What you really do need
Maximalists, turn away now. This is about how few beauty products you really need. Eye cream, blush, toner, and eyeliner — you can get by without them all. Here’s a list of essentials and substitutions. Additions are just nice-to-haves. But then you knew that …
A GOOD MOISTURISING BASE. Keep it simple with organic coconut oil; play it luxe with a La Mer-like uber cream — whichever type of hydrator you like, use it day and night to keep your skin healthy and well-prepped. And as long as it doesn’t contain an SPF, it’s perfect around the eyes.
A BROAD-SPECTRUM SUNSCREEN. Healthy skin can’t function without it.
A SHEER FOUNDATION. Stick with a light foundation or BB cream and use a highlighter/ concealer on blemishes or pigmentation. A current favourite is 1. MAC’s balm-like Next to Nothing Face Colour ($64).
A FLANNEL. If you’re on a beauty budget, gently using a textured flannel each time you wash your face will do the work of exfoliators and exfoliating toners — remove cellular debris and leave skin smooth and glowing.
AN EXCELLENT CONCEALER. 2. Hourglass’ excellent Hidden Corrective Concealer
($54) comes in 10 shades, is creamy enough to apply under the eyes (without leaving a rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights glow) and thick enough to cover blemishes. A true essential.
A BROW PENCIL OR SHADOW. Because you don’t want feeble brows (and eyeshadow or eye liners aren’t great substitutions). A dried-out mascara wand on the other hand…
MULTI-TASKING MASCARA. No need for mascara if you have extensions but if you don’t, try a multi-tasker like 3. Clinique’s Lash Power Flutter-to-Full Mascara ($63). It comes in a tube with three click-in positions — natural, something a little more noticeable, and full-on flutter — essentially making it three mascaras in one.
A SUPER SERUM. A good serum isn’t necessarily the same as a well-formulated moisturiser. Serums are the problem-solvers of the beauty world, capable of brightening skin, lightening pigmentation and preventing new wrinkles. Choose one like 4. Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II ($188), which is packed with anti-ageing ingredients including ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid to leave your skin glowing and rested-looking.
HYDRATING LIPSTICKS. Lips need colour but so do cheeks. Don’t hesitate to use lipstick for blush (dab it on your finger before applying to cheeks). Even better, pick a lipstick in a crayon formula and start colouring in.
A NEUTRAL EYESHADOW PALETTE. Brown eyeshadow might sound a little dull but can be anything but, especially when it comes with a metallic sparkle. Pick a palette with a deep brown or grey and make it multi-task as liner. Better still choose and combine interchangeable wet-or-dry eyeshadow shades in Elizabeth Arden’s Little Black Compacts ($79).