9 products you don't actually need, according to a beauty writer
Swap these easily replaceable beauty products for better ones.
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As Reviewed’s beauty writer, I’ve tried my fair share of makeup, skincare, hair care, and body care products. But outside of my job, having too many steps in my routine or too many products in my vanity or on my bathroom shelves overwhelms me. Instead of taking a “more is more” approach, I constantly declutter my space and look for ways to pare my routine down to one that works for my lifestyle and achieves the outcome I want. Over the years, that’s meant dropping once-loved products, like makeup primer and even shaving cream, and replacing them with multi-purpose alternatives.
If you’re like me, and think less is more, read on to find out what I’ve stopped purchasing and what I now use instead.
1. Swap liquid eyeliner for targeted eye shadow
Only a few years ago, liquid eyeliner was a staple in my makeup routine. At the time, I grew used to a thin black coat on my upper lash line and a subtle wing jutting from my outer corners, so I thought my makeup looked incomplete without this eye-defining step. Though I can’t remember why I stopped doing eyeliner—maybe I got sick of holding my breath while drawing it every morning?—at some point, I called it quits on my liquid pen.
Now, I prefer my eyes without eyeliner, but every once in a while, when I want a more dramatic look, I dip a pointed eyeshadow brush into a dark brown or black eyeshadow and pack it along my upper and lower lash lines to create a smoky lined effect. No, you won’t get the sharp edges of a liquid eyeliner, unless you use a very precise, water-dampened brush and take your time. But what you get instead is a bit of drama or even a pop of color—who says you have to stick with neutrals? If you have a brightly hued eyeshadow palette, you can use that to get in on the neon trend.
Colourpop makes some of my favorite shadows, with a creamy, easy-to-blend formula in matte, glitter, duochrome, and metallic finishes. It makes dozens of palettes, from neutral color schemes to brights to monochromatic ones, or you can build your own custom one.
- Shop Colourpop eyeshadow palettes starting at $12
- Build your own Colourpop eyeshadow palette starting at $24
2. Swap eyeshadow primer for full-coverage concealer
People swear by primers like the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion and the MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pots for making eyeshadow pop on the lid and for keeping it in place without creases. I’ve tried both of these and, in my experience, nothing fully prevents my eyeshadow from creasing. But plain old concealer works just as well as these primers to make the color look vivid on my lid and stay vibrant all day.
For a full-coverage concealer that’ll cancel out any veining or discoloration on your lids and bring out the pigment in your eyeshadow, go with our favorite, the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer. A little bit goes a long way and you’ll love this for your face, too, as it comes in a wide range of shades and looks beautiful all day long with a satin-matte finish. For a budget buy, we recommend the Covergirl TruBlend Undercover Concealer, which also comes in a wide range of shades and looks full coverage on the skin.
- Get the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer on Ulta for $27
- Get the Covergirl TruBlend Undercover Concealer on Amazon for $7.94
3. Swap foundation for an all-over concealer
I recently tested transfer-proof foundations to see which ones held up under a face mask. While I found a couple great foundations in that process, I have no plans to buy them. Why? I find that concealer can easily take the place of foundation and, in my opinion, it can look even better than foundation. Some liquid foundations run thinner while concealer is thicker in consistency, so if you’re married to that fluidity—maybe you like the dewy finish or ease of blending this gives—you may not love my swap-out. But my normal-to-dry skin works well even with thicker satin-matte concealers like, yes, the Tarte Shape Tape or Covergirl TruBlend. Both of these concealers cover up everything from darkness under your eyes to blemishes on your cheeks, blend out seamlessly onto bare skin, and stay in place all day.
4. Swap face primer for a thick moisturizer
Don’t get me wrong, applying primer underneath foundation can make a big difference. A pore-filling primer, like the popular Tatcha Silk Canvas Protective Primer blurs the skin, while an illuminating one, like the NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator makes the subsequent foundation look dewy on the skin. But if all you want is something that prepares the skin for foundation and concealer, skip it and go for a good thick moisturizer. My current favorite is the Public Goods Facial Moisturizer, a no-frills option that leaves behind no residue, shine, or pilling. If you don’t have a Public Goods membership and prefer not to put your email in for a two-week free trial, I recommend the E.L.F. Cosmetics Daily Hydration Moisturizer, which leaves the skin feeling hydrated yet a bit tacky, so it’s great to grip makeup.
- Get the Public Goods Facial Moisturizer on Public Goods for $4
- Get the E.L.F. Cosmetics Daily Hydration Moisturizer on Amazon for $8
5. Swap contour kits for one good bronzer
Remember when every cosmetics brand launched a contour kit that promised to help you chisel your cheekbones and jawline? (I bought the NYX Highlight and Contour Pro Palette.) After toiling in front of a makeup mirror and never quite getting the Instagram-worthy results I wanted, I gave up on using a cool-toned powder to contour and a warm-toned powder to bronze.
Now, I just use one bronzer that’s natural looking and hits the same spots on my face I used to try to contour (for my pale skin, this means one that’s not too dark or warm). Applying bronzer to the hollows of my cheekbones, under my jawline, and on the outer edge of my forehead adds warmth and depth to my face, but I don’t need to be so precise or use a designated sculpting brush for this.
If you’re like me and contour never quite worked well for you, consider this a sign to skip that step and go for a bronzer. I’ve used the mega-popular Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer for years and love the powder formula for its creamy texture that glides easily over my skin and the healthy-looking, warm, shimmery glow it imparts.
6. Swap liquid lipsticks for tinted balms
For special occasions or on days where I want to play with my makeup look, I apply a bright shade—usually an orange-red or a berry tone—to my lips. Years ago, when liquid lipsticks were the thing, I bought several from brands like NYX and Colourpop, but they never felt comfortable on my often-dry lips. I’d use a lip scrub, apply vaseline an hour or so before, and follow-up with a bit of balm after application. No dice! On me, they ended up feeling uncomfortable and looking crusty.
Thankfully, I saw the light and stopped forcing myself to participate in that trend when I found tinted lip balms. My favorites from E.L.F. Cosmetics, Billie, and Rare Beauty boast pigmented colors that actually tint your lips, but with the benefits of a moisturizing lip balm. If you haven’t already, try swapping one of these for lip products that leave you feeling chapped.
Get the E.L.F. Cosmetics Sheer Slick Lipstick on E.L.F. Cosmetics for $5
- Get the Billie Super Salve on Billie for $9
- Get the Rare Beauty With Gratitude Lip Balm on Sephora for $16
7. Swap shaving cream for a thick body wash
I’m convinced that shaving cream is nothing more than a marketing tactic. After all, the foams wash away with even a hint of water splatter and—spoiler alert—the creams are no different than a thick body wash. If you’d like to join my conspiracy club, stop using it and instead coat your legs, armpits, and anywhere else you shave with an emollient body wash that moisturizes your skin as you shave.
I recommend the Billie Sudsy Body Wash, which moisturizes with shea butter, soothes with aloe, and sticks to the skin well until you rub and rinse it away under water. While I loved the company's Shave Cream when I tested the Billie razor, I replaced it easily with the body wash, which I can then use anywhere else on my body.
8. Swap a regular hair dryer for a dryer brush
It may sound hyperbolic, but I swear I felt a cosmic shift the first time I ran the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer through my hair. My wavy-curly hair looked like it got a salon blowout after 20 minutes of use. Since then, I turn to this every time I need to dry my hair and want a smooth, bouncy, voluminous hairstyle. Don’t get me wrong—a regular dryer works well to dry or diffuse your hair (I own our Best Value Revlon 1875W Infrared Hair Dryer). But if you’re like me and don’t have the best coordination when it comes to holding a dryer and round brush, the Revlon One-Step is your new best friend.
9. Swap makeup wipes for micellar water
When I began wearing makeup in my teens, I only used makeup wipes to remove my foundation, mascara, and eyeliner—my then-staples. That all changed when I learned about micellar water, or a mixture of purified water, moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, and surfactants that cleanse the skin.
Once you squeeze some of the liquid onto a cotton round from the bottle, it’s just like a wipe that removes dirt, oil, and makeup—but you’ll get many more uses out of one bottle of micellar water than a pack of wipes. I’ve used the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for years now. It removes all makeup without drying out or irritating my skin and one 13.5-ounce bottle lasts me almost a year.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.