The beauty industry tends to go in two opposite directions when choosing favourites: the cult-status vs. the shiny and new. That’s why pretty much everyone loves Benetint (cult)—and also why we can’t wait to get our hands on Fenty (new). But there’s a whole world of products in between: the unsung heroes of our everyday routines.
My own favourite underrated beauty product is Caudalie Grape Water, the neglected sibling of the French brand’s more hyped Beauty Elixir. I have a bottle of Grape Water at my desk and one in my bedroom, and use it daily whenever I need a quick refresh (which is often). It’s fragrance-free and super soothing and has only a few ingredients, so I know I’m not putting anything icky on my face. I’ve heard others say they love it, yet it never seems to make the cut when it comes to best-of lists, despite the affordable price tag.
To find out what other genius products we’re missing out on, we asked nine experts—makeup artists, beauty editors and writers—about their own underrated favourites, and what’s so great about them.
Michelle Villett, founder and editor at Beautyeditor
“I would say tubing mascaras such as Estée Lauder Double Wear Zero-Smudge Lengthening Mascara are underrated. They were popular a few years ago, but nobody seems to talk about them anymore! I consider them a must-own for anyone prone to getting smudges. I find they also allow me to apply oil-based moisturizers and makeup to my eye area without having to worry about raccoon eyes. The Estée Lauder one is my favourite because it’s surprisingly volumizing—as much as a regular mascara. Plus, it couldn’t be easier to remove (with water).”
Olivia Colacci, makeup artist with Judy Inc.
“The fresh masks from Lush are my must-have beauty pick. I feel like Lush is overlooked when it comes to its skincare and is mostly known for bath bombs. I got a sample mask once about five years ago, and now buy one at least once a month. (They have a great recycling program: if you return five containers, you get a free mask!) When I use the masks—which must be kept in the fridge to maintain freshness—I notice a huge difference in my skin’s texture and luminosity. They have masks for different skin types and to help target problematic areas, so depending on the weather or time of month, I choose a different mask. But my all-time favourite is called ‘Don’t Look At Me.’ It’s exfoliating and brightening, smells like Froot Loops, is bright blue and works wonders.”
Suzie Michael, associate beauty editor at FASHION
“BareMinerals Statement Matte Liquid Lipcolor is my pick for most underrated beauty product. I talk about this lipstick so much, both IRL and online, that I’m honestly embarrassed to be doing it again, but I can’t stop! It comes in 10 shades (reds, pinks and mauves), but the reds are the stars of the show, IMO (my personal fave is ‘VIP’). The formula is legit. It goes on creamy and dries down matte but only like…80 percent. It’s never, ever drying but is somehow long-lasting. Yes, I know I just listed the claims of every liquid lipstick that’s ever existed, but this time the claims are real! Trust me. Whenever I tell people about it, they say they would never have guessed that BareMinerals, which is seen as more of a skincare line, would make the best red lipstick, but it’s a desert island beauty product for me. I wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without it in my purse.”
Nathalie Atkinson, freelance arts and culture writer
“My underrated beauty pick is Gehwol Med Salve for Cracked Skin and Gehwol Med Callous Cream. I have rough peasant hands at the best of times—gardening in the summer, and as an avid home cook year-round, the constant washing of hands is hard on my fingers. The packaging of this German brand is basic, but what’s inside the tube is intensively moisturizing and repairs the cracks, practically overnight. It is always in my bedside drawer. Yes, it’s a greasy salve, but man, it works. In cold weather, I also slather it on my feet and put on a pair of Roots cabin socks and call it a night.”
Katherine Flemming, health and beauty editor at Elle Canada
“The Face Food mist from Graydon Skincare is a wondrous invention. It’s understated in design, unscented (because why you would want to scent your face is beyond me), instantly floods my skin with hydration, makes it feel glowy, bouncy and never tight, and refreshes my makeup faster than I can order an Americano. According to the brand, it also protects skin’s outer layer, soothes open pores and balances pH. All I know is, I never want this product to become part of my #empties graveyard.”
Jill Dunn, beauty expert on The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV and co-creator of the Breaking Beauty Podcast
“My Holy Grail sleeper hit product is Color Wow Root Cover Up. It’s a temporary, mineral-based coloured powder in a compact (it looks like a pressed pan of eyeshadow), and you brush it on to nix greys between salon appointments. It doesn’t run or budge because it has double-ended zinc particles (with a positive charge on one end, so they cling to hair like magnets until you shampoo). Application is super precise so you can get all around the hairline—WAY easier than a spray. It’s a bit of an investment, but a little goes a lot way. I’ve had my current one for more than a year. Bonus: it’s not just for grey coverage—I learned a beauty hack from Jen Atkin that you can place it in your part, too, and your hair will look thicker in photos. I love this product so much, I even did a YouTube video demo-ing it.”
Jukka Suutari, makeup artist with Plutino Group
“Skin Essence facial oils are truly great! I’ve tested and used $300 creams, but I still come back to Skin Essence. I get fantastic, noticeable results with these oils, and find them truly hydrating and moisturizing. The best part is they are organic, Canadian and retail for about $30. I’m obsessed.”
Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi, freelance beauty and lifestyle writer
“I’ve been using Garnier’s Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream as my foundation for the past few years, and that fact surprises every beauty-obsessed person I tell. I have fairly dry and sensitive skin (plus a touch of rosacea) and am always looking for a foundation that has the coverage I need with a lightweight formula. While Garnier does drugstore skincare really well, it’s a fairly unassuming brand when it comes to anything else, especially up against the Maybellines and Fentys of the world. Often people fall into two foundation camps—full-coverage or au naturel—and this BB cream falls right in the middle of that spectrum. Of all the foundations I’ve tried over the past couple years, this is the one I keep coming back to (and always stock up on when it’s on sale).”
Emily MacCulloch, freelance beauty and fashion writer
“When asked about underrated beauty products, I immediately think about the products I use on the daily that I truly could not live without. For most beauty lovers, skincare would come to mind, but for me it’s M.A.C Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder. While the cult-classic Studio Fix is often the powder people think of from the brand, it’s this mineral one that holds the key to my heart. No matter what kind of day my skin is having (tired, blotchy, dime-sized pores, the list goes on), this multi-tasker covers it all, from blemishes to redness, and does so without leaving a heavy residue on my skin. Plus, I love that I can dust it on with a brush when I need just a hint of tint or can go in with a sponge if I need a bit more coverage. It’s buildable and completely foolproof. It is the reason why my skin glows, thanks to its subtle satin finish, but it never looks like I’m wearing a full face of makeup. I recommend this product all.the.time and I have never heard a negative review, yet no one ever seems to know it exists.”