I Tried Hundreds of Beauty Products This Year. Here Are 11 I Used to the Very Last Drop

Including my new hero sunscreen and a blush that leaves the most immaculate flush

best-beauty-products-2023 UNIV: a collage of beauty products
Paula Boudes for PureWow

As a beauty editor, it’s no exaggeration when I say that I test hundreds of products throughout the year. From the latest skincare to buzzy makeup drops and major haircare launches, I try it all in hopes of finding something that can help our readers shop more efficiently. Statistically (and honestly) speaking, there are many misses and mostly middling results, and occasionally, I’ll even run into a disaster or two (in the form of allergic reactions), but when I come across something that’s so good I find myself squeezing every last drop of it from the bottle? Well, then I’ve got to tell everyone about it—starting now. 

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I first got wind of this cream through a friend in Korea, who said it's one of the most popular moisturizers for dry, sensitive skin. After a few months of using it, I'm happy to report that it lives up to the hype. The cream features encapsulated beads that combine ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids to enhance the absorption of said ceramides, thereby boosting hydration in your skin. It's usually my nighttime moisturizer because it’s on the richer side, but lately I'm also using it in the mornings (and I suspect I'll continue to do this throughout the winter, as my skin tends to be drier).

Rael is a self-care brand that aims to support women throughout their menstrual cycle. From organic cotton tampons and pads to heating pads for cramps and skincare products, they have quite the lineup, but my personal favorite is their tea tree sheet mask. Made for the luteal phase, which is just before your period starts and your hormone levels can make your skin oilier than usual, the masks come soaked in antiseptic tea tree oil and other calming ingredients like cica and chamomile extract to keep you in the clear.

My five-minute makeup routine relies heavily on this concealer. Though it has a lightweight texture, it delivers a surprising amount of coverage. I swipe a little under my eyes and around my nose (where I tend to have the most redness) and blend it all in with a damp makeup sponge to get a brighter, more even-looking complexion that makes me look a touch less tired. Like all of Tower28's products, the concealer is formulated to be safe for sensitive skin and is non-comedogenic, which is a relief for me because I break out easily.

I haven't been this enamored by a blush in years y'all. It packs so much pigment and yet, it sheers out beautifully, leaving behind the most flattering flush. Though I typically prefer cream blushes, I’ve made an exception for this powder because it melts into your skin and makes your face come alive. It also gets bonus points for longevity, which has been proven time and time again, as I've worn it to many sweaty dance classes.

Sunscreen is perhaps the only skincare product that anyone, at any age, can benefit from using. As for figuring out which one to buy? There is no one-size-fits-all answer because we all have different skin types and needs, but an overarching principle I go by is "the best sunscreen is one you actually enjoy using," which is something a wise derm once told me. This one from Round Lab is my go-to lately because it's an absolute delight to apply. It's hydrating, easy-to-blend and it doesn't sting, smell or leave a chalky cast on your skin.

Another ageless product that everyone should have in their back pocket? A lip color they love. As I previously wrote in an issue of our weekly beauty newsletter, "Anyone, at any age or stage of life, can enjoy the instant color it brings to your face. It’s decorative—celebratory, even—and it gives you that tiny boost you sometimes need to get through the big and small moments that make up our days." My perennial favorite comes courtesy of rom&nd, a K-beauty brand that's known for its lip products—like this gorgeous tint that has just enough pigment in it to make my pout *pop* and a slightly glossy finish that wears down to a soft stain. I usually alternate between “Pink Popsicle“ (a happy pink) and ”Litchi Coral” (a not-too-much coral).

It’s not easy to find a signature scent, but this perfume from Henry Rose has made its way into my regular rotation. With citrus-forward notes (and the faintest hints of grapefruit, bergamot and earl grey tea), it makes me smell like I'm vacationing by the Capri coast in a convertible with the windows down. Reality: I'm stuck on the 405, but at least I smell nice.

If the backs of your arms consistently feel rough, you’re far from alone. In fact, about half of the population suffers from chicken skin (aka “keratosis pilaris”), which is what happens when dead skin cells accumulate and plug up your hair follicles, causing those pesky little bumps to form. Luckily, using a chemical exfoliant that contains lactic or glycolic acid regularly (nudge nudge, like this lotion) can help smooth things over.

My hair looks like a cumulus cloud after I wash it: extremely puffy and impossibly fluffy. Though I’ve come to appreciate my natural volume over the years, I’d also like to have a little less frizz, which is where this leave-in cream comes in. Formulated with Virtue’s patented Alpha Keratin 60ku® protein, it fills and smooths in any cracks along your cuticles without leaving behind a heavy residue. I rake it through towel-dried hair, and it takes down the fluff just the right amount. (I have wavy, thick and coarse hair, so if you have finer strands, it might be a touch too heavy, in which case, I’d point you to the next product.)

Throughout the years of bleaching and toning my hair various shades, I've tried many different oils and K18's is easily one of the best I've ever used. When applied to damp hair after showering, it helps tame my usual puffiness; when used on dry, styled hair, it adds a touch of moisture and shine. Featuring the brand's K18Peptide, it fills in the broken polypeptide chains that make up our hair, repairing damage from the inside out. Honestly, the science behind the oil is cool but my favorite thing about it is that it actually feels lightweight, so rather than sit on top of your hair like many oils tend to do, it sinks right in.

Whenever I wear makeup, I double-cleanse my face, starting with an oil-based wash like this one from Krave Beauty. Whereas most oil cleansers I’ve tried are too runny and cleansing balms are annoying to scoop out from their jars (especially as you reach the bottom), Krave’s unique “jelly oil cleanser” has as many evolutions as a Pokémon, transforming from a jelly to an oil as you rub it into your skin, and finally a milky rinse when you add water to wash it all off. Even better, when you tap on the ingredients tab on the product, it takes you to a little encyclopedia that explains what’s in the formula and breaks down the specifics of each ingredient in layman’s terms for you.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...