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Concealer brushes can help apply product to hard-to-reach places, like around the nose or eyes.
A concealer brush can be the difference between a flawless application and a poorly-blended one.
We talked to makeup artists to discover their favorite concealer brushes on the market.
Concealer, for many people, is a product that can feel the most non-negotiable – more so than even foundation or mascara. A concealer brush, however, is often a different story.
Despite the fact that most people who wear makeup own a concealer, concealer brushes are a little less common. Some people may opt to use their hands and fingers for applying concealer and foundation, while others might use a beauty sponge for any and all complexion cosmetics. A concealer brush might not seem necessary at first, but using a specific brush to reach the nooks and crannies of your face (the corners of your nose and eyes, for example), can actually make a huge difference.
These are the best concealer brushes in 2021, according to experts.
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Rae Morris Jishaku #6.5 Angle Eye Blender
Jishaku #6.5: Angle Eye Blender (small, Preferred: Rae Morris)
“The Rae Morris Angle Eye Blender is so incredibly soft that it seamlessly blends my concealer while keeping the opacity I need to cover darkness,” says celebrity makeup artist Erin Parsons, noting that a more affordable, synthetic alternative is Anisa Angled Concealer Brush. “It’s a great price point and quality concealer brush made with synthetic hair for those looking for a cruelty free product. It blends concealer quickly but also keeps the coverage in place.”
Another makeup artist, Rose Siard, also recommended the Anisa Angled Brush because of its unique shape. “It fits perfectly under the eye for creaseless concealer under your eyes but it can also tackle cream blush, bronzer and highlighter,” Siard says.
IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Dual Airbrush Concealer
Carl Ray is Michelle Obama’s makeup artist, and says that It Cosmetics’ Dual Airbrush Concealer is a great option, especially for “buffing away imperfections.” Plus, the brush offers two options in one — one end with more compact, shorter bristles, and another with a flufflier brush.
Morphe’s M173 Buffer Brush
M173 Buffer Brush (small, Preferred: Morphe)
Makeup artist Nydia Figueroa says this small buffer brush from Morphe is “a makeup artist’s dream.” The brush has a fluffy yet firm, rounded tip, which provides precision and coverage.
“It helps with those hard to reach areas such as the sides of the nose and the inner corners of the eyes,” Figueroa explains. “The brushes are dense so it provides full coverage and gives the concealer an airbrushed finish.”
Huda Beauty’s Bake & Blend Face Brush
Bake & Blend Face Brush (small)
Makeup and beauty vlogger Brittany Golden recommends another dual-sided brush as her go-to option for concealer. Golden says Huda Beauty’s Bake & Blend Face Brush is angled enough to allow you to get into the nooks and crannies of your face while still being dense enough to spread the concealer quickly and evenly.
“The other side of the brush is a rounded narrow powder brush that allows you to set the concealer evenly without using a lot of product,” Golden explains. “When I used a beauty sponge, I would hate having to use the same damp sponge for concealer and powder — sometimes the powder would come out uneven because of the water. I also don’t have to use two makeup-application products to get the job done.”
Tara Dowburd has been a makeup artist for 24 and says she swears by Smashbox’s Blurry Foundation Brush.
“I love using it with both liquid or cream concealers.,” Downburd says. She notes the smart handle and the dome shape of the bristle, which allow the concealer to apply in a buffing affect.
“It also gives you the opportunity to control the amount of coverage you want from your concealer, from sheer to full coverage,” she notes. “Apply it using small circular bouncing movements to help prevent the concealer from settling into creases anywhere you use it on your face.”
IT Brushes For ULTA Love Beauty Fully Blending Concealer Brush #203
Love Beauty Fully Blending Concealer Brush #203 (small, Preferred: Ulta)
Beauty Expert Nick Stenson says that this concealer brush from IT Cosmetics and ULTA is “truly the pinnacle of concealer brush perfect,” so it’s bound to be pretty darn good.
“It is great for liquid, powders, and cream products and appropriate for all areas of the face. It’s even designed with a tapered edge that allows for easy application to precision areas around the eyes or the corners of the nose,” Stenson says, explaining that the flat side of the brush also builds and blends concealer products seamlessly so you can achieve the exact level of coverage you’re looking for.
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You don’t need to be an online shopping veteran to know that it’s a tricky affair – the whole process occurs without you ever seeing or trying the product. To make buying a little easier, many retailers offer helpful policies, like free online returns. Especially with holidays like Mothers’ Day around the corner, it’s good to know which stores you can easily make returns to.
We’ve rounded up a list of retailers offering free online returns, below.
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Get free online returns on orders at these companies:
Style & clothing
ALDO: Aldo will refund unworn, unwashed, not final sale items returned within 60 days of your purchase.
Allbirds: The buzzy shoe brand allows returns for 30 days with no questions asked, even if you’ve already worn the shoes around. You can return or exchange any shoes for free that aren’t to your liking.
Bonobos: Men’s clothing and accessories store Bonobos includes a pre-paid return label with every order for hassle-free returns. If you make your return within 45 days of your purchase, you qualify for a refund using your original payment method. If you return within 90 days of your purchase date, you qualify for store credit instead.
Bloomingdale’s: Bloomingdale’s has one of the best return policies of any store. You can return an order for free for up to a full year. Just print a mailing label at home for your order.
Everlane: All purchases from the popular clothing brand Everlane can be returned for free for up to 30 days after your ship date. That even includes Choose What You Pay purchases. Plus, you can also return anything you bought at a brick-and-mortar store via mail.
Macy’s: Macy’s offers free and easy returns on most items by mail. Just print a pre-addressed shipping label and send your items back. They’ve also extended their return window from 30 to 90 days.
Neiman Marcus: Almost all merchandise can be returned to Neiman Marcus free of charge if received within 15 days of the delivery date. However, you may want to double-check their return policy as a few items aren’t eligible for free returns, including anything bought on clearance.
Nordstrom: The department store offers free returns in the US via a postage-paid return label. Your return is generally processed within 10-14 days.
Patagonia: Outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia offers free returns on all items, though they’re currently delayed due to staffing and safety requirements. Even better, they also usually offer free repairs on all Patagonia items, though this program has temporarily been suspended due to the novel coronavirus. They do, however, have free DIY repair guides online.
REI: If you’re not satisfied with any purchase from REI, you can return it for up to a full year for free. Return shipping labels come with all invoices. The only exception is outdoor electronics, which can be returned for free within 90 days.
Shopbop: Shopbop is known for designer women’s fashion apparel, which means items often come with a high price tag. Items returned within 15 days after receipt are refunded with no extra cost – though they’ll accept returns up to 30 days after with a $10 fee tacked on.
Sunglass Hut: With summer on the horizon, you may be eyeing new frames from Sunglass Hut, the sunglass retailer that carries brands from Ray-Ban to Gucci. Shop with confidence knowing you can return items for free for up to 90 days with a printed shipping label.
Urban Outfitters: Returning items to Urban Outfitters is easy. Just start a return online and print a free pre-paid shipping label. Returns made within 30 days of your delivery date qualify for a refund using your payment method; if it takes place after, you may qualify for store credit instead.
Zappos: Zappos has long been heralded as a gold standard for customers when it comes to returns. Return shipping is always free and you have 365 days to do so for all purchases – no exceptions.
Bed Bath & Beyond: Bed Bath & Beyond offers free return shipping on most items. You have a 90-day window after purchase to exchange or return.
Chewy: Pet owners will be pleased to learn that returns to Chewy are easy. If you’re not completely satisfied with your items, you can return them free of charge within one year. Just send a message with your order number to receive a shipping label.
Home Depot: While there are a few exceptions for bigger items, many orders are eligible for free online returns. Once you start a return you’ll receive a free UPS shipping label via email to print and attach to your package.
Target: Shoppers at Target have 90 days to return or exchange items for free. RedCard holders get 120 days.
Walmart: Walmart makes it simple to return items for free. Just log into your account, initiate a return or replacement, and print a free return label. Refunds or replacement items are issued as soon as the store receives the item. You have 90 days after purchase to make a return in most cases.
Williams Sonoma: Foodies and home chefs will like that Williams Sonoma allows for free returns by mail within 30 days for any items under 70 pounds. You can use the form attached to your invoice or quickly print a label online.
Best Buy: Most items are eligible for refunds if you return them within 15 days of receipt. It’s important to note, however, that some items (like cell phones and DSLR cameras) will incur a restocking fee.
Dell: It can be nerve-wracking to buy pricey electronics sight unseen, but you can shop easy at Dell. Ship any items back for free within 30 days of your invoice date for a full refund.
If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.
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DIY manicures require more than the right nail polish.
The right nail file can literally make or break your tips.
Professional nail artists and technicians’ favorite nail files include drugstore and high end picks.
There’s more to achieving a salon-quality manicure at home than choosing the perfect polish. In fact, the color is only part of the equation: The finished product reflects how you prep and prime your tips, and that includes steps like buffing your cuticles and filing your nails. And similarly to how you might have your favorite nail polish brand, people also have strong opinions regarding nail tools, specifically which nail files are the best nail files.
According to licensed nail professional Patricia Reign, the owner and founder of Traveling Aura mobile spa, having the proper tools to achieve the perfect manicure is key. That includes choosing the right nail file, of which there are many kinds like wooden files, crystal, and glass nail files. There are also metal and electric models, and chunky buffing blocks.
Which kind of nail file you buy will depend on how you intend to use it. For example, glass files are mainly used on natural nails because their natural smoothness “can help prevent splitting, chipping and breaking,” Reign explained, while a 100/180 grit nail file is specifically designed for nail extensions and enhancements. Once you know the look you’re going for, then you can shop for the right tool. We’ve listed a few nail artists preferences below to help narrow down your options.
Here are the best nail files, according to experts, in 2021:
Valentino 100/180 Grit File
The Valentino nail file is ideal for shaping enhancements.
Reign told INSIDER she religiously uses Valentino’s nail files as they are great to achieve the perfect, stiletto, square or coffin shaped enhancements. “Their functioning is super easy,” she said, adding that the file also doesn’t hurt clients out of the box, “which tends to happen a lot when using newer files.”
100/180 Grit File (button)
Medicool Pro Power 30K Precision Electric File
Medicool’s electric nail file is a professional tool that requires practice to use.
Medicool’s e-files are an investment, but for seasoned artists with proper training, Reign said this professional tool is at the top of its class for enhancements like acrylics, gels, and fiberglass. “If you’re looking to create the perfect smooth surface for your nail enhancements, Medicool is a great way to achieve this so you can have the perfect surface to apply your nail enamel,” she explained.
Pro Power 30K Precision Electric File (button)
Tammy Taylor Peel N Stick Cutie Files
Tammy Taylor’s Peel N Stick nail file is one of the easiest to use.
A nail technician of 15 years, Jenna Bean (aka Nail Trapper) said the Tammy Taylor Disposable 3-in-1 File, Cuticle Pusher- Shaper- Smoother is a “gamer changer” because its unique shape and size make it incredibly easy to use. “[The file] offers to push back cuticles, shape the nail and also smooth your nails for finishing look,” Bean told INSIDER, unlike ordinary nail files that just shape your nails.
Peel N Stick Cutie Files (button)
ORLY Buffer File Duo
ORLY’s double-duty nail file is great on natural nails and extensions.
Celebrity nail artist Queenie Nguyen told INSIDER she uses ORLY’s nail files every day. “They’re the perfect grid to use on natural nails as well as extensions,” Nguyen said, noting their dual sided design with a file on one side and buffer on the other makes them an awesome travel tool. Plus, she added, “the unique shape of the files make it easy to reach all areas around the nails to file.”
Buffer File Duo (button)
Flowery MyLar PuriFile
This drugstore option from Flowery is affordable, reusable, and can be disinfected.
Nguyen also mentioned she loves Flowery’s MyLar PuriFile because it’s reusable and disinfectable. “They’re meant to be immersed in disinfectants post use each time or cleaned with soap and water before storing for next use,” Nguyen explained, adding that the grid is also safe to use on natural nails.
MyLar PuriFile (button)
KISS Power File
KISS nail files are widely available and reliable.
Celebrity Manicurist and Smith & Cult brand ambassador, Jessica Tong told INSIDER this file from Kiss Nails is her go-to drugstore pick. “You can find it anywhere and it will always get the job done,” she said.
CND files are salon-quality and work for all different nail types.
For DIY home manicures, Tong recommended CND’s range of files. With 100/180 grit, they’re great for “shaping, buffing or shining,” she explained, and can shorten the length of enhancements and acrylics. Plus, they’re gentle on natural nails.
Deborah Lippmann’s Smooth Operator Buffer file is incredibly gentle on natural nails.
For healthy, natural nails, lead nail technician at Chillhouse Molly Romah told INSIDER Deborah Lippmann’s Smooth Operator Buffer Nail File is one of the best. It’s made with an extra gentle custom material to prevent breakage, and the fabric of the buffer smooths the surface of nails plus adds a nice, healthy shine to the finished product.
Smooth Operator Buffer Nail File (button)
Germanikure Glass File
Germanikure’s glass nail file is good for your nails and easy on the environment.
To avoid micro tears on the nail’s free edge, NYC-based celebrity manicurist, Julie Kandalec told INSIDER a glass file, like this option from Germanikure, actually seals it to prevent peeling. Kandalec also loves this file because it’s disinfectable and “never wears down like traditional nail files, so it’s not only better for you and for your nails, it’s better for the earth too.”
Glass File (button)
Erica’s Diamond Hand File
This diamond nail file is a great pick for precise shaping.
Erica’s ATA Diamond Hand File is another favorite of Kandalec because “they outlast 500 paper files and are disinfectable and sterilizable.” They are also made from 100% real diamond, and are thinner than regular nail files, which, she said, allows you to “file with precision, especially under tight corners.”
Though a popular business strategy for new startups today is to sell direct-to-consumer through their own websites, the practice often serves as a springboard for other retail opportunities, not an outright boycott. Direct-to-consumer selling hasn’t replaced brick-and-mortar stores; rather, it has helped redefine how to create brand experiences and nurture loyal customer followings.
In a similar fashion, many online startups eventually find their way into popular retail stores that you’ve been shopping at for years, whether for a limited run or a long-term residency. It’s just another way for these startups to get their products in front of more eyes, plus it’s undeniably convenient to shop all your favorites at one site and enjoy free shipping and return perks.
Target is one such home to many direct-to-consumer startups you might recognize across personal care, bedding, food, pets, and more. It’s the perfect place to discover new and innovative brands, so it’s no wonder the following 22 online companies have decided to sell through the company.
Here are 22 popular online startups you can now find at Target:
The Mighty Patch has become a skincare staple for many, and that’s probably because these tiny dots draw out the gunk from your blemishes. All it takes is sticking them to your skin and leaving them on overnight or throughout the day to flatten your pimples. But besides the fan favorite patches, Hero Cosmetics has also created more conventional skincare products like a cleanser, toner, serum, and blemish balm — all of which you can find at Target. You can read our full Mighty Patch review here.
Thinx is known for its period-proof underwear, which now appears on the shelves of select Target stores and on Target’s site. Thinx for All is an extension of the brand’s existing offerings and uses the same design and technology, but with lower prices and a smaller selection. The cotton underwear is tagless and can soak up the equivalent of three to five regular tampon’s worth, depending on whether you get the moderate absorbency or super absorbency version. These period saviors also control odor and wick moisture to best support you during your cycle.
Initially recognized for its Billion Dollar Brow products, Billion Dollar Beauty has created a customizable makeup box that’s sold exclusively at Target. The Billion Dollar Box is a magnetic, mess-free palette that rethinks the typical makeup bag. You can fill your box with Billion Dollar Beauty products like eyeshadow, blush, lip balm, and more. Best of all, one side of the box includes a mirror that props up, making it perfect for on-the-go touch ups. The brand also puts sustainability first, and its makeup formulas meet Target’s clean beauty standards.
Popular custom haircare brand Function of Beauty sells four Target-exclusive collections that are each geared towards a specific hair type: straight, wavy, curly, and coily. Each collection features a shampoo, a conditioner, and three booster shots that match with the respective hair type. You can alternatively mix and match by buying individual products from different collections. Not to mention, these offerings align with Target’s clean beauty guidelines and are wrapped in recyclable materials. If you want to learn more about the brand’s custom haircare, you can read our review here.
Olive & June started as a nail salon in Los Angeles, and has since grown into a mainstream nail brand that’s known for its minimalistic packaging and chic colors. Building on its lacquer empire, Olive & June sells nail care products like its Cuticle Serum and The Poppy Manicure Tool, in addition to heart-shaped nail stickers. To hear from the founder and what it’s like to decorate with Olive & June’s stickers, read more here.
Perhaps one of the most widely recognized brands that you can now find in Target’s aisles is Honest Beauty. Founded by Jessica Alba, the brand covers makeup, skincare, kids, babies, and cleaning supplies, although only its beauty products appear at Target. Honest makes human health a top priority when it comes to ingredients, but also ensures the products get the job done. Some of its most popular offerings at Target include the Extreme Length 2-in-1 Mascara and Lash Primer, Makeup Remover Wipes, and Hydrogel Cream.
True & Co. makes lingerie that is seamless, wireless, and weightless. Though the brand provides bra, underwear, tank, and bodysuit options on its own site, only its bras and bodysuits have homes at Target. Not only are the items immaculately designed and constructed for maximum comfort, they are also size inclusive, with some bra styles fitting up to 3X. If you want to learn more about the brand, here’s our full review.
Harry’s success in men’s grooming led it to create Flamingo, a female shaving and bodycare brand. Like its sibling, Flamingo sports the same sleek packaging along with the same quality formulas and designs. You can find its five-blade razor, razor refills, body wax kit, and Body Moisture collection on Target’s shelves, and all at affordable prices. You can learn more about what it’s like to shave with Flamingo by reading our full review here.
Known for embedding its products with flowers and confetti, Winky Lux’s vibrant packaging and fruit-infused formulas have made their way to Target. Some of the brand’s bestselling products include the Flower Balm, Confetti Balm, Uni-brow, and Eye Cream Applicator. Winky Lux’s products are a nice treat if you’re looking to pamper yourself, or if you have a friend who loves all things beauty.
Target carries many skincare and beauty brands, but it’s a little harder to come by clean, vegan, and sustainable products. Versed, with its large variety ranging from cleansing balm to mineral sunscreen, is changing that trend. Its bestsellers are the moisturizing gel-cream, which is light and bouncy without making your face oily, and the clarifying serum, which keeps breakouts at bay with willow bark extract and zinc. The mineral sunscreen is also one we stock up on, here’s our full review.
Gravity makes our favorite weighted blanket, as well as other products designed to help you fall asleep, like a weighted sleep mask and a memory foam pillow. Though there are now many weighted blanket brands hoping to take up precious real estate on your bed, Gravity is arguably the first to kick off the sleep and relaxation movement and has the high-quality, comfortable blankets to prove it.
Partake’s cookies are not only tasty but also free of the top eight allergens, making them safe for kids (and adults) with food sensitivities. They were created by a mom who couldn’t find delicious snacks for her daughter who has serious food allergies. You’ll be able to choose from birthday cake, chocolate chip, and cookie butter flavors — or, get all three, just to be safe.
We’ve reviewed nearly all of Casper’s mattresses, and now you can easily add your favorite into your cart alongside your other Target purchases. The breathable percale Cool Sheets and soft, supportive pillow are also popular choices from the online sleep startup.
Bark, the company behind dog treat and toy subscription BarkBox, sells adorable individual pet products through Target. If you’re not sure whether you want to commit to the subscription, you can get a preview here. Check back often for seasonal themed toys and creative treat flavors like Hawaii Luau Roast Pork and Chicago Hot Dog. Profits from its Snacks That Give Back collection support local animal rescues. Read our review of BarkBox here for an idea of what to expect with Bark.
Native is aluminum- and paraben-free natural deodorant that’s safer for your body and comes in a variety of nice scents. Unlike other deodorants, it doesn’t leave a sticky residue and for some users, it lasts even longer than traditional deodorants. It’s our top pick for the best natural deodorants, check out our full review here.
Men’s grooming brand Harry’s is best known for its high-quality and affordable razors and shaving sets, though it’s also broken into haircare and bodycare. Restock on sharp razor blades, treat your skin to gentle body washes, or style your hair to perfection with putty and waxes. Its paraben-, phthalate-, and aluminum-free formulas are better for your body, while its prices are friendly on your wallet.
These sleek, stylish, and lightweight electric toothbrushes from Quip are American Dental Association-approved. I’ve been using one for more than two years and I’m still impressed. The soft-bristle brush isn’t too harsh on your gums, and it pulses every 30 seconds for two minutes to guide your toothbrushing routine.
Rocketbook makes innovative, eco-friendly notebooks for the digital age. Using its special pen, you write in the notebook, send its contents to your favorite cloud service, wipe the page clean, then start over. There are multiple styles and versions to suit your needs, whether you’re taking notes for school, business meetings, or personal use. Here’s our full review.
GIR nails the design of a common kitchen tool. Its super heat-resistant silicone spatulas are strong, flexible, and easy to clean — which is why you’ll find yourself using it for all your mixing needs and throwing out your old, inferior spatulas. Other noteworthy products from the brand are the silicone lids with strong suction and the Mini Tool Set.
Another oral care startup gracing the shelves at Target is Hello, whose claim to fame is natural, fluoride-free whitening toothpaste. They contain ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil, and taste great, too. If you’re interested in the cleaning and whitening power of activated charcoal, it also offers charcoal toothpaste and mouthwash.
Founded by a former elite endurance athlete, Primal Kitchen was born from the inability to find healthy and delicious salad dressing. Its offerings include mayonnaise and dressings made with avocado oil, and at Target, supplement powders that contain collagen to support your bones, skin, and hair.
If you can never remember to drink water throughout the day, you might need the Hidrate Spark, a smart water bottle that tracks your water intake and reminds you to meet your daily water intake goal. It connects to fitness and health apps like Apple Health, Fitbit, and MyFitness Pal.
If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.
I try a lot of skincare products for my job, and Maelove is one of my most recommended brands.
Maelove is a skincare line founded by MIT grads and most of the products are under $30.
Learn more about the company, the products, and how they make skincare so affordable, below.
It doesn’t take long when you’re at a Sephora to realize that plenty of skincare is not affordable. Glossy tubs of La Mer go for $190, and there’s an $85 Peter Thomas Roth mask made with pure 24-karat gold.
But, if you know where to look, you can find skincare products that perform on par with luxury picks. Companies like Maelove, a startup founded by MIT grads, use many of the same ingredients and cosmetics labs as high-end brands but sell products for a fraction of the cost, like a skincare version of Italic.
What’s better, though, is the quality for the price. I try a lot of skincare products – both luxury and drugstore – for my job at Insider Reviews, and if I could only recommend one skincare brand to my friends and family, this would probably be it. The products work well, they’re not expensive, and the startup rarely disappoints. Like the loophole of buying Differin gel rather than Differin cream to save $200, Maelove is one way to save hundreds on the essentials without making any concessions when it comes to what goes into the products themselves. Below, you can learn more about what makes up the Maelove skincare line, including many that I’ve personally tested and reviewed.
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The Glow Maker serum
The Glow Maker ($28)is a vitamin C serum that works to brighten your complexion, even tone, and lighten dark spots. It’s lightweight and sinks in quickly and completely without leaving any tacky residue. And while vitamin C serums can be drying, Maelove’s iteration has a botanical blend and hyaluronic acid (which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water) to prevent it.
Consumers have been quick to note the Glow Maker has a very similar ingredient list to the multi-award-winning C E Ferulic Serum ($166), despite being more than $130 cheaper.
TheNight Renewer ($28), is one of my favorite products. It uses 10% medical-grade AHA, a blend of soothing ingredients, and hyaluronic acid to gently resurface the skin for better texture and more even tone without being too harsh or drying. It took the company years of research to master something gentle and effective, and they’ve nailed it here. After one night of use, I noticed an improvement to my skin’s texture and tone and have noticed it fades dark spots over time. My pores also look a little smaller.
The One Cream ($28, currently sold out)is an everyday moisturizer that will hydrate without clogging pores. It’s good for all skin types, and it goes on lightweight and absorbs quickly and completely. When I’m not testing another cream, this is the budget-friendly one I prefer – there’s never any irritation to my sensitive skin, and it deals with dry patches well.
The Eye Enhancer ($28)hydrates, tightens, and brightens the delicate skin around the eyes. A little goes a long way, and it absorbs into the skin for an all-day brightness and de-puffing boost. Cold-pressed Robusta Coffee seed extract, which is full of antioxidants and polyphenols, reduces water retention and puffiness, and a botanical complex soothes the thin, sensitive skin around your eyes. But if you’re used to a thicker eye cream this may not be for you – it’s very lightweight.
The Day Eraser makeup remover and cleanser
The Day Eraser ($19, currently sold out)is a thicker, more oily cousin to micellar water. Maelove went through over 90 product iterations before landing on this one. It’s a two-in-one makeup remover and face cleanser that respects the skin’s natural moisture barrier and doesn’t leave it feeling stripped or dry. It can remove waterproof makeup and still leave skin feeling smooth and hydrated. I like using it as a makeup remover and first cleanser because it’s gentle and silky, but grabs waterproof mascara off my eyelashes without rubbing them. But, sometimes I apply too much. And since I don’t wear makeup often, I tend to favor Bioderma Micellar Water for its slightly easier application.
The Deep Exfoliator face polish
The Deep Exfoliator ($24)is a good, relatively gentle exfoliant. Its ingredients include BHA (salicylic acid) and pulverized clay to draw out impurities and absorb excess sebum, and niacinamide (vitamin B3), glycerin, allantoin, and vitamin E to restore moisture. When used a few times a week, it helps resurface your skin for better tone and texture. It works best when combined with another AHA/BHA like the Night Renewer, but it’s nice on its own – and especially for sensitive skin types. If you’re looking for a stronger exfoliant and don’t want to buy both, I recommend buying the Night Renewer.
The NIA 10 Calming Serum
TheNIA 10 Calming Serum ($27.95) is designed for dry, inflamed, sensitive, acne-prone skin. Niacinamide (vitamin B3), zinc, and white tea extract work to calm the skin and improve redness and tone over time. I noticed it helped calm my blemishes and made my pores look noticeably smaller. In terms of redness, it’s helped slightly with steady use, but the results have not been drastic. If redness is your main concern and your skin is too sensitive for vitamin C serums, this is worth checking out as an alternative. Otherwise, the Glow Maker may be better for overall tone correction.
The Refresher ($18.95) is a gentle cleanser that helps clean the skin without disrupting its natural moisture barrier, but it can be slightly drying if you’re used to other simple, gentle cleansers like Cetaphil. The Refresher uses a blend of AHAs (lactic, malic, and tartaric) to remove dead or dull skin cells, and without a moisturizer after, it can be drying. Personally, I like that the AHAs help calm my breakouts and remove dull skin, but if you’re prone to dryness, you may want to stick with Cetaphil. The internal straw also doesn’t reach all the way to the bottom of the bottle, so you may have to dig for the last bit of the face wash.
The Moonlight Retinal Super Serum
The Moonlight Retinal Super Serum ($35, currently sold out) is Maelove’s first retinal product and, while it uses an ingredient that’s more efficient than retinol, it’s relatively inexpensive at $35 an ounce. It’s currently sold out, but you can sign up for alerts here. Like other vitamin A products, Moonlight is designed to increase the body’s natural processes that combat signs of aging: cell turnover, collagen production, improving discoloration, hydrating the skin, and reducing acne.
Maelove claims its Moonlight serum delivers “prescription level benefits” over-the-counter. And, retinaldehyde is actually stronger than retinol according to celebrity dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. However, Dr. Engelman also says it can have more intense effects – like dryness. To balance out the formula, Moonlight includes niacinamide, bisabolol, ceramide, tea extracts, hyaluronic acid, and squalane.
It’s also important to note that vitamin A derivatives are a “known teratogen” according to Dr. Engelman, so it must be avoided if pregnant or breastfeeding. You can learn more about retinol and vitamin A and how it works here.
How Maelove made good skincare cheap
Maelove CEO and cofounder Jackie Kim wanted to cut prices on grooming products, and cofounders Brad Yim and Rishi Khaitan were looking for ways to apply artificial intelligence techniques to unexpected industries. Skincare – with its glamour and markups – seemed like a natural fit.
As industry outsiders, Kim and company were able to pinpoint the norms that needed challenging. “The first oddity of the skincare industry that we noticed was that it’s run like the fashion industry,” Kim explained. “Marketers create trends and endless product varieties in an attempt to maximize sales. What you end up with is a ton of undifferentiated products hyped by overzealous marketers, which leads to confusion among shoppers.”
The team recruited friends from all disciplines – cancer and brain researchers, chemical engineers, lawyers, and medical doctors – to hone in on the research without the baggage of preconceived notions. In essence, Maelove is one huge – and very successful – science experiment.
First, the team leverages decades of clinical research. “There are abundant and widely accepted published works that show which compounds work well for maintaining skin health. These are the tried-and-true ingredients recommended by every dermatologist and [which] are available in both over-the-counter and prescription strengths (the classic ingredients like retinol, AHA, certain vitamins and peptides, etc).” In short, these are the ingredients that should work.
Then, Maelove uses artificial intelligence to scan millions of self-reported product reviews – what Kim refers to as empirical real-world data – to determine which ingredients correlated with success, and which to avoid. These are the ingredients that, according to users, do work.
Finally, the company finds human volunteers to test the formula to verify that it’s effective. So instead of building a business around variety for the sake of variety, Maelove focuses on making one line of stellar skincare that can work for all skin types.
The bottom line
This radically affordable luxury skincare line is the real deal. Maelove makes some of the best and some of the cheapest skincare products that I’ve found. And while I don’t often get to stick to my own skincare routine as a product reviewer, I’ve surprised myself by preferring to use the cheaper Maelove products over luxury skincare I often test for work because they’re simple, gentle, and effective.
I recommend Maelove to everyone who asks me for recommendations because it works for all skin types and doesn’t cost much, but skincare is also a notoriously subjective experience. What works for me may not work for you – even a skincare line built to cater to every skin type. Luckily, Maelove has a 100-day, 100% money-back guarantee, so you’re not risking much if you want to give it a try yourself.
If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.
Heat protectant sprays are necessary to maintain healthy locks while styling.
These sprays are especially important for people with thick, long or color-treated hair.
We spoke to experts about what a head protectant is and how to use it properly.
If you frequently use heat-based tools or dryers to style your hair, heat protectants are an absolute necessity. These sprays add a barrier that coats the hair follicle so that heat-styling tools don’t burn your strands or zap away moisture.
“Often the product will have a formula that will coat the hair shaft and offer heat protection up to 428-degrees,” says Penny James, a trichologist and owner of Penny James Salon. “Then a smoothing effect on the cuticle to give the shine.”
When you continuously use high heat on your hair, it can cause the hair’s keratin proteins to break down and the hair cuticle to crack. It can also cause all moisture to evaporate from the inside-out. For color-treated hair it can even cause the pigments to adopt an unflattering brassy tone. Heat protectants work by forming a very thin film over the follicle of the hair that acts as a protective barrier.
We spoke to James and celebrity stylist Dimitris Giannetos, who regularly works with Camila Cabello and Meghan Trainor, to find out how you should be using heat protectant sprays in order to make your style last. You can check out their tips here, but first, read on for the best heat protectant sprays we’ve tested.
These are the best heat protectant sprays in 2021:
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Davines Hair Shield
Hair Shield (small)
This product contains dimethicone and a couple of other silicones to protect the hair from high heat. It also smells amazing and leaves hair looking super shiny. And if your hair is static-prone, you’re in luck. Davines Hair Shied really cuts down on static, so it’s a perfect heat protectant for winter. Because it’s so lightweight, this is perfect for people with thin and fine hair. It still leaves a nice, even coat throughout your strands that also help prevent humidity.
IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray
Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray (small)
I would say that Good Behavior’s heat protectant is one of the more heavy-duty formulas on the list — in a good way. It works to smooth and hold styles while protecting against heat up to 450-degrees. This is great for all hair types, and should definitely be used during the summer. That said, make sure you aren’t using this every single day as it will create a bit of build-up.
COLOR WOW Dream Coat Supernatural Spray
Dream Coat Supernatural Spray (small)
The first time I used this spray, I was shocked by how thin it is — it has the consistency of water. That said, this is a total game-changer for the summertime, and Giannetos agrees. “It makes the hair so shiny, it looks like glass,” he says. While you have to make sure to section-off your hair as your spraying this product in order to evenly coat it, it really holds your style for days on end.
CHI 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray
Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray (small)
This is the first heat protectant I ever used. Chi’s Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray smells amazing, and it doesn’t have any buildup issues, so you can use it multiple days in a row without worry. It’s great for every hair type, but because it coats the hair so well, it can definitely feel a little damp when applying. So if you have very fine hair, it’s a good idea to wait a few seconds after applying before using your hot tools.
Oribe Balm D’Or Heat Styling Shield
Balm D’Or Heat Styling Shield (small)
This heat protectant from Oribe smells great and adds in just enough texture so that you feel like you really have some hold in your hair as you’re styling. It also produces substantial shine and softness that really lasts. This is especially great for those that have super fine or greasy hair — even those looking for a dry shampoo alternative. It really coats each hair follicle to add both texture and heat protection.
R+Co Bleu Hypersonic Heat Styling Mist
Bleu Hypersonic Heat Styling Mist (small)
Beauty fans are most likely familiar with R+Co already, but the brand has recently launched a couture line: R+Co Bleu. This mist from the line, in particular, is phenomenal. It offers heat protection up to 450-degrees and leaves the hair feeling flexible so that you can update your ‘do over the next few days. This is great for all hair types, as it coats each strand evenly and provides a texture that isn’t super drying. It also helps keep styles looking great by acting as a humidity shield.
OUAI Heat Protection Spray
Heat Protection Spray (small)
Like all Ouai products, this heat protection spray smells absolutely divine. The nozzle is super effective and evenly coats the hair so well that you wind up using less product. It definitely makes the hair much shinier and humidity-proof.
This is a perfect spray for fine to thick hair. It will add volume, shine, and a smell so divine you’ll want to spray it all over. Just make so to position the bottle at least six inches from your head as you apply — it applies pretty heavily if you don’t.
Living proof Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray
Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray (small)
In addition to acting as a heat shield, Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray almost works as a texturizer and dry shampoo. I’ve noticed that my hair appears to stay cleaner for longer when I use it. In fact, it’s great on hair that’s greasy or working toward oily. If your hair is freshly shampooed, it might be a little drying.
Amika The Wizard Detangling Hair Primer
The Wizard Detangling Hair Primer (small)
Not only does this evenly coat your hair to protect it from heat styling tools, but it’s also great when used as a detangler as well. Make sure that you apply it to your hair when you’re fresh out of the shower, as that’s how it works best. It’s really great for all hair types — even hair that is damaged or needs a trim. Its detangling properties make it so much easier to drag a comb through, so you never feel like you’re pulling on your knots.
Gisou Propolis Infused Heat Protecting Spray
Propolis Infused Heat Protecting Spray (small)
Just because this product is all-natural doesn’t mean you have to worry about it being less effective. It’s great for all hair types, but particularly for those hoping to really prevent additional damage. In addition to protecting your hair from heat styling tools, Propolis’ spray is great for staving off sun exposure on your strands, which can be drying and damaging. Make sure you spray it on when your hair is wet from the shower so that it’s fully coated as soon as you hit it with a blow dryer.
Ghd Heat Protectant Spray
Heat Protectant Spray (small)
Ghd’s spray provides such a lightweight, even coating that you’ll hardly notice it at all. It’s great at protecting from harsh hot tools — it truly feels like it even distributes the heat for faster styling. This incredibly lightweight spray is great for all hair types and protects against humidity.
Bumble and Bumble Bb.Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer
Bb.Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer (small)
This is one of the best options if your hair is really dried out from past damage — or from putting off a haircut. It’s intended to be applied to damp hair, so it’s best used directly out of the shower. Like the name suggests, Bumble Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil also contains lots of oils so that moisturize your hair and keeps frizz at bay— even if you’re going to be outside or exposed to humidity. It also protects against UV rays and even works as a detangler.
As well as being renowned for their incredible hydrating properties, sheet masks treat different skin concerns, from soothing sensitive skin to brightening dull complexions. Some are great for a pre-night-out boost, while others work better if you wear them before you go to bed, so the serum can soak in and you can wake up with glowing skin. Many experts are now using sheet masks as part of their daily skincare routine.
With the incredible number of sheet masks on the market, working out which one is right for you can be a minefield. As well as researching thousands of reviews from beauty experts and buyers, we’ve tried and tested all sorts of sheet masks to come up with our top picks.
Farmacy’s Coconut Gel Sheet Mask is loaded with nourishing ingredients like coconut water, hyaluronic acid, and cucumber extract. Hyaluronic acid can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, so it delivers some serious hydration. Paired with calming cucumber extract and moisturizing, refreshing coconut water, this mask works for any skin type. Just slap the Coconut Gel Sheet Mask on for 15 minutes — that’s all you need for the mask to work its magic. Take it off to reveal more supple, smooth, calm skin.
Patchology’s mask is your secret weapon for defeating dry skin because it features ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration, and vitamin B5 and betaine to improve elasticity and smooth skin. Traditionally, sheet masks take up to 20 minutes to work, but the Patchology Hydrate Flashmasque accelerates delivery of the ingredients to the skin with its unique material, so you see results in just five minutes.
This speedy skin saver is perfect for a last-minute touch-up before you put on your makeup or before you go to bed. It is the ideal quick fix for winter when your skin needs some extra hydration or on a long flight (as long as you don’t mind scaring the flight attendants).
The White Marble Bright Hydrogel Mask from renowned skincare brand Erno Laszlo is designed to instantly brighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots and aging. The serum is made up of allotonin to plump up the skin, essential oils including peony and chamomile to moisturize, and sunflower seed oil to protect against wrinkles.
We’re obsessed with Erno Laszlo’s range of sheet masks, and this one is awesome. Each sheet mask comes in two pieces of gel-like material. It felt a bit slippery and strange, but it was easy to apply. I liked that it didn’t slip off my face so I could walk around while the mask did its work.
White Marble Bright Hydrogel Mask (small)
Dr. Jart+ Dermamask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution Mask
Our favorite water-based face mask for sensitive skin comes from the legendary Korean Brand Dr Jart+. The mask is packed with hydrating ingredients like algae extract, aquaxyl, xylitol, and oligo-hyaluronic acid to moisturize sensitive skin without irritation. The mask is designed to calm redness and cool irritated skin, making it a godsend for people with sensitive skin. It works just as well for those with oily, dry, or combination skin.
The SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Mask is an all-in-one sheet mask that does everything you need for a glowing, gorgeous complexion. The sheet is soaked with SK-II’s signature serum Pitera. Discovered in a sake brewery back in the ’70s, this liquid is packed with naturally-derived vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. It is designed to refine texture and address uneven skin tone, dryness, large pores, and oiliness. SK-II suggests you use a mask once or twice a week or before a special event.
The SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Mask lived up to the hype in our testing. It made my skin look more radiant instantly, and my skin felt tighter and softer. The mask fit well and stayed put, although it felt a bit slimy. Granted, most face masks feel a bit slimy because it’s the slime that fixes your skin.
Tatcha’s gel-like face mask is packed with powerful anti-aging products including red algae and hyaluronic acid, as well as green tea and rice to target dryness, dullness, and loss of firmness. It is derived from coconut and is more effective than paper masks.
Tatcha claims it can increase the skin’s total moisture by 200% in 15 minutes. While we can’t verify that claim, we can say that it left our skin feeling great. It’s a bit fiddly, as you have to remove one of the layers to put it on, but it fit well.
Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask (small)
Leaders AC Clear Treatment Mask
The AC Clear Treatment Mask from Korean company Leaders Insolution balances skin and provides relief for irritated, stressed, and sensitive skin that’s prone to breakouts and inflammation. This hypoallergenic 100% cotton sheet mask is packed with maple water, hyaluronic acid, and snail secretions to calm skin and reduce redness. It’s gentle enough to be used daily and the more often you use it, the better the results.
AC Clear Treatment Mask (small)
Tonymoly I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask
Established in Seoul more than 10 years ago, Tonymoly pioneered the Korean sheet mask beauty trend that has spread across the world. The innovative brand is now a household name in the US. There are 14 different masks in the Tonymoly I’m Real Sheet Mask collection to address every possible skin concern and we’ve tried them all. Our favorite is the I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask.
Ideal for dull, dry, and stressed-out skin, this highly moisturizing sheet mask is soaked with nutrient-rich avocado essence. The paper sheet has a pleasant smell but feels quite delicate. After leaving it on for 20 minutes in our testing, our skin definitely felt softer and looked fresher.
I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask (small)
St. Ives Nourish and Soothe Oatmeal Mask
Just like the oatmeal baths of your childhood, St. Ives’ Nourish and Soothe Oatmeal Mask soothes whatever is ailing your face. Sunburn? Pop this on. Windburn? You got it. That’s all thanks to the oatmeal extract. It works to calm any type of skin issue while leaving your face feeling refreshed and clean.
And since it’s in an easy-to-use sheet, you can get all of the benefits without the mess. This is actually a great mask to pop on after you’ve applied a more detoxifying mask. It will calm things down while sealing in the good-for-you ingredients of the first.
Nourish and Soothe Oatmeal Mask (small)
Leaders Cosmetics 7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti Pollution Mask
If you live in a city, it’s not just the sun you have to worry about every time you step outside. Free radicals brought on by pollution can wreak havoc on your skin, leading to a dull complexion. But a skincare regimen rich in antioxidants is perfect for combating these issues. And Leaders Cosmetics 7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti Pollution Mask should be a regular part of any antioxidant-rich regimen.
This little mask is chock-full of good-for-you ingredients that help fight free radicals. Vitamins C, B, and E are the powerhouses of this mask, while acai berries come in for the assist. All these ingredients work to wick away the negative effects of pollution.
7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti Pollution Mask (small)
Check out our other great skincare guides
Learn more about the benefits, ingredients, and my experience using the serum.
Product Card (small)
Generally speaking, most skincare is expensive. There are good options at low prices, but there are also one too many $300 night creams and pots of rare ingredients infused with gold flecks to call the genre accessible all-around.
Practically speaking, good skincare should be much easier to get your hands on. Certain ingredients just work, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to cut through the noise and formulate a product that combines those proven ingredients in a basic bottle that can retail for an affordable price.
That’s what Maelove CEO Jackie Kim thought when she set out to create a “radically affordable” skincare startup – and, in so many words, that’s what the company has achieved with its cult-favorite $28 Glow Maker Vitamin C serum.
Kim and co-founders Brad Yim and Rishi Khaitan, MIT graduates, leveraged artificial-intelligence techniques to scan millions of self-reported product reviews to determine which ingredients correlated with success, and which to avoid. The resultant three-years-in-the-making vitamin C serum has been generating enthusiastically positive reviews online, including from me.
The Glow Maker was designed to smooth, hydrate, and help with hyperpigmentation. It’s packed with ingredients like vitamins C and E for brightening, ferulic acid for antioxidation protection, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and a proprietary mix of botanicals (grape seed extract, aloe, aurantium dulcis, and magnolia) for nourishment and easier makeup application. The addition of extracts also makes the serum better for sensitive skin than most other vitamin C serums.
For reference, we compared the ingredients in the Glow Maker and the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum:
The ingredient list of C E Ferulic according to SkinCeuticals ($166): Aqua/Water/Eau, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Laureth-23, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate.
The ingredient list of Glow Maker according to Maelove ($28): Water (Aqua), Ascorbic Acid, Ethoxydiglycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Lecithin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ferulic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Callus Culture Extract, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Metabisulfite, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexyglycerin, Maltodextrin, Tocopherol.
What it’s like to use
In person, Maelove’s Glow Maker is noteworthy for more than just its origin story. It does what it’s supposed to do (brightens the complexion, lightens dark spots) but its real standout features are that it absorbs completely and almost instantaneously into the skin, and that it provides a glow that’s noticeable but not so over-the-top that people with oily skin should steer clear. There’s no tangible residue, and the skin doesn’t feel sticky or tacky post-use.
And while my skin is sensitive and can be dried out by all-over vitamin C application, I have not had that issue with Maelove’s iteration – something I’d credit to their botanical blend and hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water.
The bottom line
The Maelove team is an unusual one- comprised of cancer and brain researchers, chemical engineers, lawyers, doctors, and an obsessive skincare enthusiast – but that outsider perspective is its greatest advantage. The startup’s founding goals were affordability and accessibility, and thanks to obsessive research and a streamlined, no-fuss approach to an often stuffy industry, that goal is met with a product line unanimously priced under $30. The Glow Maker is a definite favorite, but other Maelove standouts include the One Cream ($28, currently sold out), Eye Enhancer ($28), and the perfectly gentle but effective Glycolic Acid cream, the Night Renewer ($28).
If you’ve been paying $166 for SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic Serum, you owe it to yourself to check out the Glow Maker. If you don’t love it, Maelove offers a 100-day return window for a full refund.
If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.
We know that wearing sunscreen is crucial, but we often forget to apply it to our lips.
A good lip balm with SPF will block harmful UV rays while moisturizing your lips.
We consulted two dermatologists and gathered our nine lip sunscreen mainstays.
You’ve probably heard numerous times from your doctor, dermatologist, or favorite beauty YouTuber that wearing sunscreen every single day is a must. And they’re definitely right. But one part of your body that can sometimes get overlooked when it comes to SPF is your lips, which need protection just as much as the rest of your body.
A great way to deliver SPF to your lips on a daily basis is with SPF. But not all of these tubes are created equal. So we turned to Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, a board-certified dermatologist and senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, and Dr. Marie Hayag, board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics who advised us on working lip balms with SPF into our daily routines. You can read on to learn more from our experts and hear about our team’s nine tried-and-true lip balms with SPF.
Here are the best lip balms with SPF you can buy:
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Vanicream Lip Protectant Sunscreen SPF 30
Lip Protectant/Sunscreen SPF 30 (small)
I’ve tried a few lip balms with SPF, but this one from Vanicream is my preferred pick. On top of a simple formula, the consistency is nice and creamy. It also lacks any sort of strong sunscreen smell or taste, which is a dealbreaker for me. However, without a mirror at hand, it’s hard to know if you’ve rubbed in all of the white cream and sometimes it takes a bit of lip-smacking to reduce the tint. — Katie Decker-Jacoby, style & beauty reviews fellow
This lip balm contains both titanium oxide and zinc oxide for effective protection against damaging UV radiation. Additionally, it is water-resistant, free of fragrances, flavoring, and dyes, making it a great option for people with sensitive skin. — Dr. Marie Hayag, board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics
Aquaphor Lip Protectant and Sunscreen Ointment
Lip Protectant and Sunscreen Ointment (small)
I bought this lip sunscreen ointment because I’m never without Aquaphor’s ultra-nourishing Lip Repair. The two products have similar ingredient lists and consistencies. And though I’m not a huge fan of the sunscreen smell and taste, they’re minimal and do not override the efficacy of this balm. The formula specifically caters to those with sensitive skin, and I find this to be true, as well. — Katie Decker-Jacoby, style & beauty reviews fellow
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm
Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm (small)
As someone who is sensitive to the sun and prone for my fair skin to burn, I’m especially cautious with the products I’m using. That being said, I use SPF just about everywhere, even in the colder winter months. I absolutely swear by Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm. It has SPF 15 and also prevents my lips from being chapped. It applies buttery smooth, as its name suggests, and smells divine. — Victoria Giardina, Buying Guides Fellow
Kiehl’s Since 1851 Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30
Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30 (small)
I have a tube of this in the clear/untinted shade in every hiking backpack I own. It’s moisturizing without feeling sticky and goopy, and the balm doesn’t melt — even during multi-hour-long hikes in the sun. The SPF 30 is strong enough to keep my lips from burning, and the clear shade I use most often comes in handy when I need to reapply sunscreen on the bridge of my nose or the tops of my ears. The metal tube feels more substantial and luxurious than other balms, and the cap screws onto the tube so there’s no chance you’ll lose it at the bottom of your bag. It does, however, contain octocrylene so it’s not reef-safe and I don’t use this when I’m around the beach. — Jada Wong, senior editor
Supergoop! PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai
PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai (small)
The tube and formula remind me of old-school Vaseline, but much more protective and way less goopy. The SPF 30 is great for protecting my lips and the formula includes shea butter for lots of moisture. It doesn’t contain any oxybenzone, octinoxate, or octocrylene that would be harmful to coral reefs, so I always use this when I’m around the beach. — Jada Wong, senior editor
If you’re looking for a quality plant-based sunscreen lip balm, this one from Coola offers broad-spectrum protection, instant moisture, vitamins, and antioxidants. Plus, it’s water-resistant for 80 minutes and should be reapplied every two hours. Dr. Hayag says, “This is a good balm that provides broad-spectrum protection against UV rays while also providing hydration to the lips through ingredients like jojoba and avocado oil.”
Colorescience Lip Shine SPF 35
Lip Shine SPF 35 (small)
For days where you want more color and luster, this lip gloss checks off those boxes — plus, it has broad-spectrum SPF 35 sun protection. You can reapply every two hours, but every 40 minutes if you’re swimming or sweating a lot. According to Dr. Hayag, “This is a great gloss that contains zinc oxide and Vitamin E to aid in photoprotection. It also contains hyaluronic acid, helping the lips stay well moisturized. Additionally, it has peptides that give the lips a more plump appearance.” The shade selection includes rose, pink, champagne, coral, and clear.
CoTZ Lip Balm Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 45
Lip Balm Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 45 (small)
With a zesty kiwi-lime-ginger tang, this product is ever so slightly tinted to avoid that white cast other sunscreens oftentimes leave behind. It’s also cruelty-free, reef-friendly, and free of chemical sunscreens, oil, lanolin, and gluten. Dr. Hayag says, “This contains zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide to cover UVA/UVB rays and blue light. It is moisturizing, yet water-resistant and has antioxidant protection.”
MDSolarSciences Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30
Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30 (small)
This tinted lip balm has a gentle, cruelty-free, and reef-safe formula that does all of that, but of course fends off ultraviolet rays, too. The broad-spectrum SPF 30 sheer tinted balm comes in red, pink, and nude. According to Dr. Hayag, “It also has multiple ingredients in it to help keep your lips moisturized, like avocado oil and olive butter. The balm also contains shea butter, which is rich in antioxidants and soothes and softens the lips.”
What is SPF and what SPF should I wear on my lips?
SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is the measure of how well a certain formula will protect you from the sun’s rays. “For example, if you use an SPF 30 product properly, it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you used no sunscreen,” Dr. Hale explains. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends SPF 15 for daily wear and SPF 30 for prolonged outdoor activity.
What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
There’s ultraviolet A (UVA), which is connected with skin aging, and ultraviolet B (UVB), which is linked to burning. Instead of worrying about whether your lip balm protects against UVA or UVB rays, Dr. Hale says to pick broad-spectrum sunscreen products, as they shield your skin from both rays.
What can sun damage do to your lips?
The skin on your lips is thinner and missing a layer that the rest of your body uses for UV protection, so it’s more susceptible to burning. Too much sun exposure without any protective lip balm can lead to dryness and flakiness, and even skin cancer. Dr. Hale says, “About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.”
Are there certain ingredients I should look out for?
According to Dr. Hale, there are two groups of UV-blocking ingredients: physical and chemical. The former are ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, while the latter includes components like avobenzone and octisalate. “Look for products with antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C,” Dr. Hayag says. “They neutralize and boost protection from free radicals produced by UV radiation and visible light.”
As for ingredients to avoid, Dr. Hayag explains that products with menthol — the thing that gives cough drops and pain relief creams its cooling effect — can irritate the lips. You should also stay away from phenol and fragrance for the same reason.
When should I wear it and how often should I apply?
Our experts urge you to wear lip balm with SPF both outdoors and indoors, as the sun can penetrate through glass windows. And they suggest reapplying every two hours, but more frequently if you’re eating, drinking, or swimming.
What should I do if my lips get sunburnt?
Dr. Hale recommends the following steps: move into a shady spot, stay hydrated, take Advil or Motrin to reduce inflammation, and apply a water-based, moisturizing lip product. For the very last step, she advises steering clear of petroleum and oil-based balms that could possibly aggravate the burn.
Taking a multivitamin has always been common practice in my household – I grew up taking (and still do) every morning, but I never really stopped to think about why. After researching how some offer 100% of the US Daily Value (DV) for essential nutrients like iodine, vitamin D, and calcium, I realized multivitamins aren’t just a mundane part of my morning routine; they actually offer a sort of safety net to certain individuals, ensuring they meet recommended nutrient intakes.
Multivitamins are a bit of a hot topic. That’s because, while there are certain categories of people who can benefit from taking one every day, there is also a massive group of people who don’t necessarily need one. A 2020 study in BMJ Open found that people who take a multivitamin don’t have lower rates of illness or disease compared to those who don’t. However, people who take one daily said they feel healthier on a regular basis and, even if it’s a placebo effect, that counts for something toward wellbeing and adhering to healthier habits.
Also, that study didn’t measure actual nutrient levels, so we can’t say the multivitamin had no real benefit. What’s more, the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2020-25 say about three out of four people don’t eat enough dairy, fruits, or vegetables.
Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, Nutrition and Food Safety Professor at North Dakota State University, told Insider multivitamins can be the “nutrition insurance” if you’re not following an adequate diet. She advises aiming for a healthful diet first, as food contains a “complex array of nutrients and phytochemicals (‘plant chemicals’) that help fight disease.”
That said, there are certain groups of Americans who do need to have their vitamin and mineral levels supplemented.
What is the best multivitamin for women?
Once you know you need a multivitamin, you have to breach the next big hurdle: picking the right one. It seems like this should be an easy task, but multivitamins (like all supplements) are not regulated by the FDA, which means there’s no governing body confirming (1) what’s included on the label is in the supplement or (2) if it’s actually safe. What’s more, with how important it is to understand your body’s needs and how highly personal multivitamins are, it’s difficult to recommend just one that works for everyone.
We talked to a nutritional psychiatrist, a pharmacist, and a registered dietitian to help narrow down what’s available and hone in on the top multivitamins for women at different stages of their lives. At the end of this guide, we go into more detail about who needs a multivitamin and how to choose the right one.
Pros: Vegetarian, gluten-free, contains probiotics, optimal for women during reproductive years, no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners
Cons: Pills are large, must take four daily
The thing that makes Garden of Life’s women’s multivitamin rise above other brands is that it’s void of synthetic materials and contains the ingredients they claim — which you may think is a given, but a recent analysis by Consumer Labs found that 44% of multivitamins it tested didn’t actually contain the amounts of nutrients the label claimed.
A vegetarian vitamin, Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women is made without binders or fillers and contains probiotics and enzymes to help with digestion. Vitamin Code for Women met all purity standards set forth by Labdoor and was given a B score.
The two drawbacks of this multivitamin are that each pill is quite large, about the size of a mini binder clip, and you have to take four daily. So those who have trouble swallowing big pills should probably opt for another supplement.
Pros: Provides immune support, includes 23 essential nutrients and 17 specialty minerals
Cons: Not for people under 18 years of age
Regular physical activity can affect your vitamin and mineral levels — which in turn can affect your athletic performance.
Physically-active women, especially those who do aerobic exercises like running and biking, are more likely to be iron deficient, according to researchers at Cornell University. What’s more, a 2017 study from the National Institutes of Health found that some women (in general, not just athletes) are deficient in folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, three vital pathways used during exercise. If your B vitamins and folate levels, in particular, aren’t up to par, it can impair your athletic performance and increase fatigue, risk of injury, and ability to concentrate, the study adds. Your doctor can test your levels, and if he or she confirms yours are low, you would be well-served to opt for a multivitamin designed for an active lifestyle.
The Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women multivitamin is formulated to help women with an avid fitness routine score enough nutrients to keep their active bodies healthy and strong. It’s curated with 100% DV of B vitamins, folate, and iron. In addition, the multivitamin provides 17 other specialized minerals, one being calcium phosphate which aids in vitamin D absorption to keep muscles healthy.
Though Consumer Labs has not reviewed this specific multivitamin, when they surveyed more than 9,700 respondents on “overall customer satisfaction” in February 2020, Optimum Nutrition was named a top-rated vitamin and supplement brand. The Opti-Women formula did receive a C grade from Labdoor, namely because the amount of vitamins in the tested formula differed from the label. However, the biggest discrepancies (vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc slightly lower than the label; vitamin D and B-complex slightly higher) aren’t at harmful levels, Véronique Taché, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC Davis Health, confirmed during medical review. Plus, the formula met all purity standards.
Pros: Great value, 23 nutrients, contains the daily recommended amount of iron and calcium, great folic acid count for prenatal or pregnant women, more vitamins per bottle; only need to take one tablet daily
Cons: Some may find pills to be large and may be hard to swallow for some
Vitamins can be expensive. If you’re looking to cut the cost without eliminating the essential nutrients, Nature Made Multi for Her comes at a great value: 300 capsules for less than $30.
The multivitamin contains all the major nutrients vital to women’s health (23 total), including the daily recommended amounts of iron, calcium, and D3. It also contains more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) of folic acid, a key nutrient for those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. C. Michael White, PharmD, department head of University of Connecticut’s pharmacy practice and dietary supplement researcher, told Insider adequate levels of folate help to reduce the risk of having neural tube defects as babies are growing.
While this multivitamin is catered toward females, it still contains sufficient vitamin levels essential for both men and women. Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider the 13 essential vitamins, including A, B, C, and D, play an important role in the body and are essential for healthy vision, skin, and bones for both men and women.
This multivitamin met all Labdoor’s purity standards, but inconsistencies in the formula earned it a C grade overall. The biggest formula-to-label discrepancies include slightly less vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as slightly more vitamin B-6, folic acid, and vitamin D3, but still within safe ingesting levels, Dr. Taché confirmed. Though this is its worst offense, nutritional value and safety outweigh this satisfactory rank, making it a top pick still.
Ritual Essential for Women is vegan, gluten, and major-allergen-free, focusing on brain health, bone health, blood-building, and antioxidant support.
Pros: Vegan, subscription model with free shipping for easy refills, free of gluten and major allergens, no artificial colorants or synthetic fillers, good for brain and bone health, infused with mint for freshness
Cons: Not found in stores
Because people who follow a vegan diet don’t eat animal products, they are usually deficient in key nutrients abundantly found in meat, dairy, and seafood. A 2016 study in the Journal of Osteopathic Association found vegans are often deficient in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Ritual Essential for Women is completely vegan and outlines a visible supply chain of ingredients so you know what you’re intaking. Ritual’s brand mission is to “bring foundational health into focus,” and its supplements are designed to boost brain and bone health, promote red blood cell formation, and provide antioxidant support with vitamin E.
Ritual’s vitamins are vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-free. Ritual also operates on a unique direct-to-door subscription model, automatically sending a fresh bottle to you each month so you’ll never run out.
Vegan multivitamins tend to include plant-based ingredients, like calcium. While some calcium supplements are oyster-shell based, Ritual uses vegan-certified ingredients, like vitamin D, to rid worries of consuming a multivitamin using shellfish in the manufacturing process.
If you aren’t vegan but like the convenience of a multivitamin that will be automatically refilled and delivered, you can certainly take Ritual’s vegan multivitamin, but you should opt for their water-soluble option if you don’t have a specific deficiency. Dr. Naidoo told Insider that if you take a fat-soluble vitamin and are already getting sufficient amounts of those nutrients from your diet, your body will store the excess in your liver and fatty tissue which can accumulate to toxic levels. With a water-soluble vitamin, though, the excess is just excreted through urine. Ritual features both options to help fill gaps in your diet and support nutrient levels.
Though Ritual was not yet tested by Consumer Labs, it’s USP-verified, confirming that it contains what it lists on the label, contains safe nutrient levels, is void of harmful substances like heavy metals and pesticides, and can be broken down and released into the body as intended.
Pros: Certified USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, contains 16 nutrients over the 100% Daily Value (DV)
Cons: Pills are large
Though not a hard-and-fast number, when females hit 40, their body and hormones typically begin to change as they are maturing past childbearing years into perimenopause and menopause. Because of this, Dr. Naidoo says you may need less folate and iron, and more:
Calcium: This helps to prevent and slow bone loss
Vitamin D: This is essential for bone and skin health
Vitamin B12: This is key for brain health
More water: This is important as kidneys tend to become less efficient in detoxifying the body
The Garden of Life myKind Organic Women’s 40+ Multi is our top pick due to its precise amount of nutrients of concern for middle-aged women. And, it’s the only brand on the market that is dual-certified as both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, meeting purity standards and void of genetic engineering in the manufacturing process. Though pricier than other options, the vitamin is optimal for middle-aged women and provides an extra boost to a balanced diet.
Garden of Life’s formulation is made exclusively from whole foods, which may lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.
Though this multivitamin has not yet been tested by Consumer Labs or Labdoor, myKind is one of Consumer Labs’ approved brands based on product quality, appropriateness of dosage, formulation, and value.
Who should consider a multivitamin
Generally, people who are pregnant, underweight, elderly, who don’t get enough sun exposure, or who have a chronic medical condition [like heart disease, certain cancers, and individuals who had bypass surgery] should consider taking a multivitamin, Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider. Those who follow a stricter diet, too, like vegans and vegetarians, should take special caution; low intake of B vitamins, as well as iron and possibly zinc, will likely lead to a deficiency.
If you know or you’re wondering whether you fall into the category of nutritional deficiency, it’s important to get your levels checked by your doctor. Though others may not need one, Dr. Naidoo advised reviewing your daily nutrition with your doctor to see if you need a multivitamin as well.
A daily multivitamin may holistically bring benefits, but Garden-Robinson notes there can be risks with oversupplementation. She and Dr. Naidoo said excess calcium may increase the risk for urinary stone formation in some people, while oversupplementation of vitamin A may promote birth defects and liver damage. An abundance of vitamin C can cause cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. That said, be sure to check out the DV for guidance on how much of each nutrient you daily need.
What to look for & other FAQs
If you’re wondering what to look for in a multivitamin and how to shop for one, check out our very detailed multivitamin FAQ page.