Drugstore Cowgirl Part 3

I recently realized that I’ve lost my NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella.  I have no idea where it is.  It doesn’t help that I’ve moved across the country within the past month by car.  That lip crayon could be anywhere.  For all I know some lucky corn farmer in Nebraska discovered the greatest shade of red lying in his field just off the highway a couple weeks ago, and is now wearing it proudly as he drives his John Deere.  Bless him.

The real bummer is that normally, I would take a jaunt down to my nearest Sephora this weekend and pick up a brand new lip crayon to replace my lost one.  However, I am currently searching for jobs and waiting for many application responses.  And while our bank account isn’t in dangerous territory by most standards, something about purchasing a … *gulps with guilt* … thirty dollar lipstick these days feels slightly out of responsible boundaries right now.

And now that I think about it, maybe the real, REAL bummer is the fact that I thought I needed a NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella when I also have a NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, MAC’s matte lipstick in Ruby Woo, and MAC’s lipstick in Russian Red.  Just silly.  Maybe one shade of red can be good enough for now.  After all, where did fifty shades of grey get us?  It got us nowhere.  In relationships, in literature, in filmmaking, as women- nowhere.  And I don’t want to be ignorant of history and repeat humankind’s same mortal mistakes.

Anyways, now that you’re done being angry with me, we can move on to the main subject- drugstore finds!  And I’m talking drugstore finds that I have purchased and then used multiple times, much more than once.  With a renewed mindfulness toward money, I’m seeing that finding value in a great drugstore find is something to be relished.  Finding something that really works well for under ten dollars is just the best.  Sure, you’re lacking the “name”, or the pretty compact, or the lovely fragrance emitting from your mascara (I’m looking at you, DiorShow), but seriously- who cares?

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Speaking of shades of red, Revlon’s Ultra HD Lipstick in Gladiolus is an amazing drugstore choice.  I purchased it when I got the run-down of Emma Stone’s makeup at this year’s SAG awards, which I was obsessed with.  Her makeup artist, Rachel Goodwin, has done a brilliant job at incorporating new Revlon products into Emma’s looks.  What I really like about this formula is that it’s very comfortable.  This is not a matte shade at all, which is what I typically go for, but after wearing so many matte shades you tend to forget that lipstick actually can be creamy and comfortable (and as much as I love Ruby Woo, it makes my lips dry as a desert).  Such is the case with the Ultra HD; it’s very easy to wear.  I find that this shade is not brick or orange-y, and not too blue-based either.  It’s really beautiful on Emma with fair skin, but I also found it to be flattering on my skin tone which is more of an olive at times.  If you’re looking for a cheap red to try, I recommend this to you.

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I sometimes feel bad advocating for drugstore hair products because I know that salons rely heavily on their retail sales and I’m very much about supporting local salons.  However, hairspray is one product that I have never purchased from a salon because I don’t use it very often, and I honestly haven’t seen much of a difference in quality between salon hairspray or drugstore brands.  Moreover, some drugstore hairspray fragrances are so nostalgic to me.  Aussie, anyone?  And I will always associate Tresseme’s hairspray scent with my mom, who uses it every morning.

There was one occasion though when I needed a heavy duty hairspray that would hold an updo and help with teasing (which I hate to do).  I was going to a Halloween party as Holly Golightly, and I needed to recreate her French twist with all the volume at the crown.  L’Oreal’s Boost It High Lift Creation Spray is like the monster glue of hairspray, in my opinion.  You know when a hairspray isn’t so much a mist as it is a web?  That’s this stuff.  It has a backcombing, mattifying effect that was perfect for my updo on Halloween.  You can spray it and then tease a section of hair into Dolly Parton oblivion, or just mist it all over your hair and then watch it not move for the next 24 hours.  And the scent is very addicting but very strong, so, it’s basically smack as hairspray.  Proceed with caution.

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I used CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser Bar for the first time one month ago when I was staying at my mom-in-law’s house after we’d moved out of our apartment.  The scent is very clinical and soapy to me, but the soft texture it left behind on my skin was unmistakable.  I couldn’t wait for showers when using this bar, and I’ve continued to purchase it out here in Illinois.  I’ve always used body washes dispensed from bottles, and I have a tendency to probably use too much as a time and a lot more than is needed.  You have that advantage with a soap bar in that you’re not squeezing too much out, but the disadvantage is that the bar gets wet over time and can dissolve when you’re not using it, causing you to lose soap that way.  Regardless, I’ve been keeping CeraVe in rotation in our shower and will probably continue to do so when things get really windy in the winter.

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As I continue to grow out my hair in my endless quest for whatever it is I think I’m looking for, I’m starting to refocus my efforts on maintaining healthy and full ends.  This task used to be my number one priority when it came hair, but my recent chop has granted me some freedom in not having to think of split or broken ends so much.  Though my hair hasn’t reached my collar bone yet, I’m trying to become conscious again about heat protectants, being careful with aggressive hair ties, and using products that help to at least give the illusion of fuller ends.  I don’t think Garnier Fructis’ Full and Plush Ends Plumper Amplifying Leave-In Serum does a ton in the way of split end prevention, but it does at least temporarily seal ends to give them a healthier look.  This is also a good thing for volume as my hair starts to grow out and loses its natural volume that came from such a short cut.  I sampled Bumble and bumble’s new Full Potential line the other day and rubbed some of the Garner into my ends before hitting my hair with a blow-dryer for about three minutes, and wowie- my hair got huge, and not just from the scalp but all over.

Maybe one of these days I’ll suddenly find my lost Cruella in a box or jean pocket, but for now, I’m sticking with what I already have or learning to love the cheap stuff.  I want to grow out my hair anyhow (so no frequent cuts), and sometimes I think all you need for good skin is water and sleep anyhow.  I know I can afford that.  xo, MR

InStyle’s Best Beauty Buys of 2013 … and what I think of ’em.

So, May is one of my absolute favorite months for fashion magazines (I think I say that every month, right?) because this month tends to see the widest amount of beauty features in such publications.  People StyleWatch, Lucky, Marie Claire, and InStyle all proclaim their May issues as dedicated to beauty, and I’ll be honest- I’ll eye a magazine on the stand at a grocery store and I’ll quickly flip to the beauty section, and if it piques my interest in any way, I’ll buy it.  The beauty sections are always my favorite, teeming with hair how-to’s, reviews of new products and the like.  One close-up shot of Kerry Washington’s makeup at last month’s premiere complete with a break-down of what products were used, and I’m literally buying the magazine just for that one page.

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My May issue of InStyle magazine came yesterday in the mail and sure enough- 2013’s Best Beauty Buys can be found on page 297!  I like lists like these because I like comparing the magazines choices to what I already have and agree with, what I’m still curious about, and what products I hate.  Additionally, I’ve begun to take these “best of” lists more and more seriously because I’ve become increasingly interested in curating the best kit possible, even if it means a little extra investment here and there.  I trust InStyle for this and can tell that their choices are honest because a lot of the “winners” don’t change from year to year (whereas I feel some publication’s praises are simply based on what’s newest to hit the market).  Now, I won’t be mentioning my thoughts on every product that InStyle lauds, but there are a few I found to be worth commenting on.

1.  Best Inexpensive Lipstick- Cover Girl Lip Perfection  Yes.  The texture of these suckers does not feel cheap, despite the drugstore price (and the pigment lasts forever).  What’s great about this line is that the color range feels expensive and a little more edgy as well, whereas drugstore lipstick in the past seemed to just offer cute variations on frosty pink for the most part.  I still proudly proclaim their shade called Spellbound as the best shade of holy-crap-that-is-no-joke-magenta for under ten bucks.

2.  Best Inexpensive Mascara- L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Original  Is it just me or has this stuff sucked every time I’ve tried to give it another chance?  I’ve probably purchased this formula a total of three or four times over the years, just on the basis of knowing it’s reputation and thinking that it’ll perhaps work out differently this time.  But like Maybelline’s Great Lash (which I’ve consistently detested), this stuff is just goopy and can’t handle the pressure of a second coat (which is a bloody shame since I tend to cap things off at five coats).

3.  Best Overall Mascara- Dior Diorshow  I’ve purchased this stuff twice in my lifetime, which, in conjunction with my comments on the previous product, proves that I am certifiably insane in that I think if I do the same thing over and over I’ll somehow, at some point, land on different results.  In my little library of thoughts, Diorshow is categorized as the most overrated beauty product in existence.  The brush is too big to the point where you can’t control the product easily or put as many coats on without things getting into Shelob territory very quickly.  And what’s more, there’s fragrance in it.  For why?!

4.  Best Powder Blush- NARS  Always and forever, yes and yes.  I have three shades of NARS powder blush, and they are just the happiest, most exciting colors to wear.  Your mood just changes when you dot on one of the shades on to your cheeks.  While I love wearing their cream version in Lokoum on a regular basis, I took a dare last year in purchasing their powder formula in Exhibit A, an absolutely terrifying shade of vermilion at first glance (and I’m pretty sure the bride I most recently used it on hyperventilated when I first showed it to her).  But just a couple dots on the cheekbones and BAM!  You look like you’re glowing from the inside-out.

5.  Best Inexpensive Shampoo and Conditioner- Pantene Pro-V Classic  Just deal with my rant for a moment:  When you’re paying four bucks for a ginormous bottle of shampoo, this should tell you something- that apparently there’s nothing in that bottle worth any money to raise the price over four bucks.  Seriously, read the label on the back of your Pantene shampoo or conditioner bottle and tell me if you can identify any of the ingredients other than water.  The first ingredient of Pantene’s shampoo is water, the next two are detergents that strip your hair, the next is sodium chloride (table salt), and the next is dimethicone (which, while being toted as great for reducing frizz, also saps your hair of moisture).  The list goes on, but nothing in these products can be considered nutritious for your hair.  It’ll clean, but it’ll strip.  If you’re going for a cheaper shampoo and conditioner, at least go for a sulfate-free brand.  I also find shower products like these more worrisome too because we rinse a lot of this stuff down our drains and it gets swept up into our oceans and water systems, and I can’t see dumping gallons and gallons of synthetically-derived Pantene as ultimately good for our water supply and ecosystems.

6.  Best Lipstick- Tom Ford  I honestly wouldn’t know if I agree with this choice or not, because I’ve never tried Tom Ford’s lipsticks.  My life just isn’t at the point yet where I can justify fifty dollars for one tube of lipstick.  You read that right- fifty dollars. I feel like I could possibly justify such a price for face makeup (if you were to wear it everyday) or something that would last you a very long time, but I don’t wear lipstick everyday (rarely, actually) and lipstick isn’t even meant to last for an extremely long time.  So I’d either feel compelled to use it every single day (which I wouldn’t) or make the tube last at least two years (at which point it would’ve expired anyhow).  No win.  And what’s more, I’m just convinced that there are too many quality lip colors out there for twenty and under.

7.  Best Concealer- Cle’ de Peau Beaute’  See above.  Seventy bucks for concealer?  There’s no way.  Well, then again, I at least know I probably would use this everyday, and just a little bit each time.  I’d get my money’s worth!  And it is supposed to be an absolute miracle worker on all flaws and blemishes, and … you know what … no … I can’t keep talking like this.  Just slap me.

8.  Best Curling Iron- Hot Tools Spring Iron  Yep, this is the one.  I have the 1.25″ and I love it.  I just wrap sections of my hair around it (and I skip the clamp; I just wrap and hold) and nothing works better at creating easy waves.  Don’t pay more than fifty bucks for a curling iron or curling rod.  Save your biggest hunk of change for a high-tech flat iron.

9.  Best Lip Balm- Smith’s Rosebud Salve  Sure, the tin is chic in a French-apothecary-kind of way, but there’s a little too much petrolatum in this stuff for my taste.  Petrolatum, derived from petrochemicals, is known for ultimately disabling your lips from being able to remain moist on their own (hence the legend of “ChapStick addiction”).  Petrolatum merely acts as a barrier on your skin’s surface (not an actual moisturizer), and it simply traps whatever moisture is already on your lips in place.  Your lips, over time, basically un-learn how to replenish their own moisture.  Rub a petrolatum-based product all over your body and over time, this kind of barrier will prohibit toxins in the form of sweat and sebum from escaping the skin’s surface like they’re supposed to.  This is why I try to stay away from most drugstore lotions and “moisturizers”, because they’re laden with petrochemicals that can, in a worst-case scenario, really mess up your endocrine system.  I am forever loyal to Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm because I only find myself needing to apply it perhaps twice a day, and it is free of petrochemicals.

10.  Best Eyeliner Pencil- MAC Eye Kohl  Could the name “Smolder” be more appropriate?  This stuff is black magic.  Devilish, delicious, I-am-Jack-Sparrow’s-wickedly-awesome-pirate-girlfriend magic.

So seriously, let me know what you think.  Pick up the magazine (with Emily Blunt on the cover), flip through their lists, and give me your thoughts.  But I’m convinced there is no eyeliner better than my Jack Sparrow pirate eyeliner.  xo, MR