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These are the best beauty products of 2023

From snail mucin to a no-flake lengthening mascara to a $3 eyeliner and a body oil made for a queen, here are the best beauty items of the year.

 beauty products from Laneige, CosRx, Olaplex, Charlotte Tilbury and more
From Laneige to CosRx to Olaplex to Charlotte Tilbury, these are our favorite beauty products of 2023 (Amazon, Walmart, Sephora).

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but, in 2023, this middle-aged beauty writer learned a lot about what works in the world of makeup, skin- and hair care and what absolutely does not. This was the year I discovered snail slime, an ingredient that truly improves my skin by the day. It was the year I first came upon a concealer pencil over a traditional liquid, which is making my under-eye area brighter than it's ever been. In 2023, at the age of 50, I taught myself how to use both eyeliner and hair styling tools, used a lip mask for the first time and found the best no-flake, lengthening mascara ever. Yep, 2023 was an exciting year for new beauty surprises — or at least new for me. The following were my favorite products of the year. I think you'll like them too.

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This cleverly-designed face pencil is part of makeup artist extraordinaire Bobbi Brown's line Jones Road. It's a surprisingly excellent replacement for traditional liquid concealers — ideal for zeroing in on any place you want coverage (under eyes, redness around the nose) and blends beautifully without any kind of caking or settling into fine lines. 

$25 at Jones Road

This lengthening mascara is hands-down the best mascara I've ever tried. Like the name suggests, it goes on "clean" and it stays put — truly no flaking, no smudging or clumping.

$26 at Sephora

Maybe you, like me, have always wanted to try and perfect a sexy cat eye. But maybe, like me, you haven't wanted to commit to shelling out $25 for a big-name liquid eyeliner. This ultra-precise, extra-inky option is one of the best eyeliners I've tried and somehow it's priced like an eyeliner 1997, though — right now — it costs less than you'd pay for a latte in 2023. 

$3 at Ulta Beauty
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$9 at Walmart$3 at Rite Aid

Among the most coveted items for makeup artists and beauty artists alike, this bestselling lightweight foundation manages to give a full-coverage, flawless look without feeling thick or suffocating the skin.  

$47 at Amazon
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$47 at Macy's$47 at Kohl's

If you're looking for a light coverage foundation that will leave your skin dewy and completely aglow, Ilia's Skin Tint is for you. It contains hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and SPF 40 and — more than a foundation — is basically the best tinted moisturizer around. 

$48 at Ilia

These glowy cream shadows have a silky texture, and the Praline shade is ideal for most complexions. Pro tip: Choose a lighter shade for an inner-eye highlight and use a brush on the main lid to smooth the line out after you apply. 

$7 at Amazon

Back in October I wrote about Jenna Lyons's favorite beauty products before picking some of them up myself, including this cream gel blush by Glossier. "A great moisture-looking cheek thing," Lyons had told Allure. And it's true: the pigmented gel goes on smooth and sheer, is easy to blend and leaves a natural "no makeup makeup" flush. I love it.

$20 at Sephora

The three shades included here — Pillow Talk, Walk of No Shame and Stoned Rose— are just subtle enough to look good on anyone without being so subtle as to lose the effect. The description says "matte," but I found these to be more moisturizing, they go on smooth and don't cake. The lipsticks are smaller than the average size but in no way tiny, and the cute packaging resembles a be-ribboned holiday ornament.   

$35 at Amazon

I purchased three of these all-star lipsticks during Black Friday sales and was not disappointed (I particularly liked Hitch Hike — it's a deep, brick red). They're long-wearing, moisturizing but not shiny, and deeply pigmented. The best lipstick I tried all year.  

$21 at Amazon
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$21 at Macy's$21 at Ulta Beauty

The Laneige lip mask has tens of millions of TikTok mentions (and counting!), and has been recommended zealously by more celebrities than I can honestly count (among them: Kelly Ripa, Brooke Shields, Kate Moss, Keke Palmer and Kate Hudson). People are obsessed with this product, they say it works better than Aquaphor for dry lips, they say it's changed their whole chapped-mouth-in-winter lives, they wax poetic about the texture, the taste and most importantly, the results. It's a great product to add to your beauty arsenal and — even better — it's currently on sale. 

$15 at Walmart
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$17 at Groupon$24 at Kohl's

An easy, lightweight, affordable skin-care product that, when used consistently, softens wrinkles, smooths skin texture and even lightens age spots. I know snail secretions may seem weird, but truly this works: I've been raving about this product all year.

$12 at Amazon
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$18 at Ulta Beauty$25 at CVS Pharmacy

This multitasking cream works as a skin primer, a high-quality sunscreen and a tinted moisturizer, and, with a boost from hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and niacinamide, it leaves behind a pretty pearly glow. 

$38 at Amazon

This famous French pharmacy beauty cream is a skin-care staple for Parisian ladies of all ages but can be hard to find in the U.S., where it's frequently sold out. It's an effective sunblock and moisturizer year round, but I'm partial to using it in the winter when skin needs both sun protection and an extra-hydrating boost. It's made of a many dermis-nourishing ingredients such as ceramide-3 and niacinamide, is dermatologist-tested and excellent for sensitive skin too. 

$23 at Walmart

There are myriad uses for this wildly well-reviewed, internet famous "skincare oil" but I actually like it best as treatment for itchy, scaly winter skin on the body, not the face. It's amazing on calves and thighs as an after-shave oil and as a super emollient for cracked heels and dry elbows. It's too oily (for me) for my face or as a scalp treatment, but a little goes a long way to tame flyaways too. Also, I mean, if it's good enough for future queen Kate Middleton, surely it's good enough for mere peasant me?

$11 at Walmart
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$13 at Walgreens

Retinol is not for everyone (it can be too harsh for sensitive skin), but if you want to try this proven wrinkle-softening ingredient out, the award-winning products from RoC are a great place to start. They're fragrance-free, lightweight and absorbent. And they're priced in the midrange, which makes them more accessible than many luxury creams. I particularly like these nightly capsules, which are designed to target crow's feet, sun damage and deep wrinkles and are portioned so you don't use too much. Plus, they're amazing for traveling when space for "liquids" might be tight, and the capsules themselves are biodegradable, so I don't feel like a planet-destroying jerk. Best of all, with this pack of 10 you can try the product over 10 days at under $10 and, if you like it, re-up to the larger $25 size. 

$10 at Walmart

This ultra-nourishing salve is a favorite of professional makeup artists who often need to remove serious face paint without damaging their (often high-profile) clients' skin. It's filled to the brim with soothing ingredients like chamomile and lavender, and as the (many!) TikTok videos attest, it really works for both cleaning and plumping. 

$17 at Amazon
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$18 at Nordstrom

Most dermatologists agree that retinol can help soften fine lines and improve the appearance of aging skin (see above), but many brands can be harsh. This highly rated, gentle starter version is ideal for first-timers and everyday use.    

$84 at Amazon

TikTok has gone wild for this rich U Beauty cream — reviewers call it "amazing" and say that it's "extremely moisturizing but not greasy." It leaves skin highly-hydrated and glowing, as it should for this price!

$68 at Amazon

I have yet to find a person who does not love the smell of this silky, non-greasy, hydrating "dry" oil. The universally beloved French pharmacy staple is amazing for adding hydration to one's face, body and even hair. I revisited it in 2023 for the first time in years and found it to be as enchanting as ever. 

$25 at Amazon
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$25 at eCosmetics$17 at FragranceNet.com

There is not a beauty list in all the land that would be complete without CeraVe's Eye Repair Cream. Dermatologists everywhere recommend it, and it's hard to argue with over 37,000 five-star reviews. 

$13 at Amazon
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$20 at Ulta Beauty$18 at CVS Pharmacy

This serum stick is the ideal delivery system for softening fine lines, prepping skin for makeup and targeting dry patches. It's made of 80 percent squalane — a known skin fortifier — and is also fragrance-free, cruelty-free plus dermatologist-tested. When we've tried this ultra-silky balm it's left behind a dewy finish to wherever it's been applied and it's beyond-amazing for smoothing the undereye area before applying concealer, to avoid makeup settling into fine lines.

$49 at Amazon
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$48 at eCosmetics

Thick, but not too thick; gentle, but not ineffective; made with a rare melon extract and retinol — this night cream is a stand out that holds up against far pricier brands. 

$32 at Amazon

I've interviewed approximately 7 million beauty experts in my life. The most honest usually say something along the lines of "You don't need expensive products; high-quality drugstore creams will do." Case in point: A few years ago, legendary beauty guru Jean Godfrey-June told me she uses this rich, all-natural, chamomile and calendula body cream on her face in the winter, that it's the best product she's found for protecting and treating chapped skin. It's also a gentle, non-irritating formula for dry hands, rough heels, scaly elbows or anywhere you might need a hydrating boost. I myself keep a tube by the kitchen sink to use after dishwashing duties. It's the best kind of gift in that it smells good and feels rich. 

$17 at Amazon