The Beauty Report: The 18 most popular beauty products of 2023

From Sol de Janeiro's cult perfume mists to Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream, 2023 proved the era of microtrends is over

 A model backstage at fashion week, with cut outs of the bestselling beauty products 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images/Brand Imagery)

When it comes to researching the most popular beauty products of the year, I'm typically in my happy place. As a beauty editor, I spend my days trawling social media in a bid to unearth the next big beauty trend. And if this year has proved anything it's that there's no such thing as too many hair trends, nail trends and make-up trends. From latte make-up and the butterfly cut to blueberry milk nails and linen blonde, 2023 has shown that the limit really does not exist when it comes to beauty microtrends.

However, while I see the appeal and fun in these trends, it is my job to inform people's beauty spending habits wisely – and I'm all too aware that these trends are fleeting. Over the years, I have learned that the best way to ensure you're buying a beauty product that is actually worth it, is to do research into what products can stand the test of time. And while TikTok has really led the way when it comes to our product choices in recent years (and, let's face it, has let us down more times that we can count), 2023 has seen many of us reverting back to the classic looks and products we know best.

How do I know? Because I have spent the last four weeks deep in research. I have spoken with the biggest beauty retailers in the game, analysed social media hashtags and spent hours diving deep into Google search numbers, to find out what the actual  most popular beauty products were in 2023 – and I have drawn some interesting conclusions.

While social media might have us thinking buzzy, of-the-moment products were all the rage this year, the products we were actually interested in (and buying) were timeless classics. And, if you want my opinion, I think every single one of these bestselling beauty products its worth its weight in gold (which isn't something I can usually say about my end-of-year beauty reports).

From serums and moisturisers to perfumes and candles, 2023 was officially the year that we got our beauty shopping right. Here are the 18 most popular beauty products of 2023, according to retail sales reports and online insights.

1. Rich-smelling perfumes

You likely don't need me to tell you that 2023 was the year we all decided we wanted to start smelling expensive. Yep, rich-smelling perfumes took the spotlight in the fragrance game this year. While the new Victoria Beckham Beauty fragrances proved that the aroma of wealth could definitely be bottled, retailers saw premium, niche fragrances take top spots on their bestsellers lists. 

"Customers are continuing to gravitate towards niche and premium fragrances – they want to smell like no other," says Heena Mohammed, Lead for Make-up and Fragrance at John Lewis. While John Lewis saw Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 and Diptyque Orphéon (my signature scent, so hands off) at the top of its lists, Cult Beauty saw huge demand for its Le Labo offering. 

But, the stand-out beauty product of the entire year doesn't have sky-high price tags. Yep, Sol de Janeiro's now iconic Cheirosa 62 Perfume Mist absolutely ruled 2023. The sweet, creamy scent proves you don't need to fork out a huge amount of money to smell expensive. It had 130,792 searches on site at Lookfantastic and #soldejaneiro62 has 28.5m views on TikTok at the time of writing. Both Lookfantastic and Cult Beauty named it a top seller for 2023, and it was also one of our most popular products on site at Marie Claire UK.

Meanwhile, M&S also proved you don't need to spend big to smell rich. They sold 70,000 units of Apothecary Warmth Eau de Parfum after it saw viral fame on TikTok – that's enough to scale Mt Everest.

2. Science-first skincare

Ever since I started writing end-of-year beauty reports many years ago Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream has featured, but this year its inclusion means far more than it ever has. The super-expensive face cream puts science and proven ingredients first – something everyone seems to be championing this year. Global Contributing Beauty Director at Net-a-Porter, Newby Hands says, "Our customers want their beauty and skincare regimens to work harder with less and their regimens are becoming more technical. This is a contrast to the luxury beauty industry of 10 years ago when the focus was on natural and organic."

Yep, 2023 was the year the industry realised that just because a product is marketed 'natural' or 'organic', that doesn't necessarily make it better for the environment – or your skin. Science-first formulas that do what they promise to do are back in the limelight, and I couldn't be more thrilled. "Within Skincare we have continued to see customers looking for brands and products that showcase active ingredients with high efficacy. Brands that have led with this whilst making it easy for customers to navigate and explore have been the winners this year. Key sought after ingredients have included niacinamide, vitamin C and squalane, along with the always popular hyaluronic acid, " says Tomas Warwick, Lead for Skincare and Wellness at John Lewis.

Both Net-a-Porter and John Lewis saw The Rich Cream feature prominently in their bestsellers lists, while John Lewis also saw huge sales from The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, showing that you don't always have to splurge for noticeable results.

3. Make-up classics

I couldn't be more thrilled to report that the day of fad make-up products appears to be over. Earlier this year, I cleared my make-up drawers of all the, frankly rubbish, products I bought on a whim because they went viral on social media – and it seems like everyone else has cottoned onto the scam, too. Yes, retailers saw that proven classic, staple make-up products led the way in 2023.

Net-a-Porter saw huge sales from Charlotte Tilbury's cult nude lip liner, Pillow Talk, while Lookfantastic and Cult Beauty both saw Laura Mercier's iconic (and, in my opinion, industry-leading) Translucent Setting Powder take a top spot. Over at John Lewis, Chanel's Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream saw great success – an easy-to-use product that lasts forever. (Seriously, I've had mine for about four years, as disgusting as that is.) Another bestseller at John Lewis was Dior's Lip Glow Oil. While this product did see unparalleled virality on TikTok last year, it's worth noting that it is, in my opinion, still a timeless classic – and the best at what it does.

4. Expensive hair

Rich-smelling perfumes, expensive hair – yes, wealth led the way when it came to our beauty routines this year. And this isn't to say you have to actually be rich, rather we all just wanted to create a somewhat wealthy illusion. (Can we blame the cost of living crisis for this one? Perhaps.)

On Net-a-Porter, we actually were spending big on hair, with Oribe's eye-wateringly expensive (but so, so good) Gold Lust Shampoo and Conditioner featuring on their bestsellers list. Elsewhere, though, it seems we just wanted our hair to look like we'd spent a lot of money on it. I'm talking high-shine, perfectly polished and largely blown-out looks. Color Wow's high-shine Dream Coat was the most popular hair product on Lookfantastic, while Cult Beauty saw whopping sales from Amika Blowout Babe Thermal Brush.

5. High-tech skin gadgets

Truthfully, I've been waiting for the skin gadget bubble to burst for a little while now. Over the past few years we have seen a huge number of skin gadgets launch, most of which I think are nonsense. In 2023, however, I'm pleased to report that we saw truly efficacious skin gadgets reign supreme. I'm talking genuinely effective LED masks and microcurrent devices that really do work. While gimmicky gadgets took a back seat, luxury tools that save on clinic time stepped up. Net-a-Porter saw both Dr Dennis Gross's  DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED Mask (one of my all-time favourites) and Facegym's Electrical Muscle Stimulation Mask take top spots.

6. Sensorial skincare

As a beauty editor who loves all things spa-like and sensorial, I have been slightly concerned over the past few years that great-smelling, delightful-to-use skincare products were destined for cancellation. While science-first, dermatologist-formulated formulas are no doubt great for treating serious skin concerns, for those who just want to keep their skin health ticking along, it's important that skincare products remain enjoyable to use – and we've seen this in 2023 with a big return of balm cleansers.

"We have seen the double cleanse routine here to stay. Customers have been opting for balm textures first to melt away product on the skin followed by a second cleanse to target specific concerns," says John Lewis's Warwick. Both John Lewis and Lookfantastic saw Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm head up bestseller lists, while John Lewis also saw huge sales from Eve Lom's cult Cleanser.

7. Luxe-smelling candles

Finally, we come to home fragrance. In all of my years as a beauty editor, I am not sure I have ever seen so much demand for luxury candles as I have done in 2023 – and I'm overjoyed. Personally, I don't think there's anything more joy-inducing in my home that a great-smelling candle. 

Tying into the quiet luxury trend that dominated 2023 quite nicely, Net-a-Porter saw grand numbers of Diptyque Baies Candle be sold. And over on our own pages at Marie Claire UK, we saw unprecedented demand for luxury candle content, with Byredo's Tree House being one of our most clicked-on products of the entire year.

The trend to watch for 2024

Heirloom products

Now that we know what sold well this year, I wanted to put an upcoming trend on your radar. With all of the info I have absorbed over the year in my job, I feel pretty confident in saying that 2024 will see a major beauty trend emerge - heirloom beauty products. Late in 2023, we saw both Chanel and Dior launch extremely luxe refillable lipsticks. Their purpose? To serve as heirlooms that can be passed down from generation to generation.

With refills, quiet luxury and beauty classics all on the rise, I'm anticipating more of us leaning into the concept of investing in beauty heirlooms next year.

Shannon Lawlor
Executive Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is the Executive Beauty Editor at Marie Claire. With nearly a decade of experience working for some of the beauty industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear, Glamour UK, Stylist and Refinery29, Shannon’s aim is to make the conversation around beauty as open, relatable and honest as possible. As a self-confessed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for hard-working perfumes, fool-proof make-up products and does-it-all skincare.