Recently, my mind has been blown by simple little tools and beauty products that have improved my everyday makeup routine. I've always loved playing with makeup, for better or worse, and have experimented with lots of looks throughout the years—the red lip, the cat eye, the flushed cheeks. (I'm still too scared to try contouring, but maybe on a later, braver day!)
Experimenting with different beauty looks is thrilling, but I always end up disappointed soon thereafter: My foundation appears cakey, my smokey eye looks like it was smudged on by a three-year-old, and my trendy nail lacquer chips within the hour. Sound familiar?
Thankfully, through trial and error, video tutorials, and the advice of good friends, I've found the following six products that actually work. These subtle swaps in your makeup routine provide a big impact on a small budget. We know the trick to great makeup is to not really "see" it but to get a natural, polished look. These six secret weapons will help you do just that—with very little effort involved.
01. NAIL POLISH TOPCOAT//
I know, I know, topcoat seems like the most basic final step to nail polish application that every girl learns as a tween. But I never grew up with it, so I never knew its magical ability to make a DIY at-home nail job last twice as long and prevent smudges, scrapes, and more! I’ve tried plenty of topcoats, even those pricey brands, but Revlon’s Quick Dry Top Coat ($6.99) is a Verily office favorite and really works.
02. EYE CREASE BLENDER BRUSH//
I’ve watched countless YouTube videos (including our own!) in hopes of nailing the “smoky eye” look for evening and day. They’re all helpful, but the real lightbulb went off when I discovered celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge’s video. She uses a blending brush that’s puffy, round, blunt, and is used to ever-so-softly blend a dark shade into your crease. Truly, it’s made my eye makeup way more professional-looking and natural at the same time. She uses the MAC 217 blending brush, but I found Pop Arazzi’s Eye Crease Blender Brush at my local drugstore—$2.99 well spent.
03. EYEBROW GEL//
Full, filled, and nicely groomed eyebrows (that stay in place) can change your entire look. It doesn't take much, but simply groomed eyebrows frame your face, make your eyes pop, and give you an immediately put-together feel with barely any other makeup. Revlon’s Brow Fantasy ($5.99) comes with a natural-hued brow pencil, and the best part, a brush with gel, which keeps those hairs in place!
04. FACIAL SPRAY//
It may seem a little silly to spritz water infused with rose aloe vera oil on your face after you’ve put on your makeup, but trust me, it works wonders. A facial spray “sets” your makeup to keep it in place, and it also brightens your complexion by adding a bit of needed moisture and dewiness to dry skin. Mario Badescu Rose Water Spray ($7) is a cult favorite among makeup artists!
05. FOUNDATION SPONGE//
The original BeautyBlender sponge has become an instant classic—so much so that Target has released its own Latex Super Blender ($4.99) for a fraction of the price.These sponge foundation applicators allow you to flawlessly apply cream and liquid foundation without overdoing it as tends to happen when you use your fingers or a brush. The pointed tip works well around the nose and eyes, while the rounded bottom glides along your jawline. The sponges are hypoallergenic and disposable (but yes, you can use it more than once!), and your foundation will end up lasting longer, too, rather than just ending up on your hands.
06. HEATED EYELASH CURLER//
A heated eyelashe curler sounds scary, but I promise it's not! We like the Blinc Heated Lash Curler ($24) and Sephora's Heated Eyelash Curler ($17). These battery-operated curlers warm your lashes every so slightly to give them a lasting curl. You simply hold the wand up to your eyelashes, first at the middle and then at the sides, and gently brush upward. It doesn’t hurt at all, and the curler has a protective heat guard to ensure safety. The effect is so gorgeous you may not even need mascara after using it!