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10 Beauty Products That Should Be in Your Makeup Bag Right Now

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There are so many makeup and beauty products to choose from these days—literally millions of them. Not only do we have the drugstore aisle, but we can also shop at department store makeup counters, home parties, and online sources like Ulta, which sells products from a variety of companies. With so many choices, it’s hard to know which products are really good and which are merely being hyped up by good advertising. I confess that I’m a makeup hoarder. If TLC ever does a show for people who can’t stop buying makeup, you can be sure they’ll come looking for me (or my husband will turn me in). Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve finally settled on a beauty routine that includes products I love and happily recommend to others. Some are drugstore finds and others are a bit more pricey (but worth it). They’re listed below in the order I use them every day.

Mary Kay TimeWise Age-Fighting Moisturizer $24.00

Image via Mary Kay

This moisturizer is supposed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and hydrate throughout the day. I’m skeptical that anything (short of surgery) can really reduce wrinkles, so I don’t buy a moisturizer thinking it’s going to take years off my face. That said, Mary Kay TimeWise does keep its promise to keep my skin hydrated all day and makes my skin feel nice and tingly as I’m smoothing it on. It’s fragrance-free (high on my priority list), oil-free, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy.

e.l.f Poreless Face Primer $6.00

Image via Amazon

Is it possible for a face primer to change your life? I’m leaning toward yes. If you’re not using a primer before applying your foundation, you’re missing out on a fabulous product that works in tandem with your foundation to improve the appearance of your skin. e.l.f. Poreless Face Primer, infused with Tea Tree and Vitamins A and E, reduces pores and oiliness. It creates a smooth canvas for your foundation and helps create that flawless matte finish you’re looking for. You only need a few drops of this each time you apply your makeup, so this bottle will last you a long time, making it well worth the six bucks. Trust me, once you try this for the first time you will never use foundation without a primer again.

Mary Kay Medium-Coverage Foundation $18.00

Image via Mary Kay

As much as I’d like to get by with nothing more than a tinted moisturizer, I don’t have the nearly perfect skin needed to pull that off. Mary Kay’s liquid foundation smoothes out minor flaws and controls oil over the course of the day. There are 16 different shades to choose from and once you find your perfect shade (check with your Mary Kay consultant), you can apply it quickly without having to spend a lot of time blending. I’ve had people tell me how great my skin looks when I’m wearing it—and I don’t have great skin. That makes it a great investment in my book. 

Clinique Airbrush Concealer $20.00

This product is great for hiding dark circles under your eyes, or for those dark shadows that appear between the corners of your eyes and your nose. I use the lightest shade, Fair, which is almost pink, and works like a highlighter. The concealer, applied over foundation, is dispensed through a small brush at the end of the tube. Turn the bottom of the tube to force the liquid concealer out, and then brush it on in the spots where you really need it, patting gently with your fingers to blend. Your entire eye area will look brighter and fresher. 

Nars Multiple $39.00

Nars says you can use this on your lips, cheeks, eyes, and body, but using it on my cheeks is more than enough glow for me. The sheer color stick is versatile enough to use as your regular blush (though you’ll probably have to reapply throughout the day) or as a quick pop of color if you have to run out of the house in a hurry sans full makeup. I keep one in the bathroom to use in the morning and another in my purse for a quick touch-up.

Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base $26.00

Just like with face primer, if you’re not using an eyeshadow primer you need to start—right now. The main benefit is that your eyeshadow will last all day long. No more nasty creases or fading and you won’t have to worry about your shadow looking like a little kid’s art project on your eyelid by the end of the day. Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base goes on easily with the applicator sponge, dries quickly, and works perfectly every time. I’m still using the container I purchased over a year ago, which helps me justify the price.

Mary Kay Eyeliner $12.00

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s eyeliners that break off and fall into the bathroom sink when I’m applying them. Mary Kay has somehow managed to invent an eyeliner crayon that is small enough to allow you to create a fine line, yet strong enough that it won’t break three or four times throughout the life of the product. Win. I use the Deep Brown because it enhances my blue eyes. It goes on smoothly and the look lasts all day without fading or smudging.

e.l.f. High Definition Undereye Setting Powder $3.00

Have some fine lines or flaw you need to hide? This light-diffusing powder has you covered. Just brush some on after you’ve applied your foundation and lines, dark circles, and eye shadows seem to disappear. Because it’s a loose powder, you’ll have to be careful that you don’t end up with big blobs of it all over your face, but once you get the hang of it you won’t want to be without this product—unless you’re one of those people with perfect skin and no wrinkles, in which case, why are you even reading this? Did I mention that this magical powder will only set you back three dollars??

 Clinique Long Last Lipstick $17.00

This lipstick not only feels great on my lips, but it stays on. I have a terrible habit of pressing my lips together, which often dooms lipsticks, sending them to that makeup graveyard in the shoebox in my closet. Long Last also holds up to eating and drinking and whatever else I’m doing throughout the day without fading, drying out, clumping, or retreating to the edges of my lips. In addition, it feels really good—like a creamy lip gloss, only with rich color. My favorite is Blushing Nude. I also love Clinique’s Different Lipstick, which seems to be exactly the same lipstick as Long Last, even down to the case.

Vaseline $4.00

No kidding, the humble Vaseline made my favorite beauty products list. It’s been party of my beauty routine since I was in middle school and I honestly don’t see how I would live without out it. I’ve actually felt a little panicked when I arrived at a hotel and realized I had left my Vaseline at home because it’s such an integral part of my routine. I not only use it to remove my eye makeup (it disolves even the most hardcore mascara), but I apply it to my lips every night before I go to sleep. It helps to keep them soft and smooth and prevents chapping, even during our frigid Ohio winters. I also keep jars of it around the house so I can put it on anytime I feel my lips getting dry. To be honest, I think I probably have a Vaseline addiction because I cannot live without this stuff. 

Missing from the list: Eye shadow and mascara. I have a drawer full of products, none of which I love enough to recommend. Why is it that mascaras dry up after a month anymore?

What are your can’t-live-without beauty products? Leave me a comment below and let me know what I’m missing—and tell me which mascaras and eye shadows to try.