14 Beauty Products Every Woman Should Own (& A Few She Can Skip)

01
of 16

Do You Really Need Lipstick, Anti-Aging Creams and Perfume?

Beauty product still life on table
Derek Cooper Photography Inc/Moment/Getty Images

You don't need much to look fantastic, but you do need to pay attention to a few things. In this slideshow, we share the 14 beauty products every woman should consider owning and a few she can live without.

There are many women who don't do a thing to their faces. They don't wear makeup, they pay people do their hair and nails (or they pay little attention to their hair and nails) and they haven't had to bother too much with skincare over the years. 

And now that they're aging, or noticing dark circles and smile lines cropping up around their eyes, and now they have questions.

Mainly they want to know what they can with their skin. How they can fix their problem spots. Some of them want to change their hair because they've worn the same cut and color for years. Still, others need to know the basics of makeup. They haven't a clue as to how to apply eyeliner or eyeshadow, for example.

This slideshow is for them and even for you beauty aficionados out there. If your beauty drawer is piled with goodies, chances are you can cull it down to just a few key items and still look fantastic.

RELATED: The "No Makeup Trend": Is Minimal Makeup For You?

02
of 16

An Ionic Hair Dryer

Woman blow drying hair
www.gratisography.com / Pexels / CC0 License

Unless you let your hair air dry every day or you get weekly blowouts from a salon, you're going to use a hair dryer.

And it should be an ionic one. They cut your drying time in half and won't damage your hair like blow dryers of previous generations. If you've been using the same dryer for 20 years, it's time to throw it out and invest in a decent ionic dryer. And there's no need to splurge. You can find a decent dryer for under $50.

More on blow drying:

03
of 16

A Hair Brush With Boar's Hair Bristles

Brushing Hair
Diamond Sky Images

If you've been brushing your hair with a cheapie drugstore plastic hairbrush, it's time to throw it out and invest in a boar's hair brush.

Every stylist knows the best hairbrushes have boar bristles. But for the best results, you'll want a brush that has BOTH synthetic (nylon) bristles AND boar bristles. The mix creates the perfect brush: The boar bristles are gentle, while the synthetic bristles help hair dry faster. A good brush helps create shine by evenly distributing oils from your scalp over hair. It acts as a detangler and it won't harm the scalp or tug at strands.

RELATED: The Best Hair Brushes

More on hair brushes:

04
of 16

An Illuminizer or Highlighting Pen

Clear skin
amareta kelly / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Illuminating makeup is relatively new to the market, and boy do they belong in every woman's makeup cabinet.

Why? Because they help make you look like you're "glowing from within." And we all could use that, whether we have the dewy skin of a 20-year-old or the aging skin of a 42-year-old. It even works on women who have wrinkles. More on that below.

Highlighting pens and luminizers come in many forms including powders, creams, pens, and lotions. The glow is much more subtle than shimmer and comes from tiny, light-reflecting particles found in milled minerals or even pearls.

RELATED: The Best Illuminating Makeup Products

How to Apply Illuminating Makeup

  • Looking into a mirror, tuck your chin to your chest.
  • Put a bit of cream on your finger, or, if you are using a pen, use the pen to apply.
  • Swipe where the shadows hit your face: along the sides of the nose, under the chin, above the brow.
  • Blend, blend, blend.

If you find the luminizers highlight your wrinkles too much, use it to deflect attention to your good spots: apply above the brow, blending well and apply a thin sheer to the cheeks where the sun would hit.

05
of 16

A Good Concealer

Concealer application
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

You may notice we don't have foundation on this list. Why? Because not all women need foundation. If you are blessed with nice skin, you can get away with a tinted moisturizer or even better, a tinted sunscreen. However, if you have uneven skin, go ahead and invest in a decent foundation.

But almost every woman could use a good concealer in her beauty bag. Concealer can be used around the eyes to cover up dark circles or spot cover a blemish or just even out skin tone.

Many women are intimidated by concealer, but once you've found the right shade and learned how to apply it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. 

The secret to finding a great concealer is simply to pick one formulated for your trouble spots. If it's under-eye circles or rosacea, pimples or spider's veins, there's a concealer for you. For example, if you have under-eye circles, try a corrector instead of concealer. Bobbi Brown makes a great one in 16 shades for only $25.

More about concealer: 

06
of 16

Sunscreen for the Face

Putting sunscreen on face
Veronique Beranger / Getty Images

We know you're sick of hearing it, but you need to wear sunscreen—rain or shine, every single day. And don't settle for makeup with a built in SPF of 15 or so; use a sunscreen that's at least SPF 40. Sun damage is one of the leading causes of premature aging of the skin (along with smoking, stress, and weight loss). Tanned skin may look gorgeous at 25, but the effects of too much sun on the skin will take its toll. Still don't want buy it? A study of twins proves this.

If you hate the white, clown-ish cast that really good sunscreens leave on your face, have no fear, there are some great tinted sunscreens on the market that solve that problem for you.

Start wearing sunscreen now and your 60-year-old (or 80-year-old) self will thank you. The key to wearing sunscreen on your face is to apply it throughout the day. If you find yourself spending a lot of time in the sun, consider wearing a hat as well.

More about sunscreen:

07
of 16

Lip Color

Coloring lips
Westend61 / Getty Images

There is no need to buy lipstick or heavy gloss if you prefer a more low-key makeup. A simple swipe of Burt's Bees tinted balm will add a subtle touch of color without that "made up" look. 

For extra staying power, draw in color onto your lips with a lip pencil before applying lip color.

More on lipstick:

08
of 16

Mascara

Mascara application
Shuji Kobayashi / Getty Images

If you aren't wearing mascara, you simply aren't looking as fabulous as you could be.

Nothing opens up the eyes and makes you look more awake than mascara. Some women shy away from mascara, thinking it will immediately give them over-the-top, doll-like lashes, but that isn't the case.  

So how to pick one? You can find a decent mascara at the drugstore, but department store formulations like Dior and Lancôme are worth the money. If you have short, stubby lashes, try a lengthening mascara. If you are going for drama, try a thickening mascara.

You won't see a lash curler on this list because some women have naturally curled lashes and really don't need them, but if your lashes grow in straight, do yourself a favor and invest in an eyelash curler and curl your lashes before applying mascara. 

There is a right way to apply mascara that beauty pros swear by. It ​involves getting the wand deep into your lashes and then wiggling the wand as you bring it up and through.

Learn more about mascara: 

09
of 16

Eye Makeup Remover

Eye makeup remover
Peter Nicholson / Getty Images

Now that you're wearing mascara, you'll need to remove it properly. Your basic facial cleanser isn't going to get rid of all your eye makeup, especially if you use a primer or opt for waterproof formulas. If you wear your mascara to bed, you risk breaking your lashes and leaving black streaks on your pillow. Neither of which are pretty.

You can buy a simple remover from the drugstore, but Clinique makes a particularly good one. Apply the remover to a cotton pad and press to your eyelids and lashes.

More about makeup removers:

10
of 16

A Facial Cleanser

Face cleanse
Digital Vision / Getty Images

Chances are, you aren't cleansing your face correctly. Either you're using the wrong cleanser or you are scrubbing too much, or you aren't washing your face before bedtime.

The secret to cleansing your skin is this: Buy a cleanser that's formulated for your skin type. This means if you have oily skin, don't buy a creamy cleanser. If you have dry skin, don't use a cleanser meant for normal to oily skin. You don't need to spend the big bucks on a cleanser. A good drugstore brand like Neutrogena will perform just as well as pricier brands. 

Learn more about cleansing your skin:

11
of 16

Body Oil

Body oil
Getty Images

Instead of moisturizer, you can go all-natural, and choose an organic body oil instead. Oils like sweet almond, argan and coconut are great options in lieu of heavy creams. Body oils can get a bit messy, so apply it after a shower, and allow it to absorb before getting dressed. 

More on body oils:

12
of 16

A Facial Moisturizer

Face moisturizer
Getty Images

Every woman needs a good facial moisturizer, even if she has oily skin.

Moisturizer helps balance out the oils in your skin. For example, if you have oily skin and you strip your skin of its natural oils through cleansing, then your skin will react by making more oil. This creates a cycle of cleansing, followed by excessive oil production, that is difficult to break.

Learn more about moisturizers: 

13
of 16

A Facial Scrub

Face scrub
Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

You can use a washcloth to naturally exfoliate your face or you can use a facial scrub, either store bought or one you make for yourself.

Are you conscious of spending money? Are you crafty? Then you can easily make your own scrubs. There are a number of recipes to try (see our favorites below) or you can save time by sprinkling a bit of sugar into your nightly cleanser. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse your skin after scrubbing.

More on facial scrubs:

14
of 16

Hair Conditioner

Shampooing hair
Getty Images

Every woman needs conditioner, but not every woman needs a shampoo.

The no-poo movement has taken the beauty world by storm. People are giving up shampoo and instead are cleansing their hair and scalps with natural products such as apple cider vinegar, baking soda, cleansing conditioners and finely ground rye flour.
 

How to Wash Hair with Apple Cider Vinegar:

  • Dissolve 1-2 tbsp of baking soda into a cup of water and massages into your scalp.
  • Add 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar into another cup of water. Rinse hair.

More about shampoo:

15
of 16

Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow close-up
Getty Images

Many women don't wear eyeshadow because they're intimidated by it. But eyeshadow doesn't have to be complicated. Forget everything you've ever read about using 3 shades of a color: one for the lid, one for the crease and a highlighter for the brow. Unless you care a lot about makeup and want to know how to create a perfect smokey eye, all you really need is one basic, neutral color.

All you need to do is choose of color that works with your coloring and sweep it over your lids. If you have blue eyes, coppers, golds or browns are perfect. Green eyes are wonderful with pinks and browns. Brown or dark brown eyes look wonderful with blues, greens or even deep, jewel colors. Taupe and lavender look great on all eye colors.

Eyeshadow covers up discoloration on your lids and help to make your eyes pop. Every woman should have a basic, neutral color in their beauty bag, even if they use it only on special occasions.

If you're really into makeup, you should own a good eyeshadow brush (throw out the cheap free one that comes with the palette) and eyeshadow primer, which will keep your shadow in place for hours.

More about eyeshadow:

16
of 16

Beauty Products You Can Skip

Perfume spray
Tetra Images - Mike Kemp / Getty Images

Every woman does not need perfume. Some women hate wearing scent, or their partners would rather they not. Plus, so many creams and lotions and bath washes have fragrance, you're likely walking around smelling like something other than yourself anyway. Of course if you like perfume, wear it! 

Some other popular products that you don't really need include:

  • Blush. Some women really need blush. Women with sallow complexions, for example, could really benefit from a pop of color. But many of us have naturally rosy cheeks and don't need blush.
  • Bronzer. Bronzer is great and can add some color and definition to your cheeks, but it's not a necessity for every woman.
  • Eyeliner. You don't need eyeliner, especially if you aren't into making up your eyes. If you do like to line your eyes, you can skip the liner and use an angled brush dipped in a dark eyeshadow instead. 
  • Makeup brushes. Yeah, you really should have great makeup brushes if you wear eyeshadow, blush and bronzer, but not every woman does. Save the money and use towards a new beauty product!