There are women among us whose vanities (or bathroom cabinets/drawers/makeup bags) are brimming with every tonic, powder, potion and elixir on the market. But what about those of us who’d like every bit of benefit from the most well-stocked supply, sans all that clutter? That’s why we put together this list of essentials that all of us should own: Not the bare bones basics, but not the extended edition either. These are the products that will protect, preserve, and enhance your look, and well, your life—without any extra fuss at all. And it goes without saying, Marie Kondo would approve. Read on to find (and shop!) everything you need for a perfectly curated beauty routine.
1. Daily SPF with antioxidants
2. Night cream with retinol
Ask any dermatologist for their number one anti-aging tip and before you even finish your question, they’ll be pressing a sunscreen into your hand. If your skin is sensitive, opt for one with physical blockers like zinc oxide versus chemical screens like octocrylene; antioxidants like vitamin C or botanical extracts will enhance the effectiveness of either formulation.
Shop our picks for SPF on Spring!
Retinols, a derivative of vitamin A, are one of the only ingredients proven—like, really proven, in major, longitudinal studies—to enhance cell turnover and boost collagen production. If your skin is sensitive, start with twice weekly application before ramping up to nightly doses.
Shop our picks for night cream on Spring
3. A gentle day cream
A little known secret is that even if you have acne-prone skin, a non-oily moisturizer can help restore balance in your complexion and prevent future breakouts. Hydrators like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and squalane are all gentle and efficacious; allow to absorb for a few minutes before putting any makeup on.
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4. An everyday lipstick (and a night-out one, too!)
Unless you were raised by Estee Lauder herself, probably no one has ever waxed poetic to you about the life-changing influence of an excellent, if understated lipstick. Look for one that’s a shade darker than your natural lip color—and get ready for the universe to open up before you. A bright, bold, or deep shade—choose one you’re drawn to from your guts—is key for special occasions.
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5. An eyelash curler
If you’re using them right, mascaras shouldn’t be overly precious (nor should they last too long). Drugstore ones work wonders, as do the finest flutter-enhancers money can buy. But a springy lash curler? Now that’s something you can treasure for a lifetime. Gently hold against the base of your lashes and count to ten v-e-r-y slowly before applying your mascara du jour.
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6. A concealer that works for you
Foundation isn’t so different from denim—it’s not one size, or one season, fits all. So change your foundation (opacity, finish, shade) as your skin dictates. A concealer, on the other hand, can be your ride or die—through long nights, pesky breakouts, and days when your skin just needs the tiniest zshush.
Shop our picks for concealers on Spring
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