1. FOR MY FACE: Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream ($45)
The first time I stayed overnight with people I didn’t know was in a dorm for my college freshmen orientation. My mother hadn’t sent me to sleep-away camp while I was growing up in Detroit, so I wasn’t properly prepped for extreme personalities that you can’t walk away from come dinnertime. I washed off my foundation before bed, revealing the red, blotchy skin I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with since puberty hit. The next morning, after my makeup routine, the porcelain-skinned roommate (with the personality) asked how I applied makeup so well, referencing her “friend” who had “horrible skin” and “after her makeup was on” you “couldn’t even tell.” (Subtle, sister.) This is the only face cream I’ve used that has substantially reduced my redness.
2. FOR MY EYES: Too Faced Natural Eye Neutral Eye Shadow Collection ($36)
This is the best eye shadow EVER. It’s great for everyone, from makeup veterans to even the most beginner-est of beginners. You could sort of just throw the palette at your face a few times and still somehow look amazing. I love this stuff so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up on the show My Strange Addiction whispering sweet nothings to each perfect shade — us against the world. The shades are super-rich neutrals and they stay on all day. Another reason I’m hooked: They are cruelty free (no crushed beetles in this glitter!) and don’t crease in my aging, greasy eyelids. Too Faced has a bunch of these palettes with different colors for different looks — I recommend them all.
3. FOR MY LIPS: Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter ($8.29)
It might be inappropriate to ask strangers what’s on their mouth, but I can’t help it. I do it all the time and life has only improved. Once, my boyfriend and I ran into one of his friends, who I hadn’t met. They talked, but I couldn’t tell you what about, for I was zoned in on her glossy pink lips, watching the light reflect off them as she spoke. Not a crack, I thought, but how? Eventually I snapped out of it when I realized she was holding out her hand, introducing herself. I took it in mine and said something along the lines of, “Hi, what’s that lipstick? Oh, I’m Emma.” It was this hydrating, buttery, pigmented Revlon product which I stocked up on shortly after that meeting. My current faves are Sugar Plum and Candy Apple.
4. FOR MY BODY: LUSH Cosmetics Dream Cream ($26.95)
“Life in the Midwest” is essentially synonymous with “dry skin problems,” both of which I’ve experienced intimately. There’s nothing quite like an eczema flare-up near your nether regions to make you decide that it’s time to take charge of your life. I’ve circled through doctors and freaky steroid creams to no avail, only to randomly stumble upon the beauty of Dream Cream. The bottle states: “We have files of customer letters telling us of their lifetime of skin troubles they have suffered from until they met Dream Cream.” I gave it a try, and it has truly lived up to this expectation. I will use it forevermore.
5. FOR MY HAIR: Acure Leave-in Conditioner Argan Oil + Stem Cell ($9.99)
My brother has the kind of dark, thick, wavy hair that dreams are made of, and therefore when I visit him, I enjoy raiding his hair products. On my most recent trip to see him, I discovered a cute little white-and-green bottle on his bathroom counter. “Leave-in conditioner, why not?” I thought, before spraying half the bottle on my head. O-M-G. This product smells like the farts of baby angels, which I can only assume smell great. My thin, color-treated hair didn’t know what quenched thirst was until this product hit its strands. It offers great shine, does not weigh hair down, and makes unruly post-shower hair manageable.
There’s the shortlist — I’d scare you with the long one. So, what about you? What are the products you can’t live without?