Liquid eye shadows are among the trendiest makeup formulas right now, with new versions dropping from a variety of brands seemingly every week. Devotees favor them for their ease of use, blendability and intense color payoff. But there are a few key tricks to finding the right formula and applying it like a pro.
“When it comes to these formulas, a little goes a long way,” says makeup artist Beau Nelson. “The best way is to use a synthetic brush, apply thin layers and use the brush to buff edges for a clean transition.” Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes agrees, nothing that fingers are fine in a pinch, but “the oils in your fingers can often break up the oils in the product.” One major benefit of using a liquid shadow is that it doesn’t require the use of a primer: They “basically act as primers with color. They work well amazingly on their own, or even as a base for powder shadows,” explains Hughes.
Liquid eye shadows are also the unsung heroes of the makeup bag because of their versatility. Both makeup artists we consulted agree that the multi-tasking capabilities of these formulas are particularly impressive. “Metallic, pale and medium shades can look best as highlights. They can also act as blush — just mix a tiny bit of foundation to extend the product’s dry-down time,” says Nelson.
Now that you know how to apply them like a pro, here are the best expert-recommended liquid eye shadows to add to your collection. Read on to see (and shop) them all.
Danessa Myricks Beauty 24-Hour Cream ColorFix
Channel your inner artist with Danessa Myricks Beauty ColorFix 24-Hour Cream Color Matte. This ultra-long-wearing cream color can be safely used on lips, eyes, face, and body. ColorFix’s unique silicone-polymer base can be mixed to create custom colors and finishes.
Powder-finish formula (that doesn’t feel powdery) smooths on with a doe foot applicator. Silky, blendable color melts into skin, creating a pretty, diffused effect that lasts. A little bit adds some depth to the eye area; add more for a refined, modern wash of color. Comes in seven shades inspired by dreamy Southwest landscapes.
Illuminate your eyes with Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow by Stila Cosmetics. This lightweight and water-infused formula provides long-lasting coverage, without ever flaking. Boosted with mica, this highly-pigmented formula reflects the light around you, revealing a glowing appearance.
Creates a sheer veil of color that locks onto lids without creasing (so no need for primer). Ultrafine pigments are enveloped in a buttery base for a silky, blendable formula that swipes on easily. Comes in six shimmery, long-wearing shades.
This gel-based formula is long-lasting, quick-drying and 100% eye-catching! Formulated for comfortable wear and minimal fall out, this opaque liquid eyeshadow delivers high-impact, multi-dimensional glitters and pearls in a quick-drying gel base.
Smith & Cult Glitterbaby Metallic-Shift Eye Shadow
Next level liquid glitter eyeshadow. Smith & Cult’s Glitterbaby Metallic-Shift Eyeshadow features black micronized pigments that transform to a deeper metallic as you blend. Build color intensity and depth. Wear as a sparkling metallic or smudge for a smoky look.
It’s infused with rosehip and jojoba oils for maximum hydration.
If dry skin has ever kept you from wearing makeup, skincare CEO Charlotte Parler promises you’ll meet your match with the Kosas Color & Light Cream Palette.
“It’s probably my favorite cosmetic product right now,” said Parler, the founder of Dieux Skin, in a recent viral TikTok. “If you have dry skin, this highlighter and cream blush duo is going to make you look dewy.”
Kosas clearly had dry skin in mind when creating this palette, which is formulated with apricot kernel, rosehip, and jojoba seed oils to soothe and brighten skin. The blend of oils also makes for an incredibly blendable product, and the infused pigments are buildable and offer major staying power. To seal the deal, the blush and highlighter are cruelty-free and boast a shelf life of a whopping 18 months.
The Color & Light palette is available in four complementary color combinations, all of which are also sold in a high-intensity variation containing double the pigment. And these shades have range— shoppers can choose from the peach and cream Velvet Melon, the cool pinks of 8th Muse, the burnt orange and mauve in Helios, and the vibrant bronze hues of the Tropic Equinox duo.
More than 300 shoppers have supported Parler’s claims about this palette in the form of a five-star review on Kosas’ website. “During the winter when my skin is naturally drier, this allows me to keep my skin hydrated while having a dewy looking glow,” one customer wrote. “It’s exactly what I was looking for!”
“I love the glow this gives on my dry skin,” said another. “I find myself grabbing it almost daily.”
The Kosas Color & Light Cream Palette can be yours for $34, which isn’t so bad when you consider that it contains two high-quality formulations in a single pan. Plus, if you sign up for the brand’s mailing list, you’ll receive 10% off your first order. No matter your skin tone or texture, it’s a foolproof path to a hydrated flush during the driest season of the year.
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.”
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!”
T’is the season of flaky, chapped lips… which is why we keep our pockets, purses, and nightstands stocked with an arsenal of positively conditioning lip treatments. And you can trust I’ve tried every product under the sun: medicated balms, do-it-all salves, SPF spiked tubes, tasty, all-natural scrubs — I’ve even slapped on sheet masks made just for the mouth.
Here are some of mine, and ALLURE editors’ picks for this season:
Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm
Don’t let the millennial-friendly packaging fool you: Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm is widely loved for a reason. Not only does it work wonders on dry, cracked lips — as well as chapped areas anywhere on the body — but it’s also lightweight, non-sticky, and leaves behind a silky sheen that doesn’t disappear after an hour. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Nuxe Paris’s Reve De Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm is a classic French pharmacy favorite that’s beloved by bloggers, YouTubers, and beauty editors alike. While it has a thick, balm-like consistency thanks to its beeswax base, the formula never feels greasy or chunky on your lips. Instead, it dries down to a subtle matte texture and restores moisture within minutes.
Kosasport’s LipFuel Hyaluronic Lip Balm glides on smoothly with zero stickiness, yet moisturizes like an overnight mask, thanks to heavy-duty hydrators, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and konjac root. For anyone unfamiliar with the latter ingredient, it works by creating a gel-like barrier between the lips and outside aggressors that affect dryness. Choose between two shades (cool pink and dusty rose) and one clear option.
A 2019 Allure of Beauty winner, Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask works overtime to ensure lips are moisturized, supple, and smooth-as-silk by morning. Infused with berry-derived antioxidants and vitamin C, as well as its proprietary “moisture wrap” technology, you’ll notice a visible difference in dryness after just one use. The intoxicating fruity scent doesn’t hurt either, though if that’s not your jam, it also comes in vanilla and apple lime.
A word from Allure beauty editor Paige Stables: “Even though it’s designed to use as an overnight mask, I also love it during the day,” she says. “A thin layer of the antioxidant-rich balm adds the prettiest subtle sheen to lips, and it layers nicely with lipstick, too.”
Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins — including A, C, and E — Dr. Pawpaw’s Multipurpose Soothing Balm delivers an intense dose of nourishment to the lips, as well as anywhere else on the body that could use some T.L.C. Additionally, its main ingredient, plant-derived fermented pawpaw, is lauded for soothing dry, irritated lips on contact. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also fragrance-free and vegan-friendly, making it suitable for so many different people.
Shiseido’s Sun Protection Lip Treatment SPF 35 is everything you’d expect from a brand that takes sun protection so seriously. This sleek little tube contains a whopping SPF 35, thanks to a mixture of both chemical and physical protection. Amazingly, it doesn’t taste the least bit like sunscreen, though it can leave a subtle white cast (but it’s nothing a little bit of lipstick layering can’t fix).
Fresh’s Sugar Tinted Lip Treatments are a beauty editor staple, and it isn’t hard to understand why. They feel rich and moisturizing on lips, and depending on swipe strength, the color can range from a sheer tint to a juicier, more saturated sheen.
Sun Bum’s SPF 30 Mineral Lip Balm is zinc-based and made of minerals that soften and smooth lips. Additionally: skin-smoothing cocoa butter and SPF 30 protection — with a dash of vitamin E provide sun protection. Not to mention, this packaging is undeniably adorable.
By Terry’s Baume de Rose Balm is formulated with ceramides and shea butter that help repair lips’ natural moisture barrier, addressing the problem for the long term instead of just temporarily. It also layers well with lipstick, keeping lips moisturized without causing it to slip and slide around.
Yes to Coconut’s Lip Oil is a Best of Beauty award winner — and for good reason. The silky oil won’t disappear from lips the way other balms do. Instead, it leaves them pampered and glossy with a healthy, stick-free shine.
As far as we’re concerned, the only thing better than a lip balm is a tinted lip balm. Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment comes in five hues (plus one clear option). Add a side of protection — SPF 25 and antioxidants from lemon peel — and consider all your bases covered.
Dry lips, listen up. Coola’s Liplux SPF 30 Organic Lip Sunscreen contains pretty much every skin-softening ingredient imaginable: aloe, beeswax, coconut oil, raspberry seed oil, and jojoba seed oil. Not to mention, the aqua tube reminds us of days spent by the pool.
Clarins’ Instant Light Lip Oil is one of those products that we could keep smearing on our lips all day because it feels slick, smells like vanilla, and makes lips super shiny while hydrating them at the same time.
“Malin + Goetz’s Mojito Lip Balm is as shiny as a gloss, so it’s great as a last step in your makeup routine. Not only is it really nourishing, but it’s also incredibly slippery, which feels awesome on dry, parched lips.” — Sophia Panych, former digital deputy beauty director
Hourglass’s No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil is so good that you can slather it on before bed and still feel it on your lips the next morning. It’s a little sticky, so we find nighttime is the safest time of day to apply it without added mess. Plus, the gold applicator tip looks incredibly fancy.
Shea butter fans, listen up: Supergooop’s Açai Fusion Lip Balm contains the hydrating ingredient, plus a dose of SPF 30. Initially, the formula is a pale pink, but it sheers out to a nice, neutral glisten.
Carmex Lip Balm is an oldie but a goodie. The iconic formula (which contains petrolatum, menthol, and camphor) has been soothing cracked lips for almost 80 years. One application, and it’s no surprise why we keep going back to it every winter.
There’s a chance that Marc Jacobs’ Lip Lock SPF Lip Balm is the chicest lip balm we’ve ever laid eyes on — but it’s more than just a pretty face. It’s spiked with shea butter, avocado oil, and a sweet, minty flavor. Add the fact that it contains SPF 18 (not the recommended SPF 30, but still SPF, nonetheless), and you have yourself a balm that’s both sexy and smart.
Korres’s Lip Butter is as rich and creamy as the name suggests, which is precisely what makes this a coveted editor favorite. That, and the fact the gorgeous tints provide the perfect dose of color without skimping on moisture.
“Makeup artists love this balm for their male clients because it’s exceptionally hydrating but doesn’t leave any shine behind. After hearing that, I had to give it a try, and of course now I’m hooked. I use it when I’m wearing a bold lipstick. I put it on before I start my makeup and let it settle as I apply base, blush, and eye makeup. Once I’m ready for lipstick, my mouth is perfectly prepped.” — Sophia Panych
In addition to being insanely hydrating, Smith’s Rosebud Salve has the slightest hint of pink, making it one of the easiest way to boost your natural lip color if you’re going for a no-makeup makeup look. Makeup artist Diane Kendal keeps tins of the stuff in her kit at all times.
Almost every Allure editor has Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment floating around their houses. It’s great for every dry patch — elbows and knees in the winter, itchy skin in the summer — and takes off the most stubborn eye makeup. But we particularly love it best as a lip balm. It’s not the sexiest, but it really soaks into chapped skin.
RMS’s Beauty Lip & Skin Balm was created by makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift, whose celebrity clientele includes a lineup of former Victoria’s Secret bombshells (Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, Karolina Kurkova). It can’t exactly promise Angel status, but the organic coconut oil balm will keep parched lips soft and supple all day long.
La Mer’s The Lip Balm is a bit extravagant for an everyday lip product ($60, to be exact), but the marine extracts do a heck of a job healing severely parched lips in record time. Reserve the little pot as a nighttime treatment and lips will be soft and lush by morning — and remain that way all day long.
Drunk Elephant’s Lippe Lip Balm is short and squat, so the shape is more like a glue stick than a typical lip balm. The natural formula contains peptides, along with a bunch of moisturizing oils, so in theory, it should also ward off signs of aging in addition to keeping lips hydrated. It’s also lightweight and fairly matte, so your lips don’t end up looking overly glossy.
The clean beauty market has been making serious waves in the industry over the past few years, with consumers becoming increasingly more mindful of the ingredients found in product formulations.
Yet, when it comes to mascara — which is arguably one of the most commonly used beauty products in North America — options are extremely limited.
“Mascara is notoriously hard to create because it is truly a union between three things: brush, wiper, and formula,” Dianna Ruth, co-founder of Milk Makeup, tells InStyle. “Getting all three to work in harmony is a challenge in itself. Clean mascara is a specific challenge because of the need to remove synthetics or parabens.”
Despite the hurdles, Milk Makeup, along with brands like Kosas and Ilia, have all gotten their formulas down pat, and even crafted the perfect wipers and brushes — and consumers can’t get enough.
What Ingredients Go Into a Clean Mascara?
Since there are no strict FDA regulations around these cosmetic formulations, ingredients can vary from brand to brand. However, to be considered “clean,” there’s a general standard of what’s left out.
“A brand needs to prepare and share ‘free – of,’ ‘no-no’ beauty ingredient list that prohibits the use of those ingredients in your products,” says Ruth.
Milk, Ilia, and Kosas are all free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and over 50 other potentially harmful ingredients.
But it is important to note that not all clean formulas contain vegan ingredients.
Why Should Certain Ingredients Specifically Be Left Out of Clean Mascara?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created a list featuring a plethora of potentially toxic ingredients found in personal care products that may be linked to cancer and other serious health concerns. This is why Sheena Yaitanes, founder of Kosas, along with the other founders believe it’s incredibly important to be mindful of what goes into mascaras.
“Your eye is a mucous membrane. It’s very vascular and very delicate and things can easily absorb there,” she explains. “We’ve all heard of the most popular ingredients to avoid in products, but the biggest thing that caught my eye when I was first reading the ingredient lists on my mascaras, was the liberal use of plastics and formaldehyde releasing agents like acrylates. Think of the plastic bags you get at the grocery store or acrylic nails.” (!)
How Are Clean Mascara Formulations Crafted Without Traditional Ingredients?
“We worked hand-in-hand with our formulating team to address concerns and find clean swaps for each of them,” Ilia Founder, Sasha Plavsic shares about the creation of the brand’s Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara. “The amazing thing was that we found swaps to help maintain consumer performance expectations, but they also had other great benefits, like easy removal and less weight on the lashes.”
Yaitanes, who has long loved the look of “massive, almost fake looking lashes,” adds that she wanted to ensure consumers could get an ultra-bold finish by creating a formula for The Big Clean that not only gave them unforgettable results, but also would work to nourish their lashes. Turns out it was no easy feat.
“It took our research and development team 104 iterations to get this formula right,” she explains. “We tested the formulas on different people, different eyes shapes, and during different activities. I personally did a lot of sweaty yoga, others would sleep in each formula to test the morning-after impact, and one the members of our product development team tested during her MMA training. By the way, no mascara survives MMA — but we love that she tried.”
In the end, they were able to create a product that became an instant hit, which included lash care components like castor oil, pro vitamin B5, and biotinyl tripeptide. All used at a serum concentration.
But for vegan formulations, like Milk Makeup’s KUSH High Volumizing Mascara, which don’t include key binding ingredients like beeswax, everything has to be taken up a notch.
“My team had the idea of using hemp-derived cannabis seed oil in addition to synthetic beeswax,” says Ruth. “In doing so, we found that hemp-derived cannabis seed oil was the perfect addition — plus it had conditioning benefits for hair and skin.”