Is anyone loyal anymore? If we consult our makeup bags, we'd have to say absolutely not. Most of us use a lengthening mascara from one brand and a concealer from another, and never think twice about it. You probably bought them at different times, one while shopping for something else at Sephora and the other from Boots.
Since we're so brand agnostic these days, we thought it would be fun to poll our R29 staffers who love makeup and ask them: If you could only use one makeup brand forever, which would you pick?
Ahead, read and shop our team's personal reviews and responses — which might surprise you! — and ask yourself if there's one makeup brand you could buy and use exclusively. (It's tough, we know — "I'm really torn between two" was communicated more than three times during polling.)
"Before Huda Beauty had TikTok in a chokehold, it was a staple brand inside my overflowing makeup bag. In fact, it still is, and that’s because it offers everything I’d ever need: Inclusive shade range? Check. Long-lasting formulas? Tick. Punchy pigments? Yep. If you’re not into full coverage, there are much lighter products to choose from, such as the GloWish Multi Dew Skin Tint, Lip Blush Creamy Lip & Cheek Stain, and the Bright Light Sheer Concealer. The brand boasts everything you’ll want for a lightweight summer look and products for occasions, too. The eyeshadow palettes in particular have seen me through many Christmas parties, concerts, and weddings." — Jacqueline Kilikita, Refinery29 Acting Beauty Director
Jacqueline's top picks from Huda Beauty:
1. Huda Beauty #FAUXFILTER Luminous Matte Liquid Concealer: The tiniest dot of this stuff goes a very long way. I mainly use it to conceal angry red breakouts, but I often sheer it out over moisturiser for a base that feels featherlight yet provides me with enough coverage to feel confident throughout the day.
2. Huda Beauty Quick ‘n Easy Precision Liquid Liner: The felt-tip nib is just the right size to achieve a subtle wing with a flick of the wrist. Admittedly, I’m a seasoned eyeliner wearer, but I don’t even have to try while using this. The best part is that it doesn’t leave dubious black smudges on my eyelids — once applied, it’s locked on until you see fit to remove it at the end of the day.
3. Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Liquid Lipstick: I know we’ve moved onto glossy lips, but you’ll never prise matte liquid lipstick from my hands. Others I’ve tried (even luxury brands) turn my lips into the Atacama Desert — they’re that drying. This always feels soft and comfortable and the shade range is impressive. I love Wifey and Trendsetter in particular.
"I consider Saie to be what early Glossier was: no-makeup makeup, minimalist brand aesthetic, born direct-to-consumer (though now at Sephora), and affordable enough that you can recommend the Super Glowy Gel to a friend who compliments your glow without feeling awkward about the fact that it’s £50 (it's actually a more reasonable £22). I could do my entire makeup routine exclusively using Saie makeup. But as it stands now, the label makes up a good part of my essentials: lightweight foundation, hydrating concealer, a cream-based bronzer that rivals Chanel's, and the fluffy brush I use to blend it all together — so that's pretty substantial." — Megan Decker, Refinery29 Beauty Editor
Megan's top picks from Saie:
1. Saie Glowy Super Skin Lightweight Hydrobounce™ Serum Foundation: This is truly a serum foundation. It's lightweight and offers minimal coverage but evens my skin tone beautifully. I use the shade 6 and apply it after bronzer using the big fluffy brush (below).
2. Saie Hydrabeam Brightening + Hydrating Creamy Under Eye Concealer: The only place I really desperately and chronically need concealer is under my eyes, and this is the best one I've ever tried. It’s creamy, light, and never creases. If I had to compare it to something, it would be the Kosas Creamy Concealer (also very good).
3. Saie The Big Brush: Somehow, Saie went and made an unsexy category — makeup brushes — into something I regularly rave about. This is the best brush I've ever used. It’s big and soft, and using it regularly with seamless application and zero breakouts convinced me that a brush > Beautyblender.
"For me, putting on a face full of bright colours and face gems is my favourite form of self-care. Nothing makes me more invigorated than a graphic liner and a bit of sparkle — I’m even planning to cover my face in rhinestones and pearls for my wedding. When it comes to face gems, Half Magic is untouchable: I’m obsessed with the multi-coloured pearls, the only gems I’ve tried that are reliably reusable. So while I would miss complexion products (still waiting for Half Magic to drop a concealer!), I simply don’t think I could live without the dopamine hit I get from putting Half Magic on my face. I would also miss water-activated liners (Glisten Cosmetics was a close second), but I know I could make do with Half Magic’s Chromaddiction line, which can be used both as shadow and liner and comes in some of those most incredible colours (that laviwinkle, I meeeean). My other musts are a good nude-y red lip and a sharp cat eye — both of which Half Magic has nailed." — Hannah Rimm, Refinery29 Senior Life Editor
Hannah's top picks from Half Magic:
1. Half Magic Iridescent Sparkle Face Gems: No face gem has ever face gemed as hard as these — they are the perfect iridescent shade and the size range is unbeatable. I love to throw a tiny rhinestone in my inner corner for an everyday hit of sparkle.
2. Half Magic Chromaddiction Matte in Sky Juice: A little goes a long way with these eye paints. I use them most as graphic liners for fun eyeliner shapes, but they also buff out super nicely for a soft all over shadow look.
3. Half Magic Sculptitude in Fancy Cherry and Sugar Plum B*tch: I feel naked without lip color and I love this duo. Both shades stand beautifully on their own or can be used together for an ombré lip.
"Honestly, this was like asking me to pick which HAIM sister is my favourite — it sent me into hives. My brain first went to the brands I use on the daily, like Westman Atelier and Danessa Myricks, but then I remembered that those aren’t brands I can find everywhere. When you ask me to only use one makeup brand forever, I have to think about what I would use if I lost my makeup bag while traveling abroad or if I’m at home in Michigan — and that’s why Maybelline is my pick here. You can find a Maybelline product basically anywhere on Earth, and the brand has a wide-spanning, inclusive shade range in both tone and undertone, which is the hill I will die on every single time. Maybelline also kills it in the colour cosmetics department — there are very few drugstore brands that also make a black lipstick — and the highlighters are designed for those of us who highlight our faces for the cheap seats in the back.
Maybelline’s inclusivity — price point, shade range, and accessibility — is why I would ride or die for it forever. And on top of everything else? It performs. Maybelline products are gooooood. I likely have a Maybelline lipstick or lip gloss in every single bag in my apartment, its primers rival the viral e.l.f ones, and the setting powder is an instant repurchase." — Amanda Mitchell, Refinery29 Senior Beauty Writer & Stories Creator
Amanda's top picks from Maybelline:
1. Maybelline Super Stay Vinyl Ink Liquid Lipcolor: Give these lipcolours their flowers. This is the formula of my dreams — it’s more like a satin than the traditional matte lipstick, and despite having "vinyl" in the name, these feel and look velvety and are glossy but not… shiny. But the pigment, baby, the pigment. These are one-swipe lipsticks that will not budge in the slightest. Witty is my actual lip colour but in a tube, and Unrivaled is the berry-pink I’ve been waiting for. I love these so much, I might marry them.
2. Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder: I MEAN COME ON. I am almost certain I’ve been using this since I was recommended it in an article from xoVain back in the Mesozoic Era. This was the powders that taught me that even I, a glow girl, need a bit of matte in my makeup. This sets your makeup so beautifully and lasts — even on the dampest of humid days.
3. Maybelline Face Studio Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter: I owe Sable Yong a medal for showing me this. I love these highlighters, and I’m a discerning highlighter snob. These highlighters melt into your skin beautifully, and despite being a powder, they don’t really get that weird patchy effect some powder highlighters can. Truly, I have these in every single shade, and I will return to them time and time again.
"I’ve been a diehard fan of Kosas — and its insanely chic biologist-meets-artist founder, Sheena Zadeh-Daly — since the brand launched with five lipsticks in minimalist matte black tubes in 2015. In the years since, all the way through to its current rebranding, Kosas has consistently dropped high-quality, innovative products that look and feel good and work even better. The legend goes that Sheena was struck by inspiration during a portrait-painting class, and it shows: Even the poppiest reds and fuchsia pinks in the line still seem like they could feasibly be found in the human colour palette, which explains why they work on everyone.
In a world so oversaturated with new products all the time, I love that each Kosas launch seems intentional and actually offers something new that you won’t find from other brands. For me, the entire collection lines up perfectly with the aesthetic I’m trying to achieve: not “no-makeup” makeup, but makeup that looks natural on the skin while providing the perfect backdrop for that swipe of shimmery rose-gold shadow or mirror-like magenta gloss." — Rachel Krause, Refinery29 Contributing Editor
Rachel's top picks from Kosas:
1. Kosas Revealer Concealer: This is my favourite concealer of all time and it’s not even close. It’s creamy, blends seamlessly, never creases or settles into fine lines, brightens dark circles, hides blemishes without making them look worse, lasts all day, and contains ingredients like caffeine, arnica, and peptides that make your skin look better while you wear it. The finish is naturally radiant but not shiny, so you can set it with powder if you like or just wear it on its own. Most days, it’s the only complexion product I wear over sunscreen. (I admit I haven’t tried the new Kosas one yet, but it’s next on my list.)
2. Kosas Cloud Set Setting Powder: I hadn’t worn powder in years, let alone pressed powder, before I tried this one, and now I use it every single time I do my makeup for real (as in, not the cursory layer of tinted moisturiser I slap on when I need to walk the dog more than three blocks or go to Trader Joe’s). I cannot overstate how much it does not look like powder on the skin: The effect almost reminds me of the blotting papers I used to carry in middle school, because it cuts down on oiliness and shine without visibly adding anything to the face. I use a fluffy brush to sweep it all over my face as my final step, and it just sort of blurs and smooths everything into poreless oblivion without sacrificing my hard-won glow. I love that it’s talc-free, too.
3. Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss: I’ll be honest: I get the sense that the new-and-improved Weightless Lipstick will unseat this juicy, juicy gloss as my Kosas lip product of choice as soon as I get the chance to try it. Until then, though, you’ll find at least one of these chunky tubes in every single purse I own. Packed with beneficial ingredients like hyaluronic acid, evening primrose oil, and shea butter, this formula is perfectly plumping and hydrating, and comes in a range of colours from the most barely-there (Jellyfish) to an aptly named Baywatch-bathing-suit blood red (Jaws). They feel so good on the lips and glaze right over any little lines, rendering them invisible.
"I reviewed a full face of Merit’s beauty offerings last year, and spoiler alert: The brand still figures heavily in my daily makeup routine. I have very few critiques of the brand; the formulas are utterly luxurious, and the fact that it's ingredient-conscious (Merit formulates in accordance to EU standards and is also Clean at Sephora-certified) is an excellent plus to already excellent products. (BTW, all Merit products are formulated in partnership with celebrity aesthetician Biba de Sousa to be suitable for acne-prone skin, which I very much have.)" — Karina Hoshikawa, Refinery29 Senior Writer, Affiliate
Karina's top picks from Merit:
1. Merit Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil: If I had to pick three stars — all of which are among my most-used products, bar none — I’d have to start with the lip oil. In a crowded landscape of virtually indistinguishable glossy tubes with oversized doe-foot applicators, Merit’s formula is minimal mastery at its finest. The colour range is curated yet playful, and the texture beats any other formula I’ve tried: glossy but not too much so, creamy but lightweight, and best of all, genuinely hydrating.
2. Merit Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara: Another personal fave is the mascara, which, again, has to be one of the best I’ve ever tried — and this is an important caveat — for my lashes. I have naturally long, dark lashes, so I like a subtle lengthening mascara. (No dramatic thickening and volume for me, please.) Merit’s mascara is like a your-lashes-but-better vibe, so for me, it’s perfect for creating the most fluttery, feathery lash look.
3. Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick: Now, I will say that at £40 for not a ton of product (compared to a liquid foundation bottle, anyway), this stuff is expensive. However, if you’re down to splurge, you’ll be rewarded with the most gorgeous, creamy pigment that blends beautifully into skin with an undetectable finish. I’d bill it as light-to-medium coverage, but definitely buildable depending on your preference. It takes me all of five seconds to swipe and blend, and it never looks like I have a full face of foundation on. All in all, I’m willing to go out and say that no one is doing "quiet luxury" beauty as well as Merit is right now.
"If you had asked me when I was younger if I would believe that Disney gal Selena Gomez would be making some of my favourite beauty products in my adulthood, I would without a doubt not believe you. From my experience, a lot of celebrity brands can feel a little forced and insincere. But Selena Gomez really is that bitch, and in my eyes, her cosmetics brand can do no wrong. I bought my first Rare Beauty products last year, and of those, I’ve almost emptied the mascara and concealer. I am also a big fan of the Always an Optimist Soft Radiance Setting Powder when I’m feeling shiny, and the Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer in Power Boost is perfect for the slightest, most natural-looking nose contour. Even the Kind Words Matte Lipstick is great, and reminds me a ton of my early-20s indie sleaze days when MAC’s Matte Lipstick reigned supreme.
On top of all of that, I love how Selena Gomez is so involved with the brand and is genuine and open about her Rare Impact mission. I’m not even mad that I have to make a Sephora run soon to re-up my necessities, because it just means I can try (and buy) more Rare Beauty to add to the collection. Because the products don’t skimp on their pigmentation and formula, a little bit goes a long way — and the less you have to buy, the more you save. Next I’d like to try the Soft Pinch Liquid Blush and the Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight because they both have so many gorgeous shades to choose from." — Annie Black, Refinery29 Social Editor
Annie's top picks from Rare Beauty:
1. Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara: My biggest pet peeve when it comes to mascara is when it flakes off throughout the day, and this one has quite literally never flaked off. I use it almost daily. I love the slightly angled wand that lends to really pretty length and volume, and if you use enough of this, I really think you could fool someone into thinking you’re wearing falsies. I’ve been using this product consistently for the past seven or eight months, and I’m not stopping any time soon.
2. Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer in Shade 170W: One thing about me is I will have dark bags under my eyes no matter how many hours I sleep (thanks, genetics!). I love this shade of concealer for my skin tone because I think the yellow-y tinge helps neutralise and brighten my under-eyes, which can reach a surprisingly unpleasant shade of violet. It’s also very buildable, so on days where I think I need more, it’s not apparent I’m wearing more.
3. Rare Beauty Always an Optimist Pore Diffusing Primer: While I don’t think my pores are necessarily big, sometimes I do focus on them, and sometimes they do bother me. On the days when they do, I love using this silky primer because it sits really well on top of my skin-care regardless of how much (or how little) makeup I decide to wear. It also blurs and mattifies my skin a bit, which I really enjoy for a fresh base.
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