Whenever My Friends Text Me for Beauty Recs, These Are My 23 Top Product Replies

I love (like love, love) my job, but it does come with a certain degree of pressure. Of course, there are the obvious things that come to mind like conducting regular interviews with celebrities, meeting daily writing deadlines, and staying on top of all the latest trends in the beauty space, but there are also the unexpected things that come up. Like, say, when a friend sends you an S.O.S. from the floors of Sephora or the drugstore requesting immediate relief from some kind of emergency beauty dilemma. “Do I get this or this?!” “Will this thing that breaks my bank account actually be with it!?” “What’s your favorite product from such and such brand!?”I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

While it’s most certainly not the most important part of my job description, doling out A+ beauty product recommendations on a daily basis to my friends and family is par for the course. And since writing about the industry’s crème de la crème beauty stock is pretty much the bread and butter of my career, my recommendations are expected to (what’s that thing the kids are saying?) slap.

To ensure I never let my loved ones down, I keep a long list of beauty items handy that, over the years, have reaped a 100% satisfaction record. I consider you all my friends too, so I’m sharing some of my favorite items from that list now so you’ll be in less of product shopping conundrum the next time you’re physically or virtually roaming the beauty aisles at Nordstrom or any other of your favorite beauty retailers. Keep scrolling! Below, I’m sharing 23 save-the-day beauty products I always recommend to my friends and loved ones.

Replace your serum collection with this one. I swear on my life it’s a dupe for all others that are triple this baby’s price. 

This brow pencil is a cult classic for a reason, and it’s also pretty much the only thing I’ll ever have in common with celebs like Priyanka Chopra, Bebe Rexha, and Rebel Wilson. (Yep they’re big fans of it, too!)

This is such an OG pick, but I’m convinced there’s nothing prettier than this dreamy highlighting compact from Bobbi Brown. Thanks to the array of colors, a quick swirl gives my skin a boost no matter the time of day or season, and it always looks natural and sunkissed (and not like I just slapped some sparkle onto my face).

So $60 for a lip balm is nothing to sneeze at, but if you have the funds for treating yourself to an extra dose of luxury this summer, this rose-scented balm with keep chapped lips and fraying cuticles far, far away. (P.S., this is another pick that celebs—and their makeup artists—go gaga for.)

Everyone deserves to treat themselves to at least one Byredo perfume in their life, but the rent isn’t cheap. I’m obsessed with having fantastic smelling hair, so when my (or a friend’s) budget is tighter than usual, I recommend opting for a hair perfume from the brand, instead. The expensive-smelling whiffs will still permeate off of you no matter where you go. Trust.

Whoever told you all rose face mists are the same is straight-up lying to you. They just clearly haven’t tried this heaven-sent one from Chantecaille which brims with glow-giving antioxidants and 100% Rose de Mai, including the total extract of the petals and all of the flower’s decadent essential oils.

A better lip liner doesn’t exist—it just doesn’t! As my fellow beauty PIC Courtney Higgs once said, “It has this way of making it look like you’re pursing your lips even when you’re not. It creates such subtle definition that completely changes the look of your lips.” Choose from the original or two deeper iterations of the same classic Pillow Talk hue to best suit your skin tone.

There are a lot of shadow illuminating-concealer hybrid pens on the market these days, but this one remains my favorite. It melts and blends into the skin seamlessly, it’s quick and easy to apply and throw into your bag, and it doesn’t migrate as the day wears on. It’s one of my fave no-makeup makeup staples.

Investing in this fragrance enhancer is like buying yourself a whole new wardrobe of perfumes. Mix it with your other favorites (oils—you name it), and I guarantee you’ll come up with something unique and completely fabulous.

I know, I know. The price tag is a sucker punch to the gut. But if you have the means or are able to treat yourself, it pays itself off in the long run. Ever since I started using this mask regularly, my acne has pretty much vanished (along with any acne-related scaring), and I’ve deserted 70% of my other skincare products. I also haven’t felt the need to get any expensive facials or skincare treatments. If you’re into skincare and have specific concerns like acne, scarring, age spots, wrinkles, loss of collagen, etc., this is a super-smart splurge you won’t regret.

I don’t remember what life was like before I discovered this lush, insanely hydrating lip balm and neither does my mom, dad, and cohort of friends who are now all equally hooked. If you don’t like having to reapply lip balm and hate any sticky or gloopy residue, this ultra-smooth pick is your pout’s destiny.

What can I say? No other lotion or stubble elixir I have tried works so damn effectively. No bumps, no ingrown, no irritation. I apply it anywhere I’ve shaved immediately after I get out of the shower, and it’s smooth sailing all the way.

Whether you’re a styling newbie or a seasoned pro, this easy-to-use curling wand is the ultimate accessory to your styling routine. It’s lightweight, it inflicts less damage, and it’s pretty much impossible to mess up your curls with.

Powder can be touch-and-go any time of the year, but conditions become extra precarious once summer rolls around. I pretty much asked miracles from this new luminous-ish setting powder from Armani Beauty, and quite impressively, it over-delivered. Despite its soft-focus radiance, it still diffused away some excess glow I’d accrued during my makeup application without looking powdery or cakey. It’s like it just melts into the areas I wanted to be more matte with zero detectable aftermath. It has all-day staying power and unlike other setting powders I’ve tried, it didn’t settle into my fine lines or start creasing as the day wore on, plus, the shade range is more expansive than most so you’re far more likely to find a tone that will enhance—not fight—your natural skin tone.

Investing in a facial humidifier is one of the easiest, most effective ways to upgrade your skin game and your complexion’s natural dew point. You don’t have to spend a fortune, either! I love this one from Hey Dewy and even used to keep one at my desk at the office. (R.I.P.—hopefully we will be reunited one day soon!)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This is the best blush of all time. I've remained faithfully monogamous since college, and no other blush has managed to permanently turn my head. 

Don’t get it twisted—these aren’t going to deliver top-level zen, but popping two of these whenever I feel like stress is getting the best of me definitely seems to tame my heart rate and they also taste delicious. I’ve noticed more impact when I take them on an empty stomach.

I use black liquid liner almost every time I wear makeup, so I decided it was high time to find an A+ version with cleaner ingredients than my old standby. This one from Ilia doesn’t disappoint, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s been on the same kind of hunt.

The name of this foundation doesn’t lie. It keeps your skin looking like, well your skin, but it’s nice and buildable so you can layer and blend until you get your desired amount of coverage. It also locks in hydration and blurs the look of pores, fine lines, and/or anything else you’re hoping to camouflage with a touch of foundation. Buy this, and you won’t regret it—I promise!

I roll my eyes at most supplements that promise visible beauty benefits, but this is one of the few I’m 100% convinced has actually helped brighten, clear, and firm up my complexion. I’ve been using it religiously for almost a year now and the perks are hard to ignore!

Someone should put on my gravestone: “When in doubt, apply Olaplex.” It’s pretty much become my mantra, and using this stuff on the regular is one of the easiest and most effective ways to curb unwanted damage and breakage.

Want to hear something crazy? I spent all of 2020 missing my regular gel manicures, and as soon as I got one (about a month or so ago), I immediately missed my Static press-ons. I’m a lifer now! The brand has so many shape, design, and color options, and it’s honestly so fun to play with and mix up your look. I can’t wait to get my gels removed and pop these on instead.

What’s better than a glowy, sun-kissed skin elixir that will still protect you from damaging rays this summer? That’s a trick question—nothing! This addictive body and face highlighter does all the above and then some. Throw it in your beach bag and go.

Next, Behold: 20 Big-Ticket Beauty Items I've Waited All Dang Year to Buy on Sale