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8 Life-Changing Beauty Products That Are Actually Worth Your Money

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1. Nature Republic Aloe Vera Gel locks in moisture for the whole day, makes your legs feel as soft as silk, and works great for a clean and smooth AF shave.

amazon.com, Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

I have dry skin. This is a fact that I have lived with my whole-ass life, but frequently I’ve elected to blissfully ignore it until the dry air of fall and winter catches up to me and I HAVE to do something.

The only thing I’ve ever known about aloe vera is that it helps soothe sunburns in the summer because it works quickly — so imagine my surprise when I rubbed Nature Republic Aloe Vera Gel onto my Sahara-like legs after a long, luxurious shower, and they felt as soft as silk? I don’t know what kind of witchcraft is in aloe but I absolutely fuck with it.

It isn’t sticky like other aloe vera gels, and it smells so fresh you might want to cry. I’ve also pulled it out for shaving my legs and oh my fucking god, it does the job EVERY. TIME. The gel is super long-lasting too, which means, for all of my dry skin folks, your legs won’t look like a dirty or dusty chalkboard by midday. All in all, if you want soft and supple extremities, give it a try! —Ignacia Fulcher

Get it from Amazon for $7.39.

2. L'Oréal Paradise Lash Mascara totally stacks up against all the usual favorites, but what edges it out are its low price point, lack of outer-corner smudging, and the perfect amount of buildable length, volume, and drama it leaves on your lashes.

Maitland Quitmeyer / BuzzFeed

Somehow, my closest friends have always had the most amazing eyelashes. Mine are what you would call ~average~. Like whatever, they're there. But my best, Jill, has just *outrageous* eyelashes. In college, after having dinner with my parents, my dad (who I did not realize even KNEW what false eyelashes were) later asked me if she had been wearing some. Nope.

Anyway, I've tried a lot of mascaras (Too Faced Better Than Sex, Benefit They're Real!, every MAC mascara ever made, plus tons of drugstore ones). But I'm never switching to another one after trying L'Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara. This is the only mascara I've tried that doesn't leave a black smudge in the bottom outer corner of my eye by the end of the day. The ONLY one! It's super customizable, so you can just swipe on a quick coat when you're running out the door to get a bagel on Saturday and don't want to wear a lot of makeup or you can really build up the coverage for a mega-lashed look (without clumping). It provides equal parts length and volume and makes lashes look dramatic but not crazy. Plus, it does NOT flake off throughout the day, yet it's really easy to remove at night (meaning you don't lose any precious hairs). It also comes in a super-pretty tube, which always helps.

I went to the movies with friends last week and one of them said, "Your eyelashes look long!" I literally assumed she was talking to somebody else, so I didn't say anything. When she repeated herself, I said, "Who, me?" It was a delight. My first eyelash compliment. All due to this L'Oréal mascara. And at under $8 a tube, maybe I'll actually toss it and replace it like I'm supposed to after three months. —Maitland Quitmeyer

Get it from Amazon for $7.12+ or Jet for $8.97. Also available in waterproof.

3. Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush does the job of a straightening iron, but so much better — it's more gentle, leaves your hair silky smooth but not pin-straight (aka there's some volume!), and works its magic in half the time.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

My hair is naturally wavy...but not in that cute, beach-waves kinda way. It often dries to be pretty frizzy, and I usually pull it up into a messy bun or a braid. My straightener of choice has always been the CHI Original Ceramic Iron. But recently, I decided to give another straightening tool a go: the Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush. It heats up to 450°F, and as you glide it through your hair, it smoothes and straightens, tames fly-aways, and maintains volume. The kicker? It costs $120. I know. :/ But I've tried affordable straightening irons in the $50–$60 range before and I find they're just not the same as competing products that are slightly more expensive. I've had cheaper models completely stop working after just a few months, and I end up spending more just to buy a replacement anyway.

Here's how it works: First, let your hair dry. Then, select your preferred temperature and start brushing. The temperature rises in 50-degree intervals so you can set it to whatever works best for your hair type. The flat part of the brush gets hot, but the bristles don't. The results? The Amika brush left my hair smooth and silky, but it still had some volume, which I like compared to the pin-straight results I get from my straightening iron. Also, the Amika felt much more gentle on my hair than my straightening iron, which can sometimes feel like it's burning my hair.

Also important: Using this brush yielded much faster results than using my flat iron. It usually takes me about 10 minutes to straighten my whole head with an iron, but with this, it only took about half that time to become straight and frizz-free. (Obviously, if you have curly or thick hair, it might take you a bit longer.) All in all, I recommend it for people who want to straighten their hair while still maintaining volume, are searching for a new daily straightening appliance that holds up to its promises, and people who don't mind the price tag. —Hannah Loewentheil

Get it from Sephora for $120.

4. Ciaté London Glitter Flip delights the inner kid in any self-proclaimed lipstick fiend — it's shimmery as is, but becomes *even more* sparkly and gorgeous once you press your lips together.

Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

I'm a straight-up sucker for glittery makeup. Seriously — 99% of the eyeshadows I use are glittery. I love me a killer metallic liquid lipstick. But let me tell ya, ladies and gents, the Ciaté London Glitter Flip takes it to the next damn level.

First of all, applying this lipstick is only HALF the fun. Waiting that extra minute after initially putting it on to rub my lips together sounds so boring but is also so, so exciting!! I do realize I sound like a preteen who's just bought makeup for the first time — but it's pretty cool and ~novel~ to see your lipstick transform and enhance itself. To be totally honest, I still have no clue how it really works other than heat-friction-something-something, but I could care less! What matters are the results: a beautiful 3D-glitter extravaganza. As for formula and feel, it's what you'd expect from a liquid lipstick. Personally, I don't mind drying formulas. What matters to me is being able to eat lunch and not have to go into full-on damage control mode on my lips afterwards. And this stays fairly well; the sparkle doesn't fade even hours later. Lipstick that commands attention is the one beauty product I'm especially not afraid of using, and Glitter Flip 👏 does 👏 just 👏 that 👏.

So my advice is to have some fun with glittery lipstick that makes a statement but isn't SO over the top — it comes in very wearable colors, like the three I have pictured — that you feel like it's a trend-driven gimmick. Oh, and if you see a color that you're particularly drawn toward, SNATCH IT UP. It won't be around for long! At one point, Ciaté claimed to be selling one Glitter Flip every minute. The hype is real, y'all. —Sarah Han

Get it from Sephora or Ciaté London for $19 (available in seven colors).

5. British M Organics Annatto Hair Oil turns your hair into gold — okay, just kidding, but it DOES look like luxurious melted-down gold that smooths and nourishes your hair for next-day fabulousness.

Sarah Han / BuzzFeed, Ignacia Fulcher / BuzzFeed

First of all, let's get this out of the way: The price tag on this stuff is pretty hefty. And trust me when I say I don't spend money when it comes to taking care of my hair, outside of shampoo and conditioner (necessary) and the two times I've bleached and dyed my hair (...the *opposite* of necessary *and* healthy). But as in any review for a slightly pricer product, a little goes a long way. You saw that coming, didn't you? Seriously, you only need to run two pumps of British M's Organic Annatto Hair Oil (and I use an extra half-pump on just my split ends) through damp hair — or less if your hair is shorter — and voilà, you've got one pretty tamed mane. It absorbs quickly, doesn't feel heavy, and doesn't make my hair look limp and greasy. Did I mention I have a slight phobia of oil-based products that *stay* in your hair or on your skin? Yeah, I want to avoid feeling like a low-key oil slick at all costs.

So the proof that this hair oil ~werks~ lies in the day after. I've always hated the way my hair looks and feels the day it's washed — it's poofy and unruly. But I just let it be instead of using product to manipulate; I've tried a few leave-in conditioners and mists, but they haven't done much. And barring emergencies, I won't even touch a hair dryer. But after using this oil, my hair is SO FUCKING SOFT. As I'm writing this (it's a post-wash day), I can't stop touching my hair. It's feathery light, smooth as silk, and — *drumroll please* — there are no knots! To say my hair has been rough and coarse since I first bleached it is a bit of an understatement, so yeah, these results are pretty amazing. The formula's organic pumpkin seed and argan oil also help give my hair an extra boost of shine, plus added protection from the sun (a main culprit behind faded, dull color).

I'm guessing this lovely glass bottle — one that just looks so elegant amongst my otherwise messy collection of beauty products — will last me a whole year? Taking bets now. All I know for sure is that I'm gonna enjoy every. last. drop. And then I'll probably buy another. You knew this was coming too, but it's worth every penny! —Sarah Han

Get it from Soko Glam for $67.

6. Pilot The Finest Face Cleanser is a trustworthy charcoal- and clay-based product for deep cleansing and exfoliating your face without making it feel the least bit dried out. Bonus: the peppermint scent is super relaxing.

Over the past few months, I have been really getting into the charcoal face-products trend that has been taking over the beauty game. After recently finishing up my bottle of Scotch Porter Charcoal and Licorice Face Wash, I decided to crack open my bottle of Pilot The Finest Face Cleanser to give another charcoal cleanser a go. And after a few weeks of using the product, I have been really impressed with the results. The cleanser doesn’t foam up at all, which immediately relieved my worry that it might dry out my skin and strip it of moisture. It has a base of charcoal and clay, which provides a slight exfoliating effect each time you use it. Plus, the addition of peppermint oil gives it a light minty fragrance that is so relaxing  — and especially useful in the morning as I’m preparing to take on the day. It isn’t too thick, so it’s easy to maneuver from the bottle to your hands. And the size of the bottle is TSA-compliant, so it's perfect for traveling. It also washes off completely without leaving any residue on your face, which I've dealt with when using other face washes and exfoliators. The Pilot cleanser leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh, but not dry, and it pairs well with the other skin-care products I use after washing my face. Overall it has been a welcome addition to my skin-care routine. —Treye GreenGet it from Pilot for $14.95.
pilotmens.com

Over the past few months, I have been really getting into the charcoal face-products trend that has been taking over the beauty game. After recently finishing up my bottle of Scotch Porter Charcoal and Licorice Face Wash, I decided to crack open my bottle of Pilot The Finest Face Cleanser to give another charcoal cleanser a go.

And after a few weeks of using the product, I have been really impressed with the results. The cleanser doesn’t foam up at all, which immediately relieved my worry that it might dry out my skin and strip it of moisture. It has a base of charcoal and clay, which provides a slight exfoliating effect each time you use it. Plus, the addition of peppermint oil gives it a light minty fragrance that is so relaxing  — and especially useful in the morning as I’m preparing to take on the day. It isn’t too thick, so it’s easy to maneuver from the bottle to your hands. And the size of the bottle is TSA-compliant, so it's perfect for traveling. It also washes off completely without leaving any residue on your face, which I've dealt with when using other face washes and exfoliators.

The Pilot cleanser leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh, but not dry, and it pairs well with the other skin-care products I use after washing my face. Overall it has been a welcome addition to my skin-care routine. —Treye Green

Get it from Pilot for $14.95.

7. The Aveda Dry Remedy Set delivers incomparable moisture that actually STAYS, so it's well worth the price tag for extremely parched hair.

Kevin Smith / BuzzFeed

My hair's kinda weird. I have somewhat straight hair at my roots but curly ends, and it's still coily. It's also dry...and I mean very dry. My scalp gets itchy sometimes, especially now because I'm growing my hair out some. All this to say, I needed something — ANYTHING — to help my hair retain moisture.

I searched far and wide and tried a bunch of different products, but the one that has worked the absolute best for me has been Aveda's Dry Remedy system. It's a four-part set that includes a shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, and hair oil. You by no means have to buy the entire system to see results, but I use all four parts and have noticed significant changes: First off, I've been using it for a month now and I don't have to wash my hair as much, since it stays moisturized longer. Second, you're supposed to rinse out the hair mask (the third part of the four-part regimen), but I use it as a leave-in conditioner and don't rinse it out for added moisture (I read this "hack" in a review on Aveda's website and it's worked for me tremendously). Third, it simply smells amazing.

Look, this system isn't cheap — but for the last month my hair has never been healthier and more moisturized, so it's absolutely been worth it for me. And if you want to test it out before you make the investment, Aveda sells travel sizes of the shampoo, conditioner, and masque for $9 each. If you have hair similar to mine and haven't been able to find a product that helps your hair retain moisture for an extended amount of time, you should seriously consider this. —Kevin Smith

Get the whole set from Aveda (shampoo, conditioner, mask, and oil) for $128. Products are also available on Amazon and Jet.

8. Gaia Collective MoonBox marries stunning crystals with inner beauty and generally makes you feel more at peace. Basically, it's the inviting hug that we all need in the garbage dump that is 2017.

Christina Lan / BuzzFeed

Crystals. Crystals. Cryysssstaaaals. Did I get your attention? If you’re as enamored as I am by pretty, shiny things, then this MoonBox by Gaia Collective is the enchantment you’re missing in your life. What is a MoonBox? Well, it’s exactly what you’d expect to receive from magic procured by moonlit incantations!! Stones, crystals, body oil, astral perfume, herbal tea, and a tiny crystal cluster necklace. The necklace has become one with my body, and maybe it’s correlated, maybe not, but I’ve led a pretty joyous life since wearing it. The other crystals included in the box were surprisingly rare and gorgeous. This time, I got aventurine (which is said to increase mental awareness), ametrine (an action stone), and blue chalcedony (for honest reflection). I love the chalcedony because it’s unlike most of my other crystals and reminds me of the ocean. :)

Holistically, this box feels like a soul-hugger (at least for me). I’ve kept the elixir on my desk as a little pick-me-up whenever I’m feeling sluggish or frustrated at work. The body oil smells incredible and does wonders as a massage catalyst. Honestly, it’s my favorite box I’ve ever received. If you’re into crystals, then this will definitely help you find calmness, which has been an anomaly in 2017. —Christina Lan

Get it from Cratejoy for $12.50+ per month.

"Moon crystal power, make up!!"

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