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InStyle Best Beauty Buys 2023: Makeup

The beauty of makeup is that it can transform you in whatever way you need, whether you’re prepping for a big work presentation or getting ready for a photo-worthy event. Be it a liquid foundation that (finally!) comes in a shade match for your skin tone, a mascara that gives you out-to-there lashes, or a lip gloss that basically reinvents the category, a holy grail-level makeup product can make the difference in how you look — and, more importantly, feel.

To help you make the most of your makeup routine, then, we’ve sifted through the metaphorical slush pile to find the very best makeup products out there. Not only did we keep an eye on shade ranges, innovative formulations, and other perks (like how they wear and perform over time), but we also made sure to include a variety of price points. With that, scroll ahead to see what made the cut.

Best Foundation for Oily Skin: Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15

Bobbi Brown


“If you’re looking for a natural, skin-like finish, then this is it. It’s an oil-free, water-based foundation, and once it sets on your skin, it looks even better as time goes on. It’s sheer but buildable, and leaves a beautiful, even finish to the skin” — Neil Scibelli, celebrity makeup artist

Best Foundation for Dry Skin: Nars Cosmetics Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation

Ulta


“This is my go-to for the red carpet. I love the way this makes skin look like skin, and it also serves well for long-wear use.” — Daniel Martin, celebrity makeup artist

Best Skin Tint: Westman Atelier Vital Skincare Complexion Drops

Sephora


“You might be tired of hearing ‘Your skin, but better,’ but there’s no better way to describe the coverage that this skin tint provides. It blends in seamlessly to even out texture and provide skin with a dewy glow. It also has ingredients like tsubaki oil, ginseng, and pomegranate extract to hydrate and nourish.” —Audrey Noble, InStyle contributing beauty editor

Best Concealer: Dior Backstage Flash Perfector Concealers

Sephora


“This concealer offers buildable coverage and leaves a skin-like finish. The brush applicator is also really helpful and unique, so you can paint the concealer right on; the built-in caffeine formula will help with any puffiness around the eyes. It’s also waterproof and crease-proof, so you don’t have to worry about it smudging throughout the day.” —N.S.

Best Makeup Primer: Glow Recipe Strawberry BHA Pore-Smooth Blur Drops

Sephora


“Using encapsulated beta hydroxy acid and strawberry enzymes, this serum and makeup primer helps to improve the appearance of pores while also offering a matte finish. It also works to reduce excess shine for up to eight hours, and can be worn under makeup or reapplied throughout the day if needed.” —Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist

Best Translucent Powder: Uoma Beauty Hydroblast Finishing Powder

Ulta


“This is the ultimate setting powder — especially if you have oily skin like me. It’s made with 52% water, so you get a cooling feel as you lock in your makeup, and has ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated. No notes, this is pretty much perfect.” —A.N.

Best Setting Spray: Half Magic Dew Lock Setting Spray

Half Magic Beauty


“Created by Euphoria’s lead makeup artist Donni Davy, the Dew Lock is a fine mist that locks makeup in place. It contains glycerin and niacinamide to also help even out skin tone and nourish the skin — and, as a bonus, it gives skin a dewy glow.” —A.N.

Best Blush: Beautyblender Bounce Liquid Whip Blush

Sephora


“This adds a great pop of color on the cheeks, and I also love using this as an undertone corrector as well. Playful Peach is my go-to for brightening under the eyes for medium to dark skin.” —D.M.

Best Lip and Cheek Color: Danessa Myricks Beauty Yummy Skin Blurring Balm Powder Flushed

Sephora


“It’s hands-down the perfect summer blush. The creamy formula delivers a natural flush, and its compact case makes it easy to take everywhere. Dancing Queen is my favorite shade; it really looks beautiful on dark skin.” —Ondine Jean-Baptiste, InStyle assistant social media editor

Best Multi-Stick: Ami Colé Desert Date Cream Multistick

Ami Colé


“My medium-tan skin tone makes it tough to find a lip and cheek color that actually shows up. That’s why I’m especially appreciative of this formula in Flame, a bright coral that’s not only visible on my skin, but feels nourishing, too, thanks to a blend of baobab and desert date oils.” —Deanna Pai, InStyle contributing beauty editor

Best Bronzer: Saie Glow Sculpt

Sephora


“I can’t get enough of this multitasking cream, which works as a blush, a highlighter, and a bronzer, depending on the shade. Not only do kukui oil and hyaluronic acid actively hydrate, but the shades offer just the right amount of definition and radiance.” —D.P.

Best Luminizer: Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Light Wand

Sephora


“Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Light Wand is my go-to for a dewy highlighted cheek these days. The pigment in these wands is incredible, and it works to add a hint of blush color — along with a luminizer built in. The creamy formula blends right into the skin effortlessly and reflects the light beautifully.” —N.S.

Best Highlighter: Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight

Sephora


“I love mixing this with foundation to brighten and highlight the face.” —D.M.

Best Contour: Makeup Forever HD Skin Cream Contour and Highlight Palette

Sephora


“I’ve been using this for years and it’s a kit staple. With this one in particular, you can mix and create deeper or lighter shades for contouring.” —D.M.

Best Liquid Eyeshadow: Milani Cosmetics Hypnotic Lights Eye Topper

Milani


“Anytime I want to add a little sparkle to my eye looks, I layer on this liquid eyeshadow. The iridescent shimmer goes with any shadow and stays on for hours, even when you’re cramped in a downtown disco bar dancing the night away — yes, speaking from personal experience.” —A.N.

Best Powder Eyeshadow: MAC Cosmetics Connect In Colour

MAC Cosmetics


“MAC never disappoints with its eyeshadows, and its latest launch is one of the most fun yet. You get 12 vibrant technicolor shades, ranging from warm mustard to electric blue; each is highly pigmented and packs one hell of a color punch. Plus, they stay on for hours. What more can you want?” —A.N.

Best Cream Eyeshadow: Hourglass Voyeur Eyeshadow Stick

Sephora


“When an eyeshadow claims that it won’t move, I tend to take that with a grain of salt. But this new shadow from Hourglass live up to every claim and more. Its creamy texture glides on easily and packs a ton of pigment. And, after an entire day under the sun, my shadow looked exactly the same as it did when I first put it on. Truly amazing.” —A.N.

Best Pencil Eyeliner: Lancôme Le Stilo Waterproof Eyeliner 

Sephora


“This doesn’t budge and I love using it in the waterline. The matte black shade stays true and deep in photos.” —D.M.

Best Liquid Eyeliner: r.e.m. beauty At the Borderline Eyeliner Marker

Ulta


“Ariana Grande knows her way around a liquid eyeliner: Second only to a super-high pony, her cat-eye flick is an indispensable part of the pop star’s signature look. So, it comes as no surprise that r.e.m. beauty’s liquid eyeliner works like a charm. With a super-sharp edge, marker tip, and non-drying formula, it’s one of my go-tos for creating a cute little wing in the morning.” —Madeline Hirsch, InStyle news director

Best Eyeshadow Palette: Pat McGrath Labs Mothership VII in Divine Rose

Pat McGrath


“I find myself coming back to this palette over and over again. It’s a beautiful, versatile palette with warm rose, earthy, and gold shades. They add the perfect spark to the eyes, and are extremely long-wearing and super pigmented.” —N.S.

Best Lengthening Mascara: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer

Honest


“This is a kit staple for beautiful, separated, long eyelashes. The formula is clean and buildable, too.” — D.M.

Best Curling Mascara: LYS Beauty Lash Confidence Curling & Lengthening Clean Mascara

Sephora


“As someone who wears contact lenses, I love that this has a clean formula. Even better: It works overtime to add volume, curl my lashes, and stretch them out for instant eye-opening effects — all without irritation.” —D.P.

Best Waterproof Mascara: L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Mascara 

Ulta


“This is a staple in my kit. It really hits all points when it comes to volumizing, thickening, and lengthening — without flaking or drying out the lashes. The black formula is also super carbon black, but it does come in a range of shades as well.” —N.S.

Best False Lashes: Lashify Control Kit

Lashify


“A foolproof at-home lash kit, you have everything you need here: Lashes that go on underneath upper lashes for a more natural fit (and easier application), a control wand, and gentle glue that won’t cause any damage.” —A.N.

Best Brow Gel: Kosas Air Brow

Sephora


“While this isn’t the newest brow gel out there, it consistently proves to be one of the greatest. With a single swipe, it can darken, thicken, and shape my brows — making it the MVP of my whole makeup routine.” —D.P.

Best Brow Pencil: Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Fiber Eyebrow Pencil

Ulta


“These are my go-to’s for creating a realistic, full brow. I like them versus a regular pencil because they contain fibers in the formula, so you get a more fluffy finish to the pencil; the fibers attach to the brow area, which creates a fuller, more volumized look to the brows. They’re also long-wearing and come in a range of great shades and undertones.” —N.S.

Best Liquid Lipstick: Fenty Icon Velvet Liquid Lipstick

Sephora


“Liquid lipsticks are here to stay, and this matte formula — which feels buttery and sets to a long-wear finish — is proof of why they belong in everyone’s lineup.” —D.P.

Best Lip Liner: Kevyn Aucoin Unforgettable Lip Definer

Kevyn Aucoin


“[Makeup artist] Kevyn Aucoin has been a long-time inspiration of mine, and one of my favorite products of his is the Unforgettable Lip Definer. This creamy liner goes on super smooth and comes in a range of wearable nudes, neutral pinks, and mauves. The liner also has a brush on the opposite end, so you can blend the color into the lips for an even finish.” —N.S.

Best Lipstick: Charlotte Tilbury Kissing Lipstick

Sephora


“This is my go-to brand for sexy nude lipstick. There are so many great undertones to choose from for that perfect nude lip-and-smokey eye combo.” —D.M.

Best Lip Tint: YSL Beauty Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm

Sephora


“If you’ve spent any time on Instagram recently, you’ll recognize this product from its many internet-famous supporters. And it’s not hard to see why it’s taken off recently. Somewhere between a balm and a satin lipstick, this viral fave from YSL delivers intense shine and equally intense pigment for a perfect jelly lip. It’s juicy, comes in a ton of color options, and nourishes your lips. What’s not to love?” —M.H.

Best Lip Gloss: Tower 28 Shine On Lip Jelly Gloss

Tower 28 Beauty


“This is gorgeous, milky, and never sticky. My clients love this lip gloss.” —D.M.

Best Foundation Brush: Hourglass No. 2 Foundation and Blush Brush

Hourglass Cosmetics


“For even, smooth application, turn to this brush. It has soft synthetic fibers that hold a lot of product for your full coverage needs, but can also be used if you’re looking to lightly dust on product. It works great for cream, liquid, and powder products, so you really can’t wrong with it.” —A.N.

Best Blush Brush: Real Techniques Ultra Plush Blush Makeup Brush

Ulta


“Its rounded dome shape is perfect for contouring along the cheekbones, making it the ideal tool for giving you that natural-looking flush.” —A.N.

Best Eyeshadow Brush: Sephora Makeup Match Crease Eyeshadow Brush

Sephora


“Whether you want full coverage or are looking to blend, this eyeshadow brush is the way to go. It’s slightly tapered at the end, so you can get precise definition and blending — and its synthetic bristles are super-soft and can hold both cream and powder shadow well.” —A.N.

Best Tweezer: Flamingo Tweezers

Flamingo


“There’s nothing more heartbreaking than trying to tweeze a hair, any hair, and having it snap at the base — which is why I’ve ditched my blunt, old tweezers for this Italian-made version made of stainless steel. Not only is it effective, but it’s also pretty.” —D.P.

Best Drugstore Foundation: Revlon Illuminance Skin-Caring Foundation

Ulta


“Spanning skincare and makeup, this formula offers the medium coverage I need along with hyaluronic acid (which hydrates) and squalane (which moisturizes). And with 28 shades, it was a cinch to find a match for my skin tone.” —D.P.

Best Drugstore Concealer: ColourPop Pretty Fresh Concealer

Target


“I love that this Colourpop concealer has such a wide shade range, which pays attention to undertones as well as overall skin tone. Its formula includes hyaluronic acid, so it doesn’t cake or leave your skin dry — even if you, like me, can’t stop baking in your base. I love using it for contouring and highlighting, as well as for covering dark spots and uneven skin tone.” —Amber Rambharose, InStyle fashion writer

Best Drugstore Blush: e.l.f. Cosmetics Halo Glow Beauty Wand

Ulta


“A beauty TikTok fave that I can truly get behind, this blush not only gives you that nice pop of color on your cheeks, but it also has a shimmer finish for an added glow. It’s packed with nourishing ingredients, like squalane, to keep skin moisturized and looking dewy.” —A.N.

Best Drugstore Mascara: Maybelline Falsies Surreal Mascara

Target


“When you want to bring the drama (to your eyes), use this mascara. It has a special hybrid fiber technology that extends lashes to give them major volume. It’s also waterproof for up to 24 hours, so you can enjoy the long-lash look all day.” —A.N.

Best Drugstore Eyeshadow: Uoma Eye Service Eyeshadow Quad Big Spender

Walmart


“Eyeshadow doesn’t get more vibrant or impactful than Uoma Beauty’s Eye Service Quads which is saying a lot, given how affordable they are. Across finishes, from matte to shimmer, the pigments in these shadows are long-lasting but infinitely blendable. Best of all, they look incredible on all skin tones.” —A.R.

Best Drugstore Eyeliner: Rimmel Kind & Free Clean Eye Definer

Amazon


“Rimmel’s eyeliners are always top-tier, and its newest launch is no exception. Its vibrant shades go on bold and have a creamy texture that glides onto skin. It also boasts a vegan formula, which is always a welcome bonus.” —A.N.

Best Drugstore Lipstick: Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick

Amazon


“I have been a longtime fan of these, and leave them with my clients all the time for touch-ups. They’re like a fusion of lipstick and lip balm mixed together, and leave the lips super-hydrated while getting that gorgeous color payoff. They’re made with fruit extracts and shea butter, which give a hint of shine to the lips — all while being affordable too.” —N.S.


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