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 Vox.com, 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.
There’s something really compelling about a recommendation from a friend who’s obsessed with a beauty product. It’s why so many shoppers, in this age of influencers who are paid to endorse things, head to places like Makeup Alley and Reddit to find authentic reviews from real people. And that’s because they don’t have any incentive to do so except for pure, unbridled enthusiasm.
Racked’s Just One Thing series exists to honor this tradition of word-of-mouth raving. It’s where our editors and freelance contributors from all different backgrounds have a platform to gush about the things they genuinely love and have purchased. This year, a bunch of really cool beauty recommendations resonated with our readers and staff alike. Some are brand-new launches, some are tried-and-true, but all of them are fantastic. Here, we present the 14 buzziest products of the past year.
Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara ($28): “I hate beauty hyperbole. Basically nothing is actually a miracle product, but I do believe that Kevyn Aucoin’s Volume Mascara really will change your life.” —Britt Aboutaleb
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22): “...I’ll never stop repurchasing it, because it’s the only eyeliner I have ever tried — ever — that doesn’t migrate onto my upper lids by lunchtime.” —Elana Fishman
Wunderbrow Brow Gel ($20.90): “I’ve tried a lot of different brow fillers, but the one that I like the most is Wunderbrow Brow Gel. It’s a UK brand that up until recently you could only find on Amazon; my mom, who also has sparse brows, is the one who turned me on to it... honestly, the best part about it is it will seriously last for days. I go to sleep with it on (gross, I know) and wake up with eyebrows!” —Tiffany Yannetta
Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer ($28): “Right before I felt the striped walls [at Sephora] begin to cave in on me, I found the Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer in a bevy of brown shades. (Truth be told, any shelf lined with more than one is a bevy in my eyes.) How the hell had I not heard of this? Where were the #ads? The #inpartnershipwiths? The #spons? Why is no one talking about this foundation?” —Jascmeen Bush
Cosrx Pimple Patches ($5): “[Acne] is probably the only thing my 13-year-old son and I have in common at this particular moment in time. On pretty much everything else, from how much he should be on his phone to how cool and not-embarrassing I am, we are in firm disagreement. But our faces are both sort of a mess, and in this shared misery, we bond. And we fight over my stash of pimple patches from Cosrx, which I keep in a little box under my vanity.” —Cheryl Wischhover
Aesop B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel ($120): “This gel is like Emergen-C for your face. It’s packed with vitamins and mysterious antioxidant superpowers that will protect you from a day on Planet Earth, the Place We’re Ruining With Cars and Cow Farts... Don’t believe in magic? This gluey goo is also a ridiculously effective primer.” —Alex Beggs
Finishing Touch Flawless Shaver ($18.69): “This little gadget, which is obviously rose gold-colored like all proper lady-marketed beauty tools, looks like either an elongated lipstick tube or a shortened vibrator, depending on where your sensibilities are... It zips right over your skin with a soft buzzing sound without any pulling or pain, and it does the job in less than a minute. After that, I’m left with perfectly smooth skin that lasts for several days before I need to use it again.” —Cheryl Wischhover
Shangpree Gold Black Pearl Hydrogel Eye Mask ($60): “The thing I love most about these sparkly little black patches — besides that they’re just kinda fun-looking — is that they immediately reduce the undereye discoloration that makes me look tired even when I’m not.” —Laura Gurfein
Alpha Skin Care Enhanced 12% Glycolic AHA Renewal Cream ($16.14): “Beautypedia praises its ability to ‘help reduce the appearance of fine lines’ and lists its cons as ‘none’... After three months of use, my smile lines look smoother. My sun spots are fading. And tinted moisturizer evenly glides into place, like I applied it with a blending sponge instead of my fingers and some toilet paper. All without noticeable patchiness or flaking. —Lena Singer
Bath and Body
Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath and Shower Oil ($73): “It’s a perfectly balanced combination of approximately one thousand essential oils. I tried to recreate it with oils once and ended up with a bath that smelled like expired mud... It will also knock you out. When I’m lying there in my cracked porcelain tub listening to ‘Planet Money’ and inspecting my belly button, I can feel my heartbeat slowing down.” —Alex Beggs
Davines Oi Body Wash ($25): “I can’t truly put into words how good this smells, which I know is problematic for a story like this. But let me tell you: It smells so good. It smells like you just did yoga and the instructor came around to rub essential oil on your temples. It smells like a hot guy who works as a paddle board instructor.” —Tiffany Yannetta
Harper + Ari Exfoliating Sugar Cubes ($22): “On aesthetics alone they’re good: The colorful cubes come in a clear glass jar with a simple black-and-white label, cute enough to double as bathroom decor when not in use. But surely the best part is that they really work, too.” —Tanisha Pina
Shhhowercap Noir Shower Cap ($43): “I love it because it does what it says it’s going to do: It’s completely water-resistant so that when I step out of the shower I’m not making puddles on the floor, and it does a good — no, great — job of protecting my hair. It doesn't yank at my scalp or forehead when I take it off, and it doesn’t leave my hair sweaty or damp.” —Tanisha Pina
Hairstory New Wash ($40): “...the lack of suds turned out to be one of New Wash’s greatest assets: Instead of feeling a big mass of bubbles that gives the illusion of cleaning, I was focused on massaging the product into my scalp, making sure I covered every strand, and then being pleasantly surprised that I could run my fingers through my hair without difficulty despite no traditional conditioner.” —Alana Massey
Racked occasionally accepts products for research and reviewing purposes. For more information, see our ethics policy here.