Like selecting wardrobe ICONS, we’re a little fussy when it comes to cult buys. Some of these products are ones we’ve been urged to try by make-up artists, designers and friends in the know. The kind of formulas that are truly skin-transformative… that friends tell friends about so they can glow too. There are those make-up bag must-haves that lift a complexion in seconds, from the perfect red lip to a primer that erases a late night. Finally, there are essentials that have stood the test of time and – like a pair of Chanel flats or an Isabel Marant blazer – have become staples. These buys won’t fail you.
Launched in 1997, this foundation became a global phenomenon, in part because with its 61 shades it offers such a huge range for every skin tone, and partly because its velvety, semi-matte finish truly lives up to its name. The formula really does feel like you’re wearing nothing, but gives the ultimate medium coverage (that actually controls shine too) from morning to night.
The equivalent of a classic wardrobe staple for skin, this straightforward, fragrance-free moisturiser will be with you for the long haul. The original, which was launched in 1968 as one of Clinique’s first products, may have been tweaked slightly over the years, but it’s still a fail-safe. Named YML (Yellow Moisturising Lotion) until customers repeatedly spoke of its ‘dramatically different’ texture, the formula is still renowned for fast absorption, a lightweight texture and pale yellow hue.
A true luxury, this extremely rich cream is beloved for its soothing, restorative and renewing properties – and perhaps just as well known for its origin: Max Huber, a German-born astrophysicist, suffered severe burns in a lab explosion and spent 12 years experimenting with a variety of kelp that ultimately soothed and smoothed his skin. That same blend of sea kelp and vitamins provides long-lasting and deep-penetrating hydration in today’s formulations.
If you love a classic as much as we do, then you probably already know about this bold, cherry-red lipstick, which MAC launched in 1999 with a brand new matte formula. The opaque, non-shiny finish, combined with a universally flattering red, was an instant hit. As for us, we love anything that improves our complexion in one swipe.
What we really want from foundation is for our skin to look like skin, only way better. And one of the first women to understand that was Bobbi Brown, who launched a foundation stick in 1992 that allowed women to build the coverage they wanted. Until then, it was all or nothing. Today, this foundation still delivers big time.
This shimmery lilac primer may not look like it should be smothered all over your face, but this is a long-time make-up artist hack: the shade makes tired skin look instantly dewy and radiant. This formula also contains ginger, a soothing anti-inflammatory, and hydrating hyaluronic acid.
If you’ve been turned off using primer due to pilling or it feeling too heavy, this formula will restore your faith in the power of a great primer. When we say this thin, clear gel feels weightless, we mean you may actually wonder if you’ve put it on at all. Make-up will look better and last longer.
The skin-firming, peel-off treatment that lit up the internet with its other-worldly chrome finish is a keeper: it uses marshmallow and liquorice leaf to help skin look and feel firmer, as well as skin-plumping hyaluronic acid.
A facial serum that works while you sleep, this formula is adored for its silky texture and fast-acting ingredients. Use a drop or two at night, and in the morning skin is softer and more radiant. Over time you should notice an improvement in lines and texture.
TOM FORD BEAUTY
This is not just any eye-shadow palette. Tom Ford’s shadows are as luxe as they come and they’re available in the coolest colour combinations, although this neutral one is the instant classic, with four shadows in varied textures ranging from matte to shimmer.
There’s a reason this formula from Korean-French skincare brand Erborian is constantly sold out. The colour-correcting veil goes on after moisturiser and immediately evens out skin tone, reduces redness and protects too – the CC cream has a UVA/UVB broad spectrum SPF 25.
Perhaps the most iconic (and imitated) nail shade, Le Vernis Rouge Noir first debuted at the A/W 94 Chanel show. However, the striking shade only came about when make-up artist Heidi Morawetz realised she had no polish for the models’ nails. She quickly mixed together black and red pigments on her kitchen table and a legend was born.
Don’t be put off by the white powder in the container. This lightweight formula is clear on all skin tones and doesn’t make skin look overly matte – it also never cakes. Wear it alone or over foundation.
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