We Know You Don't Have Time for Subpar Beauty Products—These Ones Hit the Spot
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 (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. 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 February! Grab your game face and wallet. You'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor
I won't spend a ton of time verbally salivating over my customized Pre-Shampoo Hair Mask ($38) from Prose since Courtney and I already did a whole lot of that here, but please know my love for this stuff seems to run deeper and deeper every time I use it. Oh, and the benefits (soft, non-tangly, super-glossy strands) seem to get more and more pronounced with each and every application. (P.S. I'm also mega-obsessed with my new hairbrush from the brand!)
It's been a minute since I've felt in the mood for mattes, but leave it to Halsey and her ultra-cool, multidimensional new makeup line, About-Face, to get me back on board. There are so many standouts within the brand, but I'm currently smitten with its new Valentine's Day launch, especially. I have this Pink set on repeat.
I've never been an eye shadow girl, so the glamour and excitement of huge, super-expensive palettes are usually lost on me. (Why spend $50 or more on something that only has two colors I'll actually use?) I much prefer user-friendly, strategically designed quads or compacts that feature easy-to-use complementary colors. This one from Almay is my latest favorite, and I love how each compact is specifically made to suit a certain eye color, complete with five different shades. (They're even numbered so you know exactly where to put them!) Of course, anyone can use any of the palettes, but I like how this one complements my blue eyes like a dream! Plus, you can't beat this price!
I'd heard amazing things about this hyaluronic acid serum, and let me just say… It definitely lives up to the hype. I'm already obsessed with Dr. Devgan's Platinum Lip Plump because of how extraordinarily effective it is (she is a world-renowned plastic surgeon, so I shouldn't be surprised!), but this stuff is next-level. It gives an immediate glass-skin finish to your complexion. In addition to the star ingredient, mixed molecular-weight hyaluronic acid, it's brimming with an added bevy of skin-brightening and moisturizing agents like vitamin B5 and vitamin B3. It's an investment, but it's one you definitely won't regret.
I love all things Kosas, and the brand's newest kid on the block is just as magical as the rest of its all-star lineup. Full disclosure: I've used the same two or three setting powder formulas since high school. I like what I like, and so many powders just fail for me. Either they're too chalky and opaque (who wants a dusty-looking face?!), or they're too pigmented and alter the look of my foundation, blush, bronzer… You get the idea. I want something completely seamless that gives a flawless, filtered-out finish to my skin. Oh, and most importantly, it has to keep my dang makeup in place all day long. Cloud Set passes with flying colors. Not only do I love how inclusive the shade range is (something that's seriously lacking with so many mainstream powder formulas), but it's also filled with really great ingredients you can feel good about draping your skin in. Think bamboo stem extract, passion-fruit leaf extract, and Chinese peony, all of which help minimize the look of pores, fine lines, and excess oil without sacrificing your natural glow.
I know drugstore foundations might not be as, hmm, sexy as other prestige options, but the majority are just as good as (or better than) formulas five times their price. The latest? This buildable, medium- to full-coverage number from Catrice. The coverage is seriously amazing, it helps lock in hydration while still keeping you looking satiny (not shiny), and if you blindfolded me, I'd think it was high-end based on the results and the feel of it on your skin. It's a must-try in my book!
Do I ever finish this monthly roundup without some kind of lip-enhancing product? It's probably my favorite category of beauty products, and recently, I've been all about this power couple from Buxom. The scrub is great (just rub it in circles around your lips and then wipe off the excess and then swipe on the pretty pink hue that comes with it). You're left with baby-soft lips that look pillowy, plump, and slightly stained with "your lips but better" color.
Courtney Higgs, Beauty Editor
I have complicated feelings about the term lip oil (justice for lip gloss!), but I still love this new one from the newly relaunched Black Opal. It's so soft, it's not too sticky, and I can apply it to completely dry lips without having to worry about it catching on any patches of skin. It's the perfect lip product for when you want to be just a little bit extra.
If you're into falsies, then you need to know about this! It's essentially a spring-loaded metal tweezer that allows you to easily grip your strip lashes and apply them to your lids with ease. No more fumbling the tiny lashes between your fingers as if you're working with paws and not fully functioning and capable phalanges.
I don't always wear matte lip color, but when I do, I want it to feel like this one from Halsey's new makeup line, About-Face. It wears almost like a lip stain, in that it's completely weightless but dries down to a plush matte, and the color payoff is absolutely unreal. It's a perfect option to wear under a face mask.
I love this sunscreen so much! The consistency feels like one of those old-school silicone makeup primers, (a tactile experience that I just love), but it doesn't pill or compete with my other skincare. It spreads so easily over the skin and creates the most beautiful velvet base for makeup, but it also looks wearable all on its own. I'm deeply obsessed and keep it on my desk so that I remember to apply it and protect my skin from any rays shining through the window in my workspace.
Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy & Senior Managing Editor
After a year spent inside my three-room apartment, I'll try anything that evokes the memory of being on vacation. The latest on this list is the Kopari Beauty Paradise Pout Lip Kit ($30). The coconut, pineapple, and watermelon glossies are not only super hydrating and delightful to apply on my dry winter lips, but they also provide a subtle reminder of drinking a piña colada on a beautiful beach day. A multisensory win for sure.
As WWW's resident nail polish fanatic, it should come as no surprise that I am obsessed with Olive and June's newest drop, the spring 2021 collection. The aptly named Wish You Were Here set includes six perfect shades that I'll be wearing on rotation until further notice. Plus, the Nail Paradise sticker set just might be its cutest yet!
My skin has been easily irritated lately, so I have been doing my best to give it some gentle TLC in the form of two Wishful serums. After washing up with a gentle cleanser, I'll spend five to 10 minutes using a rose quartz Gua Sha tool along with the Get Even Rose Face Oil. This provides some nonsticky hydration for bed. Plus, it has helped reduce the appearance of some hyperpigmentation on my forehead. In the morning and for an afternoon pick-me-up, I'll reach for Thirst Trap Juice Hyaluronic Acid & Peptide Hydrating Facial Serum ($47). This new hydrating and plumping serum is totally clean and is great for quenching dry skin. That reminds me: time to reapply!
After my 10-year-old blow-dryer finally bit the dust, I decided it was time to try something a bit more modern. Even though I prefer to air-dry when possible, the Tineco Moda One hair dryer has completely changed my relationship with heat-styling. This powerful-yet-petite tool has technology that senses hair moisture and automatically adjusts the heat and airflow. This way, hair is never exposed to unnecessary heat damage, resulting in healthier strands overall and a quicker dry time. My thick-but-fine hair has never looked better or been easier to style. If only I could get a haircut!
Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
I recently ran out of my go-to fragrance and wasn’t really down to spend a lot on something new. Zara's Santal Glow is less than $20 and literally smells like heaven. If you’re a fan of Le Labo’s Santal 33 (because, come on, who isn’t?), then you have to give this a try. It instantly puts me in a good mood.
I’m telling you, I’m so not a brush person. I always prefer using my hands or a Beautyblender to apply products, but this brush has me thinking differently. The bristles are densely packed and really, really soft, and it just blends products in seamlessly (especially The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick, $38!).
Over the last year, I’ve gotten so much more self-conscious about my neck lines (tech neck is real!) and have tried a handful of products to help minimize them. I’ve only been using this for a few weeks now, but so far, I really like the results. My lines definitely appear lighter, and my neck just looks smoother, and it’s all because of the botanically derived brightening complex and patented NIA-114 technology that strengthens the skin barrier.
Anna LaPlaca, Associate Editor
This product has made my wavy hair come to life with so much bounce and definition—not a frizzy hair in sight! It's jam-packed with Brazilian fruit pequi and castor oil, and it smells heavenly. I've been using it when I get out of the shower and my hair is still quite damp by applying a nice-sized glob of the stuff throughout, from mid-length to ends, and scrunching up in sections. I used to stick with mousse and gel to get more of a curly-wave situation, but since this lovely product doesn't leave my ends with that overly styled crunch that hair gel tends to, I'm not looking back.
How stunning is this headband? Although it's not necessarily a beauty product, I think it's still within the same realm, so I have to give it a shout-out for being the most stylish thing I've ever used to pin back my bangs while I do my skincare and makeup. Of course, fashion people love a great hair-accessory moment, so I'm sure it will also make its way into my outfit rotation.
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
While this is obviously pricey for a lip balm, I do think that Augustinus Bader products are worth it. This lip balm isn't crazy moisturizing, but I'm okay with that because I have other ones that are. I love using this at night because it isn't sticky, and it's perfect for layering under lip color. I imagine it'll be my go-to this spring and summer. Plus, the packaging is oh so luxurious.
I've tried almost every lash- and brow-growth product under the sun, but these are two of the best yet. My lashes have been looking very sparse lately, but I've quickly experienced new growth, and my brows have been full and lush since using the brow serum. The key is to use it consistently. (I pretty much never skip a day.)
I love everything Shani Darden makes, so I was very excited to get my hands on this eye cream. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that it's perfect. It addresses every concern I care about in an eye cream (wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and dark circles). It works beautifully under makeup, too, which is a big bonus since I usually have to wear different eye creams for day and night.
Candice Aman, Social Media Editor
It’s no secret that I take beauty recommendations from my colleagues all the time. (They are professional testers, after all!). So when I first heard about this plumping lip gloss from our co-founder and chief content officer, Hillary Kerr, when she was raving about it on her Instagram Stories, I made a mental note to try it out. And wow, this gloss is good—like really good. It’s plumping without the stinging, super moisturizing, and gives you the sought-after lustrous pout of a ’00s pop star. TL;DR: You need this.
Whimsy Official was one of my favorite wellness-brand discoveries from last year, and its first foray into skincare, the Halcyon Botanic Serum, does not disappoint. Packed with nutrient-rich ingredients like Kalahari watermelon oil, camellia-seed oil, and rosehip-seed oil and free of allergens, comedogenic additives, and synthetic fragrance, this serum feels so thoughtful in its creation. I’ve been testing this out with a really pared-down skincare routine for the past few weeks, and so far, my skin has never felt smoother, calmer, and more glowy.
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor
While I normally don't suffer from overly dry lips, this winter has been extremely brutal. I've found that my lips are peeling far more than they normally do, so I was intrigued to test out a few lipcare kits. Of the few I tried over February, Cle Cosmetics's kit was, by far, my favorite. I love that it comes in a set of three, a lip peel, lip oil, and gloss. A day after applying the peel, I noticed that I was suffering from way less chapping. After a week of using the oil, my lips felt like they were back to new. I would definitely recommend this trio for anyone whose lips have not been having it.
I've always thrown in the towel when it comes to dealing with under-eye bags. I could pretend it's because TikTok said they're cool, but to be honest, I've never found an under-eye concealer I liked or an eye mask that didn't summon my eczema back until I test-drove Borboleta's Cool Down Eye Masks. I left them in the fridge for a bit too long. (I recommend only cooling them for 20 to 30 minutes—otherwise, the consistency gets a bit too gooey.) However, after applying them, I promise they will make you look alive again. After peeling them off, I felt like they were more effective in perking up my skin than a cup of coffee—which is saying a lot, fam.
So I've used natural deodorants for well over a year, but more recently and more on the TMI scale, I've noticed that my eczema would flare up for a few days, even with natural deodorants. So I decided to test out Curie's Clay Detox Mask for armpits and was thoroughly impressed. It's pretty straightforward: You apply the product and let it dry and then wash it off. I found that my eczema flared down, and I didn't feel like my lymph nodes were blocked. For anyone looking to transition to natural deodorant or needing to air things out, I'd recommend you test this mask out.
I have to admit that powder face masks slightly terrified me before I met Golde's Clean Greens Superfood Face Mask. When it comes to skincare, I have a pretty straightforward routine and don't do too many masks unless I'm breaking out a lot or my skin is looking dull. The first time I tested Golde's mask, I was post-period, and my pimples were thriving. I left the mask on for 20 minutes and washed it off, still dubious about this green powder. When I woke up in the morning, my pimples' redness had gone down, and my skin looked brighter overall. I've been hooked on this mask ever since, and it's definitely going to be a mainstay in my skincare routine.
I'm always testing new hair products, but my newest favorite is Ouai's Curl Crème. I love this product because its consistency feels thick like a conditioner, but when applied, it doesn't weigh down the curls, allowing each one to be frizz-free without the fuss.
I'm always down to test out a new mascara, so when I heard Kevyn Aucoin was releasing its new Indecent Mascara, I had to give it a whirl. For me, the first indication of a good mascara formula is whether it causes eye irritation, and I'm happy to report that this mascara did not. As far as the brush's design, I personally loved that it was a triangle. It made applying at the base of the lashes far easier for me. As far as definition, it does a great job of making each lash more pronounced and volumized. And it holds up well after a day of errands or working from home. My only two apprehensions about this mascara are that it's a bit thicker of a formula than I'd like and it makes the lashes a bit too dark and too thick for my personal preferences, but overall, it's a great mascara, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a bolder lash.
Michaela Bushkin, Senior Fashion Editor, Branded Content
The Water Sleeping Mask by Korean beauty brand Laneige has been in my rotation for years, so it's a bit shocking (and frankly concerning) that I'm just now trying the brand's overnight treatment specifically for lips. I've been applying it before bed as directed on a few nights a week and wake up with the softest lips ever. I imagine it's wonderful as an everyday lip balm, too, but I honestly haven't found myself needing additional moisture on my lips throughout the day anymore.
Want more new beauty recs? Here are 33 new beauty products that impressed the heck out of us in January.