Updated: Jun 29
Beauty shopping often involves a lot of guesswork. Skincare is an ever-expanding market, makeup trends keep changing, and you’re forever on the hunt for that perfect shampoo. And with advertisements endlessly marketing the next “magical must-have” product, it can be really difficult to decide what to spend your hard-earned and often limited cash on. So, whether you’re trying to figure out what products to invest in or are a beauty aficionado who just wants to pare down their vanity, this article gives you the lowdown on the 10 most essential, practical, and effective must-have beauty products you should own.
Why Invest In Must-Have Beauty Products?
Well, you don’t absolutely have to. In fact, there are a number of people who aren’t very interested in doing anything to their faces. And that’s absolutely fine too. But, investing in beauty goes beyond the superficial. It’s a form of self-care and often a way to boost your confidence.
Investing in good quality skincare, and makeup if you wear it, will help you prevent future skin issues. Products like sunscreen, vitamin C, and retinol are perfect examples of long-term investment in your skin health.
Curating your beauty style will also help you figure out your very own signature look — a reliable, go-to style that you can easily put together in a pinch. Not only that, once you know what your beauty must-haves are, it will help you shop responsibly while minimizing impulsive shopping, help you save money, and avoid wasteful consumption. And here’s the thing — you don’t need a cabinet full of skincare and makeup to do this. With only a few trusted products, you can bring your beauty A-game every single day!
Top 10 Must-Have Beauty Products
Whether you’re a beauty enthusiast or are just dipping your toes into the world of skincare and makeup, there’s a good chance you already have a few favorites. While you may want to experiment with new launches or try out new products for inspiration, these few favorites are often more than enough for you to present your best self. Here’s a look at the 10 must-have products you should own to curate your solid beauty routine.
#1. Facial Cleanser
This one goes without saying. It doesn’t matter if you wear a full face of makeup or just slather on sunscreen before stepping out, a good cleanser is a non-negotiable must-have. Look for a formula that will thoroughly clean your face without stripping off your skin’s healthy essential oils. A good quality Liquid Facial Soap is something to keep on your bathroom vanity.
Figuring out your skincare, including cleansers, is highly dependent on your skin type. If you have dry, eczema-prone, and easily irritable skin, opt for a gentle cleanser in milky lotion or cream form.
For oily and acne-prone skin, a salicylic acid-based cleanser will be helpful in keeping the sebum production in check.
This may seem like an unnecessary additional step, but trust us, you need to start double-cleansing. A double cleanse is the best way to make sure that you’re getting rid of all the stubborn makeup or waterproof sunscreen at the end of the day. As first cleansers, micellar water, cleansing oils, and cleansing balms are the most effective.
Second Cleanse: Your second cleanse can involve your regular cleanser, whether it’s a foaming cleanser or a milky one.
Exfoliation is essentially the process of removing dead skin cells to reveal smoother, healthier skin. Philosophy has a well reviewed product that combines Exfoliating with a Facial Wash.
Exfoliators are of two types: physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliators are your grainy scrubs, often made with sugar, that you use to massage your face to remove dead skin cells.
Chemical exfoliators use acids like glycolic or lactic acid to exfoliate your skin.
While both forms of exfoliation are effective, chemical exfoliators are gentler and safer of the two types of exfoliators.
Regular exfoliation will not only slough off dead skin cells but also help with cell turnover and encourage a radiant, glowing complexion. Exfoliation also offers anti-aging benefits by promoting smoother, softer skin. #3. Serum
Serums are your skin’s best friend. Considered to be today’s skin elixirs, skin serums can be the answer to most skin issues.
Serums are formulated with concentrated active ingredients that offer various skin benefits. They’re the best tool when you want to target specific skin concerns. And the good news is, there’s a serum for every skin issue you want to tackle. This Estée Lauder Complex Serum is well reviewed and very popular.
If you are relatively new to using skin serums, here is a quick guide to ingredients you should look for:
Vitamin C will offer antioxidant benefits, brighten dull skin, and reduce dark spots.
Hyaluronic acid will prevent skin moisture loss.
Peptides, retinol, and Vitamin B3 will promote collagen production and help minimize fine lines and skin sagging.
Niacinamide will reduce skin inflammation and strengthen your skin barrier.
You may not think of moisturizers as a beauty must-have, especially if you have oily skin. But a good moisturizer, like Clinique’s Moisturizing Lotion+, should be the most basic and essential step in your beauty routine.
Moisturizers not only help hydrate your skin but also help prevent moisture loss from your skin’s epidermis.
Ideally, you should be using a moisturizer all year round, even during humid summers. Just switch up the type of moisturizer you’re using depending on the season and based on what your skin needs.
For example, oily skinned beauties will benefit from a lightweight gel moisturizer. This type of moisturizer is usually water-based and allows better skin absorption. For dry-skinned ladies, a ceramide-based rich moisturizer would be great at targeting dryness.
You can also look for specific skin-soothing ingredients in your moisturizer to increase its efficacy, like green tea extract or panthenol. #5. Sunscreen
No amount of serums, moisturizers, or makeup will be of any use if you’re not protecting your skin with sunscreen. If there’s only one skincare product you want to use every day, it should be a good quality sunscreen.
Including a high SPF sunscreen in your daily beauty regimen offers a wide range of skincare benefits. Not only does it help slow down the visible signs of skin aging, but using sunscreen can also help protect your skin from pollutants while keeping your skin clear of blemishes and imperfections.
Don’t settle for a sunscreen with SPF lower than 30. A sunscreen of at least 35 with a high PA rating offering UVA and UVB protection is crucial.
There are two types of sunscreens you can choose from: physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. As the names suggest, physical sunscreens are made with physical filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide while chemical sunscreens are made with chemical filters like octinoxate and oxybenzone.
A chemical sunscreen is known to be lightweight and easy to apply, but it may not be the best option if you have sensitive skin.
A physical sunscreen, on the other hand, settles on top of your skin and prevents the ultraviolet rays from seeping through. There is less risk of skin irritation with physical sunscreen but you can expect a white (or grey) cast on your skin after application. #6. Concealer
When it comes to makeup, keep it clean and minimal. Especially when you’re on the go. Although foundation would perhaps be the first thing you’d think of when it comes to your base makeup, not everyone needs a foundation.
Often, a good creamy concealer or a tinted moisturizer does the job perfectly well, and maybe even better.
A good concealer will be an incredibly versatile product to have in your beauty essentials kit. You can use it to cover any blemishes, dark circles, as well as to even out your skin tone. This Estée Lauder Concealer is a popular product with very good reviews.
While concealers can be a little tricky to work with, once you find your match, there’ll be no looking back. You can even choose a concealer based on your specific skin concerns. Look for a concealer that comes with a color correction section, so you can easily conceal and correct any redness or dark patches.
If you’re not sure of the color, make sure you test out a bunch of concealer shades in person instead of shopping online. Testing the shades on your skin will give you a better skin color match as well as show you how the concealer will look in person. #7. Mascara
Nothing can transform your look like a swipe of mascara. A good mascara from a manufacture like Lancôme, can wake up your eyes, give them more volume, and make them look brighter and more glamorous.
If you’ve been putting off using mascara because you think it’ll make you look too done up, you simply haven’t found your perfect mascara yet!
If you want a bold, glam look, get a curling or thickening mascara. If you think you have short lashes and want a more dramatic effect, a lengthening mascara would work perfectly. And if you want one for everyday use for natural lashes, look for a mascara that will simply add some color and curl your lashes.
You can even look for waterproof mascaras if you’re worried about the dreaded “raccoon eyes” look. #8. Lipstick
A pop of color on your lips, like this Black Honey from Clinique, can absolutely transform your overall look.
A good lipstick is one of the easiest ways to provide some much-needed oomph to your overall look. A simple swipe of color can brighten up your smile and boost your confidence like nothing else.
But, with so many colors available in varying textures, make sure that you choose a lipstick that compliments your makeup and works with your OOTD. Try to curate two lipstick colors that will find a permanent place in your vanity. A Classic Red
A red lip can’t be beaten. It’s a color that will never go out of style and can complement any look. Whether it’s the iconic ruby red or a cooler plum red or a dull brick red, find a red lipstick that will suit your skin tone and will become your go-to to quickly brighten up your outfit.
A Signature Lip Color While a red lip can also be your signature lip color, if it’s not, it’s a good idea to have a reliable lipstick that you know looks fantastic on you. It may be a muted nude or bright pink or an earthy brown, try out different lipsticks to find your very own signature lipstick.
On a side note, it’s also a good idea to keep a lip balm handy. You don’t want to wear lipstick on crusty lips.
#9. Detangling Brush
Does getting through the zillions of knots and tangles through your hair while avoiding breakage and damage sound like a distant dream? Let us introduce you to detangling brushes, like this one from Tangle Teezer.
A detangling brush typically has wide bristles that easily move through the lengths of your hair without causing any tugging or pulling. If you have curls or waves and are following the curly girl method, a detangling brush is an absolute must-have.
Detangling brushes will not only prevent breakage but also help define your curls while redistributing the natural oils of your hair.
You can use detangling brushes on wet as well as dry hair. On wet hair, it will work excellently for distributing your conditioner throughout the length of your hair. If your hair has a lot of volume, make sure you work in sections and be gentle with your hair. #10. Perfume
There’s something special about scents — they can evoke emotions, trigger memories, and even boost your self-esteem and confidence. I’m not sure how good it smells, but this bottle of Carolina Herrera is just one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time.
Apart from that, if you find your signature scent, it can create a lasting impression on others. It will stay behind and linger; it will remind others of your presence long after you have left. If that isn’t magic, we don’t know what is!
But finding your signature scent can be confusing and overwhelming. Here’s a quick guide to help you out:
Learn about fragrance notes. Top notes are the first whiff you get from any perfume, middle notes are the scents that come through once the top note has faded, and finally, the base notes are the ones last the longest on your person.
Check how different perfumes smell on your body. Scents can alter once they interact with your body chemistry.
Make sure you test out a scent for an entire day. Fragrances can change and evolve throughout the day. What you love in the morning may not smell as good in the evening.
If you find yourself leaning more towards certain scent groups like floral or musky, trust your instinct.
Make sure the perfume does not clash with your scented body lotions or hair products.
Once you find a perfume that perfectly captures your personality, stick to it. Beauty Products You Can Skip So, you’ve figured out your must-haves and essentials and want to pare down your beauty cabinet? Here’s a quick guide to products you can completely skip and save a lot of money on:
Foundation: Not everyone will need or want to wear foundation, especially if you have clear skin. A good concealer or a tinted moisturizer will do the job perfectly well.
Toner: Skincare has quite a few filler steps that you can absolutely skip. Toners, for example, are an unnecessary step that don’t often add anything to your skincare routine unless it has an active ingredient.
Bronzer: Bronzers are great for adding definition. But if you don’t really do a full face of makeup regularly, skip the bronzer.
Sheet mask: Sheet masks were all the rage a few years back. But we’ve come to learn just how wasteful and unnecessary they can be. Invest in a good serum instead.
Primer: Unless you are creating an elaborate makeup look, you don’t really need a primer.
Skin wipes: From abrasive wipes to cleaning oils, skincare has come a long way. Just like sheet masks, skin wipes do nothing more than create waste.
Quick Tips For Beauty Essentials You Should Have In Your Bag Apart from your overall beauty must-haves, these few items can come in extremely handy when you want to spruce up your look on the go:
Keep a dry shampoo on hand. It’s an excellent way to give your tresses a quick refresher.
Vaseline is a wonderful product that you can use in various ways — be it fixing dry patches or taming fly aways.
A detangling brush will help you get rid of unruly locks and make you look put together in no time.
Use a lip and cheek tint to add a flush of color.
A spray or stick sunscreen is great for reapplication.
A small perfume of your signature scent can be uplifting and make you feel refreshed.
Final Thoughts When you take inventory of your makeup and skincare products, you’re likely to find more than a few products you haven’t touched in a while. With the beauty industry constantly evolving and changing trends, it’s easy to accumulate a ton of products you don’t really need.
Taking stock of your skincare routine, figuring out what products are essential, and establishing your personal style are the three simple steps that will help you minimize your beauty clutter as well as reduce waste.
We hope this guide to beauty must-haves helps you curate your own essentials that suit your needs and help elevate your look.
What Must-Have Beauty Products Did We Miss?
We would love to hear from you! Tell us about a Beauty product that you don’t see on our list that you think should be. And let us know what number it should be too. Or maybe we listed a Must-Have that left you scratching your head. Well we want to hear that too! Tell us about it so we, and other readers, can learn and benefit from your experiences. We love reading comments, so please leave one below, and thank you in advance for sharing!