The Best Gentle Retinol Alternatives for a Skin Reboot

Among the many skin-care ingredients on the shelves, few have attained the hero status of retinoids. That’s the umbrella term for all forms of vitamin A, which include prescription-strength tretinoin along with over-the-counter derivatives. The very word retinol stirs a certain reverence, given its proven efficacy in minimizing wrinkles, speeding cell turnover, and clearing up acne—and that’s despite a well-known drawback. “Retinoids are very irritating to the skin,” says New Jersey dermatologist Naana Boayke, MD. It’s a testament to retinol’s abilities that many users have the patience to tolerate the mild discomfort, which often appears as redness, dryness, and occasional flaky skin.

But for some, retinol is simply too harsh. Plus, the ingredient can pose a challenge in the summer, given that it increases sun sensitivity, thereby making skin particularly prone to redness and burns. (SPF is a must.) That’s where retinol alternatives can be advantageous. These new, up-and-coming actives tout results comparable to retinol, but without the telltale side effects.

Mineral-, marine-, and plant-derived ingredients have been found to have retinol-like biological pathways,” says Marisa Plescia, a research scientist at clean retailer NakedPoppy. Those shared effects range from stimulated cellular renewal to collagen synthesis, she points out.

Chief among these gentler substitutes is bakuchiol, which is derived from the babchi seed. “It’s a ‘functional analog’ to retinol, meaning it has similar chemical, physical, biochemical, or pharmacological properties,” Plescia says, noting a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Another promising ingredient is rambutan, which, she says, supports natural collagen synthesis through a mechanism similar to retinol and bakuchiol. “We are seeing this with other botanical sources, such as moth bean extract and certain algaes,” she adds.

They’ve proven so appealing that some products even pair actual retinol with retinol alternatives, such as Dr. Dennis Gross’s Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream, which offers a skin-renewing trio of rambutan, bakuchiol, and retinol. While the evidence behind retinol alternatives is still growing, there’s enough promise to make such a product worth incorporating into your routine.

Dermalogica Neck Fit Contour Serum

As the delicate neck and décolletage areas are particularly vulnerable to the effects of sunlight, this formula takes a strategic approach. Not only does it combine peptides and rambutan to smooth lines (a sign of the aptly named tech neck) and address discoloration, but it also features a dedicated Flex Lift Contour technology, which creates a mesh-like network on skin to lift and tighten.

Herbivore Botanicals Moon Fruit Serum

Herbivore isn’t new to the world of retinol alternatives, but this addition to its portfolio is a welcome one. The formula pairs bakuchiol with plant-based peptides that help to further firm skin, and simultaneously hydrates to give skin a touch of radiance. Its fruity scent has proven polarizing, but early reviews suggest that it’s worth it.

The Outset Restorative Niacinamide Night Cream

One of the mainstays of Scarlett Johansson’s new, minimalist-minded skin-care line, this velvety night cream pairs bakuchiol with a proprietary Hyaluroset complex—a plant-based alternative to hyaluronic acid that deeply hydrates skin—giving it the power of a serum and moisturizer in one.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Renewal Serum

As Plescia mentioned, marine ingredients can often replicate the effects of retinol—as is the case with this serum, which is anchored in red algae, alfalfa, and stevia extracts. It’s designed to target signs of sun damage in particular, such as uneven tone and fine lines.

Tula Skincare Wrinkle Treatment Drops Retinol Alternative Serum

Delivered in an appealing dry-oil texture, which leaves behind no greasy or slick feel, this serum combines bakuchiol, alfalfa sprouts, and stevia to spur cellular turnover. Meanwhile, probiotic and prebiotic extracts (a hallmark of the brand) bring balance to the skin barrier.

Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum

Powered by bakuchiol, this elegant serum is ideal for more sensitive types: The blend of sugarcane-derived squalane and niacinamide work in equal measure to soothe skin, keeping it calm and comfortable.

Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème

One of the first brands to debut bakuchiol in skin care, Ole Henriksen has come to showcase the ingredient across its offerings. In this lightweight eye cream in particular, it works alongside orchid-derived stem cells to firm and brighten around the eyes, minimizing both crows’ feet and dark circles at once.

True Botanicals Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster Serum

Encased in vegan capsules to guarantee freshness (and therefore efficacy), this serum offers a blend of vitamin A–rich botanical extracts, such as buriti and carrot root oils, which skin then converts into retinoic acid upon application. In other words, the formula works in concert with the skin’s natural processes.

Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream

Formulated with guidance from a dermatologist rooted in clean beauty, this staple in singer Alicia Keys’s skin-care line delivers radiant skin with a blend of bakuchiol and ceramides. In keeping with the brand’s ritual-minded ethos, it also contains malachite, a stone that signifies transformation.

VANITY FAIR

With Ciara’s New Brand OAM, Radiant Skin Is Just a One-Two Step Away

Of all the burning questions our minds have been inundated with this year (Who will date Pete next? Do I need curtain bangs?) perhaps the most common one asked is: Do we really need another celebrity beauty brand? It’s no secret we’ve hit peak celebrity beauty brand fatigue, with each release that enters the fold—seemingly every other week—eliciting constant eye rolls from consumers who are still trying to catch up to the last one. However, there’s a new celebrity brand from Ciara that might make you, dare I say it, 1, 2, step

Like her other purpose-driven extracurricular ventures—House of LR&C (Love, Respect, and Care), which the star founded with husband Russell Wilson and entrepreneur Christine Day, and its in-house ready-to-wear brand LITA (Love Is The Answer)—Ciara is launching a skincare brand, OAM (On a Mission) that further drives the notion that love is at the root of everything, even skin.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #96 series on my blog.

How you view yourself in your most natural state sets the tone for how to speak to yourself and the level of confidence you radiate when you step out into the world. For a moment, the red carpet darling struggled with accepting her bare face, so she challenged herself to forgo makeup when necessary.

When I was younger, I used to think that I needed to have a full face of makeup to love my most beautiful self. As I got older, I told myself I’m not going to allow myself to feel like I have to have makeup on all these different enhancements to feel beautiful and confident,” Ciara says. She admits she frequently used body wash and body lotion on her face, and dabbled in microdermabrasion occasionally. Despite efforts from her makeup artist, Yolonda Frederick, who serves on the OAM advisory board and suggested the singer start using eye creams (“I didn’t believe they actually worked”), it wasn’t until OAM’s inception that Ciara realized the power of a simple skincare routine, effective ingredients, and reliable skin experts.

It’s that three-pronged approach that OAM is based on. Two years in the making, OAM’s aim is to simplify your skincare routine with clinical-level formulas that make maintaining healthy skin less intimidating. 

When I talk about being on a mission to make clinical skincare simple, the idea is a simple, one-two step process is all that you need. We’re not going to overcomplicate things. Because honestly, when you go into the skincare stores, it is overwhelming. Where do I start?” she says. With the Vitamin C Hydrating Cleanser, of course. About 10 minutes into the interview, Ciara reaches for the interviewer’s hand to give an impromptu demonstration of the entire OAM regimen, starting with step one. Each bottle is designed with a numbering system (in the shape of a C) to help guide the consumer through the routine. 

The cleanser gets your makeup off really good, in one wash. If you have on eyeliner, that’s a little more tricky,” she warns. She’s correct; the rich foaming lather of the cleanser is a godsend for folks who typically wear more sheer foundation formulas or powders. Thicker formulas will need the assistance of cleansing oil, followed by the Vitamin C Hydrated Cleanser, which doesn’t leave your skin feeling stripped of its nutrients. 

I wanted a line that tells me the key things that I need for my skin to be radiant, to have that glow up, to be as smooth and even as possible, and to eliminate the dark circles and the lines,” she says. Enter: Vitamin C Brightening Pads. Designed to be the second step in the routine, these pads are lightly doused with OAM’s signature Tri-C Pro-Peptide Complex, which contains a mixture of peptides and three different forms of vitamin C, along with other active ingredients (like ascorbic acid in the Vitamin C Serum—step three). The potent use of vitamin C isn’t just a clever spin on the singer’s first initial.

Our bodies don’t produce vitamin C, so I wanted to create products with very unique, very special forms of vitamin C. The way it performs in our products is different. With the Tri-C Pro-Peptide Complex in all of the products, it releases vitamin C in micro doses throughout the day so your skin’s not getting irritated with the amount of vitamin C that it’s receiving. I call these the liquid gold for the face because it really is game-changing,” she explains. Don’t be intimidated by all this vitamin C talk—OAM is safe for sensitive skin. Ciara sampled the range throughout the pandemic and even during her pregnancy with her youngest child, Win. “More than anything, this stuff works. I literally was building up my line when I was pregnant in the pandemic, and that was the most sensitive skin I possibly ever had,” she says.

The singer speaks of the products’ ingredients and benefits with the knowledge of a student who’s never missed a day of class. It’s a testament to the board of trusted skin experts she personally selected to help her along this journey. Ciara, along with board-certified Dr. Tiffany Libby, former Sally Beauty VP of Digital Strategy and Innovation JC Johnson, celebrity makeup artist Yolonda Frederick, and a cosmetic chemist named Maha, married their respective passions to produce a line that’s not only backed by experts, but also addresses the concerns of women of color. 

Ciara admits she’s well aware of celebrity brand fatigue, but what sets OAM apart, she says, is that commitment to women of color. 

When I was preparing to launch, I had no idea there were that many celebrity skincare lines. But what I also realized is that there are only a few women of color skincare brands in this space. And for me, being a woman of color, I thought hopefully I can be a part of that great space where you’ll see more women of color-led brands. I don’t think that one person has to be doing it and only one person can win,” she adds. 

OAM’s range is priced between $28 to $62 for single products, with the option to buy the complete bundle for $160, available now on oamskin.com.

ELLE

Lip Oils That Deserve Your Attention

ULTA Juice Infused Lip Oil

Named after your favorite fruits, this lip oil is built around key ingredients like vitamin E and alaria esculenta extract to provide maximum hydration.

LYS Beauty Speak Love Glossy Lip Treatment Oil

Featuring a cocktail of sweet oils including sunflower, carrot, and macadamia nut oil, LYS Beauty’s lip oil gives you a shine reminiscent of your favorite beauty supply store lip gloss while keeping chapped lips at bay.

Gisou Lip Oil

The star of Gisou’s lip oil is honey, a natural humectant (moisture attractor), which joins hyaluronic acid to moisturize and protect the lips all day long.

COOLA Classic Liplux Organic Hydrating Lip Oil Sunscreen SPF 30

Unlike most lip oils on the market, Coola’s iteration is formulated with SPF 30 to both moisturize and prevent any sunburn at the same time.

Tarte Cosmetics Maracuja Glossy Lip Oil

Reverse any damage to your lips by treating them with skin-saving oils like maracuja oil, macadamia seed oil, and safflower seed oil.

Merit Shade Slick Vegan Tinted Lip Oil

Upgrade from the glossy pink lip glosses of your childhood to Merit’s tinted version, which comes in warm nudes and browns.

Kosas Wet Lip Oil Plumping Treatment Gloss

An all-in-one lip treatment that plumps, enhances, and moisturizes your lips in a variety of fun colors.

Milani Fruit Fetish Lip Oil

A glance at Milani’s lip oil and you’re reminded of the sticky beauty supply lip gloss you used to collect. But unlike its predecessor, Milani’s lip oil provides shine without the tackiness so you can apply it liberally.

Clarins Lip Comfort Oil

As the name suggests, Clarins’ fan-favorite lip oil is so comfortable you’ll forget you’re wearing it all day long.

Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil

Featuring hyaluronic acid for nourishment, Ilia created a line of tinted lip oils that make great toppers for lipstick.

Burt’s Bees Hydrating Lip Oil

Here’s a lip oil that makes you look good and has nutrient-rich ingredients, like nourishing passionfruit oil, that’s good for your skin.

BAD HABIT Daily Fix Elderberry & Vitamin E Lip Oil

The intoxicating raspberry scent draws you in with each application, but it’s the soothing vitamin E that proves its staying power in your bag.

Estēe Lauder Pure Color Envy Nighttime Rescue Lip Oil-Serum

Estee Lauder’s oil-serum is an overnight treatment that gives your lips some much-needed TLC while you snooze.

Zara Nourishing Jelly Lip Oil

If you’ve been sleeping on Zara’s beauty section—it’s time you wake up, especially for the brand’s jelly lip oil. With a high-shine finish and comfortable long-wear formula, this lip oil pairs well with that Zara dress you’ve been eyeing.

ELLE

The 7 Questions Dermatologists Get Asked All The Time – And Their Answers

From acne and rosacea to simply not knowing where to start with a good skincare routine, we turn to dermatologists for all manner of skincare concerns. Given that they have seen, done and experienced it all when it comes to the skin, what are the questions they get asked most often? And what advice do they give? British Vogue sat down with three experts to find out.

Does your diet affect acne?

For the vast majority of people, acne purely comes down to your hormones and genetics,” says Dr Anjali Mahto. “That said, there is a small, select group of people that may be sensitive to dairy and refined sugars. I don’t recommend people cut things out of their diet at random because I think that can lead to issues around food restriction and disordered eating. But if you are noticing that your skin is breaking out when you eat dairy – and I’m not talking about a splash in your coffee, but huge amounts or taking whey protein supplements – there is probably some benefit in switching to a plant-based alternative that’s got a low GI index. Think unsweetened soy milk or almond milk, which are both better than oat milk.” Dr Justine Kluk agrees, stating that dietary changes alone are not enough to control acne. “They can form part of the management approach alongside prescription treatment, but don’t replace it in most cases,” she says.

Is the SPF in moisturiser equivalent to the one in sunscreen?

The SPF in your moisturiser is tested the same way as an SPF in sunscreen, so an SPF 30 moisturiser should provide an SPF of 30,” explains Dr Justine Kluk. “The main issue is that these formulas are less likely to be rub and water resistant and may be applied a lot more thinly than sunscreen. It’s for this reason that they may not offer the same level of protection. It is also worth noting that moisturisers containing an SPF may not contain any UVA protection and, as a result, will not protect against UV ageing.”

Do collagen supplements actually work?

If you look at the majority of data, at this moment in time, there isn’t any really good evidence that collagen supplements actually work,” says Dr Mahto. “That’s essentially because collagen is a protein – just like eating a piece of steak or tofu is protein. All that will happen is your gut breaks it down into constituent amino acids and doesn’t think, ‘I need to send it to the skin’, so it gets passed around the body. Also, if you’ve got enough expendable cash to be buying collagen supplements – they’re not cheap – you’re probably also the kind of person who is wearing sunscreen and following a good, healthy diet and using a retinol, so it becomes tricky to figure out whether it’s the collagen supplement working or the other things. I’m sceptical, but if you can show me good data that works, I’m willing to change my position on it.

Will my breakouts ever go away?

They might, but the reality for many women is that they often continue into the thirties and beyond,” says Dr Sam Bunting. “The good news is that the right anti-acne skincare routine will often be a highly effective plan for tackling premature ageing too, so your skin may well look better and better as time goes on.

What is the right age to start having injectables?

Lots of people ask if they’re too young or too old for injectables,” says Dr Mahto. “Generally, people that are in their mid-thirties onwards have figured out whether it’s a reasonable time to get started. Usually what I say in this scenario, is that it’s not actually about your age, it’s more about how your skin is ageing. That depends on your individual genetics – how your parents age – as well as how much sun exposure you’ve had, your diet, how stressed out you are and how you sleep. You can have somebody in their late twenties who’s had very little sun and their skin is ageing beautifully and they don’t need any injectable treatments. On the other hand, you could have a 28-year-old who has a really expressive face, they’ve enjoyed sunny holidays and outdoor sport, and they’re starting to get lines when their forehead is at rest or noticing a loss of volume in fat in their face. For someone like that, it might be a reasonable time to start. Different ethnic groups also age differently – somebody who has really fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes will start to get wrinkles more quickly than somebody who has Asian or Black skin, because their melanin will protect them. The flip-side is that those with Asian and Black skin tend to start losing volume in their faces more quickly, so they tend to need filler before they need Botox.”

Is my skincare routine working?

I think there is still a basic lack of understanding around what you actually need in a skincare routine and what you don’t,” Dr Mahto says. “People buy into the buzz about the latest ingredients – whether that’s niacinamide or tranexamic acid – but actually the average person does not need to be using every single one of those ingredients. What you’re trying to do is use as little as possible on your skin, and to look for ingredients that target multiple things. Vitamin A is anti-ageing, good for acne and pigmentation – so why use niacinamide and tranexamic acid and retinol when you’ve got one ingredient that will do a really good job of that? I spend a lot of time stripping back people’s routines, rather than adding things in.” 

Will anyone be able to tell if I’ve had Botox?

Not if it’s done well,” points out Dr Bunting. “I talk to patients about softening strong expression lines and releasing the tension from the face nowadays – it’s a far cry from the frozen faces of the ’90s. Microdosing means no one else ever has to know.”

VOGUE

‘Prince of Darkness’ Ozzy Osbourne Launches Line of Cosmetics

Heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne has debuted a makeup line in collaboration with Rock and Roll Beauty, complete with a coffin-shaped eye shadow palette.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #95 series on my blog.

The products are available at American beauty retailer Ulta and on Rock and Roll Beauty’s website, according to an Instagram post from the so-called “Prince of Darkness.”

The collection features dark shades and macabre packaging in line with the singer’s own style, which has often featured dramatic dark eye makeup looks.

And one item pays homage to one of the musician’s most memorable onstage moments: an eye shadow palette in the shape of a bat, just like the bat whose head Osbourne bit off while performing in Iowa in 1982.

The line also includes a handheld mirror, a skull-printed makeup bag, and three candles. 

Unfortunately for “Black Sabbath” fans, around half of the items in the collaboration are already sold out, as of Friday afternoon. 

Rock and Roll Beauty, an American makeup brand, has previously released makeup collections designed to celebrate Jimi Hendrix and Def Leppard.

CNN

Eye Of a Tiger

Model: Teanna
Products:
– Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
– Make Up For Ever ULTRA HD foundation, concealer, & loose powder
– Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit
– MAC Cosmetics blush in Hushed Tone, highlight in Double Gleam, BlackTrack liquid eyeliner, lipstick in Morange, & Give Me Sun bronzer
– Benefit Cosmetics Precisely My Brow pencil & Gimme Brow setting gel
– ColourPop Freckle pen, Orange You Glad & Uh Huh Honey eyeshadow palettes
– SIGMA Beauty brushes.

(Disclaimer: I do have Teanna’s consent to post the images on designated websites including Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and use in my digital portfolio.)

The Best Drugstore Eyeliner for Every Makeup Look

Eyeliner is a makeup bag staple for a reason: that seemingly simple line traced around your eyes makes a statement. Heck, the use of eyeliner dates as far back as 10,000 BC across Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt where that statement read, the thicker the lines, the higher your status. Thankfully, in today’s modern world, finding a quality eyeliner doesn’t require a high standing status—or a splurge for that matter. One stroll down the drugstore aisles will reveal dozens of eyeliner options to meet the needs of beauty professionals and first-time liners alike; many of which have also lined the eyes of celebrities like Emma Stone, Camila Cabello, and Sofia Vergara.

But truth be told, the right eyeliner can mean the difference between crisp, lined definition, and a smeary, smudgy mess. That’s where we helped cut through the beauty clutter and rounded up a collection of editor- and makeup artist-approved drugstore eyeliners that you can rely on for any makeup look.

If you’re searching for a great everyday product, Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner received the best overall for its waterproof formula, always sharp tip, and wide range of colors—from neutrals to jewel tones.

From classic pencils in unexpected vibrant colors, to liquid and gel liners that hold up to the elements, these drugstore eyeliners are proof that it doesn’t take a designer liner to master a gorgeous eye makeup look.

Best Overall: Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner

What We Love: This creamy, waterproof liner has a built-in sharpener so you’ll always have a fine tip for easy lining.

What We Don’t Love: You will need a good makeup remover and gentle rub to take it off.

There’s a reason—scratch that—many reasons—why this eyeliner is a beloved favorite among beauty professionals and novices alike, and earns the top spot on our list. The hybrid design combines the precision tip of a twist-up pencil, with the ease-of-use of a traditional pencil liner. The dual-ended pencil houses a creamy, waterproof formula on one end, and a blending tip on the other, which also pops out to reveal a tiny, shreds-free sharpener for an extra-fine point. The pencil glides on smooth making it ideal for everything from simple lining to graphic swooping, and stays put until you decide to wash it away.

Type: Mechanical pencil | Color Range: 8 shades | Waterproof: Yes

Best Pencil Liner: L’Oreal Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner

What We Love: The soft, jet black pencil is intensely pigmented for dramatic lines.

What We Don’t Love: This pencil is only available in one shade.

This classic pencil liner strikes the delicate balance of having a just-soft-enough tip that is perfect for strategic smudging, without turning smeary and messy. “While sometimes we’re looking for a pencil that doesn’t move, we also might want something smudgy and sexy,” makeup artist, Ashleigh Ciucci told InStyle. “This pencil is super soft and creates nice density but it blends out effortlessly for a smoky liner look,” she adds. While the dark kajal pencil is only available in an inky black shade, it’s an intense black that’s perfect for a smoldering eye makeup look.

Type: Pencil | Color Range: 1 black shade | Waterproof: No

Best Liquid Liner: Milani Stay Put Matte 17 Hr Wear Liquid Liner

What We Love: The deep matte pigment is intensely bold at first swipe and holds up well to moisture.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t have the finest point for precision lines.

There’s something about the two-piece ink pot and applicator design that makes this drugstore eyeliner feel exceptionally fancy as you apply it. The rich pigment goes on smooth and dries in seconds, so that meticulously traced line remains smudge-free from the minute it hits your face. The pretty matte finish adds a softer, understated effect to the eyes that pairs well with bold shadows, and the long wear pigment lives up to its all day (and night) promise without so much as a crease, crack, or smear.

Type: Liquid | Color Range: 4 dark shades | Waterproof: Water-resistant

Best Ink Pot: e.l.f. cream eyeliner pot

What We Love: The creamy pigment is rich and inky, but sets in seconds and won’t smudge.

What We Don’t Love: It requires a fine point eyeliner brush for application.

If winged eyeliner is your beauty mantra, this gel-pot gives you ultimate control so you can pack as much (or as little) pigment onto your brush as you need. The rich cream-gel formula is silky smooth, making it easy to manage how thick, thin, subtle, or dramatic your eyeliner looks. A single pass of any one of the three highly pigmented shades (black, brown, and teal) delivers intense color payoff. Plus, the long-wear formula holds up impressively well through anything, including happy tears and hot yoga.

Type: Gel | Color Range: 3 shades | Waterproof: Water-resistant

Best Gel Liner: CoverGirl Ink It Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner

What We Love: The mechanical twist-up pencil gives you a fine tip for every use.

What We Don’t Love: The color selection is limited to only two shades, black and brown.

Here’s a tried-and-true eyeliner that strikes the goldilocks ideal. Its texture is just soft enough for an easy glide application; the tip, just fine enough to master a precise tightline or dramatic wing; and the formula sets just fast enough, so lines remain crisp without any bleeding. However, you also have just enough time to buff or blend for a sexy smudge. The twist-up mechanical pencil ensures a precise tip for every application and its waterproof-ability is a notch above the rest.

Type: Mechanical gel pencil | Color Range: 2 shades | Waterproof: Yes

Best Longwear: Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer

What We Love: The smooth glide formula traces a fine, yet bold line with one pass.

We Don’t Love: The long-wear waterproof formula is difficult to remove.

If you’re looking for a sharp line that you don’t have to continuously trace over for bold, striking color, this retractable twist-up pencil delivers. The dual-sided liner hosts a creamy gel formula on one end, with a built-in smudger on the other, which comes in handy for subtle blending when you’re going for a softer, blurred effect. The soft tip glides on like a dream without dragging or tugging, and once the lines set, it’s there until it meets a good makeup remover and a bit of rubbing.

Type: Mechanical gel pencil| Color Range: 8 shades | Waterproof: Yes

Best Felt Tip: NYX Epic Ink Liner

What We Love: The fine, flexible, pointy tip is ideal for precise lines and effortless wings.

What We Don’t Love: The inky formula has a longer dry time.

The flexible, paintbrush-like tip makes this liner stand out from the pack, and with good reason: it allows for an ease of use that makes cat-eye flicks and graphic, winged swoops completely effortless, no matter your beauty skill level. You’ll need to wait a good 20 seconds for the pigment to set before any fussing, but once it dries that crisp liner look will remain sharp and defined all day. The glossy hue is also rich enough that all you need is one coat for striking definition around the eyes.

Type: Liquid | Color Range: 2 shades | Waterproof: Yes

Best Cruelty-Free: Wet n Wild Mega Last Breakup-Proof Liquid Eyeliner

What We Love: The pigment gradually dispenses as you line for added control.

What We Don’t Love: The marker tip can dull over time.

This eyeliner looks more like a fine-tipped marker than a traditional pencil liner and that’s exactly what makes it special. The marker is thicker than most liners and sits comfortably in your hand, allowing for better control which is especially helpful for more novice makeup do-ers. “I love this marker’s fine point, it glides on smoothly and is blacker than black,” Ciucci told InStyle. The feathery tip is fed by a mini built-in ink tank that dispenses a steady flow of pigment as you line, helping with an even application. “The real selling point for this baby is that it’s beyond waterproof and doesn’t pill.”

Type: Liquid | Color Range: 1 black shade | Waterproof: Yes

Best for Cat Eye: Maybelline Tattoo Studio Liner

What We Love: The gel liner is sharpenable and available in a nice array of shades.

What We Don’t Love: The formula sets fast, posing a challenge for smokey eye looks.

This unique gel-pencil liner delivers the best of both worlds: a silky gel-like formula paired with a pencil-like fine tip. Unlike most twist-up gel liners, which fall short in delivering an ultra-sharp tip, this gel pencil is sharpenable, giving you a precise point for easy lining and allowing you to better control the thickness of the lines for more dramatic cat eye styles.

It also swaps the drier, waxier pigments of a traditional pencil liner with a rich, creamy gel that glides on smooth, saturated with color, and stays put, even along the waterline. It has a wide shade range of nine colors, in classic and playful hues.

Type: Gel| Color Range: 9 shades | Waterproof: Yes

Best Color Variety: Pixi by Petra Endless Silky Eye Pen

What We Love: The liner is available in tons of colorful shades and different finishes.

What We Don’t Love: This pencil requires frequent sharpening to maintain a fine tip.

The super-soft liner glides on smoothly and gives just enough time to smudge out for a sexy, smokey effect before it dries and sets for hours. It’s also available in a playful variety of vibrant and classic colors, which includes shiny, matte, and shimmer finishes, at an inviting price point that encourages experimentation. The creamy texture makes it especially comfortable for tracing along the waterline without tugging or poking at the delicate eye area, but you will need frequent sharpening to keep a fine tip for precision lining.

Type: Pencil | Color Range: 23 shades | Waterproof: No

Best for Waterline: NYX Professionals Slim Eye Pencil

What We Love: This intensely pigmented liner comes in an impressive range of classic and vibrant shades.

What We Don’t Love: The formula is not waterproof.

One pass of this superior pencil liner is enough to recognize it’s a cut above the other pencils of its kind — and at a fraction of the price. The vibrant range of ultra-pigmented liners are formulated with coconut oil which keep the pencil tips silky enough to glide along the delicate waterline without poking, tugging, or pulling. It also has impressive staying power so it won’t disappear after you blink. The $5 price tag is reason enough to add a pop of color to your makeup bag, and the vibrant mint green, baby blue, and purple liners will serve as a welcome change from classic black and brown.

Type: Pencil | Color Range: 24 shades | Waterproof: No

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Neutrogena Nourishing Eyeliner

What We Love: It’s formulated with conditioning olive oil and shea butter that won’t irritate the eye area.

What We Don’t Love: The creamy texture can smudge on oily lids.

Nourishing isn’t typically a word we associate with eyeliners but we’ll admit, this formula lives up to its name. The creamy tip contains olive oil and shea butter that gently conditions the delicate area as you trace with it, so you don’t experience any creasing or cracking from dry skin. The formula is also made to not irritate sensitive eyes and skin.

While the color selection is limited, the shades feature light-diffusing pigments which appear as a soft, subtle shimmer that, once applied, highlight the whites of your eyes for a more defined gaze. The built-in sharpener and smudger on the opposite end of the pencil also make for easy lining.

Type: Gel | Color Range: 4 shades | Waterproof: No


What to Keep in Mind 

Eyeliner Type 

Eyeliners come in many different forms, each with their own unique benefits when it comes to control, precision, and ease-of-use. There are traditional pencils which require frequent sharpening to maintain a point, and mechanical or twist-up pencils with a gel-like formula that sometimes have a built-in sharpener. You can also find liquid or cream pigments in pots that require a fine liner brush for application. These formulas tend to be for more advanced makeup wearers.

Finding the right pigment type (kohl, kajal, liquid, gel, or cream), and application mechanism (pencil, pen, felt tip, or brush) to match your comfort level and preferred style will make for easier application.

Formula 

Identifying the right formula for your eye makeup look will help guide you to the best result. If you’re looking to achieve a smokey effect, you’ll want to look for softer, creamier formulas that allow time for blending and buffing, but will also set so you’re not left with a smudgy mess. There are also long wear and waterproof formulas that promise to hold up through hot days, sweaty workouts, or marathon nights. In that case, look for a formula that sets quickly and won’t wipe away at the first sign of moisture.

Finish 

The finish of an eyeliner might seem like a subtle detail (as compared to the finish of an eye shadow), but shiny, matte, or shimmery liner can make a big impact on your overall look. Matte liners offer an understated definition, while shiny and shimmery liners can create a dramatic, eye-catching effect. In the end, choosing the finish comes down to personal preference.

INSTYLE

Drugstore Concealers That Will Leave You Looking Restful

e.l.f. Cosmetics 16HR Camo Concealer

The creme de la creme of drugstore brands, E.L.F Cosmetics’ Camo Concealer has a creamy formula and perfectly designed applicator, plus two different finishes—hydrating and matte—that puts your favorite high-end one to shame. 

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Brightening Eye Perfector, SPF 25

Vitamin E, antioxidants, chamomile, and soy work to brighten and depuff those pesky bags under your eyes, while the flow-through brush applies the perfect amount of product for flawless coverage. 

Wet n Wild Mega Last Incognito AllDay Full Coverage Concealer

The sorcery this concealer does makes it hard to believe it’s only $4. This drugstore staple is full-coverage, so it can be used without foundation to conceal impurities and blends seamlessly with your other makeup players. 

L.A. Girl HD Pro Concealer

Everyone has had a LA Girl concealer at one point in their life because it’s just that good. A little goes a long way with this concealer. Plus, it has an expansive shade range so you’ll be able to highlight, concealer, and contour with multiple shades.

Milani Conceal + Perfect Longwear Foundation + Concealer

To be a regular full-coverage concealer is one thing. But Milani conceals while nourishing the skin with hyaluronic acid, shea butter, olive fruit oil and more. 

L’Oréal Infallible Full Wear Waterproof Concealer

If you’re a fan of the foundation, the concealer will be your new favorite. The applicator is large enough to help you sculpt all over your face. You don’t have to worry about it separating because it’s also water-resistant and transfer-resistant.

Revlon PhotoReady Candid Antioxidant Concealer

A concealer with anti-blue light ingredients? Revlon spoke to the social media influencer in all of us. No need to worry about dark circles or puffiness, this concealer erases it all. 

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer

This concealer hides blemishes but allows for the real you to shine through with it’s light-but-effective coverage. Reviewers suggest using a darker shade as contour and a lighter shade as a highlighter because the formula works so well together.

NYX Professional Makeup Hi Definition Photo Concealer Wand

Photoshop in a tube. The full coverage formula can cover the worst of breakouts and rivals Nars’ cult-favorite concealer, but at a fraction of the price. It goes on smooth without caking under your eyes, which is a major indicator of a great concealer. 

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer

Dark circles disappear with this concealer thanks to Gogi berry that brightens the under eye area and leaves your face illuminated for up to twelve hours. Tip: Spend the other twelve hours in the day sleeping to get rid of those dark circles for good.

Revlon ColorStay Concealer

The salicylic acid in Revlon’s ColorStay concealer is a pimple’s worst enemy as it eliminates blemishes in no time. Treatment plus coverage equals happy skin. Cover up now then say goodbye to your zit for good.

ELLE

Meet Evanie Frausto, Bella Hadid’s Go-To Hairstylist

Evanie Frausto is the reason why you want bubblegum-blue ringlets piled into towering proportions. Think of those extravagant pyramids of colourful confection – the sort you’d imagine Marie Antoinette dining on – but in wig form, and you have just one of the opulent looks Frausto created for Lil Nas X in his video for his hit single, “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”. Let them wear wigs.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #94 series on my blog.

A master of the surreal, Frausto has turned Bella Hadid into Poison Ivy, and made artist and photographer Petra Collins brunette; styled model Aweng Ade-Chuol’s hair into peroxide blonde finger waves and locs, and gave Kendall Jenner such long hair extensions that they trailed on the ground behind her. “I push my work to be a little bit offbeat,” the Mexican-American hairstylist tells Vogue. “I hope that people will feel inspired by it.

Growing up in Orange County, California, Frausto moved to New York where he was taken under the wing of legendary hairstylist Jimmy Paul. Manipulating hair and wigs to sculptural effect, since embarking on a solo career, Frausto has worked for everyone from Fenty to Helmut Lang. Here, the rising star shares some of his proudest moments.

What was your earliest beauty memory?

I grew up with my mum and my grandmother and my mum’s four sisters, who are all glamorous. My mum never left the house without her makeup or her hair done. Just being surrounded by such powerful feminine energy made me see how transformative makeup and hair was.

Did you experiment with your own look?

When I was a teenager, I was influenced by the MySpace scene. It had such a specific look: it was so punk, but also I thought it was pretty — making your hair different bold colours and having piercings and wearing eyeliner. I was constantly changing my hair colour and putting new piercings in my face, and just playing around with self-expression.”

Were you confident in your pursuit of self-expression?

I grew up in a traditional Mexican household and everything that I was exploring was against that tradition. I was the first in my family to be born in the US, so it was confusing to still be in this household and yet be queer, different, and feel ‘other’. But once I found my community and my group of friends, I felt confident as that weirdo kid with the piercings and hair extensions.”

What drew you to hair specifically?

Hair was always the crown, the cherry on the cake – it’s a way of finishing off how I felt, it was a mood, a way of expression. I always gravitated towards it. Working with hair now, I love and appreciate the sculptural element of it, getting my hands in there and manipulating it.

How did you go from experimenting with hair to pursuing it as a career?

I owe it to my mentors. They introduced me to a world I never knew existed, especially Jimmy Paul. I fell into it accidentally; the only reason I went to hair school is that I was a crazy teenager and university in the US is so expensive. One thing led to another, I moved to New York and was pulled into the fashion industry.”

Do you approach hair as its own entity or do you view it as part of the whole look?

I see it both ways, especially working in fashion. Sometimes I get those shoots where I can just create the piece or make the sculpture. I’m fortunate to work with teams that trust me to do my thing, bring it to set and they work around it. But there’s definitely a part of it where I’m helping to bring out a specific look or mood. I’m very much into both.”

How would you describe your creative process?

I’ll talk to the stylist or the photographer, and they’ll give me the initial idea or mood. I work off feelings, so I’ll start doing something that’s in my head but if it starts to go another way, I just follow it. I go with the flow versus trying to mimic something exactly. I look for inspiration in everything and it changes.

There was a moment where I was looking through Instagram, but lately I’ve gotten into books and I’ve been going to thrift stores and vintage shops, hunting for old magazines. I just found this amazing Armani book – it’s so inspiring and a lot of it is stuff I haven’t seen on the internet. I also get inspired when I go back home to Orange County and visit the Mexican-American community. The hair looks are so specific to that community – like chunky highlights or warmer tones.”

What’s been your proudest moment so far?

Honestly, it’s such a hard question because I come from so little so every opportunity I get I’m excited about. I’m proud to be working with people I’ve looked up to and who inspire me like [Vogue Italia editor-at-large] Patti Wilson and Bella Hadid, and that I have such good relationships with.

When working with someone like Bella, how much of her personality plays into how you conceive a look?

Oh, a lot. She really works hard and she studies. Whenever I do something with her, I’ll have my references and then she’ll have her references, and we work it out together. I’m so open to being collaborative. I want the models to feel good so I always love hearing what they think.”

What do you want your work to say about beauty?

I can find beauty in everything. It’s more about a feeling or emotion versus trying to achieve something that’s beautiful. But at the end of the day, I find it beautiful. Beauty is embracing individuality and uniqueness, and not being afraid of things that make a person a little different.”

What are your hopes for the future in terms of your own career, and what are your hopes for the industry at large?

In terms of my own work, I hope to continue to grow and learn. One of my favourite parts of the job is meeting all the other creatives, so I want to continue to grow my relationships with people, and collaborate with people who inspire me. In terms of the industry, it’s been a crazy couple of years. The industry has been pushing for diversity and inclusivity, and I hope that it continues to evolve and grow.”

VOGUE

Powerful Makeup Brush Cleaners To Keep Your Tools In Shape

If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes— or if you’re the type to buy a new brush to avoid the brush cleaning process— it’s time to buckle down and wash your brushes. Did you know clean makeup brushes create a more seamless makeup look and allow your products to function properly? Yes, it’s true. Have you ever tried blending concealer with a soiled brush? Don’t recommend it. 

However, the most crucial reason to properly clean your brushes is to minimize outbreaks caused by the bacteria packed into the bristles from all of the liquid, powder, and cream products you use on your face on a regular basis. Up for the task? Here are 11 makeup brush cleaners that will restore your brushes to like-new condition.

CINEMA SECRETS

The creme de la creme of all makeup brush cleaners comes courtesy of Cinema Secrets. Beloved by makeup artists and obsessives alike, this brush cleaner quickly removes build-up from brushes without leaving a greasy residue behind.

MAC COSMETICS

After a while, certain cleansers can shorten your brush’s lifespan. Luckily, MAC’s brush cleanser does the complete opposite while also conditioning the brush hairs to ensure each makeup application is flawless.

SEPHORA COLLECTION

If each day starts with a fresh makeup beat, each day should end with a clean brush. Sephora Collection’s brush cleaner comes in the form of a spray so you can clean in between looks.

ELF COSMETICS

The best part about using E.l.f Cosmetics’ brush shampoo is how well it lathers, so you know your brushes are getting a goodclean regardless of how much effort you put in.

RICRIS

Streamline your makeup brush cleaning process with this tiny device. Simply dip your dirty brush in the bowl, turn on the spinner, discard the dirty water, and repeat.

AOA STUDIO

Believe it or not, the majority of inventory in the Miss A shop costs anywhere from $1 to $2, including its best-selling brush soap. Unlike other cleansers, the soap is housed in a small can but the results are astounding. Swirl your brush in the soap, rinse, and watch the magic happen.

DAWN DISH LIQUID

Yes, your typical antibacterial soap works just as well as the other brush cleaners on the market. Rest assured that your brushes will be free of all dirt and gunk, as well as any bacteria it may have accumulated over time.

ECOTOOLS

There are a lot of things to love about the Eco Tools brush shampoo, from the plant-based ingredients to fragrance-free formula. This cleanser brings your brushes back to their original state and is hypoallergenic to prevent any irritation.

REAL TECHNIQUES

A trusted brush cleanser from the brand with tried-and-true affordable brushes, the gel formula gives your brushes a deep clean without altering the bristles.

BEAUTYBLENDER

For a gentle cleanser tailored made for your beauty sponges, beautyblender created the perfect solution. This compact soap removes product build up as you massage the soap into your tools to provide a gentle but deep clean.

SIGMA BEAUTY

Free of any harsh chemicals, this hypoallergenic brush shampoo produces a good lather that coats each bristle with soap to remove the most stubborn dirt and pigment.

FAQs

Why do I need a brush cleaner?

You want to treat your brushes with the same level of attention you give your face, especially since brushes are directly applied to the skin. Cleaning your makeup brushes removes dirt and build-up that lead to acne scars and bacteria. A clean brush prevents breakouts and makes your makeup application process seamless. 

How do you wash your brushes?

Along with the aforementioned brush cleaners, investing in a brush mat helps to ensure your brushes are being properly cleansed. Most mats are designed with different sections for varying brush sizes. For liquid brush cleaners, it’s best to pour the product directly into the brush, saturate the bristles, and then use the mat to get hard-to-reach areas. After rinsing, repeat the process until your brushes return to their natural state.

ELLE