Five Best Beauty Products

Truth: I live two blocks away from a Sephora. It is amazing, dangerous and terrible. (Mostly amazing.) It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve tried virtually every product there at one time or another. Lately, these five have become my holy grail of beauty — and I’d love to hear yours…

1. The Hair Tool
Confession: I do not want to be a contestant on The Bachelor, but sometimes I can’t help but want the hairstyle sported by 99.9% of ladies who grace the mansion. You don’t even have to watch the show to know what I’m talking about: sleek-yet-wavy, beachy-yet-polished. This tool makes it happen. To get the look, I’ll divide my hair into four sections (top, back, and two sides), then wrap two-inch pieces around the wand for 5 to 8 seconds each. Voilà! You’ve adapted the very best part of America’s most popular franchise. Doing the ugly cry in a sequined gown is optional.

2. The One-Step Skin Perfector
It’s no secret that I love beauty products, but rarely do I find a formula that makes me want to dance. When I stumbled across Sunday Riley’s Effortless Breathable Primer, I did a little jig in my bathroom, because that’s how much I loved it. There are two ways to wear it: as a tinted moisturizer (in lieu of foundation) on days when you want light coverage, or as a primer (under foundation) to help your makeup glide on smoothly and seamlessly. Be prepared to get asked things like, “Did you just get back from vacation?” and “Have you been drinking more water?” It’s that good.

3. The Dry Shampoo
What did we do before dry shampoo? I honestly don’t remember. But while it’s a godsend, dry shampoo has its fair share of issues — it can smell weird, look chalky or just plain not work. Enter the deliciously scented Nirvana Dry Shampoo. The formula adds just the right amount of volume and texture, so your hair looks clean, yet artfully disheveled. I use Nirvana Black, with notes of violet, sandalwood and vanilla, but the musky floral Nirvana White is lovely, too.

4. The Perfect Red Lip
The best beauty tip I’ve ever gotten may also be the most obvious: When shopping, try lipstick on your lips. Your hand does not wear lipstick. In order to understand how a shade will work with your eyes, hair and overall complexion, you must see it on your face. At Sephora, not only will someone help you out with a sanitized sample, but you can try as many shades as your heart desires. I’m currently obsessed with their long-wearing Cream Lip Stain in Always Red, a color so arresting I flagged down somebody else’s waitress to ask what lipstick she was wearing.

5. …The Deodorant
Once upon a time two years ago, I ran around New York in the sweltering heat testing natural deodorants, which resulted in multiple evenings spent making self-conscious T-Rex arms. Since then, many great formulas have entered the marketplace. Chief among them is Lavanila’s Sport Luxe Healthy Deodorant, an even more effective version of their already-great aluminum-free formula. Heavens, part. Angels, sing. You can wear this to the gym and wave your arms with reckless abandon. Because after all, what good is bachelorette hair if you don’t smell nice?

What are your holy grail beauty products? Have you made any recent discoveries you can’t live without?

P.S. The best foundation and the one thing that’s always in my bag.

(Photo by Tory Williams, with design wizardry by Miss Moss. This post is sponsored by Sephora. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Cup of Jo running.)