I'll put it like this: I'm not a "go with the flow" type of person. I'm a Taurus through and through; I crave structure, organization, and planning. (Anything spur-of-the-moment is a foreign concept to me.) Last but not least, I like what I like, and it's nearly impossible to convert me to a new favorite anything—be it a blush or ice cream flavor. Therefore, if you read or see me shouting from the rooftops about a new product I'm excited about, you know I'm not playing! But back to the task at hand: beauty staples. Or more specifically, the 17 I basically live in fear of running out of.
Even though it might seem bizarre for a person who has access to hundreds of items in any given beauty category to continuously rebuy the exact same formulas over and over, that's me 99% of the time. Sure, I'm constantly trying new things, but rarely can a new formula live up to the one I'd take a bullet for sitting on top of my vanity. Again, I like what I like. Of course, there are certain product categories I'm not married to—for instance, I'll use any body lotion that's put in front of me, and the same pretty much goes for things like eyeliner, face wash, and the like. (Although don't get me wrong—I definitely have preferred children in all arenas.)
Recently, I realized at the very last minute that I was only a few squirts away from emptying my favorite conditioner (I couldn't get to my laptop fast enough to restock post-shower), which reminded me that there really are certain products in my rotation that feel untouchably irreplaceable. Below are 18 of my ride-or-die beauty staples I absolutely always rebuy before I run out. Or, if it's a newer find, I most definitely plan to rebuy before I run out. Keep scrolling!
Glossier Body Hero Exfoliating Bar
Excuse my French, but I just don't fuck with body scrubs. They're messy, they clog my shower drain, and they either scratch up my skin and are too abrasive, or they leave a sticky, filmy residue on my skin that I detest. So, as a body-exfoliating alternative, this dreamy, mess-free bar from Glossier is the best $15 I spend every few months or so. It fits in the palm of my hand, there's no mess, and it easily buffs away dulling dead skin cells. The result? Baby-smooth skin without a lick of irritation. I also appreciate that it utilizes super finely milled, biodegradable bamboo powder to create that necessary exfoliating action while nourishing ingredients like sunflower seed oil and aloe help maintain your skin's moisture levels so you don't step out of the shower feeling tight and stripped. As someone who likes to self-tan all year round, (more on that in a second) this is one of my essentials pre-application.
Bali Body 1 Hour Express Self Tan
You know a product is special when two incredibly picky beauty directors both agree—without consulting each other beforehand—that it's practically the best thing since sliced bread. (Hi, Caitie!) As someone who has regularly self-tanned since middle school and has quite literally tried every formula on the market, this one, in my mind, is the GOAT. In fact, I haven't been able to stray from it ever since I discovered it earlier this year. Here's the SparkNotes version on why I love it:
A) It works fast and is hyper-customizable depending on the result you want. Leave it on for one hour for a subtle bronzing effect or leave it on all day or night for a more intense tanning payoff—the longer you leave it on the deeper the result will be so you're in complete control. As a guide, it develops up to two shades darker every hour. B) The color is fantastic and the most natural-looking I've ever tried—people are shocked when I say my tan isn't natural. C) It dries almost instantly so there's zero stick factor (my worst nightmare) thanks to the aerated, no-streak foam. D) It doesn't stink. In fact, it has a V pleasant light and floral scent—I honestly forget I have it on, versus counting down the seconds until I can rinse it off like I do with most other tanners I've tried. E) It lasts—and actually looks good—for a full week (give or take depending on your shower and sweating schedule) and the fade is so even and gradual that you'll never be embarrassed about looking scaly or patchy. F) Yes, there's an F! The color guide technology ensures an easy application so you know exactly where you've been and where you're headed—just make sure you use the mitt. Once the color has deepened to your liking, rinse off with warm water, pat dry with a towel, and relax. Your tan will slowly build back up to that desired color in the hours that follow.
Sephora Collection Triple Action Cleansing Water Cleanse + Purify
Guys, I tried to wean myself off of this stuff, I really did! I was sent an influx of new micellar waters from a brand that shall go unnamed, but after a few weeks of my skin gradually becoming less and less sparkly, (aka duller and more congested), I finally caved and restocked. (And when I say I caved, I mean that I bought three new bottles in the handy-dandy value size.)
I know there are other chicer, perhaps more famous cleansing waters out there, but trust me when I tell you this is the one you never knew you needed. The formula is great for all skin types, but the fact that it's spiked with skin-soothing aloe vera and breakout-shrinking zinc has done wonders for my sensitive, acne-prone complexion. Obsessed, obsessed, obsessed. Also, here's a hot tip: Sephora Collection actually has tons of amazing skincare products that are dupes for way more expensive products on the market—explore now, and thank me for that little nugget of wisdom later!
Exa Splash Zone Oil-Free Hydrating Primer
It's so, so rare that I try a new product and become so immediately and unequivocally obsessed, that I forget all others that came before. But this hot-off-the-presses oil-free face primer did just that! Somehow, this ultra-clean formula from Credo's in-house brand Exa does the unimaginable—it hydrates and feeds your skin with yummy ingredients like blue spirulina and prickly pear extract, while simultaneously absorbing excess oil, gripping onto makeup, and drying down to a flattering, soft-matte finish. I've never loved a primer this much, and it's the missing link I've been waiting for to achieve incredible-looking skin/makeup that lasts all damn day or night. (This is huge coming from someone like me who wants a dewy and luminous glow but quickly veers greasy and shiny.)
After I cleanse, I apply Tatcha's The Dewy Skin Serum, then this primer, and then Kosas' Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation and Concealer. It's the skin and foundation equation I have all of my friends on right now. Plus, this primer can delightfully work like a setting powder—just layer it on top of your makeup to mattify any shine that's happening without drying out your skin or lending a cakey finish.
Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara
I'll admit that I have a small little posse of mascaras I love and rotate, but they all have a few things in common: major lift and curl, fluttery separation for the ultimate doe-eyed effect, and some A+ lengthening action for good measure. But Roller Lash is the one that I've been giving the most field time recently.
I'm a self-proclaimed mascara maniac. I'm supremely picky since my naturally long—albeit stick-straight—lashes are my favorite feature to play up. I actually tried this mascara a few years ago when I was in a phase of craving lots of curl, length, and volume. At the time, since I wanted a super chunky lash look, it wasn't my fave (if you want to add coats and coats this probably isn't your formula.) My aesthetic has changed in the last year or so, and while I still demand impeccable lift and curl, I want less chunky volume and more doe-eyed fluttery separation. Bambi eyes, if you will. Because of that shift, I've found myself loving this mascara so much more than I did before. It separates and curls like a dream, and your lashes actually stay lifted the entire day or night versus slowly but surely starting to sag and droop.
Thanks to the patent-pending Hook ‘n’ Roll brush (I *only* use rubber brushes like this‚ if you want combed-out separation it's absolutely key!), the tiny custom-designed hooks on the brush and tip catch, lift, and curl every last hair. I haven't stopped wearing this mascara since I rediscovered it, and I don't think I've ever gotten as many compliments on my "Are they real?!" lashes.
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Essence Mist
I only just got my hands on this new, redness-reducing miracle mist from SkinCeuticals (about three weeks ago, to be precise), and I'm almost halfway through the entire bottle. It's just that damn effective. And the first kicker is, I don't even like face mists! And the second kicker is that I rarely invite new skincare formulas into my everyday routine! (My finicky skin spouts a new pimple just at the thought.) That said, if I do decide to test something new, rarely does it transcend from guest star to core cast member. Except for this guy! My apologies for all of the screaming, but my fast-and-furious obsession with this is really so uncharacteristic of me, I'm all riled up. But back to why it's amazing: It's safe for all skin types and skin concerns and it's composed of a lush botanical blend of cucumber, thyme, olive leaf, and rosemary extracts, plus a 6.2% blend of hyaluronic acid which work in harmony to top up your complexion with lots of dewy moisture (the glow is so, so good) while strengthening the skin's barrier and immediately squelching redness. I can't get enough (clearly), and if my funds would allow I'd bathe in it on a regular basis. Dear SkinCeuticals, can you turn this into a bath oil?
Zitsticka Goo Getter
My skin has been on pretty good behavior lately, but without fail, I always get a nice little dusting of pimples the week before my period, or if I've gone a little too rogue slapping one too many new skincare or makeup products on my face in the name of beauty testing, These terminator-level acne dots, however, are said pimples' kryptonite. ZitSticka is basically the Maserati of any and all acne-care products, and these goo-slurping patches (sorry for that visual) are next-level effective.
Not only do they boast hydrocolloid healing action which gently absorbs and extracts fluid from zits, but they're also strategically laced with niacinamide, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and tea tree oil to shrink breakouts and speed up the skin's recovery process. They're like an extraction tool in sticker form—you'll wake up to a flatter, smaller, less-inflamed pimple situation. I can't be without them and always pack them with me when I travel.
M-61 PowerGlow Peel
I've been dangerously dependent on these beloved glow-inducing peel pads for a few years now, and they're probably one of my most frequent online beauty purchases. Whenever I think I can go without them, I only last a week or so before my suddenly dull skin proves me otherwise. There are lots of other peels in handy wipe forms like this floating around, but these do more form skin in the smoothing, evening, and radiance-enhancing departments than any other.
Glycolic and salicylic acid help reduce pore size and the look of fine lines and wrinkles, vitamin K tackles redness and the appearance of veins, bilberry extract (an antioxidant) promotes even skin, and last but not least, chamomile and lavender keep your complexion feeling calm, cool, and collected despite the potent actives.
SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF
As a beauty editor, the influence of SkinCeuticals' iconic C E Ferulic serum isn't lost on me, and practically every single human I know swears it's some type of magical witchcraft for getting insanely youthful-looking skin. That said, I've had FOMO for years because my sensitive, acne-prone skin erupts in bumps and redness whenever I so much as look at a vitamin C serum, C E Ferulic, included. Until Silymarin CF, that is! This serum was specifically developed for people who have oily, breakout-prone skin, and it's quite literally the only vitamin C product my skin has ever been able to tolerate and thrive on. Despite all of the mask-wearing and rollercoaster stress levels the past couple of years, my skin has never been brighter, smoother, or more even thanks to this brilliant launch. If you're someone who has had trouble with other vitamin C serums irritating your skin or breaking you out, try this one.
Refy Cream Bronzer
This is the only cream bronzer I've ever loved. In fact, I've only been using it for a few months but have already hit the bottom of the pan. There are only three shade options, but all three feature über-flattering warm undertones that provide just enough sun-kissed depth to warm up your complexion while adding a subtle dose of defining/contour magic if you're into that kind of thing. It has a velvety, easy-to-blend finish that helps absorb excess oil while still providing your skin with hydration. I can't do my makeup without it now! Since falling head over heels for it, I've dabbled in other popular cream bronzing formulas, but to me, nothing can compare to Refy's $26 formula. I use the lightest shade called Sand and Sephora Collection's Pro Contour Brush #78 ($30) for easy precision.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner
My love for Charlotte Tilbury's iconic lip liners runs so deep that I think I own nearly every shade by now. (That said, Pink Venus, Iconic Nude, Pillow Talk, and Supersize Me are my most-used hues.) I have fairly full lips thanks to once-in-awhile lip filler (just being honest), but nothing accentuates the fullness and shape I want like these dreamy pencils. The texture is rich and velvety so your work looks supremely natural and not drawn-on or crayon-like, and it's also superior thanks to the no-smudge, waterproof formula that A) lasts for up to six hours and B) won't feather or transfer in the interim.
Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb
Other than IS Clinical's Hydra-Cool Serum (more on that below), I don't know if there's any other beauty product I've rebought more than this grand slam of an eye cream which tackles dryness, fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of firmness all in one go. I have to be on my sixth jar of this stuff by now because really, I'm utterly convinced that a more hydrating, all-around-perfect eye cream does not exist on planet earth.
It's wonderfully lightweight and juicy, and thanks to the bouncy gel texture, it never feels heavy or sticky. It has a super-subtle cooling effect, which I love as someone who has sensitive, super-dry under-eyes. You get a whopping 26-hour burst of hydration, it's great under makeup and concealer, and I'm kind of convinced it's the reason people are surprised I'm 29 and not in high school (a compliment I get a lot).
IS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum
When a handful of the best facialists in the world all recommend (separately) that you incorporate a specific product into your skincare routine, you listen. Such was the case when Shani Darden and Melanie Grant both suggested I start using this yummy hydrating serum from IS Clinical. Obviously, I immediately heeded their advice, and my skin responded so positively, so quickly. I know some people really love a heavy, oily, glow-spackling serum, but I, for one, want something that absorbs almost instantly and doesn't just feel and look like it's sitting on top of my complexion. Not only does this hyaluronic-acid–and-antioxidant elixir sink into your skin without leaving any residual tackiness on the skin, but it also has this addictive cooling effect that my sensitive loves.
It's helped clear my acne (as it doesn't clog my pores), and there's just something about the meddling of Centella Asiatica (a healing antioxidant) plus vitamin B5, HA, kojic acid, and soothing menthol that hits the spot like no other hydrating serum I've tried. To me, it's irreplaceable, and perpetually #1 on my restocked beauty list.
Kosas Brow Pop Clean Dual-Action Defining Eyebrow Pencil
Even though I really like this brow pencil from Kosas from the very first moment I tried it, I didn't feel married to it. But then, I lost my go-to shade during a trip, and all of a sudden I realized none of my other "favorite" brow pens would do! As someone with darker brows but white-blonde hair (I love a Marilyn Monroe moment), it can be hard to find the right shade to fill my brows in so they look full and defined, but also completely natural—I'm a brow minimalist at heart. The Honey Blonde shade is perfection, as it's not too warm and not too cool. I've really reaped the benefits of the pencil's strategic ingredients, like castor oil and panthenol provitamin B5 (I swear I've experienced a lot of new brow growth! The micro-triangle tip is also brilliant). You can also use the thicker side to fill in any sparse areas and then use the thinner side where you want precise, hair-like strokes.
Color Wow Style on Steroids Color-Safe Texture Spray
Meet the only styling product I've ever loved. I use it a texturizer, volumizer, dry shampoo, and heat protectant. I'm allergic (figuratively) to anything that makes my fine, highly processed blonde hair feel sticky or devoid of moisture, and this is truly a magic formula for me. It's designed for all hair types, textures, and concerns, and in addition to giving my fine, limp strands an instant shot of texture and body (I quite literally look like I have three times the number of strands than I actually do) it also provides heat protection, hold, and staves away any greasies.
I also appreciate that the moisturizers and heat protectant it has doesn't cloud, darken, or brass-up my hair at all (an underrated problem lots of people with super light strands experience with styling products) and I'm obsessed with the style memory technology which keeps your work looking bouncy and fresh without any stickiness. I recently got our Editor in Chief Kat Collings hooked as well. Trust me—you'll love it.
Olaplex Bond Maintenance System Kit
I know there are some other bond-building brands making waves in the industry right now, but I will always always always be an Olaplex girl through and through. My hair just loves it, and no other brand or product can prevent and stave off damage, dryness, and breakage like it. I use almost every single product the brand makes, and I might be a broken record as I say this, but I truly believe it's one of the main reasons I still have hair on my head—especially long, healthy hair—despite my regular bleaching habit. I can't recommend the above trio enough, and I quite literally get thrown into a panic if I realize I'm running out. My hair would not be the same without it. (And yes, I realize technically this is three products, but I'm collectively categorizing it as one.)
Unite Hair 7 Seconds Detangler Leave-In Conditioner
I truly believe this is the best leave-in conditioner on the market—and I feel say safe stating that the 7000+ five-star reviews on Amazon would back me up! How this miracle, all-in-one formula isn't a household name is a complete mystery to me, but I hope to get it there one day if I keep shouting about it. This is another product I've used for years and years and have a sneaking hunch I'll just never find anything better. It detangles like no other formula I've tried (even post-bleach I will only lose one or two strands when I comb through my wet hair), it's the best-smelling hair product I've ever tried, it smooths, adds shine, repairs, protects against UV and heat damage… it's the perfect product. Try it, and you'll get the hype.
Verb Ghost Weightless Hair Oil
I have tried at least 50 hair oils in my life, and this lightweight one from Verb, years after its launch, is still the one I come back to and rebuy over and over again. It only leaves behind what you want: shine, strength, and smoothness, and nothing that you don't: stickiness, oiliness, or color-shifting stains. (FYI: If you have light hair, yellow oils will stain it!)