There's a constant ebb and flow when it comes to the current standing of our favorite beauty products. As beauty editors, we're always testing and learning about the coolest new formulas, and I'm not sure if our skincare, makeup, or haircare routines have ever looked exactly the same two days in a row. Sure, we may not have a set-in-stone process or product protocol, but the manic way we swatch and slather does give us the freedom to discern the good from the bad and predict the holy grail and the forgettable (which is pretty darn fun!).
Twenty-twenty was a year of remarkable twists and turns, but as a silver lining, the number of truly amazing beauty innovations we vetted remained unwavering (more so than any other year, TBH). In fact, a number of said innovations are so great and are still so under the radar that we decided to shine a sparkling spotlight on them in preparation for 2021.
From the crease-proof glitter eye shadow that's pure fodder for selfies and compliments to the wands, toners, and masks that lend themselves to unparalleled face glow, here lies our ultimate 2021 beauty capsule. Keep scrolling! These are the new and newish must-try products we love and can't wait for you to fall head over heels for in 2021.
The Retinol Serum-in-Cream
One part retinol serum, one part soothing face cream, this brand-new product from It Cosmetics is editor-approved genius. It utilizes a blend of free and encapsulated retinol for increased efficacy and bonus skin perks that go beyond wrinkle fighting. (Think firmer skin and fewer fine lines and dark spots.)
The Extensions in a Tube
I'm so sorry if you're sick of me talking about this lash-extending tint, but if you buy any beauty product for yourself this year, make it this. The magic lies in the Japanese-made metal "brush," which allows you to lightly and evenly coat and build every single lash. It's water-resistant and fast drying (so your lashes stay curled and lifted), and it will never, ever smudge.
The Facial Sculpting Wand
We've been manifesting some kind of game-changing facial device from celebrity esthetician Shani Darden for years, and our dreams have finally come true. Thanks to the cutting-edge sound wave technology, which simultaneously targets wrinkles, oxygen deprivation, and sluggish circulation, it's the next best thing to having Darden's actually fingers working their magic on your face.
The Best-in-Class Body Exfoliator
Move over body scrubs and polishes because these fast, easy-to-use, and insanely effective exfoliating wipes from Dr. Dennis Gross are officially the best thing to happen to our dull, rough winter skin. (Body breakouts and pesky ingrown hairs don't stand a chance, either!)
The Perfume/Body Cream Hybrid
Speaking of keeping our limbs in smooth, glowing, and all-around tip-top shape, meet our most recent body-cream obsession from clean and transparent fragrance brand Henry Rose. In exciting newness, the brand has just launched two decadent body creams available in its most-wanted scents: Queens & Monsters (rich with sandalwood and freesia) and Jake's House (crisp and fresh with musk and honey-dipped neroli).
The Espresso Shot in an Eye Cream
We don't know about you, but 2020 has been the year of dwindling beauty sleep. We're hoping for a turnaround in 2021, but just in case, we're keeping this effective AF eye cream from Mutha on hand at all times. It's life changing under eye makeup (you've never looked so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed) but is equally awakening on its own thanks to the strategic mix of caffeine seed, pearl powder, a potent hyaluronic acid complex, and so much more.
The Toxin-Dissolving Cleanser
For years, celebrities, skin experts, and editors have gone wild for Hanacure's infamous at-home facials, which quite literally lift and tighten before your eyes. Of course, we're always keen on keeping up our masking habit with the brand's OG formula, but recently, it has added two new accessories to the mix to enhance the benefits of its MVP—the Nano Emulsion (a multitasking facial moisturizer spiked with peptides) and this Microphol Neutralizing Cleanser (a gentle, toxin-dissolving formula).
The Practically Bionic Hair Balm
You really have to try this nourishing hair balm to believe its enchantment, but I'm fairly convinced it's witchcraft. In fact, it transformed my dry, dull, snap-prone strands after just one use. Expensive? Yes, but the unparalleled results are worth every penny. Essentially, it's a pre-shampoo treatment you'll apply to dry strands. (Thirty minutes is fine, but the longer you let it marinate, the better!) Then, the velvety botanical oils will go to work nourishing, restoring, and rebuilding dilapidated hair fibers. Rinse and then shampoo and condition as you would normally.
The Dry Shampoo That Will Make Your Hair Grow
Don't be fooled. This isn't a regular dry shampoo—it's a cool dry shampoo. Okay, okay, silly Mean Girls references aside, this is the best new dry shampoo to hit the market. Not only does it effectively sop up dirt and oil in mere seconds with zero chalky or sticky residue, but it's also enriched with Vegamour's signature hair-growth serum. So yes, you've finally met a dry shampoo that will allow you to spray with abandon and feel good about it.
The Perfect-Match Lipstick
Lip products weren't a priority in 2020, and they'll continue to play a supporting role in the New Year as well. That said, it's not like we're wearing our masks 24/7, so when you are *safely* spending time with your closest loved ones or find yourselves in back-to-back FaceTime calls or Zoom sessions, we highly recommend this color-adapting new lipstick from Charlotte Tilbury. Despite its outwardly glitzy appearance, it's really just an über-hydrating balm that instantly reacts with the natural pH of your lips to create a customized wash of color.
The "Make Amends" Split-End Repair
We've tried plenty of split-end treatments in our time, but none are as good as this restructuring serum from French hair legend Christophe Robin. Brimming with the highest quality natural-origin ingredients, it immediately smooths and polishes frizz and flyaways, brightens your color, reinstates lost shine, and even protects strands against the hottest styling tools (up to 440°F). Essentially, it's like a salon appointment you can pump from a bottle.
The Dewy Skin Serum
This is not a drill, folks! Tatcha has been working on a top-secret product this year, and it's finally available to land in your hands. As the latest installment within the brand's Dewy Skin line, consider this the serum of all serums where smooth and silky hydration is concerned. The brand's proprietary Hadasei-3 complex, renewable sugarcane squalane, and hyaluronic acid are a true feast for deflated, thirsty skin, epitomizing the Japanese concept it was inspired by—shinseo or rebirth.
The Face Oil/Serum Hybrid
Who said healthy, glowing skin was just for summer? Our sun-worshipping psyche might miss the rays, but this brilliant new launch is the coolest double-duty formula on the market. One part oil, one part serum, you get the best of all worlds with this pretty little bottle. It's safe for all skin types (even if you're acne prone) thanks to a starring lineup of ingredients such as sea buckthorn extract, camellia oil, vitamin E, chamomile flower extract, and jojoba oil.
The Extraction Appointment in a Mask
Okay, I might be exaggerating a tad, but honestly, not really. You might already be familiar with ZitSticka for the brand's cult-loved handy acne dots, Killa ($29) and Hyperfade ($34), but the brand recently introduced a cool, new player to its pimple-busting lineup—a nifty Hydrogel Exfoliating Sheet Mask. I'm typically not a sheet-mask kind of gal, but this mask actually sticks to your face with zero slippage or dripping. As far as its pore-degunking powers, the strategic mix of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, niacinamide, allantoin, and hyaluronic acid manages to vacuum debris, ease congestion and redness, and reawaken tired skin with a youth-enhancing dose of hydration. Fun fact: This mask is super high-tech and uses graphene technology, which essentially syncs with your body heat so that your skin is better able to accept and absorb the complexion-improving ingredients.
The Best Organic Foundation We've Ever Tried
If you're someone looking to clean up your beauty routine in the New Year but don't want to sacrifice the look, feel, finish, wear, and application of your go-tos, then we must introduce you to Kjaer Weis's latest foundation innovation. Certified organic and safe for all skin types, it boasts medium to full coverage and contains so many amazing skincare-grade ingredients your skin will think it's wearing the fanciest serum and not a foundation.
The Best-in-Class Eyeliner Pencil
For 2021, the focus is still going to be all eyes on eyes. Of course, mascara and eye shadow are going to be major, but let's not underestimate the power of a seriously fantastic eye pencil. This dual-ended brush/liner situation comes from renowned makeup artist Mario Dedivanoic (Kim Kardashian-West's longtime makeup artist), and it's top of the league for blending and smudging. Plus, the array of colors is so beautiful.
The Perfume so Good That It Comes With a Warning
If we had to rank the coolest new perfumes in terms of covetability, this brand-new one would steal first place, no questions asked. First of all, who wouldn't want a bottle that cool on display atop their vanity? Second, the intricate mix of lemon, black currant, apple, pear, raspberry, jasmine, patchouli, vanilla, cedarwood, oakmoss, and musk is positively illicit.
The Next Biologique Recherche P50
For anyone who doesn't know, Biologique Recherche's P50 Lotion is pretty much the most cult-loved toner of all time. It smells, notoriously, like hot garbage, but loyalists everywhere swear it's the holiest skincare item you can own for a smooth, super-glowy complexion. Well, I've tried it, and I actually happen to think this exfoliating fluid from Peter Thomas Roth is better—like "significantly improves the tone and texture of your skin overnight sans irritation" better. It was one of my favorite 2020 launches, and I'll keep shouting about it in the New Year, too.
The Body Oil for People Who Detest Body Oils
Glossier has had some super-fabulous launches this year, but this game-changing Dry-Touch Oil Mist is a standout due to how effectively it's converted every body oil–despising person I know. The light, spicy scent is lovely and hits with a touch of nostalgia (think neroli and orange blossom), while the lightweight mix of skin-hydrating ingredients nourishes dryness with just as much efficacy as heavier oils sans the Slip 'N Slide finish.
The Best Mask for Baby-Soft Skin
Honestly, this one jar of skin brilliance is effective enough to replace all of your other face masks. It's superior in scent (it smells like malty chocolate soft serve, and you will want to grab a spoon), but it's the expert blend of ingredients that really raises the bar against all other masks out there. Yes, it's brimming with antioxidants and special biodynamic plant extracts to help protect and condition your complexion, but we're equally obsessed with the way panthenol, calendula, and cacao enhance its soothing and decongesting benefits.
The Compliment-Getting Eye Glitter
ICYMI, Bobbi Brown (yes, makeup legend Bobbi Brown) has a brand-new baby. Meet Jones Road, the coolest new makeup brand on our radar that's centered around a clean, "less is more" approach to beauty. The collection is quaint and very drool-worthy, but this crease-proof liquid glitter eye shadow is what we're planning to wear every single day in 2021.
The Highlighter for Your Highlighter
Rituel de Fille is one of our all-time favorite clean-makeup brands, and we've talked our mouths off about its Rare Light Luminizers for years now. Well, we're absolutely tickled that the brand has taken our infatuation further by adding this Highlight Intensifier to its whimsical product roster. Marketed as a highlighter for your highlighter, it works as a beautiful topper to enhance your complexion with more glassy dewiness. Magically, the finish is not at all overdone.