MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 26: Models pose in the backstage of the Hui fashion show during the Milan Fashion Week – Spring / Summer 2022 on September 26, 2021 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images)

2021 was an interesting year that certainly lacked in some parts (new COVID-19 strains every other day, a few riots, Dua and Anwar calling it quits), but made up for it in others. Okay, well perhaps a host of new beauty launches doesn’t quite cancel out this entire unfortunate sequel to 2020 – but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

As a beauty editor, I’m privy to an onslaught of products every week, which can admittedly be difficult to navigate (precisely nobody feels bad for me, which is fair). With so much hitting the market, how to determine which products are actually the best?

Well, the truth is – you can’t, at least not definitively. I don’t have enough hair, face or body to try them all, but I go through as much as I can. And the things I try that really work? They tend to find a permanent spot in my routine.

Here are some of the beauty products I tried and adored in 2021.

Vela Days Cleansing Bands, $20 SHOP NOW

When I tell you that these cleansing bands changed my beauty routine, I’m not exaggerating. It’s such a simple idea – slide some microfibre material over the wrist to stop water from running down your arms (and getting all over the basin, your clothes, your jewellery) and yet it has made the experience of doing my skincare so much more enjoyable. Bonus? The bands do double duty as a makeup remover. I like to use them in conjunction with a micellar water to wipe away my makeup for a first cleanse, then slide them onto my wrists for my second cleanse. I’ll never be without them again.

Ultra Violette Dream Screen SPF50 Tinted Veil, $55 SHOP NOW

Okay – admittedly, I’m somewhat biased when it comes to this one, as I was using the formula for a full 18 months before it finally launched last month (work perks!). But not to include it in this list would just be downright dishonest, as it’s hands down the best tinted base I’ve ever used. It’s my go-to for a simple, everyday face, due to its glowing finish and added SPF50 protection. It has just enough coverage to softly veil my breakout-prone skin, while still looking natural and fresh.

Clarins Total Eye Lift, $100 SHOP NOW

This is one impressive eye serum. It’s light in texture, but it really packs a visible punch. I use it most mornings to wake up my sleepy peepers, as the guarana in the formula works like a shot of coffee for the undereye region. I notice that my whole eye area looks much more lifted and awake, but the formula is gentle enough that it doesn’t irritate the delicate skin.


I was pleasantly surprised by how often I reached for this scent this year. It’s an aromatic, woody scent but it somehow manages to transcend its rich roots to feel fresh and sophisticated on my skin. That’s likely thanks to the juniper berry, cypress and cedar in the blend, which is cushioned by a warm, inviting mix of vetiver, vanilla and musk. But the way you can really tell whether it’s a cool scent? I’m never short on compliments and questions when I wear it.

HoliFrog Galilee Antioxidant Dewy Drop Serum, $74 SHOP NOW

This new brand had me at ‘Hailey Bieber is a fan’. But while I may have come for the It girl endorsement, I stayed for this deliciously hydrating serum. It contains a host of antioxidants, vitamins and botantical extracts, and it’s such a pleasure to apply. I feel like I’m giving my skin a big drink when I use it, which is now on the daily. It’s also nice and light, which works for my oily complexion (and most other skin types, too).


A cordless hair straightener that’s actually portable – ghd finally did it! While travel-sized straighteners have been around for some time, finding one that actually can be popped into your handbag, and/or has enough battery power to actually be used on the go, has been somewhat more difficult. Until earlier this year that is, when ghd launched this lightweight, handheld straightener that now has a permanent home in my car (and occasionally stays hidden in my handbag for easy bathroom touch-ups).

Kosas Air Brow Fluff & Hold Treatment Gel, $31 SHOP NOW

This brow gel understands the assignment. It’s truly one of the best I’ve used, because it actually dispenses a subtle tint to the brow hair without leaving your skin all stained and messy. In saying that, it doesn’t leave your brows looking clumpy or feeling stiff either, which is important since brow gel is meant to be the low-key shortcut to defined arches, right? My brows look fluffy yet neat and natural, and it takes all of 2 seconds per brow to apply. I’m yet to find someone who disagrees.