Parting with your money can be difficult, but that Conair Yellowbird isn’t going to last you forever—and honestly, investing in purchases over time rather than splurging all at once is a much less painful way to go about it. We’re not saying you should go out and go buy all of these things right now, but in a perfect world, every woman would have invested in these 20 things by the time they turn 35. They’ll serve you well for your entire life, including the next 35 years. In the mean time, don’t worry, you’re in good company: Gisele turns 35 next year.
1. A Mason Pearson brush.
No, you’ll probably never see a more expensive hairbrush in your life; yes, it is absolutely worth every penny. The Mason Pearson ($105-230, nordstrom.com) is fundamentally perfect: It’s great for styling, glides easily through all hair types, and actually stimulates the scalp and encourages hair growth by increasing blood flow. It’s made of the highest quality materials, and they really last forever. This is one pricy purchase we can guarantee you won’t regret.
2. A good blow dryer.
It may have served you just fine in college, but if you’ve only ever used a budget blow dryer from the drugstore, you’re missing out on better hair days, every day. The newest generation of heat-styling tools minimize damage, save time in the morning, and make hair smoother and shinier than ever before. You can’t go wrong with a CHI or T3 dryer, but if you’re ready to make a serious commitment, we highly recommend the Harry Josh Pro Dryer 2000 ($300, hairenvy.com). It reduces drying time by almost unbelievable amounts and works to create both super-sleek styles and pumped-up big hair.
3. The perfect foundation (or two).
As a canvas is to art, the right foundation is the very core of every good makeup look. The “perfect” foundation, of course, is subjective, and because very few people have skin that’s consistent in its texture and needs, the same foundation may not always work for us all the time. An entire foundation wardrobe isn’t exactly necessary, but think of your skin’s usual phases—is it dry in winter and oily in summer, or do you tend to tan in the summer and require a darker shade? Hit up Sephora or the department store and try them all on. Find one or two that you really love, and think of them as a necessity.
4. A classic lipstick.
When making a lipstick investment, there’s a good chance you’ll want it to be on something you’ll wear all the time to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak. If you wear red lipstick every day, make it a red; if you prefer neutrals, hunt down your perfect “my lips but better” shade. As far as classic, luxurious lipstick brands go that have great colors, great formulas, and great packaging, we love Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Clé de Peau Beauté, Shiseido, and Tom Ford.
5. A serious anti-aging night cream.
It’s never too early to get on the anti-aging offensive—the best way to combat signs of aging is, after all, prevention. Anti-aging ingredients are most effective at night, when your skin is at its most receptive, so load up on SPF during the day and bring out the big guns while you sleep. Which cream you should choose depends largely on your concerns, but there are plenty of great treatments on the market that address multiple signs of aging, like Caudalie Premier Cru The Cream ($158, caudalie.com).
6. A prescription retinoid.
Topical retinoids like tretinoin are amazingly effective at solving a number of skin care issues. If you suffer from adult acne, retinoids help to clear and reduce breakouts while minimizing scars. If you’re concerned about wrinkles and signs of aging, retinoids stimulate blood vessels and increase production of collagen to fade age spots, “plump” the skin, and give an overall glow. Retinoids aren’t a cure-all, and they can cause sun sensitivity, redness and irritation, but used correctly, they’re one of the best ways to address a host of skin woes.
7. The most flattering hairstyle.
Stop heading to the salon with a manila folder of celebrity hairstyles in hand and instead ask your stylist for the best look for you. Let them know which features you want to enhance and which you want to draw the eye away from. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do, of course, but have a conversation about what will really look best on you. A truly flattering hairstyle can change everything, and it doesn’t always involve the eyebrow-grazing bangs your favorite celebrity is currently sporting.
8. …and the products and time to recreate it.
We often wax melancholic about how our hair never looks as good as it does right after we leave the salon, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Pay close attention as your hairdresser styles your hair, and ask them how you can recreate every step of the process at home. If your medicine cabinet isn’t already fully stocked with an arsenal of products, buy the volumizing gel and smoothing lotion your stylist uses to make your hair look that good.
9. A signature fragrance.
Even the scent-sensitive and those who don’t like to leave a wafting cloud after they exit a room can find a signature fragrance that’s perfect for them. What makes it your signature is that it’s yours, and that you commit to it. Really give thought about what you want to smell like—it sounds silly, but that’s the only way to go about making a fragrance your own, whether it’s a $300 eau de parfum or a one-note essential oil from the health food store.
10. A luxurious body cream or oil.
As we age, the skin on our body grows increasingly dry, so it’s up to us to keep it well-moisturized. Not only that, but there’s something to be said for the ritual of smoothing on a super-luxurious oil or cream, fragranced or otherwise. Body oil sounds like a pretty slippery idea, but our favorites, like L’Occitane Almond Supple Skin Oil ($42, loccitane.com), quickly absorb to a dry finish for incredibly soft skin that’s far from slick. For a rich, hydrating body lotion that’s creamy but goes on super-light, we love Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter ($35, josiemarancosmetics.com).
11. A mask for your every skin care concern.
Masks and peels are superheroes when it comes to overhauling the skin, but as with most things, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Arm yourself with a mask for your every skin care need—one for deep-cleansing, one for hydrating, and one for soothing, at the least. Make a weekly mask part of your skin care routine, if it isn’t already, and try using multiple masks at once. That’s right: You can totally apply a moisturizing mask to dry cheeks and a purifying mask to an oily T-zone for a truly customized experience.
12. Hair color that doesn’t come out of a box.
There’s something to be said for the convenience of coloring your hair at home for under $20, but when it comes to a dimensional, natural, nuanced-looking dye job, an expert is the only way to go. Treat yourself to professional hair color, because just as you wouldn’t take a haircut into your own hands, a boxed dye will never give you the same “wow” factor as someone who really knows what they’re doing.
13. A mascara that works magic on your lashes.
So you’ve finally decided what exactly it is you want and need out of a mascara—lengthening? Separation? Volume? Whatever your eyelash dream may be, chase it. As we well know from our experience with mascaras of all kinds, there are some incredible drugstore formulas out there, so finding the right one for you is an indulgence that might actually end up being a cheap thrill. Just keep in mind that the perfect mascara should open up your eyes and take your look to the next level. You’ll know it when you see it.
14. A super-effective eye cream.
Using your regular SPF and moisturizer around your eyes is helpful for maintaining hydration and avoiding sun damage, but it can’t address problems that occur only in that delicate area, like crow’s feet, swelling and dark circles. Before bed, after you’ve applied your night cream, use your ring finger (it has the weakest pressure to avoid tugging or dragging the skin) to dot a tiny amount of eye cream beneath your eye in a dabbing rather than rubbing motion. We love eye creams that contain potent ingredients like vitamin C and caffeine, which are great for brightening and reducing inflammation.
15. A Beauty Blender.
If you own one makeup tool (and hey, brushes aren’t for everyone), make it a Beauty Blender ($19.95, sephora.com). There’s a reason it gets rave reviews from everyone from celebrity makeup artists to the celebrities themselves: When run under water, the egg-shaped sponge absorbs moisture that allows makeup to sit on the surface rather than getting eaten as it would by a regular sponge. Foundation, concealer, primer, powder, cream blushes, what have you—they all go on smoothly and blend perfectly for a seamless finish.
16. A makeup brush cleanser.
You don’t have to ditch those dirty brushes, but for the love of god, give them a good cleansing. Not only does the bacteria clog pores and cause acne, but makeup never goes on as well with a dirty brush as it does with a freshly cleansed one. This is a two-step process: First you have the purchase the brush cleanser, then you have to use it. Make a point of cleaning your brushes at least once a month. It’s the right thing to do.
17. A Clarisonic.
Do it for your skin. No matter what type of complexion you have, from the most delicate to the acne-prone, the sonically oscillating bristles of the Clarisonic ($199 for the Aria model, clarisonic.com) will completely renovate your skin over time. You’ll notice a difference in the overall texture and clean feeling after your first use, and it only gets better from there. Used alone or with your favorite cleanser, it’s a lifesaver for easily clogged pores and dry, flaky skin types.
18. A gorgeous compact mirror.
Well, it’s a necessity for when your iPhone camera just won’t do. Applying lipstick on the subway, checking your teeth before a date, cleaning up your mascara after a cryfest—a compact mirror will make it that much easier, and if you’ve got to carry something around, why not pick a pretty one?
19. The occasional impulse purchase.
As much as all of the above are total beauty stalwarts, leave some room for the slightly more… festive (we refuse to call them impractical) purchases in your budget. If there’s a trend you really love, or a hot pink blush you’d feel remiss to leave the store without, then by all means, go for it. Who knows—that purple lipstick or sparkly eyeliner could end up being a key element in your signature look. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
20. Your own health.
It sounds totally cheesy and New Age-y, but there’s nothing better you can do for yourself than, well, what’s good for you. Invest in a session with a personal trainer, or at the very least, a regular fitness regimen that you actually enjoy. Eat healthy. Take vitamins. Do yoga. Meditate. Go to therapy! None of these things sound like beauty tips, we know—but trust us. Your good health and happiness will show… yes, even through your full-coverage foundation.
Read more: 20 Makeup Tips Every Girl Should Know