Months of tallying, interviewing, smudging, and swiping go into InStyle's annual Best Beauty Buys. And after 20 years, we've got the process down to a science. Here, Fashion and Beauty Editor-at-Large Kahlana Barfield offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the whole process comes together.
Hundreds of beauty products cross our desks. But during Best Beauty Buys season, crank that up to thousands. Beginning every August, we enlist a panel of more than 130 of the country's top pros—dermatologists, hairstylists, makeup artists, and manicurists—to handpick the best finds (and breakthroughs) for your skin, hair, and nails. We send each expert an intense six-page questionnaire; they send it back completed with their picks. Simple, right? We wish. This is when a team of trusty interns begins to tally, log in, and compile the results. As the months go by, not only do our offices begin to mimic a life-size Sephora, but our phone lines ring off the hook as we interview each expert on what makes that winning red lipstick the perfect red or why that dream cream actually erases lines.
Now that brings us to the Editors' Picks: Our team of beauty editors spent countless hours rigorously testing the newest products that hit the market over the past year. With more than 500 launches in the running, we narrowed the contenders down to the 42 we can't live without. And because we've got your back, we asked each brand to offer you a 20 percent discount. You can thank us later.