50 Life-Changing Beauty Products to Try Before You Die

Updated 04/20/19

In the bucket list of life, there are certain things everyone should check off. Drinking wine—whether a 2005 Chateau Lafite Rothschild or Two-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's—while watching the sunset, picnicking in a bucolic locale, striking up a conversation with a total stranger… all things that will ultimately enrich your life (well, the last one only if you approach it correctly). Beyond experiences and leaps of faith, there are certain things that will better your life as well—beauty things, to be exact.

We know by now that money can't buy happiness, but who can deny the thrill that a shiny new beauty product brings, even more so when it happens to deliver on what it promises? (Especially when only a few that actually do so.)

Ahead you'll find 50 beauty products that make us here at Byrdie HQ very, very happy. Whether it's an essence that magically balances oily skin and hydrates dry skin or a drugstore lipstick that rivals its most luxurious counterparts, the beauty world is full of gems that will bring you joy—and give you glowier skin and better hair in the process. We're not saying you need to buy all these products—we swear we're not trying to bankrupt you—but instead, consider this a fun life bucket list to consult in the times when you do find yourself staring at a sea of beauty products trying to decide where to spend your hard-earned cash (aka every Sephora run… every weekend).

Keep scrolling for the 50 life-changing beauty products team Byrdie swears by.

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Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask $70
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"There are okay face masks, and then there are face masks that change your skin after just one use—and this one from Charlotte Tilbury is one of the latter. I love the soft Spanish clay, which never dries to a dry, cracked finish but stays soft and makes pores obsolete. Meanwhile, ingredients like sweet almond and rosehip oil, a Bionymph Peptide Complex, and frangipani flower extract (which smells amazing) even out your skin tone and leave your complexion silky-soft to the touch. Every person I've recommended this mask to has loved it (including my ex-boyfriend)." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Be Smitten Tinted Lip Treatment 0.09 oz/ 2.55 g
Tata Harper Be Smitten Tinted Lip Treatment $29
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"This tube offers the most flattering tint of color I've ever seen, smells amazing, boasts organic ingredients, and simultaneously keeps my pout soft and supple. In lieu of coconut oil, its MVP oils included olive, apricot, green tea, avocado, and the list goes on." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor 

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SK-II Facial Treatment Essence $99
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"There's a reason this pricey product has reached cult status. One of the first of its kind to reach the U.S., this potent essence is made with 90% of the brand's proprietary Pitera—a blend of fermented ingredients that works to restore your skin to its best self. I have oily skin and found that it regulated oil production and brightened dark spots over time, but I've heard from other editors with drier skin that their skin is more hydrated after a few weeks of use. Basically, it's a one-size-fits-all product that will restore your skin's radiance—just pour a few drops into your palm, and then pat it in for a glowing complexion." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Unite 7 Seconds Condition Leave In $26
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"A celebrity hairstylist first recommended the product to me when I came to her a couple of years ago, and I've been hooked on the stuff ever since. It's become my new go-to leave-in spray for optimum hair health." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor 

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Niod Lip Bio-Lipid Concentrate $39
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"In a sea of lip plumpers, this Niod concentrate truly stands out. Unlike other lip plumpers that only temporarily add volume to lips, when applied twice a day, this editor-favorite serum uses peptides and biotechnology to increase collagen production over time, essentially enhancing the fullness of your lips long-term. We all marveled at how much plumper our lips looked after applying." — Faith Xue, editorial director

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Eve Lom Cleanser $80
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"Literally everyone on the Byrdie team is obsessed with this indulgent cleanser from Eve Lom (thanks, Victoria!). Made with chamomile, eucalyptus oil, and shea butter, this cult-classic cleanser exfoliates, tones, and hydrates the skin, reducing our nighttime skincare routine to just a few steps. Plus, it makes cleansing feel like the most decadent ritual." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation 190 1.08 oz/ 32 mL
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation $34
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"I rely on this foundation religiously to give me selfie-worthy skin that warrants a compliment every single time I wear it. I love a full-coverage finish that doesn't crease up or feel cakey after a while. This is my dream formulation, and I can't help but be proud of the fact that all brown-skinned beauties are represented in this line of 40 shades. Major props to Rihanna for creating an affordable and amazing foundation." — Maya Allen, assistant editor

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Harry Josh Pro Dryer 2000 $300
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"A $300 hair dryer? Hear us out. If you're someone who blow-dries their hair after every shower, this compact mint green little number created by celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh might just change your life. I rarely blow-dry my hair, but I was shocked when I used it on a whim and found that it cut my normal blow-dry time in half and left my strands ridiculously soft and silky." — Faith Xue, editorial director

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Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer $42
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"There are some makeup products that after one use fall by the wayside, which is the exact opposite of the case with this brightening concealer from Amazing Cosmetics. While this tube may look tiny, one itty-bitty squeeze of product is all you need to lighten up the under-eye area and cover unruly pigmentation associated with dark circles. Trust us—this stuff lasts forever." — Faith Xue, editorial director

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Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum $185
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"Other face oils come and go, but this one is forever—at least, I think so, and you probably will too after you try it. Honestly, I hated face oils before trying this product, which just goes to show how strong its glow-giving powers are. Made up of 22 natural botanicals—from grapeseed oil to evening primrose oil—the formula actively works to heal and defend your skin from life's aggressors (i.e., aging, pollution, the hot Cheeto marathon you had last night). It's a little-known gem in the natural beauty realm, and I wholeheartedly recommend." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Bliss Fabulous Face Lotion With SPF 15 $36 $18
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"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 skincare routine since high school. (This formula is truly 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." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor 

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Stacked Skincare Micro-Roller $30
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"Yes, this strange-looking device is covered in tiny needles—but don't let that deter you. Nay, this unassuming and slightly scary skincare tool—known as a derma-roller or micro-roller—might just be the secret to banishing your under-eye bags (it did for our editor), as well as getting rid of skin irritations and boosting collagen. Click here for some micro-rolling 101." — Faith Xue, editorial director

The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer $24
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"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." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor 

Covergirl Lashblast Volume $9
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"This is my OG mascara, and no matter how many new mascaras I try, I always, always, always come back to it. (It's like that one ex you can never quite shake—but without the drama.) It volumizes, separates, and lifts my lashes without any clumping, and I love that it actually stays put all day without flakes or smudges. Oh, and it layers like a pro." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer $27
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"This tried-and-true concealer is news to no one, but if I didn't include it on this list, it'd feel dishonest. There is simply no other concealer on the market that offers a better shade range, coverage, blendability, or non-cakey texture." — Amanda Montell, features editor

Essie Gel Couture Topcoat $12
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"As someone who has done her own nails since kindergarten, I've tried my fair share of topcoats over the years. And this one by Essie has blown away the competition in every regard. It drys fast, boasts an impeccably glossy finish, and keeps my manicure looking brand-new for weeks on end." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor

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Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler $20
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"I've tried every eyelash curler under the sun because my eyelashes are stick-straight and thin, and this one from Shu Uemura wins by a landslide. Anyone working in beauty will tell you this is the eyelash curler to end all eyelash curlers. The silicone pad is just the right amount of bouncy, while the lash curler is curved to magically fit all eye shapes. Try it to believe it—your lashes will thank you." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil 0.5 oz/ 15 mL
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil $40
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"No lie: Every time I apply this nourishing oil onto my skin, my face instantly feels so bouncy and pillow-soft. The formula restores elasticity and instantly brightens the overall look of my skin. And it stays like this for hours." — Maya Allen, assistant editor

Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel $89
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"If my skin is looking dull or broken out, Renée's iconic peel (which literally smells like raspberry jam—dare you not to want to lick it) gives it the kick in the ass it needs. Invariably, every time I apply this goopy purple thing—which is packed with natural exfoliating ingredients like mandelic, lactic, salicylic, tartaric, and malic acids—and rinse it off 10 minutes later, I look three years and 50 hangovers younger." — Amanda Montell, features editor

(Ed. note: Practically all of Team Byrdie is obsessed with this peel too.) 

life-changing-beauty-products
Nyx Matte Lipstick $6
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"Beauty editors and the general public agree: These $6 lippies are as good as their pricey counterparts. One swipe delivers pure, matte pigment that doesn't budge or flake while remaining relatively non-drying. Pick one up in every shade from bright red-orange to a vampy blood red—or even purple or gray, if you're feeling daring. I swear by Indie Flick, a bold orange-red." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Pantene Gold Series Moisture Boost Shampoo $6
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"I love moisture-boosting shampoo. It's paraben-free and infused with argan oil, so my hair immediately feels refreshed. It's lightweight enough so it doesn't leave my strands feeling too oily or heavy but thoroughly moisturized." — Maya Allen, assistant editor

Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Night Treatment $68
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"Are you also dealing with dark spots? If so, I recommend that you purchase, screenshot, bookmark, or write the name of this product down ASAP because this stuff has some seriously special powers. You know how products claim to 'fade dark spots overnight' but actually take forever to work and you rarely see a difference in your skin? (Just me?) This actually banishes my dark spots overnight, and I've never used a cream so powerful. Trust me on this one: It's my new holy grail for hyperpigmentation." — Maya Allen, assistant editor

Brow Wiz Granite 0.003 oz/ 0.085 g
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz $21
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"I'm devoted to this brow pencil, and believe me, I've tried them all. The dark brown shade matches my natural brow shade to a T, and I control the depth of how dark I want them to look depending on how I'm feeling that day. I fill in sparse areas of my brow in hairlike strokes and use the opposite end to comb through my brows in both directions to give them a natural-looking finish." — Maya Allen, assistant editor

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Beautyblender The Original Beautyblender $20
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"This hot-pink sponge is a cult classic (and is in every makeup artist's kit) for a reason. There are many imitators, but the original soft, teardrop-shaped one will forever have my heart. Just apply water and allow it to expand, squeeze out any excess water, and then use it to dab and roll your foundation across your face. The final effect? Your skin, but better." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Kaoshoen Series Powder Brush $190
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"This powder brush is expensive (like, embarrassingly expensive), which is why I've never talked about it before. But aside from my Beautyblender, it is literally the only face makeup brush I use. The brush is handcrafted in Japan and made from goat's hair, which is insanely soft and flexible, able to pick up even tiny amounts of product and distribute them on your face flawlessly. I apply every powder product imaginable with this: bronzer, blush, highlighter, pressed powder, loose powder, everything.

I even contour with it (my nose included)! I've used it every day for three years, and it's still going strong. Just think of it as the Mason Pearson of powder brushes." — Amanda Montell, features editor

Krigler Lovely Patchouli $365
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"This spicy-sweet fragrance was created in 1955 and quickly became Jackie Kennedy's signature. Described as 'provocative' and 'sensuous', the perfume is centered around a bold amber chord with supporting notes of patchouli, bergamot, and leather. Because of its spicy quality, Lovely Patchouli 55 makes for an especially stunning winter fragrance. If you have any Jackie lovers in your life, consider picking up a bottle as a holiday gift. It's pricey, but would you expect anything less from Jackie O?" — Amanda Montell, features editor

Dry Shampoo Foam 5.3 oz/ 150 g
Ouai Haircare Dry Shampoo Foam $28 $12
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 At first, the product feels like it's going to leave your hair soaking wet, but it doesn't—it dries instantly. This isn't the type of dry shampoo that gives you tons of volume or soaks up all your grease, but it does make your hair look infinitely softer and like it doesn't have four days' worth of texture spray and pomade in it, which is key. It also smells floral and fresh, like gardenia, which definitely doesn't hurt." — Amanda Montell, features editor

Dry Texturizing Spray
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray $46 $22
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"There's a reason this texturizing spray is in every top hairstylist's kit. At first, $50 for a texturizing spray might seem pricey, but you get what you pay for: a few spritzes and everyone can have that slightly-mussed, perfectly imperfect model-off-duty hair. Plus, your hair will smell amazing." — Faith Xue, editorial director

SinglePass(TM) Luxe Professional Straightening and Styling Iron
T3 SinglePass Luxe Professional Straightening and Styling Iron $180
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"With short hair, I find that it's way more time-efficient to create waves and bends in your hair with a flat iron rather than a curling iron—and this new addition to my hair tool assembly line is perfect for that. The heated pads on this versatile iron have a little bounce to them—they're not hard and still like on most straighteners—meaning that when you place locks of hair between them and curve the hair in the direction you want your wave to go, you never run the risk of getting a harsh kink." — Amanda Montell, features editor

Alpha Beta(R) Extra Strength Daily Peel 30 Treatments
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel 30 Treatments $88 $16
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"Truly a do-it-all product, this peel brightens the complexion, reduces fine lines, heals breakouts, and minimizes pores. With just two steps, you can send your blackheads packing and smooth out your skin." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor

life-changing-beauty-products
Batiste Dry Shampoo $8
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"I admit that there are pricier dry shampoos that I might love more (mostly for their scent), but if you have a greasy scalp like me, Batiste more than gets the job done and won't shock your wallet. Be warned: The smell is strong but not unpleasant, and more importantly, it soaks up oil while magically adding volume like a breeze. Just make sure to fully massage into your scalp to avoid any white residue." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Bioeffect Serum $160
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"I talk about this serum so much that I probably mutter about it in my sleep. It became hugely popular in Iceland before making its way throughout Europe and, finally, to the U.S. It's a small bottle but packs a huge punch, instantaneously delivering an extreme dose of moisture and glow to your skin. With my bottle about to run out, I'm panicking about dropping a cool $160 on a replacement, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor

Voluminous Dry Shampoo 1.8 oz
Rahua Voluminous Dry Shampoo $32
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"What I love about this dry shampoo (aside from its powerful volume-building capabilities) is that it's made with natural ingredients like clay, cassava root, and star anise. With all the different hair products I use on a weekly basis, it's nice to use something that's aerosol- and alcohol-free to give my poor strands a break. It's also travel-friendly, so I'm never without it." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic $166
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"Together, vitamins C and E and ferulic acid boost each other's individual power, making each one stronger and more effective. The potent combination fends off dark spots and moisture loss and amplifies the sun protection factor of your sunscreen tenfold. It also improves signs of aging, reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and brightens your complexion each time you use it. It might be the most-loved serum of all time among beauty editors." — Hallie Gould, senior editor

Skin Caviar Absolute Filler
La Prairie Skin Caviar Absolute Filler $605
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"Recommended to me by our editorial director, Faith (she told me it 'plumps your wrinkles upon contact'), this moisturizer lives up to the—very expensive, I know—hype. It's infused with potent 'caviar absolute', an ingredient that targets the loss of volume in your skin and almost immediately restores tone and density. It refines contours, firms, lifts, and contributes to increased elasticity, as it should for the price. But when something works, it's hard to ignore. If you're into a splurge, this is without a doubt the cream to buy." — Hallie Gould, senior editor

Bio-Oil Multi-Use Skincare Oil $15
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"So this one is the best-selling Amazon skincare product of the last decade. Now that we have your attention, listen up: Bio-Oil practically melts into your skin with rich moisturizers to hydrate and nourish for hours post-application. The cult-favorite formula is blended with Purcellin oil to make the product especially easy to absorb and lightweight to the touch. It's an incredible option when you're not in a position to spend a lot of money, as it works to fade scars, even skin tone, moisturize, and can even be used as an after-sun treatment and bath oil." — Hallie Gould, senior editor

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970 $67
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"I've probably written about my love for Biologique Recherche's Lotion P50 1970 about as many days as I've been at this job. That's because, well, it changed my life. And I presume it could change yours. I drench a cotton pad with the bottle's contents and swipe it carefully over my face (twice a day, as suggested by my facialist) and feel a flush of tingling. It's a sensation that doesn't hurt or feel uncomfortable, but instead, it feels satisfying and exciting in that 'I can tell this is working' kind of way.

It balances your skin's pH, erases dark spots, shrinks the look of pores, and evens your skin over time. It's amazing." — Hallie Gould, senior editor

Lipstick Larkspur 0.12 oz/ 3.4 g
Nars Lipstick in Heatwave $28
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"The genius is in the formula, as Nars lipsticks are enriched with vitamin E to increase their wearability and keep the true color locked in place. The finish is velvety with that elusive siren effect, full-bodied and classic. Yet you can move your lips with it on—no dryness, cracks, or weird-looking fading. The shade is incredibly flattering, brightens up my entire face, and allows for an almost entirely undetectable fade. Reapplying is never a must, which makes life all the easier to enjoy." — Hallie Gould, senior editor

Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 PA+++ 2 oz/ 59 mL
Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 $65
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"Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen ($65) is unrivaled, in my opinion. Thanks to its lightweight, silky texture and broad-spectrum coverage, this formula is an unequivocal favorite at Byrdie HQ. (Fact: I actually prefer it to traditional, non-SPF primer.)" — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor

Santal 33 Eau De Parfum
Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum $80 $260
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"Okay, so I'm sure you've heard of Le Labo's Santal concoction, but it has a cult following because it's just that good. It's unisex, which feels sexy off the bat. It's woody, it's aromatic, and it features notes like cardamom, violet, and leather. Leather! Leather is so sultry. Plus, Le Labo mixes its scents to order, so the fact that it's all my own is romantic too. I have the perfume oil, eau, and room spray; just saying." — Hallie, senior editor

'K.i.s.s.i.n.g' Lipstick
Charlotte Tilbury 'K.i.s.s.i.n.g' Lipstick $34
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"Leave it to makeup goddess Charlotte Tilbury to craft one of the best traditional lipstick formulas out there, which you'll undoubtedly find—in multiples—in every Byrdie editor's bag. 'It's creamy, but it stays put,' notes managing editor Lindsey—basically the holy grail of lipstick descriptors, no?" — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor

Generation G
Glossier Generation G $18
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"From the ultra-pretty color range to the second-skin texture, there's a lot to love about Glossier's inaugural lipstick formula—not to mention that it's completely bleedproof, so you can skip the liner and constant reapplication." — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor

Byrdie Tip

Because the colors are almost sheer, try layering on different hues for a custom finish.

May Lindstrom The Problem Solver Masque $100
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"A (literally) delicious cocktail of cacao, bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, salt, and an aromatic blend of spices, The Problem Solver is specially formulated to excavate blemishes, detoxify pores, and boost your circulation. I love when a product has some showmanship, so it's always fun to see the dark powder foam up upon contact with water. You paint it onto your face and immediately feel it going to work—it actually heats up when it touches your skin. After letting the mask dry and rinsing it off, I usually spend about five minutes stroking my cheeks in astonishment.

(Kidding—sort of.) Then I bask in the next several hours since it's one of the rare times when I'm blackhead-free." — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor

Deep Serum in Beauty: NA.
Noto Deep Serum $50
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"In my opinion, the best skincare products render makeup completely unnecessary but also happen to make it look phenomenal. This serum hits those exact criteria—it gives my foundation a gorgeously dewy finish, but I also don't feel the need to wear any kind of coverage on a daily basis since I started using it." — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor

Leonor Greyl Paris 'Masque Quintessence' Hair Mask
Leonor Greyl Masque Quintessence Hair Mask $145
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"Yes, I know $145 for a hair mask sounds borderline obscene, but I haven't tried any other mask that makes such a noticeable difference in my hair. I have an oily scalp and dry ends, and this mask is my once-every-two-week treat for my split ends. If you regularly heat-style your hair or have hair that veers toward the dry or brittle side, this mask will change your life (or at least your ends). It turns your tresses buttery-soft and never disappoints." — Faith Xue, editorial director

Naked2 Palette Naked2 12 x 0.05 oz/ 1.41 g
Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette $54
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"I hope I never have to choose a favorite Naked palette (it's basically like choosing a favorite child), but when I'm in the mood for the ultimate nude eye shadow look, I always reach for Urban Decay's iconic second edition. My go-to shades: Chopper and Tease." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor

Kypris Beauty Moonlight Catalyst Refine & Renew
Kypris Beauty Moonlight Catalyst Refine & Renew $77
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"Touted as an herbal alternative to retinoids, this formula contains pumpkin enzymes, which gently but effectively resurface and regenerate the skin. I use it three times a week to maintain a bright and even complexion." — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer $38
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"I've practically sworn off powder highlighters after finding that cream formulas give the most natural, luminescent glow. This is that one standout product that achieves that dewy-but-not-glittery look. It's a buttery highlight that blends into my foundation seamlessly. I like to tap it on my lids too for an extra pop once my eye shadow is complete." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor

Skinny Liquid Eyeliner -
Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner $22
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"These days, I pass on a full-winged look in favor of a subtle flick to open up my eyes, and this user-friendly pen always delivers the perfect amount of pigment. Most importantly, it doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes and stays put all day, even when those aforementioned sensitive eyes are watering constantly." — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor

Rituel de Fille Rare Light Luminizer $29
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"Who could guess that this sleek little compact would house the creamy, iridescent, cherub skin–giving highlighter of your dreams? First of all, the texture. Not sticky but not velvety either, the creamy consistency warms up and melts when you swirl your finger in it, and then sinks into your skin wherever you tap it and gives you an ethereal, angel-like glow. I once described the glow this highlighter gives as 'less unicorn, more cosmic baby angel fairy,' and I stand by that very scientific statement today." — Faith Xue, editorial director

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