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We Tested 11 Beauty Innovations: Here’s What’s Worth the Hype

We discovered the most innovative—and fun—beauty products out now. Here's what's really worth your hard-earned dollars.

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Cleansing water for dummies

My friend returned home from a stint abroad with the best beauty products France offers. Even among heavy hitters, Bioderma Sensibio H2O Water stood out. The micellar water destroys any last trace of makeup while leaving behind a tingly sensation on my skin, and is perfect for any double cleansing routine. The product is designed for sensitive skin, and at a convenience store price, it’ll become your favorite all-in-one product.

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Diamond lips

Despite an affinity for anything that sparkles, I am skeptical of any beauty products containing gemstones. Natura Bisse’s Diamond Lip Booster was no different. Who am I—Beyoncé? Alas, my lips were dehydrated and chapped after a cold, so I gave this pricey serum a shot. The Spanish-made product, packed with omega-5 fatty acids, transformed my lips over the course of a workday. The squeeze tube comes with a metal applicator that feels ice-cold on your lips, which added a luxurious touch. While I wouldn’t use this every day (especially at $75!), the combo of potent ingredients and high-end packaging deems it unlike anything else on the market.

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Whipped sunscreen

While I know I need to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, I don’t love how tough they can be to rub into my skin. So I was excited to try the new Supergoop! Super Power Sunscreen Mousse SPF 50, a formula I had never seen before. When I squirted some into my palm on the beach in Santa Monica, I expected it to dissipate in my hand like hair mousse. Instead, it turned into a creamy formula and sunk into my skin without the white cast. Even better, the SPF 50 formula is water-resistant and even a bit sweat-proof. I didn’t have to reapply during my bike ride down the pier.

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Can’t stay on the shelves

When Sephora can’t keep a product in stock, you know you’re in for something you haven’t seen before. Tatcha‘s Water Cream is exactly that product. The oil-free, anti-aging water cream spread easily on my face before instantly evaporating, leaving a matte texture on my face. The formula is innovative because it incorporates Japanese wild rose, which supports natural circulation, balances skin, and improves the look of pores, and Japanese leopard lily, which reduces oil production, calms problem skin, and supports natural exfoliation. If I was someone who wore foundation, the cream would make a fantastic base.

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Drunk in love

When I’m home after a long day at work, I want to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer kick some butts. I expect the face mask I’ll have on during the episode to do the same. Drunk Elephant‘s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial does it so quickly that I need to wash it off not even halfway into an episode. The formula has 2 percent BHA and 25 percent glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids, making it a spa-grade exfoliating facial. The packaging is the perfect shade of baby pink and even came with a sample of the brand’s Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil suggested for best results. At $80, it’s way cheaper than splurging at the spa.

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Smells good enough to eat

From the bars of shampoos and conditioners to soaps, all the products in New Zealand-based brand Ethique use easy-to-pronounce ingredients like jojoba seed oil, ground ginger, and Shea butter. My personal favorite is the Gingersnap Face Scrub Cubes that smell so much like actual gingersnaps I wanted to eat them (disclaimer: do not do). One box has two bars, not dissimilar to chocolate bars, where you can snap off a piece to exfoliate with. Each of the 16 “cubes” can be used at least two times. The smell alone is worth buying these tiny face treats.

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“I feel bad about my neck”

Nora Ephron would love Skyn Iceland’s Hydro Cool Firming Neck Gels, a sanitary-pad like fabric you stick onto your neck to tighten, brighten, and restore elasticity to sagging skin. The neck gels have these small balls that stick into your skin for what I assume is traction support. The package comes with four neck gels, perfect for having a mini spa day with your friends.

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8 hours of sleep in a bottle

I could have used Allies of Skin 1A Overnight Facial back in college when I was finishing my homework 20 minutes before the deadline or after a late-night party. The facial promises to “sync with your skin’s sleep cycle to erase the weekend.” Although I don’t know how much sleep-deprivation-induced damage it can possibly erase, I was impressed with my skin’s texture after I left it on. The black and silver packaging looks sleek, and I love that it’s “tested on busy go-getters” and not animals.

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Brand-new ‘do

I never understood those women who have an immaculate blowout for a week at a time. How do you shower? Why can’t my scalp possess magical powers? Turns out I wasn’t using New Wash, a cowash from Hairstory. By day three of my blowout, my scalp was still not greasy—a feat I have never accomplished. The cowash acts as a shampoo, conditioner, and detangler, leaving your hair soft and manageable for days. Hairstory stylist Wes Sharpton says New Wash is free of detergent, the most common ingredient in shampoo, which, in fact, strips your hair of its natural oils. New Wash convinced this skeptic it’s the only way to go.

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Jelly Bellys

Truly an innovation, Boscia’s Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser will make you feel like a kid again—any product that jiggles is worth a try, in my book. Boscia is also known for its fantastic charcoal-based products, so this was no exception. The ball of charcoal cleanser comes with a fancy toothpick, where you puncture the latex ball before rubbing it on your face—it should last for about a month-and-a-half. The product is great, even though the packaging is gimmicky.

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From the garden

My personal favorites of the bunch, African Botanics’ Rose Treatment Essence and Nutritive Molecule Serum is the best dynamic duo since Batman and Robin. This duo (sold separately) has more natural ingredients than any salad I’ve ever eaten. The fair trade ingredients are responsibly sourced and are made without silicones, mineral oils, parabens, allergens, phalates, and synthetic fragrances. The smell of the rose essence is so potent you would never guess it wasn’t synthetic, and they work like a charm.

Amanda Eisenberg
Amanda Eisenberg is a New York City-based journalist. She's covered everything from unlawful nursing home discharges in Maryland to excess helicopter noise in Hoboken. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Elle Decor, McClatchy-Tribune Wire Service and dozens of other publications. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland (go Terps!). In her free time, Eisenberg enjoys traveling, volunteering and cliff diving. She can be reached at [email protected]

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