That paycheck didn’t really mean that much to you, anyway, right?
1. First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream for the driest of skin.
Not only does this cream soothe the itchiness of eczema, but the moisture is long-lasting and feels more protective than similar products. Here’s a testimonial that explains how this product works better than its drugstore oatmeal-based counterpart. Bonus: It has no scent whatsoever. $28 for a tub from Sephora.
2. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner for I-Just-Swam-30-Laps-And-My-Eyeliner-Is-Perfect staying power.
3. BeneFit’s They’re Real Mascara for the amazeballs applicator.
Drugstore mascara is great, but this stuff is MIRACULOUS. It doesn’t budge, there are no clumps, and you can fan corner lashes outward with that genius domed brush head for seriously extended lashes.
SUPER IMPORTANT LIFE HACK ALERT: A Makeup Alley reviewer says: “I do like this mascara but I feel like so much of a good mascara is just in the brush applicator. When I run out of this sample I’ll save the brush head, sanitize it and use it with my Revlon mascara.” So do with that information what you will.
4. Anastasia’s Dipbrow Pomade for its smooth consistency and staying power.
This stuff lasts way longer than the drugstore dupe (it’s actually waterproof), has great pigmentation, goes on incredibly smoothly and evenly, and is basically your one-way $18 ticket to power brows.
5. The Beauty Blender for that airbrushed makeup look.
This $17.45 applicator sponge makes ANY foundation look flawless. It doesn’t wastefully soak up half your foundation the way a makeup wedge does. You’ll also save precious time in the morning because it allows you to apply your foundation in, like, 30 seconds.
Hot tip: Apparently, Dr. Bronner’s bar soap is a great dupe for the Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser.
6. Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray for budge-proof makeup.
Not only does it make your makeup look more natural, but it helps makeup stay on all day, on even the oiliest of skin. Available here for $30.
7. Coloured Raine lipsticks for absolutely opaque lips.
There are no dupes for Coloured Raine lipsticks because the colors are INSANE, not to mention some of the most highly pigmented you’ll ever try. Do a pre-cursory Google image search and you’ll see the quality of the color payoff on real-life beauty bloggers. Great for women with darker lips. Available for $14 apiece from Coloured Raine.
8. Guerlain Meteorites for a radiance you can’t quite put your finger on.
If you’re looking for something that’s going to give you that daily touch of luxury, this product is totally worth the splurge. It just gives you that little radiant boost that makes you feel glowy and happy.
Use a natural bristle brush and swipe it all over your face to get a perceptible “Photoshop” effect. Buy it here for $58.
9. Hakuhodo Brushes for makeup application that goes on like a dream.
If you’re willing to really take care of your makeup brushes, Hakuhodo are the most finely crafted of them all. They feel incredibly comfortable and calming as they glide across your skin. Check out the raving reviews on Makeup Alley. Try the blue squirrel with goat variety for maximum luxurious softness.
10. Nars blushes for the perfect flush.
11. LancÃ´me’s BI-FACIL Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover for removing stubborn waterproof mascara.
All you have to do is put the product on a cotton pad, press against the eye, and hold it there for a minute. Your eye makeup will come off magically — no pulling or tugging that delicate area. It’s also much more hydrating than its drugstore counterpart. Get it for $28.
12. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment for the smoothest lips.
While this balm certainly has its issues (it melts easily, it’s so soft that it breaks), there’s nothing else out there quite like it. It smells delightful, comes in a variety of lovely just-bitten tints, and no other balm comes close to the light, slippery feel of rubbing your lips together after applying it. $22.50 from Fresh.
13. Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler for the perfect curl.
Gets right down to the base of your eyelashes without pinching the lid. It costs $20 without any replacement pads.
14. Urban Decay’s Naked Eyeshadow Palettes for versatility and remarkable consistency.
The Naked palettes have been duped many times, but never matched in consistency (absolutely buttery) and pigmentation (so, so rich). The colors complement each other perfectly, you can find a million and one tutorials on YouTube, and at $54, it only actually comes out to $4.50 per shadow.
if you’re not that into shimmer, the Lorac Pro Palette has eight matte and eight shimmer shadows, and comes in slightly cheaper at $42.
15. BeneFit’s Brow-Zings for smudge-proof brows.
It’ll even last through a swim. And with a tinted wax to shape, a powder to set, mini tweezers, and two brow brushes, this kit is actually a pretty great value at $32.
16. Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Stain for a shiny yet long-lasting formula that is sheer witchcraft.
Best lip stain EVR. It really stays on for up to 12 hours and the coverage is buildable, which means you can get coverage anywhere between a sheer wash of color to an opaque lipstick. Best of all, you still get SHINE, which defies all logic of a lipstain.
17. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush for insanely pigmented color that lasts forever.
This baked powder is incredibly dense and packed-in, giving you buildable color that actually lasts 12 hours. Makeup addicts are obsessed with the flawless finish it leaves behind. You only need to use a tiny bit, so it’s actually a pretty great value. Get it for $26.
18. Hourglass’ Mineral Veil Primer for its weightlessness.
It contains naturally derived physical sunscreen, feels incredibly sheer and light, and will keep your makeup going until the break of dawn. It feels like you’re wearing nothing at all, and yet you’ll be shocked at how smooth your foundation goes on. Use it with liquid or mineral foundation.
19. Cle de Peau Concealer for the most blendable coverage.
Different concealers will fit different skin types, but this concealer has a beautiful, creamy feel and plenty of lasting power. It costs $70, so you’ll definitely want to try it out at your beauty counter before plunking down your hard-earned cash.
In general, if you have facial scarring or deep dark bags to cover up, splurging on a higher-end concealer will give you better coverage and a more seamless finish. People also swear by Chanel’s Professional Concealer and MAC’s Pro Longwear Concealer.
20. Tom Ford Lipsticks for the quality…and the packaging.
If you can find a shade you truly love, the color payoff and staying power are actually worth the splurge. Costs a painful $49.
21. Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder for on-point contouring.
This super blendable powder is the perfect “shadow” color for contouring, nose slimming, and sculpting cheekbones. It costs $44.
22. Buxom Lip Glosses for shine and color that actually lasts.
This lip gloss is one of the few that actually moisturizes lips. It comes in a kajillion shades, and unlike most lip glosses, the color actually leaves a nice stain behind, resulting in a superior long-lasting formula. It costs $19, but the real danger lies in developing an actual addiction.
23. Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder for a perfect close-up.
This soft, silky powder doesn’t just set your makeup — it actually blurs your imperfections and makes your pores look smaller to give you flawless skin. You can even wear it underneath your foundation if you have ridiculously oily skin. $34 from Make Up For Ever.
24. Moroccanoil Moroccan Oil for the softest hair and a professional blow-out look.
Incredibly lightweight and never greasy, this oil will reincarnate your hair into smooth and silky locks. If you heat-style your hair, a tiny amount will act as a protectant. $43 for the big bottle.
25. YSL Le Teint Touche Ã‰clat Illuminating Foundation for a glow from within.
Foundation is such an incredibly personal thing, but this particular formulation has a unique gel-like consistency that feels utterly weightless on the skin while providing long-lasting, medium coverage. People rave about the velvety yet dewy finish it leaves you with. Get it here for $57.
26. The Foreo Luna Mini for daily deep cleansing.
It’s gentler than the Clarisonic, so you can use it more often, and it doesn’t require any replacement brush heads so you end up saving money in the long run. The silicone “bristles” are easy to clean so you don’t feel like you’re scrubbing your face with harbored bacteria (a common and constant paranoia with the Clarisonic).
Everyone’s skin is different as far as results go, but it’s very enjoyable to use and will definitely cleanse your skin better than just rubbing in some cleanser with your fingers. Get it here for $139.
Thumbnail Photo by Rob Loud / Avon