7 Makeup Artists Reveal Their Favorite Beauty Products of All Time

As beauty options increase exponentially with every new collaboration, the industry’s top makeup artists weigh in on the products that prove themselves time after time.

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Sometimes, when enough beauty-obsessed believers wish upon the same star, dreams come true. At least, that’s how it felt for countless blue mascara zealots this month when Maybelline announced that its iconic Great Lash formula in Royal Blue—which fanatics have been snagging from eBay at multiples of its $6.40 price tag since its discontinuation—is available once more. “When I first started out, it was something I’d carry in my kit for editorial shoots,” says Wendy Rowe, the London-born makeup artist who counts fellow British beauties Sienna Miller and Victoria Beckham as clients. “In the ’80s, that blue eyeliner and mascara look was super popular—something that Princess Diana always wore at the time.”

The mascara isn’t alone. Although it seems like every other day there’s a new collaboration on the market, and yet another option for the most imperceptible concealer, the blurriest lip crayon, or the mountain-dewiest highlighter—there are plenty of products that have stood the test of time, and have earned the title “cult classic.”

But what are the products that fall into this aspirational category of beauty hall-of-famers? Rowe’s broader interpretation of the title gives a bit of insight into the vetting process: “For me, a cult classic is something that has remained the same since its introduction, remaining popular and gathering a loyal following over the years,” she explains. “You might try out new options, drawn to an exciting looking new launch or fun packaging, but it’s the product that you keep re-buying time and time again.”

On the other hand, Daniel Martin, the go-to makeup artist for actresses like Meghan Markle and Elisabeth Moss, is a fan of two of the most tried-and-true products really do live up to the hype. “Since I started my career in the mid ’90s, Chanel’s Vamp lipstick was a big one, as well as NARS Orgasm blush, which in my opinion was made famous by Jennifer Lopez,” he says.

In an effort to cull the favorites of makeup masters, from modern beauty revolutionist Isamaya Ffrench to dark star Francelle Daly, we appealed to seven pros for their favorite formulas. Here, a guide to the products they can’t live without, and the stories behind them:

18 Celebrity-Approved Beauty Products that Professional Makeup Artists Actually Use

MAC Paint Sticks

“Once, I was asked to do an underwater shoot and to bring only ‘waterproof products’. This was years ago, and I just couldn’t be bothered to bring my whole kit so I turned up with five sticks of this greasepaint a Tesco carrier bag. The client seemed genuinely confused when I tipped out my ‘kit’ onto the makeup table, but using my art school training of colour mixing, I managed to create the perfect waterproof foundation colors using just these primary colors, contouring et al! I wish I could turn up to every job like this but these days, I probably wouldn’t get asked back. “ –Isamaya Ffrench

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer

“I first discovered [this product] straight out of college when I moved to NYC and found myself at the Kevyn Aucoin counter at Henri Bendel. I used to ask the artists who worked there (who assisted Kevyn, himself) tons of questions as I was starting to build my kit, and this was the brainchild of the iconic makeup artist. It’s quite thick, and the pigment dense, so a little goes a very long way. It really sticks where you apply it, making it perfect for everything from blemishes to bruises to tattoos. I used it on actress Megalyn Echikunwoke for shoot after she pulled it out of her own makeup bag, and we bonded about our love for it.” –Suzy Gerstein

Ardell 110 Lashes

“These may be the best eyelashes, and the best shape, on the market. They’re a great instant filler for anyone’s eye. I always have 10 packs in my kit of black and brown. I remember working on a job where we stacked two pairs on top of each other to create volume and drama. The actress loved them so much she wore them home and didn’t take them off until the next day.” –Francelle Daly

Makeup Forever Flash Color Palette

“If my kit got lost but I still had this palette, I’d be extremely relieved as I’d still be able to create something just using this. It’s so versatile, you can do anything with it! You can use it on the eyes or lips, and on the face and body to create dramatic editorial makeup looks. I’ve even used a little of the jet black shade in the past to mix with foundation or concealers to create shadow tones on very dark skin.” –Wendy Rowe

Leonor Greyl Huile de Magnolia

“I’ve used this oil on the skin when I want that extra shine with just a light scent. It soon became favorite of clients, especially after the tough guy David Letterman kissed one client and commented, ‘Wow! You smell so good.’” –Matin Maulawizad

Rouge Dior Couture Color 999

“I’ve had this red lipstick circulating in my kit since the ’90s (at one time this shade was simply called 99). It was one of the first ‘luxury’ lipstick purchases I had ever made starting out as a makeup artist. Because it was so chic and expensive (most of my lipsticks were testers from my counter days at MAC) I couldn’t cut it down and smash it into a palette. It was one of the most perfect reds out there, and it still is.” –Daniel Martin

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Palette

“This palette is truly universal I remember when it first came out, every makeup artist wanted to get their hands on one. It was one of those iconic pieces that you put out on the table to show you ‘owned it’ because it was so special. Nothing comes close in my opinion – it feels clean and traceless and comes in two shades, light and dark. Can be applied with fingers or brushes, and it is my forever product.” –Isamaya Ffrench

Decleor Neroli Essential Night Balm

“I refer to this as my healing balm. It’s 100 percent natural and one of Decleor’s first ever products. I always know that nobody will react to it, and it works so well as a miracle SOS balm on any bits of red, sore skin and if anyone has been traveling a lot or is stressed—even after a night out partying when skin has become red and irritated. In these cases, I always put a layer on whilst clients have their hair done and leave it on for as long as I can to get their skin in the best possible place before makeup. It’s always been in my kit.” –Wendy Rowe

Johnson’s Baby Oil

“When I was doing the music video ‘Baby Boy’ with Beyoncé, we wanted to make her skin super sultry, sexy and extra shiny—like, out-of-this-world shiny. So this is what I used! It is a product that no matter how many times I try to take it out of my kit, it stays and I literally start to panic when it runs out!” – Mally Roncal

Helena Rubenstein Mascara

“I remember reading when I was younger that Demi Moore loved it and I thought she was just a badass so I saved up my money and bought my own tube (which I still have). What’s genius is the applicator wand–it almost looked like a long, thin piece of lead with grooves in it. I’ve since replaced it in my kit with another product, which I think is destined to become a cult classic (if it isn’t one already): It Cosmetics Tightline Mascara. The brush is eenie weeny which makes it unlike any other I’ve found on the market for building that similarly striking but natural looking level of volume. I recently used it on uber-chic actress Annette Bening and really loved how it framed her baby blues.” –Suzy Gerstein

Burberry Face Contour Pen

“I can’t live without this pen for subtle sculpting. For me, there’s nothing else that comes close in terms of texture, color and results! I used it on Iris Law for the latest Burberry Beauty campaign and she filmed each step on her phone so she could do it on herself at home. I always love showing people new tricks, especially as sculpting can be quite daunting. Once people have the pen they are amazed how effortless it is to get right! Sienna Miller even showed me a trick–-she’d been using it on the edge of her lips to create a subtle shadow effect for fuller looking lips. It was amazing!” –Wendy Rowe

Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment

“This color-corrector is like David Copperfield in a jar. It literally works magic on your skin! Applied thinly like a cream to problem areas, the light green color magically transforms to match your skin tone, cancelling out any red areas and giving you the best skin of your life! Foundation free! You also only need a teeny amount so the jar will last you a lifetime…. assuming that’s around 100 years old, it works out at $0.002 a day for perfect skin. I’m sold.” –Isamaya Ffrench

Urban Decay Lipstick in Gash!, which has been discontinued.

“Back in my club kid days, this lipstick was a staple in all my girlfriends baby backpacks. Back then it was a metallic, deep aubergine with a hint of grey. It was a bit dead and demure…I always considered it the “goth sister” to Chanel’s Vamp during that same time. Urban Decay brought the shade back, but this time it’s captured in a polish.” –Daniel Martin

Shu Uemura’s Brow Pencil in Seal Brown

“When I apprenticed my first summer out of school on the remake of the film Stepford Wives this technically amazing film makeup artist I met named Margie Durand, who worked on Sex in the City, turned me onto it. I figured if it was good enough for Sarah Jessica Parker… but now that the Shu Uemura store in Soho is long gone and the line is only available in Paris, I use Glossier Boy Brow ( (another new classic) to get that fluffy-but-still-approachable shape that I think is super appealing. I used to love extra strong-hold brow gels, but the pliable finish of this product feels more modern to me.” –Suzy Gerstein

Alcone Collyre Bleu, Blue Eye Drops

“Whenever I was on shoots in Europe, whether it was Paris or Italy, I always used to look for this product there and bring it home with me. It was great for my celebrity clients, since they were working literally all day and night, they needed their eyes to look as white as possible.” –Mally Roncal

L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara

“The mascara I cannot live without! It’s been around forever! It’s detailing, flake proof, and extremely thick so the payoff is instant with one coat. I loved the original formula, I remember using the first version of waterproof and it stayed put for hours—we actually could not get it off.” –Francelle Daly

Chapstick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint

“I always loved the texture and the finish of this iconic product, but now I use the tints no matter what lip I create. My favorite moment was with Tracee Ellis Ross going on Kelly show and telling them after they commented on her makeup she responded, ‘A little glitter… a little Chapstick.’” –Matin Maulawizad

Revlon Photoready Skinlights Face Illuminator

“This was the secret weapon a lot of makeup artists used to get that beautiful natural radiance in the skin in the early 2000s. No one ever really shared or discussed this because it was a drugstore product, and back then you never shared your secrets. I had so many of these stashed in my fridge for safe keeping. Especially when Duane Reade would have a buy one get one free with your DR loyalty card! Those were the days!” – Daniel Martin


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