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The Beauty Products I Tried and Loved in 2021

My job gives me the unique opportunity to test an insane amount of products each year and I love being able to share honest reviews with you all. Even during my days as a full-time editor, I was sent a ton of makeup, skincare, and hair products to sort through and figure out what was worthy of a mention.

If you’ve been a part of the #SilbSquad for a while now then you likely know that I’m very particular with the brands I work with and the products I promote. Because I try so many different things, I’m able to pick and choose the best of the best.

I cover my faves here on the blog and on my Instagram stories regularly, but I figured I’d put together a list of my best beauty discoveries of the year. Below you’ll find skincare, makeup, hair, and more recs that totally wowed me in 2021.

This list features mostly new-to-me things (which have a * next to them) but I also included a handful of old “good til the last drop” favorites (aka products that I completely emptied this year.)


MAKEUP

Gucci Bronzing Powder*

After seeing some of my favorite beauty accounts extol the virtues of this bronzer, I decided to buy it for myself (even though I was initially hesitant because of the price point.)

I’ll now go out on a limb and say it’s probably my favorite makeup find of 2021. So pigmented, so gorgeous. I can’t explain why, but it simply puts other bronzers to shame. I chose to go with shade 2 based on the reviews, and I’m really happy with my choice.

Lune + Aster CC Cream*

This was actually a recommendation that came from my mom! She’s a big fan. I wear the shade light. It reminds me of my other holy grail It Cosmetics CC+ cream, but slightly less heavy.

Kosas Revealer Concealer*

This product touted itself as a brightening concealer-eye-cream hybrid, and to say I was skeptical would be an understatement.

Turns out, it really really works. It’s now part of my regular everyday makeup rotation. Read my full review on it here.

Makeup by Mario Ultra Suede™ Sculpting Lip Pencil*

I’ve been a fangirl of celebrity makeup artist Makeup by Mario for as long as I can remember, so I was thrilled when he came out with his own line this year.

I have a number of favorites (like the soft pop blush stick, which is to-die-for) but the sculpting lip pencil is truly what dreams are made of. I mostly switch between the shades Dmitry and Hugh.

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Lip Luminizer*

This lip luminizer in Fu$$Y was a new-to-me purchase, and MY GOD does it live up to the hype. It just makes your lips looks so juicy and gorgeous.

It now ranks among one of the most perfect lipglosses I now own (tied with Pat McGrath’s LUST Lip Gloss in Love Potion.) 

Rare Beauty Melting Cream Blush*

Rare Beauty was my most surprising makeup wins of the year. No shade to Selena Gomez (the company’s founder) but I initially wrote it off as “just another celebrity beauty brand”… until I tried it.

I’m picky about my makeup products, and DAMN, Selena did good here! I use the shade nearly rose! Gives your cheeks the most natural-looking flush.

Rare Beauty Matte Liquid Liner*

I decided that 2021 was the year I would perfect my winged liner, and I’m pleased to report that I have, in fact, made great strides. (Not quite perfect just yet.)

This liquid liner has been one of my favorites because the shape of the tip makes it incredible easy to apply. It’s also super long-lasting.

Caliray Come Hell or High Water Mascara*

I had been in a bit of a mascara rut in 2021 and wasn’t particularly excited about any of the ones I had been using. That is, until I tried this mascara from a newly launched brand called Caliray.

It’s a tubing mascara that doesn’t weigh my lashes down, and doesn’t run. I have a feeling this will soon be a cult-favorite product for every beauty guru.

Armani Luminous Silk Concealer*

We all know how I feel about Armani Luminous Silk foundation (if you don’t, you can read my thoughts in the review here) so suffice to say, I had high hopes for the concealer… and it did not disappoint.

It’s super creamy, blends really well, and would be great for anyone with dry undereyes.

Kosas Cloud Set Baked Powder*

I like to dust this setting powder under my eyes, in the center of my forehead and under the corners of my nose (the places where I tend to get shiny.) It’s really lightweight so it doesn’t completely cover my makeup, which I love.

PUR 4-in-1 Powder Foundation*

Ordinarily I would shudder at the thought of a powder foundation, but I decided to test this one and could not BELIEVE what it did to my skin.

Gave me a super airbrushed finished and wasn’t cakey at ALL. If you’re into mineral makeup or prefer powder foundation over liquid/cream… this is what you should buy.

SKINCARE

Biossance Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum*

This serum ranks among my top 3 (maybe even number 1?!) new skincare discoveries of 2021. Immediately after use, my skin feels bouncier and more hydrated. If you’re new to using hyaluronic acid, here are some great tips for incorporating it into your routine.

Kiehl’s Micro-Dose Retinol*

For two months, this was the only product I used consistently in my skincare routine. I noticed an overall improvement in my skin texture, and a slight difference in the appearance of my fine lines.

I also was pleasantly surprised by the fact that my skin handled this retinol better than other too-potent options on the market. Here’s my full Kiehl’s retinol review, which talks about exactly what it did to my skin.

Bioderma Micellar Water

This is a holy grail product for me—I totally swear by it. It’s so great at removing stubborn eye makeup while still offering a gentle and moisturizing cleanse. I always have a backup bottle on hand.

REN Dark Circle Eye Cream*

This brightening under-eye cream counteracts dark circles, and I notice the difference almost immediately. It’s perfect for wearing under makeup.

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Cream

I consider this night cream to be one of the beauty world’s best-kept secrets. I initially found out about it from skincare industry friends. It’s thick and rich without feeling too heavy. I’ve gone through several jars this year.

Cocokind Turmeric Spot Treatment

Cocokind is a skincare brand known for their clean and affordable products (read my full review on the brand here). I used this turmeric spot treatment on pimples that popped up this year and noticed a big decrease in the inflammation and redness after just one use.

It basically brings down swelling and helps pimples come to a whitehead so they heal more quickly.

Wander Beauty Mist Connection*

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this product but I’m happy to report that I absolutely loved it. It does the job of a toner and moisturizer in one simple and refreshing step.

I just spritz it on my face and then immediately apply my HA serum, followed by a night cream. It locks in extra moisture and will leave your complexion feeling smooth and hydrated.

La Prairie Skin Caviar

This is probably the most expensive skincare item that I use regularly. It’s PRICEY. However, if you happen to be in the financial position to splurge on a fancy night cream, I can unequivocally say you will not be disappointed in Skin Caviar.

It’s a cult classic for a reason. I plan to reorder it the next time I want to treat myself for a work milestone.

No7 Pure Retinol Eye Cream

I’ve historically had a hard time with retinol eye creams because they tend to be too harsh for my sensitive underyes, but this one was a welcome exception! It’s also a great pricepoint and available on Amazon.

Cle De Peau Eye Contour Supreme

This is another product that falls in the “serious splurge” category, but I will say, it’s one of the best eye creams I’ve used. It comes with a beautiful application wand, which I also appreciate.

A little bit also goes a long way and you could get away with using it every other night while still seeing results.

Hero Micropoint Post-Pimple Patch*

Pimple patches gained major popularity this year, and to be honest, I was skeptical of them. I’ve tried so many different brands that haven’t worked, but decided to give this one a go after I was left with a dark spot from a pesky blemish. I was blown away by how much it lightened overnight with one use.

HAIR

Color Wow One Minute Anti Frizz Cream*

This was a totally new-to-me product and MY GOD is it amazing. I’m actually working on a video tutorial as we speak.

You apply it to dry hair (day two or three) and it totally smoothes/de-frizzes without making your hair greasy. Works in under a minute.

Oribe Maximista Hair Thickening Spray*

I tried this at the recommendation of my colorist when I told her I was looking to add a little bit of volume to my roots.

I love that it gives my hair a lift, but doesn’t change its texture at all.

dpHUE ACV Clarifying Shampoo

I use a lot of dry shampoo, so clarifying my hair once a week is super important, since it helps get rid of product build up. This is my go-to hair rinse—it leaves my hair feeling super clean but not dry.

T3 SinglePass 1″ Curling Iron*

I’ve been a die-hard Beachwaver fan for many, many years, but I was in the mood to try something new this year, and really wanted to invest in a proper curling iron.

The hype around the T3 is real. This baby heats up in no time, and glides easily over my strands without any pulling. If you’re a beginner at curling your hair, I’d still recommend the Beachwaver though!

Redken Color Extend Blondage*

If you’re a blonde, you know the struggle of keeping your color fresh and bright, without looking brassy.

This shampoo (and the corresponding hair mask) was one of my favorite finds of the year.

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo

If your hair looks dull, dry, or feels like it’s being weighed down then you’d probably benefit from adding a clarifying shampoo to your routine.

I always impressed by this drugstore find, which definitely helped improve the texture and overall quality of my strands.

Batiste “Clean & Classic” Dry Shampoo

I’ve yet to find a better dry shampoo for the price/quality than Batiste! I’ve tried a handful of scents from the brand and this one is by far my favorite. I order this in bulk on Amazon.

Olivia Christensen Daily Conditioner*

I bought this at my hair salon—Christina Oliva who does my hair extensions, formulated it! It’s super nourishing and smells amazing. Highly recommend for gals with extensions or high maintenance hair.

BODY

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant

#DeodorantGate might be one of the most dramatic squad moments of 2021.

Although I’ve been using the cult-favored DK deodorant for a while, it totally blew up this year. It was sold out everywhere for months on end and rumors swirled that it has been discontinued (panic ensued).

I stockpiled a dozen of them just in case, but thankfully, the deo is back. Whenever you see it, my advice is to stock up.

Brazilian Bum Bum Body Cream

Most of you know how I feel about my bum bum cream (remember when my TikTok video of it went viral?!) I cannot live without this stuff. It’s my go-to after-shower indulgence. It’s so rich, so hydrating, and the smell is just insane. I literally sniff myself when I have this on.

Nécessaire Body Lotion

Although I’ll admit that this is kind of pricey for a body lotion, I did appreciate how soft it made my skin feel. I’d definitely recommend it to someone who is sensitive to fragrance since it’s fragrance-free.

Nécessaire Body Exfoliator

This is like a trip to the spa in a bottle—it’s seriously heavenly. I love the texture and that it leaves my skin feeling so smooth. It’s so good that I’ve even caught Matt using it.

Ouai Body Creme

Most of the time I think Ouai can do no wrong. I loved this body creme (though I do wish that it had a thicker texture). The scent won me over because it’s delicate and fresh. I’d mainly reach for this during the warmer, summer months.

St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Lotion*

This lotion gives you the best subtle self-tan. I typically use it every other day to maintain my color (comes in so handy during the cooler months). It doesn’t streak and doesn’t have that awful self-tan smell.

Lux Unfiltered Self-Tanning Lotion*

This is another self-tanning lotion that I was a big fan of this year. It offers up a subtle hint of color and is totally idiot-proof to apply. I don’t think you can mess up with this one.

What beauty products were standouts for you this year? Drop your recs in the comment section below!

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