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Our Team's Best Beauty Buys of 2019

From eye shadow to exfoliator, here are the things we can't live without.

After food, travel, and Shawn Mendes' relationship with Camila Cabello, beauty is categorically the most talked about thing in our office. Naturally, after reading Allure's comprehensive beauty awards, we all had opinions on what products truly changed the game for us this year. With prices ranging from $6 to $250, here are the beauty products we loved this year:


1. Laura Mercier Caviar Stick: These deserve a place in my list because any time I want to do an impactful statement eye with very minimal effort, I reach for these. Amethyst, Burnished Bronze, and Sand Glow are my most-used, but you truly can't go wrong with any of these sticks. 

2. Cle de Peau Foundation: So hear me out, this is a $250 foundation. Stop reading if you're horrified, but continue on if you're open to making an investment that will last you over a year and will make your skin look lit from within. My friend Jen, who is a world-renowned makeup artist, first introduced me to it and sent me home with a sample. I immediately knew I couldn't live without it. The best part is that the tiniest bit goes a long way. Even though I've been using it for six months and gave half the jar to my mom, I still haven't even come close to finishing my supply. 

3. Revive Purifying Clay Mask: Full disclosure, I didn't buy this product because it was part of a PR package, but it's literally the best mask I've ever used. I have justified the cost of replenishing it based on the fact that I don't get regular facials because the effects of using this mask are akin to getting a full-blown facial. My skin is squeaky clean, poreless, has less fine lines, and is overall an even, moisturized complexion. 

4. Necessaire Sandalwood Set: I've worked with Necessaire in the past on paid posts, but this is a full endorsement that is purely on my own. I genuinely love the products so much and use at least one every single day so I figured it deserved a spot here. You will not regret investing in this skincare set

5. Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara: I've gone back and forth between different mascaras for years, but it wasn't until a recent girls trip where my friend was using this mascara that I was reminded just how incredible it is. There are zero clumps, it makes eyelashes incredibly long, and the best part is when you wash your face, you can just use a washcloth to rub it off, no redness or irritation ever. 


1. ILIA Mascara: Technically, I purchased this mascara at the tail-end of last year, but it wasn't until this year that I really appreciated just how fantastic it is—a conviction that was validated when it won our mascara test in April. It lengthens and nourishes my lashes, has the best brush I've ever used (it has dual sides that comb through your lashes, then bristles that coat), never flakes, and uses an all-natural formula!

2. MAELOVE LOVE 31 Face Oil: I love Vintner's Daughter, a small-batch serum that smells incredible and made my skin glow, but couldn't justify the high cost—which is why I was thrilled to stumble upon MAELOVE LOVE 31 face oil. The oil feels just as luxurious (and smells just as good!) as Vintner's Daughter, but at under half the price. It's an amazing alternative that I use every morning and night as soon as I wash my face. 

3. True Botanicals Nourishing Shampoo: This is going to sound a bit extreme, but this is the best shampoo I've ever tried (warned ya). It easily cleans my hair post-workout, all while using high-quality ingredients and a beautiful fragrance. It's expensive, but you only need a tiny bit, which is how I justify the cost. P.S., Close runnerup is this shampoo from SEEN, which is as good for your skin as it is your hair!

4. Neu Brow Serum: I purchased this serum at the recommendation of a friend, whose brows filled in so quickly, I noticed within a month of her using it. I had my doubts, but I've been using it every morning and night for the past month, and have completely noticed a difference! Bonus: It keeps my brows in place, so I don't need to layer any gel on top.

5. Sanitas Hydrating Brightening Solution: My biggest skin woe is that I get tiny whiteheads on my chin post-workout, but as soon as I started applying this solution to my face every night post-workout, they all but disappeared! 

No need for any coverup or brow gel for the first time in a long time! 

No need for any coverup or brow gel for the first time in a long time! 


1. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + Avene Ultra Rich Compensating Cream: I obviously had a hard time narrowing down my selections, but these two beauty buys are truly meant to be used together. My skin is very balanced for most of the year, however, the second it hits December (and through March), my cheeks get incredibly dry and brittle, and I even have some slight rosacea. For those dry months, I started applying hyaluronic serum to my face before layering with the thick Avene cream. The combination feels heavy at first (but never oily!), and come morning your face feels completely hydrated. I recommend this for anyone struggling with cold temperatures and skin texture.

2. Tweezerman ProCurler Eyelash Curler + ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara: During our mascara competition earlier this year, I made the initial switch from Glossier Lash Slick to ILIA Limitless Lash, and I haven't looked back since. Paired with an eyelash curler (I never used one before for some reason 🤷‍♀️), my lashes are incredibly lifted, full, and long. I look awake with just these two products alone. 

3. Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb: This is the sisterhood of the traveling pants of lip gloss. No matter who tries this product on, they instantly love it. The texture is thick without being sticky and reflects light incredibly well. I have it in the shade Fenty Glow but easily recommend all three. 

4. Soap & Glory Body Wash, Exfoliant & Lotion: For as many products I put on my face, I basically left my body alone for years. After trying Soap & Glory's affordable line at my friend's house (and writing about them here), I've become a full-fledged fan. This trio of products leaves your skin incredibly smooth, gets rid of any dryness or bumps, and even leaves a slight scent that will earn you non-stop compliments.

5. Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau Perfume: Before this perfume entered my life, I never understood how or why everyone in our office had a signature scent. I enjoyed floating between perfume samples from Sephora, picking a scent based on my day. The second this perfume entered my life though, my mind has completely changed. Although an investment, I truly feel like the complex scent of this perfume is unlike any other. Now, I enjoy knowing that I'm identifiable based on the rich floral scents in my perfume. 

Jess Beauty Buys

1. PEACE OUT Acne Healing Dots: I discovered these out of desperate necessity. I was panicking when I discovered I had a pretty gnarly breakout after a redeye flight this summer on my way to be in one of my best friend's weddings, so it felt like divine intervention when I passed a Sephora. These were the only pimple patches in stock, which made the choice much easier, and they saved me – I wore one on the zit for two straight days, and it helped shrink my pimple enough to be presentable for photos. They're virtually invisible on my skin (so I can wear them out in public) and have kept me from picking at anything on my face, so I now keep at least a few with me wherever I go! 

2. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46: You're probably aware by now, but sunscreen is an essential for me. I used Supergoop!'s SPF 30 until September, when I threw this highly-rated (and slightly expensive) sunscreen into my Dermstore cart. And I'll probably never buy another daily facial sunscreen again – it never causes breakouts and feels silky on your skin when you apply it. And huge plus? It also lacks that chemical smell that usually comes with SPF (!!!).

3. BYREDO Gypsy Water Body Wash: For as long as I can remember (aka since I've lived with Justin), I've been a Dr. Bronner's gal. Initially, I loved the lavender scent, and at the very least felt squeaky clean whenever I used it in the shower. But I've also found it to be a bit harsh for my sensitive skin, and the scent wears off by the time bedtime rolls around. Since BYREDO is one of my favorite perfume houses, I started using their Gypsy Water Body Wash right at the tail end of my shower, and honestly feel intoxicated for hours on end from the smell of my skin. It's definitely worth the investment (or makes a great gift if you're on the hunt for one during the holidays!).

4. Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion Exfoliant: I've written about this product previously, but it remains one of my favorite new additions to my skincare routine. I only apply it at night (don't use it when you're exposed to the sun!), but it's gentle and exfoliates while I'm sleeping without using beads or anything potentially stripping.

5. Paula's Choice Radiance Renewal Mask: I'm honestly too scatterbrained to be a mask girl – but when I saw that Paula's Choice Radiance Renewal Mask could be left on overnight (shoutout to the other lazy ladies who melt into the couch and never want to get back up!), I thought it would be worth a shot. It's super soothing, the same texture as a lotion, and doesn't take long to dry, so I wind up throwing it on after my nighttime routine and before a few hours of baking or binge-watching...then washing it off (or not!) before bed.


1. Youth to the People's Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser: I love a foaming cleanser, especially as I find I need the extra power after my morning and evening oil cleansing. This brand was recently recommended to me through my trusty Instagram algorithm and I love it! It smells like the perfect combination of herbal and medicinal, looks like it's in a smoothie jar and leaves my skin cleansed but not dry—which makes it a miracle product to me. My skin can tend to run dry, so I would recommend this to people with all skin types if you're on the lookout for a new cleanser.

2. Ava Isa Pure Untinted Ultra-Matte Facial Sunscreen SPF 45: A Canadian sunscreen after my own heart! I collect sunscreens like children collect imaginary friends—meaning I am always on a lookout for a new one, one that will become my most favorite, and this one comes close! It ticks all the boxes: high zinc percentage, elegant finish, works well with foundation and looks invisible to the eye once it dries. Plus, it just looks fancy. There is also a tinted version I have yet to try, but I find this one works so well—and with more skin tones—I'll stick with it.

3. Rituel de Fille Ash and Ember Eye Soot: I was in a Halloween mood when I bought this gothic-looking eye soot a.k.a. shimmery, powder eyeshadow—I am a witch without a coven, but my eyes look fantastic! This is such a well-formulated everyday shadow, and I have used it to highlight my brow bone and as a base for my daily go-to look. I. bought the shade "Divinus" as it was closest to my skin tone and I wanted to get the most out of my purchase, but I am looking forward to trying some of the more dramatic colors for when there is a full moon.

4. Lipstick Queen Frog Prince: I love a gimmick, and have been coveting the "magical" color-changing Lipstick Queen lipsticks for a while now; I finally made the plunge and leaped at the opportunity to try the Frog Prince shade—a dark green that turns pink when worn. It works, is fun to use (and weirds out your friends) but the surprise was how moisturizing the formula is and good it looks once the magic is complete! Now I am looking forward to trying the other colors to see whether I am more of a green, blue or yellow girl.

5. G.Tox Ultimate Dry Brush: I am not a great masseuse, and please don't ask me to find your pressure points (isn't everything a pressure point?), but one thing I know and love is how to dry brush the heck out of my skin. There are a lot of theories around this technique, but I personally find it helps to stimulate my muscles when I haven't moved or exercised enough in the day—I have restless legs often in the evening, and this is one of the few things I find helps. I bought this goop brush on a whim as I needed a quick replacement, and find that it's curved handle makes it easy to use and the "natural sisal" holds up to my often aggressive and uncoordinated brushing technique.


1. Curology: Curology is the skincare product you don't know you need until you try it. Testing it out is super easy–you answer a few questions about your skin, upload a few selfies, and Curology will assign you a virtual Dermatologist who mixes a customized lotion based on your unique skin care needs. I'm usually skeptical of this kind of stuff, except when they offer a free trial. I noticed a big difference almost right away (as in, my skin finally cleared up for good), so I signed up for real and have been using it ever since.

2. Unicorn Dust Sephora Eyeshadow: This purply/rosy eyeshadow with blue flecks is insanely glittery without looking tacky. At only $8, it's probably the cheapest thing in my beauty drawer right now, and one of the products I get the most compliments on.

3. Byredo Bal d'Afrique Perfume: I had big plans to buy this as a 30th birthday present to myself, but when the time came, I just couldn't make it past the price tag. Last month, Jess sent me a link to Gilt where it was $50 off(!!!), so I impulse bought it and didn't look back. I've had it for about a month now, and I regret nothing–this is exactly what I want to smell like all day, every day. It feels like a grown-up version of the scents I loved in my 20s, namely Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb and Elie Saab Rose Couture.

4. Stila Stay All Day MATTE'ificent Lipstick: Perfectly matte, perfectly easy to apply, perfect for me. I don't know if it stays ALL day, but it has much better longevity than anything else in my lipstick drawer. It's lightweight, not drying, and doesn't require a blot after application. What color should I buy next?!

5. Hair by Sam McNight Cool Girl Barely There Texture Mist: Every time I put this on, Katie tells me my hair looks "insane"; I'm pretty sure she means that as a compliment? I have thin hair, so volume is pretty much always an issue. The best thing about this texture mist is the color of the bottle (let's be honest), but the second-best thing is the easy second-day texture and volume it gives me in just a few sprays.


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