Beauty Essentials: the Only 9 Items You Need In Your Makeup Bag

It's always fun to try out new — and, let's face it, entirely unnecessary — beauty products. How does that old adage go? "If you've never tried purple eyeliner, you've never truly lived?" No? No one has ever said that in the history of speaking? Well, whatever. The point is, makeup is fun, but all those gratuitous products mean nothing if you don't have a makeup bag stocked with the essentials. Whether you're a makeup hoarder (aka me) or you're just looking for the nuts and bolts of beauty, here are the cornerstone products you need.

How exactly does one build a makeup bag?

It's always fun to try out new — and, let's face it, entirely unnecessary — beauty products. How does that old adage go? "If you've never tried purple eyeliner, you've never truly lived?" No? No one has ever said that in the history of speaking? Well, whatever. The point is, makeup is fun, but all those gratuitous products mean nothing if you don't have a makeup bag stocked with the essentials. Whether you're a makeup hoarder (aka me) or you're just looking for the nuts and bolts of beauty, here are the cornerstone products you need.

A BB Cream that can do double duty

Rather than prep my face with a normal, run-of-the-mill moisturizer, I like to use a BB Cream. It moisturizes your skin, protects it from the sun, and evens out skin-tone just a bit. There are a ton of pricy BB Creams on the market, but I've found many of them to be too greasy. Maybelline's Dream Fresh BB Cream formula is juuuuust right.

A multitasking foundation

If your skin tone is already even (cool; also, you're a jerk), then you can skip this product. However, if you're looking to even out your skin tone and fake flawless skin, this is a must. When choosing your foundation, look for one that can do just about anything, except, you know, tell you your blood type. I'm a huge fan of Make Up Forever's HD Foundation. It's a full-coverage foundation, and works to moisturize your skin without making it oily.

A concealer stick

"But I already have foundation? Why do I need concealer?" Foundation evens out your skin tone, but concealer — spoiler alert — conceals. Crazy! Go for a creamy concealer stick, like this one from Josie Maran. The pencil formula makes it super easy to apply and blend with with your fingers, meaning you'll need one fewer product. Make sure you're getting a super creamy, lightweight formula. Heavy concealers might erase dark circles, but they'll also seep into the lines of your face like a giant sign that says "Hey! I'm wearing a lot of makeup! Look at all this makeup I'm wearing!"

A makeup sponge applicator

A makeup sponge will allow you to blend your foundation and concealer, making it look less obvious. Go for one with a precise tip, like the cult-classic Beautyblender, so you can reach under your eyes and on the sides of your nose.

A universally flattering blush

Well, here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Even though 'Orgasm' is everyone's favorite, I'm partial to 'Deep Throat.' I am discussing, of course, NARS blush. This peach blush works on nearly all skin tones and undertones. Brush it on the apples of your cheeks to warm up skin.

A blush brush

Never — and I mean never, not even on a dare or a double-dare — use those flimsy, little brushes that come with drugstore blush. I mean, if you want streaky blush, then, yeah, use them, but if you want to look like you just woke up with a natural flush, go for MAC's 116 Blush Brush. It's a bit smaller than your typical blush brush, making it easier to maneuver. I like to use just a bit of product and build until I have the flush I want.

An eye shadow palette that doesn't just have four colors

Most eyeshadow paletes are like, "Hey, here are four colors of slightly varying shades. Enjoy being able to make one look!" But not Urban Decay's Naked Palette. You get 12 universally flattering shadows, a quality eyeshadow brush, and Urban Decay's Primer Potion.

A basic black mascara

Even if you consider yourself makeup-challenged, it's pretty hard to screw up mascara. This jet-black mascara from Benefit lengthens, curls, and volumizes, giving you impossibly long lashes. The small brush makes it easy to tackle those teeny, tiny lashes in the corner of your eye, and the formula is one of the few I've tried that doesn't leave me with flakes of mascara on my cheek by the day's end.

A colorful lipbalm

When you're just looking to get the essentials, it's all about products that do double duty, like Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment. This lip balm nourishes and protects lips with SPF 15, and provides subtle, universally flattering lip color in nine shades. If you're lipstick adverse, this is a foolproof way to get some color on that mouth of yours.