My 12 Current Favorite Beauty Products

Photography by Taylor Cole Photo

Earlier this week I asked you guys to fill out my 2017 Reader Survey, and one of the things most of you want to see more of is beauty posts!

I’m certainly not a beauty expert, but over the years I’ve tried a ton of great products and today I’m rounding up my top 12 products that have basically been life changing for me. They need no more introduction than that!

Merrick's Art Superhero It Cosmetics Mascara
Merrick's Art It Cosmetics Superhero Mascara
Merrick's art Favorite beauty products
Merrick's Art Favorite Mascara and Primers
Merrick's Art Suave Dry Shampoo

Outfit Details:

Blush Top (also available in black), Distressed Denim

Here they are, in no particular order.

1. St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse.

Earlier this year I shared this post about my favorite sunless tanner. I’d been using that one for a few years and loved it, but then St. Tropez sent me their bronzing mousse to try. It took me awhile to get around to using it, but as soon as I did, I was completely sold and won’t go back to anything else. The color is really natural, and has an olive green tint to it, so it’s not one bit orange (but it doesn’t make you look green either). It’s the most natural color of sunless tanner I’ve ever seen.

It comes with this little brown mitt that you use to apply (just like the other one I showed here), and helps it go on nice and even. I could go on for ages about it, but two of my very favorite features are that it doesn’t rub off on your clothes or sheets, and it’s really long lasting. I apply right after my shower (moisturize first!) and then it stays through my shower the next day.

Two squirts of mousse on the mitt cover my entire leg, and I do two coats per leg. For my arms, one squirt is enough and I do it all the way down to the top of my hands and fingers (and it doesn’t wash off when I wash my hands, as long as I let it dry for an hour or so before washing them).

Obviously I love it. You need it.

2. Suave Dry Shampoo

Ok, I’ve talked about dry shampoo so many times on here, but it has to be mentioned. I’ve tried a bunch of different brands, and although maybe my very favorite is Living Proof’s dry shampoo, it’s pricey and the bottles are small and don’t last super long. So Suave wins. This is a huge part of the reason I go a week between hair washing without a problem. I actually liked the silver bottle the best, but it seems to be discontinued because hard for me to find these days!

3. Pureology Hydrate Shampoo.

I’ve talked about this before too, but a couple of years ago I was having major hair issues. I felt like it looked limp and oily all the time even right after I washed it. So I sent a frantic text to two of the people with the best hair ever — Leanne and Abby — and asked them what shampoo they used. Both of them responded saying they use Pureology shampoo. I’d never paid more than $10-15 for a bottle of shampoo, so suddenly spending $50 on a bottle seemed insane. BUT. You guys, this shampoo changed my hair. And my life. I have never been so happy with my hair as I was as soon as I started using this shampoo. It’s the other reason I can go a week between washes. It’s the reason my hair is healthy and has no split ends anymore (it used to be riddled with them), and it’s the reason I have volume and body in my hair.

Also, to help you justify the cost, it’s a concentrated shampoo, so you don’t need very much to wash all your hair (and I have a lot of hair). A little goes a long way, and since I wash my hair only once a week at the most, this bottle lasts me more than a year.  And when you have to wear your hair every single day, isn’t it basically worth any investment?? That’s the way I see it.  I could kiss this shampoo, I love it so much. It’s only $43 for a big bottle here!

[EDIT]: I’ve had a bunch of you asking about the conditioner I use. I’ve tried a ton and never been super loyal to one brand, but in the last few weeks I’ve started using OGX Biotin and Collagen Conditioner and it’s incredible. It leaves your hair sleek and soft, but still with volume. Plus it smells really good. Oh, and I’ve mentioned before, but I use a V05 Hot Oil treatment before washing almost every time I wash. Definitely recommend both!

4. Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lip Gloss

I’ve tried about ten million lip glosses and lipsticks, and I struggle with them. For one, my husband hates all lipstick, but also I struggle to find good colors that go well with my skin tone. I’m also particular about glosses that are too glossy or sticky, or that come off in two seconds. Vivid Matte Liquid Lip Gloss has become one of my favorites. They have really good neutral shades that look natural, they go on matte (which I love), and they stay on for hours. Definitely recommend. I also love Bare Minerals Matte Gloss (“infamous” is my favorite color), but they don’t last quite as long.

5. E.l.f. Makeup Mist and Set Spray

I must be living under a rock or something, but I just discovered makeup setting spray a few months ago. Have you heard of it? It’s a spray you put on after your makeup is finished, and it sets it in place so it doesn’t come off during the day! I read somewhere that it works best if you spray after you put your face primer on before you put your makeup on, and the spray again after your makeup is on, so I’ve been doing that and it’s worked really well.

It basically feels like water, and has a slight cucumber-ish smell to it (which I like, and hardly smell anymore), and it dries just like water. So it’s not stiff or sticky at all.

I’m interested in trying this one from NYX too that’s only $8, but so far the e.l.f. one has been great, and it’s only $3. I’ve heard both are comparable to the Urban Decay one, but that one is $31 for a bottle and I haven’t tried it.

6. Wet Brush

This was another product that I only heard about this year. And maybe I’m the last to know. But a wet brush is a brush specifically designed to brush through wet hair without damaging it. I’d been using a paddle brush for ages and it was pulling and stretching my hair whenever it was wet. These are so cheap and worth every penny. My hair has been so much healthier and stronger since I switched!

7. Clinique Acne Solutions Foundation

This is my all-time favorite foundation. I’ve tried a bunch over the years, and I love this one because it has amazing coverage, goes on super smooth and light, and it has salicylic acid in it so it doesn’t cause breakouts, like so many other foundations did to me. I have acne prone skin, so this was a game changer for me.

8. Makeup Beauty Blender

I’d seen these little blending bulbs around for the last few years, but only recently got one from e.l.f. I’d always put my foundation on with my fingers, but felt like I would get uneven coverage from that if I wasn’t careful. This makes it so easy, and perfectly blended every time. I put the foundation on with my clean fingers first to spread it around, but then I go in with the bulb and dab until it’s perfectly blended. I feel like it makes my foundation look so much more natural than ever before.

I experimented with the bulb a few times when I first got it, and I found that if I put the foundation directly onto the bulb, it soaked up a good amount of it and wasted it. It also didn’t work as well if I had to spread the foundation around with the bulb, or if I did a swiping motion with the bulb. It works best if I spread with my fingers first (just roughly, it doesn’t have to be perfect), and then went back and did only a dabbing motion with the bulb. Also, I always clean it with soap and water after I use it, and then let it sit out to dry so it’s ready for the next day.

9. Essie gel top coat

A few months ago Essie came out with their gel line. I rarely go get a professional manicure, but I love to have my nails done, so I was super excited to try this stuff. They call it a gel polish, but it doesn’t require a heat lamp, and it goes on and comes off just like regular nail polish. But it’s so long lasting — like almost two weeks without any chips! I only have a couple of colors in the gel polish, so I tried the top coat on my regular polish, and although it doesn’t last quite as long, it still lasts at least a week without any wear or chipping. I definitely recommend it!

10. Neulash

I shared about my eyelash drama on the blog last year and how after they all fell out I used Neulash to regrow them. So even though I’ve shared before, I have to share again because it’s an amazing product that really works. It’s basically a non-prescription Latisse, and it’s the reason my lashes are so long. Well, that and great mascara.

It’s pricey for a tiny bottle, but you use so little so it lasts for ages. I’ve had mine for about nine months and it hasn’t run out. I used it every night until my eyelashes completely grew back, and now I use it about twice a week just to maintain.

Also, I have to mention that I’ve seen it available on Amazon for cheaper, but since it’s cheaper I don’t know if it’s actually the real product. Back when I bought it there was only one seller available, but now there seems to be way more, so maybe they’re legit. I don’t know. But I wasn’t willing to risk it since I’m putting it next to my eyeballs, so I bought the real deal here. Also I just bought their NeuBrow because I’m hoping to salvage my sorry, over plucked brows. I’ll share if I love it!

11. Mascara Primer. This is essential for me to get my long thick lashes, and I never put mascara on without it.

    1. GrandePrimer is a new brand to me, and I’ve really loved it. It comes in a nice big tube so it lasts a long time, and it goes on really smooth and thick, but not clumpy. My only complaint is that the bottle opening is pretty small, so pulling the brush out of the tube out often pulls off a lot of the primer. So it can be challenging to get a good amount loaded on the brush.
    2. Clinique Mascara Primer is my very favorite. The opening of the tube is wider, so it’s easy to load the brush, and the bristles on the brush are perfect for applying evenly. It’s a really slick consistency, so it glides onto my lashes so smoothly. Plus it’s a great price compared to a lot of other primers. My only complaint is that the tube is a little smaller, so it only lasts me a couple of months.

12. Mascara

    1. Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara. This is my original favorite, and I shared more about it here, plus their primer which I really loved too.
    2. GrandeLash Mascara is so fantastic and all I’ve been using for the last few weeks. It also has that really slick consistency, so it’s easy to apply without any clumps.
    3. And lastly, It Cosmetic’s Superhero Mascara. This is a really thick, super black mascara that I like to use as a second layer after I’ve put on either Lancome or Grande. The bristles of the brush are really tight and close, so it doesn’t let you separate your lashes at all as you apply. But if they’re already separated and set, this is a good one to put over the top and create a really thick, dark lash.

Whew, did you make it??

I love sharing these beauty product reviews with you. Leave a comment below and let me know if this is helpful and if you’d like to see more reviews and roundups like this!

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44 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! What conditioner to you use?

  2. Paige Cassandra Flamm says:

    I’ve found that for myself, If it get my beauty blender wet, and then just dot the foundation on my face and then spread and blend it in using dabbing motions with the damp beauty blender, it works so much better for me than using it dry. Just thought I’d mention it in case you haven’t tried it yet. Since the sponge is filled with water (but squeeze it to get the excess out), the foundation doesn’t absorb into it since the water fills where the foundation goes.

  3. Madison Muir says:

    Wonderful post! I’ve added several of these products to my wishlist. Thank you for the thought you put into your reviews.

  4. Al says:

    Hi! I just found your blog while browsing Bloglovin’ 🙂
    I LOVE list-of-favourite posts and this is a great one!
    You wrote down a few things I want to try, especially the foundation. I’ve always liked Clinique foundations because of their coverage and finish, so I might give this a try. One thing though: do you find that is suitable for drier skin types, or is this not hydrating at all? I get a few pimples sometimes so this foundation should be appropriate, but mostly my skin is dry so I’m a bit scared for that…
    As for dry shampoos, have you tried COLab? This dry shampoo saved my life, I basically use it every day because it’s really light and doesn’t weight down hair or make them sticky. Plus their fragrance selection is just wonderful (I use “Tokyo”).

    xx Al

    • Charger Girl says:

      I love setting sprays, but don’t like paying a lot for them. I alternate between the Elf, NYX, and Wet & Wild Photofocus. All three of these work very well for me.

    • Merrick says:

      Hey Al! Thanks for your comment! I have dry patches of skin and as long as you put moisturizer on morning and night, and then start with primer before your foundation, this foundation will be great, even with dry skin. I definitely recommend! But if you’re nervous, go get a sample from the Nordstrom beauty counter so you can try before you buy! xx

  5. Amanda Tryon says:

    Can’t wait to try some of these! I think I am ready to enter the world of dry shampoo! It takes too long to do my hair every or every other day. Would love to hear your thoughts on lipsense though! I bet your husband would love it!

    • Merrick says:

      Haha my husband says he won’t ever love lipstick no matter what 😉 I’ve tried it on and off for 10 years and he won’t budge!

      And yes, Dry shampoo is life changing! Doooo itt 🙂 xx

  6. teammonson says:

    I love this-thank you for including both high end and affordable products! I feel like that is so much more practical for me. There are several products I’m going to have to try out!

  7. Charger Girl says:

    I love setting sprays, but don’t like paying a lot for them. I alternate between the Elf, NYX, and Wet & Wild Photofocus. All three of these work very well for me. (sorry for double-posting – posted in wrong spot initially)

  8. rachel says:

    For anyone wondering, I’ve bought neulash from Amazon and it’s the real deal 🙂 and easier on the wallet.

  9. Lindsey says:

    I can go over a week without washing my hair and all the credit goes to Sauve dry shampoo! It’s great!! I use the silver bottle too. I get it at Walmart so hopefully you can find it there!

  10. Kim Dover says:

    Love these! I am already am a big fan of a few and have purchased some of your favs to try… like finally getting the Pureology I’ve heard so many great things about. I’m curious what shade of the Clinique Foundation you use? Thanks! Also I love Fake Bake Flawless from Amazon… I’ve NEVER had any streaking or color problems with it… drys fast, smells great, and is so easy to apply. Way cheaper than St Tropez. I used to get spray tanned all the time and this beats even that. 🙂 Thanks again for all your great suggestions!

  11. Lindsey says:

    Love the silver Suave!! My Target sells it in 2-packs, so maybe that’s worth a try! (And love the purple Pureology….always and forever. I recommend the pink conditioner if you ever want to try that!)

  12. Anna says:

    Awesome! What face wash and moisturizer do you recommend?

  13. Mary Bolster says:

    I don’t know if I can swallow that shampoo price but thinking about how long it can last you definitely helps. also I love the real techniques beauty blender. It’s actually the same price as the elf blender but a lot softer and I liked the way it applied a lot better.

  14. Alisa Snyder says:

    Love this, thanks!

    Would you recommend Pureology for NON color-treated hair?

  15. Lorraine says:

    I love this post! Ive been wanting to try the St. TROPEZ. I should when it warms up here. Also, im not sure of the shape of the e.l.f. sponge but i love the Real Techniques one! Ive been using it for a few years now and cant understand why i used my fingers for so long! It has a large flat surface that i love for my concealer.

    • Lorraine says:

      Im curious of your skin type. Im sure its been mentioned before but ive most likely missed it! Ive tried the urban decay “de-slick” AND the urban decay “all nighter” setting sprays. None compared to the $8 nyx spray- save your money!

  16. Hi Merrick! Thank so much for sharing. I was curious about the Pureology shampoo, do you think it would still work as well on non-color treated hair? I, like you, am so tired of having to wash my hair all the time. It would be wonderful to go an entire week without having to wash my hair. And if this stuff works, than I will gladly invest in it. 😀

    http://www.theladyabouttown.com

  17. Emily says:

    What color Mabeline lip gloss do you use? I was just looking for a matte liquid lip gloss the other day. And I really want a good neutral.

  18. KTMB says:

    Supper post! How do you get your mascara off? I have little kids too and by the time they go to bed, I don’t have the energy to get the mascara off and still look raccoon-like in the am. Hence I’ve quit wearing it but would like to start again. Thanks!

    • Merrick says:

      I shower at night, so I wash it off in the shower with face wash (I just have an extra I leave inside my shower), and then use a makeup wipe to get any excess off after I get out. You could also just have a dedicated face wash cloth and use that to get it off quickly in the evenings. Hope that helps!

  19. Melissa Butler Woycheese says:

    Thanks for the reviews! I’ve been wondering about Pureology. I too, only wash my hair once a week. I would love to introduce you to an awesome skincare company, Rodan and Fields, that has totally transformed my skin. It’s an anti-aging skincare line by the dermatologists that made Proactiv. I’ve been using it for 6 months now and don’t even use foundation anymore! Just eye makeup and powder. They also came out with an eyelash and eyebrow serum called Lash Boost. If you would like to know more, let me know!
    mwoycheese.myrandf.com or mwoycheese@gmail.com

  20. Grace Haynes says:

    I picked up the Suave Dry Shampoo at Target last week (the gold bottle) and I love it! I’ve been using Drybar’s Detox Dry Shampoo for a long time, but the Suave is SUCH a better deal! Thanks so much!

  21. Hillary says:

    This is a great post! Thank you for all of these reviews. I love my Wet Brush and dry shampoo is the most genius product ever made! I use the Urban Decay setting spray and it works great, but if I can get the same product for less I’m totally on board! Thanks again!

    ~Hillary
    http://www.styleinasmalltown.com

  22. Lucy says:

    Awesome post! Which concealer do you use/recommend? I’m looking for a good and affordable product to hide dark circles around the eyes.

  23. Nancy Dyson says:

    Does that Clinique foundation stay on all day? I use a makeup setting spray but every foundation still slides right off my face by the end of the day! (I live in scorching Phoenix)

  24. Jayme says:

    I’m not trying to be rude but it’s so hard to take you seriously about anything, when in every post you’re selling something. How does anyone know if you really use and like these products, clothes, etc since it appears that you get paid to push these products? I feel sad that people are going out and spending money on these products and clothes because you praise them highly. It just seems disingenuous. I do like the glimpses into your life on the blog, but the overbearing nature of you pushing and selling in EVERY post turns me away often.

  25. Christine says:

    Hi Merrick – what shade of the Maybelline Vivid Matte lip gloss do you wear? I am interested in one that will last all day,
    thank you!

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