When you head into your local swanky department store, it's tough to get overwhelmed at the beauty counter. Everything's so fancy and luxurious and expensive, and the salesperson is trying to get you to buy everything and you want to buy everything. What are the department store beauty products that are actually worth the money, though? What should you really be focusing your attention on next time you make your next shopping excursion? Which expensive makeup product should you be adding to your daily beauty routine?
It's definitely tough, but luckily we've got Fiona Stiles, Lauren Urasek, and Vanessa Scali — three bonafide celebrity makeup artists — here to edify us on the complex world of high-end department store cosmetics, and teach us what's what. Below, find a list of some of their favorites — the things they really find are worth the extra cash. Some of their recommendations you've probably heard of (Nars Blush in Orgasm, anyone?), but others are more obscure hidden gems (who here knew that Armani made an under eye primer?).
So, are you ready to learn from the best? Read on for 11 beauty expert-approved purchases — and bid farewell to your latest paycheck, because you're seriously going to want it all.
Have you coveted the absolutely beautiful Tom Ford lipsticks at your local department store yet? Scali tells Bustle that they boast a "richly pigmented formula, ultra-creamy texture, smooth full coverage" — and as a bonus, they happen to "feel divine on the lip."
Going along the Tom Ford line, their concealers are well-worth a look too. "The coverage on this is just right, and the applicator makes it very easy to apply by 'bouncing' the product on (you can also use a brush if that’s your preference)," says Stiles. She also praises their non-cakey coverage, the wide range of available shades, and the chic packaging. "His products are just so chic looking, they’re a pleasure to take out of your makeup bag for touch ups," she tells me.
"Really and truly, her lipstick formulas are to die for," explains Stiles. "The mattes are matte but not drying. The creamier formulas manage not to be too wet looking ... [Charlotte Tilbury] has just really nailed it in this category. And every single color is a winner. So worth it!"
On the market for a new foundation? Charlotte Tilbuy's formula might just be worth looking into. "It's great for all skin types and has the perfect medium coverage that's not too dry or too dewy," Urasek tells Bustle, "Seriously magic!!"
If you've heard of Nars, you've almost certainly heard of their most infamous product: the Orgasm blush. As Scali puts it, "Easily the most universally flattering shade in a wonderful, sheer and blendable formula."
Hey, as long as you're at their counter checking out the Orgasm shade, you may as well look into their Dual Intensity Blushes — "These are magical unicorns that have no rival," says Stiles. "They are sheer and intense all at the same time. You can have a bright cheek color that never, ever looks powdery, that you can still see the skin through and that never looks sparkly on the skin. It just has this incredible sheen. The complete holy grail in department store blush as far as I’m concerned."
It's not for nothing that Too Faced's Better Than Sex Mascara is the most popular mascara at Sephora: "Mascara is as much about the brush as it is the formula. The hourglass shaped brush wraps around the lashes and coats them with intensely black pigments that leave them looking luxuriously full, and there are absolutely no flakes or drips," explains Scali.
Part of what makes Armani Fluid Sheers worth it is their versatility: "They can be used to mix in with your foundation for that extra glow or on top of makeup or bare skin," says Urasek. Plus, she adds, "It gives a glow from within opposed to shimmer sitting on top of your skin."
Another relatively unknown Armani hit? Their Prima Lip and Eye Contour Perfector. "I cannot stop recommending this product to my clients and other makeup artists," says Stiles. "I usually pooh-pooh primers and find them to be an unnecessary step, but I tried this one at the behest of someone who works for Armani when I was at an event. I tried it on myself (usually my first guinea pig!) and couldn’t believe how beautifully it smoothed out the skin under my eyes, rendering my concealer flawless and undetectable. I was truly gob-smacked. It’s pricey, but I promise you there is no drugstore equivalent. Plus, it essentially works magic and is therefore entirely worth every penny."
Have you seen Laura Mercier's Eye Caviar Sticks? With a smooth, luxurious texture, they definitely live up to their name. And, as Stiles says, they're quite versatile: "I’ll use them to create a smokey eye, I’ll use them with a brush to do a soft liner, I’ll use them with a small pointed brush to do a cat eye; you can use them in so many ways. The colors are gorgeous, plus they are long wearing. These have been in my kit since their launch and I reach for them constantly."
In case you haven't heard of it, Cle de Peau is an ultra-top shelf luxury brand from Japan — and according to Stiles, their foundation is very on point. As she puts it, "What’s unique about this foundation is the level of pearl, it makes the skin look glowy and flawless, but without heavy coverage and without being oily. The shades are all spot on, neither too yellow or too pink and they blend out into the skin perfectly. It’s a staple in my kit."
12. Lancôme Mascara
Thinking about ditching your drugstore mascara? You might want to give Lancôme a try. "I mean, these guys have won this category for decades," says Stiles of Lancôme. "There’s a formula for everyone; if you like a natural lash, a bold lash, a feathery lash. Yes, drugstore mascara is good, but this is just better."
So, which fancy new department store beauty product are you going to treat yourself to first? I dare you to choose just one.