If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know that the January post is always both the most fun and the most challenging one for me to write. Hi, I’m Emily, a true product-junkie, who tries everything and loves everything – loves makeup and skincare and body care, which means that when it’s time to pick my Top 5 products from the previous year, I basically have to get in bed and hide under the covers for a few days just to wrap my head around narrowing it down to ONLY five!
Every year I look for ways to narrow it down somehow or challenge myself to stick within certain given limits, because otherwise it’s just too hard – I have at least a hundred “#1 Favorite” products at any given moment! Hey, being a beauty writer is a hard job, but someone has to do it!
For reference, you can look back at our Top Staff Picks from previous years here (and you can read about how every year I swear it’s the hardest assignment I’ve ever had, and find ways to cheat and include dozens of picks concealed in my top 3 or 5): 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022. And here we are at 2023!
This year, I decided to really hold myself to the following limits when selecting my Top 5: The product had to have come out in 2023 (or come to Integrity Botanicals in 2023 after having officially launched elsewhere in 2022 at the most), AND I forced myself to choose products that none of my Integrity Botanicals teammates had already chosen, so that you, dear reader, can get as many unique picks from us as a whole as possible!
After hiding under the covers for days, and then making my office look like one of those true-crime fans’ with maps and strings and timelines all over the walls, I finally did it: I chose my Top Five Favorite products from 2023! And I think it adequately represents me, the year that was, and some of the best newness we saw.
First, I’m honored to share my colleagues’ picks! Founders Terri and Marc, Ashley S., Ashley B., and Jen are all experts, too. Between the six of us, I think we give a very well-rounded take this year on all the best things we saw come out of 2023. This year certainly had its highs and lows, but new beauty releases were frequent and amazing. Enjoy our picks, and be sure to tell us what your beauty highs of the year were in the comments and on social media. We love hearing what YOU loved!
Lives in New Jersey. Skin Type: Normal/Dry/Sensitive
1.) Free + True Nature + Nurture Pure Guava Seed Oil – The scent of this facial oil alone makes me look forward to my skincare routine every morning! It’s sweetly scented and immediately transports you to a tropical island. This oil is very nourishing and absorbs well without any greasy after-feel. I love the tinted orange color – it gives my pale skin an extra boost of color that blends right in.
2.) (M)anasi 7 Bronzelighter– I have been using this product since the day I tested it out about a year ago! So that says something that I’ve been dedicated to this one product all year long. I initially used it as a highlighter on top of my blush and lately I’ve been using it as more of a multi-tasking blush/highlighter! It does the job of both. It adds a nice touch of ‘bronzy’ color to my cheeks and bridge of my nose, and doubles as a dark nude blush. I tell our customers who really want to try this brand that if they had to try just one product, this is the one I’d recommend.
3.) Essentialist Edgy Gua Sha Tool– This is a product I can’t live without and have been using it consistently since the day I received it over a year ago. This is an essential facial tool for me every morning. It does everything – from sculpting my cheeks, jaw line, forehead, under my brow bone and the back of my neck. It’s the perfect all-in-one tool. The best part is the expertly shaped, smooth, rounded edge at the top that I use under my brow bones – it immediately lifts my eye appearance and makes me look more awake!
4.) RMS Beauty SuperNatural Radiance Serum SPF 30 – What an amazing product!! Where has this been all my life?! It’s a foundation, highlighter, hydrator and SPF all wrapped in one. No white cast, no layering foundation plus SPF. I use this as my skincare step after my face oil, in place of foundation. It gives the most gorgeous glow! I use the Medium Aura shade and it blends very nicely into my fair skin.
5.) Fitglow Cloud Body Wash – I typically use bar soap in the shower because I have tried several natural body washes and they either don’t lather enough for me, or make my skin feel clean, or I don’t love the scent. I like more fruity, sweet scents as opposed to earthy or herbal ones. This body wash lathers just right, makes my skin feel clean, while also leaving it soft and moisturized. Plus it has an incredible scent that I look forward to when taking a shower every morning. It has a very happy, refreshing scent.:)
Lives in New Jersey. Skin Type: Combination/Oily/Acne Prone
1.) Anto Yukon Soaps – There are not a lot bar soap options in the green beauty space so when I first discovered these soaps in Canada a couple years back, I was excited to try them. They last long, are nourishing and the art designed wrappers make them the perfect gifts! I also like the variety of scents they offer- there is something for everyone.
2.) Blüh Alchemy Toning Elixir – A new favorite mist that packs a powerful punch. Becky makes some of the highest quality, science-backed, results-driven skincare formulations out there. MSM, Niacinamide (B3), Snowflower and Finger Lime Caviar revive the skin, tighten pores and help enhance the absorption of vital actives. Hibiscus and Hyaluronic Acid lock in hydration. It provides the perfect fine mist and is a great prep before applying my face serums and oils. We did a recent blog post with Blüh Alchemy here that I think is worth the read.
3.) Evolve Organic Beauty Blue Velvet Ceramide Serum – I deal with rosacea from time to time and the blue tansy in this formula calms any inflammation I’m experiencing whiles ceramides strengthen the skin. This oil based serum provides the perfect amount of moisture and leaves the skin healthy and glowy.
4.) Evolve Organic Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Serum – Another Evolve winner! This is not a new product but this has been a long-term staple for the past few years or so. It’s not sticky or tacky like some other HA serums can be. It’s perfectly hydrating and makes my skin feel plump.
5.) Ursa Major Force Field SPF 30 – A daily SPF that lets your skin breathe. I like this SPF because it’s not too heavy, doesn’t leave a white cast and leaves my skin with a smooth finish – it’s not too mattifying. I also like the added bonus that this SPF protects against blue light.
Lives in Florida. Skin Type: Normal/Dry
1.) RMS Hydra Dimension Hydra Powder Blushes – 2023 was the year of the blush for me, and specifically these from RMS. A powder formula that looks like skin with its lightweight baked formula. The colors are perfection, the wear is great, these will be with me for years to come.
2.) Rituel de Fille Levitation Lash – This was an end of the year launch that completely stole my heart. We carry so many amazing mascara but at the end of the day I want something rich and black and this fits the bill perfectly without flaking.
3.) Cleo + Coco Deodorant in “Cocoa Beach” – Deodorant is something we all need, so one that doesn’t irritate my skin and smells amazing is always going to be the ultimate! I have gone through several of these since its launch in early 2023 and I don’t think I will be switching it up any time soon!
4.) Plume Nourish & Define Refillable Brow Pencil – 2023 was also the year of the simple brow! This very fine pencil in the perfect natural colors always gives my brow the perfect amount of structure while still remaining undetectable on the skin. I love its refill system and then shade Cinnamon Cashmere could not be a more perfect match.
5.) Mount Lai The Vitality Qi LED Gua Sha Device – I have been a consistent gua sha girl for a long while and this tool with all the fixin’s from Mount Lai really leveled up my routine! You get all of the gua sha benefits PLUS red light and heat. I love that it’s rechargeable, lightweight, and easy to use.
Lives in Arkansas. Skin type: Normal/Sensitive
1.) RMS Beauty SuperNatural Radiance Serum SPF 30 – What an amazing SPF product! I love that this is a serum formulation because it’s not only great to put on before makeup but it also leaves such a beautiful sheen, without being too shiny which makes layering easy. It is so pretty on its own as well.
2.) Agent Nateur hair (silk) Peptides Soft Hydrating Hair Serum – I think this has made my list before and for good reason! I will never not be obsessed with the scent of this hair serum. It also works like a dream at taming and hydrating the hair. it’s the perfect final touch for any look as well.
3.) LILFOX Succulent Pudding Supercalm Emulsion – I love that this just locks in all of my skincare and leaves my skin feeling so hydrated and refreshed in the morning. it’s especially great for me given that I have sensitive skin and get especially dry during the winter months. This product is very unique in formulation and color – I love that it is green!
4.) EvolvH SmartStart Leave-In Conditioner – This leave-in conditioner is a one-stop shop. It hydrates while protecting your hair from heat damage among many other benefits. I have somewhat thin hair so it’s great when I can find a lightweight product that doesn’t make my hair feel heavy after styling.
5.) Graydon Face Glow – If you can’t tell – I love a glowy product! This one made the list as well because it is such a great daily option – giving you the perfect amount of color. Graydon got the tint just right here and it also has such a nice, almost airy texture to it that makes it hardly noticeable on the skin.
Lives in New Jersey. Skin Type: Normal/Dry
1.) Anto Yukon Soaps – Love the beautiful artwork these soaps are wrapped in, and the scents are truly amazing. My 2 faves are Spruce Tip (formerly named Algonquin) and Rocky Mountains (formerly named Clayoquot Sound). These make the best gifts!
2.) Evolve Organic Beauty Blue Tansy Beauty Balm – This might be my new favorite “use everywhere” balm. I have been loving this for the face during transitional weather and so far it has been my go-to winter weather skin savior.
3.) LILFOX Pink Body Complex – A decadent splurge, this body serum has one of the most unique scents I have ever experienced. It changes with your body chemistry and also evolves as the day goes on.
4.) LePrunier Plum Beauty Oil – I am a fan of anything that has as few ingredients as possible. This face oil has one ingredient that does it all. I love how lightweight it feels on the skin yet still provides ample hydration, leaving you with a slight glow.
5.) Ursa Major Alpine Rich Cream – This is the first face cream I have really enjoyed since I started solely using face oils and balms. My skin gets very dehydrated in the winter and this cream has been like a warm blanket that I use as a top layer to keep the moisture locked in.
Lives in Los Angeles, California. Skin Type: Normal/Dry
1.) RMS LipLights Cream Lip Gloss – I think that often, my favorite new products are the things I didn’t even know I was wanting – the things I couldn’t have dreamed up myself. These items are often the most innovative and unique, like pretty much everything RMS has launched this year. One of my longtime favorite brands, RMS has been hitting it out of the park so consistently lately, and I’ve been delighted by everything. I thought I was done with powder blush, but then, bam!, they released the Hydra Dimension Powder Blushes, as Ashley B. mentioned above, and I was like, oh, hello, I’m most definitely NOT done with powder blushes! I adore these!
But since Ashley already told you how great the blushes are, I will highlight another of my favorite of RMS’s 2023 launches: The LipLights! Okay, we all know I love lip gloss, despite often finding it highly impractical and fleeting. So, what if it… weren’t impractical or fleeting?! What if it were nourishing and longer-lasting and just, well, perfect? Then it would be LipLights.
I am particularly smitten with the shade Rumor, which the brand describes as a “dusty mauve.” It’s well-established on this blog that I like brown-shaded things on my lips, and might never have tried something described as “dusty mauve,” but it turns out, it is one of the absolute best shades of lipgloss I’ve ever worn. It’s so versatile and sweet and sexy and natural. Who knew?! RMS did. RMS knew, and I will just continue to love them forever.
2.) Le Prunier Plumscreen SPF 31 – This groundbreaking sunscreen came out in 2022, but was new to Integrity Botanicals in 2023, so it counts!
File this one under: “Things I Knew I Wanted But Never Dared Dream Were Actually Possible,” as opposed to the RMS Liplights, which I didn’t realize I wanted but then fell in love with upon first try.
For years, I have REALLY wanted a sunscreen that went on like lotion and felt like heaven. I wanted something that didn’t leave a white cast, that wasn’t tinted for days when I didn’t want a tint, and that smelled legitimately good but not overpowering. Well, Plumscreen Checks. All. The. Boxes. ALL OF THEM. It’s effective and easy to apply. It smells great in a very chill way. It is so smooth going on, doesn’t feel thick or chunky like some sunscreens. My kids wear it daily and never complain (!!!). I wear it all the time and feel like I’m just putting on a super-high quality moisturizer, but have also applied an SPF, which is a miracle! I wear it swimming and hiking, but also under makeup for regular day and evening wear. I use it at home and on vacation and when I’m not even leaving the house (because we all should wear sunscreen all the time!) and because it’s simply that good! I wear it over an oil or on its own. I just can’t get enough. It’s really, really wonderful.
3.) Leahlani Pamplemousse Replenishing Body Oil – 2023 was the year I finally visited Hawaii for the first time. It was magical, and while I’ve long loved writing about beauty products made in Hawaii and with ingredients from the island, my appreciation for Hawiian beauty ingredients only grew from being there. I didn’t get to visit the Leahlani Skincare lab– next time!– but my appreciation for the brand is at an all-time high with my newly increased love of Hawaii, and the timing was perfect, because Leahlani released several new products this year! My favorite is the Pamplemousse Replenishing Body Oil because I LOVE the Cleansing oil in this scent, and more products with the Pamplemousse scent is definitely a huge win for me!
4.) Paume Overnight Hand Hydration Mask – Wow, did I need this. I feel like I am constantly slathering on hand cream. Apparently, California is mostly a desert, and it’s, like, dry where I live! Who knew? Just kidding! I knew! Anyone who has seen my hands knows! And especially this winter, as it’s extra dry and it’s the flu/covid/RSV triple-risk season and I’m washing my hands hourly, I really, really needed a good hand cream. This one from my go-to hand brand Paume is hands down the best.
Even if I have to wash my hands shortly after applying it– as happens when you’re blowing your nose or cooking dinner or raising children or out in the world– I still feel the benefits. And I think the real testament is that my husband, who is generally not much of a lotions-and-potions person, loves this hand cream, too. Just goes to show that it is truly for everyone.
5.) Maya Chia The Advanced Eye Response Complex Cream – Me, five years ago: I don’t really get eye cream. Do we need it? Is it a thing? Me, now, mid-40s: OMG THANK YOU I NEEDED THIS EYE CREAM!
Look, I know 12 year olds are on TikTok looking for skincare recommendations and 20-somethings are getting preventative Botox. The world’s gone mad. But then you enter your actual 40s, and you start to understand what actual skincare is and what is actually needed. I am just grateful to one of my top-all-time-fave brands, Maya Chia (I have literally never done a top 5 without mentioning them!) created this Eye Response Complex Cream at the exact moment I realized I needed an eye cream. Were they looking out for me? Yes, probably, yes. Are they looking out for you, too? Definitely, I believe it’s true.
This eye cream is a lot like it’s big sister, the Maya Chia Advanced Response Complex Regenerating Firming Face and Neck Moisture Cream, but formulated specifically for the delicate eye area. Do I sometimes slather it all over my face? Sure. Is it intended for that use? No idea. Does it work really well? Yes! I am here to tell you, it does. Put it everywhere, layer it with the Straight A Retinol Treatment, wear it under The Super Couple or The Super Blend. From what I can tell, you cannot go wrong and it cannot be topped.
I hope you love this annual top 5 tradition as much as we do. I know I may complain about it, but that’s only because there are so many wonderful options out there and it’s so hard to pick only a few! So many incredible, innovative, fun, great-smelling, effective, brilliant, miraculous beauty products are created every year! So, as much as it kind of pains me to say this, I hope that next year is even harder. I hope it gets more challenging every darn year, because it means that our beloved roster of beauty brands and their fearless, thoughtful creators are coming up with new ways to amaze and delight us with beauty innovations we will soon be unable to live without!
Here’s to 2024, everyone. May it surprise us in the best ways, may it keep our hands soft and moisturized, and may it allow us to find joy and laughter around every corner. Can’t wait to see what it brings.