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Sometimes, I have to block out the beauty noise and keep it all the way real for people like me who had no choice but to master the art of bargaining as a kid. Thanks to my unabashed love for New York, despite its ridiculously priced, well, everything, my skills are forced to remain intact. For the most part, I guard my wallet against designer threads and artisanal cleaning products—whaddup Dollar Tree?!—but getting older meant realizing that everything I want and need can’t be found at the drugstore. So when I co-sign what I believe are the best expensive beauty products, it’s because they check off three very important boxes.
One, they actually work. This is a given, but especially important if you’re a skeptic like me who wants to make sure everything in their routine is a worthy investment until the very last spritz, drop or dollop. I spent a lot of time testing things, especially skincare, and if I’m still using something 2-3 months later, it’s a winner.
Two, it has to last. You know what sucks? Spending $200 on a bottle of anything and watching it seemingly disappear in a few short weeks. If there’s a $50+ face oil or eyeshadow in my bathroom, it’s because I know it will carry me through at least two seasons.
Finally, any beauty product, including the pricey ones, should simply feel good. Taking care of yourself is important and finding things that don’t irritate your skin is a must, but all of it doesn’t have to be so serious! Everyone deserves a splurge and if it’s a pretty $300 neck cream that you use all over your body, so be it. (Oh, just me? Cool.) Anyways, here are 11 expensive beauty products I’ve used over and over again, even if it meant trading an expensive lunch for a lot of bodega ramen every once in a while.
I exfoliate like it’s my second job and have been investing in more than one cleanser for years: one for gentle, everyday cleansing and a clarifying one for keeping my skin smooth. Besides the entire Darker Skin Tone range that I highly recommend for fellow PoC, this powder cleanser handles excess oil and keeps my complexion bright.
Face oil is the one product I hoard like there’s no tomorrow. I am always trying a new one, but this one right here. I need a moment. It is just *chef’s kiss. The perfect, everyday multipurpose product to use before putting on makeup in the morning and before bed to lock in your moisturizer. Biossance was the first brand in recent memory to preach the miraculous powers of squalane.
This my go-to every winter and spring because it literally feels like a warm blanket for your face without feeling thick and gross under makeup. It has all the ingredients you’d want in a moisturizer, especially for night: hyaluronic acid, multiple oils and a peptide complex for keeping you firm and supple.
I barely have any hair, so I don’t spend a ton on my weekly regimen. However, being that I am obsessed with reversing the scalp damage brought on by protective styles, I’m becoming an expert on scalp scrubs. This underrated option has become an every-other-day ritual within my nighttime routine.
I don’t know what it is with me and powder face products, but here we are. I discovered Dermalogica’s Microfoliant years ago and the teeny enzymes deliver a barely-there scrub that leaves me feeling brand new and looking so glowy every time I use.
Everyone’s got their favorite type of oil and for me, it’s a tie between grapeseed and camellia. The latter is super lightweight and a totally dependable emollient for locking in a moisturizer. Plus, I just love how pretty the bottle is. Now it’s home decor too.
I rarely wear lipstick because it’s just not my thing, but I still like to keep a few on deck for those random occasions when I’m like, “Okay, let’s try something new!” There’s a lot of great options, but I just feel like a boss when I wear Gucci lipstick. The formulas are so comfortable, they last more than a couple hours and the tubes are so beautiful. I love flaunting them when I’m out.
Yes, I too have totally jumped on the La Mer bandwagon. While I’ve never been a stan for the brand’s cult-favorite Crème de la Mer Moisturizer, this neck cream—much to my surprise, trust me—is one of the most-used products behind my bathroom mirror. It smells like vacation and the texture is so dreamy, I use it pretty much all over my body. Pro-tip: if you use once or twice a week and don’t go overboard, it will last you at least 6 months.
After going makeup-free for over a year just because, Pat McGrath Labs is the brand that ignited my desire to have fun with makeup again. To be honest, I love everything she comes out with, but the eyeshadow palettes are especially gratifying. The colors are just so rich and even if you’re using your fingers to apply, the shadows glide on smooth and even.
I’m grateful to have skin that isn’t acne-prone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get pimples like most humans. For the most part, I do nothing and let a blemish run its course, but on the off chance that I do opt for an acne-specific product, I love Sunday Riley’s entire U.F.O. range. This medicated face oil doesn’t come with tingles or any other weird sensation. What it does do is help speed up the shrinking process so you wake up with a blemish the size of a freckle instead of a pencil eraser.
Vitamin C has always been my skin’s frenemy. Few formulas have ever worked for me. Plus, if I’m going to continue keeping it real, a lot of them smell weird too. Vitabrid’s serum is light as water, absorbs quickly and contains stabilized vitamin C to keep your complexion from getting sad-looking and dull.
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