When buying makeup, going off of somebody else's recommendation or reviews is probably the safest option. It definitely saves time that would otherwise be taken up by a process of trial and error. It's also exciting to know what products other people are using, and what they think of them.
Before we dive straight in - (to my makeup bag), remember that everybody has different preferences when it comes to makeup, as well as different skin tones and skin types, so what works for me, may not necessarily work for you.
The first thing I absolutely cannot live without is my NYX Cosmetics 'Stay Matte but Not Flat' foundation in the shade 'soft sand.' I have combination skin; dry around my nose and eyes but fairly oily on my forehead and chin, and I often experience breakouts on these areas. The NYX foundation is a cream formula, with medium to high coverage, which can be layered. It does need to be set with powder, to avoid transferring. It has great coverage, doesn't make me breakout, and leaves the skin looking matte, but healthy and glowing at the same time.
The second thing you'll find in my makeup bag, which goes hand in hand with my foundation, is a makeup sponge. These are by far the best tools for applying foundation. They need to be dampened before use, and using a dabbing motion, blend the product into your skin. It absorbs excess product which avoids leaving your foundation looking cakey. It also mimics skin texture and leaves the skin looking flawless and airbrushed. I use the Lotis Beauty Makeup Sponge daily, and it's great for blending out other cream products such as concealer and cream contour.
Another great product I use is the Essence Camouflage Concealer. It has such high coverage, smells amazing and covers all imperfections, under the eyes and on the rest of the face. I use it on my forehead, under eyes, chin, centre of nose, and to cover any other spots and blemishes I might have. I stumbled across this product while in a rush and quickly picked it up. It is so cheap and excellent quality - a really amazing find.
My bronzer and setting powder are two of my other makeup bag essentials. I use a matte bronzer from NYX cosmetics to contour, and the Yardley Absolute Translucent Setting Powder to set my makeup. Most people are unaware of the fact that almost all foundations need to be set with powder. I have seen too often women posting on Facebook and Instagram asking for a foundation that doesn't transfer. If it is a cream or liquid product, it will 99% transfer at some point, even if it has a matte finish. If you have dry skin, only use a small amount of powder to set it, which will make it less likely to transfer, but still will not be 100% transfer proof.
So, that's foundation and face done! I use the Rose Gold Brush Set to apply my cream contour, my powder bronzer, my blush, and my setting powder. They are vegan and synthetic, and super soft, resulting in a flawless face of makeup! My current favourite powder highlighter is this Bobby Brown one my boyfriend bought for me in the shade 'Pink Quartz' (shoutout to boyfriend, you did good!). It is a mixture of gold, bronze and pink shades and just applies absolutely flawlessly, giving that beautiful, healthy glow. I can honestly say I never leave the house after applying makeup without applying highlighter. That just sounds crazy.
I always have an eyeshadow palette nearby. A favourite of mine for a long time has been the Huda Beauty Textured Shadows Palette. It has a gorgeous range of mattes and shimmers. The other current favourite is the Essential Palette. All the colours you need to create neutral, subtle or glam looks for whatever occasion. The possibilities with both these palettes are endless! I usually fill my brows in with a light brown shade of eyeshadow and an angled brush.
Setting or fixing spray is an absolute must! This is an absolute must in anybody's makeup bag. It literally melts the makeup together on your face, refreshes your look, and stops cakey foundation in it's tracks! I have been using these two from Skincredible, a local, all-natural skin care company. They can be used as skin misters to refresh your face during the day, or as a fixing spray to bring your makeup to life! Oh, and they smell amazing too.
I use the NYX gel liner for doing winged and other styles of liner on my eyes. I sometimes use a drop of jojoba or reship oil to make it easier to work with, and apply it with a stiff angled brush. My favourite mascara is the Too Faced 'Better than Sex Mascara', and it is absolutely amazing. It gives length and volume, but at a price. It's so good though, so I can justify spending a bit more on a really amazing product. I usually just use DCT Lip Balm on my lips, and will sometimes use a gloss or a subtle, nude lipstick, depending on the occasion.
There are obviously so many more products that I have and use depending on the occasion and look I'm going for, but if I had to choose my absolute essential makeup products, these would be them. These are also all items that have been fairly consistent over the last year or so, and products I will definitely be re-purchasing, if I haven't already!