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 January! Grab your game face and wallet. You'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
So this product isn't new, new, but it is new to me! I've heard such great things about this foundation stick. Not only is it Black Opal's number one best seller, but makeup artists and fellow editors also endlessly gush over it. Obviously, I had to try it out for myself. I've been pretty happy with my foundation, so I opted to buy a darker shade that I could use to bronze and lightly contour my face. Guys! Guys. This product is amazing. It's so deliciously creamy and blendable, and unlike the majority of sticks out there I've tried, it has such a seamless and customizable application. You have 19 shades to choose from, so you can use it as a foundation, a concealer, or a contour/bronzing situation, like me. It's long wearing, it is spiked with SPF coverage, and it features key Shade ID technology utilizing multicolored chromatic pigments to adjust to your skin's undertones and help filter any areas you'd like to camouflage. It also has tons of great ingredients (think vitamin C and E), and you can bet your buttons I immediately ordered additional shades for my foundation and concealer needs.
I rarely, if ever, find a new mascara I like. (I've been committed to two particular formulas since I was in high school and have only religiously allowed two others into my routine since—yep, really.) So you know how huge of a deal it is that I'm over here writing about this brand-new one from Maybelline. The lift! The length! The curl! The separation! Ugh, where to start. I love bendable, rubber mascara brushes (versus oversize fluffy ones), so the design and comb-like style are right up my alley. Even though it's a super-light consistency, it still delivers plenty of volume without sacrificing curl, length, or definition. You can quite literally get every last lash. It's a fiber mascara, so you get that long and lush falsie effect, and it's even saturated with conditioning ingredients like bamboo extract to help protect the integrity of your lashes in the long run. I can't get enough.
If I was lazy about styling my hair before 2020, you can imagine what my relationship with my collection of styling tools had been like since COVID. (Very estranged.) However, once in a blue moon, I get inspired to pick up a new styling tool for a test-drive. When it comes to curling my hair, I can't be bothered with clamps, so I almost always use a wand. I've been staying with my family in Arizona for the past couple of months, so I don't have my usual favorite. Thus, when Harry Josh sent me its 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron, I was excited to give it a whirl. First of all, it's brilliant because you can get the professional-level results of a marcel clamp or a spring clamp with the easy, breezy flexibility of a wand, or you can remove the detachable marcel or spring clamps (what I do) to use the ceramic wand alone. One would think all curling wands are the same, but they're definitely not, and this is my new favorite. I don't know if I've ever had such voluminous, crimp-free, and long-lasting results as this one effortlessly delivers. I literally have no reason to be curling my hair right now, but the results are so pretty I just. can't. stop.
I'm not really a huge product person when it comes to my hair. I despise the feeling of product in my hair (residue, no thank you!), so I've never been one to spray my hair silly with volumizers, mists, or texturizers. That said, this new root-teasing and texturizing spray from R+Co has quickly become my latest favorite thing, and when paired with my new fave curling iron (see above), the results are truly so damn good. Technically, this formula is all about adding volume and texture to the roots, but I also love it on my midlengths and ends. It smells heavenly (like palo santo, white cedarwood, smoky tobacco leaf, fresh pine needles, and water lily), absorbs oil, and blends seamlessly into every hair color. It's almost like the longer you wear it, the more pillowy and voluminous your strands get. Does it expand? Is it bewitched? Is it the perfect dry shampoo/texturizing spray hybrid? I honestly don't know, but I haven't been this hooked on a styling product in maybe forever.
By now, y'all know I have a "can't live without it" relationship with my collection of Tom Ford perfumes, and Costa Azzurra, the label's latest installment, really has a hold on me. It's all I can wear, and I've found it to be the perfect wintery fragrance to cozy into this season. At first spritz, it's admittedly pretty bold and—don't hate me for saying this—"masculine." (This is definitely an earthy and woody scent.) But momentarily, the blend of juniper, cypress, oak, and notes of "warm wood" and "green" mellow out for a really unique finish. It has quite quickly become my signature perfume this season.
There's almost always a weak link in even the best of skincare lines, but Shani Darden's edit of skin saviors is maybe the one and only exception. I tell everyone I know that I'll use her Cleansing Serum ($38) and her iconic Texture Reform ($88) until my dying day, and now, I'm adding her newest launch (an eye cream!) to my list of ride-or-die favorites. It's a rich, intensely restorative formula brimming with ingredients that a stressed, thinned-out eye area is craving—peptides, silk tree extract, squalane, ceramides, and niacinamide… the gang is all here! I don't have too many issues with major lines or wrinkles yet, but this rich formula definitely plumps up and diminishes the fine lines I do have, and it helps filter my dark circles a bit.
I was lucky enough to try Hum's latest gummy release for about a month before it launched, and let me tell you… I was pretty much counting down the days until the embargo lifted and I could shout from the rooftop my love for these calming gummies. Honestly, I've never had luck with stress-related and/or adaptogenic supplements in the past, but there's something about this strategic mix of ashwagandha and L-theanine that really does the trick. Obviously, something like this won't help with serious anxiety or panic (if you're struggling, please consult a trusted healthcare professional), but whenever I start to feel my heart rate sky-rocketing or can't seem to calm my nonstop worrying or overthinking, I simply pop two of these delicious gummies, and I almost instantaneously start to settle down a bit. I've always loved Hum's product lineup, but the brand had really outdone itself with this new launch. I highly recommend it, and the Sour Patch Kids-esque sour cherry flavor is also amazing.
I'm so excited that fashion legend Jason Wu has officially entered the beauty space with a brand-new line of makeup and skin-centric products. I'm even more excited that the products, really truly, are quite fabulous. I'm still working my way through the entire line, but thus far, this beautifully shimmering shadow compact has been my everyday obsession. I'm a neutral-shadow girl through and through, and the pan called Desert Rose has everything I need for some subtle sparkle and definition on my lid.
I was kind of "off" toners for a while, but I'm back in the game thanks to this new formula from M-61. I've long been infatuated with the brand's cult-loved PowerGlow Peel ($66), and this gently resurfacing, glow-inducing elixir is like its slightly less intense second cousin—cut from the same cloth but delicate enough for once- or twice-daily use. It boasts so many fabulous ingredients, including glycolic and salicylic acids, aloe, and bilberry. It's surprisingly hydrating and really plumps up my skin, so much so that I sometimes don't even feel like I need my moisturizer. I've been using it regularly for a few weeks now, and I've definitely noticed that my complexion looks brighter, smoother, and significantly more even and clear.
As a beauty editor, it's my job to be super nitpicky about beauty products, and I'm just naturally inclined to try to find something wrong with every new formula. That said, I can't find one single flaw in this stellar new lip oil from Merit. It's sheer perfection and is the perfect no-fuss antidote when I want shine, hydration, plumping, and a natural wash of color in two seconds flat. I can't stop wearing it, and I'm planning to collect every shade. Right now, my go-to is Pink Beet, but Sangria is a close second.
I'm very much obsessed with Klur (every product I've tried has made significant, noticeable improvements in my skin), so I was super excited to try this gentle yet potent exfoliating potion that Klur's founder, Lesley Thornton, recommended for my acne-prone skin. Truly—this restorative complex is like the multivitamin your skin never knew it needed. Unlike so many exfoliating formulas out there, this natural blend hasn't irritated my skin or triggered retaliatory bumps and inflammation. I've been applying it a few nights a week after cleansing (trust me—you don't need anything else before or afterward), and I let it work its magic overnight. Vitamins A, C, and B calm, correct, and resurface, while additional botanical ingredients infuse hydration and much-needed TLC for a brighter, happier complexion come morning. It's a beautiful composition, and it's a new nightly ritual I genuinely look forward to.
I've been heavily reliant on goop-sucking acne dots in the last year or so since facialist appointments (when I'd normally get lots of extractions) have been few and far between. However, some dots are far superior to others, and as someone who has quite literally tried them all, I can easily say these new ones from ZitSticka are, by far, the best I've ever had. Now, these only really work if you have the kind of pimple that's busting at the seams (sorry for the visual) and has come to a head—they won't do much good aside from keeping pick-happy fingers at bay if you have cystic acne or bumps that aren't on the brink of purging. That said, if you are getting zits with that telltale whitehead at the tip, these will be magical for you. Yes, they're hydrocolloid patches, like most acne dots, but they're not your average hydrocolloid patch. Instead, unlike other formulas, each dot is infused with additional ingredients to help calm redness and clear the skin (like niacinamide, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and tea tree) while simultaneously absorbing and extracting the infection in your pores that is causing your breakout. They're fast, effective, and super satisfying. Plus, they're easy to stealthily bring with you everywhere and anywhere.
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
I am head over heels in love with Rare Beauty. So many celebrities have come out with makeup, and news flash, a lot of it is garbage. But it's so clear to me that Selena Gomez's team really cares about this project because the products are so incredibly good. I was already a huge fan of the brand's Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation ($29) and Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer ($19), so when it recently expanded with the Stay Vulnerable collection, meant to create "the soft, flushed look we get when we feel the most vulnerable," I was instantly intrigued. The Melting Blush is my favorite of the newer launches. It's lightweight and so easy to apply with fingers or to pat on with a brush.
Fashion designer Jason Wu is the new kid on the beauty block, and the debut SKUs from his eponymous makeup line are surprisingly good. No shade intended! Of all the options available, I'm loving this pretty eye shadow palette that has every shade needed for a rose-tinged smoky eye. The hues are approachable and equally appropriate for daytime wear or more dramatic looks, but the clincher is that it's only $15! That's a really good price point for such high quality, pigmented, and blendable eye shadows.
Confession: I've never been big into color correction. It feels like a pro-makeup step that mid-level makeup enthusiasts like me need not bother with on a regular basis. But this powder is cool in that it combines separate sections of green, purple, and pink correcting powders in one pod, along with a translucent powder in the center, so that you can spot-correct with the individual colors or swirl your brush over the entire surface for a full-spectrum correcting effect. It's cool! I've been applying it under foundation (a trick I picked up on TikTok… jury's still out on it), and it does seem to get me a bit closer to that coveted flawless finish.
I ran out of my go-to quick-drying brush cleaner recently, so I decided to give this cleansing spray a try. I'm into it! It's made with lemon, grapefruit, and tea tree oil to quickly and gently remove makeup residue from my brushes and refresh them daily between less-frequent deep cleanses with a lathering detergent and water. It's more oily than other daily brush cleansers I've tried, but that definitely dissipates once you're done buffing the product out of the brush and the solution has dried. So far, so good.
I wasn't even looking to add a new serum to my regimen, but I simply can't help but give any and every Tatcha launch a spin. The products are always solid, and the formulas are always unique and impressive. This one is no different! It's a silky, plumping serum with lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, and squalane that glides on nicely and leaves my skin feeling cooled and quenched after applying. The instructions say to use it morning and night, but since my nighttime routine is pretty locked in, I've been using this as the first step of my routine in the morning after rinsing my face in lukewarm water (and on alternating days as my vitamin C serum). I hesitated to add this to my morning lineup since it has lactic acid in it, and I'm super cautious about using acids during the day, but since I'm still mostly holed up in my house, I'm okay with it for now.
Candice Aman, Social Media Editor
I have a pretty fickle relationship when it comes to face wash. (Hi, we exist!) Some days, I’ll want a cleanser that’s gentle and nourishing, but then, there are times when I’ll opt for something with a little more grip so I can really wash away any residue and impurities. This Moon Juice Milk Cleanse is the best of both worlds—it’s ultrahydrating and super effective at removing any leftover residue and never feels like it's stripping your skin. Plus, the packaging is entirely recyclable (the tube is made from sustainable sugarcane), so this facial cleanser is an all-around winner in my mind.
I only started using this toner at the tail end of last year, and it’s already become a hero product in my routine. With natural key ingredients that include antimicrobial aloe leaf juice and soothing botanical extracts, it’s really helped improve the texture and elasticity of my skin. And the extra hydration step has been a much-needed addition for the winter months.
Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
This stuff is pure gold. I’ve been using it for more than a month now, and I can honestly say my skin has totally changed for the better. Not only does it smell refreshing, but it also absorbs really fast and leaves my skin with a subtle, dewy glow. I swear my skin is less red, plumper, and radiant. And it’s all because of the formula. It’s made with two powerful technologies—1:1:1 biomimetic lipid ratio and StriVectin's patented form of niacin, NIA-114—that help address signs of a compromised skin barrier, like fine lines, wrinkles, visible redness, and loss of radiance and hydration. It’s not cheap at $119 per tub, but it’s truly worth the price tag.
I love big brows and have tried my fair share of products over the years. But it wasn’t until this volumizing pomade came into my life that my arches really started having a moment. It adds a nice, natural-looking color and just makes my brows look so fluffy and chic! I also love how quick and easy it is to use. I basically use the coated spoolie to brush my hairs down and back up again repeatedly until I have my desired shape. That’s it. My kind of product!
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor
I live for lip gloss, and I have to say that ever since I put Rare Beauty's newest glossy balm on, I have not taken it off. I love that the gloss's formula is super light, not sticky, and lasts longer than most tinted glosses I've used before. I love the near-berry shade with my skin tone, but the various shades all give you that pop you'd want from your gloss.
I'm normally dubious of any form of beauty product that claims to be doing more than one thing. Still, honestly, Iris & Romeo's multifunctional tinted moisturizer has me seriously reconsidering my stance. While I was unsure whether the rich shade would match my skin tone, upon application, it blended seamlessly with my skin in a way that I've found most foundations incapable of achieving. I also love how light the formula is because I despise the feeling of a caked-on foundation. Could this be magic in a bottle? For now, I'm saying yes.
I've said it before, and I'll repeat it: I'm obsessed with Merit's brow product. I have not used any other brow product since getting this one. The formula nails the perfect balance between adding a nice tint to your brows and being overpowering, like many brow products are.
Confession: I haven't changed my signature perfume scent in well over 10 years—I'm rather nostalgic when it comes to scents. But I have to say that I've been more bubbly (quite literally) with Juicy's newest perfume. What's intriguing about this scent is that it mixes pink berries, gardenia, and amber, which results in this scent that literally makes you feel more bubbly than you ever did in middle school.
Lauren Eggertsen, Senior Editor
I will admit it: This product finally caught my attention because of TikTok. A woman who is known for her makeup tutorials had received so many comments saying her skin always looks like it's topped with foundation before she even puts anything on her face. When she chalked it up to this Paula's Choice liquid exfoliant, I added it to my cart so fast. I have only been using it for a week, and I am trying to use as few extra products as possible to really see if this works for my skin—so far, I think it does. My skin feels softer, has a more even tone, and is way tighter. I've been using it in the morning and at night as the bottle suggests since I don't have super-sensitive skin, but some people prefer to use it just once a day, according to my research. So in conclusion, if you haven't tried this yet, I say it is 100% worth it.
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
I can't get over how much I love this new Summer Fridays Gel Cream. My skin is painfully dry these days, but it feels soothed and happy the moment I put this on. It also helped cut down my redness and is the rare moisturizer that I can get away with wearing under sunscreen and makeup. It leaves skin with a pretty glow but isn't oily in the least. I think it'll be perfect in the summer, too.
This new-to-me device is my favorite thing right now. I've been concerned with lines forming around my lips and the nasal folds lately, so I've been focusing on those areas. You can also use it around the eyes and on the forehead. The most interesting thing I've noticed is that my lips seem plumper since I started using this, and I don't think it's just in my head. Other than that, my fine lines are already starting to fade a bit. I can't wait to see the results once I've been using it a bit longer.
I'll try any skincare product with vitamin C listed as a main ingredient, and this Sunday Riley face oil is no exception. I've been using it during the day under makeup and was surprised by how pretty it is. I typically only wear face oils at night, but I've designated C.E.O. Glow as my daytime one—it makes my skin significantly brighter and smoother.
Anna LaPlaca, Associate Editor
I'm pretty wary of anything that's geared toward anti-stress since it tends to be a bit of a marketing gimmick, but I have to say, I've been pleasantly surprised by Hum's Calm Sweet Calm gummies. They're formulated with two main ingredients—ashwagandha, an adaptogen that eases stress, and L-theanine, a mood-boosting amino acid—that lower your cortisol levels (the fight-or-flight hormone). I've been taking them for the past two weeks, and I've started to notice that my anxiety isn't as intense, which I think says a lot given the news over the past year. I also appreciated that they can basically be taken any time of day, so unlike some CBD gummies that are good for combating stress, these are nondrowsy. It doesn't hurt that they taste good, too.
Merit's Flush Balm Cheek Color has quickly become one of my favorite makeup products. Right off the bat, I found it super easy to use—the rich cream formula glides right on and gives off a naturally dewy, hydrated look. While it is technically a balm, I like playing around with other ways to apply it and have been dabbing some onto my eyelids and even using it as a lip color to create one cohesive makeup look.
Obsessed is an understatement about my feelings toward this lip mask. I tried it out when my brother, who's arguably more of a skincare fanatic than I am, brought it home over Christmas, and ever since then, I've been hooked. It has a nice, glossy finish that can easily be worn during the day, and when I apply it before bed, I wake up eight hours later to find it's still on and working its magic.
Thank you to the beauty side of TikTok, who clued me into this game-changing product. A color-correcting cream that goes on green and then literally changes to the color of your skin right in front of your eyes? How did I not know about this sooner? Hyperpigmentation and redness are my skin's MO, so trying this tone-evening product was like a light bulb going off. I'm used to wearing a tinted moisturizer, but this Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Color Correcting Treatment goes on lighter and doesn't clog my pores the way traditional BB and CC creams do, so it's great as a light base to wear while working from home and calling into Zoom meetings.
Yusra Siddiqui, Assistant Market Editor
I feel like I hype up every Rare Beauty product I try, but I promise the products are just that good. I bought the Melting Cream Blush in Nearly Mauve as soon as I saw a swatch test on YouTube, and I think it's my favorite. It blends seamlessly into the skin, and the case is compact and mess-free, so it's easy to pop in your purse for touch-ups.
I was so excited to try out this brow product by Jason Wu and was even more excited when I found out I could pick it up on my Target run. It gives the most perfect volume and fluff without going overboard.
I know it's almost silly to be wearing lip gloss under a mask, but I do it anyway. This one feels so light and hydrating on the lips, and the shade complements my skin tone perfectly.
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
If had to pick one category of products to be stranded on a desert island with, it would be lip products. (Let's just pretend I also have a big hat for sun protection.) I love how a swipe of color brightens up my face and makes me look like I tried. Accordingly, I've tested a ton of lip products and am now rather picky about what I'll wear. Traditional glosses are usually off the table for me. Too sticky and too shiny for me. But a lip oil, aha! What a discovery! It's nourishing and leaves a slight sheen, but nothing close to a regular gloss. It's also super buildable, so I can get a completely different look if I do a light application (I did a super-light one in the photo) or a heavier one (check out how it looks on some of the models on Merit's site. I'm partial to the Sangria color, but I also have Marrakech and Au Naturel in my arsenal when I want something a bit subtler.