It’s Allure‘s 30th anniversary, which means we’ve been slathering, swatching, and swiping in the name of beauty for more than a quarter of a century. You see, as beauty editors, it’s our job to test products at a dizzying rate. Take, for example, our annual Best of Beauty Awards: Each year, we review over tens of thousands of products before narrowing down the hopeful nominees to 300-plus winners.
Now, imagine that number (remember: somewhere in the tens of thousands) and multiply it by 30 years. What do you get? Well, we’re no mathematicians (we’re beauty editors, remember?), but it’s safe to say we’ve probably slathered, swatched, and swiped at least a million or so moisturizers, mascaras, and much, much more.
In honor of our milestone birthday, we’re doing the damn-near impossible: We’re cutting that coveted list down to — wait for it — 29 all-star products. If these products were a basketball team, they’d be the ’90s Chicago Bulls. But instead of championship rings, they’ve been decorated with Best of Beauty Awards, earned permanent spots in pros’ kits, and transformed our beauty routines.
Ahead, you’ll see picks from drugstore darlings Maybelline New York and L’Oréal Paris, as well as dermatologist favorites from SkinCeuticals and SkinMedica. Oh, and, of course, we can’t forget the revolutionaries: Beautyblender and Dyson. Now, without further adieu, meet some of our favorite MVPS (most valuable products) of the past 30 years.
The French import that launched many imitations is a pro favorite for removing waterproof makeup –no rinsing or rubbing required.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution
Acne is complicated, but this lineup simplifies things: Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria, witch hazel helps refine pores, and aloe can soothe.
Proactiv Solution Three Step Acne Treatment System
Satisfying to peel off and, if we’re being honest, to inspect. Who knew a product for blackheads could be such a guilty pleasure?
The matte finish is appreciated by T-zones everywhere, and the breakthrough complex Helioplex (launched in 2006) keeps UV filters stable and effective in direct sunshine.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen
This pioneering growth factor-powered serum is no frills. Just serious line-smoothing science.
SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex
There’s a reason this self-tanner had a nearly 40,000 person waitlist: The glycerin-packed lotion contains about an eighth of the DHA found in traditional formulas, allowing you to apply it liberally and never look orange or streaky.
Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
This potent, dermatologist-beloved vitamin C serum has become the gold standard against which all antioxidant serums are measured.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
We had never seen anything like this serum-soaked cotton, which became the blueprint for sheet masks of the future. It’s still a makeup-artist staple for making skin glow in 10 minutes flat.
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask
Before niacinamide and hyaluronic acid were buzzworthy, they quietly did their brightening, plumping, skin-perfecting thing in this classic red jar. Twenty are still sold every minute.
Olay Regenerist Micro- Sculpting Cream
The yellow lotion and rectangular bottle are skin-care icons. The ingredients inside have been updated to include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and urea for even more hydration.
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+
Powerful alpha and beta hydroxy acids plus soothing matcha tea equals a sensitive-skin-safe beauty phenomenon.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Baby Facial
Plastic, palm-size, and handle-less, this detangling hairbrush’s unique design prevents tugging, while its flexible teeth glide through gnarls.
Part hairspray, part dry shampoo, this mist became a body-building, wave-sculpting hit as soon as it launched. It also happens to smell amazing (with jasmine, bergamot, and sandalwood — in 2014 it was bottled as a perfume).
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray
$71 million and four years of research went into developing this powerful tool. It dries hair six times faster (on average) and is quieter than other blow-dryers.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
It’s something Brazilian women have known for a decade: These lipid-rich masks make hair as smooth as a salon treatment, for a fraction of the cost (under $5), in just 60 seconds.
Pantene Pro-V Intense Rescue Shots
When people say mascara is their desert-island beauty product, chances are they are referring to this lash-lifter.
L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara
Before “highlighter” existed in our beauty vernacular, there was this luminizing liquid. The gold click-pen is an illuminating legend.
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat
The year it launched, stores had to ration their bottles of this blackened-red nail polish. It’s since been renamed Rouge Noir, but our love for the inky shade is unchanged. And it’s not just us: This is a nail polish with its own Wikipedia page.
Back when foundations were often spackly, this mineral powder was the breath of fresh air our skin needed. The five-ingredient formula remains America’s number one prestige mineral base.
BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Foundation
“It’s very French to let your skin show through your [base],” makeup artist Laura Mercier has told Allure. That’s exactly what her tinted moisturizer offers, and for that we all say, merci!
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer
This cool-toned cherry lipstick broke the code for the perfect universal red lip color—it was love at first swipe.
MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
If its name doesn’t make you blush, a swirl of this peachy-pink powder on your cheeks certainly will.
Even 20 years in, 1,000 bottles were sold daily. That’s because “it makes your skin look like you’re walking around under [photographer] Michael Thompson’s lighting,” as makeup artist Troy Surratt once told Allure.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
The gateway beauty product for teens in the early aughts, it wasn’t a question of whether or not to get one, but rather which fruity flavor to buy. Lemon and cherry were best sellers.
Lancôme Juicy Tubes Original Lip Gloss
More magic wand than mascara, the supersize bristles create lashes so thick they could cast shadows. We still use it today for its air-tight wiper system that keeps the formula fresh, so it won’t start clumping over time.
A very good egg, the pink sponge was developed for seamless foundation application as TV pivoted to high-definition — and we have appreciated its streak-free results on- and off-camera ever since.
Thin and retractable, this pencil achieves hair-like strokes that make the puniest brows look believably fuller.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
Anastasia Beverly Hills
It was the candy-colored packaging that caught our attention, but it’s the all-day hydration that keeps us coming back for a new tube again and again.
Maybelline New York Baby Lips
Forty bottles of foundation shook the beauty industry when Rihanna’s inclusive shade range sparked a national conversation about representation.
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
This eau de toilette popularized unisex fragrances in the U.S. and made clean-smelling skin a category in its own right.
Read more special stories on Allure‘s 30th anniversary:
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