One of the perks of being a beauty editor is that you get to try the best new beauty products out there--for free. As the years in the business add up, so too do the products. Depending on how long she's been at it, any given beauty editor has tried probably thousands of beauty items--from face cleansers to vibrating mascara wands.
That said, most beauty editors don't abuse their privileges and call in products for their personal use. When they really love a product and want to use it again, they have to go out and buy it just like everyone else. So when an editor chooses to drop some cash on a favorite beauty product--instead of using one of the 30 similar iterations sitting in her office--you can be pretty darn sure it's worth it. With that in mind, we reached out to a group of beauty editor friends to get their must-have picks and the reasons they love them.
Click through to find out which products are really worth it.
Emily Dougherty, ELLE:
Creme de La Mer, $150 and up: Under general anesthesia, many people share deep, dark Don-Draper-esque secrets, from extramarital affairs to financial fraud. According to my back surgeon, I treated the operating room to a "dissertation" on how La Mer is made, covering the gamut from where they harvest the seaweed to how they ferment the miracle broth. Every level of my consciousness is obsessed with La Mer. Manuka Honey Sachets, $32.30/box: Apple-cider vinegar as toner, coconut oil as cleanser, Metamucil facials: I love testing the crazy home remedies that I read about on message boards. To graduate into my daily rotation, a DIY cure has to not just work, but work better than anything else out there. Manuka honey (a clinically-proven antibacterial powerhouse) met the challenge. Similar in efficacy to prescription cortisone without the skin-thinning, perioral-dermatitis-aggravating side-effects, a layer of Manuka honey minimizes my deep underground blemishes overnight. It's too sticky to wear to sleep, so I do an all-over mask once a week for 15 minutes or leave on as a spot treatment for as long as possible before bed. Wedderspoon makes little individual sachets, perfect for travel. Dior Lip Glow, $30: I can't leave home without Dior Lip Glow. It provides the perfect combination of moisture and a hint of color. I've Google-mapped Sephoras in cities around the world so that I can pick up a new tube whenever I'm running low. (If I don't have two on me at any given time, I start feeling anxious.) Herban Essential Towelettes, $16/20 towelettes: If I could wipe down the world with an Herban Essential towelette (my favorite is Lavender, second favorite is Orange), we'd all be happier and healthier. I could go through 20 a day, but I try to ration myself to just two or three.
Christina Han, The Cut:
Amanda Lacey’s Cleansing Pomade, $100: It’s a balm but the wax has a soft, granular texture which delivers a gentle exfoliating effect on the skin. The stuff smells divine and it doesn’t dry out the skin. It’s expensive but Amanda’s products are packaged in beautiful ceramic jars and made in very small batches (to ensure quality)--they can be tricky to come by. Chanel Inimitable Mascara, $30: It’s the only mascara that gives my lashes a clean, natural but slightly amplified look. The wand also refuses to allow any clumping. And for some magical reason, it’s one of the only mascaras that doesn’t irritate my eyes. Joanna Vargas Daily Serum, $85: I’m completely dedicated to this product. It’s the only thing that I swear keeps my skin texture smooth, even and generally glowy. I would drink the stuff if I could.
Britt Aboutaleb, WhoWhatWear:
Somme Institute: $85 travel kit/5 products: It's completely changed my skin. I used to have cystic acne and now my skin is flawless. At first I was like, 'Five steps twice a day is insane. Who has time for that?' But now I'd do 10 steps if that's what it took. It's like magic, seriously. I haven't touched my foundation or concealer in months.
Kevyn Aucoin The Mascara Volume, $25: Love this for everyday. It plumps everything up, separates the lashes, doesn't smudge or flake, and comes off with a splash of warm water. What more could you want in a mascara? (PS. For night, you can't beat Chanel Le Volume. Every single time I wear it someone asks if I'm wearing extensions.)
RMS Living Luminizer, $38: Ask anyone in fashion to name their top 5 products and this will pop up on 90% of the lists. Illuminator is key to looking dewy, but no one (over the age of 13) actually wants to sparkle. This chapstick-like formula is the absolute best.
Kevin Murphy Resort Spray, $20.99: I'm not a huge fan of salt sprays because I don't like my hair to crunch. But I am a huge fan of beachy waves. Murphy's lightweight spray gives my hair that roughed up texture, but it doesn't feel like there's anything in it!
Ying Chu, Glamour:
Frederic Malle En Passant perfume, $155 and up: It doesn't change my look, but it always lifts my spirit.
Rachel Adler, Beauty High:
Clinique Even Better Foundation, $27: I religiously restock my supply of Clinique's Even Better foundation, which is actually the first foundation I ever bought, and still use to this day. I find that it gives me easy, flawless coverage without clogging my pores, and feels so lightweight--I hate a foundation that I can feel on my skin.
Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector for Face, $30: I'm a big believer in protecting my fair skin and love that this doesn't leave an oily residue and absorbs into your skin almost immediately.
Celia Ellenberg, Style.com:
Rare El'ements, $34 and up: When I had long hair, my beauty indulgence was Rare El'ements. The Beverly Hills-based brand uses a super luxe blend of organic, emollient oils that leave your hair incredibly smooth and silky without weighing it down. Its distribution is pretty small and it's... not cheap. I'd definitely have to ration it out for special occasions to make sure the full-price bottles I'd buy a few times a year lasted as long as possible!
Thomas Heinz Salon, $250 for haircut: Now that my hair is short, my non-gratis indulgence is haircuts. I see Thomas Heinz in the financial district every six weeks, which is also... not cheap. But a really good haircut is worth investing in.
Megan McIntyre, Refinery29:
Schick Quattro For Women, $8.99: I'm a total klutz in the shower, mostly because I shave my legs like I'm in the Indy 500 or something. I whip a razor over my legs with absolute abandon, which (predictably) results in some pretty horrific cuts. I have tried pretty much every razor on the market, and this is the only one I've found that can stand up to my speed-demon shaving without resulting in gory battle scars. And, since razors aren't something that are sent to beauty editors on the reg (unless they are new), you'll find me at the drugstore on a bi-monthly basis, buying them out of every Quattro on their shelves.
Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish, $20: At last count, I had over 100 bottles of nail polish. I can't help myself--when I see an amazing new color, I have to scoop it up for myself. While there are tons of brands I love (Butter London, Illamasqua, Priti NYC, NARS, and Le Métier De Beauté are just a few repeat offenders), the one line that takes up the majority share of my stash is Rescue Beauty Lounge. Owner Ji Baek has a knack for dreaming up these amazing colors that you really just cannot find anywhere else. Right now I'm rocking last summer's Aqua Lily (a gorgeous tropical turquoise with a violet shimmer), but I'm about to switch that up for Poppy, the most perfect summer red ever. While Ji is kind enough to send me samples of her new collections (just wait until you see her brand-new Blogger 2.0 line-up--it's beyond words), I've definitely shelled out my hard-earned cash for her classic colors, like Grunge and Ani, and they were some of the best beauty purchases I ever made.
Kate Somerville Dermal Quench Advanced Wrinkle Treatment, $95: This stuff is straight-up MAGIC for your skin. Inspired by the celeb aesthetician's in-office oxygen treatment, this airy lotion has absolutely transformed my skin. I have the pleasure of dealing with a complexion that is both acne-prone and dry. Because of this, most anti-aging treatments are too heavy for my skin, while acne treatments just make me dry and flaky. This treatment goes on your skin as a foam and turns into a super-light liquid that instantly absorbs and softens. After just two days of using it, my skin looked more even, dewier, smoother, and I swear my acne scars and breakouts were lessened. I use it morning and night, followed by a moisturizer to lock in the hydration. It's pricy, but I absolutely cannot imagine my skin care routine without this little miracle.
Cheryl Wischhover (that's me!), Fashionista:
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, $153: This stuff stinks to high heaven but I do not leave the house without a layer on my skin. It contains a high concentration of vitamin C (an antioxidant which helps correct and prevent sun damage, among other things), and it's in a very stable formulation (vitamin C notoriously breaks down and becomes ineffective quickly).
Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment, $42: I am so, so mean to my hair. Bleach, swimming in chlorine, heat styling, mounds of waxy pomade. So my hair gets back at me by being really dry and annoying. I use this incredibly creamy and moisturizing hair mask a few times a week to put my hair back in its place. Literally. Clinique Airbrush Concealer, $19.50 : I've tried every single concealer on the market and I always come back to this one. It hides a multitude of sins.
Caudalie Divine Oil, $32: Some beauty names are hyperbolic, but this one is dead-on accurate. Everything about this spray is divine, from the smell to the texture. I use it on my legs everyday and pretend that they look almost as awesome as Cat Deeley's.