Letter from The Editor: How to Strategically Build Your Beauty Collection

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

As beauty editors, we’re extremely fortunate that we have access to pretty much any product, device, or service for free. But our goal in testing thousands of masks, pomades, and powders each year has always been to help you avoid the pitfalls that can come with so many choices.

If I were in a different line of work, I definitely wouldn’t have the overflowing medicine cabinet and makeup closet that I do now. So for this, our shopping issue, I wanted to share a few tips about how I’d build a stash of essentials — what I’d splurge on and what I’d save on.

Know Your Skin

Yes, it can be pricey, especially if your insurance doesn’t cover it, but I recommend that people see a dermatologist at least once (besides getting regular mole checks, of course). We now know that the old skin types (oily, dry, sensitive, etc.) rarely apply to individuals in a nice, neat way. Plus, we’re all pretty bad at diagnosing ourselves. I, for example, went many years stripping my skin with harsh acne products because I thought I had oily skin, only to discover later on (with the help of a dermatologist) that I’m extremely dry with a bit of rosacea and eczema. Changing my routine to include more gentle, hydrating cleansers and creams made the biggest difference. So invest in a visit to a board-certified dermatologist to assess your personal situation and tell you the types of products that will work best.

Spend on A Few Good Brushes

At the minimum, I’d have a good fluffy eye shadow brush, a flat eye shader brush, and a small to medium face brush that could be used for powder or blush. Brushes are like kitchen knives. You can get by with a few, but quality does matter.

Focus On High-Impact Makeup Items

What step in your routine gives you the biggest payoff? For me, I know that curled lashes and mascara make the most noticeable impression. Luckily, there are amazing drugstore mascaras, like one of my personal faves, waterproof Maybelline New York Total Temptation. And for everyday use, I love a moisturizing lip product that imparts a little color (and can double as blush in a pinch). I’ve been hooked on ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint Lip Balm — which is made of naturally sourced ingredients and only costs $4.99 — after a makeup artist recommended it.

Remember the Four Pillars of Skin Care

Cleanse, exfoliate, hydrate, protect. I’ll admit, I had a hard time cutting down on steps here, since all four of these are vital: a gentle daily cleanser, a chemical exfoliant to use once or twice a week, a moisturizer, and a daily SPF for morning (I use Olay Regenerist with SPF, which checks off the moisturizer and sunscreen). Technically you could get by without things like essence, serum, and eye cream, but having at least one of each in your kit will certainly step up your game.

Finally, Have Fun

Now watch Chris Appleton give a tour of his bathroom:

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