These days, makeup is all about self-expression instead of one specific (and narrow) aesthetic. As years go by, makeup formulations only get better, too. Foundations mimic our natural skin tone more seamlessly — and are offered in more shades and undertones than ever before — bronzers glide on and blend out with creamy ease, lipsticks can be both matte and hydrating… the list goes on. Many of this year’s best-makeup winners took the title thanks to creative twists — be it a unique ingredient list or a specialized packaging design — that make them as cutting-edge as they are fun to use. We tested a mountain of lipsticks, concealers, mascaras, and more on a wide variety of skin tones, and recruited some of the industry’s top makeup artists to do the same. Regardless of if your version of a full face is sunkissed and au naturel or involves four different concealers and a set of double-stacked lashes, there’s plenty here to step up your makeup routine. Ahead, see Bustle’s best new makeup products of the year.
We at Bustle only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Like a smoothing tool IRL, this foundation from Valentino covers redness, uneven skin texture, and blemishes with a virtually undetectable, second-skin finish. Celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin (yes, he did Meghan Markle’s wedding makeup) raves about this foundation, citing its “beautiful, buildable texture that feels weightless on the skin.” He says he prefers to buff this foundation onto the skin and was impressed with its ability to work across all skin types and skin tones.
We had high expectations when Tarte released a creamy version of its best-selling Shape Tape concealer — and it more than exceeded our expectations. This concealer is indeed creamy, making it perfect for anyone with dry skin, or someone who doesn’t want their concealer settling into fine lines (aka everyone). The shade range is impressive, and testers loved it for its ability to blend seamlessly into the skin. “This product did a good job both concealing my acne,” says BDG staffer Chloe Foussianes. “I appreciated that it blended in without disappearing entirely — something that I've struggled with when trying other concealers.”
Ami Colé’s mascara won the mascara category by a landslide, and for good reason. One swipe delivers instant volume and separation, while the tapered brush evenly coats the lash from root to tip. On top of that, the formula is infused with jojoba oil and shea butter to condition your lashes with every use. “Previously I used two different mascaras to get the look I wanted but I now only use this and will continue to use it,” says BDG staffer Copelyn Bengal. “It gives length and volume while not clumping at all.”
A little goes a long way with this sleek blush from famed makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic — but that’s the beauty of it. On one end of the stick, a creamy blush (there are six earthen, flushed-from-within tones you can choose from); on the other, a densely packed brush to help you blend the color into cheeks, across the bridge of your nose, and even eyes. “I love how creamy this blush feels and the packaging makes it perfect for on-the-go touch-ups,” says BDG executive beauty director Faith Xue.
Armani Beauty’s Lip Power is a high-pigment, satin-finish lipstick that doesn’t give your lips superpowers, but feels like the next best thing. One swipe is all it takes for a rich pigment payoff and soft satin — not glassy — shine. Plus, the sleek packaging and teardrop-shaped bullet make it easy to swipe over your entire lip, or use the tapered end to trace precise lines. “This lipstick had great consistency and color payoff, and is so easy to apply!” says BDG staffer Abby Lebet.
Best Liquid Lipstick
If the thought of liquid lipstick brings to mind a thick, pasty, super-matte formula that dries like paint on your lips, think again. Revlon’s ColorStay Satin Ink wins the category for its satiny texture, comfortability of wear, and wide array of fun, eye-catching colors. “This was a great liquid lipstick,” says makeup artist and guest judge Jamie Greenberg. “It’s a little more hydrating than most, quite beautiful, with good staying power!”
Best Lip Gloss
Even before her oh-so-casual shift into billionaire moguldom, Rihanna would still be the most trusted celebrity when it comes to makeup — even her vintage 2009 red carpet photos are flawless. It makes sense then that she’d go on to develop this universally adored lip gloss, formulated with shea butter for a moisturizing, nourishing feel without sacrificing any pigment. BDG staffer Rebecca Iloulian points out just how rare that kind of color payoff is in a gloss, adding that the finish “isn’t at all sticky, smelling great to boot.”
Best Lip Liner
Like contour for the lips, this fade-proof lip liner skates right on to leave lips looking fuller and more defined, while creating an invisible wax barrier that keeps lipstick from migrating. Four rich shades with a smooth, creamy finish dress up any lip shade, and guest judge and makeup artist Daniel Martin counts himself as a fan. He says this lip liner is so hydrating, a preliminary coat of balm isn’t even necessary for a smooth application. Oh, and the best part: it’s only $8.
Eyeshadow is one of those products about which everyone has very strong — and very different — opinions; in no other context are words like “minimal” or “dramatic” so subjective. Rarely, though, there are those eyeshadow formulations so universally appealing, so across-the-board flattering, they seem to unite the makeup-loving masses. Soft, creamy, and so appealingly shimmery, these pearlescent shadows are even evangelizing non-eyeshadow fans. “I'm now an eyeshadow person thanks to these and will be adding to my permanent routine!” says BDG staffer Kelly Reed.
Forget a stash on different pencils, pots, and pens — all you need for a dynamic eye look is this creamy pencil from Gucci, as much a magic wand as anything else. The easy-glide gel pencil is perfect for smolder-inducing smudging. “The ease and payoff of this eyeliner is great and it most of all, doesn’t budge on the waterline!” says makeup artist Daniel Martin.
Best Brow Product
Merit’s bestselling brow pomade might be an homage to the fluffy brows of the ‘80s, but it happens to be perfect for our current brow era, too. A tiny conical spoolie grabs and coats every hair in lightweight, volumizing pigment developed for all-day hold. “It’s so natural-looking,” BDG staffer Amanda Chan affirms. “It basically was like my brows, but a little more defined/darker.” Plus, the metallic gold tube just so happens to look especially luxe nestled in makeup bags.
Best Face Powder
A true workhorse of a product, this finishing powder controls unwanted shine, locks base makeup in place, and diffuses the appearance of fine lines for a full-day flawless face. Though powder can often be a make-or-break step in the routine, this one always delivers. “These are gorgeous powders, with a real skin finish,” says makeup artist Jessica Smalls. “They melted seamlessly into my skin without feeling heavy.”
Regardless of if you’re an old pro or brand-spanking-new to contour, you’ll find plenty to love about this buildable, creamy formulation from makeup artist Danessa Myricks. Each color is infused with just enough gray to add natural-looking shadows to your jawline — just one of the reasons this product is so beloved. Guest judge and makeup artist Tobi Henney says it's especially great for carving out cheekbones, too. “It’s easy to apply and is so blendable and buildable,” she raves. Plus, eight versatile shades make this perfect contour available to everyone.
Summer Fridays may still be a few months away, but this warm, sunny bronzer might be the next best thing. Guest judge and makeup artist Tobi Henney says this Saie fan-favorite is “natural-looking, long-lasting, and feels very nice for the skin,” thanks to its velvet-soft finish and blend-friendly consistency. Since the creamy formula plays well with others, it’s so easy to layer over foundation, as well as blend with cream blush and highlighter.
Few things are as confidence-boosting as a gleaming, glowing, “who is that?” highlighter — and this Live Tinted one is an all-timer. Guest judge and makeup artist Jamie Greenberg points out that this highlighter is formulated with only the finest-milled shimmer (rather than chunky glitter) for a true lit-from-within glow that looks good on more than just cheekbones. “It’s so beautiful for the body, legs, chests,” she says. “This is so gorgeous.”
Best Makeup Multi-Tasker
2022’s tiny bag trend can make on-the-go touch-ups a little tricky — luckily, Kaja came up with the most brilliant (and cutest) solution possible. Stacked with three slide-out rings of product for one-and-done ease, the included blush, bronzer, and highlight can be used ad infinitum for every possible look. Use the bronzer as an eyeshadow or layer the blush on your lips — they all work equally well. Guest judge and makeup artist Jamie Greenberg says she’s obsessed with this compact trio, saying it’s equally fun and easy to use.
Makeup that doubles as acne-eliminating skin care might sound like the stuff of daydreams, but it’s a reality with e.l.f. Not only does this red-balancing primer prep and smooth skin for flawless makeup application, but its salicylic acid content fights existing and future breakouts. BDG staffer Rita Templeton says she rarely wears foundation because it always triggers a breakout, but this primer did the impossible. “It not only went on nicely and left my makeup looking smooth, but I did NOT get a single zit afterward!” she raves. Is it any wonder TikTok is losing its collective mind over this product?
Best Setting Spray
Though this takes the title for best setting spray, Luzen’s mist happens to do a lot more than just lock makeup into place. Use it to prep skin before makeup, refresh the face during the day, or just illuminate bare skin for a dewy, lustrous glow. “This mist has a delightful scent, which makes you want to bathe your face in it,” says makeup artist Jessica Smalls. “I love that my face actually feels more supple and tighter after I spray it on. It’s giving Gua Sha in a bottle.”