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The best skin care brands in the world

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mThe favorite thing to do when I visit another country (apart from eating, seeing the sites, and eating some more) is to check out the beauty products. I’m a big believer that you can learn one lot just by checking out a foreign beauty trail, whether or not you put some of your finds in a suitcase and take them home.

Traveling full-time for the past three years, I’ve reached 22 different countries — meaning I’ve shopped on the shelves of (at least) 22 different beauty destinations. And let me tell you: I found some real drugstore diamonds and luxury wins. From the water-based skincare in France to, well, everything I could get my hands on it in Japan, I always left any place with a carry-on bag that was a lot heavier than I left home with.

The good news? Some of the best beauty brands I found while scouring the world happen to be available right here in the United States – no plane ticket required. Scroll on for some of my all-time favorites.

Photo: Elemis

United Kingdom: Elemis Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen Complex 12 Serum, $335

British brand Elemis made its way to the United States a few years ago, earning praise from shoppers in places like Ulta, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus for its superfood-packed, results-driven formulas. This exclusive Neiman Marcus is the latest entry in line. The creamy serum melts into a watery milk to envelop the skin with glowing collagen-boosting ingredients that both occasionally show their effects on the skin.

Photo: Kora Organics

Not only is Kora Organics from Australia, but it also happens to be endorsed by an Australian supermodel. Created by Miranda Kerr, the brand grew out of her passion for wellness and natural ingredients. She is committed to keeping everything in her range clean and eco-friendly, and the products are perfect for anyone who shares the same dedication to their own beauty routines.

Photo: Uma

The recipes for Uma’s line of beauty and wellness oils have been passed down through generations and each oil is blended to follow Ayurvedic tradition. Oils are an important part of Indian beauty in general – women use them in their hair as well as on their faces and bodies – and Uma has a drink to suit every need.

the best drugstore skincare
Photo: Bioderma

When it comes to drugstore beauty, France real know how to do it right. And you can’t talk about “affordable French skincare” without having micellar water, which is this one. The ingenious H2O – readily available in the US – uses tiny “micelles” to lift dirt and grime while also giving skin the added bonus of hydration. It’s the perfect first step in a double cleansing routine, or can be used on its own (I do the latter every morning) as a non-drying way to wash.

Photo: Vervan

Many Mexican skin care ingredients are super potent for the skin, and here in the United States we can get our hands on some of the best products using them through Vervan. Corn, cocoa, tamarind, and amaranth—which you’ll find in Vervan’s skincare line—are all available on Amazon.

La Bruket products are inspired by the natural landscape in Sweden. Think of: wind, mud, salt, stone, ice, sand, water and sun. The brand harvests its own seaweed and every part of its skincare line is completely clean and, as someone who has tried just about every product they offer, is really really good too. You’ll see ingredients like carrot, broccoli seed and cotton on the labels, showing how innovative the Swedish line really is when it comes to harnessing nature’s beauty benefits.

Innisfree has been huge in Korea since the turn of the millennium, and when it opened its doors in the US in 2017, it wasn’t long before those of us on this side of the Pacific understood why. Paraben-free and wonderfully affordable, the brand features Korean favorite ingredients such as lava seawater, camellia, seaweed, volcanic ash and green tea. Beauty editor Rachel Lapidos swears by their green tea eye cream because it feels like a “big gulp of water” to her skin, making it look “the most hydrated it ever has.”

It’s not exactly new, SK-II is definitely a beauty product of the holy grail. The stuff is everywhere in Japan – from drugstores to department stores – and while it will admittedly make quite a dent in your wallet, IMHO it’s really worth it. Essence, in particular, is one of those products that everyone swears by, from celebs to makeup artists to my mom. It will help you achieve an unparalleled level of glowing skin.

Speaking of beauty worth traveling, read what happened when an editor spent three days in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. And these are the bathing traditions from around the world that we steal for our own bathrooms.

Our editors select these products independently. Making a purchase through our links can earn Well+Good a commission.

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