Attention, Please: 19 Beauty Products a Sephora Beauty Director Can't Be Without

Melinda Solares's favorite beauty products

The Lineup is a monthly series where we're giving you an inside peek at the beauty lineups of cool fashion people, editors, makeup artists, hairstylists, and estheticians—all the people we trust the most. Get ready for a behind-the-scenes look at all the can't-live-without products that make their worlds go 'round.

Makeup or skincare? It's the question I find myself most eager to ask anyone working in the beauty industry. Some might call it cruel. Take Melinda Solares, one of Sephora's beauty directors, who says it's the equivalent of asking her to pick a favorite child. It just feels wrong. But with a little more probing, Solares offers up the perfect response: "Skincare is a form of self-care for me, and makeup is a form of self-expression. If I had to choose, I would pick skincare because what is art without a canvas?"

Solares's deep passion for skincare education came to be after her mom passed away from skin cancer. "I wanted to learn about how I could keep my skin safe," she tells me. "And as someone who struggled with acne for most of my life, I was already invested in learning everything there is to know."

Melinda Solares's favorite beauty products



Aside from everyone needing a daily SPF—Solares's go-to is Supergoop! Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ ($36)—Solares says if you want to splurge on either a beauty treatment or product, invest in something that makes everything else you use work even better. "One of my not-so-secret skincare secrets is using a face steamer. Think of your skin as a sponge. When a sponge is damp, it absorbs much more than when it's dry. The same is true for your skin. The Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Pro Facial Steamer ($149) uses a micro-steam technology that helps open your pores, which not only promotes better absorption and effectiveness of the skincare products that follow but also offers an even deeper cleanse when used while washing. One of my favorite skincare tips is to use a steamer with your moisturizing face masks to boost results."

Clearly, Solares is a bundle of beauty knowledge (not to mention she has access to thousands of products), so I couldn't help but ask her to shed some light on her current lineup of skincare, makeup, and haircare. In addition to stealing her steamer-with-a-face-mask tip, I 100% plan to steal her staples, too. Keep scrolling for the 19 products Solares swears by.

"This medium-coverage, natural-finish foundation does it all. Right now, everyone wants a natural-looking foundation that has buildable coverage and feels like you are wearing nothing. Basically, they want it all, and this foundation does that and more. It also has a skincare-like base, formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and brown-algae extract to provide an anti-pollution protective shield."

"This is the ultimate at-home facial with a blend of alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids that chemically exfoliate, meaning there is no physical abrasion to your skin. This revs up skin-cell turnover and visibly improves dark spots, wrinkles, and pore size. Be sure to start slow with AHAs and BHAs and pause on any other active ingredients (like retinol) in your routine to avoid irritating your skin. Begin with once a week at night for just a few minutes to see how your skin reacts. Don't forget to use SPF in the morning."

"This is one I just can't live without. It is like a huge glass of water after a night of one too many glasses of wine. My thirsty skin drinks up the blend of multi-weight hyaluronic acids that target and hydrate multiple layers of my skin. Since hyaluronic acid pulls in moisture from the outside, pat one to two pumps onto damp skin for the most effective results."

"If you haven't already, it may be time to consider a consistent treatment to help preserve your youthful-looking skin. The retinol and lactic acid in this serum support natural collagen to help combat the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles, and blemishes. The founder, Shani Darden, is a highly sought-after celebrity esthetician who takes her time developing formulas and testing them on all kinds of skin to ensure they are the best they can be."

"I managed Sephora's YouTube and IGTV for over three years before becoming a beauty director, and I found the most commonly commented question about eye cream was, "Do I really need an eye cream?" Yes, you should use an eye cream, and no, you should not just use your face moisturizer around your eyes instead. Eye creams are specifically formulated for the thinner, more delicate skin around your eyes and personally, I notice a big difference when I use them. Sephora Collection has paycheck-friendly skincare that packs a punch. This eye cream is fantastic for dryness, dark circles, and puffiness, and it's just $17."

"Are you a beginner at liquid liner or maybe just trying to get out the door without spending an hour watching your liner wings grow as you endlessly try to perfect them? Same, girl. This liner makes it so much easier! The secret is in the flexible brush tip and a revolutionary ink cartridge that ensures a constant flow of pigment. One of my favorite things about Rare Beauty is its goal is to raise $100 million dollars over the next 10 years to help address the gaps in mental-health services for underserved communities."

"By now, you can probably guess that I am not a fan of excessive sun exposure, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice sun-kissed skin. I was a competitive dancer growing up, so I have tried just about every self-tanning product out there because let me assure you, a one-shouldered gold lamé dance costume looks much better with a little glow! This Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water is one of my ride-or-dies because it does not camouflage your skin but instead color-corrects, which leaves your skin looking like yours but better. I also love that it goes on clear, so you never have to worry about stains on your sheets."

"I am always reaching for this Tower 28 SOS spray. It is a simple, three-ingredient, daily treatment spray that soothes stressed skin and reduces the look of redness and irritation. Whether you are recovering from a sunburn, soothing angry skin from overdoing acids in your routine, or battling maskne, this is a miracle worker!"

"To me, Lip Glow is the grown-up version of that cute, roller-ball lip gloss you couldn't leave home without when you were younger, but it's better. It is hydrating, gives the perfect touch of color, and definitely has a cool, off-duty-model vibe."

"One of my good friends recommended this to me, and I've been loving it ever since! This leave-in cream protects against heat damage, nourishes, and hydrates. I love using this before I blow-dry for silky-smooth, soft, and shiny hair. It is magical."

"Whether you are doing disco brows or brow lamination, this brow gel will sculpt and hold brows in place for you. The best thing about it is the ease of use. It swipes on like any other brow gel—quick and easy but with added benefits."

"This is a new favorite of mine for fuller-looking, defined lashes without the clumping, running, or flaking because who needs that? In just a few swipes, this mascara completely transforms my lashes, and it is only $12."

"As a former competitive dancer, I have never underestimated the power of a great hair spray. However, I certainly have had many trials and errors finding one that didn't make my hair crunch. This hair spray is the winner. It's like the highlighter of haircare because it leaves my hair looking so radiant and shiny."

"If you don't already know about Sephora Favorite Kits, you have got to check them out! They're all different, but with this one, you pay $25 for five trial sizes of the best-selling fragrances. Once you choose your favorite, you can use the included scent certificate to redeem a travel size at no additional cost. Not only is this my go-to gift because you can't go wrong since the recipient ultimately gets to choose, but it is also a great way to experiment with new scents without breaking the bank."

"I feel like royalty when I use this oil. It's ultra hydrating and smells like heaven. By Rosie Jane is a Clean + Planet Positive brand at Sephora, based out of Los Angeles and founded by a super mom whose goal is to make cool beauty for cool humans."

"Before I begin, let me reassure you that yes, you read that right —$10! To say that I am a highlighter enthusiast may be an understatement. Generally, my goal is to glow in a way that looks natural, healthy, and youthful. This multi-stick illuminates my skin with a subtle, glossy look and multi-tonal pearlescence. You can see it in action here."

"This calming face mask has colloidal oatmeal to address the appearance of redness and has ceramides to help support skin's natural moisture barrier. You can use this as a 20-minute flash mask before a special event, an overnight moisturizing mask when you're feeling extra dry, or a heavy moisturizer by using a very thin layer. Quick tip: Applying too much causes this thick mask to pill, so keep it light."

"Using this cleanser saved my skin and my bank account. Typically, removing a full face of makeup requires multiple washes when using a traditional cleanser. This not only wastes the product and your money but also strips the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and thirsty. I use this oil cleanser to ensure that my skin stays clean and moisturized."

"Wearing a bold red makes me feel bossy, and our girl RiRi did this one right. This shade is called Uncensored and is the perfect universal red. If you're worried about longevity or potential transfer, rest assured that this formula does not disappoint."