21 Cult Makeup Products People Get Unreasonably Obsessed With (And Sometimes Pay Insane Prices For)

Buying makeup is one of the most weirdly satisfying things, ever. In my more shameful ~you deserve it~ moments, I’ve spent over a hundred dollars on just foundation and a facial mask. I realize that’s a hundred dollars I could have spent on like, 90 chicken tacos from Del Taco. Or like, anything else that is probably more practical than expensive goo for my face.

But I’m a sad sucker. I like pretty, shiny, glittery things in tubes and bottles. I like when products promise me “results.” I like opening a brand new eye shadow palette and just staring at the impeccably untouched powders in their glistening, metallic hues. And ugh, nail polish. Whenever I see a new minty Essie shade, I declare it a necessity and toss it in my cart. I could find ways to empty out my savings accounts, and that’s borderline insane.

It’s not like I don’t know I’m being vain and materialistic and that I should probably be saving for retirement or something that won’t dry up in my purse or wear off on my face in like two hours, but I can’t help it. Makeup is pretty, and collecting it makes me feel stupidly triumphant.

And whether your attachment to makeup is healthy or not, you probably have at least one product you couldn’t ever not have, be it a particular lipstick shade, lip balm, blush, or a lotion. And since it’s just as fun to talk about makeup as it is to buy it, I’ve culled 21 cult-worthy pieces of makeup most of us have probably tried at some point (or have wanted to).

St. Ives Apricot Scrub

I know, I know—this scrub is supposedly the worst thing for your face, ever, but I grew up with it, so you know, old habits die hard. I will always have a jar of Apricot Scrub in my shower. Always. You can’t make me give it up, you just can’t.

Apricot Fresh Skin Scrub, $5, Walgreens

MAC Ruby Woo Lipstick

I’m pretty sure that me and my roommates’ WiFi password in college was “Ruby Woo,” we were so obsessed. While it may massively dry your mouth out, Ruby Woo is the perfect shade of bright red. Coming from someone who solely wore Chapstick up until I was twenty-one, I almost guarantee Ruby Woo will compliment your face. It’s magic, I swear.

MAC Ruby Woo Lipstick, $16, Nordstrom

NARS Blush in Orgasm

I haven’t tried this because I’m not paying a million dollars (OK, thirty dollars) for blush. I don’t know why, it’s just one of my hard limits. I do own e.l.f.’s dupe (Twinkle Pink), which is amazing and only three dollars (it’s a shame about its name though —“Orgasm” sounds way more appealing to put on my face, tbh). But people do really, really love NARS blush and this particular peachy shade. It’s subtle, natural, and lasts forever. Plus, it’s called “Orgasm.” I will not get over that.

NARS Blush In Orgasm, $30, Sephora


Back when I lived in Minnesota, you were an idiot if you didn’t carry a Carmex on you in the winter. Nothing else treated dry, cracking lips like Carmex did. Except not even: I just read some literature (aka, a Cracked article) about the ingredients, and it turns out Carmex is a big fat, sneaky liar. I always thought menthol and other soothing ailments were included in Carmex’s lip potion, but apparently it’s just filled with all kinds of irritants that dry your lips out even more so you have to keeping buying more and more Carmex. Thanks for nothing, CARMEX.

Carmex Moisturizing Lip Balm, $5, Amazon

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

I stopped using Maybelline Great Lash in high school because it would leave huge clumps in my lashes, but people still swear by the pink and green tube. It’s kinda cult-y and vintage looking, so I almost understand.

Maybelline Great Lash, $5, Amazon

OPI in Big Apple Red

I just realized I could probably spend three hours intensely discussing nail polish brands and I’m honestly not sure whether I’m proud of that or slightly disgusted. Anyway, OPI is hands down, the best mid-level nail polish. It’s smooth, you only need two coats tops, and the classic colors are all amazing, including Big Apple Red, which is the best red, hands down (literally).

OPI Big Apple Red, $10, Amazon

Image: Amazon

Essie in Mademoiselle

Essie, on the other hand, reigns supreme in nudes and funky pastels. Mademoiselle in particular, is the best I Want To Take A Break From Nail Polish But I Still Want My Nails To Look Fresh polish. It’s mostly sheer except for a slight touch of pink, and it goes on super smoothly, so you probably only need a coat or two. It’s perfection.

Essie Mademoiselle, $9, Amazon

Elizabeth Arden Eight-Hour Hand Lotion

Elizabeth Arden lotion is around twenty bucks, and with a name like “Elizabeth Arden” you will basically feel like Kate Middleton.

Eight-Hour Hand Lotion, $22, Nordstrom

Smith's Rosebud Salve

This little tin jar of what is essentially Vaseline, is everything. It is a petroleum product, so in the long run it might not be the best thing to be putting on your body (or you know, not the best thing for Mother Earth), but the iconic scent of roses is what keeps us coming back for MOAR.

Rosebud Salve, $6, Sephora

Benefit Benetint

When I was shopping for a lip tint, it was between Benefit and Tarte, and Tarte won because the reviews said Benetint left your lips all dry and crackly and I wasn’t into that. But almost every beauty junkie I know has Benetint and swears by it for lasting lip color.

Benetint, $30, Sephora

Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey

Black Honey is my religion. No other slightly-tinted lipstick will compare to Clinique’s because Black Honey is the Queen Bee (ha, see what I did there?) of all tinted lipsticks. Back in the ‘90s when this came out, I think it was supposed to be the tamer version of the Lorde-esque vampy lipsticks. It was super popular, because it supposedly “merges with the unique, natural tone of your lips to create something wonderful and yours alone,” because science (honestly I think it just depends on how dark your lips are to begin with. Whatever.)

Black Honey Almost Lipstick, $16, Sephora

Urban Decay's Naked Palettes

This palette, and its sister palettes, are basically everything you need to make a killer smoky eye if you’re talented in the art of smoky (I’m so not). The quality is definitely worth the price tag, so I get the allure.

Urban Decay Naked Vault, $280, Sephora

Image: Urban Decay

Anastasia Duo Brow Powder

I only bought this $23 eyebrow enhancer because the lady at Sephora told me I should, so I did, much like an obedient child. Honestly, unless you have very thin, light eyebrows, I don’t think you really need anything this expensive. I’ve tried e.l.f. and NYX and my eyebrows look exactly the same. But Anastasia’s packaging is way fancier and it kind of makes you feel like eyebrow royalty.

Duo Brow Powder, $23, Sephora

Creme de la Mer

I haven’t tried this lotion because I am not Mariah Carey, nor am I impressed with its super ‘80s hotel resort packaging, but many a time has a magazine told me it’s like ~magic~ for your skin. Basically every celebrity uses it, so maybe this is how they look 25 forever.

Creme de la Mere, $310, Sephora

Stila Lip Glaze

Or, if you were a teenager in the early 2000s, Caboodles! Which modeled its lipgloss after Stila, I think. You had to twist the bottom in order to get the gloss to ooze out, and then you got to paint on makeup with the brush, which was so very exquisite.

Stila Lip Glaze, $22, Amazon

Chanel No. 5

Everyone’s aunt or mom or grandma (or uncle, dad, or grandpa—scents really shouldn’t be gender-assigned) has a bottle of Chanel No. 5, and I swear it’s only because Marilyn Monroe wore it, and Marilyn Monroe was basically the mascot for all thing sexy and pre-Beyoncé flawless. Chanel No. 5 smells like if baby powder had sex with a rose. It’s not okay.

Chanel No. 5, $105, Sephora

Benefit They're Real Mascara

I finally got my hands on a They’re Real sample, and it’s pretty good. I mean, I don’t feel like I’m wearing fake lashes or anything, but if you use this mascara as a second coat, you’ll get fairly lUsTrOuS lashes. Also, the tube itself is just super fun-looking, so hooray marketing.

They’re Real Mascara, $23, Sephora

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion

The iconic yellow cube of goo that’s not too greasy and will never irritate your skin is the first expensive make up product I bought for myself. I placed it on my bathroom counter, and for awhile, I legitimately enjoyed walking past it JUST so that I could catch a glimpse of my fancy adult lotion. This is why I can’t have nice things.

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, $27, Sephora

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Serum

Every frizzy haired girl who straightened her hair always coated it with this stuff first. It supposedly protected your hair from the wrath of straightening irons, and from what I can remember, I think it lessened the blow of 400 degree heat to your hair.

Frizz Ease Original Serum, $8, Amazon

Finesse Hair Spray

I don’t use hairspray often, but when I do, I only use Finesse because my mom (and basically all ‘90s moms) used it. Its plastic, chemical smell will infinitely warm my nostalgic heart and probably leave my hair crunchy.

Finesse Extra Hold Spray, $6, Amazon

Origins Facial Mask

For a stroke-inducing price, Origins, the all-natural, Paraben-free, “high performance” skincare dynasty, will make you feel like you’re chilling in one of those natural, earthy mud baths. Which is totally a good thing.

Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, $25, Sephora