In my job I see, touch and smell new beauty products every week.

Beauty is big business and the brands behind the business – whether they are big or small – are always looking for new ways to excite us enough to make a purchase or to switch from a product we may have been using for years.

I know, I know, we are often at the behest of marketers. And I’m guilty as charged for being lured into a new purchase based on hype… and pretty packaging.

But it’s the products that stand tall above any new hype that I want to talk about today. These are beauty products which have been in our bathroom cabinets for as long as we can remember – or perhaps they were even on your mum or grandmother’s vanity.

These are the products that have either stood the test of time and still hold their own with any newcomers that might swing on past or they’re recent additions to the beauty product hall of fame. Additions that are here to stay.

Either way, they have a cult following for a very good reason. Each product delivers on what it promises and keeps us coming back to re-purchase again and again.



1. ghd stylers. The term ghd is so ingrained in our vocab that we now use it as a verb. We don’t straighten our hair, we ghd it.





2. Moroccanoil Original Oil treatment. This was the first brand to mainstream the use of Argan oil in hair treatments.





3. Cedel hairspray. I remember this on my Nan’s dressing table. It held her “set” in place like nobody’s business.






4. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Great value and recommended by dermatologists.





5. Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil. Fast becoming the cleansing method of choice for beauty girls in the know.







6. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Thanks to the discovery of beautiful skin on sake makers we now have products based on Pitera – the liquid produced during the fermentation process of certain yeasts.







7. Olay Total Effects. When this product launched and promised to cut our skin regime into one easy product, we rejoiced and continue to do so.







8. NIVEA Crème. It’s been updated many times but the essence of this moisturiser is the same as it was 102 years ago.






9. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturiser. I still remember the Clinqiue “computer” which was actually not a computer telling me this moisturiser would be perfect for my then combination skin. And it was … from 18-30 years.






10. Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil. This is a much-loved product for hydration and use in treatment of scars, stretch marks and wrinkles.







11. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. This do-everything product was created by THE Elizabeth Arden in 1930. Its formula remains relatively unchanged but there are other products now available, including lip balms.






12. Lanolips 101 Ointment. It’s only been around a few years but already its cult status is sealed. It’s another do-everything balm and my lips don’t survive winter without it.





13. Garnier BB Cream. This was the first BB Cream to launch in Australia in 2011 (now there’s a tonne of them!) and it’s still favoured by most – for its price point and effectiveness.







14. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat. My love of an under-eye illuminator started here and has continued unabated.






maybelline15. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara. The formula and the brush work hand in hand to make lashes look their best for less.





16. Benefit Benetint. The original lip and cheek stain that came about because an exotic dancer in the 1970s needed to have her nipple colour “enhanced”.







17. Chanel Rouge Coco Hydrating Crème Lip Colour in Mademoiselle. The soft, creamy texture of this lipstick is a winner but it’s this shade that is a classic on anybody’s lips.








18. MAC Strobe Cream. This is a pick-me-up for under makeup or on exposed shoulders or décolletage and a makeup artist favourite from way back.








19. Nars Blush in Orgasm. Sex does sell but this colour really is a winner on most skin tones.





20. Chanel No. 5 fragrance. If you ignore the Brad Pitt posters and think old-school glamour, then this is the classic fragrance for you.




Even as I finished this list, I could think of other worthy mentions and I’m sure you can too.

What’s your pick for cult beauty products?

What have you been buying for years and can’t live without?



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*Nikki Parkinson was never allowed a Barbie doll as a child. Her politically correct mum thought Lego and Tonka trucks were more fitting. Now the Queensland-based blogger advises women what to wear and put on their face for a living. The former journo and magazine editor manages an award-winning blog Styling You – offering real world fashion and beauty advice for busy women. Don’t tell anyone but she’s secretly a closet dag who likes nothing more than relaxing at home with her family… but open a champagne bottle and she can have her heels on and hair done in minutes. You can follow Nikki on Twitter @stylingyou and Facebook.


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  • Reply February 28, 2013


    There are so many products out there that it’s hard to know what is worth using. I use a few products on this list so am encouraged to try some of the others. Thanks

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      It is so hard Karen, that’s why I actually do take my job seriously and only recommend products worth trying – but then my needs might differ from someone else’s so always tricky.

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    This reads like an advertisement to me. I’ve never heard of most of the products and only ever seen one or two in shops (not that I have been looking very closely) and neither my mother nor grandmothers used any of them!
    Personally I wouldn’t let any of these harsh synthetic products into my home, let alone near my skin.
    There are lots of safer options out there that don’t contribute to damaging the environment, rely on animal testing, stereotype women or transfer money into the accounts of wealthy companies – just to name a few concerns associated with them.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      Each to their own Molly.

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    I agree with Molly. Was this article sponsored. At best it is a list of the author’s favourite products, not a list of cult products (although some certainly qualify).

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      If sponsored, it would have said so. Yes, some of these are favourites of mine – most are there because they are favourites of many more people beside myself and have been for years.

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Kerry C

    I’m with you Nikki on the Garnier BB cream… Been using it for a while now every day. It has amazing coverage and doesn’t clog your skin like a foundation or traditional moisturiser. I don’t have to wear any makeup over it at all.

    Another one I’d add to the list is Boots No 7 pore refining serum. I pick up some every time I’m in an airport.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      It’s amazing how it works over time, isn’t it, Kerry? And thanks for your add-on … we need Boots here, don’t we?!

      • Reply February 28, 2013

        Kerry C

        Yeah – Boots would be a great addition to the Australian market. Benefit have some get products too. I started using their makeup in Miami a couple of years ago. Only available at big Myers stores though I think.

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    I like lanolips and the EA 8 hr cream is a classic. YOu can’t go wrong with it really.

    I have to say I don’t like the Clinique moisturizer. My skin reacts to something in it.

    My daughter loves benetint and so do her friends.

    I’d live a really soft eyeliner that didn’t pull the skin and I could smudge. Preferably one that retracts and not a pencil that requires sharpening.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      There are great ones by Nars that come with their own sharpener at the end and you wind the pencil up – nice and soft too. Yes, you pay a bit more but they last ages.

      • Reply February 28, 2013


        Thank you Nikki, I’ll check it out. Would simplify things when I travel. My eyes are really sensitive and I don’t need much anyway just a touch at the outer corner. I want to get double use out of it on my brows as well. They’re going grey.

        BTW the only mascara I can use is Lancome’s for some reason. Perfect for me.

        Another really great product for sensitive skin is L’Occitane’s cream mask. Best product I’ve tried in an age. Worth every cent.

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    Hi Nikki, sorry you got blasted over here. Maybe stay at Styling You where it’s not so politically incorrect to use beauty products! First world problems you know.

    I’m with you, I love everything and buy into the latest hype on a lot of products. Sometimes I think I’ve only got one face, where am I going to put all this stuff!!

    I know that Maybelline Great Lash always comes up in any list of mascaras and I used to use it in the past but there are so many superior mascaras out there now for the same money. I think it’s globby and messy.

    The one product that I remember on my mum and grandmother’s dressing tables was Oil of Ulan, now of course Olay.

    When I finish my 48 blushes that I already have, I am definitely getting the Nars Orgasm.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      Ah, thanks … it’s all good. Horses for courses and all that!

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Nel Matheson

    It’s amazing how many of these products I am very familiary with. Olay Total Effects, Lanolips and Trilogy Rosehip Oil I use all the time. I’m also totally committed to Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. Most of the other products are ones I have used, or have been used by my mother. Funny how the good products shine through! It is my dream to have an endless supply of Chanel No.5!

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    I like Moroccan oil (it really works! I was shocked, being so used to big product claims), and i always buy the YSL touche Eclat at the airport (great for dark circles camoflage). My daughter loves Nars blush and her GHD stlyler.

    I have used Olay total effects (well priced), Lanolips and Maybelline Mascara, Clinique moisturiser – all ok but nothing much better than other products.

    My grandmother wore Chanel no 5, so to me it smells ‘grandmotherish’!

    What actually is BB cream? What does BB stand for?!

    Is the Benefit stain drying on the lips?

    Isn’t the cost of SK 11 prohibitive?

    I would like the beauty industry to be accountable for their claims so that if i buy a product I know it will do what it claims. I know how big an influence marketing has (worked in advertising and marketing myself).

    I pretty much stick to a dash of bronzer (rarely foundation, hate the feel of it) and some lip gloss; maybe some mascara and a little eyeshadow if ‘going out’; and a basic cleanser at night and a rich day cream like Avene.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      SK-II is a luxury buy – this essence is about $100 – I use it underneath a supermarket moisturiser 😉

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    Hi Nikki, one of my all time favourites is Clarins Beauty Flash Balm.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      YES! That was the first product I thought of as soon as I finished this list. Awesome and has been in my beauty mix for about 16 years now!

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    Thanks for the article Nikki, most interesting read.

    I’ve used a majority of the products listed, some with great outcomes, some non-plused and others, well for me SK-II is never on my shopping list unless I had Cate Blanchett’s income! Love MoroccanOil, have used Olay, Nivea, Garnier BB, Clinique and Cetaphil. Cedel of course was a main stay in my dancing days.

    Naturally hormonal changes over the years bring different reactions to products and I was always taught to change products a few times a year anyways, according to weather, needs etc. Just as your hair can become desensitised to the same shampoo and conditioner, so can you skin. Changes and holidays!

    Chanel No 5 was my signature for many years, however since menopause I’ve noticed distinct changes in the chemical reactions between me and perfumes and pure Rose Oil now does it for me.

    We are each a work in progress, with progress being the operative word.

    Thanks again Nikki.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      Always a work in progress. Always!

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Jo Jo

    I also get seduced by the new but often return to old favourites

    I agree with the comments about the beauty industry being accountable for their claims, but I think for me the answer would be to be able to obtain, or even purchase for a small cost, some samples. I’m not talking about the plastic packets in magazines, but a sample size big enough to last a week. Years ago I was given a little pot of Prescriptives foundation in the correct colour and formulation to try before I made the commitment to buy. It actually was not right for my skin type but did make me go back to look at and purchase other items from their range.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      Jo Jo – I so agree with you here. Particularly with beauty items from counters and salons – we need to be able to try for a week before investing and I’m with you, we would invest if they were right for us!

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    Thanks Nikki, always a bonus to get your opinions on stuff as an expert, it cuts the legwork for me. I stock up at Sephora mascara when OS, but do love that Maybelline mascara, grew up on Nivea (grandmother) and Oil of Ulan (mother) and I am a BB fan for everyday courtesy of you and this is the second time I’ve seen YSL Touche Eclat mentioned (was in Marie Claire Dec ed) so going to check that out too
    Chanel, well Chance is my choice to pick me up.
    I care about the world, I care that my daughters are equals to other mothers sons and I love to be well groomed. I can tell you many, many an ill patient or worried relative has complimented me when they get a faint whiff of my Chanel or see my burgundy lips smiling and offering comforting words. First world problems right there being solved!

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      Oh, I so agree. A little care and attention can go a long way to make you feel good – and others around you!

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    Great list Nikki. I’ve tried and continue to use many on it. I must get around to trying the rosehip oil though as it sounds great. Also I’ve had great success combining the two garnier BB creams – not sure if you remember but I thought the oil free was drying around my eye area. The two work beautifully – thanks Nikki x

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      oh, that is great to hear!

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    I love the smell of Cedel! It takes me back to my early childhood.

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    Sephora – how I wish you were here. Or maybe not, because I would be spending every single day there. How many different red lipsticks did I try before I finally bought one from Mac – Lady Bug. Love it. First red lippy ever.

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      Finding the red lippy that really works for you is worth celebrating!

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Mary J

    Will have to pick up some YSL eye thingy on our next trip – the kids are almost at the stage where duty free browsing can occur (talk about a First World Problem eh?). Thanks to you I am now a BB woman! I also rediscovered Nivea last year, such a handy little blue tub! Thank you for the list!!

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      Nikki @ Styling You

      Mary with BB and the YSL thingy you’ll be set!

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Miss Pink

    I love this and 1, 2 ,3, 7, 10, 15 all have a place in my home.

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    The smell of Cedel reminds me of my mum. The only hairspray she has ever used. I adore Morrocan Curl Creme. I quite like 4711 for a scent 😉

  • Reply February 28, 2013


    I love this list! I have tried almost everything except the Mac strobe cream and the YSL eclat. But I might just need to try those in the near future!

  • Reply March 1, 2013


    Visited Hoopla a few times and think the addition of a girlie blog is great – we can be beautiful and smart and interested in things beyond sales and handbags at the same time (and believe me at 51 a little chemical facial assistance really is a GBF!)
    Don’t know many of these products but don’t leave the house without a squirt of no. 5. Routine consists of Esthederm cellular cream on face (was for years a devotee of ozzie made and developed beta alistine products but sometimes supply is unreliable – still use their wonderful eye zone treatment plus), Revlon colorstay eyebrow liner in blonde (it’s retractable so may interest another blogger who required this), Maybelline define-a-lash (has a better shaped applicator than the Big Lash, I find) and can’t go without putting a base of Mac Velvet Teddy lippy under any lip colour (softens colour and makes it last – use fingers). Also love Kiehl’s cross-terrain deodorant (bought this for my 13yo son and love its zingy fragrance).
    Thanks Nikki, look forward to more beauty advice and sharing of said. xo

    • Reply March 1, 2013


      Thanks for the heads up on the Revlon eyebrow pencil, Iola. I’ll check it out.

  • Reply March 1, 2013


    Where is the red tube of Lucas Papaw Ointment?! Or Clarins Beauty Flash Balm?!

  • Reply March 1, 2013


    I have truly found that all Garnier products work extremely well. I used to use a well known French cosmetic range of skincare but am equally happy with Garnier and its so reasonably priced.

  • Reply March 1, 2013


    That cleansing oil has baby oil in it- AKA mineral oil.. Super yuk for the skin and has great pore clogging tendencies over long term use……also perto- chemically derived. A nicer cleansing oil is a home made batch of olive, castor and grapeseed in equal parts, add tea tree or orange or lavender if you so desire- it’s cheaper than the $100 odd for ShU Umura and better for ones skin as well as the environment.

  • Reply March 1, 2013


    it would be great if you did a piece on products that have no animal ingredients and that are not tested on animals (if you haven’t already). I think most of the companies above either still test on animals or engage third parties to test because they sell to China which demands animal testing. It’s so cruel and it can be hard get straight answers from some companies – bits of animals seem to be in everything and god knows why companies can’t just stand up and stop harming them. And then it’s hard trying to find products that are right for me personally from a limited range. I’ve just odered some from the States that are gluten free and vegan – it’s hard needing both… so hoping they are good. The company is Gabriel cosmetics. Ere Perez seem to have the market in Australia but their products are not all vegan or gluten free…

  • Reply March 5, 2013


    ohh I wish I read this post before I invested in some Napolean Perdis products last week. (primer, foundation and camera finish powder)

  • Reply March 26, 2013


    Late to the story (late to the site actually!) but another vote for a cruelty free product review. I’ve stopped using a lot of cosmetics because I just can’t be sure. The crueltyfree website is great but doesn’t cover all products.

    • Reply April 3, 2013


      Couldn’t agree more, not only a post on animal testing free products, but also including those brands that do test on animals so they can be avoided. Thanks!

  • […] 20 Cult Beauty Buys […]

  • Reply September 15, 2013


    It’s an awesome post for all the internet users; they will take benefit from it I am

  • […] quick look at this list I did for The Hoopla back in 2013 and can say that most of the 20 products featured are still in my beauty […]

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