Not all 90-year-old products stand the test of time. This one from Germany, circa 1926, has. How does one stay relevant for that long, you might ask? By being freakin’ versatile. The thick oil-balm works on dry hands, elbows, cuticles, and heels—and your face, should you need it. Victoria Beckham slathers herself with it, according to her Top Shelf. There’s also the fact that it’s $19 online and it smells great. You’ll find Skin Food in almost every makeup artist’s kit and backstage at NYFW, and then in your grandmother’s medicine cabinet. Might as well keep one around yourself.
Meet the French Differin! This waxy pommade makes skin a touchably smooth canvas right after application, sealing in whatever’s underneath and getting straight to work. But don’t let its consistency throw you, it’s still very gentle. And over time, the results are smoother texture, diminished fine lines, and faded dark spots—all at a French drugstore price, minus the French part. Thanks, Amazon.
No, this eye cream does not harness the power of potassium to make you any younger, smarter, or stronger (though you’d be forgiven for thinking that from the name). Instead, it’s tinted with a teeny, tiny, little bit of yellowish powder—a makeup artist secret for baking and brightening—to do what eye creams have long sought to do and mostly failed: actually brighten under your eyes immediately. It’ll certainly work with your concealer, but you might not even need it. Imagine: your no-makeup makeup days can now be no makeup days. Full stop.
If you leave this year’s Top 25 with any sort of takeaway, please know that celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas loves you and would never lie to you. In a world where skincare claims run rampant and no one thing works for everyone, her unassuming Daily Serum keeps the promises it makes on the bottle. The waterweight, green treatment clarifies pore congestion, balances oil production, and revitalizes skintone with a freshness that feels like a cup of cold water to the face. And it does these things for all skin types! Telling the truth: 2018’s new marketing mantra.
Ingredients! They matter. Some more than others. Zinc, for instance, is a sleeper hit. No longer the white badge of honor for the on-duty lifeguard set, the mineral takes new shape in this French pharmacy toner. Mist on post-cleanse for the near elimination of visible pores and oil-slick skin. Think makeup primer-matteness, without the primer. Also good for: soothing eczema flare-ups and other sources of redness. But does it work for you? Signs point to yes.
...Are not the only pimple patches on the market. But they are the best. Inside each Peach Slices package are variously small, medium, and large-sized hydrocolloid dots made of a thin, flexible gel that suck out impurities from your pores all while staying in place on your face—whether you wear them during your workday or overnight. At $4.49 and with hundreds of five-star reviews, the numbers speak for themselves: They really do work. And with an edible name like that, what’s not to like, folks?
Five hundred Amazon reviewers can’t be wrong: cystic acne’s worst nightmare is here, and it’s under five bucks. Packing a 10 percent sulfur punch (no, it doesn’t smell) in packaging that isn’t gorgeous but also isn’t the worst, this goo shrinks pimples in just one use. Mask on the thick, yellow paste (it’s not discreet) and wait anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight for you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it results. It’s not the most glamorous of solutions, but in this case, the very pimple-free ends justify the means.
Can Dior makeup be beat? Probably not; every new launch is a banger—the perfect combo of French kill-me-with-chicness and artistry-level quality. So what stands out? The On Stage Liners, launched last spring, because A) liquid eyeliner needed a new sheriff in town and b) CRAZY COLORS. A good reminder that makeup should be fun above all else.
One key aspect of a Top Shelf interview is the subject using anything sticky and shiny—think Vaseline, Homeoplasmine, or lip balm—on their eyelids as a foolproof take on natural-looking eye shadow. The folks over at Kevyn Aucoin were clearly reading because the brand's Exotique Diamond Eye Gloss is just that—elevated to a $38 pot de crème of what looks like glitter but goes on sheer and illuminating. Looks good on everyone, regardless of experience level.
Chanel makeup doesn’t need to be good. It’s Chanel! The branding should be enough. And yet...their makeup is exceedingly good. Delightfully so. Particularly the Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet. It’s lipstick, the way lipstick was meant to be: creamy, luxurious, and matte enough to stay put without suction-cupping your lips off of your face the way liquid formulas do. The colors are classic, and there’s bound to be one shade so flattering, so style-affirming, that you abandon all other lip products for just this one. You’re a Chanel person now; it’s in your blood.
You’re thinking primers are all the same—fair, but only 99 percent accurate. The one percent exception is Tatcha’s silk-infused disk. The solid formula is key. Scoop a little product on the primer’s applicator—a quarter-size circle—and then get to spreading. It’s so velvety and, not to worry, it rubs in clear. You’ll be using a lot less makeup after since the primer helps everything float on top—in a good way! So just do yourself a favor and ignore every reservation you have about primers and give it a try. Thanks go in the comment section.
“Once a lip liner user, always a lip liner user” is an ITG-borne sentiment that only applies if the lip liner in question is the right one. And Troy Surratt’s Moderniste Lip Pencil is a given. While the packaging is sturdier and more innovative than most (with a built in sharpener!), it’s the formula that really stands out. The texture is smooth and creamy—just malleable enough to be blended out naturally, but matte enough to stay for hours. The result is a better looking, naturally defined lip.
Until the Fenty coup happens—when everyone will be reading Be The Gloss (brought to you by Fenty) on their Fenty phone, while sitting on their Fenty couch with Fenty TV playing in the background—Fenty’s Pro Filt’r will have to be the sliver of joy that connects everyone to Her Majesty, Rihanna. The semi-matte liquid foundation does something revolutionary—it matches any skintone via 40 shades. Crazy to think how the entire human race doesn’t fall under three variants of brown. Even if full-coverage isn’t your bag, Rihanna’s most likely made it easier to find your shade at any brand. Forever. It’s her legacy. More, please.
Mascara is a tricky product to get right. (Speaking from experience here.) Lash Slick is all about balance. On the one hand, it has staying power as strong as any waterproof formula. On the other, it washes off easily in warm water—no need to tug at lashes or the delicate eye area. A single, gentle coat can look just like your own lashes made longer, and a couple additional layers can show up to, say, the red carpet. Without any clumping. Great packaging by Laura Yeh. Don’t even try to remember the world before Lash Slick.
The ITG nail polish drawer is the definition of decision fatigue. Neon! Neutrals! Heavy glitter. It’s a relief to be presented with a brand like Tenoverten that knows what you want, before you know you want it: an elevated color palette that moves from non-shades to brights, all with an 8-free ingredient list and a bevy of non-toxic accessories like quick-dry drops and non-acetone remover. Every single thing was formulated to be safe for both home-painters and their manicurists so you can feel just as good doing your own nails as you do visiting the salon. Or vice versa.
Next year you’re going to remember when you thought a $20 nail file was ridiculous. Egregious, even! “What a silly little stance,” you’ll think to yourself as you’re swiping Révérence de Bastien’s glass stick across your rounded, perfectly even tips. It’s much sturdier and longer-lasting than the drugstore paper one everyone knows and hates, and it doesn’t damage nail beds like metal files. But what really makes the file feel like a necessity is how it cuts nail-trimming time in half. More time for other important endeavors that require fingers. Snacks, anyone?
Trends come and go, but some trends come and go and then come back, better than before, to stay. The scrunchie is one of these rarities—an accessory that once felt dated and extravagant returned to the mainstream in a huge way. At first it was laughed off as fleeting. But then, everyone realized how practical a scrunchie—with maximum holding capacity and minimum levels of hair damage—actually is. When the women of the Danish cool girl movement started making them out of silk and renaming them Hair Clouds, they became the elegant, powerful, timeless version of what was once known as a scrunchie. Some are aimed at the health and wellness market; others at high-end fashion and seasonal Pantones. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there's a scrunchie for you. And they are here to stay.
Why does standing in the haircare aisle often feel like stepping into the judgment zone? You work hard, you’ve got a lot going on...is it the worst thing in the world that your hair’s got some damage? No, not at all. So maybe it’s time to settle down with a shampoo and conditioner set that’s so easy-going and hardworking it literally works just as well on curly, straight, and color-treated hair alike. With everything you want (vitamins, silk proteins) and nothing you don’t (parabens, sulfates, silicones), Iles treats you and your hair the way you want to be treated. Why isn’t everything else in your life this reliable?
Any Planet Earth watcher knows the Amazon rainforest is full of natural wonders—vital medicine, talking toucans, and whatnot. It’s also home to the rahua plant, which poops out a coffee bean-like fruit that many South American women use to nourish and fortify their hair. So it makes sense that Rahua, the hair company, injects the fruit’s oil into their leave-in treatment. You only need two fingerfuls to soften and condition crunchy ends. It also smells like Palo Santo—it is 2018 after all.
If the sole beauty milestone indicating true adulthood is the purchase of a Mason Pearson combination hairbrush, then the younger, cool-little-sister version of that is The Yves Durif Comb. That’s not to discredit its craftsmanship; simply, it’s the perfect hair tool no matter your situation in life. A cool $30 investment that will last you years and travel with you everywhere, it’s the perfect multiple: objet and practical necessity in one. So is its cute little travel case.
Here’s a towel that definitely eats a nutritious breakfast and arrives to class ready for a pop quiz. An overachiever if ever there was one. Made of frizz-fighting microfiber and stretchy enough to fit any head, this is far from grandma’s towel. There’s a hook and button on opposite ends, so it easily stays put when twirled into a turban—which means your hair dries faster and with much less hassle. Your move, blowdryers.
Sure, masking your entire body sounds like a messy, inconvenient, let’s-be-honest-you’re-never-going-to-do-it task—but this slippery, lactic acid-heavy serum will make you marvel at your leg skin the way you gaze lovingly into a mirror two days post-facial. Slather all over 10 minutes before your shower and watch your uneven texture, keratosis pilaris, and dry skin become a non-issue within a week. Not many brands make it onto this list two consecutive years in a row, so that’s got to tell you something, too.
What’s cheap, comes in pastel colors and works as an effective physical exfoliant for the body? You guessed it—the Japanese Salux Beauty Skin Cloth isn’t new, it’s just standing the test of time. “Stimulating” and “Invigorating” and “Excellent for massage,” this baby will leave your skin sparkling, soft, and clean. Including that one difficult-to-reach spot on your back. So much better than a loofah.
Some self-tanners require a PhD—you have to scrub, suit up with gloves, and revisit a few color theory lessons. And then there’s Clarins. Requires a little bit of lotion for blending purposes, and that’s it. Doesn’t that sound more your style? Depending on your skintone, this “radiance booster” will gradually give you a soft tan or deliver a built-from-within glow. Both good and welcomed. And easy. Just shake two or three drops into a dollop of face cream once a day. Spread it all over and watch your face warm up in seven days, max. As they say in France, “c’est dummy-proof.”
Gut health—so hot right now. Who to blame? Gwyneth? No matter—at least everyone’s a little less gassy now that the Nue Co. is in the mix. Its prebiotic, probiotic blend helps you feel less like an overstuffed seat cushion by feeding your stomach’s “good bacteria.” And it feeds you, too—with 15 billion spores on the menu. Tastes like sweet relief.
How did we get here? Read the though process behind Can't Go Wrong.
Looking for more recommendations? Explore last year's list here.