryness and soothes irritation overnight, and it won't leave your face stuck to your pillowcase.
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appearance by Mi-Anne Chan.
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