The 45 Best Fashion and Beauty Products We Tested This Year, from Serums to Shapewear

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Best of Tested Holiday Gift Guide

InStyle / David Hattan

Whether we’re smoothing our strands with luscious almond oil serums, swiping long wear lipsticks across our lips, or schlepping tote bags into the office, InStyle editors are jazzed every time we’re fortunate enough to test out the buzziest products in fashion and beauty. However, that’s not to say it's all fun and games. We rigorously scrutinize everything we slather, buff, and blend onto our skin or comb through our hair, analyzing how its texture feels upon immediate application and hours later. We put primers up against sweaty subway commutes to see if they can truly prevent smudging, and spray strands with hairspray during intense humidity, daring the products to keep every hair in place. When it comes to fashion, there’s no detail we consider too minor, like, say, how fast can we get in and out of the restroom in a shapewear bodysuit? Or, we ask our testers questions such as, is the fabric scratchy against sensitive skin, or did those shoes have enough cushioning in the arch to last through a 12-hour nursing shift?

We aren’t shy about delving into the nitty gritty, either. Our robust list of highly sought-after experts in dermatology, haircare, and fashion are with us every step of the way to answer all our burning questions, even the ones you’re too embarrassed to ask yourself (can we really shrink our pores?). And, oftentimes we’re calling editors back into our New York City-based Lab or sending them home with products to continue using according to our well-researched, fact-checked, and expert-guided methodologies. Suffice to say, you can trust us.

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Vitamin C Face Serum

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Face Serum


View On Amazon $17 View On $33 View On Target $26

Similar to how our spirits are brighter after taking a tour of twinkling holiday lights, our skin also got a much-needed pick-me-up when we incorporated the L'Oreal vitamin C serum into our skincare routine. After using it for only a few days we had increased skin elasticity, it plumped out our fine lines, and we even began ditching our makeup in favor of the au-natural glow we woke up with. The icing on top of this Christmas cookie is the fact that we scored these winning results for mere pennies compared to some of the pricier options out there.

Loreal Paris Vitamin C Serum and it's packaging is displayed on a white background

InStyle / Samantha Jones

Spanx Up For Anything Strapless Bra

Spanx Up For Anything Strapless Bra


View On Amazon $31 View On Spanx View On $67

‘Tis the season to break out our greatest hits, and by that, we mean dazzling low-cut dresses and beaded bustiers. To help ensure our girls remain in place once we step onto the dance floor, especially while wearing revealing necklines, we shipped out 15 different bras to our editors in varying cup sizes and asked them to wear them throughout the day. Unsurprisingly, it was Spanx, the celebrity-approved and editor-loved brand, that truly lived up to its name. It effortlessly supported larger chests and stayed put on smaller ones. Spanx's proprietary rubber band known as the SmartGrip prevented the bra from ending up at our waistlines as we moved about our day. An even bigger score is that the band never dug into our sides or pinched our skin thanks to the cushiony-feeling nylon material that made us second guess if we were even wearing a bra.

Kristin Ess 3-in-One Flat Iron

Kristin Ess Hair 3-In-One


View On Amazon $81 View On CVS $110 View On Asos $90

We can’t exactly cover healthy, frizz-free hair in Paper Source gift wrap, but we can tie a pretty bow around the chic shiny tool that got us here. After a month of flat ironing our strands with the most popular hair straighteners on the market and working under the guidance of professional hair stylists, we discovered that the Kristin Ess flat iron and its innovative negative ion technology left our strands shiny, smooth, and nowhere near fried. From its titanium plates that slid through our hair like butter and four intuitive heat settings — only one button controls them — to the stunning gold-accented design, we found it easy to use and a welcome addition to our vanities. We have a feeling it’ll look equally as pretty sitting under your tree, too.

Spanx Tight-End Tights

Amazon Spanx Tight-End Tights


View On Amazon $28 View On Nordstrom $28 View On Spanx

We never want to sacrifice hemlines for coverage and rely on black tights as a functional outfit essential for keeping legs warm, but they’re also an A-lister’s go-to winter accessory. We particularly adored how the Spanx Tight End tights weren't too opaque, and boasted a slightly sheer appeal that fashion mavens like Margot Robbie, Kendall Jenner, and Julia Roberts have opted to incorporate into their cold-weather wardrobes. Additionally, the high-rise fit gently hugged our curves for a shapewear-like benefit without uncomfortably squeezing our midsection. Most notably, the tights are super durable; we were able to wear them from morning til night for weeks without encountering a single run.

Vince Camuto Evangee Boot

Vince Camuto Evangee Boot

Vince Camuto

View On Amazon View On Nordstrom $144 View On

Essential to mastering the no-pants trend expertly pulled off by the likes of Taylor Swift and Kendall Jenner is the quintessential knee-high boot, and few brands have impressed us with their design and comfortability more than Vince Camuto. Despite the almost 4-inch heel, we’ve sped down subway station stairs in the Evangee Boot and spun circles on the dance floor from dusk ‘til dawn without a single blister or tired arch to show for it.

We own the chic footwear staple in the ultra-versatile Warm Caramel colorway, a shade we picked up in our fall wardrobes and one that we’ll be carrying with us well into springtime. Compared to similar styles, the luscious leather boot appears just as luxe as pricier picks. The Brazilian leather is shiny, but not in a cheap way and the exposed stitching along the top of the footbed elevates the design beyond your basic riding boot. Believe us when we say this boot will send strangers pulling down their sunglasses to take a second look at its head-turning attributes.

Rosen Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask

ROSEN Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask


View On View On Target $18 View On

Move aside, Santa, the Rosen Skincare jelly mask is a much better multi-tasker and gives us what we want more than anything: A blemish-free complexion. We assiduously incorporated it into our skincare routine over two weeks and noted how it not only exfoliated away dry skin to reveal smooth, baby-soft skin, but the mask also succeeded at fading dark spots, it reduced the appearance of acne scars, and even managed to clear away congestion. Above all else, it uses natural ingredients, notably licorice root extract, so we felt better about applying it every single day.

GAMA Professional IQ2 Perfetto Hair Dryer

GAMA Professional IQ2 Perfetto Hair Dryer


View On Amazon $450 View On Best Buy $330 View On

Getting ready for all the holiday parties has never been easier — or healthier and safer for hair. We put the design-forward, chic-looking Gama hair dryer to the test for four weeks, using it to dry and smooth our hair at least twice a week. We loved how snappy the experience was and all of the different attachments — four in total — that allowed us to style our hair in a variety of ways. Did we mention how shiny our strands looked, too?

Sam Edelman Laurs Lug-Sole Loafer

Sam Edelman Laurs Lug Sole Loafer

Sam Edelman

View On Nordstrom $64 View On View On Macy's $90

Listen, we can two-step at any party in four-inch heels if the occasion calls for it, but as we’re dashing to and from events this season we won’t be sacrificing comfort or style for our footwear. We walked for miles in these chunky Sam Edelman loafers and barely felt the difference when we slipped them off 12 hours later. Translation: They can withstand our packed holiday schedule. Plus, their structured silhouette, slight heel, and neutral colorways lend them a versatility that will match any occasion and make them the perfect plus one for everything from work events and holiday happy hours to white elephant gift exchanges and family dinners.

PCA SKIN Hydroquinone-Free Face Serum

PCA SKIN Hydroquinone-Free Pigment Gel Face Serum


View On Nordstrom $90 View On Dermstore $90 View On

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about ahead of the holidays, we’re always holding our breath to see what effects stress and dry winter weather will have on our skin and the last thing on our wish list is dark spots. Thankfully we thought ahead and diligently applied the PCA Skin face serum on our skin for 12 weeks to see if it could vanish hyperpigmentation in time for family photos. We obsessed over how its powerful formula zapped dark spots quicker than we expected and left skin feeling smooth and irritation-free. Waking up without dark spots? Now that’s something we’re thankful for.

Isdin Isdinceutics Hyaluronic Concentrate

Isdin Isdinceutics Hyaluronic Concentrate


View On Amazon $82 View On Dermstore $109 View On $109

Fighting the good fight against peeling, flaky skin can often feel like a losing battle once winter rolls around, but this year we prepped far in advance and put hundreds of hours (400, to be exact) into assessing which hyaluronic acids could protect our complexions against Jack Frost’s bitter attitude. The Isdin Isdinceutics outperformed them all because by the time our eight weeks of testing was up, the serum effectively took care of skin issues we only once dreamed of solving, like stubborn breakouts and dull texture. Most satisfyingly, the lightweight serum gifted us with renewed, glowing skin from the very first application, so we won’t be shy about slathering it on right before our most exclusive holiday parties.

Skims Bodysuit With Snaps

SKIMS Sculpting Body Suit with Snaps


View On Nordstrom $34 View On $68 View On Saks Fifth Avenue $68

Shapewear can either add to your confidence and prepare you to face an ex lurking in the shadows of your hometown visit or be a necessity if, say, you discovered VPLs under that expensive NYE dress you already cut the tags out of. Either way, after fitting our testers in 30 body suits on varying body types, we discovered the Skims Sculpting Bodysuit had us covered on both ends. We wore it under all kinds of clothes, including body-hugging dresses and work trousers, for six weeks, and with every outfit the piece always exceeded in accentuating the best parts of our silhouette. It cinched our waist in just the right places and gave our rear-end a pleasant pick-me-up. Though it gently compressed our midsections, the criminally soft, lightweight material never felt too tight and remained breathable. In fact, most of the time we forgot we were wearing shapewear, especially since its seamless design prevented all signs of panty or bra lines.

Pinsy Shapewear Thong Bodysuit

Pinsy Scoop Tank Hourglass Shapewear Thong Bodysuit


View On $89

Although the Skims bodysuit above was universally beloved during our test, our curvier editors tried out a few pieces of plus-size shapewear. They came back to the office raving about the Pinksy Scoop Tank Hourglass Shapewear Thong Bodysuit that they wore again and again under clothes and on its own as a top and paired with a blazer. They loved the way it smoothed and lifted bothersome areas, and cinched their waists for a more defined silhouette that they were thrilled to show off.

Foreo UFO 2

Foreo UFO 2


View On Amazon $299 View On Sephora $299 View On

Not into scaring your house guests this season by stepping out in a Transformer-like LED mask? The adorable, palm-sized Foreo UFO 2 is our secret party trick for glowing, ultra-smooth skin. The best part is that it only took using one of its 90-second treatments for us to see a brighter, more youthful complexion. Throughout six weeks of consistent treatments our skin only improved and became so radiant strangers stopped to compliment us. When we compared it against 12 of the buzziest LED masks lauded by social media and celebrities, we found the handheld device and coordinating app made the light mask one of the most convenient options out there. Plus, its small size makes it super transportable, too, so you can keep up with your twice-a-day treatments while traveling to in-law’s houses or during an end-of-year getaway. Less fine lines and wrinkles before the New Year’s even started? That’s a resolution we can get behind.

Eberjey Inez Washable Silk Printed Short PJ Set

Eberjey Inez Washable Silk Printed Short PJ Set


View On $258

An InStyle editor favorite, the brand is a master of balancing cute and comfortable. We’re particularly fond of the Mariana Romper for its impossibly soft tencel modal fabric, which, as a bonus, is temperature regulating, perfect for the hot sleepers among us. We find that it hugs our curves in the right places, yet it is still loose fitting enough that we can sleep soundly. And if the thought of sleeping in a romper sounds ridiculously uncomfortable, we hear you, and to that we say, just trust us.

Borboleta Lash Serum

Borboleta Lash Serum


View On Amazon $65 View On

Need a conversation starter at your next holiday gathering? We guarantee you that your lashes will do all the talking, courtesy of the Borboleta Lash Serum. We wore the serum every day for over two months, and by the end of testing, we fluttered our eyes with a Bambi-like charm and reigned in compliments from strangers over how long, luscious, and healthy they appeared.

And though it took time to see these results, the application itself was a breeze since the brush is ingeniously shaped like a narrow eyeliner pen and it allowed us to get up closer and personal with our lash line. Plus, the lightweight serum disappeared into our skin quickly so we didn’t waste time cleaning up any drips or sticky residue.

St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse

St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse


View On Amazon $44 View On Nordstrom $18 View On Sephora $34

Some of us will be escaping to warm, tropical beaches this season and others will just wish they were (hi, that’s us). If you fall into the latter category, we recommend a quick buff of the St. Tropez Self Tan Mousse across your vitamin D-deprived skin to fool everyone into thinking you were sprawled across sun-soaked lounge chairs all winter long.

It won out against the 42 other self-tanners we blended into our skin for its quick dry time, streak-free application. And, it earned some additional bonus points for not staining our sheets or clothing. The lightweight mousse achieved these impressive feats while also leaving a nearly imperceptible scent in its wake, making room for the better scents of the season like freshly baked cookies and apple cider.

Patrick Ta Major Volume Lip Gloss

Patrick Ta Major Volume Plumping Lip Gloss


View On Sephora $26 View On $26 View On

With kissable, pouty lips like ours, we doubt we’ll be waiting under the mistletoe for very long this year. The Patrick Ta Major Plumping Lip Gloss provided us with everything we needed to achieve our plumpest, pillowy lips yet, starting with an invigorating formula of peptides, cinnamon, and ginger. These ingredients also made our lips feel very well-hydrated and nourished to the point that we left the house without our security blanket chapstick and we never suffered for it. And, can we just see how alluring the sheeny, luxe shades make our lips look? The velvety colors don't transfer easily, either, if you know what we mean. Oooh, la, la, indeed.

Image Skincare Restoring Eye Mask

Amazon Image Skincare Restoring Eye Mask


View On Amazon $58 View On Dermstore $58 View On

If you’re managing to squeeze naps in between finding the perfect present for finicky friends and finishing up end-of-year work projects, props to you, but we’ll be relying on the ultra-soothing Image Skincare eye masks to fake as though we’ve been sawing Yule logs every night. We stick them in the fridge the evening before and relish in the cool sensation of gel strips on the delicate skin around our sleepy under eyes every morning. With a formula full of skin-plumping, hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and caffeine, we aren't totally surprised they make us look wide awake and ready to tackle our holiday to-do list.

Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack

Dagne Dover Fanny Pack

Dagne Dover

View On Nordstrom $90 View On Saks Fifth Avenue $95 View On $95

Aside from a ticket and a well-planned itinerary to a country they’ve never visited, a fanny pack is perhaps the next best gift for your most wanderlust friend. You can trust us that this Dagne Dover belt bag may be one of the very best ones, because we traveled with it for weeks, jumping from coast to coast, and it kept us well-prepared and looking stylish throughout all of our adventures. Cute as can be, it’s also super functional thanks to the tear-resistant and spill-proof neoprene material, abundance of pockets, and compact size that fits snugly even under heavy winter wear.

Shark FlexStyle System

Shark FlexStyle Air Styling and Drying System


View On Amazon $291 View On Nordstrom $280 View On Ulta $280

The charm of an adorably disheveled, windswept look only extends to the protagonist in a Hallmark movie. For the rest of us, the Shark FlexStyle hot air brush ensures we’ll be arriving at our small-town coffee shop, or better yet, a fabulous holiday bash, with perfectly styled, frizz-free supermodel waves. Its six different attachments — including a set of autowrap curlers — allowed us plenty of versatility to change up our look depending on what our mood or occasion called for. We used it to dry and style our hair for four weeks and by the end of testing, we weren’t ready to let go of our lustrous strands.

Slip Pure Silk Pillowcase

Sephora Slip Pure Silk Pillowcase


View On Amazon $87 View On Nordstrom $89 View On Dermstore $89

Prettier than the star on top of our tree, we adored the Slip silk pillowcase for more than just the way it beautified our bedspreads. Finally, we understand how every rom-com star wakes up with enduringly tousled hair and sleek strands. Surely, they must be sleeping soundly on the Slip pillowcase’s luxurious, silk blend fabric each night. Unlike Hollywood stars, we didn’t have a hair and makeup crew to freshen us each morning while we tested it, but after resting our heads on it for 10 weeks we did experience fewer breakouts, which is equally glamorous in our opinion.

Slip Pure Silk Pillowcase displayed in its box on a comforter

InStyle / Maggie Sperduti-Matesevac

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

Ulta Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Oil-Free Foundation Primer


View On Nordstrom $16 View On Dermstore $42 View On Ulta $42

Would you believe us if we told you that the chiseled shadows you carved into your cheekbones at 7 a.m. in preparation for your post-work shindig would still be there by the time you clocked out if you used the Smashbox Original Photo Finish Primer? If you don’t want to hear it from us, trust the three highly sought-after makeup artists we consulted or heaps of praise from TikTok all touting it as the most long-lasting formula they’ve ever used. Every time we slide the lightweight gel across our skin, we can practically see our pores vanish under its silky veil like a fresh blanket of snow covering grimy city sidewalks. As a bonus, its formula taps ingredients such as antioxidants and grape seed extract that can help target breakouts and dehydrated skin.

Jennifer Fisher 2” Thread Hoops

 Jennifer Fisher 2” Thread Hoops

Jennifer Fisher

View On

A versatile pair of earrings are worth their weight in gold, and we mean that literally. The slightly oversized Jennifer Fisher glimmering gold hoops are supercharged with unlimited potential. Let us explain: The two-inch diameter isn't so thick that they become too trendy, but they’re still large enough to complement any outfit and make a well-deserved statement. Though they come in three different colorways, including silver and rose gold, we’re partial to the yellow-gold finish we believe will coordinate with our cranberry-red dresses and glasses of champagne. Cheers, we say!

Shu Uemura Netsu Design Blow Dry Cream

Sephora Shu Uemura Netsu Blow Dry Cream


View On Sephora $46 View On $36 View On

We can’t prevent a lot of chaos that comes our way this season. But fried, unhealthy hair? That’s something we’ll never show up to a function with as long as we’ve coated our strands in Shu Uemura’s nutrient-rich cream formula. Relentless in our efforts to weed out the ineffective wannabees, we sprayed and slathered our strands in popular protectants before scorching our hair with the highest levels of heat for five straight weeks. Shu Uemura was an exceptional warrior against this damage, and it formed an impenetrable wall of armor around our precious styles. It never allows even 450-degree temperatures to thwart our plans for showing off our shiny, glossy hair.

Prizm Wavy Professional Rotating Curling Iron

Prizm 1 Inch Wavy Professional Rotating Curling Iron


View On Amazon $90

With a glittery smokey eye to perfect and a chic, all-red monochromatic outfit to put together, there’s hardly any time left to worry about our hair. The easiest solution we can offer is effortlessly twirling your strands into bouncy ringlets with the Prizm Rotating Curling Iron. We obsessed over how succinct the entire process was—it clearly indicated which direction the iron rotates with an L or R labeled button and the iron was warm and ready to go in under 60 seconds. In mere minutes, this state-of-the-art hair tool left us with springy, voluminous curls we could shake out to get the quintessential 90s-style loose-wave blowout if we pleased.

Shani Darden Retinol Reform Treatment Serum

Shani Darden Retinol Reform Treatment Serum


View On Amazon $89 View On Sephora $32 View On Net-a-Porter $88

We’re battening down the hatches and slathering on whatever serums we can to protect our skin against the super drying, skin-damaging winter weather, and stationed at the front line of defense is the Shani Darden Retinol. We put it to the test for 12 weeks and the serums over performed at giving us the poreless complexion of an expertly filtered Instagram model and vanquishing our acne, which was a true feat for our blemish-prone skin. Most notably, this silky cream gel was soothing, nourishing, and incredibly gentle on our sensitive skin.

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick


View on Sephora View On Ulta $28 View On Macy's $28

Along with metallic slingbacks and vegan leather, one trend we’re carrying into the New Year will be soft, flake-free lips and multi-use beauty products, notably hydrating lipsticks. As we sipped and smacked for three months wearing the ones with the most internet buzz, the Smashbox Prime & Plush Lipstick came out as a clear winner. It allowed us to forgo using lip balm altogether thanks to its lightweight formula that’s packed full of moisturizing ceramides and peptides. We swooned over how noticeable the color payoff was too, and loved that its color stayed stuck to our lips for hours and hours, meaning we wouldn't need to excuse ourselves from any sparkling party conversations to reapply.

LANEIGE Water Sleeping Mask

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask


View On Amazon $32 View On Sephora $32 View On $32

We know that you know all about the Laneige hydrating lip mask, but what if we told you that you could get that nourishing feeling across your entire complexion? We did, at least, every time we treated our hopelessly dry, dull skin to the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. It’s got all the beloved, moisture-replenishing ingredients — think: hyaluronic acid, squalane, and moisture-replenishing fruit ferments — that perked up our dehydrated skin and calmed angry, winter-whipped complexions with its soothing, cream texture.

Sephora Collection Metal Facial Razor

Sephora Collection Metal Facial Razor


View On Sephora $18 View On $18

Our dermaplaning test was a smashing success — both in the InStyle office and with readers, and who could blame us? If you wanted that hairless, flake-free, baby soft skin, but didn’t want to give up the secret, we had you covered and this no-frills facial razor from the Sephora Collection was hands-down our favorite. 

We love this razor for its beautiful simplicity. We are most grateful for its incredibly sharp blade to ensure one or two passes are sufficient, equalling less time for the sharp blade to come into contact with our face, along with its sturdy curved handle that lends itself to a tight grip, lessening our anxiety even further. InStyle editors with dry skin were among its biggest fans, shearing flakes away for a masterful exfoliation without triggering a hint of irritation.

Makeup By Mario Lip Serum

Sephora Makeup by Mario MoistureGlow Plumping Lip Serum in Rose Glow


View On Sephora $14 View On $24 View On

Senior beauty commerce editor Kaitlin Clark calls this tinted lip serum from Kim Kardashian’s favorite makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic, a “hybrid between a lip gloss, a sherry-shiny lipstick, and a lip balm.” She also says that it’s “perfect for people who hate lipstick, like me, but still want some color.” 

In fact, during our test, five different InStyle editors became Mario converts, swayed by this smooth and conditioning lippie that feels like silky chapstick, with the shine of a goopy gloss (stickiness excluded), and very generous color payoff. Clark says it’s the only lip product she’ll wear, aside from actual chapstick, and keeps one in all three of her most-used handbags so she’s never without. “I wear the brownish Mauve Glow, which the brand says has flecks of shimmer, but I’ve never seen any on my lips – thank God – and when I want them to look extra juicy, plump, and pigmented, I dab it along my lips rather than one long swipe.”

Macrene Actives High Performance Eye Cream

Macrene Actives High Performance Eye Cream.

Neiman Marcus

View On Nordstrom $225 View On Sephora $135 View On Neiman Marcus $225

Thousands try, but very few products we test earn a perfect score, especially when it comes to skincare that targets such a visible skin concern as under-eye puffiness. Eye creams are no-nonsense and the results don’t lie: A swollen eye area either subsides and begins to look normal or it doesn’t; there’s no grey area. 

Yet this eye cream, brimming with 38 plant actives, peptides, squalane, vitamins, and four different types of algae, delivered transformative results that didn’t take four weeks (the length of the test) to see. How long did it take? A single application, and less than two minutes, as we stood riveted in our bathrooms, watching in shock as our puffy under-eyes firmed up right in front of our eyes. 

It only got better from there: At two weeks, the skin all around our eyes looked more taut with fewer crow’s feet, even in the peak-puffiness morning, not to mention fabulously hydrated and dark circle-free. We all voted and if we could only take one skincare product with us to a desert island, it’d be this one. 

However, if you wanted to complete your anti-aging routine, pair it with the brand’s Extra Rich Face Cream, which earned an impressive score of 4.85 (points were only docked out of pure disappointment that it’s out of most budgets) in our six-week test of the best night creams.

SmoothSkin Hair Removal Device

SmoothSkin Pure IPL Hair Removal Device


View On Amazon View On $359

We tested this laser hair removal device over 12 weeks, but it impressed us right from the jump on day one. It came with several accessories to make the entire process (which we admit can become somewhat tedious) a little more fun and fancy, especially the goggles, as we bopped between five intensity settings. Even at the highest strength, our legs never felt too warm or looked flush with irritation, and within two weeks, our hair began to grow back thinner and sparsely. It’s not the most fun product we ever tested, but once we saw the results, our motivation was reignited and results more apparent.

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain

FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain


View on Sephora View On Ulta $28 View On Sephora $28

In our beauty dreams, we longed for a lip product that would give us a carefree, bright pop of color as if we just ate our favorite raspberry popsicle. We decided that our search needed to end here and now, and the only path forward was to devote hours swiping on 32 of the most popular and talked-about lip stains, and one stood out as the perfect summertime popsicle look we wanted. What can we say, Rihanna really just gets us and we loved every single one of the flashy and very fun shades. We’d even go so far as to say it’s nearly impossible to look at any of the six colors and not feel an instant sense of joy wash over you. 

Can’t pick just one? Join the club! But after 11 hours of testing, we’re experts now, and starting with the coral Zesty Bestie or vivid raspberry, Berry Banger, is the move — just be ready for your lips to look plump, juicy, and full of color.

e.l.f. Cosmetics Cream Contour Palette

e.l.f. Cream Contour Palette


View On Amazon $9 View On Ulta $9 View On

Is there anything more satisfying than snagging an all-encompassing palette for such a steal that you consider actually running from the store after paying? Not to us, and we haven’t found a better value — bar none — than this E.l.f. Contour Palette, even after wearing and evaluating 21 of the buzziest contour palettes out there in a variety of textures, from powder to liquid to cream. 

Of course, no makeup-makeup vibes are definitely here to stay, but we can’t deny our everlasting love of a full beat. With textures so creamy and hydrating, the pigments truly melted into our skin as we blended the beginner-friendly shades together and buffed them until we were satisfied with our dewy finish and radiant skin. Even editors who had never touched a contour product before, went from hesitant to over the moon happy as they saw how easily the four colors could be layered for a customized shade that perfectly matched their skin tone.

Oribe Hair Cream



View On Nordstrom $20 View On Sephora $24 View On Dermstore $54

No, that’s not Rudolph’s red nose you see shining bright, it’s our glossy hair basking in the benefits of the Oribe Supershine Hair Cream. Sigh, if only the repairing formula jammed with strand-strengthening proteins and fortifying amino acids was around when we fried and bleached our hair during high school. However, we’re making up for lost time now.

We’ve been tousling our hair with the rich, creamy-textured leave-in conditioner for weeks, and our mane is brilliantly radiant and dangerously soft to the point all we want to do is play with our strands for hours on end. The cream knows how to pump up the volume too, likely since it ditched heavy fillers like sulfates and parabens, and focused on plant-based ingredients that would leave it thicker, and lightweight instead. Even our (affectionately) judgy hairdresser seemed pleased with our renewed hair, as she picked up our strands one by one and noted how there was less breakage throughout. An improvement, indeed.

Blundstone Women’s BL1316 Classic 550 Chelsea Boot

View On Zappos $230 View On $220 View On $230

As a century-old bootmaker, Blundstone means business. Its high-quality, durable footwear has weathered the storm with us, literally, many times over. We initially fell in love with its Chelsea boot when we put their element-resistant leather up against dirty rain puddles and snowy flakes and our feet came out the other side dry as a bone. However, the brand recently released new styles, on the versatile boot including this red and black colorway. 

“Flitting about town in these lightweight, adorable boots makes me feel like a granola version of one of Santa’s elves,” says InStyle writer Irene Richardson, who adds that the red contrast stitching and sides give them more personality than your run-of-the-mill black or brown option. Moreover, she says that though the exceptional shock absorption keeps her weak knees from folding after climbing subway steps all day, for extra cushioning and warmth during the winter, she slips the removable sheepskin footbed into its sole. “My tired feet thank me every time I tuck them into this supremely cozy lining, and they’re equally grateful that the boot has plenty of arch support on its own when I decide to wear these during warmer seasons.” 

Even though we think the sleek design of the boot allows you to take it hiking or out to dinner if you’re looking for something with the same supportive features but that skews dressier, we equally loved Blundstone’s 3-inch high-heeled Chelsea boot which has a slimmer silhouette and enough heft to pair well with more formal wear.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer


View On Amazon $26 View On Nordstrom $26 View On Ulta $26

Not all brows are created equal, but they can all benefit from this universal pencil. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer was one of the most versatile options we used on our brows. For example, we could easily create short, precise hairlike strokes in patchy areas using the pointed edge on its triangular tip applicator or fill and shape them faster with the wider flat edge. Additionally, the creamy texture slid through our hair easily and stayed put—when it finally came time to wash our face at the end of the day, our brows still looked just as fabulous from the moment we drew them on. Plus, the impressive shade range allowed us to achieve a near-identical match to our natural hair color so that no one ever questioned the integrity of our faux brows.

Morovan Nail Kit

Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit


View On Amazon $28 View On Walmart $50

This festive season, we’re fully decking out our fingertips with some sparkle and shine that’ll last from the very first gift exchange to picking up glitter after the New Year’s party, sans a single chip. The Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit stocked this set fuller than Old Saint Nick’s sleigh with everything to achieve our dreamiest nails, including eight manicure tools, a 48-watt LED light with three heat settings, plenty of embellishments like decals and sequins, and several sets of nail polishes and primers. This may seem intimidating to first-time users, but when we tested it in our New York City-based lab, we made quite a few mistakes throughout the process and we still came out with a professional-grade manicure.

And since we find nothing wrong with being high-maintenance mani girls, but our wallets sometimes do, we love how this gift's good fortunes will carry over into next year and beyond, saving us time and money we’d normally spend on pricey salon treatments.

Colourpop Falsies Faux Mink Lashes

Colourpop Falsies Faux Mink Lashes

Ulta Beauty

View On $5

We can think of few attributes more envious to us than when someone mindlessly bats their long, luscious lashes. Finally, in mere seconds the ColourPop Falsies Faux Mink Eyelashes made ours look wispy, feathery, and oh-so flirty. Think: Cameron Diaz peering out from under her adorable cashmere snow cap in The Holiday. The super soft, natural-looking synthetic material not only felt extremely lightweight, but they looked just like an enhanced version of our real ones. Since it’s no secret that false eyelashes can run up the bill, we also appreciated that the affordable brand once again delivered a high-quality product that we’re confident will hold up through multiple wears, even as we’re tugging sweaters and turtlenecks on and off.

Lake & Skye 11 11 Fragrance Oil Rollerball

Lake and Skye 11 11 Fragrance Oil Rollerball


View On Nordstrom $48 View On Ulta $48 View On Bloomingdales $48

While we have plenty of favorite woody perfumes to share, one we’ve regrettably left off the list is the Lake & Skye 11 11. Upon wearing it for over a month, we can say that days feel incomplete without it. “Clean scents have often bored me in the past–I mean, there’s nothing against smelling like a load of laundry, it’s simply not my thing, but this one moves lithely on the tightrope between a versatile, fresh fragrance and dynamic woody scent that’s not too overpowering,” says Richardson. Its middle and base notes of amber wood and white musk spice up the initial airy scent, giving it a bit of kick that lasts even longer when you layer it over an oil. 

As she explains, “One spritz reminds me of the crisp, cool air that hits my skin when I arrive in upstate New York every fall, before drying down to the familiar quiet incense that engulfs me once I step foot into the red maple and cedar tree-filled forests of the surrounding area.”

The Ordinary Soothing & Barrier Support Serum

Sephora The Ordinary Soothing & Barrier Support Serum


View On Sephora $17

Thinking pink when choosing a color for our manicures and lipsticks is our general M.O., but it’s never a shade we saw incorporating into our skincare. That was until The Ordinary dropped its Soothing & Barrier Support Serum this fall and we rode the rose-tinted train to healthier, stronger skin. This pink potion soothed our inflammation, courtesy of vitamin B-12, and replenished dry skin with the nourishing benefits of gallic acid. “Seriously, I might replace the star at the top of my tree with this serum as a thank you for the way it mitigated the persistent redness I experience around my cheeks and nose in under two weeks,” says Richardson.

It goes a step further than its also-beloved hyaluronic acid serum to protect and heal our fragile skin barrier from the effects of ravaging environmental factors. For instance, the formula taps the medicinal and healing properties of Centella Asiatica, which we believe helped our acne scars fade away over time. To boot, Richarson adds that there was no sticky texture left behind from the sweetly-hued serum. She only waited around a minute for it to fully absorb into her skin to avoid pilling before moving on with the rest of her skincare and makeup routine.

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow Moisturizer

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow Moisturizer


View On Amazon $58 View On Nordstrom $65 View On Sephora $22

Sure, putting up your family’s “helpful suggestions” over the holidays is inevitable, but with the bounty of chaos ahead, we’re not taking any chances with an unexpected acne flareup. We set out on a quest to banish blemishes and keep angry, acne-prone skin happy and hydrated by slathering on the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin. We instantly added the Sunday Riley C.E.O moisturizer to our permanent beauty regimen for the way its thick, velvety texture felt so welcome on inflamed complexions. Additionally, its formula uses allantoin to calm irritation from breakouts and soothe agitated areas. Plus, as the name implies, the moisturizer also contains the skin-brightening agent vitamin C, which gives our skin a noticeable, natural glow that not even our dewiest, pearlescent foundations can achieve.

Trudon Gloria Candle

Trudon Gloria Candle


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Between its heavy-weighted ornate vessel dripping in royal golds and burgundy and the warm, lasting notes of cedarwood, patchouli, and clove, the Trudon Gloria captures all five of our senses in a candle that leaves a lasting impression. “The fragrance balances cinnamon and nutmeg with just a dash of citrus from the lemon and orange notes to evoke the feeling of crackling fireplaces and images of sweet holiday pastries sitting on countertops,” says Richardson. Simply just being in the presence of the candle, even while unlit, fills the room with a dreamy, luxury essence sure to lull every house guest into a relaxed stupor. 

Believe us when we say this isn’t a present your loved one will soon forget, but if you really want to score some brownie points this year, send the gift over the edge by paring it alongside the stunning bee pedestal, a museum-quality bronzed pieced that will remain a household fixture for years to come.

Oral-B Genius X Limited

Amazon Oral-B Genius X Limited Electric Toothbrush


View On Amazon $200 View On Walmart $149 View On $200

For anyone who thinks that a toothbrush can’t be as equally fun and exciting a gift as some other tech you’ll receive this year, they’ve never tried the Oral-B Genius X limited. Luckily, we have, for four weeks to be exact, and the shiny, sparkling teeth and white smile it left us with are enough to make anyone want to give it a whirl for themselves. 

To achieve this, the high-tech toothbrush used Bluetooth capabilities and a coordinating app to keep us on track with our brushing habits, powerful bristles, and smart features, like a red light that flashes when we apply too much pressure. In summation, these features led us to recognize it for what it was: A gift that keeps on giving and one that your friends and family will thank you for after their next trip to the dentist.

lululemon Wunder Train High-rise Tight with Pockets

lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight with Pockets


View On Lululemon

Naturally, we’ll be jetting off on planes, trains, and automobiles in the coming weeks, but even if we just plan on lounging around at home the Lululemon High-rise Tight will likely be a staple in our winter uniform. Between high-intensity workouts and four-hour flights, we put the travel pants through a lot of abuse and its breathable, sweat-wicking, and flexible fabric helped us remain comfortable through it all. As a bonus, the leggings feature three pockets, putting everything we needed well within reach so that we never angered impatient TSA agents when reaching for our passports and boarding passes.

What is InStyle Picks?

Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it's really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle Picks are products we love, and we've put them to the test to be sure you will too.

Why Shop With Us

Irene Richardson is a writer for InStyle and other publications covering the latest fashion and beauty trends. To compile this list of the best-tested fashion and beauty products, she tried more than a dozen products and tapped insights from members of InStyle’s commerce team for their expert recommendations. She also relied on the meticulous insights provided by the InStyle testing team.

InStyle uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Park KS. Pharmacological Effects of Centella asiatica on Skin Diseases: Evidence and Possible Mechanisms. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021;2021:5462633. Published 2021 Nov 20. doi:10.1155/2021/5462633

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