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Are beauty products a luxury? Without a doubt, yes. In a year where we’ve all had to think about what’s truly “essential” in our lives, I’ve become increasingly aware of this fact. However, it’s also true that there’s a sense of immediate joy that comes from discovering something you love.

Just the other day, my best friend was telling me about how she picked up a new lip gloss and “felt like a new woman” after using it. (Christmas gift, handled.)

So, with the hope of helping you find something to bring cheer to your day (or a friend’s day), I’ve compiled a short list of 12 beauty products I loved and used to the very last drop this year (a ringing endorsement for someone who does this for a living). Happy shopping and cheers to a brighter year ahead.

RELATED: What Does Self-Care Mean in the Age of Self-Quarantine?

1. Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil

It’s an oil, it’s a tint, it’s a gloss. Most importantly, it’s an absolute delight on your lips. With plumping and smoothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and Tahitian coconut oil, it hugs your dry, pale pout in cushiony color that doesn’t feel sticky in the slightest. Currently, you can choose from six shades, but I’d recommend starting with Tahiti, which is described by the brand as a “burnt coral.” I’d call it an everyday shade that won’t compete with the rest of your makeup.

Buy it ($26)

2. Lake & Skye 11 11 Fragrance

11 11 is one of those insider-y fragrances that, truthfully, you want to keep to yourself because it’s so special. Alas, beauty is all about sharing, right? So, here’s the perfume that I use (and repurchase whenever I run out) because it’s just that good. 11 11 is a musky white perfume that smells both clean and calming. Think the freshness of laundered sheets and the warmth of your softest cashmere bottled up in one sleek, pocket-sized rollerball. In the absence of going places or getting dressed up, I’ve taken to wearing this on my pulse points to catch whiffs while I type and do other menial chores around the house.

Buy it ($48)

3. Tower 28 Beauty SOS Save.Our.Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray

Maskne, ever heard of it? This soothing face mist combines just three ingredients—hypochlorous acid, water and sodium chloride—to tame any redness or irritation caused by daily stressors like that space heater that’s currently on blast or, you guessed it, any friction caused by wearing a mask all day. To use, spray it over clean skin morning and night, before any other products to keep that all important skin barrier happy and healthy. Hypochlorous acid, which is the star ingredient in the spray, was traditionally used in hospitals to help treat wounds because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (so pesky maskne is no match).

Buy it ($28)

4. MISSHA Time Revolution Artemisia Treatment Essence

We know it can get a bit confusing with all of these skincare products. Like what the heck is an essence and where does it fall in your routine? (Also, how is it different from toner?) TL;DR You use an essence after cleansing and toning (though some people, like yours truly, skip straight to the essence). This one, from cult favorite K-beauty brand MISSHA, has artemisia extract to heal sensitive or inflamed skin. All I know is that my skin drinks this stuff up and looks clearer on the whole. The subtle tea scent is nice and calming, too.

Buy it ($55)

5. R+Co Dreamhouse Cold-Pressed Watermelon Wave Spray

If you love the look of beachy waves but hate the crunchy feeling that often comes with them, this spray is for you. The lightweight formula uses cold-pressed watermelon seed oil and jackfruit extract to coax your hair into soft bends that aren’t the least bit sticky or dry. In fact, your waves remain smooth and touchable as your hair dries. The antioxidant-rich spray also doubles as heat protectant, in case you decide to touch up with a curling iron the next day.

Buy it ($29)

6. NUDESTIX Nudies Matte Blush & Bronze

This multitasking balm features a monochromatic cream color on one end and a blending brush on the other (though, if I’m being honest, I typically just use my fingertips to apply the color onto my cheeks and lips). The creamy texture is very forgiving and melts into your skin easily with a few light taps, so you get a seamless flush that lasts all day.

Buy it ($32)

7. Nécessaire The Hand Cream

It’s perhaps not surprising that the brand that made us love body lotion also dropped an equally enjoyable hand cream. Rich in moisture, but light on your hands, it’s the perfect antidote to all of the washing and sanitizing we’ve been doing this year. Loaded with omega fatty acids, peptides, shea butter and marula oil, it cocoons parched fingers (and cuticles) in an invisible layer of hydration without feeling greasy.

Buy it ($20)

8. Biossance 100% Sugarcane Squalane Oil

Speaking of moisture, if you’re looking for a clean, multipurpose oil that you can use from head to toe, this is a solid option. Made from 100 percent sugarcane-derived squalene oil, this lightweight formula is fast-absorbing, highly moisturizing, and doesn’t have any scent to it, which is great if you don’t want anything to compete with your signature perfume (like the 11 11 above). Massage it over your limbs and torso, pat a few drops onto your face or rub a little on the ends of your hair to smooth things over. The pump applicator dispenses just the right amount every time.

Buy it ($32)

9. Maelove NIA 10 Calming Serum

Niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) is a highly underrated skincare ingredient that has multiple benefits for all different skin types. It brightens, calms and soothes skin, making it a gentler alternative for those who can’t tolerate vitamin C well. This serum features 10 percent of the good stuff, as well as, zinc, aloe, vitamin E and white tea to calm any redness and help lighten dark spots over time. It also works well as a protective layer under retinoids to prevent dryness and irritation, especially if you’re just starting a new regimen.

Buy it ($28)

10. Olive & June Dry Drops

Quick dry drops are a welcome addition to any home manicure. For starters, they really do speed up the dry time from an average of 10 minutes to 80 seconds. Plus, the petite bottle is easy to squeeze and loaded with jojoba seed oil so it nourishes dry skin and cuticles while your polish dries to a smooth, shiny finish.

Buy it ($10)

11. Dove Nourishing Hand Sanitizer

Leave it to Dove to come up with a hand sanitizer that is somehow hydrating, rather than stripping like most. Rest assured, the lotion-like formula still meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements at 61 percent ethyl alcohol, but also features vitamin E and a blend of omega-3 oils to replenish dry skin, while killing any lingering germs. Choose from two sizes (eight or two ounces) and three scents (lavender & chamomile, shea butter & warm vanilla or fragrance-free).

Buy it ($3)

12. Ellis Brooklyn Marvelous Massage and Body Oil with CBD

If ever there was a year for CBD, it’s 2020. This one contains 100 mgs of full spectrum cannabidiol to help soothe frazzled nerves and melt away tension in tight muscles. The woodsy scent is deeply grounding, and the push top applicator makes the whole experience less messy. I like to massage a few drops over my neck and shoulders (and soles of my feet) to unwind after a long day of sitting crouched over a laptop.

Buy it ($65)

RELATED: I’m a Wellness Editor and This One Product Changed My Mind About CBD

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