Whether you have years of experience with makeup under your belt, or you just figured out how to use liquid eyeliner, there are some essentials that everyone needs. Even if you don’t use them every time you leave the house, they’re still part of any well-rounded makeup collection. However, some people feel intimidated at the thought of navigating the endless options. Fortunately, the information below should provide some clarity – plus some fun ideas for your next makeup purchase!

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t always have to go for big-name brands. Sure, they may come with a sense of prestige and glamor, but are they necessarily the best choice? Sometimes more boutique brands like Pamplemousse turn out to be your favorite source for makeup products. Whatever you decide to get, don’t be afraid to experiment – that’s half the fun!

Makeup essential #1: Primer

For some people, using primer just seems like an unnecessary technical detail. After all, it doesn’t provide any color, and it just gets buried underneath the foundation anyway. This is sort of right…but mostly wrong. Primer isn’t meant to add coverage or conceal blemishes, but it does have a smoothing effect on the skin, turning it into the perfect canvas for the rest of your look. Plus, whatever makeup you apply will last longer if you start with a base layer of primer.

Suggested primer: Valentino Beauty V-Lighter Face Base Primer and Highlighter

Makeup essential #2: Full-coverage foundation

This one can be tricky to get right, because so many full-coverage foundations result in cakey layers that crack or flake after just a couple of hours. A quality foundation will leave your skin looking luminous, both while it’s on and after you’ve taken it off. How it feels is also important; you shouldn’t feel like your face is encased in a plaster mask. If you’re in the market for a new foundation, you might want to look for an option that also has beneficial ingredients like hyaluronic acid.

Suggested full-coverage foundation: YSL Beauty All Hours Foundation

Makeup essential #3: Cream blush

The majority of blushes tend to be in powder form, but cream blushes are a favorite among in-the-know makeup pros. If you want a hassle-free experience when applying blush, try one that comes as a cream rather than a powder. It’ll be easy to blend, whether you’re using a brush or your fingers.

Suggested cream blush: NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Blush

Makeup essential #4: Bronzer

Just because the days of bronzer-heavy makeup looks are over doesn’t mean you don’t still need this product! These days, anyone who contours is probably using bronzer. There are powdered, cream, and liquid bronzers available, all of which have different benefits depending on the look you’re going for. However, just like with blush, cream or liquid formulas tend to be easier to apply.

Suggested bronzer: Giorgio Armani Beauty Neo Nude A-Contour

Makeup essential #5: Waterproof liquid eyeliner

Some people are convinced that liquid eyeliners can sense fear; this product does have a certain reputation for being a bit tricky to use. This may be true, but mainly for those who simply aren’t used to using this type of product. Once you’ve mastered the art of applying liquid eyeliner, you may not want to go back! The applicators are designed for precision and smoothness, and waterproof formulas guarantee that your perfectly applied eyeliner will stay put in any conditions.

Suggested waterproof liquid eyeliner: L’Oreal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Waterproof Eyeliner

Makeup essential #6: A varied eyeshadow palette

How many people are still using the same four-color eyeshadow palette that they got as a stocking stuffer six years ago – mostly because they don’t have any other palette with that particular shade of green? If you want to bring out the big guns, you’ll get a palette with some real diversity. Treat yourself to bold color combinations and shimmery hues, and finally stop carrying around 15 different eyeshadow sets because none of them have everything you want.

Suggested eyeshadow palette: Urban Decay Naked Wild West Eyeshadow Palette

Makeup essential #7: Mascara that gets the job done

What do you look for in a mascara? For some, being waterproof is a non-negotiable feature. For others, mascara should get as close as possible to looking like fake lashes. Then there are the people who just want to enhance the way their lashes naturally look. From waterproof, to volumizing, to lengthening (and much more!), there’s a mascara for everyone. In fact, many mascaras fulfill multiple purposes at once; you just have to figure out which effects you’re going for.

Suggested waterproof mascara: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara

Suggested volumizing mascara: Lancome Le 8 Hypnose Serum-Infused Mascara

Suggested lengthening mascara: Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara

Makeup essential #7: Setting powder

Setting powder is another makeup product that’s commonly neglected. Some people just don’t want to bother with an extra step, or they’re afraid that adding yet another layer to their face will be too much. However, setting powder is often the secret to getting that airbrushed look that so many people wish they could have. It’s also great for touch-ups throughout the day.

Suggested setting powder: IT cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Setting Powder

Makeup essential #8: Smudge-proof lipstick

Here’s another common makeup product that comes in a dizzying array of options. Aside from the infinite color choices, you can select from matte or high-shine finishes, smudge-proof or hydrating formulas, and more. Out of all the contenders, smudge-proof is probably the most popular feature; after all, who wants a lipstick that won’t stay put? This type of lipstick will keep doing its job for as long as you want it to, so you can just apply it and go about your day.

Suggested smudge-proof lipstick: Maybelline New York Super Stay Vinyl Ink Longwear Liquid Lip Color

The takeaway

What’s in your makeup bag – and more importantly, what will you be adding to it? Next time you’re shopping for some new cosmetic products, don’t forget to add some of these essentials to the list!