I'm Notoriously Impatient—13 Transformative Beauty Products That Work Fast


(Image credit: @madisonelainechertow)

When it comes to beauty practices and products, slow and steady *usually* wins the race; gradually weaning your skin onto retinol, incrementally adjusting your hair color (drastic overnight changes typically don't end well, just trust me), so on and so forth. However, as a notoriously impatient person who constantly craves instant gratification, allowing my favorite rituals and formulations the time and space to work their eventual magic is challenging. So, whenever possible, I prioritize the products that not only work fast—if not immediately—but are ultra-transformative, and, dare I say, miraculous. In fact, lots of said products I've discovered over the years work so well and efficiently, that they've even replaced costly in-office or salon procedures like filler, hair treatments, facials, brow appointments, blowouts, lash lifts, hair extensions, and more. 

I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not the only one who wants to get the most by doing the least, so below, I compiled a list of 13 product categories that have completely transformed my routine and my results, plus the specific finds I rely on that work better, not harder to grant fast and noticeable results. Keep scrolling—these formulas guarantee 100% satisfaction.

1. Multi-Tasking Luminizers

I have incredibly sensitive skin, so I have to really slow my roll when it comes to experimenting and introducing new things into my routine. (Just one application of a sneaky, highly-comedogenic product can cause an eruption of pimples.) So, considering the plethora of new formulas I receive on a weekly basis, it can take me a long time to work my way through any and all newness. Thus, I was only last weekend years old when I finally tried InnBeauty Project's highly beloved (and often sold out) Face Glaze, and I quite literally shrieked "Holy shit!"

I'm a glowy-skin fan, but as I've gotten older, I steer clear of the ultra-sparkly highlight powders that were a hallmark of my early 20s. Instead, I prioritize multitasking primers or highlighting gels (many of which feature loads of amazing skin-boosting ingredients, too) that give my skin a natural hit of luminosity, smoothness, and glow without it actually looking like I have anything on my face.

The below picks from InnBeauty Project and Saie are my ride-or-dies for an instantaneous boost of radiance and moisture, but they also help my complexion look smoother and more even. I'll choose one or the other and apply it after my moisturizer, and it's like I got a skin transplant. I kid you not.

My all-time faves:

2. Lip Plumping Glosses

I've always been super open about my lip filler. I know it's still kind of taboo to discuss, but I always want to be honest regarding what I've done or not done to my face. I love my natural lips, but I also love enhancing their shape with some added volume. I recently got filler for the first time in a couple of years, because I love the results, and I have a practitioner who I adore and trust (Thank you, Janae Kirby!) But in between appointments—and after my lips have "deflated," if you will—I love using lip-plumping products instead. And as someone who's actually gotten my lips injected, I can attest that some formulas have really insane, filler-esque results!

For a more subtle dose of plumping action and lots of hydrating TLC, I like Lawless's lip mask, and for a more dramatic effect, I'll layer Buxom's Plump Shot under and over whatever lip color I'm wearing. A friend recently grabbed it from my bag and kept reaching for it throughout the night saying, "This is good shit." Honestly, I couldn't have said it better myself.

My all-time faves:

3. Microcurrent Devices

I'm a huge fan of high-quality microcurrent devices—the key word being "high-quality." There are lots of gadgets and gizmos out there, but when I'm consistent with my models of choice (Ziip for my face and NuFace's NuBody for my thighs, butt, hammys, arms, and abs) I notice very real, very quick results. And if you are consistent, the results just get better and more noticeable with time. The Ziip has definitely helped clear, plump, lift, and sculpt my face (so many celebs are obsessed too!), and I've seen visible differences with NuBody too—fewer bumps and dimples and a tighter, more lifted look wherever I do the treatments. Practices like these do take some extra time, and I'm fully aware they're quite the investment, but when used properly and often, they can really replace even spendier things like facials and other procedures. I'm a stan.

My all-time faves:

4. Exfoliating Body Bars

I despise body scrubs for so many reasons. A) they're usually too harsh for my skin, and I leave the shower looking like I was attacked by a rabid cat, B) they're gloopy, messy, and more scrub usually ends up down my drain than on my skin, C) they often leave a filmy, icky residue on my skin AND the shower floor, and D) I just don't think they work that well! My skin is never that much softer or smoother after the fact, which in my brain, makes basic body scrubs dead to me.

However, If you want a truly effective physical exfoliation (that's also less messy and more gentle on the skin) I can't recommend the below body bars enough. They smell great, they look great, and they leave your skin as soft and smooth as a baby's bum, instantly. Don't waste your time with anything else. If you have sensitive skin and/or require less exfoliation or bump removal, I suggest Mutha, and if you have more tolerant skin and reallyyyy want to resurface your skin, grab Glossier.

My all-time faves:

5. Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatments

Over the years, I've been diabolically evil to my strands—extensions, heat styling, bleach… You name it, I've done it. So unsurprisingly, I know my way around the repair department, and I swear on my life the best, most effective products for instantly softer, shinier, smoother, all-around healthier hair are the masks, oils, and balms I apply as a treatment pre-shampoo. (I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me!)

My all-time best Pamela Anderson circa Baywatch hair days have been a direct result of using one of the two formulas below for at least 30 minutes before I wash. The Hair Rituel Restructuring Balm is scary-magical, and even my mom (who is in her seventies with thinning, fine hair) said it's the most transformative product she's ever used in her strands. Both formulas are expensive, but a little goes a long way, so it comes out being very worth it when you take cost-per-wear into account.

My all-time faves:

6. Thicker Hair, Bottled

After nearly ruining my hair with extensions and drenching my scalp with glutinous amounts of dry shampoo, I've gone back to basics when it comes to faking the look of thicker hair. And there are two key products I keep as my secret weapons of choice: a yummy volumizing tonic to spray on damp strands (enter the R+Co Bleu spray, below) and a multitasking hair texturizing spray from Color Wow that kind of acts like a texture spray, hair spray, heat protectant, and dry shampoo all in one go.

Now that I know what my air looks like with it, I can never style my hair without it. Otherwise, my fine strands just look limp and sad. It's easy to use, and it doesn't make my hair feel sticky or dirty. It's perfect, and I recently got Who What Wear Editor in Chief Kat Collings hooked on it, too.

My all-time faves:

7. Repairative, Light-Reflecting Hair Oils

For years, hair oils have been an integral part of my haircare routine, and it's my non-negotiable first step the second I step out of the shower with freshly cleansed strands. But the formulas I like to use on my damp hair and the formulas I like to use on my dry hair are very different. To get the most nourishment, protection, and shine possible, I use a tiny bit of Augustinus Bader's cult-loved oil on damp strands (use sparingly, too much can make your hair a little greasy-looking if you run fine/thin like me), and then once my hair is dry and styled, I run R+Co's Two-Way Mirror Smoothing Oil through to keep everything soft and shimmery.

It's ultra-lightweight, so it never looks heavy or greasy. They're two of my favorite hair products of all time, and together, the shine factor is off the damn charts—no easy feat when you're as blonde and bleached as I am!

My all-time faves:

8. Tubing Mascaras

I'm a greedy SOB when it comes to my lashes. Essentially, I want my lashes—which are already fairly long, naturally—to be as lengthened, curled, separated, and all-around Bambi-like as humanly possible. And let me tell you, my friends, tubing mascaras are the gateway. Both of the formulas below are truly fantastic, and I've had people assume I had extensions when I was wearing them. If you're someone who prioritizes lots of thickness and volume, you might not be a fan, but for doe-like drama, they're my faves.

My all-time faves:

9. Brow Pens

Don't get me wrong—I love a brow pencil and clear brow gel moment, but when I have 30 seconds and 30 seconds only to transform my sparse-ish brows to fuller, albeit natural-looking glory, I prefer a brow pen. Anastasia Beverly Hills has the best shade range and the super-fine tip ensures pro-level precision with a finish that mimics natural brow hairs. (I liken the results to temporary microblading!)

My all-time faves:

10. Creamy Bronzers for Contouring

I still reach for a couple of my favorite powder bronzers and contouring products from time to time, but once I realized how much more natural-looking and easy-to-blend cream formulas were, I pretty much converted overnight. Since creams can kind of melt into your skin or makeup and become one with the rest of your complexion, I find them easier to move and manipulate which makes them a heck of a lot better for sculpting and reshaping the look of my face. I love swiping creams below or even on top of my cheekbones to carve them out a little bit, below my jawline to make it look sharper and more pronounced, around my temples and forehead for sun-inspired warmth, and on either side of my nose, in addition to a little on the tip and across the bridge. My face looks more sculpted and snatched in seconds, no invasive treatments required.

My all-time faves:

11. "Barbie" Leg Blurring Creams

I'm terribly clumsy, and because of that, I almost always have random bruises and marks on my legs. I also hate shaving, and I don't exfoliate and lotion up as often as I should. So, when it comes time to actually show my bare legs, they don't always look as even and sleek and smooth as I'd like them to. But that's where this next product comes in so handy: blurring body makeup–inspired creams that camouflage imperfections, add a light-reflecting hint of color, and give your legs Barbie-esqe sheen and tone in about two minutes flat.

I love the two options below because they make my legs look great (if I do say so myself), they don't transfer onto whatever else I'm wearing or sitting on, and they easily rinse off of my skin in the shower once I'm ready to bask in my legs' natural glory again. I also love to self-tan, but these are what I reach for when I don't want to commit to the time or hassle.

My all-time faves:

12. Color-Enhancing Lip Tints

I always go through phases when it comes to the types of lip products I use. But one staple that I have always and will always put on a pedestal is the unassuming power of a lip tint. I typically don't like super-bold or dramatic colors; instead, I want an instantaneous dose of pigment that doesn't fight but just enhances my natural lip color, which I happen to really like! Even on my worst days—when my skin looks decrepit and I look like I belong in a crypt and not at my desk—a swipe and dab of Benefit's iconic Benetint or YSL's Nu Lip + Cheek hybrid (a new, hot-and-heavy fave of mine) completely resurrect my entire face in a matter of seconds.

My all-time faves:

13. Pimple Patches

I used to be all about pimple creams and serums until I discovered the magic of pimple patches. Now, I rarely touch the former! Whether it's a bourgeoning bump I feel coming days before it actually rears its head to the surface or a balls-to-the-wall puss-filled nightmare that's already made its presence known, my favorite pimple patches below almost immediately stomp out the fire—incoming bumps never have the chance to hatch and existing zits are quickly flattened and de-flamed. Plus, the fact that they're stickers that block my pick-happy fingers from touching my skin and make ing a breakout even worse is an added perk. 

Next: Everyone in Paris Smells So Good, and This $26 Scent on Amazon is Responsible

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.