The Best Products Of The Year, As Declared By Instagram


Do you know how wildly satisfying it is to run the @intothegloss Instagram account? It’s a beauty maniac’s dream; makeup, skin, and hair tips coming in hot each time that purple-y gradient square gets tapped. Truly gratification overload, to the point where I get that very special, serotonin rush whenever I see a red dot under the home button—the button that looks like a silhouette of a microscopic Muji House for a family of four. (Not like I’ve daydreamed at length about that at all!)  

A particularly generous day on the ‘gram happened last week, when I asked everyone in Stories to share their favorite beauty buy of 2018. Let’s just say the DMs went aflame. The messages turned into hundreds of product recommendations—some holy grails, some complete surprises—all too good to be buried in the crevices of Instagram DMs. So, I’m sharing the goods with you. Please find attached after a leisurely scroll: The créme de la créme of skincare, makeup, and body care, according to the fine followers of ITG Instagram (and maybe you).

The best skin-smoothers and acne fighters

By far, retinoids, chemical exfoliants, and peels were the most common write-ins. I totally get why—all of these treatments are amazing at getting rid of acne, post-acne scars, reducing the appearance of pores, and smoothing the texture of skin altogether. Some popular entries:

Differin: The OG, over-the-counter retinoid designed to specifically target zits. Gel-like, gentle, and cheap: the golden trio.

Ole Henriksen Golden Glow Retin-Alt Sleep Crème: A couple of acids
(glycolic, lactic) and bakuchiol, the new hot retinoid alternative. All whipped seamlessly into a moisturizing night cream! Good on you, Ole.

Biologique Recherche P50: Should I really go into depth as to how this toner continues to change the exfoliation game? Just read about it here.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Babyfacial: Fun fact, whenever I hear about how amazing this exfoliator is, I think of this article about living with a baby face. One person’s curse is another person’s skincare goals, it seems. As is life.

Glossier Solution: The newcomer. Effective and gentle at controlling acne, retexturizing skin, and turning up the brightness. Doesn’t look so bad on your nightstand either.

The best facial oils!

In 2018, shiny face oils came in all forms, sizes, and day-to-night uses. Use as desired to calm, soften, and moisturize skin:

The Ordinary Rose Hip Seed Oil: She thick—but in the nice, helpful way that a cozy sweater is. Smells yummy too. Dry, sensitive-skinned friends (me), you’ll probably love this.

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate: Primrose and squalane oil make for a lightweight but restorative pair.

Sunday Riley Luna Oil: An oil that’s also a treatment serum because there’s retinol in it! Apply it at night to improve the look of fine lines, redness, and pores, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen the morning after.

Leo Oil: Instagram’s Facial Oil. Dena’s mix of rosehip seed oil, blue tansy, and meadowfoam seed oil had a solid  presence in the Instagram Stories and Top Shelves of so so many.. It also deeply moisturizes and calms irritated skin. Why not give it a try? Everyone else is.

The best antioxidant-rich serums

The counterpart to the nighttime, heavy-hitter retinoid and chemical exfoliant is the daytime serum, packed with antioxidants to treat dull and problematic skin:

Mae Love The Glow Maker: It’s a vitamin C and ferulic acid serum that sold out multiple times last year. It also appears to be a way cheaper dupe of that other vitamin C and ferulic acid serum. Only one way to debunk that rumor...

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum: The vitamin C serum heard round the world (and fervently asked about in the DMs). Keep it on your list as an effective starter serum to invest in.

Skinceuticals Resveratrol B E: One of the highest concentrations of resveratrol on the market that also improves skin elasticity, firmness, and radiance. Not bad for a grape-skin serum.

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum: The list of skin-improving ingredients in this pearly serum covers all the bases: hyaluronic acid for plumping, niacinamide for pores, a blend of peptides to rev up collagen production, and a cocktail of antioxidants to calm and fortify. Think of it as a booster shot for parched or fussy skin.

The best makeup that gives the look of radiant, healthy-looking skin

In 2018, the “glowy skin” constituency seemed to multiply, likely because there were so many tinted moisturizers, concealers, and luminizing products that made it easy to hop on board. Choose your own adventure:

Tinted Moisturizers + BB/CC Creams:

Beautycounter Dew Skin
With vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, it’s a skincare product-cum-lightweight foundation.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer
The classic—helpfully available in oil-free, illuminating, and “normal skin” versions.

It Cosmetics CC Cream
Come for the heavy-duty coverage, stay for the SPF 50.

Thrive Causemetics BB Cream
Color-correcting pigments? Yes, please.


Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
The all-purpose, classic favorite.

Nars Soft Matte Concealer
The targeted, pimple-hider.

Glossier Stretch Concealer
Not too shiny, not too matte. Just perfect.

Bronzers + Highlighters:

Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter
If a primer and a highlighter had a baby…

Becca Cosmetics
The most serious highlighters, only.

Marc Beauty O!Mega Bronzer
Because matte bronzers are the best bronzers

Tom Ford Shade + Illuminate
The cream compact your famous friends love.

RMS Living Luminizer
For a natural, dewy highlight.

Glossier Haloscope
The portable, easy route to a subtle glow.

The best body moisturizers

Because no one wants dry skin.

Homemade Shea Butter Cream: Make your own organic, all-natural shea body butter! Melt a chunk of solid shea butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water and mix in your favorite essential and carrier oils (almond oil, jojoba oil, rosehip). Then whip it into a cream. Or...cop a jar from Hanahana Beauty as you work yourself up to the task.

Lush Cosmetics Sleepy Body Lotion: A lotion that’ll make you want to stick to nighttime showers for once. No CBD here! Just a blend of lavender, tonka perfume, and cocoa butter that makes for a pleasant snooze-inducer whenever necessary.

Weleda Skin Food: Body cream, face cream, highlighter, foot cream...Skin Food is just good for your skin. It’s almost too economical to exist.

Cerave Moisturizing Cream: A dermatologist’s favorite. Good for all skin types, but perfect for when you’re about to go insane from uncomfortable itching and dryness. Ceramides and hyaluronic acid rebuild even the most compromised moisture barriers, to stave off eczema and psoriasis.

Nuxe Huile Body Oil: Can be used in so many ways to repair and soften skin. And its shine? Luxurious. Its smell? Tastefully floral. Did I mention you can SPRAY it on??

Clarins Huile Tonic: In short, it’s a body oil that checks off all the boxes: absorbs without greasiness, smells indulgent, and seals in moisture until you’re ready to wash it all off in the shower.

And finally, the best body care for your pits and pubes:

Natural deodorants that drove people into an aluminum-free frenzy: Mega Babe’s Rosy Pits, Schmidt's Natural, Tom's of Maine.

Razors that make hair removal fairly brainless, if hair removal happens to be your thing: Billie, Flamingo, and Preserve.

And that’s a wrap! Did you find a corner of your Top Shelf anywhere on this list? Let me know in the comments.

—Utibe Mbagwu

Photo via ITG