My 25 Favorite Makeup and Beauty Products
I've been a beauty product junkie for as long as I can remember. I'm someone who browses the beauty and makeup aisles in stores and frequently reads about all the latest and greatest skin care products online.
Though I usually try to find drugstore-priced items first, I sometimes make exceptions for great products that are only found in department stores or online.
Through lots of trial and error, I've found these 25 incredible makeup, beauty and skin care products that I really love.
Makeup and Nails
1) Jane Iredale PurePressed Mineral Powder Foundation w/ SPF 20
I recently discovered this mineral pressed powder from Jane Iredale and I’ve been using it almost everyday since. It provides good coverage with the added benefit of a natural SPF 20 sunscreen. For those who like a talc-free powder or foundation, this compact is a great choice. It easily covers most imperfections or discolorations, but the skin still looks very natural, fresh and matte. Like your own skin, only better. When you run out, you can purchase individual refills that are slightly less expensive than re-buying an entire compact.
Here are a few tricks to make the most out of this foundation:
1) Get the Jane Iredale Flocked Sponge for easy, natural application. The compact comes with a thin puff, but I've found the Flocked Sponge to make applying and blending the makeup easier. A good Kabuki brush is also a nice way to achieve an air-brushed look with this powder.
2) Make sure your skin is exfoliated and moisturized prior to application. If you skin is dry and flaky, powder foundations tend to accentuate that.
3) Don’t drop the compact. Mineral powders are a bit more fragile, so handle with care so your compact lasts until it's gone.
Average Price: $50 US
Where to Buy: JaneIredale.com, Amazon and other beauty retailers
2) Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser
Primers and products to minimize the appearance of pores are becoming very popular. I’ve tried many of them and for the price, and you can’t beat Maybelline’s Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser.
A little goes a long way and it instantly blurs the look of pores and fine lines. It can be used under or over makeup because it’s clear. If you have oily skin, it likely won’t last more than half a day, but it’s easy to re-apply if needed.
Average Price: $7.00 US
Where to Buy: Most drugstores that sell cosmetics.
3) Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Stick
I like the natural look of this stick foundation and how easy it is to use. It gives skin a smooth, semi-matte finish with medium coverage. The convenient tube can be stashed in your purse for touch-ups or even to use as a cover-up during the day.
Although you can wear this as a regular foundation all over your face, it's also perfect for someone who likes to wear a minimal amount of makeup. Just put a few dots on any areas you want to cover, blend with fingers or a sponge and finish with a light powder.
It comes in a wide range of shades, so most people should find one that's right for their skin tone.
Average Price: $8.00 US
Where to Buy: Most drugstores that sell cosmetics.
4) e.l.f. Kabuki Face Brush
I love kabuki brushes for applying powder or liquid foundation and getting a soft, natural finish. Some brushes can be expensive, but this little Kabuki Face Brush from e.l.f. Cosmetics is just good as some pricier ones I've tried. It's easy to wash and lasts without losing bristles. I like that it’s vegan-friendly too!
Average Price: $6.00 US
Where to Buy: ElfCosmetics.com, most drugstores or department stores that sell e.l.f. Cosmetics.
5) Smith's Rosebud Salve
Smith's Rosebud Salve is considered an all-purpose skin preparation, but it's commonly used as a lip balm. It also works well for dry cuticles, elbows, knees, hands and even diaper rash. The rose scent is delicious and it leaves lips silky soft. I like it under lipstick to keep my lips smooth.
Average Price: $6.00 US
Where to Buy: Sephora.com, Rosebudperfume.com
6) Stila Eyeshadow
I’ve been a big fan of Stila Eye Shadow Compacts for years. They go on smoothly, have a rich pigment and staying-power to last throughout the day. I usually apply mine with an eye shadow brush and never have to worry about the powder drifting as I apply, unlike many other eye shadows I’ve tried. They’re somewhat pricey compared to drugstore eye shadow, but they last a long time and there are so many beautiful colors to choose from.
Average Price: $18.00 US
Where to Buy: StilaCosmetics.com, Sephora.com, Ulta.com, many department stores.
7) Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara
When I don’t have time for brow pencil, this brow mascara from Maybelline is a quick and easy way to make my brows look great. It’s a tinted gel that adds some color, thickness and hold without being obvious.
Even up close, I can’t see it, but my brows just look full and lush every time. The trick is to choose the right color for your brows. It’s available in Transparent, Auburn, Blonde, Deep Brown and Soft Brown.
Average Price: $8.00 US
Where to Buy: Most drugstores that sell cosmetics, Ulta.com, Amazon.com
8) Yves Saint Laurent Shocking Eyeliner
Someone recommended this eyeliner to me and I’ve been using it ever since. It has a very fine magic-marker style tip, so it’s a little less intimidating to apply than the average liquid liner with a brush tip. If you like to make a very fine to medium line along your lash line, or want a cat-eye look, you’ll love this liner.
It goes on rich and dark black to make the eyes really stand out. It stays in place and doesn’t smudge easily. It comes off easily with regular eye makeup remover. I’ve found it to last close to a year with frequent use before drying out.
Average Price: $34.00 US
Where to Buy: Department Stores, Sephora.com, Amazon.com
9) Avon Super Extend Precise Liquid Eyeliner
Since I’m a fan of marker style eyeliner, I tried this one from Avon as a more cost-effective version of the Yves Saint Laurent Shocking Eyeliner and was quickly impressed. It goes on smoothly, the pigment is dark and it’s quite smudge-resistant too.
If you want the liquid liner look but find it too difficult to apply in a nice, neat line, you might want to try this eyeliner. Every time I wear it, I get compliments on how great my eyes look.
Average Price: $9.00 US
Where to Buy: Avon.com
10) Benefit They're Real! Mascara
I discovered Benefit They’re Real! Mascara when I received it as a sample with another makeup purchase. The first time I tried it, I couldn’t believe how great my lashes looked. Its multi-tasking formula adds color, length, volume, curl and even separates the lashes well so there’s no clumps. If you curl your lashes first, the results are even more dramatic.
It’s not waterproof, but it stays on better than most non-waterproof mascaras, even in hot weather. It washes off with regular makeup remover, but because there’s so much pigment, it takes a little extra work than your average mascara. But, when I want my lashes to look amazing, this is my first choice.
It’s available in Black, Beyond Brown and Beyond Blue.
Average Price: $24.00 US
Where to Buy: BenefitCosmetics.com, Sephora.com, Ulta.com
11) Blistex Lip Vibrance Lip Protectant w/ SPF 15
I love Blistex Lip Vibrance because not only is it moisturizing, but it’s lightly tinted. It’s like a lip gloss and lip stain in one, so it saves me a step when I’m busy. I keep one in my purse so I'm never without it.
Average Price: $3.00 US
Where to Buy: Many drugstores, Drugstore.com, Amazon.com
12) Wet & Wild Nail Color in 'Blazed'
I normally wear more neutral shades of nail color, but this Wet & Wild polish in ‘Blazed’ caught my eye. It’s a bright peachy coral with a hint of pink that looks perfect with sandals in the warm weather. Countless people have asked me where I got this polish and are surprised to hear it wasn’t some fancy expensive brand. Most drugstores sell Wet & Wild nail polish for $1.00, so it’s a bargain for a DIY summer mani-pedi.
Average Price: $1.00 US
Where to Buy: Most Drugstores, Walgreens.com
13) Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads
I’d heard positive things about these Dr. Dennis Gross at-home peel pads for years, but the price scared me away. A box with 35 packets currently costs about $88 US. You’re supposed to use one pack a day, though some people use them every other day or so to make them last longer.
I finally decided to try the 5-pack for $16 just to see if they worked. In only a couple days, I started seeing improvement in my skin. The texture became smoother, my pores were less visible and my skin looked tighter and fresher. They gave me a healthy glow without redness or irritation. I found that I needed less makeup because my complexion looked smooth and clear.
If you’ve been on the fence about getting these, I’d say splurge and try the 5 or 14-day pack and see how they work for you. They come in Original and Extra Strength. If your skin tends to be sensitive to new products, I’d suggest the Original. Don’t forget to use a good SPF while using any type of alpha/beta products because they can make skin more prone to burn.
Average Price: $88.00 US for 30 to 35 Pads
Where to Buy: Sephora.com, Amazon.com, Ulta.com
How to use Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads
14) DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
I was someone who believed that only people with dry skin should use products containing oil. For years, I’d buy only oil-free cleansers and soaps, fearing oil would break out my combination-sensitive skin.
DHC sent me a catalog with a sample of their Deep Cleansing Oil, so I did some research and found that there’s a big difference in types of oil used in skin care products. This DHC Cleansing Oil is made with pure olive oil, which cleanses without aggravating acne-prone skin.
This oil is truly the best thing I’ve found for cutting through any type of makeup or sunscreen and leaving my face super clean and soft.
Don’t wet your face first; rub it on while your skin is dry. It takes off makeup, helps clean out clogged pores and washes off without leaving a greasy residue. You can use it as a makeup remover/cleanser alone or follow it with a cleanser, like the one I mention in #15.
Average Price: $28.00 US for a 6.7oz. bottle
Where to Buy: DHCCare.com, Amazon.com, Ulta.com
15) Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel
I discovered this lightly foaming, peach-scented cleanser when I received it as a sample from a beauty store. It’s oil-free and suited for all skin types. It easily takes off makeup and cleans skin without being too harsh. It contains glycolic and salicylic acid to help brighten and smooth skin over time.
When I do a 2-step cleanse, I use the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil first (see product #14) and then use this gel cleanser as step two. It also comes in a 3.3 oz. travel size; so if you’re not sure if you’ll like it, try the small bottle first.
Average Price: $38.00 US for the full size bottle
Where to Buy: Amazon.com, Sephora.com, Ulta.com, PeterThomasRoth.com
16) L'Oreal Paris Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover
I’ve tried so many eye makeup removers, but the one I keep coming back to is L’Oreal Paris Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover. It takes off non-oil based eye makeup perfectly and never stings or burns. Look for the one in the blue bottle unless you’re trying to remove waterproof eye makeup, then get the formula in the green bottle.
Average Price: $7.00 US
Where to Buy: In the beauty, skin care or makeup sections of many drugstores. Also at Ulta.com.
17) Proactiv Solution Renewing Cleanser
Proactiv’s original formula cleanser is my go-to product whenever I get breakouts. The combination of benzoyl peroxide and gentle exfoliators clear up my skin quickly without being too harsh. If you’re not used to products with benzoyl peroxide, try using it every other day when you start to minimize any irritation.
In humid weather when my skin’s more prone to breakouts, I use this once or twice daily and my skin stays perfectly clear. It’s normally step one of a 3-piece Proactiv kit, but you can buy individual bottles on sites like Amazon and sometimes eBay.
Note: If you use this cleanser, use a white washcloth and towel and be careful not to get any on your clothing, because benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics or even lighten your brows.
Average Price: $40.00 US
Where to Buy: Amazon, QVC, eBay
18) Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque
I learned about this fantastic mask from my mother who has been using it for as long as I can remember. It’s a very inexpensive way to quickly improve your complexion. If your skin looks dull, tired, oily, broken out or if you have problems with noticeable pores, use this minty clay-based mask once a week or so. When you rinse it off ten or fifteen minutes later, your skin will look so much nicer. I’ll sometimes use it right before putting my makeup on for special occasions and love how it makes my skin look flawless.
Average Price: $5.00 US
Where to Buy: Drugstores, Ulta, Amazon
19) Proactiv Refining Mask
Though I don’t have as much trouble with breakouts as I used to, I still use this super-effective Proactiv Refining Mask as an overnight spot treatment. For those with acne, this mask can be used 2 to 3 times per week for about ten minutes. The 6% sulfur it contains helps dry out blemishes without over-drying skin.
It’s also the perfect overnight spot treatment because the sulfur helps reduce the blemish without causing redness, flaking or peeling like some spot treatments tend to do. It comes in a larger and smaller (travel size) tube. If you just need it for an occasional blemish, get the small tube and it’s more than enough.
Average Price: $10.00 US for a Travel Size Tube (1 oz.), $20.00 for the larger tube
Where to Buy: Proactiv.com, Amazon.com, occasionally eBay
20) Avon Care Silicone Glove Protective Hand Cream
This hand cream from Avon goes beyond the everyday hand cream to protect dry skin in cold weather and keeps hands from getting dried out when doing household chores. It creates a barrier between your skin and water to seal in the moisture and keep dryness away. I wear it before cleaning and before I put on my winter gloves on to keep from getting dry, cracked hands.
Average Price: $5.00 US
Where to Buy: An Avon Rep, Avon.com
21) Cotz Face Sunscreen SPF 40
A few years ago, I made the switch to using natural sunscreens after I figured out regular sunscreens were irritating my eyes when I wore them outdoors during warm or humid weather.
Cotz Sunscreen protects with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide instead of chemicals. Cotz Face SPF 40 is free of preservatives, chemicals and oils, but still offers excellent protection from the sun. My skin is quite fair, but when I wear Cotz, I don’t get a burn or sun damage. It’s also the only oil-free sunscreen that doesn’t make my skin look shiny.
Another reason I like Cotz Face is because it’s a great primer. A light coat under makeup (or even alone) mattifies skin and makes it super smooth. It’s available in white for lighter skin tones, and ‘Natural Skin Tone’, which has a beige tint. The white version is best for those with very pale or porcelain skin tones. For light to medium or darker skin tones, try the natural skin tone (tinted) version because the white one could look chalky unless you’re very fair.
I actually have both because my skin is somewhere in between. In the summer when I want more of a glow, I use the tinted version. During the winter, I tend to use the white. Some people mix the two together if they’re in between for a better match.
If you find it a bit thick, use moisturizer underneath and use a light coat or try mixing it with a small amount of moisturizer before applying.
It’s definitely the best sunscreen and primer I’ve ever found. It keeps my skin looking matte and flawless all day.
Average Price: $20.00 US
Where to Buy: CotzSkinCare.com, Amazon, Ulta, Drugstore.com
22) MicroPlane Foot File
I've tried so many different kinds of products to make my dry, cracked heels smooth, but it wasn’t until I found this very cool foot file from MicroPlane that I actually got the results I was looking for. It looks like a fine cheese grater and that’s sort of how it works. You use it gently on the calloused parts of your feet, and the calluses go away.
It's possible to over-do it and end up with sore feet if you press too hard or try to remove too many calluses at once, but with light pressure and using it over a few days, that’s not a problem.
After using this, I put on a heel balm, heavy moisturizer or a foot cream like the one I mention in #23, and my feet look as great as if I’d been to a spa.
Average Price: $8.00 US
Where to Buy: US.MicroPlane.com, Amazon.com, Overstock.com
23) O'Keefe's for Healthy Feet Foot Cream
This foot cream has made a huge difference for my dry, cracked heels. Regular creams, Vaseline and moisturizers are okay, but this thick, pasty foot cream sticks to dry skin and helps heal roughness and cracks.
When my feet feel dry, I put this on at night under cotton socks and when I wake up, my feet are super soft. For rough, calloused feet, use the MicroPlane Foot File (#22) first and then this cream. The duo works like a charm to keep feet sandal-ready.
Average Price: $7.00 US
Where to Buy: Walmart.com, Target.com, Amazon.com, many drugstores
24) healthy sexy hair Soy-Tri-Wheat Leave-In Conditioner
I love this light-but-effective leave-in conditioner from Sexy Hair because it makes my dry, occasionally frizzy hair look and feel soft without weighing it down or making it look greasy.
I’d never heard of this brand before, but I picked up a travel size bottle at the drugstore because my hair felt dry and the fly-aways looked awful. I spray a little of this on when my hair is still damp from a shower and the results are noticeable. If I forget to wear it, I can see the difference. I can’t be without this product.
Average Price: $18.00 US for the full size bottle, $7.00 for a travel size bottle
Where to Buy: SexyHair.com, Walgreens.com, Ulta.com
25) Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Supplement
My hair had been getting thin from a medical condition and even after that was treated, I was left with thin, flat hair. It wasn’t falling out anymore, but it was depressingly thin compared to how my hair used to be. I tried various hair supplements with so-so results, and then I found Viviscal.
Though it’s not inexpensive ($30 to $50 US for a 30-day supply), it worked wonderfully for my hair. I noticed my hair looking thicker within 2 weeks of use. After a month or so, my hairdresser commented on how my hair looked much thicker. I’ve read lots of reviews about this supplement and have found most people have had similar results. It’s worth looking into if you’re struggling with thin hair.
Average Price: $30 to $50 US for a 60 tablet box (30-day supply)
Where to Buy: Viviscal.com, Amazon, many drugstores sell it the vitamin section
26) Johnson's Baby Oil
I couldn't leave out another one of my skin care favorites: Johnson’s Baby Oil. My sensitive skin doesn’t like cold, dry, winter weather and sometimes gets dry enough that I get eczema on my hands and legs during the coldest winter months. I’ve tried SO many various creams, lotions and even prescriptions to deal with it, but a friend recommended Johnson’s Baby Oil and it was the only thing that worked. I use it at least once a day after showering, especially on my legs, and my dry skin and eczema stays away. It’s a bargain product for anyone who wants soft, beautiful skin.
Average Price: $5.00 to $6.00 US for the regular size bottle
Where to Buy: Most drugstores or online
I hope you've found something helpful on this list. Have you tried any of these products and have thoughts to share about them? What makeup, beauty and skin care products can you not live without?
Feel free to share in the comment section below...
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