MAKEUP & SKINCARE ESSENTIALS (besides the basics)

Besides absolute basics like cleanser or moisturizer, there are some makeup and skincare essentials that I use all the time. Read through to check them out!

Okay, so, I’m like, a sucker for reading posts about people essentials when it comes to skincare or makeup items. I just don’t like reading about how moisturizer is one of your three things that is MUST HAVE. Like. Yeah. I know. And yes, I know that a good cleanser is essential because how else you gonna get those three pounds of no makeup makeup off your face?

Which is what prompted me to write about a few of my essentials – besides the basics.


I remember when I first started exfoliating my face, it was such a game changer for me. My face finally felt so squeaky clean and the crap that had been sitting on my skin was gone – all thanks to brown sugar.

Using something that’s not specific for a certain body part really opened my options, as well as being cost efficient. For my chapped lips especially, I took some coconut oil (or honey) and brown sugar and scrub, scrub, scrubbed.

Another product that is one of my absolute faves is the St. Ives Green Tea Scrub. The Green Tea one is especially to help blackheads and calming redness, but I like to use it whenever I get a little breakout on my cheeks. It’s less than $4, a good amount of product, and easy to find.


Having my brows done is the TOP thing I will do if I’m running late, and the ONLY thing I will do when I go out to run errands or work out.

After watching this Instagram video I’ve been using this combo more and more. Although it’s not the only thing I’ll do to my brows, it’s very low maintenance and I like the look it achieves.

Besides absolute basics like cleanser or moisturizer, there are some makeup and skincare essentials that I use all the time. Read through to check them out!


I feel like people who wear makeup are broken up into two categories: those where the statement lip is your go-to, or the ones who can’t leave the house without a coat (or two) of their holy grail mascara. I fall into the former category.

That being said, having a good nude shade is always handy. You can never go wrong with one.

My newest favorites are either the Maybelline Truffle Tease, or L’Oreal’s J Lo. Truffle Tease is more of a light brown nude as opposed to J Lo, which is more pinkish.

As for color, Nyx’s Soft Matte Lip Creams have never failed me. Berlin is my new recent favorite which is a more brownish neutral color, but a classic deep red is Copenhagen.


Even though I am very much a person who enjoys the glowy look more often than not, I find a bronzer or contour shade more versatile and better to use when paring down to my makeup essentials.

At the risk of being cliche, my top pick for this is the Hoola Matte Bronzer – a cult fave for good reason.

However, ever since I figured out how to blend the NYX Bright Idea Illuminating Stick so it doesn’t look like my sunburned skin is peeling off my cheeks, I find myself reaching towards it more often than not. I don’t actually think it’s meant to be a bronzer, but what works, works.

What are your skincare or makeup essentials?

  • I will always do my brows, mascara and lipstick whenever I go out. My skin is pretty good so I get away without any base products but those few is a must.

    • Sam

      Same! Whenever my friends and I go out for late night boba runs, my brows are pretty much the only thing I like to do.

  • I like that most of your essential products are quite affordable! I always moisturize and put on sunscreen. If I don’t wear makeup that day, I heap on extra lotion and treat it as a skin TLC day. As for other essentials, I’ve been digging the Clinique Contouring Stick for a touch of color every day.

    • Sam

      Thanks Alyse! Yeah, I notice when I see people’s essentials that I like they’re always $40-50 each and I’m trying to save money so I always cry a little bit inside, hah.

  • I don’t use scrubs for my face anymore but an acid exfoliant is a must for me! Just a brow pencil, corrector under my eyes, lip balm and curling my lashes can make me feel all sorted!

    Advaita | Blush Canvas

    • Sam

      Oh, I haven’t tried an acid exfoliant! Do you have one that you’d recommend?

  • I agree that exfoliating is very important! It is so life changing. I like using honey and brown sugar to exfoliate with. It’s so gentle and feels really good. I never tried the St. Ives scrub before, but the apricot one is like a cult favorite. I haven’t tried either tbh but I have considered it because I always hear such great stuff about this brand.
    Yes brows are life!! They are definitely the one thing I spend the most time on. Good brows help to frame the face and makes you look ten times better. I’ve considered trying out that NYX illuminating stick. I bought it but then ended up returning it because there’ve been mixed reviews. I might consider getting it again now. Thanks for sharing!!

    ~Andrea Tiffany~

    • Sam

      Brown sugar and honey are the BOMB. I use coconut oil now because honey is more expensive and we still use it for culinary reasons so it can run out pretty fast. I really like using the illuminating stick – it’s easy to apply and sometimes more convenient than my Hoola bronzer. I’m actually considering picking up another one as a highlight!

  • I seldom use a physical exfoliator these days too, but it’s because I have acne-prone and sensitive skin. I love me a good chemical exfoliator twice a week – my fave is the REN glycolic acid (slightly pricey but amazing) or the Madara Peel (affordable and good!) and go in with a Luna Mini dupe (literally $10 from Amazon vs $100 for the real thing) for a gentle massage. It’s great! My daily-go to is brows + concealer because ya know I need to cover up those scars -_-

    Cherie ✽ sinonym

    • Sam

      So I was reading this comment and I got to Madara Peel but Madara sounds like the town I grew up in (Madera) and I was all, “My hometown made a peel, WHAT.” But anyways. Since I’m on the verge of finishing up some skincare, this would be a perfect addition and I actually found a place that ships to the US, so whoo!

  • I can never leave the house without some sort of lippie on haha, its just a massive must for me xx

  • I’m pretty low-maintenance with makeup (not so much with skincare). I guess the one essential I’d have apart from a basic cleanser and moisturizer (with SPF) is a hydrating toner. I have very dehydrated skin so the infusion of water-based moisture is a must for me.

    Camilla /

    • Sam

      Actually toner is one of the basic steps my skincare routine is missing right now! Do you have a go-to that you’d recommend?

      • I’m always testing new ones lol! Right now I’m using the Naruko La Creme Miracle Essence and the Belif True Tincture of Chamomile. The Naruko is really watery and the Belif is a little thicker so they layer well with each other.

        • Sam

          This is great, thank you! I’ll definitely check these out 🙂

  • For skincare, a non-greasy SPF and sheet masks are must haves. I love trying out all the different flavors and types of sheet masks (and there are a lot)! For makeup, I’d say a lip products as well, you can never go wrong with nude lips! And brows, can’t forget the brows because my natural ones are pretty much nonexistent 😭

    Jenny // Geeky Posh

    • Sam

      Saaameee, haha eyebrows are a must must must. It’s actually taking me a while to get through my sheet masks since I have so many others, but they’re so great!

  • I have a face scrub I use and I think it really makes a difference! It’s ncie to use it now and then 🙂 I have been wearing a bright lippie too lately.

    I really don’t wear much makeup so BB cream is about it for me at the moment otherwise! When I’m in the office it’s the standard lippy, mascara and foundation, nothing more than the basics 🙂

    Hope you are having a fantastic weekend!

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • Sam

      Seriously, a face scrub has been SUCH a gamechanger. I’m so glad I started using one! Hope you have a great rest of your week, Mica 🙂