The 9 Best Rare Beauty Products of 2023
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Each of these thoughtfully developed products prove Rare Beauty is at the top of the celeb beauty brand game.
I have to confess: I am a big Selena Gomez fan. Whether on screen, in the studio, or promoting her cosmetics brand, Rare Beauty, there is something undeniably loveable about her. That being said, I am highly critical when it comes to celebrity beauty brands. They need have more than just good products — I’m looking for a real purpose, a clear point of view, and genuine effort and care on the part of the celebrity founder.
No other celebrity beauty brand demonstrates these qualities more than Rare Beauty. The brand focuses on breaking down unrealistic standards of perfection and is on a mission to celebrate individuality and self-acceptance. Built on a thoughtful approach to makeup — one that emphasizes transparency, authenticity, vulnerability, and positivity — the brand also features a strong charitable component, donating one percent of all sales to the Rare Impact Fund as well as other philanthropic initiatives to increase access to mental health services in educational settings.
Putting my own admiration for Gomez and support of the brand’s ethics aside, I set out to put Rare Beauty to the ultimate test. And I’m happy to say I was not let down. Whether you’ve been a Selenator since the Barney days or have only heard her name in passing gossip, Rare Beauty is worth a try — especially these nine products that truly stand out.
Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush in Happy
What We Love: The lightweight, highly pigmented liquid blends seamlessly and lasts on the skin all day long.
What We Don’t Love: There’s definitely a learning curve to applying the right amount of product — and too much can look clownish.
Cream and liquid blushes are almost always crowd pleasers, but few remain in the public spotlight long after they launch. Three years after its inception, it’s fair to say Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush has solidified a spot among the all-time blush greatest hits.
This blush quickly became a fan (and editor) favorite thanks to its high-performing color payoff, impressive lasting power, and seamless blendability. There’s also the XL packaging, which virtually ensures you’ll never need a restock, and, of course, the impressive 13-hue shade range that features both matte and radiant finishes. From the surprisingly wearable deep berry (Faith) and the true red (Grateful) to the natural-flush-but-better soft neutral pink (Encourage), each colorway feels deeply intentional — this isn’t your basic copy-and-paste job.
Given the major color payoff, we’d suggest adhering to a less-is-more application method. After all, the formula is both highly blendable and buildable so you can always go back for more.
Price at time of publish: $23
Size: 0.25 oz | Shades: 13 | Key Feature: Long-lasting, highly pigmented formula
Rare Beauty Pore Diffusing Primer
What We Love: The soft-focus primer simultaneously hydrates skin as it removes excess shine and smooths the appearance of texture.
What We Don’t Love: The primer may cause breakouts or irritation for those with ultra-sensitive skin.
We love that Rare Beauty offers two different primer formulations — but when put head to head, Always an Optimist Pore Diffusing Primer almost always ends up on top. While the Illuminating Primer has a cooling effect and gives off a radiant finish, it’s notably silicone-free — an odd move given that both the Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation and the Positive Light Tinted Moisturizer are silicone-based. Luckily, the Pore Diffusing Primer has a lot beyond its silicone base working in its favor.
This does everything you could want a primer to do — it blurs the appearance of pores and uneven texture, boosts and extends makeup wear, keeps skin comfortable with a skincare-first formula, and absorbs excess shine throughout the day. So often, “oil-absorbing” is code for “mattifying,” which is great for oily skin types but not as ideal for those with combination and dry skin. That simply isn’t the case here: While the Pore Diffusing Primer isn’t outright shimmery or illuminating, it gives skin a distinctly hydrated, glowy effect while still cutting down on oily shine where needed.
The only potential issue with this primer is its inclusion of vitamin E: While the antioxidant is meant to protect skin from environmental stressors, it’s also a known irritant for super sensitive skin. So while the multitasking primer is great for most skin types, those with particularly sensitive skin should probably steer clear.
Price at time of publish: $28
Size: 0.84 oz | Shades: 1 | Key Feature: Soft-focus effect
Rare Beauty Positive Light Under Eye Brightener
Best Complexion Product
What We Love: The lightweight liquid brightens under-eyes even without a layer of concealer over top.
What We Don’t Love: While the shades are meant to be flexible, the six-hue range leaves many skin tones without adequate coverage options.
As someone with genetically dark under-eyes, I know how difficult it is to lighten up the area without appearing too cake-y. The Positive Light Under Eye Brightener is perhaps the best solution I’ve found. The skincare-first formula and the luminous, semi-sheer tint make this stand out among the rest. And the custom cool-tip metal applicator certainly adds to the overall experience, soothing skin on contact and subtly depuffing the area.
It’s the ultra-fluid texture that really makes this formula shine, though: So many under-eye brighteners can’t be worn alone. This one is a true no-makeup makeup product, that looks as seamless on a bare face as it does layered with concealer. Does it eradicate dark circles and discoloration? No, but it certainly brightens up the area and makes the entire face look more refreshed — no matter how little sleep you got the night before.
Our one gripe is within the shade range. According to the brand, the flex-to-fit shades are all created to cover a range of skin tones, but it still notably lacks in the ultra-light and deep ends of the spectrum. With time, we hope the brand will expand their shade range to fit a more diverse user base.
Price at time of publish: $24
Size: 0.11 oz | Shades: 6 | Key Feature: Sheer, flexible coverage
Rare Beauty Stay Vulnerable Melting Cream Blush
Best Cheek Product
What We Love: The InStyle Lab-tested and -approved cream blush melts on application for a realistic, skin-like finish.
What We Don’t Love: The sheer formula is just that — sheer — and might not be the right fit for those who prefer a full-glam look.
If we had to pick one category where Rare Beauty shines the brightest, it’s definitely the blushes. The liquid blush formula was an instant classic, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Stay Vulnerable Melting Cream Blush, too. The formula was a standout winner in our own lab testing, particularly thanks to its fool-proof application and natural-looking wash of color. If the liquid blush is for full-makeup days, the cream option is the ultimate low-maintenance makeup choice.
The blush features a first-of-its-kind water-resistant formula that combines a non-greasy blend of lightweight oils and spherical powders for a second-skin flush of color. It really is a sleeper hit among the brand’s lineup — it doesn’t have the wow factor of the Soft Pinch Blush, but that’s exactly the point.
Price at time of publish: $22
Size: 0.17 oz | Shades: 5 | Key Feature: Water-resistant, satin-finish formula
Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight
What We Love: The silky, multidimensional formula is non-sticky, lasts a lifetime, and gives off a dreamy glow.
What We Don’t Love: It can be difficult to blend if applied directly to the skin.
Packed with superfine, light-reflecting pearl particles, this silky highlighter creates a soft, luminous finish that leans more towards shimmery than glittery. Some lightweight highlighters require a lot of work for that perfectly subtle payoff — that’s not the case here. Just a single dot of product is more than enough for a highlight that’s definitely noticeable but not all-out full glam.
For the Positive Light Liquid Luminizer to really shine, I like to follow a specific application method: I’ve found that applying the product directly to the skin can cause it to dry down quickly and create more patchy coverage. Instead, I either apply a few dots to the back of my hand or pick up the product from the applicator itself using a brush or my fingers (either work). From there, I lightly tap and buff the highlighter onto the high points of my skin. This method yields the best results, so there is a bit of a learning curve to nailing application.
Price at time of publish: $25
Size: 0.5 oz | Shades: 8 | Key Feature: Multidimensional finish
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara
Best Eye Product
What We Love: The mascara really lives up to its universal claim, thanks to its multi-length brush and easy-to-build formula.
What We Don’t Love: The formula is prone to clumping and can be difficult to remove, despite not being waterproof.
Rare Beauty has really excelled in the face categories, finding particular success with its thoughtfulness and inclusive-driven approach. But translating that ethos to other categories has taken more time — that’s not to say the other offerings are subpar. Quite the contrary, just take the Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara.
Vegan mascara formulas are notoriously finicky, but that doesn’t seem to have been a problem for this mascara. The thick formula coats lashes and builds volume and length with little-to-no smearing or running, and keeps lashes looking fresh all day long. The real star, however, is the unique brush shape: Slightly curved with multi-length bristles, the brush is meant to work on every lash type — whether fine and sparse, full and thick, short, or curly. It really hugs the lashes and makes an even application seamless.
Given the drier formula, the mascara may develop clumps over time and definitely requires some elbow grease to fully remove. But it’s a small price to pay for a mascara that really does deliver on all fronts — lengthening, curling, lifting, and adding volume to lashes with ease.
Price at time of publish: $20
Size: 0.45 oz | Shades: 1 | Key Feature: Multi-length, eye-hugging brush
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Stay Vulnerable Glossy Lip Balm in Nearly Berry
Best Lip Product
What We Love: Forget all your preconceived notions about lip gloss — this one feels like a balm but with a smooth, glassy finish.
What We Don’t Love: Though there are five shades to choose from, they’re not very pigmented.
Along with its impressive selection of complexion products, Rare Beauty also delivers in the lip department. The brand has everything your lip wardrobe needs — from a dewy lip balm and classic lip liner, to a truly comfortable matte lipstick. But of all the lip offerings, none shine (literally and figuratively) quite like Stay Vulnerable Glossy Lip Balm.
This balm-gloss hybrid reminds us of a lip mask in a tube: The botanical-infused formula coats lips in comfort, working to increase hydration and diminish texture, while also leaving a juicy, non-sticky glaze on your pout. We’ve found ourselves reaching for this instead of our tried and true lip balm, especially since it adds a subtle pop of color that enlivens our entire complexion. Just don’t expect any serious pigment — though it comes in five shades, they’re relatively neutral (even the soft berry hue).
Price at time of publish: $20
Size: 0.12 oz | Shades: 5 | Key Feature: Coats lips in non-sticky, nourishing shine
Rare Beauty Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit
What We Love: The refillable two-in-one compact makes freshening up on the go a breeze.
What We Don’t Love: It feels counterintuitive for the powder in the puff to be shimmery when it's meant to mattify the face.
There are few things I appreciate more than innovative, solution-oriented beauty products. That’s what initially attracted me to the Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit — don’t even get me started on the absolute genius that is a puff prefilled with powder. Plus, the tiny pack of folded-up blotting sheets gives users the option to cut down on grease without adding more powder to the skin, which can sometimes look cakey and settle into fine lines. It really is one of those products that makes you wonder how no one else had thought of it before.
Our one complaint is about the puff. A prefilled powder puff is such a smart idea for on the go touch ups and keeping grease at bay. But we just can’t understand why it has outright shimmer in the formula. While many users aren’t perturbed by the shimmer (some even say you really have to be looking for it to notice), we feel like it still emphasized texture — and we wish it came with the option of a matte powder-filled puff.
Price at time of publish: $26
Size: 0.17 oz puff and 100 sheets | Key Feature: Powder-filled puff and blotting papers
Rare Beauty Always An Optimist 4-in-1 Prime & Set Mist
Best Multipurpose Product
What We Love: The ultra-fine mist hydrates, primes, sets, and refreshes skin thanks to its bi-phase formula and blend of skin-loving ingredients.
What We Don’t Love: It does feature several essential oils, which can potentially irritate ultra-sensitive skin and make for a strong (but pleasant) scent.
The art of a great mist is underappreciated. It needs an all-encompassing formula — one that soothes and hydrates skin upon application, while setting makeup in a smooth, airbrush-like filter. But even the best formula can fall short if the nozzle isn’t perfect (and I mean perfect). A good spritzer continuously disperses a steady stream of ultra-fine mist — no spurts, no hard stops, no uneven water particle sizes, and absolutely no heavy doses. Some call me a mist snob, but I just like to think I have standards.
Given my long list of requirements, I was pleasantly surprised by the Always An Optimist 4-in-1 Prime & Set Mist. Though I really shouldn’t have been all that surprised, given the mist comes highly rated from our very own InStyle testing labs. It is important to note, however, that the formula features several essential oils, which can be potentially irritating for ultra-sensitive and very acne-prone skin. The essential oils also make for a rather strong (albeit quite fresh and pleasant) scent.
Price at time of publish: $27
Size: 2.87 oz | Key Feature: Ultra-fine, all-in-one mist
Your Questions, Answered
Who owns Rare Beauty?
Rare Beauty was founded by Selena Gomez and launched in September 2020. "This is makeup made to feel good in, without hiding what makes you unique,” Gomez wrote in an Instagram post. The brand focuses on breaking down unrealistic standards of perfection and, according to its website, is on a mission to celebrate individuality and self-acceptance. Rare Beauty also features a strong charitable component, donating one percent of all sales to the Rare Impact Fund, which helps give people access to mental health resources. The brand raises additional funds with philanthropic foundations, corporate partners, and individuals to increase access to mental health services in educational settings, too.
Is Rare Beauty at Ulta?
At the time of publication, Rare Beauty is available exclusively at Sephora and the brand’s website.
Is Rare Beauty cruelty-free?
Rare Beauty is certified cruelty-free by PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies. The brand is also vegan, meaning all products are free of animal-derived ingredients and animal byproducts.
Why Shop With Us
Danielle Cohen is a freelance beauty writer and editor with more than five years of experience reporting on the beauty industry and testing products. As a member of InStyle’s commerce team, she swatches, sprays, and samples countless beauty products. For this story she researched Rare Beauty’s products and reviews, spoke to brand spokespeople, and tested countless products from the line to find the formulas that truly stand out.
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