I was 19 when I landed my first internship at a major publication. I had read the magazine my whole life, but I felt immensely under-qualified for the position. I had a serious case of impostor syndrome — until I bought a lipstick that changed the way I saw myself. Not just any lipstick, but the
Dior Addict Fluid Stick in Pandore. It was, and still is, perfect. Call me superficial, but this shiny bullet held superpowers. The first day I wore it, my boss complimented the shade and went searching for it in the beauty closet. While my résumé got me the position, it was my red lips that gave me the confidence to feel like I deserved to be there. Of course, it's not just lipstick that can serve as a catalyst to becoming a badass boss. TED Talks, a great pair of shoes, haircuts — everyone has their thing that nudges them toward feeling like their best self. Ahead, Refinery29 staffers share the number-one beauty product that makes them feel like they can conquer the world. Get ready for a whole lot of red lipstick and liquid liner.
"On the day after the election, I had to go give a presentation to a fairly intimidating room, and wasn't feeling up to it. My eyes felt puffy from a day of just letting my emotions get the best of me, and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep after a very late Tuesday night. But, being the mind-reader that she is, Cat [Quinn, beauty director] brought over the NARS lipstick in Rita as a pick-me-up. I promptly swept it on, and it made me feel up to the task in a way that I just wasn't able to muster without it. Red lipstick as a fear inhibitor is probably a bit of a cliché, but there's good reason for that. Nothing changes the way you see yourself quite as immediately and effectively as that intense, saturated pop of color. Plus, it made the whites of my eyes look just a bit whiter, which was a wonderful added bonus." — Neha Gandhi, SVP, content strategy and innovation
NARS Audacious Lipstick in Rita, $32, available at Sephora.
"Nothing hits my self-esteem harder than waking up to a face full of pimples. A good concealer that minimizes the redness (combined with a little bit of Urban Decay Shadow Primer underneath to visually
flatten out the bump) makes me feel so much more confident — as opposed to trying to hide behind my hair." — Megan McIntyre, beauty features director Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Concealer, $30, available at Sephora.
"Pardon the cliché, but when I was younger, I remember looking at a picture of Marilyn Monroe wearing a bright-pink lipstick and thinking,
damn. She looked equal parts confident and demure — and I wanted in. So, even though I pretty much shied away from the color in every other aspect of my life, I was constantly on the hunt for my own lipstick to match. This one from Givenchy is the perfect shade of fuchsia, complements my olive skin tone, and makes me feel like a total man-eater." — Kelsey Castañon, beauty news editor Givenchy Le Rouge in Fuchsia Irrésistible, $36, available at Sephora.
"Winged liner and a pair of awesome falsies make me feel incredible! I usually switch up the type of liner and wing look I use depending on the mood — a very black liquid liner makes me feel sexy and super-confident, while a slightly smudged pencil liner makes me feel put-together on a basic level. I recently tried out the Huda Beauty falsies in Samantha, and I'm obsessed. Full, wispy, and just natural enough." — Lauren Newton
Huda Beauty Classic False Lashes, $20, available at Sephora.
"This mascara is everything. It legit looks like fake lashes. I put it on every time I'm about to go on a date, and it makes me feel super-hot." — Emily Curl, associate video producer
Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara, $23, available at Sephora.
"Urban Decay's products generally make me feel like a badass, but Lounge eyeshadow is particularly powerful for me. The shadow is simultaneously blue, green, and maroon, and I always feel like a rock star when I wear it." — Michaela Rollings, marketing coordinator
Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Lounge, $19, available at Sephora.
"I wore this power lipstick in college for an interview into a prestigious honor society for which I was objectively
way under-qualified. (I was so convinced I would be rejected that I didn't tell a soul I was applying.) But the morning of my interview with the board, I swept on this red lipstick and felt a wave of confidence wash over me. They ended up accepting me based on my 'future promise.'" — Cat Quinn, beauty director MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo, $17, available at MAC.
"I'd say a good cat-eye is the look that I feel most confident in, and instantly makes me feel put-together and ready for any situation. I swear by Kat Von D's formula in Trooper — it goes on smoothly, stays, and is dark and inky." — Lexy Lebsack, West Coast beauty editor
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, $20, available at Sephora.
"Alima Pure's eyebrow pencil is next-level. I use it in blond. I like to say my eyebrows are fiction, because I love exaggerating them and making them stronger, and with this pencil it always looks natural and sets off my features in a way that makes me feel confident." — Jacki Huntington, video producer
Alima Pure Natural Definition Brow Pencil, $18, available at Alima Pure.
"My red lip-color collection has gotten out of control. And I don't even wear makeup very often! However, when I need to put my game face on, this Revlon Matte Balm in Striking is my go-to. I bought it on a whim a few years ago at CVS, and I keep it in my purse for when I have to conduct interviews, go to some fancy event, or just need a mood boost. At this point, it's mostly superstition — but, hey, it hasn't failed me thus far." — Ana Colón, fashion news writer
Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Striking, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
"I feel like I have my life together when I have a fresh gel manicure in a dark, almost-black purple shade, like Lincoln Park After Dark. Black polish always makes me feel cooler and tougher — but only if it's super-shiny and chip-free (otherwise, it takes me back to eighth grade, when I wore those Hot Topic studded belts)." — Alix Tunell, senior beauty editor
OPI Lincoln Park After Dark, $10, available at Ulta Beauty.
"My power red lip is always going to be
Sephora's Always Red cream lip stain. It's the best matte, red liquid-to-matte product I've ever used. Comfortable to wear, stays on through eating and drinking, and works on literally any and every skin tone." — Lauren Newton, recruiter Sephora Collectio n Cream Lip Stain in Always Red, $14, available at Sephora.
"It's just kind of like a shot of espresso — but for my face!" — Kimberly Truong, editorial assistant, health
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, $20, available at Sephora.
"I wear a shit ton of eyeliner on the daily (which is a security blanket of sorts), and I rely on
L'Oréal's Blackbuster. It's super-pigmented, lasts forever, and draws the boldest, fattest lines." — Sara Coughlin, editorial assistant, health L’Oréal The Infallible Blackbuster, $8.99, available at L’Oréal.
"Yes to the red lipstick! NARS Dragon Girl is where it's at! It makes me feel put-together and look like I tried on days when I took two minutes to get ready. Plus, it stays on so long!" — Nikki Mendell, senior manager, public relations
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, $26, available at NARS.
"Red lipstick and a cat-eye — probably inspired by Dita Von Teese, to be honest — have always been my go-to for when I want to feel better." — Kimberly Truong
Bésame Cosmetics Red Velvet Lipstick in 1946, $22, available at Bésame Cosmetics.
"This Eyeko liner! It's basically my 'power pen' — my go-to to get the wing that I want, even if I have minimal time to put on makeup." — Melissa Bulzomi, quality assurance engineer
Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner, $19, available at Birchbox.
"I feel my sexiest, most confident, and most ready to kick ass whenever I rock a cat-eye. It's my power-bitch look — the makeup equivalent to my pantsuit. I cycle between two liners in order to get the flick I love: Elizabeth Arden liquid liner and
Eyeko Eye Do Liner Pen. With both of these bad boys, I can get my cat-eye done in seconds, which frees up plenty of time to fight the patriarchy." — Maria Del Russo, beauty editor Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Bold Defining 24 HR Liquid Eye Liner, $24.50, available at Elizabeth Arden.
"I absolutely love this cheap drugstore lippie. It's my go-to lip color for any special occasion, or even any day when I just want a pick-me-up. The formula of the lipstick is really creamy and smooth, so it doesn't dry out my lips. Against my fair skin, the color is a dark mauve-y, beige-y pink, and it matches
anything I wear." — Jennifer Anderson, assistant to the editorial director Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Teddy Bare, $4.99, available at Target.
"When I can successfully craft my cat-eye without making any mistakes, I know I'm gonna have a good day. I love how a clean, crisp wing makes me look instantly awake. It's a look I've been wearing since my freshman year of high school, and I know if I slick on a layer of liquid liner, I'll feel great." — Mi-Anne Chan, beauty writer
Tattoo Liner, $20, available at Kat Von D Sephora.
"I swear by the lip color A Different Grape by Clinique. It instantly makes me feel put-together, which makes me feel stronger through the day (especially when things get hectic). I woke up late this morning and was rushing, but put it on to try and forget I was off my groove!" — Victoria Tomkinson, associate social media editor
Clinique Different Lipstick in A Different Grape, $17, available at Clinique.
"My new favorite liquid liner is this
Fluidline Pen by MAC — SO easy to use, and goes on super-black." — Lauren Newton MAC Fluidline Pen, $23, available at MAC.
"Sometimes, I really want to stand out with my makeup and own the attention that comes with a fierce look. Using this stick as a highlighter gives me a weird, bluish outer space-type sheen on my cheekbones that's loud, but not as obvious as, say, a bold lipstick." — Caitlin Dorman, beauty intern
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick, $28, available at Milk Makeup.
"When I want a pick-me-up to feel my sexiest and most confident for a Saturday night out, I always use RiRi Woo by MAC. [Ed. note: This shade is discontinued.] I love the red, and like to think I'm channeling just a little bit of Rihanna while wearing it." — Arianna Davis, entertainment features writer
"I've owned tons of dark-purple and red lipsticks by high-end brands that cost $35-plus a tube, but I found this on the free table one day and have been obsessed ever since!" — Christine McNeley, product and engineering operations
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry, $3.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
"I stay pretty neutral with my makeup, but a little winged eyeliner is a must in my daily routine. It wakes up tired eyes and gives me a boost of confidence on days I'd rather crawl back into bed. I vary the severity of it from day to night, but I'm basically always wearing it in some shape or form. This liquid liner by L'Oréal has a super-thin tip, which makes mastering the perfect wing easy." — Allie Briggs, production assistant for brand experiences
L'Oréal Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner, $9.49, available at Ulta Beauty.
"I am not a huge makeup wearer, but I randomly was on the hunt for a deep-red lipstick that works well with my skin tone. Now that I've finally found it, I wear this lipstick whenever I go out. It's easy to apply and works with the rest of my look." — Michelle Li, associate social innovation editor
NARS Audacious Lipstick in Mona, $32, available at NARS.
"I get so many compliments on this — and I didn't even find it. It was gifted to me by Liz Buxton [editorial assistant, food]. So I also get to think about her generosity when I use it!" — Marshall Bright, editorial assistant, living
Stila Matte'ificent Lipstick in Bisou, $22, available at Stila.
"My Chanel lip gloss, that is this subtle, gorgeous coral color. I wear it to every job interview or big event because it is just the right amount of color and shine, and it makes me feel like Coco herself — badass!" — Brooke Fox, intern
Chanel Lèvres Scintillantes in Murmure, $30, available at Chanel.
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