Buying Beauty Online Is Hard—36 New Finds Our Editors Say Won't Let You Down
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 lovers (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 quickly fallen head over heels for.
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 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
"In very exciting news, Merit launched its very first product since the brand's official launch early last year, and The Signature Lip (I'm wearing the shade Fashion in the pic above) did not disappoint! You can read every detail about the lipstick here, but if you're in the market for a lightweight, hydrating, and buildable lip color that's perfect for everyday wear, look no further. In as little as one week, it's become one of my favorite lipsticks of all time, and the packaging is so stunning to boot. I also have my eye on Slip, Tiger, Millennial, and L'Avenue."
"Charlotte Tilbury's Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation ($44)—which launched a few years ago—is one of my all-time favorite foundations. However, the only reason I don't wear it each and every time I wear makeup is that it almost makes your skin look too perfect. It's fab for selfies and anytime you'll be on-screen or in front of a camera, but it's a little much for day-to-day wear, IMO. But that's where this new foundation comes in. I typically look for medium-coverage foundations that are buildable, and this one offers the perfect amount of coverage with just one layer. My skin still looks like skin, just way smoother, more even, and glowier. This foundation stays put all day long (I still like to use primer and setting spray), and unlike a lot of foundations I've tried, I don't need an ounce of powder. It retains the perfect ration of radiance without veering oily as the hours wear on, and it doesn't crease, crack, or smudge. It effortlessly camouflages my pores and redness, but it's light enough that I still feel like my skin can breathe and take in the formula's hydrating benefits. I give it a six out of five!"
"For as long as I've been wearing bronzer, I've used powder. I don't know why I am the way I am, but despite the rise in cream everything, I've stuck to my guns and always favor pressed powder formulas when it comes to blush, highlighter, and bronzer, the latter especially. I had heard amazing things about Refy's complexion products, so I finally benched my old favorite bronzer in favor of this creamy option. And guys… Oh man, it's good! Although it's definitely not shimmery or sparkly, it has a soft, velvety texture, which gives your complexion a natural and radiant finish. It's divinely creamy, and it blends better than any other cream or liquid bronzer I've dabbled in. My face has never looked so naturally sunkissed and sculpted, and I pretty much have forgotten what life was like before I started using it a couple of weeks ago. Buy it, and you will not be disappointed. (Pro tip: It pairs fantastically with the Charlotte Tilbury foundation above and the Kosas foundation below.)"
"We're only two months into 2022, but it's already been a tremendous year for foundation launches. I'm a huge Kosas fan (it really can do no wrong in my book), and the brand's beloved Revealer Concealer ($28) is one of my all-time favorites. So you can imagine how pumped I was when the skin-improving foundation version landed on my vanity. The ingredients—hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, peptides, squalane, vitamin B5, arnica, and caffeine—are incredible, and you really feel like you're treating your skin to something special when you wear it. How often can you say that while wearing a full face? The coverage and soft glow you get are super flattering, and even my mom (who is 74!) was as obsessed and impressed as I was."
"I'm not a huge eye shadow person, and when I do wear it, I want something minimal and neutral but subtly shimmery enough to just catch the light in a pretty, glimmering way. I'm so happy I finally tried Glossier's Monochromes Eyeshadow Trio because it's everything and more than I've ever wanted in a shadow. I'm currently infatuated with the shade Bluff, and I don't want to call myself a genius, but I pretty ingeniously started to use some of the brand's shimmery liquid shadow, Lidstar in Moon ($18), almost like a primer before I go in with my Monochromes palette, and the results are even more mesmerizing. I love that there are three different finishes—matte, satin, and metallic—that are super buildable and easy to work with."
"I might be a cream-bronzer convert now, but powder blushes (for now at least) still have my heart completely. I've been using this one from Il Makiage in the cheeky shade Bootylicious nonstop, and it gives such a natural, healthy-looking flush to my cheeks. I also like to dust it on my forehead and the bridge of my nose. It's slightly pearly, which enhances my skin with a touch of luminosity without looking too sparkly or overdone."
"I dedicated an entire (ultra-gushy) article to this dreamy little Hydrating Serum, and I highly recommend you read the whole thing. In a nutshell, this stuff is amazing and helped quickly clear a bad case of acne and dermatitis I was dealing with. It's only $16, it's available at Target, and the milky ceramide- and squalene-rich formula makes your skin looks so plump, healthy, and dewy. No matter your skin type or skin concerns, I'd bet one million dollars you'll be completely in love with this serum. It's living proof you don't have to spend a fortune to get high-quality, effective skincare. Thank me later!"
"I've tried hundreds of face creams, from $15 to $900 (yep, they exist.), and this is my absolute favorite of all time. Since my skin is prone to breakouts and congestion, I prefer lightweight gel formulas to ultra-heavy occlusive creams, but so many lighter moisturizers on the market just don't give me enough long-lasting hydration. This one from the French brand Avène has been a true miracle for my skin. It keeps my complexion balanced and dewy, and it has the added benefit of making my makeup and foundation look absolutely stellar. I can't recommend it enough. Layer it on top of the Byoma serum above, and your skin will be like, 'Wow.'"
"I have no problem admitting I'm absolutely perfectionistic when it comes to maintaining a porcelain-white finish to my teeth. So it likely won't come as any surprise that I've tried practically every type of whitening product and contraption that's on the market. But let me just say these ingenious dissolving strips from SmileDirectClub are the absolute best. The brand recommends applying the strips once a day for seven days straight to get the most out of your treatment, but you'll notice big-time results after just one use. They're mess-proof, they easily stick to my teeth, and they are so convenient. I pop them on after I brush my teeth at night right before I go to bed, and my teeth look professionally whitened come morning. People have even been asking me if I have veneers since I started regularly incorporating these strips into my routine."
"If you, like me, want to smell intoxicatingly good 24/7, you will do yourself a favor and head straight over to St. Rose's website. I'm such a perfume girl, and I can honestly say, after smelling each and every scent from the brand thanks to this Discovery Set ($50), that I've never been so in love with every single fragrance from one line before. Truly, I want and would wear them all, and that never happens—never. It feels really impossible to choose a favorite, but after a few weeks of experimenting, the one I seem to come back to again and again is Desert Nomad, which the brand categorizes as 'soulful woods.' It's a warm yet haunting mix of ginger, bergamot, neroli, pepper, iris, clary sage, sandalwood, palo santo, and vetiver—a composition of scents that I wouldn't think I'd like if I hadn't smelled this perfume. That said, it's positively intoxicating, and the way it plays out once it's on your skin is incredibly unique and special. This is a fragrance that has already burrowed itself deep into my heart. Oh, and as if it even needed more brownie points, it boasts over 98% natural and naturally derived ingredients, so you can feel that much better each and every time you imbibe."
"All of my favorite eye creams have a few common threads. They brighten, hydrate, tighten, and help diffuse the look of my stubborn dark circles. I've tried so many over the years, but I think this one from Rose Inc. is the best I've tried for tackling all of the above with just a few quick taps and pats. It has a slight pearlescent sheen that adds an immediate brightening effect whether you're wearing it alone or under makeup. It's noncomedogenic, so it won't clog your pores, and it has lush hydrating ingredients like squalane to keep things smooth and moisturized and not dry and crusty. I'm so glad I discovered this product, and it's quickly become a staple in my regimen. You can use it morning or night, but I've found it to be an extra-strategic part of my morning skincare routine."
"Remember last month when I basically wrote an essay about my love and adoration for Canopy's life-changing humidifiers? Well, the brand has a new and even more exciting launch, so you best grab your reading glasses and prepare for a sequel. I've always been pretty meh when it comes to diffusers, and if I'm trying to make my space smell amazing, I typically just reach for a candle or some incense, but this hyper-clean, waterless diffuser has backspaced all of that. With zero mist or water—which makes it safer, healthier, and cleaner—it's an adorable little aroma diffuser that truly transforms the ambiance of any space. I keep it next to my humidifier and plug it in before I start to wind down for the night. All of the essential oils are wonderful and melt away any built-up tension or stress, but Emerald Grove (which is part of the brand's Rituals set) has quickly become my number one. If you gift yourself with anything self-care related this month, make it this!"
Shawna Hudson, Associate Beauty Editor
"Basically, my fellow associate Katie got me obsessed with this chic perfume house. The brand's warm, magnetic scent Hypnotizing Fire has become my absolute favorite fragrance this month. It strikes the perfect balance between sweet and sizzling with notes of Bulgarian rose and a vanilla base."
"I seriously can't (and won't) shut up about this mascara. It's so good, and I think it might be my new all-time favorite. I guess you could say I'm also picky about my formulas in this department, and this new YSL offering passes the test. It adds so much length and volume without looking unnatural and doesn't clump up. Please do yourself a favor and snag it ASAP."
"I have to say I'm super impressed with this co-wash for curls! I'm very picky about co-washes because, to be honest, most of them don't work. They just make my hair feel super greasy. But this one actually managed to make my curls feel cleansed, incredibly hydrated, and soft. I have super-thick 3C curls, and the first time I used this, I noticed they had more shape and bounce than they've had in a long time."
Katie Berohn, Associate Beauty Editor
"Unfortunately, like most people, my skin is reactive to stress. It's been a particularly busy month for me, and predictably, my skin took the brunt of it. I used this mask as a Hail Mary to calm my face down before bed one night, and when I woke up the next morning, my skin looked and felt completely renewed. The texture of my face went from rough to smooth overnight. Bonus: You can leave this on before you go to bed, so it's the perfect mask if you're lazy like me and don't want to take a mask off to put on skincare."
"The whole world was abuzz when KVD launched its Good Apple Foundation last year, but it wasn't my jam. When it comes to foundation, I'm not a full-coverage girl. When it comes to concealer, on the other hand, give me all the coverage—these dark circles won't cover themselves. This concealer not only covers everything seamlessly, but it also lasts all day without creasing or caking."
"This pencil is by no means new, but every time I did my makeup this month, I found myself reaching for it. I've been really into brown-toned lips (blame Maddy from Euphoria), and this pencil is the perfect thing to line my lips with to achieve the look."
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
"I am a huge fan of Ilia's Lip Wrap Overnight Treatment, so I was super jazzed to hear the brand was coming out with a new product in the Lip Wrap family called the Revival Balm. The balm is my new secret weapon for chasing away dry flakes and cracks. I've truly never felt something so lovely on my lips that could be used as often as you want. (Some of the more intense treatments shouldn't be used multiple times a day, which I learned the hard way as a lip-treatment fanatic.) I was also so pleasantly surprised by the ceramic applicator the first time I tried the balm. It's cool to the lips and completely enhances the soothing effect of the formula."
"I have been on a nearly decade-long journey to train myself to sleep on my back with pretty much no luck. I have somewhat deep nasolabial folds, and I figure smushing my face down into a pillow every night isn't helping. Not to mention, my back aches definitely act up more when I spend the night in my beloved stomach sleeping position. Everything changed when I met the Sleep & Glow pillow. It is specially formed to help you start sleeping on your back and stay there, and I can say it truly makes me feel secure and supported in laying on my back. It even has a zone on the side made for side sleepers that supports the chin and forehead but is hollowed out in between, so your face can lay in the hollow without being squished against the pillow. It took a few nights to readjust to the new pillow, and in those early days, I definitely craved the comfort of my usual sleep position and old feather pillow. But I slowly felt myself adapting to the new norm of sleeping on my back and haven't looked back since."
"I got turned onto Gelcare when a stylist on set had the most perfect jelly-pink nails. I demanded to know the details and was delighted to find out her manicure was from an at-home gel system that is nontoxic, has on-trend colors, and can be done from the comfort of your home at any hour, no salon appointment necessary. The stylist said it was a COVID lockdown purchase that has become the only way she does her nails now. I had to try it, and to cut to the chase, I'm a convert now too. I started off with a French manicure (ambitious, I know), and somehow, it came out dang near perfect. I was especially impressed with how long the manicure lasted. Given it was my first time, I was surprised it essentially held up like one from the salon. Eleven days in, there wasn't a single chip on my white tips, and the only issue was some of the edges were coming up a little, which I think was because I painted the polish too close to the cuticle. Removal was honestly easier than your typical gel. I removed them at night, and the image of my bare nails below is how they looked the following morning—essentially damage-free! I tried that pink jelly manicure next (pics here), and since the formula is meant to be a bit sheer, it was wildly easy to get super-professional results. I am beyond hooked and have a long list of fun colors to try next."
"When Hermès debuts new lipsticks, you pay attention, and the brand's latest limited-edition collection is no exception. It's called "shiny lipstick," and has a glossy, transparent finish. It honestly feels like a lip balm and gives the most gentle wash of color. I now keep it on standby next to my computer for a quick pre-Zoom glow-up. The orange and beige colors were my absolute favorites. Though, the pink is also quite pretty for those who gravitate toward that color family. The signature magnetic cases designed by Pierre Hardy are just the cherry on top of a very luxurious lip experience."
Sierra Mayhew, Associate Fashion Editor
"Good skincare feels like magic, and that's exactly how I'd describe this iconic wand. Every time I have used it, I have woken up with a glow that is on a whole new level. The wand scientifically uses the power of positive and negative ions to open up the pores and let in all of the active ingredients. This is the equivalent of an at-home facial for me."
"I literally can't shut up about how good this cleanser is. I have drier skin and am always dodging products that make me feel stripped. This one does none of that. With its relaxing aroma and softening powers, I am always feeling refreshed and ready for bed after using it."
"Call me basic, but this beauty product fully deserves the virality and buzz that it's gotten over social media. Never has one shade of lipstick done so many wonders on literally every skin tone. I'm not one for dramatic makeup, so the subtleness that is this natural shade is perfection. Whether I'm dressing casual or formal, I can't go wrong with this pretty lip color."
Caitie Schlisserman, Beauty Director, Branded Content
"Not going to lie, I've become so obsessed with the Sky High mascara that I've barely tested any others in the last month. But I had to show some love to Milani because it's a great mascara. The molded hourglass-shaped brush makes it easy to coat each lash and deliver on length and volume without clumping. I also love that the formula is infused with castor oil, which is just super nourishing for lashes."
"I'm totally smitten with this lip gloss in Pistachio—it's perfect. It's the ultimate semi-sheer pink that applies super smoothly and leaves my lips feeling and looking extra juicy."
"I don't change up my cleanser too often but have been thoroughly enjoying this lightweight number. It has a really nice lather and does a good job of removing my makeup while leaving my skin feeling soft and supple."
"I'm always looking for a quick blemish fix and really like what I've seen with this paste so far. It basically zaps pimples overnight and helps brighten the look of spots from past breakouts. I'm definitely keeping this gal handy."
"This is such a lightweight, nourishing mask full of good-for-skin ingredients—such as hyaluronic acid, apple, camellia oil, grape and lemon extracts, and niacinamide—that leave skin feeling hydrated and refreshed. Taking cues from Melinda Solares, my latest habit has been slathering my face with this stuff and turning on my face steamer. It's a total game changer."
"I love this little highlighter-and-blush duo. It's packed with pearlescent pigments and gives the finish of a liquid highlighter, always delivering the ultimate lit-from-within glow."
"Coming from someone who has stayed away from contouring, this brush makes me want to step outside my comfort zone because it's totally foolproof. There's no way I can mess anything up! It's dual ended: One side features a small, fluffy buffing brush, and the other features a unique U-shaped contour brush. It's truly the most genius brush ever, and it's the perfect shape to contour your nose. For anyone who has shied away from contouring, pick this up. You'll never turn back."
"If you're going to get yourself the brush above, make sure you get this too. The pot comes with a cream base and a velvety setting powder, both of which are easy to blend and build upon."
"If you walked into my bathroom, the bottom shelf of my vanity is full of various facial sprays. I just love spritzing myself as a midday pick-me-up. This one is made with a proprietary phytomedicinal complex that contains a blend of rose water, chamomile, licorice root, and probiotic ferment to replenish, refine, and soothe skin. Calcium and zinc help soothe inflammation. I'm telling you it's a real afternoon treat."
"Full disclosure: I've only been using this for a few days, which isn't a lot for skincare, but I'm hooked! It's like a topical vitamin for your skin and has an amazing texture that feels like an oil-jelly hybrid. The formula is packed with a 15 super-greens complex, including spinach, kale, spirulina, vegan collagen, and more—all of which help clarify and brighten. It's lightweight and works well under a moisturizer, and I honestly have nothing bad to say. I've been applying it twice a day and can already notice an improvement in my complexion."
Judith Jones, Senior Market Editor
"I'm always on the hunt for great hydrating face oils, and lately, I've been loving the all-natural nourishing face oil by LaBruna Skincare. It's packed with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, and I layer it under my moisturizer day and night to keep my skin hydrated and glowing. I love the fact it's made with all-natural, real ingredients such as goji berry, St. John's wort, and moringa, which boosts elasticity. It instantly brightens my skin and leaves it super soft. It's a mainstay in my beauty cabinet now!"