It may be well-known by those closest to me, but to all others, I have a bit of a confession to make — I have a deep-seated, secret, guilty obsession. Makeup. There’s a part of me that wishes I didn’t love it as much as I do, but I’m slowly growing to accept it. I wasn’t one of those girls who grew up playing with her mother’s makeup; as far as I remember, my mom had little more than a tube of mascara, perhaps two eyeshadows, and one Clinique lipstick — a true pilot of minimalism — and it wasn’t until my second year of boarding school that I began to fall down the rabbit hole of cosmetics. I would trek to my friend’s room on the rare opportunity I was able to wake early, and within her drawers was a sight that still gives me butterflies whenever I think back on it — heaps upon heaps upon heaps of the most exquisite makeup I’ve ever seen. The fact that she was happy to let her friends intrude and doll themselves up in her mirror while bopping around to “Billy Jean” right before class started was just icing on the cake.

Since then, I’ve grown in and out of phases where I’ve been a little more… avid about finding new products and collecting things that make my heart flutter. This is just a small selection of products that have never failed me, and have become staples — either over time or overnight. Most are a bit on the pricey side, but I can’t emphasize how much they’re worth it. Seriously.

best beauty products 2013

1. Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm, $36: This is a recent find, courtesy of BirchBox. I have pretty dry, very fair skin that isn’t prone to breakouts, so this BB cream is a bit of a miracle worker for me. My skin looks 100% even, dewy, and soft as any baby’s bottom — and it stays on for ages.

2. Chanel Hydramax + Active Cream, $80: This stuff is officially Holy Grail status. Like I said, I have the most stubborn dry skin and a bit of redness on my cheeks, and this moisturizer calms my face and hydrates it like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, they’ve discontinued the one I use (which you can still find here) in favor of the new Hydra Beauty line — Hydra Beauty Creme and Hydramax + Active Nourishing Cream for Dry Skin are now available — but I’ve heard good things about these too.

3. NARS Blush in Gaiety, $29: Nars blush is a staple for almost anyone, and for good reason — they stay put, they have a ridiculous selection of shades, and they last forever (both on the face and in the pan). Gaiety is simply the ideal bubblegum pink, and adds the nicest blush of soft fuchsia to any look.

4. Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, $6.99: This is easily one of the best beauty buys out there. Normally I’m not a big fan of cream shadows, but this stuff stays put, doesn’t crease, and all the shades are generously pigmented. Bad to the Bronze is an ideal dark brown-gold shade, and it works great for my blue eyes.

5. Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer in Ivory, $70: This one’s, well, less of a “best buy” — at least in terms of affordability. I still get a little choked up whenever I think about the cost of this one, but I’m on my second tube of it and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give it up. It does the MOST incredible job of covering up any spots you’d like to hide, while somehow magically looking like your own skin. Try this one out if you get the chance.

6. Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips, $14.50: I was lucky enough to get a sample of this lip balm in my last BirchBox, and aside from the HORRIBLE name, this stuff is fantastic. I have truly gross, icky, dry lips and have long been on the lookout for a great moisturizing balm, and this is it. Now if only they’d change the name — I’m getting a bit tired of the looks from people when I tell them I have nipple balm on my lips.

7. Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Toilette, $25-104: I was recently turned onto this scent by Man Repeller‘s edition of GlossyBox — last month’s, perhaps? Oh. My. God. My perfume preferences usually tend to be on the floral side or the musky side, and this one is the most delectable blend of both. A bit of floral, a bit of citrusy orange, and a bit of musk. Perfection.

8. Burberry Lip Mist in Nude Honey, $30: I’ve become all but obsessed with Burberry Beauty products. I’m a good bit skeptical when a fashion house decides to jump into the cosmetic world, but Burberry’s classic and minimalist style translates perfectly into a beauty line. It’s taken years of searching for me to find the perfect nude lipstick — and I mean really nude. I’ve bought at least a dozen lipsticks in the search for the perfect nude, and this is it: light enough for my pale skin, a bit glossy, and it lasts.

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