After getting a whole lot of products chosen for me this past Saturday from some pros, I culled it down to seven of my favorite beauty products to share that I’m still using today. (As in, years later. Hi! this is Liz from the future, updating this post.) You can find them all right at Sephora online, or hey, treat yourself and go in person.
I picked these beauty products because they’re effective, they’re not through-the-roof spendy, and absolutely anyone can use them, no matter your skin color or age — because they’re all about maximizing beauty products you already own.
– This post has been updated for 2021 –
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Yes, that’s a #nomakeupselfie under some VERY bright lights. Yes, I’m brave.
But how awesome is that blowout?
7 beauty products to maximize ones you already own
For background: Kristen and I got full makeovers courtesy of our partners JCPenney Salon and Sephora inside JCPenney. (Do you know how long we could stay there? Long, is all I will tell you.) 574 stores have Sephora inside JCPenney, or you can hit up any regular Sephora for these products.
The reason the beauty consultants were able to really nail great colors and products for us — besides sheer talent — is the genius Color IQ system. Do you know about this? Kristen has raved about it before, but it’s the first time I got to try it. They put this little doodad up to my forehead, cheek, and neck to determine my exact shade (kind of like a Pantone color), then from there, see which shades of blush, eyeshadow, foundation, concealer, and lip color are best for you.
That said, here are 7 products that you can use whatever your skin tone or color. However I’ll let you know which colors I used, should you be interested.
1. To moisturize a matte lip color:
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer
Surely you have heard of Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s hugely popular new line that basically blew up the beauty world recently. It’s a Sephora exclusive and while Kristen and I were there, I’d say 90% of the shoppers were asking for it.
Like, women were swarming the sales staff! So I was so happy to get to try out what Rihanna called “the perfect gloss.”
(With 5 stars on the site so far, 942 reviews, and 30,000 likes, how could I not?)
I love the the Fenty Glow shade, a shimmering rose-gold “nude” that looks good on everyone. You’ll get the right amount of shine whether you want to amp up naked lips, glossify (I made that up) and moisturize a really matte long-wear lip color, or really make a lip color pop. And it happens to smell delicious and not waxy.
Nice gloss and moisturizing, without that baby oil slickness.
I used it over Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment in God Save the Queen (which also ended up in my shopping bag) and the Kat Von D Everlasting Lip Liner in Lovecraft which are both extremely long-wearing, highly pigmented colors and honestly they look great, but my lips feel sooooo much better with Fenty Gloss Bomb over top.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to go full-on look-at-my-lips gloss, just place a dab at the center of your bottom lip. You’ll get a spot of shine that looks like a more natural highlight.
2. To give your eyeshadow staying power:
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
I’m pretty low-maintenance so I don’t wear shadow much. But when I do, I can’t stand when it creases or wears off too soon.
This nude eyeshadow primer from Urban Decay gives your shadow a smooth, even foundation and keeps the makeup crease free. And by nude, I really mean nude; it goes on with the teeniest tint of color but dries clear.
Embarrassing Fact of Shame: I fell asleep with my eyeshadow on after my makeover, woke up, and it still looked pretty good. So I’m going to vouch for the 24-hour wear claim.
Pro Tip: They also offer an Anti-Aging version of the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer that promises to minimize wrinkles (well, the look of wrinkles I’d say) which may be more your speed.
3. To get your brows on fleek (do we still say that?):
Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel
I have written so many times about the importance of great brows — even if you wear no other makeup at all, just get your brows wrangled and you’ll look more polished. I was so happy to be introduced to Gimme Brow’s cult favorite tinted brow gel, which basically helps your brows look fuller, but not bushy.
Smart if your brows are thinning or you’re a victim of over-tweezing in your youth.
After you’ve defined your brows with a pencil or shadow (she used the Anastasia Brow Definer pencil on me which is quite nice) just pull out the small Gimme Brow brush and gently press the tip along your brow, then brush it through gently with the direction of your hair to blend.
Pro Tip: One brush full of gel is plenty to cover each brow; don’t overdo it — it’s not mascara!
4. To get your lips baby soft:
Bite Beauty Agave Sugar Lip Scrub
Again, as a low-maintenance makeup wearer, I was like, do I really need a lip scrub? But after schmuzzing (that’s a real word in my vocabulary) some of Bite’s exfoliating, petroleum-free lip scrub around my lips, they felt so soft that I was sold.
In fact, it may be a great beauty product even and especially when you don’t wear lip color all the time, because it keeps your lips naturally moisturized and conditioned, and evens out your skin tone. Smart as we get into chapped lip season.
5. To keep that lipstick on longer:
Bite Beauty Line & Define Lip Primer
The same way I hadn’t considered a shadow primer, I hadn’t considered a lip primer. Now I’m obsessed with this lip primer from Bite Beauty that’s new to me, but a cult-favorite with beauty junkies.
It feels amazing going on, kind of like a very moisturizing, non sticky, not greasy balm. You then layer color over it, so that it goes on smoothly and easily. If you’ve ever loved a color that deposits pigment unevenly or goes on a little streaky, this Line & Define Lip Primer takes care of those issues.
Pro Tip: After priming, line your lips with a neutral color liner then use that to fill in your lips before adding a shinier lipstick or gloss over top. You’ll get extra-extra staying power for your lip color.
6.To keep colored hair looking fresh:
Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo
Kristen had some major root issues going on, which she happily shared on the Cool Mom Picks Instagram feed that day. After getting rid of her stylist at JCP Salon introduced her to Redken’s Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo and Conditioner (available from Amazon if not a local salon).
They’re gentle and sulfate-free, helping to maintain color and extend time between salon visits. (And save you some money in the process!) If
Plus, the line is way way way more affordable than a lot of professional haircare brands, so hooray for that.
Pro Tip: Don’t wash your hair every day. Really. No need, unless you’re a professional athlete, or have particularly fine hair or an oily scalp. In fact, hair usually looks better on the second or third day after washing — and it helps prolong your color.
7. To tame flyaways that spoil the selfie:
Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Finishing Spray
I’ll admit, I hear “hairspray” from a stylist, and if I’m not in a hair and makeup chair backstage at a morning show, I panic a bit. The only reason I have hairspray in my bathroom all is for my kids’ Halloween costumes or ballet recitals. But this? Is nothing of the sort.
Bumble & Bumble’s Invisible Oil Finishing Spray more like a really light finishing oil in spray form. You know, like those Moroccan style oils that are so big now. It doesn’t look greasy, and it definitely tamed all those little flyaways of mine that drive me nuts after a blowout. Just a little spray of Invisible Oil may solve a ton of your bad hair day problems.
Tip: Don’t spray it right on your hair; spray the teeniest bit into your palms them just tap your palms and fingertips along your hair where you need it.
The after photo:
Good hair day! Well, with pro help. Ahem. Thanks to Alis for Kristen’s perfect root touch-up, and to Jenny for my sleek blowout (and magical hands head massage), all at the JCPenney Salon at the Queens Center. How great to be able to get all that stuff done while you’re shopping anyway!
Thanks to our fab makeup artists, Ebru and Melissa, who taught us about so many terrific new beauty products and how they can maximize what we already own.
Do we look happy or what? (Answer: Yes, we are happy.)