Jan 09, 2024

Experts Say These Weird, Cheap Beauty Products Trending On Amazon Are Actually Pretty Genius


Straight from the mouths of the industry’s top names.

Follow along with even just a handful of celebrity (or celebrity glam squad) social media accounts, and you’ll quickly see that it’s expensive to get those red carpet-ready looks. But not every product that the pros rely on is from a luxury brand. The products on the list ahead, for example, all come recommended from the likes of celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists, licensed estheticians, and nail care experts — and they’re all less than $40. Whether you’re looking for a less expensive alternative to a prestige favorite or you’re curious about what the pros keep in their kits, you’ll find all of their tried-and-true favorites ahead.

These multi-purpose powder puffs come recommended by two pros: Pooja Mehta, a makeup artist and founder of Makiaj Beauty in Scottsdale, Arizona, and J Guerra, a celebrity makeup artist based in New York City. “These are all the craze right now,” confirms Mehta, of these pocket-size powder puffs that are available on Amazon in a set of six. “The triangle shape makes it easy to set under eyes, remove shine around the nose, powder the corners of the mouth to prevent bold lips from bleeding, and the side can be used to set around the brows, cheekbones, jawline, and sides of the nose,” Guerra adds of the many uses of a powder puff.

If you’re not willing to part with the $40 that the cult-favorite Dior Lip Glow Oil will set you back, Mehta says this set of plumping lip oils is the next best thing. “They are juicy and smell really good, but not overly sticky so your hair won’t get caught in them,” Mehta says of the glossy texture. For less than $15, you’ll get a set of three tints, all of which include nourishing ingredients like cherry seed oil (just like the Dior lip oil).

Whether you’re new to contouring or you’re looking for a quick and easy way to sculpt your face, Mehta recommends a cream contour stick that you can swipe right where you want it. “The product is very soft and easy to blend into the skin while still remaining pigmented,” she says of a cream stick formula. This dual-sided option comes with a darker contour stick on one end and a lighter highlighting shade at the opposite end to create definition or a brightening effect at home or on the go.

Certified cosmetologist-aesthetician at OnSkin, Valerie Aparovich, shares that a silicone face brush is a helpful tool to have on hand for deeper cleansing. “[It enables] you to efficiently remove surface grime and oil and gently exfoliate dead skin cells without irritating the skin,” she says of facial cleansing brushes like this set of four silicone scrubbers. One more bonus, according to Aparovich? “Little silicone bristles softly massage and stimulate the skin,” she says, adding that this helps it to better absorb your serums and moisturizers.

When you wake up feeling especially tired or puffy, Aparovich says 15 minutes with this gel mask is all you need to “freshen and invigorate tired skin, de-puff the eyes and face, and prep for makeup to layer more smoothly.” Designed to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, the reusable mask is filled with moldable gel beads, and can even be used to help with headaches, sinus pain, and other ailments.

There’s a slight DIY aspect to this Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, which is a jar of pure bentonite clay that needs to be scooped out and mixed with equal parts water or apple cider vinegar to transform into a mask. While it’s a favorite on Amazon with more than 70,000 five-star ratings for its ability to draw out acne-causing debris from pores in just five to 10 minutes, it can be used anywhere else that might need a cleanse, too, according to Trina Renea, esthetician and co-host of Facially Conscious podcast. “If you’re looking for a deep detox to get rid of any toxins or funky smells, this works wonders for all skin types,” Renea says, noting that it can be used on the feet and armpits, too.

Those committed to a matte lip know the importance of prepping with a gentle scrub to keep lips completely smooth. But Renea says that anyone can benefit from regularly exfoliating, and this coconut-scented lip scrub is her personal go-to. “After I put this lip scrub on, I immediately hydrate with chapstick,” she says of the vegan and cruelty-free scrub. “Do this once a week for plumped lips,” Renea says, adding that the scrub uses sugar to gently exfoliate and oils like sweet almond, coconut, and jojoba seed to leave lips feeling soft and moisturized.

When it comes to an effective hair mask with just one ingredient, Renea recommends using a USDA-certified organic, cold-pressed castor oil. Because it’s rich in a type of fatty acid called ricinoleic acid, castor oil is a multi-purpose moisturizer that can also be used on the skin, as well on brows and lashes to potentially boost hair growth. While there’s no scientific evidence to prove that castor oil can actually grow hair, its nourishing abilities make it effective at improving the overall health of your hair, which can help with growth over time. “Plus, it’ll last you a while since it’s thinner than a regular hair mask,” adds Renea of the 32-ounce bottle of castor oil.

While you should always check with your doctor before adding any supplement into your routine, celebrity brow and makeup artist Stevi Christine swears by Hilma Sleep Support for getting a good night’s rest. Noting that it’s helpful whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, Christine likes that the sleep aid is melatonin-free. Instead, the capsules contain ingredients like reishi mushroom, passionflower, and magnesium, which Christine calls “a beauty secret” for reducing inflammation.

“It’s great for hands, elbows, and knees — areas we need extra hydration,” Christine says of Weleda’s Ultra-Rich Cream. The moisturizer has also been a longtime favorite among beauty pros for prepping skin before makeup application, while dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss swears by it as a lip mask, too. Its gentle formula comprises almost entirely plant-derived ingredients, including sunflower seed oil, sweet almond oil, chamomile flower, and calendula flower.

You’ve probably already heard of the benefits of sleeping on a silk pillowcase, but Christine says there’s another accessory she likes even more for preserving her hairstyle while she sleeps. “If you are someone who prefers not to wash your hair every day and/or style it every morning, a silk sleep cap is your new best friend,” she shares of her go-to trick. This mulberry silk sleep cap is hypoallergenic and adjustable, but best of all, it helps to keep your hair soft and reduces friction to prevent knots and split ends while you sleep. “This will keep your blowout looking fresh. You will wake up with your hair intact and no messy bedhead,” says Christine.

“This is the perfect product to apply your foundation with, and it only costs $10,” celebrity makeup artist Elizabeth Seropian declares of a great alternative to the pricey Beautyblender. Also a staple in Guerra’s kit, these Paw Paw sponges can be used while damp to apply liquid and cream products, or dry to apply your favorite powder blushes, bronzers, and highlighters — and they come in a set of six. They’re also incredibly soft. “The material they use feels like clouds on your skin,” Seropian says.

Seropian calls this makeup bag an essential for anyone who travels frequently and finds they’re often doing makeup on the go. “It has so much space for your personal glam products,” she says of the train case, which comes with adjustable compartment dividers to hold products of all sizes. “It also has a chargeable light that helps you glam,” she adds of the detachable lighted mirror that even comes with a stand.

The easiest way to create a cat eye shape isn’t with a liquid liner or complicated eyeshadow technique, according to Seropian, but with these wispy half lashes. “I use them personally and on my clients,” she says of the $8 set, which comes with seven pairs of lashes. Not only do the half lashes “give your eyes the perfect cat eye effect,” but the smaller size makes them easier to use than traditional false lashes and more complimentary on all eye shapes (including smaller eyes and hooded eyes).

You may have seen this handy little kit on TikTok, and beauty and fashion business strategist, Nina Vargas, shares that it’s a great way to customize your cleanser. “[It] turns face wash into a marshmallow-like foam for a milder, deeper cleanse,” she says. The Nooni facial cleansing kit comes with the viral Marshmallow Whip Maker that transforms your cleanser of choice into a foamy, mousse-like consistency when combined with water and pumped together for a few seconds. But it also includes the brand’s own Snowflake Whipping Cleanser that you can use with the device (and yes, the cleanser is formulated with actual marshmallow root extract).

A silicone scalp massager not only feels relaxing, but it’s also great with “helping to remove scalp buildup,” according to Vargas. This massager brush can be used on dry hair to help loosen any dead skin or debris from the scalp pre-shower, but it can also be used with your shampoo to give your hair a deeper clean. Studies have also shown that a few minutes of massaging the scalp daily can potentially increase hair thickness.

Vargas calls this Unicorn Snot Bioglitter Sunscreen Lotion a “summertime staple.” Despite its questionable name, the product is a pretty genius way to protect your skin from the sun while also adding a shimmery glow. Applying this before your next beach or pool day will give you water- and sweat-resistant broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection for up to 80 minutes. But it’s also infused with ultra-fine pink glitter particles that literally leave your skin glowing (and are biodegradable, according to the brand).

“These electric facial rollers use micro-currents to de-puff and promote circulation and lymphatic drainage,” Guerra says of this set of two face rollers. The battery-operated devices come in a 3-D shape and a smaller T-shape depending on your preference, and they’re simple to use. “You can use them with your favorite skin care products to massage the forehead, cheekbones, chin, jawline, neck, and under eye areas starting from the center and moving away from the face,” Guerra explains of the best way to massage your skin.

If you’re already into ice rolling to de-puff and wake up your face, consider this DIY ice roller mold that allows you to amp up the skin benefits by infusing your ice with other calming ingredients. “I use rose water, green tea, or cucumber water to create my own personalized iced benefits before applying skin care,” Guerra shares.

Another pick for those on the go, Guerra recommends a mini silicone holder like this one to store damp makeup sponges between uses. “These keep my client’s sponges clean and accessible in my set bag for red carpet touchups,” says Guerra. Additionally, the ventilated design allows air to circulate to keep your sponges from getting moldy, and it also helps to prevent whatever makeup is left on your sponge from transferring to the rest of your bag.

For those with oily skin, consider trading out your packet of disposable blotting sheets for this reusable oil-absorbing roller that Guerra swears by. “[It] uses a volcanic stone to instantly eliminate shine on oily skin without removing makeup,” he says, noting that the roller also removes the need for carrying powder around for touch-ups. Its itty bitty size means you can keep it in your smallest bag for eliminating oil throughout the day, and it can also be washed to reuse over and over again.

If your vanity table tends to be a mess of lip pencil shavings and setting powder by the end of a makeup session, Guerra recommends having this rechargeable device on hand. “I reach for this mini vacuum cleaner after hair trims on clients or loose powder spills in my makeup kit,” he says. “It’s a lifesaver for dreaded glitter spills or cracked makeup in my kit after traveling.”

“These can be filled with toner to mist over the skin or a gentle micellar water to mist around sensitive eye areas to help remove stubborn eyeliner and mascara,” Guerra suggests of this mini face mist device that’s rechargeable. “I also use this to mist setting spray over the entire face for a weightless finish to seal in makeup, rather than heavy droplets landing on the skin,” he adds of filling the mister’s water tank with your favorite setting spray.

“These disposable makeup towels are completely biodegradable and made with 100% bio-based material,” Guerra says of these super-soft towels that are made from eucalyptus and bamboo viscose. “They’re great for removing makeup, drying your face after cleansing, absorbing sweat, or as a small station mat to lay out beauty items,” he recommends.

“This product is amazing for removing peach fuzz off your face,” founder of Voodoo Makeup, Aimee Carr, says of this pack of mini razors. She explains that this not only makes your skin feel baby smooth, but the process also shaves away dead skin cells to “allow for makeup application to be smoother.”

If sleek top knots and ponytails are a staple in your hair styling routine, Carr says this hair stick is essential. You can use the stick to swipe the wax directly over any baby hairs or flyaways, or apply a bit to your fingers first and brush it through. No matter how you use it, Carr says that it “instantly smooths hair and puts all pieces in place without looking greasy or over gelled.”

“This brilliant product is one to carry in your bag or purse, especially if you are dealing with low-density hair,” Yvey Valcin, master stylist and founder of Yvey Salon, tells Bustle. You can use the Toppik hair-building fibers along your part line or areas of thinning hair that need a boost by spraying the color that best matches your hair directly where you want it. You don’t have to worry about the product coming out in the rain or when you sweat, but Valcin says that “you never need to worry about it leaving a mess on your scalp” because it washes out with shampoo.

A cleansing balm works wonders to remove makeup (yes, even stubborn waterproof formulas), sunscreen, and daily grime, but skin care expert and founder of Your Aesthetic Edit, Sarah Tucker, notes it’s especially great for traveling. “You can easily travel with it and not have to worry about spills,” she says about this Versed cleansing balm, which starts as a solid and emulsifies into a milky cleanser as you massage it into your skin. “It also nourishes your delicate skin barrier and doesn’t strip the skin, so it’s perfect for all skin types,” she says of the vitamin E and jojoba seed oil-infused balm.

Tucker calls this “playful protection at its best.” If you grew up slathering yourself in baby oil before baking in the sun, consider this SPF baby oil a safer alternative. “The formula smells divine and my skin both looks and feels silky smooth and shiny, just like when I was a carefree teen and 20-something,” Tucker says of the dermatologist-developed formula. In addition to broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection (and that classic baby oil scent), the product also contains moisturizing and soothing ingredients like jojoba seed oil, chamomile extract, and vitamin E. “My skin stays hydrated and protected, while I also get to take a walk down memory lane,” Tucker says.

“Gua sha has become the new go-to treatment to reduce puffiness and increase lymphatic drainage,” says Rachel Lee Lozina, licensed esthetician and owner of Blue Water Spa. This $8 gua sha jade stone gets her pick for anyone looking to try the massage tool at home for the first time. “After cleansing, apply a light facial oil, and using the gua sha tool, start from the nose and use in outward directions,” Lozina advises, adding that you’ll want to work your way “from the corner of the mouth to the ear, from the nose to the temple, from the chin to the clavicle, and the brow to the hairline.”

“Gone are the days of leaving a dollop of pimple cream on your face and hoping it doesn’t rub off in your sleep,” says Lozina. Instead, these pimple patches by Mighty Patch can be placed directly over your pimple to work while you sleep (and without moving around). The secret, according to Lozina, is hydrocolloid, “a gummy-like gel that heals wounds,” she says. “Typically found in surgical dressings, it heals the underlying cyst and flattens the lesion by morning.”

Need to reduce under-eye puffiness fast? While you should check with your derm before trying this one for yourself, Lozina says using a hemorrhoid cream is a “big industry secret” used by models. “The main ingredient is a vasodilator, which constricts blood vessels and reduces puffiness under your eyes,” she explains of how it works.

“This multi-use stick is great for on-the-go touch-ups because it can be used on your lips, cheeks, and [as] eyeshadow,” Lozina says of the $5 e.l.f. Monochromatic Multi Stick. “It’s non-greasy and lightweight for easy application and buildable color — perfect for this season’s dewy face trend.”

“This product may seem a little random, but it makes painting your nails on the go so much easier,” says nail professional Ashley Ann. “If you do your nails in the car, this holds the polish bottle in place so that you can paint with ease.” The silicone ring holder can be worn on any of your fingers, and it fits all nail polish bottle shapes.

As essential as it is to keep your cuticles nourished with an oil, it can also be a messy process — especially if your cuticle oil comes in a bottle. “The brush on application makes applying cuticle oil so much easier,” Ashley Ann says of this spill-proof pen that’s infused with oils like jojoba, olive, and grape seed. “The pen design makes it a lot easier to travel with cuticle oil,” she adds.

“This is great, especially for sandal season,” says skin care expert and founder of Esteli, Adriana Green. This double-sided pumice stone features a textured scrubber that you can use with your favorite callus remover to remove rough skin from your feet, while the buffing surface on the other side helps to smooth heels post-scrub.

Green calls this crystal nail file from OPI “the best” that she’s tried (and she’s tried a lot). “I like that it doesn’t leave ragged edges like emery boards,” she says of the benefits of switching to a crystal file. In addition to smoother nails, Green also likes that the file can be disinfected and used repeatedly. Plus, it comes with its own carrying case.

Marissa DeSantis