Welcome to our "beauty editor's picks" series, where—you guessed it—our favorite editors shared their top product picks, from holy grail skincare to drugstore scores. Is your wallet ready for this jelly?
So we’ll occasionally joke that fashion editors shop for a living. But beauty editors? A significant portion of their job (on top of condensing trends, interviewing experts, writing, styling, et cetera, et cetera) is actually trying the myriad of product out there all to inform you exactly what’s worth your credit card overage. And trust us when we say that they get sent a lot of products to try. Every evening is an experiment in some new serum, long-wear lipstick or hair oil, all in the name of bringing some IRL knowledge to us. Just take a look at Jane Larkworthy’s monthly column in W—it’s pretty much a product-by-product exploration of what’s been delivered to her desk, and consistently the most dog-eared page of any given issue for it. And let’s be real, when you have a publication like Allure or Harper’s Bazaar behind you, these are the people you trust when trying to decide whether plum or wine is the lip color of the season.
So if you’re constantly trying every new formula that enters the market, we had to ask: what exactly do they stick with. Like, do they ever come across a BB cream and decide then and there that this is when they stop playing the field and go steady? In other words, for the people who are changing and trying knew products all the time, what are the products they’ll always love? We asked some of the biggest editors in the business—everyone from Lucky’s Jean Godfrey June to Britt Aboutaleb of Yahoo Beauty—and the response was, well, overwhelming. These professionals are passionate about their product. What we learned? Refinery29's Phillip Picardi can't choose just one, CVS offers some pretty grade-A potions, sometimes stinky is a good thing, and Kevyn Aucoin's The Volume might just be the best mascara out there, as voted by not one, but two different editors. Next time your cabinet needs stocking, consider this your guide.
"There are SO MANY items I use over and over—it's kind of crazy to pick one. YSL Sheer Candy in hot pink is the ultimate sheer lip color that somehow works secretly to brighten up your entire face. I apply the organic oil from Intelligent Nutrients—it's called Anti-Aging Serum—constantly when at home and sparingly at work over makeup for total revivification. I would be pale, less svelte and very tired-looking without Lancôme Flash Bronzer for Legs, which I use everywhere, including face. Philip B Forever Shine shampoo and conditioner makes your hair visibly, dramatically better in all categories. I don't really style my hair at all because you need nothing after Phillip B! If for some reason it isn't perfect, I have John Freida Secret Weapon in my bag, and it solves any hair issue. The Clarisonic changes your skin, and Yes to Cucumbers wipes fix every problem I can think of—I even use them to gently cleanse the leaves on my houseplants!
But if [I could] only have one—the YSL lip!"
“I try every lip balm that comes my way—and there are MANY—but I always go back to Burt. And it's not because my husband's name is Bert. The wax is a great consistency that's firm enough but not plastic-y firm. I like the way it coats my lips without being gloppy, and my lips enjoy the little tingle its peppermint gives them upon application.”
“I'm always tempted by the newest, fattest, most volume-promising mascara wand, but I consistently circle back to Kevyn Aucoin's The Volume. The wand is much skinnier than the name implies but it delivers perfect lashes: full, defined, just on the verge of spidery—in a good way. Also, it's like little flecks of rubber so it comes off with warm water and doesn't flake or leave dark circles behind."
"Clarins Shaping Facial Lift Serum is a product that I use on myself daily and also on the models at photo shoots. The results are instant and pretty damn impressive! I keep bottles of it stashed all over the place—the bathroom cabinet, the refrigerator, my camera bag, several in the studio (one for the models, another as a back up for my personal use). I am a late night sort of person and as such, morning is never a good time for me. When applied with the Clarins Manual Auto-Lifting Method (a very specific process that assists lymphatic circulation and feels absolutely lovely!) this serum reduces puffiness, defines the cheekbones, tightens up the jawline and makes me look refreshed. I'm completely addicted."
"I have been using Rose-Marie's RMS Beauty Living Luminize for three years straight now. It is the only product I can use practically anywhere—bridge of the nose, inner corners of the eyes, all over the lid, the temples, high planes of the cheekbones, along the jawline—for a completely undetectable glow that imparts a touch of dew, thanks to good-for-you skin ingredients like rosemary and coconut oil. It can be an ephemeral product, given its more natural origins, so I layer Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight powder on top of it to make it stay. Grab an eyeliner brush to get it into the inner corners of the eyes, and then smudge a little bit into the center of your lower lash line for a widening effect. Or, tap it on top of cream blush to help it blend better and look more natural. I also love it on the lid, in place of eyeshadow—it will elevate your eyeliner game by adding a bit of dimension. You can also apply it to the high planes of the face generously before your BB cream or foundation to supercharge your base."
"I have four Troy Surratt Relevée Eyelash Curlers—one at my desk, one at home, one in my to-go makeup bag and one tucked away in a suitcase. Troy's a friend, and he designed these bad boys in Japan, where each and every one is tested BY HAND. (Major.) I used to think there was just one go-to eyelash curler—you know the one—but it has officially lost its place in my regimen. This has a wider arc, so it fits my big eyes better, and it gets every last lash. Pump once at the base, once mid-way, and once at the ends for lashes that open your eyes and help them hit the light better."
"Koh Gen Do is a Japanese brand that sort of flies under the radar for most consumers. However, if you're a beauty junkie, you already know all about it—it's the stuff that they use on every movie and television set, since the brand basically pioneered the idea of HD makeup (long before the mainstream brands). This Maifanshi Moisture Foundation is my all-time favorite because it's super easy to apply and blend, plus it's not loaded with tons of fillers like fragrance and parabens that make me worry about the health of my skin underneath all the makeup. I wear it practically every day—it gives a really fresh, radiant glow when applied with fingers. Or, you can stipple it into the skin with a dual fibre brush for an airbrushed effect—just be sure to bounce over the face with a damp egg sponge to make sure it doesn't settle into fine lines."
"I stray on a weekly basis—part of the job description—but always keep a couple of Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara on hand (with one in my beauty go-bag). The formula makes lashes super-long, never ever clumps or smudges, and rinses away with a few splashes of warm water before bed (which I love because some nights—actually, pretty much all nights—I’m too lazy for eye makeup remover)."
"When it comes to skincare, many people believe that expensive and fancy is always better, but as someone who tries it all I've yet to ever find a better body wash than Dove. I used Dove soap as a kid, and once the loofah craze hit in the '90s, Dove was the first brand I tried. It remains my go-to and is always in my shower. My dermatologist recommends it for my sensitive skin, and I love how it leaves my skin feeling smooth, soft, and hydrated even during the harsh winter. My current faves are the Deep Moisture and Pistachio Cream Purely Pampering varieties."
“My mainstay is Jergens Original Cherry-Almond Body Lotion. Nothing moisturizes better (even in the dead of winter)—and because I've used it since college, the scent comes with so many different memories. No matter how many body lotions I'm sent or that I try out, this is the one that I actually BUY at Duane Reade—in the jumbo size—every month!”
"When it comes taking care of your skin, everyone is fixated on the face but you can't forget the body. For me, it's all about Fresh Sugar Acai Age-Delay Body Cream. I love the scent (a berry-citrusy blend that's not, despite the name, too sugary), the velvety texture and the fact that it's got a healthy dose of fruit acids (AHAs)—it keeps my skin smooth, hydrated, glowy and free of dry patches. It's a tad rich for the most humid days of summer but I always go back to it in the fall, then use it straight through to May or June. A couple years ago, I went through complete withdrawal when Fresh had a production shortage of the Acai Cream. Lesson learned. Now I stockpile bottles of it year-round."
"Despite the fact that I have dozens of various jars and bottles at my fingertips at any given moment, there is one product that I use daily without fail: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. This antioxidant powerhouse helps get rid of free radicals which cause your skin to age, plus dermatologists love it. My face feels naked and exposed if I don't wear it everyday. A small word of warning, though: it has a slightly disgusting metallic smell, but even that has become comforting to me."
"There are few higher compliments you can pay a beauty editor than, 'Your lashes look greatare they real?' Yes, girl, they are totally real, and thank you. They are a combination of biotin and Diorshow Black Out Mascara. If the illusion of intense volume is your eyelash goal, this is the formula for you. It's rich, it's dense, it's blacker than a starless sky, and the classic teddy-bear brush allows you to completely coat each lash, clump-free, every time you sweep it on. I've tried every iteration of Diorshow, and this is the one I always come back to."
"I've been addicted to these Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow anti-aging tanning wipes since the first time I tried them. Not only do they (safely) transform my complexion from pale to radiant (sans orange streaks) in one hour, but they exfoliate dead skin, shrink pores, and help fade existing sun damage too. The best part: concealer is no longer required."
"If my eyelashes were a Kardashian sister, they would be Khloe. They’re stubborn, willful, and want to do their own thing, which usually means being very resistant to eyelash curlers and curling mascaras. For a long time, I was faithful to the Shu Uemura eyelash curler, but the Surratt Beauty Eyelash Curler has my everlasting devotion. It’s like a gentle curling cradle for my lashes with its double-pronged handle and a comfy lash pad that doesn’t pull or tug. It creates a natural, curling angle that is neither 90 or 45 degrees like most curlers (frankly, I don’t recall enough geometry to describe what degree angle it is, but it looks and feels good.) I’ve had it for about a year but I anticipate it (like Khloe) being my favorite for many more years to come."
“My life changed the day La Prairie’s Cellular Radiance Cream Blush in Plum Glow arrived on my desk. It was the first cream blush formula I had ever used and now the only one I’ll ever use for eternity. It melts into the skin and leaves behind the kind of healthy, pinky glow that I often receive compliments on (I didn’t actually get 8 hours of sleep nor [did I] drink gallons of water but the blush makes it appear as if I did). And while it blends over foundation well, I trust its complexion boosting powers so much that I’ll often wear it on my skin alone. I swear by it.”
"Toner is one of the most universally skipped steps in skincare. As a beauty editor with gazillions of sexier products competing for my attention, I admit, I used to neglect it, too. But this one has changed the game. I cannot stop singing the praises of Biologique Recherge's P50 Balancing Exfoliator. I discovered it after complimenting a fellow beauty director on her freakishly radiant skin. She swore by the stuff. I immediately got my hands on it and I've been HOOKED ever since. Disclaimer: It's smelly and from time to time it stings like hell. BUT it's also the fastest-working skincare product on Earth. It visibly shrinks pores, evens your complexion and it makes you glow like nobody's business."
"Goldfaden MD's Fresh-a-Peel was one of the first at-home peels I ever tried—and let's just say my skin will forever be better because of it. I smooth a thin layer of it on after washing my face, wait a minute or two, then rinse it off with cool water. The lactic acid and fruit enzymes leave my face looking ridiculously bright, polished, and clean—and I swear it's even magically helped clear up a breakout or two. It's the perfect quickie pick-me-up on days when I'm too lazy to spend more than 5 minutes fixing my skin (a.k.a. most weekdays)."
"I change up my routine all the time, partly because it's my job to try things out, but also because I find that my skin has different needs on different days. But no matter what, the one product I always return to is the original Crème de la Mer [moisturizing cream]. It is, quite simply, a phenomenal moisturizer—it leaves my skin glowy and firm, and there's absolutely nothing like it when it comes to complexion resurrection after a long-haul flight. There are a ton of newer, jazzier hydrators out there—and yes, there are many that I also use and love—but having a jar of Crème de la Mer in my medicine cabinet is kind of like owning a cashmere sweater or a chic pair of black heels: I might not put it on every day, but when I do, I know it will never let me down."
"The number one rule of beauty, as we should all know by now, is to wear sunscreen every single day, regardless of season. For more years than I care to admit, however, I shirked the stuff: I just couldn't find an SPF that didn't give me some kind of weird rash or zit, or make my skin feel gunky. Then I discovered this gem, Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF 30, an all-natural line developed by New York-based ayurvedic expert and botanist (and all around fascinating lady) Pratima Raichur. Micronized zinc oxide provides protection from withering UVA and UVB rays, while organic extracts of soothing rose oil, licorice, and neem moisturize and brighten. The formula is so light, it vanishes into my skin, and instead of making my makeup look cakey, it magically helps foundation go on more smoothly. And did I mention that it smells lovely? I couldn't do without it."