As you might imagine, beauty editors try what feels like endless amounts of products each year as we try to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in the market. But with that, some products seemingly don’t leave a lasting impression, while others earn a permanent spot in our ever-changing beauty cabinets.
From highly-anticipated launches like Ariana Grande’s R.e.m. Beauty to freshly discovered viral products, 2021 welcomed many impressive bits that we think you should know about. And so, below, you’ll discover Vogue’s beauty team’s edit of the best products we tried in 2021. Happy shopping!
Celia Ellenberg, Beauty Director
Jones Road Miracle Balm in Tawny
How Bobbi Brown managed to get the trademark for this name continues to boggle the mind; similarly incomprehensible to me is how the standout multitasking lip-cheek-eye color from Brown’s new clean makeup brand applies with the perfect hint of nuanced color. That it’s also formulated with jojoba and argan oil means that it blends seamlessly into skin. I say this without hyperbole: it is the only pre-Zoom pick me up you need (and it also happens to look great IRL, too.)
Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick
I have a confession to make, and this roundup is as good a venue for it as any: I have never worn foundation. That is until I was forced to be on video all the time and realized that the computer camera can be particularly unkind. It’s not that I’m against coverage. I love concealer. LOVE. I just hate the way most liquid and compact foundations feel on my skin. But this changed the game for me. The shade matching is spot on, although it’s the targeted or allover, natural coverage you get from this nourishing stick that really sold me. Pro tip: buy it with the tapered blending brush and never look back!
Ella Riley-Adams, Senior Living and Beauty Editor
Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer
In 2021, I became devoted to Tata Harper’s Water-Lock Moisturizer. I’ve struggled with dry skin in past, and this formula (followed by SuperGoop’s Unseen Sunscreen) works perfectly to keep it at bay even in the winter months. I like how lightweight it is, and I love that it’s refillable!
Kjaer Weis Lip Pencil
Last fall I was looking for a lip liner that would help keep my lipstick in place while I served as bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding. I went for Kjaer Weis’s lip pencil in Rose. It’s lovely as a liner, but I’ve also used it all over with a gloss on top, which offers the perfect long-lasting look.
Lauren Valenti, Senior Beauty Editor
Westman Atelier Lip Suede in Les Rouges
I can’t wax on enough about how much I love Westman Atelier’s Les Rouges Lip Suede palette. The four pigments—fuschia, deep brick red, tomato red, and warm dusty rose—are pitch-perfect and have seamlessly taken me through all four seasons. I love the velvety-matte finish of the formula, which is easy to apply with your fingers and looks soft and gorgeous on the mouth. And then there’s the sculptural palette itself, which is weighty and lovely to look at. I love toting it around with me everywhere—it tends to be a conversation piece.
Victoria Beckham Beauty Satin Kajal Liner
I’ve been a fan of Victoria Beckham Beauty’s creamy, ultra-pigmented Satin Kajal Liners for years and continue to enjoy each new striking shade she releases. Lately, I’ve been loving the eye-brightening Bronze and Sea Grey metallics and the Olive shade, an antiqued forest green that adds a lush yet subtle dose of color when I’m craving it.
Soft Services Smoothing Set
As someone who suffers from KP (keratosis pilaris), I’m so grateful for what Soft Services has brought to the treatment category. Their Smoothing Set is not only stylishly designed but makes following a regular routine of physical and chemical exfoliation plus moisture easy and experiential. Not to mention, the results—smoother, healthier-looking limbs—are genuinely giving me a newfound confidence in showing skin.
Jupiter Scalp Brush
I love my thick, curly mane, but there’s no way around the fact that untangling it, washing it, and conditioning it thoroughly is an extremely tedious chore. Using Jupiter’s Scalp Brush (which is both gentler and beneficially denser than most with its tiny-yet-firm bristles) has made a dramatic difference in the process, helping me gently comb out snags, massage away unhealthy build up on my scalp, and ensure I’m washing away every last bit of shampoo and conditioner. It’s basically the Swiss Army knife of my hair-washing regimen.
Kiana Murden, Beauty Commerce Writer
“Vacation” by Vacation Eau de Toilette
In 2021, I embarked on a personal quest to find my favorite perfume, and I still can’t get over how much I love Vacation’s Eau de Toilette. A fragrance I surely didn’t expect to like as much as I do, it’s crafted to smell just like the sunscreens and scents that make up summer vacation—boasting notes of petitgrain essence, coconut, banana, pineapple, pool water, sea salt, and even swimsuit lycra. If you’re in desperate need of a getaway, just spritz yourself with this to transport you right to the tropics.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Makeup Setting Spray
Honestly, I never understood the importance of the right setting spray until I tried this one by Charlotte Tilbury. I can say with confidence that this is the best setting spray I’ve ever tried thus far, a product I discovered while unearthing the magic that lies in Charlotte Tilbury’s makeup collection. What’s more, I’ve found that if I apply the setting spray to my face throughout my makeup routine (immediately after foundation, before powder, then again once I’m done), my look literally doesn’t budge.
Grow Gorgeous Original Hair Density Serum
I realized in 2021 that there’s no better time than now to work on growing out my hair, nails, lashes, and brows. On the hair front, though I have pretty thick, coily hair, I’ve noticed some thinning around my edges—which is a traumatizing discovery especially for a Black woman. And so, I began applying the Grow Gorgeous Hair Density Serum to my sparse areas and throughout my whole head. While it might be a bit soon to comment on just how much my hair has grown, I am now eager to apply the lightweight oil serum to my hair each night—even if I have a silk press. Don’t worry, this won’t weigh your tresses down—even my mom agrees!
Kérastase Curl Manifesto Huile Sublime Repair Hair Oil
Growing out my hair this year means giving it necessary TLC and surging my thirsty strands with moisture when needed. Typically, I try to avoid oils while wearing my hair straight as they weigh it down, but the Kérastase Curl Manifesto Huile Sublime Repair Hair Oil is like a miracle in a bottle. Infused with manuka honey and ceramides, this non-greasy oil works to reduce breakage and leaves my strands impeccably soft.
Innisfree Dewy Glow Jelly Cream with Jeju Cherry Blossom
I am not a moisturizer girl, meaning I tend to stick to the formulas I know and treat various skin conditions through other parts of my routine, but the Innisfree Dewy Glow Jelly Cream made me audibly gasp when I tried it. The bouncy, jelly formula is unlike anything I’ve tried before, layered well, and delivered seriously glowy, hydrated skin. I see why this K-beauty favorite went viral on TikTok.
La Prairie Skin Caviar Nighttime Oil
As many dermatologists recommend incorporating retinol in your skin-care routine in your 20s, I tried my fair share in 2021. But the one I found myself reaching for night after night is the La Prairie Skin Caviar Nighttime Oil. Because of how harsh many formulas can be, retinols can be pretty scary to use, but using this oil feels like a precious indulgence to treat myself after a long day. It’s an incredibly silky, oil formula that glides effortlessly onto the skin—designed to reduce fine lines and lock in moisture.
Michella Oré, Beauty Assistant
Chantecaille Bio Lifting Serum+
This lightweight yet ultra-hydrating serum has been a skin-saver this winter. Once the cold air settles in, my dehydration kicks into overdrive so I’m always looking for an added layer that will keep my skin looking plump and bright. Packed with an all-star roster of peptides, algae, and coffee stem cell extract the Bio Lifting Serum delivers tenfold.
Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask
I’ve been using this mask as my regular conditioner because the formula leaves my curls feeling incredibly soft while keeping frizz at a minimum. It also smells really good, which is always a bonus.
The Unseen Spectra Eye Color
One of the beauty products that truly wow’d me last year was the Spectra Eye Color. It’s a richly-pigmented paint that transforms from black to chrome with the help of a little camera flash, taking my selfie game to a new level.
Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb Ruby Orchid Eau de Parfum
I’ve been a fan of the original Flowerbomb for years, so I was excited to experience the latest from the line. Ruby Orchid is just as addictive as its predecessor but with sweeter notes like peach and vanilla bean. As I pivot my view of fragrance from “accessory” to “outfit,” this has been one of my go-to fragrances to apply all over.