14 Beauty Editors Share Their Favorite Product Launches of 2021
Doesn’t it feel like there’s another new beauty launch every single day? For beauty editors, that’s a reality. From makeup and skin care to hair and nails, new products hit our desks all week long, and it’s literally our job to try them all. Obviously, this is a huge job perk, but when you’re bombarded by so much product, it’s hard for anything to really stick out.
There are only so many hours in the day, so many days in the week, and you only have one face. Sometimes merely getting through all the products can be a challenge. And when it comes to skin care, you really can’t make an informed decision about the product’s efficacy until after a couple of weeks (or sometimes months), and the mere idea of sticking with something that long when there’s so many other formulas you need to try is daunting.
So, when a beauty editor says they actually like something, you listen. When you’ve always got a new product to try out, going back to one you like is a true sign of something great. And if we use the product up? Then it’s basically a holy grail.
The past year was an exciting one for beauty. In 2021, we saw trends emerge and change faster than ever. Skin care seems to still be the main focus for many, but when it comes to makeup, we’re more interested in color than ever before. And then there are the multitasking hybrid products that bring together the best of skin care and makeup in one.
To close out the year, we asked beauty editors to share their favorite new launches of 2021. And they had some opinions. One of the formulas is so beloved, it got a shout-out from multiple editors. Ahead, all of the editors’ top beauty picks — aka, the products you’ll definitely want to start 2022 with.
“There are lots of beauty products that have brought me joy this year, but if I were to choose my favorite one based on formulation, packaging and usage, I’d have to go with U Beauty’s Multimodal Defender Broad Spectrum SPF 30. [The name] is a mouthful, but is basically a jar of really incredible, high-tech SPF. To be worthy of the best launch of the year, a product has to involve science-backed claims, of which this product has plenty. It’s proven to actually help lower your skin’s temperature and prevent the formation of dark spots, and is formulated with the brand’s patent-pending SIREN Technology, which allows the product’s most active ingredients to target areas of the skin where there are the most free radicals.” —Faith Xue, Executive Beauty Director, Bustle Digital Group
“I’m such a Good Light fan; the textures, scents, formulas, all of it. It’s such a beautiful, curated collection of must-haves, but my absolute favorite is the Moon Glow Milky Toning Lotion. It’s a toner that feels absolutely luscious on the skin, as it’s made with ceramides, niacinamide, and AHAs to keep your face both nourished and luminous in equal measure.” —Hallie Gould, Associate Editorial Director, Byrdie
“This is one of the best hydrating toners I’ve used. It uses AHAs so it’s gently exfoliating. This is my go-to replacement for moisturizer during the summer. It’s a year round gem.” —Saleam Singleton, Beauty writer, brand consultant and content creator
“I bought this on a complete whim passing by Ulta the other day and it’s turned into one of the best drugstore products I’ve found. When you apply the balm, it glides across your lips and a few seconds later produces a beautiful rosy pink color that looks so good, you’ll want to keep one in every purse. Not to mention, it’s ultra-hydrating and great for Zoom calls and everything in between.” —Natasha Marsh, Beauty Features Editor, The Zoe Report
“While I tend to keep my eye makeup fairly simple, The Unseen’s innovative new paint makes creating a bold look not only easy but extremely fun. I like to swipe on a layer of shade 4.10 and watch the tech-y formula transform from black to a gorgeous, high-shine silver with the click of a button — literally.” —Michella Oré, Beauty Writer, Vogue, Allure and Glamour
“You know that annoying, in-between phase of a breakout, when it’s not at its gnarliest but you can still see it raised under any concealer? That’s when I’ll use a dab of this balm to jumpstart the post-zit healing process, and it miraculously disappears in days without a dark mark in sight. To me, it’s the best blemish-healing invention since pimple patches (which, ironically, works in tandem with the latter) — for less than the cost of a Sweetgreen salad.” —Kelsey Castañon, Beauty Director, Popsugar
“It’s the only lip goo that actually heals my dry, chapped lips to feel comfortably moisturized, and this new colorway is the perfect lip/cheek tint for me. It has a hint of shimmer but the particles are so fine that it just looks like a dewy finish, not sparkly at all. I hate having to sacrifice nourishment for lip color and this really hits it out of the park on both fronts.” —Sable Yong, Freelance Beauty Writer and Co-Host, “Smell Ya Later” podcast
“The Hanni Weighted Razor is as chic as it is innovative. I don’t know what I love most about this product: Is it because it was designed with a woman’s body in mind and gives me the closest, smoothest shave of my life? Yes. But it could also be the fact that it’s reusable, saving me from having to buy another razor ever again. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s extremely #aesthetic and isn’t an eyesore on my bathroom counter. There are so many reasons to love the Hanni, which is why it’s my favorite beauty product of the year.” —Sara Tan, Beauty Director, Refinery29 and Co-Host, “Gloss Angeles” podcast
“C Firma is a modern icon, and this iteration has just one genius tweak: The serum base and active ingredients are kept separate until you mix them. Vitamin C goes stale faster than anyone would like to admit, and this keeps the active ingredient pristine until the moment you’re ready to use it, not while it’s sitting in a warehouse — the perfect thing for a year when we were all thinking about supply chains.” —Chris Cohen, Wellness Editor, GQ
“The About-Face Daytripper Matte Fluid Eye Paint has become my go-to product this year. It is incredibly easy to use, super pigmented like an actual acrylic paint and this shade of green is really fun. It comes with an applicator that easily allows you to apply pops of color, but you can also use a thin paintbrush for a more detailed look. Without fail, whenever I wear it, I get compliments — 10/10.” —Star Donaldson, Senior Social Media Editor, Byrdie
“Maybe this is TMI, but the most persistent skin issue I dealt with this year was body acne and it is the worst. This mist from new brand Soft Services became my go-to and now I don’t know how I’d live without it. Not only does it help keep my body breakouts at bay and soothe my irritated skin, but the spray makes it easy to get to hard-to-reach areas like my back. I spray it on religiously after sweaty workouts and pretty much every shower.” —Garrett Munce, Grooming Editor, Esquire and Men’s Health
“Wherever there are Black women who work in media, there is a bottle of Ami Colé Lip Treatment Oil. Every. Single. Time. It’s absolute perfection. It gives that your-lips-but-better-tint, but unlike a regular lip gloss it’s actually moisturizing. This is truly the one. I don’t know a lip gloss that’s better and I do not believe it exists, so there’s also that.” —Jihan Forbes, Digital Editor, Allure.com
“This Tarte foundation has been my go-to all year. It gives just enough coverage — I only need two healthy drops to cover my entire face — and it feels undetectable on skin. It’s perfect for light natural makeup days and when I need a full face on occasion.” —Aimee Simeon, Senior Beauty Editor, Byrdie
“I’ve become obsessed with this calming, multi-tasking serum. I’m comfortable recommending it to just about anyone because it delivers so many benefits — it’s been clinically shown to enhance firmness and smooth expression lines; offers antioxidant protection; calms irritation and evens tone and texture — and it does so gently. The brand was super transparent on its social channels about the work and research that went into the product development, so I know just how much care and intention was put toward creating the perfect formula. I also love that it comes from a small, women-owned company that makes an effort to educate and problem-solve for consumers, not just shill expensive products to them.” —Stephanie Saltzman, Beauty Director, Fashionista
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