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 October! Grab your game face and wallet. You'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
Rare Beauty officially launched over a month ago, but, considering I'm always swamped with products to try, was in the process of relocating for the rest of the year, and simply am not wearing makeup as often, it took me longer than usual to work my way through the entire line. I was skeptical because I had heard mixed reviews, but in all honestly, I was completely blown away by every single product I tried. I'm including the foundation as my top pick because it gave me the perfect dose of silky, flawless coverage (it has almost an oil/serum-like consistency, for reference), which provided the dreamiest base for all of the other products I followed it up with. There wasn't one weak link, but if I had to pick a few products in addition to the foundation, I would suggest you start with the Soft Pinch Liquid Blush ($20) and the Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlighter ($22). The only thing I prepped my face with beforehand was Fenty Beauty's Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen ($35), and the glowy, filter-like results lasted me all day long.
I've been exclusively and stubbornly obsessed with Olive and June's nail polish for well over a year now. It's almost all I use, and if you've been following me for a while, you know that one of the brand's polishes is pretty much never not in this monthly roundup. That said, this month when I went to visit my parents in Arizona, I didn't have all of my O&J favorites to fall back on. I was lucky enough to be sent a few beautiful shades from vegan polish brand Sparitual, and I have to say… I'm pretty darn impressed. I've used two colors so far (this Ferrari red called Wellness Warrior is my fave!), and the high-shine, glossy finish and chip-free wear are superb. I've still been using my O&J topcoat, which I miraculously found a bottle of at my parents' place, but I just might be on a Sparitual color kick for the foreseeable future.
By now, everyone knows I'm obsessed with Renée Rouleau (as an amazing and inspirational person, friend, businesswoman, and product-creating savant). I've used five or six of her products religiously for at least three years (I met her early on in my career as a beauty editor!), so you can imagine how excited I was when she revealed she would be launching a new cleanser. I'm already infatuated with her AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser ($36)—it's a lifesaver for controlling my breakouts—and I've seriously enjoyed complementing it with this new invigorating minty number. First of all, the smell is out of this world. It feels like you are washing your face with a pint of mint chip ice cream that somehow manages to leave you with a pristinely clean and radiant glow. It's a gel formula with a low-foam lather that feels rich and luxurious but not over-the-top or so aggressive that you feel like you're stripping your skin. My complexion has been looking and feeling far more balanced and healthy since I incorporated it into my routine this month. If you're on the hunt for a new, do-it-all face wash, I highly recommend this one.
You'll read what I mean in a bit, but Courtney and I literally could not get a grip on ourselves after trying this new Exfoliating Bar from Glossier. The brand's Body Hero collection has been a standout for me ever since its launch three years ago, so I knew the two new launches would be great. I just didn't know how great. You can read all of the details on both of the new products here, but please let me just word vomit about this bar. A: It smells amazing—the light yet slightly spicy blend of neroli and orange is everything I want in a relaxing bath or shower routine. B: It does a complete Benjamin Button on your skin—work it over your body in light circular motions, and it's like you've shed your skin like a snake and have been reborn with baby tush–level shine, softness, and clarity. C: It's surprisingly moisturizing for something that's pretty much exfoliating all of your dead skin off. I've used so many of these types of bar soaps (many are designed to scrub off self-tanner, something this bar is also exceptionally talented at), but everything else I've ever tried has left me looking like I just had a bad run-in with a rabid cat—red, scratched up, and all-around rough. This bar is magic, and I plan on ordering like 50 at a time so I'm never without it.
ZitSticka is known for its super-effective, handy acne dots, Killa ($29) and Hyperfade ($34), and this month, the brand introduced a third product to its pimple-busting lineup—a nifty Hydrogel Exfoliating Sheet Mask. The mask is wonderful because it sticks to your face with zero slippage or dripping and because the strategic mix of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, niacinamide, allantoin, and hyaluronic acid manages to unclog pores and ease congestion and redness, all while keeping your skin plump and hydrated. I've used two of these masks so far (at night), and my skin and makeup application have been significantly better the following morning. Fun fact: This mask is super high-tech and uses graphene technology, which essentially syncs with your body heat so that your skin is better able to accept and absorb the complexion-improving ingredients.
"Lipstick? I don't remember her." has pretty much been my 2020 beauty mantra. I still love a pretty lippie, but with consistent mask wearing in public and having mostly bare-faced days, I just haven't had a use for it. That said, when I do need a little perk-me-up or a subtle touch of color, I've almost exclusively reached for tinted balms or subtle glosses. I've been a fiend for all things Fresh for years, and these cult-classic balms are never not in my purse or pocket or on top of my workspace. This new color called Velvet is so pretty and naturally intensifies the berry-toned color of my lips. I've been getting compliments whenever I wear it, and I appreciate how low-maintenance it is to apply and touch up throughout the day or night. (I've been loving it over the Dr. Devgan Scientific Beauty Platinum Lip Plump SPF 30, $50, for the perfect ration of volume, shine, and amplified color.)
I don't know if you're ready for this. I mean, I still don't know if even I am ready for this, but without question, Bitter Peach is my favorite fragrance of all time. I have never smelled something so juicy, complex, and all-around addicting. It lingers and melts into your skin for a really warm and beautiful finish, but the mix of peach, davana (an aromatic herb native to India), and patchouli is so unique—I've never smelt anything like it. I can't get over it, and the second I spritzed it, I knew it was over for me and every other perfume I ever claimed to love. I told Courtney about it immediately, and when she got her hands on it and couldn't contain herself either, it was the last sign I needed to know Tom Ford has another truly legendary perfume on its hands. Please, just buy it. It will be the best thing you gift yourself maybe ever. Normally, I say fragrance and perfume are extremely subjective, but this bottle just might be the exception.
I go absolutely wild for Mutha and its heroic skincare products—the Body Butter ($95), the Body Oil ($104), and the Face Oil ($110). (Mind you, I'm not even a big body-product person, and this is the only face oil I've ever truly loved.) So I had high expectations when the brand announced it would be adding two new face elixirs to the block, eye cream and a vitamin C face serum. I was one of a few lucky editors to receive lab samples about a month ago, and while I have yet to try the face serum, I am over the moon about the eye cream. To start, it's pretty much the best thing to happen to my concealer and makeup game. It contains pearl powder, coffee seed, and botanical extracts, which work in harmony to diffuse the look of darkness, firm up fine lines and wrinkles, drain excess puff, and rehydrate the crepey areas. It absorbs really well and gives me a bright-eyed filter effect, even on the witchiest of days when I'm running on three hours of sleep and a liquid IV of caffeine from my gargantuan coffee cup. You can pre-order both the eye cream and serum now, and they'll ship out on November 11. Get in line!
I have to say it. I was initially terrified to try this mask. I did some research beforehand and noticed it had coconut oil and cocoa butter, two ingredients my acne-prone complexion, historically, has never been able to tolerate. Both cocoa and coconut are highly comedogenic and basically fertilize my face for a fresh crop of zits whenever they're stealthily lurking in skincare products I try. So you can imagine my surprise when I applied this delicious mask (it legit smells like a chocolate-vanilla swirl soft-serve ice cream cone, and you will want to eat it) and… absolutely nothing bad happened. I've used Supreme Seed twice in the past week, and I have no new pimples. What I have noticed, however, is smooth, radiant, and supremely hydrated skin. Now, I think part of the reason my skin hasn't freaked is that I'm only wearing it a few times a week for about 10 to 15 minutes (I do think it would cause congestion for me if I was using it more often), but again, I think this just speaks to how delicately and thoughtfully Lesley Thornton composes her formulas. I also let my 73-year-old mom give it a test-drive, and she was left basically speechless by the smooth, even, and significantly brighter tone of her complexion. In all honesty, this is probably the best new mask of 2020.
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
If the Slack thread between Erin and I ever got published for all to see, the most shocking part would probably be the number of emojis and exclamation points that comprise the back-and-forths about our favorite products. I can say with confidence that this new Tom Ford fragrance elicited more peach emoji, all caps text, and over-the-top punctuation than any product so far this year. At first whiff, the patchouli, vanilla, and sandalwood base notes are what capture my senses, but it's not long until rum, jasmine, cardamom, and the namesake note, peach, all come out to play. It smells like vacation mixed with warm hugs and expensive clothing. I'll be wearing this one all winter.
Spending so much time inside over the last several months has inspired me to get more serious about the vibes and ambiance in my space, and I've found myself really leaning into luxe candles to fill my home with inviting scents and make it feel like the cozy haven I so crave during this time. When I heard cult-favorite Aussie skincare brand Aēsop was making a foray into candles, I knew they would be something special. I was right about that! I recently unboxed the Aganice Candle, and even before I burned it, it filled my office with mouthwatering notes of cardamom, mimosa, and tobacco. Plus, it's housed in a chic white vessel that brings a nice design element into a room that's otherwise pretty bland.
A lot of my girlfriends are Drunk Elephant fans, so I've been particularly interested in its gift set offerings this year. Spoiler alert: They are excellent, per usual. I got my hands on this one early—you know, as a gift to myself before I shift my focus to all my loved ones—and I love it. I'm constantly in pursuit of plump, dewy skin, so I love that it comes with a full-size Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68), which is an absolute dream and is so comforting to use after a nice cleanse and the retinol treatment you can carry out with some of the other offerings in this kit. All of my friends will be getting a DE set this year!
I love a good body exfoliator, so when I heard Glossier would be dropping its take on a skin-softening, buffing bar just in time for dry-skin season, I was beyond excited. First of all, I'm obsessed with the smell. In typical Glossier fashion, the scent is light and fresh and just so good. I also love that the scrubbing element is milled, biodegradable bamboo powder. It's super fine and really feels like it removes dry skin in a single pass. Very into it!
I'm a body oil aficionado, so I was skeptical of this dry oil at first. I've not had the best luck with Glossier's skincare offerings, which just don't do much for me in terms of hydrating my combination skin that skews especially dry in the winter. So I was all but convinced that a body oil would fall short for me in the same way. I'm pleased to report that my concerns fell by the wayside after the very first use. This oil is a dream! Again, the scent is unreal, and it makes my skin so incredibly soft. Slipping into bed after exfoliating with the accompanying bar and then massaging this stuff into my skin makes me feel like one of those glamorous movie stars from the 1950s. My only gripe is that the spray nozzle can be difficult to engage if your hands are already slightly slippery with oil.
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
I don't switch up my scents all that often, so this is the first new perfume I've tried in a while, and it was just what I needed. I don't have a lot of fresh, daytime scents, and this one falls into that category for me. It's floral and fruity, and I think the fact that you get both notes keeps it from being overpoweringly floral or fruity. It's fresh and light and appropriate for any season, and I've been wearing it every day.
Don't ask me why, but I've been on a face wash kick lately. This Rice Wash has really good reviews, and I'm always eager to try anything Tatcha makes, and I can say that this really lives up to the hype. The rice powder gives it a grainy texture, which I like for the gentle exfoliation, but it doesn't leave my face feeling tight in the least. Plus, it removes makeup without requiring a double cleanse.
We've talked about the latest U Beauty launch before, but I'm just going to quickly add to the praise. This is one of the most effective, lightweight moisturizers I can recall trying. The texture is thin, but it really seems like it's seeping into the skin. I use it after the brand's Resurfacing Compound ($148), and my skin is glowy and plump in the morning. I highly recommend ordering it before the winter air sucks all of the moisture from your skin.
Bobby Schuessler, Senior Market Editor
Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
I feel like I've been on a never-ending journey to achieving soft skin. I've tried so many body moisturizers over the years and have been let down more times than I care to share. So when Violet Grey launched the Woo Revitalizing Body Moisturizer, I knew I had to get my hands on it. It's exactly what you'd want any moisturizer to be: It feels lightweight, absorbs insanely fast, never leaves my skin feeling sticky, and has no scent whatsoever. I've been using it daily, and my skin is so soft. I really can't complain!
Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy & Senior Managing Editor
I've had the same bedtime routine for years: diffuse some essential oils, drink a glass of water, and read 30 minutes of a good book before blocking out the world with a Slip Silk Sleepmask ($50). I saw no need to change what was working—that is until I experienced Osea's Vagus Nerve Oil and Pillow Mist. In a word? Wow (or perhaps, "ahh"). Never before have I felt so relaxed before my head hit the pillow, and in 2020, that's really saying something! Just place a few drops of the oil into your hands, rub together, and take a few deep breaths. Then, rub your hands up and down the back of your neck and shoulders to activate the vagus nerve–calming properties. (The vagus nerve activates the body’s relaxation response and helps regulate stress.) Finish the ritual with a few spritzes of the pillow spray and prepare to be enveloped in the most comforting nest you've ever known. Still not convinced? I went through an entire bottle in just six weeks and have already restocked. Safe to say I'll be gifting this set to everyone on my holiday shopping list this year!
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor
Anyone with curls can attest to how hard finding the perfect product can be and how endless the process of testing new things can feel. The most recent product I've tested (and loved) is the Pumpkin Mint Masque from Black-owned brand Curls Dynasty. Typically during seasonal changes, my curls and scalp suffer from dryness and dandruff, and I was looking for a formula that would combat that. This mask helped clean my scalp, and I immediately noticed how much bouncier and more hydrated my curls appeared. This is definitely staying in my curly hair product arsenal.
In addition to testing out a new masque, I decided to switch up my curl cream to see if it would help with definition and buildup. When you're used to using so many curly hair products, deferring to just one can seem ineffective, but honestly, I've been loving my curls when I use SheaMoisture's wash-and-go primer. It definitely has given my hair the reset it needed.
Let's be real. As much as I love coffee, there isn't enough in the world to combat my eye circles on certain days. So when Cocokind released its newest eye cream, I jumped at the chance to try it. Even though I haven't tried many eye creams on account of the fact I've had severe eczema breakouts around my eyes throughout my life, I was surprised by this formula. It is nonirritating to my skin, and after using it a few times, I noticed my under-eye circles were brighter. For anyone with sensitive skin looking for an affordable eye cream, I highly recommend this one.
Frequent handwashing and sanitizing have wreaked havoc on my hands, so I started using Grown Alchemist's hand cream. And I have to say, my hands have never been happier. Goodbye ash, hello supple skin.
I live for lip gloss, so when Tower 28 Beauty announced its milk-inspired Lip Jelly Glosses, I jumped at the chance to try them. Ever since I received them, I've been rotating between all four shades regularly for Zoom meetings or just, you know, for myself! If you're looking for the perfect nude gloss, these are it.
I recently tried out Birchbox's curation of Black-owned brands, and I immediately fell in love with Black Opal's highlighter stick. Even though I love powder and liquid highlighters equally, there's something effortless about being able to literally swipe and go for the perfect amount of shine.
Okay, by no means is Patrick Ta's brow wax new, but after seeing our EIC Kat Collings's brows in a Zoom conference, I felt the need to go spend my hard-earned money at Sephora. As someone who prefers little to no makeup, I love this wax because it gives just enough oomph to my brows without adding a black or brown tint, which can look overpowering on me.