Grace Kelly (Getty)
There once was a time when I battled against everything mother nature gave me. I despised my naturally dark and full eyebrows so much that with '90s Drew Barrymore
as my guide, I plucked them almost entirely away. I once even tried to lighten them myself with drugstore bleach, which gave me super-attractive orange brows for the better part of a month. As for my skin, I loathed how pale it was, was frustrated with my small lips (which I attempted to fix Kim Mathers style
with lots of overdrawn lip-liner), and generally didn't really understand the meaning of accepting and working with what you have.
One of the things that helped me turn things around was to identify beauty icons that I could actually emulate. And with Grace Kelly, Taylor Swift
and Lauren Conrad
as my guides, I've adopted classic red lips and cat eye liner as my beauty go-tos, and have even learned to accept my ridiculously pale complexion. And since I'm no longer one to test out tons of beauty fads (after a few ill-advised experiences with blue eyeshadow, not to mention the whole lip-liner abuse), I love the idea that these beauty looks will never ever be out of fashion.
1. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair, Night ($16.79)
: I'm not sure if it's paranoia or foresight, but I've been using wrinkle creams since I turned 20. During the week (when I'm not concerned about a little flaky skin), I slather my face with this wonderful stuff. I know I'm not its only fan, since every time I've gone hunting for a new bottle it's always sold out everywhere. Yup, it's that good.
2. Obagi Rosaclear Skin Balancing Sunscreen SPF 30 ($34.95)
: Since I was little, my grandmother instilled in me the importance of protecting my extremely fair complexion from the sun. And ever since I had my skin scanned for skin damage at the dermatologist (yikes!), I realized I needed to step up my sunscreen game. This does the trick and never leaves me feeling greasy.
3. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Firming for Light to Medium Skin Tones ($7.89)
: And because I now know better than to ever rock a real tan and also fear the tell-tale orange shade most sunless tanners turn me, this helps me look just a tad darker and helps even out my skin tone. And though the icky smell definitely leaves something to be desired, the results more than make up for it.
4. L'Oreal White Violet Shampoo ($17)
: Ever since I first attempted to lighten my dark blond hair with Sun-In back in 8th grade, I've been haunted by the possibility of orange hair. And even though I've since upgraded to highlights, anytime my hair seems like it's becoming a little brassy, one wash with this purple potion balances things out.
5. Redken Real Control Mask ($15.50)
: I love getting highlights, but have always hated the damage they caused my hair. In fact, I had a shoulder length 'do for the better part of 6 years because my hair started to look like straw if I grew it any longer. Since I started using this conditioner, I'm finally able to have both the color and length I always wanted, and sometimes even get asked if I'm wearing extensions. (I'm not.)
6. Cake Beauty Satin Sugar for Lighter Hues ($18)
: I really hate blow drying my hair. Hate it. So I'll basically do whatever it takes to delay washing it an extra day. This light, sweet smelling powder has helped me wash less (without looking like a grease ball) for about ten years now. It also gives me a major volume boost.
7. Crest Professional Whitestrips ($56.49)
: Anytime I have a big event to go to, I reach into my trusty arsenal of Whitestrips. I love coffee and the occasional glass of red wine, but I also love having pearly whites, which these guarantee me.
8. Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion ($17)
: I've never been incredibly acne prone, but when I do break out it tends to be in large unsightly cystic blemishes (Yay me!). During breakouts, I used to feel like hiding away for three days at a time, until a friend recommended that I check out this fast acting solution. It's truly a lifesaver.
9. Hempz Vanilla Plum Moisturizer ($17.25)
: I love sampling products at beauty stores and have been known to walk out covered in about ten different creams, serums and lotions on any given trip to the mall. But as soon as I smelled this soothing, ungreasy lotion, I knew it was coming home with me.
10. Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask ($23)
: Every now and then I get a little bit lazy with my skin routine and might even, gasp, forget to wash my face before I go to bed. Before my skin has a chance to seek its revenge, I reach for this fast-absorbing overnight mask. It doesn't stain my pillow and I wake up with much happier skin.
Unlike my fortunate friends with darker complexions, mine shows every single flaw
. Dark circles, scars and blemishes are friends to no one, but particularly not for anyone as pale as me. So even though my skin tends to be fairly clear, I prefer full coverage foundation. My favorite for the past several years has been Laura Mercier's Silk Creme Foundation
($43). I also recently discovered Maybelline's Super Stay 24 Concealer
($7.99), which seriously does not budge.
For a peaches and cream effect, I love Benefit's "Sugarbomb" blush
($28). It smells great and makes me feel radiant on days when I definitely am anything but. To add to my glow, a makeup artist friend recommended Cover Girl's "Shimmering Sands"
($4.69) eyeshadow, which works as a highlighter as well as the perfect day-to-night shadow trio.
Having struggled to create the right shape with eyeliner in the past, I was really excited to discover Maybelline's Gel Eye Liner
($7.94). I can use it to subtly line my eyes or to create the more dramatic cat eye look that I love. To keep the dramatic eye thing going, I'll reach for my Benefit "They're Real" mascara
for an extra long-lashed effect.
While I love a nude lip on others, I'm a lipstick girl through and through. From "what was I thinking brown" to bubble gum pink to even I think a pastel green, I've tried them all. Now that I'm older and a little bit wiser, my favorites are Revlon's "Blushing Mauve"
($5.18) and Maybelline's "Are You Red-dy"
($4.97), which is a gorgeous Marilyn Monroe red.
As for the brows I used to fight against, I grew them in, stopped attempting to lighten them and realized that plenty of blondes actually choose to darken their brows. After struggling to find the right brow product for me for some time, I learned Diane Kruger
uses Laura Mercier's Brow Powder Duo
($24). Since then, this has become an absolutely integral part of my routine.
Although every now and then I'll try out a new product, these are the items I never leave home without! I mean c'mon, you never know if this is the day you'll meet the queen. Or better yet, Prince Harry.
What are your must-have products? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned all week for StyleBistro editors to reveal each of their own Can't-Live-Without products!