Ask any beauty editor what the perks of the job are and you'd be hard-pressed to find one who wouldn't say that it's the free products. There's no doubt that having the chance to test out new launches, cult beauty buys and celebrity favourites on a weekly basis is pretty incredible—and it's definitely one of my favourite things about my job.
Due to the sheer volume of new products landing at Who What Wear HQ each week, I've learnt to be pretty swift at identifying what makeup, skincare and hair products will and won't work for me. I'll try anything once (which has definitely resulted in some unusual makeup looks and unwanted skin reactions), but at this stage in my career, I tend to have a pretty good steer on what I like.
Although I might be all about the bright eye shadow and lip gloss right now (and raving about a new facial or nail colour next week), there are certain products that have stood the test of time for me and that I come back to on a regular basis. Of course, the list is ever-growing, as I discover more new beauty products along the way, but for now, keep scrolling to shop 36 of my all-time favourite beauty products.
On days that I have a breakfast meeting, a full day in the office and an evening event, I always use this primer to keep my makeup in place all day. It's a lightweight water-based gel that won't clog your pores (great if you're acne-prone like I am), and it genuinely increases the longevity of products applied on top.
Just like the previous product, I use this By Terry serum as a primer, but unlike the Laura Mercier one, this is for days that I want glow rather than longevity. Yes, it does look glittery in the bottle, but on the skin, it imparts a surprisingly subtle radiance. My complexion just looks all-around more healthy when I have this on. Oh, and I love its rosy fragrance too.
I was categorically not a tinted-moisturiser kind of girl until I discovered this product via Birchbox. It's more of a serum than a moisturiser, and I'm always surprised about how much coverage you can actually get with this water-based formula. I use a damp sponge to buff it into my skin. Although it won't cover blemishes, it does a great job at evening out my skin tone, so you can go in with concealer just in the places where you actually need it.
This is my night-out foundation. It's full coverage, stays put and covers everything, so I'll also use it on days when I'm experiencing a particularly ravaging hormonal breakout. A little goes a long way with this stuff (just half a pump will cover your whole face), yet it has an amazing ability to still look like skin and slightly dewy.
I admit there are rather a lot of complexion products on my list of favourites, but as a woman with a long history of skin issues, getting my skin looking good is the number one priority on my beauty list. This is what I use as my everyday foundation. It's noncomedogenic, so it won't clog pores or exacerbate breakouts, and you can wear it sheer or build it up to full coverage. I love the way that it reduces excess oil but doesn't leave skin looking completely matte.
I wear this gel-cream blusher most days, although I have to point out that if it's a long-lasting formula you're looking for, this might not be for you. What I love about it is the way that it meshes with my skin for a genuinely natural flush of colour. It takes moments to apply (I just use fingers) and looks great on eyelids and lips too for a monochromatic makeup look. But yes, you will need to reapply this throughout the day. (It's worth it, though.)
Topshop Beauty is amazing for affordable makeup and one of my go-to places to shop for beauty on the high street. This powder blush is like summer in a pot. A cross between a bronzer and a blush, it adds a sun-kissed radiance to the skin. I use a fluffy brush to buff it over my cheekbones and down my nose. Be warned: This is super pigmented, so apply it with a light hand and build it up.
This is the queen of highlighters in my (and most of the beauty community's) opinion. My favourite shade changes all the time, but at the moment, it's Opal—a neutral gold with a pink undertone. This isn't a subtle highlighter (it's more like a strobe light being shone on your face), but I love it. It started out as my evening highlighter option but has worked its way into my daily edit of products because of how it makes skin look so damn good.
I'm not sure how I lived for so long without this Fenty Beauty concealer on my life. Although it's a new discovery for me, during my quest to find the best concealers on the market, I now use it every single day. It is seriously pigmented and makes light work of covering redness, spots and under-eye bags while managing to look as if you're wearing nothing on your skin. Rihanna, you're a magician.
I have yet to find another brow gel that lives up to this one. For me, it's perfect. It has a precise tip that picks up just the right amount of product, clings to your brow hairs so you don't end up tinting all of your surrounding skin (as I've experienced with other gels) and keeps brows in place all day. I wear this every single day without fail.
I don't wear mascara every day, so when I do apply it, I want one that won't smudge (I have oily lids) and will lengthen my short, curly lashes. Not much to ask for, right? This one trumps others with its lash-conditioning formula. The brush hugs even the shortest of lashes and draws them out to their full potential, and the caffeine-enriched formula delivers inky-black, glossy pigment to your lashes.
I use one eye crayon or another on a daily basis. For work, they can be scribbled on hastily in the mornings and blended out with a finger. For a special occasion, you can mix and match shades to create a modern smoky eye. I love these ones from Pixi, as they stay put, don't crease and are enriched with aloe vera and chamomile (plus they feel incredibly comfortable on the eyes).
I have a lip-balm obsession, so choosing my favourite is like having to choose between my (hypothetical) children. At the moment, though, it's this minty-fresh one from Milk Makeup. It feels tingly and refreshing on the lips (a great midday pick-me-up), and the new tinted formulas provide a hint of colour if you're a lipstick lover like me.
I've tried budget lipsticks and high-end lipsticks, but this £7 one from Birchbox house brand LoC is my absolute favourite. It's completely matte, comfortable, soft as butter and stays put all day without needing to be reapplied.
I've been a fan of the classic Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm for years, but the rose edition has replaced it as my favourite. It dissolves makeup and grime without leaving your skin feeling tight or stripped. (And it's never caused me to break out, which is a huge bonus.)
Foaming cleansers have a bad rep for being drying. This one from Caudalie, however, is my cleanser of choice each morning, as it leaves my skin feeling clean and comfortable but not tight.
This is the only product I've ever tried from Science of Skin, and I hadn't heard of the brand until an email landed in my inbox a couple of months ago claiming that it reduced scarring and redness. As someone with some hefty acne scarring on the sides of my face, I was intrigued and can honestly say I've seen great results since using this. I apply it every day (morning and night) after my serums, and not only is my scarring starting to minimise, but I've also been breaking out less overall.
Salicylic is an ingredient renowned for its ability to unclog pores and exfoliate the skin. I use this one from Paula's Choice about three times a week in the evening (applying a little bit to a cotton pad and sweeping over my skin) to help keep my complexion decongested. On days where I feel a breakout coming on, I might use this in the morning too. Be sure to wear an SPF if using this during the day, though, as your skin might be more sensitive to sun exposure.
I was never a "serum in the morning" kind of girl until I tried this vitamin C formula from Lumene. It sits beautifully under makeup (unlike other vitamin C products that I've tried which can cause makeup to rub off when applied on top) and helps to make my skin look fresh and healthy.
My evening serum of choices comes courtesy of this gel-textured one from Caudalie. It contains natural salicylic acid to unclog pores and exfoliate the skin. The soothing rosewater and grape-seed to calm skin and reduce the appearance of breakouts.
This has the iconic Nuxe fragrance I love. It's a rich, nourishing formula that subtly mattifies your skin without compromising on radiance. I'll use this morning and night (after Rescue No. 1) on days where my skin needs an extra dose of moisture.
I use this when I want to bring out the skincare big guns before a big event or when I've had a particularly tiring week at work (and it's showing on my skin). It smells like something you would find in a spa and my skin just looks better and brighter the morning after using this. It's from Victoria Beckham's go-to facialist Sarah Chapman, so you know you're in good hands.
I'm learning to embrace my skin in all its stages, even when it's particularly prone to blemishes. But let's be real: Sometimes you just need to combat a breakout fast. On those days, I reach for this salicylic acid treatment from Origins. After applying this for a couple of days at night, I find that any huge blemishes will be reduced and not as red. It can be slightly drying, so I always use it with a moisturiser.
For me, the best thing about this mask is that you only need to wear it for five minutes. I really have to be in the mood to do a mask, so this one from Bobbi Brown allows the ritual to slot into my usual weekly skincare routine. You can really see it get to work drawing oil out of your pores, and my skin always looks instantly clearer once I wash it off.
This was recommended to me years ago at a salon, and I've used it ever since. It's really gentle but coats the hair with a protective layer that not only improves the condition of it but also seals it against humidity to reduce frizz.
Cool Brooklyn-based brand Amika is one of my favourite haircare brands. This one is specifically good for damaged hair thanks to its high dose of keratin and wheat proteins. All of its ingredients work to strengthen weak strands, and the shea butter and sea buckthorn oil to restore softness.
When you love dry shampoo as much as I do, a clarifying shampoo is somewhat essential in your daily routine. No shampoo makes my hair feel cleaner than this one from Bumble and Bumble. With just one lather and rinse, all traces of dry shampoo and styling products are removed from my hair, and all that's left are squeaky-clean strands.
If you ever suffer from an itchy, uncomfortable scalp, then this is the tonic for you. I'm sure that in large part, my scalp troubles are down to my love affair with dry shampoo, but I just can't quit it. Instead, after shampooing, I spray this Gallinée serum directly onto my scalp where lactic acid and prebiotics help to keep my scalp healthy and happy.
This cult beauty product really transforms damaged hair. I use it about once a fortnight and can always see the benefits for about a week after. It leaves my hair shinier, bouncier, easier to manage and just feeling all-around healthier.
I'm not sure I would ever have stumbled across this product if I hadn't previously worked at Birchbox UK, but this exclusive hair spritz is actually one of the best-selling products on the site, so I'm not alone in my love of it. You spray it onto damp hair, and it detangles, hydrates, smooths, protects against heat and adds shine. Basically, it does the job of about 10 products in one and it smells amazing while doing it.
After years of picking up whatever shower gel was on offer for a quid during the weekly food shop, I was gifted a bottle of this Rituals shower gel. Since then, I've never looked back and will happily dish out £9 for this stuff. These foaming formulas come in tons of scents, but this Indian rose and sweet almond oil one is my favourite. A little goes a really long way and it leaves skin soft and delicately fragranced post-shower. Total game changer.
If I'm honest, I genuinely want to eat this body scrub whenever I open the pot—that's how delicious it smells. A blend of oats, sugar, shea butter, banana, almond and honey extracts might sound like your morning smoothie, but in fact, those ingredients form the basis of this lovely oily exfoliator that sloughs away dead skin cells and leaves limbs soft and smooth.
With French girls and celebs like Jennifer Aniston swearing by this oil, I know I'm in good company with this pick. I apply this most evenings post-shower to keep my skin supple and hydrated. It's an expensive-smelling blend of plant oils like camellia, macadamia and sweet almond which absorb instantly into the skin without leaving behind any greasy residue. I love using it on the ends of my hair too.
This little treat is always my first port of call when I'm in the mood for a serious pamper night. I usually pour a capful into a warm bath as I love the way that the hints of vetiver and patchouli fill the whole bathroom with a calming aroma. If I'm in a rush but still want the relaxing benefits, then I'll smooth a little onto my skin before hopping into the shower.
I had a love affair with Laura Mercier's Ambre Vanillè Soufflé Body Crème for many years before discovering the slightly more refreshing, sophisticated fig version. Whichever scent you go for, this has to be one of the nicest formulas of body lotion I've ever tried. It's so light and silky, glides onto skin, and honestly, you can skip the perfume as the fragrance sticks around all day. Plus, the packaging just looks so chic in your bathroom.
This is more of an ad-hoc beauty favourite, but it definitely deserves a spot on this list. Spacemasks are self-heating eye masks that I always have a stash of in my bedside table. After particularly busy work days or too long spent in front of a screen, popping one of these on before bed really helps to relive tension in my eyes and enables me to drift of a little more calmly.