Getting everything you want all the time would be nice, but unless your name is Veruca Salt (and even she paid the price eventually), life is a series of trade-offs. You resist the urge to start a post-debate Facebook fight with your second cousin in order to maintain your sanity — and the peace at Thanksgiving. You buy a flight that departs at 5 a.m. because it's $200 cheaper than the rest. You hold your breath and slap on a mask that smells like hydrogen sulfide because nothing else gives you glowy, baby-angel skin quite like it.
Yes, we wish everything in our makeup bags and medicine cabinets smelled like roses and citrus and coconuts — or like nothing at all — but, sometimes, great results come by way of not-so-great-smelling ingredients (or packaging). Ahead, our editors share the beauty products with benefits that far outweigh their odors.
"This candy-scented mask reeks of Skittles, but I LOVE the effects. It makes my skin even and plump — like I just came from a facial." — Cat Quinn, beauty director
GlamGlow GravityMud Firming Treatment, $69, available at Sephora.
"This smells like the frozen daiquiri you order from a swim-up bar at Club Med. But if you can get past the smell and the memories of spring break it brings back, it's one of the best hair texturizers out there." — Megan McIntyre, beauty features director
Tigi Bed Head Manipulator, $15.18, available at Walmart.
"Beauty products are best when they work instantly — and Ren’s mask refreshes your face and gives you a glow in 60 seconds. But, as I learned the first time I used this during a particularly bad hangover, it smells like rotten eggs (or sulfur), thanks to the vitamin C. So while it helped my skin, it really did a number on my stomach." — Maria Del Russo, beauty editor
Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, $48, available at Sephora.
"I can’t quite pinpoint WTF it smells like — dirt? potted plants? — but I've fallen so in love with this hydrating, oil-free elixir that I've almost convinced myself I like its, uh, earthy scent." — Kelsey Castañon, beauty news editor
Caudalíe Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum, $62, available at Sephora.
"I’m just going to come right out and say it:
Kylie’s Lip Kits are the best liquid lipsticks on the market. They stick to your lips without clumping and come in colors I actually want to wear. The only downfall? They smell like expired baked goods." — Maria Del Russo Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kit in Mary Jo K, $29, available at Kylie Cosmetics.
"This spray smells like pure vinegar — not exactly pleasing to most — but it
brightens hair without a ton of chemicals or a salon visit. It's strongest right after you spray it, but it is VERY subtle once it dries down. And after one wash, the scent is gone!" — Lexy Lebsack, West Coast beauty editor Christophe Robin Brightening Hair Finish Lotion with Fruit Vinegar, $48, available at Sephora.
"I really, really adore this moisturizer, but the scent is too waxy for my taste. The results I see on my skin are fabulous, but getting there isn't as pleasant." — Samantha Sasso, beauty assistant
Glossier Priming Moisturizer, $25, available at Glossier.
"This product smells like beef jerky, but I don’t care — the brightening, smoothing effect it has on my skin after using it every night is
well worth it." — Kelsey Castañon SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $163, available at SkinCeuticals.
"I already knew this didn't smell great, but I didn't know the extent until an ex-boyfriend complained and scooted away from me in bed one night. It's sort of like sulfur mixed with flowers, but nothing has made my acne clear up faster. Plus, it's the easiest, gentlest way to use retinol." — Maria Del Russo
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, $105, available at Sephora.
"These bold lipsticks make me feel like a queen, specifically the metallic shades, but the smell is overwhelming — like burnt latex. It's probably because the formulas are free of synthetic fragrances, which is a good thing, I
know." — Samantha Sasso Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Belladonna, $16, available at OCC Makeup.
"This toner is perfect in its simplicity. It’s a great step to add post-cleansing and really helps ensure you got all the day's gunk off your face. The scent leaves something to be desired, though. It’s more apple-cider vinegar than anything else — a sour, tangy scent that sticks to your face long after you’ve used it." — Maria Del Russo
S.W. Basics Toner, $22, available at Target.
"Tan Towel is the best at-home self-tanner, but the brand doesn't even try to mask the DHA smell like other companies do. I stink when I put it on, and even sweat out a toasty DHA odor for the next two days. But to me, that's better than having streaky lines, a weird hue, or orange palms. I've been using them for five years." — Cat Quinn
Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelette, $27, available at Ulta Beauty.
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