31 Indispensable Beauty Products And Lessons It Took Me 31 Years To Learn

These are the products I would burn down a Sephora over if they ever got discontinued.
Publish date:
June 3, 2014
shoppables, birthdays

There aren't many rules out here in the wild frontier of cyberspace. (Remember in the 90s, when we put "cyber" in front of everything?") But there is one hard and fast rule of Internet publishing and that is that you are pretty much required to come up with some article entitled "X Things I Something About Turning X" on every birthday. (See last year's effort: 20 Beauty and Style Mistakes I Made in My 20s (That I'm Ditching Now That I'm in My 30s.)

My birthday was actually a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn't think of anything I wanted to say about turning 31 until today, so consider this a belated birthday post. These 31 products are the real deal. The products I would burn down a Sephora over if they ever got discontinued.

1. Josie Maran Argan Oil Illuminizer, $28

My skin is nice as hell and I refuse to be ashamed about that. I've got back fat and stuff, too -- it all evens out in the end pretty much, I think. But because my skin is nice as hell, people often say to me, "Emily, how did you get such a glowing and radiant complexion?" The answer is Josie Maran Argan Oil Illuminizer, which is the only "foundation" type thing I put on my skin.

2. Clarisonic Mia, $99

We've pretty thoroughly covered the Clarisonic on xoJane, but just in case you didn't know, it makes your skin look real good. At least that has been my experience.

3. Prenatal Gummy Vitamins, $9.98

I first got into these when I would steal them off Cat's desk back in the day. One of my funniest memories of working with Cat is how she used to announce that she was "preparing her body for a baby" every time she took one of these. We were both actually taking them for the benefits to hair, skin and nails. I asked my gynecologist about it and she said there's no real research to back up those benefits, but there is anecdotal evidence and taking them isn't going to hurt you, as long as they're the kind without iron. She also told me that for women who have a history of HPV and abnormal paps, there are some studies that suggest folic acid helps your body clear the virus.

4. Sea salt spray will never give me "beachy waves." It only makes my hair look dirty. Same with coconut oil.

5. Dr. Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula, 30 treatments for $82

I went to see Dr. Gross shortly after my 30th birthday, and these Alpha Beta Peels are one of my favorite things from the regimen they gave me. I use these 3 times a week on cleansed skin and I can see a marked improvement to my skin's texture and brightness. They're not cheap, but they're really effective.

6. A good night's sleep is the best beauty treatment.

7. MAC Lady Danger Lipstick, $16

This is my go-to red -- a bright, matte, tomato-y red that pops off your face. I actually start to feel nervous if it's not in my possession and panic-buy it, which is why I now have 3 or 4 tubes in various locations. Some people find Lady Danger a bit too orange, but MAC has enough great reds that I think every red-lipstick-wearer should have one of them in her makeup bag. Try Ruby Woo or Russian Red if Lady Danger isn't your speed.

8. Men's deodorant smells better.

9. Anastasia Brow Wiz, $21, and Tinted Brow Gel, $22

I don't believe in stuff you have to learn or do by age 30 or 40 or whatever. I believe in making mistakes in every decade. That said, if I were hard-pressed to pick one thing women should learn by their 30s, I'd say they should come correct with their brow game. These products can help.

10. Never skimp on hair, shoes or tattoos.

11. Lavanila Vanilla Coconut Perfume, $58

Fragrances are incredibly personal, and I know a lot of you hate sweet-smelling fragrances, but I finally found my fragrance soulmate with Lavanila Vanilla Coconut. People are constantly telling me how amazing I smell, and once a drunk dude at a bar shouted, "WHY DO YOU SMELL LIKE A SEXY CAKE?" at me. Life goals unlocked.

12. The good news about aging is it means you're not dead.

13. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, $20

I wear liquid eyeliner on the daily, so it's important to me that I have the best one. So far this Stila one offers the best control + staying power. I've also noticed it's what all the Sephora makeup counter ladies use to give me a cat eye.

14. However you look right now, in 10 years you're going to think you looked amazing and wish you'd appreciated it.

15. Neutrogena Age Shield Facial Sunscreen, $10.61

I don't need to say, "Wear sunscreen," do I? Wear sunscreen. I like this Neutrogena one because it's specifically designed for faces -- it's oil-free and noncomedogenic, and it provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.

16. Lean in to your natural hair texture instead of fighting it.

17. Davines Alchemic Shampoo and Conditioner, $24.50-$28.50

All Davines products are amazing, but the alchemic shampoos and conditioners are awesome for maintaining and enhancing natural or treated hair color. I use the "Copper" shade when I have red hair.

18. You really have to let liquid eyeliner dry completely before opening your eyes.

19. Urban Decay Naked Palettes, $54

I'm not great with eye shadow and I don't use it that often, so all I really need is the Urban Decay Naked Palette (OK, all 3). Each palette comes with 12 of UD's most popular neutrals and bronzes.

20. My skin looks better when you can see my skin.

21. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square $25

22. Don't buy cheap razors.

23. e.l.f. Essential All Over Color Stick in Pink Lemonade, $1

I use this as a cream blush, and it gives me the perfect bright, shimmery flush. And it costs one damn dollar, so I basically can't afford NOT to buy it.

24. Neutrogena Face Wipes, $6.49

I'm a big fan of Neutrogena products in general -- I buy their night and day creams with retinol when I can't afford the more expensive derm stuff and they definitely work. But like a lot of us, I've developed a full-fledged addiction to removing my makeup with face wipes. The other day I ran out and I really didn't know what to do. Like, I forgot that you can wash your face with soap and water. I was like, "I'm trapped with all this makeup on my face!" Anyway, I've since restocked.

25. Sephora Cream Lip Stain, $13

This is the best lip stain I've found -- it's highly pigmented, comes in great shades, and lasts forever on your lips. It survives my sad desk-lunch and multiple daily coke Zeros no problem. As the parent of a small child, I don't do a ton of "making out," but I'm pretty sure it could handle that, too. I'm especially into the "Strawberry Kissed" shade -- it's a bright matte pinky red. "Forever Fuschia" has also become my go-to pink.

26. The secret to wearing red lipstick is just to do it.

27. Dr. Hauschka Lavendar Bath, $28.48

This bath enhancer is infused with essential lavendar oil and it's relaxing as hell. I put a few drops in my bath and a few on my temples and something in me sort of uncoils. It's pricey, but you don't need much product at a time, so one bottle has lasted me more than a year so far.

28. Men who claim they don't like women in makeup have no idea what that even means anyway, so don't worry about it. Also, screw them.

29. Bumble and Bumble Color Minded Shampoo, $30

This is what I use to protect my currently-expensive hair color. The Color Minded line is sulfate-free and designed to prevent color fading and washout.

30. got2b Powder'ful Volumizing Powder, $3.97

This is NOT a dry shampoo. It's strictly for volumizing, and it volumizes like crazy. Just rub a little bit between your palms, massage into hair and BAM, big hair. This is a necessity for those of us who belong to the "The bigger the hair, the closer to God" school of thought. It's also great for styling bangs.

31. Speaking of which, bangs make you look cool.