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

Weekday update! And how I have no sales resistance.

So, an update.

I’ve been using the same very cheap under-eye concealer for a couple years. I’m pretty sure the shade is wrong (a cool tone, which is not even a characteristic of my own skin), but for some reason I continue to use it. I thought I’d perhaps purchase the same concealer but in a neutral shade instead. So I stopped by Ulta (so that I also might purchase some new cologne for the husband … Givenchy Play smells like swag, but the nice, helpful, courteous, I-may-not-be-loaded-but-I-still-have-good-taste kind of swag) and found myself experiencing an acute lack of confidence as I checked for a better shade of my beloved L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable concealer. It’s not often that I feel the confidence drain out of me as I shop for makeup. I’m usually the one bossing someone else around in that situation. You need THIS blush! You’ll make your eyes pop more with this eyeshadow, dummy! Stop it- that shade makes you look like Snooki on an even worse day! So what did I do? I did the last thing … literally, THEE LAST THING … that I ever like to do in the beauty department: I asked for help from a sales associate.

It’s a strange combination of anxiety and exhilaration that I experience when I ask a beauty sales associate for help. On the one hand, I almost have this sort of avoidant disorder that makes me want to throw up when a sales associate approaches me and asks if I want to try anything or if I need any help. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m asked for money by a solicitor outside of Target. I’ll put my phone to my ear and pretend I’m talking to someone just to avoid contact with the person, or I’ll run past them as fast I can. I just hate having to say no. However, if I decide that I do want to try something on my own terms, I throw all caution to the wind and I want them to go absolutely crazy on me. The only problem is that, well, it’s really awkward if a sales associate tests a couple things on you and you don’t purchase something. In fact, if an associate ever does apply a full face of makeup on you at your own request, it is expected that you purchase at least two items. I’ve taken this policy to the extreme in that I feel obligated to purchase something shown to me by any associate if I’m helped at all.

So anyhow, I sort of on-purpose ran into a woman working at Ulta and explained my dilemma. She perked up, went and grabbed her favorite undereye concealer, and proceeded to perch me on a chair and blend the product neatly under my eyes. And it looked alright. I don’t know what it is, but sometimes I experience this feeling of not liking something so much because I didn’t find it myself, even if it does exactly what I need it to do. But like a moron, I thanked the woman and walked away with the concealer- which was priced at thirty bucks. Ugh. Seriously? Not even $24.99? I don’t know, sometimes I can be pretty spineless when it comes to sales resistance. This stuff wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t even Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche’ Eclat (the legendary luxury undereye brightener and concealer that I own but am continuously underwhelmed by). The drugstore kind I’d been using never tops ten dollars, and I just felt like a sucker. And yet I did not want to say no and hurt the nice lady’s feelings! Her whole career in makeup might hinge on that thoughtful, enthusiastic sales pitch of hers!

So what did I do? I picked up one of the L’Oreal concealers in a better-matched shade, held on to the thirty dollar one too, stood in line, flashed the thirty dollar one unmistakably and reassuringly when my friendly helper walked by as she assisted another customer, made it to the register … and proceeded to sigh and whisper, “You know, I’m not going to take this today”, and handed in the thirty dollar concealer to be put back on the shelf, discreetly out of view from my helper. And then I bolted.

There’s something extra difficult about resisting a sale in the beauty department. Beauty sales feel more personal to me because usually the associate has taken the time to assess your personal features and desires, and has then used their technical skills by applying the makeup to your face. You feel as if they’ve pampered you a little bit, and you also may feel that they’ve played “artist” a little bit, and turning down a sale would be insulting to their artistic abilities. It’s something I really need to get over, though.

I don’t exactly have any pictures of my escape from Ulta, but here’s a picture of the current state of my medicine cabinet!

medicabinet

There isn’t a whole lot that’s new here. I found that Caudalie Vinexpert Radiance Fluid for about a third of it’s original price (which always makes me worry that it’s old) and so I snagged it just to try. It leaves you looking very glowy, which I love, but it’ll never be worth the full price. I ran out of eye makeup remover (and I’d been using Caudalie’s) and so I picked up some of the famed Lancome Bi-Facil. It works really well, but I’m not used to the feeling of oil left on my eyes (as I’m pretty sure it’s not oil-free). I love having a pretty, sparkly, blue fluid in my cabinet though! Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream is a cult favorite for dry lips and skin, but it feels and smells as if it’s almost one hundred-percent petroleum or mineral oil, which freaks me out and makes me want to use the smallest amount possible. I got it for Christmas and luckily I know it wasn’t very expensive, but it definitely isn’t what I thought it would be. I’m about two-thirds through my Boscia B.B. cream, and half-way through my Acure night cream.  And nowhere through that Bio-Oil.  Anyone want that stuff?

And for a last little bit of excitement, I busted out my most saturated shade of pink yesterday in celebration of the spring-worthy weather we were experiencing.

CoverGirl

I’m wearing CoverGirl’s Lip Perfection lipstick in Spellbound, the most kick-butt shade of fuschia EVER.  It’s very much pink, but it’s got enough purply-plum in it to give it some edge and keep it from being too baby. The purple makes it more flattering for darker skin tones too.   I first applied a couple coats of it around ten in the morning and I think I reapplied a total of three times (one coat each time) during the whole day (and I think I finally scrubbed it off around nine at night).  I probably didn’t need to reapply any at all because the stain it leaves is very even, but over time the purple fades out of it and you’re left with the hot pink base.  I just like keeping it looking fresh.  Oh, and this photo is unfiltered!  No joke!

Let me know how your medicine cabinet’s looking these days, what spring makeup you’re trying, or your awkward stories from the makeup counter!  Believe me- I didn’t even get into my worst tale.  That’s yet to come.  xo, MR