Self care is all about improving your health and well-being, and it encompasses a wide range of categories, including oral care, hair care and skin care. We all know it can be tempting to try every new and exciting product on the market, but our experts agreed that keeping your self-care routine simple can produce the best and safest results.
When it comes to what products you choose to use on your hair, face and body, our experts recommend paying close attention to your skin and hair type, as well as what specific ingredients and the frequency of application your body can tolerate.
So we tried dozens of products for all types of skin, hair and teeth to find the best.
SKIP AHEAD Dental Care | Skin Care | Hair Care
How we chose our winners
To find our top products in self care, our editors and staff used these lotions, moisturizers, shampoos and more. We tried over 300 products across these categories in order to return with our winners. Products underwent a trial period of at least a week before being selected as our favorite in the self care category. We utilized our editors as shopping and trying experts, along with medical professionals, who provided us with information and advice they give their patients.
When we look at any products, especially wellness items, we look at them comprehensively. To be our favorite in the self care category required fulfilling a multitude of needs. We want to provide you with products that perform well, but we also want to share ones that allow you to upgrade your life. Among other things for this category, we specifically looked at price, scent, viscosity, ingredients and overall quality and effectiveness.
In addition to self care, we also tried products across fitness apparel, fitness tech and sleep. To see a full list of our winners visit our Select Best of Wellness Awards homepage.
Select Best of Wellness self care winners
Nu Skin AP 24 Toothpaste
Award: Best Toothpaste | Type: All
Nu Skin’s whitening toothpaste helps remove stains and prevent plaque buildup, according to the brand, and it contains fluoride, which our experts say is proven to be effective at fighting cavities.
Associate updates editor Zoe Malin liked the toothpaste's neutral vanilla-mint flavor and its “thicker, smoother texture” compared to others she’s tried.
Sensodyne Fresh Mint Sensitivity Protection Toothpaste
Award: Best Toothpaste | Type: Sensitivity
Made for sensitive teeth, this ADA-approved toothpaste contains potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride to help calm the nerves in your teeth and provide sensitivity protection, according to the brand.
Its mint flavor stood out to senior social media editor Rosalie Tinelli, who has sensitive teeth. Often toothpastes for sensitivity "don’t seem to focus on the flavor, so you never feel particularly fresh afterward," she says.
Moon Electric Toothbrush
Award: Best Toothbrush | Type: Electric
There are five sonic cleaning modes — clean, white, polish, massage and sensitive — on this electric toothbrush, and its rechargeable battery lasts for up to six weeks, according to the brand. It also has a two-minute brushing timer that vibrates in 30-second intervals. The set comes with a charging base, two brush heads and a travel case.
“I’ve always used electric toothbrushes, so I wasn’t expecting much more than I’ve already experienced, but the Moon makes my teeth cleaner than I ever thought possible," says contributing reporter Barbara Booth. She liked that the handle fit comfortably in her hand, and that it comes with an extra brush head and a flat carrying case. "It's easy to pack and keeps the brush and heads secure and clean when I travel."
Colgate Extra Clean Toothbrush
Award: Best Toothbrush | Type: Manual
The textured handle on this Colgate manual toothbrush is designed to give better grip and control as you brush, according to the brand. It is available in soft, medium and firm bristle firmness.
“I'm a fan of this manual toothbrush because it's soft on my gums," says editorial director Lauren Swanson. "I feel like I'm able to really get those far back spots.”
ACT Anticavity Fluoride
Award: Best Mouthwash
This alcohol-free mouthwash from ACT is designed to freshen breath and contains fluoride to protect against cavities.
“Because it doesn't have alcohol, I don't get the burning feeling that I do when using other mouthwashes,” says reporter Harry Rabinowitz. Updates editor Mili Godio liked that the bottle has a dosing cup at the top with a fill line that “told me exactly how much I should be using,” she says.
DenTek Clean Floss Pick
Award: Best Floss | Category: All
The DenTek Floss Picks' minty floss strand are fluoride infused, and the holder is designed with a ridge that can be used as a tongue scraper and a textured, pointed tip that works as a toothpick.
“I find floss picks so much easier to use than a string of floss," says editorial projects associate Rebecca Rodriguez. "And the pointy end can help get gunk out of my permanent retainer, which regular floss can’t." Malin liked that the pick is easy to grip and says the mint flavor left her mouth feeling fresh.
Waterpik ION Cordless Water Flosser
Award: Best Floss | Category: Water Flosser
This cordless water flosser comes with seven tips, 10 pressure settings and has a removable 20-ounce reservoir — enough water for up to 90 seconds of flossing at a time, according to the brand. Its 1-minute timer has pacer pauses to remind you to floss all areas of your mouth, and you can get up to four weeks of use per reusable battery charge, per the brand.
“I have very sensitive teeth, so I need a flosser that won’t aggressively shoot out water or hurt against my teeth,” says Godio. “The Waterpik ION lets me start at a lower level and feel out how much pressure I want. A dial at the side of the base made it easy to switch pressure settings, says Godio, and she loved that it comes with a variety of tips to choose from based on your specific dental needs and sensitivities.
Crest 3D Whitestrips Vivid
Award: Best Whitening Strips
Currently the only ADA-approved teeth whitening strips on the market, Crest 3D Whitestrips use a thin layer of hydrogen peroxide to bleach teeth and are designed with a no-slip grip to help them stick, according to the brand. The pack of 20 is enough for 10 treatments.
Commerce leadership coordinator Alexa Arent says the whitening strips worked very well at making her teeth appear whiter and she found them to be comfortable and easy to use. Photo editor Kara Birnbaum also says they do a good job and are easy to travel with, but “I wouldn't recommend them if your teeth are sensitive,” she says.
Being Frenshe Renewing and Hydrating Shower Gel Soap
Award: Best Body Wash | Type: All
Niacinamide, oat extract and pro-vitamin B5 in this Target-exclusive foaming body wash help soften and hydrate your skin, according to the brand. The formula is vegan and free of sulfates, parabens and artificial dyes.
“I love that it has a strong, almost citrus-y scent that somehow isn’t overpowering," says editor Christina Colizza, about the notes of lemon, clementine, orange and golden amber. "It also doesn’t dry out my skin," she adds. Malin says this body wash also didn't irritate her skin, and left it feeling soft and clean.
Dove Go Fresh Refreshing Body Wash
Award: Best Body Wash | Type: Drugstore
Dove's Go Fresh Body Wash is scented with cucumber and green tea, and has a gentle, lathering formula designed to help soothe and hydrate skin, according to the brand. It is also sulfate- and paraben-free, and it comes in packaging made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, according to Dove.
“This Dove body wash gently cleansed my skin without drying it out,” says manager of editorial operations Shari Uyehara. “After getting out of the shower my skin felt soft, unlike with some other body washes I've tried.”
Cetaphil Acne Relief Body Wash
Award: Best Acne Treatment | Type: Body Wash
This body wash from Cetaphil is formulated with 2% salicylic acid to fight acne and gently exfoliate the skin, as well as glycerin, shea butter and soybean oil to soothe dry skin, according to the brand. It’s also fragrance-free and hypoallergenic to help avoid irritation.
Malin says this body wash was great for her sensitive skin. “It lathers well and leaves skin feeling soft and clean. It’s extremely gentle and I feel like it hydrated my skin and also healed dry patches,” she says.
Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch
Award: Best Acne Treatment | Type: Pimple Patch
These thin, lightweight pimple patches from Hero Cosmetics start out translucent and turn white as they draw out the gunk from your pimples, as well as any other sebum or debris from your skin. Unlike other patches, which use acne-fighting ingredients, Mighty Patch relies on hydrocolloid — a fluid-absorbing gel. They’re made for all skin types, according to the brand, and a strong but gentle adhesive keeps the patches in place.
Mighty Patch worked well at getting rid of her pus-filled pimples, says Rodriguez, who loved that they’re not noticeable on her skin. “Out of all the pimple patches I’ve tried, it’s the one that blends into the skin the most,” she says. “An added benefit is that the patches kept me from picking at the zit." Rodriguez says it took about two days on average for her pimples to fully disappear.
Award: Best Acne Treatment | Type: All
Differin Gel contains 0.1% adapalene gel, an OTC retinoid that used to treat mild to moderate acne and blackheads. Adapalene can help cure inflammation, deep clean pores and prevent new pimples, experts told us in our guide to cystic acne. Differin recommends applying a thin layer of the gel to affected skin after cleansing and before moisturizing.
“My skin doesn't handle retinoids well, but Differin is gentle and effective on my acne,” says Swanson.
Dune Bod Guard
Award: Best Sunscreen | Type: Body
This broad-spectrum SPF 30 gel sunscreen from Dune is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes and contains moisturizing ingredients like vitamin E and hibiscus fruit extract for up to 72 hours of hydration, according to the brand.
“This is my favorite body sunscreen I tried," says social media editor Sadhana Daruvuri. "It absorbed into my skin immediately, so I didn't have to spend a lot of time rubbing it in." The Bod Guard also made her skin feel more hydrated and gave her "a natural-looking glow," she says. It also dried quickly and didn't leave a white cast on her skin.
Cay Skin Isle Glow Face Lotion
Award: Best Sunscreen | Type: Face
This tinted face lotion from Cay Skin has SPF 45 protection and is formulated to brighten the skin, strengthen its moisture barrier and keep it from drying out, according to the brand. It’s also noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores.
Daruvuri loved this tinted sunscreen because it didn’t leave a white cast on her darker skin or cause issues with pilling under her makeup. “I was able to apply it in seconds with barely any blending, and it also gave my face a healthy glow,” she says. Colizza notes that she looked sun-kissed while wearing this sunscreen: “I love that I looked like I had just gotten back from Bali.”
Selfmade Corrective Experience Comfort Cream
Award: Best Moisturizer | Type: Face
Selfmade's fragrance-free moisturizer contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin and is an occlusive; occlusives create a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss and improve the skin’s ability to heal, experts previously told us in our guide to face moisturizers.
Both Godio and Malin say this moisturizer’s gel-like consistency felt very lightweight on their skin. “It has no color, so it’s extremely easy to blend in — it felt like I gave my skin a drink of water,” Godio says, adding that the hydration lasted all day. It also “immediately softened and soothed” any irritation, redness and bumps on her body, she says.
Summer Fridays Summer Silk Nourishing Body Lotion
Award: Best Moisturizer | Type: Body
Summer Fridays’ body lotion is designed to be non-greasy and contains plant-derived butters, natural oils, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramides to hydrate and soften skin, according to the brand. Summer Fridays recommends applying the lotion (which has the brand's signature coconut, vanilla and almond scent) to still-damp skin to help seal in hydration.
“I really love this lotion and plan to keep it in my rotation,” says NBC page Mikhaila Archer. “It has a great texture that isn’t too thin or sticky, but also not too thick — it’s perfect for moisturizing post-shave or for daily use.”
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Award: Best Moisturizer | Skin Type: Oily
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream has hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help heal skin and maintain its protective moisture barrier, according to the brand. It's formulated to be non-greasy and fast-absorbing, and it's fragrance-free and accepted by the National Eczema Association, which means it’s suitable for sensitive skin.
“I love how lightweight this cream is — I never feel like I’m applying too much or that it sits on top of the skin,” Godio says. “It’s gentle enough to use on both my body and face, and it manages to soothe any irritation from my rosacea or other inflammation and redness.”
Kiehls Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream
Award: Best Moisturizer | Skin Type: Dry
Lightweight, hydrating and gentle on sensitive, dry skin, this cream is formulated with colloidal oatmeal and beta-glucan to help repair the skin’s moisture barrier and soothe redness caused by dryness, according to the brand.
“A little goes a long way which is a plus — it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on the skin after application,” says Michelle Laplante, NBC commerce analytics page, who adds that she really liked it for the dry winter months.
Briogeo Matcha + Apple Replenishing Superfood Shampoo
Award: Best Shampoo | Hair Type: All
Ingredients like matcha, apple and vitamin C work to support the hair and scalp against free-radical and UV damage, according to Briogeo. Free from sulfates, silicones and parabens, this shampoo is for all hair types and textures.
“Each time I use this product, my hair feels soft, smooth and healthier than before,” Godio says. “I noticed a big difference once my hair dried — it adds some life to my very dull hair and makes it feel fuller and shinier.” Godio and also Malin say the shampoo “smells amazing,” too.
Ouai Detox Shampoo
Award: Best Shampoo | Hair Type: Curly
The apple cider vinegar in this clarifying shampoo from Ouai helps cleanse dirt, oil and product buildup, according to the brand, and hydrolyzed keratin helps strengthen hair. It’s color-safe and scented with rose, bergamot, lychee, cedarwood and white musk. The brand recommends using this shampoo once a week — washing with a clarifying shampoo more often can dry out the hair and scalp, experts told us in our guide to clarifying shampoos.
Both Colizza and Malin are fans of this shampoo and are impressed by its effectiveness on their curly hair. “If you’re like me and use hair products daily, it’s a great shampoo to use once a week or so to almost reset your hair,” Malin says. “It definitely cleaned my hair of excess buildup," and the apple cider vinegar was great for an oily scalp, "but my hair shaft still felt moisturized," she says.
RevitaLash Thickening Shampoo
Award: Best Shampoo | Hair Type: Fine
Formulated to make hair feel fuller and look thicker, this RevitaLash shampoo contains loquat leaf to help with thinning hair, biotin to improve hair volume and strength, willow bark to gently exfoliate the scalp and panthenol for hydration, according to the brand. It’s oil- and paraben-free and safe to use on color-treated hair, according to RevitaLash. The brand recommends gently massaging it into the scalp then letting it sit for up to two minutes.
Uyehara loved this shampoo's great smell and texture. Her partner, who has relatively fine hair, used the shampoo in conjunction with the RevitaLash conditioner and Volume Enhancing Foam for over a month and says he noticed a difference in the thickness and fullness of his hair.
Briogeo Kale + Apple Replenishing Superfood Conditioner
Award: Best Conditioner | Hair Type: All
This Briogeo conditioner combines kale to help strengthen hair, apple to support a healthy scalp and vitamin C to protect the hair against free-radical and UV damage, according to the brand. For all hair types and textures, the brand recommends leaving it in for up to two minutes before rinsing.
“I paired this conditioner with Briogeo’s Replenishing Superfood Shampoo and absolutely love the result. It makes my hair smooth, shiny and reduces some of the frizz,” Godio says. Malin says her hair feels “soft and hydrated” after using the conditioner.
Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
Award: Best Conditioner | Hair Type: Curly
The conditioner uses Olaplex’s Bond Building Technology with a patented ingredient to repair damaged hair, according to the brand. The formula is designed to make hair shiny, reduce split ends and prevent frizz. The conditioner is also color-safe and for all hair types.
“It’s thick enough to where it almost feels like a mask and it’s very hydrating” says Uyehara of her "go to" conditioner. She says she can usually get away with using much less product to see results compared to other conditioners she’s tried. Rodriguez, who has curly hair, has been using this Olaplex conditioner for over five years: “It makes my hair feel soft and hydrated, even after damaging it with hair dye and keratin treatments.”
RevitaLash Thickening Conditioner
Award: Best Conditioner | Hair Type: Fine
Ingredients like biotin support thicker-looking, fuller hair; flax protein protects against breakage; and loquat leaf prevents thinning, according to the brand. The thickening conditioner is vegan, color-safe and free of oils, parabens and phthalates. The brand recommends massaging the product into the scalp and working it into hair from the roots to the tips, allowing it to sit for up to two minutes.
Uyehara and her partner both like the smell and texture of this conditioner. Similar to the shampoo, her partner says he noticed the thickness and volume of his hair increased, especially after using it for over a month.
RevitaLash Volume Enhancing Foam
Award: Best Hair Treatment | Type: All
This volume-enhancing foam is formulated with the brand’s BioPeptin Complex, which combines lipids, peptides, biotin and panthenol to help prevent breakage and brittleness, according to the brand. RevitaLash recommends separating your hair into sections and thoroughly massaging the product into your scalp and on roots. The no-rinse formula that can be used on wet or dry hair.
“Since it’s a foam, the product is easier to handle and apply than those with a more liquid or serum consistency,” Uyehara says. Godio loved that when she applied the product directly on her roots, it didn't leave an oily finish like some scalp serums do. “I noticed it makes my hair feel thicker and fuller even after the first use,” she says.
Crown Affair Hair Oil
Award: Best Hair Treatment | Type: Oil
This lightweight hair oil from Crown Affair helps reduce frizz and adds shine with smoothing tsubaki seed and hydrates with meadowfoam seed oil, which also protects hair against heat damage, according to the brand. Its scent is bergamot, yuzu and lemongrass, which the team found very subtle. It can be applied on damp or dry hair.
Commerce analytics manager Amanda Smith says this hair oil added some moisture to her dry hair without overwhelming it. “I’ve had issues in the past with oils being too oily on my hair, but this has great instructions on the amount needed, which was only one drop for my short hair,” she says. Godio says the oil made her hair feel smooth, soft and shiny: “I have very dry hair and the ends feel so hydrated after using the product.”
4U by Tia Curl Cream
Award: Best Hair Treatment | Type: Cream
4U by Tia leave-in curl cream is formulated to smooth curls and control frizz. After applying the cream, can be air-dried or dried with a diffuser. It has a green apple scent with floral notes and is safe to use on color-treated, keratin-treated, chemically-treated and relaxed hair, according to the brand
“It decreased overall frizz and made my hair feel very soft,” says Malin. She used the curl cream in conjunction with the brand’s Curl Defining Gel, as she needed the extra hold for her thick, fairly tight curls. "If you have looser curls or thinner hair, this might be all you need,” she says.
Seen Restore Scalp Serum
Award: Best Scalp Treatment | Type: Serum
This treatment relieves scalp dryness and irritation and contains squalane, a plant-derived moisturizing ingredient, among other ingredients, to detoxify and protect the scalp barrier from pollution and product buildup, according to Seen. Its fragrance-free, noncomedogenic formula won’t clog pores, making it suitable for sensitive skin.
This serum helps soothe Uyehara’s irritated scalp, especially after weeks of trying a variety of products on her hair. “It had a nice cooling effect and was very easy to apply,” she says.
Meet our experts
To ensure our product picks are more than just editor-approved, we used a panel of experts, including dermatologists, sleep doctors and personal trainers to give buying advice for each category. Experts did not recommend individual products. When conferring with our unaffiliated panel of experts, we asked them for advice they would give to their patients or clients.
- Dr. Eileen Deignan is a board-certified dermatologist and chief of dermatology at Emerson Hospital. She also teaches dermatology to residents in Harvard Medical School residency programs and lectures Harvard and MIT medical and graduate students.
- Dr. Ronda Farah is a board-certified dermatologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School and M Health Fairview. She is the development of cosmetics and laser curriculum faculty advisor for the Dermatology Interest Group and the founder and director of the M Health Cosmetic Center.
- Dr. Amr Moursi is a professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the New York University College of Dentistry. He is president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and on the medical staff at the New York University Langone Medical Center and the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York.
- Bridgette Hill is a trained and certified trichologist, hair colorist and stylist based in Palm Beach, Florida.
- Tina Malhotra is a hair colorist and stylist at Mia Wagner Salon in New York City.
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