While looking at your beauty product rotation, you can probably point out a select few that are so good, they can be hard to say goodbye to once you hit the bottom of the bottle. When it comes to the Shop TODAY team’s favorite items in skin care, makeup and hair, they make sure to use every last drop — before immediately running out to repurchase more. These are what we call our beauty “empties.”
“Empties,” of course, refers to the state of the bottle once all of the product is gone. A trend popularized on social media by beauty influencers, sharing empties is a way to spotlight a beauty favorite — and hearing about them is like receiving a recommendation from a close friend. Rather than scouring traditional reviews the next time you need to restock something in your beauty cabinet, an “empty” is visual proof that a certain beauty product is worth trying and holding onto.
Below, you’ll find our love letters to the beauty products that we can’t imagine our routines without. From moisturizers that have revolutionized our skin care regimens to a bestselling concealer that doubles as an under-eye serum, we plan on repurchasing these finds forever.
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Shop TODAY skin care essentials
HoliFrog Shasta AHA Acid Wash
Senior SEO Editor Jess Bender says this AHA-packed face wash is kind to her pores and deeply cleanses them while reducing their appearance.
“It also leaves my skin looking ridiculously bright, which is a nice perk in the dead of winter,” she said.
Sanitas Moisture Mist
Editorial Assistant Kamari Stewart just finished her first bottle of this product, which her esthetician recommended. It’s a mist that can be used to set makeup or enhance the effects of your serums and moisturizers.
“It feels so hydrating when I spray it on, and then I gently pat it into my skin before putting on serums/moisturizers/sunscreen,” Stewart said.
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
Editorial Assistant Dani Musacchio says this moisturizer from The Ordinary is her go-to. Since she has oily skin, she used to avoid moisturizers. However, she finds that this one “absorbs right into my skin.”
“As someone with allergies, I also love how it is unscented and gentle,” Musacchio added. “And for the price, you really can’t go wrong.”
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
When it comes to sunscreen, Stewart says she is “truly obsessed” with this SPF and loves it so much that she purchases two bottles at a time. The vegan formula dries clear, so it doesn’t leave behind any white streaks or residue.
“It glides on so smoothly, blends well for me and doesn’t leave me feeling super greasy throughout the day, so I’m comfortable reapplying when needed,” she added.
Hero Cosmetics Clear Collective Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser
Stewart says her esthetician also recommended this cleanser, which she says leaves her skin feeling “super soft.” According to the brand, it helps to unclog pores, smooth texture and brighten the skin.
“It’s gentle enough to use after I get a facial, [when] my skin is still a little sensitive,” Stewart says.
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
Associate Commerce Editor Emma Stessman says she initially bought a travel-size version of this cleanser for a vacation some years back and has been “obsessed” with it ever since.
“I use it morning and night, and I love how clean it makes my skin feel — without stripping it of moisture,” she added. “It starts as a gel and then lathers when you rub it in, which adds to the cleansing experience.”
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Stessman is also a fan of this cream from First Aid Beauty.
“I have eczema on my hands, so they get really dry, cracked and itchy — especially in the winter,” she says. “But this cream is amazing.”
When she applies it regularly, she finds that it helps to reduce her flare-ups. She also uses it on her face for some added hydration on chilly winter days.
Cocokind MyMatcha All-Over Moisture Stick
This winter, I battled many patches of dry skin on my face. I needed a spot treatment of sorts and discovered this stick, which has become my new obsession. Not only does it help to get rid of the facial dry spots, but it also keeps my under-eyes and hands hydrated.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Senior Commerce Editor Alexandra Deabler has come to love this sunscreen from Supergoop!
“It glides on and is clear, so it doesn’t leave a white cast,” she said. “It also doesn’t have an overwhelming odor.”
Deabler also confirms the “velvety” texture that the brand uses to describe the product is accurate.
Banila Co Clean It Zero 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm
Associate Commerce Editor Danielle Murphy cites this cleansing balm as the reason why she ditched makeup wipes — she’s since purchased it twice.
“This cleansing balm is great for removing my best mascaras, melting away the makeup without pulling on a single lash,” she said. “It may be an oil-based cleanser, but it never leaves my face feeling greasy — just hydrated and prepped for the rest of my skin care routine.”
Tatcha The Water Cream
“I never realized how amazing water-based moisturizers were until I tried this one from Tatcha,” says Production Coordinator Sunah Syed. “I have acne-prone combination skin, which has always made it hard to find a moisturizer that doesn’t cause me to break out. Since I started using this (currently on my second bottle), I’ve stopped getting frequent breakouts, and my skin stays extremely soft throughout the day.”
Skin Wellness EverActive C&E + Peptide
This serum system has helped SEO Writer Jannely Espinal experience fewer breakouts. “Also, I have fewer lines and my skin feels softer,” she said. “While this is more costly than other serums with peptides, I have to say this works its beauty magic.”
Naturopathica Sweet Cherry Conditioning Lip Butter
When it comes to her lips, Espinal says this butter has become her armor. “I wear this product every night and wake up with soft and kissable lips, instantly,” she said. “This buttery and sweet balm is my solution to [keeping] my lips protected during cold days.”
Shop TODAY makeup essentials
Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek Cream Blush
Bender says this cheek and lip tint is “the ultimate ‘lazy girl’ product in my beauty arsenal.” It comes in handy when she has to rush out the door and doesn’t want to do a full makeup routine.
“I swipe this onto my cheeks and lips to give the illusion of being presentable to the outside world,” Bender said.
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Branded Commerce Editor Francesca Cocchi has been using this eyeliner since she was in college and says she places another order for this eyeliner “the second” she thinks she might be running low. “It’s so easy to apply the subtle lined look that I like, and it truly does last all day without smudging,” she said.
Glossier Boy Brow
While Stessman says she doesn’t typically wear makeup, she reaches for this brow product whenever she leaves the house. “I’ve been using it since I was in college (so about six years now) and have never even thought about switching to a different product,” she said. “It provides just the right amount of hold, without making it feel like my eyebrows are glued to my face.”
If you want to fill in any sparse areas in your brows, Stessman recommends grabbing the tinted version.
Pixi H2O Skin Tint
I don’t splurge much on my makeup products, so I usually turn to drugstore options. Many of the foundations I’ve tried over the years have felt too heavy on my skin, but I took a chance on this skin tint and ended up loving it. This really does feel like water when you apply it (it feels so light, I sometimes feel like I have to add another layer), but it provides light coverage that is perfect for everyday wear.
Tarte Shape Tape Ultra Creamy Concealer
This bestselling concealer lives up to the hype, in my eyes. I always look forward to applying the creamy formula under my eyes for a bit of hydration. It provides a great amount of coverage on all my dark spots and blemishes and is in my makeup bag at all times.
L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation
When it comes to foundation, Murphy said this has been her go-to for the last year. She owns the long-lasting formula in three different finishes and shades and says the brand “isn’t kidding about the 24-hour wear.” She also likes how it controls shine and feels lightweight on her skin.
Glossier You Fragrance
Musacchio said this is the only perfume that she’s ever repurchased, solely due to the number of compliments she receives when she wears it.
“I love how it’s not an overpowering scent — it’s warm and a little woodsy,” she said.
Too Faced Peach Bloom Color Blossoming Lip Balm
For a quick pop of color for any occasion, Shop TODAY Social Editor Rebecca Shinners loves this lip balm from Too Faced in the shade Pink Whisper.
“I find that the color stays on for a surprisingly long time and acts like a lip stain,” Shinners said. “It comes in handy whether I’m going out for dinner and want to add subtle color to my lips or need a lip color that won’t smudge off onto my mask.”
Shop TODAY hair care essentials
Davines OI All In One Milk
Murphy said this product is the only one she’s ever brought home with her following a visit to the salon. Her stylist reached for this formula to help detangle her long locks, and she found that it not only made her hair easier to comb through, but it also smelled nice.
“It wasn’t until I started using it at home did I realize that it also tamed frizz and kept my hair smooth after using heated tools,” she said. “I’m running low on my first bottle and already have a second ready for purchase in my Amazon cart.”
Kérastase Extentioniste Thermique Blow Dry Primer
Shinners says she consistently adds this heat protectant to her cart.
“This is the only hair styler I find myself buying again and again,” she said. Since she has longer but thin hair, she loves that the formula doesn’t weigh down her locks.
“I use it both as a blow-dry primer and just to air-dry my hair,” Shinners continued. “It gets rid of frizz and leaves my waves feeling soft and well-defined. I’ve gone through multiple bottles of this and currently have an empty one.”
IGK First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo
Cocchi says she relies on dry shampoo for her hair between washes, and her stylist recommended using this detoxifying option.
“It doesn’t leave behind a residue, and it smells amazing,” she said.
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