The Beauty Buys That Gave Our Editors Serious Results

Photographed by Collins Nai.
When recommending beauty products is your job, you go through hella serums, moisturizers, eyeliners, lipsticks, scrubs, eyeshadows, volumizing sprays, blowdry extenders, concealers...okay, we'll stop. Because of the wild influx of goodies, beauty editors rarely finish an item. Whether we ultimately like or hate a product, it's usually time to move on to the next before the first is done. So we'll pass on the gently used item to a friend, colleague, or our moms — and start something fresh.

Yet there are always welcome exceptions to the norm. Once in a while we encounter standout, one-of-a-kind, un-giveaway-able products we love so much that we simply can't get rid of them. In fact, a lot of times we'll actually stockpile that shit like it's going out of style. That means whenever we actually use a product down to its last drop, swipe, smear, or squirt, we take major note. If we hit pan on a beloved eyeshadow or draw the last blood from an A+ eyeliner, they must be damn good. We're guessing that you might want to know about these items. Well, for months we've been collecting our #empties to share with you. Check 'em out, ahead.
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Cat Quinn, Beauty Director
"I've been in a constant state of rigorous beauty-product testing since I was in college. I actually started a product-sampling program for my 300-plus-member sorority. Now, I have a rotating-storage situation in my room (grouped by category: hair, makeup, skin, body) to help me. Why am I telling you all this? Because I test a crap-ton of cosmetics and rarely finish them. When I do, it's a big deal.

"You may only see three products here, but they're what I like to call my 'super-empties.' Not only have I gone through them once, but at least five or more times. They are the ride-or-dies of my cosmetics bag. And I can't say enough good things about them."
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"Yes, it's $70 a pop. Yes, I've gone through five of them. But, you guys, this stuff is pure magic. I struggle with acne and acne scars, and when I use this, for the first time in my life people stop me and say, 'Wow, you have really good skin.' You can't put a price on that."

La Mer The Radiant Concealer Broad Spectrum SPF 25, $70, available at La Mer.
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"I've tried a lot of overnight resurfacing treatments, but most of them leave me flaky, dry, and uneven. This stuff, on the other hand, makes my skin look way brighter and glowier than the night before and shrinks pimples in just a few hours. It's gentle, but has a slight tingling sensation (not burning) that feels so good."

Ole Henriksen
Invigorating Night Treatment, $48, available at Sephora.

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"The first time I slathered this on my face, I did a double take in the mirror. The peachy cream not only made my skin feel incredible, but it slightly blurred little imperfections and brightened skin. Now, I only need about half the foundation I used to use."

Caudalíe VinoPerfect Radiance Moisturizer SPF 20, $49, available at Caudalíe.
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Taylor Bryant, Beauty News Editor
"You know those people who, when they find a song they like or a new dress they adore, they play or wear it to death until they’re sick of it? Yeah, that’s me. And that same habit definitely spills over into beauty.

"When I find a product that I’m into, I’ll use it until it’s all dried up. And at the rate that beauty editors test out products, it’s probably not that surprising that I go through serums, lotions, and shampoos fairly frequently. If anything, this roundup is proof that the products ahead are the real deal and literally good to the very last drop."
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"This moisturizing master got me through what was actually a pretty mild winter. It’s 50% hyaluronic acid and the consistency is similar to that of an essence, so it doesn’t feel sticky, tacky, or heavy when I apply it."

Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100, $42, available at Peach & Lily.
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"When I get breakouts, I’m often too impatient to deal with them the non-aggressive way — a.k.a. I pop and pick until I feel like they’re no longer distracting to everyone looking at my face. The result: many acne scars. This serum from Clarins is one of the most effective dark-spot treatments I’ve used. It goes on like butter, and lasts a satisfyingly long time."

Clarins Mission Perfection Serum, $72, available at Clarins.
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"I revive my hair every morning with some kind of concoction. Kim Kimble’s spritzer is my most cherished product from the bunch. It keeps my hair moisturized and my curls at their springiest."

Kimble Beauty Liquid Curl Enhancer, $13.99, available at Sally Beauty.
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"I’m not a huge body-wash fan — soap, FTW — but when I do opt for a liquid, I like to keep it simple and not overly fragranced. I think it’s my non-subtle way of rebelling against the middle-school obsessed-with-Victoria’s-Secret-fragrances version of myself. This wash from Dr. Bronner’s is the sophisticated version of Love Spell, without the inevitable headache."

Dr. Bronner's 18-In-1 Hemp Lavender Pure-Castile Soap, $10.99, available at Dr. Bronner.
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"I used this to its last possible hydrating drop, mostly because the chic packaging kept me coming back — but also because it helped keep my cracked skin smooth during the colder months."

Kenzo Sensual Bare Body Cream, $48, available at Sephora.
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"I go through tubes of lip balm like some people go through packs of gum. Aquaphor is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done better than most."

Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy, $6.79, available at
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"I try to exfoliate my body at least once or twice a week, especially right after I work out. Indie brand Soul Sunday’s Cool Down is made up of all-natural ingredients like sugar, peppermint, and coconut oil (no microbead worries here!). And thanks to the light trace of oil, it won’t leave your skin raw or dry afterwards. My biggest complaint: Why doesn’t it come in a larger size?"

Soul Sunday Cool Down Sugar Scrub, $16, available at Soul Sunday.
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Megan McIntyre, Beauty Features Director
"I'm not usually someone who hits the pan on any of my products. Maybe it's because I have an overabundance of pretty much every type of beauty product on the planet (unless you're a nail salon, who else has 35 bottles of nail polish?), or maybe it's that I'm always eager to try something new as it hits my desk. Either way, me finishing off a beauty product means it's something I REALLY love and use frequently. Like every day, sometimes twice a day."
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"I go through SPF like many people go through Nutella — that is to say, every day in large quantities. With my current two-to-three-times-a-day application, I go through about two tubes every month-and-a-half. It's pretty much the only face SPF I use — it's moisturizing and doesn't break me out, plus I trust everything with the Dr. Gross name on it (he is my dermatologist for a reason). I just kicked one, and I've got two more waiting in the wings. But I also just got my hands on his new Instant Radiance Sun Defense SPF 50. It's tinted and gives a dewy glow — it's definitely going to be the next entry into my Empties Hall of Fame."

Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50, $42, available at Dr. Dennis Gross.
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"I experimented with this toner for a story I did on Marie Antoinette's beauty routine. Apparently Her Majesty was big on floral toners. One swipe of this, and so was I. It is probably the best skin-softener I've run across in my decade-plus as a beauty editor. It wipes away all the residual makeup my cleanser doesn't pick up and leaves my skin kitten-fur-misted-in-unicorn-tears soft. Using it twice a day, every day, I went through this bottle in less than a month."

Caudalíe Moisturizing Toner, $28, available at Caudalíe.
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"Ever since I cut my hair short, I've been shampooing a lot less. Where my fine hair used to get super-greasy and in dire need of a good sudsing, now if I use shampoo each time I shower, I end up with a fluffy nightmare. This conditioning wash from Hairstory gives a light wash with a healthy dose of moisture that makes my mane keep a style beautifully, sans the cotton-candy effect. Because the formula is so thick, it lasts forever. I used it two or three times a week and it still took me six months to get through the whole bottle."

Hairstory New Wash, $40, available at Hairstory.
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"This is just a really solid SPF lotion. Lightweight, hydrating, and protective — I put a coat on every morning when I take my dog to the park, as a kind of prelim to my full daily sunscreen. An SPF starter course, if you will."

Context Intensive Daily Moisturizer SPF 15, $40, available at Context.
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"I'm a consummate face-mister. At the office, the entire beauty team has some sort of hydrating liquid at their desk and we have what we call 'spritz o'clock.' Basically one of us will pick up our skin water and mist it on, at which point everyone else grabs their own bottle and starts spraying. I first discovered this one during our Beauty Innovator Awards (of which it was a winner)."

Whamisa Organic Flowers Olive Leaf Mist, currently sold out but head over to Glow Recipe to be notified when the product is restocked.
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"I started washing my face with honey a few years back as part of (another) beauty experiment. And I haven't gone back. With a few exceptions, I wash my face with honey every night. It leaves my skin so soft and smooth. And mixed with a little yogurt and left on the face, it makes for a soothing mask."

Wedderspoon Gold Raw Organic Manuka Honey KFactor 16, $39.99, available at Wedderspoon.
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"I go through a pack of these about every three weeks in the summer. I always feel gross and disgusting at some point in my day, so I keep these on hand for a quick scent refresh. Which, when it's 85 degrees out and you've been melting on a subway platform and then stood nose-to-armpit with a dude in a wool suit, is a lot more often than I'd care to admit. Super-handy and portable, they also cool you down as you go. Can't really get more convenient than swipe, rub, ditch, and go."

Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths, $4, available at Walgreens.
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Maria Del Russo, Beauty Editor
"I rarely finish a beauty product, simply because I'm constantly trying new finds. But lately, I've been settling into routines that keep my skin and hair in tip-top shape, so the empties have been coming in hot."
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"Exfoliation is an important step in any skin-care regimen, and I find that my skin reacts best to chemical exfoliants. Enter: Good Genes (that's the name of the product, not my genetic disposition). By using this lactic-acid treatment three times a week before bed, I wake up with skin that's silky-smooth."

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $105, available at Sephora.
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"The major thing I look for in a moisturizer is that it hydrates without being too heavy. This gel cream from Sunday Riley does that exactly, plus it brightens my complexion. It's a total win-win."

Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, $65, available at Sephora.
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"I love Tom's deodorant because it's a healthy, aluminum-free option. But reapplication throughout the day is totally necessary, which is why I go through it so fast. On the plus side, it smells like lavender, so I don't mind all that much."

Tom's of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant in Wild Lavender, $4.99, available at Tom's of Maine.
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"Now that I have platinum-blond hair, I use Shu Uemura's Essence Absolue to keep my strands soft and silky. I loved the designs on this special-edition bottle, which was a collaboration with Maison Kitsuné, and I'm sad I won't see it in my bathroom anymore."

Shu Uemura x Maison Kitsuné Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil, $69, available at Shu Uemura Art of Hair.
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Mi-Anne Chan, Beauty Editorial Assistant
"Just like everyone else on this team, my desk, bathroom, and just about every nook and cranny of my apartment is teeming with beauty products waiting to be tested. When I find products that work, I keep them on deck 24/7 in case something else I'm trying triggers a breakout or doesn't agree with me. I pretty much never finish a product that I don't like, so the fact that I've finished these seven products in under six months is a testament to how much I love them."
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"Almost all my friends have heard me rave about this moisturizer at some point or another. I'm obsessed with it, and always have an extra one hidden under my desk or stuffed in my dresser (promise I'm not a hoarder). I hate to admit it, but I can get lazy when it comes to SPF, so I love reaching for this lightweight, yet super-moisturizing day lotion because, surprise, it's also SPF 30. Plus, it layers under makeup like a dream all times of the year."

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM with SPF 30, $14.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"At night, though, I tend to reach for oils to moisturize my skin. With all the acne horror stories I'd been told about oils over the years, I used to be deathly afraid of them. But since I've started actually using them, I've fallen in love with the way they make my skin feel. This one in particular was the first I tried (I've already been through two bottles), and I love it because of the scar-fading rosehip oil, and antioxidant-rich cranberry and tomato-seed oils."

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+, $36, available at Trilogy.
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"This is another super-luxurious oil that I would happily slather all over my body if I could (the $72 price tag makes this somewhat impractical). It's rich in beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants, which makes it my go-to winter moisturizer."

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil, $72, available at Sephora.
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"I wear a cat-eye almost daily, so I go through a ton of liquid eyeliner. This one from Eyeko is a good, fuss-free option. The felt tip makes it easy to trace on graphic and tiny flicks, and the formula stays put all day."

Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner, $19, available at Birchbox.
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"I discovered this concealer last summer, and I swear I have not used another one since. The product's name, Naked Skin, is no joke. This stuff is creamy, hydrating, super-pigmented, and best of all, it actually looks like my skin. On most days, I just wear this under my eyes, around my nose, and on blemishes in lieu of foundation or BB cream."

Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer, $28, available at Sephora.
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"I've already written a lengthy love letter to this product, so I won't bore you with the nitty-gritty details. In short: This super-skinny pencil is ideal for drawing on realistic-looking brow hairs. Plus, the deep, cool-toned brown is a perfect match for anyone with brownish-black eyebrows like mine!"

It Cosmetics Brow Power Super Skinny Universal Waterproof Brow Pencil in Universal Dark Brown, $24, available at It Cosmetics.
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"In the past eight years that I've been wearing makeup, I've tried many a cleansing oil and this one is my hands-down favorite. Something about this chia-seed-and-passion-fruit-oil blend melts away my waterproof makeup in half the time that it takes other formulas. The oil is really silky, so it's a pleasure to rub all over my face and when it's time to rinse, it instantly transforms into a milky lather, leaving behind a light layer of hydrating oil. You could leave it there and call it a night, but I'm not a fan of residue so I double-cleanse with a separate cleanser after."

Lather Chia Seed & Passion Fruit Cleansing Oil, $21, available at Lather.
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