I Tried Amazon’s Most Viral Beauty Goods — & Here Are The Real Gems

ICYMI: Amazon is a virtual treasure trove of beauty products. It's got everything from top high street-brand stock to power players in the luxury space and, most enticingly, a slew of under-the-radar affordable hits that are hiding in plain sight. These cult-favourite products span from the wider-known Revlon heated hairbrushes and Baby Foot to the more unassuming scalp massagers and miracle acne patches. I spent the past two months hunting down the most viral of these finds in order to deliver them to my apartment and try each of them IRL.

Ahead, you'll find a play-by-play detailing of my experience with Amazon's most popular beauty products — including some real-life photos (taken by me!), my final verdict on which gems I plan to cart again, and some real-talk on any duds that didn't meet the hype (IMHO). Ready to join me on a journey through the wildest of internet-famous makeup to skincare and hair? Let's go!


At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

1 of 17

Onyx Professional Hard As Hoof Nail Strengthening Cream

This. Stuff. Is. The. Sh*t. As a total home manicure fiend, I've tried nearly every nail brand out there — also, as the R29 Shopping team's resident Virgo, I'm naturally obsessed with all things cuticle care. I recently moved apartments which left my nails utterly wrecked and had been previously testing a fancy-pants brand (that will remain unnamed) of cuticle balm when this gem arrived at my door.

While the fancier stuff was perfectly nice, Hard As Hoof is a third of the price — and even if it weren't, I'd still like it even more. It has a semi-solid buttery texture that you need to emulsify with the heat from your fingers, so I like to scoop out a tiny amount and melt it as I rub it into my nails and cuticles. I also take vegan biotin to help with splitting and nail growth but, a few weeks in, I already feel like a regular application of this stuff has really made a difference in the look and feel of my nails.

Final Verdict: Cart (ASAP)
Hoof Hoof Hard As Nail Strengthening Cream, $19.99 Buy
2 of 17

Korean Exfoliating Washcloth

I penned an entire love letter to these viral washcloths. As soon as my story was published, I had people flooding my DMs (and R29 Slack) to profess their love for this true gem.

As I wrote in my review, I really appreciate how affordable they are — as body scrubs and products for KP can be *really* expensive and not everyone can (or wants to) spend a ton on just one or two products. But even more, I loved how after just one use I noticed touchably smoother skin on my upper arms where my KP bumps are most concentrated – no extra products required. Game. Changer.

Final Verdict: Cart (ASAP)
Korean Italy Towel Exfoliating Towel Bath Washcloth 4 Pcs (Green), $5.94 Buy
3 of 17

Revlon One-Step Hairdryer & Volumiser Hot Air Brush

I’m admittedly not a pro when it comes to hair tools, but this heated brush was so much easier to use than I ever expected. I have thicc hair (as in two hairdryers going at once in the salon kinda thicc), so post showering I let my hair dry about 90% in an Act & Acre microfibre towel before taking this tool to it. The result was super-smooth, shiny hair that was significantly less frizzy than when I just let nature do its thing. After sealing in everything with the cool shot, I just applied a pump of my favourite Bumble and bumble oil to hydrate the ends.

A recent viral Tweet claims that the tool contributed to hair breakage, but I have yet to experience that personally after a little over one month's use. I'll be keeping an eye on this as I continue to use it.

Final Verdict: Cart
Revlon Pro Collection Salon One Step Hair Dryer and Volumiser, $49.99 Buy
4 of 17

Cure Natural Aqua Gel

This J-beauty skin-care find has amassed a rabid fanbase stateside — and now I know why. Since there’s a renewed passion for all things gross-but-satisfying beauty products during quarantine, I haven’t been totally surprised to see this pop off across Amazon carts. If you haven’t tried an exfoliating peel gel before, here’s how it works: after cleansing your skin, you towel dry and apply a few pumps of the clear gel directly onto the skin with circular motions; within seconds, you’ll notice tiny pills of greyish (read: dead) skin start to flake off; rinse and voilà, visibly brighter plus touchably softer skin.

Unlike other at-home chemical peels or exfoliating masks, I really love how this gel doesn’t cause any tingling sensation — since, sometimes, that can be too intense for more sensitive skin. In the past, I’ve smuggled this stuff back in my suitcase after visiting family in Tokyo — but now, I’ll take free Prime shipping over a 12-hour plane ride any day. 

Final Verdict: Cart
Cure Natural Aqua Gel, $31.00 Buy
5 of 17

Revlon Pedi Expert

If you're noticing a ~foot theme~ here, then it's no coincidence. It may be because we're spending more time barefoot in quarantine or it's because we just have a thing for feet. Either way, 2020 has been the year of taking care of our toes and this Revlon cheese grater (as it's affectionately become known amongst the R29 Shopping team) truly obliterated my calluses.

Within a few passes (don't overdo it so to not damage the skin or cut yourself!), the dry dead skin flakes right off before your eyes. Dump the shavings (yep) in the trash, then wipe clean after use. Last step? Enjoy smooth and super-soft feet.

Final Verdict: Cart
Revlon Pedi Expert, $19.14 Buy
6 of 17

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

In the before times, Maybelline's matte liquid lipstick was famous for being affordable and virtually indestructible in terms of long-wear abilities. Now, it's also proven to be completely mask-proof — thanks to Maybelline's lead makeup artist (and NYFW backstage fixture), Grace Lee.

As you can see, I have a particular soft spot for terracotta nude shades — but, seriously, this formula is next level. And for £7? You can afford to pick up a couple of your faves without breaking the bank.

Final Verdict: Cart
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick, $7.00 Buy
7 of 17

Esarora Ice Roller

Our fearless leader of the Shopping team, Marissa Rosenblum, kindly gifted us each this Amazon fan-favourite many moons ago — and, let me tell ya, it's gotten a lot of use during the hot summer months.

Whether you need to depuff or soothe redness (or tame a particularly angry cystic pimple), this thing is it! Plus, there's no wrong way to use it: just pop it in your fridge or freezer and leave it there until the morning, noon, or night when you want to run its smooth chilled surface over your face, down your decolletage, or any part of your body. It's one of those things that now, I can't imagine my life without.

Final Verdict: Cart
esarora Ice Roller, $12.89 Buy
8 of 17

Beauty By Earth Self Tanner

I don't use self-tanner outside of special events. I have a naturally darker complexion and get really tan if I’m out in the sun for more than ten minutes — my mom is Puerto Rican, we were both just born golden goddesses like J.Lo (at least, I’d like to think so). Anyway, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this Amazon Choice tanner but, at the very least, I was crossing my fingers that I didn’t end up looking like spray-tan-gone-wrong Anne Hathaway in the (highly underrated) 2009 rom-com Bride Wars.

After showering and buffing my skin with my fave Korean exfoliating washcloth, I whipped out my tanning mitt and started applying a thin layer of the self-tanner onto my skin. I was worried that it would have That Fake Tanner Smell™, but I was pleasantly surprised that it actually smelled kinda nice and cocoa buttery. The formula was white and had the consistency of a thick body lotion, but absorbed onto my skin with large sweeping strokes onto my arms, legs, and chest. Next, I proceeded to stand in my bathroom naked for 15 minutes before putting on an oversized T-shirt to sleep in. Within a half-hour, I was left with very soft and hydrated skin. After watching Selling Sunset and eating dinner, I went to bed on my, ahem, white Brooklinen sheets. To my amazement, there was no transfer whatsoever! And, I woke up to visibly bronzer skin!

At the end of the day, I probably wouldn't repurchase since I don't self-tan (or real-tan, for that matter). But if you are looking for an affordable swap to your regular tube, then this will definitely get the job done.

Final Verdict: Cart (*If you use self-tanner)
Beauty by Earth Sunless Tanning Lotion, $46.59 Buy
9 of 17

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara

I’ve tried cheap mascaras, super expensive mascaras, and everything in between. This one is pretty freakin’ good. Since my lashes are naturally long, dark, and curly, I’m all about a mascara that lengthens and defines. This one definitely does that.

I tried both the regular and waterproof versions: both were pretty awesome. The waterproof one is slightly less jet-black than the other — and, in typical waterproof form, it took a little bit of elbow grease to take off. Both feature identical comb-like wands that created Bambi-long lashes that were fluttery and feathery (my favourite adjectives to describe eyelashes done right). My only gripe is that unlike more lash-care focused formulas, it tends to wear a bit flaky and stiff. However, for £6, I'm not surprised that this tube is so hyped up.

Final Verdict: Cart (*If you're looking for a deal on mascara)
Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara, $6.05 Buy
10 of 17

TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum

I’m choosy when it comes to skincare — less so because of my beauty job perks and more so because my skin is extremely acne-prone and sensitive. (And for the record, pricey stuff breaks me out just as often as drugstore products!) However, I couldn’t ignore the, oh, you know, 27,000 reviews that laud this serum with the impressive (if true) before-and-after pics to back it up. After trying another popular vitamin C serum from Amazon that had a really strong paint-fume-like smell that I was not keen to rub on my face, I was excited to give this one a shot.

Once it arrived, I applied a few drops onto the back of my hand and...nothing, no smell. It was totally clear, too — a good sign! A more skeptical sign: It was spotted on Khloé Kardashian’s Instagram. Questionable. I was still not expecting it to knock my socks off in any way, especially when my fave brightening serum is over four times what TruSkin’s costs. However, after a week of testing it, I had yet to notice a breakout or irritation of any kind. Since I have some hyperpigmentation as a result of acne scarring, I didn’t expect to see any visible results even after a month of testing it; these things just take a lot of time. I am optimistic, though, that it might be a true diamond in the rough — so, I’m excited to stick with it and see if it rivals my beloved Tatcha.

Final Verdict: Cart (*But not promising any results on its behalf)
TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Serum for Face, $31.86 Buy
11 of 17

Avarelle Acne Absorbing Cover Patch Hydrocolloid Spot Treatment

As someone who’s fully been around the block with all things breakouts, I am somewhat of a connoisseur of clear acne patches. CosRx Acne Master Patch is the gold standard. While these definitely didn’t come close to the K-beauty wünderkind, they definitely will help get the job done in a pinch if you need solutions ASAP and can’t wait for shipping from other retailers.

During a recent bout of cystic hormonal acne, I skipped slapping on a CosRx or Zitsticka in the name of journalism and tried Avarelle on a particularly deep cyst. To my pleasant surprise, it felt less irritated and inflamed the morning after I removed the patch — and, after two more nights of going to bed with a patch on, it's almost gone entirely. Not bad at all, but I'm still sticking with my CosRx.

Final Verdict: Cart (*Unless you are a die-hard CosRx fan)
Avarelle Acne Absorbing Cover Patch Hydrocolloid Spot Treatment, $9.50 Buy
12 of 17

SEALEN Beach Foot Pads

More #footstuff. Out of all the products I signed on to test for this story, this one was the one I was sure would be a total disaster. After all, if I can’t even get a pimple patch to stay on my face 100% of the time, why would a giant foot-shaped sticker? After road-testing these at a socially-distanced weekend at the beach, I am fully eating my words.

Here's what they are (if you're as confused as I was when I first laid eyes on these things): footpads crafted from hypoallergenic and waterproof adhesive that's intended to protect soles from hot pavement, rocks, glass, and whatever else feet come into contact with during a beach day. I wear a size 5 shoe, so you can imagine my complete shock when the small size lined up with my tiny foot almost perfectly. It was much thinner than I’d expected, which helped it adhere with a seamless fit and feel, and it even held up okay to its waterproof claims after I took a quick dip. Plus, it actually did make a difference in traipsing through hot, rocky sand to get to and from the boardwalk. Would I do it again? For the content, sure!

Final Verdict: On the fence (As much fun as I had with these — and they truly do work, I don't know if I can say anyone needs to try this.)
SEALEN Beach Foot Pads for Barefoot, Invisible Shoes Stick on, $5.99 Buy
13 of 17

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay (Original Formula)

This clay mask is the stuff of Amazon lore (I’ve also spotted it at Urban Outfitters). First impressions: The tagline “Feel your face pulsate!” is kinda intense — but, in the fearless spirit of journalism, I scooped out a tiny amount into a bowl and followed the 1:1 instructions to add a bit of water and apply.

It was still quite chunky and solid, so I needed to add even more water in order to more easily apply it onto my skin (with a brush, which I highly recommend). The best way I can describe the color and texture is that creepy clay lady in The Shining, which is what my face looked like after I applied it. Per the instructions, I left it on for 20 minutes pulsating? Maybe I have rhino skin, but I didn’t feel any tingling whatsoever. I will say, though, that my skin did feel and look more balanced and less greasy. It was, truthfully, a mess to clean up and I will probably need to Drano my sink now after the couple times I used it.

Final Verdict: Skip
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, $11.24 Buy
14 of 17

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay (Version 2)

So much less chunky than the previous version! I did notice that the ingredients for both are the same (100% natural calcium bentonite — aka green — clay), but this version appears to be slightly more finely milled which may account for it dissolving more smoothly.

Unlike the first version, the instructions on this one said to leave it on for five to ten minutes — which is what I did. Again, no pulsating. I did notice that my skin felt unusually dry the following day and, on any given day, I’m usually very oily — so for me personally, this was a good thing. However, this was one was significantly easier to apply and clean up, and for that reason alone I'd recommend buying this one vs. the OG formula if they do work for you or you want to give this a try yourself.

Final Verdict: Cart (*Although I can't say I'm as blown away as others on this product)
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, $13.79 Buy
15 of 17

Beakey Makeup Brush Set

Are they the best makeup brushes? Definitely not — there was some shedding even on the first use — but for just £10, I’d feel alright recommending this as a beginner or backup set for travel (when that happens again).

The set came packaged in a plastic bag with a small card describing each brush. My main gripe was that without any numbering or lettering on each brush, I was solely going off of appearance (and many are similar in size and shape) instead of knowing which brush was which — granted, it doesn’t really matter if it works for whatever you’re applying (especially if you’re not a brush purist anyway, like me). But, I definitely would’ve appreciated some clearer instruction here so I didn’t have to keep this tiny, very misplace-able piece of paper around to consult with each time I used one.

Final Verdict: Skip
Beakey Makeup Brush Set, Premium Synthetic Kabuki (10+2pcs, Bl, $9.99 Buy
16 of 17

Lee Beauty Professional Callus Remover Gel

Okay, so I know that the Revlon foot file appeared a few slides ago and you're probably thinking, "damn gurl, you're really into foot stuff!" Well, yes, I am — but, also, this foot-peel-in-a-bottle has some insane customer hype to back it up.

The reviews, while mostly effusive, also warned that if you don't follow the instructions carefully you risk irritating your skin. Also unlike any other foot product I'd tried, this one recommended that I wear gloves to apply it AND to only dab it onto my calluses — instead of all over, like with Baby Foot. This all made me a little nervous, TBH. But, after reading the bottle many times, I basically memorised the text and parked it on my bathroom floor to begin the process. After soaking my feet and buffing off some skin with my file, I squeezed a tiny amount of the clear and odourless gel onto one rough patch of skin by my big toe (and nowhere else!). I was wary of any stinging or burning sensations, but after five minutes there was nothing. I decided to rinse it off anyway (the absolute max is 10 min, but I definitely wasn't going to do that). After going in again with the foot file, the dead skin flaked right off and left behind very smooth (almost taut) skin.

I'm a little skeptical of how safe it is to use over the long term (and I'm scared of it accidentally making contact with any broken skin on my foot) — so, while I won't throw out the bottle, I probably won't repurchase it when there are other products I feel much safer using.

Final Verdict: Skip (*Or proceed with lots of caution)
Lee Beauty Professional 8oz Callus Remover Gel, $31.99 Buy
17 of 17

Maxsoft Hair Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush

As a total stan for scalp care, I was pretty pumped to try this rubbery brush. At first glance, it sort of reminded me of those head-massager whisks that deliver a toe-curling sensation throughout your body. So, if nothing else, I thought it would at least feel good.

However, when I eagerly reached for it after lathering a bit of shampoo in my roots, I felt...nothing? Even though the handle makes it easy to securely grip (like holding a Popsocket) it didn’t really do a better job of working the product into my scalp than my own fingers could. I can’t say for sure whether or not it did anything in terms of stimulating my scalp — but, unlike scrubs and other scalp treatments I’ve tried, it didn’t produce any noticeable results in terms of look or feel.

Final Verdict: Skip
Maxsoft Hair Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush, $19.98 Buy
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