No one could’ve expected how drastically our approach to makeup, once a widespread daily ritual, would change as a result of a pandemic. Some dropped off the makeup train, reserving it for the one-off times they’d actually see other people (albeit under masks or through a pixelated square). Others doubled down with makeup as their armor, a daily shield of normalcy to block out multiplying tragedies. Beauty brands and the makeup industry as a whole took note, evolving their own developments with the times. For Elite Daily’s 2021 Glow Beauty Awards, our editors put hundreds of 2021’s best new makeup products to the test, reviewing these products for innovation, accessibility, and efficacy. In the end, we crowned the 10 best new makeup products of 2021 across multiple categories. And these winners are certainly a reflection of that seismic shift.
Still, the fact that so many abandoned their usual makeup routines begged a pressing question: During a fraught time that forced the world to take a collective, discerning look at what’s necessary versus unnecessary, is something like makeup unnecessary or superficial at its core? After reflecting on the last year, to me, the answer is a resounding no. Rather, it’s an indication that, regardless of the frequency, wearing makeup is so intertwined with the experiences many of us know, love, and desperately missed during the pandemic. Concealing dark under-eye circles before school or work is more than a mindless routine; it’s a brief moment to yourself before the chaos of the day sets in. Testing out graphic eyeliner looks with friends before going out isn’t meaningless; it’s a bonding experience that’s often more fun than the night itself. Taking selfies when your highlighter looks bomb isn’t vanity; it’s confidence. It’s self-love. What’s more meaningful than that?
The majority of 2021’s makeup launches have hinged less on aesthetics than they have on how they make you feel. For example, Glow Beauty Awards’ best new foundation of 2021 was lauded by testers for its weightlessness and how beautifully it works with your skin. The best eyebrow makeup product wasn’t even makeup as much as a tool that helps you feel a bit more put-together. Filled with even more innovations that have rewritten what makeup looks like post-pandemic, Elite Daily’s best new makeup award winners will help you look good, but feel even better. And we hope they bring as much joy to your makeup routine as your routine brings to you.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Elite Daily's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.