A few months ago, I wrote a post called Bargain Beauty: Cheap Products I Love. I received a delightful whack of emails from women all over the country asking what I thought about their moisturizer or their mascara, or whatever product they were using, and was it their best choice? It was bunches of fun, and I loved it.
A close friend of mine always says “I hate to ask you more questions, but as long as you’re here, can you help me with…?” I’ve repeatedly assured her that asking me about all things beauty or makeup product related is akin to asking Hubs about football. Bring it on. My four favorite things to hear, in no particular order, are: “I bought your book,” “Have you lost weight?”, “Can I ask you a beauty question?”, and “I’ll bring the wine.”
I understand that the behemoth cosmetics/beauty product labyrinth can often feel confusing and overwhelming. Every luxury line assures us they’ve discovered what nobody else has, and for a mere $400, your “Personal Beauty Consultant” will get you started on their Basic Skin Care Plan, so you, too, can turn back time and look like your daughter’s slightly older sister. Oh, and she’d just be tickled to book you for a makeover, to help hide those tiny lines creeping down your cheekbones. She swears it’s totally complimentary, but you know deep down that you’re going to walk out a couple hundred bucks poorer, with a glossy shopping bag full of products you won’t remember how to use when you get home.
So we head to the drugstores, only to discover that the 19-year-old clerk at the cash register doesn’t have a clue about the products on her shelves or about skin care and makeup concerns of middle-age women. And there are no testers, so everything we choose is bought on faith or advertising, rather than any hands-on demonstration or trial. This often results in multiple trips back to Walgreen’s to return yet another product that failed us. It can feel like we’re shopping by braille.
As a confessed beauty product junkie, who started in the industry at age 24, I’m happy to share my findings with you. I’m an animal about research, comparisons, and reviews, and I refuse to shop at any store that doesn’t have a no-questions-asked return policy. Maybe I can help you avoid the mistakes I’ve made and the hassles of trying to return something you’ve opened and tried (which is just stupid. How are you supposed to know if you love it or hate it if you haven’t tried it??)
So here’s my list of Beauty Products I’m Loving Right Now, in 2016 (Note: I’ve received no compensation from any company for my reviews. In fact, unless they read my blog, they’ll never even know I wrote this):
Best Foundation: Bye-Bye Foundation. My very first infomercial beauty product purchase, ever. Foundation is one of the hardest products to get right. Expensive foundations look great, but ouch on the pocketbook. Cheap foundations are affordable, but hard to blend and often come in weird, non-people-colored shades. I’ve looked for the “The Foundation” for years, and this is it. It’s gorgeous, blends easily, covers flawlessly without looking heavy or obvious, and has a fabulous luminescence that keeps your skin glowy all day long. This one product works as my moisturizer, sunscreen, and foundation. Find it online at “It Cosmetics” or at Ulta.
Best Mascara: Physician’s Formula Instant Lash Extension Kit. If you like lashes out to there, this is your new crack. It comes in two tubes, to be used together. I’ve tried virtually every extension-type mascara from Maybelline to Chanel, and not one made a visible difference. This one does. Apply one coat for subtle thickening and lengthening, two coats for more noticeable lashes, or if you’re a lash tramp like me, three coats for “OMG, are those real?” lashes. Get it at Rite Aid for about $13. You’ll never buy another mascara.
Best Concealer: Here’s a trick I learned years ago. For most skin tones, get a yellow concealing stick (Cover Girl makes a cheap one that will last the rest of your life). Apply sparingly after your foundation. Using a small brush (no fingers, please), gently dab and blend a tiny bit under your eyes. The yellow will brighten under-eye circles and shadows better than traditional beige concealers, making you look younger and less exhausted. What else could we ask for?
Best Cleanser: I’ve rediscovered cleansing oils, and had forgotten how yummy they are. They remove everything from foundation to mascara, and leave your skin feeling soft and dewy, not stripped. Clinique makes a beautiful one that rinses off easily. If you’re a frugalista, Neutrogena’s Ultra Light Oil is also wonderful. Think of it as a mini-facial. Your skin will thank you.
Best Eyeshadow Quads: Lancome. Absolutely. They’re color combinations are gorgeous, blend like silk, and have a soft shimmer that doesn’t look like a child’s glitter craft project. They even come with instructions. My current favorites are Coral Crush (neutrals) and Amethyst Glam (bright violets), worn together. All of their quad eyeshadow palettes are stunning and last forever. If you’re looking for a new look, go check these out before you buy elsewhere. Available at Lancome counters or online.
Best Self-Tanner: St. Tropez. A little more expensive than Jergen’s, but so worth it. It’s beautiful, truly natural looking, easy to blend, and comes in everything from mousse (my fave) to lotion and spray-on, with no funky smell. You can’t screw this one up, and you won’t look like you’re channeling The Donald. This is the pick from everyone in the industry for a reason. Available online, at department stores, and Sephora.
Best Nail Polish: The Sinful Collection. A hundred or more fabulous colors, many with a beautiful, subtle shimmer, available at drugstores for two bucks. So chip proof, my manicurist hates it because he can’t get it off without a bucket full of polish remover and a stack of cotton balls. Sorry, Orly. I’m never coming back.