The Beauty Products Our Editors Splurged on and Think Are Actually Worth It

Source: @taraleydon

If you think people occupying luxury beauty lists are only celebrities and those with near-celebrity bank accounts (AKA not us), you’re in for a treat. Luxury beauty isn’t all about the glitz and glamour; there’s something to be said for spending a little extra money on a product with the best ingredients, good packaging, and a brand ethos you can stand behind. Splurging on beauty products every once in a while is a privilege our team is excited to partake in—a little more than we’d like to admit—and we’re here to share all the splurges that ended up being worth the coin. From skincare to makeup to tools, use this as your guide the next time you have a little extra cash.

SkinBetter Science

AlphaRet Overnight Cream

Two years ago, I wrote an article where I interviewed several dermatologists about the beauty products they can't live without. When I spoke with them, several mentioned Skinbetter’s AlphaRet Overnight Cream, which I had recognized as an Allure Best of Beauty Winner. Upon hearing the dermatologists' praises, I decided that was the best possible recommendation I could get, and I truly cannot put this cream into words. After about 12 weeks of using it, I noticed a huge difference in my skin: the texture, evenness, fine lines, everything. I can honestly say that of every skincare product I’ve used—both prescription and not—this is the one that has given me the best results. Yes, it’s expensive, but it lasts me a long time, and I’d rather spend money on one good product that I know I love than on others that are a gamble and might not work out for me. If I could recommend one skincare product, it would be this.

– Maddie Galassi, Fashion Content Manager


Mini Facial Toning Device

If there’s any product in my beauty routine that has been worth the splurge, it’s been my NuFACE. In early 2020, I was deeply self-conscious about my skin. Not only did I feel like clearing my skin of acne and dark spots would be impossible, but I also felt like my face was so puffy and lacked contour, and beyond seeing an injector or plastic surgeon, there wasn’t much I could do to fix that. I researched the heck out of the NuFACE, and it’s been the one tool that I’ve noticed made a long-term difference on my face. My face now has more contour and shape instead of looking like a giant bouncy ball (which isn’t always a bad thing!). Using the NuFACE has also made such an impact on my confidence because I notice results as soon as I use it as well as over time. I highly recommend the mini device if you want to save money and aren’t looking for something to really diminish and treat existing wrinkles and fine lines. If that’s your goal, the other heads that the Trinity device comes with will probably help you more than just the standard head.

– Beth Gillette, Beauty Content Manager

Pat McGrath Labs

Divine Powder Blush

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my absolute favorite beauty product is blush. It never fails to liven up your complexion, and it honestly turns my entire day around. When Pat McGrath announced she was finally coming out with a blush formula, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I ordered the shade Cherish (a bright pink), and when I say it's the most beautiful blush I have ever seen, I mean it. Cream blushes don’t stay well on my skin, so I like to opt for powder, which can look dry—but this is the opposite. Even though it’s a demi-matte formula, it gives you a bit of natural radiance and stays on all day long. I ended up also picking up the shade Desert Orchid, which is one of the shimmer finishes, and it's by far the most natural-looking luminous blush I have ever used. If I could, I’d buy every shade of this—it’s worth every penny.

– Maddie Galassi, Fashion Content Manager

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare

Extra Strength Daily Peel

If we’re being honest, these peel pads are so good, I almost wish I never tried them, because now that I know what a difference they make for my skin, I can never go back. With almost 7,000 reviews on Sephora, this product is worth shelling out the money for flawless skin. This genius combo of chemical exfoliants promises to clear skin, even skin tone, reduce hyperpigmentation, limit fine lines, and boost glow. I’ve tried a lot of exfoliants and peels, but this one was so effective—the results were immediate. Within the first couple of weeks of using these peel pads, the pesky blackheads on my nose that I’ve had forever became so much less noticeable, and the small amount of pigmentation I typically have near my mouth and chin was basically gone. The best part? My usual period breakouts didn't even come, and I got more compliments on my skin than ever. I admit it’s a little pricey, but I love having a secret weapon to go to when I need an extra boost.

– Josie Santi, Wellness Content Manager

Biologique Recherche

Masque Vivant

Last year, I dealt with all the uncertainty and stress of the pandemic by working my way through my rather long wish list of beauty products. Close to the top of that list was the Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant. It’s a balancing face mask designed to reduce excess oil production, brighten and even skin tone, speed up the healing of blemishes, and soothe and hydrate the skin. Basically, Masque Vivant is designed to do everything, and it does it well. The mask is formulated with yeast extract for its brightening and moisturizing properties, bentonite and kaolin clay to help absorb oil and draw pollutants out of your pores, and vinegar and lactic acid to gently exfoliate. I use it twice a week, and depending on what my skin needs, I might apply some Biologique Recherche P50 underneath it or add a little bit of baking soda to the mask to optimize my results. This mask definitely isn’t cheap, but the way it makes my skin so smooth, even, and glowy in just 15 minutes is exactly why I will continue to repurchase it.

– Adele Ashley, Contributing Beauty Writer


Medium Hair Shampoo

I don't love spending more than $50 on my shampoo and conditioner regime, but what can I say: My follicles have expensive taste. The newly reformulated Ouai is like liquid gold—it's the only hair system I've ever used that lets me air dry to an actually workable result (rather than a giant frizz puff). I use the set designed specifically for medium hair, and it’s the perfect Goldilocks situation—absolutely just right. My hair is dry and tends to frizz upon immediate contact with air, but I’ve noticed a marked increase in silky smoothness whenever I’m using Ouai. I love everything about it: the slightly cologne-reminiscent scent, the generous lather of the shampoo, and the chicly minimal packaging. I'm a firm believer that if I'm going to splurge, I should be getting something that works better than anything else, and Ouai has yet to disappoint me. Shop the conditioner.

– Kelly Etz, Course Director

Fenty Beauty

Freestyle Cream Bronzer

Although this isn’t a huge splurge, it took a little bit of back and forth in my brain to ultimately decide to purchase this bronzer. $32 may not seem like much, but I'm typically someone who uses a $7 bronzer and calls it a day. However, all of my coworkers were singing praises of this product last summer, so I knew I needed to try it out. And let me tell you, I'm so happy I did. This has now become one of my holy grail beauty products—it's the smoothest cream product I’ve ever used, it blends perfectly, and it gives me the best natural bronzey look. I love to pair this with more minimal-coverage, natural-looking products in the summertime to achieve that perfect “I just got back from a tropical vacation” glow.

– Jessica Welsh, Junior Graphic Designer and Assistant Editor

Sunday Riley

Retinol Sleeping Night Oil

I’m not usually one to splurge on skincare, as I usually love finding those rare gems or even brands similar to The Ordinary that are on the more affordable side. But now that I’m getting older, I really want to preserve my skin and keep it looking young, fresh, and healthy for as long as possible. So I did my research and was swayed by this product's great reviews. So far, so good! I’ve only had this for a few weeks now, but on nights I feel like having a spa day, I turn on my facial steamer, then put on a mask, and finally slab this baby all over my face. The next morning, I’m looking brand new.

– Alex Pizarro, Editorial Assistant


Supersonic Hair Dryer

Way back in 2018, when Dyson first announced the Supersonic Hair Dryer, I knew I was in trouble. Somehow, I managed to refrain from impulse-buying the $400 hair dryer of my dreams for years (By “somehow,” I mean my brain couldn't even begin to justify paying this much money for a hair dryer—my $40 ConAir worked just fine, thank you very much). Today, I'm so glad I finally decided to make this investment. I have very curly hair that, when left alone, takes pretty much a full day to dry completely. Hair dryers with diffusers cut that time down to about an hour and saves me from walking around all day like I just got back from a swim. The Dyson? It fully dries my hair in about 20-30 minutes, depending on the settings I use. The time-saving perks alone are enough to make this purchase worth it. But on top of that, my hair feels softer and is less frizzy, and my washes last longer. It’s truly a 10/10 purchase. If getting a Dyson has ever remotely crossed your mind, just go for it.

– Garri Chaverst, Managing Editor

Pat McGrath Labs

Perfection Foundation

As a Black woman, finding a foundation that worked for me straight out of the bottle (in pre-Fenty Beauty days) was always a struggle, as most major brands would suggest that I mix two or three different shades so that I could custom create my shade or wouldn’t even offer a shade close to my skin tone. There's a moderately priced stick foundation I love that is a perfect match for me, but the liquid foundation that changed everything is this bottle of Pat McGrath Skin Fetish Foundation. It's a long-lasting formula that provides medium coverage and a natural finish that does not dry out or turn cakey on my skin. As it's a medium coverage formula, I was surprised to discover that the foundation is actually quite thin. However, you can build it up quickly while still having your skin look natural. Note that I don’t usually reach for this on the hottest summer days and always make sure to diligently set this foundation as it tends to transfer, but I always have a bottle on hand as the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

– Adele Ashley, Contributing Beauty Writer


Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

Never have I ever spent a lot of money on skincare products until this thing. I really liked the idea of a vitamin C serum that would make my skin more lively and radiant, but after giving more affordable options a try and noticing absolutely no difference, I almost lost hope on vitamin C altogether—that is, until I bit the bullet and splurged on this vitamin C, squalane, and rose oil concoction. Putting it on my skin is my favorite part of the day, and even after just one use, my skin is a lot brighter and firmer in appearance. To my surprise, a little bit of this product goes a long way. After having it for about two months, I’ve barely made a dent in the volume, which is so reassuring and makes it 100 percent worth the money for me.

– Ashley Selleke, Contributing Editor

Tom Ford

Cream Face Palette

In the depths of the pandemic, I got really into luxury beauty. A bunch of review videos and my previous favorite contour product expiring led me to grab this, and I simply haven’t looked at another cream contour or bronzer since. This cost an arm and a leg for sure, but I haven’t spent a dime on another contour since then. I ordered Intensity 2, which works really well when I have a tan, but it also blended into my skin when I was sporting more of a winter shade. The undertone is perfect for my skin tone, and it blends in to look like I have basically nothing on my face. Contouring never felt worth the extra time for me, but this product made me a complete believer. Plus, I swear by the highlighter included in this. It’s a clear, dewy cream that just looks like your skin is glowing from within. I use it over highlighter to amp up the shine or just over my skin when I’m not wearing makeup to make me look naturally dewy. Because this product is essentially 2-in-1, the price made sense for me, and a year later, I still haven’t picked up another cream contour (and don’t plan to!).

– Beth Gillette, Beauty Content Manager