I Tried Sephora’s Buzziest April Launches—Here Are the Best

From byrdie

The first of every month brings about a slew of new beauty products, each launch fancier and more exciting than the last. The thing is, though, they’re not all the miracle potions and fountain-of-youth elixirs they promise to be. Wading through a pool of new products can be intimidating and sometimes disappointing. So I decided to try some of Sephora’s buzziest new April launches and report back on what’s worth it and what, sadly, is not.

My original thought was to rank my favorites from best to worst, but as I wrote, I realized all my chosen formulas were uniquely wonderful in their own right. So sue me—they rule. I swatched and applied them all and took selfies to prove it.

Below, find the products that are worth spending your hard-earned cash on because, well, you love beauty and so do I.

The Shimmering Body Oil

Fenty’s limited-edition shimmering body oil is back—with a new cult-favorite shade to boot. I audibly gasped when I saw it, and I promise I’m not being hyperbolic. That’s the reaction these products elicit every single time. The formula is meant to veil your skin in a high-shine finish (think one step up from dewy, but not quite sparkly), and it does just that. It incorporates light-diffusing micro-pearls with a sheer tint (in the case of Trophy Wife, a hyper-metallic gold) to coat your body in a glow. Usually, I shy away from yellow golds, my skin tone is more neutral than it is warm, but this one just works. It’s extra in all the dreamiest ways and makes me feel closer to Rihanna with each pump. The best part? It’s super easy to apply and doesn’t get messy in the slightest. I like to use Fenty’s Body Kabuki Brush ($34), to buff it on to my chest, collarbone, and shoulders until they’re glistening, and add a bit to my arms and legs when my outfit allows. You can apply a subtle amount, a little goes a long way, or build it up to a really gorgeous, personalized shine.

The “Glass Skin” Highlighter

To be quite honest, any product deemed worthy by Katie Jane Hughes is a winner in my book. So, when I saw the celebrity makeup artist using Kevyn Aucoin’s Glass Glow Face Liquid Highlighter ($32) on her Instagram, I knew I had to get my hands on a tube. Needless to say, it’s everything I hoped it’d be. I used the Crystal Clear shade, a sheer, slightly holographic face gloss that created this unbelievable glow. I applied a bit to my cheekbones as a primer ahead of my foundation and tapped on a few more drops post-application (to my cheekbones, brow bone, and Cupid’s bow).

My skin has never looked so well-hydrated, glassy, and radiant—but in an entirely natural-looking way. The gel formula incorporates passion fruit and marula oils, both rich in omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9, to promote hydration, reduce redness, and add an otherworldly dew factor. It’s one of those “skincare as makeup”-type products for that reason, it nourishes as it highlights. I’m still swooning as I think about it. As an aside, the brand also launched a Glass Glow Lip Gloss ($26) in the same shade, and you better believe I’m wearing both.

The Brightening Serum

My love and devotion to a vitamin C-heavy skincare routine is real, and Glow Recipe’s newest launch is a formula I’ve happily added to my weekly rotation. In the tiny, pineapple-shaped bottle lives a potent, lightweight vitamin C and AHA serum concentrated with pineapple juice, hyaluronic acid, and chamomile to brighten and retexturize your skin as it moisturizes and soothes. It smells like a tropical dream (which is highly important to me), feels super light and refreshing on your skin, and absorbs really quickly—leaving behind glossy, even skin. I like to alternate the Pineapple-C Brightening Serum ($49) with Skinceuticals’ CE Ferulic ($166) to offer a highly effective dose of antioxidants to my skin, a one-two punch of vitamin C if you will. It keeps everything healthy, bright, and, dare I say, pretty flawless.

The March Launches:

The Matte Lipstick

I love a good matte, and Huda Beauty’s Power Bullet Matte Lipstick ($25) has quickly become one of my favorites. The formula is so pigmented—and I’m not just saying that. It’s brimming with an intense color payoff, so much so you only really need one swipe. I apply it straight from the bullet to keep things precise (but it also looks great pressed on with your finger for a stain-y effect) and couldn’t believe the silky-smooth formula. It’s really comfortable and not at all drying, the classic downfall of a matte lipstick, and it smooths your lips upon application. I like to wear it with no much else, just a bit of mascara and brow gel, for a striking but totally foolproof makeup look.

The Curl Resetting Mist

I go pretty long without washing my hair (it’s curly and damage-prone so I try to keep it moisturized and shampoo once or twice a week), but sometimes I need a little extra oomph to get through the week. Because, while my hair is quite curly, it’s also really thin—needless to say, things get dicey a few days in. Enter: Playa’s New Day Mist 3-in-1 Styler Refresh ($24). It works to reset my curls without water or hot tools, which is basically my hair’s saving grace. The formula is made with neroli and aloe waters to hydrate and restore your hair’s pH balance, as well as sugar cane (a humectant that retains and preserves moisture). So, pretty much, it’s one part hydrator, another hairspray, and a bit of fragrance to boot. It’s the ultimate reboot for your unwashed hair—all you do is spray it all over, scrunch, and, for me, it’s that easy. I use it on second, third, and even fourth-day hair. it’s been such an asset in my morning routine—I’m sold.

The Multi-Purpose Highlighter

There’s no denying the blissful frenzy that comes along with every new Fenty Beauty launch. You can feel it in the air each time a package comes across our desks. So when Rihanna sent over this new shade of her beloved Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter ($34)—it’s a baby pink shimmer called Wattabrat—I couldn’t wait to break open the packaging and swirl my fingers in the formula. And, yes, I am pretending Rihanna personally mailed it to me. Just go with it.

The cream-powder hybrid is the same, as it instantly melts into your skin and blends with almost zero effort. The shimmer looks practically 3D. First, I brushed it on the tops of my cheekbones, creating an otherworldly glow that was both radiant and subtle at the same time. For more, I applied it onto my eyelids, patting on the formula with a flat brush to make it even more opaque and sparkly. It was everything I craved and more—pink, creamy, easy to apply, and absolutely lit. You can apply it anywhere the light hits, making it a truly multi-purpose delight.

The Reformulated Lipstick

Genuinely, this might be my new favorite lipstick. I’ve been more of a nudes and clear glosses girl for the last few years—favoring hydrating balms and shine over mattes and reds. But this formula is pretty near perfect. Touted as a “comfortable matte,” Milk’s new lip colors are packed with pigment and super hydrating ingredients to make certain it’s both long-lasting and non-drying. I know that doesn’t sound revolutionary, but actually executing both those traits in a lipstick that looks and feels good is a tall order. Each lipstick includes shea butter as well as coconut and grapeseed oils to nourish and moisturize, plus bamboo-derived blurring powder to deliver a smooth, soft-focus effect. And the colors? Guys, they’re gorgeous. My favorite, Name Drop, is a bright, orangey-red that applied like a dream and brightened up my entire face (and disposition) for an entire day. I applied it straight from the bullet for a perfectly precise application and then wore it again the next day.

The Roll-On Highlighting Balm

At first glance, I thought this whole thing was a gimmick. The roller-on applicator looks exactly like a paint roller, in a whimsical but questionably effective tool. Turns out, it works really well. The highlighter itself, an ultra-reflective balm with pink pearlescent pigments and ruby powder, is a beautiful formula. It feels light and easy to blend, never sticky or cumbersome like a lot of others with the same texture. It glows on contact and doesn’t dry down, giving off this really beautiful golden shine. The best part? It’s blurring like a primer, smoothing every last lingering fine line around my eyes as I apply it to the tops of my cheekbones and brow bone. I kept layering it on and found myself blinded by the final product. It’s a perfect accessory to a juicy, pink lip and nothing else.

The Plumping Moisturizer

I’ve been a devotee of Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist ($48) for years—using it as a makeup setting spray, refreshing spritz during a 3 p.m. slump, and even using it dampen my Beautyblender before applying foundation. It’s one of those products that you’ll use forever no matter the occasion. Cut to when celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic revealed the brand’s newest glow-giving formula at his master class with Kim Kardashian West. It’s a product that serves up the same shimmer-free, naturally dewy skin, only this time it’s a rich, emollient cream rather than a mist. I had to try it for myself.

According to the brand, there’s Japanese purple rice, hyaluronic acid, and natural botanical abstracts (the same ones as the mist) to nourish, replenish ceramides, stimulate collagen production, and very literally plump up your skin. Once I tried it, I knew it was a keeper. All you need is a small scoop for all the dew-inducing, plumping properties to take over. It’s perfect for a pre-makeup facial massage (decadent right?) or can be used daily as your regular moisturizer. Now, with both my mist and cream in tow, I will never stop glowing. Seriously.

The January Launches:

The Lipstick

First of all, Naked Cherry is a moniker I can get behind. It sounds sultry, cool, and maybe a little nostalgic. Turns out, the lipsticks are just as good as the name led me to believe. There are three shades—Juicy (light peach with copper shimmer), Devilish (a metallic berry pink), and Cherry (a deep berry wine). First, I went with Juicy because I loved how it glistened in the sunlight, allowing the shimmer to keep it all looking fresh and glossy but not too sparkly. Then, I dabbed on a bit of Devilish to add a little pink and fell in love. Together, the two shades created an incredible, full-bodied color and left my lips plumped and hydrated. It’s all in the formula, Urban Decay’s signature Vice offering, which houses avocado oil, jojoba seed oil, shea butter, and lactic acid. The ingredients are as good for your lips as the shades are for your look.

The Limited-Edition Set

I’ve written about the components of this set before—the Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer, the watermelon sleep mask with a 5000-person waiting list, and jelly sheet mask—because every Glow Recipe skincare product I’ve tried is lightweight, fresh, hydrating, and effective. According to Glow Recipe, “watermelon rind and flesh [are] traditionally used in Korea to soothe irritated and inflamed skin. It’s full of skin-restoring vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids.” Plus, now, the brand has launched the entire set packed inside the most adorable blush-colored bag, which is proof of my aforementioned point that it just gets it.

The moisturizer offers up a formula that’s 90% derived from watermelon for all those wonderful antioxidant-rich benefits, as well as optimal potency and efficacy. It drenches your skin in moisture and leaves it feeling bouncy and plump throughout the day—similar to the sleep mask, which does exactly that, only while you sleep. I applied it right before bed and woke up to baby-soft, impossibly bright skin. Other star ingredients come in the form of seaweed, pumpkin, cabbage, pomegranate, banana, licorice, peony, and sweet potato extracts. Then, I like to finish off my spa experience with the sheet mask, though it’s not really a sheet at all. The “sheet” itself is a cotton-free blend of watermelon extract and natto gum, a decision the founders made when they realized it helped the ingredients better penetrate your skin. It leaves you de-puffed, refreshed, and noticeably dewy. I like to rub the excess serum from the package into my skin, along with my neck, chest, and hands. Below, find how good my skin looked post-products.

The Palette

I’m not usually a fan of palettes. I think they look beautiful and want to love them, but I so rarely wear eye shadow that they barely get any use. That, and I don’t exactly know how to expertly apply it. So when I saw this gorgeous collection of 18 highly pigmented shades, including soft berry, dusty copper, rosy pink, and golden taupe, I had our managing editor, Lindsey, brush a combination of three shades across my lids. The texture is unmatched—velvety, easily blendable, and formulated aloe vera and coconut oil for a butter-like application. Then there are the shades. My favorites are drenched in shimmer, but there are so many warm and cool-tone options for about a million combinations.

On me, we used Lace as a base (a soft lilac) and added Daydream on top for some dreamy dimension and shine. Then, along my outer crease, Lindsey added a touch of Tease (a slightly darker purple) for definition. I’m in love, and I resign to re-create this look in different shades until I use them all up.

The Lip Liner

While this product isn’t new (I’ve been toting it around in my bag with me for years), it is new to Sephora as of January 2019, and that certainly causes a celebration.

The liner’s waterproof, velvety texture and oil-wax formula ensures that your lip color lasts all day without feathering. My favorite shade, Pillow Talk, mimics and enhances the natural hue of my lips, making it so I don’t need to apply anything on top. I have less-than-defined lips, which is an issue when it comes to precision, and the pencil took care of all that. It glides on smoothly (but not so smoothly that it’s difficult to control). After applying, my lips looked instantly bigger, softer, and decidedly pillowy. Thank you, Charlotte.

The Two-in-One Product

I’d never been really big into “holiday” makeup looks. The cliché of it all kind of turned me off. That being said, I have entirely changed my thought process with the advent of otherworldly, shimmery, alienesque collections like that of Fenty Beauty. The products are cool, not cheesy, and they offer up something different than red lipstick and gold glitter.

I started out with the Metallic Eye + Lip Crayon in Parka Princess (discontinued), expecting only to use it on my eyelids. It imparted the most beautiful, glowy, slightly sheer rose-gold finish that looked metallic and cool against my pale skin tone. Then, I loved it so much I got a bit carried away and put in on my lips. I thought it’d be a fresh take on the monochromatic look to do it up in festive sheens. Halfway through lining my lips, I was really excited. Maybe I am into holiday makeup, after all, I thought to myself. To add more glitz, I lined the inner corners of my eyes with the Metallic Eye + Lip Crayon in Slush Fund (discontinued), a metallic blue-gray that made my eyes look brighter and more intense. Then, because I was having so much fun, I also lined my Cupid’s bow with the same pencil.

The Shimmer Veil

CoverFx’s Shimmer Veil offerings are so pretty. Previously, they came in a bunch of light, cool-toned, ethereal shades. However, for fall, the brand really stepped it up a notch with deep reds, copper, and bronze options. My favorite, though, is Mercury, a gun-metal hue that practically melts into your skin, providing glossy, shimmery, light-catching illumination wherever you see fit. I applied it to my lids, cheeks, and Cupid’s bow; tapped to blend; and was out the door in minutes. It’s all courtesy of the weightless cream texture. See it swatched in the sunlight below.

The Chemical Exfoliator

“I’ve been battling some lingering acne scars and discoloration after several weeks of travel, and they’ve virtually disappeared thanks to the Exfoliating Acid Potion, a ‘magic’ blend of AHA and BHA acids. I also love that it’s gentle enough that I don’t feel any stinging or tingling sensation when I slather it all over my face at night. Have I mentioned my blackheads are now nonexistent, too? This shit works,” our wellness editor, Victoria, gushed to me when she first tried this product, so I had to try it. Turns out, it’s as good as she said it was. The five-acid complex features glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid (all my favorites) to help encourage natural cellular turnover and unclog pores. Then, vitamin B3 and adaptogenic reishi and tocotrienols boost your skin’s hydration. After one use, my blackheads were gone (yes, gone), and my face felt soothed and toned.

The Scent

This magnificent scent was recommended to me by Faith, our trusty editorial director, and I’m never going back. I’ve been vacillating between scents for a few months now, never sure if I could commit to just one. Well, folks, this is it. Its notes are airy jasmine petals (I know it sounds crazy, but it literally smells airy), orchid, musk, and white cedarwood. It’s warm and sensual but also fresh and floral in all the best ways. It makes me feel sexy and confident when I spray it on (I did so in the image below, right before speaking on my first-ever panel). So basically, it makes me feel like Wonder Woman wrapped in a cashmere blanket surrounded by flowers in a wood cabin. It’s that good, people.

Next up,From Sephora to Ulta: The Best Fourth of July Sales to Shop This Weekend

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