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Beauty editors try hundreds of new products each year, yet there’s an elite group that stays on the radar year after year. Since we don’t all have the ability to “call in” a product when we want it—or a bottomless budget to stock up on these must-haves—here’s a list of perennial beauty-editor picks and their most suitable budget-friendly stand-ins.
The product: Cushion compact
Splurge: Amorepacific Color Control Cushion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ ($60)
This compact is literally responsible for the cushion craze because Amorepacific owns the patent for the unique delivery system. Packaging aside, this formulation is second to none thanks to light-to-medium buildable coverage that disguises imperfections without making you look made up, a high level of sun protection, brightening ingredients, antioxidant green tea and a radiant, dewy finish. Plus, you get a refill (which fortunately diminishes some of the “splurge” factor).
Save: Laneige BB Cushion ($34)
We’ll let you in on a little secret… Laneige is owned by AmorePacific so it’s very difficult to discern between these two products (until you go to pay). The packaging and puff are nearly identical but the end result is slightly different. Laneige offers more of a matte finish (along with the brightening, antioxidant and sun protection benefits)—and you get a refill with this one, too.
The product: Rosewater mist ($66 for 3.4 oz.)
Splurge: Chantecaille Pure Rosewater
Rosewater is chock-full of skin benefits ranging from hydration and soothing to anti-aging and antioxidant vitamin C. Used as a toner or refresher anytime or anywhere, the floral scent is divine and it’s also 99% natural and vegan-friendly.
Save: Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater ($7 for 4 oz.)
Rosewater may not get top billing in this spritz, but you get the gist (plus soothing aloe and mineral-rich seaweed) for a fraction of the price. Ideal for a hydrating boost anytime, to set makeup and even to refresh your hair, this mist is a must.
The product: Color-adapting lip balm
Splurge: Dior Addict Lip Glow ($33)
This balm is a beauty-editor go-to because it can be worn on its own or used as a primer before applying an of-the-moment matte lip. Designed to accentuate the lips’ natural color (and available in pink and coral versions to suit different skin tones), we can virtually promise love at first swipe.
Save: M.A.C. Tendertalk Lip Balm ($20)
Billed as a “smart” lip conditioner, this tinted balm adjusts to your personal pH and delivers a hint of color that actually morphs over time. Though available in five shades, the pale pink is an almost indiscernible Dior dupe, and it’s a sure-fire way to keep lips happy and hydrated.
The product: Brow pencil
Splurge: Tom Ford Beauty Brow Sculptor ($45)
How Tom Ford made the segue from sought-after fashion designer to makeup guru is beyond us, and his eyebrow pencil is worth every penny. The creamy, tapered pencil creates the illusion of individual hairs to boost brow shape and fullness with no one being the wiser. The “Blonde” is especially good for golden-haired gals who don’t have the brows that match naturally, n’est pas?
Save: YBF Beauty Automatic Eyebrow pencil ($12)
Nothing screams “brow pencil” like mismatched color, but this one takes the guesswork out of selecting the right shade. It may sound too good to be true (but trust us, it’s not), this pencil fills in brows of any color, including grey, red and all hues in between. With an ultra-fine powdery pencil on one end and spoolie brush for blending on the other, it delivers wow-worthy brows without breaking your budget.
The product: Perfecting body lotion
Splurge: Prtty Peaushea Skin Tight Body Lotion ($29-$39)
Gwyneth Paltrow swears by Prtty Peaushun for flawless skin from the neck down and we’re singing its praises as well. Available in 5 shades (including color-less “Plain”) this tinted body moisturizer contains skin-nourishing emollients, organic botanicals and light-reflecting particles that blur imperfections and lend a gorgeous glow. Don’t don a skirt or shorts without it.
Save: Jergens BB Body Perfecting Skin Cream ($11)
This skin savior serves up hydration, illumination, skin-tone evening, firming and imperfection-blurring in one tube—and in two different hues geared toward light and medium-deep skin tones. The fast-absorbing lotion’s subtle color won’t rub off on clothing or furniture, making it a must for any ensemble that involves bare skin, day or night.
Note: Amorepacific, Laneige and YBF products were provided for review. Opinions are my own.