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, yes, 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 (aka 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. Because, hey, 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 August! Grab your game face and wallet. You'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
I'm still so in love with Versed's latest launch, which has made me miss my regular microdermabrasion appoints *a little* less thanks to its super-impressive skin-smoothing benefits. First things first, I love the consistency and smell. The scent isn't obtrusive at all, but the light burst of fruity citrus really enhances the overall refreshing nature of the formula. Also, the name doesn't lie. These microcrystals are probably the tiniest I've ever seen or applied. I was initially worried they wouldn't be big enough to make a dent in my congested skin, which had been feeling pretty bumpy, but I need not have been. The creamy formula the crystals are set in melts into your skin the longer you press it in, letting the crystals really work their magic while still providing enough slip and base to keep them from feeling scratchy or harsh. I know words like luminous and glowy are thrown around a lot, but this product really does impart an instantaneous and long-term radiance—something a lot of popular facial scrubs just can't say!
I'd buy this limited-edition version of Tom Ford's iconic Black Orchid perfume for the art deco–esque bottle alone, but the slightly tweaked fragrance composition of this new release is equally dreamy. Not only is Black Orchid one of Tom Ford's best-selling and most iconic scents of all time, but I'd also argue it's one of the most iconic scents of all time, just in general. Whether you're a longtime fan, like me, or are just looking for a new fragrance addiction for fall, this would be my top recommendation. As far as how it differs from the OG (other than the stunning gold bottle, of course), you can expect a more-potent fragrance profile that's amplified with notes of ylang-ylang, rum absolute, and black plum.
So…I've been kind of (as in almost completely) off moisturizers recently. Which, I know, skin experts would probably have my head over. But my L.A. apartment has reached astronomically high, oil-inducing temperatures this summer, and my breakout-inclined skin just can't deal with most formulas. It's 2020, and you just have to choose your battles, so I've found that ensuring all of my other products (like cleansers, toners, serums, eye creams, etc.) are super hydrating has worked out pretty well for my finicky skin. However, when I am feeling extra parched and when I know my skin is calling uncle and craving an extra dose of hydration, I've been reaching for this new oil-free gel from Murad. It's specifically designed for those with acne-prone skin, and I'm obsessed with how moisturized and dewy it leaves me without suffocating my skin or clogging my pores.
I'm not going to pretend like I don't miss my manicures and pedicures—I do. That said, I'm also pretty thrilled that I've been able to harness and, slowly but surely, perfect my at-home skills during quarantine. Even though I've been practicing my cuticle cutting and filing skills, I've also enjoyed keeping non-tacky press-ons (like these fun ones from Chillhouse!) in my nail wardrobe. They're great for when you want a professional, perfect-looking paint job without the stress, mess, or time commitment. Wavy Baby is my fave!
Ilia is definitely one of my favorite makeup brands, and that's not even just within the clean-beauty space. Its last few launches have landed the brand in my monthly inclusions consecutively, and here we are again! I'm not a gloss person, but I've been loving that more and more brands are saying nay to the sticky, patent-looking glosses that used to be en vogue in favor of hydrating, skincare-grade oil-gloss hybrids. This one feels so comfy on your lips, chap stays at bay all day long, and the colors are perfect for enhancing your natural color while still remaining subtle and mask-friendly. I've been into the shade Saint, which the brand describes as a "rustic orange." Normally, I wouldn't go for anything the slight bit orange-ish, but this is really juicy and not too warm.
I'm not above saying I love chic, pretty beauty products. And this adorable, palm-sized comb from Crown Affair is definitely both! However, said chic and pretty beauty products also have to work and have some endurance. I love keeping this comb nearby to detangle and smooth muss-prone hair, and it's also brilliant for impromptu scalp massages. The size makes it perfect. And if you're like me and are basically a tightly wound stress ball, you can really work into the knots at the base of your head. It's bliss.
This lash tint/mascara hybrid is unlike any other eye product I've ever used, in the best way possible. It's made by the legendary Japanese beauty brand, Surratt—a label you'll commonly find tucked into the kits of the best makeup artists in the industry—and it pretty much does the impossible. It has this tiny metal "brush," which lets you evenly coat every last lash no matter how big or small. I've found that you can pretty much use however many coats you want (I do three or four because I'm a lash fiend) with zero clumping, flaking, or unsightly spider-leg bumps. It wears well all day long (even in 90-degree heat), it dries ultra-fast, and it's water-resistant. Since it's an exclusive launch with Violet Grey, I'd snatch yours before they're gone!
I've always been a fan of Avène's skin-healing Cicalfate line, but this new "plus" formula has really been saving my skin this summer. Not only has it been a game changer for areas where I get scaly and dry skin (elbows, hands, feet), but it has also been clutch for treating random summer skin woes like bug bites, razor burn, ingrown hairs, etc. I've been keeping my tube next to my bed each night and applying it wherever I need it.
I know most people seem to prefer liquid and cream highlighters, but I've always, always, always been a powder girl through and through. That said, I've heard such amazing things about Iconic London (which has newly launched at Sephora!) and this liquid luminizer, in particular. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I decided on the original shade, which has a light, champagne-y gold shimmer, and it's so beautifully light-catching and glowy. A little goes a long way, and I found that it blended seamlessly into the makeup I had already applied—foundation, concealer, blush, and bronzer—which (annoyingly) isn't always the case with liquid formulas. They can sometimes get streaky. I tapped the tiniest bit onto the tops of my cheekbones and temples, my Cupid's bow, and my brow bones for a radiant finish that didn't look at all strobe-y or greasy. If you've been on the hunt for a new liquid highlighter, I highly recommend this one!
I've really been enjoying this cleansing water, especially during this latest heatwave when I feel like my skin develops a film of glistening sweat and grease a mere 15 minutes after I cleanse. It's not a new product from Sephora, but I only recently found it buried behind a ton of other products in my closet, so it's new to me! Most mornings and nights I'll use it as the first step in my skincare routine to nix built-up grime or residue before I go in with whichever cleanser I'm using. (It's kind of like an oil-free double cleanse, which really suits my congestion-prone skin.) It's clean, and it has soothing, acne-friendly ingredients like aloe vera and zinc. The only thing I'll warn you about is that it does include fragrance. My skin can tolerate it, but I know it can be dicey or deal-breaking for others. In a wonderfully nostalgic way, it smells like Bath & Body Works' Cucumber Melon collection (remember that?!) but slightly more elevated. I've grown to love it and find it very pacifying—especially since it's the first step in my routine.
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
Melting lip powders are new to me, and wow, it's a whole new world. The trend gained popularity in the K-beauty space, and this is the first one I've tried, so let me aim to explain. The product is legit powder, but somehow from the moment it touches your lips, it melts into this fluffy, delicious, soft formula that offers a matte wash of color. The sensation is truly unlike any lip product I've tried, and if you're the least bit curious, I would definitely try it. This one by Cle has clean ingredients, which, for me, are a must for lip products. Their colors are spot-on, too. I'm wearing nude blush in this picture and have my eye on the desert rose shade for fall.
This is the first time I tried Roen, the beauty brand (originally) from Nikki DeRoest, who happens to be Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber's makeup artist, and is now run by Co-Founder & CEO Tiffany Thurston Scott. The Disco Eye Shadow is just as fun as the name implies. I like wearing it on its own, even though the product is called a "topper," meaning it can also be layered on top of other eye shadows. It's glimmery and ethereal and is the perfect pick-me-up for another day in quarantine. In case you were wondering, yes, it is bold enough to be picked up on video calls, as I learned today when my colleagues gushed over my sparkling lids.
Naturally, I needed a Roen lip to complete the look. This is the brand's newest addition: the liquid lip balm. It's like a lip gloss had a baby with a tinted balm. I'm going to be honest. I love hybrid beauty products, but I don't love lip gloss. The idea of a gloss takes me mentally back to my Juicy Tube days of high school, so I wasn't expecting to like this product as much as I did. First of all, as promised, it's way more hydrating than your average gloss. Plus, it's very buildable, so you can add one or two swipes for a subtly shiny look or keep going for a full-gloss effect. Though I've been loyal to stains and sheer lipsticks for a long time now, I think this is the product that has finally changed my mind about lip gloss. There's something about the "wetter" look that's sexy, especially when it comes with such a pretty wash of color, like this Scout shade.
I've been buying the occasional fancy hand soap and hand lotion over the past few months because they bring me little slivers of joy whenever I use them, and my hand game just got even better with the addition of the super-chic Amass sanitizer. The botanical blend actually leaves my hands feeling moisturized, and the scent is incredible. Interestingly, the ingredients are inspired by a centuries-old blend of herbs believed to protect against the bubonic plague. Scientists have found that cloves, one of the ingredients, are antimicrobial, so if there are extra benefits beyond the 70% ethyl alcohol (the CDC recommends a minimum of 60% alcohol in hand sanitizer), we're all for them.
This cleanser won best face wash in this year's CertClean's Clean Beauty Awards, so I was eager to try the product. The first thing I noticed is the container is big. I feel like it's going to last me forever. The herbal citrus smell is strong, which I love, especially in the morning. It's almost like aromatherapy to help get me energized for the day. The cleanser foams up really richly, which I was pleasantly surprised at since I've tried natural products in the past that don't lather as well. It did a good job of removing my makeup and left me with a "clean," though not stripped, feeling.
I swear nearly every celebrity, beauty editor, and It girl is obsessed with Augustinus Bader, so I was all ears when I heard it was launching a "category-disrupting" face oil. I know people have complicated relationships with face oils, but let me tell you, this is the face oil that will change all that. It is the furthest thing from "oily," pore-clogging, or heavy. It practically absorbs like a serum but feels a tad richer. The oil has a technology called TFC8, which is essentially like a GPS that guides the nutrients in the oil to your cells. Basically, it's the opposite of products that just sit on top of your skin. After just a few days of use, I was straight-up glowing. My skin was truly transformed. Sorry in advance to my bank account, but this is going to need to be a regular purchase!
Candice Aman, Social Media Editor
Summer skincare, to me, means paring down my routine as much as possible. When the weather is this hot, I just can’t be bothered. I’ve been using this oil in lieu of both a serum and moisturizer, and my skin (apart from a few mask-related breakouts) has never been happier. This serum/oil is lightweight, is made with clean ingredients, and, best of all, is effective. What more can I say?
I have an earnest question. What did I do before getting my hands (or face) on an ice roller? This tool has quickly become a workhorse in my beauty and wellness routine, doubling as a way to reduce inflammation when I need it and as a nice respite against the rising summer temperatures. One tip to help stop this roller from squeaking (I’ve noticed others having this issue!): Pop the roller off the hinge, and put a little bit of oil into the axles. Trust me, this device is worth the quick fix!
Anna LaPlaca, Associate Editor
Confession: I'm a skin picker. Yes, it's a terrible habit I'm trying to kick, but since I've been proactively trying to heal the dark spots I've caused, I've tried tons of skincare products geared toward hyperpigmentation and, in the process, found a few that work like miracles. This serum is one of them. I've been using it each morning for the past two months, and while I've noticed a significant difference over time, I also love how it gives an immediate glow. I've even retired vitamin C from my routine since this alone is so brightening thanks to a super-potent combination of L-ascorbic acid, lactic acid, and kojic acid.
Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy & Senior Managing Editor
This summer, I've been lucky enough to spend more time outside than usual. Although I always use sunscreen on my face, I noticed that the tops of my hands were starting to look dry and damaged. This hand serum is super nourishing and feels like a mini spa treatment when I apply midday and before bed. I let the serum absorb for a bit then apply the hand salve on top. The texture of my skin has visibly improved! Also, I am a big believer in aromatherapy, so I love the range of scents in the Sparitual line. That, plus the product efficacy, has earned this duo a spot in my daily routine.
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor
This month has been all about getting my skin back on track from a bad eczema breakout. I haven't had a flare-up in years, and I try to avoid using steroids to tame breakouts. So I was super excited to try BIPOC-owned brand Topicals and this Like Butter Hydrating Mask, in particular. I applied it before bed (typically the summer nighttime heat makes my eczema flare up) and woke up with reduced redness. Overall, I'd recommend this mask for anyone having light flare-ups and who may be in need of a quick remedy.
In addition to dealing with dry skin, I was breaking out heavily at the beginning of the month. So I figured it was time to test out a few products I hadn't gotten around to yet to see if any could be up for the challenge, including Peach & Lily's Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask. And friends, it was. After applying it along with the brand's Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream I noticed my skin was overall less bumpy, and after a few days, my skin looked more naturally dewy than normal. I definitely will be keeping this mask and cream in my arsenal any time I'm in need of a 'lil skin reset.
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
I don't usually get super excited about lip gloss, but these are certainly an exception and are far from the ones I wore in high school. They contain nourishing oils that keep your lips moisturized without feeling at all sticky. Plus, the range of nude colors is perfect for fall. Tower 28 does it again.
As you can see, every single shade in Olive and June's new fall collection is perfect and has me craving fall. I'm particularly partial to JJ, which is described as a "cozy cinnamon brown." If you haven't tried Olive and June's clean nail polishes yet, I'd definitely start with this set. You can thank me later when you become hooked.
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
It's been a long time since I reached for a truly matte foundation and concealer combo that I actually liked, but these ones from the Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin range blew my socks off. To be clear, this is real, full-coverage makeup, so minimalists who prefer a formula that lets their skin shine through should look elsewhere. Together, the foundation (above) and the concealer (below) erased all my texture and smoothed out my under-eye area just as well as my favorite Instagram filter.
I haven't been bothering with my eyebrows very much over the last few months (aside from one at-home waxing situation that was so nerve-racking I can barely talk about it), but this new pen from Benefit helped me rediscover the life-changing magic of filling those bad boys in. It has three felt tips that create easy, hair-like strokes similar to the flicks imparted by microblading. I will say it takes some practice to get the application right (you have to be so light-handed), but overall, I'm so pleased with the result I can get in about 15 seconds. Not bad at all!
I've been taking so much joy in spritzing myself with fragrances (even if my dog and my partner are the only ones who will smell me), and this fancy perfume has a lot to do with that. After my first wear, I wrote Erin an exhaustive Slack message about how fantastic it is. (Yes, really!) It's warm, woody, and somehow both sweet and spicy at the same time. I am in love.
I blow-dried my hair for the first time in four months last weekend, and this soft pomade put me at ease while doing it. Even though I used a special technique and super-low heat, I was still so paranoid that the mechanical drying would damage the curls I've worked so hard to protect. I spread this soybean and aloe-rich formula through my wet hair, and it created the perfect moisture barrier between my hair and the heat.
Up next, We Found the 4 Best Face Masks for Every Skin Type (Because You Don't Need 50)
Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.