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We tested the best matte lipsticks of 2020

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(CNN) —  

It may be all about the eyes these days, as the lower half of your face is likely to be covered by a mask during most of your time spent outdoors, but we’re here to confirm that a good matte lipstick is still a classic essential to have in your beauty arsenal.

There’s the argument, of course, that if you’re wearing lipstick, it’s even more important than ever to find one that stays put and doesn’t transfer onto your mask — or come off easily after dining al fresco. A quality lipstick is also a way to accessorize your work-from-home look and restore a bit of normalcy into what has been, to put it mildly, a very strange year. Plus? Lipstick is simply fun to wear, even if you’re just swiping it on for a pick-me-up (or your IG stories).

In an oversaturated market, it can be tough to figure out which matte lipsticks are the right ones for you and which products actually live up to their wear-all-day claims, not to mention finding shades you love. Also factor in that some brands tend to change their formulas every so often, so what was once a less-than-stellar choice may have vastly improved since you last tried it.

To find the best, our makeup-obsessed editors put 16 top-rated picks to the test — a pool we settled on after doing comprehensive research — and, honestly, found many of them to have their merits. For the full list of (all quite different!) matte lipsticks we tested and what we loved and didn’t love about each, scroll down. Ultimately, we settled on five standouts that are worth every penny.

The best matte lipsticks of 2020
The best matte lipsticks of 2020
PHOTO: Natasha Hatendi/CNN

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($22) has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Matte Lipstick ($22) lost top honors by only two points (it just didn’t have quite the same staying power as our top overall). It’s a highly pigmented formula that does a great job at staying put, plus it also uses a substance called Volulip (more on that below) for a subtle plumping and smoothing effect.

Uoma Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick ($24) is basically butter in a tube (but in the least gross way possible), gliding on effortlessly. It’s impossibly moisturizing and has a beautiful bold pigment, and its staying power is impressive for such a hydrating formula.

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick ($7.89) is a drugstore-brand lipstick that you’d never guess was budget-priced based on how incredibly well it stays put all day long. It’s also available in 35 colors, including some funky shades like blue and black.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream ($6.50) gave a lot of the beauty-store and luxury-brand products in our testing pool a run for their money. While not as long-lasting as Maybelline, this matte lipstick offers more in the moisturizing department, which might be a draw for those prone to dry lips who don’t want to break the bank.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
PHOTO: Amazon

The staying power of Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, as far as we’re concerned, can be attributed only to pure sorcery. Earning the highest marks in this category out of all 16 lipsticks in our testing pool, this stuff held up to messy breakfast sandwiches and drinks galore, having barely budged many hours after it was applied. If you’re looking for a mask-friendly matte lipstick that won’t transfer onto its fabric, there is no better choice, in our opinion, than Stila.

With all long-wear lipsticks, historically we’ve come to expect sacrificing ultra-hydrated lips for the ability to stay put all day long. The moisture level of Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, however, impressed us given its superior staying power. While top marks for a moisturizing lipstick went to Uoma Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick, Stila’s formula is still remarkably moisturizing, putting vitamin E and avocado oil to work keeping your lips soft and flake-free.

It glides on like a gloss, shiny and wet, but quickly dries to a lightweight matte finish that you’ll barely notice is on your lips once it has. The product is highly pigmented — you’ll likely need to swipe one layer on — and we didn’t find it to feather or bleed whatsoever. It’s available in 19 varied shades, from nude beige to deep plum to bold red. The line also includes two hues in a “sheer” formula, for softer coverage, and a “shimmer” formula available in five colors, to add a little sparkle to your look; both promise up to 12 hours of wear, though for the purpose of our tests we tried only the matte formula.

All Stila products are cruelty-free — as they should be in 2020; all other beauty companies still testing on animals, please take note! — but the Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick is not vegan, as all shades contain carmine and beeswax. (That said, if a vegan ingredients list is a must for you, we’d recommend Fenty Stunna Lip Paint as a comparable long-wear matte lipstick.)

Perhaps nothing in this world is perfect, but when it comes to matte lipsticks, Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick comes awfully close, especially if you’re looking for a lightweight, nondrying, highly pigmented formula that’ll withstand long days of wear without any evidence that you’ve eaten a greasy grilled cheese sandwich for lunch or worn a mask for several hours.

Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Matte Lipstick ($22; hsn.com and sephora.com)

Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Matte Lipstick
Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Matte Lipstick
PHOTO: HSN

Coming in just a hair beneath our overall pick, Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Lipstick is another long-lasting formula that surprised us with how moisturizing it proved to be throughout the day. Like the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, Too Faced’s product also includes vitamin E and avocado oil to help soften lips but has the added bonus of subtle plumping properties, thanks to Volulip (a plant extract and peptide-derived substance that works to volumize lips without a stinging effect).

Too Faced’s lipstick earned only slightly lower marks for staying power; while it stood up to meals and drinks quite well, we found that it did transfer a tad onto our masks, though we were still impressed by its ability to keep its pigmentation throughout the day without flaking or drying. We found it to smudge only minimally after hours of wear. The liquid formula is a bit more matte in its application from the get-go (versus, for instance, Stila’s more glossy initial application), and its angled applicator meant swiping it on precisely, without glooping, was no issue; it does have a bit of a sticky feel upon application that fades quickly, however.

What’s more, Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Lipstick is available in 29 shades — from subdued pinks and light browns to oranges, fuschias, a purply black and even green — to suit whatever look you’re going for. The brand is entirely cruelty-free, though beeswax in this lipstick’s formula means it’s not considered a vegan product.

Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Lipstick is a high-pigmented, long-lasting formula that won’t dry out your pucker, and it’s an especially good choice if you’re someone looking for a product that will subtly plump your lips.

Uoma Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick ($24; ulta.com)

Uoma Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick
Uoma Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick
PHOTO: Ulta

One of the few lipsticks in our testing pool that solicited literal oohs and aahs from our testers, Uoma Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick glides on like butter, and you’ll need only one swipe on your lips to sufficiently coat them with color.

Earning the highest marks for moisture level, Uoma’s formula is infused with mango butter, aka a blessing for dry, damaged lips. After weeks of wearing matte lipsticks, finishing off our testing pool by trying the Uoma lipstick felt like an early holiday gift for our lips.

The trade-off for all that hydration is staying power that isn’t quite comparable to our long-lasting winner and runner-up — but it does do a pretty darn good job of that too. After a breakfast of yogurt, granola and coffee, for instance, the hue persisted, but it didn’t look just-applied in the way that Stila’s lipstick did. It also transferred a bit onto our masks, but for such a pigmented, creamy, hydrating formula, we didn’t consider it a deal breaker. As one tester attested, “I ate pasta, ran an errand — while wearing my mask — and to my shock the color was still on my lips and still maintained its full coverage.” There you have it, folks.

Uoma Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick is available in 16 shades that run the gamut from pinks and browns to coral and purple hues. Fun bonus: All colors are named after iconic Black women (Uoma is also a Black-owned brand), like Chaka, Whitney, Coretta and Funmilayo. Uoma’s products are cruelty-free, though this lipstick is not a vegan formula.

This smooth, lightweight, hydrating lipstick is a no-brainer for makeup lovers — especially those with dry lips who want a product that’ll keep ‘em moisturized even as the weather turns chilly and windy — and we think it’s well worth its $24 price tag.

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick ($7.89; amazon.com or $7.98; walmart.com)

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
PHOTO: Amazon

Simply put, Maybelline’s SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick is a drugstore product, but you’d never know it.

This is a seriously impressive stay-put lipstick for such a paltry price tag. While it’s not necessarily a notably drying formula, it wasn’t among the most moisturizing we tested either, and it has a bit of a sticky feel upon application that persists. That said, we didn’t find it to be a deal breaker: The tradeoff for pigmented color that lasts through breakfast, lunch, coffees and glasses upon glasses of water throughout our workday was worth it. We also experienced little to no transfer onto our masks with this product.

Like the Stila Stay All Day, Maybelline’s liquid lipstick applies glossy, then quickly dries to a matte finish. Our only gripe with the application is that it can come out of the tube a bit gloopy, so you have to rub the applicator on the sides of the tube to remove any excess product.

Rounding out the laundry list of what we appreciate about this product: It’s available in 35 shades, including funky hues like blue, black and a purple-based gray, along with your standard reds, pinks, browns, beiges and then some. (As a bonus, the lipstick also has a delightful, dessert-like scent, reminiscent of chocolate or caramel.)

Unfortunately, Maybelline is not a cruelty-free brand, since it sells its products in China, where animal testing is mandatory for foreign cosmetics. If supporting a 100% cruelty-free brand is important to you, you’ll find a comparable formula in our budget runner-up, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream, or the Milani Amore Lip Creme. That caveat aside, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a longer-lasting drugstore matte lipstick than this one.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream ($6.50; amazon.com or $6.99; target.com)

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream
PHOTO: Amazon

If you’re looking for a more moisturizing wallet-friendly matte lipstick (or you prefer to stick to only cruelty-free products) and you’re willing to sacrifice staying power, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream is a solid choice.

For starters, we found its applicator tip, which was smaller than many of those for the liquid lipsticks in our pool, to be the holy grail of applicators. It doesn’t hold on to excess product, meaning you can get a precise application even without a lip liner. Plus, it’s not super-drying like some stay-put formulas can be.

With a price tag not much more than a venti pumpkin spice latte, we found the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream to hold up well relatively throughout the day (to, among other things, said lattes), though not nearly to the extent of Maybelline’s SuperStay lipstick. For continued full coverage, you’ll have to reapply this lipstick after a meal and perhaps after wearing a mask for a while, but (pro tip!) if you spray your lips with setting spray after applying the product, it’ll help keep the color intact longer.

Less staying power came with the trade-off, however, of a more hydrating formula than Maybelline’s SuperStay. If you’re someone prone to dry, chapped lips, you might find this NYX lipstick to be more up your alley.

We also loved that the lipstick is available in a whopping 36 shades. NYX is a cruelty-free brand, and though Matte Lip Cream is not vegan, its Metallic Lip Cream formula is.

How we tested

We pored through the internet and drew from our editors’ firsthand experience to find the top matte lipsticks on the market, ranging from drugstore options to higher-end products, to include in our testing pool. Three testers all tested shades that they preferred, to eliminate any bias toward a lip product that may have been high-quality but not a hue that was fitting for them or their skin tone. We considered staying power, high pigmentation, a moisturizing formula and smooth and precise application to be the primary measures of a good matte lipstick.

We gave the most weight to staying power, noting how well they stood up to messy meals and to what extent they transferred onto our masks. We made note of whether they feathered or flaked after hours of wear, or if they downright smeared when we took our masks off. After all, what good is a lipstick if it comes right off? We also weighted pigmentation heavily, followed by moisture level and ease of precise application, with the latter two weighted equally. We took value into consideration, meaning we tested only three “luxury” beauty brands and gave more points to lipsticks that delivered more product per dollar.

To determine the most accurate overall scores, we broke the testing into the following categories and subcategories:

Staying power

  • Resistance to food and drinks: We observed to what extent the pigment remained on our lips after drinking beverages and eating meals. We also took note of how easy or difficult it is to remove the product at the end of the day.
  • Transfer resistance: We observed whether it transfers easily to face masks.

Pigmentation

  • We noted how saturated the pigmentation was and if it required multiple coats for full-coverage color on our lips.

Ease of application

  • Smoothness: We noted whether it applied to our lips in a smooth manner or if it dragged and/or felt sticky.
  • Precision: We observed how precisely we could fill our lips with the product without wearing a lip liner, and if the color bled after application.

Moisture level

  • We noted whether the lipstick made our lips feel dry or hydrated.

Color availability

  • We noted how many shades the lipstick is available in.

Value

  • Cost per ounce: We did the math to determine the ratio of the volume of the product to its price.

Cruelty-free/vegan

  • We looked into whether the brand tests on animals and if the product has vegan ingredients.

How we rated

We determined a maximum number of points each product could get for every category and subcategory test listed above, including a higher number of overall points for the features we identified as being most important to the experience of using a matte lipstick.

  • Staying power had a maximum of 30 points.
  • Pigmentation had a maximum of 20 points.
  • Ease of application had a maximum of 15 points.
  • Moisture level had a maximum of 15 points.
  • Range of colors had a maximum of 10 points: We assigned each product a point value relative to how many shades are available and the breadth of their color range.
  • Value had a maximum of 5 points: We assigned each product a point value relative to its price per ounce.
  • Cruelty-free/vegan had a maximum of 4 points: Both cruelty-free and vegan (4 points); either cruelty-free or vegan, but not both (2 points); brand is cruelty-free but parent company is not (1 point); neither cruelty-free nor vegan (0 points).

Other lipsticks we tested

Milani Amore Matte Lip Creme
Milani Amore Matte Lip Creme
PHOTO: Natasha Hatendi/CNN

Milani Amore Matte Lip Creme (starting at $6.33; amazon.com, $9.67; walmart.com or $7.99; target.com)

Another drugstore product that impressed us with its staying power, the Milani Amore Matte Lip Creme came in just a smidgen behind the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in overall points. (In fact, one of our staffers swears by it as a staple in her beauty product collection.) It stood up fairly well to breakfast and coffee, and then a messy grilled cheese for lunch, and it barely transferred onto our masks. Where it lost points, however, was in the moisture department. The liquid lipstick, which can come out a little gloopy, felt dry at first, but once it dries to a matte finish it’s quite lightweight and barely noticeable. If you’re prone to chapped lips, you’ll want to wear this layered over a lip balm, especially for all-day wear. Note that if you do add lip balm, the product will go from a matte finish to a glossy one (and still look flawless).

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Lipstick (starting at $6.69; amazon.com or $7.97; walmart.com)

This lipstick has superior staying power — one of our testers had to pretty much scrub her lips with makeup remover to fully get it off — but it lost points in several other categories. The liquid lipstick has a sticky feel that persists throughout the day, and it ranked somewhere in the middle in terms of moisture level. While not incredibly drying, it isn’t what we’d describe as hydrating, and can get a bit clumpy and flaky after a few hours of wear. (One of our testers found that wearing a primer under this product, however, drastically improved that issue and made the application much smoother.)

Colourpop Lippie Stix ($5.25, originally $7; colourpop.com or $7; ulta.com)

A moisturizing matte lipstick, we loved the pigmentation of Colourpop Lippie Stix, though we found its staying power to be average. (One of our testers noted that after she removed her mask upon reaching her destination, the pigment remained bold, but the lipstick had smeared.) Housed in a narrow twist-up tube, this lipstick goes on smooth and is rather easy to apply precisely — it’s perfect for getting a great Cupid’s bow. It was a little drying after a bit, but at just $7 a pop, we still think it’s an option worth adding to your collection if you find a shade you love (it’s available in 16 of ‘em), and if you prefer a solid matte lipstick formula to a liquid one.

MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick
MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick
PHOTO: Natasha Hatendi/CNN

MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick ($19; nordstrom.com and macys.com)

We were fans of MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick’s unique velvety texture and its gorgeous iconic shades. Thirty-seven shades, to be exact — plus an additional seven in its best-selling Retro Matte Lipstick line (Ruby Woo, ever hear of her?). While it’s not quite a stay-all-day lip color, it did stand up fairly well to a coffee and light breakfast before fading midway throughout the day. After a messy meal, though, it came off pretty noticeably. The lipstick is relatively moisturizing and has a nice pigment, but if you’re prone to dry lips, this is one product where we might recommend first applying a primer to help avoid flaking.

Pat McGrath Mattetrance Lipstick ($38; sephora.com)

Pat McGrath is an iconic makeup artist (ICYMI, Vogue has called her fashion’s most influential makeup artist), and so unsurprisingly, her line of high-end cosmetics comes with accordingly high price tags. We were impressed by the gorgeous pigmentation of the Mattetrance Lipstick, which looks flawless upon application; color payoff is stellar. It also has a light, hydrating, creamy formula that glides right onto your lips (and very pretty packaging to boot). The lipstick lost major points, though, for its lack of staying power; it transferred onto our masks and came off more easily than we would have hoped after a meal, especially considering it was the most expensive product in our testing pool.

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint
Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint
PHOTO: Natasha Hatendi/CNN

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint ($25; sephora.com)

There’s a reason why “paint” is in the name of this product: Applying this super-pigmented lip color truly does feel like you’re taking a paintbrush to your lips, and it’s oh-so-satisfying. More square than curved, the applicator has an uncommon shape, which some of us found to be a detriment to nailing precise application. Add a matching lip liner to the mix, though, and the issue will likely be moot.

We appreciated Fenty Stunna Lip Paint’s staying power — it basically lasts all day, but it does transfer slightly — and it’s so pigmented, in fact, that when we removed it, one of our testers found that it temporarily stained her fingers (which, though slightly annoying, we couldn’t help but find impressive). You’ll definitely need a cotton ball and some micellar water to remove this product; makeup wipes just won’t do. We didn’t find it as moisturizing as some of the other lipsticks in our testing pool, and we wished that it came in more than nine shades, but RiRi & Co. largely came through on this product, and if you’re looking for a bold, stay-all-day lip color that’s both cruelty-free and vegan, this is the one for you.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor (starting at $4; amazon.com or starting at $5.99; walmart.com)

A super-moisturizing formula (which had the bonus of a delightful scent), Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor lost major points for its lack of staying power: It comes off nearly instantly after eating or drinking, and rubbed off easily on our masks. Akin to more of a gloss than a matte lipstick, this is a good choice if you’re looking for subtle color in a nourishing formula for your work-from-home look. The applicator can be a tad gloopy but otherwise glides right on and feels soft and not drying. As it didn’t last through a cup of coffee for us, though, if you’re looking for a long-wear drugstore lipstick, you’ll want to choose another option.

Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Lipstick ($12.50, originally $18; sephora.com)

The second product we tested in the Fenty Beauty line, the Mattemoiselle Plush Lipstick wowed us with how smoothly it applies — it’s soft and moisturizing, and in a narrow twist-up tube, it’s easy to apply to your lips with precision. While this isn’t a stay-put lipstick and won’t last through a meal, it’s a lovely, beautifully pigmented choice if you’re fine with reapplying often.

Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil
Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil
PHOTO: Natasha Hatendi/CNN

Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil ($27; sephora.com and macys.com)

We loved that the pencil design of this matte lipstick meant you didn’t need a separate lip liner to ensure precise application, but unfortunately that’s about all we loved about this product. Its lack of pigmentation meant we needed to apply it several times for more prominent color, and even then it was quite subtle. Plus, its lack of staying power was disappointing (we’re typically big fans of Nars cosmetics!), particularly for its high price point; we found it rubbed off with just a swipe of the finger.

Yves Saint Laurent Tatouage Couture Liquid Matte Lip Stain (starting at $37; macys.com and sephora.com)

The YSL Tatouage Couture Liquid Matte Lip Stain comes in stunning packaging that, well, looks like money. Of course it does: It’s YSL. While rather moisturizing — the glossy formula is a joy to apply — staying power and pigmentation were not on the list of this product’s fortes. More of a sheer stain than a matte lipstick, it isn’t long-lasting, but it does look quite lovely while it’s there. We also appreciated the unique applicator, which made it easy to apply precisely. It stayed on longer than several stains we’ve used in the past, but it isn’t a lip color we’d consider long wear; you’ll have to reapply after a meal. If you’ve got the money to spare, though, and you’re looking for a more subtle, sheer color in high-end packaging, it sure does look pretty.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick ($34; sephora.com)

With glamorous rose-gold packaging and the lingering scent of dessert as it graces your lips, you’ll feel fancy just applying Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick. It’s also a formula that will leave your lips feeling hydrated, similar to the consistency of a lip balm. Beyond this, though, the product fell short in most other categories. It took two layers for the color to show up on our lips, which easily transfers and is no match for a small meal and a coffee; it comes off almost instantly. For a product priced this high, we’d expect more staying power or a bolder pigment, though if you’re looking for a smoother, softer color and don’t care about a long-wear lipstick, we did appreciate how moisturizing it was.

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World

All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year

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(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.

Coffee

Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.

Audio

Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.

Beauty

Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.

Home

Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.

Video

Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.

Travel

Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.

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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

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Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.
Twitter

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.
Facebook

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.


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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year

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From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.

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