62 gifts under $25 that anyone will love – from a cold brew coffee maker to a silk pillowcase

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West Elm Tea Towels

The elements of a good present – being thoughtful, useful, or novel – aren’t restricted to a big budget. But the best gifts under $25 are usually hidden in a minefield of totally expendable knickknacks.

As a team of product journalists and reviewers, we’ve put together a list of the best affordable gifts we know of, based on gifts we’ve received, gifts we’ve given, and others we’ve found along the way. They’re all things we have or would gladly buy and use in our daily lives.

Check out all 60+ gifts under $25:

A compact, waterproof blanket for outdoor activities

A feminine person sitting on a big, blue outdoor blanket on a sandy beach

Bearz Outdoor Pocket Blanket, available at Amazon, $20.99

They’ll appreciate this outdoor blanket for all of their get-togethers outside. It folds up easily and can even fit into their pocket. It’s also waterproof, puncture-resistant, and sand-proof, so they can use this gift to level up their beach days, camping adventures, hikes, and picnics in the park.

A trendy bucket hat for the summer sun

Feminine person wearing gray bucket hat from Hat Depot on Amazon

The Hat Depot 300N Unisex Bucket Hat, available at Amazon, from $10.99

Whether you’re shopping for someone who loves bucket hats or someone who has yet to try one, this accessory is a great gift for the summer. They’ll get much needed protection from the sun, plus they’ll look stylish wherever they go.

A tie-dye kit for a fun art project

Three feminine people wearing colorful tie-dye shirts

Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit, available at Amazon, from $12.85

Tie-dye clothing continues to stick around, but they don’t have to spend a fortune on a tie-dye sweatshirt to join in on the trend. This easy kit gives them the gift of a fun passion project or a hands-on activity with friends. It comes with five colors of dye, gloves, and rubber bands.

A trio of face mists for freshening up their skin

Three bottles of face mists from Mario Badescu; one is green, one is pink, and one is purple.

Mario Badescu Spritz. Mist. Glow. Set, available at Ulta, $21

Gifting beauty products like moisturizers and foundations can be challenging because everyone has specific skin types and shades. However, face mists are your best bet if they’re obsessed with skincare and need something refreshing for the summer. We can’t get enough of Mario Badescu, and its mists are no exception. You can learn more about Mario Badescu sprays in our guide to the best face mists.

A candle that smells like summertime at the beach

Waikiki Beach Coconut Candle

Bath & Body Works Waikiki Beach Coconut, available at Bath & Body Works, $3.62 

For a gift that lasts, get them a quality candle. They’ll love the summer scent of this one from Bath & Body Works. Bath & Body Works is a household name that we turn to for buying candles, which is why we include it in our guide to the best candle brands. You can choose from endless fragrance options and formats, as well as seasonal scents.

A personalized video message from their favorite celebrity

Cameo 2021

Personalized video message, starting at $1, available at Cameo

When trying to think of a unique gift, one that might not immediately come to mind is Cameo. The online service has tons of famous actors, musicians, athletes, and creators they might want a personalized video message from. Whether it’s for their birthday or the holidays, there’s something for everyone on Cameo, with prices starting at $1. You can get the likes of “Ugly Betty” actor Chris Gorham or internet dog sensation Puggy Smalls, each for $25 or less. 

Read more about Cameo and how to use Cameo.

A towel with a design of your city

Claudia Pearson City Tea Towels

Claudia Pearson City Tea Towels, available at West Elm, $18

Brooklyn artist Claudia Pearson has illustrated everything from children’s books to New Yorker pages to tea towels. Her quirky hand-drawn city maps add a sentimental touch to any kitchen.

A letterboard for lists, quotes, and milestone events

Target 12"x 12" Letterboard   Room Essentials™

12″x 12″ Room Essentials Letterboard, available at Target, $15

This square letter board brings a personalized touch to birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or dinner parties. The light grain finish offers a sleek, modern look that’ll match different living spaces.

A pure silk pillowcase that’ll help tame bedhead

ZIMASILK 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase for Hair and Skin Health,Both Sides 19 Momme Silk,1pc (Standard 20''x26'', Beige)

ZIMASILK 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase, available at Amazon, from $20.39

Crafted from organic mulberry silk, this pillowcase is gentle and cool on hair and skin. Plus, you can choose from 36 colors to match your bedding. 

A water bottle that encourages hydration


Ban.do Work It Out Water Bottle, available at Ban.do, $20

You’ll never forget to stay hydrated with this 24-ounce marked water bottle. It has an easy-to-carry plastic lid and removable silicone mouthpiece that makes it just as easy to clean as it is to drink from.  

The bedside storage essential


Bedside Essentials Pocket, available at Uncommon Goods, $15-$20

Whether it’s your remote controls, books, or reading glasses, your bedside or couch essentials will fit perfectly in this convenient felt pouch. It slides between your mattress or under your couch cushion without looking like an eyesore.

The self-confessional book you can burn after writing


Burn After Writing Book, available at Amazon, $6.99

This bestseller went viral across TikTok because of its unique approach to self-reflection. With inquisitive prompts, the notebook works as a giant confessional you can quite literally burn after writing. 

A reflective card game that encourages connection


We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game, available at Target, $25

This card game is unlike any you’ve played before. Its three carefully crafted levels of questions spark connections and stimulate reflective conversations. You’ll leave the game making friends out of strangers or diving deeper into your friendships. 

An assorted cookie tin


6-Count Cookie Tin, available Milk Bar, $22

Satisfy their sweet tooth with this assortment of cookies. You can’t go wrong with Milk Bar’s best, from its fudgy Chocolate Confetti Cookie to its fruity Blueberry & Cream Cookie.

We break down how to shop for Milk Bar online, here.

An ambient moon lamp


Saturn Moon Lamp, available at Amazon, $23.99

This Saturn-shaped moon lamp gives off a soothing ambient glow to brighten up their room. Whether they use it as a subtle night light or as a room accessory, they’ll have fun matching the lamp to their mood with its 16 color options.

Hip wine glasses that elevate a nice dinner


Hip Wine Glasses, available at Crate & Barrel, $6.95

There’s nothing that screams elegance more than a nice set of wine glasses. At only $7 each, Crate & Barrel’s stemware styles are the perfect guest to accompany your next charcuterie board. 

A milk frother that brings the taste of a cafe closer to home


PowerLix Milk Frother, available at Amazon, $14.95

A milk frother is an unexpectedly convenient tool to have around the house, and it can make a frothy latte or cappuccino that tastes closer to what you’d find at the cafe.

We’re huge fans of this one in particular and even ranked it best overall in our guide to the best milk frothers.

Reusable straws that fold up on the go

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Food52 Reusable Straw Set, available at Food52, $25

Food52’s reusable straw sets come in a pretty color palette, and each pack includes carrying cases and cleaning squeegees. They can toss one set in their bag, leave one at work, and keep one in the car.

A cult-favorite clay mask that basically vacuums out pores


Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask, available at Target, $7.99

The Aztec Clay Mask has been called “the world’s most powerful facial” and it’s also under $10. It can be mixed with water, but it works best with a little bit of apple cider vinegar.

Read our full review of the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask here.

Their new favorite pair of socks


Women’s Tri-Block Ankle Socks, available at Bombas, $12

Men’s Tri-Block Ankle Socks, available at Bombas, $12

Bombas is one gift we find ourselves giving friends and family every year. They’re the best socks we’ve ever tried, and they’re a little more expensive than someone is likely to spend on socks for themselves, making them a great gift.

Read our full review of Bombas socks here.

A Disney+ subscription

Originals Disney Plus 4x3

Subscribe for $7.99/month or $79.99/year

It gives you unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.

And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.

A large photo print of a meaningful memory

Large Format Prints, available at Artifact Uprising

Large Format Prints, available at Artifact Uprising, from $22

Artifact Uprising makes luxury prints at accessible prices — and they make especially thoughtful gifts that look like they should cost much more. Get one of their favorite photos printed on archival fine art paper for $22 and up, or thoughtful cards for as little as $1 per custom card. You can also make a color series photo book for $22, a set of prints for $9, and a personalized calendar on a handcrafted wood clipboard for $25.

A roulette of spontaneous date night ideas

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Date Night Bucket List, available at Uncommon Goods, $20

Never run out of fun and new date night ideas — and take some of the pressure off deciding on an activity.

A cold brew coffee tool that makes a quart of liquid


Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $21.65

This cold brew maker is as inexpensive as it is convenient, and it can save hundreds of dollars per year on iced coffee. It easily fits into most refrigerator doors, is simple to use, and makes a good amount of cold brew at once. If they need more than one quart, there’s also a two-quart option. We even named it best budget option in our guide to the best cold-brew coffee makers

Read our full review of the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker here

A trio of bestselling lipstick shades

Beauty gifts under $25 Pat McGrath

Pat McGrath Labs Mini MatteTrance Lipstick Trio, available at Sephora, $25

This paraben-free, ultra-pigmented trio features tiny but mighty editions of Pat McGrath Labs’ MatteTrance lipsticks.

A hair towel that cuts down on drying time by as much as 50%

aquis hair turban

Aquis Original Microfiber Hair Turban, available at Amazon, $20.99

Aquis’ cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of product reviewers.

The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that’s composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction that hair experiences while in its weakest state. Plus, it speeds up drying time by as much as 50%.

Textured dip bowls for condiments

West Elm Textured Dip Bowl   White (Lines)

Textured Dip Bowl, available at West Elm, from $5.52

Ideal for snacks, condiments, and the basics they love to cook with frequently. 

An approachable cookbook that’s great for hosting

Where Cooking Begins

“Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook” by Carla Lalli Music, available at Amazon, $15.81

This is the cookbook to beeline it to if your recipient loves to host friends for dinner. You can find more great options here, too.

A holiday shave set from a popular startup


Shave Set, available at Flamingo, $16

Flamingo is the women’s brand of Harry’s, and it’s got the same M.O.: to make better hair removal products for a reasonable amount of money, and to present them in a way that makes them feel special. Its Shave Set comes in a recyclable pouch with a razor and two blade cartridges, daily moisturizer, luxe foaming shave gel, and a shower hook.

Read our full review of the Flamingo Shave Set here.

Smart outlet plugs that let you turn devices on or off from anywhere


Kasa Smart WiFi Plug Mini, available at Best Buy, $9.99

A small but convenient gift, smart wifi plugs let the owner turn their electronics on or off from anywhere with their smartphone thanks to the Kasa app. If they have a smart home gadget, they can use the voice assistant to turn things on and off as well. In the Kasa app, they can also set schedules and “scenes” for controlling many devices with one button. 

A custom family portrait – including pets

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Custom Family Portrait, available at Etsy, from $15

For an especially thoughtful, impactful gift, order ahead of time and get a custom portrait of your little family — pets included.

A mini griddle that makes individual servings of breakfast foods


Dash Mini Maker: The Mini Waffle Maker Machine, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $9.99

This tiny waffle maker is perfect for single-serving breakfasts, or for meal prep (just freeze your waffles ahead of time). It’s compact for confined spaces, heats up in a few minutes, and has a non-stick surface that’s easy to clean.

A lifetime REI membership


REI Membership, available at REI, $20

Perfect for the outdoorsy types, an REI membership offers a lifetime of benefits for a one-time purchase. That includes 10%-back dividends, special offers, access to in-store REI Garage sales, and special pricing on REI classes and events. Find out more here.

A set of three silk hair scrunchies


Slipsilk Mini Scrunchies, available at Sephora, $22

Silk is often used in products like headbands and pillowcases to reduce friction and breakage of hair, and these hair ties serve the same purpose. Designed to keep hair from catching, crimping, and pulling, these hair scrunchies are gentle on strands and around the wrist.

Containers of Belgian chocolate for fondue


Decadent Chocolate Fondue, available at Uncommon Goods, $20

Order a stoneware container of Belgian chocolate that you can heat up for a night of hassle-free fondue. 

A water bottle with a built-in filter system


Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle, available at Amazon, $16.99

The Brita water bottle has a built-in filter that can improve the taste of water by reducing its chlorine content and smell. It can replace an estimated 1,800 single-use plastic bottles each year.

A reusable shopping bag that comes in tons of fun colors

Baggu Reusable Bag

Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag, available at Amazon, $12

Baggu bags are popular for a reason — they come in over 40 fun prints and fold down to pretty much nothing even though they can hold 50 pounds of stuff. 

A spray that protects your shoes from stains


Jason Markk Repel Spray, available at Amazon, $17

This Jason Markk spray repels water and oil to keep your shoes free of stains and water spots. It’s water-based, so it’s okay to use on a variety of materials — from suede to nubuck leather to canvas and others. It sprays a fine mist that covers large areas both quickly and evenly. 

Soft, cozy underwear that comes in fun patterns

MeUndies Boxer Brief

MeUndies Boxers, available at MeUndies, $24

MeUndies makes some of the most comfortable underwear and loungewear for men and women that we’ve found at Insider Reviews. And, beyond that, we love their festive patterns. Because they’re pricier than most people are willing to pay for their own underwear, these make a great and surprisingly luxurious gift. We share our love for MeUndies underwear in our guide to the best places to shop for men’s underwear

Read our full review of MeUndies here.

Coasters made from reclaimed vinyl records


Upcycled Record Coasters, available at Uncommon Goods, $18

These upcycled coasters are made from reclaimed vinyl records and sealed against moisture. Each set includes a variety of music genres. 

Fast-absorbing, moisturizing hand sanitizer

Touchland Power Mist Mint

Touchland Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland, $12

Touchland makes hand sanitizers that aren’t sticky or drying. We like them because they’re fast-evaporating, moisturizing, and effective. 

Read our full review of Touchland Hand Sanitizer here.

A protective phone case

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Incase Phone Cases, available at Incase, from $24.95

Incase probably already makes your laptop case, and their phone cases are great for many of the same reasons. They’re lightweight, add another layer of protection, and allow for some fun personalization. 

A membership to unlimited reading


Scribd Membership, available at Scribd, $9.99/month

Enjoy unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of books, audiobooks, and magazines for less than $10 a month with Scribd. (Or $13 per month for access to Scribd and the New York Times). If they aren’t a bibliophile already, Scribd will make them one. 

Read our full review of the Scribd membership here.  

Herbs de Provence in a cool ceramic crock

Herbes de Provence in Ceramic Crock

Herbes de Provence in Ceramic Crock, available at Williams Sonoma, from $14.95

Switch it up for the cook in your life with this tasty herb mix. The classic blend of thyme, basil, savory, fennel and lavender hails from the South of France, and Williams Sonoma recommends using it to accent poultry, meat, sauces, and soups. 

Chip-resistant, vegan nail polish that comes in over 50 colors

Smith & Cult Nail Polish

Smith and Cult Nail Polish, available at Smith and Cult, $18

Smith & Cult’s rich, chip-resistant nail polish comes in 52 colors and is the kind of beautiful bottle you leave out on the vanity because it’s just that nice to look at. The formulas are vegan, cruelty-free, and don’t have potentially harmful ingredients like formaldehyde or camphor, among others. It’s easy to see why we included Smith & Cult in our guide to the best nail polish brands.

Charitable lottery tickets that donate money to a deserving organization

Scratch off Donation Card

Scratch-off Donation Card, available at LottoLove, $23

When you scratch off a card from LottoLove, you won’t win any money. Instead, you “win” a charitable prize that’s donated to someone in need. There are four possible prizes, which help provide clean water, solar light, nutritious meals, or literacy tools. To date, LottoLove and its charitable partners have impacted lives in over 60 countries.

Lip gloss that’s moisturizing and not sticky

Tower28 ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss

Tower 28 Beauty ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss, available at Sephora, $14

Tower 28 makes soft lip glosses with subtle color and a non-sticky, moisturizing formula with ingredients like raspberry seed oil and rosehip oil. You can pick from 10 different colors. 

Read our full review of Tower 28 here.

Reusable beeswax sandwich wraps

Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wraps

Beeswax Reusable Sandwich Wrap, available at Food52, from $18

Beeswax Sandwich Wrap is made from cotton infused with beeswax and natural oils. It acts as an eco-friendly substitute to plastic sandwich bags, and it can be reused over and over and over again.

Gourmet flavored syrups that are perfect for coffees and teas, and even cocktails

monin mini coffee syrup

Monin Mini Coffee Syrup, available at World Market, $9.99

Did anyone — anyone at all — say cocktails? Monin’s coffee collection has everything needed for café-inspired drinks, be they cocktails, lattes, coffees, or teas. It includes five syrups ranging in flavors from amaretto to Irish cream. Plus, Monin has a recycling initiative that works to improve the health of bee populations. 

A smart chip that helps you find items you’ve lost


Tile Mate, available at Target, $24.99

How nice would it be if every time you lost something, you could find it within a few minutes? Use your smartphone to make the Tile Mate ring aloud, and you’ll be able to locate your keys or wallet using the sound. 

A travel-size duo of two cult-favorite NARS products

cheap gifts

NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil Duo, available at Sephora, $20

NARS’ velvet matte lipstick pencils are travel-sized so your giftee can bring them on trips or easily throw them into purses and pockets for on-the-go use. The formula is non-drying and long-lasting, and they can be used to line, define, and fill in lips with colors that range from subtle to rich. 

A popular lip mask that creates a protective seal to lock in moisture overnight

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Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $22

Laneige’s hyper-successful Lip Sleeping Mask uses a combination of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, minerals, antioxidants, and fruit extracts to form a protective layer over the lips to lock in moisture overnight. It has over 13,000 ratings on Sephora, and an average rating of 4.4-stars out of five. 

Read our full review of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask here.

A slip-resistant armband to keep their phone in place on a run


Tribe Cell Phone Armband, available at Amazon, from $14.98

If you’re going to buy an armband for a runner, you’re probably going to wind up buying this version from Tribe. It has over 40,000 reviews on Amazon (with a 4.4-star rating overall) and, while it’s not the most perfect out there, it’s frequently recommended for its water-resistant and no-slip design. 

Knee-high socks from one of the best loungewear companies online


Tommy John Knee High Casual Sock, available at Tommy John, from $16

Tommy John is another company responsible for some of the very best loungewear and underwear on the internet. Their knee-length socks have light compression to support blood flow, and the “comfort cuff” design means you should be able to peel them off without finding marks left over. 

Read our full review of Tommy John here.

An adjustable phone stand for their desk, dinner table, or kitchen counter


Lamicall Adjustable Cell Phone Stand, available at Amazon, from $11.99

Whether they use it as a desk accessory or to prop up their YouTube search for “how to chop onions” while they cook at home, a lightweight, adjustable phone stand comes in handy more often than you’d expect. 

One of the best new books of the year


“The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah, available at Amazon, from $14.49

If you’re looking for a good book to gift, look no further than the reading lists already on Amazon — from the best books of the month, to the best books of the year, to the 100 you should read in a lifetime

A photo book with some of their best memories

Softcover Photo Book

Custom Softcover Photo Book, available at Artifact Uprising from $15

For a sentimental gift under $25, we recommend these beautifully designed photo books that look like a personal magazine, curated by you for them.

Bath salts that are the perfect excuse for relaxation

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Herbivore Botanicals Calm Bath Salts, available at Dermstore, $18

Herbivore Botanical’s bath salts include nutrient-rich Pacific sea salts combined with ylang-ylang and vanilla essential oil. They’ll moisturize the skin and provide a deeply relaxing, calming effect on the brain to decrease anxiety and restlessness.  

The best hair mask you can buy

its a 10 miracle hair mask

It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask, available at It’s a 10, from $12.49

Perfect for color-treated, heat-styled, and otherwise damaged hair, It’s a 10’s hair mask deep-conditions strands with a blend of moisturizing ingredients like oat kernel extract, apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, and linseed extract. We tout it as the best overall pick in our guide to the best hair masks.

A cute, bunny-shaped loose-tea infuser


Fred & Friends Brew Bunny Tea Infuser, available at Amazon, $9.78

Gift them some relaxing time spent sipping their favorite tea (which you could pick up as an accompanying gift). 

The makeup remover tourists stock up on in French pharmacies


Bioderma Sensibio H2O Makeup Remover, available at Amazon, $14.99

Bioderma’s makeup remover is a cult favorite among makeup artists, celebrities, the average person, and the Insider Reviews team. We call it the best overall in our guide to the best makeup removers, and we also mention it in our roundup of French pharmacy skincare products.

Tickets to an event you know they’ll appreciate

StubHub gift card

Live concert and game tickets, available at Stubhub, from $15 per person

Once it’s safe to attend live events again, is there a good concert, play, or game you think they’d love? It doesn’t have to be expensive to be impactful. Grab tickets and make a night of it — or, if you live far away, make sure they get to go with a friend or two.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I tested 30 mascaras – here are the ones that lasted all day without clumping and smudging

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Photo of writer and product tester, Meehika Barua
  • It’s hard to name one brand of mascara the best because everyone’s needs are different.
  • In order to see how they performed, I tested 30 of the most loved mascaras out there.
  • See how they lasted, whether they smudged, and what I thought of them, below

Mascaras make a big difference to your face. When running low on time, a quick swipe not only opens the eyes up by enhancing your lash line, but can transform a tired face to a fresh one within seconds.

With every mascara, there comes concerns such as fall out, flakiness, clumping, smudging on the eyelids, inner or outer corners, and many more. Whether you are looking for natural lashes or glam ones, there exists no perfect mascara until you know exactly what you are searching for and you can find that out below.

These are the best 28 mascaras in 2021:

Smashbox Superfan Fanned-out Mascara

Bottle of Smashbox Superfan Fanned-out Mascara

Super Fan Lash Lengthening Mascara (small)

If you want soft natural lashes and something that can tight-line your lashline perfectly without smudging, Smashbox’s Superfan mascara is the one for you. The great thing about this product is that the brush is super flexible and even bends as you move along the contours of your eyes, fanning out and separating each lash without clumping.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push-Up Lashes

Bottle of Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push-Up Lashes

Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara (small)

Formulated for a 24 hours lift effect, Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk mascara is great for someone who wants the effect of fake lashes and an extra glam look. However, the formula is super thick, hence requires extra time and effort to make sure it doesn’t get messy. Once applied properly, you can expect full fluffy lashes for hours.

Covergirl Exhibitionist Mascara

Bottle of CoverGirl Exhibitionist Mascara

Exhibitionist Mascara (small)

This mascara comes in four different shades: black, very black, brown, and true blue, the latter being the best shade and is worth all the risk. Not only does it infuse your lashes with a burst of color, but the blue shade of Covergirl’s Exhibitionist Mascara totally replaces the need to wear eye shadow or eyeliner. The disadvantage? The product doesn’t work well without the Exhibitionist Mascara Primer and definitely doesn’t give the same intense effect if the lashes aren’t primed.

Benefit They’re Real Mascara

Bottle of Benefit They're Real Lengthening Mascara

They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara (small)

Non-waterproof mascaras are great for people who have thin or sensitive lashes and struggle a lot to get the product off at the end of the day. Benefit’s mascara comes in both black and brown shades and it curls the lashes perfectly. However if you plan to cry or step out in the rain, expect panda eyes.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Brag Volumizing Mascara

Bottle of Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Brag Volumizing Mascara

Lash Brag Volumizing Mascara (small)

This water-resistant mascara strikes a good balance between natural and glam by fanning out the lashes. However the thick brush makes it difficult to reach the inner corners of the eyes without smudging on eyelids. If you like to tight-line your lash-line by applying mascara from root to tips, it will require extra care and time for a non-messy application.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara

Bottle of Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara

Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara (small)

Most Maybelline mascaras come in both waterproof and non-waterproof formulas. This product is great for someone with straight lashes that keep falling down, although the waterproof mascara is better at holding the curled lashes up for a long time. The non-waterproof mascara is better if you don’t want to lose 3 to 4 lashes each time you try to remove it with different types of cleansers.

Elf Lash It Loud Mascara

Bottle of Elf Lash It Loud Mascara

Lash It Loud Mascara (small)

Excellent for the price, Elf’s mascara feels no different to many of the high-end brands out there. It comes with a silicone brush rather than natural bristles and you can go from a very subtle to dramatic look in seconds. Although it’s not extremely voluminous, but is buildable.

Huda Legit Lashes Double-Ended Mascara

Bottle of Huda Legit Lashes Double-Ended Mascara

Legit Lashes Double-Ended Mascara (small)

Founder Huda Kattan has often been called the “Queen of false lashes,” and her mascara offers nothing less than the effect of fake eyelashes. With two wands on each end – one for curling and one for volume –you can use both wands for insanely dramatic lashes or just one for a natural look. It does clump a lot and result in fallout after a few hours when both wands are used.

YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Clis

Bottle of YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Clis

Mascara Volume Effet Faux Clis (small)

Enriched with Argan oil and B5 pro-vitamin, the YSL mascara feels extremely luxurious. One coat does the job, unlike other products which require two coats at least. Hence, if saving time is your top priority, this one is for you if you are always on the run and have very little time to do your makeup. 

Urban Decay Lash Freak Volumizing Mascara

Bottle of Urban Decay Lash Freak Volumizing Mascara

Lash Freak Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara (small)

Bristles on the rounded tip of the brush is definitely what makes all the difference when it comes to Urban Decay’s Lash Freak mascara by making it extremely easy to reach inner corners as well as lower lashes without smudging. Urban Decay says their mascara creates a “look of up to 23.6 times more volume and up to 40% more length for bold lashes,” and that is a very accurate description.

L’Oréal Air Volume Mega Mascara

Bottle of L'Oréal Air Volume Mega Mascara

Air Volume Mega Mascara (small)

Similar to Maybelline, most of the L’Oréal mascaras come as both waterproof and washable formulas, hence you can choose which product works best for you. The washable mascara is smudge proof and gives inflated lashes, but the heavy formula creates clumps, also making it not an ideal choice if you plan to go running or exercising.

Catrice Glam & Doll Mascara

Bottle of Catrice Glam & Doll Mascara

Glam & Doll Mascara (small)

This waterproof mascara doesn’t give much volume but is ideal for someone looking for everyday natural lashes instead. The best part about it is that it comes off with just one swipe of micellar water, which is unheard of when it comes to waterproof formulas. It’s ophthalmologically tested and cruelty-free.

Laura Mercier Caviar Volume Panoramic Mascara

Bottle of Laura Mercier Caviar Volume Panoramic Mascara

Caviar Volumizing Mascara (small)

The mascara itself is very jet-black and the applicator is crafted with hollow fibres in a helix shape to allow a thickening coat on each lash. For hooded eyes, or eyes on the smaller side, the brush might be way too big and it could be difficult to apply evenly.

MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara

Bottle of MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara

In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara (small)

It is a 24 hour wear carbon black formula and yet it’s not waterproof –though there is a water proof version as well – which makes this Mac mascara very interesting. The applicator is quite thin but has many bristles which works out perfectly for the lash line. It has good staying power and doesn’t crumble throughout the day.

Delilah Cosmetics Definitive Volumizing and Defining Mascara

Bottle of Delilah Cosmetics Definitive Volumizing and Defining Mascara

Definitive Volumizing and Defining Mascara (small)

Paraben free mascaras are very healthy for eyelashes, hence Delilah Cosmetics’ Volumising mascara earns extra brownie points for having that. It lasts all day without flaking and is perfect for an everyday look, but definitely requires at least two coats for a voluminous effect.

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

Bottle of Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

Kush High Volume Mascara (small)

This product makes for great daytime wear to achieve lightly fluffy fuller lashes, but if you’re looking for a lengthening effect, it might not be the best choice. The formula is very gentle, hence if you have sensitive or dry eyes, this one’s for you – the lashes feel soft all day, instead of a hardening effect.

Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara

Bottle of Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara

Eye Love You Mascara (small)

Because this product has a gentle preservative booster (made from coconut oil) providing antimicrobial protection, it feels like cream when you apply it. The mascara lasts all day, even after exercising. It feels clean and does not irritate sensitive eyes, especially if you wear contact lenses.

Tom Ford Extreme Mascara

Bottle of Tom Ford Extreme Mascara

Extreme Mascara (small)

Unlike the Milk Makeup mascara, this product is great for lengthening, but isn’t ideal for volumising. The packaging is beautiful and feels expensive. The formula comes with lash filling powders, making the product a bit clumpy, but nothing a lash separator can’t handle.

Chanel Le Volume Stretch de Chanel Mascara

Bottle of Chanel Le Volume Stretch de Chanel Mascara

Le Volume Stretch de Chanel Mascara (small)


Roen Cake Mascara

Bottle of Roen Beauty's Cake Mascara

Cake Mascara (small)

Most mascaras give volume by clumping together sections, making the lashes look all spider-y but that’s not the case with this one. Although it doesn’t give you the massive fake eyelash look, it definitely fans out individual lashes. Therefore, if you are not looking for a super dense formula, this lightweight mascara won’t disappoint.

Marc Jacobs at Lash’d Lengthening and Curling Mascara

Bottle of Marc Jacobs at Lash'd Lengthening and Curling Mascara

At Lash’d Lengthening and Curling Mascara (small)

The vegan formula features lash conditioners like Biotin Peptide and Provitamin B5 and this mascara is all about volume. The brush is long and slim making it flexible to reach every individual lash. It’s very easy to top up after a few hours – the formula stays on and you can add extra layers whenever you want without the finished look getting all clumpy.

Stila Stay All Day Mascara

Bottle of Stila Stay All Day Mascara

Stay All Day Mascara (small)

This product is for people with oily eyelids rather than dry and flaky ones. It’s not water proof and removing it is easy, with no residue whatsoever. The brush is a bit unflattering as one half of the wand is a regular brush, but the other half is a fine tooth wedge, which makes it difficult to control.

Dior Beauty Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara

Bottle of Dior Beauty Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara

Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara (small)

Available in 4 shades: black, blue, brown and silver glitter, Diorshow mascara comes with a curved brush that helps open the eyes up to give a feathery look. One coat seems to give good enough coverage, however the thick formula means layering it up after several hours might result in fall-out around the under eye area.

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara

Bottle of Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara

Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara (small)

Not sure if it really is better than sex, but this mascara is your holy grail if you have poker straight lashes that aren’t particularly long. It comes with a fat brush, so the product works better if you use the tip of the wand to run along the lower lash and inner as well as outer corners.

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

Bottle of Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara (small)

Providing four lash benefits – lengthening, curling, volumising and conditioning, this product with its beautifully padded purple packaging that stands out in one’s makeup bag, lives up to its description. However, it starts flaking after a few hours and the formula could get a bit clumpy after the first few weeks.

Givenchy Volume Disturbia Mascara

Bottle of Givenchy Disturbia Mascara

Volume Disturbia Mascara (small)

Made to give an excessive, almost disturbing curve effect to the lashes, the Givenchy formula doesn’t leave your lashes looking natural and might be a bit too much for people who are not looking for an intense dramatic look. One application and you get long, lifted, voluminous lashes without clumps. It is equally difficult to get it off and may require triple cleansing or more.

Other mascaras we considered

The 26 mascaras above were my favorite, but I also tested two others. Here’s why they didn’t make the cut:

  • Lancôme Grandoise Extreme Mascara: Lancome’s Grandiose mascara comes with an angled wand that’s supposed to fit into the shape of the eyes to reach every corner to curl and lift. The angled wand also pokes, smudges and clumps in different areas. You get the intense volume since it separates and builds up your lashes, but it’s not the product for you if you want a quick swipe before a Zoom meeting.
  • Kiko Milano Volumeyes Plus Active Mascara: This product is good for lower lashes but the brush is too awkward for upper lashes – thin at the tip and thick around the handle. There is too much flakiness and fall out within a few minutes and it doesn’t really curl my lashes, but only adds a bit of volume by clumping together the sections of lashes.
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Nordstrom cardholders can now shop the Anniversary Sale – these are the best beauty deals you can score right now

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale preview image of woman smiling and holding a yellow card

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary sale doesn’t officially kick off until July 28, but cardholders can start shopping today. If your a Nordy Club member at the Icon level, you can officially start adding things to your cart. Ambassador-level cardholders can access the sale on Wednesday, July 14, and Influencer-level cardholders will have access on Friday, July 16.

And while everyone else will have to wait until the 28, the previews have already proven it will be worth it. Brands like La Mer, Oribé, and Nécessaire are seeing steep discounts on their top-selling products. You can snag a jumbo bottle of Le Labo’s Hinoki Hand Soap for just $40, and save almost $50 on Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mix & Mask Set.

And while they haven’t officially announced specific deals yet, Nordstrom has teased big discounts on brands that rarely go on sale – like Dyson. If you’ve been coveting the oft-out-of-stock Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, which our experts have named one of the best hair dryers you can own, now may be your chance to snag it.

If you’re already itching to shop, we’ve got you covered. The site is allowing you to make your wishlist now, ahead of the sale, so that when it comes time to shop you just have to click “add to cart.” And below, we’re rounding up the beauty buys our editors and reporters will be adding to their carts. Happy shopping!

The best Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021 beauty deals:

Trinity Facial Toning Kit (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Travel Size The Moisturizing Soft Cream Set (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Lash Enhancing Serum Duo (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Full Size The Body Wash & Body Lotion Set (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Bond Management Kit (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Clean Facial Cleansing Device (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Magic Duo Full Size Gold Lush Dry Shampoo & Dry Texturizing Spray Set (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Fit Compact Hair Dryer (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Pro Facial Steamer Set (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Jumbo Hinoki Hand Soap (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)Resurfacing Mask Mix & Mask Set (medium, Preferred: Nordstrom)

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Kylie Cosmetics relaunches with new ‘clean’ ingredients, excluding 1,600 potentially harmful chemicals

Kylie Cosmetics are displayed at Ulta beauty on November 18, 2019 in New York City.

Kylie Cosmetics, the billion-dollar makeup company started by celebrity model and businesswoman Kylie Jenner, relaunched on Thursday with a new line of products made without 1,600 potentially harmful chemicals.

“I’m so proud to relaunch Kylie Cosmetics with all new formulas that are clean and vegan,” said Jenner.

The products will be available for purchase starting July 15 through a new direct-to-consumer website.

The brand’s shift to “clean beauty” comes as younger customers continue to push for products made without harmful ingredients. A recent study and the introduction of federal legislation brought public attention to a group of harmful chemicals found in everyday makeup products. The study from the University of Notre Dame found indicators of PFAS, a class of cancer-linked chemicals, in over half of the products tested.

American beauty company Coty, which acquired 51% of Kylie Cosmetics for $600 million in 2019, has not said whether or not PFAS chemicals are used in its relaunched products. On Twitter, Kylie Cosmetics said the new formulas won’t contain animal oil, parabens, or gluten.

“The new and upgraded formula of Matte Liquid Lipstick is long-lasting with a budge-resistant 8-hour wear time, while the new lip liner is waterproof and long-lasting for up to 24-hours,” Coty said in a statement.

According to the Notre Dame study, the cosmetic products most likely to contain PFAS are waterproof mascara, liquid lipstick, and foundations described as “long-lasting.”

“That makes sense to us because some of those products tend to be marketed as waterproof,” Thomas Bruton, an author of the study and senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute, told Insider. “These are the type of properties that it makes sense PFAS might be used for.”

Kylie Cosmetic’s new line contains 37 lip kits, 30 high glosses, 32 matte liquid lipsticks, 9 lip liners, and 4 lip blushes.

“We are excited about the relaunch of Kylie Cosmetics with a reformulated range that is really at the forefront of everything Gen Z wants”, said Coty CEO Sue Y. Nabi.

Coty did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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CauseBox is changing its name to Alltrue, but it still offers the same eco-conscious products we love

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  • Alltrue, which was previously Causebox, is a subscription box service that’s delivered seasonally.
  • Each box has products from socially conscious brands, including homeware, jewelry, and more.
  • Alltrue offers both annual memberships for $49.95 or a quarterly subscription for $54.95.


Annual Subscription (small)Quarterly Subscription (small)

Subscription services like BirchBox and Stitch Fix have gained a lot of attention over the last few years, spurring more and more brands to take the subscription route in order to provide unique experiences for their customers.

Alltrue is one such company capitalizing on the trend of sending clothing, beauty products, and home decor via subscription – but what sets it apart is that all the products inside its boxes are sourced from socially, economically, and environmentally conscious brands. The product team at Alltrue, which until a recent rebrand was called Causebox, works with the founders of companies doing social good and asks them about why they give back, who they are directly impacting, and where their products are made. An open line of communication between Alltrue and its partners ensures that the companies are following through with their missions and goals.

Co-founders Matt Richardson and Brett McCollum made giving back their ultimate vision for the company – and to complete that vision, Alltrue volunteers with and donates to different charities to help them with their growth and impact. Past charities have included Speak Your Silence, which helps those affected by sexual abuse and assault to move forward. Others, like Trees for the Future, work to end hunger and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa through agricultural practices.

How does Alltrue work and what does it cost?

The bright, charming packages are created and sent on a seasonal schedule – spring, summer, fall, and winter. Like most subscription services, the boxes come in a convenient package and arrive at your door on a scheduled basis. I received a spring box and had a really lovely experience with it – from the moment I got my box to the time I spent actually using the products inside.

Alltrue offers customers two subscription options: the quarterly subscription ($54.95 per box), and the annual subscription ($49.95 per box, a total of $199.8 per year). After choosing your preferred method, you’ll create an account online and begin your customization process.

Each seasonal box offers six to eight new products – each one from a socially conscious brand, and some even created exclusively for Alltrue customers. If you sign up for the annual subscription service, you can customize your product options based on pattern, color, or product type. The best part about the box is that it includes a little notebook in each package so you can read a story behind every product included.

Your Alltrue will ship within the first couple weeks of the seasonal months and it typically takes two to eight days to arrive. If you chose the custom Alltrue, you’ll be able to tailor your delivery preferences.


What’s inside an Alltrue box?

The actual box is cute and colorful, but the reason Alltrue is so special is because of the items housed inside. Each box comes with six to eight products that are all cruelty-free, sustainably sourced, and intended to serve, support, and empower disadvantaged communities. They all include some combination of jewelry, skincare/beauty products, accessories, home decor, wellness products, and even artwork.

My box contained items from every one of these categories – my favorite items were the Megan Portfolio Clutch from Glass Ladder Co. (valued at $120), and the Cosmedix Glow Bamboo Brightening Mask (valued at $54). I was also able to choose certain items like the Cleobella Silky Scarf and the Marina de Buchi Luxe Charm Bracelet, along with a few others (a perk of signing up for the annual membership).

Is Alltrue worth the cost?

The $50 price tag per Alltrue isn’t a hefty cost when you consider the value of the contents inside. Each box has an estimated value of over $200 – according to the website, my products added up to $341.90.

There are definitely a couple of items that I won’t use all too often, so in my opinion, the value of the box isn’t as high as estimated. But, the option to personalize my box made me enjoy the products inside even more.

The bottom line

The convenience, overall cost, and quality of the products make the Alltrue a good investment, particularly if you’re signing up as a way to treat yourself. I feel better about using the office items, accessories, home products, and skincare simply because they are all eco-friendly and sustainably sourced.

Annual Subscription (small)Quarterly Subscription (small)

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Sephora’s rewards program and product display may make you spend more money. These are other sneaky ways it gets your money.

  • Sephora has a massive following.
  • Members of the store’s rewards program have spent upwards of $35,000 to redeem exclusive members-only trips.
  • The store offers unique technology, Color IQ, to identify specific foundation shades to match customers to products.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Have you ever left Sephora with way more products than you intended to buy when you first stepped in the door? You’re probably not the only one. Sephora was named retailer of the year at the 2018 World Retail Congress. And it seems that people can’t get enough. Here are some sneaky ways you might not have noticed that Sephora gets you to spend more.

As soon as you walk into one of their locations, you’ll notice what makes Sephora different from the traditional department stores it competes with. Sephora has nearly all of their products on display, so customers can try just about everything. It’s great for the customers because they can test stuff out, but it’s equally great for the company because you’re in the store for longer, which means you’re more likely to buy more.

A 2015 study found that the likelihood of purchasing a product increases with time spent holding and looking at it in the store. The more time you spend trying out a product, the more it feels like it’s already in your possession and you need to purchase it.

Sephora also has kiosks stocked with makeup remover, tissues, and other necessities so customers can clean up, and, more importantly, so that they can try more products throughout the store. And if you’re not sure what to get, Sephora has even developed special technology to match customers with their perfect foundation shades. The device, called Color IQ, scans your skin to assign you a four-number code, which gives you a curated list of all the foundation shades from different brands that will best match your specific skin tone.

And if you’re not taking advantage of the samples, the shelves are also set up with an eye on your wallet. The most expensive products are placed on top shelves because they’re the easiest to reach, while cheaper items are on the bottom shelves. And, of course, the checkout line is surrounded with travel-size goodies to tempt you at the last minute.

Amanda Krause: So, when you’re up against the register lines and, you know, you’re kind of looking at all those mini products, you’ll find things that are maybe, you know, $5, $10, depending on what it is. And that can be enticing for a lot of reasons. Maybe there’s a primer you really wanna try but you don’t wanna spend $25 on the full size, so you can just get a smaller one for 10 bucks.

Narrator: But while the smaller products and their smaller price tags may seem like a good deal, they’re often not. Take, for example, the GlamGlow SuperMud mask. The full size costs a whopping $59. In comparison, the mini half-ounce jars for $25 seems like a steal. But in reality, the mini costs $50 per ounce, while the full-size jar comes out to about $35 per ounce. So if you’re looking to save money, the larger product is actually more cost-effective.

Another way Sephora gets customers to spend more is simply by being their go-to beauty store. They accomplish this by carrying a diverse array of brands, including ones that can’t be found anywhere else. The company often collaborates with brands to release limited-edition items, which not only draws customers in, but pressures them to purchase the products.

Krause: Sephora might have that one exclusive item that you can’t get anywhere else. So it really kind of draws people in because you never really know what you’re going to find there.

Narrator: Exclusive brands and items make it easy to keep coming back. More than anything, Sephora’s all about building brand loyalty. Case in point: their robust rewards program. According to the Harvard Business Review, reward programs not only encourage customer loyalty, but can also get new customers to shop like older, more profitable customers. And the longer a person has been a customer, the more profitable they become to the store and the less they cost to serve.

Sephora’s Beauty Insider program has three tiers, and anyone can sign up for the basic level. Members earn a point for every dollar they spend, as well as perks like a birthday gift and beauty classes. The highest, most coveted tier is Rouge, and you have to spend $1,000 in a calendar year to qualify. The exclusive benefits include significant discounts on all merchandise during Sephora’s sales and free two-day shipping year round.

Nico Reyes: So, I’ve actually been a Sephora shopper since about 2014. And only just recently, this past year, did I become a VIB Rouge.

Narrator: Sephora’s exclusive rewards for Rouge members include sponsored trips with cosmetics brands to New York City or Los Angeles, and some members have even spent more than $35,000 to rack up enough points to redeem on such trips. But is it worth the $1,000 to reach Rouge status?

Reyes: VIB Rouge has benefits that VIB doesn’t have, like early access to products, like invitations to, like, Sephora events, facials, whatever. If that’s something you’re interested in, then work towards it, sure. But if not, VIB is literally so similar. They’re so similar in terms of their benefits; I don’t think it’s worth it to actively try to spend $1,000 a year to reach that status.

Narrator: After all, both VIB and Rouge members have access to Sephora’s sales. Sephora definitely makes it easy to spend more, but finding good deals isn’t impossible.

Krause: Sephora constantly puts things on clearance, just maybe not at the forefront of the store. Keep an eye on the website, keep an eye on their social-media pages, like their Instagram, their Twitter, see what promotions are going on, and really just kind of focus on some of the sales and promotions that they do, because a lot of the times you can get equally good products for a little bit less money.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2019.

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Elf Cosmetics apologized 3 weeks after an attempted pivot to Twitch that featured no Black creators

The first stream on Elf's Twitch channel was heavily criticized for only featuring non-Black creators.
The first stream on Elf’s Twitch channel was heavily criticized for featuring only non-Black creators.

  • Elf Cosmetics apologized three weeks after a controversial Twitch stream.
  • The cosmetics brand attempted to pivot to streaming but didn’t include Black creators.
  • One Black creator said she was snubbed despite getting the most community support on Twitter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elf Cosmetics is the first major makeup brand to launch a Twitch channel, but the creator-marketing pivot to streaming didn’t go as planned. The popular drugstore line, an acronym for “Eyes, Lips, Face,” issued an apology on Twitter for not including Black creators and other underrepresented demographics among the influencers featured in its launch.

“At e.l.f., we firmly embrace diversity and inclusion and we commit that our talent and partners will reflect our commitment in future streams,” the brand said. It also solicited suggestions and feedback.

The apology, posted more than three weeks after the launch, was met with continued fallout. The first event on the channel on May 9 featured multiple guests and segments to promote the brand’s products, and Elf has since streamed additional conversations between creators, including one with a Black creator.

Elf Cosmetics did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Black creator who received community support said she was ‘snubbed’ by the brand

Before the launch of the “twitch.tv/elfyou” channel, the brand asked its Twitter following to volunteer their “favorite beauty influencers who game.” A Black Twitch streamer who goes by Milady Confetti posted four of her looks underneath the tweet and received the most engagement by far, with 1,000 likes.

But when Elf launched its stream, commentators were quick to point out there were no Black creators. Confetti wrote that she was “snubbed” despite getting the most fan support.

“That was so hurtful, then only working with white women in my field, heck in the same gaming category as me. Why be so cruel,” she wrote in response to the brand’s apology tweet. Her response got more likes than the apology tweet.

Confetti did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

A creator of color who isn’t known for beauty was invited

A former Twitch streamer posted that Elf reached out to her and invited her onto the stream following the backlash against the launch. But according to Sleepy Mia, she no longer streams and has “never been known” for doing makeup looks, identifying another area where viewers said the brand could have done more research.

“I’m so confused why @elfcosmetics reached out to me to stream with them instead of working with the slew of Black women and POC who called them out,” Mia wrote.

A drag performer criticized Elf’s stream

Elf was also criticized by Twitch streamers like It’s Lucille, a drag performer who posted a Twitter thread outlining what she said were other issues with the launch stream. She pointed out that Elf’s launch stream kept using the word “females” to describe makeup consumers, despite there being men and nonbinary makeup wearers.

“For over three hours, you’ve only used the term ‘females’ when talking about your consumers and audience,” Lucille said. “When you finally mention non-binary people, you don’t even use the right tense. We aren’t ‘a non-binary.’ Non-binary is an adjective, not a noun.”

Lucille also noted that Elf still worked with the makeup influencer Jeffree Star. Insider’s Amanda Krause said in an analysis that makeup customers judged brands based on more than just the product itself.

“Now, beauty fans say they’re heartbroken watching their favorite companies seemingly choose sales and publicity over allyship,” Krause wrote. “And experts argue that brands should cut ties with problematic influencers – regardless of their fame – to back up their words with action.”

To read more stories like this, check out Insider’s digital culture coverage here.

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Sephora vs. Ulta: We compared the perks of each store’s membership programs and more

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Sephora v. Ulta 4x3
  • As one-stop shops for all things beauty, Sephora and Ulta are often compared.
  • Both are actually pretty similar and great for stocking up on makeup, skincare, and haircare.
  • Here we break down their differences, from membership programs to shipping costs.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you’re an avid shopper of all things beauty, you’ve probably been to a Sephora or an Ulta – maybe even both. As one-stop shops for everything from makeup to skincare to haircare and all else in between, many people compare the two stores.

Sephora has a reputation for selling more luxury beauty brands while Ulta has long been considered a retailer for drugstore brands. The reality is that these two stores aren’t so different. With competitive rewards programs, strong selections, beauty services, and more, both stores offer a great shopping experience.

Wondering where you should go to get what? Below we’ve covered the membership programs, rewards, product and brand selections, ways to shop, and how to decide which store is best for you.

Keep reading for a complete breakdown of what you can expect to find at Sephora and Ulta.

Brands and product selection

Sephora Collection Lip Gloss
Sephora carries a host of brands, including its popular in-house Sephora Collection.

Both stores carry a wide range of products across all price ranges, and there is a lot of overlap between the two when it comes to brand selection. Generally, Sephora stocks more high-end brands and Ulta more drugstore options.

Sephora: Sephora carries hundreds of brands, along with its own private label. Sephora Collection, the store’s in-house line, offers affordable beauty products starting as low as $1. The store also stocks a host of mid-tier brands, as well as high-end ones like Dior, La Mer, and Chanel. Fenty Beauty, Huda Beauty, and Charlotte Tilbury are some of Sephora’s standout brands you can’t find at Ulta.

Ulta: Ulta Beauty Collection is the store’s in-house label offering affordable beauty products — prices start below $1 for a sheet mask — with everything from skincare to beauty tools. Like Sephora, you can find plenty of mid-tier brands, but what stands out about Ulta is its curation of budget beauty brands. NYX, e.l.f. Cosmetics, and L’Oréal are some of the drugstore brands you can’t find at Sephora.

Sales and deals

Sephora  products
Some of the brands at Sephora you can save on.

Both beauty stores have online sale sections and limited-time deals. Ulta tends to host sales more often, but Sephora gives greater savings during singular events. And like many retailers, the sales are even greater when you enroll in their membership programs.

Sephora: The beauty retailer has weekly sales on trial and mini sizes, and with online orders, you can choose two free samples at checkout. Sephora also hosts a massive annual spring sale where Beauty Insiders can save big on popular brand names. If you sign up for the rewards program, you can use an exclusive promo code to take 10% off nearly every product Sephora carries. And for Rouge and VIB members, the deals are even greater — saving 15% and 20% off, respectively. Right now, everyone can get free shipping with the code “FREESHIP.”

Ulta: Constantly releasing coupons, buy more save more deals, and sale items, Ulta makes it easy for people to shop discounted beauty products both in-store and online. Its big sale events — like the 21 Days of Beauty, the Gorgeous Hair Event, and the Love Your Skin Event — are notorious for featuring Beauty Steals, where customers can shop up to 50% off top brands like Tarte and Glamglow and the deals refresh every 24 hours. These events come and go quickly, so you can sign up for Ulta Beauty emails to stay in the know for big upcoming events.


Ulta Morphe Setting Spray
One of the photo-ready products you can find at Ulta right now.

Both stores offer membership programs that reward shoppers through points programs, granting them special access to promotions, and more.

Sephora: Beauty Insider is Sephora’s membership program. There are three levels of membership: Beauty Insider, VIB, and VIB Rouge. Any shopper can become a Beauty Insider since there’s no minimum spend necessary. To become a VIB member, you must spend $350 a year, and to become a VIB Rouge member that number goes up to $1,000 a year.

Ulta: Ultamate Rewards is Ulta’s membership for loyal shoppers. There are three tiers of membership: member, platinum member, and diamond member. There is no minimum spend required to become a regular member. You must spend $500 a year to become a platinum member and $1,200 to become a diamond member.

Rewards program benefits

Sephora laneige birthday set
This Laneige skincare set is one of the three eligible birthday gifts for Beauty Insiders.

Both the Beauty Insider and Ultamate Rewards programs offer great perks to shoppers, whether you’re spending lots of money at the store each year or none at all. Sephora offers its members more promotions while Ulta offers more birthday perks, but ultimately both programs reward shoppers very similarly. 

Sephora: There are many benefits of becoming a Beauty Insider. One of the most notable is the points system, which turns your spending into points that you can redeem at the Rewards Baazar in exchange for products. Here’s a rundown of the rewards you get, at every membership tier:

  • Insider: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 10% off during seasonal savings events
  • VIB: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 15% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase
  • VIB Rouge: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 20% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase, free standard shipping, access to exclusive events, first-in-line for new product launches

Ulta: Ultamate Rewards members get lots of benefits that make future shopping hauls more affordable. Unlike Sephora where points are redeemed as products, at Ulta points are redeemed as cash discounts on future purposes. Here’s a breakdown of the rewards at every level:

  • Member: 1 point for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month
  • Platinum: 1.25 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire
  • Diamond: 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire, everyday free shipping on orders of $25 or more, annual $25 beauty service reward card

Shipping costs

Ulta Beauty shopper

Both Sephora and Ulta have well-organized stores where you can find (and be tempted by) thousands of products on display. Both also offer pretty similar online shopping experiences, though Ulta offers an incredibly convenient in-store pickup option. 

Sephora: Sephora’s shipping offering is pretty standard. If you spend $50 or more, you’re eligible for free, standard three-day shipping. For orders less than $50, this same shipping costs $6.50. To get two- or one-day shipping, you’ll pay $10.95 or $16.95, respectively. If you shop online at Sephora often, it may be worth it for you to enroll in its flash shipping program. It costs just $15 a year and gives you free shipping for the entire year, no minimums required. 

Ulta: Ulta’s shipping rates and policies are pretty standard too. Regardless of how much you spend on your order, standard shipping costs $5.95 (3-8 business days), expedited shipping costs $9.95 (3-4 business days), and premium shipping costs $16.95 (2-3 business days).

If you want to avoid shipping costs and live close to an Ulta store location, use Ulta’s in-store pickup service. All you have to do is choose “Buy Online & Pick Up in Store” as your purchase option. When your order’s ready, you’ll get an email from Ulta — just head over to the chosen store with that email confirmation and an ID, and you’re good to go. 

So, where should you go?

Ulta Beauty store

Truthfully, it’s up to you. You can’t go wrong shopping at Sephora or Ulta. For many shoppers, it’s a matter of what they know. For example, I grew up going to a local Sephora and got a Beauty Insider card at that time. It’s still worth it for me to shop there as I’ve accumulated points over the years and it’s proved to be a brand I can really trust. If you grew up going to an Ulta instead, you’d probably say the same about that brand. 

Another factor in choosing where to shop is looking at what you want to buy. If e.l.f. Cosmetics is your favorite brand, go to Ulta — Sephora doesn’t stock the brand. If you love Charlotte Tilbury, you’ll want to go to Sephora, as Ulta doesn’t have it. Luckily, both Sephora and Ulta stock a number of popular beauty brands like Nars, Clinique, and Too Faced, among others — so if that’s what you need, you’re set wherever you go. 

Shop makeup, skincare, beauty tools, and more at Ulta.

Shop makeup, skincare, beauty tools, and more at Sephora.

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These are the 12 best bronzers for every skin tone

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Best blush 4x3
  • Many of us strive for sun-kissed skin sans the sun damage, and a bronzer can help.
  • Not to be confused with contouring, bronzing is meant to create natural-looking warmth.
  • To choose the best bronzer for your skin, we recommend going one shade darker than your complexion.

No sun? No problem. Your totally believable, sun-kissed glow is just a bronzer away. No matter your skin tone, the best bronzer will give you an effortless, natural glow. And unlike contour, which creates shadows on the face, bronzer provides a lovely wash of warmth to your complexion. Whether you love a cream, powder, or a hybrid, these bronzers will become your makeup bag mainstays, no matter your complexion.

Here are the best bronzers for every skin tone in 2021:

The best bronzer for fair skin

Westman Atelier’s Beauty Butter in Coup de Soleil

Best blush_Westman Atelier's Beauty Butter in Coup de Soleil

Beauty Butter (Coup de Soleil) (small)

The Beauty Butter Bronzer in Coup de Soleil by Westman Atelier is designed to leave skin looking naturally bronzed. This wearable lighter-toned bronzer, contains no parabens, PEGs or synthetic fragrances. Shimmer-free, its innovative pigment technology protects skin from harmful toxins, while the plant butters nourish the skin.

NARS San Juan

Best blush_NARS San Juan

Bronzing Powder (San Juan) (small)

The NARS bronzing powder in San Juan delivers all-over warmth to create or enhance a naturally tanned look. Diffused powders with a golden shimmer help give skin a smoother, more even-looking complexion with an undetectable finish. To warm skin, sweep the face in the shape of a 3, beginning at the temple and continuing through the jawline.

Cover FX Monochromatic Bronzer Duo (Sunkissed Bronze)

Best blush_Cover FX Monochromatic Bronzer Duo

Monochromatic Bronzer Duo (Sunkissed Bronze) (small)

This monochromatic bronzer duo by Cover FX was consciously formulated without talc for a weightless texture. Vegan & cruelty-free, this powder duo delivers a natural glow. Use a powder brush to apply the matte and shimmer shades individually or layer them for a customized finish.

The best bronzer for medium skin

MAC Cosmetics Bronzing Powder in Refined Golden

Best blush_MAC Cosmetics Bronzing Powder

Bronzing Powder (Refined Golden) (small)

MAC’s Golden powder is perfect for enhancing your skin tone or accentuating a tan. Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested, it contains light-reflecting bronzing pigments and was designed to provide a smooth, even application. Apply wherever the sun would naturally hit you.

Sephora Bronzed in Santorini

Best blush_Sephora Bronzed in Santorini

Matte Bronzer (Santorini) (small)

Sephora’s creamy bronzer offers a buildable, soft-matte finish for medium skin. Easy to blend, one small tap of your brush will add warmth to the whole face and visible depth to your complexion. This vegan powder can be used all-over bronzing or targeted contouring.

Danessa Myricks Power Bronzer in Medium

Best blush_Danessa Myricks Power Bronzer

Power Bronzer (Medium) (small)

Add instant warmth to the skin with Medium by Danessa Myricks. Its creamy formula melts into the skin, making it a dream to blend under or on top of powder. Infused with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C, it hydrates the skin, yet leaves a matte finish. Apply easily with your finger, sponge or brush.

The best bronzer for deep skin

Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder Bronzer in Mahogany

Best blush_Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder Bronzer

Powder Bronzer (Mahogany) (small)

This finely-milled bronzing powder from Anastasia Beverly Hills provides a natural-looking matte finish for mocha brown skin. It’s permanent, easy to blend, and a little goes a long way. It can be layered on top of liquid, cream or powder complexion products, and feels weightless on the face and body. For a “just back from the beach” look, choose a shade that is 1–2 shades deeper than your skin tone.

Morphe Glamabronze in Leader

Best blush_Morphe Glamabronze

Glamabronze (Leader) (small)

Morphe Glamabronze in Leader captures the undertones and depth of tones to brilliantly accommodate darker tones. This buildable bronzer is ideal for rich to deep skin tones. Since it’s highly pigmented, build slowly. You can dust this face and body bronzer all over.

Fenty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer in Thick Mint

Best blush_Fenty Sun Stalk'r Instant Warmth Bronzer

Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer (Thick Mint) (small)

Thick Mint is the newest addition to Fenty Beauty’s bronzer collection. Deep and reddish-brown with subtle, warm undertones, it’s blendable, buildable, and transfer-resistant. Its mango and papaya fruit extracts bring out the warmth to help give skin an instant but natural, “sun-soaked glow.”

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I tested 14 pairs of false eyelashes to see which ones actually stay on and aren’t horribly uncomfortable, and only 7 survived my test

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • False eyelashes are a great way to get the look of full lashes without the hassle of mascara.
  • With so many on the market, it can be difficult to suss out which are the best option for you.
  • I tested 14 styles to find the best false lashes in a variety of categories.
Best false eyelashes 4x3

Few things can boost your confidence as instantly as a good pair of false lashes. Whether you’re looking for something subtle or prefer to go full-on glam, falsies can add the perfect finishing touch to your makeup look or even help you feel a bit more put together on a no-makeup day.

But finding the best false lashes for you is certainly not a one-size-fits-all situation. Besides the fact that we all have different preferences, our individual eye shapes also play a huge role when it comes to choosing falsies. This is why it’s so helpful to do your research before purchasing false lashes; after all, it’s not like you can try them on before you buy.

Here, I tested nearly 20 different styles of false lashes – everything from the cult-favorites to new launches – to bring you the best of the best in a variety of categories. Read on to discover your perfect pair of falsies.

Here are the best false lashes in 2021:

The best false eyelashes for everyday wear

Best false eyelashes_MyLashButBetter

If you love everyday glam, look no further than Kiss’s My Lash But Better collection.

If testing lashes has taught me anything, it’s that a thin band is key for all-day comfort. Kiss has long been in the falsies game, but the My Lash But Better collection hits it out of the ballpark. Their supposed “Superfine Band Technology” sounds pretty gimmicky, but the band is extremely thin, flexible, and easily adheres to the lash line. Perhaps the best part? They’ll only cost you five bucks — an ideal price point if you’re wearing them daily. 

My Lash But Better (small)
The best natural-looking false eyelashes

Best false eyelashes_LoveSeen

LoveSeen allows you to customize your lashes based on your coloring, eye shape, and preference, resulting in the most natural-looking style. 

As someone with hooded, slightly downturned eyelids, it’s often difficult to find false eyelashes that fit properly and don’t stick out at the outer corners. This is why I was thrilled to come across the brand LoveSeen — they offer a quiz that recommends the best styles based on your eye shape and preferences. They also offer both Brown/Black and Light Brown shades, which I’ve rarely seen in falsies. 

I particularly love the “Jack” lashes — they looked so incredibly natural while also giving me the perfect amount of volume. Plus, the band is extremely thin, making them a breeze to apply. I also tried (and loved) two other styles (Iris and Cate), but felt Jack looked the best on my specific eye shape. 

LoveSeen lashes range from $20-$24, putting them on par with other mid-tier brands. However, they do not come with eyelash glue, so that would be an additional cost.

Luca (small)
The best magnetic false eyelashes lashes

Best false eyelashes_Velour

Struggle with applying lashes? You’re not alone. Velour Beauty’s magnetic lashes make it incredibly easy.

If you’re clumsy (and impatient) like me, lash glue can quickly become a giant mess. Magnetic lashes were created to take the guesswork out of applying falsies since they are meant to adhere to a magnetic eyeliner. Velour Beauty’s Vegan Mink Luxe Lashes apply exceptionally seamlessly — and they felt super comfortable all day long. 

The first time I wore them, my immediate thought was that they would be the perfect false eyelashes for someone’s wedding day. Not only are they just the right amount of glam, but they’d be super comfy during hours of smiling, dancing, and photo-taking.

At $27 these lashes may seem a bit on the pricier side (plus, the magnetic eyeliner is sold separately at $23), but I was able to rewear them several times with no issues. For a special occasion, they’re definitely worth the splurge.

Vegan Mink Luxe Lash Collection (small)
The best glam false eyelashes

Best false eyelashes_LillyLashes

When you want your lashes to make a statement, these Lilly Lashes will do the trick.

Sometimes you just want the look of long, full lashes. These Lilly Lashes are the perfect compliment to glam makeup because they heighten the look without overpowering it. The criss-cross style of the “Goddess” lashes, in particular, gives such a pretty effect.

I find these quite easy to apply and I love the thin band. Though I wouldn’t say they’re bothersome, they do feel a bit heavier on my eyes than some of the more natural styles. However, if you’re only wearing them for a special occasion, chances are you’ll be peeling them off in a couple of hours anyway. 

These lashes retail for $20 and do not come with lash adhesive. 

Goddess (small)
The best affordable false eyelashes

Best false eyelashes_Ardell

Ardell lashes are widely appreciated for their affordability, variety, and accessibility.

Ardell lashes are a well-loved falsies brand and for good reason. Most pairs are around $5 and they offer a wide selection of styles for any and all preferences. I personally love the Natural #110 (they look the most natural on my eye shape), but the Demi Wispies are a hugely popular style. Plus, Ardell is also sold in major retailers like Ulta and Target as well as most drugstores — so you can easily find them in the event of a lash emergency.

Natural #110 (small, Preferred: Ulta)
The best individual false eyelashes

Best false eyelashes_KissIndividual

This trio helps you build a natural look — without the commitment of a strip lash.

Let’s face it: false lashes can be extremely intimidating. If you’re new to falsies and want to test the waters (or just want to try something a bit more low-maintenance), individual lashes are a great option. This trio from Kiss is great because it offers three different lengths, so you can easily customize your look to get the most natural effect. I like to apply two of the longer lashes at the outer corner for subtle, wispy lashes.

At only $6 for 30 individual lashes (that you can easily reuse), it doesn’t get much better than that. These do not come with lash glue.

Ever Ez Trio Lash (small, Preferred: CVS)
The longest false eyelashes

Best false eyelashes_Lashify

These innovative falsies are essentially DIY lash extensions — they can last up to 10 days.

Lashify is changing the false lash game with their patented Gossamer lashes. They give you the look and feel of lash extensions, but without the costs and upkeep. It consists of four steps: applying a primer, attaching the lashes, fusing the lashes together with a wand, and applying a clear mascara that’s meant to lock everything in. I tried out the Control Kit (in the style Bold), which provides you with everything you need for $145. It’s definitely not cheap, but the kit comes with two sets of lashes (in two different sizes) and each wear can last up to 10 days. 

I absolutely love the look of these lashes. Because you apply them underneath your natural lashes (rather than on top), they look extremely natural and feel weightless. If you’re someone who’s interested in the longevity of lash extensions but wants to avoid the costs and maintenance involved, the Lashify system is definitely worth checking out.

Gossamer Lashes (small)
Other lashes we tested

Best false eyelashes_What else we considered (Glamnetic Livin; KVD, Qveen)

Although the seven lash sets above were my top picks, I also tested a variety of styles from 7 other brands. Here’s why they didn’t make the cut:

  • Qveen Studio Lashes in Hot Boy Sweat: These did not fit well on my downturned eyelids and they are also a bit heavy, but they do have a soft, fluttery look. For someone with a different eye shape, these could work really well. 
  • Glamnetic Luxe Lash: While these did adhere very well, the individual magnets along the band make it a bit bulky as well as difficult to trim. This particular style was also way too long for my eye shape/preference.
  • Glamnetic Livin’ Lash: While this set was far more comfortable, the lash length was too natural. I could barely see the lashes past my natural lashes, so it just didn’t seem worth it to have on falsies at all. However, if you’re looking to simply add fullness and not length, this could be a good option.
  • Sephora Collection Luxe False Lash in Plume: Again, these lashes are very pretty and natural-looking, but lacking a “wow” factor.
  • Tartiest Pro Cruelty-Free Lashes in Wifey: These lashes are extremely long and heavy, making them difficult to apply. These should definitely be avoided if you’re a natural lash lover, but if you’re after a dramatic look and are an absolute pro at applying falsies, these might be for you.
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