The 29 Best Beauty Products Of 2023

Welcome to the 2023 Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Awards, essentially a Spotify Wrapped showcasing the top beauty products of the year.
We saw many beauty products go viral this year — hot rollers, peel-off lip stains, a Mielle hair oil that caused quite the controversy. But viral moments were flashes in the pan, they came and went with the news cycle and a 30-second TikTok clip. What's actually worth your money? Products born out of innovation, the ones that seeped into our beauty routines and became our MVPs.
We tried it all this year — from the loudest launches to the brands you probably haven't heard of yet — and these 29 beauty products outperformed: The $39 Dyson large round brush attachment that makes the Airwrap worth it (that somehow no one is talking about); the low-key perfect lip pencil that’s skinny, soft, creamy, and actually has a nude for every skin tone; the nail treatment that instantly repaired our gel damage; the best-smelling perfume, hands down. It’s all here in our Beauty Innovator Awards. Scroll ahead to see and shop the 29 winners.
"When The Ordinary’s cream cleanser landed on my desk earlier this year, I shelved everything else in favor of it — I knew it would be good. The gel-cream doesn’t lather up, but the way it slices through heavy makeup, sunscreen, oil and daily grime is no less powerful than a foaming cleanser. The best part is that it doesn’t make your skin feel tight afterwards. Rather, it’s comfortably clean. The star ingredients are glycolipids: essentially fats with a carbohydrate attached to them. Without boring you, they take care of cells which connect to form tissue, such as your skin. Glycolipids are also emollients, which means they soothe, soften and moisturize the skin. Put simply, they’re a great addition to a gentle cleanser. I used this right down to the last drop and stocked up on more throughout the year, it’s that good." - Jacqueline Kilikita, Refinery29 Deputy Beauty Director
"I’ve tried countless SPF products this year as we’re making it our mission to spread the word about the dangers of UV and tanning. This one has come out on top. It provides high factor, broad spectrum protection against UVA (the rays responsible for premature aging and potentially deadly skin cancer) and UVB (which cause painful sunburn). Plus, the addition of vitamin C shields skin further from environmental aggressors like pollution. It’s such a cosmetically elegant formula: it glides on, absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel greasy or tacky. Makeup applies beautifully over the top, too." - Jacqueline Kilikita, Refinery29 Deputy Beauty Director
"This little French pharmacy tube has effectively replaced my collection of single-use pimple patches. It functions effectively the same way; I apply a thin layer over a pimple at any stage of its journey and it effectively seals and treats it while I sleep. I like that it’s more sustainable than a sticker but doesn’t dry out my skin like a traditional spot treatment lotion would. It’s nice and tiny and compact, making it great for travel, too." - Megan Decker, Refinery29 Beauty Editor
"I love this lightweight serum sunscreen because it leaves my skin glowier than it was before I put it on. I use the lightest shade, Light Aura. It’s a reflective pink color out of the tube but melts into my skin and makes it slightly more illuminated without adding obvious sparkle or glitter. It gives more of a post-facial kind of natural shine, which I rarely see with mineral sunscreen. I want to put it on every day, which is my barometer for measuring good sunscreen." - Megan Decker, Refinery29 Beauty Editor
"When I met Shani Darden [esthetician and brand founder] for the first time in 2020, she told me I wouldn’t like her original moisturizer. I appreciated her candor because she was right. Thankfully, three years later, Ms. Shani created one that works perfectly for my skin and its needs. I love a thick moisturizer, one that really hydrates my skin, like this Peptide Cream. I also love that it’s oil-free and won’t clog pores. Lastly, don’t let the tiny bottle fool you — there’s a lot of product in that bottle. Trust me, this is your new favorite winter moisturizer." - Amanda Mitchell, Refinery29 Senior Beauty Writer & Stories Creator
"If I had to choose one singular beauty product that I found myself restocking more than a few times this year, it'd have to be Summer Fridays' Cushion Cream Moisturizer. I knew I was going to love this product from the very first time I used it, but I didn't know how much I couldn't live without it until I emptied my second jar. As advertised, it is an ultra-rich cream with a texture that feels similar to a very popular luxury moisturizer; however, it sinks into the skin so beautifully and most importantly, leaves me feeling hydrated all day and all night. It has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, which means it's great for even those with the most sensitive of skin. It has become a holy grail product for me. I can't recommend it enough." - Sara Tan, Refinery29 Beauty Director
"rhode's Glazing Milk essence is as delicious for the skin as it sounds. I truthfully love all of rhode's skincare offerings, but if I had to pick one product to recommend, it would be this. I use it every day, twice a day, right after I cleanse and before the rest of my routine. It keeps my perpetually dry skin hydrated and bouncy, calm and clear, and just feels so dang nice when I massage it into my face." - Sara Tan, Refinery29 Beauty Director
"This occupies a cozy space between a hydrating serum and a medium coverage foundation, and whenever I wear it I get compliments on how good my skin looks. I’m certain that’s down to 10% hyaluronic acid as well as moisturizing vitamin E and glycerin. It also contains jojoba and olive oil to lend you a smooth, glowy canvas — but don’t let that put you off. It’s non-comedogenic (less likely to clog pores) and it hasn’t once exacerbated my sensitive, acne-prone skin. Rather, it quenches and nourishes instantly and throughout the day. One and a half pumps is enough to cover my entire face and I often skip concealer when I use it. No other foundation launched this year matches it, in my opinion." - Jacqueline Kilikita, Refinery29 Deputy Beauty Director
"Lip liners have never been my favorite thing — I hate having to pull out a pencil sharpener and often, they’re not dark enough in pigment to show up on my skin (I actually used brown eyeliner as lip liner for years.) But not here, with these absolutely perfect lip liners. They’re so smooth and glide on so easily, but my favorite part is they come in 14 shades of nude that can work for everyone — and multiple options for every person. They’re not chalky or drying like some lip liners can be, and you’ll love the pigment payoff — these are the lip liners that changed me into a lip liner girlie." -Amanda Mitchell, Refinery29 Senior Beauty Writer & Stories Creator
"I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “If Stefani Joanne Germanotta (or, as the general public calls her, Lady Gaga) says jump, I’m going to the trampoline store.” Me and these blushes were love at first sight — I got her, she got me, and I know we’re in it for the long haul together. These may just be my favorite blushes of all time, which is saying a lot because I have more blushes than I could wear in my lifetime. While 2023 was the year of the cream blush, I think that’s because these powder blushes launched and everyone realized they couldn’t compete. That’s the name of the game, baby! These blushes truly have everything: Impeccable color payoff, beautiful application, and what’s even better: They’re huge palettes and you really don’t need a ton to get a gorgeous color, so you’ll have them forever." -Amanda Mitchell, Refinery29 Senior Beauty Writer & Stories Creator
"Danessa Myricks had the best 2023 in the beauty industry, bar none. It felt like you couldn’t leave the house without hearing about some incredible innovation she’d come up with, but my little highlighter-loving heart was most thrilled about the Vision Flush Glow release. Vision Flush already exists as a multipurpose color product for lips and cheeks, but Vision Flush Glow is just for us highlighter people. Myricks has always dominated when it comes to glow products, but these ones are just accessible enough that you don’t have to feel like you need to be pro-level to use them, which can sometimes happen with liquid highlighters. These are smooth, easy to apply with a brush or with your fingers, and they’re also great as eyeshadows. If there is a Cult of Danessa Myricks, I am the supreme leader." - Amanda Mitchell, Refinery29 Senior Beauty Writer & Stories Creator
"I know the following to be true: Powder blushes are great for pigmentation and longevity; Cream blushes are great for ease of application and comfortable texture on the skin. Now, imagine if a single product combined the fresh, juicy feel of a cream with a matte powder’s pop of color — and voilà, you’ve got Danessa Myricks’ Yummy Skin Blurring Balm Powder. I’ve never tried a product quite like it. One swipe delivers such a pretty, soft-blur flush of color, it makes me feel like I’m straight out of a Renaissance painting. You can also pat it onto lips for the dreamiest, demi-matte (read: post-makeout!) effect." - Karina Hoshikawa, Refinery29 Senior Affiliate Writer
"From nail trends to juicy skin, Hailey Bieber has mastered somewhat of a Midas touch when it comes to beauty trends. Her namesake brand, Rhode, had a dynamite 2023, but one truly stellar launch was Peptide Lip Tint — a tinted version of the brand’s beloved Peptide Lip Treatment. (Hailey, if nothing, knows how to give the people what they want!) Tinted balms are very hit or miss, IMO, since they can either be too pigmented to the point where they’re basically lipstick, or more often, not pigmented enough and basically invisible. Rhode’s Peptide Lip Tint is the Goldilocks of tinted lip products; it imparts the perfect kiss of color, and has the same slick, hydrating texture of the clear version. What’s not to love?" - Karina Hoshikawa, Refinery29 Senior Affiliate Writer
"I was very take-it-or-leave-it with Drunk Elephant’s tinted D-Bronzi drops, so I wasn’t expecting to be blown away when the brand unveiled the B-Goldi Illuminating Drops earlier this year. That said, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t love at first drop; the plush, gel-like texture disappears into my skin, and the fact that it’s spiked with my favorite skincare ingredient — niacinamide — is literally all I could ask for. Then there's a pale champagne hue, which isn’t too shimmery but also adds a luminous, subtle glow to skin. I’ve worn it alone, mixed with moisturizer, and even blended with foundation based on what I’m feeling that — and trust me: It just all works." - Karina Hoshikawa, Refinery29 Senior Affiliate Writer
"Are we in a golden age of concealer, because it sure feels like it — out of the myriad new formulas that debuted this past year, Makeup By Mario’s was my favorite. It was a sort of follow-up to the brand’s SurrealSkin foundation, but didn’t have the same level of shimmer that people found polarizing. The texture is creamy but lightweight, and sets to a gorgeous satin finish. It also lasts for an impressive amount of time — I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding this fall, and my skin looked incredible both IRL and in photos all night long because of this concealer. Surreal, perhaps — but when it comes to this stuff, seeing is believing." - Karina Hoshikawa, Refinery29 Senior Affiliate Writer

"At this point in my career, I think it's safe to call myself a brow gel expert. I have tried hundreds of iterations from countless brands and while I have a few favorites, none have surprised me more than Rare Beauty's Brow Harmony Flexible Lifting and Laminating Eyebrow Gel. The product name is certainly a mouthful, but it does what it says: lifts and laminates, but in the most flexible formula. No flaky brows over here — just a beautifully strong, but malleable gel that will keep your brow hairs in place. While we believe the laminated brow is on its way out, we still appreciate a little hold, and this product will do just that — give you a beautiful, natural brow that’ll stay put without looking too harsh." - Sara Tan, Refinery29 Beauty Director
"Tower28’s All-Over Hydrating Serum Concealer is my favorite complexion product of the year, hands down. This is not the first time I’ve sung this product’s praises. I’m not a big concealer girlie, but I like a little bit of coverage for day to day. This concealer does just that, but more — provides natural-looking coverage where you want it, is buildable if you need some extra concealing, and sheers beautifully with a moisturizer for light, all-over coverage. I carry it in my makeup bag or toss it into my purse and bring it with me everywhere." - Sara Tan, Refinery29 Beauty Director
"I wouldn’t normally recommend a tingling lip plumper, but I cannot stop using Polite Society's B.I.G. Mouth Lip Plumping Oil Gloss. I know it's not the first of its kind, especially since its creator is known for one that they already made at the first beauty brand they started (Too Faced's Lip Injection), but this one is different. It plumps and smooths my lips in an instant and lasts for an hour or two (depending on how much talking, drinking, and eating you're doing). I like to wear it on its own, but I also think it's the perfect base for lipstick. It definitely tingles, so if you're super sensitive, be warned. However, I don't mind the spicy sensation, especially with the results." - Sara Tan, Refinery29 Beauty Director
"From figs to caramel, edible notes have inspired many a perfume launch this year, but nothing has swayed me quite like Yum Pistachio Gelato. With cotton candy, roasted hazelnut, sweet rum, marshmallow and, of course, pistachio, it’s equal parts sweet, savoury and spicy — perfect for perfume chameleons who struggle to settle on one fragrance family (think: gourmand, fresh or woody). What impresses me the most about Kayali fragrance is the staying power. Founder Mona Kattan spritzed this on my coat in March. When the weather warmed up, I shoved it to the back of my closet, but when I dug it out for a wash this month, I could still smell it." - Jacqueline Kilikita, Refinery29 Deputy Beauty Director
"I’m an enormous fan of Amika, particularly the The Kure Intense Repair Mask. I’ve sung its praises countless times before (it beats Olaplex in my opinion), so I was excited to try the new Hydro Rush Intense Moisture Mask. This is just as good, if not better. I’ve been using it as a conditioner and little goes a long way to breathe life into frazzled, parched strands. My thick, wavy hair feels soft and manageable, which makes it easier to style. I’ve noticed far fewer split ends, too." - Jacqueline Kilikita, Refinery29 Deputy Beauty Director
"This is the hair serum that got me into the habit of using a leave-in. Where most leave-ins make my hair weighty and heavy, this serum is so lightweight that my hair almost drinks it up. It detangles my microfiber-towel-dried hair but feels like nothing. I don’t say this lightly: It gives me the perfect air-dry; my hair dries softer, smoother, with zero frizz." - Megan Decker, Refinery29 Beauty Editor
"A hair tool is always going to be a bit of an investment, whether you're going for a hairdryer or the Dyson Airwrap. I was looking for something in between — more souped than a hairdryer but not a $600 Dyson Airwrap where I'll only ever use one of the six attachments (the round brush) — and this is it. The Shark Smoothstyle has a wet-hair setting to dry your hair smooth, and it has a dry-hair setting that doesn't blow air but just heats the brush to lift my roots, or add a wave, to already-dry hair, effectively removing the need for a hot roller set or curling iron. It's really all that I need in terms of a hair tool and just under $100." - Megan Decker, Refinery29 Beauty Editor
"I’d tried the OG Dream Coat last year and thought it was just fine. I had seen the hype on TikTok and wanted to try it out, as it seemed like a blend of two products I had used in the early stages of my hair journey (Paul Mitchell’s Super Skinny Serum and CHI Keratin Silk Infusion). So when the brand launched the Extra Strength version, intended for curly and coily hair types, let’s just say my interest was piqued. This product launched in the peak of summer, when I’m typically transitioning my hair into braids because the humidity + my natural texture are enemies for life. But I knew I had something different here when I was blowing my hair dry and I didn’t feel like my scalp was sweating like it does during a typical blow dry. Flat ironing my hair was also a dream, and I’m used to it being a total nightmare. The combination of this product and Amika’s Blockade Heat Defense Serum have made me not completely dread wash day." - Amanda Mitchell, Refinery29 Senior Beauty Writer & Stories Creator
"I love my Airwrap and everybody knows it. BUT, there was always one thing that I felt it was missing. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Dyson recently added a bigger round brush attachment and I couldn’t be more pleased. The round brush attachment that currently comes with the Airwrap is fine, but I’m in my 90s-blowout era and to achieve that, I need a big ‘ol round brush. I love that the bristles are long and create enough tension to achieve a lot of body and shape while I style. I know that the Airwrap isn’t new, but I think this new attachment is so good, it deserves its own award." - Sara Tan, Refinery29 Beauty Director
"Months of back-to-back builder gel nail appointments (it’s important to take breaks!) left my nails in a sorry state: stained, weak and paper-thin. I’ve tried various nail strengthening polishes in the past to no avail but this bond-building serum is very different. Think of it like Olaplex for your nails. The unassuming clear liquid promises 99% nail keratin repair (keratin is what our nails are made of) in just 6 days by building new bonds. I’m no scientist but I noticed an impressive difference in the strength and thickness of my nails in a week. I like to use it with a glug of cuticle oil; my nails look and feel so much smoother and stronger." - Jacqueline Kilikita, Refinery29 Deputy Beauty Director
"Not to be dramatic, but this is the best nail polish remover I’ve ever used. It was created by one of the country’s leading nail dermatologists, Dana Stern, MD, who wanted to make a nail polish remover that didn’t cause damage to the nail. Like an oil cleanser, this polish remover is applied like an oil that melts nail polish from the nail bed. It’s a stark contradiction to the stripping, chemically-smelling, CVS-brand nail polish remover I’ve used for years that left my nails white, scaly, and stingy — which makes sense because acetone, the key ingredient in most nail-polish remover, is essentially a fast-acting paint thinner. With Dr. Dana’s Non-Acetone Hydrating Polish Remover, I actually feel like I’m giving my nails and cuticles an oil treatment as I’m removing my nail polish. I’ll never go back." - Megan Decker, Refinery29 Beauty Editor
"This was the year of the skin milk. I got into facial milk (like a cream-based essence to use after cleansing and before serum or moisturizer) and body milk. This particular body milk really stuck with me — I had to restock it immediately after it ran out. As someone who finds body lotion thick and sticky, the milk option is so much more enjoyable. It sinks into my skin immediately, almost on contact, so I don’t have to worry about dry-down time. The texture is more of a liquid, which makes it a little more challenging than thick cream, but it’s easy to get the hang of cupping your hand to keep it from dripping. And I don’t know, I feel like Cleopatra when I douse my body in milk. Plus, my chronically-dry arms and legs and chest have never been softer. P.S. The Dulce scent is my favorite." - Megan Decker, Refinery29 Beauty Editor
"Name an exfoliating body product, and I’ve tried it. From gritty scrubs to peel pads to lactic-acid-laced lotions, I’ve slathered it on my arms and legs in the name of smoothing my KP bumps. Some of it’s worked, but most of it didn’t — and then I tried INNBeauty Project’s Bright & Smooth serum. It didn’t smell like sour milk, didn’t burn or tingle, and I noticed touchably softer, smoother skin after the first use. Even if you don’t have KP, this is an amazing, not-outrageously-expensive body product to hydrate and address any tone and texture imperfections below the neck." - Karina Hoshikawa, Refinery29 Senior Affiliate Writer
"My scaly skin cried tears of joy when Charlotte Tilbury launched a body version of her iconic Magic Cream back in March. It contains all the good stuff we know does the epidermis good –  caffeine and moisture-grabbing hyaluronic acid  – but blessed with Tilbury’s magic wand (aka a proprietary mix of ingredients that’s under lock and key). I also like that it’s not too fragrant so it doesn’t interfere with my perfume of the day." - Carli Whitwell, Refinery29 Senior Editorial Director
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