I am the first person to admit it — I’m a beauty junkie. I love Sephora and I follow a daily morning ritual with MAC, Smashbox, and Dior before leaving the apartment. But like any thrifty gal, I love finding deals on quality products to save a few bucks here and there. Here are five drugstore secrets that I swear by:
Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme by Burt’s Bees — $8.99 at drugstore.com
This stuff is natural and a great part of your nighttime skin regimen. Massage into dry hands before bed, and allow the cream to absorb overnight. It may feel slightly greasy at first, but this quickly fades. Good for cold weather damage.
Smooth Lip Balm Sphere by eos — $2.99 at drugstore.com
These egg-shaped organic lip balms have replaced your average Chapstick as the go-to winter essential and the latest beauty craze. And with good reason — it is a fabulous moisturizer that is long-lasting and effective. Not to mention easy on the wallet!
ColorStay Eyeliner Pencil by Revlon — $6.79 at drugstore.com
To be honest, no one really notices (or cares) what brand eyeliner you use. And functionality-wise, all you really need is something that won’t rub off after an hour. This eyeliner crayon by Revlon does the trick at half the price of most designer brands — easy application and long wear for under $7. Perfect.
24 Hour Body Healthy Volume Shampoo by TRESemme –
$4.49 at drugstore.com
Easily the best value shampoo in the market. You get 32 ounces and a little definitely goes a long way. Pair with coordinating conditioner for double-duty shine.
Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Acne Pore Scrub – $9.99 at drugstore.com
If your skin is sensitive yet prone to breakouts like mine, consider using organic cleansers made with natural ingredients to avoid harsh chemicals and excess dryness. Yes To is a brand that offers natural skin and hair products that are eco-friendly and budget conscious. This scrub is a great exfoliator and calms inflammation of the skin. It also contains 2% Salicylic Acid — a well-known active ingredient that fights breakouts.
I’m a self-proclaimed beauty junkie (I blame the Sephora Beauty Insider program) and over the last several years I’ve tried enough mascaras and primers to make Pat McGrath proud. But anyone can tell you that those designer products don’t come cheap, and one can’t help but ask — is the price worth the plunge? After all, who wants to shell out $30 for some ‘new and improved’ mascara only to discover that it works no better than the old drugstore brand?
Here’s my roundup for the six latest purchases I’ve had in my beauty bag for the past month:
1. Stila Smudge Crayon, $22
Pros: Easy application, not too heavy or cakey. Long lasting, doesn’t wear off. 3-in-1 convenience — primer, liner, and shadow.
Cons: I bought this in Smoke, and from the packaging I expected the shade to be lighter than it actually was. Not really a nude shimmer that I’d wanted, but perfect for creating a smoke-eye.
2. Benefit Tinted Moisturizer, $30
Pros: Entire tube lasts longer than three months. I use this daily after primer and before foundation. It works well, evens out skin tone and moisturizes without oiliness. $30 price tag is fair.
Cons: Only two shades available.
3. MAC Studio Tech Foundation, $30
Pros: This is my go-to foundation, and has been a staple in my beauty bag for over three years. It’s a cream-to-powder foundation compact that applies seamlessly without streaks or caking. I’ve tried a similar version by Urban Decay and was not nearly as satisfied with the results.
Cons: Applicator sponge gets dirty quickly, so I always buy a two-pack refill to replace it every two to three weeks. The foundation itself only lasts about two months, but for me it’s worth the price because it works so well for my combination skin type.
4. Laura Mercier Radiance Foundation Primer, $30
Pros: Light formula with a great sheen for summer months when your face needs that extra glow. Good value for price; This tube lasted about 5 months with careful application.
Cons: Didn’t exactly keep the makeup on all day. I’ve tried silicone primers that worked better to keep the foundation long-lasting.
5. Smashbox Baked Fusion Soft Lights Bronzer, $30
Pros: Nice shimmer to be used as a contour highlighter.
Cons: Expensive. Color is too light. Needs additional layers to build the right shade. I’ve had more success with a previous bronzer by Korres.
6. Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm, $23
Pros: I was so excited to try this product when I saw the marker-like applicator. I initially wanted to buy this in Guava but when the sales associate told me it was sold out, I settled for Petal instead. The color is a nice pink shade that isn’t too bright or too dramatic. The color seal balm keeps moisture locked in after the stain sets in. Stain did not smear off and lasted about 2-3 hours before fading.
Cons: The stain applicator was hard to work when using on the upper lip because it had to be tilted down in order for the color to come out. Therefore I kept applying the color to my lower lip and doing the press to make sure it was applied evenly on both lips.
I’ve been a religious Sephora junkie for about four years now, ever since I first set foot in the SoHo Broadway shop as a college freshman without a clue on the value of quality cosmetics. From that fateful day when I made my first-ever purchase (Daisy Marc by Marc Jacobs Roller-Ball Mini Fragrance), I’ve remained a loyal Sephora girl at heart.
Here are five of my top picks from the beauty retailer that I absolutely swear by:
#1: SHISEIDO HYDRO-BALANCING SOFTENER
Shiseido Hydro-Balancing Softener, $35 at Sephora
Any makeup artist will tell you that before you apply anything onto your face, your skin has to be toned and moisturized to avoid dryness and damage. This skincare product from Japanese cosmetic brand Shiseido is one of two complementary products in a toner + lotion duo. I received both as a gift last year, and I’ve been using them every night as a regular post-shower skincare regimen. The best part is that you don’t experience the greasiness or overpowering scent found with many other lotions; instead, this product is a light refresher that absorbs quickly and keeps the skin well-hydrated for a full 24-hour cycle.
#2: STILA ONE STEP CORRECT
Stila One Step Correct, $36 at Sephora
The great thing about this primer is the tri-color helix seen in the bottle. Besides the cool design, this helix contains tinted skin tone correctors which brighten skin, cancel out dark areas, and fix yellowness. Perfect for any girl looking for a quick one-stop fix for any and all skincare blues! The bottle is 1 ounce, but you only use a small pump to last the entire day, and the whole bottle has lasted me well over two months.
#3: GIVENCHY PHENOMENON’EYES MASCARA
Givenchy Phenomenon’Eyes Mascara, $29.50 at Sephora
This round spiky brush catches every corner and curve of your lashes, making it hands-down the best mascara I’ve ever had. Its unusual globular brush can reach even the smallest lash to give it pump and volume without the sticky clumpiness found in the typical straight mascara brushes. The $29.50 price tag is a bit hefty but well worth the investment if you have perpetually straight lashes like me.
#4: TOO FACED NATURAL EYE SHADOW COLLECTION
Too Faced Natural Eye Shadow Collection, $36 at Sephora
I love palettes because of the range of complementary shades that can be mixed or worn alone for a multitude of different effects. This Natural Eye palette by Too Faced is the epitome of girlishness with nudes, shimmery pinks, and chocolate golds that can be used to create a sweet or seductive look, depending on the occasion. The light gold is perfect for the bottom lid to accent small corners of the eye for a touch of sparkle, regardless of day or night.
#5: PHILOSOPHY FALLING IN LOVE EAU DE TOILETTE
Philosophy Falling in Love Eau de Toilette, $40 at Sephora
Philosophy is one of my favorite beauty brands for its honest brand mission statement as well as the quality of its products. If you couldn’t tell by its name, this fragrance is feminine and sweet, containing light, airy notes of vanilla, jasmine, lily, musk and blackberry. It’s a great everyday scent that is fresh, sexy, and clean. It’s a perfect basic fragrance for those who aren’t necessarily big perfume wearers, but who are looking for a signature scent to have handy for special occasions.