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 pre-quarantine story). Ahead are the best beauty products we tried in September! Grab your game face and wallet. You'll be needing both.
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
I've loved Uoma for a while, but I was so excited to see that it would finally be launching a mascara. Since the brand ethos has a lot to do with making bold statements, I knew a mascara offering would deliver the kind of impactful, lash-blasting look I'm always striving for. This mascara does not disappoint. It lifts and curls while injecting the most intense black ink into the lashes without making them clump. It also smells really good, which could be problematic for those with sensitive skin or eyes. Personally, I enjoy it since mascara doesn't always smell the best.
The cannabis portion of the wellness industry has always gotten the side-eye from me. Why you ask? Mostly because I couldn't square in my mind the fact that white women were suddenly getting rich for peddling the same substance that Black and brown men were disproportionately serving mandatory minimum sentences for in overcrowded American prisons. But when I learned about Frigg—a Black woman–owned cannabis company focused on tackling mental well-being, exhaustion, and stress manifesting as dry skin, bad sleep, and an itchy scalp—I instantly felt connected to it in a way I didn't think I could be. The Attuning Hair Potion is a dreamy blend of baobab and castor oils, with rosemary, cedarwood, and more herbal extracts that can act as a scalp treatment or deep conditioner for the hair. I'm loving it!
It's been a while since I committed to a straight retinol cream, but something inspired me to crack open this tube the other week, and I can't believe how much much my skin has changed in such a short time. I don't have many big skin concerns right now, but I've certainly noticed that my skin has been less vibrant lately. I chalked it up to spending much of my time indoors lately, but this stuff brings my skin to life in the best way. I've been limiting myself to using it twice per week, but I bet my face will glow like J.Lo when I work up to more frequent use.
I am a big fan of micropulsation face brushes. Huge. This one by Buttah Skin is an oversize version of the ones I'm used to, and I am obsessed with the larger size and customizable pulsation. It gently exfoliates my skin with its tiny silicone bristles, and I love how easy it is to clean. It pairs perfectly with other Buttah Skin offerings I've been loving, including the gentle cleanser.
Dr. Dennis Gross's Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask ($48) is one of my top five beauty products of all time, so when I got wind the brand would be extending that line with this cream cleanser, I was immediately intrigued. While the word "melt" usually signifies the presence of tons of oils in skincare, this cleanser is actually oil-free and hypoallergenic. It melts away everything from makeup to sunscreen without stripping the skin or leaving is overly greasy. I have noticed a light film on my face after rinsing it away, signaling to me that this would be better as the first step of a double cleanse rather than as a stand-alone cleanser. Overall, though, I'm really into it.
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
It's not often that a new beauty product leaves me speechless, but this bizarre-looking little rod did just that. I'm a lash girl through and through, and if you've been following me or reading my content for a while, you know I have a vaulted, very small number of mascaras I truly vouch for. I have high expectations (length, lift, lots of curl, separation, etc.), and so many mascaras just fall flat. But let me just tell you, this is literally the best mascara-like product I have ever used. I added three or four coats, and my lashes just got longer and longer and even more lifted and curled with each and every stroke. I don't know what's in the water over at Surratt, but this spectacular little tube truly transcends gravity and is the perfect solution for anyone who has been missing their extension appointments.
I've been pretty outspoken about my love for Nars's Afterglow Lip Balm ($28), but my quest to own each and every shade (it's a compulsion—I can't help it) has my bank account giving me a cold shoulder. So you can imagine my excitement when K-beauty brand Touch in Sol sent me its new tinted lip balms, which (I quickly realized this after applying them to my lips) are the less-expensive doppelgängers of Nars's balms. They have the same luxury balm-to-oil texture, and they give your lips a subtle tint and shine that is low-maintenance and great for Zoom calls or selfies. There's a light pink and a coral orange shade, and while both are lovely, I've been gravitating toward the pink, in particular, since it's closer to my natural lip color.
This product from Kevyn Aucoin isn't new, but I have to admit that it's been sitting at the bottom of my foundation drawer. I just used it for the very first time last week—which, honestly, is a little infuriating considering how much I loved it. I grabbed it in a hurry when I was about to fly out of the door for an appointment and needed a touch of coverage. This handy little compact comes with a brush, and since it was the only clean brush in sight, I grabbed the two of them.
Where to start? I shouldn't be surprised by how fabulous this silky balm-foundation hybrid is, because everything from Kevyn Aucoin is dreamy, but I couldn't get over how featherlight it felt on my skin and how swiftly I was able to build the perfect amount of coverage, even though the balm itself looked invisible. It's like someone had just swiped a skin-evening filter across my face. I also love that it comes with the perfectly sized brush to buff and blend your work. I can't wait to keep using this into the fall since I prioritize coverage but can't stand anything that leaves my skin looking cakey or flaky. This stuff is magical!
I have a weakness for anything eye related, and this brand-new eye treatment from StackedSkincare (one of my all-time fave skincare brands) has truly wowed me. Most eye creams and treatments make some lofty, often exaggerated claims, and even though I was unsure whether or not this serum-like formula would be able to deliver on the hype, it absolutely did. I've been using it every morning (and a few nights) since I received it about a week ago, and I can confidently say I've never tried another product with so many instantaneous benefits. Apply it, and five minutes later you look like you've had a subtle (albeit noticeable) eye lift. It's chock-full of strategic antioxidants like astaxanthin (one of the most potent antioxidants on earth) and other firming, brightening, plumping, and damage-fighting ingredients like caffeine, peptides, lactic acid, and a chrysin complex. The complex is composed of a unique isoflavone extracted from blue passionflower that the brand has combined with peptides and rosmarinic acid to boost collagen, nix dark circles, and iron out any fine lines and wrinkles. A little goes a long, long way (I use less than the recommended pea-size dab for both eyes), so the long-lasting bang for your buck makes the higher price tag absolutely worth the investment.
Courtney and I are twinning! I know it's a little weird, but cleansers are one of the products I'm most finicky about. I've only been using this new formula from Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare for a few weeks, but it's already made a significant difference in how hydrated, glowy, and clear my complexion is. It works similar to an oil cleanser, in that you apply it to dry skin and it immediately dissolves residue, makeup, and any other junk that builds up over the course of the day or night. However, it's oil-free and won't clog your pores. I like to do a quick cleanse with micellar water before going in with this, then I gently wipe it off with a damp, warm washcloth. Technically, the brand says you don't have to rinse it off, but I prefer a completely residue-free face post-cleanse.
I have one foot on and one foot off the face mist train. I don't love essences and mists, and unless I'm using a makeup-setting formula, I find them rather pointless (the one exception being my obsession with Chantecaille's Pure Rosewater, $32). I'd never tried a mist that could hold a candle to an actual face cream or hydrating serum, but this stuff is magic. It drenches skin with dewy hydration, and the name doesn't lie—it makes your face look like a glowing orb of health. I can't get enough.
Even though this statement might disgruntle some and shake some tables, this new face cream from U Beauty (a brilliant follow-up to its OG Resurfacing Compound, $228) is, in my opinion, better than the Augustinus Bader face creams. It's supremely hydrating and makes my skin look like it's been touched by an Instagram filter IRL. Try it, and you'll never go back to anything else.
Between this new tonic from Peter Thomas Roth and The Pill ($85) from The Nue Co., it's like my skin has been completely reborn. I've gone through so many phases of trying to de-bump and de-pimple my face, and pretty much every acid-heavy toner I've tried has only ever made the situation worse. However, this strategically balanced formula has proven to be the one exception for my skin. It's a professional-level daily leave-on exfoliating and clarifying liquid, featuring 10% gluconolactone (PHA), 5% glycolic acid (AHA), and 0.5% salicylic acid (BHA). I've been using it nightly in conjunction with a gentle hydrating cleanser, and my skin seems to get smoother and clearer every dang day. Plus, it actually leaves my skin feeling plump and hydrated—not stripped, red, and parched.
Generally speaking, haircare products are my least favorite beauty category. I've always felt like my hair is pretty underwhelming to begin with, so I just can't get into a complex product routine. That said, I am passionate about my color maintenance, and since I bleach, keeping my strands strong, shiny, and topped up with moisture is pivotal. And to be honest, I don't know if I've ever met such a brilliant (and instantly effective) antidote as this brand-new hair balm from Sisley-Paris. It smells divine, and the balm-to-oil formula is designed to be used as a treatment. Wear it for 30 minutes or overnight, and strands are left astoundingly restored. I've been blown away by the results! It's potent, so make sure you concentrate on your strands and ends, avoiding your scalp and roots.
Anna LaPlaca, Associate Editor
When it comes to my haircare, less is always more. Since I'm in the habit of air-drying, my product lineup is pretty minimal, save for a few staples that bring out my natural waves. I have to give a shout-out to the Endless Summer Spray ($24) and Ritual Hair Oil ($38) from Playa because my air-dried locks have never looked better, IMO.
With the hair oil, I just started putting a few drops in damp hair post-shower and already noticed a huge difference with how shiny and smooth my ends are. The wave spray, on the other hand, has quickly become my one true love for achieving tousled, beachy waves. I'll spray it all over while air-drying to bring out more texture or spritz some on to revive second-day hair. Bonus: The spray has a UV protectant that shields your hair and scalp from sun and environmental damage, so it's really a win-win.
Candice Aman, Social Media Editor
I’ll be the first to admit it. If I’m spending all day indoors (which I am most of the time), I tend to forget to wear sunscreen. Of course, sunlight is still filtering through the windows—and with that harmful UVA rays. Shriek! Instead of accepting this pitfall, I brought a genius product into my life. Enter, Everyday Humans’ sunscreen-serum hybrid. It has all the hydrating and plumping effects that I look for in a good hyaluronic serum, and it works double duty as an amazing natural, cruelty-free, and reef-friendly sunscreen. Good for you and good the environment? This is a two-in-one product I can get behind.
I only started using Saie's Slip Cover toward the end of the month, but as someone who does not prioritize skin-coverage products (I typically just spot conceal when I need or feel like it!), I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like this product. Of course, this is a tinted moisturizer, so you won’t be getting high or even medium coverage. Instead, it will just give you the slightest and dewiest filtered effect, which I honestly prefer. Returning to my previous rant about occasionally forgetting to wear sunscreen, this tinted moisturizer also has a broad-spectrum SPF 35! We love that for us.
Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
I'm a total mask girl and consider myself to be quite the connoisseur, so I was surprised that I hadn't already tried this. It's super lightweight—almost soothing—and doesn't leave my skin feeling tight at all when it dries. It's made with tons of nourishing vitamins and minerals, like hyaluronic acid, aloe, oatmeal, and avocado oil, all of which moisturize, soothe, and balance the skin. It works to decongest clogged pores, and I've found it really does help with consistent, weekly use. I've been incorporating it into my routine two to three nights a week because I love how it makes my skin look and feel.
Erin actually turned me onto this product, and I'm so happy she did! I've been trying to get rid of some pesky red marks for months, and this stuff has made such a difference. I swear I noticed a change within the first few days of using it. It's basically a blend of exfoliating AHAs and anti-inflammatory ingredients that promote skin-cell turnover to help fade acne marks. I've been using it every other night when I'm not using my retinal. It's honestly the best $42 I've spent!
I'm about as lazy as can be when it comes to my hair. I hate styling it and always just let it air-dry, but my hairstylist wanted me to start adding in some moisturizing products because my locks need it. (Also, every single Oribe product smells amazing, so I really have no reason to complain.) One of the downsides to air-drying hair is that you don't get the same sort of volume as you would when you blow-dry, and this styling product has made all the difference. After towel-drying my hair, I use one pump at my roots, and that's it. It adds some lift, and because it's made with acai and passion fruit seed oil, it boosts hydration and shine.
Here's another stylist-recommended product that I've grown to love. After towel-drying my hair, I use a pea-size amount, scrunching from mid-shaft down to my ends. It tames frizz and quenches my dry hair and does so without weighing it down—one of the main reasons I stay away from a lot of hair products!
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
I've always wanted natural freckles year-round, but I pretty much shun the sun, so it's a rarity to have a sprinkle of them on my nose. But I love the look, so fake freckles it is. I recently started using Freck for the first time, and I was blown away by how authentic they look. You use the tiny pointed brush to dot them on and then use your finger to tap the formula around. Add a little bronzer, and you'll look like you just returned from a tropical vacation.
I'm always eager to try anything Nécessaire makes, but a hand cream is really up my alley. Even prior to COVID, I washed my hands a ton, and they're constantly chapped. Nécessaire's new hand cream is filled with vitamins and peptides and doesn't leave behind that greasy residue that leaves a trail of smudges. I prefer something a little richer before bed, but I found this cream to be great for daytime use between hand washings, as it absorbs in seconds.
Farmacy is the clean-beauty brand I can't stop talking about. I'm already obsessed with its Honeymoon Glow ($58) and Honey Potion ($38), and this trio is the latest addition to my skincare routine. The face cleanser lathers up nicely without making your skin feel tight, and it actually removes eye makeup.
Deep Sweep is super brightening without the tingle (if you have sensitive skin, you know what I'm talking about), and Honey Halo ($45) is rich and moisturizing without being heavy.
Erin Fitzpatrick, Senior News Editor
I've been using Herbivore's new Pink Cloud Cleanser for a couple of weeks, and I've loved it. I think my skin thrives when I use gentle formulas, and this cleanser definitely fits the bill. It does a good job of removing my sunscreen—I don't wear makeup since I'm working from home—and it doesn't leave my skin with that stripped, too-tight feeling. Overall, it's really pleasant to use, gets the job done, and comes in a chic glass bottle.
Sarah Yang, Managing Editor, THE/THIRTY
I've been trying all different types of new face washes lately, and this one from Youth to the People is one I'm going to add to my regular rotation. I love that it's so gentle on my skin and doesn't dry it out, which is a must, especially since my skin tends to be dry in the fall. The formula is really refreshing and isn't slimy or greasy, and my face feels so clean afterward. I love that it comes in an eco-friendly glass bottle, too!
This ice roller was my little treat for the last days of summer! It's like a little ice bath for your skin. I used it to soothe my skin after being out in the sun and also to wake up my face in the mornings. It really helps with reducing redness and giving me a rejuvenated glow. Plus, I rolled it on my face every day when Los Angeles was experiencing a heat wave, and it was like blasting AC on my face.
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
I've never applied my own fake lashes, so I didn't know what to expect when I received a few samples from Jenna Lyon's new beauty brand, LoveSeen. But I did know I had the perfect occasion to debut them: my sister's Zoom baby shower that I was hosting. No one could see too closely, in case my application skills were subpar, and they would add a little oomph to my beauty look. I chose the Jack in Brown/Black, which is a relatively subtle pair. One thing I noticed right away is that the band of the lashes is super thin, making the lashes look way more natural than your average drugstore pair. They were pretty easy to apply, and the cheeky videos on the LoveSeen site definitely helped. I liked the look so much I wore them to my socially distanced outdoor book club gathering later that day. Then, it dawned on me: This is the perfect beauty pick-me-up to purchase in a pandemic. I felt cute, even in my mask and with the majority of my face covered!
I've been trying my hardest to get into a routine where I do a weekly facial treatment, and Versed's new resurfacing mask has finally convinced me to stick to it. Why? Mostly because the results are so noticeable that you can't really deny them. In two minutes flat, any dull, dead skin is gone, and I'm left with a more radiant complexion. I also like that you can tell it's doing something while it's on, but it doesn't burn like other chemical exfoliants. I don't think I need to torch my skin to get good results, and Versed proved that!
I've been using a Conair facial steamer since high school, so I'm no stranger to the perks of facial steaming. Hello, glowy skin! That's why I was so excited to upgrade my skincare routine with the new addition of the Dr. Dennis Gross face steamer. It's clearly a professional-level machine, which helps ease the fact that getting an in-person facial treatment right now is pretty much not an option. Since using it, I've found it improves the effectiveness of my serums and creams. It's like they're supercharged, because the steaming helps clear my pores and ready them to receive the product. Not to mention, it's a very peaceful form of self-care. There's no sputtering of hot water, which happens sometimes with more inexpensive machines. It's just nine minutes of steamy bliss, something we could all use at this time!
Grown Alchemist is one of my favorite clean skincare and haircare lines, and I just need a moment to sing the praises of my latest discovery from the brand. Its gentle gel facial cleanser is a true delight. I'll admit I find washing my face at night a chore, but the geranium scent of this face wash helps the act feel that much closer to a spa-like experience. The formula leaves my skin feeling clean but not too clean—no skin stripping here—and has ingredients to help tone and soothe. I'm not sure I ever need to try another face wash. This might be my forever pick!
Michaela Bushkin, Senior Fashion Editor, Branded Content
Between my daily lunch-break walks and weekends at the beach, I spent a lot of time outside the past couple of months and have the summer glow to prove it—or at least I did. I've been using this bronzing mousse from St. Tropez the past few weeks to keep the sun-kissed look going strong. It's easy to apply (no need to worry about streaks!), and it looks quite natural if I do say so myself.