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20 Makeup Essentials That Have Changed Our Lives


Makeup trends come and go, but some products can stand the test of time. Whether it’s an all-time favorite designer lipstick or a can’t-live-without mascara, we all have beauty bag staples we’ve fallen in love with over and over again. The ELLE team was very vocal about their favorite makeup products of all time. The lineup ranges from a pore-erasing primer to a skinny brown pencil that fakes fuller arches, and so many other greats in between. Shop the absolute best of the best, ahead.

1The Best Long-Lasting Concealer

Secret Concealer

“For as long as I can remember, my mom has been using this creamy concealer and passing it off to me once she hits pan so I can take advantage of all the remaining product. Suffice it to say, it’s a must-have for both of our (very different) skin types and has helped me camouflage some pretty rough acne moments.” – Madison Feller, ELLE.com Senior Staff Writer

2The Barely-There Powder

Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Talc-Free Vegan Powder

“I lean more dewy than matte, but a light dusting of powder is a must-have for my T-zone. I hate the chalky finish most powders have, but this one is super smooth, barely-there but erases any oily spots while still leaving my skin hydrated.” – Tatjana Freund, ELLE.com Commerce Writer

3The Sharpest Brows

Angled Mechanical Brow Pencil

“When I first showed up to Sania’s Brow Bar, my left eyebrow was noticeably smaller than my right one. Fortunately, founder Sania Vucetaj, aka NYC’s resident brow wizard, took pity on me and introduced me to this genius brow pencil. Equipped with an angled applicator and unique formulation, this handy tool not only evened out my brows—it made them actually look natural. All hail.” – Claire Stern, ELLE.com Deputy Editor

4The Glossiest Lips

Ultra Shine Lip Gel

“*Nobody*:*Me*: *applies Sephora Ulta Lip Gel for the 50th time*Look, it’s just that good. This “lip gel” has a nice glossy finish without feeling sticky and has the perfect amount of pink tint to enhance the natural color of my lip without giving me that ashy pink look. You know the ashy pink look I’m talking about.” – Nerisha Penrose, ELLE.com Beauty Commerce Editor

5The Under-Eye Perfector

Under Eye Corrector

“Small but mighty! I’ve tried a lot of different concealers in my life and most of them never fully covered up my dark circles. The key, it turns out, was to first apply a peach under-eye corrector, and then, boom! Gone. The Bobbi Brown eye corrector is slightly tacky but, surprisingly layers well with other products. It’s been my go-to for years now.” – Leah Romero, ELLE.com Senior Digital Designer

6The Glowy Foundation

Beautiful Skin Foundation

“This is, by far, the best foundation I’ve found for my combination skin. The formula blends effortlessly, goes on smooth but dewy, and stays in place all day, even if I (yikes) rub at my face. You can wear it multiple days in a row without the cream causing breakouts, plus the moisturizing hyaluronic acid in the formula means even dry patches will be happy.” – Lauren Puckett-Pope, ELLE.com Associate Editor

7The Viral Blush

Soft Pinch Liquid Blush

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez

“I’ve never been an orange blush girl until this one from Rare Beauty stole my heart. One dot is all I need to create a soft flush on my cheeks, so that should tell you how pigmented this blush is. Selena Gomez, A in my book!!” – NP

8The Celeb Eyeliner

Liquid Eye-Lie-Ner Punk

“Leave it to the queen of the cat-eye [Lady Gaga] to design one of the best liquid eyeliners on the market. I rarely leave the house without a wing-tip, and this is the only liner I’ve found that doesn’t sputter as the pen glides along. Sublime.” – LP

9The Beginner’s Blush

Cloud Paint

“I’ve written the phrase ‘I don’t know how to use makeup’ more times on this website than I care to count, but this blush doesn’t care! It’s nearly foolproof. It lasts forever. You can use your fingers. And it looks so damn pretty.” – MF

10The Blinding Eyelids

Twin Flames

“There’s nothing subtle about this collection of 15 holographic cream shadows from Danessa Myricks. The formula is unbeatable—velvety and super easy to use and it stays in place all day. Usually I just pop a shade like Bae or Angel Heart in the corner of my eyes and add mascara for a bright-but-pretty look. But when I want to go for more drama, I’ll smooth Young Love or Soul Mate across my entire lid.”- Margaux Anbouba, ELLE Associate Editor

11The Creamiest Flush

BeachPlease Lip Cheek Cream Blush

“If you’ve yet to convert to liquid blush and want to try a decent stop-gap, this fantastic cream blush from Tower 28 comes in a range of sumptuous pinks, reds, and purples. You needn’t worry about doling out too much product either; simply dip your blender or brush onto the cream to pick up as much (or as little) as you need.” – LP

12The Mega-Long Lash

Better Than Sex Mascara

“On the days I don’t feel like wearing makeup, this miracle mascara always makes my lashes pop. While the lipstick colors and eye palettes change, it’s a steady standby in my beauty arsenal.”- Alyssa Bailey, ELLE.com Senior News and Strategy Editor

13The Best Glowing Primer

Wonderglow Primer

“Though this is technically a primer, I use it as a light-coverage foundation, and it gives the most candle-lit, non-cakey glow you can possibly imagine.” – Jessica Roy, ELLE.com Site Director

14The Bold Smooch

Superstay 14 Hour Lipstick in Endless Raisin

“I believe a bright, bold red lip is appropriate no matter the occasion: Work, home, dinner, parties, gym (yes, the gym!). This Maybelline lipstick in Endless Raisin is my go-to color. It slides on easy, doesn’t smudge, and lasts all.day.long.”- Rose Minutaglio, ELLE.com Staff Writer

15The Grunge Liner

Life Liner Double Ended Eyeliner Liquid & Pencil

“My journey with black eyeliner started in the fourth grade. I would secretly put it on in the school bathroom every morning, then wash it off before I walked home at the end of the day. (I got caught by my mom because I was wearing it in my school photo—rookie mistake.) In short, I’m no stranger to the stuff, and am picky of which ones I use.This double-ended eyeliner gives you two practically-permanent options in one tube: a super-smooth pencil or a matte liquid felt tip. I like to use both at the same time, starting with the liquid on my lid for a cat eye and finishing with the pencil for my bottom waterline. My look doesn’t budge until I bring out the oil cleanser, then it instantly washes off with zero residue, which really is makeup magic.”—MA

16The Dewy Cheek

Cream Blush

“Honest Beauty’s Cream Blush is a new addition to my beauty arsenal. I’ve gotten so many compliments that I threw out my old blush. It’s creamy, soft, and shimmery. Meghan Markle is also rumored to have worn this blush during her wedding to Prince Harry. Need I say more?” – Chloe Hall, ELLE.com Beauty Director

17The Easy Brow

Brow Structure Clear Set

“I have long, lazy eyebrow hairs. This is the only gel that keeps them held in place without making them crunch or look spackled onto my face. It’s also the perfect baby hair or frizz tamer for days when your hair just won’t behave. – MA

18The No-Pore Primer

The POREfessional Face Primer

“I love this smoothing primer. It totally minimizes the appearance of all my pores, and doesn’t feel heavy on my face. Plus, a little goes a longggg way. One tiny tube lasted me for almost an entire year.” – RM

19The Fluttery Lash

Eyeko Online Only Lash Alert Mascara

“Every single time I wear this mascara around our former ELLE writer Mattie Kahn asks, ‘Oh my GOD are your lashes FAKE or just super long?’ Reader, they are not, I’m just wearing this amazingly underrated product.” – JR

20The Drugstore Must-Have

Infallible THe Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner

“Of all the drugstore and high-end eyeliners I’ve glided across my eyes, none comes close to the love I have for L’Oréal’s Infallible Super Slim liner. The rich pigment, ultra-fine tip, the easy application, and matte black finish—I have no choice but to stan!” – NP

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