There are some beauty products that have their moment in their spotlight, but there are a few that truly become staples in our hair, makeup, and skincare routines. If you’re looking to upgrade your vanity with serious MVPs, these are the best investment pieces that are beloved by experts, editors, and customers around the world. Now, it’s just a matter of which one you want to add to your cart.
MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
Celeb fans: Taylor Swift, Gwen Stefani, Priyanka Chopra, Tracee Ellis Ross
Your search for the perfect red lipstick ends here. “MAC’s most well-known icon, Ruby Woo was offered as part of the original Retro Matte range in 1999 and is MAC’s best-selling lipstick of all time — it sells almost three lipstick around the world every minute,” says Gregory Arlt, director of makeup artistry for MAC Cosmetics. “Ruby Woo is the universal red that works on every skin tone. It packs a pigment punch and goes on bold with an instant pop of opaque color. A vibrant violet undertone makes this shade radiate on anyone. Carnauba wax produces a durable film to contribute to longwear while kaolin clay mattifies. With 12-hour wear, Ruby Woo is always there inspiring confidence and stealing scenes. When the brand was expanding globally, the formulation of the original matte lipstick had to be changed to fit the regulatory guidelines of various markets. However, consumers demanded back the original matte formula. The ‘old’ formula was revived as Retro Matte, but with the inability to perfectly match Russian Red — MAC’s best-seller at the time — Ruby Woo became an accidental star with a cult following like no other,” he says.
Beachwaver S1 Dual Voltage
Celeb fans: Reese Witherspoon, Miranda Cosgrove, Busy Philipps, Camila Cabello
Beachy waves finally became easier to accomplish thanks to this patented self-rotating curling iron. Typically to create a perfect beachy wave, the ideal technique is to hold a traditional iron upside down and wrap each section of hair backwards. If you are a beauty novice, it’s intimidating and time consuming to achieve. But, Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and founder of the brand, set off to change the hair tool scene with a self-rotating curling iron that can be used upright to create the perfect curl. She and her sister (who quit her full-time job as a corporate lawyer) spent two years developing the product. “From that moment on, we made it our mission to help people around the world feel more confident and beautiful in their everyday lives,” says Potempa.
Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment
Celeb fans: Drew Barrymore, Oprah, Phoebe Miu
Not every skincare product will work for everyone — but then there’s Good Genes. This lactic acid treatment is a gentle exfoliator that gives skin an instant glow, reduces the look of fine lines, and evens out dark spots. It’s transformative even for those with very sensitive skin because the powerful active ingredients are balanced by soothing botanicals. “The idea behind Good Genes was literally a product that gives you the unmistakable look of [literal] good genes! I wanted an all-in-one product that worked for all skin types and could easily be incorporated into any skincare routine, especially at a time when a product like that didn’t really exist. The original formula went through many changes before launch and in 2020, we removed certain ingredients from the original lactic acid version in order to make the formula cleaner and more sustainable,” says Sunday Riley, the brand’s founder.
Yves Saint Laurent Beauty Touche Éclat All-Over Brightening Pen
Celeb fans: Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Victoria Beckham, Zoe Kravits, Meghan Markle
They say there’s no such thing as a magic wand, but in the beauty world, this brightening pen comes pretty close. Created in 1992, it was the first-ever brightening pen. It was inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s “obsession with light, which originated from the way he liked to see the light highlights women’s beauty on his runways,” says Nour Agha, YSL Beauty makeup artist. Don’t mistake it for a run-of-the-mill concealer: The Touche Éclat features light-infused pigments that — in just a couple of clicks — smooths fine lines and brighten dullness. “It gives you a radiant and awakening look, and it highlights the face naturally without shimmer or glitter. You can even use a darker shade to naturally sculpt and contour the face, perfect your lipstick look, or fix an eyeliner mistake,” says Agha. “It’s infused with calendula, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E which is going to soothe, hydrate, and visibly reduce signs of fatigue,” she says. It’s available in 14 shades.
Lancôme Juicy Tubes
Celeb fan: Zendaya
Practically everyone had one of these tube lip glosses in their bag when it launched in 2000 (cue Lil’ Mama’s “Lip Gloss” that was once every millennial’s theme song). Each of the eight original shades had their own unique scent and flavor. After getting discontinued in 2018, Juicy Tubes made a comeback with its original formula with a shimmery finish, as well as two new jelly and creamy finishes. Each little squeeze of these tubes will drench lips in four hours of hydration and yummy-scented shades that make you feel nostalgic for those early aughts.
Smith & Cult Nail Polish in ‘1972’
Celeb fan: Beyoncé
When it comes to clean, non-toxic nail polish, it started off with 3-free, and then 5-free a couple of years later. Smith & Cult upped the ante by being the first 8-free nail polish brand (meaning it’s made without the following potentially harmful ingredients: dibutyl phthalate, camphor, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, and triphenyl phosphate). Yet, even though it was clean, it didn’t lose its high-shine, long-wear color or highly pigmented formula. All the shades are inspired by diary entries of a “beauty fanatic,” according to the brand. The “1972” opaque rose-gold shade somehow ended up on Beyoncé’s radar, and then sold out in every territory except Australia.
Beautyblender The Original Makeup Sponge
Celeb fan: Kim Kardashian, Lily Collins, Halsey, Shay Mitchell
Over 50 million Beautyblenders (that’s 17 sold every minute!) have been sold. It all started when Rea Ann Silva, Beautyblender CEO and founder, was working on the makeup set for a show called Girlfriends and she needed something that made the actors look flawless on camera. “I started to play around with some special effects tools and experimenting with wet sponges and cutting them into different shapes. I knew that a sponge could give a natural, skin-like appearance and when used with water, it could blend out makeup and allow it to set. This way I didn’t have to continue to layer on the product all day, I could apply and reset. When people started stealing them on set, I knew I was on to something,” she says. Then, in 2002, the famous bright pink Beautyblender was born to become the go-to tool for applying and blending liquid makeup. “Fast forward almost 20 years later, and the Beautyblender is featured in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in an exhibit called ‘The Only One in the Room,’ which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage,” she says. Though hot pink is the original color, since then there have been many iterations, including the new lilac beautyblender.
Laura Geller Spackle Skin Perfecting Primer: Original
Celeb fans: Paula Abdul, Fran Drescher
When you think of face primer, you immediately think of Laura Geller. In 1999, the makeup artist (and now founder of her eponymous brand) had an aha moment: “I was doing the makeup for a TV journalist and she said to me, ‘I hope you have more than makeup in your kit because you’re going to need spackle to fill in all my fine lines and wrinkles!’. I immediately began working on a formula for Spackle Skin Perfecting Primer. I wanted to make something that would hydrate the skin while creating a smoothing effect,” she says. The Original primer launched in 2002 and then relaunched last year with updated formulas that include more skin-loving benefits, like hyaluronic acid for the Hydrate primer and vitamin E plus shea butter for the Mattify primer. “Like all our Laura Geller products, Spackle primers are made with mature skin in mind — meaning the formula fills in fine lines and wrinkles so your makeup can hover over your skin and not seep into crevices and make them look exacerbated,” she says. Millions of Spackles have been sold over the past 20 years and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon.
OPI Lincoln Park After Dark Nail Lacquer
Is it black? Is it purple? The allure of this nail polish is that it’s a little bit of both. “Not simply a straightforward black hue, it’s a chic blend of black and aubergine that looks almost black but has lots of warmth thanks to the deep eggplant undertones,” says Suzi Weiss Fischmann, OPI founder.
When the brand introduced the shade in 2005, it was a time when “women wanted to use their nails to express themselves, and they were looking to stray from the ‘rules’ of seasonal trend colors: light or bright pinks and nudes in the spring and summer, mauves and deep reds in the fall and winter. Black was quickly becoming the new neutral in fashion, and I wanted to offer women a version of this trend to wear as an accessory on their nails. After launching Lincoln Park After Dark, we started getting messages from women around the world thanking us for giving them permission to stop wearing more traditional hues and instead embrace color as a form of self-expression,” she says. Lincoln Park After Dark isn’t just for those moody months of winter, either: “As dark shades became more mainstream, women found themselves wearing Lincoln Park After Dark year-round and for all occasions,” she says.
Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Oil-Free Foundation
Celeb fans: Meghan Markle, Cate Blanchett, Kim Kardashian
When you want a foundation that doesn’t quit, Luminous Silk somehow looks better on your skin the longer you wear it. The liquid foundation is loved by makeup artists for its buildable coverage and skin-like, glowy finish. The secret sauce is its exclusive micro-fil formula that allows the pigments to melt into your skin’s surface to help even out skin texture, blur imperfections, and give your skin that coveted glow. It’s no wonder one thousand bottles of the foundation are sold daily — plus, it’s available in 40 versatile shades.
L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Strong Hold Hairstyling Hair Spray
Celeb fans: Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Lopez, Emma Stone
In the 1960s L’Oréal decided to go for the gold with their famous fine-mist hairspray. The brushable, flexible formula was a major departure from the stiffer versions that were popular at the time. Until 2008, however, hairstylists had to smuggle the hairspray from overseas because the original formula didn’t meet environmental standards, but now you can find it stateside (and in any drugstore aisle).
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