Let’s take a look back and celebrate the very best 2021 makeup releases that made their way into our collections! From Pat McGrath and Natasha Denona to Covergirl and Jason Wu’s affordable new line — it was one truly fantastic year in beauty.
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Hello there, beautiful! How are you holding up? As wild as everything continues to be – I hope your holiday season is going well and all of your loved ones are staying healthy.
It has been quite the year and as we approach 2022, I want to take one final look in the rearview mirror while celebrating the best 2021 makeup releases. Existing Dreaminlace readers will know this is an annual tradition around these parts and one I normally publish following New Year’s Day. This year? I wanted to publish my “Best of the Year” products a bit earlier in the event you’re on the hunt for last minute gift ideas from Sephora or treats for yourself in the days after Christmas.
Despite the many hiccups this year brought, there’s no discounting the volume in outstanding makeup releases that came our way!
Over the weekend I had a bit of fun sitting down at my vanity and gathering up the créme de la créme of products that really pulled their weight. From concealer and foundation to mascara and lipstick, I pulled together a full face of top tier products that surged ahead of the pack in a year where there was seemingly a new makeup product (and line) releasing every day.
So join me, below, in celebrating the best 2021 makeup releases! May they continue to deliver flawless makeup looks again and again in the New Year.
Best 2021 Makeup Releases
It was Tati Westbrook (aka Glam Life Guru) that turned me onto the new Wet N Wild Impossible Primer and she’s absolutely right! It IS one of the best 2021 makeup releases. While entirely silicone-free, the primer has a soft and silky finish that smooths beautifully over the skin and minimizes the look of pores and fine lines. Its high in vitamin C formula also brightens the skin alongside Jeju Blossom extract. Oh and did I mention the price is only $6.99?
2021 was a year that put foundations largely on the back-burner as tinted moisturizers and BB Creams took center stage. And while I found several that I really like (honorable mention for this from Huda Beauty), none manage to live up to Wet n Wild’s outstanding Tinted Hydrator! Priced at a shockingly affordable $5.99, the long-wearing tinted moisturizer proves quality is available on a budget. It is formulated with hyaluronic acid and plant-based squalane to nourish the skin throughout the day while providing weightless. It is also available in a rather generous range of 12 shades.
Despite lightweight skin correctors taking over in a big way this year, we did see a handful of foundations emerge on the scene. Most notably? The Very Valentino foundation whose creamy liquid texture sets into a flawless semi-matte finish. Find a more detailed review of the foundation on here), but its strong points are a weightless feel on the skin, natural appearance, healthy shade-range and easy application.
MORE BASE ESSENTIALS
I picked up the Dior Backstage No Powder Powder in the spring alongside Dior’s newest foundation and honestly? I didn’t expect much. I figured it would set my foundation and concealer nicely but in no way anticipated what a game-changer and must-have it has become in my daily makeup routine. When I say I use this soft powder every day, I truly mean every single day. Its light, blurring finish sets everything beautifully but with an impossibly soft touch that in no way looks cake-y on the skin.
Tired eyes earned a new best friend in By Terry’s Hyaluronic Concealer this year. What sets this apart from the many alternatives out there is its inclusion of hyaluronic acid and that extra injection of moisture is definitely appreciated in the morning. The long-wearing formula has buildable, medium coverage that targets dark circles while plumping and nourishing the skin. In addition to being one of the best 2021 makeup releases, its also one that proves makeup and skincare belong together!
I couldn’t settle on just one favorite concealer — so decided to include TWO! Next up? The Teint Idole Ultra Wear concealer that’s a follow-up to Lancome’s most beloved foundation. Its full-coverage and lightweight formula layers beautifully on the complexion and can cover even the peskiest of dark spots. Like the original foundation, the concealer also has a creaseless and natural finish that lasts throughout the day. It’s also available in a healthy selection of 20 shades.
Oh goodness does the Pat McGrath highlighter turn up the watts on your cheeks! The intensity is definitely not for the faint at heart but if you’re looking for wow factor – look no further. Not for the faint at heart, the highlighter delivers super strength glow to your complexion with a satin, golden finish that’s beautiful on all skin tones.
When reflecting on the best 2021 makeup releases there was one that immediately jumped front of mind for me. Hermés’s continued their foray into luxury beauty in the spring when they released a full line of blushes and they’ve been providing my cheeks with a healthy flush of color since. The strong pigmentation means you need only the slightest of hand when applying and the blush’s long-wearing, satin finish is already a classic.
I try to avoid including limited edition products among my favorites of the year as they won’t be available forever, but I really didn’t find a bronzer that served me as well as NARS’s Sunkissed Bronzing Cream did this year. It’s the smoothest cream bronzer I’ve ever come across with application that’s so effortless it takes you by surprise. After receiving such fantastic reviews across the makeup community, I’m keeping my fingers crossed NARS keeps the bronzer around forever but for now — it is still available in one shade.
On the Eyes
I put some serious thought behind selecting a favorite eyeshadow palette from 2021 as there were several outstanding candidates. However when thinking about a palette that is most versatile, most wearable, long-wearing and an excellent value — none manage to out perform Natasha’s Retro palette. There’s a much more in depth review with swatches available for you here, but it goes without saying that Retro palette ticked all the boxes for me!
Sometimes simple is best and eye makeup doesn’t get more simple than Wander Beauty’s Double Date eyeshadows. These duos include a cream shadow that’s smooth enough for easy blending but tacky enough to have grip that lasts all day. To top it all off? A shimmery powder eyeshadow that’s beautiful worn atop the cream shadow or on its own. My only complaint? There are currently only three shades available! Hopefully more will come in the New Year.
Covergirl continued to move progressively forward in 2021 and their new fully vegan mascara is proof that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to find a quality product. In addition to lengthening my lashes to heights I didn’t know was possible, the formula is infused with Argan and Marula oils to condition and care for lashes upon application. Cheers to that!
Since Selena Gomez launched Rare Beauty last year, we’ve seen a number of really fantastic releases come our way. My favorite from 2021? The Perfect Strokes mascara that adds dramatic volume to the lashes without having to go the faux route. It also has a long-wearing formula that is hot-weather approved, does not smudge and holds a curl all day long.
While eyeliner might not be the most exciting product in your makeup collection, there’s no denying it can make a tremendous different in your everyday makeup look. NARS answered all of our prayers when they launched the Climax eyeliner earlier this year and it became an instant favorite upon first application. It has a long-wearing and waterproof formula that survives heat, humidity and long workouts at the gym. The pen’s tip also has such a nice glide to it, making for super simple application that you really can trust to stay put.
Despite being admittedly not the biggest Marvel fan, the Eternals collection from Urban Decay definitely made it onto my radar! Included were four ultra metallic glide-on eyeliners and the creaminess of these earned a special spot in my heart. Delivering a long-wearing, supremely pigmented and metallic eyeliner that applies smoothly and doesn’t drag the skin is no easy task but UD managed to get the job done.
Considering a new brow pencil emerges practically every other week, it says a lot that one that launched way back in January remains my favorite of the 2021. Available at Target, Jason Wu’s micro pencil has a soft texture that builds and defines the brows with ease. It is so fantastic that I can confidently declare it to be a much more affordable dupe Anastasia Beverly Hills’ cult favorite pencil. Easy, consistent application that lasts ALL day long. #BravoMrWu
While I do consider the YSL Velvet lipsticks to have more of a satin finish than matte — they are absolutely one of my most beloved lipsticks not just of this year but of all time. The square tube design makes for precise application and the smooth, creamy formula is surprisingly hydrating. These will definitely be a go-to throughout the dry, winter months ahead!
Considering these garnered the most compliments on the lips this year, there was no leaving Pat McGrath’s liquid lipsticks off the list of best 2021 makeup releases! The long-lasting formula is so powerful you can eat and drink your way throughout the day with your lipstick staying put in the lines. And, that, my friends, is a makeup miracle.
Thank you for reading! I hope you and all of your loved ones have a safe and joyful holiday season.
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