23 Beauty Products You Didn't Even Know You Needed

Regular R29 readers go above and beyond the call of beauty duty. You may have more than one concealer or switch up your skin-care routine every season. Chances are, you're way more Sephora-savvy than the average Jane.
But, some things surprise even us beauty editors — yes, those of us in the trenches with the glam gurus, whose job it is to watch YouTube makeup tutorials and test lipsticks for a living. Sometimes, a product will come along that's so good, it makes us sing that good ol' Rihanna song: "Where have you been all my life?"


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That's why we collected the products we wished we'd been using since forever, and then asked some of our favorite pros to do the same. The result is a tightly edited list that will take you from aspiring expert to total savant. (Pre-shampoo oil, anyone? How about a face sponge made from Japanese potatoes?) And, while many of these items may seem like pure marketing fodder, trust us: We've tested and approved them — and so have our go-to professionals. We're just spreading the love.


Click through, and allow your mind to be blown. And, if it's not, consider yourself an expert in your own right. (Better yet, teach us a thing or two by leaving a recommendation in the comments — sharing is caring!)
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Photo: Via Nude.
A Cleansing Balm
It-Brit aesthetician Caroline Hirons swears by these balms for cleansing and makeup removal. She recommends applying a light layer and massaging it in with gentle, sweeping motions. Rinse off with warm water, and voilà! Your makeup is a distant memory.
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Photo: Via Julep.
A Konjac Sponge
These little sponges, made from Japanese potatoes, are current favorites of many of our beauty editors. Unlike washcloths, they dry completely between uses, which helps stave off bacteria. Plus, their felt-like texture lends any cleanser a rich, luxurious lather. (They're also way more effective at prying out blackheads than your fingers.)
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Photo: Via Pixi.
A Liquid Exfoliant
Hirons insists on exfoliating toners for both day and night because, like cleansing powders, they properly prepare the skin for active ingredients. They also help you nab a seriously enviable glow, even if your skin is feeling anything but glowy.
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Photo: Via Dermalogica.
A Cleansing Powder
Most scrubs are too harsh to use regularly, especially if you have sensitive skin. But, when we approach our 30s and beyond, daily exfoliation can help boost the active ingredients in our favorite anti-agers, including vitamins A and C. Dermalogica’s Microfoliant is a total cult classic, renowned for its super gentle grit, which releases a little acne-clearing salicylic acid once wet. Use it at night to supercharge your favorite serum.
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Photo: Via Medicine Mama's.
A Multipurpose Balm
This little stick is packed with antimicrobial honey, royal jelly, bee pollen, olive oil, and propolis, making it an ultra rich, skin-friendly blend that you can use on basically anything. Cuticles? You got it. Lips? Duh. A tiny drop all over your face before bed? Sure. But, the most inventive idea is from makeup artist and R29 contributor Gloria Noto: She uses it to highlight cheekbones and add a touch of dew to the center of the eyelids. We tried it, and we’re totally hooked.
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Photo: Via Boots.
A Facial Mist
Face sprays may seem superfluous. But, makeup artists swear by their abilities to instantly rejuvenate, plump, and moisten the skin, which helps bring out the best in your base. Rosewater has long been known to hydrate and calm, so it’s ideal for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. (It will seriously boost your productivity after the inevitable caffeine crash.) Or, if you’re feeling extra indulgent, take a tip from Lea Michele’s makeup artist, Mélanie Inglessis: For the ultimate glowing complexion, saturate your sponge in the stuff, and then use it to apply your foundation.
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Photo: Via Talika.
An Eye Mask
You already know that facial masks are a necessity — but that doesn’t mean you should forget about your eyes. These gel patches are an oft-Instagrammed beauty staple. They utilize essential oils and a ceramide to quell puffiness and instantly hydrate the area, lessening wrinkles in just 15 minutes. Keep them by your bedside for Saturday mornings, or for the happy hour that turns into a full evening of debauchery. Nobody will be able to tell you haven't slept — promise!
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Photo: Via Supergoop!
An SPF Hand Cream
People say that both Madonna and Diane Keaton are rarely photographed without gloves because their hands have aged, well, differently than their faces. People also say that SK-II, a line based on a sake-derived essence known as Pitera, was discovered by chance when a group of scientists noticed that the brewers’ hands were noticeably smoother and softer than their complexions. In short: Your hands age. The best way to take care of them is with a daily application of SPF — and, no, 15 won’t cut it. Load up on a 40, like the one here, and make sure to indulge in frequent manicures. You’ll reduce age spots, wrinkles, and thinning skin.
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Photo: Via Herbal Essences.
A Cleansing Conditioner
If you’ve got dry, curly, or color-treated hair, you already know that sulfates are the enemy. Cleansing conditioners will rid you of the dirt and grime weighing down your strands without overly stripping.
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Photo: Via Elemis.
A Body Brush
Miranda Kerr once told us that the secret to her glowing skin is dry-brushing, which is supposed to exfoliate while boosting circulation. After each shower, you slather yourself in oil (she uses rosehip), and then direct the brush in upward sweeping motions toward the heart. It hurts a bit at first, but the benefits are undeniable once you stick with it: Your skin will feel way softer, and you may even totally eradicate those pesky red bumps winter throws your way.
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Photo: Via Leonor Greyl.
A Pre-Shampoo Oil
Celebrity hair guru Peter Butler insists on coating color-treated or dry strands in a protective oil before hitting the shower. It's worth considering: Water can cause oxidative damage, which could make color rinse faster and lead to dryness. Think of this product as a cleansing balm, as opposed to a stripping, foaming cleanser. A little bit of it goes a long way — it will last you forever. Just make sure to follow it with a sulfate-free shampoo, or you're defeating the purpose.
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Photo: Via Oribe.
A Dry Conditioner
“This is a great product to use during the winter to prevent split ends and keep static electricity away,” says Butler. It also has a lovely, luxurious scent, so that shower could become truly optional.
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Photo: Via Serge Normant.
A Volumizing Spray
If you’re blowdrying at home without concentrating a volume mist at the roots, or all over your hair, then please stop what you’re doing right now and nab one. Your hair game will totally change — trust. (Round brush also highly suggested.)
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Photo: Via Davines.
A Color Conditioner
You can boost color-treated hair — or even what your momma gave ya — with a regular dose of Davines conditioner, a favorite of celebrity colorist Aura Friedman. It comes in this awesome purple hue for platinum blondes and grays, chocolate for deep browns and blacks, and golden for those Blake Lively blondes. Apply it to damp, clean hair, and then comb through for even application. Leave it in for 10 minutes, and rinse — you'll see a color upgrade as soon as your hair dries.
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Photo: Via Rita Hazan.
A Color-Enhancing Mousse
You know when you’re on a budget, and it’s really time to touch up your color? And, your stylist told you four to six weeks, and you’re at seven? And, now your highlights have that bizarre, orange-y glow that looks like that expensive dye job came from a bad at-home box situation? That’s why God (and, by God, we mean Rita Hazan) invented this. Enjoy.
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Photo: Via Charlotte Tilbury.
A Makeup Primer
Are primers really worth it? We hear your concerns, and we’ve voiced them as well. But, then we met this guy: a hyaluronic acid-based product with light-reflecting particles that Ms. Tilbury insists “harnesses the light and reflects it off your face.” We’re not sure we’d go that far, but it definitely works wonders (as its name suggests). Use it before foundation, mix it in with your base, or apply it on the high planes of the face in the middle of the day for instant glow.
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Photo: Via Tom Ford.
A Color Corrector
Makeup guru Robin Black has already taught us a thing or two about the importance of correcting tones in undereye circles before concealing. That goes for red marks, too. A color corrector uses contrasting tones to help minimize those red and purple shades that are characteristic of blemishes and dark circles. Once those are out of the way, it's infinitely easier to camouflage what's left with your cover-up. This magic wand from Tom Ford is double-sided — one end for your circles and the other for red marks.
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Photo: Via Make Up For Ever.
A Fan Brush
“These are great for lower-lash mascara application, and also to really get into the roots of the upper lashes," says makeup pro Benjamin Puckey. "It can be hard to reach those, but it’s so important, especially for lighter eyelashes — you want them to be fully coated.”
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Photo: Via MAC.
A Blending Brush
This is the MacGyver of makeup brushes. In fact, if you’re ever getting your makeup professionally done and the artist doesn’t have one of these, consider leaving immediately. “You can use it for anything,” Puckey says. “I apply concealer with it, because you can fan it out onto the eye for better skin placement. You can also use it to apply lipstick: Just brush it along the lip line for a diffused sort of look.” Consider investing in two, or even three, and keeping one totally clean so you can use it to blend your eyeshadows.
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Photo: Via Lipstick Queen.
A Lipliner
So, you’re averse to lipliner because, hello, you saw the '90s, and that is so never happening to you. Luckily, Poppy King made an invisible one, which actually acts as a lip primer: It lightly hydrates and ensures even and long-lasting application for your favorite colors.
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Photo: Via Mally Beauty.
A Face Finisher
Let’s face it: Loose powder is messy, it’s not always great for all skin tones, and who really has the damn time for all of that, anyway? Plus, it can be hard to get a precise application, and you don’t really want to mattify your whole face — just the shiny bits. (Not to mention, if you leave some unblended, it could look like you were up to no good in that bathroom. Hello, Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.) That’s why Mally Roncal came up with Face Defender, a gel-like, silicone substance that you tap on top of makeup for a soft-focused, blurred finish. It keeps oil at bay, so it’s ideal for photo ops and big nights out.
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Photo: Via Essie.
A Ridge-Filling Basecoat
Earlier this year, lots of companies were trying to make nail BB creams happen. This product has been around forever, and is basically the same concept, sans the fancy name: It plumps the nail bed for better polish application. Backstage at Fashion Week, manicurist Michelle Saunders used it as a basecoat with nothing on top for a “your nails, but better” effect.
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Photo: Via Jin Soon.
A Diamond Nail File
Rejoice, because the days of scraping, scraping, and scraping are finally behind you. This chic, diamond file lets you refine your shape without hours of hard work. “Make sure to go in just one direction, not the back-and-forth,” advises nail pro Jin Soon.
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