By Tatjana Freund published
When the COVID-19 pandemic first kicked into gear, I was determined not to leave New York City. I wanted to stick around to be close to my friends, my roommate's cat, and all my favorite restaurants. But when I got a panicked call from my mom on the same day that I was given notice to work from home, I decided it was time to pack up and head to San Francisco, my hometown. I thought that I would be home for only a few weeks; I packed just one carry-on bag with the belief that I'd be back in New York in no time.
Now I find myself (in my parent's kitchen) with a rotating set of six wardrobe pieces and only a fraction of my 3.4-ounce carry-on-approved beauty necessities. Thankfully, the few products I packed are the best of the best. Scroll on to find out the products that make up my quarantine beauty essentials—ones that you, too, can buy and take everywhere with you (when we can travel again).
1. Kjaer Weis - Cream Blush in Embrace
Any time I travel, I try to pack makeup items that have multiple purposes and don't require tools. This cream blush is the perfect shade for a pale lady like myself, plus it looks great swept across the eyelids, too. I blend this along my cheekbones for an innocent flushed look.
2. Rodan and Fields - Protect + Blur Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen
This product was given to me the last week I was in New York, and after using it for a few days I knew I wouldn't go anywhere without it. It has the consistency of a pore-blurring cream that leaves the skin feeling satin-y. But it does even more: When I wear it, it looks like I just stepped out of a campaign for perfect skin—healthy, not oily, and thoroughly moisturized.
3. Dr. Barbara Sturm - Hyaluronic Serum
Taking this serum with me was both a blessing and a curse. It's so damn effective, but every time I use it, it hurts me a little to know that I'm running out. It's incredibly hydrating and packs a powerful glow. I also brought their Clarifying Serum ($250), so I've been alternating between the two.
4. SACHAJUAN - Shine Serum
This is the only hair product I brought cross-country, and I'm so glad I did. It's a perfect post-blow-dry serum that helps my mistreated ends and makes my hair look shiny and clean.
5. Glossier - Pro Tip
This is the best liquid liner I've ever used—and that's saying a lot for me, considering I've tried about 90 percent of the liquid liners on the market. Though I'll admit that I haven't been wearing eye makeup too often in quarantine, sometimes a little cat flick makes my day.
6. Drunk Elephant - F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Mask
I brought this product to California mainly because I desperately needed it on the plane. It's an intense hydrating mask that's subtle enough to be able to slather in in front of a bunch of paranoid airline passengers. Now that its primary use has been served, I'm throwing it on every few nights just because.
7. BBB LONDON - Clear Brow Gloss
If there was one makeup product I could never give up, it would be clear brow gel. There are a thousand brow gels on the market, but this is the one that truly does what I want. It holds without being sticky or flakey, and doesn't come off until I want it to.
8. Dr. Barbara Sturm - Face Cream
I had a sample of this moisturizer that I brought to California, but I knew it wasn't going to last. It's the perfect rich texture that I look for in face creams, even though I used it all up weeks ago. In it's absence, I've been using the Dr. Loretta Firming Moisturizer ($70) and the Augustinus Bader Rich Cream ($265).
9. Byredo - Slow Dance Eau de Parfum
This perfume was a gift from my boyfriend's mom (I love you, Elaine!) and there was no way I was going to leave it behind in NYC. It's the perfect mix of sweet and tangy, and there's not a thing I don't love about it. Between this and my sample of Diptyque Eau de Minthe ($180) I'm not worried about becoming stinky over quarantine.
10. Anastasia Beverly Hills - Brow Wiz
These days, I haven't been filling in my brows too much, but I do like having the option. For me, this product is a 3-in-1: it's an eyebrow pencil, eyebrow brush, and an eyeliner if you're brave. I love lightly drawing this on my bottom lash line to give the impression that my lashes are super thick.
11. Drunk Elephant - Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
I've tried a few face oils over the years, but I keep coming back to this one. I don't wear it religiously, but if I'm having an extra-dry day, I know this is waiting in my cabinet to fix me right up with a glow that can't be replicated.
12. Lancôme - Hypnôse Doll Lashes
I'm not exactly a loyalist when it comes to mascara, but when it came to packing, this was the only mascara I didn't want to part ways with. Although it spends more time in my purse than on my eyes, I like knowing that I have the option of wearing dramatic lashes whenever I please.
13. OLEHENRIKSEN - Banana Bright Eye Crème
I was not a fan of eye creams before this one. I threw it on one day because my eyelids were scaly and dry after some misused product on my part (note: retinol should not be placed on eyelids), and it worked. I refuse to go anywhere without it now. It's an essential part of my routine.
14. R+Co - Dark Waves Body Lotion
I am incapable of getting out of the shower and not immediately slathering lotion on my legs. This R+Co cream is heavy enough to combat scaly skin, but it soaks in smoothly and leaves behind velvety-feeling legs.
15. NARS - Radiant Creamy Concealer
I really, really tried to use a different concealer! But I can't let this one go. The lightest shade in the range suits me perfectly, and it never gets patchy or dry throughout the day. I mainly use it as a spot corrector, but every now and then I'll upgrade my under-eyes.
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Tatjana Freund is a Beauty Commerce Writer, covering makeup, skincare, and haircare products and trends. She's a fan of vodka tonics and creepy Wikipedia pages.
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