Introducing their first ever awards dedicated to the most exciting innovations in skin, hair, makeup products, and body treatments—plus the game changing beauty founders and experts to know now.
Upgraded basics from your cleanser to your cream.
Encapsulating a maximum dose of exfoliating glycolic acid with soothing aloe and hydrating glycerin, this potent serum has the highest concentration of brightening alpha hydroxy acids over the counter, but is gentle enough to use nightly.
This user-friendly at-home microneedling device comes with single-use plastic tips and a guard to make sure needles penetrate at a safe depth. When you remove the tip, the handheld also warms up to help the serum penetrate deeper. It’s safe for all skin tones.
Pat on this cushiony oil-serum for a “just got a facial” effect. Clinicals show that after four weeks of use, 96% of users had improved texture and brighter skin. We also love it mixed into foundation—a hot tip from makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes.
This anti-ager is divided into two chambers until dispersed onto your palm. One side has a lab-created hyaluronic acid in super long-chain form, meaning it penetrates even deeper; the other side is an oil-serum with actives that lift and firm.
Cleansing towelettes, though convenient, have caused much eco angst, so Simple Skincare designed an affordable wipe made of sustainable plant fibers and wood pulp that breaks down in household compost in 42 days.
Ayond’s mindfulness goes beyond it’s effective all-natural formulas. Biodegradable cellophane wraps sturdy outer boxes suitable for shipping back empties, which the brand will recycle for you.
Four female scientists from the U.S., France, Singapore, and Brazil co-created a dream skincare collection: a gel cream, a scrub, an illuminating serum, and an SPF moisturizer—all less than $20. The main ingredient is neoglucosamine, which is normally used in more expensive skin care and boosts the efficacy of other brighteners.
The clean, traceable ingredients of Night Magic include CBD in concert with 16 potent oils. An independent clinical trial found that hydration improved by 33% and visibly enhanced firmness by 16%.
Every Kinship product is made with recycled ocean-found plastic—a QR code at the bottom of each bottle will even show you where exactly the plastic was found. All of the products in the clean 5-piece line support the skin’s microbiome.
The sun protection in this cream-powder uses zinc oxide particles that are porous, making it less reflective and less likely to leave a white cast on skin.
It took Follain more than a dozen tries to create a PEG-free moisturizer that absorbs just as smoothly as the most popular lotions in the market. It also contains all-natural retinol-alternative bakuchiol, which leaves skin brighter and smoother.
Developed by Nobel laureate Sir Fraser Stoddart, a special component inside the formula called Organic Molecular Vessel (OVM) helps deliver ingredients like retinol and vitamin C. OVM is a a microscopic biodegradable structure that is 10,000 times smaller than a skin cell and breaks down with calculated precision for perfect dosing of the ingredients inside.
Powerhouse products that transform your complexion.
Looking down at our phones is leading to a new skin care conundrum: horizontal wrinkles across our chin and neck (the skin is thinner, so it’s more susceptible to damage). This balm is charged with La Mer’s signature Miracle Broth to treat tech neck.
Welcome to the era of of the zit positivity. Model and activist Charli Howard’s Squish Flower Power patches (literally) stand out: It’s not just a super potent dose of hydrocolloid to shrink spots overnight, each patch is shaped into a colorful flower adorned with rhinestones.
Dr. Barbara Sturm
Boutique & Spa
Following a successful SoHo pop-up, Dr. Sturm (whose skin care is beloved by the likes of Nina Dobrev and Kourtney Kardashian) opened a permanent brick-and-mortar location with two private facial rooms. And if you miss Dr. Sturm for one of her IRL master classes, try a DM: The doctor herself is often on the other end.
The body’s natural drop in estrogen can speed up skin aging. Rather than supplementing the hormone, Empelle’s new ingredient stimulates hormonal pathways without the side effects of replacement therapy.
This three-lobed silicone mask fits on top of the eyelid and over the brow bone to treat everywhere around the eye, not just underneath.
Rodan + Fields
This tiny suction device gently unclogs pores to give you that oh-so-satisfying feeling of picking at your skin without any of the damage.
Previously only available in prestige skincare, Burt’s Bees Renewal line brought bakuchiol (a natural alternative to retinol) to the drugstore aisles.
It takes five weeks of slow-distillation and fermentation to create the juice inside every bottle of Active Treatment Essence, which is packed with more than thirty botanicals.
Foundations and tools that will help you glow.
Flesh tapped the expertise of a neurobiologist and color theory professors to better understand undertones, then formulated a 40-hue lineup of medium-coverage foundations with seven undertones (three is typical).
This 23-year-old cult classic got upgraded with oils and vitamins. But don’t fret about the OG’s beloved creamy, sheer coverage—after rejecting 66 versions, Laura Mercier herself made sure this one applies just like the original.
Uoma created 51 shades, each fortified with ingredients specific to its skin-tone range. For example, shades in the second-deepest group have woolly thistle extract to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation, while the fairest group focuses on dry skin with nourishing rose hybrid extract.
You can now get a spot-on match with an in-store shade detection device for Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup ($43). The tool uses color-calibrated lighting that imitates sunlight and you can see it virtually applied to your own face.
Riki Loves Riki
The top is a well-lit vanity mirror that’s compact and light enough to carry. Swivel it open for a magnetized storage space, where you can depot your favorite shadows, blushes, and lipsticks.
Alleyoop founder Leila Kashani turns to Slack when she’s looking for inspiration for a new product. Kashani polled a private group of almost 500 women for the four most useful brushes and combined them into a compact, stackable design.
After famously using red lipstick to color-correct undereye circles in a YouTube makeup tutorial and amassing a social following of nearly a quarter million, Deepica Mutyala started a multicultural movement. Live Tinted serves as both an online community celebrating diverse beauty and the brand of her multipurpose Huestick.
Smith & Cult
This loose setting powder captured in a clever spray (for the first time) delivers a light dusting of powder that can be easily layered, but keeps skin hydrated with coconut water.
Hybrid formulas with pretty color and treatment ingredients.
Alessandro Michele’s debut Gucci Beauty campaign featured the imperfect smiles of Dani Miller, Ellia Sophia Coggins, Achok Majak, and Mae Lapres, coated in the brand’s first collection—a set of 58 creamy lipsticks—and sparked a new conversation about beauty.
The new Wet Lip Oil Gloss is a high-shine treatment with peptides and comes in five colors, but you might buy it for the midcentury modern packaging. Lo and behold, Kosas founder Sheena Yaitanes’ has a background as a chemistry and business student, as well as a painting apprentice.
Remember the sliding skin type quizzes at Clinique counters? Now, using a combination of color theory and an algorithm for undertone, Clinique brings their customization to lipstick. Each skin tone is assigned three ideal satin-finish lipsticks in a “naked,” “casual,” and “glam” shade.
Saie Beauty banned more than 2,000 ingredients and its packaging is 100% sustainable and recyclable. Another feat achieved: Everything in the line is less than $25—including their cushiony Liquid Lip Balm.
Multi-taskers that make eye makeup a no-brainer.
So long, lash extensions: Maybelline New York developed an inky formula containing tiny fibers that extend each lash, as well as polymers typically used in hair spray and gel to help curled lashes stay that way.
Anastasia Beverly Hills
A collaboration between makeup legend Anastasia Soare and her daughter, Norvina, each palette has 25 fantastical shades—some we didn’t even realize we wanted until we saw them—and consistently sell out.
Five to 10% of skin cancer occurs on the eyelids, a oft-neglected zone for suncare. These creamy shadows combine sun protection and eyeshadow into one step in four pretty, shimmery shades.
Designed to emulate makeup artist Peter Philips’ backstage makeup trick of curling eyelashes with a warmed spoon, this lash curler’s wide-mouthed opening fits all eye shapes, and the super squishy pad creates flirty, fanned lashes without damaging.
The six glimmery eyeshadows in Chantecaille’s Africa’s Vanishing Species Collection highlight the continents most endangered—pangolins, lions, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, and rhinoceroses—a portion of the proceeds will go to a corresponding conservation foundation.
It was during Gaga’s Cheek to Cheek Tour with Tony Bennett that makeup artist Sarah Tanno had the idea for perfectly flicked eyeliner stickers. Everything you need to DIY Gaga’s signature look—the Armor Wingtips and a super pigmented black liquid liner—come in this genius, easy-to-use kit.
Get the look of microblading without the commitment. This pigmented brow pencil is the first to combine a super-thin 1.4mm tip with a unique oval shape to create the look of fuller brows, naturally, and is super easy to use.
Developed for downward pointing lashes (which the brand says is common with their Latina customers), this mascara keeps lashes at attention for up to 24 hours.
A version of this article originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of ELLE.