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Alina's Favorite Beauty Products: Makeup Bag Edition

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Our editorial director, Alina, used to be a beauty editor and is a product junkie. She does an Adele-worthy cat eye that's somehow perfectly even on both sides (I've awkwardly inspected it super up-close), knows everything about hair, and is the type of girl you're always asking what lip color, mascara, or blush she's wearing. So, we're kicking off a new series with her favorite beauty products, from the ones she carries in her purse, to drugstore-specific, high-end, hair, and more. First up: what's in her beauty bag!

In my day-to-day life, I carry around a big tote that holds a beauty bag with all my daytime essentials. It's different (and about three times as large) as what I'd take out with me at night, which we'll cover another time. I reach for it constantly whether for a makeup emergency, touch-up, or pick-me-up; and if it's ever not in my purse (which is rare, but happens), per Murphy's Law I will 100% of those times end up desperately needing its contents. It's basically my "JIC" bag - just in case. Here's exactly what's in it: 


1. Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer (my shade is Groenland Light #3). 

I truly don't know how I lived without this for so many years. It's a creamy, silky consistency with excellent coverage and broad spectrum SPF 30, which is essential for anyone anywhere - let alone in Southern California where it's sunny 24/7. It also combines three steps in one: moisturizer, sun protection, and makeup coverage - so it's the ideal morning product for busy girls, lazy girls, and ones who want to minimize irritation from layering multiple products. I have extremely sensitive skin that's prone to acne, and the formula is oil-free and so nourishing/simple. Coverage-wise, I don't wake up with skin that I can show the world as-is, and this tinted moisturizer glides onto skin so your whole complexion suddenly looks naturally even and luminous. It smooths over pores, lines, redness, discolored patches, etc. I actually notice an improvement in the appearance and condition of my skin tone when I'm using it every day. Makeup artists consistently rave about it and I would recommend it to everyone. 

2. BareMinerals Bare Skin Complete Coverage Serum Concealer (I use Medium). 

Something I find there to be perplexingly little information on in the beauty world is how half the concealers on the market only work for your under-eye area versus to conceal blemishes and redness, and vice versa. I've tried virtually every cult concealer and this is the only one I've found that works as flawlessly to conceal and brighten dark circles under eyes as it does to make dark spots, shadows, and zits disappear. It's a perfect product. It comes with a little sponge-tip wand so you don't have to use fingers or a brush, applies seamlessly, and blends right in without a single visible trace of what you were covering in the first place. It's actually a "serum" concealer which accounts for why it's silky, hydrating, and lightweight while offering completely full coverage. It's as close to a magic wand as concealers come.  I showed it to Emily and she bought it on the spot, and a few days later, she showed it to her friend Cristina who also then bought it immediately. 

3. Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Sweet Watermelon 

This is my daily lip color, so I use these sticks hard and go through them rapidly. I order them in bulk from Amazon and keep one in my car, one in basically all of my bags, have about three in various stages of depletion in my work bag, and one stays in my desk drawer at the Cupcakes and Cashmere office. It deposits the prettiest, semi-sheer pink sheen, and I get complimented on the color constantly so people seem to really like how it looks on, and I do too! 

4. Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner in Onyx

I'm a black eyeliner fiend and used to hop from pencil version to version noncommittally. I got this one in a gift bag over two years ago and haven't looked back. I use it exclusively for my lower lash line, and it's one of those rare beauty products that boasts exactly the qualities it says it does: it is actually smudge-proof, budge-proof, and waterproof. Because of this, it leaves behind the perfect sexy but super subtle slash of liner next day after taking your makeup off - a slept-in look that's never as good intentionally created as when it happens authentically. 

5. Sephora Collection Black Double Sided Compact Mirror 

My sweet brother got this mirror for me as a Christmas gift a few years ago along with a Sephora gift card since he knows products are my kryptonite. I had no idea how useful it would become. I whip it out countless times throughout the day for practical purposes - to see if there's something in my teeth after I eat, check if my eyeliner is smeared, or apply/reapply lipstick. The fact that it's slim, sleek, and black makes it so unassuming. I wasn't aware of how awkward it can be to use a colorful or obvious compact until I owned an inconspicuous black one that from the outside doesn't even look like one - so people don't instantly know what you're up to when using it in public. The fact that it's a double-sided mirror and panoramic rectangle shape makes makeup application that much easier on the fly, too, versus a traditional circle compact which cuts off half your face (and reminds me of a dated starlet anyways). 

Apparently this exact version is in demand because it's no longer available on Sephora and is being sold on ebay (clearly a good compact mirror) - but it's still sold on Amazon here.  

6. Kevyn Aucoin The Precision Brow Pencil (I use the Blonde shade)

The thing I appreciate most in a beauty product - especially one you're going to throw in your travel beauty bag - is when convenience marries exceptional performance, (as is the case with the Nars tinted moisturizer). Filling in your brows doesn't get easier than a one-and-done pencil that has a soft, waxy tip on one end and spooley for brushing up brows on the other end - and is self-sharpening! I wouldn't choose a more complicated brow routine involving palettes, pots, brushes or sharpeners when it's all right here in this one thin tool that's unparalleled in performance. I struggle with even calling this product a pencil because 1.) pencils sound scarier than powders when it comes to brows and 2.) this really doesn't look, or draw, like a regular "pencil." It's not a sharp point and the color isn't aggressive or harsh. It deposits the most natural brush strokes that mimic the look of individual hairs and blend beautifully for fuller-looking brows. 

7. Shu Uemara Eyelash Curler 

There isn't a better eyelash curler that's been created and you'd be hard-pressed to find a beauty lover who would disagree. I live and die by this one, which I use every single morning even if I'm not using mascara. It makes you look so much prettier, doe-eyed, and awake. It feels like a part of me and I travel with it everywhere. 

8. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara 

Before trying this mascara for the first time, I exclusively used DiorShow and was diehard loyal to it. I never thought I'd adopt a new mascara as nothing impressed me enough to switch, until Better Than Sex came along. The name is horribly embarrassing, but it's mind-blowingly good. My eyelashes look so much longer and fuller/flirtier with it on. It also doesn't dry out, which is a feat of epic proportions as mascaras go. I use this one tube constantly and the formula is just as wet as the day I opened it. The effect itself is very rich and wet-looking too, like when babies have a fan of lush, glossy black lashes. It makes it look like you were just #blessed with them naturally.

9. Aquaphor Healing Ointment - in every size that it comes in 

I have serious lip moisture/chapping issues because I bite, lick, and mess with them all day (bad habit), and am just naturally dry. Aquaphor is the only product on planet earth that works for me. Conservatively, I've tried tens of lip balms or other emollients over the years. Name a lip product and I've given it an honest shot - but nothing softens and hydrates my lips without irritating them like Aquaphor. Every time I take it out of my bag I feel so utilitarian because it's as un-cool/glamorous of a product as it gets, but it's simply the only thing that works for my lips. 

10. Pond's Original Fresh Wet Cleansing Towelettes 

These are my holy grail makeup remover wipes. They're sudsy, soft, remove loads of black mascara and eyeliner, and my skin legitimately looks clearer/more glowy the morning after I use them. They leave skin feeling fresh and clean, but not stripped or tight. I always have them in my bag for emergencies. 

11. Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Nude and Tulip 

Like my Neutrogena sticks, I use these for color, not as a "treatment" for chapped lips like my Aquaphor. I apply them when I want a barely-there hint of color, like if I'm going on a hike or doing something outdoors for which it doesn't quite make sense to have a shimmery pink lip. They're super natural-looking and make lips look fuller. I often combine the nude and tulip shades because the nude is a bit too nude and the color is a bit too rosy for me, so together they make the perfect coquettish cocktail. 

12. Sephora Collection Long Lasting Liquid Eyeliner 

My daily go-to is a crisp black cat-eye, and nothing creates it quite like liquid liner in my opinion. This Sephora version is extra inky, which I like, and compact for travel. I appreciate that it doesn't dry out. It's not my be-all end-all, but it's what I've been returning to for the last year because it's easy and doesn't bleed. 

13. Drybar Hold Me Hair Clips

It's crazy how something as basic as a hair clip (or mirror) can be so stand-out in its distinct functionality in your life. I reach for these tens of times throughout the day and more or less panic if I can't find one (I have about eight scattered throughout the house and various bags because they come in packs of four). I have thick, heavy hair and it's so easy to just throw it all up in one of these snag-less clips that don't crease hair. They're simpler and less restrictive than winding it up in a hair tie, and I believe largely responsible for why my blowouts last so long. The bright yellow isn't the most discreet look but usually when I'm needing to throw it up I'm not around too many people. They're essential to me. 

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