When it’s your job to test products, standing by one really says something.
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A massive part (and perk) of a beauty editor’s job is testing products. Brand-new products, relaunched products, special-edition versions of products—they all get sent to our desks for free, and we try as many as possible as quickly as possible to ensure we’re recommending the absolute best stuff on the market for readers.
Since these samples are coming in rapid-fire and most of us live in NYC- and LA-sized apartments, we often end up giving away the majority of products before they’re used in order to make room for the new batch. But once in a while, a product comes along that’s so good, we can’t bear to toss it until it’s used to the very last drop—and often end up hoarding more of it just in case it gets discontinued.
Out of the hundreds (or, in some cases, thousands) of makeup, skincare, and hair care products we and our fellow beauty editors have tested, the following have earned a permanent place in our cabinets.
More so than with my skincare or makeup routines, when I find something that actually works for my hair, I keep restocking it after I finish. Lately, my two favorite things are Batiste Dry Shampoo and Kristin Ess Working Serum—for two totally opposite reasons.
I wash my hair two times a week (max), and on the days I do wash, it gets super dry and brittle, so I add a little moisture back with the serum, which is lightweight enough for fine hair like mine. Then, for the next three days, I’m all about loading up on dry shampoo: The Batiste continues to soak up oil with multiple applications, but never gets overly gritty.
Recently, Sable Yong has been consistently finishing her Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid. “Even after using it for only a couple days, I notice a huge difference to my skin texture—it’s way smoother, any tiny bumps or milia are disappeared, and my pores relegate themselves to BTS status,” Yong explains. She says it’s also worth noting that a couple days after she stops using it, “my skin texture starts dropping the ball on that whole smooth-as-glass thing, which is very annoying.”
The first thing Amanda Richards does after showering is spritz the Mario Badescu spray on her face. She finds the formula tones skin, soothes redness, and locks in moisture. “This is a holy-grail skincare product for me, to the point where I feel like my skincare routine is incomplete without it,” Richards explains.
When it comes to makeup, NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil is the lipstick Richards keeps having to restock. “Over the last several years, I’ve gone through at least 10 tubes of Dragon Girl,” Richards says. The long-lasting, non-drying formula is basically ideal for a matte lipstick, but it’s the color that really makes this pencil stick at the top of Richards’ list. “Dragon Girl is exactly what I want from a red: It’s the perfect balance of cool and warm, which makes it pop on every skin tone,” she explains. “I wear this and nothing else and feel like I’ve got a look.”
“The packaging is far from Insta-bait,” Stephanie Saltzman says of her Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. “But this is, without a doubt, my most beloved beauty product.” And Paula’s Choice founder Paula Begoun once told Saltzman that it’s her favorite product from the line too. “I hoard it, I revere it, I recommend it to anyone and everyone with a face,” Saltzman raves.
“A quick swipe of this liquid (doused on a cotton pad) over skin gently exfoliates, using salicylic acid to buff away dead skin cells without causing even a hint of redness or irritation,” she explains. It also helps clean out pores and, after just a few uses, Saltzman was hooked on the way it made her skin glow.
The hunt for the perfect dry shampoo is seemingly unending, but Saltzman thinks she’s found hers in the Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo. “We like to joke in the office that it’s the ‘Official Scent of Fashionista HQ’ because practically all of our editors keep a bottle at their desk,” she explains. The “amber-y, vanilla-y aroma” is definitely a huge pro, but the formula does a great job at soaking up oil and building volume too.
The final product Saltzman uses to the bitter end is Marc Jacobs Feather Noir Ultra-Skinny Lash Discovering Mascara. “I have small eyes and relatively wimpy lashes, so I just want a formula that’s going to lengthen and lift each hair, making my lashes look naturally voluminous, full, and fluttery without clumping or flaking at all,” she explains. “That sounds like a tall order, but this Marc Jacobs pick—which pairs a shiny, lacquer-like formula and a super-skinny brush—actually delivers on all of it.” She's been using RevitaLash for the past few months, and says the results are insane when she layers this mascara on top. “People (including my own sister, who has seen my usual lashes my entire life) stop and ask me if I’m wearing lash extensions,” Saltzman says.
Lexi Novak has three products she always uses to the last drop. “I discovered Dolce & Gabbana cleansing oil a few years ago and have been faithful ever since.” Unlike other cleansing oils she’d tried that stung her eyes or left a greasy film, this one is gentle and rinses off clean.
A second oil Novak loves is Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil. “I have classically combination skin that’s dry on the cheeks and oily on the T-zone,” she explains. “When I wear this at night, I wake up with moisturized and softened skin.” Plus, Novak finds it doesn’t exacerbate pre-existing grease.
For makeup, Novak says she “love, love, loves mascara and am equally crazy about trying every single new one that comes out.” Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara is her most recent fave. “It grabs my lashes to give them lift, coats them so they look thicker and longer, and has a fine comb-like brush that prevents clumps,” Novak says. “I’m not one for subtle lashes, so this checks off all the requirements.”
Caitlin Miller says it’s hard for her to fully commit to any product, but there’s one serum she uses every night. “I was first introduced to this product a year ago when I interviewed founder April Gargiulo, aka the vintner’s actual daughter,” Miller explains. “The delicate blend of 22 essential oils and botanicals took my adult acne from a total pain to virtually a non-issue.” It’s obviously on the “splurge” end of things price-wise, but “like a nice LBD or great pair of boots, it’s best to think of it as an investment piece,” Miller says.
Chanel Parks is fully committed to finishing products, just not in the same way the rest of the editors on this list do. “I really pride myself in having great skin. Yes, it gets crazy every once in a while because hormones and the elements disprove immortality and perfection, but I often think of my regimen as a requirement to my happiness,” she explains. “That’s why I finish a jar of moisturizer a month.” Parks believes the secret to her glowing skin is the moisture and protection these creams provide. She does switch up her moisturizer on a monthly basis, however. “In June it was Sisley Paris’s Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream, July it was belif’s Aquabomb, and now I’m deep into Renee Rouleau’s Hydraboost Rescue Cream,” Parks says. “As a souvenir (or for the sake of my beauty-hoarding tendencies), I like to save the empty jars, like they’re trophies of my moisturizing excellence!”
“If I had to give up every skincare item I use but one, this would be the last man standing,” Katie Dupere says of her BareMinerals Eternalixir Skin-Volumizing Oil Serum. “I use it every day, twice a day.” Dupere swears that just three drops of the stuff will change your skincare game, making your skin look super healthy and glowy. “Plus, it smells gorgeous—all herbal and spa-like,” she says.
Before delving into the benefits of the product, Dawn Davis gives me a disclaimer: “This serum smells like charred hot dogs,” she warns. But it’s so good, Davis can’t stop using it despite the scent. “I’ve gone through countless bottles of the stuff over the last 10-plus years, and I make sure I always have at least two backup bottles in my beauty stash at all times,” Davis says.
Davis is prone to hyperpigmentation, but when she layers this under her moisturizer and sunscreen, she claims to notice about 75 percent less freckling. “I’ve tried so many other vitamin C serums, but I keep coming back to this one because my skin looks brighter and more even when I’m using it,” she says.
Lindsey Metrus only tries new products after doing a bunch of research on the ingredients, and tends to lean towards products that come with testimonials from fellow editors and friends. However, after chatting with the founder of the brand and learning about the science behind using epidermal growth factors in your skincare, she was happy to be a guinea pig when it came to BioEffect’s EGF Serum.
“Epidermal growth factors help promote new cell growth and repair, which plumps and firms the skin,” Metrus explains. “I applied a few drops of their cult-loved EGF Serum (the bottle is very tiny, so you have to use sparingly) and was amazed at how glowy my skin was the next morning.” Now she’s hooked. Metrus says her skin looks clearer and her makeup lies better with regular use of this stuff. “I just wish they sold it by the gallon, since I go through it like water!” Metrus says.
“I still put toothpaste on a stubborn acne once in a blue moon, even though I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t help entirely. Even though I know better than to think that it’ll really work, it still feels oddly satisfying sometimes, so I keep doing it.”
“These acne patches are the most life-changing, foolproof skincare product I’ve ever tried,” Olivia Muenter swears. “If you have the occasional breakout or hormonal pimple like me, these will rock your world.” The patches basically suck all the secretions out of your blemishes (which Muenter says is “both totally gross and oddly satisfying”) to leave you with a less noticeable, less irritated pimple. “I use them overnight on stubborn spots, in the morning before putting on my makeup, or even on my chest/back under my clothes during the day if I’m having a breakout there,” Muenter says. “This is one of the only skincare products I buy in bulk, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”
“I live in perpetual fear of finishing my favorite beauty products,” Emily Ferber says. So, she always has at least five Glossier Boy Brows at one time. “I also just finished the Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask, which is so deliciously creamy I couldn’t properly ration it,” Ferber says. And while she’s never actually finished a fragrance, Ferber did just go through Diptyque’s Do Son Shower Oil, which Ferber describes as a “very heavy, sexy white floral.”
“I grew up in a hairspray-obsessed household, so as soon as I started to style my own hair (around middle school) I quickly became hooked too. Even now, I can’t help but reach for my hairspray after doing my hair, even if I’m trying to go for some soft waves. Except now, I use a more flexible hold formula than the stiff, sticky stuff from the ‘90s.”
Sara Tan says she “can’t shut up” about Kate Somerville’s newest moisturizer, which contains exfoliating ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and fruit enzymes. “As a beauty editor, it’s difficult for me to get through an entire bottle or jar of something, but I finished this in a month,” Tan explains. “I used it day and night, and I swear it changed the texture of my skin and made my face glowy, hydrated, and healthy-looking. Praise you, Kate Somerville.”
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