2021 paved the way for a new era in beauty. With the pandemic still in full force and sweatpants still the outfit of choice, buyers wanted products that are accessible, unique, and easier to use – and companies listened. I personally was on the hunt for makeup items that fit seamlessly into my routine and worked with my skin, not against, through nourishing formulas. Check out the 15 best new makeup picks of 2021…and get your Sephora shopping cart ready.
*In choosing this year’s best new makeup buys, Stefanie took into account their positive customer reviews, ingenuity, skin-loving ingredients, and how many beauty editors raved about them.
We included Tower 28 in our September feature about indie beauty and skincare brands you should know about. Fragrance- and alcohol-free, the SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation is designed for sensitive skin and helps tame redness while giving you a natural finish. It even has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance! The 14 shades are named after the company’s favorite hangouts in Los Angeles.
You’ve probably seen a million TikToks about this one mascara. The Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara adds intense length to even the thinnest lashes. The product has garnered over 47,000 (!) five-star reviews on Amazon alone, and with the low price point, it makes the perfect impulse purchase. Some reviewers say it’s a dupe for Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara and Hourglass Unlocked Mascara.
Rihanna, you never disappoint. The Fenty Gloss Bomb Cream Color Drip Lip Cream takes the original gloss formula we know and love and adds bold pigment. The huge wand gives payoff with one swipe, offering full-coverage color. Plus, it has a peach-vanilla scent with vitamin A to nourish your lips.
Kosas is another brand we featured in our September story about indie makeup brands. The Air Brow Tinted Eyebrow Gel caters to all hair colors, including auburn and grey. With castor oil and panthenol, its mousse-gel formula gives you feathery, airy brows that stay in place.
If you’re on the hunt for a full-coverage foundation that doesn’t feel heavy, try the e.l.f. Cosmetics Camo CC Cream. Made with SPF 30 for your daily dose of sun protection, the cream is infused with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to pamper your skin while also giving a natural finish. It comes in a wide range of shades.
The Rare Beauty Stay Vulnerable Melting Cream Blush, part of Selena Gomez’s makeup line, gets an A+ for presentation alone. I want to take a bite out of the Nearly Berry shade shown on the left! The unique liquid-like cream formula is non-greasy and weightless for a natural flush that looks fantastic every time—no more worrying about your blush caking or creasing. Apply using a dense brush or the tips of your fingers.
Huda Beauty’s Rose Quartz Eyeshadow Palette is a supercharged, crystal-inspired palette with shades that look fabulous on all skin tones. You’ll get a selection of mattes, metallics, marble creams, and a “crushed stone” pearly gloss hybrid that blends like a dream. The palette also includes a jumbo mirror, making touch-ups on the go a breeze.
You know I had to do it. Glossier released two new Lidstar shades in 2021, and Branch is our favorite. The soft, ultra-pigmented liquid eyeshadow in a bold bronze color with flecks of gold lasts all day long. Apply a few swipes of Lidstar before a Zoom meeting to look put together, even if you just rolled out of bed 20 minutes ago.
Next up on the list is another gel to help keep your brows locked in place. The ONE/SIZE, BrowKiki Nourishing Tinted Brow Gel from Patrick Starr, is waterproof and smudge-proof. One reviewer said the product looks natural and doesn’t look like they’ve drawn in the brows at all. Pair with your favorite brow pencil, and you’re ready to take on the day.
Pat McGrath released a new shade of her legendary LiquiLUST Lipstick, this time in a vivid red. It’s got a whipped formula that dries down for a 12-hour matte finish without feeling too heavy on the lips. Use the applicator for precise color, or tap with your fingers for more of an ombré look.
Color-changing blush?! No, you’re not dreaming. Youthforia’s BYO Blush reacts to your skin’s pH and provides a natural flush. Apply on top of foundation, powder, or onto a makeup-free face. It’s so lightweight and hydrating that you’ll forget you’re wearing it. One reviewer said it’s the first blush they tried that genuinely looks like a “glow from within.”
The Lancôme Teint Idole Full Coverage Concealer has your back. It has a precise applicator that covers up dark circles, red spots, and blemishes on all skin types in a heartbeat. It has a matte finish and works best with the Lancôme Teint Idole Foundation (which is one of my holy grail products). You can use this to conceal, correct, highlight, and contour.
Halsey’s makeup brand About Face delivers serious shimmer. Every Light Lock Lip Gloss shade has all of the shine and none of the stickiness. The oil-gloss hybrid has peppermint and lavender to soothe your lips, plus the packaging is out-of-this-world gorgeous. As I always say, you can never have too many lip glosses.
The L’Oreal Paris True Match Nude Tinted Serum contains 1% hyaluronic acid, a substance known for providing intense hydration. You can pack on more serum for a full coverage, natural finish that brightens your complexion, just make sure to shake the bottle before applying. Reviews say it doesn’t leave your skin feeling oily.
2021 is the year of the liquid blush! The Freck Beauty Cheekslime Blush + Lip Tint is a double-duty item to keep in your arsenal. The oil-free, smooth formula blends and dries down with a natural finish. Use on your cheeks and lips for an instant pick-me-up. The packaging, meanwhile, is cool and retro and will look good no matter where you display it.