In preparation for my golden birthday on Nov. 27, I’m being That Girl and expounding my questionable knowledge upon you. Twenty seven years is a long time to live and learn – at least it feels like a long time – and so, without further blabbing, here are 27 beauty products that have defined my twenties in one way or another.
1. A perfume you loved in high school or college, but don’t wear anymore. Maybe you keep it for sentimental reasons, but you’ve grown out of it. A sniff brings back a rush of memories, though, which is why you keep it. Donna Karan’s Be Delicious is a good example of this.
2. Hair dye. I learned at 21 NEVER to dye my hair from a box again – my ill-advised trip into brunette yielded BLACK hair that I had to wash with Dawn dish soap to fade. I learned my lesson, but I still play around with hair color often, sometimes to disastrous results.
3. A real grown-up perfume. It’s got to be something you once thought was too grown-up and unattainable for you, but now that you’re a little older, it’s not as much of a reach. This is the perfume you wear to weddings, job interviews and meeting your boyfriend’s parents.
4. A skincare regimen that works. Maybe that’s the Clinique 3-Step system you started in high school. Maybe it’s a super-intense 12-step program of fancy products. Maybe it’s just a splash of cold water in the morning. Stick with what works for you.
5. Brow powder. Or gel. Or a pencil. I was 18 when I figured out that I’d look SO MUCH better if I tinted and filled in my sparse, ashy brows. I haven’t stopped since.
6. Moisturizer! Use it daily on your face. Use it on your body. Slather it on and you’ll look younger longer. Promise.
7. Eye cream. I hate to break it to you, but your mid-to-late twenties are when you should start using eye cream to protect the delicate skin around your eyes and fight aging. I keep mine (Aveda Green Science) beside my bed so I don’t forget to lightly tap it on before bed.
8. Bubble bath. I spend a lot of time in my “office,” which of course is just my bathtub. I wouldn’t have made it this far into my twenties without long, luxurious soaks in the tub.
9. A relic of an ex. One ex wore Arrid deodorant, and I can still imagine the smell of it. Another wore fancy cologne. They’re olfactory memories that will stick with me always.
10. A real razor. After awhile you realize, “Oh, they’re charging women $4 more for the exact same razor dudes get on the cheap.” Just because it’s pink doesn’t mean it should cost more! The Dollar Shave Club changed my damn life. I mean, I lost the pretty pink razor, but now I don’t need to hoard the blades and ask for them as Christmas gifts, because for some reason spending $10 on four blades hurts my heart.
11. Haircare that works. Don’t ruin your hair with heat styling and bleach like I have done several times in my life. I can’t resist the allure of the platinum blonde, I guess. Bumble and bumble’s Hairdresser’s Oil shampoo and conditioner changed my life; it’s the most gentle, hydrating system I’ve ever used and my stressed-out hair eats it up.
12. Body glitter. Oh wait. We call it shimmer now that we’re adults, right? It’s still totally glitter.
13. An aromatherapy product that works for you. The scent of Aveda’s lavender and clary sage Stress-Fix chills me out right away, and that’s not easy to do. I’m addicted to it. Aromatherapy is real, but it works best with true essential oils and less with the crap they sell at Target. Lavender is great for calming, while peppermint can perk you up.
14. All the products for your version of the “Five Minute Face.” As illustrated beautifully by our own Ella.
15. Lotions and potions to play with in the company your girlfriends. Girls totally hang out with face masks on just like in the movies. Plus, I always say that beauty products are one of the easiest ways to bond with people.
16. A killer red lipstick. The one I’ll always cherish most is MAC’s legendary Ruby Woo, but I have dozens of reds. It’s the easiest path to confidence and sex appeal for me.
17. A red nail polish. Same thing. Instant glamour.
18. Zit cream. Because we still get zits. For some of us (ME), our skin is worse than it was when we were in high school!
19. A dermatologist. See above. I loooove my new dermatologist, and I want to be friends with her forever. I realize she’s not a product – she’s even better. She’s a resource.
20. Party makeup. I’m talking super-sooty glamorous smoky eyes from Smashbox and glossy lips via my favorite Bobbi Brown sparkly lip gloss. It’s so fun to load up your face with makeup and go out on the town. Getting ready is the best part.
21. A “going out” perfume. So you’re all sexed up with smoky eyes and shimmery lips? You need a perfume for that. Maybe it’s sexy and spicy. Maybe it’s vanilla-based and candy-sweet. Whatever it is, it’s what you wear for big, glam-girl nights out. My favorite one right now is Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid. I can’t afford the full bottle yet, so I’m getting mad samples from my friend Becky in Nordstrom Fragrance.
22. A sample of La Mer that you hoard because you read J Lo and Rihanna use it as body lotion. Just me? OK.
23/ A perfume that smells like Your Essence. I have dozens of perfumes – beauty writer problems – but Frederic Malle’s luxe white floral Carnal Flower smells like ME. I have a tiny travel-size spray (it’s expensive) that I’m going to treasure like Gollum and the Ring forever.
24. Good quality brushes will change your makeup game forever. Promise!
25. Bright pink blush. It’s gonna help you look pulled-together and alive when you’re hungover and have to present at a meeting at work. Not that I know anything about this from personal experience … Pink blush gives you a sweet, healthy flush, like you’ve been walking in the cold or making out with your boyfriend.
26. Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant. This one might be personal, but this deodorant was a game changer for me. I’ve gone on to convert at least ten others to its magic powers. It’s one of those products that’s so good I can’t help but praise it at every opportunity. What’s yours?
27. Confidence. I wouldn’t be anywhere without confidence. And if the key to my confidence is a red lip, well, that’s even better.