Makeup artist Danessa Myricks uses her products on a model in our studio.
Screenshot: The Glow Up

This time last year, The Glow Up was but a babe, just learning to strut these beauty and fashion journalism streets in our brand new heels. One awards season, two fashion months, countless beauty and fashion drops, collabs, controversies and awards later, we’ve had ample time to consider our favorite moments, products, and influencers of 2018.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled several lists of our personal favorite black-owned beauty and hair brands, fashion lines, red carpet moments, influencers, and Glow Up goddesses of the year, which we’ll be running for the remainder of the week, as we prepare for the last two holidays before ushering in some new energy in 2019. To start? Some of our favorite beauty products, innovations and lines of 2018. (Note: These are not necessarily products or lines that originated in 2018—just our favorites of the year!)

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Beauty

Best Foundation

No shade (or 40), but for us, it’s not Fenty. While this brand may not have 40 shades (yet), Hue Noir’s 25-shade range definitely keeps the darker end of the spectrum covered—from “Cashew” to “Carob.” Their lightweight, complexion-enhancing, crease-resistant, powder matte finish lasts all day long, controlling oil without transferring or killing your glow (and no glass bottles to worry about breaking or sacrificing product to).

Best Concealer

If you’ve got dark circles, you want a concealer that’s going to last all day without drying or creasing...and work great on the go, if necessary. Danessa Myrick’s Vision Cream Cover Perfecting & Sculpting Wand takes the ease and fluidity made famous by YSL cult favorite Touche Eclat, and makes it available in a variety of shades made for us.

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Best Blush

Who says black girls don’t blush? Ayele & Co. (formerly Bahi Cosmetics) offers highly pigmented shades that give even the deepest skin tones a healthy flush of color.

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Best Lipstick

This was a difficult one, because Fenty Beauty won our hearts this year with their indelible “Uncensored” Stunna Lip Paint (a perfect red), but alas, the rest of the shades are still pretty limited in scope (we’re waiting for a strong fuchsia—and yes, we know about Mattemoiselle). On the other hand, Pat McGrath’s highly pigmented and long-lasting yet emollient shades bring us back again and again for every finish. Look no further than her perfect red, the Mattetrance “Elson.”

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Lip Gloss

With so many glosses on the market now, this was a particularly hard category to choose, but we had to give it to The Lip Bar, which has become a handbag staple, and has recently gone big time with their super-wearable, super-affordable array of lip shades, now also available at Target.

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Best Eyeshadows

Pat McGrath, we wish we could quit you! But “Mother’s” pigments are a serious (and seriously expensive) habit we just can’t quit, and her palettes are curated to perfection. And who doesn’t want a gilded lid? That said, we do love a bargain—which is why the ever affordable Juvia’s Place is our very, very close runner-up for the title.

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Best Cosmetics Line

Betcha thought we were going to say Pat McGrath again, but from foundations, to glitter, to lashes, to brushes, Danessa Myricks Beauty has our hearts for making professional-grade products available to makeup lovers of all skin tones. Her textures are incredible and her pigments ring true, making this our runaway favorite for full-service beauty.

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Best Skincare

Everyone knows that great makeup needs a great canvas, and while Ayele & Co. has a pretty stellar makeup line (including lashes!), their comprehensive line of skincare is where the transformation begins. Oils, serums, creams, toners, sunscreens...you name the skin type, and they’ve got the cruelty-free, acid-free, affordable solution.

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Best Body Line

Want skin that feels like butter? We fell hard for a Skin Buttr sampler set that we copped ($45)—so much so that we’re still deciding on our favorites. Intended to simplify the beauty routine, this line of shea-based body butters and scrubs comprise a hydrating step-by-step system that gave our skin an all-natural glow up.

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Nails

The black-owned nail polish industry continues to expand, which is exciting for those of us who love an impeccable set of talons. From celebrity stalwart Bernadette Thompson to on-trend Pear Nova, (both of whom deserve shoutouts), black-owned beauty is literally at your fingertips. But original vegan-friendly and 7-free brand Ginger & Liz ultimately got our vote this year for their gorgeous shade range and conscientious ethos.

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Best Online Shopping Experience

In the search to find the online destination most likely to give Sephora a run for their money amongst black girls, the market is still relatively narrow (but hey, there’s only one Sephora). But as much as we love new beauty emporium Marjani Beauty, we ultimately had to credit three-year-old Vivrant Beauty for being a one-stop shop for brown girl beauty, body and hair—down to hair type and concern! We’ve also heard rumors that the New York-based brand is launching their own line of skincare... and we can’t wait.

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Hair

Best Co-Wash

Regardless of whether you’re natural or relaxed, a great co-wash always comes in handy, and there are plenty on the market. But one we kept returning to again and again this year was Eden Organics’ Natural Co-Wash, which leaves hair incomparably soft and silky, no matter the texture. But you needn’t stop there; their entire line is pretty phenomenal.

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Best Scalp Care

Okay, we love a protective style as much as the next person, but unless it’s a wig, you might still be in danger, girl. Girl + Hair takes care of your scalp too, making sure that those follicles you’re trying so hard to protect are really thriving underneath. And fun fact: It’s great scalp care for those of us without protective styles, too.

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Best Hair Repair

Briogeo is one of those rare products that is worth every single dime you spend on it—and worth buying in a 32-ounce pump version ($115). Their Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask is meant to be used weekly, and has been lauded by Allure, Essence and now, The Glow Up for its almost miraculous hydrating and strengthening results on all textures of hair.

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Best Overall Hair Line

From root to tip, edges to split ends, we had to give it up to Mielle Organics for creating everyday luxury for everyone, at every stage of growth and texture. Our favorite? The Avocado Moisturizing Hair Milk—but the whole line is pretty stellar, and meant to work together—and you really can’t beat the price range.

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Best New Product: The Puff Cuff

It seems like such a simple thing, but us 2Cs to 4Cs know full well that getting a flourishing ponytail or puff going is a challenging task, to say the least. Enter the Puff Cuff, which took the traditional banana clip and redesigned it for our curls. The result? A styling tool that gives maximum volume with minimal stress on the hair.

The PuffCuff Hair Clamp

Best Luxury Buy

We admit that we were skeptical about the Oui razor—after all, ingrown hairs ain’t nothing to f— with (especially with a $75 price tag). But this rose-gold, single-blade razor is more than gorgeous; it’s effective, especially when paired with the brand’s body care products. Equally as good as getting a close shave without irritation? Being environmentally sound; we can kiss those triple blade disposables goodbye and unschedule those painful waxing appointments. We’re worth it.

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For the Fellas

Bevel has had the market cornered for years on black men’s grooming, but this year, a contender came for the crown, and won our vote. Scotch Porter came through with grooming solutions not just for beards, but face, body, hair and even “man meat” (yes, you heard that right). And far from just being a gimmick, this ever-expanding line of products also garnered rave reviews from the testosterone-heavy set.

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Is that all in the black-owned beauty and grooming space? Of course not, but they were our favorites of 2018. Stay tuned for more of our best picks of the year—and for much more to come in 2019!