'I stopped by Target to buy one thing and ended up in there for three hours', or so the age-old tale goes. We've fooled ourselves one too many times thinking we'd only pick up some household essentials like bath towels and laundry detergent only to end up browsing the vast beauty aisles minutes later. Lest you need a reminder, Target is a treasure trove of affordable, emerging, and innovative brands that include a growing number of Black-owned brands we cherish, runway-inspired makeup, and customizable hair care. Plus, the addition of mini Ulta Beauty stores all but guarantees extended shopping sessions.
Luckily for you, we've put together a curated list of 2021's best and brightest beauty finds across skin-care (including a new sensitive subset), hair-care, and makeup categories that have earned the coveted ishonest Best of Beauty seal. And get this: Most products aside from two, an eczema-soothing Honest Beauty balm that costs $31 and a Kristin Ess curling iron that's totally worth the $50 price tag don't exceed $20. Yeah, we hope you love a steal as much as we do. If so, start shopping our favorites from editor-beloved brands like Black Girl Sunscreen, Mel, Pixi, and so many more below and do a little celebratory dance while you wait for your packages to arrive.
Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Matte SPF 45
White casts are so last year. Similar to Black Girl Sunscreen's Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion, the Make It Matte SPF 45 doesn't leave a white or grayish, ashy cast ever. Your skin looks the same, just protected from harmful UV rays. The mattifying gel is also infused with aloe, squalene, and shea butter for serious moisture so your skin doesn't feel like all of the moisture's been sucked out of it. Plus, editorial assistant Gabi Thorne said that, 'After layering it over a cream moisturizer and face oil, my skin still felt hydrated and had a nice glowy sheen to it.'
No7 Radiance+ Vitamin C Glow Toner
Vitamin C is a non-negotiable part of our skin-care routines, and by extrapolation, so is No7's Radiance+ Vitamin C Glow Toner. This affordable product is infused with 2 percent vitamin C to improve radiance, as well as willow bark extract and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs like citric acid) to gently sweep away dead skin cells. Aloe vera and coconut oil soothe and moisturize skin so you can rest easy knowing your skin won't feel tight or irritated post- application. Just be sure to apply sunscreen during the day, and you'll witness clearer, brighter skin over time.
Mel No Shade Sunscreen Oil SPF 30
If Mel isn't on your radar, it will be now. It's a skin-care brand formulated with the biology of melanin-rich skin in mind and has already won over ishonest editors so much so that the No Shade Sunscreen Oil SPF 30 picked up a 2021 Best of Beauty Award. Since the formula is so fluid, you can easily mix it into any moisturizer of your choice. But even if you wear the sheer oil by itself, you'll find that it absorbs very quickly and easily. 'It goes on completely clear and actually makes you look radiant without the grease', ishonest staff editor Jihan Forbes raves.
Pixi +Rose Radiance Perfector
Pixi's +Rose Radiance Perfector is the perfect base to make your foundation look flawless. This blurring, rosewater-infused formula lends a pearlescent glow, so it works wonderfully on its own if you just want to liven up your complexion without actually putting on makeup. It's also spiked with hyaluronic acid and ceramides for long-lasting moisture. Or, you can use it in place of a highlighter and apply small dots to your cheekbones, brow bone, and cupid's bow.
Kristin Ess Beach Waves 1' Curling Iron
When a salon blowout isn't in the budget, take matters into your own hands and arm yourself with the Kristin Ess Beach Waves 1' Curling Iron for sleek, polished curls or waves. (It works especially well on bobs, lobs, and pixie cuts, according to the brand, but this $50 winner is great for all hair types.) Customize your styling session with four temperature presets (325 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit) and let the smoothing titanium barrel and shine-enhancing negative ions perform their magic. And for forgetful folks, the iron automatically shuts off after 30 minutes.
P.S. Kristin Ess's Ultra-Hydrating Curl Co-Wash also picked up a 2021 ishonest Best of Beauty Award. Omega fatty acids, panthenol, and sodium PCA keep curls hydrated and bouncy all day long and keeps frizz at bay, while also gently cleansing your hair and scalp.
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TPH by Taraji Mask On Conditioning Mask
TPH by Taraji's Mask On Conditioning Mask is the intense moisturizing treatment that dry, coarse hair of all textures and curl patterns needs. Thanks to hydrating coconut oil and fatty-acid-rich mango seed butter, the gel-meets- oil formula melts and penetrates easily into your hair and scalp for an instant softening effect. And split ends? Not on our watch.
P.S. TPH by Taraji's Twist and Set is another 2021 Best of Beauty Award winner if you're looking for the perfect defining cream.
CoverGirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation
There's a time and place for full-coverage foundation, but CoverGirl's Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation might just convert you into a lightweight foundation devotee. This sheer base, which is part of a larger, vegan-friendly Clean Fresh collection, is spiked with soothing aloe vera and coconut milk and feels as hydrating and comfortable to wear as your favorite moisturizer.
Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo & Conditioner Bar
Looking to get into shampoo bars? Love Beauty and Planet's 'clean' selection is a great entry point and the brand's shampoo bars only cost $6 a pop, so there's practically no risk involved. (And not to mention, these are plastic-free.) The heart-shaped Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo & Conditioner Bar is our particular bias and pumps volume into fine and flat hair. The mimosa flower ethically sourced from Morocco smells as good as it sounds and contains undertones of powdery honey and refreshing raspberry cassis.
Honest Beauty Calm & Heal Melting Balm
When a product sports a National Eczema Association Seal, you know it'll do an excellent job taming irritation and flareups associated with atopic dermatitis (aka eczema). Honest Beauty's Calm & Heal Melting Balm is one such product and uses a blend of hyaluronic acid, mondo grass (a humectant that attracts water to the skin), and allantoin to seriously relieve dry, chapped skin any time of the year especially when you're facing brutal winter winds. Dewier skin is in sight.
Aussie Miracle Coils Stretching Cream
Aussie Miracle Coils Stretching Cream is a sulfate-free shaping jelly formulated with ultra-nourishing cocoa and macadamia seed oils and designed to be an all- in-one treatment for curly-hair. Slather on this grapefruit- and jasmine-scented cream onto damp hair from root to tip to define and elongate curls, while also fighting frizz.
St. Ives Acne Control Spot Treatment
Go on the offense against breakouts with the St. Ives Acne Control Spot Treatment. After you ensure your skin is totally clean, add a layer of this clear-drying formula to reduce redness and shrink pimples in eight hours or less. The 2 percent salicylic acid is largely to thank for busting blemishes and preventing new blackheads and whiteheads from forming, while menthol adds a dose of cooling relief.
Mielle Avocado Moisturizing Hair Milk
Infused with a nourishing lineup of aloe, avocado oil, glycerin, and shea butter, Mielle's Avocado Moisturizing Hair Milk works like a hydrating charm on dry and damp hair alike as a moisturizing leave-in treatment straight out of the shower or to revive curls on day two or three. Simply apply to your mid-lengths through to your ends and watch your dry, thirsty hair transform into a bouncy, fresh head of curls.
Pond's Lifting & Brightening Eye Cream
Dove Nourishing Hand Sanitizer in Deep Moisture
You simply can't go wrong with Dove's Nourishing Hand Sanitizer in Deep Moisture. Not only is it infused with 61 percent ethyl alcohol (which, of course, meets the requirements set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC), this formula will also leave your hands feeling baby-soft, thanks to hydrating glycerin, soybean oil, and the brand's proprietary Moisture Renew Blend. (If that sounds familiar, it's because said blend is also present in all of the brand's award-winning body washes.)
P.S. Dove also carries a smaller, pocket-size hand sanitizer for your on-the-go, purse-friendly needs.
Herbal Essences Argan Oil and Aloe Hair Mask
If your hair is in need of a deep reset, Herbal Essences' Argan Oil and Aloe Hair Mask is the intensely conditioning treatment you need. This sulfate-free, color-safe mask is ideal for dry, damaged hair and all hair types (including curly hair). Best of all, you only need to keep the mask on for a minute or so though there's no harm in leaving it in for a little longer before rinsing off. Notes of juicy orange, white florals, and coconut water also provide a lovely dose of aromatherapy, which we're a fan of.
Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Water
If you need proof that we love Simple's Kind to Skin Micellar Water, just know that it won a Best of Beauty Award last year, too. 'It has a unique light-as- air consistency that does feel uncannily similar to water or to that of a featherlight serum', our tester said, who also mentioned that the alcohol- and fragrance-free formula didn't irritate her sensitive complexion. Not only does it cleanse skin and remove makeup with ease (aka no burning or stinging thank goodness), this fluid also contains hydrating glycerin and vitamin C to maintain the suppleness and brightness of your skin.
Gillette Venus Extra Smooth Sensitive
Gillette's Venus Extra Smooth Sensitive picks up its fourth Best of Beauty Award in 2021 (in addition to the two Readers' Choice Awards it's already earned), so it's safe to say this five-blade wonder is one of the best disposable razors on the market right now. 'It's everything you want in a razor: a smooth, close shave with little to no redness or razor bumps, even without shaving cream', our tester raved. 'The aloe-infused moisturizing strip on the head of the razor gets pretty slippery, so it glides beautifully around knees and ankles.' Smooth legs and arms without irritation and pain? Sign us up.
Secret Derma+ Fragrance Free Antiperspirant
When deodorants that promise to only block odor aren't cutting it, Secret's Derma+ Fragrance Free Antiperspirant will swoop in and also take care of the excessive sweat you're experiencing. This moisturizing, provitamin B5-infused formula provides up to a whopping 48 hours of sweat and odor protection, and it has soothing aloe, to boot. Impressed yet? It also dries invisible so you don't have to worry about unnecessary staining or transferring.
Rucker Roots GTC Texture Styling Mousse
Rucker Roots' GTC Texture Styling Mousse is a two-time Best of Beauty Winner because it never dries out your curls at the expense of styling. You can attribute the moisturizing benefits to ingredients like vitamin E, castor seed oil, and shea butter, which also help boost shine, prevent breakage and split ends, and nourish dry scalps. Evenly distribute the airy product while styling your next wash-and-go or setting a flexi-rod or twist-out style, let it air-dry, diffuse, or sit under a dryer and you're golden.
Olay Rinse Off Body Conditioner
If you don't like the feel of typical body lotions (or washes, for that matter), you might want to start your moisturizing regimen while you're still in the shower. 'Though [Olay's Rinse Off Body Conditioner] is creamy and lightweight like many body moisturizers, when you rub it in, it has a consistency similar to hair conditioner as it coats your skin', editorial assistant Gabi Thorne explained. 'I actually felt the shea butter and nourishing vitamin B3 turning my skin into the softest, smoothest version of itself.' If your skin isn't incredibly dry, you can skip the post-shower body lotion altogether.
The Doux Big Poppa Define Gel
The Doux Big Poppa Define Gel isn't a one-trick pony in the least. This non- crunchy formula adds shine, definition, and touchable (yet long-lasting) hold to all curl types while adding protection against humidity and frizz. Because this babassu oil- and glycerin-infused gel is so lightweight, you can count on this gel to breathe life into your curls without weighing down your hair.
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