Cult is a word with, um, iffy connotations to say the least.
TBH, though, we’d legitimately consider joining one if it were all about, say, joining forces with like-minded lactic acid lovers or crooning around a campfire about why we love cream blush. Common interests are crucial, right?
But that’s just the thing – cult products are often hailed by an array of people who don’t necessarily have all that much in common. But even with the wide array of different skin types, desired makeup finishes and hair textures out there, a handful of specific beauty buys still rose to the top. Cult-worthy cream of the crop, you could say.
And honestly, considering there are about a zillion brands and products on offer, it’s a miracle that anyone can agree on one single product being brilliant – let alone a giant group of people being stone-cold certain that some are in entire classes of their own. Talk about some (supposedly) superior formulas.
So, are they truly all they’re cracked up to be? Well, you’re in the right place to find out.
If you’ve ever wondered “is It Cosmetics’ CC Cream really worthy of the same devotion I show Cher?” or “does the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara legitimately live up to its name?”, our community has you covered.
After all, who better to weigh in on the topic than our beloved bh members? They’re well aware that hype is one thing, and real results are another, and we asked them to get real re: cult products. And that they did.
So without further ado, over to the product-testing pros… Let’s find out what’s worthy of its following and what’s not.
The cult product: IT Cosmetics CC Cream
The lowdown: Yes, we know you probably know, but let us jog your memory just in case. This beloved base claims to load the full coverage of a foundation, the hydrating/anti-ageing benefits of a primer, the pore-minimising feel of a primer and the addition of SPF50 into one formula. Phew.
“Here’s the thing. Is it really a CC cream? No,” says skincare junkie. “It’s a super thick full coverage foundation. When I buy a CC cream I expect something light and colour correcting (i.e. letting my skin show through but colour correct[ing] my redness, or blue veins, or dark circles, etc.) without others feeling like they are seeing my foundation but not my skin.”
Lisa359 is on the same page: “Heavy for a CC cream and more like a foundation. Just not lightweight enough for me as I don’t need a full coverage product.”
Bebeautiful34, however, says that while the label is a little misleading, she rates the formula as a foundation. “Not [your] typical CC cream with light texture and coverage; [instead], it’s full coverage and more like foundation but I like that, and also how it has high SPF.”
The verdict: Good (if you want foundation disguised as CC cream)
The cult product: Olaplex No.3. Hair Perfector
The lowdown: An at-home hair treatment designed to dial up strength, hydration and elasticity levels in colour-treated or damaged hair, it’s known as a lifesaver for bleached or heavily heat-styled strands.
skincare junkie’s first thought? Decent, but not necessarily worth the cash splash. “It costs $50 but certainly did not give me what was worth $50 of results,” she says. “I think that it did help my hair break less to a small extent, but there wasn’t any improvement in smoothness, look and feel.”
Lisa359 also wasn’t impressed enough to repurchase: “Didn’t live up to the hype for me. [I] used it years ago when it was released and never repurchased it.”
But hey, the efficacy of this guy does depend on the damage level you’re working with. “Did not realise how great this was until later,” explains Bebeautiful34. “I used it on my bleached hair and it didn’t make my hair silky soft so I thought it wasn’t great, but then I realised it also didn’t fall out in clumps and feel like straw which is what is meant to happen when you bleach as much as I did. You’ll notice more results the more damaged your hair is.”
The verdict: Decent if you’re dealing with noticeable damage
The cult product: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5
The lowdown: Gaining major popularity for being both efficacious as hell and cheap as chips, it combines two of the hydration game’s biggest heavy hitters (hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5) into one bargain-status serum.
Lisa359 gave it a rave: “Great value for money, the only one I use.” Simple and effective – just like the product itself.”
Some, like bh member Seashells, however, aren’t entirely on board. “I did like using this for a time, but have had to give up using it as my skin was breaking out from something in it. I’ve also slowly realised that it’s quite tacky; but overall, it is good value for money and a handy serum to use if you’re just getting into the serum game and want something hydrating.”
Amazeballs16 has a hack for helping combat said ‘tackiness’, though. “I have used The Ordinary’s hyaluronic acid and loved it. Although I did find it can be sticky/tacky at times, the trick is to apply to damp skin and immediately follow with oil/moisturiser to ‘bind’ the moisture into the skin.”
The verdict: Pretty damn decent for the price
The cult product: Weleda Skin Food
The lowdown: An effective and affordable nourishing cream trusted by skin care lovers and celebs alike (Victoria Beckham counts herself as a fan), it’s designed to hydrate, heal and repair dry, cracked and irritated skin.
Gilliey’s thoughts? It’s good stuff and a little goes a long way. “It’s very moisturising [and] an intensive skin care product. I use it if my hands need some TLC. You don’t need to apply very much. I really like Weleda products and have a few.” Ralucap is also on board: “Weleda Skin Food is amazing, a real treat for dry skin [especially] in winter time.”
skincare junkie loves it for its impressive multipurpose nature. “I really like it on my dry hands, dry patches, elbows and knees. It is nice and rich, smells divine.” Maggieball is on the same page in terms of versatility, even noting that it works a treat on the complexion. “Weleda Skin Food is lovely with a very lovely citrus vanilla scent. It’s a lovely treat – I’ve even used this on my face it’s so gentle.”
Seashells’ opinion? A bit heavy, which means the lighter version is actually the perfect fit: “Not a fan of the original, but the Skin Food Light is the bomb.”
Harmony Queen agrees re: the texture, also preferring to opt for the lighter variant. “Weleda is great for super dry skin especially if it’s so dry [or] starts peeling etc. It is quite thick so [I] do find it hard to spread on skin at times, however, the Light version is just as good except it is a lighter consistency.”
The verdict: Stellar stuff with a fabulous lighter option if preferred
The cult product: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
The lowdown: A water-activated powder exfoliant, it’s loaded with licorice, rice enzymes and salicylic acid in a bid to remove surface debris and reveal brighter skin (while still being gentle enough for daily use).
Yes, you could say Amazeballs16 is a fan: “Hands down one of the best facial exfoliators, lasts forever and worth every cent.” Lisa359 agrees, too: “Bit pricey, but lasts a while so worth the outlay, so gentle but effective. Age-old beauty secrets and ingredients formulated into an exfoliant; nothing compares to it for me.”
skincare junkie also broke down the formula a bit, explaining why she loves it so much. “This is a hybrid of chemical and physical exfoliant. I just love how my skin is so smooth after using it. Such a smart product. The powder form also means that it has a good shelf life. I don’t use it every day – I use it approx. once a week in the morning in lieu of the morning cream cleanser.”
The verdict: A genius formula worth opening your wallet for
The cult product: Alpha H Liquid Gold
The lowdown: A chemical exfoliant (that heroes glycolic acid and licorice), it works to reveal satin-smooth skin without calling for any harsh physical scrubbing. Its goal? To visibly brighten, smooth and clear the complexion.
Kireina says it’s no doubt worth the splurge. “Alpha-H Liquid Gold is amazing! Worth every cent, it definitely makes my skin look smoother and brighter. Highly recommend.”
skincare junkie, however, found it too harsh. “My skin is very resilient (I throw anything and everything onto my skin) [but] it dried the hell outta my skin and broke me out.”
Lisa359 had no issues, though – in fact, she only saw a glow up. “Love it! A game-changer that has improved the appearance of my skin more than any other topical product.”
The verdict: Stellar as long as it agrees with your skin
The cult product: NARS Orgasm Blush
The lowdown: LOL’d at for its name and loved for its universal shade, it’s a peachy-pink colour with traces of gold that flatters and illuminates an amazingly diverse range of skin tones.
“The first word that comes to mind is iconic,” says Saffy86. “This was my first NARS blush to own, gifted to me by my bestie and makeup artist maybe 10 years ago and is still now my favourite NARS product. Peachy with that gorgeous shimmer it makes my face come alive, I can wear it all year round and I have even used it on my eyelids to make a beautiful shimmering eyeshadow.”
Omyara also gave a rave review: “Sensational blush I bought without even trying it and I totally agree about the hype and support. It is universal and just beautiful, would suit everyone.”
skincare junkie even confirms that it’s a great product to have on hand in professional settings. “Unless you do makeup on different people with different skin tones I think it’s really hard to appreciate how universal this blush is. If I can only bring one blush to work THIS. IS. IT. It’s very buildable. Even though it’s a powder blush the finish does not look powdery. The shimmer is very multidimensional. Good lasting power too. BTW flash back 14 years ago when I was working in MECCA people often came to me and said “can I have the orgasm”. It’s just hilarious.”
The verdict: Every bit as iconic and universal as you’d expect
The cult product: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair
The lowdown: Created to help ignite skin’s natural nightly repair process, it gets to work on both tone and texture, helping to leave skin radiant, even, plump and firm.
Amazeballs16 loves it so much she lets it fly completely solo. “It is excellent, definitely notice a difference in skin tone and overall health when using. When I use it I don’t bother using any other products afterwards, it’s hydrating enough on its own.”
GeeJ’s opinion? Worth the cash splash. “Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair is a staple in my stash. It is expensive but it’s certainly worth buying.” Amazeballs16 confirms that it is amazing, but says she wouldn’t necessarily add it to cart all too often due to the price tag: “This is pricey, so I don’t buy it regularly, but it’s the best serum ever!”
“I am addicted to trying new serums but I keep coming back to this one,” says skincare junkie. “It just gives me so much smoothness and softness so quickly, that I don’t think anything can replace it. The user experience front is superb. I think this serum has the whole package in terms of texture, consistency, the way that it absorbs, scent, bottle design, just everything.”
The verdict: So good that it’s worth every single cent
The cult product: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
The lowdown: Another makeup buy with a name as iconic as the formula itself, it’s a star for separating, volumising and lengthening lashes in one go.
“I now understand the hype around this mascara – [it] works quite well to lengthen and volumise my lashes (which are pretty good to begin with),” says Seashells.
Omyara is also obsessed: “Believe the hype; l love this mascara. I have used it in the past and I was really impressed with how my eyelashes look.”
“Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is the ultimate mascara! It definitely lives up to the hype!” agrees yvetteruby.
skincare junkie says it’s great for bringing the absolute best out of your lashes, but like many mascaras, does tend to smudge. “This mascara lengthens, volumises, holds the curl on my straight short and stubborn lashes. Makes my lashes look unreal. It gets a wow from me… until 2 hours later when it smudges everywhere. But 99.9% of the mascaras smudge on me so I don’t hold it against the product.”
Bebeautiful34’s two cents? “Excellent, hype worthy but dries out so fast.” In other words, it’s definitely worth using, but you’ll want to use it quick.
The verdict: Phenomenal with a few minor flaws
The cult product: Tarte Shape Tape Concealer
The lowdown: A vegan and super-blendable formula that offers flawless full coverage sans a cakey finish, it’s hailed for its diverse shade range, crease-proof nature and complexion-lifting abilities.
Bebeautiful34 happens to think it’s every bit as great as the rumours say. “[It gives the] full coverage you get from stick concealers but [is] still blendable, love it.”
Omyara on the other hand wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly special. “I don’t get the hype, it’s okay but nothing fabulous.”
skincare junkie sits somewhere in between. “I’d say this one meets expectations. It looks scary in the bottle (it’s so red) but it actually comes onto skin quite natural. I like that it gives me natural colour that doesn’t look out of place when I use BB cream, tinted moisturiser or simply nothing.”
The verdict: Good but not necessarily superior to every other concealer on the planet
The cult product: L’Oréal Paris Elnett Hairspray
The lowdown: A mainstay on photoshoot sets and red carpet prep sessions, L’Oréal’s cult-classic hairspray has gained the support of celebs, pros and beauty gurus for its hard-to-find hold-without-the-hardness finish.
It’s that very factor that makes it worthy of it’s cult status, says skincare junkie. “It holds without leaving hair crunchy. There are other salon brands which are able to achieve this but nowhere near the price of Elnett.”
She does, however, have one warning. “The only thing [is that] it’s freaking bitter if you manage to get it in your mouth. So whenever I get this hairspray out I’d shout “everybody stop talking.” Wise words.
The verdict: Brilliant for the bargain price
The cult product: Urban Decay Naked Palette
The lowdown: Billed by beauty lovers around the globe as the ‘perfect nude palette’, it features a mix of metallic and matte shadows in winning neutral shades from elephant grey to honeycomb gold.
skincare junkie is obsessed with its universal nature. “Why did Urban Decay even have the idea of discontinuing the original Naked Palette? It just blew my mind. This is the one most universally flattering eye shadow palette I have ever used in my (professional makeup artist) life.”
“Seriously,” she continues. “If I bring this one palette to my jobs I would be able to use this on absolutely everybody – every skin tone, eye shape, every request (from natural to smokey). The pigments are great. The shimmers are fine and they really stay. Totally in love and still hanging dearly onto it.”
“Cult classic top-quality eyeshadows; so versatile and popular for a reason,” agrees Omyara. Bebeautiful34 is also on board: “Perfect everyday palette for everyone, great colours and pigmentation, lots of colours, great variety for everyday wear.”
The verdict: The eyeshadow palette to end all eyeshadow palettes – what’s good Urban Decay?!
The cult product: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk
The lowdown: A foundation formula that lives up to its luminous title, it’s inspired by the texture of silk and aims to impart that exact finish onto your face.
skincare junkie says it’s the ideal foundation formula for everyone, even on special occasions like their wedding day. “This is the foundation I bring to work (I do bridal work). The finish is unreal. I don’t know how, but if the bride has really good skin I can still see the bride’s skin through it. If the bride needs coverage, this can offer just enough coverage but does not look cakey. Great longevity – minimal touch up needed (if anything – blot the shine and it’s good for another few hours).”
“Giorgio Armani is my absolute favourite just fab,” confirms Omyara. “ It’s like ‘your skin but better’ kind of foundation. I don’t bother with any other foundations. You can say I found the one.”
The verdict: Worthy of ‘the one’ status
Have you tried any of these cult products? What did you think of them?