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 become quickly obsessed with.
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 May! Grab your game face and wallet—you'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor
ICYMI, Zara recently launched its very own, very good, line of clean beauty products. I was impressed with every item I tested pre-launch, but this glimmering balm has quickly become a ride-or-die staple within my product wardrobe. You can definitely wear it on its own to give your lips a dose of moisture and a hint of luminosity, but when you layer it on top of lipstick, it acts as a highlighter, giving your lips more dimension and the prettiest hint of light-reflecting shimmer. Fun fact: I wore this during a Zoom interview with Tan France, and he brought up (multiple times) how great my makeup looked. I think this little bébé, in particular, had something to do with that.
I don't even know where to begin this dreamy highlight stick from Violette_FR. First of all, it looks natural AF. I literally smothered it under and above my collarbones, right on my Cupid's bow, around my brow bones, down the bridge of my nose, and on the highest points of my cheekbones. With any other product, that would have been complete overkill, and I would have looked like a greasy mess, but not here! Instead, it just sinks into the skin to deliver the perfect dose of lit-from-within radiance. It doesn't look like you applied anything; it just looks like you woke up like that. According to the website, the stick has “mirror pigment,” which means it’s going to catch and reflect light without looking like actual makeup. Violette, please make a stick five times this size so I can use it everywhere.
Powder can be touch-and-go any time of the year, but conditions become extra precarious once summer rolls around. I pretty much asked miracles of this new luminous-ish setting powder from Armani Beauty, and quite impressively, it over-delivered. Despite its soft-focus radiance, it still diffused away some excess glow I’d accrued during my makeup application without looking powdery or cakey. It’s like it just melts into the areas I wanted to be more matte with zero detectable aftermath. It has all-day staying power, and unlike other setting powders I’ve tried, it didn’t settle into my fine lines or start creasing as the day wore on. Plus, the shade range is more expansive than most, so you’re far more likely to find a tone that will enhance, not fight, your natural skin tone. Love, love, love this stuff.
Once the temperatures start rising and the sun starts shining brighter and longer, people always want to push liquid and cream blushes. That said, I’m just not a huge fan of most formulas. I notice many seem to evaporate off my face mere minutes after application, and sometimes the consistency just gets too muddled up with my other products. I like a precise yet diffused blush job, and for me, powders will just always be better. This new one from Hermès has my heart. It has a satin-soft, semi-matte finish that’s extremely buildable and almost impossible to overdo. The shade Rose Pommette has quickly become my spring (and soon-to-be summer) signature.
After a year of mask-wearing, I’m not ashamed to admit that I kind of fell off my lip-maintenance game. That said, now that I am full vaxed, I am back on board and upping my exfoliating-and-moisturizing game. These IG-worthy lip masks from KNC Beauty aren’t new, but they feel new after a year of neglect on my end. After just one masking sesh (make sure you exfoliate your lips prior so they’re ready to soak up all of the goodness), these masks leave your pout full, with plumping and hydration-boosting ingredients such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, rose flower oil, cherry extract, and vitamin E. I like to seal the deal and keep all of that juiciness locked in with a great balm—either By Terry’s iconic Baume de Rose ($60) or this dupe from Fresh.
This new lip debut from Westman Atelier is a dream come true for anyone who loves a really juicy lip moment but doesn't want to compromise on safe, high-quality ingredients. Enriched with organic goodness, this lip balm translates like a gloss thanks to its epic shine factor while simultaneously delivering a subtle hint of color to enhance your natural lip color. (I'm wearing the shade Ma Puce, above!)
I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting for this mascara ever since founder Lara Devgan, MD, MPH, FACS, told me on the DL that it was coming down her product pipeline. So the second it landed in my mailbox, I pretty much sprinted up the three flights of stairs to my apartment to try it out ASAP. I am thrilled to report that it does not disappoint. This mascara ticks every box for me: It has an über-black, ultra-glossy finish that further enhances its insane lengthening and lifting perks, and it’s strategically designed to dovetail with Devgan’s beloved Platinum Long Lash Serum ($150). I wasn’t the only one excited about this launch, and the first batch sold out within two days, but hop in line to preorder because the next bunch will ship by June 10.
This is, hands down, one of my favorite new beauty things, and do yourself and your summer skin a favor by buying a bottle right this second. (It’s only $12, after all!) If you crave the glistening, glimmering finish body oils leave behind but just can’t stomach the stick and slide factors, you’ll go nuts for this clean, completely natural formula. It leaves you with that same insane skin gleam but applies, looks, and sinks in like a lotion. It absorbs quickly, but the glow and hydration will last however long you wear it before your next bath or shower sesh. There are multiple scent options, but I went for the unscented, which actually smells nice and slightly nutty thanks to natural ingredients like coconut and jojoba oils.
I may or may not have squealed like a 5-year-old when I found out Sol de Janeiro was going to release a dry shampoo with its highly addicting signature scent—a tropical melding of pistachio and salted caramel you’re likely familiar with thanks to the brand’s iconic Brazilian Bum Bum Body Cream ($45). Divine smell aside (I mean, who doesn’t want their hair to smell delicious enough to eat?), the dry shampoo itself is spectacular. It does everything you want a dry shampoo to do: soak up and banish excess oil while adding residue- and stick-free bounce and volume back into your strands. This stuff is summer hair bottled.
Courtney Higgs, Beauty Editor
Color me OBSESSED with this perfect red lip. It’s described as "the shade of red," and it really is. It’s vivid and romantic and could give anyone that je ne sais quoi. I put it through the mask test as I stepped out to walk my dog after applying it, and it didn’t transfer at all. Just be sure to exfoliate and moisturize your lips first because it's a true matte lipstick that can dry your lips out a bit.
I've found the key to my summer makeup routine in the perfect tinted moisturizer. Laura Mercier was one of the first brands to formulate tinted moisturizers, but truthfully, the shade range and the texture always left something to be desired for me. This oil-free version of the OG tinted moisturizer is so much softer-looking on the skin and not nearly as greasy. Plus, the brand recently added to the shade offering, which is a huge deal for those who haven't been able to find their shade match yet. I'm so impressed.
Speaking of summer staples, here's another one that's going to be heavily featured in my lineup. Dr. Dennis Gross can do no wrong in my book (seriously, it's one of my all-time favorite brands, and I love everything it offers), but this lightweight sunscreen is something special. It doesn't feel tacky or sticky as some physical sunscreens do, and it doesn't leave behind a white cast. It layers perfectly under makeup, and I truly can't say enough good things about it! Get this—trust me.
There's nothing I love more than loading my face up with skin-loving ingredients to work their magic as I sleep, so this mask has been a welcome addition to my routine. It's formulated with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and panthenol to deeply hydrate and soothe the skin, so you wake up plump and glowy. The best part is that the rest of my evening routine can stay the same, and I just layer this gel mask on top any time I need a little extra boost. Oh, and the results? Mind-blowing. I'd wear this the night before an event or photo shoot to make sure my skin was primed and ready to glow.
Anneliese Dominguez, Fashion Editor, Branded Content
I became much more aware of tech neck when I started spending all my days at home, but I've been using this roll-on treatment for a couple of months now, and the results are impressive. My lines are getting lighter, and I feel more toned and tightened. It has a little bit of shimmer, a lovely scent, and just feels good on my skin!
My friend has me on a Korean-skincare kick right now, and I actually don't think I can ever go back. I stocked up on a bunch of different masks by Farmstay at a store in New York, and my skin has been looking ~~ glowy AF ~~. The products are inexpensive but effective.
Sarah Yang, Managing Editor, THE/THIRTY
I recently reunited with a friend who was in town visiting (thanks, vaccines!), and while it was so fun to see her, we might have had a little too much fun because the next morning, I woke up to a headache and a puffy, dull face. I had recently gotten this cryo face roller, so I decided to try it. Gosh, the ultra-cold tool felt so heavenly and refreshing. And it really did a good job of de-puffing and "waking up" my face. I noticed a difference after rolling it over my face for five minutes. I'm going to start using this one on the regular now for whenever I need a refresher.
This toner isn't exactly new, but it's new to me! My face went through a bout of dryness and bumpiness recently, so I started using this toner to treat it, along with a serum and moisturizer. After a day or two of use, I noticed that my skin was a lot smoother thanks to the exfoliating powers of AHAs. The best part? It was gentle enough that it didn't make my skin more irritated or drier.
Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy & Senior Managing Editor
Regular readers will know that the entire Who What Wear team got very into at-home manicures over the past several months. While my nailbeds have never looked better, I'm still working on my cuticles and skincare. A friend recommended this three-piece hand repair kit as a Mother's Day gift, and I'll admit I got one for myself, too. I love The Rose Oil roller, and the Hand Serum is particularly impressive. Lately, I've been treating myself to a little hand-care session during long Zoom calls. How's that for multitasking?
After a year of wearing masks, I'm more than ready to embrace a bold lip! Despite my best efforts, traditional glosses and lipsticks have ended up all over the inside of my mask, but Lady Gaga's Haus Laboratory's lip oil stain is a total game changer. Not only does the product glide on and feel super hydrating, but the color also works with your own pH to create the perfect lip stain. No need for a poker face here: I love it.
I was so excited to reunite with friends at a famous outdoor pizza venue last weekend. While the food and company were fantastic, the combination of a greasy meal and a face mask left my skin in a sour mood. I've been trying a bunch of different face oils lately, but I knew this was a case for Bad Habit, Emma Chamberlain's skincare brand. I've been using this light, hemp-infused oil nightly for a few days and my skin has already done a 180.
Aralyn Beaumont, Copy Editor, Branded Content
Maybe one of my biggest insecurities is the blemishes that just love to appear on my back. As a teenager, I was certain my suffering would go away in adulthood, but as anyone with skin problems knows, things don't just disappear after puberty (which is, frankly, rude). These exfoliating wipes aren't cheap, but I can confidently say they work wonders without leaving a tacky or fragrant residue as most body-acne treatments tend to. Each wipe has ample product, so you can use it all over your body after a nice rub-down over your back. (Your limbs and booty will appreciate the love, too!) I can't express how nice it is to have something that actually works, especially as beach days approach.
Candice Aman, Social Media Editor
I’m always striving to make more eco-conscious swaps in my beauty routine, and luckily, using this solid moisturizer is an instance when I don't have to sacrifice a luxurious experience for minimal packaging. As the name suggests, I love how comforting and “grounding” the scent is, but I can bet that all of the other body stones smell just as intoxicating.
While this isn’t technically a newly released product, it’s new to my beauty stash and to my heart! This hybrid lip balm/gloss/oil is, dare I say, my favorite lip product of all time. I know, choice words were spoken, but as soon as I put on this cushiony oil, my lips immediately looked plumper, smoother, and felt so much more hydrated. It’s a miracle lippie (those exist, right?), and I’ll definitely be stocking up on all the shades.
Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
I finally got to give this oil a try, and holy shit, it doesn't disappoint. I'm not sure how I ever lived before introducing it to my routine. Not only does it leave my skin so soft and moisturized (and glistening might I add!), but it also smells insanely good with notes of orange blossom and wildflowers. It's basically heaven in a bottle.
Okay, Erin has been raving about this for years, and I only just got my hands on it. Wow, that is all I can say. I'm a total beauty tool and gadget girl, but I've never tried anything as legit as this. It's a palm-size device that syncs with an app on your phone, and every time you use it, it basically delivers the same benefits of an in-office electrical nanocurrent facial—just at home. It essentially creates a circuit with your skin and stimulates collagen and elastin by pushing in electricity. It sounds totally crazy, I know, but my face looks way more sculpted, lifted, and just better, and I've only been using it for like a month. It's a splurge for sure but definitely worth it in my eyes.
I'm a fan of the other Sakara bars, so I'm not surprised I like this one, too. It's made with a bunch of potent antioxidants like fucoxanthin extracted from Atlantic brown seaweed, which boosts lipid metabolism and helps burn stubborn fat. It's definitely the richest flavor, but it honestly does give me an extra boost of energy when I have one in the afternoon. I haven't been eating them for long enough to know if it's helped with my metabolism in any way yet, but I'll report back.
Yep, I have another Klur product in the mix (it's a mask if you're wondering), and it's delicious. Seriously, it smells like the most decadent chocolaty goodness, and I can't get enough of it. It's the lightest texture ever, applies smooth, and doesn't really harden. My skin feels so refreshed afterward not to mention looks more radiant and hydrated. I've been using it up to two times a week and leaving it on for no more than 15 minutes. It seems to be doing the trick.
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor
It goes without saying there's a lot of hype around Olaplex's products, but when I heard the brand was releasing its first-ever hair mask, I knew I had to get my hands on it. As someone with 3B/3C, low-porosity, normal-elasticity curls, I've tested my fair share of hair masks and was a bit dubious about this one because you're not meant to cake it on like other masks—but boy was I wrong. After using it for a month, I feel like my hair has grown (which was proven when a friend FaceTimed me and was astonished by my hair), and I've also noticed that my curls are more defined. They're bouncier than before, and they're retaining more moisture—which is a dream for someone who has long suffered to keep her hair moisturized. Yet again, the Olaplex hype is backed all the way up.
I've recently been test-driving Adwoa beauty's entire curly hair product line, and I have to say its curl-defining cream has been life-changing. Never have I had a cream do such an immaculate job of moisturizing and defining my curls, and I haven't seen frizz in weeks. I love everything about this product; it's made wearing and styling my curls a breeze.
I've been experimenting with serums more, and I have to say of all the ones I've test-driven thus far, none hold a candle to the recently launched, BIPOC-owned Eadem's Milk Marvel serum. What I love about this serum is that it's a bit creamier than most (so it doesn't have that oily, liquid formulation that other serums have), which has left my skin with way fewer breakouts. I also love that after using it for a month, I can see how it's helped heal pesky pimple scars that usually take longer to clear with my skin tone, and my skin's vibrance overall is on another level. I am obsessed with this serum. It has earned its rightful place in my skincare arsenal.