The first of every month brings about a slew of new beauty products, each launch fancier and more exciting than the last. The thing is, though, they're not all the miracle potions and fountain-of-youth elixirs they promise to be. Wading through a pool of new products can be intimidating and sometimes disappointing. So I decided to try some of Sephora's buzziest new February launches and report back on what's worth it and what, sadly, is not.
My original thought was to rank my favorites from best to worst, but as I wrote, I realized all my chosen formulas were uniquely wonderful in their own right. So sue me—they rule. I swatched and applied them all and took selfies to prove it. You can take my word for it. Below, find the products that are worth spending your hard-earned cash on because, well, you love beauty and so do I.
The Multi-Purpose Highlighter
Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Wattabrat ($34)
There's no denying the blissful frenzy that comes along with every new Fenty Beauty launch. You can feel it in the air each time a package comes across our desks. So when Rihanna sent over this new shade of her beloved Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter ($34)—it's a baby pink shimmer called Wattabrat—I couldn't wait to break open the packaging and swirl my fingers in the formula. And, yes, I am pretending Rihanna personally mailed it to me. Just go with it.
The cream-powder hybrid is the same, as it instantly melts into your skin and blends with almost zero effort. The shimmer looks practically 3D. First, I brushed it on the tops of my cheekbones, creating an otherworldly glow that was both radiant and subtle at the same time. For more, I applied it onto my eyelids, patting on the formula with a flat brush to make it even more opaque and sparkly. It was everything I craved and more—pink, creamy, easy to apply, and absolutely lit. You can apply it anywhere the light hits, making it a truly multi-purpose delight.
The Reformulated Lipstick
Milk Makeup Lip Color in Name Drop ($34)
Genuinely, this might be my new favorite lipstick. I've been more of a nudes and clear glosses girl for the last few years—favoring hydrating balms and shine over mattes and reds. But this formula is pretty near perfect. Touted as a "comfortable matte," Milk's new lip colors are packed with pigment and super hydrating ingredients to make certain it's both long-lasting and non-drying. I know that doesn't sound revolutionary, but actually executing both those traits in a lipstick that looks and feels good is a tall order. Each lipstick includes shea butter as well as coconut and grapeseed oils to nourish and moisturize, plus bamboo-derived blurring powder to deliver a smooth, soft-focus effect. And the colors? Guys, they're gorgeous. My favorite, Name Drop, is a bright, orange-y red that applied like a dream and brightened up my entire face (and disposition) for an entire day. I applied it straight from the bullet for a perfectly precise application and then wore it again next day.
The Roll-On Highlighting Balm
Kaja Roller Glow Roll-On Highlighting Balm ($28)
At first glance, I thought this whole thing was a gimmick. The roller-on applicator looks exactly like a paint roller, in a whimsical but questionably effective tool. Turns out, it works really well. The highlighter itself, an ultra-reflective balm with pink pearlescent pigments and ruby powder, is a beautiful formula. It feels light and easy to blend, never sticky or cumbersome like a lot of others with the same texture. It glows on contact and doesn't dry down, giving off this really beautiful golden shine. The best part? It's blurring like a primer, smoothing every last lingering fine line around my eyes as I apply it to the tops of my cheekbones and brow bone. I kept layering it on and found myself blinded by the final product. It's a perfect accessory to a juicy, pink lip and nothing else.
The Plumping Moisturizer
Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream ($68)
I've been a devotee of Tatcha's Luminous Dewy Skin Mist ($48) for years—using it as a makeup-setting spray, refreshing spritz during a 3 p.m. slump, and even using it dampen my Beautyblender before applying foundation. It's one of those products that you'll use forever no matter the occasion. Cut to a few weeks ago when celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic revealed the brand's newest glow-giving formula at his master class with Kim Kardashian West. It's a product that serves up the same shimmer-free, naturally dewy skin, only this time it's a rich, emollient cream rather than a mist. I had to try it for myself.
According to the brand, there's Japanese purple rice, hyaluronic acid, and natural botanical abstracts (the same ones as the mist) to nourish, replenish ceramides, stimulate collagen production, and very literally plump up your skin. Once I tried it, I knew it was a keeper. All you need is a small scoop for all the dew-inducing, plumping properties to take over. It's perfect for a pre-makeup facial massage (decadent right?) or can be used daily as your regular moisturizer. Now, with both my mist and cream in tow, I will never stop glowing. Seriously. The picture below is of my skin with zero face makeup on (there's mascara and brow gel, but you get the idea).
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Naked Cherry Collection ($18)
First of all, Naked Cherry is a moniker I can get behind. It sounds sultry, cool, and maybe a little nostalgic. Turns out, the lipsticks are just as good as the name led me to believe. There are three shades—Juicy (a light peach with copper shimmer), Devilish (a metallic berry pink), and Cherry (a deep berry wine). First, I went with Juicy because I loved how it glistened in the sunlight, allowing the shimmer to keep it all looking fresh and glossy but not too sparkly. Then, I dabbed on a bit of Devilish to add a little pink and fell in love. Together, the two shades created an incredible, full-bodied color and left my lips plumped and hydrated. It's all in the formula, Urban Decay's signature Vice offering, which houses avocado oil, jojoba seed oil, shea butter, and lactic acid. The ingredients are as good for your lips as the shades are for your look.
The Limited-Edition Set
Glow Recipe Limited Edition Watermelon Jelly Tote Set ($40)
I've written about the components of this set before—the Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer, the watermelon sleep mask with a 5000-person waiting list, and jelly sheet mask—because every Glow Recipe skincare product I've tried is lightweight, fresh, hydrating, and effective. According to Glow Recipe, "watermelon rind and flesh [are] traditionally used in Korea to soothe irritated, inflamed skin. It's full of skin-restoring vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids." Plus, now, the brand has launched the entire set packed inside the most adorable blush-colored bag, which is proof of my aforementioned point that it just gets it.
The moisturizer offers up a formula that's 90% derived from watermelon for all those wonderful antioxidant-rich benefits, as well as optimal potency and efficacy. It drenches your skin in moisture and leaves it feeling bouncy and plump throughout the day—similar to the sleep mask, which does exactly that, only while you sleep. I applied it right before bed and woke up to baby-soft, impossibly bright skin. Other star ingredients come in the form of seaweed, pumpkin, cabbage, pomegranate, banana, licorice, peony, and sweet potato extracts. Then, I like to finish off my spa experience with the sheet mask, though it's not really a sheet at all. The "sheet" itself is a cotton-free blend of watermelon extract and natto gum, a decision the founders made when they realized it helped the ingredients better penetrate your skin. It leaves you de-puffed, refreshed, and noticeably dewy. I like to rub the excess serum from the package into my skin, along my neck, chest, and hands. Below, find how good my skin looked post-products.
Huda Beauty The New Nude Eyeshadow Palette ($65)
I'm not usually a fan of palettes. I think they look beautiful and want to love them, but I so rarely wear eye shadow that they barely get any use. That, and I don't exactly know how to expertly apply it. So when I saw this gorgeous collection of 18 highly pigmented shades, including soft berry, dusty copper, rosy pink, and golden taupe, I had our managing editor, Lindsey, brush a combination of three shades across my lids. The texture is unmatched—velvety, easily blendable, and formulated aloe vera and coconut oil for a butter-like application. Then there are the shades. My favorites are drenched in shimmer, but there are so many warm and cool-tone options for about a million combinations.
On me, we used Lace as a base (a soft lilac) and added Daydream on top for some dreamy dimension and shine. Then, along my outer crease, Lindsey added a touch of Tease (a slightly darker purple) for definition. I'm in love, and I resign to re-create this look in different shades until I use them all up.
The Lip Liner
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk ($22)
While this product isn't new (I've been toting it around in my bag with me for years), it is new to Sephora, and that's certainly cause for celebration.
The liner's waterproof, velvety texture and oil-wax formula ensures that your lip color lasts all day without feathering. My favorite shade, Pillow Talk, mimics and enhances the natural hue of my lips, making it so I don't need to apply anything on top. I have less-than-defined lips, which is an issue when it comes to precision, and the pencil took care of all that. It glides on smoothly (but not so smoothly that it’s difficult to control). After applying, my lips looked instantly bigger, softer, and decidedly pillowy.
The Two-in-One Product
Fenty Beauty Frosted Metal Lipstick 3-Pc. Set in Frost Bunny ($39)
I'd never been really big into "holiday" makeup looks. The cliché of it all kind of turned me off. That being said, I have entirely changed my thought process with the advent of otherworldly, shimmery, alien-esque collections like that of Fenty Beauty. The products are cool, not cheesy, and they offer up something different than red lipstick and gold glitter.
I started out with the Metallic Eye + Lip Crayon in Parka Princess ($39), expecting only to use it on my eyelids. It imparted the most beautiful, glowy, slightly sheer rose-gold finish that looked metallic and cool against my pale skin tone. Then, I loved it so much I got a bit carried away and put in on my lips. I thought it'd be a fresh take on the monochromatic look to do it up in festive sheens. Halfway through lining my lips, I was really excited. Maybe I am into holiday makeup, after all, I thought to myself. To add more glitz, I lined the inner corners of my eyes with the Metallic Eye + Lip Crayon in Slush Fund ($39), a metallic blue-gray that made my eyes look brighter and more intense. Then, because I was having so much fun, I also lined my Cupid's bow with the same pencil.
The Shimmer Veil
CoverFx Shimmer Veil in Mercury ($28)
CoverFx's Shimmer Veil offerings are so pretty. Previously, they came in a bunch of light, cool-toned, ethereal shades. However, for fall, the brand really stepped it up a notch with deep reds, copper, and bronze options. My favorite, though, is Mercury, a gun-metal hue that practically melts into your skin, providing glossy, shimmery, light-catching illumination wherever you see fit. I applied it to my lids, cheeks, and Cupid's bow; tapped to blend; and was out the door in minutes. It's all courtesy of the weightless cream texture. See it swatched in the sunlight below.
The Chemical Exfoliator
Moon Juice Beauty Shroom Exfoliating Acid Potion ($39)
"I've been battling some lingering acne scars and discoloration after several weeks of travel, and they've virtually disappeared thanks to the Exfoliating Acid Potion, a 'magic' blend of AHA and BHA acids. I also love that it's gentle enough that I don't feel any stinging or tingling sensation when I slather it all over my face at night. Have I mentioned my blackheads are now nonexistent, too? This shit works," our wellness editor, Victoria, gushed to me when she first tried this product, so I had to try it. Turns out, it's as good as she said it was. The five-acid complex features glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid (all my favorites) to help encourage natural cellular turnover and unclog pores. Then, vitamin B3 and adaptogenic reishi and tocotrienols boost your skin's hydration. After one use, my blackheads were gone (yes, gone), and my face felt soothed and toned.
Ellis Brooklyn Myth Hydraparfum ($70)
This magnificent scent was recommended to me by Faith, our trusty editorial director, and I'm never going back. I've been vacillating between scents for a few months now, never sure if I could commit to just one. Well, folks, this is it. Its notes are airy jasmine petals (I know it sounds crazy, but it literally smells airy), orchid, musk, and white cedarwood. It's warm and sensual but also fresh and floral in all the best ways. It makes me feel sexy and confident when I spray it on (I did so in the image below, right before speaking on my first-ever panel). So basically, it makes me feel like Wonder Woman wrapped in a cashmere blanket surrounded by flowers in a wood cabin. It's that good, people.
FYI: Peep the nine secrets to bright, dewy skin—no matter your skin type.
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