20 cult makeup products you'll use until the last drop
And they’re all under ₹1,500
At some point in 2021, the gods of TikTok decided that lube, which is a personal lubricant used to ease penetrative sex, should be added to the hallowed list of cult makeup products as a primer. That ‘experiment’ made its way across channels to Instagram reels and it was impossible to swipe through your newsfeed without finding some beauty guru trying it out. Why, you ask? We wish we knew.
Trends for the sake of virality come and go, and some are better off dead and buried. Yet every time a sale hits, so do the temptations to give these products a try. It happens to the best of us: opening up the app thinking you know exactly what you’re going to add to the cart, then the flashing ad banners and promotions suck you in. You end up dazed and confused, saddled with four additional lipsticks that you don’t really want or need, that won’t match your skin tone.
We’re here to break the cycle and stop your runaway shopping cart in its tracks. Forget TikTok influencers, we turned to the real experts for cult makeup products that will have you literally squeezing the tube until the very last drop. Throw in some celebrity favourites and holy grail picks that have levelled up to legendary status — viral mascaras that give the look of full eyelashes without the hassle of lash glue, iconic eyeliners, highlighters that’ll make you shine in the dark like a traffic cone and even Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s favourite tinted lip balm. And the best part? Nothing on our list of cult makeup products costs more than ₹1,500.
20 cult makeup products you’ll use until the last drop
Photo credit: (L) Priyanka Chopra Jonas/Instagram and (R) Sephora
Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balms
Somewhere in the multiverse exists a mountain of lost lip balms, and we pray every day that this one doesn’t join those forgotten souls.
A favourite of Priyanka Chopra Jonas as well, according to this Pop Sugar interview, the Burt Bee’s tinted lip balms give you plenty of moisture and hydration for chapped lips with just enough pigmentation for a perfect no-makeup-makeup look.
Maybelline Lifter Lip Gloss With Hyaluronic Acid
The Lifter gloss is a new entry into the Indian market by Maybelline, but it’s been going viral on US TikTok and Instagram reels for a few months now as a dupe for the beloved Fenty glosses.
These don’t have the same lip-tingling plumping effect as Fenty but the formulation is still pretty beautiful if you’re a gloss girl. Our picks would be Topaz and Petal. A little product goes a long way, and this gloss leaves your lips feeling hydrated without being sticky.
NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Mattifying Powder
A viral compact powder that lives up to the hype, you’ll find us scraping this one off of the pan if it ever sells out.
You can use this as an all-over powder foundation, or dust it on with a fluffy brush to set your makeup. There are currently only six of the 12 shades available in India, but you can always stick with the translucent variant if you aren’t sure what will match your skin tone.
Maybelline Fit Me! Blush
The Kardashian-Jenners have broken the internet more times than we’ve tried to awkwardly bring up the ‘borrowed money talk’ with friends (here’s how to do it). In 2017, Kylie Jenner shared some of her favourite makeup products in an interview with Violet Grey and had the beauty community on her side when she brought up the Maybelline Fit Me! blush.
Some were surprised to see Jenner opting for a drugstore product given that she has her own beauty brands and can afford any luxury product. But if you know, you know. This blush is a gentle powder formulation that doesn’t go on patchy, and is perfect for beginners and aficionados alike.
ETUDE HOUSE Fixing Tint Lipstick
Korean skincare will always be in a league of its own in our eyes, but when it comes to their makeup, we’ve had a few quibbles with their limited shade range.
Still, Korean brands did popularise lip tints, and few do it like ETUDE HOUSE. This viral product can be dabbed on as a tint or layered as a more pigmented liquid lipstick without it getting crusty and patchy on your lips. The gorgeous shades Vintage Red and Cranberry Plum will suit all skin tones.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara
Rejoice, makeup lovers. Maybelline’s Sky High mascara is finally in the Indian market. If you want long, fluttering lashes, then this viral mascara needs to go on your shopping list, stat.
The mascara wand is narrow and soft so the spikes don’t scratch or dig into your lash line when you’re applying the product. It gives your lashes volume but this is definitely more for people who want the length of falsies without the struggle of sticking them on.
e.l.f. Cosmetics Mattifying Putty Primer
We were a bit confused about how exactly to use this much-touted primer at first. After watching the YouTube beauty gurus’ tutorials raving about it, we made it our mission to figure out how to work it into our skin (a pea-sized amount, broken up and dotted on your desired spots). Now, we can’t imagine life before it.
You get a lot of product in the pot for the price, and it definitely lives up to the hype, especially for people who are on the oilier side of the skin-type spectrum. You get a smooth canvas to build on, a pore-minimising effect, and longer-lasting make-up. And you don’t have to smear lube on your face. What more could you want?
Kay Beauty Matte HD Setting Loose Powder
This setting powder by Kay Beauty has slowly made its way to our can’t-live-without list.
You really get bang for your buck with this finely milled powder that can give you that IRL soft-focus filter look — somewhere between old-school glam, and Instagram. It feels light on the skin, is easy to remove and doesn’t get clumpy or cakey as the day progresses. You also get eight shades to choose from.
We prefer using it with a brush for a soft finish, but people with oily skin or those looking for lasting full-coverage can try it with a puff or makeup sponge.
theBalm Bahama Mama Bronzer (travel size)
For the softest and most natural sun-kissed bronze, Bahama Mama tops the list of cult makeup products. If the price tag has you unconvinced, then give the travel size version a try first.
This is ideal for light to medium-deep skin tones, is buildable and the buttery formulation blends into your skin with ease. Also, can we take a minute to appreciate the adorable name? We’re suckers for aesthetic packaging and theBalm also hits the spot.
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Lakme Absolute Shine Liquid Eyeliner
Trends come and go, but the Lakme eyeliner will be a legend forever. If you’re comfortable with this slim brush style of applicator, then this is the only eyeliner you will ever need. It’s very pigmented and doesn’t get flakey or faded as you go through your day.
Go classic with the black or experiment with the Sparkling Olive and Shimmery Bronze if you want to spice up your makeup look.
Maybelline New York Superstay Vinyl Ink Liquid Lipstick
You’ve probably spotted this sleek packaging on your Instagram reels. The Vinyl Ink Liquid Lipcolor has finally dropped on the Indian market and our bank balance has taken a hit.
Luckily, it’s still pretty affordable. The SuperStay Matte Ink liquid lipstick always has a reserved place in our cart given its matte, no-budge, seriously long-lasting formulation. The Vinyl Ink lipsticks adopt the same formula but give it a sheen finish.
We love red lipstick (even if it makes others uncomfortable) so the shades Red Hot and Wicked were an instant purchase, but you also have some nude and plum shades to choose from.
LA Girl HD Pro Concealer
We do feel ashamed about how many of these tubes we’ve gone through and cut open to finish completely and then discarded, given that the packaging is made of plastic. But this is one of those cult makeup products which has been endlessly duped.
It doesn’t sting your eyes or burn your sensitive undereye area. It’s got medium-to-full coverage and is well-priced with a wide shade range so you can find a concealer, colour corrector, and even cream contour within the same brand.
Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara
Whether you’ve just started to build your brow game or are already a pro, the Essence eyebrow gel mascara is a crowd favourite that you need to try.
The tinted gel formula tames your brows while helping you fill the gaps without clumping your brow hairs together. Such a product is especially handy for beginners who are still struggling to figure out how to work that brow pencil to create fine faux hairs without making it look like you have two caterpillars crawling across your forehead.
e.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow
The 15-in-1 palettes can feel overwhelming sometimes, and half the time you end up sticking to a few flattering shades and wasting the rest. That’s why we love these cute minis by e.l.f. Cosmetics.
There are six mini palettes to choose from, each with creamy formulas that are buildable and pigmented. The Truffles palette is your all-in-one kit for the perfect smokey eye and Pumpkin Pie is ideal for everyday warm nude looks.
Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder
The Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder went viral in 2017-2018 but it has held its position as a top-tier product that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet.
If you like your highlighter to make you look like a shiny disco ball, then Blossom Glow will be your jam. But if you, like us want to be dipped in gold, then go for Precious Petals variant. Despite being a powder, it doesn’t settle in your pores or enhance any skin texture.
PIXI Eyelift Max
The most wonderful time of the year AKA festive season is around the corner and these liquid eye shadows by PIXI will give you all-day, fuss-free colour.
They’re super beginner-friendly, all you need is one swipe across your lid, a little blending and you’re all done. There’s no chance of fallout as it’s a liquid formulation, and highly pigmented. You can control the intensity of your eye look. Go with one dot of product for a subtle shimmer or a proper swipe for a full-glam night out.
The Body Shop Lip and Cheek Stain
One time, we read that Emma Watson wears the Red Pomegranate Cheek and Lip Stain from The Body Shop. So we bought the Red Pomegranate Cheek and Lip Stain from The Body Shop.
We love multitasking products and this one is part of Watson’s daily makeup look, according to her interview with Into the Gloss. Great for a minimal effort and maximum gain makeup look, the stain gives you a flush of colour. You can use it as a lip colour and blush and dab some on your eyelids as well to make it a soft monochrome makeup look.
Flower Beauty Blush Bomb Color Drops
As Drew Barrymore stans, we had to get our hands on this product as soon as it dropped. It made it to our list of favourites pretty quickly. It’s also been hailed on the internet as a dupe for Glossier’s famed Cloud Paint cream blush which is not easily available in the Indian beauty market.
The Flower Beauty blush stands out on its own with a lightweight texture that still leaves you with a healthy dose of colour. You can keep your look as light and natural or popping as you want, and there is a shade to compliment every skin tone.
MARS Cosmetics Artist’s Arsenal Makeup Brush Set
What makeup kit is complete with some brushes? Especially if you’re living in a hot and humid city like Mumbai. Beauty blenders are multipurpose, but the risk of mould growing within is too awful to contemplate.
If you’ve ever wondered why your attempts at applying makeup never look as smooth and flawless as an online beauty guru, your brushes (or lack thereof) might be to blame. MARS Cosmetics gives us a high-quality set of brushes for an amazing price point. The set of six includes a kabuki brush for foundation, a tapered powder brush, a fluffy blush brush and three eyeshadow brushes of different sizes.
Milagro Beauty Volcanic Roller
Not exactly a makeup product, but this does help your makeup last longer by helping you control excess oil.
You may have seen the Revlon volcanic stone roller going viral online, and this one by Milagro is a great substitute if you’ve been interested in trying out such a tool. It can help mattify the sebum that builds-up on your T-zone throughout that would otherwise break up your makeup and make it look patchy or discoloured. This roller soaks it all up without moving around the products you’ve applied underneath. Genius.