What Beauty Beginners Should Buy From Sephora

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I’m sitting in the office reapplying my lipstick after lunch, or I join a Zoom call with a full face of makeup on before the clock strikes 10 a.m. Sometimes it’s when I walk into a beauty store mainlining it to exactly what I need and not sneaking a peek at anything else. Without fail, once a week, someone asks me, “Can you just take me to Sephora and tell me what to buy?” 

The questions only increased since I started writing about beauty products for a living, so I figured it was necessary to finally answer it. Listen, I get it: Sephora is a minefield of products, and unless you know what to look for, it’s hard to weed out what’s good and what isn’t. But once you get the products that work best for you, your makeup routine will be forever changed.

After a lot of firsthand testing, I compiled the complete list of what to grab for a full makeup routine. So the next time you’re in Sephora, consider this your beginner’s guide to shopping for makeup.

Laura Mercier

Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30

If you’re new to makeup, put down the full coverage foundation and say hi to something natural instead. A
lightweight foundation like this one is easy to blend, won’t require a ton of fussing to make it look good, and doesn’t get cakey if you need to layer it for more coverage.

I personally love this when my skin is on the drier side because it adds that extra dew and life back to my skin and never clings to dry patches.

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Fenty Beauty

Blurring Skin Tint

This unicorn tint truly works on all skin types (our editors with very different skin types agreed in their review). It’s a natural finish with a bit less coverage than the Laura Mercier.

On my oily skin, it leaves me feeling like I can take on the day—even sans powder. I also love how easy the application is—Rihanna even suggests using it with your fingers.

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Armani Beauty

Power Fabric Concealer

When someone asks me for a concealer rec, I don’t have to do much thinking. It’s always this. Armani Beauty somehow mastered the art of a concealer that is medium coverage, lightweight, blendable, and natural—all in one fell swoop. On days I don’t want to wear foundation, I pop this under my eyes and on any blemishes, and it blends seamlessly into my skin. Heck, sometimes I even like how this looks all over my face more than foundation.

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MERIT Beauty

Foundation and Concealer Stick

If you’re sitting there reading this and thinking, 1. I don’t have time for all of that, and 2. the thought of all that dew on my face is making me sweat (same), let me introduce you to Merit’s Complexion Stick. It’s both a foundation and a concealer but also somehow neither. It’s really in a category of its own. I use it under my eyes and over blemishes when I need to run out the door because it blends in about 20 seconds flat. For someone on the go who doesn’t want to fuss with makeup but likes a bit of coverage, this will start living rent-free in your bag in no time.

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Charlotte Tilbury

Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

Regardless of skin type, powder is necessary. It blurs your pores, prolongs your makeup, and gets rid of that tacky foundation feeling we all hate. But it’s gotten a bad rap for being cakey and drying—until this one stepped in. There’s a reason you’ll find this in makeup bags all over the world. It’s a silky smooth, fine powder that glides right over skin and does everything you want a powder to do without doing what you don’t. No dry and crusty skin here.

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Fenty Beauty

Instant Warmth Bronzer

For a beginner, I’d recommend forgoing cream bronzers for now and heading straight to a powder. When used with a fluffy brush, bronzer can give you an all-over glow that’s pretty foolproof (unless you’re using a very wrong shade, but we love Fenty’s line because none of the shades are orange). For a more targeted application, focus on the 3E method: around the temples, under the cheekbones, and under the jawline.

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Soft Pop Blush Stick

The first time I tried this blush, I thought to myself, “This would be incredible for a makeup beginner.” For one, it is so creamy and emollient that it blends with the lightest touch without compromising on pigment. Speaking of, it’s the perfect middle ground: pigmented enough to show up but not too pigmented to give you clown cheeks. The best part is that in the bottom of the product is an attached brush—which I’d normally roast—but it’s actually so soft and makes blending out the product a total dream.

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Day Glow Highlighting Balm

I will sing this from the rooftops: If you’re new to highlighter, buy a cream or liquid. Powder highlights seem easier to apply and control, but if the powder is too metallic, it can look like a stripe across your face, and if it has too much glitter, well, you know what happens. Cream illuminators have a more natural look, as they often just make your skin appear really dewy or sweaty. Something like this from Merit has a mostly clear base with a hint of color and shimmer to make you look like you’re glowing from within.

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Natasha Denona

Mini Nude Eyeshadow Palette

If you’re new to eyeshadow, skip the giant palette and try something like this instead. I love big palettes as a makeup lover because it offers a lot of variety, but when I’m in a hurry, there are too many options and I end up staring at the palette for 10 minutes, trying to figure out what to do. With a palette like this, coming up with your go-to look (and others) is practically guaranteed. Not to mention, the mattes in this palette are so easy to blend and shade your looks, and the shimmers are glitzy and shiny.

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Benefit Cosmetics

Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara

Truth be told, I’d probably recommend drugstore mascara for beginners because there are so many high-quality options to try while you figure out what your preference is. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you in the direction of my absolute favorite mascara on the market. It’s so good, I wrote a review the second I tried it for the first time. It lengthens, volumizes, separates, and curls. It’s everything you could ever ask for in a mascara.

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Eyelash Curler

On the other hand, the one thing I’d recommend you splurge on is a good eyelash curler. Finding an eyelash curler that properly fits your eyes is a bit of a challenge, and Shiseido’s is a favorite in makeup artists’ kits because it molds around a lot of different eye shapes (almond included). Plus, these last for a long time because it’s easy to pick up new pads whenever you place a Sephora order.

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Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel

Don’t fuss with pencils, pomades, and pens as a beginner. Instead, try a tinted gel that will add volume and color to your brows while shaping them in place. This one comes in tons of shades and really makes your brows look thicker without the giant mess that pomades or pencils might cause.

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Make Up For Ever

Eye, Lip & Brow Pencil

Using a lip liner is one of the quickest ways to look put together, and I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a snob and like to keep a really nice one in my bag. “Wherever Walnut” has been my favorite liner for years, and I’ve used it down to a nub at this point. It stays all day and is a perfect pinky brown, but they have tons of other great shades (I also love Endless Cacao and Up and Down Tan).

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Tower 28 Beauty

Milky Lip Jelly Gloss

And of course, you’ll want a gloss to top your liner. Tower 28’s glosses are literally the best I’ve ever tried in my life—no hyperbole. They’re not sticky at all, have a bit of longevity, and actually make my lips feel softer. These milky, neutral shades pair perfectly with a neutral liner for that ’90s supermodel lip.

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F2 Makeup Brush

I wouldn’t recommend splurging on a huge brush set as a beginner (I personally love e.l.f. brushes). Instead, pick up several high-quality brushes that have a few uses. This double-ended brush can be used for blush, bronzer, highlighter, powder, contour—pretty much for any powder products on the face.

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New to Eye Makeup? Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Everything Eyeshadow, Eyeliner, and More


Here’s What Meghan Markle Would Buy at Sephora



13 Headband and Half Wigs That Look Amazing

The 13 Best Headband and Half Wigs At All Price Points  Reviews

Courtesy of Mayvenn Hair

One quick search for "headband wigs" on YouTube will result in enough evidence to prove just how much these types of pieces have grown in popularity as a quick, low-maintenance way to style your hair. And what's not to love? They're easy to put on, they come in a variety of styles and textures, and they can help simplify your daily hair routine. 

"Headband wigs" are quite simply wigs with a headband attached to them, hairstylist Tamika Gibson explains. "They do not require any adhesive as the headband helps the wig stay in place," she shares. The main tool you'll need to finesse your unit is a brush or comb, depending on the texture, to untangle any knots. Upkeep is fairly simple — Gibson recommends washing the wigs every one to two weeks and storing them away in a satin bag to preserve their luster. 

Similar to the headband option, there are also half wigs to consider. "[Those cover] half of the head and allow for more leave out of the natural hair than a full wig [does]," explains Gibson. You can wear a half wig by itself or upgrade it to a headband unit using one of your own favorite hair accessories (like a headwrap or turban). 

There are so many styles available that it may be hard to find the one you're looking for. But as always, we've got you covered with this roundup of headband and half wigs for those times when you'd rather not deal with wig glue. 

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

KeywordsHairwigswigwig stylinghair accessoriesshoppingafro wigheadbandsservice


The St. Tropez Glow Kit Made Me Feel Like I’m Actually Good at Applying Self-Tanner

Woman sitting on the ground next to an image of the St. Tropez Ultimate Glow Kit on a purple backgroundAllure/Ingrid Frahm

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

People are always surprised when I tell them I'm not good at certain beauty practices. They assume that because I'm a beauty editor, surely I must be at least passably adept at things like painting my nails or creating an updo. On more than one occasion, however, I've had to explain the difference between someone who performs beauty tasks for a living and someone who writes about them — totally different skill set. I put my self-tanner on one blotchy streak at a time, just like everyone else. 

In fact, self-tanner is probably the skill in which I'd score lowest in a bizarre nightmare where I'm in the Olympics but all the events are parts of a beauty routine. No matter what's been promised to me about foolproof even coverage, I make liars of marketing copywriters by coming up with laughably unnatural-looking, splotchy results every time. Needless to say, I rarely use the stuff largely for this reason.

I tan easily and darkly when given the opportunity, but I never take that opportunity because I'm in a neverending skin-tight cocoon of sunscreen even when I'm indoors, which is usually. I do miss the look sometimes, though, and I'd much rather attempt to achieve it in a non-damaging way, so when a self-tanner seems especially promising, I force myself to forget how bad I am at applying it and give it another shot. Recently, the St. Tropez Ultimate Glow Kit looked like it had low screw-up potential, so I found myself alone with it in my bathroom.

There are only two items in the kit: Self Tan Luxe Whipped Crème Mousse, a limited-edition formula created in collaboration with St. Tropez brand ambassador Ashley Graham, and a super soft application mitt. I had never applied self-tanner with anything other than my hands, so I was looking forward to seeing if this simple tool made a difference. 

St. Tropez Ultimate Glow Kit on white background

St. Tropez Ultimate Glow Kit

$55Shop Now

But before I could do that, I had to prep, which meant showering with a thorough exfoliating session using a non-oil-based scrub. "Exfoliating before the application is extremely important to ensure even application," board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein previously told Allure, adding that oils "could interfere with the binding of DHA to the stratum corneum." The DHA of which she speaks is dihydroxyacetone, the ingredient all self-tanners rely on to create a darkening effect.

Once out of the shower, I applied a lightweight moisturizer to the areas that always sabotage me with their self-tanner thirst: my elbows, knees, ankles, and heels of my hands. From there, it was time to apply.

Taking the advice of St. Tropez's resident self-tanning expert, Sophie Evans, I started with my legs and immediately let out a "whoa" when I saw how the light brown mousse looked as I spread it down my shins. It's really nice to have an unmistakable guide regarding where I'm applying the product, where I've failed to apply the product, and where it's not very well-blended, but it's also a little jarring to see one's legs instantly become the color of a cardboard box when you're starting out as pale as I've become in my years of sun avoidance. It's also an absolute delight to apply the creamy yet lightweight formula with the included mitt, which definitely helped with even strokes (and avoiding palm stains).

Although Graham applies the formula to her back all by herself in a genuinely helpful how-to video, I admit, I asked my boyfriend to help me with that. I know — what better way to ensure I get yet another uneven self-tan than to ask someone who's never done this before to apply it when I can't really see how he's doing. But he actually did great, and he didn't comment on any unpleasant self-tanner smell. (The product allegedly smells amazing, but I had just come through a breakthrough COVID case and didn't quite have my sense of smell back. But if he, a self-tanning novice, didn't complain of that typical DHA stink, it's gotta be pretty decent.)

There's nothing in the instructions about applying the mousse to one's face, but there's also nothing in the instructions about not applying the mousse to one's face, so for the sake of uniformity, I went for it. However, I used a smaller amount and kept it on for less time. "Faces have a tendency to go darker than the body," Evans has told Allure, adding that as long as your skin isn't prone to breakouts, using body self-tanner on the face is fine. Specifically, I rinsed it off after two hours, whereas I actually slept in the self-tanner (it dries down fast) from the neck down because it can be worn for up to eight hours for more noticeable results.

In the morning, I hopped back in the shower and made sure my skin was rinsed clean of any color that wasn't the result of the Maillard reaction. (That's what it's called when the DHA mixes with skin's amino acids to generate a pigment called a melanoidin, according to board-certified dermatologist Michele Green.)

An arm before an after selftanner with plants in the backgroundI decided to go with a full-blown magician's-assistant "ta-dah!" pose to show you the before and after on my arm. These were taken at the same time in the same spot in my apartment one day apart.Allure

I was genuinely surprised to see that I had done a damn good job of applying this self-tanner in an even way — but I can't really take all the credit, and neither can my boyfriend. Most of the credit goes to St. Tropez for creating a formula in a tinted, easily spreadable, and blendable format that makes it easy for application-inept beauty editors like myself to actually do said good job — especially when equipped with a truly difference-making mitt. 

Woman sits on the ground in front of trees smiling and wearing short and a tshirtLook how happy I am about the results! Allure

The only areas that needed a little correction were the ones I moisturized. I actually ended up applying too much moisturizer, or perhaps too little mouse, on the back of my hands. That said, it wasn't very noticeable, and after a little exfoliating, it blended into a bit of an ombré effect that was even less noticeable.

I'm genuinely impressed with the outcome, and I know I'll only get even better at getting even results. Now if someone could just come out with nail polish in easy-to-apply mousse, I'll be all set.

Ready to try it for yourself? If so, pick up a kit for yourself for $55 at or and see what all of the hype is about. And after you're done here, check out all of our 2021 Allure Best of Beauty Award winners. (The entire list is well worth the read.)