When I was in college, I interned at a super cool digital beauty publication. After a myriad of internships that involved packing boxes for eight hours a day (yes really, just the boxes all day) and putting years of old newspapers in date order (yes really, again), you can imagine how thrilled I was when on my first day, I was given luxury beauty products and told to try them and write about them. That internship not only gave me some of my first good bylines, but it ignited a passion for writing about beauty products. Seven years later (here’s a fun TBT for you!), I still love writing about all things beauty, and as a result, I’ve tried a lot of products. I’m talking about hundreds of serums, lipsticks, and face masks. You name it, I’ve tried it.
One thing people are always surprised to hear is that even though a lot of the products I try are from really nice brands and can be pretty pricey, very few stand out amongst the crowd. Most face washes do the trick, and most mascaras get the job done. That’s why when a product does stand out, it has to really work (no beauty writer worth their salt is swayed by marketing gimmicks!). So, I’m sharing the products I keep going back for after all these years. Without further ado, here are my tried and true favorite beauty products.
This product came into my life by accident, and I could not be happier about that. I asked a sales associate at Sephora for any Charlotte Tilbury foundation they had in my shade because I wanted to try the brand. She sent me home with what I thought was foundation, but I realized pretty quickly that I did not have a new bottle of foundation on my hands. Really, it’s more like a giant bottle of skin-colored highlighter. I was nervous that the shine factor would be a bit much, but I get so many compliments on my skin when I wear this product. It’s like a cross between a lightweight foundation and a highlighter, and it gives solid coverage while letting your real skin shine through. It looks amazing in person, but is also a lifesaver for early morning Zoom calls when you need to look a bit brighter on camera. TBH, I’ll probably be switching all of my cosmetics over to Charlotte Tilbury eventually. Every single product I’ve tried brings a major glow factor!
The face oil that started it all. I can literally remember the moment I read about this face oil in Lucky magazine (I just majorly aged myself, but whatever!) while babysitting in college. This was the first face oil I ever tried, and despite trying countless others, I always go back for it. Great price, clean ingredients, and I haven’t had problems with oily skin since I started using it. Game changer.
One of the best concealers I’ve ever tried goes hand in hand with my favorite face oil. While this concealer provides smooth and non-cakey coverage every day, on days when I don’t want to wear foundation, I apply some face oil and then add a little of this concealer. The oil makes it spread beautifully, almost like an extremely lightweight foundation. The stick format is also super convenient to throw in your purse.
I waited way too long to try acne patches, and all I can say is run, don’t walk to grab this pack. Not only do the patches stop you from picking at your skin (ideal for work-from-home days!), but they really do help speed up the acne healing process in the least damaging way possible. I will never reach for a spot treatment over these bad boys ever again.
The color is key here! I’ve always loved OPI nail polishes, but Barefoot in Barcelona is hands down the easiest color to work with that I’ve ever used. This color never streaks, has great shine, and is a pretty neutral shade. I get constant compliments on it and frequently get asked if I got a manicure when I use this color (spoiler alert: I never get manicures).
Speaking of my lack of interest in the nail salon, at-home manicures are so much more doable with this handy product. All you had to do is apply this cuticle remover (don’t worry, no cuticle cutting goes on here!), and after a minute you can gently slough the extra skin off with a cuticle pusher. You don’t fully eliminate your cuticles—which is a good thing—but they’re minimized enough to make your manicure really sleek and salon-worthy. Not to mention, it’s an extremely cathartic process after a long day.
I’ve tried a lot of serums and have always enjoyed the extra dose of moisture they give to my skincare routine, but I had never felt the need to rebuy one until this brightening serum came into my life. The formula is super gentle (unlike some vitamin C serums, which can burn), smells good (unlike most vitamin C serums), and after just a few weeks of use, my skin was noticeably brighter and smoother.
For most of my adult life, I never had to worry about tangled hair, like ever. That is until COVID-19 hit and left me a year overdue on a haircut. It turns out, when my hair gets super long, it tangles. When I started finding chunks of hair in the shower after trying to comb through my hair, I reached for this leave-in conditioner, and it sent my tangles packing. As an added bonus, my hair is super soft and smells really good after combing this through my wet hair.
Since my hair needed a little extra TLC this year, I reached for the big guns. This luxurious pre-shampoo treatment not only helped keep my hair feeling healthier, but provided much-needed protection during styling. Right now, I use this product when my hair needs a little extra TLC, but I’ll also be reaching for it before important events in the future because the shine factor after using it is unreal.
When highlighters first hit the market, pearlescent shades were all the rage, and I wanted in. Well, my olive skin tone had something to say about that. As pretty as those shades are, they just don’t work for me. But you can bet this golden-hued illuminizer does. You need just a dab for the ultimate glow, and it blends in super easily. I’ve always loved Josie Maran’s products, but this illuminizer is one product that will never leave my makeup bag.
Nowadays, it can feel like a status symbol to have the latest perfume from the hippest brand. I love perfume, and I know how easy it is to get tempted by new scents. But after years of ending up with perfumes I liked but didn’t love, I’ve decided to stay committed to the scent I’ve been wearing since high school. Does that make me cool? Probably not. But perfume is so personal, and this perfume makes me feel like me when I wear it. I suspect I’ll be a fan for life!
I love a good lip color, but not one that is more fuss than it’s worth. This tinted balm is beyond perfect. It’s moisturizing and totally gets the job done when you need a lip balm, but it also gives a gorgeous wash of color without feeling overdone. Rose is my favorite shade, but I am tempted to collect them all. It’s the perfect lip color to keep in your bag or to throw on before a video meeting.