The Desert-Island List: 26 Epic Beauty Products That Made the Cut

Desert island beauty producs



A "desert-island list" may be a trope, but that doesn't make me like it any less. It indicates high urgency and really separates the good from the can't-live-without things (in this case, beauty products). So trope it is.

When forced to choose just a few things to take to an indefinite stay on a desert island, it really encourages us to take stock of which items we use the most. With this in mind, I asked my fellow Who What Wear editors to consider their go-to beauty products and narrow it down to the few (or even one or two, in some cases) they would hate to be stranded without. (I actually chose seven products myself—I never said I travel lightly.) You can't go wrong with any of these skin, makeup, and hair products below because we're very discerning packers. You'll see.

Scroll to shop 26 beauty products that are desert-island worthy.

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Allyson's essentials:

"I love waking up in the morning with better skin than I had the night before (even when I only sleep five hours, which is far too often). This leaves your skin with a fresh-faced glow in one easy step. If you want to simplify your beauty routine, this is truly the product to do it with."

"I'm pretty particular about what lip balm I apply before bed, but this one checks every single box. It isn't sticky (so hair stays where it belongs—on the pillow), and the scent is fresh and light. And most importantly, your lips will look amazing in the morning—even in the winter."

"This is the first Versed product I ever tried, and it's still my number one (and I have a lot of favorites). It's powerful but somehow very gentle. In the summer, I don't even need moisturizer with it. Bonus: The tube is great for travel (including to a desert island)."

"Let me tell you this lightweight serum has really changed my skin for the better. An inevitable outcome of being in your 30s is that new little lines appear on your face as you lose collagen. But this restores elasticity, making it one of the only anti-aging products I've used that actually diminishes lines in addition to keeping new ones at bay. Fun fact: This is the only product my husband steals from me currently."

"I've tried many sunscreens, but this is the only one that actually feels like silk going on. It leaves zero greasy residue and feels more like a luxurious primer than a sunscreen. If I had an infinite supply of this, I'd slather it on my body too, but since I don't, I reserve it for my face."

"Say hello to my favorite brow product. The firm pencil is the perfect level of firmness, and it looks incredibly natural, even when I use a lot of it. It lasts a while, but I've rebought it at least 10 times in life at this point. Here's to 10 more."

"I've tried practically every lash growth serum on the market, and this one will most likely be with me for life. While some serums I've used make my lashes grow in every direction (it's not a cute look—trust me), this makes them look luscious but not wild."

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Erin's essentials:

"I almost feel guilty about how many stories I've included this sensational little mascara rod in, but it really is sensational. Technically, Surratt dubs it a lash tint, but don't be fooled by its unique, somewhat off-the-wall structure. Wiggle it up and through your lashes just as you would a normal mascara, and you'll instantly be hit with lift, curl, tint, crazy length, and all-day staying power. It's the only mascara-like product I've ever used that curls so well I don't even need an eyelash curler. (Although, I use one anyway because, hey, life is short, and I want my lashes to live their best life.) Since the formula itself is a little drier—thus lightweight—the curl and lift actually stay put instead of falling all the way down to droop city in two minutes flat. I 1000% need to bring (not would bring) this little gem with me on a desert island."

"Sorry, I know I talk about this one all of the time too, but the heart wants what it wants! I never thought of myself as a lip-gloss girl until I tried this lip gloss, in particular. I'm a fiend for lip-enhancing products, but most glosses and plumping concoctions leave something to be desired or just sting and sizzle the eff out of my pout. *Not* worth it. So let me tell you it's a big, big deal when I say that Lara Devgan, MD, (a renowned plastic surgeon) has created the ultimate plumping lip gloss with this silver-bullet tube. Just a couple of swipes significantly maximize the size, shape, and color of your lips without any horrible skin sensations. It's slick and shiny, but not sticky or overly slippery. It's also fortified with high-quality, strategic ingredients that will actually rejuvenate, protect, and rehydrate lips in the long term, too. It even has SPF! So yes, it'd be another nonnegotiable item for me if I were ever sequestered on a remote, sun-soaked island."

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Bobby's essentials:

"I use this Cardon moisturizer with SPF every single day. I couldn't imagine not having it. It keeps my skin so smooth."

"This Chanel item has been in my bag for years now. While it's a splurge, it lasts forever and keeps my lips totally hydrated."

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Sarah's essentials:

"I'd bring this multitasking product that gives your lips such a nice color but also leaves them hydrated thanks to rose-hip oil and shea butter. My favorite shades are Pink Beet and Sangria, but I'd probably bring Sangria because I always love a bolder lip."

"This is my favorite cleanser because it removes any dirt, debris, and makeup, but it also does a good job of gently exfoliating my skin. It never leaves my skin bone-dry, which is a plus because many cleansers can make my skin feel dry and tight."

"I wear this sunscreen every day, so of course, I'll need to bring this, and my skin will be protected from the sun on that island! Because it gives skin such a radiant glow, I don't really feel the need to wear a ton of makeup when I apply this sunscreen. So at least my skin will be looking healthy and radiant, too."

"And lastly, I'd bring this gel moisturizer that always feels so soothing and cooling on my skin. It sinks in so quickly and easily that my skin feels instantly hydrated and refreshed."

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Kat's essential:

"It's not often your desert-island beauty product is a product you've only been using for a few weeks, but holy moly, this product has so dramatically changed my daily beauty routine that I have to include it. If I'm out in public, I'm wearing this product, no ifs, ands, or buts. If I'm honest, I'm mad that I have lived so many years not knowing about it. If you are prone to redness, this product is a straight-up miracle worker. Just check the before-and-after [below]. Specifically, compare my chin, cheeks, and nose in the 'before' on the left and the 'after' on the right. Does it not look like I erased sun damage? I also love that it has SPF, so it actually does prevent sun damage, all while being a five-second fix for my redness-prone skin. And if I'm on that island for an extended stay, I imagine I'll need even more color-correcting than I do currently!"

Before and after:
Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Before and After


Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Jasmine's essentials:

"I suffer from eczema and dehydrated skin, so finding a moisturizer that keeps my skin hydrated without clogging my pores felt as impossible as escaping an island until I found Peach & Lily's Matcha Pudding Cream. It is a staple in my skincare routine."

"You will not catch me going anywhere without a brush that can detangle my curls. Stranded on an island or not, I will not be found with knotted hair."

"Even if I were on an island, keeping my curls in check and hydrated would be a top priority. No other product has quite done right by my low-porosity, 3b curls quite like Adwoa Beauty's Curl Defining Cream. It keeps my curls hydrated, helps with definition, and is never greasy—it's truly the Wilson of curly hair products."

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Nicole's essentials:

"This moisturizer is so light and smells so good you'd never know it was SPF 45. I use it every morning regardless of the season."

"I don't feel ready in the morning without a swipe of this natural lip color."

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Yusra's essentials:

"My skin gets extremely dry when I travel. (Would being stuck on an island even count as travel?) Anyway, this mask applies like butter and immediately hydrates my skin. It's always stocked in my medicine cabinet and travel bag, so it's definitely something I'd have on me."

"Okay, I'm deserted on an island, but I still have to protect my skin from the sun, right? This is my ride-or-die SPF, and it's pretty much all I put on these days."

Who What Wear editor beauty product favorites
Judith's essentials:

"I'm adamant about cleansing at the end of the day and don't think I could live without my Neutrogena Makeup Wipes (for the initial clean) and my Eve Lom Cleansing Balm. The latter is on the pricey side, but it's a miracle worker. My skin always feels so beautiful, fresh, and thoroughly cleansed after I use it. It comes with a muslin cloth, which feels luxurious and really makes me enjoy the ritual of cleansing."

"I have very dry skin, so keeping my whole body moisturized is very important. I've used Nivea soft cream since forever and cannot live without it. It has such a pleasant and subtle scent and keeps my body super hydrated."

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