Life Hasn't Been the Same Since We Tried These Nonnegotiable Beauty Products
By now, you've probably surmised that we test-drive a lot of beauty products here at Who What Wear HQ. From nail polish and makeup to hair and skincare, we're eyebrow-deep in all things new, exciting, and wish list–worthy. That said, due to the number of products we come in contact with, we've also transformed into the nitpickiest of beauty consumers. Within seconds, we can tell if a new hair oil is too heavy, and we're quick to ignore a serum that yields disappointing results.
The good news? We're far more often impressed than unimpressed after trying out a new product, and usually, we simply can't wait to spread the word to all of our fellow beauty junkies (also known as you!). Therefore, we've decided gushing over our latest fave products should become a monthly ritual, and every 30 days or so, you can expect a full report detailing the highlighters, hair wands, and overnight skincare saviors we've become quickly addicted to.
For the most part, we'll be covering buzzworthy launches (as those typically take up most of the action atop our product-filled desks), but we won't dismiss new-to-us products, either. Sometimes, our best discoveries are found on a friend's vanity or on someone's face at the bar (true pre-quarantine story). Ahead are the best beauty products we tried in April! Grab your game face and wallet—you'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor
I can count on one hand the number of times I used a hot tool to style my strands in 2020. I've always been pretty lax when it comes to my hair (easy ponytails and topknots are kind of my signature), but earlier this year, I found myself missing the polished look of intentionally styled hair. So I dusted off my irons and wands and began experimenting.
I've tried every flat iron brand out there, but GHD will always have a special place in my heart. Fun fact: I still own the baby-pink flat iron I splurged on in high school, and yep, it still works. I've been especially obsessed with the brand's newest ombré chrome iteration of their platinum+ model which launched in honor of its 20th anniversary. It instantly liquidates frizz for a smooth, high-gloss finish; it's lightweight and easy to wield around your head; it maintains a hair-healthy styling temperature of 365ºF- and the one-inch plates are the perfect size for creating two of my fave styles—smooth and straight or mermaidy waves like I did above. Oh, and as an extra special anniversary bonus, it comes with a chic, heat-resistant bag and three Kitsch hair clips.
Slowly but surely, I'm reboarding the lipstick train after a long, quarantine-induced hiatus. I almost exclusively wore glosses, stains, and tinted balms in 2020, but recently, the lipstick market has really flexed, and I just can't resist imbibing. Right now, I can't get enough of Hourglass's newest formula, a velvety cream concoction that spreads easily onto your lips thanks to an ingeniously designed tapered doe-foot applicator.
Normally, I avoid matte lipsticks like the plague, but the feathery, mousse-like whipped texture of this one makes it so much more wearable and fuss-free to apply. Pure is my favorite shade, and I love to dot it on my top and bottom lip before using my finger to blot and diffuse it out. No one will think you're wearing lipstick, they'll just think you were born with the prettiest natural lip color ever.
I used to swear I was a powder highlighter girl, and a powder highlighter girl only, but after a few recent affairs involving balmy highlight sticks—first this one from Merit, and now this model from Westman Atelier, I think I'm officially team highlight stick for life. The brand recently added Nectar, a pretty golden peach hue, to their roster, and I'm completely smitten. It delivers that glassy, touched-by-an-angel orb of luminosity, without the tacky obviousness of glitter or any greasy aftermath. Not to mention, your skin will lap up the extra-credit ingredients like Vitis Vita Grape Extract (which helps firm and hydrate) plus a special blend of ayurvedic oils to add cushion and restorative balance to your complexion.
I like to swirl the pad of my fingertip on the top of the stick before tapping and blending it anywhere I want the natural light to reflect like the highest points of my cheekbones, my brow bones, the bridge or tip of my nose, and my Cupid's bow.
The industry likes to scare us away from waterproof mascaras, but I'm here to vindicate their greatness. Or, at least, the greatness of this brand new, just-in-time-for-summer option from Byredo. Unlike other waterproof mascaras that can be filled with stomach-turning additives and ingredients, this one is actually healthy and safe to use on your lashes. In fact, according to House Byredo, it's the cleanest waterproof mascara on the market thanks to its 89% natural and 100% vegan genetic makeup. This is the mascara to invest in as we head into summer. If the shower, sweat, tear, and all-around life-proof wear isn't enough to convince you, maybe the high-def Bambi-esque results will be.
Meet summer's most delectable new fragrance family, a limited edition launch from Jo Malone London that smells just as whimsical as the picnic-inspired design would suggest. Together, the five news scents—all of which are inspired by dreamy flavors of marmalade—will transport you to a true "British summer fete" (the brand's words, not mine), and trust me when I say you'll have a dang hard time choosing just one or two yummy new scents to choose from.
Since I'm partial to floral scents, I've been pretty beset with this Elderflower Cordial number, but if you're someone who likes something a little more fresh and citrusy, I'd point you toward the Blackberry and Bay Cologne ($74), which blends juicy blackberry, bay leaves, and cedarwood.
There are very few elite brands whose products 100% warrant their steep price tags. Everything Sisley Paris makes is quite literally a French delicacy, and I have yet to try a product (no matter the cost) that has left me wanting more. This new black rose-spiked body emulsion is divine with a capital D. Not only does it drench thirsty skin in hydration (it contains a melding of skin-plumping fixtures like black rose extract, padina pavonica estract, camelina oil, aqueous black rose extract, biosaccharides, white ginger extract, and natural tocopherols), it also leaves behind this satiny, natural-looking luminosity without the stick, tack, or Slip 'N Slide greasiness. Also, it goes without saying that it smells gorgeous—like an enchanted rose garden.
I've so excited ever since I discovered Hugh & Grace, a brand new line in the clean beauty category. It officially launches this month, but I was lucky enough to receive the products in advance to test and review. While I love the idea of clean, natural skincare formulas, my skin is highly sensitive, and typically, I just can't tolerate the botanical actives and oils often found in the clean beauty space.
Hugh & Grace's four-piece collection has been a glorious exception. The brand's main prerogative is creating family-safe, pregnancy-safe, hormone-safe, sustainably packaged formulas that won't tamper with our body's delicate chemistry. I highly encourage you to read the brand story here, but if you need a place to start shopping-wise, I highly recommend this luxe cleansing bar.
While it might look like your average bar of soap, it most definitely isn't. I've been using it in lieu of my normal body wash, and the sudsy mix of adaptogens, vitamins, and plant-based butter cleanse, detoxify, reduce inflammation, and fend off bacteria to keep your skin balanced, hydrated, and happy.
I had this product lying in my stash for a few months, and I'm honestly annoyed that I only just tried it. No, this arm-sculpting compound from U Beauty won't shave centimeters from your arms, but in as little as 15 seconds—yes, really—it does tighten that sag-prone skin. I'm never one to opt for quick fixes, but I love the subtle way this product firms the skin. Use it every day, morning and night, for best results, and let U Beauty's signature dual Siren technology work its magic by diminishing fluid retention, boosting collagen synthesis and oxygenation, (you'll also get a nice glow), and providing an overall dose of nourishment to the skin.
Michaela Bushkin, Senior Fashion Editor, Branded Content
"I may not be a pro manicurist, but after months of painting my own nails, I'm not too shabby. My manicures always turn out best when I use Essie's Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Polish. I'm currently loving this bold periwinkle shade for spring called Lose the Snooze."
"I saw a review on TikTok for Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam, so I bought Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam. No, really I did and I actually like it a lot. I found the results to be much less orange and streaky than just about every other product I've tried that promises a bronze glow. The key is applying with a mitt in circular motions for just a few seconds longer than you think you should."
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
"After a weekend getaway in Palm Springs where I was in the sun constantly, I can confirm this natural sunscreen is super effective. It's tinted, and it definitely subtly smoothed and brightened my skin tone. Most importantly, it goes on easily, which I know will encourage me to apply it more frequently!"
"State of Kind's philosophy is less is more, which is a beauty POV I can get behind now that I'm in my 30s. I want my skin routine to consist of a few hard-working products, and since I've been trying the brand's only product, a "sleep concentrate," it's now the star of my p.m. routine show. The concentrate includes bakuchiol, a great natural alternative to retinol, which has all the amazing anti-aging benefits without the skin irritation or sun sensitivity that comes with retinol. After a few weeks, my skin is calm, hydrated, and happy-feeling. A win!"
Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy and Senior Managing Editor
"Just when I think Olive and June can't possibly create something else that blows me off my feet, the brand delivers. After a year of at-home manis and mani boot camps, I'm confident in my DIY skills. The one area where I continued to struggle with was patience—no matter how long I waited for my nails to be dry to the touch, I would inevitably pick up or bump something that would mess up my previously perfect nails. These quick-dry drops are the final step in perfecting my manicure routine. They truly dry in under two minutes, and leave the topcoat looking extra glossy. As a surprise bonus, they don't make my hands super greasy or dry out my cuticles. It really is a magic potion!"
"After approximately a million hours on Zoom, it has become apparent that my eye area is in need of some serious, regular TLC. Fortunately, I recently discovered and fell in love with this new brand's Cooling Eye Treatment Cream. The cream glides on and disperses smoothly thanks to the rose gold doe foot applicator, and the cooling sensation is minimal but carries a maximum impact thanks to a combination of caffeine, Hyaluronic Acid, and vitamin C. I find myself using it morning and night, and also for a quick pick me up before an on-camera meeting in the middle of the day. It's definitely made a noticeable difference not only in how my under-eye area looks on camera but also in how it feels IRL."
"Whenever the season changes, my skin freaks out, becoming extra sensitive, dry, and flaky. Now that the weather has finally shifted towards 60+ degrees in NYC, I am seeking maximum hydration in the lightest weight lotion possible. This formula—packed with ingredients like aloe leaf juice, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid—does just that. As a bonus, it smells great and fresh without being too cloying and absorbs super quickly. My skin is so much happier already."
"Although I haven't had an occasion to wear eye shadow in a long time, this piece inspired me to dig up a few old favorites and experiment with some new products. This clean, glitter cream shadow is a new favorite. I apply just a dot or two to my eyelids with the applicator wand and spread with my fingertip. It stays all night without smudging or shedding glitter flakes and provides the sun-kissed glow I'm hoping to achieve naturally with more outdoor time this summer. For a bolder look, I'd pair it with a brown liner and a thick coat of black mascara."
Indya Brown, Market Editor
"I'm still getting used to the 24/7 sunshine of L.A., so I'm trying to do my part to protect my skin. I have major hyperpigmentation from years of acne scarring, and a heavy-duty sunscreen is a must. I've been using the same one for years and I'm all about switching things up, so I tried this new one from Sunday Riley. My experience with sunscreen is that they're usually too greasy, too sticky, and tacky, leading to breakouts on my acne-prone skin, but I'm happy to report that this one is none of those. After putting it on I feel protected against the strength of the California sun—it's one to stay in my medicine cabinet. Just remember to reapply for maximum protection!"
"So this fragrance ain't new by any means, but I've recently rediscovered it and my gosh I want to be buried in this every chance I get. I'm not too gifted at describing scents, but I'd categorize this as a very classy "rich-feeling" scent with a subtle note of floral. Maybe it's the Bergamot or the Sandalwood? All I know is that I'm crazy about this, and I rarely fall absolutely in love with a scent. My wallet is also happy that this fragrance is considerably less than the Byredo I usually spritz on every day."
Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
"My friend who works at Free People knows that I love perfumes and sent me this to try. Sure, I have my staples but it's fun to switch my scent up especially when it's a new season. I'm really into it: it's natural and made with a concentrated blend of pure aromatic oils, like pink pepper, guaiac wood, Valencia orange, and jasmine. The outcome is deliciously sweet and woody with a hint of citrus and spice. It's lovely, calming, and subtle."
"I'm probably the only person on the planet who hadn't tried any sort of LED light therapy simply because I was skeptical. But let me tell you, after using this three times a week for a month, I can honestly say my skin looks way healthier. There are three different light therapies you can choose from depending on the skin concern you want to address. The blue light helps banish acne-causing bacteria beneath your skin makes your skin less oily and promotes anti-inflammatory effects; red light helps promote the production of collagen and slows signs of aging; and the yellow light helps prevent pigmentation and sun damage. I've tried all three but mostly use the yellow and blue and couldn't recommend it enough!"
"I'm an Olaplex girl, but, man, do I like this scrub. Once or twice a week I'll use this instead of my shampoo, I'll massage it in and really let it lather up, then I'll wash my body before rinsing it out. My hair (and scalp!) always feels so refreshed and light afterward. It's made with sea salt which is a natural exfoliant that helps remove buildup from hair products and supports healthy blood circulation. A total win in my book."
"To no one's surprise, I've gotten myself hooked on another pricey product. I'm constantly rotating my eye creams because I've never been fully satisfied with the results. But this stuff is no joke. It's powered by a blend of vitamins, phytopeptides, mixed molecular-weight hyaluronic acid, and supple moisturizers. A little bit of it goes a long way and it absorbs really quickly which I'm a fan of. Since I've started using it, I can tell that it's helping reduce my dark circles and puffiness. I just look way more fresh and awake!"
"YTTP has so many great products and I finally got my hands on this. Think of it as a microdermabrasion facial mask. Active enzymes, papaya, and pineapple break down dead skin cells while micro-exfoliants like bamboo and diatomaceous earth help smooth skin texture, while caffeinated extracts energizes and invigorates the skin. I've been using this once a week. After washing my face, I leave my skin wet and apply an even layer over my entire face, let it sit for two minutes, add some water and massage it off in a circular motion. It's a great non-irritating way to exfoliate your skin weekly."
"I've struggled to find a natural deodorant that I like, but honestly, I'm very impressed with this, and not just because the color is a very pleasing purple! Apparently, it's made with butterfly pea flower and the formula really does combat odor-causing bacteria. I've really put it to the test, too: I live in sunny Los Angeles, work out every day, and haven't had a whiff of bad B.O. since I started using it. I haven't even had to reapply! I'm sold."
Aralyn Beaumont, Copy Editor, Branded Content
"I'd wanted to up my exfoliation game for some time, so I turned to managing editor Caitie Schlisserman like I always do when I have my beauty questions. She assured me this gommage gel is worth the higher price tag, and she was right on many levels: 1) How often do your beauty products give you immediate relief via a skin peel (without causing irritation)? This isn't one of those pebbly exfoliation products—the spa water and herbal extracts work to remove dead skin as you gently wash it away in circular motions. 2) I use it twice a week and genuinely have noticed an improvement in my pores. 3) I use it twice a week and still have so much left in the bottle, so clearly the cost per use is worth it!"
"I use this shampoo on the days of my oil treatments and sometimes once again during the week because it's just so good. It lathers up so nicely, getting my hair super clean. My hair stays super clean for three days as opposed to my usual two, and it looks good: voluminous and shiny with well-defined curls. I love it."
"The amount of time I've spent scratching my scalp and researching products to relieve my pain could never be quantified, and yet I'm constantly left wondering if I'll ever find a solution to my chronic scalp irritation. For the last month, I've used this oil on a weekly basis as a pre-shampoo treatment, and I honestly think it's helped so much. Not only has it helped with my irritation, but it's also made my hair super shiny and voluminous. The dropper cap is longer than most, so it's easy to apply throughout my scalp, too."
Annaliese Dominguez, Fashion Editor, Branded Content
"I've only had this sunscreen for a few weeks, but I already can't live without it. Not only is my skin protected, but the glow on my body is next level. So far I've been wearing it on my daily walks outside, but summer beach days are right around the corner where it will have its true time to shine."
Candice Aman, Social Media Editor
"The second I found out that NYC-based self-care sanctuary Chillhouse was coming out with a line of body care products (namely, face and body oils), I knew they had to be something special. Of the bunch, I love this illuminating body oil mist the most—it’s lightweight, smells incredible, and gives your skin an extra (non-shimmery) oomph. I guess you can say that this step has been a very welcomed addition to my morning self-care rituals."
"A high-performing and nourishing cleanser is one of my favorite skincare products. Honestly, I’ve only used this cleansing oil a couple of times, but I can fully say that this is one of the best I’ve ever tried. Made with fermented camellia oil and extract, this cleansing oil is exactly like the name calls it out to be, super creamy and silky soft, all while being incredibly effective at dissolving any makeup and residue from the day. I’m a big fan."
Courtney Higgs, Beauty Editor
“Aside from one holy-grail face wash that's captured by heart and happens to cost $44, I just can't square spending a ton of money on a product you literally wash down the drain. So when I came across this cheap face wash that's a step up from the average drugstore option with active ingredients that can brighten and exfoliate the skin, I was instantly intrigued. I've been loving this stuff. Lately, I've been noticing the heavy night creams I've relied on all winter have been causing some congestion, so I've been washing my face in the mornings instead of just splashing warm water like I used to and this cleanser has proven to be perfect both at night and in the morning. It gives a gentle exfoliation via fulvic acid and also brightens via licorice root extract.”
“I keep finding myself reaching for this foundation brush lately, and each time I use it, I'm even more amazed at how well it blends my makeup. It's seriously eerie. It's got the pigment depositing power of a dense foundation brush with the blending power of a makeup sponge, except it doesn't absorb product or pull my makeup off my skin. For this reason, I find myself using so much less product. I almost want to buy a backup, but this thing is also so high-quality that I think it'll be years before I need to replace it.”
“This CC cream is legit. As I turn my attention toward summer makeup, I just know this will be in heavy rotation as the weather warms up. I will say it doesn't hold up as a standalone moisturizer as it's touted, but on top of a lightweight day cream, it's perfection.”
“Speaking of summer, the scent truly smells like summer in a bottle. It makes me want to drop everything and head to the beach. It's a sparkling mixture of both fruity and floral notes like lemon sorbet, pineapple, magnolia, and jasmine with some cedar wood sprinkled in for good measure. It's so good.”
“This oil has been my post-shower go-to for the last couple of months and has truly become my favorite part of my bathing routine. The scent is absolutely to die for, seriously. It smells earthy, subtly sweet, and luxurious, and covering my damp body with the blend of oils always results in the softest skin. Slipping into bed feeling and smelling this good is a treat.”
Editor's note: Pricing for all Biologique Recherche products is available when you log into Shop Rescue Spa's website.
Erin Fitzpatrick, Senior News Editor
“I'd never tried TonyMoly products before, but this moisturizer has definitely made a great first impression. I have acne-prone, combination skin and my face has really responded well to this product. It's hydrating and feels just as luxurious as moisturizers twice the price. It feels like a hybrid of a gel and a cream.”
Yusra Siddiqui, Assistant Market Editor
“I have relatively dry skin, so I’m always looking for a little pick-me-up to give me that extra hydration and ‘plumpness’ to the skin, which this serum exactly does! I’ve only been using it for a week or two, but it’s already a great addition to my morning routine.”
“I remember getting a sample of this over a year ago and absolutely loving how hydrated it made my skin feel when I woke up. I never ended up buying it then but grabbed it in the recent Sephora sale and it still lives up to the hype, over a year later.”
Bobby Schuessler, Senior Market Editor
Brioni just launched its first fragrance, and it's quite divine. It may just become one of my new go-to's with its clean and elegant scent.
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
“This eye cream is so dreamy. Sometimes my eye area is dry, red, and irritated and this cream gets rid of that situation overnight. I don't have the patience for an extremely extensive skincare routine, so an all-in-one product such as this is the goal. It plumps and hydrates while combating puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines. If I were to dream up a perfect eye cream, it would be this. And while it's certainly an investment, rest assured that a little goes a long way.”
“Peptides are such an important thing to have in your skincare routine, as they build collagen and elastin fibers. In addition to peptides, this new serum (from one of my favorite clean skincare brands Farmacy) has hyaluronic acid and encapsulated thyme extract, which visibly reduces smile lines and crow’s feet. It's one of the few wrinkle-reducing serums I've tried that actually hydrates and softens. Its harsher, acid-based counterparts lead to a lot of flakiness for me but this sinks right in and leaves the prettiest hint of a glow. It also smells like honey, which is always a bonus in my book.”
“This brow gel is perfection. The color range is unmatched (there are ten!), and it contains castor oil, vitamin B5, and biotin to keep them looking healthy and full. It's the perfect not-too-thin, not-too-thick texture and just makes your brows look polished and natural. No one will be able to guess that you had any assistance.”
Next: 42 New Beauty Products That Got Us Really Freaking Excited in March