Lip kits, highlighters, and hair spray, oh my! It seems like every time we blink, there’s a new beauty product out and we have to figure out what’s worth trying. Rather than play a guessing game, we went directly to the source and asked top beauty pros to share their stuck-on-an-island, must-have products they just can’t live without.
“Ilia Illuminator in Polka Dots and Moonbeams is the prettiest highlighter in my kit right now and is in my personal daily rotation,” says on-air beauty expert and author of “Lazy Perfection” Jenny Patinkin. “It’s great for all skin types, even mature skin, because it gives a sheer glow without looking overly glittery, and the shimmer particles are so fine that they won’t sink into or accentuate fine lines. I use it on the tops of the cheeks, in the corners of the eyes, on top of concealer, dotted into the center of the eyelids, and in the bow of the lips. Bonus: It’s a clean, non-toxic product!”
Creative director of Chicago’s acclaimed Maxine Salon Amy Abramite recommends Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil. “A must-have for any spring beauty kit, it moisturizes while detangling damp hair, and adds brilliant shine post blow dry with a light camellia flower scent.”
When beautifying faces, Daniel Martin, beauty specialist at Neiman Marcus Chicago, continually reaches for “Little Black Palette,” or Palette Essentielle, by Chanel. “Like the little black dress, every woman needs this in her bag. It has highlighter, eyeshadow, concealer, blush, and lip all in one. Love at first sight!”
Celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta uses La Mer The New Sheer Pressed Powder when tending to the faces of Blake Lively and Gigi Hadid. The sheer pressed powder acts as a setting agent for concealer and foundation, leaving a beautiful, matte finish. Set in a mirrored compact, it’s the perfect cosmetic to throw in your purse for on-the-go touch-ups.
GOOP Beauty Editor Jean Godfrey-Gune raves about May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon calming beauty balm. “This deeply luxurious, miracle-working pale-blue balm genuinely (and immediately) transforms irritated, sensitive, or delicate skin, and it feels incredible, no matter what your complexion. Intensely moisturizing, it melts into skin on contact and calms, nourishes, and softens with an anti-inflammatory concoction of blue tansy, botanicals, and oils.” Known as a do-it-all product, you can use it morning or night. A little goes a long way!
Gucci Westman is the go-to makeup artist for celebrities and models, but if you’ve ever wondered what she uses on her own flawless skin, you’ll find that she loves In Fiore products, which aren’t overly fragrant. “After I cleanse, I apply the In Fiore Crème de Fleur Complexe Rejuvené. It has a very light, lotion-y type finish and it awakens my skin and refines the texture,” she explains.
Adam Bogucki’s go-to is Living Proof Timeless Plumping Mousse. The owner of Lumination Salon says, “I love that it gives hair maximum body while still being soft to the touch. This mousse is great for fine or thinning hair. It’s one of my go-tos when styling hair and I always get great feedback from my clients when using it.”
When celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey is prepping starlets for the red carpet, she starts with lip balm all over the lips. Her top choice is Chantecaille Lip Potion, a nourishing rose balm that contains shea butter to hydrate and sweet almond and macadamia oils for softness. Dempsey recommends doing the rest of your makeup while the balm absorbs, leaving lipstick for last.
Having tended to the hair of countless celebrities, Vivian Arpino is always reaching for It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In Product. The owner of BloOuts finds that it’s a great detangler, which softens hair, leaving it beautiful and shiny when applied prior to blow drying.
For dramatic lashes, Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara is Neiman Marcus Chicago makeup artist Amy Hammock’s number-one pick. “There’s nothing like it,” she says. “One coat and you’ve got voluminous va-va-voom lashes.” Hammock’s other favorite lash booster is NeuLash Lash Enhancing Serum because it prevents the fallout of your eyelashes and helps grow your existing lashes. Unlike similar products, Hammock says that this one won’t cause a change in eye color.
Celebrity hairstylist Laurie Heaps relies on White Sands Liquid Texture. “I’ve been using this thermal spray for years on sets,” she says. “Hair has the hold you need for looks to stay yet the shine and softness is there.”
Regina Sneor, makeup artist and owner of D’Works, is loving the new Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow Palettes for super creamy, gorgeous colors that don’t move. “It’s the product on the top of my list. Plus, it’s less costly than many of its counterparts.”
“One thing I cannot live without is my BeautyBlender,” says Nordstrom makeup artist Jessica Rosen. “This unique-shaped applicator ensures impeccable, streak-free application with minimal product waste. Use it with foundations, powders, or any other complexion products. Secret tip: Wet this item for an even smoother blend as it expands to twice its size.”
14. OILùJ Life Oil
“Nourishing the skin is a must,” says celebrity makeup artist Josie Volpentesta. “I’m a huge fan of oils because they penetrate deeper and give instant results. I can’t live without OILùJ Life Oil. An all-in-one product, it’s hydrating, anti-aging, and filled with antioxidants.” Volpentesta also swaps foundation for bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer. “This lightweight tinted gel cream goes from sheer to medium coverage as you layer, evening out your skin for a flawless look.”
15. Dermaflash 2.0
Makeup artist and Northwest Beauty educator Renee Outten can’t get enough of Dermaflash 2.0. “Taking care of your skin is key. This device not only exfoliates the skin but also removes peach fuzz,” she explains. “Get ready for radiant skin and a beautiful glow!”
More Favorites You Have to Try
As a beauty writer, I am constantly trying new products. I couldn’t hold back from sharing with readers the ones I’m currently obsessing over!
- RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up will conceal a pimple or the bags under your eyes and stay set for the entire day. It’s super lightweight so it won’t cake on skin and I love that it’s organic.
- I keep an Olio E Osso Balm in French Melon in my purse, my diaper bag, and the car. It’s as hydrating as a balm but has the perfect dewy pink shade to add subtle color to your pout.
Jenny Muslin has been writing for Make It Better for eight years. She has also written for publications such as Chicago Parent, NS Modern Luxury, Red Tricycle, and Stroller Traffic. When she isn’t writing or researching the latest beauty innovations, she’s having a dance party with her husband and two kids. Jenny proudly supports Moms Demand Action and The Chicago Lighthouse.