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And the (make-up) winners are…

February 6, 2011
tags: ,

I’ve never been a make-up junkie. First off, I was quite the tomboy growing up, and I’d sooner die than put a brush through my hair, much less experiment with eyeshadow. My mother also raised me on a Kroger-brand moisturizer-Suave shampoo budget, one which followed me all the way to college.

Until recently, I believed that anything beyond CoverGirl or Maybelline was frivolous. In some cases, I do still believe this is true; you don’t need to max out your credit cards to maintain a fresh look. Well, maybe it was getting my first real-world job, maybe it was moving to one of the most vain cities in the world — but I’ve become more particular about the products I’m putting on my face lately. I mean, the phrase “put your best face forward” exists for a reason. Turns out, there are a lot of overrated, overpriced cosmetics out there, but if you dig deep enough and do your research, there are a few goodies that are worth the splurge. Conversely, there are a few drug-store staples that work just as well as the luxury brands.

In the spirit of awards season (I might be a little too excited for the Oscars this year), here are my winners:

Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer, $6.29

Best Moisturizer: Steal — Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer

I’ve been using this moisturizer since high school. I’ve tried more expensive brands like Aveeno and Clinique, but this one is the least greasy to me. I have really dry skin in the winter (who doesn’t?) and after one application in the morning I am covered, even on the windiest of days. It claims to help prevent acne, which I think is just another way of saying “this won’t make you break out like the others.”




Revlon Colorstay Foundation, $12


Best Foundation: Steal — Revlon Colorstay Foundation w/ SPF 15

I’ve been using this since high school as well. I have tried a million different foundations, from the dirt cheap to the outrageously expensive, and this one has the best coverage for its buck. It’s not super heavy (hint hint, MAC) and still covers up stubborn blemishes. Whenever they have a buy one get one free on this stuff I GO CRAZY. Just sayin’.

Oh, I do really wish they would make a squeezy bottle version of this so I can let go of the whole tsunami of foundation pouring into my palm and trying to get a few excess drops back into the jar. I could do without that routine every morning.

MAC Mineralize Pressed Powder, $27


Best Pressed Powder: Splurge — MAC Mineralize Powder

Even though MAC’s liquid foundation has failed me, I love the pressed powder (have not tried loose — am I missing out?). If I don’t have time to put on foundation (which happens once or twice a week) a quick sweep of this takes away the I-haven’t-had-my-coffee-yet look of death at the office.



Nars Blush in Orgasm, $26


Best Blush: Splurge — Nars Blush in Orgasm

I am ON THE BANDWAGON for this cult-favorite cosmetic cleverly named “Orgasm.” Super long-lasting, and just enough shimmery glow for it to be noticeable without being obnoxious.




MAC Concealer w/ SPF 35, $16.50


Best Undereye Concealer: Splurge — MAC Concealer w/ SPF 35

I have chronically dark undereye circles. Always. Even worse when tired or hungover. After a long tenure with $6 Maybellines, I decided to try MAC’s version. Problem solved.






Too Faced Eyeshadow in Totally Toasted, $17



Best Eyeshadow: Splurge — Too-Faced in Totally Toasted

Out of all of these favorites, this is the one I’d most recommend to seriously go out and buy, only because it’s extremely underrated (i.e., Nars Orgasm blush has more than enough PR already). I’m obsessed with this eyeshadow. Comes in a variety of color duos (I have a blue-green one I use when I’m feeling mermaidy) but this one is the most versatile. Simple-to-use for inexperienced make-up wearers as well — brush the light all over the lid, sweep a bit of dark over the crease of each lid. Easy-peasy!



CoverGirl Perfect Point Plus, $6-$7



Best Eyeliner (for real): Steal — CoverGirl Perfect Point Plus

OK. I have been using this exact eyeliner since the eighth grade. I wonder how many I’ve actually gone through in my lifetime. I’ve dabbled in other eyeliner brands over the years. MAC, Loreal, Victoria’s Secret, even Chanel! Don’t waste your money, ladies — this achieves the EXACT SAME effect.



Rosebud Salve, $6



Best Lip Balm: Steal — Rosebud Salve

Shannon and I were at an American Apparel recently and for some reason felt compelled to each buy one of these jars innocently displayed at the checkout counters. Turns out the pretentious know-all hipsters that govern that store know their stuff when it comes to lip products.



Buxom Lip-Plumping Gloss in Peach, $18


Best Totally Unneeded Lip Product: Splurge — Buxom Lip Plump Gloss

OK, I received this one in a thank you-goodie bag so I have yet to actually “splurge” on this one. I tried Buxom without reading the label and was a little concerned when my lips started burning pretty intensely, only to then look and realize this was a lip-plumping gloss. Whoops. I was annoyed and ready to wipe it off until I looked in the mirror and was totally digging the Angelina Jolie effect. BEAUTY IS PAIN PEOPLE.






I have anxiety about my eyelashes. Not because they’re not long enough or not thick enough or plentiful enough. But because I feel complacent about my eyelashes and don’t think about them at all during the course of a day, and I know that I should. Because I turn on the TV and it tells me so. “Are your eyelashes clinically deprived from their growth potential? Try Latisse today!” Brooke Shields tells me this with a sympathetic look. Am I denying myself of eyelash growth potential!? Channel change. “Are you tired of clumps? Can you not sleep or eat because of mascara clumps?!!?! CAN YOU?!!” I… I don’t….. Channel change. “It’s time for an eyelash revolution.” Was there a movement going on for eyelashes? Are people protesting about this?

“…The LONGEST, FULLEST, THICKEST lashes yet…Now available as a pulsating wand…Scientists in Europe have revealed the secrets to longer eyelashes…”

Apparently I am not thinking enough about my eyelashes. I put on mascara maybe four times a year and just don’t get it. Someone clue me in here, please.


Bronzer. I just buy whatever is on sale and am never impressed nor disappointed.

Primer. I’m intimidated by the idea of primer and am not really sure what to do with it.

Make-up brushes. My brushes are the cheapest of the cheap and everyone tells me I need to upgrade. I just … why? Someone convince me.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2011 5:34 pm

    Jenny, you’re so right about the CoverGirl eyeliner. I haven’t found anything in the U.S. (or Canada) that stays on better.
    As far as mascara, I never leave the house without it. For a splurge (and the best mascara I have ever tried), try Chanel’s Inimitable, $30. It lengthens, curls, plumps and separates — all the things you want mascara to do. It also doesn’t run, so you won’t get the awful raccoon eyes, but it washes off easily with your regular makeup remove or hot, soapy water.
    For a steal, try CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume, $9. It really lengthens and separates for me, but it doesn’t stay on as well as Inimitable. But it’s one of the best I’ve found for daily/frequent use.
    A tip to get the most gorgeous eyelashes: Take your eyelash curler and heat it for a few seconds under your blow dryer, then curl and apply mascara. The curl will stay much longer because of the heat. Just make sure you don’t burn your eyelids (yeah, been there).
    Hope that helps! 🙂

    • Jenny permalink*
      February 7, 2011 10:13 am

      Thank you for the mascara recommendations! I was talking with Shannon about it more last night — and I guess I’ve just never had a good brand experience with it. I’ll try that CoverGirl rec first!

      • Katy permalink*
        February 7, 2011 1:00 pm

        My mom used to have to force me to wear mascar. Like tie me down and put it on me. Kidding. But then I started to realize just how big of a difference it makes. If I just put on mascara and eyeliner, I look not like death. Maybelline Full & Soft and Fresh Supernova are great ones that give pretty natural looking lashes.

  2. Melanie permalink*
    February 7, 2011 10:10 am

    I didn’t understand primer at first either. Last spring, I bought the Bare Minerals starter kit cause I’d never used anything other than what I could find at Target. It came with a sample of primer in it so I started using it. I put it on right after moisturizer. It feels like oil to the touch, yet it doesn’t add shine.

    My skin is naturally oily, so I don’t need any more shine. But I feel like it helps my makeup set in better, if that even makes any sense. Maybe it’s just in my head. 😉

    • Jenny permalink*
      February 7, 2011 10:13 am

      Isn’t that the same set-in concept as foundation and powder though…? I just don’t get it 🙂

  3. Katy permalink*
    February 7, 2011 12:58 pm

    I was actually slathering on Rosebud Salve on my lips while reading this. No joke. I LOVE THIS. My favorite is actually the MAC honey salve, but it was limited edition, so I use it sparingly. I am with you on the MAC MSF natural. I apply it with a kabuki sometimes and I think it is better than Bare Minerals, in terms of a powder foundation. I’ve heard good things about MAC’s Studio Fix pressed powder, but I’m not a pressed powder kind of girl. The Buxom glosses are my faaaaavorite glosses. Like for realz. My mom gave me one and I’ve been hooked every since. If I could survive on those (and Revlon’s Super Lustrous glosses) I would.

    I swear by primer. There are two at the drugstore I like. Rimmel’s and L’Oreal’s new Studio Secrets one. I have oily skin, so if I don’t wear primer, I look like a hot mess after work. Not really attractive. My roomie didn’t get it for a long time until I bought her one and now she is also obsessed. But it isn’t for everyone. I’d suggest trying it out.

    OK, must stop talking about makeup.

  4. February 7, 2011 4:09 pm

    I have so much to say. Some of this I’ve already discussed with you. Oh well.

    1. Nice makeup brushes are so. worth. it. If you clean them the right way, they’re a one-time cost. Seriously, the bristles are just so much nicer and normally apply makeup better anyway.

    2. I LOVE mascara. It’s the one thing I never leave home without. (Yes, this includes foundation or tinted moisturizer.)

    3. I don’t understand primer either. Katy has explained it me, I’ve tried to understand and I still don’t. I may experiment with it more in the summer when I’m all sweaty on the subway every day, but I have realllllly dry skin so I don’t feel the need to use it.

    4. I recently purchased Maybelline’s Fit Me pressed powder after seeing multiple fashion magazines rave about the new Fit Me line. After using it just twice, I have to say that I love it. I think it was $8 at Duane Reade (which means it will be $6 at drugstores everywhere else in the U.S.) and it’s great for touch-ups.

    5. I LOVE ROSEBUD SALVE. I actually purchased the “Minted Rose” kind, which has a nice little zing to it.

    6. I don’t use bronzer. Am I missing out?

    7. You are like the 4th person I know to rave about CG’s Perfect Point Plus eyeliner. I think after I use up my Clinique (which I really like, it’s just expensive) and my Urban Decay (meh) liners, I’m going to give CG a try.

    Phew. OK. I’m done. And I may still write my own post about my beauty must-haves which is already sort of drafted.


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