Beauty Products You Don't Need ... and a Few You Definitely Do

Beauty counters

and drugstore shelves are flooded with thousands of products, all claiming to work miracles, but women can't possibly need every one of them, right? We rounded up makeup, hair, and skin-care experts to weigh in on which items are a waste of money for everyday use and the select few you should stock up on for every day use.

First off, the beauty items our experts suggest skipping:

"For the day to day, most women don't need foundation," says Gigi Shaker, New York-based makeup and hair artist. "For a wedding or big occasion you may want more coverage, but typically you can eliminate foundation and just use concealer under the eyes and to spot-treat." Fellow makeup and hair stylist Bridget Trama agrees but says selecting the right concealer becomes crucial without foundation. "You also have to make sure it's the right color," says Trama. "And some people with concealers, they go far too light. They don't have enough peach in it and then get that raccoon eye thing that makes it worse instead of better." Shaker and Trama's advice: Buy two colors of concealer — one that matches your skin in the summer and another that matches in the winter, and mix them in between for the perfect shade.

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It may come as part of a three-step package, but Dr. Sejal K. Shah, a New York-based cosmetic dermatologist, says she actually doesn't recommend toner. "Maybe if you have really oily skin, toners are helpful, but, realistically, if you're cleansing normally and removing makeup, I don't think it's necessary. I think people like it to make skin feel clean, but tingling and tightness is actually a sign of overdrying."

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Lip balm
With winter coming, you may be surprised to hear that you actually don't need this popular pocket-size item. "I never ever use lip balms; I just use moisturizer," says Shaker, who simply rubs it on her lips in place of lip balm. "The lips are just a more delicate type of skin than your face, but they need the same type of hydration. Add moisturizer just before you go to bed and then you can eliminate Chapstick, which essentially dries out the lips anyway if you're using the ones with alcohol." Another alternative: "Eye cream is even better — it just plumps [lips] up at the same time."

Somewhere along the way the beauty industry convinced us all that we have lots of dead skin that needs to be sloughed off. The truth is, harsh scrubs do more harm than good. "I have so many patients who come in using really aggressive scrubs on their face," says Shah. "Any time you overly irritate the skin or overly dry the skin, you're making it worse." According to Shah, people with oily or acne-prone skin should avoid scrubs, which cause skin to overcompensate for the dryness scrubs cause. If you don't want to give up scrubbing, she recommends using the delicate Fresh Sugar Face Polish, DERMAdoctor Body Scrub, or gentle body washes with microbeads just once a week. 

Face primer
That added prep step that so many makeup artists swear by? Skip it! "Most primers really don't work," says Trama. "I do faces all the time and don't put primer on." Eyelid primer is also unnecessary. To help powder shadows affix to your lids, try a dab of concealer or foundation to help it stick.

Cellulite creams

"People should moisturize the body, but you don't need the additional skin-tightening creams. Cellulite is on a deeper level, and the creams would have to pass through the skin barrier, which really wouldn't happen," says Trama. The act of massaging in a good gentle moisturizer may, in fact, have better results, she says. As for turning to a medical professional, even that probably won't work. Adds Shah, "We don't have great procedures that treat or cure cellulite."

Specialized creams for hands, feet, and other specific body parts

"I think the three types of creams [you need] are dedicated eye cream, face cream, and body cream. I do find eye creams are more delicate than a face moisturizer, and they also contain things like caffeine," explains Shah. As for a good foot moisturizer, she suggests good old Vaseline.

An arsenal of eye shadows
Trama admits that it's easy to fall for all the beautiful colors, but they're actually a waste of space in your makeup bag. "You don't need 25 eye shadows," she says. "Just get three basics. Most women need one neutral palette and that's it."

Face mists
Need a refreshing spritz on a hot day? "You could just put water in a spray bottle," says Shah. "The one difference with a spray bottle is it may come out a little more forceful, while mists have a nice aerosol feel on the skin, but these are things you would not need on a regular basis." 

Lip liner
"It's very drying, and young women definitely don't need it," insists Trama. "You really only need a lipstick or a lip gloss. Women who are aging may need the lip liner more than younger girls, because as women age the line feathers out. But lipstick is preferred since it's more hydrating."

Face-blotting sheets
"If you have very oily skin, you may want to consider washes containing tea tree oil, mattifying moisturizers, and certain face masks," says Shah. "Blotting papers may lift up a little more residue than a tissue would, but they're not really needed."

After weeding out the mostly unnecessary products, here are the experts' must-haves: 

Dry Shampoo
"For hair products, everyone has different needs, but this is one product that nobody can live without," says Shaker. She suggests spraying your roots around the front of your face and blow-drying roughly to add volume and fake a freshly washed head of hair.

If you only have time to use one product, this may be the one. As Trama says, "Mascara just livens the eyes."

Antioxidant serum
If you have normal skin without issues, Shah recommends applying this kind of serum, which contains vitamin C and vitamin E, in the morning. "It helps to brighten the skin and fix discoloration, and, in theory, it could also help scavenge free radicals from sun damage."

You should apply one with at least SPF 30 every morning, according to Shah. No exceptions. 

Every lady loves a pop of color, and, according to Trama and Shaker, there's nothing more mood-boosting in the beauty world than a flattering lipstick or gloss.

Gentle cleanser
Shah suggests buying something basic to use morning and night to remove grime and excess makeup. 


Shaker says a flushed cheek will make anyone look more healthy and beautiful. Simple enough!

For more beauty tips, check out the video below:

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