The Results Are In: These Are the Best Beauty Brands of 2018, According to Editors
You know how paleontologists can identify up to 700 species of dinosaurs just by looking at some fossils? Beauty editors have a similar skill set . . . except our medium is products. Within a year's time, we've all but seen, smelled, and swiped enough lipstick, face cream, and fragrance rollerballs to fill up the American Museum of Natural History, which means we can easily discern a standout brand from the rest.
Still, the cosmetics industry saw some big innovations throughout 2018, so we've asked editors from top publications to share the best beauty companies that were actually worth the roar this year. So all your second-guessing? Ancient history.
"Glow Recipe has been consistently killing the beauty game since it burst onto the scene. Besides introducing the latest and greatest trending K-beauty products stateside, Glow Recipe also launched its own game-changing skincare products. On the heels of its wildly popular Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask (which sold out in Sephora like 41,481 million times over) and my personal favorite, the Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer ($21), the brand has produced the Insta-famous Watermelon Glow Jelly Sheet Mask and Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask, which are sure to have everyone talking about PHA-based skin care in 2019 and beyond." — MS
"I'll admit my bias: Linda Wells was my first-ever boss in the beauty industry, so when she created Flesh after her 20-plus year tenure at Allure, I knew the products would be good. What I didn't expect, however, was for them to also be innovative: every single launch — from its 40 shades of Thickstick Foundation to the Swipe Lip Color — has been a win, but my favorite might be the Flipbook Makeup Sheets ($22), which look like blotting papers but are actually just a faster way of applying blush and bronzer to your face." — KC
"2018 was the year I fell in love with beauty brands from Australia and New Zealand. They're that rare combination of ridiculously cute on the outside with all-natural ingredients that actually make me look (and feel) good on the inside. Truth be told, I didn't give this NZ brand a real shot until my little sister went on and on and on about how the Stars Aligning Elixir Oil ($48) helped rid her face of painful cystic acne. I'm personally into the body oil because while the price is a bit much, a tiny bit actually goes a long way." — NB
"Full transparency: I'm still unsure where I stand on crystals. Do they have magical powers, or do they just look pretty? Even if it's the latter, they make Mazz Hanna's super-effective essential oil and CBD-infused products the most gorgeous vanity pieces. Her Cuticle Oil and Skin Salve have healed my torn-up fingers in a matter of days (I'm a biter, ugh), and her Magnifier Quartz Infused Essential Oil Blend ($60) is a quick cure for headaches and sore muscles. Oh, and every product is blessed by a shaman under a full moon. Because, you know, why not?" — KF
Function of Beauty
"Bespoke beauty has its allure: to have something made specifically for you based on your needs gives it a touch of something special. But when I'd heard about Function of Beauty last year, I brushed it off. I had become pretty comfortable with the cocktail of products I was already using and my overall haircare routine. Then, I landed on its page recently and was amazed at how deeply the brand tried to get to know my hair, so I started the hair assessment. The quiz asked about everything from my hair type and structure to my goals for it, along with what color I wanted my concoctions to be and what scent I wanted (and even how intense I wanted that scent to be). The products arrived with my name printed on them — which I thought was a nice touch — along with a breakdown of what's in the bottles. When I had actually tested them, I was floored at how well the Personalized Shampoo ($36) lathered in my hair and how the conditioner detangled; not to mention the incredible sensory experience of the scent I chose — a blend of eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint. My hair dried soft and less frizzy, both things I'd specified that I'd wanted during my quiz. Amazing." — JC
"2018 turned out to be a major year for skin care — especially curated lines with natural-leaning ingredients that are packaged specifically for Instagram. And one of the brands that's quietly staking claim in beauty lovers' #shelfies is Go-To, a collection of millennial peach products that made its way over from Australia this year and debuted at Sephora without skipping a beat. My Go-To favorites (in order) include: Face Hero ($34), a lightweight oil that's great for all skin types; Exfoliating Swipeys, super-gentle exfoliators formulated with hydrating oils; and Exceptionoil, a body oil (in a tube!) that smells like monoi. As an editor, I can't help but love the cheeky names and descriptions — like the sheet mask wrapper that says "this mask will make me look even amazinger" — and that the brand was founded by a former beauty editor. In a sea of made-for-your-feed beauty launches, I love that these products actually work — and of course it doesn't hurt that they're pretty." — DD
The Grace Eleyae
"I've never really paid much attention to the way my hats impact my curls, but this Fall my hair started getting crunchy and dry from my frequent beanie wear. I'm loving The Grace Eleyae Sand Warm Slap ($31), which has the coziness of 100 percent wool but is also lined with satin, so my hair won't frizz out or break off while wearing it." — CM
Peach & Lily
"I've always been a huge fan of Alicia Yoon's well-edited K-beauty shop Peach & Lily, so when she launched her own products this year, my skin was at the ready. It gulped up the hyaluronic-acid-rich Glass Skin Refining Serum in Summer, couldn't get enough of the antioxidant-packed Lazy Day All-in-One Moisture Pads in Fall, and now that it's verging on Winter, it's begging for the sunflower-oil-spiked K-Beauty Rescue Balm ($28) morning, noon, and night. I have no idea what my skin will need come Spring, but I'm pretty sure I know where I'll find it." — AF
"Huda Beauty really brought it in 2018. It felt like founder Huda Kattan launched exciting new products every week, while taking risks (fragrance!) and staying true to her roots (baking and setting powder!). It's impressive to watch a female founder like Kattan build a formidable empire with grace: She even founded the HB Angels, an investment fund for other entrepreneurs (particularly female) like herself. My top pick is the new Huda Beauty The New Nude Palette ($65), but I can't bring myself to do more than just stare at it — it's too stunning." — AP