If you’ve struggled to maintain a consistent skincare routine in 2020, the new year is the perfect time to hit refresh. One of the best products you can incorporate into your newly defined regimen is a trusty vitamin C serum, since it can tackle a variety of skincare concerns overnight. You don’t have to spend a fortune for a winning formula, either. The Truskin Vitamin C Serum has over 30,000 perfect ratings!
Why is it so popular? The potent serum claims to treat a multitude of issues, including wrinkles and fine lines, large pores, breakouts, dark spots, and dull skin — and according to reviewers, it really works. It has a jam-packed ingredient list of highly effective additives, yet remains free of harsh chemicals, synthetic colors, fragrance, sulfates, and stabilizers. Instead, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, jojoba oil, and aloe vera (to name a few) come together in one lightweight formula that can be applied on all skin types, morning and night. A ton of reviewers swear the affordable serum restored a youthful appearance to their skin with consistent use.
“I am a 43-year-old wife, mom of teen girls, and middle school math teacher,” said one shopper. “After two weeks of using this serum, my 17-year-old tells me I look like I am in my 20’s rather than 30’s. Fine lines are going away. Acne scars fading. Pigmentation evening out. Even my neck and jawline are smoother. Now my husband wants some for his ‘dad neck.’ Oh, and despite my sensitive skin, I use it on my actual eyelids without any irritation at all.”
“My search for an amazing serum is finally over,” shared another. “I just purchased my 3rd bottle and I am hooked! My skin looks flawless and I have been getting so many compliments about how great I look. My skin glows as if I just walked out of a spa treatment. A little goes a long way, the bottle usually lasts me about three-and-a-half months.”
For some days and for some people, foundations and concealers just feel like way too much work — and way too much coverage. While there’s certainly a time and a place for a full-coverage face, there’s no denying the effortless and hydrating properties of a tinted moisturizer. But although the concept of a tinted moisturizer sounds pretty simple, there are tons of specific ingredients that make the difference between an OK tinted moisturizer and an amazing one. And by “amazing tinted moisturizer,” I really mean one that actually — well, you know… moisturizes.
So ALLURE editors asked makeup artists and cosmetic chemists to break down what they think are the best tinted moisturizers out there. If you love makeup that comes with added skincare benefits for plump, dewy, and hydrated skin, try one of these picks.
Whether you end up loving an older staple from a brand like Laura Mercier or an experimentative new take like Ilia Beauty’s pigmented serum, you’ll find your skin is in much better shape for it.
BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream
Many tinted moisturizers have powder pigments that soak up skin’s oils, zapping some of the natural moisture from your face. To fix this, BareMinerals coated its pigments in lauroyl lysine, an amino acid derived from coconuts.
“Because the pigments are cocooned, they won’t dry out your skin. Instead, the formula feels very soft and silky,” says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. When you mix those pigments with glycerin and squalane, you get a formula that “actively promotes hydration.” In addition to containing moisturizing ingredients, the light, cooling gel evens out skin tone and minimizes redness, which means all you’re left with is a soft, dewy glow.
Tarte’s tinted moisturizers have always been an Allure editor favorite, and its latest version is no different. The Maracuja Tinted Hydrator combines the skin-nourishing properties of maracuja oil with plumping hyaluronic acid and collagen, plus brightening turmeric, for skin that glows well after you’ve taken this off.
Squalane, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide join forces for Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint. With the added benefit of sun-protective SPF 40, this thick, hydrating serum offers up light but buildable coverage you can rub in quickly and easily with your fingertips.
Even though its only available in a few light shades, Allure associate beauty director Sarah Kinonen loves this BB Cream Tinted Moisturizer for its hydrating ginseng and brightening fruit extracts. For those who are extra prone to redness, you can also turn to the brand’s Best of Beauty-winning CC Red Correct.
With its pH-balancing glycerin, squalene, and sunflower seed oil, it’s clear to see why Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows has such high ratings online. What’s more: It contains antioxidant green tea extract that reduces redness, leaving behind a calm, even base for its sheer pigments.
This tinted moisturizer is free of pthalates, parabens, and 1,500 other ingredients that the cruelty-free brand has identified as potentially harmful or irritating, so you’re left with only tried-and-true elements, like glycerin and sodium hyaluronate.
“Both of these ingredients are humectants, meaning they draw moisture to the surface of the skin to keep cells hydrated,” says Wilson. The creamy formula is more pigmented than most tinted moisturizers, so it does a great job of covering imperfections. One catch: Its thick consistency makes it a little difficult to spread, so you’ll likely end up using more product than usual.
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector
Ask any beauty fan and they’ll likely tell you that Laura Mercier’s is the first tinted moisturizer they ever used — and fell in love with. With its sheer, buildable coverage and moisture-packed formula, there’s a reason this product is a cult favorite and four-time Allure Best of Beauty winner.It’s noncomedogenic, but those with acne-prone or oily skin may benefit even more from the upgraded oil-free version of the formula.
For skin that needs a hefty dose of hydration, this illuminating tinted moisturizer packs a major punch. It contains glycerin, which leaves skin feeling soft and plump while dimethicone wards off dryness throughout the day.
“Dimethicone reduces transepidermal water loss, which is when water escapes through the skin and into the atmosphere, so it works long-term to increase skin’s hydration,” explains Wilson. And thanks to the smallest, tiniest shimmery gold particles, you’re left with a natural, allover glow that will have people asking if you just got back from vacation.
Just like Clinique’s beloved Moisture Surge cream, the Sheertint Hydrator penetrates deep beneath the skin to hydrate and calm the skin — that’s thanks to its strong concentration of cucumber extract, aloe, and hyaluronic acid.
Josie Maran’s Protect + Perfect is less of a tinted moisturizer and more of a tinted sunscreen, and we’ll take all the sun protection we can get. Alongside its SPF 47, this formula is very lightly tinted with pigments in one tan shade, giving it just enough color to mask slight skin imperfections and give its wearer and warm, sun-tanned look.
L’Oréal Paris Visible Lift Luminous Serum Tinted Moisturizer
Consider L’Oréal’s Visible Lift Luminous Serum the perfect solution to skin that needs an extra boost of shimmer for radiance. Available in five warm shades, this tinted moisturizer acts more like a highlighter than your average formula, so feel free to pat a little extra on all the high points of your face.
It’s not shocking at all that a brand that Neutrogena could deliver one of the best tinted moisturizer formulas out there with ingredients like vitamins A, C, and E. On top of all those antioxidants, Healthy Skin Tinted Moisturizer also contains small pearlescent pigment that provide a glowing, dewy sheen.
Sensitive-skinned girls, Nars has got one just for you. The silky-smooth Radian Tinted Moisturizer has a formula that’s both oil-free and made without parabens or synthetic fragrances, so you won’t have to worry about irritation or clogged pores.
“This is a really great product to apply with your fingertips; it’s super sheer and easy to blend,” says makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci. “Or you can tap it on with a sponge to build subtle coverage.” Its barely-there coverage might be a little too light for those with post-breakout redness or discoloration, though, so have a concealer on hand for touch-ups.
This highly rated tinted moisturizer formula from No7 is a fan-favorite for low-effort application and comfortable light coverage. Although it contains SPF 15 for sun protection, we still recommend wearing an SPF 30 or higher underneath it, especially if you plan to go outside.
This thick and creamy skin tint from Philosophy has slightly higher coverage than other tinted moisturizer, according to Dall’Asen. But you can still apply it directly with the fingers just like you would your favorite moisturizer for effortless all-over coverage with a slightly matte finish.
I’ll be honest: I’m highly skeptical when it comes to beauty brands founded by celebrities. But Selena Gomez has proven me wrong with her brand, Rare Beauty, and it’s now dropping a new spring collection.
The line features four brand-new Rare Beauty products: Stay Vulnerable Melting Blush, Stay Vulnerable Glossy Lip Balm, Stay Vulnerable Liquid Eye Shadow, and the Stay Vulnerable All-Over Eye Shadow Brush. With the exception of the brush, all of the products have the exact five-shade range with names that pretty much speak for themselves: Nearly Apricot, Nearly Rose, Nearly Neutral, Nearly Mauve, and Nearly Berry. In short: This collection is a makeup minimalist’s ultimate fantasy.
And thanks to the brand, Allure editors got to try the line before anyone else to give us the early reviews. Below, see a breakdown of the products, how they perform, and whether or not they’re worth backtracking on your New Year’s resolution to buy less stuff. Spoiler alert: They probably are.
Stay Vulnerable Melting Blush, $21
“I was biased the second I opened the retro-looking compact, but I have to hand it to this blush formula: Using the word “melting” in the name was a very intentional choice because that’s exactly what these blushes do upon touch. And that texture (combined with tons of pigment) is exactly what makes it so easy to apply either with fingers or a makeup brush.”
Thorne’s on the exact same page, even though cream blush isn’t exactly her thing. “I’ve recently gotten into cream blushes, but unfortunately some formulas are a bit too sheer for my brown skin,” she says. “These blushes didn’t come to play any games. They leave a healthy dose of pigment on the checks. I love how creamy and blendable they are.”
Stay Vulnerable Glossy Lip Balm, $18
Rare’s new lip products are a little mystical because you truly can’t limit them to one category. They have the nourishing quality and balmy consistency of a lip mask but they shine like a gloss — plus, they have just enough pigment to qualify as a lip tint. “Because they’re so simple and comfortable, I know they’re quickly going to become one of my go-to products for last-minute, Zoom-meeting makeup. The best part’, as Thorne will tell you, “is that anyone can wear any of these shades and get the same slight color and high shine.”
“The neutral and berry shades spoke to my soul the most, but I really liked the neutral shade because, despite the sheerness, its gorgeous caramel hue looked lovely on my lips with some brown liner,” Thorne says.
Stay Vulnerable Liquid Eye Shadow and All-Over Eye Shadow Brush, $20 and $15
Neither editors are frequent users of liquid eye shadows, but this formula is so easy to use it has convinced them to change their view. “The eye shadows are basically identical in shade to the blushes and glosses, but these are far thicker, creamier, and pigmented (as they should be). You get full-color payoff in one or two swipes; from there, you can let it dry down or blend it out to a subtle, sheer finish.”
And that’s where the All-Over Eye Shadow Brush comes in. It’s got a fluffy, tapered tip so application requires only two steps: Swipe some shadow all over the lid then wipe the brush lightly back and forth until it’s all blended out.
What’s left to say about the year 2020 that hasn’t already been said? These past 12 months may have tested humanity and the planet and every institution on it in ways most of us could never have fathomed — but even in the bad, weird, living nightmare times, the beauty industry did not quit.
Despite the odds, the economic downturns, the flailing retail structure, the unstable political climate, the sheer number of times the word “unprecedented” was uttered, beauty charged on. After all, there were game-changing formulas, groundbreaking technology and conversation-shifting campaigns to bring to market.
And so, as we look back at 2020 (and slowly but surely claw our way out of it), industry experts — ranging from dermatologists to Insta-famous makeup artists to beauty editors — identified some of the most noteworthy beauty launches of the year.
It was a big year for celebrity beauty, and a handful of star-backed brands had an impressive showing on this list, with multiple experts highlighting their superiority or buzz-worthiness amidst a sea of so many other celebrity lines. Skin care also reigned supreme, particularly as so many of us spent a record-breaking amount of time at home, staring at our own faces during Zoom calls. And perhaps most promisingly, brands that emphasized inclusivity — by serving marginalized and too-often underserved communities, by bringing all genders into the beauty conversation, by broadening the definition of what “good” skin can look like — were a welcome addition to 2020.
“Biden Beauty is an initiative that was near and dear to my heart because Very Good Light was behind it. It was a small idea that became a reality and was really amazing to see it thrive. We wanted to support the 2020 elections — arguably the most important of our lifetimes — and engage Gen Z and the beauty community to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. To do this, we [sold] a beauty sponge by the name of the Biden Beat from a beauty brand called Biden Beauty. We ended up selling one sponge every 60 seconds and it was probably the most meaningful initiative I’ve been a part of.” —David Yi, Founder and CEO, Very Good Light
“We don’t include men enough in conversations on skin care. Although Humanrace was created for all genders, [it’s] exciting to have a man at the forefront of the push to normalize skin care beyond just facial hair grooming. I love that the brand is guided by the expert input of his dermatologist with carefully selected science backed ingredients and prioritizes exfoliation and hydration as part of its simple three step routine.” —Dr. Adeline Kikam, Board-certified Dermatologist and Founder, @BrownSkinDerm
“[I] particularly [like] the Humidifying Cream. I wasn’t expecting to be floored by this product, but it’s honestly one of the best moisturizers I’ve ever used. I think we’re all a little burnt out when it comes to celebrity beauty launches — especially this year — but it seems like Pharrell actually put a lot of time and care into this one. He was thoughtful with his collection, from adding braille to the packaging to working with the brilliant Dr. Elena Jones to create simple and clean, but effective formulations, and I definitely appreciate it.” —Kayla Greaves, Senior Beauty Editor, InStyle
“Many men are not as passionate about skin care as they should be. And [Pharrell] is Benjamin Button! He’s pushing 50 and looks arguably 20-30 years younger. It’s about time he shares his secret to the fountain of youth.” —Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and Founder, BeautyStat
“Humanrace was a late entry this year, but made a lot of noise upon release. Although it’s a small launch it has the potential to attract a whole new audience to the skincare industry. It’s exciting to see.” — Saleam T. Singleton, men’s beauty advocate and contributing writer for Byrdie and AskMen
“I think Pharrell Williams’ Humanrace debut was incredibly successful and highly anticipated. The man is practically a vampire and for years we’ve been dying to know (beyond the fact he has melanin on his side) how he continues to look like he’s in his 20s. Not only is it a simple system of just three products, but it’s also eco-friendly. Wins all around!” —Julee Wilson, Beauty Director, Cosmopolitan
TATCHA THE SERUM STICK
“I’m already a loyal fan of the entire dewy skin collection, but the stick is like Chapstick for the face and perfect for the random seasonal dry spots. I also use it as a highlighter in makeup applications when I’m looking for a shine without any pearl. Being a hands-free application and a multitasking product, it feels like a true hero of the year.” — Shayna Goldberg, makeup artist and consultant at The Wall Group
KOSAS REVEALER CONCEALER
“This concealer-meets-eye-cream has enough coverage to work on the toughest spots, but is flexible enough that the 16 shades work for every one of my clients all wrapped up in a dreamy formula.” —Tony Tulve, freelance makeup artist
“Patrick Starrr’s One/Size truly brought some new, better and different to the market. Yes, it was makeup, but it was gender-neutral makeup and represented a new breed of founder at Sephora. Patrick is unabashedly himself and wants others to be as well, which is so needed in an industry that’s striving to be inclusive but not quite there.” —Priya Rao, Executive Editor, Glossy and host, “Glossy Beauty” and “Unfair” podcasts
“It seemed like the world stopped when Rihanna came out with her skin-care line. Everyone either had already tried it, wanted to try it or was watching YouTube videos of people trying and reviewing it. It’s so revolutionary for the simple fact that it’s Rihanna, a well-known Black woman, showing that you can [create a] business that feels true to you.” —Ali, beauty model, creator and makeup artist at @SweetMutuals
“I haven’t tried any of the products myself, but many of the reviews I’ve seen have been more lukewarm than I would have expected. Much of the trepidation from the online skin-care community came from the use of fragrance in the Fenty Skin products. This product launch ignited a wide-ranging debate about the function of fragrance in skin care and whether the fears surrounding it are warranted. While most consumers probably have no idea about the debate around fragrance, I think there are a few lessons to be learned here: First, skin-care hobbyists can be extremely discerning, and not even someone as universally adored as Rihanna may not be immune to their criticism. Second, for the many celebrity skin-care launches that followed it (we’ve already seen entries from Pharrell and Jennifer Lopez this year), we can expect even more criticism as these people are seen as outsiders with little experience by the industry.” — Dr. Angelo Landriscina, board-certified ermatologist in New York City, @DermAngelo
“Fenty Skin broke barriers when it came to promoting sun protection for darker skin tones. The brand messaging is very inclusive, showing that skin care is for everyone.” —Tiara Willis, esthetician and influencer, @MakeupforWomenofColor
“Fenty Skin was for sure the most talked-about, most debated, most anticipated launch of the year, mainly because of innovation (Fat Water and the idea of the toner essence), effectively speaking to young, Black consumers about the importance of SPF and because of ingredient discussions on witch hazel and fragrance.” —Dr. Ranella Hirsch, Board-certified dermatologist in Boston
“[Selena Gomez] entered the already crowded celebrity-with-a-beauty-brand space, but gave it purpose in 2020. It’s so refreshing to have a brand centered around giving back to the community Gomez herself is part of with the Rare Impact Fund. Everyone at Elle has been obsessed with the products to the point where we won’t shut up about them. To more inclusive and transparent brands with a mental health impact in 2021!” —Chloe Hall, Beauty Director, Elle.com
“Rare Beauty was the most exciting launch for me, mostly because it felt genuine. Celebrity brands will always make headlines, but not all launches are up to snuff. But the team managed to carve out a unique space for themselves while creating a great lineup of staple products. It was a cohesive launch with purpose. I respect the brand for creating the Rare Impact Fund, which promises to donate $100M over the course of 10 years, starting with 1% from Rare’s first year of sales. As someone who’s often pitched new brands and products on a daily basis, it’s important for me to see that this celebrity-faced brand has a long-term vision.” —Kirbie Johnson, content creator and Co-host, “Gloss Angeles” podcast
“When Selena launched Rare Beauty, it was clear that she really took her time to build this brand. The product formulations are innovative (that Lip Soufflé is so good!), the packaging is gorgeous and most impressive was Rare Beauty’s commitment to being a mission-driven brand. While I’m hoping fewer celebrities feel the need to launch their own beauty brands in the future, I do hope that those who do take note from Selena.” —Sara Tan, beauty editor and Co-host, “Gloss Angeles” podcast
SUPREME X PAT MCGRATH LIPSTICK
“This was Supreme’s first foray into makeup in its 26-year history, and the Pat McGrath Labs brand was the perfect co-conspirator. Streetwear is supposed to be about breaking the rules and foraging new paths; McGrath has done both her entire career. I think there are a lot of lessons the beauty world can learn from the streetwear space from both a marketing and storytelling perspective, and visa versa. So much so, I once wrote about it earlier this year. I’m interested to see how else these worlds may dance together.” —Darian Harvin, Beauty Reporter, Beauty IRL
TATCHA THE LIQUID SILK CANVAS PRIMER
“I’m always looking for products that can retain longevity and stretch makeup to new boundaries through intense color payoff or innovative formulas. Tatcha’s launch of Liquid Silk Canvas Primer in the spring of 2020 was the [brand’s] first bridge product integrating innovative skin-care ingredients into makeup. This product became the makeup magnet of the year locking down whatever you put on top of it.” —Daniel Martin, makeup artist and global director of artistry and education at Tatcha
MAKEUP BY MARIO
I had to personally add it to this list, how could I not? One of the most world-renowned and looked-up-to makeup artists came out with his own makeup brand exclusively at Sephora in 2020. The brand’s mission statement is:
“Created by Master Makeup Artist Mario Dedivanovic, MAKEUP BY MARIO features pro formulas and tools in the most universal shades and easy-to-use textures. Infused with Mario’s philosophies and techniques, each product is crafted to provide an effortless makeup experience and inspired artistry.”
When it comes to New Year’s beauty resolutions, the ones that are really going to carry on past January are the ones that feel the least restrictive and come with a serious side order of evident benefits to push us into brand new beauty territory. Maybe it’s time you gave up the habits that are impacting both your skin and the environment? Or, perhaps it’s time that you shake up the way you approach makeup and take your eyeliner skill to expert level?
Give up face wipes
Literally, stop now. From here on in, commit to choosing a makeup removing alternative that strays far away from the toxic reality of facial wipes. They might be affordable and easy to use, but their negative impact on the environment has long been documented. Water UK has even stated that 93 per cent of the gunk blocking our sewers is made up of wet wipes, and Marine Conservation found 12 wet wipes on average per 100 metres on UK beaches. Alternatives are now readily available: whether you want to choose reusable Face Halos or opt for a double cleanse and a muslin cloth, there really should be no need for you to ever open a pack again. Plus, if the environmental stats on wipes aren’t enough to dissuade you, consider that they are also bad for your complexion as they don’t probe deep enough to remove makeup entirely, and the scrubbing movements can cause unwanted irritation.
Don’t pick your spots
A beauty mandate we know well and have heard a thousand times, and yet, we all struggle to resist the temptation every time a new blemish pops up to say “hello”. Put down the at-home tools, stay away from your mirror and don’t even think about just quickly scratching away that whitehead. Scarring, further contamination and long-term damage are just some of the reasons we should leave this practice to the professionals. If you simply must remove a blemish, make sure that you pop, and don’t pick at the area. Cleanliness is key from your hands to cleaning the area after the gentle extraction. Picking is a 2021 no.
Try a new trick
Beauty resolutions shouldn’t all be about restriction. The new year can also prove the perfect time to try something new. Why not start with perfecting a new beauty technique, say, each month? By this time next year, you’ll have 12 new tricks in your beauty arsenal and perhaps a whole new perspective on your own routine. Whether you want to perfect a facial massage technique or finally master that cat-eye flick, YouTube is the best place to start, naturally.
Wash your brushes
It’s all well and good stepping out in an expertly executed makeup look that then gets washed away with a precise skincare routine, but, if your tools are dirty then you will find yourself right back at square one. Make the commitment to cleanse your kabuki et al at regular intervals. A routine of washing your brushes and tools with specialist cleansers will not only help your skin by removing impurities but will also give your makeup brushes a greater lifespan.
Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!
As the beauty industry increases its commitment to sustainability, make a concerted effort to do your part too. Much of the packaging your products come in will be comprised of various components that will all have different recycling capabilities. What this means is that you’ll need to invest some time into sorting through the empties and cartons. Or, consider the environment from the point of purchase and opt for brands and products that create with a green agenda and refillable bottles.
I’ve been subscribed to both of these incredible commentary channels on YouTube for years, and their latest collaboration has left me extremely impressed. Not that they need a pat on the back for such thorough research, nevertheless, I’m giving them one!
“The Evolution of Too Faced” is a two-part collaboration, in which Elle S. covers the brand’s history from the beginning and into the 2010s, after which Hannah from Smokey Glow takes over to cover 2010s until now.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #36 series on my blog.
As many of us become more conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies and what we’re putting our bodies through, we’re also becoming more aware of what we’re putting on our bodies. While the performance of natural makeup used to pale in comparison to products from our favorite makeup counters, there are many natural makeup brands creating products that are richly pigmented, apply beautifully, and wear as well as their more synthetic competitors. You may already be using some of them and don’t even know they’re all-natural.
But before I get into industry favourites, let’s get one thing straight: “Natural” doesn’t automatically mean a product is better or safer for you, as the FDA has nebulous criteria on just what constitutes a natural product (“natural” isn’t regulated for cosmetics, so it can be used purely as a marketing term). “There is no real definition of ‘natural’ in the U.S. beauty industry,” says cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “As long as the bulk of your material is natural, you can say ‘natural-based.’ There is no regulation. The true naturals have seals like COSMOS Natural or Ecocert — European organizations that allow up to 5 percent synthetics.”
The FDA does not have a definition for the term “organic,” either, as it is not defined by either the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, which they use as guidelines. “‘Organic’ usually means USDA-certified food grades. There are limited numbers of products you can make to be classified as organic green,” King says.
“‘Clean beauty’ is a much better term for the consumer as the products are non-toxic and still effective,” says King. “‘Non-toxic’ means free from undesirable ingredients listed by the Environmental Working Group. This is better than claiming ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ as they are products that perform without compromising safety. People want natural because they assume natural ingredients are safe, which is not necessarily the case. They also may not be as effective as synthetic materials.”
This brings me to another point: An ingredient might be natural or organic, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no chance you’ll have an adverse or allergic reaction to it, so it’s important to be aware of what you’re using and how your body responds.
Thanks to growing consumer concern and education, we’re definitely seeing an uptick in the use of the phrase “clean beauty.” Last year, for example, Sephora announced the launch of Clean at Sephora, the company’s new category that clearly establishes which of their products are formulated without controversial ingredients. Those that meet Sephora’s ingredients guidelines are deemed “clean” and receive the retailer’s Clean at Sephora seal.
Ingredients aside, one of the benefits of using natural products is that many, if not all, ingredients are ethically sourced and cruelty-free. As consumers, it’s never been more important to prioritize what we want in our makeup, and our money talks. These days there’s a clean option to switch out every product in your makeup routine, so it’s never been easier to avoid controversial ingredients.
But I also wanted to help you sort out your options. The following products have received high marks from professional makeup artists — who have seen and used it all — so you can start cleaning up your cosmetics bag.
Ilia Beauty is focused on creating clean, pure products with organic bio-active botanicals that nourish skin as they wear. From lipstick to eye shadow and multiple base products, Ilia’s products give you a luxurious feel, look, and wear, while being some of the cleanest makeup you can use.
Puckey is a huge fan of the brand, spotlighting many of its products. “I love how smooth the Fade Into You Powder feels and how it really disappears on the skin. The Illuminators come in three shades that work for a variety of skin tones. I like that it comes in a stick form for easy application.”
100% Pure Beauty has a full collection of skin care, makeup, hair, and body products, all made with natural ingredients. The brand is serious about the way it sources its ingredients, too, using a strict methodology to determine and confirm that its products contain no synthetic ingredients. In the past, I’ve been a big fan of its Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream, and I love that its foundations are available in a wide range of shades.
Makeup artist Benjamin Puckey is a big fan of the brand’s lipsticks, telling Allure“100% Pure Cocoa Butter Matte Lipsticks come in such beautiful, bold, matte shades that you forget you’re working with a natural brand.”
He calls out the shade Sonora Red as one that “really packs a punch.”
Each Kosas product is made with active botanicals and balanced with safe synthetics, giving you luxury formulas, beautiful pigments that flatter a multitude of skin tones, and they all look as good as they feel. The beautiful face duos are available in both cream and powder formulas, each including a blush and an illuminator that complement each other and boost your face’s luminosity and glow.
The lipsticks are also not to be missed. Puckey tells Allure, “Kosas has a line of all-natural lipsticks in super chic black packaging. Rosewater (a dusky rose) and Thrillest (bright poppy red) are my favorites.”
Did you know that Bite Beauty is natural and organic? I always forget. These luxe lipsticks are made with 12 different oils, as well as while pearl, silk, red wine, and organic butters; the result is a lipstick that’s incredibly creamy and hydrating, long-wearing and even has benefits from antioxidants for a product that’s actually good for your lips.
“No one does the range of bold color options in the right creamy/waxy base the way Bite does,” makeup artist Katey Denno explains. “They also make a lot of corresponding lip liners, which, until they filled it, had been a big hole in the marketplace.”
Newer to the natural scene, Tower 28 Beauty is becoming a fast favorite among makeup artists, beauty editors, and influencers alike. The whimsical packaging, quality ingredients, and vegan and cruelty-free promise are just a few of many reasons to love this L.A.-based brand, which prides itself on making products suitable for ultra-sensitive skin types. In fact, it’s tagline is #ItsOkayToBeSensitive, which is pretty clever if you ask me.
“Their products are so good for sensitive skin!” says makeup artist Robin Black, who battles rosacea. “I love their SOS Face Spray,cream blushes, and highlighters, and their cheek and lip products are getting lots of buzz for good reason. They’re so pretty on and so easy to use.”
One of the innovators of the now popular and chic swivel compact, Lilah B. is all about creating simple, multipurpose beauty products with clean formulas. Without gluten, sulfates, or parabens, and packed with aloe and botanicals, these products take to skin beautifully, feel luxurious and nourishing, and look amazing on your face and on your vanity.
Juice Beauty takes special care to ensure that its ingredients are certified organic so that no toxins, pesticides, synthetics, or fertilizers make it into its products. Starting with a base of organic botanical juice (hence the name), without any petroleum fillers or added water, each product is packed with antioxidants and concentrated skin-care benefits.
Denno is especially a fan of the Juice Boost Illuminator + Bronzer Duo. “Finely micronized shimmer particles add the perfect amount of highlight, no matter what your skin tone. [It] can be used directly on all areas you highlight: cheeks, Cupid’s bow, bridge of the nose, inner-eye corner, lid, clavicle, shoulders, or can be mixed into foundation to give an overall more glowy look,” she suggests.
“This stuff is unlike any other green beauty highlight product in that it dries completely (and quickly).”
The Lawless tagline is “Clean AF,” and the brand means it. Its liquid lipsticks are formulated without carcinogenic, toxic, hormone- or endocrine-disrupting ingredients. If people ingest up to five pounds of cosmetic chemicals every year, Lawless is trying to make sure that its products — that you put directly on your mouth and skin — are as safe as possible.
Stemming from the founder’s own need for clean-beauty products free of toxic chemicals and metals, RMS Beauty is a line of ultra-luxurious, pared-down multitaskers that have become favorites in the industry. It’s a bit like a grown-up Glossier, with rich formulas, bright colors, and twinkling shimmers that make a welcome addition to any beauty routine, no matter how simple or complex it may be.
The line’s hero product is the Living Luminizer, a highlighter in a pot, that you tap onto the high points of your face, as you do, for a glow that is equal parts natural and ethereal. It pairs well with any product you put it on top of (or under) and wears like it’s a part of you.
Since it’s inception in 2014, Milk Makeup has become a major power player in the vegan and cruelty-free beauty category. With innovative products that are as pretty and fun to use as they are effective, it’s easy to see why so many people adore the brand. Speaking of which, makeup artist Quinn Murphy, who works with stars like Kristen Bell, Julianne Moore, and Karlie Kloss — among myriad others — tells Allure it’s one of his top-favorite natural beauty brands. If you’ve yet to try anything from Milk, the Hydro Grip Primer, Kush Mascara, and Glow Oils (pictured above) are all great products to start with.
With a tagline like #BetterBeauty, Beautycounter strives to use only the safest ingredients possible and none of the nasties. It even has what it calls “The Never List,” which includes harsh chemicals, dangerous preservatives like formaldehyde, and synthetic flavors and fragrances. The brand offers makeup, skin-care, and bath and body products, as well as an array of kits for men, babies, and traveling. Schlip is especially partial to its eye makeup products — specifically, the Velvet Eyeshadow Palette, which is a best-seller and excellent for creating a wide range of natural, everyday looks.
Founded by three sisters in Los Angeles, Rituel De Fille is known for its witchy aesthetic and magic-inspired formulas. “They have amazing products with minimal ingredients and really interesting colors,” says Black, who’s a huge fan of the brand. “Standouts are the Eye Soots, but the lip and skin products are also great… they hold up well on camera, too, so perfect for Zooming!”
“I started my platform when I was about 14, when I was a freshman in high school. That was the year that my mom started letting me wear makeup to school — I had always wanted to wear it before, but she hadn’t let me. When I was finally allowed to wear makeup, I was so excited that I started watching a lot of YouTube videos and doing so much research. I would literally write things down on my phone and go to the store and buy all of the things I wrote down. I kind of became a source for makeup advice for all of my friends during that time, especially a lot of my friends on Twitter.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #35 series on my blog.
“That’s kind of why I wanted to create this platform. It was just a source for them to use. I would post my favorite foundations, different videos that I liked, and photos of other peoples’ makeup that I was really inspired by — because, at the time, there wasn’t really a platform like that on social media in general but especially on Twitter highlighting women of color in the makeup industry. I really wanted to be a voice in that and really highlight that niche. My career started to grow but I was also just a regular teenager in high school, so I graduated high school early at 16 and then, after high school, I decided to go to aesthetics school.”
To be totally honest, I’m not sure how this is the first time I’m trying the French pharmacy brand’s heavy-duty moisturizer — especially considering Allure named it one of the best products for relieving dryness and itchiness from eczema this year.
In regards to how, well, it’s likely the combination of the brand’s famous thermal spring water (known for its hydrating and soothing properties) and what’s called “C+ Restoretm,” which is a postbiotic ingredient that works to repair and preserve the skin barrier. As if that wasn’t enough, it also contains moisturizing beeswax, hydrating glycerin, and a copper-zinc sulfate complex that helps support a healthy skin environment.
After slathering on the thick white cream several times a day for the first few days, I started to notice a major improvement in my hands. The redness faded, the itchiness subsided, and the painful cracks began to close and heal. By the third day, my hands looked (and felt) almost as good as new. Since then, I’ve been using the rich formula anywhere that my skin needs some extra TLC – such as on my feet, and on my neck and undereyes where the skin is thinner.
I really can’t recommend this moisturizer enough to anyone suffering from aggressively dry skin this season — or any time of year, for that matter. You can shop it now for $28 on dermstore.com.
While some have lash extensions, many of us will forever keep tubes of mascara in stock. With that in mind, ALLURE editors and thousands of reviewers rounded up their absolute favourite mascaras of all time, with brands ranging from drugstore gems like Maybelline New York to Sephora darlings Too Faced and AnastasiaBeverly Hills. They’ve also got the luxury market covered.
Discover all the best and boldest mascaras that give us lashes with the most volume, curl, and length each and every day.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Brag Mascara
“There really isn’t a better way to put it: Anastasia’s Lash Brag Mascara (a 2020 Best of Beauty winner) hits different. Way different. This mascara’s visibly chunky formula and curvy, dense brush can surprisingly pull off lashes that are thick and voluminous, long and wispy, or anywhere between — and not all mascaras can do that without clumping or flaking away. With a couple of swipes, the formula builds itself both upward and outward, so I get big, fanned-out lashes that practically hit the ceiling.”
“The formula of the Tarte Maneater Mascara is on the drier side, so you can easily build up lash extension-like volume and definition (and you can sneeze right after swiping it on without creating a Jackson Pollack painting on your under-eye area). Plus, this 2020 Best of Beauty winner has a cylindrical brush lined with tiny bristles that evenly coat even the thinnest of lashes.”
“One of the most exciting things about L’Oréal Paris Bambi Waterproof is the so-called ‘wide-eye brush.’ It has a combination of short and long bristles, which are supposed to ensure you grab every lash – no matter its length — on each swipe. It’s perfect for days when you want your makeup to look as natural as possible and there’s nary a clump to be found once it’s applied. No wonder it won a 2020 Best of Beauty Award.”
“Never in my life did I think I’d be in a position to say my favorite mascara was one made by Gucci, but here I am, living large. Label and aesthetically pleasing pink-and-gold packaging aside, when I first tried Gucci’s L’Obscur Mascara, I was immediately drawn to the formula, which is made to lengthen and define — rather than thicken — my wispy lashes. I typically only need a coat or two to see immediate natural-looking length and never have to worry about annoying clumping or mid-day smudge. Gucci, you made a damn good mascara.”
“Never say Kim Kardashian doesn’t have talent because she did the damn thing with the KKW Beauty mascara. Just one coat separates each lash, making them look full, thick, and dramatic. No primer needed.”
“The only mascara that gives me that lift and volume closest to what my beloved lash extensions do is the Thrive Casemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara. It contains polymers that wrap around each lash to lengthen and strengthen, plus castor seed oil and shea butter to deeply condition each hair. Two coats and your eye area is instantly opened. I always get compliments about how long my lashes are when I use this.”
“When it comes to wearability, the formula in the Wander Beauty Mile High Club Mascara doesn’t smudge or flake — even after a full day of work followed by a gym session. If you’re going for drama with little-to-no effort, then this mascara is a dream. Lift? Check. Volume? Definitely. Length? Oh, yeah, my lashes were practically touching my brow bone by the time I was done.”
“Something about the combination of the Maybelline New York’s The Falsies Lash Lift’s hourglass-shaped wand and lightweight, not-too-wet formula replaces the need for a lash curler, extensions, and falsies. After sweeping it through, my lashes are instantly lifted upward and volumized like a lash enhancement. The dip in the middle of the brush also makes adding mascara to your lashes as mess-free as possible.”
“When I want to add a little color to my look but am short on time, I always reach for Colourpop’s BFF Mascara. By applying just one or two coats (I start at the root of my lashes and wiggle the brush slightly from side to side as I swipe), you get a ton of color payoff. I find that my eyes are instantly brightened up, and I look more awake within seconds. It’s basically an all-in-one eye look. My personal fave color is Blue Ya Mind, though the brand’s classic black (called Black on Black) is a great staple.”
Tarte Sugar Rush Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
“The Tarte Sugar Rush Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara gives my lashes length, volume, and makes them look super fluttery. I love to use this alone or layer it, specifically with the Milk Makeup Kush Mascara.”
“It’s fitting that one of my favorite makeup brands of all time makes one of my favorite mascara brushes ever. I love how thin and easy to maneuver it is, and the formula is perfect for everyday wear. For nighttime, I just add a second or third coat and the Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara looks great without being clumpy, thanks to how fine the bristles are.”
“My eyelashes are naturally pretty long, albeit blonde, so I don’t really love wearing mascara all the time (mostly because I hate taking it off at the end of the day). When I do, however, I go all-out glam with the Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara because it makes my lashes longer, thicker, and just the right amount of obnoxious diva.”
“My all-time favorite mascara, the Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara, might be obvious, but it’s ubiquitously beloved for a reason. Maybe I should’ve started with this, but I’m actually partial to the waterproof formula. It helps hold my lashes in place long after I’ve given them a good curl. It checks all the boxes: providing mega-volume without the clumping, inky-black color without the smudging, and just the right amount of length. I’m not much of a mascara girl, but when I am feelin’ it, this is the one I always reach for.”
Great skin care doesn’t have to be expensive. And if you’ve read any reviews of The Inkey List, you know this to be true. The British brand has been providing reliable skin-care essentials under $15 since 2018, but thanks in part to TikTok, the buzz for the best Inkey List products is just getting started.
The line is often compared to The Ordinary for its affordable cost and formulas focused on single ingredients. And while both brands have truly impressive quality, where they differ is the packaging. The Ordinary takes a clinical approach with names that refer to specific ingredients, while The Inkey List breaks down the phonetic spelling of ingredients, along with a clear description of the result it gives.
This is no coincidence, as the brand’s founders Colette Laxton and Mark Curry set out to simplify the world of skin care. To do so, the brand offers a quick quiz on its website, called the Recipe Builder, which will craft you a customized routine, or you can use the brand’s Ask Inkey feature to have any imaginable question answered at all times.
Still, the line, which features 36 skin-care products in nearly identical packaging, can be a bit confusing. While you could theoretically test your way through the entire line for the cost of one luxury serum, that’s what dermatologists and editors are here for. Glamour editors—from skin-care obsessives to true minimalists—put the whole line to the test. Read on for their honest The Inkey List reviews and our breakdown of the products truly worth adding to your routine.
The Inkey List Lactic Acid Serum
“Lactic acid is one of my favorite skin-care ingredients, but it’s usually harder to find in more affordable products. Lactic is great for acid beginners in general since it hydrates as it exfoliates, and this is a particularly gentle one. Over time I definitely saw more of an evenness and glow, and my skin was super soft. If you want to be wowed, I would say go for something with more punch, but if you just want to dip a toe into acids, this is your girl.”
“This gave my beloved retinol a run for its money! I much prefer this formulation, which is a light cream, over other serums. It was much easier to distribute than an oil-based formula, so I wasted less of the product and was less at risk of overusing it and irritating my skin. It was a really easy addition to my skin-care routine—it layered on smoothly and didn’t dry me out. The only downside is that The Inkey List only makes this retinol with 1% retinol and 0.5% granactive retinoid, whereas other brands offer higher percentages. I think this is the ideal product if you want to start incorporating retinol, or if your skin is sensitive.”
“I’ve really upped my skin-care routine during quarantine, and it’s been working wonders. I use this in the morning with my Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Treatment, and then some evenings I use my Shani Darden Retinol Reform. Altogether I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my hyperpigmentation and skin texture, but this product is to thank for fading those really tough dark spots.”
“My skin has recently made me painfully aware of the fact that even though I’m locked inside 24/7, time stops for nobody. Since the start of the pandemic, I feel as if my youthful-looking complexion has starting looking…not quite as youthful. Dry patches, undereye shadows, and new tiny lines (fun!) are suddenly visible, and this moisturizer contains a peptide duo that helps support natural collagen and hydrate skin. I love a cream that doesn’t just moisturize but works to fix other problems, and with continued use I think this one—which is super lightweight, almost like a gel—could be it.”
“Vitamin C is one of the cornerstones of a solid skin-care routine, but it’s also a difficult ingredient to get into when you’re first building out your regimen. For one, the best vitamin C serums tend to be expensive, and two, they’re not always exactly pleasant to put on, thanks to their signature tangy scent. That’s what makes this cream such an excellent gateway into the category. The formula isn’t greasy or smelly, and since it has a cream base, it’s easy to mix with moisturizer. It won’t give you the full brightening power of a $160+ serum, but it definitely makes a noticeable difference in the overall radiance of your skin.”
“I’m a sucker for a fancy night cream, but this gave my more expensive options a run for it’s money. It goes on as a sort of creamy, cushy gel that dries down to almost nothing. Normally I like to feel really greased up before bed, but this one provided just as much moisturizing power as something thicker. It plumps up my skin beautifully, calms the between-seasons redness I’m currently dealing with, and doesn’t clog my pores. If you’re only going to grab one thing from the line, I would make it this one.”
“If you’re trying to take a more hands-on approach to learning about skin-care ingredients, I highly recommend you start with squalene. After spotting the lightweight hydrator in several of my favorite facial oils, I decided to try its full power, uninterrupted, for 14 days. I feel it does a great job of restoring balance to my skin after using retinols, enzymes, and other active ingredients. It’s versatile enough to boost either your a.m. or p.m. routine (or both!) by adding a few drops to your favorite moisturizer.”
“To be honest, I’m still undecided whether I think eye creams do anything long-term, so this $10 option doesn’t feel like too much to risk. It depuffs thanks to the metal tip and provides a great base for my concealer, which are my two major concerns. It also brightens thanks to mica, and has blurring spheres to make me look just a touch more well-rested.”
The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Hyperpigmentation Treatment
“I can’t say that I was familiar with tranexamic acid before this—apparently it’s clutch for reducing hyperpigmentation and dark spots—but I can say with certainty now that this is a lovely product. It is super smooth and light, glides on easily, and feels nice with just a moisturizer on top. You definitely have to be sure to wash it off in the morning, but it tells you that on the bottle. I do think it’s making a mild difference to my skin—things are looking brighter and more even—and I look forward to using it for a long time to come.”
“I was excited to try this because The Inkey List said it reduces redness—and snow mushroom honestly sounded very mystical. It was very gentle and mild, and left me with a nice glow, but not super greasy. It didn’t help with my mask-induced redness, but turns out only my dermatologist could. For the price, it’s definitely a great no-frills moisturizer to have on hand.”
“In theory I know the benefits of antioxidants and how they’re essential for long-term protection against free radicals and signs of aging, but in practice I rarely want to spend my money on products I won’t see an immediate return on investment from. That’s what makes this lightweight serum, which is also formulated with hydrating squalane, so appealing. While there’s no overnight difference, for $7 I know I’m doing something to protect my skin down the road. Plus, it’s a great option if you have sensitive skin that reacts poorly to vitamin C.”
“I have sensitive, acne-prone skin, so I was reluctant to believe the hype about hyaluronic acid, assuming an acid was the last thing my skin needed. But this serum left me converted. Unlike exfoliating acids, H.A. is both gentle and deeply hydrating. After using it both morning and night for a few weeks, my skin feels totally balanced with zero clogged pores.”
“Rosehip oil has recently become my secret weapon for waking up with a radiant glow. (Don’t be confused—rosehip oil, which is filled with fatty acids and omega-6 that plump up your skin, isn’t the same as rose absolute, the rose-scented essential oil you’re probably thinking of.) If you want your skin to look luxuriously dewy without appearing shiny, add this stuff to your nighttime regimen ASAP. As we roll into the winter, I’ll be relying on this to improve my skin’s overall texture and moisture retention.”
I never skip moisturizer – I feel like my face would just crack in half. Also, I do not sleep with make-up on. That’s a big rule. But overall, I really enjoy the process of skincare. It’s one of my many obsessions. Even though I tend to keep the routine basic, I try new products all the time and I enjoy the ritual [of it]. Sometimes it’s fun to treat yourself with a little facial before bed. I’ll incorporate different serums every now and then. I think it’s good to switch up your skincare so that your skin doesn’t get too used to it. My products always seem more effective after I’ve left them for a bit and come back.
On how she wakes up
I usually wake up to my dog and, unfortunately, go right to checking my phone. It’s a habit I’d like to break.
On the products she can’t live without
Concealer, because if you have a good concealer you can just tap it over problem areas and you’re good. That, and some kind of brow product, whether it’s a tinted brow gel or a brow pencil. I love my brows. Somehow they change your whole face. I’ve let mine grow out, and with different brow products I can change the shape and opaqueness. It’s so interesting how doing that can really change your whole look.
On her biggest beauty risk
Every time I step on the red carpet, it’s a risk. We always do something risky.
On make-up free vs full glam
It’s day to day. Like most people, I don’t have time to go full beat all the time. So there are some times where I just chill. For events, my stylist Law and I like to create characters, and so my make-up will depend on what character I am that evening. For example, for the last Met Gala, we did a Joan of Arc reference. We added a little extra blush, because we wanted the look to remind people of an old Victorian painting with the rosy cheeks.
Another year I had this giant dress, and dewy make-up and lashes — the whole thing. At the last minute, I looked up, and was like, “Something’s not right.” I took off the fake lashes, and I added extra gloss to my lips. But I still needed something. So I put on this bright, red-orange lipstick, and it was perfect. It was one of those things where it’s like, “Hmm, something’s just off … who is this character? I haven’t found her yet.” I like to figure it out as I go.
On her hair
I like to wear my hair natural. My natural curl pattern came back after I stopped putting heat on my hair so I try to just embrace [what I have] while learning to care for my natural hair.
Spraying perfume is the final step to polish off getting ready. If you’re like me and attach memories to scents, the right fragrance can bring a lot of joy. I always just do the old spray-and-walk-into-it technique.
On make-up looks
I’m a sucker for classic neutral tones, you know, just browns. They’re easier to blend, for one thing – you don’t have to be so precise. If you make a mistake, you can just add some more, no big deal. All that said, I do love a yellow eyeshadow! Or a very yellow-gold. I also appreciate a plain red lip, with nothing else on the eye or just a little mascara. When you find the right red, that can change everything, you know? It’s got to be bright enough, deep enough, not too blue, not too this, not too that. I usually just go for a simple matte red.
On doing her own make-up
Once I started working with make-up artists, I’d just watch them. If I liked the way someone did my eyebrows, I’d just watch how they did it and try it a home. Over time, learning to do my make-up became about taking different techniques and products from people I liked and putting them into my Rolodex. Then it was a matter of trial and error. I’d go out on the red carpet and later look at photos. Sometimes, I’d be like, “Ooh, I look like a ghost,” so then I’d fix it the next time around. It’s really about trying, failing, and trying again.
I pretty much do all my own make-up for events now. It’s very therapeutic for me, especially if I’m ever stressed out before a press junket or a big event. There’s something about taking that time to just be with yourself that I find very relaxing.
On her go-to confidence booster
I go to work – I love working. That’s where I feel the most powerful and in my essence.
On spa treatments
I love a good massage, but the problem is most massage therapists don’t apply enough pressure! People think I’m going to break in half. I’m like, you’ve got to do a little bit more than that, you know?
On her personal mantra
I don’t know if I have a specific personal mantra, but I do think it’s important to live with a sense of gratitude. You can’t ever have more if you don’t appreciate what you have. I always try to list the things that I am thankful for and take a moment to appreciate those things. That act helps put everything into perspective.
Toners are an important part of the skin-care equation, especially if your end goal is dewy, luminous skin. However, a lot of people still don’t know what exactly toners are or what they do. Board-certified dermatologist Tiffany Libby explains that a toner is designed to help remove the debris your cleanser might have missed and to prep your skin for the next step in your routine. “I think of them more as an adjunct or add-on to your skin-care routine,” Libby tells Allure.
Toners of the past were known for their astringent properties, which often dried skin out. Today, however, toner formulations have been improved to target an array of skin concerns, such as the loss of collagen or excess oiliness that can lead to breakouts — all made with varying ingredients, depending on your skin-care goals.
Board-certified dermatologist Sapna Palep tells Allure toners that hydrate and smooth out fine lines often contain antioxidants, amino acids, and hyaluronic acid. While toners that treat acne often include salicylic or glycolic acid.
Just as there are different ingredients for you to choose from, there is more than one way to put product on. Application is very easy and Libby says it’s really up to an individual’s preference: you can use your hands or cotton pads (Palep’s preference). And beyond the traditional bottled liquid, toners can also come in other delivery systems, such as gel sticks and face mists. (Libby particularly loves the spray formulations.)
But with so many toners out there in the market, it can be difficult to know what to pick for your specific skin needs. Scroll down to find the right toner to add to your skin-care routine.
Kate Somerville Liquid Exfolikate
If adding a toner to your mix feels like an unnecessary middle step, the Best of Beauty-winning Liquid Exfolikate by Kate Somerville may change your mind. Think of this toner, packed with alpha hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes, as a multi-purpose treatment that helps get rid of dead skin buildup so that your products absorb better. Spritz it on a night right before your moisturizer and sunscreen.
Some facial toners use alcohol to clear away dirt and oil, but it can seriously dry skin out. Clean & Clear’s Lemon Juice Toner does the exact same thing, sans the stripping alcohol. There’s also vitamin C in this Allure Best of Beauty 2020 winner to help brighten and even dullness and dark spots.
Mamonde Rose Water Toner is made with 90 percent rose water to give skin an intense boost of hydration. Not only will your skin will feel soft after using it, you’ll also get that dewy look that so many of us are constantly chasing.
If you’ve been using and loving the Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic for as long as I have, you know it’s basically magic in a bottle. It’s made with hero ingredients — such as glycolic acid, aloe vera, and witch hazel — recommended for clearer, softer skin.
Those who are blemish-prone will want to pay special attention to the Boscia Resurfacing Treatment Toner. It contains alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (like glycolic and salicylic acid) to gently remove dead skin cells and clear pores of dirt and grime — both of which will prevent breakouts in the long run.
Can a toner really be moisturizing? The 2019 Best of Beauty winner Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid answers that question and more. Thanks to a formula full of ceramides, an ingredient that helps restore any lost moisture, skin is left feeling soft and supple after every use.
Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner is made with a powerful blend of glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids to control excess oil production without stripping away too much moisture. Plus, the 2019 Best of Beauty winner has a refreshing eucalyptus and peppermint scent that makes it a joy to use.
As the only mist on this list, Too Cool For School Rules of Mastic Facial Tonic doubles as a toner and hydrating spray you can use in the morning and then throughout the day. It contains ceramides and mastic oil, which strengthens the skin’s resiliency and helps heal damaged skin.
I came to the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner because I have an unhealthy obsession with all things rose, but I stayed because it’s just that damn good. The 2017 Best of Beauty winner contains rose fruit extract, rosewater, and angelica leaf extract — all known for their nourishing and soothing properties. Plus, it’s alcohol-free, so it won’t dry your skin out.
Lumene Glow Lumenessence Brightening Beauty Lotion contains only the best ingredients to get you glowy skin. Yes, it has vitamin C, but it also has wild arctic cloudberry, which helps fight off oxidative damage and strengthen your skin’s natural defense barrier.
Milk’s Matcha Toner is truly unique for many reasons, but the obvious? It’s a solid, gel-stick toner, made with anti-inflammatory matcha green tea and oil-wicking kombucha, to soothe skin and prep it for its next skin-care product.
There are a lot of reasons you might want to try a cleansing balm in place of your regular liquid, wipe, or bar cleansers. For starters, there’s the change of season. As temperatures fluctuate, it gets harder to keep your skin hydrated. “A balm is an effective option to remove dirt and oil without overly drying the skin,” says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. (Having flaky, parched skin no matter the season is another key motivator to switch things up.)
There’s also a more practical consideration: If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like washing your face, several of the following require no water. Massage, wipe away, and allow the leftover goodness to soak in, leaving your skin even more supple. Face wash plus night cream in one swoop? That’s our kind of win-win.
Whether you are looking for an affordable pick (how’s $10 sound?) or you are looking splurge on your skin, here, 11 of the best no-fuss formulas to try.
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm
The combo of sunflower and ginger root oils in this balm-to-oil formula work to cleanse skin from dirt, oil, and pollution buildup, while papaya extract gently sloughs off dead skin cells. Together, they make one rock solid cleanser.
The Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is an Allure 2019 Best of Beauty winner for many reasons. Yes, it will remove makeup in a flash, but its formula is what makes it really stand out. Infused with fruit extracts (blueberry, kiwi, and strawberry) to slough off makeup, dirt, and grime, and a blend of nourishing oils (marula and baobab), your skin will feel baby smooth once you’re done double-cleansing.
The Inkey List has been doing skin care right since day one, and its Oat Cleansing Balm is yet another great launch. Formulated with oat kernel oil to keep skin hydrated and one percent colloidal oatmeal to reduce redness, this luxurious formula will never strip your sensitive skin of moisture.
Waterproof mascara can be nearly impossible to remove, but the Then I Met You’s Living Cleansing Balm makes it possible. The non-greasy formula efficiently melts away waterproof formulas, leaving skin hydrated and velvety soft. (No wonder it’s an Allure 2019 Best of Beauty winner.)
The cleansing balm version of the iconic Pond’s Cold Cream has quickly become a staple in its own right: it’s a highly effective makeup remover that nourishes skin as it wipes away dirt and grime. This drugstore option is great for all skin types (it’s even gentle enough to use on sensitive skin) — and that’s why it won a 2018 Best of Beauty Award for best cleanser under $10.
Made with an impressive cocktail of botanicals like smoothing lavender and chamomile, the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm takes you straight to the spa. Warm a scoop between your palms, massage into your skin, then gently wipe away with a damp cloth. Because some of the balm will be left behind, the collagen-boosting and antioxidant-rich blend will have more time to get to work.
Test the cleansing balm waters by starting out with a lightweight formula like the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm that gently lifts dirt and makeup sans one bit of elbow grease. Plus, the creamy formula is less occlusive than some waxier balms, so it will feel more comfortable on slicker skin.
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Balm
Dark burgundy lipsticks and stay-put metallic shadows don’t stand a chance against this creamy soufflé of botanical oils and hydrators in the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Balm. Once all that mess is taken care of, a layer of high-performing ingredients, like retinyl palmitate, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and ceramides stay behind to work as a line-reducing serum.
At first touch, this Best of Beauty-winning product feels just like its name — goopy. But after swirling a scoop of the Goop by Juice Beauty Luminous Melting Cleanser into your face, it instantly softens and disappears, which makes sense considering coconut oil is the second ingredient. (It also contains olive oil and a veritable English garden of dreamy botanical essential oils.) You may balk at the price, but in this case, you do get what you pay for: The product is formulated with 75 percent organic content and includes a white linen cloth to stylishly wipe all the balm away.
When it comes to creating the ultimate feline flick, look no further than Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn. “Her almond eyes were synonymous with the winged eyeliner that adorned them, and the perfectly defined lashes that fluttered as she gazed through the window of Tiffany & Co, eating a croissant,” says Vogue make-up artist, Celia Burton. “When Alberto de Rossi died, Hepburn’s make-up artist of 25 years, she was said to have declared she’d rather not work again. A perfect tribute to the enormous role that make-up — and the man applying it — had played in her career. Legend has it that de Rossi would apply mascara and then separate each individual eyelash with a safety pin to emphasise her doe eyes.”
Indeed, famed for her feminine brows and signature cat-eye, Hepburn’s was a beauty that surpassed all others. And one that will be under the spotlight once more thanks to a new documentary on the Breakfast at Tiffany’s star. Masterminded by the same BAFTA-nominated team behind 2018’s McQueen, a film about Alexander McQueen, Audrey takes an intimate look at one of cinema’s iconic actresses, featuring never-seen-before footage as well as interviews with her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, Givenchy’s former artistic director Clare Waight Keller, and Tiffany & Co design director emeritus John Loring. Though the film promises to uncover the woman behind the red-carpet glitz and glamour, focusing on the psychological effects of her difficult upbringing, it will no doubt bring some of her iconic beauty looks back into focus, too.
To mark the occasion, Vogue make-up artist Celia Burton breaks down the steps to recreating Audrey Hepburn’s signature cat-eye flick.
Step 1: use liquid eyeliner to mark the position
Look straight into a mirror, with your chin lowered. Consider your eye shape, and use a liquid liner — my favourites are Glossier Pro Tip or Voyeur Waterproof Liquid Liner by Hourglass — to mark out with a dot or dash where you want the ‘flick’ to finish. For the Hepburn effect, I recommend a sharp, squat flick, angled upwards and outwards from the end of the lash line at 45 degrees.
Step 2: drag the eyeliner across the eye
Tip your head back, so now you’re looking down at the mirror, and drag the liner across the eye from the inner corner, staying as close to the lash line as possible. Always have a cotton bud and oil-free make-up remover to hand, to neaten as you go.
Step 3: connect the dots and thicken up
Stop when you reach the end of the lash line, return to looking straight into the mirror, and join the dots from the marked spot to the main event. You can leave this skinny, as a subtle flick, or thicken it out at the wing — just make sure to keep the 45-degree angle.
If you prefer your liner soft or blurred, use a gel-liner pencil in the same way — my favourites are Charlotte Tilbury Rock ’N’ Kohl pencils or Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayons — and smudge it along the lash line with a brush or finger before it sets, then tidy up the bottom of the flick with a cotton bud and oil-free make-up remover.
As Instagrammable as sheet masks are, they simply aren’t intended for the unique issues associated with the skin around eyes. Sure, a well-fitted face mask might deposit a few beneficial ingredients near your eyes, but sometimes you just want to target the periorbital area — without the mess of a drippy sheet mask. So it’s no wonder that there has been a veritable eye-mask boom, leading to a much-welcomed deluge of sticky, comma-shaped patches made specifically formulated to target the dark circles, early-morning puffiness, and texture changes that happen to this especially delicate section of skin.
Whether you want an overnight option for fine lines, a quick cooling fix, or a once-a-week way to hydrate and brighten, here are the 16 best eye masks on the market for those moments when you’re looking for a little more intensity than what a daily eye cream can provide.
Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks
The gold foil of Wander Beauty’s Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks isn’t just for Instagram (though they do make for a great skin-care selfie). The precious metal actually helps retain heat so the hydrating serum doesn’t evaporate, allowing hyaluronic acid to absorb more effectively.
Talk about futuristic. The mechanics behind Circcell’s Insight Collagen Eye Treatment require you to press a fluid chamber to release an activator formula onto each patch. It’s the best way to get the most out the highly concentrated freeze-dried collagen within.
Yes To Coconut’s Energizing Coffee Super Eye Mask is made of 100 percent cotton and contains coconut extract to hydrate the delicate under-eye area, as well as coffee (hence the name) to boost circulate and reduce puffiness. Throw it on for ten minutes and you’ll see a noticeable difference once you take it off.
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask
If you’re not yet using retinol in the eye area, Shiseido’s Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask is a great place to start. The stretchy material keeps them perfectly in place for 15-minute line-reducing sessions.
Verso’s Reviving Eye Mask with Retinol contains a hydrogel formulation in its patches that allows the gentle retinol within to penetrate for optimum impact, leaving under-eye skin moisturized and de-puffed.
Patchology’s FlashPatch Restoring Night Eye Gels take advantage of the body’s natural nighttime repairing abilities by sitting firmly under the eyes while you sleep, depositing an all-star cast of smoothing and brightening ingredients, like retinol and cucumber extract.
As if de-puffing peptides didn’t make these impressive enough, the water embedded in these Skyn Iceland’s Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels is actually Icelandic glacial water. The result is a super-cooling effect to diminish the appearance of swelling.
Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask
Originally created to help heal burns, Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask are made with sheets that seal revitalizing, antioxidant-rich botanicals into the skin for intensive hydration.
Beloved by celebrities like Victoria Beckham, 111Skin’s Celestial Black Diamond Eye Mask minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crepiness with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, retinol, and peptides. After just one use, the eye area looks visibly brighter, smoother, and healthier.
Erno Laszlo’s Multi-Task Eye Serum Mask targets all your concerns: dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles, and crepiness. It does so with a powerful blend of algae extracts, vitamin B3, and soothing allantoin.