My 10 Holy Grail Beauty Products

I'm like Indiana Jones, but with shinier hair.
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I'm like Indiana Jones, but with shinier hair.

Like all beauty-obsessed people, I am forever in search of the Holy Grail. I'm like Indiana Jones' dad, only with shinier hair and a greatly reduced chance of being kidnapped by Nazis.

Luckily for me, Holy Grail beauty products aren't guarded by ancient brotherhoods or snakes. For the uninitiated, a HG product is one so amazing that you can't imagine ever living without it. It is the pinnacle of perfection--as good as a product can possibly be.

I'm lucky enough to have come across several of these products in my travels as a whip-cracking beauty editor. So here they are, all in one place: my 10 INDISPENSABLE Holy Grail products.

1. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat

After a year and a half of testing all pretenders to the throne, I can confidently say that this remains the best top coat of all time.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat, aka The Red Bottle

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat, aka The Red Bottle

It dries quickly to a long-lasting shine, guards against chipping, doesn’t shrink, AND somehow seals all the layers of color and base coat together into one beautiful, long-lasting manicure. What more could I possibly ask for?

2. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

I like a lot of skincare products, but there’s only one cleanser that I truly LOVE. I love it so much that I buy it in multiples of three, in case I ever run out or can’t get more for some reason. My love for CeraVe cleanser turns me into a hoarder.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

When I had cancer and my skin freaked out, this is the cleanser that slowly loved it back to health. Now that sickness with a side of cystic acne isn’t something I’m dealing with anymore, CeraVe removes my makeup, keeps my skin clean but not STRIPPED clean, and doesn’t irritate my KP. Plus it’s 100 percent odorless, which couldn’t be more essential for someone who hates most smells.

3. Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm 

My lips get dry at night when I sleep, but because of my aforementioned smell sensitivity, it was tricky to find a nighttime lip balm that worked for me. Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with pomegranate oil is perfect.

Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm

Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm

With zero colour to mess up my white pillowcases and a smooth texture that doesn’t feel waxy on my lips, the Pomegranate lip balm is the jewel in Burt’s crown. It has a slight smell when you pull the cap off, but it isn’t evident at all once applied. Plus, it comes in a twist-up tube. That means I don’t have to stick my fingers in a tub--which I HATE--to get nice lips.

4. Cle de Peau Extra Rich Lipstick

When it comes to mega-luxury products, my opinion is that the quality needs to meet the price point. Sixty-five dollars is a lot of money to spend on lipstick, but this is hands down the best lipstick formula ever. I say it loud and proud, I LOVE Cle de Peau.

Cle de Peau Extra Rich Lipsticks

Cle de Peau Extra Rich Lipsticks

Cle de Peau lipsticks come in three finishes (glossy, semi-sheer, and semi-matte) and have a beautiful, reusable case. The colors are smooth and hydrating, with a fantastic range of shades. They feel like magical butter on my lips and last a full eight hours without feathering, drying, or flaking. Applying one of these colors with the signature faceted tip makes me feel like a fancy lady, and isn’t that what luxury brands are all about: A quality product AND a glorious experience?

5. Butter London Nail Lacquer in Wallis

This shade is the ULTIMATE. An old gold micro-glitter with just a hint of olive green, it’s a really beautiful and unexpected color that always makes me happy.

Butter London Nail Lacquer in Wallis: really pretty, really hard to photograph.

Butter London Nail Lacquer in Wallis: really pretty, really hard to photograph.

I get more compliments when I wear Wallis than I do with any other nail polish in my very extensive collection. It’s totally opaque in two coats and it really resists wear at the nail tips, which is unique for a micro-glitter. I’ve repurchased Wallis three times already, and I’m definitely going to keep doing so.

6. Lorac Front of the Line PRO Liquid Eyeliner

What can I say that I haven’t said before? This liquid liner is THE BEST.

LORAC Front of the Line PRO Liquid Eyeliner

LORAC Front of the Line PRO Liquid Eyeliner

A super-thin, marker-like tip. A pure black, waterproof formula that doesn’t wear or flake off, nor does it stain your skin. A thin tube that’s as comfortable to hold as a pen. No matter what style eyeliner you like to wear, if you love liquid liner, this is absolutely the one you want.

7. Make Up For Ever HD Finishing Powder

In the past, wearing powder was kind of a chore; something I did to kill shine for photos, and that was it. But this powder has changed my entire makeup-wearing game for the better. I don’t know how I lived without it.

Make Up For Ever HD Finishing Powder

Make Up For Ever HD Finishing Powder

Not only does it make my skin totally shine-free and beautiful in pictures, it blurs out the look of enlarged pores and acne scars. When blended properly, it doesn’t flash back in photos. I’ve said before that it’s like a Photoshop tool for real life, and I stand by that--but it also sets and seals my makeup like no other. No more sweating off my BB cream, even under the hottest lights or on the most humid days.

8. Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer

Never underestimate the power of an amazing concealer. This is the product I’m most likely to recommend, and it’s also the product most people are likely to THANK me for recommending. If you’re wondering, “How good can a concealer possibly be?” then you NEED to try this.

Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer

Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. It comes in a WIDE range of colors. It’s thick enough to use on the nastiest blemishes, but never gets cake-y or oily. It stays perfect all day, even in the ocean. And a tube of it lasts forever, because you only need the tiniest bit.

9. Redken Smooth Lock Heat Glide

My hair is wavy, thick and coarse in texture. It’s been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. Smooth Lock changed my life, and I especially love it because I found it by accident.

Redken Smooth Lock Heat Glide

Redken Smooth Lock Heat Glide

This is an indispensable step in my hair-care routine, and the difference it has made to my lovely locks is incalculable. Whether I straighten or curl my hair (or just leave it alone post blow-dry), Smooth Lock gives me manageable, frizz-free, soft, shiny, AMAZING hair that I don't have to fight with. 

10. Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo

Having bangs and working out every day can be a tough combination, so I rely on this amazing dry shampoo to keep my post-sweating hair game on point.

Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo

Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo

I’ve tried a lot of dry shampoos, and this is still the only one I haven’t hated. The smell is minimal--clean and pleasant--and doesn’t linger. Even on dark hair it doesn't look powdery or clumpy--and man, does it ever work. I never want to be without this ever again.

And now I want to hear from you guys: What are your HG products? How did you discover them? Have you tried any on this list? Are you a Last Crusade or Temple of Doom person?