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8 Damn Good Beauty Products You'll Wish You Knew About Sooner

We've tried, we've tested, and we've fully converted.

Chrissy Mahlmeister
Chrissy Mahlmeister

There's no denying it, I've got some giant-ass pores — specifically on the cheek area on either side of the nose. I know this because people have told me, like, my whole life. Example: I was in a play in middle school and a woman doing my makeup said, "Wow, your skin really soaks up the foundation because of those giant pores, doesn't it?! I can't put enough on!" (As if being a chubby 13-year-old with bad teeth weren't enough to kill my entire self-esteem.)

Since then, my pores have continued to be spotlight-stealing assholes, so I finally buckled under society's pressure to be ~flawless~ and asked a Sephora employee what I could do to make them go away. I've never seen someone literally run to a product before, but damn, she couldn't have grabbed the Benefit POREfessional Face Primer any faster. Now after using it for a month, I totally see why.

You're supposed to apply it right after you put on your moisturizer, and the velvety texture (WHICH IS SO GODDAMN NICE) fills in any large pores and makes your skin smooth AF. It's also a primer, so it's a two-for-one type of deal, which, hey, who doesn't love that?

I know, I know, $31 is a lot, but two people told me my skin looked perfect recently since I started using it. TWO, YOU GUYS. This has literally never happened in my entire life, so to me, it's totally worth the money, and it'll last you a long-ass time. —Chrissy Mahlmeister, lifestyle editor

2. Bumble and bumble's Pret-a-Powder, $12—$27

I fucking hate washing my hair. My natural texture is this frizzy, horrible mix of waves and curls, severely damaged from years of bleach and flat-ironing. I wasn't blessed with naturally great hair, which means that I need to style it, which means that I have to wake up extra early and spend 30 minutes trying to make it look like I didn't just get mauled by one of those Dyson Airblade hand dryers in an airport bathroom. Any excuse I can get to wash and style my hair less is one that I will take. Fast. For years, I tried to find the perfect dry shampoo. It's hard to nail the perfect mix of a product that legitimately makes your hair look not greasy and doesn't leave that white powdery residue that looks like someone dumped cocaine on your scalp. I went through probably 20-plus (not an exaggeration) dry shampoos until I found the Bumble and bumble Pret-a-Powder, which I've been using exclusively for almost two years. It works like this: You just shake the powder onto your hair closer to the root, then you rake it through your hair with your fingers to distribute it around the hair. You don't need much, and the best part is that it literally disappears into your hair. Right now I have highlights, but even when my hair was dyed a dark brown shade, it still disappeared. It doesn't feel sticky or gritty, it just makes your hair feel a pinch thicker than usual (and if you use it for a few days in a row, it can build up a bit and feel even thicker). I actually like the texture of my hair better on the second, third, and fourth day after washing, so I started using the powder on my hair even when it was clean to get that texture. Before this, I used to wash my hair every other day, and now I can stretch it up to six days if I really need to, which means I use a curling iron less frequently, so my hair is actually in a healthier state. The one thing to keep in mind is that I really use my fingers to work shampoo through my hair when I DO wash it so that I don't get product buildup clogging my scalp. Oh, and BTW, I've had the same bottle for those two years. It lasts FOREVER. Also, FYI, I still shower even though I'm not washing my hair. Shower caps are a lady's best friend. —Augusta Falletta, deputy style editor
Augusta Falletta / Via BuzzFeed

I fucking hate washing my hair. My natural texture is this frizzy, horrible mix of waves and curls, severely damaged from years of bleach and flat-ironing. I wasn't blessed with naturally great hair, which means that I need to style it, which means that I have to wake up extra early and spend 30 minutes trying to make it look like I didn't just get mauled by one of those Dyson Airblade hand dryers in an airport bathroom. Any excuse I can get to wash and style my hair less is one that I will take. Fast.

For years, I tried to find the perfect dry shampoo. It's hard to nail the perfect mix of a product that legitimately makes your hair look not greasy and doesn't leave that white powdery residue that looks like someone dumped cocaine on your scalp. I went through probably 20-plus (not an exaggeration) dry shampoos until I found the Bumble and bumble Pret-a-Powder, which I've been using exclusively for almost two years.

It works like this: You just shake the powder onto your hair closer to the root, then you rake it through your hair with your fingers to distribute it around the hair. You don't need much, and the best part is that it literally disappears into your hair. Right now I have highlights, but even when my hair was dyed a dark brown shade, it still disappeared. It doesn't feel sticky or gritty, it just makes your hair feel a pinch thicker than usual (and if you use it for a few days in a row, it can build up a bit and feel even thicker). I actually like the texture of my hair better on the second, third, and fourth day after washing, so I started using the powder on my hair even when it was clean to get that texture.

Before this, I used to wash my hair every other day, and now I can stretch it up to six days if I really need to, which means I use a curling iron less frequently, so my hair is actually in a healthier state. The one thing to keep in mind is that I really use my fingers to work shampoo through my hair when I DO wash it so that I don't get product buildup clogging my scalp. Oh, and BTW, I've had the same bottle for those two years. It lasts FOREVER.

Also, FYI, I still shower even though I'm not washing my hair. Shower caps are a lady's best friend. —Augusta Falletta, deputy style editor

3. Gold Label Cosmetics Suede Lip Color, $20

As a woman of color who LOVES lipstick, I’ve learned that there are only a few beauty brands that have my complexion in mind when creating pigments and colors. So when I was gifted a lip gloss from a cosmetics line I’d never heard of before, I didn’t think much of it. However, when I tried it on I was instantly blown away by how pigmented and vibrant the purple lip color was. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it dried to a matte finish! Then, it had the nerve to last the entire day. I didn’t have to reapply once! I ate, drank, and even kissed my hand a few times to test its durability. Not one hint of purple ever graced my utensils, cups, or hand. I’m pretty sure I could’ve made out with someone and it wouldn’t have smeared or transferred onto his lips. Gold Label’s “Social Diary” is the vibrant, long-lasting matte lip gloss of my dreams! I get so many compliments when I wear it that it’s become my new “I need a confidence boost” quick fix. There’s no doubt that it’s my new signature spring/summer color, the perfect pop to my all-black uniform. Oh, and did I mention it’s vegan, paraben, and gluten-free? Get chu some! Treat yo self! (Also make sure you have makeup remover wipes though because I mean it when I say it’s not coming off on its own). —Sylvia Obell, pop culture writer
Sylvia Obell

As a woman of color who LOVES lipstick, I’ve learned that there are only a few beauty brands that have my complexion in mind when creating pigments and colors. So when I was gifted a lip gloss from a cosmetics line I’d never heard of before, I didn’t think much of it.

However, when I tried it on I was instantly blown away by how pigmented and vibrant the purple lip color was. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it dried to a matte finish! Then, it had the nerve to last the entire day. I didn’t have to reapply once! I ate, drank, and even kissed my hand a few times to test its durability. Not one hint of purple ever graced my utensils, cups, or hand. I’m pretty sure I could’ve made out with someone and it wouldn’t have smeared or transferred onto his lips. Gold Label’s “Social Diary” is the vibrant, long-lasting matte lip gloss of my dreams! I get so many compliments when I wear it that it’s become my new “I need a confidence boost” quick fix. There’s no doubt that it’s my new signature spring/summer color, the perfect pop to my all-black uniform. Oh, and did I mention it’s vegan, paraben, and gluten-free? Get chu some! Treat yo self! (Also make sure you have makeup remover wipes though because I mean it when I say it’s not coming off on its own). —Sylvia Obell, pop culture writer

4. Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow, $22

Nora Whelan
Alison Caporimo

I have an absurdly thick head of hair, which is a blessing, but it comes with a fair amount of hair in other places, too. I spent the majority of high school tweezing my eyebrows to a point where I constantly looked like I was in shock, so you can imagine my surprise when Cara Delevingne's brow-centric star began to rise. I mean, I've been given complimentary eyebrow trimmings with my haircuts (a service, my stylist confirmed when I asked, generally reserved for men), but suddenly, my brows didn't seem big enough. I wanted more.

Since attempting to use liquid eyeliner generally leaves me crying in a heap on the bathroom floor (just kidding, but only because I don't want to ruin whatever cat flicks I've actually managed to eke out), my initial instinct was to fill in my sad, un-Delevingne-esque brows with a pencil. Which was OK, I guess, until I tried Aqua Brow. Instead of the robust blob of gel and soft angled brush that I've seen used in tutorials, I use a teensy bit every day and comb through with a mascara brush. I find it gives me and my shaky hands more control.

I don't mean to perpetuate the stupid idea that you should try to look like the celebrity of the moment (that's entirely up to you, and don't let anyone tell you differently); but this feels nice and noncommittal, like a handbag or sweater. And for me, personally, I'm happy with my increased Delevingne factor. — Nora Whelan, style writer

5. Charlotte Tilbury Lip Magic Rejuvenating Balm, $35

So I have this thing with lip balms. I'm super finicky about the smell, the taste, the texture, the hydration, the slipperiness factor, the lasting effects of moisture, etc. In short: I definitely ~have~ met a lip balm I didn't like, and that puts me into some BALM SNOB territory. But, you know, soft lips don't care.Anyway, I stand by all of my searching because it brought me to Charlotte Tilbury's Lip Magic Rejuvenating Balm. THIS. STUFF. IS. LIFE-CHANGING. The formula is buttery and moisturizing while also not stepping into super thick, petroleum jelly territory. It contains propolis, which gives the balm a light, floral, honey scent, and which the creators claim has a *plumping* effect. (Yes, Kylie Jenner uses it.) I always apply a coat to my lips first thing in the morning (so it can set while I'm getting ready) and at night before I go to sleep so it can really soak in and work its magic. That's when the witchcraft beginssssssssssssss. —Alison Caporimo, senior lifestyle editor
Alison Caporimo / BuzzFeed

So I have this thing with lip balms. I'm super finicky about the smell, the taste, the texture, the hydration, the slipperiness factor, the lasting effects of moisture, etc. In short: I definitely ~have~ met a lip balm I didn't like, and that puts me into some BALM SNOB territory. But, you know, soft lips don't care.

Anyway, I stand by all of my searching because it brought me to Charlotte Tilbury's Lip Magic Rejuvenating Balm. THIS. STUFF. IS. LIFE-CHANGING. The formula is buttery and moisturizing while also not stepping into super thick, petroleum jelly territory. It contains propolis, which gives the balm a light, floral, honey scent, and which the creators claim has a *plumping* effect. (Yes, Kylie Jenner uses it.) I always apply a coat to my lips first thing in the morning (so it can set while I'm getting ready) and at night before I go to sleep so it can really soak in and work its magic. That's when the witchcraft beginssssssssssssss. —Alison Caporimo, senior lifestyle editor

Essence Gant / BuzzFeed
Essence Gant / BuzzFeed

My love for skin care is deep, y'all. I like makeup, but I certainly don't wear it every day, so it's important to me that my skin stays on point. I've always had to keep my routine pretty simple, though, because my skin is annoyingly sensitive. (I can't even wear fragrance without my skin getting irritated, just to give you an idea.) Cleanser, exfoliator, and moisturizer are the only things I consistently put on my face.

As a teen, Velocity was my thing (shout-out to them Mary Kay ladies). Then in college, I became a Clinique convert and started using their three-step system religiously. It's still one of my faves, and I often recommend it to people looking for a solid regimen.

The last time I went home to Georgia, though, I got this face and body soap from my salon and let. me. tell. YOU! This stuff is the TROOF. It's an all-natural cleanser called Tee Tree Clear Complexion, and it's made by this hella earthy brand I've never even heard of, Mule Hell Trading Co. I've been using it for about a month, and my face feels so soft after I wash it — even before I apply my moisturizer. The natural ingredients, like activated charcoal and tea tree oil, really cleanse my skin and even out my complexion. Like, I can actually see little dark spots on my face fading. I usually ALWAYS get a pimple during my period, too, but I didn't this time. This was my first time trying a legit organic beauty product because I was always skeptical whether all-natural skin care really worked, but I am so hooked. My favorite part is that it's only $6.50!!! It's natural, it works, and my bank account doesn't give me the side-eye when I add to cart. Sold fo' life! —Essence Gant, beauty editor

A few months ago my life was changed when I discovered the magic that is YSL's Touche Eclat. Not so much a concealer as a brightener/shimmery paste from the gawds, Touche Eclat makes your cheekbones and under-eye area look like you are a fresh lil' newborn baby. As I was looking for a refill the other day, I happened upon YSL's Touche Eclat Blur Perfector, which is a pink palette unlike any other. The somewhat translucent paste can be worn either under makeup or over it, to provide a matte finish to your look. You might not want that every day, but even if you wear it under your foundation, it makes your skin feel delightfully soft and even. And who doesn't want that? Yes, it's on the pricey side, but it's worth a bit of a splurge to have skin that feels — and looks — this good. —Julie Gerstein, style editor

8. Try warming up your mascara in hot water before applying.

Julia Reinstein / BuzzFeed
Julia Reinstein / BuzzFeed

You know when your mascara is starting to run out so it goes on somehow both too light and super clumpy at the same time? And you KNOW there's a decent amount of mascara still in the tube? Yeah, it's bullshit. Well guess what: You don't have to live like that anymore!!! But how, you ask?

Here's how: Heat up your mascara before using it. It loosens up all the stubborn leftover mascara, so you get a TON more uses out of the tube before needing to go buy a new one.

Just run your tap water 'til it's nice and hot and hold the closed tube under the stream for 15 seconds or so. If you're not near a sink, you can also stick it in your pocket or your bra for a few minutes. Nothing like a little underboob heat to ~hack your beauty routine~.

And oh my god please don't microwave your mascara because you will burn your house down. In conclusion, look how cute my lashes look! Bye! — Julia Reinstein, staff writer

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