7 Overhyped Makeup Products You've Probably Bought and What to Buy Instead

Makeup aisles (both physical and digital) can be daunting, dare I say nightmarish places, simply because there are so many options to choose from. How is one possibly to know which of the 147 foundations, brow products, or highlighters to buy? When in doubt, we often default to purchasing the items we've seen or heard about before—the buzzy products with zingy names and cute packaging that we seem to remember our friends or some celebrity or social media influencer liking well enough. This is a perfectly legitimate technique for choosing which products to buy; however, coming from someone whose very profession it is to sniff out the best makeup products from the cluttered market (rough life, I know), I have some makeup upgrades to suggest.

As a disclaimer, I do want to emphasize that I actively like all the "overhyped" products on this list—they are perfectly good, sometimes even excellent formulations, all of which deserve a place in the makeup market. However, these products have also gotten a ton of air time, which leaves less space for products that might have an advantage or two over them (in my personal opinion, of course). 

Now that that's out of the way, let's get to the makeup recommendations: Keep scrolling for seven super-buzzy makeup products you may have purchased before and seven products you might considering trying next time.

If you bought:

If you already have full brows, Glossier's cleverly named and much-discussed brush-on pomade will no doubt help define the hairs and hold them in place, while still keeping the texture soft.

Next try:

But my holy grail brow gel comes from this under-the-radar Australian makeup brand. Its formula deposits just the right amount of color onto hairs you didn't even know you had, making your brows look full and gloriously bushy while providing serious hold. You also get a ton of product (and compliments) for the price. 

If you bought:

There's a lot to love about Nars's creamy concealer—namely, the blendability, the creaselessness, the extensive shade range, and the brightening effect, all of which make it a great pick for concealing under-eyes circles. But you already knew that…

Next try:

If you're a fan of brightening concealers, try this one next: Onomie is a cool brand that creates skincare and makeup clinically proven to treat and brighten your under-eyes. Its creamy formula contains nine active ingredients, including caffeine, which reduces puffiness, and alfalfa extract, which calms inflammation. The products are non-toxic, cruelty-free, and the brand donates 1% of its annual profit to help sponsor first-generation female high school graduates in low-income countries.

If you bought:

With a product name as fun and frisky as this one, it's no wonder Better Than Sex has become one of the most recognizable mascaras on the market.

Next try:

I've found that folks who opt for Better Than Sex are interested in length and volume with no clumping whatsoever. If that's your jam, try this lesser-known organic mascara from one of my favorite luxury natural brands. The formula contains 99.8% plant-derived, organically sourced ingredients, but at no compromise to its effectiveness. The texture glides on like butter to make your lashes look like super-subtle extensions—absolutely no clumps.

If you bought:

Just about everyone I know was buying this drugstore highlighter stick when it came out three or so years ago. And for good reason—for just $9, you get a soft, pearlescent formula, which, when applied to the high points of your face with your fingers (as opposed to straight from the tube) definitely creates a pretty, brightened effect without looking too sparkly. 

Next try:

Burt's Bees released this incredibly hydrating, blendable highlighter stick a few months ago to the delight of natural makeup gurus everywhere. The product is non-toxic and cruelty-free like the rest of its range and is also cleverly designed with a hydrating "core" in the middle to make your skin look not shimmery or glittery, but instead naturally dewy and lit from within. Ideal. And still at a drugstore price point.

If you bought:

Most folks who use foundation are more than familiar with this iconic formula, which has been endorsed by everyone from Kim Kardashian West to Meghan Markle.

Next try:

Koh Gen Do's foundation is more of a sleeper hit (at least in the U.S.). Though most of my friends don't own it, almost every top makeup artist I've interviewed is obsessed with the Japanese formulation, which contains soft-focus pigments that make the skin look flawless (but not at all like you're wearing makeup), plus hydrating ingredients like jojoba oil, olive squalene, and shea butter. Impressively, in Japan, this product is also the foundation most often used on film and TV actresses, whose skin has to look both perfect and human in 4K resolution.

If you bought:

You would truly have to live under a giant boulder, at least in the beauty universe, if you've heard nothing of Kim Kardashian West's contour sticks. In 2017, less than three hours after the kits first launched, all 300,000 of them had sold out.

Next try:

But if you're into contour sticks, consider spending that $48 you'd put toward your next KKW kit on this decadent, makeup artist–approved gem by Westman Atelier. You'll be hard-pressed to find a contour stick with a more velvety texture that blends seamlessly with your other makeup. The formula is also non-toxic and contains good-for-your-skin ingredients like cocoa seed, mango seed, and cupuacu butter.

If you bought:

It Cosmetics makes the best-selling face makeup product at Ulta, so it's definitely hyped. The benefits that come with this foundation are many: SPF, collagen, hyaluronic acid, peptides, vitamins, antioxidants, full coverage. However, for something marketed as a CC cream, it always struck me as a bit heavy.

Next try:

When it comes to BB and CC creams, I always default to Korean formulas. After all, it was the cutting-edge K-Beauty industry that first invented them. The coverage on this stuff is definitely lighter than It Cosmetics, but that's what I prefer about it—the finish it leaves is velvety and natural-looking. The product also offers skincare benefits, including SPF 42, hydrators, and brighteners. Its shade range leaves something to be desired, but overall, I'd recommend trying next time you go shopping for face makeup.