The Best Beauty Products We Tried This Year

Updated 11/09/19
Close-up of fresh-faced woman with topknot

Beauty is, by absolutely no means, one size fits all. The mascara my bestie cannot live without? I think it's rubbish. Or the heaven-sent Rationale skincare regime that's basically my religion? Probably not ideal if you have thin, dry, sensitized skin. But, there are some products so great, so iconic, and so effective that I feel it would be a disservice not to tell you all about them. After all, I rub a lot of creams on my face for a living—surely that's got to count for some sort of credibility, amirite? 

Below, you will find an extremely comprehensive, albeit large roundup of all the products that made my heart sing in 2018. The ones that actually did stuff—my empties, so to speak. Some are glamorous, others are from Woolies (because for every Tom Ford bronzer I use, there's a bottle of Du'It Heel Balm just out of sight), but the common thread here, is that they're all great. So whether you're desperate for a self-tanner that won't stain your linen, or your life's mission is to find the perfect dry shampoo, here is certainly a wonderful place to start. 

May I present, the Byrdie 2018 empties edit. I promise it's a real treat. 

Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-Powder Très Invisible Dry Shampoo
Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-Powder Très Invisible Dry Shampoo $30

Traditionally, I have steered away from most dry shampoos because I am a chronic hair-toucher, and hate the chalky feeling on my hands afterward. This is the only formula I've found that is so light it completely disappears into hair, leaves it feeling actually clean (not gritty or dry), and works on a variety of hair tones (it's clear, rather than white). 

Chanel Healthy Glow Luminous Multi-Colour
Chanel Healthy Glow Luminous Multi-Colour $62

I'm well aware that $62 is a little extra for a bronzer, but I love this product so much I've hit the pan underneath. I use the shade "Deep", and it gives the most heavenly, sun-kissed color. I dust it across my cheeks, nose, and eyelids. You can isolate the shades too if that makes the eye-watering price a little more justifiable. 

Dermal Therapy Lip Balm
Dermal Therapy Lip Balm $3

Even the most chapped of lips stand no chance against this product. Yes, it looks unassuming, but it truly saved me over the winter months. It was actually recommended to me by my colleague, Steph, so consider this me paying it forward. Formulated for those suffering the dryness associated with Roaccutane, it contains a "secret sauce" of ingredients like palmitic acid (a fatty compound found naturally in the skin), and lanolin for a smooth, hydrated kisser. I've had many friends message me and thank me for pointing them to this product. 

Dior Lip Glow
Dior Lip Glow $36

I love this so much—it 100% lives up to the hype. I like the original version for full, plump, naturally-flushed lips. I actually find it quite hydrating, too. 

Dr Teal's Epsom Salts Lavender
Dr Teal's Epsom Salts Lavender $6

I love nothing more than a hot, steaming bath. It soothes sore muscles, loosens aching joints, and lightens the load of emotional baggage one accumulates during the week. My favorite bath soak ever is Goop's Emotional Detox, but it is very expensive so this $6 option from Dr Teal's is my go-to. I throw two cups into a hot bath about once a week before bed and emerge feeling like a shiny new human. I suffer quite bad back pain, and really find the warmth and the Epsom salts help. The lavender scent is a dream, too. 

Mio Skin The Mio Body Brush
Mio Skin The Mio Body Brush $15

This year, I finally got into body brushing, and I can now see why Miranda is such a fan. While I don't have her discipline to do it every single day, I have noticed a huge difference just getting around to it say, twice a week. While my cellulite isn't gone (and let's be honest, who cares), my skin is smoother, firmer, and marks from mosquito bites have faded significantly. It's super invigorating, so I like to do it in the morning before using a zesty moisturizer. I have this one from Mio, but anything you find at the chemist will do. 

Fudge Urban Matte Wax With No Shine & Firm Hold
Fudge Urban Matte Wax With No Shine & Firm Hold $7

For me personally, 2018 will forever go down in history as the year I cut, and proceeded to grow out, bangs. Don't get me wrong, they were fabulous when I left the salon, but the moment I washed them and was left to my own styling devices, I knew they were not for me. According to my hairstylist, bangs are, "not for the faint-hearted", and I can confirm this is an accurate statement. To keep the shorter bits secure without the need for a million bobby pins, I employed the help of a matte hair wax. I stole this Fudge option from my boyfriend, but he got angry, so I decided it was time that I bought my own. It's $7, and I can't recommend it enough for anyone who wants a slick look, sans baby-hairs. I literally carry it in my purse these days.

Ilia Multistick
Ilia Multistick $36

Creamy blushes are my favorite, and this Ilia formula is the best. It's sheer enough so that you can dab directly out of the tube, but still has a decent amount of pigment. But, the cheeks is not all it's good for. You can use this baby on your lips and eyes too! How's that for convenience? It also features recyclable packaging, making it a win for the environment. 

James Read Express Glow Face Mask
James Read Express Glow Face Mask $34

I sang praise to this self tanner-mask hybrid a few weeks ago, and after a weekend of festivities, I just finished the bottle (I got about 16 full uses). It gives glowy, tanned skin in a matter of hours, and thanks to hyaluronic acid, plumps fine lines too. It takes me from zombie to Gigi in three hours, and for that, I'll repurchase.  

Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser SPF 50+
Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Moisturiser SPF 50+ $54

As far as chemical facial sunscreens go, this one is gold class. Hydrating and easily absorbed, it applies like a moisturizer with the benefit of broad-spectrum, SPF 50+ coverage. This is a great everyday sunscreen to wear under makeup. I've gone through two tubes, and have no plans on slowing. If you're oily, the brand does a mattifying option too. 

It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream
It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream $39

An overachiever if there ever was one, this CC cream is proof you truly can have it all. Glow, coverage, SPF, moisture, and longevity. 

Omorovisza Complexion Perfector BB Cream SPF 20
Omorovisza Complexion Perfector BB Cream SPF 20 $81

I like to think of this Omorvisza tint as It Cosmetic's little cousin. The coverage isn't as bulletproof, but it delivers a healthy amount of luminosity and evens out minor imperfections. If you're a full coverage kinda' woman, you won't be a fan, but if you crave skin that looks exactly like skin but slightly better, you'll love it. It's quite hydrating, so oily types should give it a whirl in store before you cough up the funds. This is my "weekend skin" go-to. 

Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots
Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots $4

Acne stickers are the unsung hero of the beauty world. In my opinion, they're right up there with electricity and peanut butter as one of humanity's greatest discoveries. They are essentially hydrocolloid bandages or little medical dressings that absorb fluid. In this case, the fluid is pus (sorry), so think of these as little whitehead vacuums. They work in about eight hours, and I can guarantee you won't suffer the dryness or redness that is often associated with other spot treatments and picking. Best suited to white pustules (as opposed to cysts and blackheads), you can wear them anywhere, should you fancy. These ones from Peach Slices are the best I've tried. 

Rationale Super Antioxidant Serum
Rationale Super Antioxidant Serum $162

Rationale is undoubtedly one of the greatest skincare discoveries I've made this year. I personally use all six products in the brand's regime, but they are quite active, so dry, sensitized skins should proceed with caution. I will, however, recommend this antioxidant serum as a great all-rounder. It's packed with antioxidants, lipids, and ceramides to protect the skin from environmental aggressors like UVA rays and pollution for solid barrier function, and protection from premature aging. 

She Thinx Sports Panties
She Thinx Sports Panties $33

Just last month I tried period undies for the first time. I feel a little shameful admitting I was weirded out by the concept originally, but a girlfriend of mine convinced me to try them. Turns out, they're great. I am not sold on wearing them out and about on a regular workday, but for lazing around at home, sleeping, and slothing in general, I'm a huge fan. My only advice would be that they may not suit anyone with a heavy flow. I also love the environmental benefits—so many of our discarded sanitary products end up in landfills, or worse, the ocean, so anything I can do to reduce that is a win. 

Slip Large Silk Scrunchies
Slip Large Silk Scrunchies $34

You do not know true freedom until you take your hair out of a top-knot only to find you have no kinks. That is what you can expect when you transition from regular hair bands to a silk scrunchie. These ones from Australian brand Slip are my favorite. They also look super cute, and there's a stack of colors available. 

L'Oreal Paradise mascara
L'Oreal Paradise mascara $8

Mascara is my jam. There's nothing I love more than a set of full, defined lashes. L'Oreal's Paradise Mascara is everything you would hope for: Volumizing, lengthening, and not too chunky. I polished off a tube earlier this year, and I'm hanging out for another.

Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow
Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow $25

To me, these Stila liquid shadows are like party makeup for dummies. You cannot stuff them up. They're so easy to blend, do not crease (no matter how hard you go on a Saturday night), and seemingly defy the laws of gravity in that the glitter particles won't move around your face. I love the shades Cloud and Pigalle. 

St Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Water Mousse Purity
St Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Water Mousse Purity $17

I have never been a huge self-tanner. I find it messy, smelly, and I hate the fact it would stain my sheets. I was a special events tanner only until I tried this one. It is (drumroll)... clear! So no weird brown marks on pajamas and linen. It truly is one of the greatest beauty innovations I've seen this year. While it doesn't have a guide color, anyone who's familiar in the realm of self-tanning shouldn't have an issue with streaks. The color is deep and glowy, but still natural. There's definitely a tan-like scent, but it's super subtle. I apply before bed and rinse upon waking. I am a huge fan. 

Venustus Melting Muscle Roll On
Venustus Melting Muscle Roll On $34

Sitting at a desk all day basically means I have posture akin to that of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and while yoga helps, sometimes I still crave a moment of relief come 3 p.m. This potent roller ball from Venustus is the real deal. I apply it to shoulders and my neck periodically throughought the day, and it provides instant relief thanks to a blend of peppermint, clove, and menthol. 

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer $40

Another year, another pot of RMS Living Luminizer. If you only buy one highlighter in your lifetime, make it this cruelty-free one. 

Lanolips 101 Ointment
Lanolips 101 Ointment $13

This balm is the MVP in my beauty bag. It does everything: soothes chapped lips, hydrates torn cuticles, pays your rent (I'm kidding, but it's seriously great). I have one in every bag, desk drawer, and the middle console of my car. There is nowhere I will go without my Lano. 

Weleda Skin Food
Weleda Skin Food $17

Not many products can live to be 100 and still remain a staple in beauty kits around the world. Skin Food is an exception here. Thick and buttery (like that Betty Crocker frosting that comes in a can) it's a tall drink of water for parched skin. In winter, I love it on my face. Otherwise, it makes a great salve on knees, elbows, and feet. Or a hand cream when the weather is really dry. Or a lip balm. Basically anything! If it's good enough for VB, it's good enough for me. 

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