What's a sleeper product, you ask? It's that product you love, live for, and would throw most of your possessions in front of a bus for—your ride-or-die, if you like. But it's also a product that doesn't get a lot of attention. It may be from a brand with another hero product or one with a cult following that doesn't allow for much else. Or it may even be from a brand that doesn't find itself in the media spotlight all that often. Either way, it's one of the best beauty products you've used. And now, it's that product's time to shine.
I had all the editors at Byrdie HQ detail their own sleeper products—the ones they cherish but hardly find a reason to write about. From highlighters and hyaluronic acid serums to hair brushes and cotton pads, find our most overlooked but beloved beauty products below.
"Okay, so this isn't exactly under the radar, but it truly is my ride-or-die. I get so many compliments about my skin when I'm wearing this, rather than 'Your makeup looks good.' It's like a real life Instagram filter and I am obsessed."
"Sure, there are more exciting shades in the lineup, but this taupe hue is my ride-or-die because it adds a subtle definition for daytime and is the perfect partner to a red lip come evening. It really does live up to the long-wear name, too."
"I've never really gotten on with makeup sponges, but this BareMinerals brush is a completely different story. Its bristles are so densely packed yet so pillowy, I swear. Whatever foundation you use it with, it'll buff and blend and melt the formula right into the skin. Streaks just don't even come into question."
"Up against fancy perfumes, home fragrance isn't exactly the sexiest of product categories, but I swear down, there's no smell I find more enjoyable than this grapefruit, jasmine and geranium room spray. You won't believe how many people have commented on how good my flat smells since I started spraying this everywhere."
"I realise how much of a beauty editor stereotype I'm playing into by recommending cotton pads, but I swear these ones from Shiseido are worth the extra spend. They're the Teslas of cotton pads: silky-soft, fluffy, and just the right amount of absorbent. It's like trying to go back to bodega sushi after tasting the best omakase of your life—yes, you could do it, but why would you want to? Plus, at $10 for a giant pack, they're an affordable luxury that will make you feel just as fancy using them as you would a pricey serum.
"I hoard black eyeliners like they're my lifeblood, and yet it wasn't until recently that I found one that met all my needs. My eyeliner process usually requires two products: a budgeproof black liquid liner that I use along my lash line and flick out with a wing and then a creamy gel pencil that I use to fill in my waterline and gaps in my eyelashes. (You can read more about this life-changing eyeliner technique I learned from Beyoncé's makeup artist here.) Thus I've always needed to use at least two eyeliners to get the job done—until I discovered Tarte's Double Take Eyeliner.
One end of the pencil is a waterproof liquid with a fine tip and the other is a twist-up pencil—how genius is that? Plus, both formulas are exceptional and don't crease or smudge. Honestly, it blows my mind that more makeup brands haven't come out with their own versions."
"I'd consider this a sleeper product, especially because I'd forgotten about it while trying a bunch of other new mascaras that passed by my desk within the last year. But then this old favorite made its way into my hands once again and I couldn't figure out why I'd ever stopped using it. It's super thick and inky black, which is exactly what I need for my stubby blonde lashes. It also delivers incredible lift, so I can toss my eyelash curler to the wayside. One of my biggest gripes with mascaras is fallout and those little specs that smear along my foundation, but that certainly doesn't happen with this formula.
"There are so many cult-loved highlighters out there that we see and hear about incessantly, but this £10 product doesn't get nearly as many accolades as it should. It glides on perfectly without that tacky, goopy effect some sticks leave behind. The result is a subtle, buildable sheen with a soft airbrushed finish. I currently own three, so I won't run out any time soon (or, god forbid, it gets discontinued)."
"I don't know why I seem to be the only person on the planet who talks and obsesses over this highlighter. It's perfect. It's the Tom Hardy of highlighters. And I've gotten every single one of my friends hooked. I first discovered this pan years ago when I would watch YouTube tutorials for days. No really, days. And I haven't found anything better since. It's not too shimmery, and yet it's not too subtle, and I always get compliments whenever I wear it."
"La Roche-Posay is a brand everyone loves be it for its physical sunscreen or its micellar cleansing water. But no one thinks to try its mascara. Big mistake. This mascara is incredible. It has a super-thin brush with fine, tiny plastic bristles that separate every single lash (and even coat the tiniest baby hairs in inky-black formula). It makes my lashes look a mile long but still natural."
"Everyone's so busy talking about SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic (£135)—which is an incredible product (one the brand calls a cult favorite and I call 'magic in a bottle')—that they forget to delve further into the brand to find other majestic formulas. Such is the case with H.A. Intensifier, a potent blend of pure hyaluronic acid, Pro-Xylane, licorice root, and purple rice that works to boost skin's hyaluronic acid levels, improving skin texture and restoring elasticity. See—it does all that while also filling in every fine line or wrinkle on your face.
I actively watch it plump up my skin before my very eyes as I massage it into my face. It's a game changer for sure."