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15 beauty products I always recommend to friends

Lauren Caruso
·6-min read
Beauty Products
Beauty Products

Our team is dedicated to finding and telling you more about the products and deals we love. If you love them too and decide to purchase through the links below, we may receive a commission. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Lauren Caruso is an In The Know shopping contributor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more.

After spending more than a decade in the fashion and beauty industry, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good product. In fact, I’ve probably tried more than 10,000 beauty products — half of those during my time at Allure magazine. I can tell almost instantly when something is worth the price, and my friends and family have come to depend on me for recommendations; that means I have an almost categorical knowledge of the best skin care, hair and makeup products on the market.

Still, as someone in her mid-thirties (gah) with naturally flat, lifeless hair and an affinity for dewy skin, I’ve come to rely on the same dozen or so beauty products that I always keep stocked. For skin care, I’m always on the hunt for products that won’t irritate my sensitive, breakout-prone skin but will instead keep it bright and glowing. I’m also fairly simple when it comes to makeup: The products that stay in my rotation lend a dewy (but never shiny) finish to my skin and can all be used without the help of a makeup brush. Since the pandemic started, I’ve completely abandoned my heat tools in favor of air-drying, and I’ve adjusted my routine to include a ton of smoothing and shine serums that bring out my natural wave.

Ahead, the 15 beauty products I always recommend to friends, as well as why I love them so much.

Hair

Shop: Oribe Shampoo for Magnificent Volume, $46

Credit: Dermstore
Credit: Dermstore

Some volumizing shampoos tend to strip the hair of all moisture, but this one from Oribe — which smells amazing, too — gives my hair weightless volume with a soft finish.

Shop: OSiS Dust It Powder, $9.99

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

This is absolutely my desert-island product; it’s completely transformed my flat, lifeless hair. The first thing I do after I towel-dry is give my crown a few puffs of OSiS’s Dust It volumizing powder, which also gives my roots a bit of grip. When my hair starts feeling flat, I just flip my head over and run my fingers through my crown to give it new life.

Shop: IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Anti-Frizz Smoothing Balm, $33

Credit: Sephora
Credit: Sephora

I’ve mostly abandoned all my heat tools, but I still find myself reaching for this smoothing balm every day. My hair can get a touch frizzy on the ends, especially when I’m overdue for a haircut, but IGK’s spirulina protein-infused balm works wonders at calming flyaways and concealing dead ends.

Shop: NatureLab Tokyo Shine Oil Mist, $16

Credit: Ulta
Credit: Ulta

Most oils are made for thick hair that can soak it up, but this mist works wonders for thinner hair, too. I spray it onto my hands and work it through my ends instead of spraying directly onto my hair — it lends a ton of shine with none of the grease. When I’m in a rush, I combine it with the IGK balm and apply it all at once.

Shop: Ouai Wave Spray, $22

Credit: Sephora
Credit: Sephora

After years of using salt sprays that gave my hair an unmistakable crunch, I switched to Ouai’s Wave Spray back in 2018, and I’ve never looked back. As my last step, I spritz this on my wet hair, give it a few tousles and let it do its magic.

Skin

Shop: Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $29.50

Credit: Paula’s Choice
Credit: Paula’s Choice

This exfoliating liquid from Paula’s Choice is a cult-favorite for a reason: It minimizes pores, clears out blackheads and lends a radiance to your skin that seems almost impossible in the dead of winter.

Shop: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, $15

Credit: Dermologica
Credit: Dermologica

Some physical exfoliants can be really rough on your skin (especially the ones that have apricot shell matter), but this one from Dermalogica is rice-based — and totally gentle on even the most sensitive complexions. It polishes away dead skin cells for a brighter face in no time.

Shop: Simple Micellar Water, $6.29

Credit: Target
Credit: Target

I’ve tried dozens of micellar waters, including the *really* expensive ones, but I keep coming back to this one. It gets all my makeup off in one fell swoop and doesn’t leave a weird greasy cast on my skin.

Shop: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench SPF 45 Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer, $52

Credit: Dermstore
Credit: Dermstore

This aptly named moisturizer, which boasts the right amount of SPF for everyday wear, truly sinks right in. It gives my skin a dewy, non-greasy finish.

Shop: Caudalie Beauty Elixir, $49

Credit: Caudalie
Credit: Caudalie

Lest you believe a grape water mist is a waste of money, know that Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir helps reduce the appearance of pores, helps your skin care sink in better and is overall one of my favorite mid-day refreshers. It smells like heaven, too.

Makeup

Shop: Yves Saint Laurent Touché Éclat All-Over Brightening Concealer Pen, $38

Credit: Sephora
Credit: Sephora

There’s a reason everyone who tries YSL’s Touche Eclat ends up swearing by it. Not only does it brighten truly dark circles, but it also gives your eyes a lit-from-within glow without creasing or caking. One pen usually lasts me three months.

Shop: Maybelline Brow Ultra Slim Defining Eyebrow Pencil, $7.99

Credit: Ulta
Credit: Ulta

This dual-ended brow pencil is great for faking hairs, as well as filling in less dense areas. I use the Dark Brown.

Shop: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, $30

Credit: Sephora
Credit: Sephora

There’s no better formula for breakouts, blemishes or dark spots than NARS’ Creamy Concealer. It doesn’t slip or cake, and with 60 shades available, it’s easy to get a true match. (Mine’s Nougatine.)

Shop: Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint, $46

Credit: Dermstore
Credit: Dermstore

I’m not big on the way foundation often mattifies my complexion, but this liquid skin tint from Ilia — which boasts niacinamide, squalane and hyaluronic acid — offers the perfect amount of coverage with a dewy finish.

Shop: Glossier Cherry Balm Dot Com, $12

Credit: Glossier
Credit: Glossier

I know this isn’t technically blush, but I swipe it on my lips and the apples of my cheeks for a very convincing flush.

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