There are two types of people in the world: those who watch a beauty tutorial and nail the look on the first try, and those who watch a beauty tutorial and call up the salon for an appointment. Like the general population, each Allure editor falls squarely into one of the two camps. Some of us can produce a Zendaya-level polished bob or brows to rival Lily Collins’s and some of us…can’t. In testing for the Tools category of our 2023 Allure Best of Beauty Awards, this skill gap becomes evident — as do the makeup brushes, hot tools, and skin-care devices that help to bridge it.
But despite our varying levels of expertise and artistry, each tester who gave these winning brushes and gadgets a spin was able to achieve equally impressive results. That’s because the beauty tools featured here are small marvels of engineering, harnessing machine learning, aerospace technology, and good, old-fashioned intuition to help make perfect results seem almost effortless — even for the chronically uncoordinated. Meet the tools you’ll wonder how you ever managed without.
Now, keep scrolling for all the year’s best hair, makeup, and skin-care tools. Once you’re done, check out the full list of all 391 winners in the 2023 Allure Best of Beauty Awards, or head to category-specific winner lists in categories, like Splurges, Steals, and Hair Care.
Best of Beauty Awards 2023: Tools
Jump to your favorite category to find your new favorite makeup brushes, blow-dryers, skin-care devices, and more.
Best Makeup Brushes
Makeup Brush, Foundation: Laura Mercier Real Flawless Foundation Brush
Why it won: The true genius of the Laura Mercier Real Flawless Foundation Brush rests in its teardrop shape: The elliptical bristles buff away streaks around the nose, jaw, and hairline.
Makeup Brush, Powder: Saie The Fluffy Brush
Why it won: Saie The Fluffy Brush has a tapered tip that picks up just the right amount of powder, and densely packed bristles to flawlessly diffuse it in every nook and cranny. “I can get super-close to the corners of my undereyes without causing creasing or buildup,” says associate special projects manager Talia Gutierrez.
Makeup Brush, Contour: Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Dual-Ended Sculpting Brush
Why it won: With a fluffy fan on one side (for powder) and a compact slant on the other (for cream), the Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Dual-Ended Sculpting Brush allows you to artfully enhance every curve and angle. “I really love the thinner, precise brush on one side of this,” says senior news editor Nicola Dall’Asen. “It’s perfect for sculpting.”
Makeup Brush, Bronzer: Sephora Collection PRO Bronzer Brush #88
Why it won: The Sephora Collection PRO Bronzer Brush #88 is the gift that keeps on giving. Its sturdy, rounded head buffs liquids and creams to perfection, making bronzer almost impossible to overdo — or overuse: “This brush holds up incredibly well,” says associate social director Kassidy Silva. “I’ve been using it daily for months now, and there’s no sign of wear and tear.”
Makeup Brush, Blush: Jones Road The Blush Brush
Why it won: Neither too big and floppy nor too small and squat, the Jones Road The Blush Brush is ideal for swirling pigment over the apples and spreading color along your cheekbones. “Somewhere north of 40, I traded powder blushes for creams in recent years because they started looking cakey, but this brush leaves such a natural finish, it’s brought me back to my favorite palettes,” says executive beauty director Jenny Bailly.
Makeup Brush, Highlight: Mōda Pro Accentuate
Why it won: The Mōda Pro Accentuate breezes over the high points of your face for the softest glow imaginable. Its tapered end is even delicate enough to follow the arc of our brows.
Makeup Brush, Brows: Real Techniques Brow Styling Set
Why it won: With a mini toothbrush for fluffing, a slanted nib for defining, a pair of spoolies for taming, and a tiny spatula for lifting, Real Techniques Brow Styling Set lets you engineer the arches of your dreams (looking at you, Lily Collins).
Makeup Brush, Eye Shadow: Half Magic Pyramid Eyeshadow Brush
Why it won: You’ve never seen a makeup brush quite like Half Magic Pyramid Eyeshadow Brush before. The tapered, pyramid-shaped bristles are dense enough to provide maximum control but fluffy enough for a soft, blended finish. “It’s the perfect brush for a control freak like me,” says senior news editor Nicola Dall’Asen.
Best Makeup Sponge
Beautyblender Original Pink Makeup Sponge
Why it won: It’s a sweep! Beautyblender Original Pink Makeup Sponge wins this title every year, for good reason. With a wide base for buffing and a pointy tip for squidging into crevices, this egg-shaped sponge is impossible to beat.
Tweezerman Slant Tweezer
Why it won: It’s not a stretch to dub Tweezerman Slant Tweezer the greatest of all time. (Cut to its previous 24 Best of Beauty wins.) The angled tip comes with free sharpening for two years, ensuring precise plucking for 730 days.
Best Razor for Face
Tweezerman Facial Razor
Why it won: The Tweezerman Facial Razor deftly maneuvers around facial curves and contours, removing unwanted hair in the stealthiest way imaginable.
Best Skin-Care Tools & Devices
LED Mask: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro
Why it won: Let people crack all the Hannibal Lecter jokes they want to (and they will want to), because the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro is a full-face contraption that shines UV-free LED lights on your skin, taming acne, calming inflammation, and giving you the last laugh.
Lifting Device: NuFace Trinity+ Smart Advanced Facial Toning Device With LED Red Light Attachment
Why it won: The DIY alternative to a professional microcurrent treatment, NuFace Trinity+ Smart Advanced Facial Toning Device With LED Red Light Attachment channels electric waves through the skin (the sensation is prickly, not painful) for a firmer, more lifted appearance. Consistency is key: five times a week for at least five minutes — our most committed testers found the diligence was well worth it.
Cleansing Brush: Foreo Luna 4
Why it won: Scrubbing your face with a washcloth, like your mom did, is actually a Catch 22: The dirt disappears, but the nubby fabric scratches the upper dermis, opening the door for bacteria. The Foreo Luna 4 uses flexible, pulsating silicone bristles to Roomba away dirt and oil without harming your skin’s most superficial layer.
Multitasker: TheraFace Pro
Why it won: The TheraFace Pro is the closest most of us will ever get to having a board-certified dermatologist in the family. It has four different attachments that provide: facial massage (for lymphatic drainage); LED light therapy (to prevent breakouts); microcurrent treatments (to lift and firm), and deep cleansing (to speed cell turnover).
Best Eyelash Tools
Lash Curler: Shu Uemura Iconic Eyelash Curler
Why it won: Designed with an opening that’s wider and straighter than other curlers, the Shu Uemura Iconic Eyelash Curler conforms to every eye shape (almond, round, monolid) and captures every lash, giving all our testers the fullest and curviest of fans.
Lash Guard: Tweezerman Lash Guard & Comb
Why it won: Prone to mascara mess? Kind of like a futuristic monocle, the Tweezerman Lash Guard & Comb frames your eye as you apply mascara, making clumps, smudges, and spikes things of the past.
Best Hot Tools for Hairstyling
Blowdryer, At-Home: Dyson Supersonic
Why it won: The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer produces the smoothest blowouts in record time — at the record price of $400. In science-speak, this is thanks to its digital motor and an axial flow impeller, which together can push out 13 liters of air per second. In non-science-speak? It’ll dry your hair faster than the competition.
Blowdryer, At-Home: BondiBoost Sonic Hair Dryer
Why it won: For those of us who want to obliterate frizz — but not our budget — the $199 BondiBoost Sonic Hair Dryer delivers sleek results to rival a salon job.
Blowdryer, Travel: T3 Afar Travel Size Hair Dryer
Why it won: We no longer need to make do with mediocre hotel hair dryers. The T3 Afar Travel Size Hair Dryer packs all the bells and whistles (powerful motor, ion settings) into one portable frame, giving us speedy blowouts — and ample time to fixate on the hotel magnifying mirror instead.
Diffuser Attachment: Ceremonia Diffuser de Rizos
Why it won: Made of soft silicone, the Ceremonia Diffuser de Rizos distributes heat evenly, producing allover definition and bounce. Bonus: The squishy material collapses, making storage and travel a breeze.
Brush Dryer: Revlon One-Step Volumizer
Why it won: How many pro stylists does it take to achieve the perfect blowout? If you’re using the Revlon One-Step Volumizer, the answer is zero; you can do it all on your own — and using just one hand.
Flatiron, Dry Hair Styling: Gussi Mane Squeeze 1″ Titanium & Ceramic Flat Iron
Why it won: The titanium plates and ceramic heater on the Gussi Mane Squeeze 1″ Titanium & Ceramic Flat Iron work in tandem to generate even heat, uniform temperature, and consistently sleek results.
Flatiron, Wet Hair Styling: GHD Duet Style
Why it won: Until now, applying a flatiron to damp hair meant sizzling it like a fajita. But the GHD Duet Style has served up an entirely new approach. The low-temperature plates and concentrated airflow dry hair during the straightening process, allowing you to go from wet to sleek with zero damage.
Curling Iron: T3 Switch Kit Curl Trio
Why it won: Convenience is the name of the game for the T3 Switch Kit Curl Trio. The iron has three interchangeable barrels that lock into place, allowing you to create full-figured bends, loose waves, or tight spirals.
Waver: Trademark Beauty Babe Waves X
Why it won: You heard it here first: Crimpers are back. One pass of the Trademark Beauty Babe Waves X sculpts perfect beach waves exactly where you want them in record time — no sun, salt, or skill required.
Hair Multitasker: Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Drying System
Why it won: The Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Drying System is part multitasker, part shape-shifter, part geometry lesson. The high-speed hair dryer rotates from a 90-degree angle to a 180-degree line — which is when things get interesting. Locked into its upright position, the tool converts into a self-winding curling iron, a frizz-smoothing paddle brush, and a volume-building oval brush.
Best Hairbrushes & Combs
Hairbrush, Paddle: Olivia Garden NanoThermic PowerGrip Thermal Collection
Why it won: The heat-resistant ionic bristles on the Olivia Garden NanoThermic PowerGrip Thermal Collection eliminate frizz and add shine as you work. And because the ergonomic handle weighs next to nothing, you won’t be working much.
Hairbrush, Round: British M Hot Curling Ceramic Brush
Why it won: The ceramic barrel on the British M Hot Curling Ceramic Brush acts as a thermal conductor, absorbing heat and distributing it evenly as you blow-dry. Translation: You’ll never get a limp wave or wonky bend again.
Hairbrush, Detangler: Tangle Teezer The Ultimate Detangler Plant Brush
Why it won: Almost entirely plant-derived, the Tangle Teezer The Ultimate Detangler Plant Brush is 85% castor bean (we checked) and 15% magic bean (we assume). The bendy bristles inexplicably undo every knot without pulling, tugging, or breaking.
Edge Styler: Red by Kiss Edge Cara Edge Brush & Edge Fixer
Why it won: Think of Red by Kiss Edge Cara Edge Brush & Edge Fixer as a Swiss Army knife for your edges. There’s a dual-sided brush for styling and laying down baby hairs, a handle that doubles as a covert wax case, and a wand for applying the perfect amount of product.
Hair Pick: Pattern Beauty Hair Pick
Why it won: Exaggerated in size and sleek in design, the Pattern Beauty Hair Pick looks like a cool piece of sculpture in our hands. Applied to hair, the elongated prongs lift our kinks to new heights.
Best Hair Accessories
Headband: The Hair Edit Tressé Band
Why it won: Made of puffy satin in a rosy champagne hue, The Hair Edit Tressé Band holds back your hair with ease and added cushion. “It’s squishy to the touch and so comfortable to wear — really, it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing anything,” says senior editor Jesa Marie Calaor. “Plus, the blush-pink braided design is cute enough to work with almost anything.”
Hair Pin: Kristin Ess The French Pin Set
Why it won: A handsome hair tool for anchoring buns and updos, Kristin Ess The French Pin Set transforms our artfully tousled topknot into an artfully tousled French topknot. Très chic.
Scrunchie: Slip Small Slipsilk Scrunchies
Why it won: You know how sleeping on a silk pillowcase may help prevent breakage by reducing friction? Same rule, different tool with Slip Small Slipsilk Scrunchies. The slim bands hold hair in place and slide right off without yanking on strands or leaving behind creases.
Hair Clip: Kitsch Open Shape Claw Clip
Why it won: The golden Kitsch Open Shape Claw Clip keeps annoying strands out of your face just as efficiently as any drugstore claw clip, but it goes head-to-head with the fanciest evening accessory.
Hair Towel: Aquis Flip
Why it won: It looks innocent enough, but a humble towel is a common culprit behind split ends, frayed cuticles, and ruffled edges. The Aquis Flip reduces friction and absorbs dampness without causing damage to wet, fragile strands.
Bonnet: Glow by Daye Premium Satin Bonnet
Why it won: With a satin border that hugs your hairline, the Glow by Daye Premium Satin Bonnet isn’t just for sleeping (although it’s designed to prevent wear and tear from tossing and turning). The cap stays in place while you go about your day, locking in moisture and preserving your style.
Like what you see from Allure‘s Best of Beauty Awards?