If you’re new to the world of makeup, it can be tricky to navigate your way through. Heck, it can be confusing even when you’ve been at it for a while! Don’t worry if you’re stuck on what makeup products qualify as essential items and which you could totally get by without: every product is marketed to appear “essential”, so it can be really tough working out which ones you actually need.
To make it a bit simpler for you, we’ve sorted out the most popular products that most makeup gurus have in their bags. There are some that comprise a major part of most makeup looks, and you’d be silly to miss out on. And then there are others which, although they seem crucial, could easily be substituted with cheaper products, or left out altogether.
In an ideal world, those of us who like to get glammed up would possess every makeup product out there. But when you’re on a budget or you’re sick of all the never-used products you have lying around, this list will come in handy. Read on to find out which products you should have in your bag, and which you can do without.
25 Must-Have: Foundation
Foundation is basically a must-have makeup item, whether you like to go for a simple look, or something more dramatic. There’s a reason it’s called foundation, and that’s because the rest of your makeup builds up from it. Without a strong foundation, a house will crumble, and without cosmetic foundation, so will your look. One size does not fit all, though, and you can get many different versions of this product depending on whether you want a matte or shimmery finish.
24 Go Without: Eyelash Primer
An eyelash primer sounds like a good idea in theory since other kinds of primer are necessary. But when it comes to the eyelashes, less is more. The more product you clump on there, the higher your chance of ending up with spider-leg-like lashes that are all stuck together. In this case, a primer can actually do more harm than good. Rather than relying on primer, just go ahead and use a quality mascara that will leave your lashes looking long, thick and voluminous.
23 Must-Have: BB Cream
A standard BB cream will cover your blemishes and give you an even complexion and should be your go-to on those days when you don’t feel like throwing on a full face of makeup. It doesn’t provide as much coverage as a foundation in many cases, but it still gives you an overall even tone. BB cream is perfect for bringing along on vacations, or in hot temperatures where the last thing you want to do is paint a thicker foundation on your face.
22 Go Without: CC Cream
There isn’t a huge difference between BB and CC cream, so if you really wanted to, you could go for the CC over the BB. But the point is that you don’t need both. In most cases, CC stands for color correcting, and a good CC cream will tend to redness and other discoloration issues. By comparison, BB cream is more like a light version of a foundation. If you’re looking specifically for a color corrector, then you can try going for CC over BB.
21 Must-Have: Mascara
Long, thick and voluminous eyelashes never go astray and are suitable with all looks, whether you’re putting on your face for work in the office or for a wedding. For this reason, no makeup kit is complete without your trusty mascara. Our favorite thing about mascara is that it’s not always necessary to go for something overly expensive, as many cheaper brands can still give you volume and length. Trial a few different brands to find your perfect mascara.
20 Go Without: Thick Contouring Cream
Many makeup artists agree that when you use a super thick contouring cream, you are in serious danger of over-contouring. Heavy contouring has been trendy in recent years, thanks in large part to the Kardashians’ seemingly chiseled faces, but a lot of people are over it now. It’s still popular to contour, but you don’t have to go all out with a thick cream for a face that is over-defined. Instead, opt for a lighter contouring product that won’t overdo it.
19 Must-Have: Eyeshadow
Contrary to popular belief, eyeshadow isn’t just for overly glam looks. Sure, certain colors should be avoided if you’re going for something for natural. But many beauty gurus include a very neutral eyeshadow in their everyday looks. Eyeshadow can serve to add a pop of color, or it can provide some shimmer, or it can just add another dimension to your eye makeup, especially if more than one color is blended. There are some products you should skip, but eyeshadow isn’t one of them.
18 Go Without: Brush Cleanser
Don’t get us wrong: your makeup brushes need to be cleaned on the regular. But it’s just not necessary to fork out a lot of money for a specific brush cleansing solution when you can use a cheaper alternative. In many cases, simple shampoo is perfect for cleaning makeup brushes, and the best thing is everyone has this in their home already. Gently scrub them with warm water and shampoo and leave them to soak to make them like new again.
17 Must-Have: Concealer
Concealer is a must-have item, even if you don’t have problem skin. Of course, if you do suffer from zits, acne scars, discoloration or other similar skin issues, concealer is going to act as your best friend by providing coverage that your foundation doesn’t. But concealer can also be dabbed on the skin under the eyes to get rid of puffs and dark circles, and if you’re looking for extra coverage on really bad days, you can mix a little into your liquid foundation.
16 Go Without: More Than One Kind Of Concealer
Concealer is important, but in most cases, you don’t need to have various different spot concealers that target different areas. The problem with this is that it’s a slippery slope, and before you know it, you end up super confused with a bag full of different kinds of concealers that each have a different color. If you stick with a single concealer palette of yellow, white and green instead, you should be totally covered (in more ways than one).
15 Must-Have: Lipstick
In our opinion, lipstick is non-negotiable. You might not think that lipstick suits you, but if that’s the case, you probably haven’t found your color yet. Lipstick can be worn on special occasions, to work, to other daytime events or just to spruce up your face when you need to run to the store and you don’t have other makeup on. It’s a good idea to get comfortable with a neutral color similar to your lip shade before delving into the rich world of reds.
14 Go Without: Lip Plumper
There’s no shame in wanting plump, rounded lips, but at the same time, there’s no need to go and spend money on lip plumper. For one thing, many products that plump up your lips use simple ingredients to do so, which you probably have lying around the house. If not, you can easily buy ingredients like cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and ginger, which will irritate your lips into swelling, to mix your own cheap alternative that has the same effect.
13 Must-Have: Lip Gloss
Lip gloss is an alternative to lipstick that we think all makeup-wearing girls need. As amazing as the powers of lipstick are, there will be times when you just can’t pull off the stuff, and on those days and nights, you’ll want a trusty lip gloss by your side. Go for lip gloss when your makeup is especially dramatic and you want to tone it down, or when you don’t have the time to worry about correctly applying and maintaining lipstick.
12 Go Without: Anti-Aging Powders
There are some anti-aging products that actually do make a significant difference, but blushes and finishing powders that claim to be anti-aging are pretty pointless most of the time. The ingredients which do have anti-aging properties usually can’t be contained within a powder format, because they’d just turn the powder sticky. And since finishing powders and blushes go on over your foundation, they don’t have enough skin contact to actually make much of a difference. Give this one a miss.
11 Must-Have: Bronzer
If you like wearing makeup, it’s a good idea to include a bronzer in your bag. Even if you prefer to stick with a paler look, a little bronzer still has a place. You can apply it along the high points of your face to give yourself an overall sun-kissed look. If you’re wanting to make your face slimmer and more defined, you can brush some bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks. Either way, this is one product that won’t go astray.
10 Go Without: Lip Primer
You do need to prepare your lips before putting on lipstick and lip gloss, but an expensive primer isn’t necessary unless you have overly dry and chapped lips. Lip primers are designed to help maintain the color, but you can get the same effect by using lip balm instead. After letting it sink in your bare lips, blot a little foundation or concealer on top. Once you’ve put on your lipstick and lip liner or lip pencil, add a little touch of powder. Voila!
9 Must-Have: Eyeliner
Many people couldn’t imagine their makeup bags without eyeliner. There are many types to choose from, depending on the kind of look you’re going for. A simple black pencil applied to the lower lash line will make the lashes look thicker, while the same in white will make the eyes themselves look larger. And with a good liquid or gel black liner, you can turn up the drama with a fierce wing. No matter your liner style, you can’t go without this product.
8 Go Without: Lip Exfoliator
A lip scrub seems like a really tempting product to buy when your lips are dry or peeling, but like many other products, it’s not really necessary. For one thing, you can easily create your own lip scrub using coconut oil and sugar. If your lips aren’t too dry, you can try just brushing them using a clean toothbrush and some warm water to remove the dead skin. You’ll be left with soft, kissable lips that are ready for lipstick.
7 Must-Have: The Correct Brushes
Some beauty gurus demonstrate how well they can apply makeup with their fingers in their YouTube tutorials. But there are some products that just need specially designed brushes and other applicators to go on smoothly. You don’t need an endless range of brushes and sponges; just the basics. A good foundation brush, an angled brush for contouring and blush, a fan brush for highlighting, and blending brushes and sponges are among the essentials most makeup artists would recommend.
6 Go Without: Colored Mascara
We agree that colored mascara sounds like a lot of fun, but it isn’t a product you should spend money on when there are other essentials to buy. The biggest reason for this is that the majority of colored mascaras don’t actually do what they’re supposed to. Rather than giving you bold color, they give you a low-key tinge that’s barely noticeable. Colored eyeliner, on the other hand, does do its job. So if you’ve got your heart set on a color, go for that.
5 Must-Have: Eye Makeup Remover
As you’ll know, the eyes are super sensitive, and to keep them healthy enough to keep wearing gorgeous eye makeup, you have to look after them. A lot of general cleansers and makeup removers may be gentle, but not enough to put in direct contact with your eyes, which is what’s needed to really clean out product. Having a gentle eye makeup remover ensures that your eyes are kept clean without being irritated by cleansers and harsh chemicals.
4 Must-Have: Brow Pencil
Good eyebrows have always been important, but that’s especially the case now that on-fleek brows are a huge part of recent makeup trends. Whatever condition your brows are in, a pencil will help them to look filled out and full. It’s better not to be too heavy-handed when filling in your brows since that can make you look a little too done up and fake. Lightly applying the product on top of them with a color that’s similar to your hairs is your best bet.
3 Must-Have: Face Primer
Foundation may be the basis of your makeup look, but you need to do a little prep first. Face primer is an important product you won’t want to miss out on! There are many benefits to using primer on your skin, and one of them is that this product helps your makeup to last throughout the day and night without sliding off your face. It can also act as a moisturizer, stopping your foundation from accumulating in clumps around the driest parts of your skin.
2 Must-Have: Setting Spray
Face primer is one product that helps to keep your makeup in good condition for hours, but that doesn’t mean that you should omit setting spray. You don’t want to go to all the trouble of doing up your face only to have it sweat or slide off halfway through the workday, or through a formal event. Especially if you’re going to be in a hot, stuffy environment, it’s not a good idea to forget your setting or finishing spray.
1 Must-Have: Lip Liner
Some people prefer to skip using lip liner, but we rely on it to apply a bold lipstick. The idea behind it is to stop the lipstick from leaking onto the face, but it’s necessary to use to make sure that your lips are neat and defined. Because the lipstick is thick, it’s difficult to apply in clean, sharp lines around the lips. Instead, pop on your liner first to make sure your edges are crisp and use the lipstick to fill out the middle.
References: cheatsheet.com, fashionista.com, dailyworth.com, lifestyle.howstuffworks.com, makeup.allwomenstalk.com