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Ergonomic Makeup Brushes
We’re always excited about innovations that help make our daily regimen quicker, easier, and more beautiful—and this year’s biggest cosmetic breakthroughs don’t disappoint. In this gallery, you’ll find long-sought updates on decades-old technologies, as well as subtle but meaningful tweaks on things we take for granted. Whether you’re after smoother skin, fuller hair, or more seamless makeup, your new look may just be a simple switch-up away.
It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of the first makeup brushes (was it the Romans? the Egyptians?), but the straight-handled shape hasn’t changed much since ancient times. The latest iterations finally take the task of makeup application into the 21st century. Ergonomically designed bent heads make these models as intuitive to use as your fingers, while soft bristles, clustered into a rounded shape, effortlessly buff in foundation and blend in color cosmetics without leaving telltale lines.
Use the Oval 6, left, for foundation and blush. The Circle 1, center, applies lipstick and concealer with precision. The Oval 3, right, helps shade and blend eye shadow.
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An Oil-Based Solution
Potent seed-based oils (think argan and apricot) have been all the rage lately for delivering extra moisture into face creams and hair treatments. Now formulators have figured out a way to infuse them into makeup—so every quick lipstick or foundation touch-up offers an opportunity to spot-quench. Bonus: They ensure that colors glide on smoothly, too.
TRY From left: YSL Volupte Tint-in-Oil, $32, yslbeautyus.com.
Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Lip Stain + Shine, $22, josiemarancosmetics.com.
Physicians Formula Argan Wear Ultra-Nourishing argan-oil BB cream with SPF 30, $15, physiciansformula.com.
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Having enlightened the world with BB and CC creams, this Pacific beauty powerhouse is offering yet another complexion-enhancing contribution: essences. Also known as essence lotions, they’re applied after cleansing but before a serum. You might mistake them for water droplets, but in fact they often contain treatment ingredients, such as salicylic acid or probiotics, to give skin a nice glow. What’s more, says Mona Gohara, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale Medical School, “essences help replenish the fatty acids in the skin’s barrier, maximizing the effects of any product applied on top.”
TRY Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating essence treatment, $45, kiehls.com.
Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Emulsion, $63, us.sulwhasoo.com.
The Body Shop Oils of Life Intensely Revitalising essence lotion, $22, thebodyshop-usa.com.
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Thicker Hair in a Bottle
The thick hair of your 20s may soon be a reality at any age. The FDA has approved a stronger 5 percent minoxidil formula for women, to coax new growth and thicken fine hairs. Applied once daily, the foam (no drippy mess!) promises lusher locks—48 percent denser, according to clinical studies—in three to six months.
TRY Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Topical aerosol, from $30, womensrogaine.com.
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Bye, Bye, Double Chin!
Even as cosmetic injectables boost cheeks, sculpt jawlines, and dissolve wrinkles, there haven’t been nonsurgical options for double chins. But now a new treatment holds promise. With Kybella by Kythera Biopharmaceuticals (also known as ATX-101), doctors can deliver deoxycholic acid—a fat dissolver also found naturally in our bodies—right into that stubborn excess padding and diminish it. For those genetically predisposed to fat in the area, it’s especially welcome. As New York City dermatologist Heidi Waldorf points out, “double chins are often seen in people who are not overweight. And diet and exercise rarely make a dent.”
TRY From $1,000 a treatment; go to mykybella.com for more information.
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Gentler Than Gel
A crop of ingenious new inventions lets you treat your nails to the high shine of gel polish or glitter—without weakening them during the color-removal process. The new polymer technology in Sally Hansen’s new base coat allows any polish you slick on top of it to be easily peeled—instead of scraped—off. (It works wonders for dark polishes, too.) And textured wipes from Butter London gently scrub away the remnants of sparkle nail enamels.
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Your Best Face Forward
Rethink how you moisturize. Instead of slapping on those nourishing ingredients in a rush, experts report, we can enhance their effects by applying them with a facial massage. It increases blood flow, reduces puffiness, and improves muscle tone, says celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, who uses the technique on all her clients with her rose-hip-and-vitamin-E-infused salve. Curious? Adapt her steps, right, to any product. Results aside, there’s no denying the everyday benefits of slowing down.
TRY Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic cream, $100, charlottetilbury.com.
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Twice the Cleansing Power
With longer-lasting formulas, it takes some elbow grease to wash away lip stain and waterproof mascara. So it’s no surprise that the Asian practice of “double cleansing” is catching on. Before bed, melt away makeup with an oil-based cleanser, such as those listed below, then follow up with your usual cleanser to wash off remaining residue.
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The Many Benefits of Buffing
Too-abrasive scrubs are a thing of the past, now that you can customize your own. With the latest exfoliating powders (like the three shown), you simply add as much or as little as you need to your cleanser. Buffing ingredients—such as bamboo and rice-bran powder—declog pores, even out tone, smooth fine lines, and, best of all, are gentle enough for sensitive skin.
TRY From left: Peter Thomas Roth Camu Camu Vitamin C Brightening Powder cleanser, $45, peterthomasroth.com.
Boscia Tsubaki oil-infused exfoliating powder, $36, boscia.com.
Tatcha Indigo Soothing rice-enzyme powder, $65, tatcha.com.
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Eau So Original
If you’re the type of person who hunts high and low for that one-of-a-kind scent, your search just got easier. A new breed of fragrance house is specializing in small-batch artisanal formulations, all created by perfumers with carte blanche to follow their passions. Expect unique notes like saffron and leather, and expensive natural extracts, like Hawaiian gardenia, instead of synthetic versions. The goal, explains Arquiste founder Carlos Huber, is “to capture the olfactory experience of a particular time or place.”
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Lipstick That Sticks
Giorgio Armani international makeup artist Linda Cantello wanted to create a lip gloss that would stretch and bend with lips’ every movement. Her inspiration: liquid bandages. The resulting Ecstasy lacquer is a long-wearing, high-shine hybrid that has it all: the glide of a gloss, the finish of lipstick, the moisture of a balm, and the longevity of a stain. Quite a feat of engineering!
TRY Giorgio Armani Ecstasy lacquer, $38, armanibeauty.com.
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Combining the ease of a pencil with the crease-free finish of a cream, the new long-wearing eye shadows shade, define, and highlight with a flick of the wrist. Swipe once for a sheer or foil effect. Swipe twice for a deeper tone.
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A Little Less Sensitivity
If ice cream or hot cocoa gives your teeth the chills, help is at hand. “Over-the-counter sensitivity solutions help obstruct temperature-related sensations from reaching tooth nerves,” says New York City dentist Marc Lowenberg—providing temporary and, sometimes, extended relief. (If you’re still feeling the sting, see a dentist to find out if the flare-up has another cause.)
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Plump It Up
An overall glow is always welcome, but for those with hard-to-treat areas, the new spot-specific sheet masks can help. Like the full-face versions, these contain hefty doses of plumping ingredients (such as anti-aging peptides), but they’re cut to fit under the eyes, neck, or nasolabial folds for a concentrated effect.
TRY Clockwise from top left: SK-II Signs eye mask, $115 for 14 sheets, sk-ii.com.
Rodan + Fields Redefine Acute Skin care for Expression Lines, $220 for 10 sets, rodanandfields.com.
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist 24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing eye mask, $63 for 12 packets, shiseido.com.
Talika Bio Enzyme Mask Anti-Aging Neck (not shown), $14, talika.com.
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Soft and Silky Strands
Martha loves the way Frederic Fekkai shampoo and conditioner keep her hair soft, silky, and shiny. These products from renowned style-maker Frederic Fekkai contain pro vitamin B5 and silk protein to smooth and strengthen the hair while apricot, avocado, and calendula soften and add shine.
TRY Frederic Fekkai Technician Color Care shampoo and conditioner, $20, fekkai.com.