Assessing the thousands of makeup products that make up today's beauty market is no easy task. But as editors who routinely chat with the best makeup artists in the business, quiz celebs on their ride-or-die beauty staples, and receive bountiful old and new brand favourites on a routine basis, we're pretty well-versed when it comes to putting together an all-star ensemble of amazing powders, creams, wands and pencils. So we thought we might as well put all this knowledge to good use to piece together the ultimate makeup wardrobe featuring the 18 product staples we hear, see and use over and over and over again.
Plus, to add even more credibility to our makeup masterpiece below, we cross-checked all of our favourite beauty retailers to ensure we're truly serving you the unanimous top picks and best sellers.
Looking to upgrade your makeup roster? Keep scrolling. Ahead, we're highlighting 18 of the best holy-grail makeup products money can buy. In other words, the investment pieces you'll fall in love with so you'll never find yourself unsatisfied or frustrated in the aisles of Boots or department stores again. Here lies your cheat sheet!
The reviews and popularity of this mineral-infused primer don't lie. We've seen makeup artists whip it out of their kits many a time, and it's oil-free and silky formulation effortlessly handle everything from redness to pores to wrinkles in one fell swoop. (It's also great on its own!)
This one is easy. We've never heard a makeup artist not recommend this holy-grail foundation as the absolute best foundation on the market. It doesn't clog pores, it wears (and wears and wears) like a dream, and leaves you with a luminous finish that's not too dewy nor too matte. It's an investment, but a little goes a long way, and essentially, it's the perfect foundation.
There are quite a few popular concealers out there, but this creamy doe-foot pick from Nars has to be one of the most iconic and well-loved in the industry. The shade range is impressive with 30 different hues to choose from, and now, it even comes in a mini size so you can easily bring it with you whenever or wherever. (Though it's so ceaselessly perfect we doubt you'll ever need to touch-up!)
Although there is a brand-new setting powder on the block from makeup artist legend Pat McGrath (which might eventually de-throne this holy-grail dust from Laura Mercier), for now, this one still reigns as queen. It's perfect for ensuring a shine-free, soft-focus finish, or, if you want something a little more luminous, you can reach for the newer Glow version.
Okay, you probably saw this coming. Nothing, and we mean nothing, will ever surpass the perfectly corally pink shimmer of Nars's cult-classic blush in Orgasm. It's gorgeous on every skin tone and never feels too dramatic or drab. We're also equally obsessed with the brand's Orgasm Afterglow Lip Balm (£22) if you really want to take your makeup look to the next level.
Bronzer is tricky. Pick the wrong formula or hue, and in a matter of minutes, your face, neck or décolletage can instantly transform into a muddy mess. If you absolutely insist on a powder bronzer, our holy-grail rec would be Kevyn Aucoin's The Neo-Bronzer (£28), but for a 100% goof-proof finish that subtly enhances your natural glow, editors and makeup artist swear by this velvety-soft cream-gel hybrid from Chanel.
People have a lot of thoughts and feelings about highlighter. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people only like powder formulas, and some people only like cream, but this holy-grail pick is pretty much the crème de la crème. Plus, Becca has blessed us with enough shades to make sure you find the prettiest option for your complexion. You can apply it any way you want—beneath, mixed or on top of your foundation—and if you do prefer powder, the brand has that too.
Urban Decay's signature Naked Palettes will forever live in infamy (in a good way). And even though the OG Palette has been sadly discontinued, we still have Naked2, Naked3 and other special launches like Naked Heat, Naked Reloaded, Born to Run and Naked Cherry to keep us more than satisfied.
When it comes to an all-star liquid eyeliner, we only have a few albeit very important requests—long-winded durability, precision and a 100% budge-proof application. This one from Stila accomplishes all the above. Plus, we love the moody shade range.
Liquid liner not your cup of tea? We're equally obsessed with these easy-to-apply, dreamily hued gel crayons from Marc Jabocs Beauty. (As are countless makeup artists and celebs.) Not only is the application gorgeously smooth, but you can also choose from a variety of finishes like matte, shimmer or even glitter if you're feeling fancy. Pro tip: makeup artists love to line the inner eye and waterline with Pink of Me for an instant brightening effect that mocks a full night's sleep.
Historically, popular eyelash curlers from brands like Shu Uemura and Shiseido have been considered the top-tier cult classics. But this one from Troy Surratt is the one that's truly the apple of our eye. The ergonomic, Japanese-inspired design gently bends the lashes (without breakage) for ultimate length and flutter.
We'd like to say that when it comes to the best holy-grail makeup products, there's a difference between trendy and what we'd deem as "holy grail." Even though this mascara might be lesser known than more audacious and cheekily named counterparts, it's beloved among celebrities, makeup artists and beauty editors. Our tip? Apply one layer, comb through, let dry for at least five minutes, and then repeat as needed. You'll be left with the prettiest and most voluminous flutter.
Yes, we have a glitter category, and yes, you absolutely have not lived until you've tried Lemonhead.LA's beloved galactical glitter pastes. We dare you to buy just one! Celeb makeup artists like Sir John (um, Beyoncé) and Katie Jane Hughes (um, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) are fans.
We've never heard a single negative murmur about this holy-grail lip liner from Charlotte Tilbury. The shade range is beautiful, it lasts up to six hours (and through multiple glasses of wine—we've personally vetted), and it keeps your lipline velvety smooth and soft. Plus, if you feel like reshaping or overdrawing your natural lipline a tad, it makes for ultimate believability. The cult shade Pillow Talk looks universally flattering on everyone, too.
Choosing one holy-grail lipstick and one only is almost impossible just because there are so many finishes, preferences and standards to consider. That being said, we think Pat McGrath's BlitzTrance Lipsticks are pretty damn spectacular. They're infused with luxurious Brazil nut oil to keep your pout free from parch and the colours are gloriously pretty—luminous but not in a tacky or overly shiny or glossy way.
Lip gloss—if you're a lip gloss fan—doesn't get better than MAC's epic glass. We love nurturing our inner '90s babies and reaching for the clear whenever we want to take our shine up a few notable notches. It's one of the only glosses that create a mirror-like shine that actually stays put and doesn't just dissolve minutes or hours after application.
There is no shortage of face mists and setting sprays on the market, but if your aim is to create a long-lasting makeup application, this iconic best seller from Urban Decay has your back. Or rather, your face. All it takes is a few swooping spritzes, and gone are the days of running to the nearest bathroom to anxiously check what your face looks like midday (or midnight).