8 Must-Have Essentials In Every Makeup Bag
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Brows may seem negligible, but don’t let them be an afterthought in your makeup regimen. Lightly groomed, filled-in brows will create a fresh and polished look. We recommend seeking a product that combines a spoolie with a pencil.
Splurge: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($23, ulta.com) is a cult-favorite for a reason. It features a small tip that makes filling in your brows practically foolproof and a spoolie on the other end to comb and fluff. Draw on tiny, hair-like strokes, then brush through.
Steal: Morphe’s Micro Brow Pencil ($5, ulta.com) has an ultra-tiny tip that allows for easy filling, defining, and shaping. Afterward, brush through your brows with the spoolie on the other end.
Small, Neutral Eyeshadow Compact
Let’s be real: You’re likely not going to use every single shade in a massive eyeshadow palette every day, so take the minimalist approach with a thoughtfully designed, neutral compact that provides only what you’ll use daily.
Splurge: Fenty Beauty’s Shadows Mix & Match Eyeshadow Palette in True Neutrals ($25, sephora.com) offers a six-piece mix of matte and shimmer neutrals ranging from light to dark. That means you can create both a daytime and nighttime look without having to reach for another product. The color payoff is impressive, and the shadows blend seamlessly.
Steal: Maybelline City Mini Eyeshadow Palettes in Brooklyn Nudes ($7.99, target.com) also features a mix of six neutral shades with both matte and shimmer finishes, which allows you to go from work to happy hour without worrying about packing a second palette.
Concealer is best used sparingly, but it’s highly effective for brightening the notoriously gray area under your eyes and hiding blemishes and imperfections elsewhere. A hydrating concealer is recommended since the product is typically applied to the thin skin around your eyes (an area that’s naturally dry due to fewer oil-producing pores). It’s also helpful to use a moisturizing product on top of new and old pimples, which tend to get flaky as they heal.
Splurge: Just launched in 2020, Hourglass’ Vanish Airbrush Concealer ($34, sephora.com) delivers impressive coverage within a lightweight formulation. It's infused with microspherical powders that blur and brighten, and is available in 22 shades.
Steal: ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Creamy Concealer ($9, ulta.com) is the recently debuted, more hydrating sister to the brand’s existing cult-favorite concealer. The two power ingredients are hyaluronic acid and coconut water, which noticeably plump and moisturize skin.
Foundation or BB Cream
To create an even complexion, a foundation, BB cream, or CC cream is a makeup bag must. If you prefer heavier coverage, a full-coverage foundation is your best bet. If you prefer something more sheer, opt for a BB or CC cream. You can go even sheerer with a tinted moisturizer, or you can find a medium-coverage foundation as well.
Splurge: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation ($43, sephora.com) creates a matte finish that lasts for a full 24 hours. It's a medium coverage foundation, but it’s easily buildable to your desired coverage.
Steal: For lightweight coverage and a natural finish, try Covergirl’s Clean Fresh Skin Milk Light Shades Foundation ($11.99, ulta.com). It lightly hydrates skin with coconut and aloe and creates an even tone without weighing skin down.
Everyone should wear an SPF of 30 or greater every single day regardless of season, amount of time spent outdoors, and skin color. Formulations have improved greatly even in the last five years, and many options are so light that you’ll forget you’re even wearing SPF at all.
Splurge: Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++ ($26, missha.com) offers an incredibly lightweight formulation while still packing an SPF of 50. In addition to protecting skin from UV damage, it doubles down on hydration.
Steal: Bare Republic Mineral Face Lotion SPF 30 ($14.99, ulta.com) is a physical sunscreen that won’t leave a white cast. It dries down to a powdery finish and nourishes skin with algae extract, baobab seed oil, and kukui seed oil.
Sheer Lip Balm or Lipstick
Whether you’re in the mood to go bold or simply want a sheer wash of color, a bit of color on your lips can help pull your look together.
Splurge: From pale pink to ruby red, you’ll have no problem finding your favorite shade from Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Lipstick collection ($26, sephora.com). The unique square shape makes it easier to apply, and the formulation features 3D glow pigments that create the illusion of fuller lips. If you’re unsure about the shade, go with cult-favorite and bestseller, Pillow Talk.
Steal: Almay Lip Vibes ($7.99, ulta.com) delivers a rich and creamy formulation thanks to the inclusion of shea butter, vitamin E, and vitamin C. It’s available in 19 shades, and the packaging is adorable.
Like tending to your brows, applying mascara is an easy way to “look done” with minimal effort. Even if it’s the only thing you do, it can make you appear refreshed and awake. If you prefer something subtle, try a medium to dark brown mascara that lightly coats your lashes. If you want more impact, opt for a jet black product that lengthens and volumizes.
Splurge: It Cosmetics collaborated with Drybar to deliver the Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara ($25, ulta.com), so it makes sense that the wand was inspired by barrel hair brushes. The formula is infused with biotin and it doesn’t hold back on volume.
Steal: For that doe-eyed, wispy look, swipe on L’Oreal Paris’ Bambi Eye Washable Mascara ($9.99, target.com). The brush features both long and short bristles to separate and define with zero clumping.
A hint of color on your cheeks with blush is one of the easiest and fastest ways to bring life and youth back to the face. To keep things simple, we recommend a cream or liquid blush that you can easily blend in with your fingers, negating the need for a separate brush. Also, it can double as a sheer lip color in a pinch.
Splurge: Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek ($28, sephora.com) comes in five shades ranging from bright pink to a rich berry. Each color is buildable and easy to blend out for a natural, flushed finish.
Steal: Maybelline’s Cheek Heat Gel-Cream Blush ($7.99, cvs.com) is a water-based gel formulation that glides on seamlessly for a dewy and natural flush.