As much as our editors fill their shelves with beautiful things, not all the best beauty products are in packaging that we’d want to display on a bookshelf. Not every good product is cased and spun with gold. Some beauty products are just straight-up ugly—and sometimes, they’re the best products in our arsenals.
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You know, all the stuff you probably wouldn’t take a cute flat lay of but are God-tier? We’re talking those. Keep scrolling for our editors’ necessary but boring favorites.
Recently, while I was home for a week, I discovered my parents didn’t have Vaseline in their arsenal, which honestly made me spiral for a few days until my mom went to the store and I begged her to pick some up. The thought of going a mere few days, let alone a week, without Vaseline was giving me hives.
I use Vaseline daily in a myriad of ways: slugging, moisturizing dry patches on my skin and face, as a lip balm, a highlighter on my cheekbones, and mixing in with moisturizers to make them a bit thicker. If you walk into my bathroom and don’t see Vaseline, check on me. —Beth, Beauty Content Manager
Gross, I know, but I get breakouts all over my scalp—tiny little bumps that won’t go away for anything except when I use this once a week. This salicylic acid shampoo isn’t glamorous, but it rids my scalp of flakes and bumps for less than $10 —Beth, Beauty Content Manager
TikTok has convinced me to let go of any other cleansers, and I haven’t looked back since. My skin has never looked and felt better (when I stick to my routine, LOL). This is something I was skeptical about at first, but it has been the best TikTok-based decision I have made to date. —Stacey, Editorial Assistant
Do you know that TikTok trend going around where everyone is showing what they would smell like if you hugged them? I would smell like Jergens, but I guess that would mean I would just smell like unscented lotion (it has a subtle scent in my opinion!). I’ve used this lotion my whole life, and I’ve never experienced better absorption or hydration from anything else. It’s perfect for my sensitive skin, and I’m never straying. —Jasmine, Editorial Intern
Mark my words: I will have a tub of Aquaphor in my bathroom drawer or bedside table until the day I die. Besides just being the most satisfying fix to my lip balm addiction (I need something on my lips at all times or else I’ll perish), I use it as a facial treatment when my skin is inflamed or extra dry (curse you, winter weather) and rub it into extra dry parts of my body (it helps with my keratosis pilaris). I also use it on cuticles or dab it on “wrinkle spots” like crow’s feet or laugh lines.
Also, don’t quote me on this (this is by no means medical advice), but I always put it on blisters or small cuts, and I swear it heals faster. Consider this my miracle cure-all that will always belong in my drawer but never be featured on my Instagram. —Josie, Wellness Editor
If we haven’t convinced you yet that you need some kind of healing petrolatum (see Vaseline and Aquaphor), let this be the one that sells you on it! I’ve recently added slugging (a Korean skincare practice that I found on TikTok) to my winter skincare routine because it keeps my skin hydrated, dewy, and protected from the Florida temps. Adding a tiny bit of this healing ointment at the end of my skincare routine seals in all of the moisture and benefits from my skincare products.
It is also amazing for cracked hands, lips, or any other part of you that touches winter air. Hands down, this is the top product purchase of this past year. —Krystal, Social Media Editor
I would classify my skin type as chronically dry. It doesn’t matter how much water I drink—nothing will cure my itchy skin unless it’s a daily moisturizer. This daily Aveeno moisturizer is something I have to have with me almost everywhere I go. This product has saved my chapped hands from bleeding more times than I can even count.
But my favorite part of this product is that it is made with soothing oats and other amazing ingredients. —Kirra, Graphic Designer
As we know, I have dry skin. Horribly! It’s so dry that I don’t think it’s produced a drop of oil since my pubescent years. I’m frequently at the dermatologist, and mine has always maintained that this is the best cleanser for me, and I’ve stuck to it for years. She always says that since the cleanser is on your face for such a brief time, it isn’t worth spending a lot of money on unless you need a medicated one. This is the only cleanser I’ve found that doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or dry afterward. I can’t count the number of bottles of this I’ve gone through, and for me, it’s a lifelong love. — Kelsie, Fashion Editor
I have tried just about every lip balm under the sun and let me promise you that this is the absolute best money can buy. I don’t know what kind of magic is in it, but it’s the only thing that I feel heals my lips—and they come in a pack of three for $7.
I have one of these in every purse and drawer and crevice I can stick one in, and they’ve saved my lips, especially in the wintertime. —Kelsie, Fashion Editor
I started using this cleanser three years ago and have never looked back. When I switched to an IUD, my skin just about had a conniption, and I was at a complete loss for what to do. I loved my new birth control but not if the cost was unrelenting breakouts. At the recommendation of my dermatologist, I dropped my entire skincare routine and went super minimal: hydrating products and sunscreen in the morning and hydrating products and Retin-A at night.
This cleanser has been an absolute godsend in this area. It leaves my skin feeling hydrated and squeaky clean (makeup and all) rather than stripped and dry. Everyone needs a good gentle cleanser, and this is the best of the best. —Carrie, Managing Editor
Ready for an extremely hot take? This is the only BHA product you need, and it only costs $4. Shoutout to the SkincareAddiction subreddit for this holy grail product recommendation.
Whenever I see the mere hint of a breakout coming my way, the Stridex pads come to my rescue. It stops pimples in their tracks and speeds up the healing process better than any acne product I’ve ever used. Ditch the expensive toners, give your wallet a break, and pick these up. —Carrie, Managing Editor
No product has ever been able to get my thick curls in a sleek, neat bun like this styling gel. This tub lasts me months, and it’s the best $5 I’ve ever spent. Not only is the consistency not sticky and gooey, but it’s also super easy to wash out without your hair feeling tangled and loaded with product. I’ve tried all sorts of gels, and I find that I always go back to this one because it dries so quickly and with no residue.
When it comes to my natural hair, sometimes it just cannot be tamed, and this gel has been my secret weapon for years for combating frizz while still keeping my hair moisturized. —Madison, Social Media Coordinator
I’ve talked about this product a million times, but I truly don’t think I’ll ever stop. It is the only product that has ever made a significant difference in the keratosis pilaris on my arms. I use it on KP problem areas after I shower, and it leaves my skin feeling much smoother and less irritated. You also really get a good bang for your buck, as this one tub lasts a very long time. —Jessie, Associate Editor
I’ve been a big fan of Method body washes for a while now, but I recently discovered this Simply Nourish scent—and let me tell you, it changed my life. It’s infused with coconut, rice milk, and shea butter, so it smells and feels ridiculously luxurious for its low price. It leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized, which is especially great in the cold and dry months. Plus, it’s clean, cruelty-free, and has no parabens or phthalates. It’s also pretty popular on TikTok—so best to get it before it’s gone. —Jessie, Associate Editor
I am shocked that this hasn’t resurfaced or blown up on TikTok over the last few years, but this product (that I’ve replaced maybe 20 times since college days) is the holy grail mascara that I can’t live without. My lashes are super long and healthy, and I fully credit this stuff.
It’s not considered waterproof, but it stays all day and through occasional tears—what can I say? I’m an emotional baddie. The reason why I love this stuff so much is that when it is time to take it off, it slides right off of my lashes with ease—no lash tugging, rubbing, or mascara bleeding down my face involved. I selfishly want to keep this one to myself, but I’m feeling generous, so do with this information what you will. —Grecia, Branded Content Editor