Each year, thousands of new products hit the shelves. How do you know which ones are worth your money or if they even work?! At the GH Beauty Lab, our experts evaluate them all to find the innovations that are best for you. Here are the cream(s) of the crop, plus our pros' top-tested picks of all time.
Over seven months, the GH Beauty Lab vetted, label-blinded and analyzed studies and tester data for hundreds of skincare, hair and makeup products, tools and technological advances, then tested the top contenders in the Lab to uncover the best innovations that truly live up to the hype.
This first-of-its-kind cleanser leaves broad-spectrum sunscreen on skin after rinsing.
Tester Notes: The creamy formula "cleansed well and left my skin feeling moisturized," a tester said. "It was a simple way to add SPF into my daily routine," another found.
Lab Lowdown: Layer with your regular facial sunscreen for maximum protection, recommends Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D.
The new online service Curology brings a certified cosmetic dermatologist or skin pro to you. Get an electronic consultation on your computer, tablet or phone; then an Rx cocktail formulated for your skin's needs (like anti-aging or acne treatment) is sent to you.
Tester Notes: A tester found that her acne prescription was perfect, providing amazing results from the first day.
Lab Lowdown: It's like having a derm on call without pricey, time-consuming appointments or pharmacy stops, says Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek.
$20 per month,
Like an anti-aging serum, moisturizer and sunscreen in one, with line smoothers (such as peptides), hydrators (like glycerin) and broad-spectrum SPF 30, this GH Seal-holding light lotion may be the only product you need in your morning skincare routine.
Tester Notes: Users reported that the "quick-absorbing," "non-greasy" formula firmed skin, diminished wrinkles and brightened complexions.
Lab Lowdown: GH's tests found it increased moisture levels in skin by 31%, more than any facial SPF 30 previously evaluated.
Beauty Director April Franzino says: "Rich yet somehow not greasy, this night cream with hyaluronic and salicylic acids is proven to soften wrinkles and boost radiance while you sleep, the Beauty Lab confirmed in Seal evaluation. I love dozing off to the relax-ing lavender scent."
Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. says: "The improvement in wrinkles I noted in the before-and-after images of testers who used this serum, a Seal holder, was among the most impressive I've ever seen."
Beauty Director April Franzino says: "The only SPF I've looked forward to applying, and the overall winner of our facial sunscreen test. It glides on like a dream (you won't know you're wearing it), and it has the most lovely powdery fragrance."
Assistant Beauty Editor Cody Marick says: "I love that this hydrating, anti-aging serum, a Seal holder, immediately smooths skin — and wears well under makeup without pilling or melting off during the day."
Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek says: "I use this cleansing brush to exfoliate once or twice a week, and my skin always looks more radiant the next day. All the women in our test found that it smoothed skin both immediately and over time."
With so many — or, sometimes, so few — shades to choose from, finding the right foundation color can be next to impossible. The new custom-foundation service MatchCo makes your exact shade for you. An app scans your skin to ID its tone; then your matching formula is mixed and mailed to you.
Lab Lowdown: The technology is impressive — straightforward and easy to follow. The shade was a perfect match, able to be used straight from the bottle without mi hues, and the satiny sheer-to-medium-coverage formula layered without looking cakey for a natural look.
The difference between this mascara and all the rest? Its wand contains tiny "fins" to grip and lift hairs — and produce real lash-enhancing results.
Tester Notes: "No smudging or rub-off," a fan reported. "It made my eyelashes look fuller and longer" and "more curled," others enthused.
Lab Lowdown: Despite its big brush and heavy-hitting formula, it got top marks for not irritating eyes or flaking.
Beauty Director April Franzino says: "With Olay moisturizer swirled right in, this cream compact foundation, a Seal holder, feels velvety and blends flawlessly. Though it's lightweight, testers praised its great coverage, which is pigmented enough to double as concealer."
Assistant Beauty Editor Cody Marick says: "An eye-makeup remover that really works! Unlike others I've tried, this Seal holder fully dissolves mascara without a ton of tugging, as confirmed in a Beauty Lab test of 29 formulas."
With this genius V-shaped brush from Woosh Beauty, you no longer need to be a makeup artist to create a cat-eye — it "stamps" liner at your eyes' outer corners.
Tester Notes: Using the one-of-a-kind liner brush was "much easier than using a regular one," a tester said. "I got a better cat-eye than I normally do," another said.
Lab Lowdown: Dip the brush into gel or powder eyeliner or shadow (wet or dry), line it up with the outer corner of your eye and press for an instant elongating effect. Use the other end to smudge or fully line the eye.
To fix top eyelash-curler troubles like pinching eyelids and missing half your lashes, Tweezerman broke the typical lash curler mold by decreasing its curve to line up with the lashlines of almond-shaped and deep-set eyes.
Tester Notes: "It's the best eyelash curler I've ever used," one tester raved.
Lab Lowdown: Our results showed that 91% of consumer testers agreed it effectively curls even hard-to-reach lashes without pinching or pulling.
Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. says: "The best in our tweezer test, this tool easily plucked strands of all sizes without pinching skin. Plus, the company will sharpen or replace the tweezers for free if they dull through regular use."
"A concealer that doesn't need retouching: It provides great coverage (the best in our concealer test), staying on with no cakiness or dryness."
Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek says: "A Lab-test winner, this concealer is on par with department store products. Unlike others that crease under my eyes, this blends well, stays put and works to cover blemishes, too, so I don't need a separate product."
Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek says: "This hits the sweet spot for me with the perfect combo of moisture and color in a crayon form that makes quick application easy. It scored high in Lab tests for rich color payoff that lasts and doesn't feather."
Deep conditioners are famous for their hydrating, repairing superpowers — but also for their heavy, deflating weight, especially on thin hair. Now there's a formula that's effective, yet light enough to nourish even the finest strands.
Tester Notes: "My hair was softer than with any conditioner I've used before," one enthused.
Lab Lowdown: The mask made hair noticeably silky, smooth and sleek without weighing it down.
If you've got hair problems but can't figure out the fix, this state-of-the-art personalized in-salon treatment is for you. A stylist zeroes in on your issues with a high-tech hair and scalp camera that can magnify strands up to 600 times. It uses the data to pinpoint your hair type and concerns, then conjures up a custom treatment, combining ingredients to target everything from hydration to shine, smoothing, fullness, color enhancement, strength and repair.
Tester Notes: Our tester experienced bouncier and shinier strands than normal, and called it the perfect pick-me-up, like a facial for your hair.
Lab Lowdown: The treatment was very quick, but produced amazing immediate results — in both volume and smoothness, Wnek says.
$30 and up, for salons
Beauty Director April Franzino says: "I don't have dandruff, but I swear my strands have never looked or felt better — bouncier, softer, shinier — than when I've used this shampoo. It earned the Seal for its flake-fighting and strand-smoothing abilities."
Assistant Beauty Editor Cody Marick says: "This Seal-holding conditioner's performance rivals that of prestige products, making my dry ends feel incredibly silky, yet not heavy."
Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. says: "In Lab tests, we found that this Seal-holding shampoo cleanses without stripping haircolor. With the matching conditioner, it makes even my rough ends feel smooth."
Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann says: "This Seal-holding haircolor, a strong performer in our evaluations, always delivers my 'natural' dark blond shade so well that I forget I have grays! And brassiness is minimal, too."
So much more than soap, this cleanser, infused with argan oil beads, softens dry skin after just one wash.
Tester Notes: "My skin was as smooth as if I'd applied a moisturizer," a tester raved. "I used it at night, and my skin still felt moisturized in the morning," another marveled.
Lab Lowdown: The body wash alone moisturized skin for four hours in our Lab test — no lotion needed.
Unlike laser hair-removal devices, which aren't safe or effective for many skin and hair colors, the Iluminage Precise Touch uses a unique combo of intense pulsed light and radio-frequency energy (previously only available professionally) that works for anyone to produce permanent results on both face and body.
Lab Lowdown: We noted that hair regrowth slowed definitively after only six once-weekly uses — without the pain of traditional lasers.
Finally, there's a cellulite treatment that works — and not just temporarily. Cellfina, a new FDA-approved doctor's-office procedure, releases the bands under skin that cause dimples to form. But a long-term cellulite fix doesn't come cheap: This one-time treatment can cost $3,000-plus.
Lab Lowdown: Women in the clinical study reported 96% satisfaction after two years, with no evidence of cellulite returning. Pain was reported to be moderate, consistent with other cosmetic procedures.
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Beauty Director April Franzino says: "Since I stay out of the sun, a little faux tan helps warm up my skin tone. For a subtle, foolproof effect, I apply this body lotion post-shower to gradually build color. In the Lab's tests, it deeply moisturized skin, and users loved its scent (really!)."