12 Cult Beauty Products Experts Swear By That You’ve Never Heard Of
Add these to your routine ASAP.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:30 AM
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Our favorite beauty experts in the realms of skin, hair, and nails are always the first to know about the next big product. They’re in the trenches, testing out tons of beauty paraphernalia to find what works best for their clients of all skin tones and types, and hair textures and colors. Through much trial and error, they’re able to pinpoint the best of the best. That said, they also have a long list of reliable staples they always turn to.
These cult favorites are regular beauty workhorses for these experts, who in turn recommend them to their clients and patients. To find out about some new products, we tapped tastemakers and experts in the arenas of skin, hair, makeup, and nails. Some of these picks you may even be familiar with, but have not tried the indicated off-label use. At a mix of high and low price points, you’ll surely find something to amp up your autumnal look. From an innovative use for butt paste (really) to easy items that help you amp up your at home, here are the products you need to know now.
An unlikely choice for the face, makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci is a fan of an off-label use for this product. “Created for mothers with sore nipples from breastfeeding, this silky balm not only soothes chapped lips, but it’s also a slammin’ highlight or can be mixed with pigments for the eyelids,” she explains. Who knew?
The best part about a gel manicure is the mirror-like shine and weeks of no-chip color. The worst part about a gel manicure is undoubtedly the removal. That’s why these nail pod soakers are a game changer for international nail artist Tracylee Percival. At under $7 for a set of 20, these sci-fi-esque nail pods are also a bargain. Percival is a fan of these nail pod soakers because they’re lightweight, so they’re perfect to carry in her work kit. “They don’t fall off your fingers like foil can,” she explains. Plus, “The pods hold pure acetone, so the nail products have direct access to the acetone at full strength which allows for a faster soak off,” Percival says.
It sounds like something that might have graced Blanche Devereaux’s boudoir, no? Ciucci gleaned this epic recommendation from a backstage makeup master during New York Fashion Week. “This diaper rash cream not only soothes chafed noses and eczema, but it also provides the most unexpected glisteny highlight.” In this case, the ends justify the means. Sign us up.
Maddie North, an editorial and celebrity makeup artist, loves these lipsticks from Los Angeles-based brand NCLA, which just hit the shelves. In addition to being vegan and cruelty-free, she loves that “they have a semi-matte finish and last all day.” At $16, they’re a mid-priced gem in the world of vegan cosmetics, which tend to skew more expensive. Downtown Sweetheart “is a bold, red shade—perfect for fall!” she says.
Sally Hershberger Salon colorist Dana Ionato is a fan of the color-depositing conditioners from Italian brand Davines. “The silver one can cool down any blonde without over-depositing purple,” Ionato says. The trick is using them correctly: first shampoo your hair really well, then squeeze out the excess water, and stay away from the water when you apply a walnut-size amount of the conditioner to the midlength. You leave that on for a few minutes (stay away from that water still!), and then put it on the roots, and let that sit another five minutes, she says. “After a total of 10 minutes you will see your hair looks much cooler, no pun intended,” Ionato says. It takes the brassiness out of your color at home. The range also features a red version that can give you a rose gold effect when combined with a yellow undertone, Ionato says. “The magenta paint color is really cool as it goes on the hair, too,” she says.
Sticking within the color-depositing world: Ionato loves this hair mask because it smells amazing and the warm chestnut shade is the perfect solution to cool down a super-warm, brassy brown. “All pigment conditioners should stay on damp hair post-shampoo for 10 minutes,” she explains. And always rinse it out well, she adds.
She notes that you should be careful with these depositing conditioners, however. They should be prescribed by your colorist to avoid risk, she says. “Even though they don’t contain hair color, they deposit tone into your existing hue if you go to the salon regularly,” Ionato explains. “When in doubt regarding which one to use, note that porous hair can grab pigment faster and that everything shows up more on blonde hair.” Leaving the product on for too long or using too much product can give you unwanted results.
Serge Normant stylist Matt Fugate loves this leave-in conditioner and detangler when he wants to prep a client’s hair before giving a blowout. In addition to detangling and protecting the hair from heat, “it’s super lightweight, smells amazing, and adds shine and luster to dull colors,” he says.
Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Dr. Joshua Zeichner recommends using this cult favorite product not only to improve a dull complexion, but also to help improve the look and feel of rough skin on the elbows, knees, and heels of the feet. Coarse exfoliators help separate dead cells on the surface of the skin so they can be shed, leaving behind smooth bright skin, he explains. “The walnut shell powder in the product is mild enough for use on the face, but powerful enough for tough areas like your elbows,” he says. “Plus, you can control the amount of exfoliation depending on how firmly you rub it into your skin.”
Ionato loves this at-home spray for kicking up your color temporarily. Plus, this Target exclusive will set you back just $12. She especially likes it because the shade rose gold can be misinterpreted. “Kristin Ess did it well; it’s a genius pigment,” Ionato says. It’s a standout in a sea of tints that skew garish, she adds. The blend helps repair strands, while it stains them temporary. Those of us who dye our hair typically have porous hair, i.e., hair that’s less able to hold moisture. “This product addresses porosity but doesn’t overdo it,” she explains. Ionato recommends applying it to towel-dried hair after you shampoo and then rinse it out with cooler water to close the cuticle. This helps the color stay on longer. “It’s almost like spray paint that fades out organically,” she says. “It’s not meant for longevity, but it’ll give you a cool shade in between hair color appointments,” she says.
Celebrity stylist Andrew Fitzsimons loves using this hair cream from new brand Sotah to repair damage to the hair from coloring and heat tool use. The cream also locks in moisture for healthy, shiny, beautiful hair. “It’s super lightweight and doesn’t weigh the hair down at all but provides amazing hydration,” he says.
Co-founder of New York City’s Haven Spa in SoHo, Audra Senkus, is a fan of this Hydrafacial sunscreen. “It feels like you are wearing nothing while it hydrates and protects your skin,” she says. Plus, it contains hyaluronic acid to smooth out and hydrate the skin, so there’s no need for an additional moisturizer layered underneath the UV protectant.
Though the name is not the most appealing, it’s a favorite of Paul Labrecque, eponymous salon owner. The well-priced drugstore gem works well to hydrate hair after a summer spent in the sand and the sun. “I always tell my swimmer clients to buy good old fashioned Queen Helene Cholesterol Cream,” he says. “It will shield hair of any damage the pool or beach does!”
Anyone who’s tried a natural deodorant knows not all perform well, or even average, frankly. This one made Senkus’ favorites list. It’s made with organic ingredients and works incredibly well. “Scooping it out of the jar and applying it with your hands takes a little getting used to but it is really worth it (and it doesn’t take that long to get used to),” she says.
Haven Spa Esthetician Marta Camkiran says that this is the spa’s most popular product. It has “fast acting, long-term results including decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while evening out the skin tone,” she says. Best of all, it’s versatile, so it works for all skin types and all ages.
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