I’m a Beauty Editor Who’s Tested Hundreds of Products This Year, and These Are the 25 Best

From lip-plumping masks to eyelash-growing serums.

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im a beauty editors who's tested over 500 products this year and these are the tk standouts
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KVD/ Oribe/ InStyle

It may seem like I’m exaggerating, but if you saw my office desk or bathroom cabinet, you’d know I actually test at least one beauty product, though usually several, every day. To keep track of it all, I have a pretty unhinged Excel spreadsheet. It’s complex, but there are three important columns besides the one listing the brand and product name. First, there is a “did I like the product?” column wherein I choose between “yes,” “no,” “meh,” and “unsure.” Then there’s a “did I use it again?” column, followed by one for notes, and one for photos (when it makes sense). 

It’s a great database that has served me well, and in the spirit of wrapping up 2022, I went through the thousand-plus products and pulled out the 25 that manage to stand out through all that noise. 

To be clear, though some of these products were released this year, not all were. Several have been around for a while and finally made it to my desk, or are simply so covetable they always remain front of mind. I recognize that a list of 25 products is still a lot, but this is a tight curation when you take into account just how many I’ve tried. Below are my favorite picks of the year. 

Shop Editor-Approved Skincare Picks

While perusing through these skincare products, please keep in mind that everyone’s skincare differs vastly. That being said this is the subjective greatest hits list according to me, a late 20s beauty editor with perennially oily, congested, and hyperpigmented skin. 

I can’t live without toner or a vitamin C serum, but U Beauty’s Resurfacing Compound has replaced both. It’s the most effective yet gentle chemical exfoliate and skin retexturing product I’ve ever used, and it’s completely worth the high price tag, especially considering the other steps in my routine it eliminates. Tatcha’s The Water Cream needs no introduction for thousands of happy reviewers but I was late to the game and only really started using it consistently this year. It’s light, makes my skin baby-soft, and never leaves behind any residue. It’s rare that a product exceeds the hype it’s built on TikTok, but Murad’s Deep Relief Acne Treatment does just that:it quickly flattens the most stubborn blemishes that would have turned into excavation sites had it not existed. Tower28’s SOS Spray is like a weighted blanket for irritated, inflamed, red skin. A couple of spritzes and 15 minutes later, and my skin is markedly calmer. Lastly, I’ve finally accepted my hereditary dark circles and have tried everything under the sun to fix them since, but Dermelect’s Revitalite Professional stands alone as an incredibly brightening but non-irritating option. 

Lawless ​​Forget the Filler Overnight Lip Plumping Mask

Pacific Glacial Clay Detoxifying Mask

Sephora

Shop now: $21; sephora.com

This year, lip masks went from being a very niche product to an omnipresent force. There are dozens out there and I’ve tried most (including one very celebrity and shopper-loved option) but Lawless’ Forget the Filler takes the cake. 

I have one on my bedside table which I use as instructed but I also have two more that rotate through totes and purses and are used in lieu of lip balm. The plumping is painless and the effect is subtle but noticeable. I especially like to use this before applying lipstick. I put on a generous amount, leave it to absorb and work its magic while I finish the rest of my face, dot off any excess, and have a larger pout to work with. 

True Botanicals Pacific Glacial Clay Detoxifying Mask

Pacific Glacial Clay Detoxifying Mask

True Botanicals

Shop now: $75; truebotanicals.com

Clay masks are wonderful at clearing pores but the side effects on my sensitive skin usually outweigh the benefits. My pores will be shrunken but my skin will feel tight and dry and subsequently break out a few days later. 

True Botanicals’ Detoxifying Mask is a work of art: Although it has a clay base, the texture is almost like a gel — it’s gentle, hydrating, and nourishing, but still makes a noticeable difference on the bumps on my chin and the blackheads forever dotting my nose. 

Shop Editor-Approved Makeup Picks

Choosing less than 30 makeup products alone was a real struggle, but I kept a few factors in mind: how often I use it, how easy it is to apply, the quality of the final effect (pigment, lasting power, shine, etc.), and how it compares to similar products. 

Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Wands are by far the easiest highlighter and blush I’ve ever used. They catch the light, are pigmented and buildable, and blend like a literal dream. Rose Inc’s Highlighter, specifically in the shade Brilliant, makes my skin look so candlelit that people have commented on my cheekbones in a dark room. Kosas Cloud Set Setting Powder is just the most incredible soft-diffusing, makeup-extending powder to ever exist, and every other similar product should just pack it up and go home. Eye stickers are abundant thanks to Euphoria but Simihaze Eye Play Gems are the most high quality and chic. Dior’s Lip Glow Oil needs no introduction as it seems to always be trending on TikTok. It’s rich and nourishing and keeps my lips hydrated with one application per day, even in the dead of winter. About-Face’s liquid glitter eyeshadow does not budge and eliminates the messiness associated with regular loose or pressed glitter. I wear this year-round but love the silver, especially around the holidays. I particularly love lip liners, and I have dozens in slightly different variations of the same few dusty rose and pinkish brick colors, but I still constantly reach for the Lime Crime Velvetines Lip Liner. The shade range is truly perfect and covers the gamut of natural colors you may need and the formula stays in place but is still buttery and hydrating. 

Nars Climax Mascara

NARS Climax Mascara

Sephora

Shop now: $25; sephora.com 

I spent most of my life thinking mascaras were by and large not for me. My eyelashes were simply too short and sparse. But since using Vegamour’s Gro Lash Serum (more on that later) I’ve become a mascara fiend trying everything that’s come my way. I’ve found a slew of new favorites, chief among them being Nars Climax Mascara. It goes on smooth like butter — the consistency is silky yet very pigmented. I apply two coats and the brush keeps my lashes fanned out, elongates them, and makes my lash line look fuller.

Gxve by Gwen Stefani Bubble Pop Lip Gloss

Bubble Pop Electric High-Performance Clean Lip Gloss

Sephora

Shop now: $20; sephora.com 

Every celebrity has a beauty brand but that doesn’t mean they’re all good. Gwen Stefani’s, however, is one of the few exceptions. The pièce de résistance of the collection is the Bubble Pop Lip Gloss which checks out since Stefani was one of the foremost pioneers of everything Y2K. I’m not a big lip gloss person, but this one exceeds at being high-shine, no-tack, and the perfect amount of tinted-but-not-too-opaque pigment. I’ve worn the warm berry shade All My Love consistently throughout the winter, both alone and layered on top of lip liner and or lipstick. 

Shop Editor-Approved Body and Nail Care Picks

This year, I decided to do my own nail extensions — and while that process has been rewarding and money-saving, I have not really perfected the art of removal. In the process, I’ve made my nails rough and unsightly but Dermelect’s Makeover Ridge Filler is like a concealer for imperfections and has quickly strengthened them beyond their original state. Aroma by Costa Brazil deserves a spot because the woody and musky scent made me ditch my go-to perfume of 15 years

Soft Services Comfort Cleanse

COMFORT CLEANSE Ultra Soothing Shower Gel

Soft Services

Shop now: $32; softservices.co

Soft Services is a brand dedicated to treating the skin on your body like you would on your face,so every product it makes is on my greatest hits list. Comfort Cleanse is the product I use the most. It’s actually fragrance-free; it truly smells like nothing and not baby powder instead. Even so during the dog days of summer, it cleansed my body of the sweat stench I was incurring on a daily basis during my clean-deodorant testing era. 

Comfort Cleanse feels like it’s getting rid of the grime and grossness that hides in the folds and wrinkles of my skin. It also doubles as a shaving gel, so it has really cut down the products in my severely overcrowded shower. 

First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub

KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub

Sephora

Shop now: $30; sephora.com 

I’ve had keratosis pilaris (KP) since puberty struck me like a freight train. As an industry insider, I’ve also been an early adopter of the body care boom, so I’ve been fortunate enough to try dozens of recent products formulated to combat strawberry skin. The best one by far is First Aid Beauty’s KP Body Scrub

When I neglect to use it for a week or more, running my hands over the reemerging bumps on my arms reminds me that my skin really does need it. It doesn’t irritate or tear my skin but still exfoliates my arms enough to get rid of the chicken skin. I also like to use it on my legs after shaving to prevent ingrown hairs and small bumps that sometimes form. 

Haircare 

  • Vegamour Gro Lash Serum, $72; vegamour.com
  • Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro 5, $430; amazon.com
  • Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque, $63; oribe.com
  • Andrew Fitzsimons Fantasy Curls Curl Crème, $14; ulta.com
  • Coco & Eve Deep Clean Scalp Scrub; $29; cocoandeve.com

I discovered the power of mascara this year, but it wouldn’t have been possible had I not made my eyelashes vastly longer and thicker with Vegamour’s Gro Lash Serum. It deserves all the awards in the world; I didn’t know my lashes could look this fluttery and full. I’ve gone through two bottles of the Andrew Fitzsimons’ Fantasy Curls leave-in treatment which is the highest praise I can give, considering the revolving door of products in my life. It defines my curls but keeps them soft and shiny, plus that $14 price point can’t be beat. And to deal with the so-sexy problem of dandruff, I’ve relied on Coco & Eve’s Scalp Scrub. The grit of the texture feels refreshing but my hair is also way less flaky after using. I don’t have a specific regimen for it, but my scalp lets me know when it needs another session. 

Braun IPL Silk Expert Pro 5

Braun IPL Long-lasting Hair Removal System

Amazon

Shop now: $430; amazon.com

This is a big-ticket item but it’s worth it. I’ve done two sessions on my calves and the hair is already close to being gone. It’s still growing back but it takes a month before I feel like I need to shave again rather than two weeks. The hairs that do grow back are also very thin and light, sometimes imperceptible and are fully eliminated in some areas. I’m slowly starting to use this on my stomach and face, and come summer I fully expect to be smooth as a seal. 

Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque

MOISTURE & CONTROL DEEP TREATMENT MASQUE

Oribe

Shop now: $63; oribe.com

I don’t know how scientifically sound this is, but I think that when my hair is especially frizzy, it’s a cry for more moisture, which it especially needs during the winter. The coconut and almond oil packed Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque makes my hair look shiny and feel silky beyond what I thought was possible, while still maintaining curl definition. I find it so effective that despite the dry air, I can use it twice a week in place of any conditioner. 

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