The year has been a doozy for countless reasons, the lowest-stakes of which is probably the bevy of beauty products Team Byrdie tried this year. From moisturizers to dry shampoos to highlighters, we tested and reviewed thousands of items. Some broke us out, some were totally forgettable, but a select few blew our minds. Those are the products to which this list is dedicated.
Admittedly, some of our favorite products of the year were pretty damn pricey, like Sisley Black Rose lip and eye twists ($50 each) and Shani Darden Texture Reform ($95). But not everything we tried and loved was so budget-breaking. The following 17 products, which we discovered in 2018 and became genuinely obsessed with, are all available at the drugstore. Keep scrolling to shop Team Byrdie's favorite affordable skincare, makeup, and hair products of the year.
Korean brand Joah launched at CVS this year, and our managing editor, Lindsey, was taken with their shockingly high-performance brow pencil. "I've been faithful to the same brow pencil for ages, but after trying this variation in Cool Taupe, my old faithful has met its match," she wrote in a review. "The micro tip makes for precise application and perfect hairlike strokes, and the formula itself is slightly waxy so it stays in place all day long."
One of our editorial director Faith's favorite affordable launches of the year is this stick blush from Burt's Bees, which is super moisturizing and blendable thanks a hydrating "core" in the middle of the stick. "The blush in Blush Bay is the perfect rosy pink with cool undertones, and it looks just as good on the cheeks as it does on my lips," Faith says. She's also a fan of Burt's Bees All Aglow highlighter from the same collection, which "has just the slightest pearly hue but mostly just makes your skin look lit-from-within," she says.
This sleeper hit dry shampoo has become the favorite of both our assistant editor Erin and beauty writer Kaitlyn. For only $9, you get a refreshing, volumizing formula made with bamboo fibers and plant collagen that rivals products three times the price.
This year, Olay reformulated its iconic moisturizer to be fragrance-free, placing it squarely on Lindsey's list of best drugstore products of the year. The same refreshing, lightweight, non-oily formula, now totally scent-less for those sensitive to added fragrance.
Think of this as the chicer, slightly more high-maintenance older sister to your old trusty twist-up tube of ChapStick. Senior editor Hallie couldn't go without naming this delightfully moisturizing lip balm (formulated with vitamin C, vitamin E, and omega-3, -6, and -9) as one of her favorite drugstore picks of the year.
Hallie turned me onto this under-the-radar brow gel, which quickly became one of my favorites of the year. As Hallie put it, "The shades are perfectly ashy, easy to blend, and natural-looking with practically zero effort. The result is full, feathered brows that don't budge." I fully concur.
Our New York editors fell in love with Neutrogena's 2018 body lotion launch. Lindsey says, "[The product] leaves my skin intensely moisturized with no greasy aftermath, and it has a big pump bottle so I can dispense it easily and get on with the rest of my routine."
Garnier has quickly become one of my favorite skincare brands at the drugstore thanks to its SkinActive line, which is vegan, cruelty-free, 96% natural, and totally nontoxic. This green tea– and aloe-infused face wash is a go-to for my combo skin, as it's gentle and hydrating but also deeply cleansing. I keep it in the shower and use it almost every morning. (I've also been loving the brand's rose water face mist.)
Erin and I are both hooked on this drugstore texture spray, which is not only packaged like a product twice the price but also delivers expensive results. The spray offers the ideal amount of tousled texture with no icky residue at all. It's also cruelty-free and smells incredible.
Erin discovered this affordable find in her mom's bathroom and became quickly smitten with its "radiantly dewy effect." Both she and her mother agree it is the single most flattering illuminator you can buy at the drugstore right now.
You can always trust Essie to come out with the best new shades, and no polish gets Byrdie editors going like its Gel Couture line. It's gel nail polish that requires no UV lamps to dry; you just apply like a regular polish and topcoat, and it literally lasts for two weeks. We could wear this just-launched shimmery nude shade Last Nightie every day.
Kaitlyn discovered these stunning liquid shadows this fall and has not been able to quit them. As she wrote in a recent review, they "are basically lip gloss for your eyes. They can be applied atop another product to add shine, or they can be worn alone for a subtler and more shimmery look. I prefer the latter. All I do is swipe a little across each lid straight from the doe-foot applicator before blending it in with my ring finger. What starts out as a liquid quickly dries down to a powder consistency, which means it doesn't crease or move all that easily (even after a full evening of dinner and drinks—I tested it). The final result can only be described as shimmery perfection."
Erin and Faith both named this 2018 launch as their favorite drugstore foundation of the year. As Erin wrote in a review, "The doe-foot applicator is brilliant and raises the bar where product design is concerned. Second, there's an ample amount of SPF in the formula; it fits my day-to-day craving for buildable, medium to full coverage with a featherlight feel. … I liked that the finish wasn't too matte or too dewy. … I never thought I'd say this, but I may have found my new favorite foundation. And yes, it's less than $15."
Faith and I both are new fans of this budget-friendly toning shampoo, which is sulfate-free, pleasant-smelling, and leaves blonde hair noticeably brighter and shinier—aka everything you could want in a purple shampoo for just $8.
When you're dealing with a super-frustrating dermatological issue, sometimes this simplest formulas are the best. Such was the case this year for Faith, who swore by this healing, moisturizing cream to help soothe her extremely dry, eczema-prone skin.
Hallie experienced Dove's Volume & Fullness dry shampoo formula for the first time this year and was wholly astonished. The product works not only to refresh dirty strands but also to style the hair in this big, messy, bedhead fashion, giving her the Olsen Twins hair of her dreams.
This year, Erin named this $5 bronzer as one of the products that help her "trick people into thinking [she has] perfect skin." The warm but non-orange hue adds just the perfect amount of sun-kissed glow.
What were your favorite drugstore products of the year? DM us your recommendations on Instagram @byrdiebeauty!