Our email boxes have been full, our desks have been cluttered, and our skin and bodies have been tested. To find the winners of this year’s Future of Beauty Awards, the ELLE beauty department reviewed nearly 700 entries and nearly 1,000 products to find the most inventive products of the year. We looked for products that launched in 2023 that had founders, brand philosophies, ingredients, formulations, and campaigns showcasing true breakthroughs. These breakthroughs are pushing the industry forward with scientific, technological, and inclusivity advancements. You might see a few repeat themes or buzzwords throughout the winners, such as growth factors, exosomes, unique, unusual, and “scientifically proven.”
And the winners are…
Growth factors and exosomes will be two of the newest buzz words for 2024 skin care. This serum got an early start by being one of the first ones on the market to contain exosomes. It is the powerful stem-cell-derived ingredient for skin regeneration that has dermatologists and plastic surgeons actually excited about its potential. Although exosomes are generally offered only in a dermatologist’s office, this serum combines them with peptides and growth factors, all to help rejuvenate and add bounce back to skin.
Dr. Jason Diamond is the superstar plastic surgeon who treats just about everybody (Kim Kardashian, Kate Beckinsale, among others). Famous for his Diamond Instafacial, which uses PRP to help rejuvenate the skin, Metacine is a more shelf-stable version of that. Using growth factors (there’s that buzz word again), this toner uses a bio-engineered version, along with sodium hyaluronate (a derivative of hyaluronic acid), to make skin look better and glowier over time.
CEO and co-founder Charlotte Palermino breaks down complex skin care topics on social media with a science-backed ease. Earlier this year, she even teamed up with AOC for a video on Instagram advocating for the public to help lobby the FDA to break through some of the regulatory barriers inhibiting the passing of new sunscreen ingredients. This gel moisturizer, which underwent 14 iterations, takes the same transparent approach with clinically tested ingredients like glycerin and a special skin barrier repair complex.
If you’re a skin care junkie, you’ve probably heard of niacinamide, a powerhouse ingredient which hydrates and eases inflammation on the skin. With this serum, the scientists at Olay had the goal of “optimizing” it, creating a formulation with a low pH (specifically 3.8). This allows it to penetrate better, and with the addition of vitamin C, collagen peptides, vitamin E, and AHA, it becomes a well-rounded serum for many skin types.
For its biggest-ever campaign, Glow Recipe cast theirs anonymously. Called “Dew You,” the application questions sounded like the prompt for a diary-writing entry, requiring vulnerability and trust. “What’s your experience walking through the world?” was one of them. The ultimate ten people who were chosen weren’t picked based upon their social media followings, their features, or even their location (email addresses and names were hidden during Zoom interviews), in the brand’s commitment to find truly inclusive faces who showcased “inner glow.” True to Glow Recipe’s ethos, this firming serum is meant for all skin types and is committed to doing the work, in the right way – it uses scientifically proven ingredients like hyaluronic acid and polypeptides, powerful botanicals (the full parts of the pomegranate), and is meant for all skin types.
A new skin care line specifically designed, developed, and clinically tested on dark skin tones, this product tackles hyperpigmentation and dark spots on all Fitzpatrick skin types with a 15 percent blend of acids and antioxidants. On average, the brand found that 90 percent of participants in clinical trials have brighter skin. Mindy Kaling is also an investor and lover.
This works sort of like Spanx for your under eyes—and you have to see it to believe it. Apply a tiny pea-size amount to dry skin and an adhesive, elastic film with a little bit of blurring forms, which acts to give a filter-like effect to the skin. It’s only temporary, but many have found that the results last all day.
Rare is the beauty product that has clinical testing and even rarer is one that has a white paper (industry talk for a fact-based article published in a scientific journal) written about its pioneering technology. SIREN technology, tested in the paper, was found to have a high moisturizing effect and be beneficial at preventing water loss – it’s the tech in all of UBeauty’s products, even in this body exfoliator-moisturizer, which treats body skin as seriously as your face.
You can credit Hailey Bieber with bringing the concept of dewy skin to the mainstream. It comes in large part from her line of skin care products. With the unique addition of magnesium, zinc, and copper, the Glazing Milk aids in protecting the skin from external stressors such as pollution and harsh environments for healthier, more supple skin.
When was the last time you smelled a tomato in your shower? This bar soap is made with surprising scents such as wild-harvested tarragon, black pepper essential oil, babassu seed oil, and tomato fruit powder. Founder Richard Christiansen has a deep appreciation for nature and tries to formulate products as close to the raw material as possible, with the ability to trace where each ingredient was grown.
For those who find Vitamin C serums to be irritating to the skin, there’s this. The brand developed this new soothing serum to protect your skin in the daytime, including antioxidant-rich tsubaki seed, and a powerful blend of extracts including β-glucan, reishi, iris, and fermented roselle.
This is the rare double-duty product that functions as both a cleanser and a mask. Unlike most balm cleansers, it doesn’t immediately emulsify with water – it takes a tiny bit of elbow grease for it to start to become oil and then a cleansing milk. That’s partially because Eldridge formulated this cleanser with exceptionally moisturizing ingredients rarely found, such as ceramide-filled oat kernel oil, glycerin, and meadowseed foam oil. The result is that it can thoroughly but lightly remove all makeup (even waterproof mascara and SPF), and you can even leave it on the skin overnight.
Most retinol serums use a known alternative like bakuchiol. The Tatcha team did an extensive search and found that a plant-derived combination of sea fennel and cranberry works better. This serum gives you the same benefits of a retinol, such as brighter and smoother skin, without any of the redness and irritation (it’s safe for pregnant women as well).
This moisturizer takes a more-is-more approach to peptides. Most peptide serums or moisturizers have a handful. This one has an eye-whopping 300 of them, plus it includes two good-for-your-skin ingredients that you’ve heard a lot about: Hyaluronic acid (for moisture), and niacinamide (to help with dark spots).
Ginseng, a traditional Korean medicine ingredient, becomes even more potent thanks to Sulwhasoo’s cutting-edge technology and 500-hour formulation process. The blend of old and new supercharges the serum to moisturize and protect.
BeautyStat Cosmetics Universal C Skin Refiner Vitamin C Serum + SPF50 Mineral Sunscreen
You can’t bubble wrap your skin, but this serum is the closest thing to it. It offers two types of protection: A hefty dose of Vitamin C to protect the skin from free radicals, mixed with a mineral SPF, in an elegant, cast-free formula.
When it comes to choosing the right deodorant, it’s important to have something that’s effective, doesn’t transfer, and is quick-drying. But that doesn’t mean it has to dry out your skin. Made from a blend of lightweight oils like sunflower seed oil, calendula extract, and vitamin E, this one is moisturizing but still keeps you odor-free for up to 72 hours.
With a blend of vitamins B, C, E, F, and K and botanicals, these microcapsules revive and brighten the skin while helping to prevent skin drying and dullness. The unique blend of ingredients, including licorice root and niacinamide, also helps to even skin tone for smooth, luminous results.
This eye serum takes a kitchen sink like approach to ingredients. It’s a “who’s who” list of them, including peptides, different weight hyaluronic acids, lipids, and stabilized Vitamin C and niacinamide. Some people in the clinical trial even reported their eyelashes grew longer?! In any case, this is an eye cream that seems and manages to do it all.
Be honest – when blowing drying your hair, do you ever give yourself a minute or two to live out your Beyoncé hair-blowing-in-the-wind fantasy? But what if instead of blowing your hair away from your face, your dryer did the exact opposite? With innovative, air suction technology, this product draws your hair into it, to stretch and smooth each strand with minimal tension and stress. With seven different tension settings and internal heat sensors for even distribution, it helps prevent heat damage and is equipped to quickly dry all hair types and even, protective styles, like braids and twists.
One day in the future, you’ll look at a curling iron plugged into the wall and consider it to be like a rotary phone. Hairstylist Harry Josh is ushering us into the next decade with his new generation of cordless hair tools. His new curling iron and flatiron both give you 50 minutes of power from one battery, and have the same intuitive design and easy styling features (nano silver tourmaline plates, digital temperature control) of his previous designs to give anyone supermodel hair.
Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. If your scalp ever gets irritated and itchy, this serum contains many of the ingredients found in your favorite skin care products: Hyaluronic acid for moisture, tea tree oil for reducing redness, and aloe vera for claming. Plus, it comes in an easy-to-use spray format without a messy dropper.
Bread Beauty Clear Wash
BREAD specifically makes products for curl types 3a- to 4c, and this is a clarifying shampoo that takes a skin care-like approach to hair that cleanses without stripping the scalp. The gentle foaming lather is infused with amino acids that aid in reconstructing the hair shaft and botanicals like sage and rosemary leaf extract, that regulate oiliness, while lifting away impurities.
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Split End Repair + Moisturizing Leave-In Conditioner
This is one of Briogeo’s best-selling hair franchises, known for its ability to smooth and nourish hair in an instantaneous, just-one-use way. The nourishing proteins and added ceramides in this leave-in version work to strengthen the hair cuticle and provide even greater moisturizing benefits, such as boosting hair moisture by up to 5 times and sealing up to 100 percent of split ends in just two uses.
This is an unusual dual styling and repair product. Baby proteins or short amino acids penetrate the hair cuticle to repair, while a natural oil blend including squalane, avocado, and sunflower oil work to smooth down frizz, enhance shine, and provide color protection.
Blondes get a little extra love with this conditioner. Formulated with purple tones , it acts as a toner to neutralize brassiness and restore coolness. It also contains the brand’s bond-building technology, which works to heal the broken disulfide bonds caused by color processing.
Color Wow Extra Strength Dream Coat Ultra-Moisturizing Anti-frizz Treatment 6.7 oz / 200 ml
For those who have a tighter hair texture or are prone to a bit more frizz, this goes the extra mile to protect against humidity. This spray creates a protective seal – almost like an umbrella, to lock in moisture and repel humidity. Not only that, the “umbrella” adds shine and prevents dryness.
This shampoo is designed to strengthen color-treated hair by resealing its cuticles to maintain its vibrant shade post-color treatment. It is also infused with antioxidants and pomegranate extracts to shield the hair from environmental aggressors, while a protectant helps to shield it from the effects of sun damage.
Makeup and Nails
Welcome to Coverup 2.0. This liquid bandage, once applied, creates a thin, film-like layer over blemishes to protect and treat skin, and seamlessly conceal. It took four years of development to perfect a formula that would actively smooth texture, reduce the size of zits, and act as an easy base for makeup application.
This palette is the first of its kind to infuse each velvety, soft shade with Upsalite technology, a Swedish invention founded at Uppsala University that blurs imperfections and absorbs excess oils like a sponge for impeccable shine control. To put this tech to the test, Myricks called on friends, family, and worldwide fans of the brand to try the palette. It was important to her that people with a range of skin types, textures, and complexions could use this product for long-lasting results regardless of climate or environment. And the results were, well, groundbreaking.
Think Olaplex for nails; this product works to rebuild bonds in the keratin. Many other nail-rebuilding products work by creating a protective film over the nail—this one actually penetrates them (even after it’s been removed). It promises 99 percent keratin restoration in six days.
Blush has been TikTok viral this year, in part to this product. This compact blush duo provides two pigmented formulas to quickly and easily give the perfect flush. Micronized and biomimetic pigments give even, flawless color, infused with ceramides. Try the powder over cream to give a glowy, vibrant flush the Patrick Ta way.
The rare liquid brow pen creates the illusion of delicate, individual brow hairs. A graphite pencil can often result in harsh or blocky brows, particularly in areas where the brows are particularly sparse, but this one gives the illusion of softness and feathers—a Streicher signature, as she’s known for finessing the brows of Gwyneth Paltrow and more.
No more twisting and turning in the mirror to figure out the best angle to apply your liquid liner. Designed with a rotating 360 tip, it bends to support however you like to apply your liner. It has a precision felt tip, too, which glides easily to create sharp, defined lines.
This unique mascara is designed with a full flex fiber brush equipped with 220 fibers specifically crafted to grip each lash for even distribution and extreme definition. The mascara formula is also made with a blend of rice wax, Provitamin B5, and cranberry extract to lift, condition, and define your lashes too.
A great mascara is hard to make, but a great “clean” mascara is near impossible. Made with a unique wax blend, a rich, bold pigment, and a plant derived ester for maximum hold, the hourglass wand with its tapered tip coats every lash for visible length and volume without any clumping.
This fine fragrance brand, developed in India, is inspired by the cultural practice of scenting the body with attar scent oils. Working with legendary perfumers in Grasse, such as Honorine Blanc and Olivier Cresp, they’ve developed a line of fragrances, with purer ingredients and stronger intensities, each intended to honor a signature Indian ingredient. This scent is a smoky, unique saffron, with notes of bold spices and incense.
If you were to metaphorically cut open this bottle, you would find one pear—the extract of an entire Williams pear, the most commonly grown pear in the U.S., is in each (the process took almost two years to develop). In addition, the scent contains white musk and sweet pea, so it smells like a soft, powdery, fruity floral — sort of like a spring meadow.
Most room sprays simply mask bad odors. This one neutralizes them at the molecular level and perfumes them too. It contains zinc ricinoleate to naturally trap and absorb odor molecules, yeast ferment to destroy odor-causing bacteria, and charcoal to purify the air. But apart from all that, it makes your room smell like the freshest rose.
Tools and Treatments
One of the first in a new category of injectables called skin boosters, this filler by the makers of Juvederm, doesn’t add volume, but improves the appearance of the skin via deep moisture. Containing a specialized form of hyaluronic acid, it stimulates collagen production, hydration, and works to make skin look glowier, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and add elasticity. It’s known unofficially as America’s answer to Profhilo, the skin booster available widely outside of the U.S., which has long been the secret of Europeans and traveling Americans in the know.
A blend of East-meets-West, this special tool combines gua sha with LED. The unique guitar pick-like shape has one angled side meant for gua sha and de-puffing the skin. The top has two prongs, contains a white jade sculpting roller, and a red light. It’s de-puffing, revitalizing, and a combination of new and old technologies.
You may have seen Medicube all over your TikTok—the Korea-based brand creates skin care devices that have been going viral. The before/afters of fans using this one are particularly compelling. The befores always show somewhat dull-looking skin, and the afters show shiny, ultra-glassy faces. A combo massage roller meets microcurrent tool, this does double duty in sculpting the face (it’s meant to replicate the feeling of an acupressure massage).
You may have seen a TikTok video about this. Content creators who own LED devices have started putting them on their scalp, to get the same rejuvenating benefits that red light can provide (reducing inflammation, helping skin to recover quicker) on their heads and faces—that’s the thinking behind this Tron-like helmut. If you’d rather get a device specialized for just your head, this contains over 100 red wavelengths to help stimulate circulation and blood flow to the follicles. It even has Bluetooth, so you can listen to a podcast or music as you help your head.
Not just an LED mask (although it does contain red, blue, and red+infrared lights), it also includes the soothing vibrational therapy you’ve come to expect from Therabody products. In one nine-minute course, you can get the full blast of 648 mechanical-grade LEDs and a gentle vibration near your temples and around your eyes (these can also be turned off). Overall, the effect is deeply relaxing.
ELLE Beauty Director
Kathleen Hou is ELLE”s Beauty Director. Previously, she held the same title at New York Magazine’s The Cut. She’s appeared in publications such as New York, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue India, Forbes, and Allure. She was also a co-founder of Donate Beauty, a grassroots beauty donation project started during the COVID-19 crisis, which donated over 500,000 products to over 30,000 healthcare workers across 500+ hospitals.
Tasha Nicole Smith is ELLE Magazine’s beauty assistant. She loves all things hair, makeup, and skincare so you’ll find her talking about it here. She enjoys Marvel movies, a good pair of heels, and lemon drop martinis and also shares a birthday with Beyoncé, which is her go to fun fact.