For years, even before becoming Reviewed’s beauty editor, I hunted for makeup, skincare, and hair care items from drugstores and high-end retailers to find ones that work for me. If you’re like me and adore your beauty ritual, you know that it can be hard to find new products that suit your hair or skin.
While you and I may not have the same beauty goals for ourselves, I’m hopeful that at least a few of my must-haves will earn a spot in your vanity or cosmetic bag.
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1. This hair dryer brush from Revlon
You can stop reading now! (But please don’t.) Even if you get nothing else on this list, get this hair dryer. I tested the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer at the beginning of 2020 and have not stopped using—or adoring—it since.
This styling tool takes my wavy-curly hair from just-out-of-the-shower wet to dry, straight, and volumized in about 20 minutes. I even purchased it for my mom for Mother’s Day and let my roommate use mine—that’s love.
Get the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer from Amazon for $39.99
2. This shampoo and conditioner set from Function of Beauty
On the subject of hair, I’ve used shampoo and conditioner from Function of Beauty for over a year and plan to keep it up. For a story, I tested the customizable hair-care brand—which has since expanded to include skincare and body products—and enjoyed the clean, moisturized results I got enough to continue with the service post-testing.
In my original review, I wrote that I didn’t think anyone needs a customizable hair-care routine and that, for best results, you should consult your stylist. And while I stand by that sentiment, I’m hooked on the eucalyptus fragrance that I chose, the pump bottles that make it easy to get the right amount of product, and the refreshing feel this gives my hair. If your Function of Beauty results are like mine—but catered to you, of course—I think you’ll be thrilled. Get a Function of Beauty subscription starting at $36 and use code REVIEWED10 for 10% off shampoo & conditioner sets 16 ounces or larger
3. This exfoliating serum from Paula’s Choice
After hearing rave reviews of the mega-popular Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, I had to try it for myself. The serum claims to chemically exfoliate the skin and unclog pores with 2% salicylic acid and soothe irritated skin with green tea.
I have a bumpy texture on my forehead and jawline that this exfoliant helps to minimize. The best part is that it’s gentle enough for up to twice-daily use, though I stick to once at nighttime after cleansing and before moisturizing. If you want to keep rough texture and breakouts at bay without stripping your skin, this is a must-try.
Get the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant from Sephora for $29.50
4. These pimple patches from Hero Cosmetics
The Paula’s Choice exfoliant is great, but it’s not a miracle worker. When a blemish persists, I lean on these pimple patches from Hero Cosmetics.
Made from hydrocolloid dressings, these translucent dots have an adhesive side that sticks to the face so the pad can draw out and absorbs any “moisture vapor” while also keeping bacteria out. These speed up the healing process on my skin and after overnight use, I see a reduction in a pimple’s size and redness.
Get the Hero Cosmetics Might Patch Original from Amazon for $12.50
5. This body butter from The Body Shop
You should always follow up shaving or exfoliating the body with a moisturizer to replenish your skin barrier, or the outermost layer of the skin that keeps unwanted bacteria out. I’ve repurchased this Shea Body Butter more times than I can count because of its ultra-moisturizing feel.
The Body Shop makes this same body butter in plenty of other scents, such as mango or almond, but I can’t get enough of this clean, subtly sweet scent. With cocoa and shea butter, this cream leaves my skin feeling hydrated, buttery smooth, and slick but never greasy.
Get the Shea Body Butter from The Body Shop for $21
6. This brow gel from Glossier
I switch up my makeup a lot, rarely purchasing the same product twice, because I like to try new things. That said, Glossier’s Boy Brow is one I’ve come back to over the years. Available in five shades—clear, blond, auburn, brown, and black—this pomade has a tiny spoolie that allows you to comb through the lash hairs and create a feathery effect that stays in place all day.
Whether I’m wearing a full face of makeup or a lightweight makeup look, this is a go-to for filling in sparse areas without making my eyebrows look too overdone. Get the Glossier Boy Brow from Glossier for $16
7. This reef-safe sunscreen from Kinship
I have found a mineral sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast or feel thick and greasy on the skin. Did I get your attention? The Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32 is unlike any other mineral sunscreen I’ve tried.
Rather than a gloppy, white formula that sits on top of the skin, this one has a beige tint that thwarts the ghostly effect some sunscreens leave behind. It claims to soothe and protect blemish-prone skin with turmeric, support the skin barrier with “Kinbiome” (a plant-derived probiotic), and protect against the sun’s UV rays with zinc oxide. My favorite part is the lightweight feel and tint that evens out my skin tone without looking like makeup.
Get the Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32 from Ulta for $25
8. This detangling hair brush from Wet Brush
You’re not alone if you dread brushing through snarled wet hair. My solution? The Wet Brush Original Detangler. The brush uses “Intelliflex” bristles that are thin and flexible, which allows them to glide more easily through the hair thereby reducing breakage and tugging.
I start at the ends of my hair and work my way up to the roots, a method that keeps the brush from getting tangled in my hair. If you haven’t found your ideal brush yet, give this one a try. Get the Wet Brush Original Detangler from Amazon for $8.49
9. This multipurpose hair treatment from It’s A 10
After brushing through my locks, I spritz about five sprays of the It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In into my palm and run it from mid-shaft through the ends of my hair, avoiding the roots to prevent them from looking oily. This product claims to strengthen the hair with panthenol (a moisturizing ingredient), reduce color fading and brassiness with sunflower seed extract, protect against environmental damage with green tea leaf extract, moisturize and add shine with silk amino acids, and strengthen with vitamin C.
While those are lofty claims, I can attest that this product makes my bleach-damaged hair look and feel more moisturized and softer, even after running a hair dryer over it. It’s on the pricey side, but the 10-ounce bottle (which retails for about $30) lasts me about a year, and I can often find it on sale.
Get the It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In from Amazon starting at $10.94
10. This razor subscription from Billie
I’ve been hooked on the Billie razor since I first wielded it for testing in 2019. The five-blade razor gives a close, clean, and smooth shave with lubrication built into the cartridge. The subscription process is easy and the $9 starter kit provides a handle of your color choice, a magnetic hook that sticks to the shower wall securely, and two replacement cartridges. From there, you choose how often you receive replacement blades based on how frequently you shave and they show up like clockwork, a tangible reminder to never use a dull blade.
After testing the best razors for women, I crowned Athena Club the Best Subscription razor because it has a sturdier build, but boasts the same lovable qualities that Billie has. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either option, but I’ve stuck with Billie because it just works (and, frankly, my subscription is already active).
Get the Billie razor subscription starting at $9
11. This tinted moisturizer from Wet n Wild
Light coverage tinted moisturizers are all the rage these days. And now that I’m past the phase of my life that involved copious amounts of acne—which I covered with heavy foundation—I’m ready to join the in-crowd.
The Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator Tinted Skin Veil caught my attention because of its affordable $5 price and its inclusion of skincare ingredients like hydrating hyaluronic acid and moisturizing vegan squalane. The skin tint offers sheer to medium coverage, depending on how many layers you apply, and comes in 12 shades ranging from a fair to deep.
The Skin Veil evens out my skin tone without emphasizing texture or dryness and allows my natural skin, like freckles and some redness, to show through. It also pairs well with every makeup item I’ve layered underneath or on top of it.
Get the Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator Tinted Skin Veil from Amazon for $4.98
12. This makeup sponge from Real Techniques
No matter what foundation I’m wearing and how I initially apply it—with my fingers or makeup brush—I always blend it in with the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. Once dampened, this sponge expands to create a cushiony effect that bounces well on the skin and absorbs excess product that may otherwise cause your foundation to look cakey. I’ll also use this to blend in concealer under my eyes, cream contour or blush, or to press in powder.
To clean the sponge, I gently rub it against a bar of soap under a stream of water and then rinse it until the water runs clear. While many flock to the $20 Beauty Blender for the same purpose, I’ll stick with my affordable alternative at less than $3.50 apiece.
Get the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (set of four) from Amazon for $13.79
13. This makeup-removing water from Garnier
You’ll never use another makeup wipe again after trying the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water. I’ve tried cleansing balms and wipes as makeup removers, but nothing grabs all of my makeup and leaves my face feeling hydrated like this micellar water. To lift away makeup, dirt, and oil, it employs micelles, or clusters of molecules used in detergents to reduce surface tension between liquids.
I soak a cotton pad (my favorites are from CVS because they don’t shed or scratch my skin) in the solution and gently swipe it around my face until it removes all my makeup and then follow up with cleanser.
Get the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water from Amazon for $6.34
14. This pair of moisturizers from Cerave
I’ve tried dozens of facial moisturizers for my normal-to-dry skin over the years. Whenever I’m not testing out something new—or if my skin is feeling particularly dry or irritated from the weather—I turn to Cerave.
In warmer weather when my skin leans more normal than dry, the Daily Moisturizing Lotion satisfies my skin with the same ingredients as the former, but a much lighter texture. In the winter months, I opt for the thicker Moisturizing Cream, which uses hyaluronic acid to hydrate and ceramides to protect the skin barrier. For a no-frills moisturizer that works for every skin type, including sensitive or acne-prone skin, I’m convinced Cerave is the way to go.
- Get the Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion from Amazon for 18.40
- Get the Cerave Moisturizing Cream from Amazon for $14.83
15. This color-correcting concealer from Bobbi Brown
I’ll be honest: Color-correcting makeup overwhelms me and seems like an extra step that I’m not interested in taking in the morning when I’m getting ready. However, I decided to try the Bobbi Brown Under Eye Corrector, a peach-toned cream concealer, to cancel out the blueness around my eyes, and it’s so worth it.
Even on days I’m not wearing makeup, I’ll swirl my ring finger into the tiny compact and dab it on the inner corners of my eyes where the blue color is most prominent and blend it out to the outer corner of my eyes to conceal dark circles. I stop here if I don’t plan to wear other makeup (the peach color blends into my fair skin to look natural), but I’ll also use this layered under a concealer that’s closer to my skin tone. I’m very impressed with how well this conceals discoloration and works under liquid, cream, or powder products.
Get the Bobbi Brown Under Eye Corrector from Sephora for $31
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.