2021

Beauty Innovator Awards 2021

Three models seated in front of an orange-and-yellow background, wearing red ensembles. Three models seated in front of an orange-and-yellow background, wearing red ensembles.

As the world changes (and is it ever), so too does the role of beauty. As consumers, it’s our duty to ask ourselves how we can adjust our behavior to ensure we’re making and inspiring conscientious decisions — striving toward a life of thoughtful curation, rather than gotta-have-it-all excess. In years past, our awards process cast a wide net, leaving behind heaps of cardboard packaging, barely used palettes, and bubble wrap in our wake in an attempt to find beauty products guaranteed to work for everybody (something we’re not so sure is even possible).

This time around, we took a different approach. Our team of Refinery29 beauty editors and experts hand-selected the innovative new beauty products they personally couldn’t stop raving about this year. It’s a lot more intentional, a lot more personal, and all the more exciting to announce the 29 products that really added joy to our lives in 2021. Read about the products that spoke to us as individuals and watch our personal reviews on Refinery29 social — then shop them, love them, use them ‘til they’re all gone.

Product image

Camille Rose

Honeycomb Curl Whip Texture-Defining Supercream

•••

Real honey is the star ingredient in this concoction, which conditions and boosts shine for hydrated hair worthy of a queen bee.

CHOSEN BY MAIYA CARMICHAEL, SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR, UNBOTHERED.
BUY
Product image

Paula's Choice

Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Lip Booster

•••

This souped-up treatment contains advanced hydrating spheres that actually make lips fuller over time.

CHOSEN BY MAIYA CARMICHAEL, SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR, UNBOTHERED.
BUY
Product image

The Editorial Nail

TENX Manicure in Kaffé Latté

•••

There’s no better complement to your morning mug of coffee than a high-quality set of press-ons that also understand the assignment.

CHOSEN BY MAIYA CARMICHAEL, SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR, UNBOTHERED.
BUY
Product image

Kate McLeod

Face Stone

•••

A solid moisturizer packed with nourishing antioxidant-rich ingredients, or a crystal ball that shows clearer, brighter skin in your future?

CHOSEN BY RACHEL KRAUSE, DEPUTY BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Augustinus Bader

The Serum

•••

This silky, scientifically-advanced serum has the solutions your skin needs — and comes in the most luxe packaging we’ve ever seen.

CHOSEN BY RACHEL KRAUSE, DEPUTY BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

The Inkey List

Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Hair Treatment

•••

HA for your hair? Believe it. This water-light serum is the ultimate thirst quencher for dry, frazzled strands.

CHOSEN BY RACHEL KRAUSE, DEPUTY BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Laneige

Radian-C Cream

•••

The potent vitamin C derivative in this gentle cream works as well for fading stubborn acne scars as it does all-over brightening.

CHOSEN BY INEYE KOMONIBO, CULTURE CRITIC, UNBOTHERED.
BUY
Product image

Sephora Collection

Best Skin Ever Liquid Foundation

•••

A single drop of this liquid foundation is all you need for long-wearing, natural-looking coverage with skin-care benefits, to boot.

CHOSEN BY INEYE KOMONIBO, CULTURE CRITIC, UNBOTHERED.
BUY
Product image

NYX Professional Makeup

Butter Gloss in Lava Cake

•••

A formula as rich as the most decadent chocolate soufflé, with the perfect dark-cocoa color to match.

CHOSEN BY INEYE KOMONIBO, CULTURE CRITIC, UNBOTHERED.
BUY
Product image

Briogeo

Don't Despair, Repair Strengthening Treatment Oil

•••

Silicone-free and clinically proven to strengthen and restore, this rose-infused oil leaves hair dramatically rejuvenated and petal-soft.

CHOSEN BY LEXY WHITE, DIGITAL COORDINATOR, VICE MEDIA GROUP.
BUY
Product image

ILIA

Fullest Volumizing Mascara

•••

Like lingerie for your lids, this lightweight mascara drapes lashes in a layer of inky black that won’t smudge, flake, or irritate sensitive eyes.

CHOSEN BY MEGAN DECKER, BEAUTY EDITOR.
BUY
Product image

Hanni

The Weighted Razor

•••

For the smoothest possible shave with the least amount of blood spilled, you need this game-changing weighted razor.

CHOSEN BY MEGAN DECKER, BEAUTY EDITOR.
BUY
Product image

Keys Soulcare

Sacred Body Oil

•••

Anointing yourself with this incredibly luxe, non-greasy oil isn’t just a ritual; it’s practically a religious experience.

CHOSEN BY MEGAN DECKER, BEAUTY EDITOR.
BUY
Product image

JVN

Complete Pre-Wash Scalp Oil

•••

This soothing formula contains hemisqualane and basil root extract to strengthen hair follicles and achieve scalp nirvana over time.

CHOSEN BY SARA TAN, BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Tatcha

The Indigo Overnight Repair Serum in Cream Treatment

•••

The indigo extract in this serum-in-moisturizer has calming properties that were once used by Japan’s samurai to heal injured skin after battle.

CHOSEN BY SARA TAN, BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Tower 28 Beauty

SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation

•••

Between the SPF 30 protection, sensitivity-safe ingredients, and just-right buildable coverage, this tinted moisturizer is giving Goldilocks.

CHOSEN BY SARA TAN, BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

T3

AireBrush Duo

•••

The blow-dry brush to end all blow-dry brushes features two interchangeable attachments and 15 heat and speed combinations for completely customizable results.

CHOSEN BY SARA TAN, BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Ami Colé

Skin-Enhancing Tint

•••

In six shades designed specifically to enhance melanin-rich complexions, this satiny fluid creates a glowy, soft-focus finish that still looks like skin.

CHOSEN BY SARA TAN, BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Drunk Elephant

Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum

•••

Ride the wave of peptides, amino acids, and gently exfoliating lactic acid to smoother, brighter skin and barely-there pores.

CHOSEN BY KARINA HOSHIKAWA, BEAUTY & WELLNESS MARKET WRITER.
BUY
Product image

Kjaer Weis

FeatherTouch Brow Gel

•••

The only thing we love more than this flexible, long-lasting brow-grooming formula is the eco-friendly refillable tube.

CHOSEN BY KARINA HOSHIKAWA, BEAUTY & WELLNESS MARKET WRITER.
BUY
Product image

Dyson

Supersonic Flyaway Attachment

•••

The hair tool that does everything can now do even more: Just pop this curved attachment onto your Dyson dryer and watch flyaways vanish in a single pass.

CHOSEN BY KARINA HOSHIKAWA, BEAUTY & WELLNESS MARKET WRITER.
BUY
Product image

Merit Beauty

The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick

•••

The ultimate one-and-done for your makeup bag is this twist-up stick meant to replace a full face, so you can curate coverage as you see fit.

CHOSEN BY RACHEL KRAUSE, DEPUTY BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Soft Services

Smoothing Solution Calming Gel Exfoliant

•••

Lactic acid, aloe, centella asiatica: The same skin-care ingredients you already love for tackling uneven tone and texture, now available for everything below the neck.

CHOSEN BY RACHEL KRAUSE, DEPUTY BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Dieux Skin

Deliverance

•••

Packed with peptides, niacinamide, and clinically-studied cannabinoids, this serum returns stressed-out skin to a state of grace.

CHOSEN BY RACHEL KRAUSE, DEPUTY BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Matter Of Fact

Ascorbic Acid 20 Brightening C Serum

•••

With a sophisticated formula that pairs 20% ascorbic acid with skin-supporting ingredients, it’s no wonder this research-backed formula was an instant hit among those in the know.

CHOSEN BY SARA TAN, BEAUTY DIRECTOR.
BUY
Product image

Dashing Diva

Glaze Gel Nail Strips

•••

Even DIY nail novices can swing something salon-worthy with these gel strips, which are beyond easy to apply and cure with an LED light.

CHOSEN BY MEGAN DECKER, BEAUTY EDITOR.
BUY
Product image

Lake & Skye

Midnight 07 Eau de Parfum

•••

Yuzu, vetiver, amber, rose, fig, vanilla, and patchouli mix perfectly in this creamy, smoky, sexy bespoke cocktail of a fragrance, best enjoyed after dark.

CHOSEN BY AMANDA MITCHELL, SENIOR BEAUTY WRITER.
BUY
Product image

LYS Beauty

Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush

•••

The shine-free finish on this smooth, pigmented cream yields the most natural-looking, non-greasy flush.

CHOSEN BY AMANDA MITCHELL, SENIOR BEAUTY WRITER.
BUY
Product image

Dibs Beauty

Status Stick

•••

You’ll want to swipe this oversized stick of soft, shimmery butter all over everything, from your cheekbones to your collarbones — so why wouldn’t you?

CHOSEN BY AMANDA MITCHELL, SENIOR BEAUTY WRITER.
BUY
Seal for R29 Beauty Innovator Awards 2021 Winner

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.

WRITTEN AND EDITED BY RACHEL KRAUSE.

Photographer, Eli Wirja c/o Above Management; Wardrobe Stylist, Mel Reneé Leamon; Prop Styling, Elisia Mirabelli c/o Ba-reps; Makeup Artist, Ayaka Nihei using Tata Harper; Hair Stylist, Chicka Nishiyama c/o 87 artists; Manicurist, Nori c/o See Management.

DESIGNED BY MICHELLE COPE; BEAUTY DIRECTOR, SARA TAN; ASSOCIATE PHOTO EDITOR, JANE PRYZANT; SENIOR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PHOTO & DESIGN, SARAH FILIPPI; PRODUCT DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT, VMG PRODUCT STUDIO.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY TWISHA PATNI

Diesel top; Diesel skirt; stylist's own arm warmers; Diesel shoes. Vex Clothing swimsuit, $190, available at vexclothing.com; Vex Clothing open face hood, $130, available at vexclothing.com. Emilio Pucci top; stylist’s own arm warmers. Gauntlett Cheng top; Gauntlett Cheng pants; C+ series shirt; Sterling King earrings. Scarlet Sage top; Scarlet Sage pants; Diesel shoes. Gauntlett Cheng top; Givenchy leggings; Givenchy boots. C+ Series top; C+ Series bottom; Kenzo shoes.

Advertisement