These days the amount of makeup products that are available are seriously overwhelming. I like to think that I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing, but I still get stressed thinking about the sheer amount of options out there. These days I tend to stick to the staples I have curated over the last few years.
If you’re getting into makeup and don’t know where to start this post is for you! I’ll go over the ten products that I think you’ll need to get started on a quality makeup bag.
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Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
This is an excellent dupe for the original beauty blender and one I have been using for years. The original runs at $20 per sponge, while you can get this dupe for $5.99! You can find this brand almost anywhere too – Walgreens, Target, Walmart, Amazon, Ulta, you name it!
I think this makeup sponge is one of the most versatile items you can have in your makeup bag. You can use it to apply foundation, concealer, and setting powder. I would recommend having a separate sponge for each product application, but that’s just me!
It’s an excellent makeup applicator that removes excess product, blends layered products together, and buffs out any uneven application of product. The sponge does work better if you get it damp, but I almost never do and I still think it works great.
Before I go on about the importance of having good brushes, I just want to say that I had terrible brushes up until about two years ago. I was still able to get really good without the “fancy” brushes that all the beauty influencers rave about.
However, when I finally upgraded to Sigma brushes, I saw what a difference it makes to have some quality brushes. I definitely don’t think everyone needs to splurge on expensive brushes, but I do think it’s worth it to invest in a few good ones.
These days you can get Sigma brushes on sale pretty regularly. They sell curated sets that are very helpful if you’re not sure what brushes to get. I actually started by getting some of the “best of” or “best seller” sets so I didn’t get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of options available. Here are my suggestions:
- If you want to start out small, get the “Basic Face Cosmetic Brush Kit” (4 peice) set for a good start on face brushes.
- If you want to get brushes for both the face and eyes, get the “Essential Kit” (12 piece) set.
Now that I have had the brushes for about two years, here are the brushes that I find myself reaching for on a regular basis:
- Foundation Brush – F60: I use this to apply my liquid foundation.
- Large Powder Brush – F30: I use this at the end of my makeup application to blend all of the products on my face.
- Flat Kabuki Brush F80: I use this brush to smooth imperfections and buff out my contour.
- Pencil Brush – E30: I use this to apply highlighter to the brow bone and inner corner of eyes.
- Large Shader Brush – E60: I use this to apply shimmer shadows on the center of my eyelid. I like it for the quick and even coverage.
- Small Angle Brush – E65: I actually use this to apply shadow when filling in my eyebrows.
By Terry CC Serum
If any of you follow Lydia Millen-Gorden, then you know this is one of her OG recommendations. Well, I’ve been watching her channel for 3+ years and finally decided to splurge on this beauty about a year ago. OH MY GOSH.
This product is not hyped up enough in my opinion. Why aren’t more people taking about this magical serum?! It has quickly become my go-to and my all-time favorite product in my makeup bag. My preferred shade is No. 4 “Sunny Flash.”
It can be a replacement for foundation or an addition to your current makeup routine. It blurs imperfections, evens out the skin tone, and neutralizes redness to create a beautiful bronzed finish. It’s perfect for days when you don’t want to wear any makeup, but you’re still be able to give your a face a little boost of bronzed goodness.
One of my favorite things about this serum is that it is very buildable. Since it’s a sheer serum, you’re able to build up the product for the desired look. Some days I wear 2-3 pumps of product for a more natural and minimal look, where other days I will wear between 5-6 pumps for a more full coverage.
It’s also very good for mixing with other products. You can mix this with your regular foundation for a more bronzed finish (once you do this, you will never go back). I like to mix it with my Origins Tinted SPF. My formula is 3 pumps of By Terry CC Serum and a pea-sized amount of tinted moisturizer mixed together for a fuller, more bronzed coverage.
It Cosmetics CC+ Cream Illumination with SPF 50+
I’ve tried quite a few foundations and I have to say that the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream reigns supreme for me! A little goes a long way and it still makes your skin look flawless! It gives a youthful, dewy look for a perfect summer glow all year long.
While this is a full-coverage foundation, I find that it is breathable, comfortable, and long lasting. It’s one of my go-to foundations when I’m traveling or on the go and can’t touch up my makeup throughout the day. I also love the pump feature to dispense the foundation. There’s nothing like trying to do your makeup on the airplane and your foundation spills everywhere.. (I’m looking at you, NARS Sheer Glow).
And we cannot forget about the fact that it has SPF 50 in it!!! Honestly, this was one of the major selling points for me when I first got it because I had not found a sunscreen that sat well with any of my makeup. While I have since discovered some great sunscreen options, I love that this foundation has it included. It’s such an important step in skincare and I love that extra layer of protection.
Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner
I’ve been using this gel pot of eyeliner for about eight years now. Every now and then I will try to branch out with another type of eyeliner, but I will always come back to this!
I like that you can control how much product you put on the brush when applying. I always start with a small amount of product on the brush and build from there for the desired look I’m going for. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to applying this successfully, but it is worth the extra effort.
It’s easier to create smoky looks with this eyeliner by smudging the liner slightly and blending with black eyeshadow. And best of all, it applies a very pigmented layer of product that packs a punch!
Ardell Demi Wispies
I have been wearing false lashes since 2016 and I can promise you that I will never go back! Adding false lashes really elevates any makeup look. It’s basically a necessity for a good glam, if you ask me.
I made the mistake of wearing really big and gaudy false lashes when I first started out and hated it. If you’re not used to wearing lashes, they can be very irritating and distracting. Most people, like me, make the mistake of wearing big glam lashes and swear them off forever because they’re too cumbersome.
That’s why the Ardell Demi Wispies are so great! They’re lightweight, minimal, and still pack a punch in the glam department. They’re not too far off from real lashes in size and fullness, so they look more realistic while still adding some length and fullness. The thin strip makes the lashes much more flexible and bendable to the shape of your eye, which prevents the corners from constantly lifting.
I like to get the five pack from the grocery store (you can literally get these babies anywhere) and wear them for a few months. That’s right! False lashes are meant to be worn multiple times. I’ll wear the same pair of lashes for several weeks before switching out to a fresh pair. As long as you take them off at the end of the day and store them in a safe and sanitary place, these lashes will last quite a long time.
KISS Lash Glue with Aloe Vera
If you’re adding false lashes to your makeup bag, it’s important to have good lash glue to use. I’ve tried many over the years, but have ultimately landed on this glue that I think is fabulous!
I didn’t realize how important a good lash glue was until I started running into issues. In the past, I’ve had glue cause irritation to the point of painful, swollen eyelids. I also lost A LOT of lashes to bad glue. So, let me save you a whole lot of hurt and point you to the only lash glue that’s never done me wrong.
This lash glue is latex free and has aloe vera in it. The combination results in a strong glue that keeps your lashes on, but not to the point of ripping out your real lashes.
I love the brush on this glue for a more precise application of glue to the lashes. A lot of other glues come from squeeze products that get waaaaaay too much glue on the lashes.
Tarte Shape Tape Concealer
I’m going to rave about how much I love this concealer, but will admit that there are plenty of good options out there. I think as long as you have some kind of concealer in your makeup bag, you should be good to go. Not all products are created equal, but I haven’t come across an atrocious concealer yet.
As I started getting older and getting GIANT bags under my eyes, I realized the importance of concealer. It’s a product that really makes a difference if you know how to use it. And now that I’ve experienced some heinous adult acne, I appreciate this stuff even more.
What I love about the Shape Tape concealer is the full coverage it provides. Like, erases the bags under my eyes and hides all the acne, level of coverage. I had previously used some pretty sheer concealer, that wasn’t bad, but I didn’t realize that they were sheer until upgrading to Shape Tape.
Even though it is a full coverage concealer, it does not crease or look cakey on. It’s long wearing, lightweight, and blends with other products really well. There’s nothing worse than a sticky concealer that won’t blend with anything else you apply to your face (yes, this has happened to me).
NARS Blush ‘Orgasm’
I think that blush is pretty subjective in what each of us are looking for. The NARS Blush in the shade Orgasm might not be the blush you add to your makeup bug, but I do think it should be a contender because it is a shade that compliments everyone. Seriously, this stuff looks great on everyone!
It’s buildable and blendable, which is a dream come true. How many times have you started to apply blush, only to be horrified at the dark pink spot that the brush leaves behind after the first stroke? And then when you try to buff it out the damn spot won’t move. So, I think we can agree that a buildable and blendable blush is the blush we all need!
Just try it out and you’ll see what everyone is raving about! I started with a mini palette about two years ago and I’m still working on it, which means it lasts a long time. I think getting the mini version of a product is always a great way to test them out and see if you really like it.
NARS Highlighting Powder
Finally, my last recommendation would be the NARS Highlighting Powder in the shade Forte de France. Again, this doesn’t have to be the highlighter you get, but you might want to consider it! NARS has six shades in this line and you’re bound to find your perfect match in there somewhere.
This silky, lightweight powder gives you a dewey finish for the perfect summer glow. It’s made up of sheer powders for a buildable, creamy powder that is almost velvety in texture. By now I think it’s clear that I’m a fan of buildable makeup and you should be too!
This is not going to be one of those highlighters that you can see from space, but more along the lines of a subtle glow when applied. This will be the highlighter that can take you from day to night makeup looks with ease. Whether you apply a thin layer of product or really pack it on, you’re going to love the glow this highlighter gives you!
I definitely don’t know everything there is to know about makeup, but I have learned enough to feel confident in my makeup bag staples. Because of that, I am not constantly looking for new products to add to my bag that will just end up in the back of a drawer one day. I would encourage you to learn what you really like and actually use and stick to those.
If you’re new to makeup and looking to select some quality items to get you started, I hope you found an item or two that was helpful for you! Makeup is supposed to be fun and it really can be when you find products that you like.
I intentionally did not include any eyeshadow palettes in this guide, because I like to switch up the palettes I use almost every day and I’m sure you do too. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my article on my five favorite palettes.