As an editor and beauty devotee, I’m regularly testing the latest product releases. Everything from new skincare and makeup to fragrance and buzzy tools makes its way onto my radar and end up on my bathroom counter, at which point I put them to rigorous testing. Does the new cult moisturizer actually live up to the hype? Are the latest fragrances something I actually want to wear every day? With a background in beauty working at Allure before Who What Wear, I was exposed to the very best in beauty and was trained to have a discerning eye to determine what actually works.
Ahead, I’m highlighting the very best of the best in beauty that I experimented with in 2019. I’ve narrowed down my top picks in every category, sharing why each item works and why it has earned a permanent place in my beauty regimen. From the gentle retinol serum I swear by for perfect skin to the foundation I use for a glowing complexion to the sunless tanner I won't travel without, and more, these are the 25 best beauty products I tried in 2019—and will continue using long into 2020.
One of the most talked-about beauty products in recent memory, the Augustinus Bader face cream is worth the hype. Developed with 30 years of stem cell research, the formula is clinically proven to diminish fine lines and wrinkles. I personally saw improvements to the texture of my skin; I was left with a complexion with more bounce and consistent hydration than other moisturizers I've used in the past. Yes, it's expensive, but if you're looking to invest in your skincare, this is a product I'm 100% behind.
When I was in London earlier this year, I had the chance to meet Fatma Shaheen for one of her signature facial treatments. After using a combination of cutting-edge devices and products from her skincare line, Skin Design London, I walked out with a sculpted face and glowing complexion. I wanted to replicate it at home and have been using her C Antioxidant Glow serum religiously every morning since. It's a cocktail that includes seven superstar ingredients like ferulic acid and 30% vitamin C that help to promote collagen, plump skin, and really make your complexion glow. And to top it all off, it includes vitamin C–rich Kakadu plums, which makes it smell heavenly.
I've been using a retinol since high school but have often found them to be too harsh for my sensitive skin. This serum from Shani Darden has all of the age-reversing properties of other retinols but it is gentler and doesn't cause the peeling and redness I've experienced using other products.
If I want to instantly hydrate my skin, I use this hyaluronic acid serum from Versed. Ever since I tried it, it has become essential for travel, so I'm never without it on a flight. And the best part? It's just $20.
Another travel must? These eye masks from Madonna's skincare line, MDNA. They help to de-puff and hydrate the undereye, meaning that even if I hop on a plane at 5 a.m., I'll still look refreshed when I arrive.
Oftentimes, spot treatments like serums and cream aren't effective at banishing the occasional blemish, but these stickers work every time. The real difference is that the stickers have micro-darts that help the treatment penetrate deeper within the skin to combat zits.
I won't leave home without sunscreen and love this one from Supergoopm, which is lightweight and goes on more like a moisturizer.
While I love the look of a sunkissed glow after a trip to the beach, I'm very diligent about wearing sunscreen and protecting my skin when I'm outdoors, so I usually need to fake a tan. While most end up looking orange and unnatural, I tried the formula from Tan-Luxe and am now a devoted fan. Not only does the color look natural, but it's also easy to apply with the roller-ball applicator.
I've been a huge fan of Bioderma's products ever since I discovered them at a pharmacy in Paris years ago. I've been using the micellar water for over a decade, but its Atoderm body wash is a recent discovery. It's formulated to cleanse and moisturize dry, sensitive skin—and also smells heavenly.
To be honest, I usually avoid body lotion because I don't like the filmy feeling of anything on my skin. That all changed once I tried Biba's hand and body lotion. It sinks into right away, so the skin is moisturized but not filmy.
I haven't used a hair straightener since high school but reintroduced one to my regimen this year. Recently, I've been swapping out beachy waves for smooth and sleek hair, so a hair straightener is essential for perfecting my ends and touch-ups when I want to extend the life of a blowout. Our editor in chief, Kat Collings, recommended this straightener from GHD, and I could not agree with her more that it's the very best. Not only does it straighten my hair to perfection, but it also heats up in an astonishing 20 seconds.
Since I get my hair highlighted, I regularly use this Olaplex conditioning treatment that was recommended by my colorist. It's essential for reversing hair damage like breakage that can often happen with chemical treatments.
For combing through my ends and separating my hair into the perfect center part, I depend on this comb from Yves Durif. A tool that's as beautiful and elegant as it is functional.
Applied on my ends when my hair is wet, this oil locks in moisture without weighing my hair down.
I always put my hair back when I'm washing my face or using a mask. To avoid breakage, I use these silk scrunchies that have the added benefit of being super luxe.
I have incredibly tangly hair and have tried practically everything. Nothing really worked until I discovered this detangling spray from Unite, which helps me to easily comb through any knots.
Our team tried out Pat McGrath's foundation when it was released last summer, and I've been hooked on it ever since. While the formula isn't something I'll wear every day, it's what I apply before photos when I want my skin to look radiant and glowing.
I wear winged eyeliner practically every single day, so I'm constantly testing new liquid liners. My favorite from the year is this one from Dior, which has a great inky black formula and a felt tip pen applicator that's foolproof to apply.
When I apply makeup, my number one goal is to achieve glowing, radiant skin, and this highlighter does just that. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked about which highlighter I use.
While I don't do any heavy contouring, I do always apply this Chanel bronzer underneath my cheekbones to lend a little definition to my face. It's subtle but effective, so perfect if you're looking for something that looks natural.
Though this is technically a sheer lipstick, the pigment carries over very well onto lips. It's truly the perfect pink, and I never leave home without this in my bag.
Portrait of a Lady is an utterly intoxicating scent that I simply can't live without. Part Turkish rose, part spicy undertones, it's a sophisticated and mysterious fragrance that has a permanent spot on my vanity.
Sometimes the best products are the ones you discover through friends, which is the case for Byredo's suede hand wash. I first tried it out at a friend's house and was instantly drawn to the rich, musky scent and ordered it on the spot. Now, I have a bottle by every sink at home.
Here's a device so incredible that my sister ordered it on the spot after trying it at my house. With nanocurrent and microcurrent technology, it has a range of treatments that are synced to your phone that can do anything from banishing breakouts to facial sculpting. I recently had a bad blemish and nearly went to the dermatologist for a cortisone injection, but instead used my ZIIP device and it was gone by the next morning.
Truth be told, I'd never owned an electric toothbrush even though I was convinced I needed to buy one every time I went to the dentist. To be honest, the hefty price tags have always been a deterrent as well as the precious counter space they take up. Recently, that all changed when I tried an electric toothbrush from Quip. It's certainly the chicest new tool I've added to my bathroom for a long time. With starter sets for just $25, the brushes are very affordable and are the same size as a regular toothbrush but have the added cool factor of a sleek, modern design. Plus, they use batteries so they can be tucked inside a drawer rather than plugged into the wall and can easily be packed in a suitcase for travel. Now, I'm very happy that I finally own an electric toothbrush—even if it took me this long—because my teeth have never felt so clean.