Trust is a fickle thing, especially when it pertains to the things we put on (and in) our bodies. We read reviews all day long for advice on which entrée to order at dinner, the best cobbler to heal our worn-out soles, and, most frequently, which beauty products to buy. Before purchasing, we're likely to have read tens (even hundreds) of reviews in order to make a decision. But there's a category of recommendations proven to be far more influential: word of mouth.
According to a recent Nielsen online survey, 84% of global consumers across 58 countries trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues over anything else. Trust in online resources is increasing (hopefully that includes our Reviewed series), but when it comes to which offerings are best suited for our skin, bodies, and hair, we listen to our inner circle first and foremost.
It makes sense, really, because we trust their advice for so many other things like relationships, life issues, etc. They know us and also happen to understand our skin, climate, and daily activities. So without further ado, we've listed our favorite products we learned about through word of mouth and why we can't live without them.
Recommended by: a co-worker
"I'll get right to the point: I think I've found my holy-grail cleanser, and it's all thanks to our news editor, Victoria Hoff. She's been raving about this cleanser since I've known her, and though I've always trusted her opinion, I thought I was happy with the cleansers I had been using. I WAS WRONG. This cleanser has a texture like a buttery, fragrant balm that melts instantly when you warm it up in your palms and massage it into your skin. Unlike other balm cleansers, it actually does what it promises and magically melts all my makeup off in one go.
It also smells incredible (but not overpowering)—slightly herbal and fresh at the same time—and doesn't leave a film behind after you wash it off, which is my biggest pet peeve. I use the muslin cloth it comes with to lightly exfoliate, and my skin looks plump, clean, and healthy afterward. It makes me look forward to washing my face every night, which is no easy feat. Thanks, Victoria!"
Recommended by: a co-worker and a trusted makeup artist
"Byrdie Beauty Director Deven always has well-groomed brows and had been talking about The Brow Gal's Skinny Brow Pencil for years—literally, we've known each other since we first graduated from college. About a year ago, I met The Brow Gal creator, Tonya Crooks, at an event where she proceeded to tweeze, tint, and pencil in my brows to perfection. She used only her Skinny Brow Pencil, and I knew immediately I needed to take it home. Sure enough, it made my previous brow pencil seem like a janky colored pencil from Crayola.
It's hard to describe what makes the pencil so good. It's a mix of the perfect waxiness, pigment, and ability to create realistic-looking hairs in just a few strokes. I now boldly proclaim my love for this pencil at every possibility, and Deven probably internally rolls her eyes and thinks, I told you so."
Recommended by: a hairstylist
"I write about this mask so much it's starting to feel ridiculous, but I swear it's only out of genuine love. My genius colorist, Matt Rez, told me about this stuff the first time he ever did my highlights. He was like, 'We don't sell this brand at our salon, but just between you and me, you need to go out and get it.' He was right. The product's formula strengthens color-damaged hair from the inside out and leaves strands so soft and shiny (but never greasy)! I honestly can't recommend this mask enough.
Recommended by: a co-worker
"This is really a shoutout to the whole Tata Harper brand, which is both all-natural and ultra-luxurious. A beauty editor I used to work with, a woman who everyone on the staff admired for being impossibly polished, swore by all things Tata Harper and was always hanging out at the founder's gorgeous farm in Vermont. So now whenever I have the opportunity to try something new from the brand, I do because I know she would approve. Its Purifying Mask ($68) and Revitalizing Body Oil ($95) are two other favorites."
Recommended by: a makeup artist
"Just about every celebrity makeup artist I've interviewed keeps Koh Gen Do foundation in their kit, which is what turned me onto the stuff. They just reformulated so the product is even more featherlight, buildable, and offers incredible coverage while still looking like skin even in HD."
Recommended by: a co-worker
"Senior editor Hallie turned me onto this unexpectedly top-quality drugstore product after I was kvetching about my inability to find a brow gel that both filled in my brows and kept them in place. But this affordable find does just that, resulting in full, feathered brows that don't budge."
Recommended by: a friend
"I've never been one for super-pink tints—I usually gravitate toward reds and nudes instead. But when a friend showed me the subtle pink and dewy finish of this moisturizing balm, I was sold. It smells so good, feels fancy, and adds a luscious glow and plump to your lips. I usually go through a million different balms—but this is the only one that has me going back for more. I'll never give it up."
Recommended by: a co-worker
"I read reviews about this blend of ferulic acid vitamins C and E for months before deciding to try it. It wasn't until more than half of my co-workers sung its praises that I integrated it into my daily routine. Deven, our beauty director, even wrote a love letter to the SkinCeuticals product. And once I started using it, I immediately understood why. It made my skin look brighter, dewier, and more radiant the first time I applied it. The formula works to protect against environmental damage, retain moisture in your skin, improve fine lines and wrinkles, as well as brighten dark spots.
It's like a magical one-stop shop for all things skincare."
Recommended by: a dermatologist
"Dr. Dendy Engelman introduced me to these amazing individually packaged gel masks ($120) from Derm Institute. Especially when it gets colder out, my skin gets crazy dry, so these are an amazing pick-me-up when I need a mega dose of hydration. Basically, they're like all the goodness of a sheet mask without the sheet, so you can slather it on and go about your business without having to sit perfectly still with a slippery sheet on your face. They're also great for plane rides so you can mask without scaring the other passengers."
Recommended by: a family member
"Another great skin product is this argan milk that my mom actually gave me. I'm already a huge fan of Josie Maran's argan oil, so I knew this product would be a home run, too. Turns out I was right—I get the most beautiful dewy glow to my complexion after I use it. It's unlike anything I've ever tried before."
Recommended by: Helen Koo, senior marketing manager of Dermstore
"While doing research for this story, Helen told me about this new launch from SkinCeuticals which features a strategic blend of kojic acid, tranexamic acid (an up-and-coming acid you're likely to start hearing more and more of), niacinamide, and HEPES. Helen told me (and later proved with before and after photos) about the marketable difference the serum had made in improving hyperpigmentation within just three weeks. I was intrigued and have been using the serum, which is specifically formulated to brighten and ease discoloration, morning and night for almost one week.
Even though I was skeptical, I've already noticed an overall improvement in my redness and some residual acne scarring I have. You can use it twice per day, but since I have a sacred nighttime routine and a pretty flippant morning one, I've started building the serum into the latter instead. I apply three to five drops post-toner and pre-SPF."
Recommended by: Bruce Grayson, head makeup artist at the Oscars
"MAC Mineralize Blush in Petal Power: What's funny is I've actually owned this gorgeous blush forever but had just never used it (which, in hindsight, feels criminal). However, when I interviewed Bruce Grayson (the head makeup artist at the Oscars) earlier this year, he referred to this blush as one of his must-haves for backstage makeup touch-ups. Realizing the name rang a bell, I went home, scrounged through some boxes, and sure enough, found Petal Power. And the rest is history. I've been wearing it weekly (I can't ever not wear blush), love the universally flattering hue of pink, and appreciate how it also has some subtle shimmer which saves me a step if I don't feel like applying highlighter.
Recommended by: a friend and fellow editor
"One of the perks of having a circle of beauty editors at your disposal is that the product recommendations are both top-notch and never-ending. Case in point: If I remember this correctly, my friend Lauren Valenti (a beauty writer at Vogue.com with an unbelievable head of curls) posted a particularly unbelievable shot of her ringlets on Instagram courtesy of hairstylist and curl maven Vernon François, and I immediately bought both a diffuser and François's Moisture Curl Spray. (In retrospect, this was a very Regina-George's-army-pants-and-flip-flops situation, but Lauren's hair is THAT GOOD, okay?) Sure enough, this duo completely transformed my hair, which typically has a layer of curls shielded by a top layer of lifeless poof.
No longer: The spray helps those unruly strands reach their full S-curl potential and even manages to revive them several days after shampooing. I'm hooked."