Buying a new beauty product is the equivalent of flipping a coin. Heads, you find a new formula you love, and tails, it doesn’t, and you’re left with an almost-full product that will collect dust in your medicine cabinet.
When you do get lucky and find a product that lives up to its promises, you wonder how you ever survived before discovering it. This is how InStyle’s beauty team feels about a select few beauty buys they decided to test throughout 2016.
Some are old, some are fresh on the market, but every single product on our team’s list has changed their beauty games for the better. Here, we have our team’s favorite products they added into their routines this year.
1. NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Device
"After hearing all of this buzz surrounding NuFace's Facial Toning Device, I was intrigued enough to hunt down a model for myself. I've had a microcurrent facial before and loved the results, and rumor has it that the NuFace could perform the same type of lifting and glow-inducing magic in my own bathroom. Each night over the course of a few weeks, I'd cover my face in the conducting gel and work the metal applicators over the contours of my face. I noticed that my cheekbones started to become more prominent, and I was generally looking far less tired. As you run the device over your face, you feel the most satisfying little tingle under the surface of your skin, which lets you know it's working, although my complexion after each maintenance round served as evidence enough." -Marianne Mychaskiw, Associate Beauty Editor
NuFACE | $292
2. Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish 003 Kit
"So while everything Pat McGrath does is revolutionary, her highlighter was truly the product that made me fell in love with highlighters. I think it’s because it was the perfect mix of iridescence and dewiness. There is a balm on one end of the dual-ended cream highlighter stick, and it just helps the sheen look totally natural. We know you’ve heard this phrase before and probably thought 'um what?' but you really do look lit from within." -Victoria Moorhouse, Digital Beauty Editor
Pat McGrath Labs | $72
3. Wander Beauty Unlashed Volume & Curl Mascara
"I’ve always had short baby lashes and zero patience for applying falsies, so mascara has always kind of been an essential for me. And while I’ve tested countless tubes of the stuff throughout my life, there’s really only been a handful that I find both lengthen and thicken my lashes… and even then that’s sometimes after a few coats. But Wander Beauty’s new formula is another story. I’m a big fan of the brand anyway, so I had high expectations, and I remember chatting with the co-founder Lindsay Ellingson about how excited she was for her formula to hit the market. I get why. It completely transforms your eyelashes in three swipes or less. It darkens them, adds volume, and lengthens. You actually look like you’re wearing false lashes, the effect lasts all day long, and it feels totally weightless." -Victoria Moorhouse, Digital Beauty Editor
Wander Beauty | $24
4. Volition Beauty Illuminating Body Milk
"Volition Beauty is hands-down the most innovative brand I happened upon in 2016. They allow regular folks to submit product ideas, then use their own labs and resources to make them come to life. Then, the Volition Beauty community votes on those products they'd like to see commercially available. (The original innovator then gets a share of the profit, too.) So far, my favorite is the Illuminating Body Milk, a blurring cream that leaves behind a luminous sheen." -DIanna Mazzone, Assistant Beauty Editor
5. Catrice Cosmetics Liquid Metal Eyeshadow in Under Treasure
"Catrice Cosmetics is basically the Zara of makeup: They roll out on-trend shades and of-the-moment textures at lightning speed. I'm obsessed with their Liquid Metal Eyeshadow in Under Treasure; it's a molten copper with just the right amount of sheen." -Dianna Mazzone, Assistant Beauty Editor
Catrice | $5
6. Ouai Wave Spray
"My hair is stubbornly straight and adding any wave to requires a lot more effort than I'm willing to put in on a weekday morning. At the same time, I want a bit of texture so it looks like I just rolled out of bed, but in the most polished way possible. This wave spray from Jen Atkin's line (the celebrity stylist whose client list includes every star on your Instagram feed) does just the trick. A few spritzes on the roots and ends followed by scrunching with my hands adds the right amount of movement without feeling crunchy or sticky. As if the actual formula doesn't give me enough to love, its infused with the brand's signature Italian lemon, amber, and musk scent which is amazing, too." -Erin Lukas, Beauty Writer
Ouai | $26
7. Chantecaille Cheek Gelée Hydrating Cream-Gel Blush in Happy
"I've consistently been on the hunt for a blush that adds the perfect, natural flush to my complexion with a dewy finish that isn't sparkly or shimmery. I think I've finally found 'The One.' Although this little guy has been around forever, I'm so happy I finally decided to try it. The peachy-pink cream-gel hybrid melts into skin and is easily blendable for a smooth finish. One coat leaves just a hint of color, but you can easily build upon it for more impact. The fact that the formula is hydrating so the color won't settle into dry, flaky skin in the winter is an added bonus." -Erin Lukas, Beauty Writer
Chantecaille | $39