the 5 best skincare products

Ever wondered what the best Olay products are? If you haven’t paid the brand much attention, I feel you. Olay is the most underrated brand at the drugstore. While everyone is fussing over Nivea (which hasn’t updated its formulas in ages, by the way), Olay is relegated in the back-seat, left to wonder what the heck it must do to be more popular.

It’s not like it’s not trying:

  1. It was one of the first drugstore brands to use niacinamide, a multitasker that fights wrinkles/dryness/acne/dark spots.
  2. It makes good glycolic acid exfoliants – as opposed to crappy scrubs all the other drugstore brands have – that don’t break the bank.
  3. It puts more than only lovely antioxidant in their products – because the more you use, the more free radicals you destroy.

If you’re on a budget and craving flawless skin, Olay is the drugstore brand to turn to. But, which products should you try first? Here are the best Olay products:

About The Brand: Olay

South African chemist Graham Wulff, the creator of Olay, didn’t set out to start a skincare brand. He simply wanted to create a product for his wife. And, as life often does, that led him down an unexpected path and, in 1952, he founded Olay. Since then, the brand has made a name for itself thanks to its anti-aging elixirs that deliver results without breaking the bank.

Olay may not be the most exciting brand, but it’s one that works. In a world where most drugstore skincare has often been basic and underperforming, Olay was one of the first skincare leader to add proven-to-work actives, like niacinamide and retinol, to their formulations.

Pretty much all of their products contain superstar niacinamide. I’ll tell you more about it later. For now, suffice to say that Olay has filed over 200 patents on niacinamide over the years, so you can rest assured it knows what it’s doing. All in all, the brand is proof that you don’t have to go bankrupt to achieve beautiful, younger-looking skin.

What Are The Best Olay Products?

Best For Hydration: Olay Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 ($29.99)

Forget about peptides (they don’t do much of anything anyway). This serum makes the list because it contains both niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. They’re both powerful hydrators that work in different ways. Hyaluronic acid attracts and binds to your skin up to 1000 times its weight in water – it’s one of the most hydrating ingredients in skincare. Niacinamide is a multitasker that hydrates skin while treating wrinkles, dark spots, acne, and irritations.

I’m often asked which of the two you should be using, so I’m thrilled to find a serum that has both. Together, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid give your skin so much moisture, they plump it up so fine lines and wrinkles look smaller; they make it baby soft to the touch; and give it a subtle healthy glow. Plus, thanks to niacinamide’s multiple superpowers, it gives your skin a helping hand in fighting whatever concern is currently having. The texture is thick, but it absorbs quickly into your skin without leaving a tacky residue behind.

Available at: Olay and Ulta

  • Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid and Niacinamide.
  • Benefits: Hydrates, soothes, and helps treat acne and dark spots.
  • Cons: Packaging isn’t the most practical.
  • Skin type: All skin types, including sensitive, can use it.
  • Fragrance-free: Yes.

Best For Anti-Aging: Olay Retinol24 Max Night Serum ($34.99)

This serum doesn’t disclose the % of retinol, but it’s pretty high on the ingredient list so there’s definitely more than enough to do the job. What does retinol do? This form of Vitamin A fights wrinkles on 3 fronts: it fights free radicals, boosts collagen production, and speeds up cellular turnover (the skin’s natural exfoliating process). The result? Retinol helps to reduce the wrinkles you already have, prevent new ones from forming, treat acne, and fade away dark spots. No wonder it’s so popular!

The catch? Retinol can be irritating. Olay paired it with its star ingredient Niacinamide. Very soothing, Niacinamide reduces the irritating potential of retinol. While it’s at it, it also moisturises skin, reduces the look of wrinkles and dark spots, soothes irritations and even helps treat acne. If you’re looking for a retinol serum that doesn’t break the bank, give this a go.

Available at: Boots, Olay, and Ulta.

  • Active Ingredients: Retinol and Niacinamide.
  • Benefits: Fight wrinkles, dark spots, and acne.
  • Cons: Some of the product can get stuck in the dropper.
  • Skin type: All skin types, bar sensitive skin, can use it.
  • Fragrance-free: Yes.

Related: 5 Anti-Aging Superstars You Need In Your Skincare Routine

Need help creating an anti-aging routine that really works? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Anti-Aging Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).

Best For Oily Skin: Olay Salicylic Acid Booster ($12.99)

Salicylic acid is the only exfoliant oily skin needs. In addition to removing dead cells on the surface of your skin for a smoother and brighter appearance, it gets deep into your pores and unclogs them from within. What does this mean? Salicylic acid can get rid of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Olay doesn’t disclose the %, but it should be around 1% – just enough to do the job and be gentle even for sensitive skin.

Plus, the serum contains a big dollop of glycerin, a moisture magnet that deeply hydrates skin and makes it softer. It feels like a watery lotion that absorbs instantly into your skin. Use it every day, alternating it with retinol, to keep breakouts at bay.

Available at: Olay.

  • Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid.
  • Benefits: Fights acne and gets rid of blackheads.
  • Cons: I wish it had a slightly higher % of salicylic acid.
  • Skin type: Oily skin, combination skin, anyone who wants to get rid of blackheads.
  • Fragrance-free: Yes.

Best For Sun Protection: Olay Regenerist Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($33.32)

I prefer mineral sunscreens because they provide broad spectrum protection without irritating skin. This lightweight sunscreen contains 17.5% zinc oxide, a concentration that’s usually thick and greasy. Yet, the texture of this sunscreen is surprisingly lightweight and doesn’t leave any tacky residue behind. And while it’s invisible on fair skin, it may leave a white cast on darker skin tones (if that’s you, I’d opt for a tinted formula instead). The moisturising base makes your skin softer and smoother while zinc oxide protects it from the UV damage that causes premature wrinkles and sagging.

Available at: Olay and Ulta.

  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide.
  • Benefits: Provides broad spectrum sun protection.
  • Cons: Leaves a white cast on darker skin tones.
  • Skin type: Best suitable for dry and sensitive skin.
  • Fragrance-free: Yes.

Best For Dark Spots: Olay AHA Booster ($12.99)

When it comes to dark spots, there’s not just one ingredient that’s best at treating them. A good approach is to target them from multiple angles. This booster uses both AHAs and niacinamide to do the job. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like glycolic and lactic exfoliate skin, so that the darker, damaged cells on the surface of your skin leave their place to the newer, more even-toned ones that were hiding underneath.

Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that among other things (including fighting wrinkles and acne) also fades away dark spots. Plus, it has soothing properties that help your skin better tolerate glycolic acid, which has the potential to cause irritation. Finally, AHAs and niacinamide both hydrate skin, leaving it in top shape. For best results, use this booster every other night after cleansing, alternating it with retinol.

Available at: Olay.

  • Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, Niacinamide.
  • Benefits: Brightens skin tone and fades away dark spots.
  • Cons: Can irritate skin if you use it too often.
  • Skin type: Best suitable for dry skin, sun-damaged skin, and hyperpigmentation.
  • Fragrance-free: Yes.

Best For Acne: Olay Tone Perfection Vitamin B3 + Vitamin C Serum ($29.99)

Olay markets this serum as a solution to brighten the skin tone and fade away dark spots – which it is. Both niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin C have been scientifically proven to do the job. If you use it consistently, it’ll make your skin brighter and help you fade away dark spots faster. So why am I saying is it best for acne?

This serum uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP), a derivative of L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA, the pure form of Vitamin C). SAP is less effective at treating dark spots than LAA, but brands use it because it’s more stable and easier to formulate with. But SAP is the only form of Vitamin C that can reduce acne. So, if you have dark spots or acne and are looking for a Vitamin C serum that doesn’t break this bank, you’ll love this.

Available at: Olay.

  • Active Ingredients: Niacinamide and Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate).
  • Benefits: Brightens skin tone and helps reduce acne.
  • Cons: Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate isn’t as powerful as the pure form of Vitamin C.
  • Skin type: Best suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.
  • Fragrance-free: Yes.

Best For Combination Skin: Olay Total Effects Face Moisturiser SPF 15 ($23.49)

I know SPF 15 isn’t much, BUT moisturisers don’t provide adequate sun protection unless you apply them as a sunscreen (1/3 of a teaspoon for the face and neck). Who does that? Apply a separate sunscreen and use this as moisturiser only. It does an excellent job. For starters, glycerin and niacinamide give your skin plenty of hydration that leaves it softer and suppler. Plus, it’s one of the few moisturisers at the drugstore that features multiple antioxidants, including Vitamin C and green tea, that help prevent premature aging. The texture isn’t thick, but not too thin either and sinks quickly into your skin. This is one of the moisturisers that’s on regular rotation in my skincare stash.

Available at: Boots and Olay.

  • Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, Vitamin C, green tea.
  • Benefits: Moisturises skin and prevents premature aging.
  • Cons: Doesn’t provide adequate sun protection.
  • Skin type: Best suitable for combination skin.
  • Fragrance-free: Yes.

Is Olay Cruelty-Free?

Olay is not cruelty-free. Although they don’t test on animals themselves, they do sell in countries where animal testing is required by law and so outsource the process to a third party. They’re working hard to develop alternatives that’ll be accepted by those governments too, so that animal testing will finally be a thing of the past.

What Are The Best Olay Products For Wrinkles?

  • Olay Retinol24 Max Night Serum ($34.99): This retinol serum boosts collagen production, reduces the wrinkles you already have, and prevents new ones from forming. Enriched with niacinamide to counteract its drying effects. Available at Boots, Olay, and Ulta.
  • Olay Total Effects Face Moisturiser SPF 15 ($23.49): A creamy moisturiser for combination skin that hydrates and prevents premature aging. Available at Boots and Olay.

What Are The Best Olay Products For Acne?

  • Olay Salicylic Acid Booster ($12.99): A powerful exfoliant that gets rid of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples and keeps them from coming back. Available at Olay.
  • Olay Tone Perfection Vitamin B3 + Vitamin C Serum ($29.99): This serum features niacinamide and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C) to reduce both dark spots and acne. Available at Olay.

What Are The Best Olay Products For Dark Spots?

  • Olay Retinol24 Max Night Serum ($34.99): Retinol is a powerful wrinkle-fighter that also speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating prices to reduce dark spots. Available at Boots, Olay, and Ulta.
  • Olay AHA Booster ($12.99): This exfoliant features both Glycolic acid and niacinamide to fade away and reduce dark spots. While it’s at it, it also hydrates skin. Available at Olay.

What Are The Best Olay Products For Sensitive Skin?

  • Olay Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 ($29.99): This serum deeply hydrates skin, plumps up fine lines and wrinkles so they look smaller. and soothes irritations. Available at Olay and Ulta
  • Olay Regenerist Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($33.32): A gentle mineral sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection without irritating skin. But it may leave a white cast on darker skin tones. Available at Olay and Ulta.

The Pros Of Olay Skincare

Olay is one of my fave skincare brands because it’s packed with scientifically proven-to-work actives, like retinol and niacinamide, that fight wrinkles, acne, and dark spots. It’s also one of the few drugstore brands that adds a fair share of wrinkle-prevention antioxidants to their moisturisers. If you want to build your skincare routine on a budget, this is definitely a wonderful brand to look into.

The Cons Of Olay Skincare

Olay makes some wonderful moisturisers. Unfortunately, most of them are packaged in jar that exposed the antioxidants inside to the light and air that make them go bad sooner. Plus, jars are not hygienic. Another issue is that a lot of their formulas are pretty much identical. They have at least 3 serums that contain both hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. I’ve picked my fave for this article, but really how many serums doing the same thing do you need it? I guess it’s a way to get you to buy more skincare products that you don’t need… *sighs*

The Verdict

Olay is one of my skincare brands at the drugstore. It uses actives that are scientifically proven to fight wrinkles, fade away dark spots, and reduce acne. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend a fortune for younger-looking skin, Olay is worth checking out.