Because you never know when you might discover your next holy grail concealer.
By now you know (right?) that editors receive a lot of free beauty products. One of the byproducts of that is usually an acute hoarding problem (so many tiny violins!) that manifests in an explosion of product under the sink of tiny apartment bathrooms. I reliably have at least a few backups of different products stashed under there in case the inevitable happens. Which it did: I left my (monogrammed!!) makeup bag in another country.
I realized it when I arrived home after a week-plus of travel, while unpacking my things (only to repack them to go on vacation two days later). With zero time for a Sephora run, I figured it was high time I put my stash to work. Here are my findings—and the products that have ousted my previous holy grail favorites to snag the top spot.
The Product: Concealer (aka my lifeblood)
The Stand-in: Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
I’ve had this palette sitting in my little Muji makeup organizer thing forever; and while I’ve played with it a few times, I’ve never committed in a way that would actually allow for an opinion. That changed when I hastily tossed it in my carry-on on my way to Miami to lie in a folding pool chair for four days.
I’ve been using this reliably ever since, and I have to say it’s pretty damn incredible. It’s creamy and easy to apply, and provides pretty full coverage. I start by tapping the slightly darker peachy shade wherever I need a little, uh, concealing, and follow that up with a dab of the lighter shade. If you like Cle de Peau’s concealer (and if you’ve tried it, you probably do), you’ll dig this, too.
The Product: Pressed Powder Foundation
The Stand-in: Tarte Confidence Creamy Powder Foundation
I always follow up liquid-y, creamy face makeup (like regular foundation or concealer) with a super light dusting of powder foundation to seal things in. I feel like I’m forgetting something if I don’t. Tarte’s fits the bill perfectly: it offers a teensy bit of coverage (that you can build without it looking caked on) and just generally makes things look...finished.
The Product: Tinted Brow Gel
The Stand-in: Too Faced Brow Quickie
Tinted, brush-on brow gels: they’re the fucking move. My old favorite has quickly been dethroned by Too Faced’s. You know the deal: it’s basically a small mascara wand-like spoolie with subtle, tinted brow gel that you brush on. It’s perfect for adding a little extra weight and definition.
The Product: The Non-Shimmery Bronzer
The Stand-in: Too Faced Soleil Matte Bronzer
If you’ve ever had a little box of Benefit’s Hoola to call your own, you’re aware of a few things. Those little boxes last forever. Like, long after the top of the packaging rips, there will still be bronzer with not a trace of pan in sight. It’s also kind of the perfect bronzer if you’re looking for something without a single trace of sparkle. This bronzer by Too Faced, however, is all that, plus it’s surprisingly subtle, and ultra-buildable, too.
The Product: Black Liquid Liner
The Stand-in: Revlon Colorstay Liquid Eye Pen in Blackest Black
The final addition to my collection—replacement for the black liner I’ve been wearing for a handful of years running. While it doesn’t quite take its place, it’s pretty damn close—a feat for a drugstore brand. The felt applicator makes it incredibly easy to draw clean lines on the lid, and it lasts all day, too. I’ve also been using it for over a month without even so much as the slightest sign of it drying out. It also cost, like, $10, and is available at pretty much every drugstore.