With all the deliveries, launches, and product collections sent to us—it's safe to say we beauty editors aren't exactly brand loyal. Swapping out hair, makeup, and skincare products daily is practically part of our job description. Which also places higher stock on the things we actually do keep around. To find out the most worth-it products (the ones we spent our limited money on before they were free), I asked Byrdie HQ and a group of notable editors in the industry for the offerings they've been using since college.
Below, find our time-tested, beloved formulas we're not willing to give up.
"Growing up in L.A. gives you a bit of an aging complex, so I've been using anti-wrinkle everything since high school. I remember a girl in my sorority looking at my Regenerist and asking, 'Isn't that for old ladies?' No, Ashley, it is not. And now that I'm in the beauty industry, I know that just about every derm says it's the best stuff you can get at the drugstore. I still use it and recommend it over a lot of pricier options (but you can pry my SkinMedica TNS Serum out of my cold, dead hands)."
"Blame all the binge-drinking for killing some brain cells, but I always forgot to put on deodorant in college. It wasn't great if I realized in a lecture hall, but if I caught myself when I was at work at Aveda, I had an easy fix: bergamot oil. It's naturally deodorizing, and a few drops in each underarm was all I needed to survive an eight-hour shift. I know the scent so intimately that once, at a fancy fragrance dinner full of beauty editors, I was the only one to correctly guess the note—proof that thousands and thousands of dollars in tuition does pay off, kind of?"
"These days, I get a blowout once a week (insert praise hands emoji). But back in college, I didn't have that beauty editor luxury, so styling my long, naturally curly hair was up to me. My hairstylist worked at a Paul Mitchell salon and suggested I try the brand's Sculpting Foam. It worked like a charm, defining my curls and taming my frizz without leaving my hair crunchy like traditional mousse. And all of these years later, it's still my go-to curly hair product. I have a lot of hair, but it's fine, so most creams and gels tend to be too heavy; this foam is just right. (I get bounce and control; a hard combo to find.) It smells like coconut and allows me to wash and go—just like it did back then."
"I've loved a smoky eye for as long as I can remember, but removing it was always such a pain. I didn't have the patience to wipe and wipe and wipe (especially late night), so when I tried this makeup remover and it essentially did the work for me, I was sold. One squirt of it on a cotton ball gently whisks away all of my shadow, liner, and mascara without leaving a greasy mess. My mom (hi, Sally!) is a Mary Kay consultant, so I had access to unlimited amounts (college budget score!) and turned all of my friends onto it. Over 10 years later, I still hoard the stuff (even though I've tested dozens of other formulas). I now use it on a face wipe—it dissolves all of my shadow without interfering with my lash extensions."
"I remember my first little dark spot tragically appearing on my right cheek like it was yesterday. I was an insecure freshman who wouldn't dare be caught in class with this glaring mark on my face. I discovered this gem during an emergency trip to Sephora. Once I realized that it not only blurs my imperfections but can also create a mean contour, I was hooked. It's a buildable concealer that gives me total control over how much coverage I want. I'm also not mad at the airbrushed glow it gives my skin on my most tired days."
"Thanks to this savior, I achieved my first ever cat eye. In college, winged liner was the It-girl thing to wear at parties. I was convinced I'd never acquire the skill until this came into my life. The teeny-tiny tip makes gliding this onto my eye so easy. It should be the staple eyeliner for beginners because the application is amazing and it stays put through the night."
"For a minute, I broke up with blush because I could never find the right shade. I'm not a fan of bright pink shades, and that's all I was seeing at every makeup counter. I wanted a wearable shade, and those don't look natural against my dark skin tone. Everything changed the moment I found this muted, dark chocolate blush. It's a soft brown shade with warm yellow and red tones. I use a medium-size fluffy brush to sweep it onto the apples of my cheeks. It has a matte texture, so I also use it to contour because I love the way it sculpts my face."
"I've been using this Too Faced bronzer for as long as I can remember. It was a departure for me at first, I was segueing out of my glitter phase and moving in, what I believed to be, a much more sophisticated direction. The color is perfect for me—sheer but buildable—and it adds just a hint of glow. Though, my favorite part then (okay and still now) is it smells and tastes like chocolate."
"I just can't quit these—they're undeniably my favorite makeup-removing wipe on the planet. They're not too try or too soaked in product (which is surprisingly my biggest complaint about all other wipes), and they remove every stitch of makeup in one swipe. That's waterproof mascara, foundation—everything. Plus, Kim Kardashian West uses them too."
"First things first, I am not a gloss person. And actually, that's an understatement. I despise lip gloss. Except for this one. I distinctly remember the moment I purchased it. I was with my mom shopping at Nordstrom the week before my freshmen year of college, and we stopped at the Chantecaille counter as my mom perused the newest tubes and formulas.
"A very nice saleswoman came up to us and, doing her job, handed me the gloss (I think she also added that it's the exact color that Angelina Jolie wears). Thus, I didn't argue, and my mom, very much a lip gloss person, pressured me to give it a swipe. Fast-forward six years and the rest is history. It's still the only lip gloss I wear unabashedly. It has a lovely consistency, and the light pink color is incredibly flattering. Not to gloat, but I always get at least one compliment when I wear it."
"Honestly, I don't even remember how this lotion first ended up in my arsenal. But I do know that it's been a regular in my skin care routine since high school. (I know this is a college roundup, but, hey, this formula is an over-achiever.) True to its very appropriate name, this daily moisturizer is fabulous. Not only does it give skin instant luminosity and a dose of brightness, but it also smells amazing and is infused with a bit of SPF (a godsend for those like me who are still working on that daily habit). Some may find it a tad bit greasy, but I think the finish lends itself to a 'glow,' not grease. It's also great under makeup. In fact, I blame my no-primer policy on this lotion's smoothing, easy-to-layer formula."
"I'll be honest—my eyelashes are one of my favorite features. Despite my light hair, somehow I wound up with long, super-dark eyelashes. (Thanks, Dad!) My one complaint: curl. Or rather, the lack thereof. Try as I (and my trusted eyelash curler) might, my long lashes are prone to droop, and this mascara from Dior is quite honestly the only mascara that has ever been able to fight gravity and my lashes personal vendetta against curl. It's light, super-pigmented, and it also manages to separate my lashes to fanned out perfection. I'm never without it."
"I've been using Caudalie VinoPerfect Serum since my mom bought it during my college years. I used to steal it from her, putting a little bit in a travel-size jar before I'd head back to college. I eventually realized how expensive it was and felt bad, so I saved and bought my own. This is truly one of the only products that helps me with hyperpigmentation. Even though I have melasma, I feel it actually evens out my skin in a gentle way."
"I remember the moment I broke all the lashes on my left eye with an eyelash curler like it was yesterday because it was equally hilarious and traumatizing. (Like, a true laugh/cry situation.) Latisse had just come out, but my broke-college-kid budget wasn't accommodating the investment. I wore Ardell Demi Wispies for at least six weeks, and for a more natural look, I'd use the individuals. It was my first run with fake lashes, and I can pop those suckers on in two minutes flat now."
There's a sort of petroleum-like smell to this formula that instantly transports me back to my cinderblock freshman dorm room every time I use it. I'm still truly wowed by its ability to transform my tiny blond lashes into thick, black flutters. Nine (!) years later, I'm still hooked. Even more expensive mascaras don't hold up to its volumizing prowess, in my opinion.
"One weekend during freshman year when I was home visiting my family back in California, I stole a squirt of my sister's CeraVe's AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($13) after realizing I'd forgotten to pack my own. I bought my own bottle the very same day and have been pretty consistently been using it as my morning moisturizer ever since. It's the most basic moisturizer you could ever own, but I love it because of all the things it's not. It's not fragranced, not greasy, and not full of silicones. Oh, and it has SPF 30—win-win!"
"I started wearing Chloe's Eau de Parfum ($105) in college when I was obsessed with the scent of lychee. Ironically, it has zero notes of lychee in it but for some reason wearing it reminds me of the chilled lychees I eat every summer when I visit my extended family in Singapore. Four years later and I still wear it—in fact, I'm wearing it right now as I type this love letter to the scent."
Opening Image: @mayaalenaa; @gelcream