Despite working in beauty, I have to admit I keep my makeup pretty simple. Since I’m always dashing about I look to products that are easy to apply and long-lasting - no one has time for numerous touch-ups, am I right? We all know our own faces and what we like, I look to full-on mascaras but forgo eyeliner because I find it has a tendency to make my eyes appear smaller. Since this is my edit, you won’t find an eyeliner in the mix below or a barely-there mascara (for that I do recommend Glossier Lash Slick, £14, though. It makes you look like you have really great lashes).
There are so many incredible makeup products and formulas out there in the world and many that I have loved and forgotten. I am incredibly forgetful (but a prolific list-maker). I will be updating this edit with new buys that find their way into my makeup bag (the end goal for all products, surely!), as well as long-forgotten items that fall back onto my radar. But, for now, these are the 37 makeup products that are exceptionally good at keeping their promise and delivering makeup magic.
I went a long time without really bothering with primer but these two total game-changers made me rethink the category. Both are seriously hydrating and impart a healthy radiance to the skin. The Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Radiance, £30, is packed with hyaluronic acid to hydrate the complexion - making it ideal on hungover days, during the depths of winter and height of summer.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter, £30, is a primer and highlighter in one and on weekends I often wear this with just a little concealer, skipping foundation altogether. The glow it imparts on the skin is unrivalled, I get compliments every time I wear it. I wear Light in winter and Light/Medium come summer. You can apply both with fingertips or blend with a brush.
Notice a pattern below? I am obsessed with It Cosmetics CC+. There are other foundations I’ve tried before and enjoyed, but it’s It Cosmetics that I return to time and again. In fact, I wrote what was essentially a love story to this foundation on Byrdie.com recently.
The Illumination gives your skin just-had-a-facial vibes, while the original leaves the complexion looking healthy and radiant. The oil-free is ideal if you are spot-prone but I promise it won’t leave your face looking dull, you still get a good dose of dewiness! Each one gives a solid level of sun protection, too. I wear Fair Light.
I’m also a big fan of BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Gel Cream, the liquid base which is a hybrid BB and CC cream offers up good coverage without leaving the complexion looking or feeling caked. For anyone with problem skin, this is a real saviour since it tames redness, does a good job of concealing and hydrates the skin. Dehydration is a cause of many skin issues so keeping skin hydrated throughout the day is just plain smart.
The upside of having terribly spotty skin throughout my twenties and early thirties is that I have tried every concealer going. When it comes to spot concealing AmazingCosmetics AmazingConcealer, £26, is a highly pigmented, lightweight and easily blendable paste that can conceal even the trickiest and most stubborn of blemishes. It’s a total must-try.
NARS Soft Matte Concealer, £24, makes light work of spots and broken veins, these days it’s never not in my makeup bag. If you prefer to spot conceal than wear a full face of foundation, then L'Oréal Paris’s Infallible Full Wear Concealer, £9.99, with its large doe foot applicator is a dream to use. A little goes a long way and it makes light work of covering dark circles too.
If dark circles are a real issue for you then Becca’s Under Eye Brightening Corrector, £21, has a peach hue to knock out brown and blue tones and to leave you looking like you’ve had a solid 8 hours sleep (ideal for new mums and party-goers alike).
Highlighter and Bronzer
I’m not big into the Insta-sculpted look, but I do think there is a lot of value in having a great bronzer and highlighter in your makeup bag.
So you know, a good contour is considered to be a cool-toned dark shade with no shimmer to mimic the effect of shadow on the skin. Anything dark will look sunken and further away, while anything highlighted will look fuller and closer. That’s why we use highlighter where we want to plump and lift - cheekbones and Cupid’s bow - and contour where we want the face to look slimmer - under the cheek bones, sides of the nose.
If you want your bronzer to double as a contour be sure to use a matte finish, something like Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer, £26, or Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel, £40. The Chanel bronzer comes in a huge pot and is an absolute dream to use. It’s a cream, so it blends wonderfully over liquid foundation. Having said that, I’ve never had any problems applying Hoola, a powder, over my base either. The By Terry Terrybly Densiliss Sun Glow, £76, is pricey but the liquid can be buffed onto the skin for a beautiful, real-looking tan. Hoola comes in a liquid version called Dew the Hoola, £24.50 which is a little less eye-watering price-wise.
As for highlighters Topshop’s Glow Pot, £12, is incredibly handy, has a wonderful subtle shimmer and imparts a beautiful glow to the skin. Ciate’s Dewy Stix, £22, is a crystal clear balm that gives skin a glossy sheen that looks both incredibly cool and pretty at the same time. Simply dab a little onto the high points of your face after you’ve applied the rest of your makeup.
When it comes to eye makeup I definitely shop high/low. As I mentioned at the outset, I adore a full-on lash look. NARS Climax Mascara, £21, and Milk Makeup Kush Mascara, £20.50 both deliver thickening, lifting, lengthening and fanning of the lashes.
My go-to eye colours are MAC Eyeshadow in Omega, £14 and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Taupe, £23.50, which are essentially the same mushroom-y hue that gives the eyes some depth, definition and smokyness without looking too done for daytime. The Bobbi Brown stick is particularly easy to apply as you simply scribble it onto lids and blend with your finger, I also draw a little under the lower lashes for definition.
When I want to play I look to L’Oreal Paris’s Infallible Nudist Eyeshadow Paint, £5.99, which come in a variety of fun colours and textures. The Sunset Goals is beautiful, especially on holiday. Revlon’s ColorStay Crème Eye Shadow in Chocolate, £4.66 is a warm cocoa shade that is great for a quick and easy smoky eye. There’s a little blending time before it sets to super long-wearing finish and, much to my surprise, the teeny brush housed in the lid is actually brilliant for applying the product.
I’m obsessed with bushy brows but mine definitely need a bit of oomph and that’s where the Nude by Nature Precision Brow Mascara, £16, comes in. The brilliant waxy tinted formula fills in gaps and bulks up the brows setting them in place. I like to fill my brows so they look real and Benefit’s Precisely, My Brow Pencil, £21.50, has a tiny nib so you can mimic hairs in the gaps where they should be. Genius.
As you can see from the lipstick line-up below I am a creature of habit. In the day I like a rosy nude that won’t wash out my complexion. Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk, £24, is a long-lasting velvet matte finish that keeps selling out. Clinique’s Pop Lip Color and Primer in Beige Pop, £17, is a similar shade but has a creamier formula and sheeny finish. Whilst Buxom’s oversize PowerPlump Lip Balm in Glowing, £15, has a minty refreshing flavour and gives the lips a lightly tinted sheen. It’s one of the best balms I’ve ever slathered on and it lasts an age.
If I’m feeling like I want to wear a bold lip I always reach for an orange-toned red that instantly makes me look more tanned. My ride or die red lipsticks are MAC Lady Danger, £17.50, and Tom Ford Wild Ginger, £40.
Blusher is rarely thought of as being cool, but it is vital. Without blusher my complexion looks a little lacklustre but add a pop of colour to the cheeks and bam, I look alive. The best powder blusher I have used is the BareMinerals Gen Nude Powder Blush in Bellini Brunch, £24, it blends like a dream and is the perfect coral. Stila’s classic Convertible Color, £18, was one of the first beauty products I discovered during an internship at More! magazine about 18 years ago. It’s an easy to blend formula that can be used on lips and cheeks - the mirror in the lid is handy, too. Lastly, Bourjois launched the Healthy Mix Sorbet Blush, £8.99, last year and it imparts a healthy, long-lasting flush that looks totally natural.
I love a dewy complexion as much as the next person, but there is a fine line between looking dewy and looking sweaty. If you tend to avoid powders for fear of looking too matte then look to Laura Mercier, the brand launched a Glow version of its translucent powder, £30, last year. In the pot it looks suspiciously sparkly but it melds onto the skin for a finish that’s matte yet radiant. Becca’s Hydra-Mist Set & Refresh Powder, £32, is made from 50% water and glycerine that refreshes the complexion, it actually has a mist-like cooling effect on the skin making it ideal for during the summer months. Just powder the T-zone and leave the rest of your face to glow.
I couldn’t talk makeup without mentioning eyeshadow palettes. It’s so funny because when I was growing up there was nothing worse than being given an eyeshadow palette as they were always packed with the most awful shades, like they’d been put together by someone who was colourblind. Nowadays, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Urban Decay and Smashbox create brilliant palettes with smart edits of varying colours and textures that allow you to create limitless looks from one selection.
I also wanted to shout out to the lesser-known brand OPV, its Rainbow Splash Palette, £29, looks daunting but actually inspires me to play with my makeup.
Disclaimer: Some of the links included in this post is affiliated, which means if you buy them I’ll get a small amount of money in return. Which, I’m not going to lie, I will likely spend on cheese.