If I had to define my daily makeup aesthetic with one phrase, it would be "low-maintenance." Even though I appreciate full-face makeup looks, and the effort and detail that goes into them (my saved photos on Instagram are proof), I personally prefer a minimal approach. For me, that usually means foundation, a touch of concealer, a coat of mascara, and lip, cheek, or eye color.
Here's the thing, though. When it comes to the last part, I almost never use more than one product. Instead, I'll use one multitasking makeup balm that I can quickly and easily apply to all areas of my face without the need for a brush, a sponge, or even a mirror if I'm really in a pinch. These makeup balms range from multi-use color sticks to repurposed cream blushes and beyond, and needless to say, I've accumulated quite the collection. Keep scrolling to see my 10 favorite multipurpose makeup products to use year-round (but especially in the summer when I crave a quick, colorful, and low-maintenance look).
This is one of the most iconic multiuse makeup products ever and for good reason. The creamy formula is easy to swipe and blend wherever you want it—whether that's on your eyes, cheeks, lips, or body. Depending on the shade you use and your skin tone, you can use it as a highlighter, blush, eye shadow, lip shimmer, and even contour. Speaking of shades, the most popular is probably Orgasm, a universally flattering peachy-pink color. I really like the shade South Beach, which is a warm apricot color that never fails to make my skin glow.
I can't say enough about these lip and cheek balms. They're pigmented and creamy and they apply like a dream (I never use anything other than my fingers). My favorite shade is this sun-kissed peach color, but there are six equally delightful ones to choose from, including a coral pink, a rosy nude, and a deep berry shade. No matter which one you choose, it will make your skin look like it's set in the ambient light of golden hour in a coastal city in California.
This multi-stick from Ilia is super buildable. You can apply it lightly and blend it out for a sheer wash of color, or you can apply it with a heavier hand for a strong monochromatic makeup look. I like the fact that it's formulated with good-for-skin ingredients like avocado oil and shea butter for a little kick of moisture along with the color.
This drugstore product costs about the same as a morning latte, so it definitely wins the award for most affordable in my book. Sure, it's tiny, but it lasts a long time, so I still think it's well worth the price, especially because of the super-blendable formula that delivers color and shimmer (I use it kind of like a blush-highlighter hybrid). While it doesn't hold up as long as others I've tried, reapplication is simple so I don't sweat it.
Milk Makeup's Lip + Cheek is one of my all-time favorite multi-use makeup products because it's creamy, blendable, buildable, and moisturizing (it contains mango butter and avocado and apricot oils). When I'm not wearing foundation, and I just want a pop of color, I'll apply it straight to my skin. When I am wearing foundation, and I don't want it to disturb what's underneath, I'll rub it on a sponge or my fingers and tap it onto my cheeks. I'll also add a little to my lips and even my eyes if I'm feeling a monochromatic moment.
On the most casual days, when I want the most natural flush of color, I'll reach for this W3ll People product. The color pay-off isn't the most impactful, but that's kind of the whole point. It's all about delivering a lit-from-within sort of look. The formula, which includes sunflower seed oil, cocoa seed butter, and avocado oil, is particularly beneficial for people with dry skin.
I love a dual-ended makeup product and this one from Jouer Cosmetics is no exception. Both sides have the exact same formula (which contains plant-derived squalane and rosehip oil for moisture), yet they differ in color. My favorite one is called Inspire, and it has a bright poppy red on one end, and a complimentary coral shade on the other end. When used together, it gives the skin a velvety rose petal effect.
Even though it's called a Blush Stick, this product can be used on lips and lids as well. It's highly pigmented, effortlessly blendable, and natural-looking, which is why I think it's worth the luxury price tag. Personally, I like the shade Poppet, which is a vivid poppy pink that feels right on trend for summer.
This sleek compact is easy to stash away in a bag. Since the formula is creamy and pigmented, I don't feel the need to apply it with a sponge or brush, just my fingers. I use it on my cheeks as blush, my eyes as a cream shadow, and my lips for a pop of low-maintenance color.
All kinds of multi-use makeup products are great for traveling since they free up space normally taken by other eye, lip, and cheek products. However, this one gets bonus points, since it comes with a brush for blending. As for the product itself, it has a long-wearing, satin-finish formula that stays put, limiting the need for reapplication.
5 More Summer Beauty Must-Haves
Say it with me: reapplying sunscreen is critical for protecting your skin from the sun's damaging rays. Use a sunscreen powder to easily dust on SPF without disturbing makeup.
Summer is the season I bring out blotting papers to refresh my makeup and absorb excess oil.
I use this mist before and after sun exposure to cool, soothe, and hydrate my dry skin. It's formulated with good-for-skin ingredients like cactus extract, aloe, and cucumber water.
This hair oil protects against the damaging effects of sun, seawater, and chlorinated pool water.
I like to switch up my fragrances with the seasons. Right now, I'm loving this one, which has notes of driftwood, sea salt, and seaweed. It smells really fresh, clean, and summery.
Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.