47 Clever Beauty Products That Actually Work

Robert Hundley

Most of us tend to pick a beauty lane and stick to it when it comes to adding new products into our collection (think: a different lipstick for every day of the month or enough moisturizer options to keep everyone in New York City’s skin hydrated through the winter). But every so often, a product comes along that’s so genius, the “add to cart” button practically clicks itself. From a liquid eyeliner stamp to a zero-waste shampoo bar to a sunscreen and self-tanner that come in the form of drops, here are 47 clever beauty products that work so well — and deserve a spot in your daily routine.

1

A Commitment-Free Way To Switch Up Your Hair Color

Prevent your color from fading between salon visits without adding an extra step to your routine with Keracolor Clenditioner. Instead of your usual shampoo, apply your shade match on the ends of your hair, working the conditioning cleanser up to your scalp and letting it sit for one to two minutes before rinsing. The conditioning formula is free of color-stripping sulfates and even helps neutralize chlorine and trace minerals while it deposits color and nourishes hair with ingredients like keratin, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and rosehip seed oil. If your hair is already on the lighter side, you can even use the conditioner to test out an array of rainbow colors, from on-trend copper to cotton candy pink, without making any commitments.

2

A Korean Cleansing Oil That Uses Rice Water To Promote Brighter Skin

aYou can remove a full face of waterproof makeup and oil-based skin care products, like sunscreen, with The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright cleansing oil. According to the brand, the cleanser’s main ingredient, rice water, is an ancient Korean beauty secret for promoting brighter, softer skin. The rice water in the formula is enriched with vitamins, minerals, and ceramides, and it’s combined with jojoba seed oil and moringa seed oil to leave your skin feeling moisturized and soft once the cleanser has been rinsed off. Because it’s an oil cleanser, you can apply this on dry skin, then massage it in thoroughly to break down makeup and grime. For best results, follow up with a water-based cleanser, such as the brand’s Rice Water Bright cleansing foam.

3

A Weightless Liquid Exfoliant That Unclogs Congested Pores

Naturium’s BHA Liquid Exfoliant 2% uses encapsulated salicylic acid and bioactive fruit acids to gently slough away dead skin cells and deep clean pores, which can help promote a smoother, clearer complexion overall. It’s as light as water, which makes it a joy to use, and it’s balanced out by moisturizing glycerin to prevent your skin from feeling dry and stripped. Start off by using this once or twice a week, then work your way up if you think your skin needs it (and can handle it).

4

A Lip Balm That Creates A Custom Shade Of Pink For You

A lip product with a tint that’s tailored to you sounds like a major investment, but you can get customized color for less than $3, thanks to Maybelline Baby Lips in the shade ‘My Pink.’ Swipe the balm across your lips, and as it hydrates, color pigments adjust to your skin’s pH for a hint of pink color that’s totally unique to you.

5

A Post-Pimple Balm That Helps Heal & Fade Blemishes Quickly

The redness and flakiness that occurs post-breakout can be more annoying (and harder to cover up) than the actual pimple. Hero Cosmetics Rescue Balm was developed specifically to address this concern, modeling its moisturizing and nonirritating formula after a medicated ointment. After you’ve used a patch on (or popped) your pimple, apply a rice-sized amount of this cream on top, which soothes and replenishes dry, irritated skin with ingredients like panthenol, allantoin, and vitamin E. It’ll not only help your blemish heal faster, but it’ll make it less noticeable, too.

6

A Cult-Favorite Sunscreen That Feels Like A Light, Hydrating Gel

We all know that sunscreen is essential, but admittedly, it’s not always the most enjoyable product to use. ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel eliminates the most common sunscreen complaints with its invisible formula that feels as lightweight as a watery gel, so you won’t have to worry about white cast or greasiness. The formula uses moisturizing, strengthening, and soothing ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, centella asiatica extract, and eight types of hyaluronic acid to make your skin feel hydrated and soft all day long.

7

A Champagne-Scented Bath Powder That Creates Fizzy Bubbles

Don’t let the powder formula fool you, this bubbling bath fizz transforms into a rich, bubbly foam when sprinkled under running water. Ingredients like coconut oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera help nourish skin and leave it feeling moisturized and smooth, while the notes of citrus and floral in the ‘Sparkling Champagne’ scent are meant to create a spa-like experience right at home.

8

A Double-Sided Brush That Smooths & Exfoliates Your Lips

This tiny tool makes exfoliating your lips a mess-free process, whether you’re trying to gently remove dry skin prior to lipstick application or you just want a plumper pout for your gloss. This dual-sided lip brush has smaller bristles on one end that can be used with your lip scrubs, and larger, rounded bristles on the other side to be used on their own as a way to stimulate circulation. Because the tool is made of silicone, it’s gentle on lips, and it’s easy to rinse clean.

9

Exfoliating Pads That Harness The Beauty Powers Of Red Wine

These peeling pads from K-beauty brand NEOGEN make exfoliation easy, whether you’re at home or on the go. Every cotton gauze pad is soaked in a chemical peeling solution that includes red wine and resveratrol, which are rich in antioxidants, to help promote clear, even skin as it removes dead skin cells from the surface. The pads even have little pockets for your fingers, which makes them especially convenient to use. With continued use, you’ll soon have your glowiest, smoothest skin ever.

10

A Tinted Brow Pen That Allows You To Draw On Realistic-Looking Hairs

When enhancing and filling in your brows, you need a flexible, super-thin point that lets you more naturally recreate the look of fine hairs. Though harder to find than brow pencils, brow pens are perfectly suited for that purpose. NYX’s Lift & Snatch brow pen has a super-precise tip to allow you to sketch on tiny brow hairs with ease, and its smudge-resistant formula stays in place for up to 16 hours. It’s even sold in hard-to-find auburn.

11

A Zero-Waste Shampoo Bar That Leaves Oily Hair Feeling Refreshed & Clean

Making better choices for the environment doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on efficacious products. Superzero’s shampoo bar is a plastic-free alternative to your usual shampoo bottle, but the formula might just outperform it, with an ingredient list that’s free of soap, sulfates, silicones, and parabens. Ideal for those with oily hair or scalps, it uses gentle cleansing agents, green tea leaf oil, plant proteins, and juniper berry oil to give you a sudsy lather that leaves hair soft, shiny, and bouncy. Superzero is certified climate neutral, and one bar is the equivalent of two to three standard bottles of liquid shampoo, so it will last you longer, too.

12

The Straightening Brush That’ll Revolutionize Your Hair Styling Routine

You can streamline your hair styling routine with this two-in-one heated brush that straightens and combs through hair in minutes. The brush combines a high-density nano comb to reduce unwanted frizz and static with a metal ceramic heater to keep heat consistent as you style from root to tip. Other features include 16 temperature settings up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and auto shut-off after 60 minutes, and it comes with a heat-resistant glove and travel-friendly carrying bag, as added bonuses.

13

A Multipurpose Oil That Emma Watson Swears By

Fur Oil may have been specifically formulated to soften pubic hair and prevent ingrowns and irritation aftert waxing or shaving, but the multitasking oil can be also be used as a bath oil, to soften cuticles and cracked hands, and to seal split ends. In addition to softening both hair and skin with grape seed and jojoba oils, Fur Oil includes naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial clary sage and tea tree oils to speed up the skin’s healing process. It’s a favorite among beauty editors and celebrities, including Emma Watson.

14

A Vitamin C Eye Cream That Refreshes & Perks Up Tired Eyes

There’s something extra luxurious about an eye cream that comes with its own application wand. I DEW CARE’s Glow-Key Eye Cream gives you a cooling sensation with its metal-tipped rolling wand, while the cream itself is loaded with pick-me-up ingredients like brightening vitamins C and B3, and depuffing caffeine. The multi-benefit cream is also formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid, antioxidant-rich guava extract, and peptides that help boost collagen production. It feels amazing on tired eyes, too.

15

A Lightweight Body Cream That Resembles A Refreshing Gel

There are plenty of skin care products that tout hyaluronic acid as the star ingredient for drawing moisture to the skin and keeping it there. Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream brings that same beneficial ingredient to body care to help skin better retain moisture both immediately and over time. It feels as refreshing and lightweight as a gel-cream for your face, unlike so many other body lotions that can feel greasy and oily.

16

A Japanese Tubing Mascara With A Cult Following

Tubing mascaras have garnered a pretty devout following for their ability to create lash extension-like results, while also being water-resistant, smudge-proof, and easy to wash off. This tubing mascara from Japanese beauty brand DHC is a favorite among celebrities and makeup artists alike: It uses a fine-bristled wand and polymer tube technology to encase every last lash (yes, even the lower lashes) in its lengthening formula that never flakes or clumps.

17

A Velvety-Soft Lip Tint That Creates A Smooth, Blurred Effect

This super pigmented lip tint creates soft, velvety looking lips with each swipe, though you can also dab it on with your fingers for a natural, just-ate-a-popsicle effect. It’s sold in a range of colors, from bright reds and oranges to more muted rose and brick shades. Each one comes with a tapered doe-foot applicator and promises to wear comfortably for hours with its silky finish.

18

A Zingy Oil That Plumps Up Your Lips

You can use this lip plumper as a moisturizing base for lipstick, as a glossy top coat, or on its own to create a full, shiny pout. It has a tingly effect upon application, thanks to the ginger extract and peppermint oil in the formula, which work to naturally smooth and plump up your lips. The tiny, pill-shaped bottle is extremely easy to store in a small bag or pocket, too.

19

An Exfoliating Mask That Simultaneously Deep Cleans & Brightens

In the 10 to 15 minutes it takes to use this Eve Hansen face mask, your pores will be cleared and your skin will be brighter, smoother, and softer. Kaolin and bentonite clays help to absorb excess oil and draw out blackheads, while turmeric root powder promotes a more even-looking complexion. The brand also added cranberry seed powder into the mix for a hit of natural exfoliation, as well as aloe vera, glycerin, and rosehip seed oil to further soothe and hydrate skin.

20

Self-Tanning Drops That You Can Add To Any Moisturizer

These tanning drops were specifically designed for use on your face, and they don’t just promote a bronzed, natural glow, but they also help keep your skin hydrated using hyaluronic acid. Mix anywhere from five to 10 drops in with your moisturizer until you gradually get the results you want. They add no added weight or grease, and they’re fragrance-free, too.

21

A French Sunscreen That’s As Lightweight As A Serum

Sunscreen provides plenty of benefits on its own, but La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum takes it a step further with its antioxidant-rich Cell-Ox Shield Technology. In addition to broad spectrum SPF 50 protection, this lightweight serum also contains vitamins C and E, oil-absorbing silica, and La Roche-Posay’s soothing thermal spring water sourced in France. The result is a sunscreen that doesn’t feel anything like a sunscreen at all — instead, it feels like a creamy serum and leaves no residue or greasiness behind.

22

A Setting Powder That Works Beautifully On Dark Skin

Setting powders have the ability to undetectably absorb excess oil and lock makeup in place for budge-proof all-day wear. But not all of them truly work for all skin tones, despite claiming to. Black Radiance’s True Complexion Loose Setting Powder comes from a makeup line specifically created for people of color so that it blends seamlessly over dark skin tones, whether you apply it with a powder brush or a sponge. The formula feels silky-soft and comfortable on skin, and it helps prevent both flashback and shine.

23

The Iconic Hair Styling Tool With Over 300,000 Amazon Reviews

Mastering an at-home blowout is no easy feat, which is why Revlon created their One-Step hot air brush. The styling tool, which has over 200,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, uses nylon pins and tufted bristles to detangle and promote volume as it dries hair from the inside out with an ionic generator. The oval brush features rounded edges, which — like a traditional round brush — can be used to create a bouncy, voluminous blowout with a bit of a bend.

24

Reusable Makeup Remover Pads Made Of Soft Bamboo Cotton

Whether you use them to remove eye makeup at the end of the day or to apply toner in the morning, the cotton pads that are a part of your daily routine need an environmentally conscious upgrade. These reusable cotton rounds come in a pack of 18 with a mini laundry bag that makes it easier to travel with and wash the reusable pads. Made from organic bamboo and cotton, the rounds are gentle on sensitive skin and feature two smooth, textured layers to better remove makeup. According to the brand, each pad lasts for three years or longer, and will save 1,000 disposable pads from being used.

25

A Topical Probiotic Spray That Promotes Strong, Healthy Skin

More thorough studies may still be underway, but experts have found that the gut-skin connection is real. One way to keep your gut microbiome in check is to add a probiotic into your diet, and research shows that applying probiotics topically can benefit the skin, too. MaryRuth Organics Topical Probiotic Spray is a USDA-certified organic liquid formulated with seven strains of good-for-skin bacteria. You can spritz this over just-cleansed skin to help combat conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, or spray over makeup to give your skin an anytime boost.

26

The Most Popular Exfoliator In Japan

If the idea alone of using a physical or even a chemical exfoliant sends your sensitive skin into a freakout, Cure Aqua Gel is for you. It’s Japan’s number-one best-selling exfoliator, and it’s garnered quite the following Stateside, as well. The clever formula features activated hydrogen water to gently removes the skin cells that build up on the surface to give you the benefits of exfoliation without any of the potential irritation. It feels as light as water, only takes a couple of minutes, and truly leaves you with smooth, radiant skin.

27

A Pumpkin Spice Face Mask That Helps Purify & Protect Your Skin

You’re going to want to indulge in this fall-scented face mask long after pumpkin season has passed. It helps brighten skin and reduce signs of inflammation using pumpkin seed oil as its star ingredient. Pumpkin is naturally rich in fatty acids and vitamins C and E, so it can help fight skin-damaging free radicals while also promoting stronger, more hydrated skin. Additionally, the mask includes kaolin clay to clear pores of excess oil, as well as moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and shea butter to counteract any dryness. It smells amazing, too.

28

A Drugstore Body Lotion That Feels Airy & Breathable

Despite its lightweight, microgel formula, NIVEA Breathable Nourishing Body Lotion was designed to treat skin when it’s at its driest. The fast-absorbing lotion never feels sticky or greasy on skin, but it still includes plenty of ingredients aimed at improving hydration, like shea butter, panthenol, and vitamin E. It’s the rare lotion that enables you to get dressed or get under the sheets immediately after applying it. Choose between two scents: Tropical Breeze or Fresh Fusion.

29

A Brightening Under-Eye Stick With A Subtle Hint Of Shimmer

Even properly prepped skin can experience dryness and fatigue as the day wears on — especially the delicate skin underneath your eyes. This TULA eye balm offers a solution: Apply it anytime your under-eyes could use a boost, thanks to how compact and portable the stick is. Infused with strengthening probiotics and hydrating hyaluronic acid, it has a very slight shimmer, so it creates an immediate brightening effect as well.

30

A Japanese Makeup Remover That Takes Off The Most Stubborn Mascaras

HEROINE MAKE Speedy Mascara Remover is one of those products that seems so obvious, it will have you wondering why no one thought of it sooner. Developed to remove even the toughest waterproof mascara, the remover applies directly onto lashes with a mascara-shaped wand that allows for more efficacy. Comb the product through your lashes, let it sit for two to three minutes, and your mascara will wipe or rinse right off without having to aggressively rub your eyes.

31

Under-Eye Patches Made With Hydrating Nordic Ingredients

Eye patches are the key to faking a more rested appearance in minutes. These skyn ICELAND Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels are packed with plumping, soothing, and hydrating ingredients to accomplish said goal, many of which are sourced from Iceland, including glacial water and arctic cloudberry. For an extra cooling boost, try storing these in the fridge. Another pro tip? Leave them on under your eyes as you do your eye makeup to catch eyeshadow fallout.

32

A Cleansing Balm That Contains Pore-Unclogging BHAs

Cleansing balms are great when it comes to thoroughly removing every last trace of makeup. And while their oil-based formulas are ideal for drier skin types, if you’re more oily, it can be hard to find your perfect match. Hanskin’s BHA Pore Cleansing Balm fights congestion with salicylic acid, which is able to dissolve dead skin and sebum deep in the pores as the balm melts away makeup. But you don’t have to worry about it stripping your skin either, as it still contains plenty of moisturizing ingredients like coconut, olive fruit, and jojoba seed oils.

33

A 2-Step Lip Color That Lasts All Day Long

An Amazon favorite with over 10,000 five-star reviews, Covergirl Outlast All-Day Lip Color figured out the secret to long-lasting color without lips that feel dried out or cracked. The two-part system starts with applying your lip color of choice and allowing it to fully dry before sealing it in with Covergirl’s balm topcoat for shine and moisture. Choose from a stunning array of shades, from neutrals to brights.

34

Silky False Eyelashes That Look Dramatic, But Natural

If you want to amp up your lashes for a special occasion without having to commit to extensions, a set of fake lashes is the way to go. Eylure’s Luxe Silk Effect False Eyelashes are made from silky fibers that give a mink effect while still being cruelty-free. The lashes can be reused multiple times, and each set comes with a small tube of lash glue for easy application.

35

A Scalp Scrub & Shampoo That’s Powered By Purifying Charcoal

Healthy hair starts at the scalp, but even factors as simple as loading up on styling products (like dry shampoo) and how often you wash your hair (both too often and not often enough) can cause dryness, itchiness, and flakiness. Briogeo Scalp Revival shampoo is a scalp scrub that combines micro-exfoliators and anti-septic oils, like charcoal and tea tree oil, with moisturizers like coconut oil to rebalance and soothe the scalp. Because of its gentle formula, it’s safe for all hair types, as well as for those with hair that’s color-treated, keratin treated, chemically treated, or relaxed.

36

An Extra-Long Exfoliating Cloth From Japan

This Japanese-developed cloth is made of nylon and polyester, making it more durable and hygienic than your average washcloth or loofah because it can be rinsed clean after every use. The Salux cloth was also designed to effectively exfoliate skin, so it’s especially great for anyone prone to body acne or keratosis pilaris. Because of its oversized design, you can easily glide it across your back by holding onto the ends with each hand.

37

Soothing & Moisturizing Drops For Dry, Inflamed Scalps

These vitamin drops make protecting and conditioning your scalp super easy. Rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and other nutrients, the liquid formula moisturizes and soothes dry skin where it’s hardest to reach, making it especially useful for those with braids or locs. Because of its dropper applicator, you can apply the product directly where you need it most by parting your hair and massaging it onto your scalp. If you’ve been dealing with an itchy, dry, or flaky scalp, it can offer both immediate and long-term relief, which should help your hair feel stronger, as well.

38

A Face Mask Made With Nourishing Avocado & Cocoa

Andalou Naturals uses fruit stem cell science to make all their products — and in this specific case, that means combining bioactive stem cells from heirloom apples, grapes, Swiss alpine roses, argan trees, and hemp plants to protect skin from environmental damage. This facial mask includes plenty of other antioxidant-rich ingredients to improve and protect your skin, such as resveratrol derived from red grapes to boost elasticity, avocado oil to moisturize, and a bioactive berry complex to support collagen and elastin production.

39

A Set Of 2 Face-Massaging Tools To Soothe & Depuff Your Skin

Face massaging tools are having a moment for their ability to promote circulation and firmer, smoother skin while also serving as a relaxing part of your skin care routine. This set comes with a battery-operated 3-D roller (best for the face, jawline, and neck) and a T-shape electric face roller (best for under the eyes) to target multiple areas. Many Amazon users credit the tool with giving them smoother, plumper skin, and note that it’s especially refreshing if you store the tools in the fridge.

40

A Smoothing & Moisturizing Lip Cream That Prevents Lipstick Feathering

This tiny tube helps eliminate a pretty major problem (in the makeup world, that is): lipstick feathering and bleeding. Elizabeth Arden Advanced Lip Fix Cream works as a conditioning primer that smooths and moisturizes your lips so that any product you apply on top will go on easier, stay on longer, and look better. And unlike lip oils and richer balms, it won’t mess with the integrity of your lipstick or change its texture. Spread a dot of the cream across just-cleansed lips, and the fragrance-free formula will take the performance of your lipstick to new heights.

41

An Eyeliner Stamp That Creates Flawless Wings With Minimal Effort

Imagine how much time you could save if you got your cat eye right on the first try every single time. KAJA’s Wink Stamp is helping out fans of the winged look with their double-ended stamp pen and felt-tip liner set. Line the wing-shaped stamp along the outer corner of your eye and press down firmly (one side will be labeled for the left eye, and the other side for the right eye), then use the liner pen to connect your wing with your lash line. Both pens house waterproof formulas in a true black color to create a classic cat eye with ease.

42

A Lip-Plumping Mask That Gently Smooths & Exfoliates

Technically, this is a lip plumping product, but because it uses chemical exfoliators in the form of AHAs and BHAs to gently eliminate flakes and dryness, it also makes for pretty good lipstick prep. The gel-cream is also formulated with shea butter and moringa seed oil to keep lips soft, while plumping ingredients like Volufiline and peppermint leaf extract give lips a fuller appearance.

43

Microfiber Towels That Feel Secure & Light On Your Head

Yes, these patterned hair towels are much more fun than your usual bath set, but the Turbie Twist Microfiber Hair Towel Wrap also works to dry your hair faster. The lightweight hair wraps are machine washable, and they’re made from moisture-wicking microfiber that absorbs excess water without the use of damaging friction or heat. They stay on your head securely but aren’t as heavy as a typical towel, so they’re a lot more comfortable to wear.

44

A Semi-Permanent Hair Dye That Comes In So Many Fun Colors

Lime Crime’s Unicorn Hair Semi-Permanent Hair Dye is cruelty-free, vegan, and free from harsh ingredients like ammonia, bleach, and peroxide, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally damaging your hair. Instead, the range adds bold color to hair that’s already been pre-lightened to blonde or platinum, and adds a soft tint to dark blonde and light brunette hair. Over time, it will slowly wash out, so it’s not a major commitment.

45

Sunscreen Drops That Feel Imperceptible On Your Skin

If you’re not a fan of sunscreen lotions and creams, COVER FX gives you broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection in the form of a lightweight serum. Though it contains skin protecting and moisturizing ingredients like coconut fruit extract and argan oil, it doesn’t leave behind any perceptible trace once it’s been absorbed by your skin. In other words, it’s the perfect sunscreen for people who dislike sunscreen.

46

A Makeup Primer That Feels As Smooth & Satisfying As Putty

All skin types and tones can use this e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer prior to applying makeup for longer-lasting results. The drugstore product is the top primer in America, according to the brand, and it can be used to help minimize the appearance of pores for a “no makeup makeup” look, or serve as a makeup-gripping base if you’re looking for fuller coverage. The vegan and cruelty-free formula, which resembles a creamy putty, is infused with ingredients like squalane, rice bran wax, and tea extract to help your skin retain moisture.

47

A Blemish-Busting Lotion That Eliminates Shine

For skin that’s oily or acne-prone, it can be hard to find a moisturizer that will keep your skin hydrated without leaving it shiny or exacerbating breakouts. The Body Shop’s Mattifying Tea Tree Lotion was developed specifically with these skin concerns in mind, using fair-trade tea tree oil from Kenya in its formula to treat acne and restore moisture while simultaneously removing shine. You’ll also find white willow bark extract in the ingredient lineup, of which salicylic acid is a derivative, so this can help keep your pores clear, too.

Studies referenced:

An evaluation of the effect of a topical product containing salicin on the visible signs of human skin aging, by Remona Gopaul, Helen E Knaggs, Janet F Lephart, Kara C Holley, Erica M Gibson; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20883292/

The gut microbiome as a major regulator of the gut-skin axis, by Iman Salem, Amy Ramser, Nancy Isham, Mahmoud A Ghannoum; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6048199/

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