Cult Beauty Products That Have Stood the Test of Time

These 12 iconic beauty products have survived time and trends, persevering as makeup artists' everlasting favourites

These 12 iconic beauty products have survived time and trends, persevering as makeup artists’ everlasting favourites

The number of makeup and skin care launches we experience now happens at breakneck speed, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up with every new drop. And is it necessary? Experimenting with new products is exciting, but finding a keeper is worth its weight in gold.

And all of these iconic products are keepers—some have been around for decades, some are much newer but no less deserving of the iconic label…


1. Eyelash Curler by Shu Uemura

Shu Uemura was once one of the most influential cult makeup lines before it lost its lustre post-acquisition by L’Oreal in 2004. Regardless, it’s still well-respected for being a pioneer in several areas, including the development of a truly spectacular eyelash curler. Many years of engineering development were involved before this curler was launched in 1991, and it’s gone on to win awards around the world. Used correctly, it doesn’t pinch, doesn’t crimp. Instead, lashes are curled beautifully into fluttery perfection.
Available at Shu Uemura, $26


2. Orgasm Blush by Nars

Dubbed “the most versatile blush in the world,” Orgasm by Nars has been wildly popular and a makeup artists’ favourite since launching in 1999. It’s a medium-pigmented peachy pink with subtle gold sparkle. It instantly brightens the face, giving it a perky, healthy flush. It’s a favourite of Meghan Markle.
Available at Nars, $39


3. 101 Ointment by Lanolips

A beloved classic from Australia, Lanolips is wildly popular in the UK and US, though new to Canada. Their 101 Ointment is an amazing, affordable lip balm, made with medical-grade lanolin. It’s the perfect texture, is deeply soothing and easy to apply, but won’t slip around. It’s considered a “101” product because it takes care of the basics like lips, cuticles and even fly-aways, but also has 101 uses from softening leather (shoes, baseball gloves and more), to mixing with powder makeup to transform them into cream products to healing cracked pads on cat and dog paws.
Available at Sephora, $23


4. Advanced Night Repair Serum by Estee Lauder

Estée Lauder created the serum category when they launched their Advanced Night Repair in 1982. It was the first truly anti-aging product available at mass retailers and also the first skin care product to use hyaluronic acid, something we all take for granted now. Advanced Night Repair was a pioneer decades ago and the science still holds up. Seven bottles are bought worldwide every minute.
Available at Estée Lauder, $90


5. Sculpting Contour Powder by Kevyn Aucoin

The over-contouring trend has got to stop. But subtle, well-blended contour has been a makeup artist’s trick since faces were first captured on film. The texture of Kevyn Aucoin’s Sculpting Contour Powder is silky and sheer, making it a dream to blend—but where it truly excels is in the colour—grey undertones and slightly ashy. It may sound like a nightmare, but when you’re trying to mimic shadow, this is exactly what you want. Nothing carves out cheek bones and jaw lines like this product.
Available at Sephora, $53


6. Prep + Prime Fix+ by MAC

Everyone’s heard of Fix+, but there’s also a lot of confusion surrounding this product—mostly because it’s such an incredible multi-tasker—which is precisely the reason why every makeup artist has at least one of these in their kit. Use this versatile spray as a moisturizing base before makeup, sheer out your foundation by spraying some onto your sponge or brush, intensify your eyeshadows by spritzing on brushes first, eliminate any powdery or chalky notes by finishing with a couple of sprays. One bottle is sold worldwide every 10 seconds.
Available at MAC, $33


7. Touche Éclat by YSL

Touche Éclat was revolutionary for ushering in a new category of makeup when it launched, and also for creating confusion… was it a concealer or not? Terry de Gunzburg, who invented the iconic product in 1992, was prophetic in identifying a thirst by makeup artists for an illuminating product that highlights—which this is. The brilliance of this product is that the illumination is glowy (not sparkly) and has a skin tone base (not silver), delivering a truly ethereal luminosity. One is sold worldwide every 10 seconds.
Available at YSL Beauty, $52


8. Long-wear Gel Eyeliner by Bobbi Brown

This eyeliner from makeup artist Bobbi Brown has had a cult following since it launched decades ago. It was the first gel eyeliner that finally made it possible for mere mortals to create that elusive cat-eye flick. The formula has generous play time, allowing for smudging, correcting and perfecting before setting. This is the eyeliner that Adele uses for her famous feline flick.
Available at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, $35


9. Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base by Chanel

Despite being a permanent product in their makeup collection, Chanel is often sold out of this bronzer, and every time it does sell out, panicked cries of, “Is it being discontinued?” flood the Internet. The cream-gel formula is a dream to apply and dries down velvety, never cakey. It’s the only cream bronzer on the market that can actually be used as a base complexion product to realistically deepen the face and body. Not a shimmer particle in sight.
Available at Holt Renfrew, $54


10. Micelle Solution by Bioderma

A staple item backstage at virtually every fashion week show, Bioderma’s micellar water is the OG of micellar waters. It has a dozen uses, is easy to apply and is gentle on the skin. The micelle is a molecule that is one part hydrophilic (attracted to water), one part lipophilic (attracted to oil). Once applied to a cotton round, the hydrophilic ends bind to the cotton, forcing the lipophilic “tails” outwards, ready to dissolve oil, greasy makeup and sweat. It first came to popularity in Paris decades ago as a solution to the city’s hard water, which wreaked havoc on skin.
Available at London Drugs, $13.90


11. Dipbrow Pomade by Anastasia of Beverly Hills

Largely credited for creating the “brow boom,” Anastasia Soare created Anastasia of Beverley Hills as a response to the overplucking of brows during the ’80s and the overall neglect of them during the ’90s. While studying at art school, she learned you could quickly alter a subject’s emotions simply by changing their eyebrows: angry, sad, happy. And after art school, Soare studied construction architecture for five years, where she learned to give 3-D structure to objects, which she applied to her now-patented Golden Ratio Eyebrow Shaping Method, inspired by a theory first documented by luminaries such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Albert Einstein. The Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez and Amal Clooney are among her many celebrity clients.
Available at Sephora, $24


12. Eight Hour Cream by Elizabeth Arden

Often referred to as the Swiss Army Knife of the beauty world, this balm has been around for 90 years, formulated by Arden herself. The story goes that she gave a sample to a loyal client to test out, who then applied it to her child’s skinned knee. The scrape reportedly healed in eight hours—and a name was born. The balm was so effective, Arden even used it on her horses’ bruises. The big difference between this and other all-purpose emollients is that this one contains beta hydroxy acid, which helps to slough flaky lips, calm zits and soothe insect bites.
Available at London Drugs, $29