I'm a Beauty Director—24 Under-$50 Staples I Think Everyone Needs This Summer

Once summer rolls around, I become 75% lazier when it comes to my beauty aesthetic. But because I don't want my skin or hair to suffer the consequences of a sudden laissez-faire attitude, said downslide in time and effort means I prioritize a revamped regimen and product selection that works smarter, not harder.

There is a third, slightly trickier caveat: My new slew of staples can't burn out my summer budget that's strictly reserved for any highly anticipated festivities I have planned—vacation, sun, water, sand, tropical-themed cocktails… You get the idea.


Erin Jahns

I'm not one to shy away from an expensive beauty product if it's truly worth the investment and if the results make up for a stingy investment. But in general, I like to keep each pop of spending to about $50 or less. Below, I'm sharing 24 under-$50 summer beauty staples I'm currently loving and plan to keep on my top shelf all season long. Keep scrolling to see which products I think every beauty lover needs in their shopping cart, stat. 

Call it the Alix Earle effect, but all of a sudden, streaking your lower waterline with white liner is taking over the internet. (Folks, this isn't a groundbreaking trick—it's an age-old technique used to brighten up the eye area!) I've done it for years, and it's an especially great way to make the whites of your eyes even whiter and to really open up your eyes without a lot of obvious product. This pencil from makeup artist Jillian Dempsey is my go-to. 

I'm absolutely obsessed with every cool, retro-inspired SPF product that Vacation debuts, but this 2023 take on an old-school lay-out favorite—baby oil—might be the brand's best yet. Unlike the baby oils of yesteryear that'd help toast (not protect) our sun-exposed skin, this SPF 30 formula truly repels burns and summer-inflicted sun damage. It gives your skin the same mirror-like shine that's punctuated by the brilliantly nostalgic "baby oil accord" scent sans scorch. 

Not only does this guava-infused leave-in spray accentuate your natural texture and smell incredible, but it also provides all hair types with a 360 approach to protection. It effortlessly detangles, hydrates, and conditions while dosing your hair with a shield of ingredients meant to fend off damage from UV, styling tools, blue light, and even environmental pollution. 

I don't know about you, but I'm that girl who is perpetually surrounded by about 10 different lip products. I need at least five by my bedside, next to my laptop, and inside my bag at all times. Freshly launched, this ultra-glassy lip balm from Farmacy is a brand-new obsession I can't stop slathering on my chap-prone lips. It smells just as juicy as it sounds like it would, and I love how the mix of peptides, vitamin C, upcycled apple extract, and mango-seed butter plumps, smoothes, and supercharges lips with deep hydration. It's perfect for summer, and since a little goes a long way, the $22 price point is all the sweeter.

I love fresh, dewy skin all year round, but it becomes even more important to me once I'm spending more time outside because I don't want one ounce of cakeyness or creasing! If you want an undetectable glow and bounce, this highlighter from Ami Colé is supreme. When I want a glossy yet totally natural-looking dew effect on my skin, I swipe it along the highest points of my face (it's translucent, but it houses these glittering, light-reflecting minerals you can't tear your eyes from—so pretty!), and my skin goes from a five to a 10, instantly.

Everyone is raving about Glossier's newest launch—a cool, demi-matte lip cream that gives you a velvety wash of color without staining your lips. I love the shades Drive, Shift, and Tempo best, but it's taking all of my willpower not to buy the whole set.

I'm incredibly low-maintenance when it comes to my brows. In the past when I'd go bare-faced or do a five-minute makeup job, I'd simply brush and slick on some clear brow at most, saving any shading and tinting for the times when I'd do a full face. That is until I tried this absolutely perfect brow gel from Iconic London. It's the first and only tinted brow gel I've ever loved and incorporated regularly into my routine. The tiny angled brush is the perfect size and shape for adding that "just enough" touch of depth I want for a natural-looking brow. It uses hair-like fibers that cling to your actual brow hairs for a fuller finish, the hold is flexible (I can't stand anything that's too stiff), and the formula is even enriched with strategic botanical oils to encourage optimal conditioning and brow growth. It literally does not get better than this.

Once spring and summer come, I ditch my liquid liners until fall and reach for pencils instead. I find the end result just looks softer and more natural, which is what I want when I'm outside more and putting less effort into my makeup. Róen just launched these dreamy pencils, and I couldn't be more smitten. They're nontoxic and richly pigmented and apply like butter. But once you apply it and let it sit, your work won't budge—something that's extra important for me in the sweaty months of the year! I love the two brown shades especially.

I can't get enough of Kourtney Kardashian's clean supplement line Lemme, and Lemme Purr—pineapple-infused and flavored probiotic gummies designed to cater to vaginal health—have arrived just in time for summer. (Interferences like sand, sweat, and swimsuits can wreak havoc on the area.) The gummies feature clinically studied SNZ 1969 probiotics, which target vaginal health and pH levels to support freshness and odor elimination. There's even the addition of vitamin C for an extra boost of antioxidants. Not that you asked, but Lemme PMS and Lemme Sleep are two other nonnegotiables in my current supplement routine. 

Summer is not *usually* your friend if you're after healthy, über-shiny hair. (The elements can really do a doozy on your strands and their natural gloss factor.) Amika's new Mirrorball collection, however, is going to change that. As someone who perpetually bleaches and tortures my hair, I know a thing or two about dullness, and this shampoo and conditioner are truly some of the only formulas that get me super shiny without tons of extra steps or products. The shampoo-and-conditioner duo is fortified with antioxidants to boost shine by 45% and remove 57% of dulling pollution buildup. This mini set also contains the brand's Flash Instant Shine Hair Gloss Mask and Top Gloss Hair Shine Spray for next-level hair gleam.

It might seem random, but the number of DMs I receive asking my thoughts on (and recommendations for) lip oil is surprisingly extreme. The product category is definitely having a moment, with most major makeup and skincare lines offering their own iterations. I've tried lots, and this one from Gisou is the one I always recommend to anyone who asks. The shine is incredible, and it's the perfect consistency—not sticky but not too slippery either. I also like that it's clear and actually drenches my lips with all-day-long hydration. 

Somehow, this ultra-clean primer 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, especially a clean one, and it's the missing link I've been waiting for to achieve incredible-looking skin/makeup that lasts all day or night.

I love this perfume so much, and to me, it just screams spring and summer. It smells like a dewy soil-soaked post-rain walk outside when the sky has a lingering darkness, and there's still fog or mist in the air. Plus, since this fragrance was crafted to capture the ambiance of Dublin circa 1967, there's likely a rainbow in the mix too. (As someone who studied abroad in Ireland, I miss the five rainbows I used to experience a day!) This scent is earthy in the fresh and aquatic sense, with slick and lush notes like aquatic accord, rose petal, and pine needle taking center stage.

Once in a while, I'm guilty of BBEB, or bad beauty-editor behavior. (Think forgetting sunscreen, falling asleep with my makeup on, etc.) Recently, however, I had a completely unhinged—albeit fun—night out with friends that involved everything from a steam room to dancing to a 2 a.m. swim in the ocean. Miraculously, I looked at my makeup after all of the above had transpired, and it still looked pristine. I was shocked! I had used this new and nontoxic setting spray from Caliray as the last step in my routine, and I'm 100% convinced it's responsible. The brand says it's long-wearing, and I guess they really aren't kidding.

Summer and an A+ shaving regimen, in my opinion, are synonymous. I'm a huge Billie stan and have this exact set of essentials on standby all season long. It features the brand's Razor Starter Kit, Body Buffer, Whipped Shave Cream, and Ultimate Skin Solution. For an added touch of "fun," this new shade Moonbeam glows in the dark. (I mean, why the hell not?)

Thanks (again) to Earle, these cult-loved bronzing drops from Drunk Elephant were sold out practically everywhere for months. I've had this peptide-spiked bottle of bronzy goodness in my rotation ever since the product launched years ago, and I whip it out every summer like clockwork.

This glow-inducing oil from Summer Fridays is so popular it's routinely sold out. Buy it while you can, and reap all of the shimmering, deliciously sun-catching skin perks this summer. It gives your skin a natural hit of sparkle and shine (without looking tacky), and I love that it's infused with the brand's signature summer scent featuring coconut, vanilla blossom, and warm almond.

I love a multitasking beauty product, and the fact that this new launch from Ouai blends the polishing power of a scalp and body scrub feels like sheer genius. St. Barts (notes of dragonfruit, orange blossom, tuberose, and Baltic amber) also happens to be my favorite Ouai scent, so there's that.

The fact that everyone—Hailey Bieber included—is using and freaking out over this new mineral sunscreen from Kosas isn't surprising to me. It's truly worth the gush factor. Not only does it supply optimal sun protection, but it also leaves your skin with the prettiest finish that looks healthy and luminous. It also works great under makeup, which I love.

The last couple of years have really brought us some amazing new foundation formulas, and it seems like each new one is better than the last! Saie's new lightweight serum formula is the latest to create a frenzy among beauty editors, and I already know it will be a frequent flyer on my skin all summer long. Truly, Saie can do no wrong! 

I love how chic a classic slicked-back style looks, and Crown Affair's new finishing gel is quite literally the product I've been waiting for to truly perfect my craft. It has a light yet buildable hold, which makes it incredibly versatile and superb for all hair types. If a gel is ever stiff, tacky, or sticky, I'll run away screaming, so the fact that this one is water-based with a luxe gel-cream texture makes it flexible and easy to work with. It has great ingredients like jojoba milk and tsubaki-seed oil, and it's easy to brush out sans water or wash. To really get the full effect, I recommend investing in the brand's dual-bristle brush made from ethically harvested boar bristles and high-quality nylon. 

I've always adored Chanel's wardrobe of beauty products, particularly the brand's collection of mascaras. Noir Allure, however, is the under-the-radar gem that now has me in a chokehold and gives me the light and fluttery lashes I dream of—high impact on length and low impact in volume and clumpy thickness. As Chanel makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown told me, it's the mascara for the summer. In fact, I'm so besotted I wrote an entire dedicated review on the Noir Allure Mascara

Gucci Westman's line of makeup is undeniably lovely, but if I had to choose one—and only one—product to wax poetic about, it would be these celeb- and makeup artist–beloved blush sticks. They're multipurpose and superimposed with luxurious ingredients that will actually help heal and improve the health and glow of your natural skin, including rare actives extracted from raspberry cells, organic jojoba oil, and on and on. The shades Poppet and Dou Dou are absolute obsessions.

I love self-tanner, especially once spring and summer roll around, and I always want a touch of a sun-kissed glow without the damage. Because I'm naturally so fair, nine times out of 10, self-tanners end in complete disaster for me. (Either the color is off, the results look streaky, or the formula is a nightmare to apply or marinate in.) My biggest test for a self-tanner is whether or not it tricks other people into thinking I'm actually tan, and this one did. I was lucky enough to have L.A.'s master airbrush artist Alexandra DiMarchi spray me with this new express water, and the results were impeccable. I was sprayed in the morning and ended up sleeping in it. (It's not sticky in the slightest, and the smell is totally bearable.) The next day, I had a vacation-caliber tan. Plus, it's infused with key ingredients like vitamin C, beta-glucan, and hyaluronic acid, which keep your skin hydrated and supple so the tan looks better, longer.