Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Essential Fall Beauty Shopping Guide

New, 1 comment

The future of beauty is here.

Racked has affiliate partnerships, which do not influence editorial content, though we may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. We also occasionally accept products for research and reviewing purposes. See our ethics policy here.

Photo: Lisa Shin

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

It’s officially fall. You’ve likely bought a new sweater and a cool pair of boots already. Now it’s time to take a good hard look at your bathroom vanity.

This season, there are some really inventive formulas and products that just might make you want to consider a beauty overhaul. Get ready to shop the coolest newfangled hair styling sprays, mascaras, lipsticks, and face masks. We’ve tested tons of them from a variety of new categories that you’ll see in stores. Here are the best.

Hair Sprays That Aren’t Hairspray

Photo: Lisa Shin

Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast ($29): There are a lot of volumizing sprays out there, but none quite like this one from the company founded by MIT scientists (and partially owned by Jennifer Aniston). After you give the can a shake, it gives you a burst of dry spray that doesn’t cause a bit of stickiness or stiffness, and has the ability to give you hair the size of Texas — or just some volume at the crown — that actually lasts.

Ouai Wave Spray ($26): Kardashian-Jenner fave celeb hair stylist Jen Atkin launched this line to almost immediate — and well-deserved — acclaim. The spray is a particular standout on a crowded beach of wave and texture products because it’s not sticky or crunchy, and it smells better than anything on the market right now.

Davines Your Hair Assistant Definition ($34): This multitasker adds a bit of texture while being less aggressive than a typical beach wave spray. It also tames flyaways and protects hair from humidity. You can use it on dry hair alone or right before styling with heat tools.

IGK Down & Out Dirty Spray ($29): Want day-three hair without the day-three grease and smell? This texture spray provides a bit of grit, but also has coconut oil to add shininess so it’s not a chunky mess. It’s also great for doing messy braids or other styles that get too slippery if your hair is squeaky clean.

R and Co Grid Structural Hold Setting Spray ($29): This is basically hairspray that you apply while your hair is still damp. It provides moisture to combat frizz and heat protection, and it also helps to hold your style all day without terrible regular hairspray side effects like stiffness and stickiness.

Magic Mascara

Photo: Lisa Shin

MAC Instacurl Lash ($23): This lobster claw-shaped mascara may be a little gimmicky at first glance, but it works. Upon turning the handle, the brush itself will go from straight to curved, allowing you to swipe every single lash — even the pesky corner ones.

Rimmel WonderLash Volume Colourist Mascara ($8.99): This is not your average drugstore mascara — it provides great coverage without being too gloppy. But it has a secret: As the formula sits on your lashes all day, it actually stains them over the course of two weeks so that they look darker, even after you wash the product off.

Lancôme Grandiose Extreme ($32): Don’t be afraid of the kinky brush shape. As the name suggests, everything about this brush and formula is meant to give you big, fat Kardasho-lashes without the extensions. It performs, and is definitely not for the person looking for something subtle.

Lash Star Beauty Full Control Lash Sculpting Mascara ($35): This mascara houses two brushes: a skinny one to allow you to get product right at the base of the lashes (a makeup artist-fave technique known as "tightlining") and for precision application, and a silicone brush to add oomph.

Hourglass Curator Lash Instrument ($75), Curator Realist Defining Mascara Formula ($36), and Curator Ascent Extended Wear Lash Primer ($36): It’s hard to innovate with mascara, but Hourglass has done it. This tool, which is reusable and requires you to buy mascara separately, looks like a finely ridged screw. When you dip it into the product, it allows you to get much closer to the lash line and apply your mascara more evenly than a traditional bristle brush, without a single clump or smudge. (While the company says you should only use it with its primer and mascara, it works just fine with non-Hourglass mascara formulas.)

Multitasking Masking

Photo: Lisa Shin

Karuna Melting Boost Collection ($12-$18): These dissolvable dots are meant to be worn under a sheet mask and on top of problem areas that need an extra boost of active ingredients. They come in different formulas for dark spots, brightening, and acne.

Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask ($62): This orange marmalade-esque mask feels as yummy as it smells. It features smashed-up oranges, lemons, and clementines, which contain fruit acids to exfoliate and brighten skin.

Human Kind Apothecary DIY Mask ($18) and DIY Hydrosol ($15): Choose from a variety of different powdered masks and mix the powder with a choice of different liquid "hydrosols" to make a paste. Apply, dry, and wash off. (The company also sells an apothecary bowl for $25 if you really want to take it to the next level.)

Origins GinZing Peel-Off Mask ($26): This mask claims to clean out pores and get rid of skin dullness, which is great, but it’s also really fun to use. It is a metallic copper color when it dries and it peels off in one big satisfying sheet.

Chaleur Self-Heating FacialTreatment Mask ($31 for a 4-pack): Once you add water to the pouch the cloth mask comes in, it puffs up, becomes pleasantly warm, and emits a weirdly relaxing sizzling sound. It’s meant to be placed on top of a layer of serum, which it supposedly helps absorb better. But the mask by itself — which contains charcoal, essential oils, and sea salt, and sort of looks like a puffer jacket on your face — is a unique experience all on its own.

Not Just Lipsticks

Photo: Lisa Shin

L’Oréal Colour Riche La Palette Lip ($17): This super-affordable option lets you experiment like a pro makeup artist with multiple color choices, so you can mix your own custom shade or try out an ombré lip.

NARS Velvet Lip Glide ($26): This is neither a lip gloss nor a matte liquid lipstick, but rather a hybrid of the very best qualities of both. It’s highly pigmented, but has an oil-based liquid formula that doesn’t dry out your lips.

ByTerry Rouge-Expert Click Stick ($32): This teardrop-shaped lipstick allows you to get a precise application without using a lip liner. Bonus: The click-y sound it makes when you advance the color is very satisfying.

Bite Beauty Multistick ($24): If you’re normally skeptical of multi-use products that just feel like you’re smearing lipstick all over your face, this one should change your mind. It comes in 18 shades and can be worn on your eyes, cheeks, and lips, and has a smooth, non-tacky finish.

M.A.C Liptensity Lipstick ($21): M.A.C partnered with a tetrachromat — someone who can see 100 million colors versus the one million regular people can see — to come up with a hyper-pigmented collection that’s flattering on almost everyone. The formula is a rich gel, and you get full color payoff after one swipe.