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    These Are The 9 Beauty Products I'm Currently Obsessing Over

    Say hello to my "I can't stop using these" faves from Laura Mercier, Urban Decay, VDL, and more.

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    Hi there, I'm Sarah and I can usually be found drowning underneath a mountainous pile of beauty products I'm sent to try out. A lot gets weeded out, but when I do test (over a period of time — especially for skincare products, 'cause those results don't happen overnight) and discover products that I truly love, I want to shout them from the rooftops. So that's precisely what I'm doing:

    1. VDL Lumilayer Primer is my new truth. It makes my foundation look pristine, but if I'm feeling especially good about my skin* or just a little lazy/over it, I rub a glob of this magical, luminescent liquid all over my face, and I basically transform into the ✨ emoji.

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    ^It's a little hard to see in my bedroom light (it's a little easier to see if you click and expand the photo!) but I applied the primer to the right half of my hand, and look how GLOWY it is!

    This stuff — and I cannot stress this enough — is so good. I actually bought a bottle off of Amazon yeeeeears ago in college — legit, I think this was the first face primer I ever tried — and for some reason, it dropped off my makeup radar until now. Um, what was past Sarah thinking??? The Lumilayer primer adds a glorious and super noticeable dose of luminosity to your face (and I've used a huuuuge selection of primers by now, trust) and is a total must if your goal is in the realm of looking like you have "glass skin." The photo on the right is just me wearing Lumilayer and a teensy bit of concealer to hide the effects of a sniffling nose. No other base products, bb!

    My skin, like most people's, has its ups and downs, but no matter what my skin is like on a given day, I've been slapping this on no matter what. It absorbs quickly and never leaves my face feeling tacky, so I can apply foundation or BB cream immediately afterwards. And! I still see the brightening effects even when it's underneath my base makeup, and my base as a whole applies even better and smoother. Here's to hoping Ulta starts stocking more VDL products! I just got back from Seoul, where I bought a VDL lip stain I'm obsessed with, so it'd be awesome to be able to buy it here too *hint hint*.

    Get it from Amazon or Ulta (also available in Lumilayer Fresh, which appears to be slightly more hydrating, so it would be great for wintertime and generally drier months).

    *Ideally I'd feel great about my skin all the time, but hey, I'm only human.

    2. And on the days I want to add just a tad of coverage without compromising a natural, slightly dewy finish, I've been reaching for Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, and only that. The formula and packaging is also new and improved (as seen pictured on the right), and I personally feel like the coverage is a little more substantial than the original — plus, and this is a big plus, there's a higher SPF 30 (upped from the original 20)!

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    To reiterate, I liked the original version, but I like this updated version even more. Why? Most days I opt for tinted moisturizer or BB cream (<–– I actually reviewed/included the original Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in the linked article) because it takes less time to blend in than foundation, and gives a more natural look. And when I say the updated formula's coverage is more substantial, I feel like I can quickly apply the tinted moisturizer with my hands and have even coverage without losing a bunch of product on my fingers. I actually kinda prefer using my hands over using a sponge, but obviously a sponge is great too! And it could just be the marketing getting to me, but I do feel like I can tell that the updated formula is more hydrating — the ~longer-retained moisture~ comes from macadamia and kukui seed oils, as well as tamarind seed extract.

    And again worth reiterating, the original's SPF 20 has now been bumped up to 30, which in my humble opinion — and according to actual, professional derms and the FDA — should be the bare minimum for any SPF-included products. I still put on sunscreen before as its *own* step, but if I were to somehow forget in a rushed daze, I'd still feel protected with just this tinted moisturizer. Whew. Also, I wear shade 2N1 for reference!

    Get it from Sephora for $47 (available in 20 shades; also available in Illuminating Natural, which is available in six shades).

    3. Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro Lip Stain in 400 is, in my opinion, the red to beat all reds. My days of ultra matte lipsticks are definitely numbered and I definitely prefer this more moisturizing, velvety number! I have been wearing this nonstop, and will keep wearing this nonstop, and you can quote me on that.

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    I've been on the hunt for a new, favorite red lipstick ever since I ran out of my limited supply of ColourPop x Hello Kitty Ultra Matte Lip in "Ribbon" (I wrote about it back in 2017, and FYI I bought multiple, so I wasn't using expired ones). Plus, I wanted something more moisturizing, since ultra matte lippies definitely tend not to be. In fact, for the past year or so, I've been inching towards non-liquid lipsticks, even if they transfer and smudge more often. (My go-to, non-liquid lipstick is Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in "Bond Girl" (#3), if anyone's curious.)

    Well folks, I'm happy to report that the Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro is the perfect happy ground for my often-too-dry lips! Besides being perhaps the only thing I can afford from the luxe designer brand, 400 "The Red" is really a perfect blue-based red. You know, the type that makes you go, "I just took a DNA test; turns out I'm 100% that bitch." Man, I love bold reds. They go with everything, or rather, they make everything go WITH THEM. The texture is truly luxurious and fits the "velvety-soft" description to a T. And the color is pigmented as heckkkk. I could really just use one swipe for my entire lip, but I like doing a second and third swipe to get my cupid's bow totally precise — and the applicator has a really pointed tip that masters this. Otherwise, I'll use my fingers to blend out from the center for a softer, slightly blurred lewk. It's not a true matte by any means so I have to be a lil' careful when I eat, but my lips are much happier and smoother! I'm obsessed. I have been wearing this color almost every day since I got it three months ago!

    Get it from Nordstrom for $38 (available in 19 shades).

    P.S. FWIW, I also tried the Lip Magnet Liquid Lipstick in the same color, 400, and much prefer the actual color of the Lip Maestro (it looks richer, IMO), but the Lip Magnet does dry down to more of a true stain, if that's what you looking for — despite the Lip Maestro having "stain" in its name. It's confusing!

    4. Urban Decay Heavy Metal Face & Body Glitter Gels give my eyes and cheekbones the extra punch they usually crave, because I believe that no amount of glitter is ever too much. And the number of compliments I've gotten from these? So high.

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I swear. I really do get complimented and asked on the regular about these glitters (Saturday Stardust, pictured above, is my favorite shade and I use Dreamland a lot too, as seen on the inner corners of my eyelids in the second photo and the outer edge of my eye in the third photo), and for the little effort it takes to dab these on, I'd say the payoff is tremendous! The glitter is suspended in a water-based gel and is self-adhesive, so I literally just use my hands to apply and tap around my eye (and into my cheekbone area, if I'm feeling a more festive look), and I'm done (I just wipe the teensy bit of excess product off)! Squeeze veeeery gently, because the tube opening is weirdly big and a lot can come out at once if you're not careful!

    It's super vibrant, multi-dimensional, and reflective (they play very beautifully with sunlight and create great Boomerang content, heh), and once the glitter is on, it dries instantly and ~stays on~. For up to nine hours, Urban Decay claims, but honestly, it stays on *all* day (12+ hours) for me. It helps that I don't do rigorous activities, hahaha. My eyes have also been a little sensitive recently (especially with some other glitters I've tried), but I've had no problems with these. I'm in LOVE!

    Get them from Sephora for $22 each (available in six shades).

    5. Belif Aqua Bomb Cleanser is one of those rare cleansers that makes me love washing my face. If that's not enough to convince you, it lathers up beautifully and envelops my entire face in a gentle formula that washes away any remaining makeup and dirt post oil cleanse. It's helped clear up my face over the last few months, and it always leaves my skin feeling super soothed and hydrated.

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    I love the cult-fave Belif Aqua Bomb Moisturizer (the texture is soooo lightweight and satisfying as it ~bursts~ onto your skin), so I pretty much knew I would like the Aqua Bomb Jelly Cleanser. I started off using a sample-sized version during a trip in July, and I quickly fell in love from there.

    I don't have super specific demands for my cleansers. After I've gone in with my oil cleanser, this Aqua Bomb Jelly Cleanser cleanly takes off any subsisting grime and makeup (I'm looking at you, stubborn eye makeup and liquid lipstick!) and leaves my face feeling soft, not stripped (or stirred). I suspect that's due to the Napiers Aqua formula, which boosts and supports an already hydrating hero ingredient, hyaluronic acid. So, it's like, hydration doubled! And then my skin just gets increasingly softer as I put on the rest of my skincare routine, which is literally goals for me. If a cleanser foams up a lil', that's a bonus — and this one does, so application and lathering from jelly to foam is very pleasant and kinda feels like a facial bubble bath! And I swear my skin texture has cleared up quite nicely ever since I started using this. Consistent use is key, which is why I can say I have this confident hunch!

    Get it from Sephora for $28.

    P.S. Now there's an even newer addition to the Aqua Bomb family: the Aqua Bomb Hydrating Toner, which I've been using in conjunction with the Jelly Cleanser.

    6. Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in Molten Gold is a bit of an oldie, but nonetheless a goodie! It imparts a stunning golden sheen that plays with light in the most perfect way — so much so that you can not only see it clearly from close up, but far away (as pictured on the right). Talk about impact!

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed, Kevin Chow / BuzzFeed / Via Instagram: @kchow343

    ^The left photo was taken on a cloudy day (sad), so just imagine how much more ~wow~ it'd be in direct sunlight! Well, pretty much like the photo of the right that my friend Kevin took.

    Though there's a time and place for ~natural~ highlighter, I usually prefer mine to come fully loaded and show the hell up. I don't want anyone to have a shadow of a doubt that I have highlighter on, but not to the extent that it looks like an awkward strip of sheen — it has to blend in with the rest of my face for a ~gradient of light~ effect, if that makes sense.

    So when it comes to the near-magical combination of pigment payoff *and* affordability, Maybelline takes the cake. Master Chrome deposits jaw-dropping shimmer across your cheekbones, nose bridge, brow bone, and cupid's bow with just a few flicks of the wrist — it's shimmery but not overly shimmery, never cakey, and doesn't get messy, especially when used with a smaller, more concentrated brush (I use a Real Techniques powder brush). I usually tap off a little excess product because it's THAT pigmented! This highlighter always elevates my look and gives me a sunkissed glow that my indoorsy-leaning self is truly thankful for. And don't just take it from me and my photos — peruse some of the Amazon reviewer photos and see for yourself how lovely this highlighter looks all all skin tones!

    Get it from Amazon for $7.49 (available in three other shades).

    P.S. I also reviewed the Master Holographic Prismatic Highlighter (#3 in the list) a while ago, and I still love the purple shade for an unexpected pop of cheekbone color!

    7. Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Gel Cream is unbelievably lightweight and smoothes away any lingering redness I have on my face (due to diet, lack of sleep, stress, etc.), so my face appears visibly soothed, hydrated, and ready for a restoring night of sleep or day of makeup and activities!

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    Don't @ me, but my skin and I like this gel cream a little more than the OG cicapair cream. While the Color Correcting Treatment is probably better for concealing heavier redness, I find that the gel cream also does the trick and blurs any redness I have without feeling heavy, sticky, or taking a long time to absorb. Love me some centella!! (I also owe a thanks to my deeper knowledge of skincare over the past few years since I first tried the Cicapair treatment.)

    I still get redness around my nose and sometimes scattered on my cheeks, so this is a quick fix — and since it's a lot more lighter than the treatment and hydrating enough for my skin type, I've been applying it day *and* night. I will live and perish by gel formulas — they're so easy to work with and spread/disperse so satisfyingly! I don't have the most skincare-conscious lifestyle habits (I'm workin' on it, ok!), but it's nice to know I have a helper in this gel cream!

    Get it from Sephora for $48. If you prefer a more traditional cream formula, try the regular Tiger Grass Cream.

    8. Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Color Conditioner easily jazzes up my faded pink hair in just three to five minutes (though that doesn't include application time) while keeping my mane happy — aka, deep conditioning it, boosting shine, and offering heat protection/cutting down on drying time.

    Melissa Ortiz-Gray / BuzzFeed, Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    As a pink-haired gal (for a year and a half now!), I've tried my fair share of color-depositing conditioners. Most of them do the trick to maintain pastel pink hair (while some don't do much or protect the color at all), but Lime Crime's fuschia conditioner is the first one that's really amped up my pink color to a very vibrant and bright — you guessed it — fuschia shade. So much so that I completely freaked out the first time, because I honestly didn't think the color would be so intense! It also didn't help that I was heading to my first ~professional~ conference filled with Asian journalists (mostly newsroom folks) that, unsurprisingly, did not don colorful hair.

    But after my initial meltdown (and subsequent googling of "how to get rid of hair color"), I started to embrace the higher dose of pink...and welp, now I can't imagine my hair *not* being this vibrant! When I first decided to go pink, it had been a bold move for me, but after a while, I simply got used to it. While I still love my pink and consider it part of my identity (for the time being), the color itself was no longer super exciting for me. This Lime Crime conditioner changed that relationship in just one shower. One thing I will note: I'm not an expert when it comes to applying hair color, but I do have to be a little more detailed when it comes to applying this conditioner — since the more intense of a color, the more noticeable it is if you miss any spots. I put on a pair of disposable gloves and try to apply the conditioner section by section as best as I can — it's probably easier to apply on post-shampoo hair, which the instructions state, but I've typically applied on dry hair because I can use the mirror to see what I'm doing and I'm pretty sure the color holds better this way!

    It leaves my hair feeling reasonably smooth and soft (peep the shea butter in the ingredients list), although I typically use a mask or leave-in conditioner as well. The color is really where the magic lies and it's relatively low effort, so keeping my color looking vibrant and on point in between salon sessions has never been easier or more satisfying! Plus, Lime Crime is PETA-verified vegan and Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free.

    Get it from Lime Crime for $16 (available in six shades).

    P.S. A coworker and I also reviewed Lime Crime's semi-permanent color (#5 in the list), which is great if you're looking for a more intense dose of color!

    9. Primera Miracle Seed Essence feels downright luxurious as I pat it into my skin, thanks to its slightly thick (but quick-absorbing!) and lotus seed–infused formula that leaves my skin feeling soft and nourished as heck.

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed, http://@primera.official / Via instagram.com

    Dare I say essences are my favorite part of my skincare routine? Well, I said it. They are the hydration-boosting heroes that my skin craves, and they prep my skin so that my serum and creams can better penetrate my skin. But truth be told, it's been a long time since I fell for any particular one — until I met Primera's Miracle Seed Essence. Right off the bat, it's ~thicker~ than most essence formulas I've tried, but thankfully absorbs quickly once you pat it in — it's hard to describe in words, but the thicker formula is actually more satisfying to use and less slippery to work with. It's less watery and feels like it holds itself together and won't slip through your hands before it gets to your face. I always apply with my hands, but the essence comes with a pack of cotton pads, in case you'd rather use those — but, tbqh, I think they're a bit unnecessary and wasteful. *chants* Cut out the middleman!

    Despite the not-so-little price tag, it's really worth your bucks! All you need is a few drops for your whole face, and even if you apply two layers like I do, I can see this one bottle lasting me a year. You really have to give the bottle a hearty shake to release just one drop, so don't worry about dispensing too much at once! The key ingredient is lotus seeds, which not only boosts hydration (duh) and helps defend skin against environmental stressors (hahaha, literally all of NYC), but it makes the essence smell wonderful and feel refreshing. It's such a joy to use.

    Get it from Sephora for $58.

    And be sure to check out my previous roundups + other beauty review roundups here!

    Need more for your skin? Check out Korean skincare products you need to know, cheap skincare products that are even better than luxury brands, products to help deal with adult acne, or check out all of our beauty content for even more great stuff for your hair, skin, and more.

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