For over two decades, Allure’s Best of Beauty Awards have shaped the beauty industry, and the iconic red seal has helped shoppers navigate the beauty aisle for nearly as long. But finding the best of the best is no easy task. Believe us! For six months leading up to the awards, Allure staffers swatch, smear, and spray countless beauty products. These are just a few of the standouts, according to the editors.
Michelle Lee, editor in chief
Personal Fave: I’ve really gotten into DIY nail art this year, but ultimately, I don’t want to devote too much time to my mani. I find Sally Hansen Miracle Gel incredibly easy to use (chalk it up to the generous size of the brush), plus the formula has beautiful shine and staying power. I’m an especially big fan of the topcoat. Just one layer of it seals your design and makes everything look juicy and perfect.
Pro Tip: One of my easiest go-to nail art tricks is using the round ends of a bobby pin as a tool. Do two coats of Miracle Gel in a nude like Birthday Suit as your base color. Let it dry a little. Then dip the bobby pin end in a high-contrast color like the deep burgundy shade Wine Stock. Make a simple dot in the center of your nail’s bottom half. Add topcoat and you’re done!
Jenny Bailly, executive beauty director
Personal Fave: I love any product I can use while checking something else off my list, whether it’s blow-drying my hair or making lunches. The Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Masks are infused with just enough retinol to smooth lines over time, without causing any irritation. They’re also steeped in serious moisturizers, such as glycerin and squalene, so they immediately plump the skin, and erase any crepiness. I reach for one a couple of mornings per week and always have a packet in my bag to use after a long flight.
Pro Tip: Use these before a big meeting or big night out — they’ll immediately minimize bags and hydrate. After 15 minutes, your eyes will look brighter and your concealer will glide on easily. And if you’re more interested in smoothing around your mouth than your eyes, good news: The crescent shape of these masks also makes them a perfect laugh-line treatment.
Patricia Alfonso Tortolani, contributing editorial projects director
Personal Fave: Many years ago I interviewed Cindy Crawford for a story and she told me this: I would rather someone see that I have a pimple, than see that I have concealer covering up a pimple. My hand immediately went to the breakout on my chin that had been spackled over with layers of makeup. (Thankfully, this was a phone interview). I still very much use concealer — on dark circles and red blotches — but I stick with formulas that distract, rather than attract attention. That’s what I love about Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer: it’s good because it’s completely invisible. While it might not look like I wear a ton of makeup, trust that this is concealer is always dabbed atop a few (OK, many) spots on my face.
Pro Tip: This concealer is a multitasker. I also use it as an eye shadow primer. I tap a thin layer on my lids and it really makes the color pop, helping the look last all day.
Sable Yong, Digital Beauty Editor
Personal Fave: The NYX Away We Glow Highlighter is great for its ability to dial up or down depending on how much you want to glow. The liquid formula is great for a finish that seamlessly blends into skin for the ultimate dewy look. You can really build it up, too — the more you layer it on, the more of a strobed effect you'll get. But the tiniest bit dotted along cheekbones, down the nose bridge, under your brow bone, in the inner corners of your eyes, and down the cupid's bow makes you look super glowy and fresh.
Pro Tip: You don't have to be limited to using this as a spot highlighter — you can add a drop to your foundation or moisturizer for an overall brightening and luminizing effect. It looks pretty on eyelids, too, and tapped on the center of your lips for a multi-dimensional illusion.