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 story. Ahead, the best beauty products we tried in February! Grab your game face and wallet. You'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
February was the month of IS Clinical for me, and February was also the month my skin has finally, finally started to clear up. Coincidence? I think not. I've been familiar with the brand for a few years and have tried certain products here and there, but it wasn't until I had the chance to see Victoria Beckham's facialist, Melanie Grant, that I found out which products from the line were most suited to my sensitive, congestion-prone skin.
I've become obsessed with every single IS product I've added to my carefully curated regimen (The Cleansing Complex, $44; The Copper Firming Mist, $35; The Hydra-Cool Serum, $94; The Youth Eye Complex, $105; and The Youth Lip Elixir, $58), but it's this luxurious warming cleanser that has swept me off my feet and seriously helped me get a leg up on my acne and scarring. It deeply penetrates your pores with raw honey, royal jelly, and propolis to naturally eradicate bacteria and buildup while gently exfoliating with papaya and green tea. It's also the most hydrating, non-stripping cleanser I've ever tried, and massaging it all over my face (it smells so amazing) is the best EOD ritual.
In extremely exciting news, Augustinus Bader dropped another mega skincare-beauty hybrid in collaboration with Victoria Beckham Beauty this month. It's a serum, and it's so fantastic and multitasking that you could probably use it alone in combination with your cleanser and moisturizer and live your best skin life. Of course, it features Bader's holy-grail patented TFC8 complex, which is regaled for its major anti-aging benefits, but this serum also plays host to hyaluronic acid, brightening niacinamide, and other lovely botanicals and ingredients meant to keep your skin in its best-ever shape. I've been obsessed with how it looks under makeup, especially.
I was obsessed with Beautyblender's Bounce Liquid Whip Longwear Foundation ($40) when it came out a little over a year ago, so you can imagine my excitement when the brand launched a new concealer to match! Not only are the colors really, really great, but this concealing wand boasts some of the most impressive coverage and wear I've ever seen from a concealer. I actually overapplied the first time I wore it because you need about half of the amount of product you're used to applying—I guarantee it.
It takes A LOT for me to fall in love with and recommend a new mascara find, but when I tried this cult-classic Charlotte Tilbury wand during our review of the brand's best-selling products, I (literally) couldn't believe my eyes. Unlike almost every other mascara on the market, it actually does what it says it will. It kept my long, droopy lashes perfectly curled in addition to adding impressive volume and length. I've been getting so many compliments on my lashes since I started wearing it more regularly.
This balm in the cult-classic shade Orgasm is always in my makeup bag, and I honestly didn't think the soft shimmery-sheer pink could be topped. Well, I stand corrected. Deep Throat has been my go-to lippie this month. It delivers hydration, subtle shine (with zero stickiness) and a touch of berry-hued color to your lips.
Don't get me wrong. I've tried some really amazing self-tanning formulas during my career as a beauty editor, and I wholeheartedly think the technology is getting better and better. Anyway, this three-step tanning set from pro UK-based tanning artist Amanda Harrington has to take the cake as the best self-tan I've ever applied. (Fun fact: Harrington was described as "the Michelangelo of tanning” by Vogue.) I'll admit that at first I was a little intimidated by the different steps and process—usually slathering a mousse on with a mitt pre-bed is the name of the game for me—but this self-tanning experience is actually so easy, so goof-proof, and, dare I say it? Pleasant.
You start with the pre-color primer which hydrates your skin and has low-level gradual tanning agents to give you the perfect base for your fake tan, and then after that has set and dried, you'll put on the gloves, pump the mousse into your palms, and begin smoothing the product all over your body working your way top to bottom. It barely smells, it dries CRAZY fast (but not so fast that you can't blend perfectly), and the color is truly fantastic. To finish, you take the big fluffy brush and buff it into your skin all over your body for any extra blending you want to do, and if you so choose, you can pump some mousse directly onto the brush and apply to areas of the body you want to contour like the outer and inner parts of your leg, your stomach, your collarbones, or chest. It's so superb. Honestly, I didn't know how great a self-tan could be until I tried this product, and I'm a self-tan STAN.
Glow Recipe has made its first foray into the skincare-meets-makeup realm, and Watermelon Glow Lip Pop has been worth the wait. Normally, I'm not into lips scrubs—even stick or balm forms—but this juicy pink launch is such a standout and has officially converted me. It's a three-in-one scrub-to-balm that instantly banishes chap or scales (seriously, the finish is so smooth), drenches your lips with moisture, and gives you this burst of pink tint that's so pretty. It also smells incredibly nostalgic—like my watermelon Lipsmackers I kept on my bedazzled belt loop in elementary school.
I can't stop painting my nails with Essie's new quick-drying Expressie nail polishes. They're 8-free and vegan, come in 40 different colors, dry SO fast, have a super-glossy long-wear finish, and the brush is strategically angled to make application easier and more foolproof. Green isn't usually my color, but I've been uncharacteristically obsessed with this shade called Precious Cargo-go!
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
I average six hours of sleep a night, so concealer is one of the most important products in my makeup routine. Needless to say, I was eager to try Kosas's new concealer. I was really impressed by how good the coverage was and how easy it was to blend, as those two things don't always go hand-in-hand. It's super long-wearing (this photo was taken seven hours after application) and doesn't crease at all. Plus, the shade range is great, especially for a new launch. I'm hooked.
This isn't a brand-new product, but I just tried it for the first time, along with the new Kosas concealer. Heavy foundations aren't my thing, so I was intrigued by this extremely lightweight oil. Despite the name, it didn't make my skin look oily at all. It just looks like skin—not too matte, not too dewy. It spreads so easily and just sort of sinks in instantly, providing a sheer wash of coverage. Even though the color I have appears to be a smidge dark for me, you can't even tell once I apply it. (Just be sure to allow your other skincare products to sink in first, as it will pill if you apply it too soon.)
Nicole Akhtarzad Eshaghpour, Senior Market Editor
I generally shy away from trying too many new products, subscribing to the old "if it ain’t broke don’t fix it" mentality, but I’m a sucker for KNC. After becoming obsessed with its lip masks and telling all my friends about them, the brand gained my trust, so I was elated when I saw that it just came out with a new lip scrub—right when winter was starting to get the best of me. After using it just once, I instantly felt relief from the dryness and cracking I’ve been experiencing over the last couple months. Unlike other lip scrubs I’ve used, it doesn’t just exfoliate but also leaves your lips moisturized so you don’t have to apply something else after you use it. Highly recommend for anyone whose lip balm has failed them this season!
Kristen Nichols, Managing Editor
Recently, I cannot live without my ZIIP and even packed it for a trip to Italy. The microcurrent device has settings that you can sync to your iPhone, offering a number of treatments ranging from facial lifting and sculpting to spot treatment for breakouts. I use it at home, but it especially comes in handy when I'm traveling and trying to combat puffiness from flights.
Judith Jones, Market Editor
I've recently added Circumference Vital-C antioxidant day serum to my skincare routine, and I've noticed such a big difference in my complexion. Packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin C, olive leaf extract, and B3, it leaves my skin with a brighter and more even complexion, while protecting it from harmful pollution. It's also filled with moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid which keeps my skin super hydrated.
Sarah Yang, Managing Editor of The/Thirty
I recently got the mini version of this as a sample from Sephora. Honestly, it could not have come at a better time. Ever since I moved back to L.A. from NY, I have been struggling with dry facial skin, so I've been trying just about EVERYTHING. This cream was rich, but not oily at all, and it made my skin feel and look hydrated, fresh, and, well, dewy. I used every bit of the sample and immediately bought the full-size version after I ran out.
Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy
CBD is still a buzzy ingredient in the beauty and wellness world, and while I'm not entirely convinced of its efficacy in certain products, I do know that this lip balm is impressive enough to have earned a spot in my everyday beauty pouch. First and foremost, the screw-on tube design is so smart—I hate when the cap falls off in my bag and the product picks up every piece of lint and crumb imaginable—so this design completely eliminates product-waste on that front. Second, it is super moisturizing, so much so that I only have to reapply a few times a day (after a meal or drinks), rather than what can feel like every five minutes in the cold NYC winters. The subtle mint flavor is nice, too.
For me, 2020 is all about the eyes. I'm a little late on the prevention wagon, but this easy-to-use product has helped me to firmly integrate under-eye care into my morning and evening routines. Since it comes in a rollerball, the application is simple and eliminates anxiety about overuse or loss of product thru spillage. Also, my under-eyes had been unusually dry lately, but not anymore. This oil blends nicely with my concealer, and I've even found that I'm using a few dots less since my bags are a little less noticeable. The rollerball also has a nice cooling effect which, along with green tea and coffee bean, helps with depuffing in the morning.
I guess January and February were extremely dry months because my hair was a wreck. It got to the point where even my beloved Wet Brush was not enough to detangle my hair, so I gave this leave-in conditioner a try. Usually, my fine strands can't handle a lot of product, but I was desperate. Not only did this leave-in conditioner keep me tangle-free after showering and between washes, but it also decreased the amount of static caused by removing hats and scarves, and it smelled amazing. It's not something I can use every day (again, fine-hair problems), but if you are a grown woman dealing with the dry, tangled hair of a toddler, I highly recommend giving it a go
Even though this has been an extremely mild winter in New York City, I am impatiently waiting for longer days and warmer temperatures. While I usually embrace a moody dark winter hue on my nails between October and March, it got to the point where I just needed a pop of color to keep spirits bright. Luckily, Olive & June debuted its new Superbloom set just in time. Not only am I sporting the sage-meets–mint green hue on my nails as I type this, but I also did my mani at home by myself, saving a few bucks while indulging in my latest TV binge, Good Girls. Who needs Groundhog Day when you have Olive & June to kick off the countdown to spring?
Next, read all about the best beauty products we tried in January.
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.