The 20 Best New Makeup Products Of 2021
The High/Low: from mascara & concealer to lipstick & brow gels, both over & under $20.
Makeup is back in a big way, and no matter how involved you are with cosmetics, the power of a really stellar red lipstick or fluffing eyebrow gel is undeniable. Price most definitely does not negate quality when it comes to makeup, with drugstore mascaras standing toe-to-toe with luxury retailers, and designer options proving formula and packaging are an art form unto themselves. Embrace your inner makeup artist with the absolute best new cosmetic launches from the past 12 months and remember that, above all, makeup should be fun.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Even 25 years after its inception, there are several very good reasons why Urban Decay is as popular and relevant as ever: there’s the brand’s commitment to staying ahead of the pack on trends, the products that power them, and the cheeky names given to every item in every collection to start. But what’s always set the label apart is pure quality — and that’s never more evident than when using the Vice lipsticks. Guest judge Nikki DeRoest says it best: “Full coverage in one swipe, gorgeous glide on, and satin finish.” She adds that the 35 color options have something for everyone, too.
Everyone appreciates a one-and-done product, but the VBB Posh Lipstick is so much more than that. The shades — varied but not excessively so — are like a capsule wardrobe of go-to colors while the formula is mercifully hydrating without sacrificing pigment or finish. “Everything about this tube delights me,” guest judge Kristina Rudolfo says. “The sleek, skinny bullet housed in a tortoiseshell chase, the buildable nature of the pigment, the nourishing formula.” It’s everything you want — what you really, really want — in a lipstick.
One of life’s purest joys is when a stranger thinks your mascara-lacquered lashes are real, and this best-selling formula fools nearly everyone. In fact, it nearly broke TikTok earlier this year with all of the rave reviews. TZR Senior Fashion News Editor Marina Liao says she’s into the mascara’s curl-holding, fast-drying formula that can handle plenty of reapplication. “Usually a lot of product stays on the brush, which ends up making my lashes look clumpy,” she explains. “But the wand in this case didn't take on too much product. The mascara lengthened my lashes and I could reapply multiple coats with ease.” Sensational indeed.
Any mascara can lift, define, add volume, and separate — but it usually comes at the cost of the health of your lashes. RMS is tossing out that tradeoff for good with a two-in-one mascara that delivers fluttery, full lashes while nourishing them from the inside out with plenty of pro-peptides. It’s no surprise, then, that guest judge Tennille Jenkins, a daily mascara user on both top and bottom lashes, calls it her new holy grail. “It gently clings to lashes and makes them look rich and full,” she explains, adding that crucially, the formula doesn’t transfer yet washes away with gentle cleansing. “Never, not once has this mascara smudged.”
As great as a no-makeup makeup look can be, sometimes you need to set the stage for something major — be it bold blush, all-over shimmer, or some seriously carved-out contour. With this buildable foundation that obscures blemishes and dark marks with the same camouflaging power of a concealer, it’s beyond easy. “Who doesn't love a 2-in-1 beauty product?” guest judge Cait Kiernan, a vocal fan of the foundation, wonders. “This foundation and concealer full-coverage formula contains three hydrating, nutrient-rich ‘butters’ (murumuru, cupuaçu, and tucuma) that gave my skin a flawless, smooth finish.” Getting ready for that big night out never felt easier.
At first glance, it’s nearly impossible to grasp how a foundation so liquid and light can provide the kind of buildable coverage that's typically reserved for thick, camouflaging concealers. But what’s even more brain-bending is that Chanel made that happen with a formula that won’t cake up, congregate in fine lines, or clog pores. Elite Daily Senior Experiences Editor Kaitlin Cubria calls the foundation a good one for anyone with drier skin. “It is very dewy,” she shares, “and makes your skin look fresh and hydrated.” An ultra-radiant complexion is most definitely in your future with this formula.
If it comes in a click-to-deposit brush-pen, you already know it’s going to be a fun concealer to use. Not only does the makeup reflect light for an eye-opening effect, but the formula is fortified with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to boost skin’s brightness and hydration long-term. “It’s a great price, easy to use, and doesn't crease,” Kaitlin Cubria, Elite Daily senior experiences editor, explains and says she highly recommends it. Plus, that incredible click-stick was born for you to tuck it into tiny evening clutches and crowded carry-ons.
The Fenty Effect can be seen reflected in the shade ranges of most foundation and concealer brands available today — inclusivity is the rule, not the exception. But while other brands have finally (finally) gotten a handle on a diverse color library, Rihanna is already lapping them with superior formulas. “The Bright Fix Eye Brightener really has everything you need for concealer: a skin-like, cake-free finish, hydrating yet matte, long-wear,” guest judge Kristina Rudolfo says. Plus, this eye-brightening concealer blurs fine lines and adds radiance to the entire area for a wide-awake look usually reserved for espresso drinkers only.
Somehow, the scientists over at COVERGIRL managed to distill the very essence of a flirty, flush-inducing DM into blush form — and with shade names like “Sweet Seduction” and “Hot & Frenzy,” it’s clear they knew exactly what they were doing. Vibrant, buildable color sweeps on in powder form but looks almost gel-like when melted into the skin. Guest judge Diana Shin is a fan of the product and its price point, giving a nod to its “amazing color payoff.” Stock up on each of the four shades for a true blush wardrobe that works with every outfit and skin tone.
Housed in a sleek, glam-goth tube, this gelée blush is serum-like in finish for a dewy, richly pigmented glow that moisturizes skin while you wear it. If you’ve ever been after a blush that truly mimics that pretty, flushed-from-within effect usually only seen after first dates or tripping in public, this is your pick. Guest judge Mollie Gloss says the nature of the product means it could extend beyond blush as well. “Honestly, I would put this on my eyes and lips in a heartbeat, too,” she says. “The more I've worn this, it almost feels like skin care as much as it does makeup — it's incredibly hydrating!”
ZARA, home to TikTok famous jeans and Burberry-passing trenches alike, happens to produce one of the most natural-looking highlighters on the market (a nod, perhaps, to formulating with an industry icon like makeup artist Diane Kendal). A silky powder that mimics the effects of the moon’s luminous glow, no routine is complete without a dot of this radiant highlighter on the cheekbones and inner eye corners. NYLON Social Media Manager Alexa Pipia is a fan of the refillable packaging, shades, and affordable price. “The colors looked so good on my skin — they weren't too dark or too light,” she says. “It felt airy as I applied, and I loved how it was a subtle shine and not too strong.” It’s never been easier to find your light.
You don’t become the U.K.’s most celebrated makeup artist and an actual, Queen-sanctioned dame without knowing everything about cosmetics, inside and out. Pat McGrath’s eponymous makeup line is a celebrity favorite for that very reason, though this highlighter might be the best product among her entire collection. “The blush felt like a combination of a cream and a powder, taking the best qualities from each,” says TZR Social Media Strategist Maggie Haddad, calling the texture her newest makeup infatuation. “The creamy element helped it stay on throughout the day, while the powder element made it feel light and made application easy.” A high-tech fusion of powder and gel, the silky illuminator grabs the light for an otherworldly glow.
All the sun-kissed glow of a far flung beach vacation without dealing with pesky little things like luggage weight allowances and zero leg room, this waterproof matte bronzer practically comes with an umbrella-adorned cocktail. Take a page out of guest judge Mollie Gloss’ book and use the bronzer to warm up cheeks and subtly smoke out eyes. “This had such a nice texture to it that I was immediately hooked,” she says, “and I was using it like an eyeshadow as well to soften black liner.”
This turquoise-colored compact might fall into the “too pretty to use” category if it weren’t for a truly transformative formula that belies a tropical getaway with every layer. Never muddy-looking, too grey, or chalky in finish, it’s the sort of gently warming powder bronzer for which you spend years searching. “It adds the perfect amount of warmth without any harsh lines,” Theresa Massony, former Elite Daily senior style editor, confirms, “and I love how buildable it is. I can easily take this product from a soft sculpt to a sharp contour depending on how I want to use it.” Oh, and was it mentioned how pretty it is?
Those dreamy graphic eyeliner looks you’re seeing all over Instagram (and sidewalks) are a snap with Kulfi Beauty’s grippy, easy-glide pencils in the most fun jewel tones. Former Elite Daily Senior Style Editor Theresa Massony puts it best: “Kulfi forever!” she gushes. “I've had nothing but good experiences with these liners. I think this is a solid option for those who want a long-wearing line but aren't as confident with, or don't want to use, a liquid.” Really, it’s almost puzzling how the formula manages to smooth right over skin with the consistency of butter and yet still stay utterly smudge-proof once on — it’s a toss-up on whether that’s science or magic.
Even for total liquid liner beginners, this glide-on pen is as easy to use as a Sharpie — and just as inky, too. Thank the flexible tip with an ultra-precise nib and a waterproof finish for that. “True story,” guest judge Kristina Rudolfo shares. “I once happened to be wearing this during a tear-filled therapy session and the ink did not budge one bit.” Giving points to its sensitive eyes-friendly formula, she says it’s become one of her all-time favorites. And considering Rudolfo says she’s worn winged eyeliner every single day since her teens, her word is good as gold.
“What’s your desert island makeup product?” is a common question passed between beauty lovers, but something as multifunctional as Drew Barrymore’s FLOWER Beauty line eyeshadow quad makes it all too easy. Sure, every colorway available comes equipped with four complementary shades perfect for an eye look, but the rich pigmentation and longwear formulas mean they can easily do double duty as eyeliners, illuminators, and even lip shimmer. Samantha Darby, Romper lifestyle editor, put the shadows to something of the ultimate test drive and loved the results. “They went on really well and held up to a whole day of shopping with two little girls, so major A-plus,” she says. “These are great everyday shadows, and I love the size of the palette.”
Forget Hollywood royalty — Uoma Beauty’s plush, purple-filled palette is fit for actual monarchs. The five matte and five richly pigmented glitter shades, all named for Africa’s most significant kingdoms and rulers throughout history, make any eye color pop without fear of fading or creasing. “I love the color payoff and smooth application and the richness in color,” guest judge Diana Shin says, making it a makeup artist-approved pick that’s perfect for both subtle and all-eyes-on-your-eyes looks.
Best Brow Product
Considering the domination across both the luxe and affordable award categories, it’s safe to say Patrick Starrr and his ONE/SIZE beauty line are brow experts — the smudge-proof, vitamin E-enhanced formula in this pencil proves it, too. Guest judge Nikki DeRoest happens to also be a master brow wiz, which makes her glowing endorsement of the BrowKiki all the more convincing. “It has a firm formula, but still is able to deposit pigment that looks like tiny hair strokes,” she explains. “I love the shape of the spoolie on the other side.”
Prepare to be stopped on the street for your flawless brows after using this foolproof gel. That elusive, brushed-up brow look so beloved by supermodels, celebrities, and TikTok stars alike? Just three swipes away with the gel’s tiny, conical wand and extensive shade library developed by internet sensation and brand founder Patrick Starrr. TZR Editor-in-Chief Kathy Lee confirms the perfectly shaped applicator makes all the difference — and even swears that her brow life has been changed forever. “What I love is that it captures all my baby brow hairs so I can really create a thick shape with the gel alone,” she says. “I don't have to fill it unless I want a more dramatic look. Also, the gel dries instantly so I can apply layers with ease.”