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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Tools

Best Makeup Tools of 2021  Makeup Brushes Hot Tools  Skin Care Device  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Jacq Harriet; Fashion Stylist: Herin Choi; Hair: Eric R. Williams; Makeup: Mariko Herano; Models: Laura at Elite, Cory at New Pandemics, Aalyah at IMG

It is no surprise that beauty tech is ever-evolving, but we continue to be blown away by the tool innovations we find each year during our Best of Beauty Award testing process — and this year's winners are no exception. Flatirons and curling irons are fancier and more intuitive than ever, offering the ability to meet a wide range of hair textures and styling needs. Updated makeup tools have made it a whole lot easier to recreate all of your saved TikTok looks, and applying false lashes is now nearly foolproof.

We don't know what we'd do without trusted beauty professionals, but time at home has turned many of us into skilled makeup artists and hairstylists. With this year's lineup of tools, all of which rightfully earned the coveted Best of Beauty Award seal, your artistry is about to be leveled up like never before.

Among the winners there is an incredibly lightweight blow-dryer from Drybar that smooths any hair texture without leaving your arms sore. There's also Glamnetic XoXo's Vegan Magnetic Lash, which eliminates the need for glue and a steady hand. And while many other brands have tried to steal the spotlight, we're giving Shu Uemura's iconic eyelash curler yet another win — because, well, there's just no duplicating it.

There's so much to be excited about. But focus your attention for a second on all of the top tools below that stole our hearts. When you're done, click over to see the full list of this year's 2021 Best of Beauty winners. Prepare to be wowed. —Nykia Spradley

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Nails

19 Best Nail Products Polish Topcoat and Nail Care of 2021  Allure Best of Beauty

Photographer: Elliot & Erick Jimenez; Stylist: Rachael Wang; Hair: Nikki Nelms; Makeup: Frankie Boyd; Manicure: Eri Handa; Set designer: Jenny Correa; Producer: Marcos Fecchino

This past year was, among other things, a time when a lot of people finally mastered the at-home manicure. What might have started out of necessity became a hobby for plenty of folks, whether they expanded their classic nail polish collection, bought an at-home gel kit, or found themselves fully immersed in the press-on nail resurgence.

While we're thrilled salons are reopening, we also know you might continue to enjoy doing your own nails from time to time. To ensure your at-home kit is stocked with the cream of the well-manicured crop, Allure editors tested hundreds of nail products, then narrowed it down to 19 winners we feel confident calling the best.

Looking for the perfect bright red, trendiest light blue, or creamiest nude nail polish? We've got you. How about a sparkly topcoat that layers well over any color? No problem. Maybe you're looking for a set of nice, long press-ons, or custom nail wraps for your next in-person party? We have picks for those too, plus all the extras (remover, cuticle oil, nippers, etc.) you need to ensure your manicure comes out looking pretty darn professional.

Scroll through to see this group of winners, then check out the rest of the 2021 Best of Beauty winners list. —Kara McGrath

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Best Steals

23 Best Drugstore Makeup Skin and Hair Products of 2021  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Jacq Harriet; Fashion stylist: Herin Choi; Hair: Eric R. Williams; Makeup: Mariko Herano; Models: Laura at Elite, Cory at New Pandemics, Aalyah at IMG

There's no denying that the drugstore beauty aisle has gotten some upgrades in the past few years. Next to the simple cleansers and moisturizers you can now find retinol and hyaluronic acid serums. Makeup brands are keeping up with emerging trends, including with skin tint and cream blush launches. And the hair-care aisle has gotten a few reboots with more options for curls and coils.

Besides these upgrades, many of us rely on drugstore products — whether for a childhood staple we can't let go of or the need to quickly buy a matte lipstick before going out with friends — for convenience and affordability. It's part of the reason why we have our Steals category. Amid testing hundreds of products for the annual Best of Beauty Awards, we get to give an extra shout-out to the products that blew our minds without stressing our bank accounts.

Our only requirement for the Steals category: The product has to be $11 or less. (We raised it by $1 from last year to ensure we're getting every product we can.) The category is divided into four subcategories: body, hair, makeup, and skin — and we have a feeling you're going to enjoy our picks, such as the hyaluronic-acid infused Maybelline New York Lifter Lip Gloss and Pantene's hydrating Miracle Intense Rescue Shots. 

Without further delay, here are the 2021 Allure Best of Beauty Award winners in the Steals category. Enjoy the savings. —Gabi Thorne

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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The Most Innovative Beauty Products of 2021

Best Innovative Beauty Products Breakthrough Awards 2021  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Jacq Harriet; Fashion stylist: Herin Choi; Hair: Eric R. Williams; Makeup: Mariko Herano; Models: Laura at Elite, Cory at New Pandemics, Aalyah at IMG

Earlier this year, we began researching products that would eventually win the Allure Best of Beauty Awards. We swiped, sudsed, and slathered thousands of beauty products — and along the way, we discovered seven that were unlike any beauty product we'd seen before. And that's saying a lot coming from editors whose bathrooms look like unorganized back rooms at Sephora. These seven innovative beauty products won our 2021 Best of Beauty Breakthrough Awards.

The process to explore whether a beauty product is a Breakthrough is a deep dive. It's a monthslong journey that involves poring over clinical data and sending every nominee and its credentials to our independent judges, including cosmetic chemists, hairstylists, makeup artists, dermatologists, and sustainability advocates. They dedicate hours to studying each product to answer one question: Is this really a breakthrough?

They shared with us what they loved, hated, and, most importantly, which products were unlike anything they'd gotten their hands on before. Here, we present seven of the most revolutionary innovations we've ever seen — ones that have changed the way we approach beauty. These new products boggled our editors' minds and forever changed our beauty routines. We hope your mind is blown as much as ours was (and still is).

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Base

The Best Foundations Concealers and Highlighters of 2021  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Elliot & Erick Jimenez; Stylist: Rachael Wang; Hair: Nikki Nelms; Makeup: Frankie Boyd; Manicure: Eri Handa; Set designer: Jenny Correa; Producer: Marcos Fecchino

We know the perfect makeup look doesn't exist, but for every beauty look (whether done at the hands of a professional or an amateur), the road to perfection starts with a solid base — the products that make up our complexion.

We know it's hard to choose the best foundation when there are different formulas for every skin type. It's even harder to choose concealer when there are those that are better at covering blemishes versus those that are best for hiding dark circles. And, oh, don't even get us started on rifling through bronzers and blushes.

All that goes without even mentioning that this year has been a weird one for those of us who love a fully beat base. Though all of these products might not be a part of our daily routine the way they used to be, highlighters, setting powders, and the like are still an integral part of our beauty regimens (especially when used as a midday pick-me-up between Zoom meetings).

That's why our talented panel of judges swatched their way through 835 submissions, narrowing it down to 11 subcategories and 23 seal-worthy products to bring you the base winners for the 2021 Allure Best of Beauty Awards. We can't wait for you to find your next go-to highlighter, can't-live-without blush, and so much more. —Talia Gutierrez

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Lips

19 Best Lip Makeup of 2021 Colors Balm Gloss  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Elliot & Erick Jimenez; Stylist: Rachael Wang; Hair: Nikki Nelms; Makeup: Frankie Boyd; Manicure: Eri Handa; Set designer: Jenny Correa; Producer: Marcos Fecchino

If there's one beauty lesson we've dutifully embraced throughout 2021, it's not to take our lipsticks for granted. The bold swipe of a full-pigment, matte-red bullet, or the comfortable sheen of a tinted balm, and the glamorous shine of a glitter-packed gloss…few were felt during the isolation and rare, face-covered social outings of the last year and a half. But now lipstick, just like the world at large, is attempting a shaky comeback to normality, and at Allure, we understand that return isn't necessarily a given.

So we savored every single cream bullet, liquid matte lipstick, gloss, balm, and stain (we tried hundreds of them) while determining which ones would earn our beloved Best of Beauty seal because we know we might not be wearing our tried-and-trues — like YSL Beauty Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm in Rouge Studio or Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Cream Color Drip Lip Cream — in public as often as we'd like.

Thankfully, there's nothing stopping us (and you) from enjoying a bold red like Pound Cake's Maraschino Cherry or the buttery, neutral Maybelline New York Ultimatte in More Truffle at home and around your vaccinated loved ones. Trust us, that's exactly what we'll be doing with the 2021 Best of Beauty-winning lip products below. Because now we know better than ever that wearing lipstick is more for the wonderful feeling than for the look itself. And that's something we'll revel in every chance we get.

Scroll through to see each winner, then be sure to read the full list of 2021 Allure Best of Beauty winners. —Nicola Dall’Asen

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty 2021: Sensitive Types

Best Skin Care Products for Sensitive Skin in 2021  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Jacq Harriet; Fashion stylist: Herin Choi; Hair: Eric R. Williams; Makeup: Mariko Herano; Models: Laura at Elite, Cory at New Pandemics, Aalyah at IMG

Love the skin you're in… even when it's finicky and reactive as hell. Whether eczema, air pollution, or stinging skin-care products are the cause of your irritated skin woes, our board-certified dermatologist friends have indulged us with countless tips and products over the years that will keep your skin looking healthy and happy.

Keep some general no-nos in mind, like fragrances, dyes, sulfates, and alcohol. (When in doubt, patch test.) Instead, douse skin in moisture-attracting buddies like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter, as well as lipid-replenishing ceramides and fatty acids. (Do you hear that? Your skin is breathing a deep sigh of relief.) This year's sensitive-skin-friendly Best of Beauty winners might not be the sexiest offerings on the market but that's entirely the point. Dependable and "boring" is the goal if it means you won't experience painful, angry flare-ups all over — trust us.

Lather yourself in Olay's Eczema Soothing Body Wash and let a soothing blend of oat extract and niacin nourish and soften your body while you rock out to Olivia Rodrigo in the shower. Itchiness? We don’t know her. And waterproof mascara doesn't stand a chance when it's up against Simple's Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water, which breaks down the toughest formulas without leaving skin feeling stripped or raw. We love this aptly-named product so much that this is the second year in a row (and third year overall) that we've awarded it a Best of Beauty honor. That's amore.

As always, consult your dermatologist for your specific skin-care concerns — you're a unique being, after all — but check out our favorite, carefully tested products below that'll appease sensitive skin day and night. And for the rest of your beauty needs and curiosities, read our full list of Best of Beauty 2021 winners. —Sarah Han

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Hair

44 Best Hair Products of 2021 Shampoo Conditioner and Styling  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Elliot & Erick Jimenez; Stylist: Rachael Wang; Hair: Nikki Nelms; Makeup: Frankie Boyd; Manicure: Eri Handa; Set designer: Jenny Correa; Producer: Marcos Fecchino

In 2020, we let our hair grow out, learned how to do our own dye jobs, gave ourselves bangs, or decided to say eff it and buzz it all off. This year? Oh yeah, we still did all that. But this time we had a little bit more access to our hairstylists — and, thankfully, more opportunities to let others bask in the glory of how damn good we look.

And just because outside is open doesn't mean that we're abandoning the products that got us through all this time. No sir, we're doubling down and giving gold stars to the hair-care products that were our ride or dies. The shampoos that got our scalps in check, the volumizers that plumped our strands up to high heaven, and the dry shampoos that helped us oil-train our hair all deserve recognition — and we are pleased to give it. 

Below, get into the hair-care products that stayed by our sides through another year of lockdowns, reopenings, and weird, "Is-this-really-safe?" gatherings. We truly have nothing but gratitude for these products. 

And while you're at it, check out the rest of our 2021 Best of Beauty-winning products.

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Clean

The Best Clean Beauty Products of 2021  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Jacq Harriet; Fashion stylist: Herin Choi; Hair: Eric R. Williams; Makeup: Mariko Herano; Models: Laura at Elite, Cory at New Pandemics, Aalyah at IMG

Cleanliness is subjective. Just ask any kid under 10 who pronounces their room tidy after leaving their dirty socks next to the hamper or shoving a years' worth of homework into a single desk drawer.

And "clean" beauty is no exception. Though the buzzword has been floating around the industry for years, there's still no universally agreed-upon criteria for what makes a product "clean," "green," "natural," or "eco-friendly." (And yes, the quotation marks around all those terms are very much intentional.)

For us at Allure, it's about what's not on the ingredient list: Products that meet our definition of "clean" do not contain parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, cyclic silicones, polyethylene or polypropylene (microbeads), aluminum salts, formaldehyde, hydroquinone, PEGs, triclosan, talc, mineral oil, petrolatum, formaldehyde, or toluene. (If you're curious, you can always read more about how we landed on the Allure Clean Standard.)

Sure, scanning ingredient lists until your eyes bug out isn't exactly the sexiest part of the job, but it was worth it to yield this list of high-performing products you, dear reader, can feel extra good about. This year, our Best of Beauty "Clean" winners include a tinted balm that looks equally ethereal on cheeks, lips, and lids, a no-budge mascara, and a body scrub that will turn your shower into a spa.

Thanks to months upon months of testing, we know there's not a dud among the 22 products you're about to scroll through. And we think you'll be just as impressed with each and every one of our 2021 Best of Beauty winners — so be sure to check out the full list when you're done. —Dianna Mazzone

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Best of Beauty Awards 2021: Body

Best Body Care Products 2021 Lotions Scrubs and Washes  Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Photographer: Elliot & Erick Jimenez; Stylist: Rachael Wang; Hair: Nikki Nelms; Makeup: Frankie Boyd; Manicure: Eri Handa; Set designer: Jenny Correa; Producer: Marcos Fecchino

With so much attention focused on finding the best face serum to fade hyperpigmentation or a rich moisturizer that packs a punch of hydration, our body care can be left to fend for itself. But skin care is a full-body agenda.

That's why we took testing the Allure Best of Beauty: Body category very seriously. Our editors were tasked with testing the latest body washes, scrubs, razors, and bath products, giving us an excuse to upgrade our normal bathing routine — and handpick this year's winners.

The standouts from this year's Best of Beauty Award-winning body products cover all the bases, from head to toe, including body washes that will leave you feeling cleansed and refreshed, sunscreens to apply all day, every day, and a full-body bronzer that gives off an oh-so-supple glow.

Below are the beauty products that came through and delivered a total reset to our body-care routines. Once you've taken a look through, be sure to check out our full list of 2021 Best of Beauty winners here. —Michella Ore

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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