It’s a sad truth that many of the most famous, universally beloved products also happen to be the most expensive. Spend a lot of money on something, and it usually turns out to work pretty well. But that makes the intense disappointment when a hyped-up purchase doesn’t work out all the more poignant.
Luckily, I’ve got you. Having spent more than my fair share on beauty products, I feel (almost) uniquely qualified to share the best of the best. Here are the highly-priced, highly-regarded beauty items that I believe are worthy of their fame and fortune.
I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to spend a lot on something, it should probably be complexion. While the difference between a cheap and luxury lip-gloss might mainly come down to packaging, pricey base products do tend to give a more polished, imperceptible, and, well, expensive-looking finish.
The Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, for example, must be the best foundation on the market. It’s double the price of other high-end foundations, but to me, the price is right. It offers good coverage with a lightweight formula, and it straddles that difficult line of looking glowy but not sweaty, while still lasting all day. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this product.
In terms of concealers, there are two pricier numbers that really stand out from the crowd. The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer is a weird but wonderful product. Essentially, it’s a pot of pigment. It’s incredibly opaque but still has a creamy, slightly sticky texture, making it ideal for dried-out blemishes (or simply those who favor an extra hit of dew).
For a more matte effect, the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer deserves all of its bountiful praise. This is really like having peace of mind in a tube: if you’re concerned your skin isn’t looking its best, Shape Tape will have your back. It covers up everything, and skin looks instantly perfected. It’s not matte, but it does set without powder and lasts forever.
Speaking of powder, I pretty much universally dislike them. I find they always make makeup look dusty, dried out, and overdone. But the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder is the exception that proves the rule. It has a light, imperceptibly shimme, meaning that when brushed over finished makeup, it sets while also adding a soft glow. Diffused Light is also fabulous for brightening and correcting any redness.
My final complexion recommendation, though, is far less subtle. But sometimes subtlety is for losers, right? And when you want to replace subtlety with cheekbones which look dipped in molten metal, I point you toward the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed. These are, quite simply, the best highlighters on the market for maximum glow. “Pearl” is the best for translucent complexions like mine, but they have one to suit every skin tone.
In terms of mascara, there’s no denying there are many cheap options that work really well. But if you enjoy a more luxurious mascara experience, you won’t go far wrong with the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. Not only does it offer the large, fluffy, fluttery eyelashes of your dreams, but the iconic pink packaging turn applying your mascara into an event.
And for brows, has there been a more iconic launch in living memory than the Glossier Boy Brow? This innovative, mustache wax-inspired pomade gives fluffiness and lift without ever getting crispy, delivering the model-off-duty brows that dreams are made of. Often imitated, never duplicated.
Again, with lipsticks, the myriad of affordable options make justifying a splurge-y purchase difficult. But when it comes down to it, the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks do feel different from their drugstore counterparts. Not only is the formula incredible (soft and powdery, yet never dry-feeling) but applying lipstick from one of these rose gold tubes just makes you feel...fancier. And sometimes, that’s half the battle.
When it comes to luxury eyeshadow, really, sparkle is the only way to go. And in terms of sparkle, the Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks are second to none in my eyes (get it?). One swipe gives opaque color with an incredible depth of shimmer. And even better? They last without creasing even on the oiliest eyelids. I know, because I have them.
Aside from base, I do believe the best allocation of beauty budget is on fragrance. Sure, there are some nice cheap scents out there—but finding something a little bit off the beaten track and slightly unusual better befits the individual you are, right? The Diptyque fragrances reign supreme for me. “Philosykos” is the most lightweight yet substantial fig scent, “Eau Duelle” is a vanilla with incredible woodsy depth, and “Eau de Sens” is an orange blossom delight. All last better than basically anything else I’ve tried, even if you’re a little stringy with the spritzes.
Spending money on skincare can sometimes feel a little bit annoying. If you want to see immediate results, it’s tempting to go for something sparkly or colorful instead. But investing in certain skincare products will have your future self thanking you. The Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is one such product. It offers almost immediate brightening effects, but over time will also help slow down the skin’s aging process.
Now, it’s time for two final miscellaneous pricey items that I see as worth every cent. The Skindinavia Setting Spray will make your makeup everything-proof in seconds, without ever looking dry or cakey, or feeling tight or heavy. And if you want rich-girl hair, the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray is your one-way ticket. Spritz through the length and toss backward for a good hair day every day—and don’t ever try to calculate how much each of those little spritzes costs, okay?