The Basic Beauty Essentials Everyone Should Have—For Real

There are a lot of fun items involved in beautification, there’s lipstick, eyeliner, deep conditioners, toners, and hundreds of other “important” things for you to buy and use, but sometimes it’s the simpler items that are essential. You always keep them stocked, you use them more than pricey products, and they’re available at your local drug store. It’s not usually that exciting when you re-stock them, but if they ever stopped making any of these products (god forbid) you know you’d be really upset. If I run out of any of this stuff, or lose any of these tools, I have to make a rush visit to the drug store to replenish ASAP.

A lot of these items also have multiple uses, they’re tools, honest to goodness tools, just like hammers and nails. Who needs a pliers when I have a cuticle clipper? I’ll never forget working at MAC and listening to one of the very masculine stock guys going on and on about the wonders of nail polish remover and how it could erase sharpie marker. He was impressed by the untold usefulness of beauty products, and so am I, most women have an arsenal of tools disguised as beauty products sitting on their bathroom shelf—we’re savvy like that.

Hair elastics are about as essential as it gets if you have hair past your chin. I’m a Scünci girl, Goody is alright, but I don’t find them as well made. I like the no damage elastics without any metal on them, and they’re strong too. Hair elastics have many purposes, I never have rubber bands so they end up being used for a multitude of things, like bundling pencils or keeping shutters closed, oh yeah, and putting your hair in a ponytail too.

Scünci Elastics, Medium Black, $2.69 for 28

My hair is a battle ground for hair accessories, only the strong survive. My strands snap hair elastics like nobodies business and they laugh at silly little hair clips. I’ve tried dozens of hair claws and clips, so when I found these heavy-duty, no-slip gripped clips, my hair finally met its match. They still break sometimes, but they stand up to my hair like nothing else. They’re also essential for keeping curtains closed and you can clip them all over your bathroom so you always have one on hand.

Scunci No-Slip Grip Jaw Clips, $3.19 for 2

There is always one of these looped over my bathroom doorknob, if you have bangs or even long layers around your face, you need one of these to push your hair back when you put on a cleansing mask, or just wash your face everyday. I treat them like crap and they always end up looking ratty, but you can throw them in the wash, and whenever I lose them I realize how much I need them, especially if I’m in need of a bang trim.

Scunci Hairband, Assorted Colors, 5 for $5.69

One of my favorite things about beauty supply stores is the huge tub of bobby pins you can get for like, 2 bucks, so cheap and they last forever. Unfortunately when you can’t make it to a real beauty supply, you have to settle for the slightly more expensive (but still pretty cheap) Conair or store brand bobby pins. If you’re growing out your hair, or you like to wear up-dos, you need bobby pins. They’re also great for cleaning up nail polish in the corners of your nails, unlocking doors, and so many other little things.

Conair Brush Styling Essentials Matte Minis Bobby Pins, Black, 60 for $1.29

Ok, so this one is hard to use as anything but soap, although Wendy does try to re-attach Peter Pan’s shadow with a bar of soap, but mostly I just love this stuff because it’s extra gentle and I have very sensitive skin. I try to get someone with a BJ’s membership to buy it for me or let me tag along on a trip because they have it there in bulk. I’ve been using it forever and it never disappoints in making my skin soft and irritation-free.

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, Antibacterial, $4.49

A cardinal rule of skin care is “don’t touch your face”, and it’s really true, my skin has gotten so much better since I started following that rule, I should have listened to my mother when I was teenager. If you must pop a pimple or squeeze a blackhead, use this loop, it’s worth the $9.00 to keep your skin clear and satisfy the urge to pop. It looks like a torture device, and you can go a little squeeze-happy with it, but it’s a great thing to have on hand when you need it, always clean it off with some rubbing alcohol (another essential) between uses too.

Tweezerman Skin Care Tool, $8.99

These are an ultimate essential product, I actually buy mine in bulk at Costco, but I’ve tried these Johnson’s wipes and they’re good too. I know that Terrence Howard thinks they’re essential for other reasons, but they’re great for cleaning out your makeup cases, and they can be critical for makeup application. If it’s hard to get a straight line on your eyeliner, or if you screw up and need to wipe it all off, you need some of these babies on hand.

Johnson’s Baby Hand & Face Wipes 25 for $2.99

I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t wash my hair that often. It takes literally six+ hours to dry and it doesn’t get greasy very quickly. So when I shower I need to protect my hair from the water, otherwise the steam has a field day creating frizz. I like these Goody shower caps because they’re super cheap, brightly colored and they last a long time. My fiance things that shower caps are hysterical, which is why I’m considering ordering one of these immensely silly caps from Urban Outfitters, because he’ll get a kick out of it, it’s fun—and who cares? You’re in the shower anyway!

Goody Shower Cap Large, $1.49 or

Urban Outfitter Shower Caps, $8.00

This tool is probably the most essential of my essential products. It’s meant for clipping cuticles and it does an amazing job with its super sharp edges, but it’s also great for clipping the tags off clothes. To me, it’s a standard do-everything tool. I use it to open stubborn products and I pretty much use it as a pliers most of the time, I have a toolbox with a legit pliers, but this guy works better for everything. I’ve had mine for about six years and it’s still pretty sharp, I think I might send it back to Tweezerman for a sharpening and re-aligning though, because they let you do that, so it’s worth the investment too.

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Nipper, $24.99

We all need a nail file sometimes, especially in a nail emergency—this is a no-brainer. I’ve also used them to sand wood, but I’m weird, I use a lot of these products for art projects. These Trim boards are the way to go. I’ve bought cute nail files with hearts and patterns on them, and they’ve given me cuts under my nail, seriously—those things can be dangerous. Stick to these, they’re effective, last a long time, and the price is right.

Trim Salon Boards, Grit Heavy Duty/Medium 2 for $2.29

Ok, so now I want to hear about your essential items, I’m sure I’ve left some great products out, but I think it’s different for everyone. These are items that are either very cheap, or last forever and are used often, you can get them at the drug or beauty supply store, and you always need them, extra points for products with multiple uses! Let’s hear what you got!


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11 Comments

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11 responses to “The Basic Beauty Essentials Everyone Should Have—For Real

  1. haren

    How could you forget the Tweezers, with all those Tweezerman products. I like the bright pink one. And should I know who Terrence Howard is?

    • mkz201

      Tweezers are clearly a big big must. I like the pointy Tweezerman’s because they are very precise. They are also the best for getting out splinters and in grown hairs. Also great for small craft projects.

  2. haren

    But wait there’s more. Sea Breeze, which if you dye your hair is a must for getting rid of stray dye. It is actually an astringent that works pretty good for that and as an after shave. Witch Hazel is great for those purposes as well but I don’t think it gets off hair dye.

  3. mkz201

    Oh, also, I would like to second the necessity of good cuticle clippers. They are actually the best tool for embroidery because you can snip very closely and precisely.

    And I’ve used emery boards to rub itchy parts of of my shoes and places where my desk was poking me at work.

    Also, clear nail polish is pretty essential. If you apply a fresh coat to a manicure every couple of days your manicure will last twice as long. And it stips runs in stockings and keeps the edges of ribbons from fraying.

    • Justine

      I often use my emery boards as back back scratchers too, and I was going to do clear nail-polish but I’m planning a whole post on nail essentials and polishing, it is great for everything! And how could I have forgotten tweezers!

  4. Carmela

    Haren, Terrence Howard is one of my favorite actors, and yes, you should know who he is. I have no idea what he said about baby wipes and their uses, but he was the pimp in Hustle and Flow, he was the guy who became the manager for Ray Charles in the movie with Jamie Foxx, he was in Crash (the TV producer), tons of other movies.

  5. jen

    Baby powder. For just about everything. I love it.

    I bought a shower cap once with the intention of not getting my hair wet…and then one morning I found my boyfriend sitting on the couch with a toothbrush in his mouth, playing his telecaster…and wearing my bright pink shower cap. I have pictoral evidence somewhere…

    I think Terrance Howard said something about not going out with a girl who didn’t have baby wipes in her purse. It kind of demeans him in my eyes. Because we all know guys are the picture of perfect hygiene, no?

    • Justine

      Jen, I had to stop my self from including baby powder because I’ve already included in a few roundups and I thought people would think I was a powder pusher—it’s one of my favorite things ever, have you tried the Lush powders, they’re amazing!

      You have to find that picture of your bf, sounds priceless. What is it with guys and shower caps? They think they’re so funny, I don’t think they believe we actually wear them for a real purpose. Ugh Terrence Howard, he’s so good and then he reveals to everyone how crazy he is!

  6. haren

    Wow. Guess I should know who Terrence Howard is.

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