Monday, March 23, 2009
The quality and value of make-up available on the market today is as wide-ranging as the selection. The claims that some of these products make can border on outlandish: non-clumping mascara that makes your eyelashes look like you had to glue them on, foundation that makes your pores virtually disappear, and lip gloss that promises to give you lips like Angelina Jolie's. But what products actually work? Which are worth the hefty price tag and which aren't? Since returning partially used products can be difficult, it's important to know what you're getting before you buy.
In an effort to help separate the wheat from the chaff, I've pulled together this round-up of my all-time favorites. Despite my penchant for trying the latest and greatest when it comes to beauty products (I'll try just about anything once), I always find myself coming back to just a handful of products. The products featured above not only work like they should, but they're easy to work with. Most importantly for me (as someone with extremely sensitive skin), these products are non-irritating and rely heavily on "all natural" ingredients. While there are a number of great products out there not available at Sephora (M.A.C. and Sonia Kashuk for Target both jump immediately to mind), I've only featured items available for purchase through Sephora for the simple reason that I vastly prefer one-stop shopping.
Clockwise from top left:
1. Bare Escentuals bareMINERALS foundation ($25): Don't be fooled by imitations, I think the original mineral foundation make-up from Bare Escentuals is still the best of its kind on the market. Their "fairly light" is one of the few shades on the market that works for my skin tone and I love the one-step process of foundation and powder. Saves me so much time in the morning. Even better, this product contains SPF 15, so even if I forget to put on my sunscreen, my face is still covered.
2. Benefit Eye Bright ($20): This fat little crayon really delivers. Dab it on the inside and outside corners of your eyes for an instant "awake" look. On weekends I'll often forgo eyeshadow altogether and just line my eyes with this (blending thoroughly, of course).
3. Dior 5-colour Eyeshadow - Incognito ($56): If you only have one eyeshadow palette, make it this one. The colors are beautiful but neutral and blend together beautifully. Even better, the color lasts.
4. Smashbox Blush Rush ($24): For me at least, blush is tricky. When you're pale, it's so easy to go from perfectly flushed to full-on clown face. Smashbox's powder blush, however, makes it harder for me to screw up as the color goes on wonderfully sheer, allowing you to layer color on slowly. My favorite color is "Flush", a lovely petal pink that looks a bit neon in the box but looks completely natural once applied.
5. Dior Miss Dior Cherie Eau de Parfume ($72/1.7 oz): My all-time favorite perfume. This is a classic that doesn't smell like your grandmother -- or your teenage niece. Perfect.
6. Korres Deep Colour Mascara ($18): As someone who wears contacts, it is nearly impossible for me to find mascara that doesn't irritate my eyes or end up giving me raccoon-face. That was the case anyway until the Greek brand Korres hit the American scene. Finally I get to wear mascara that stays put all day and doesn't make me want to scratch my eyes out. Bonus: it's all-natural ingredients mean that you don't have to worry about putting anything scary near your precious peepers.
7. Valentino Rock 'n Rose Eau de Parfume ($44/1 oz.): This scent is great for winter, when the weather calls for warmer, cozier scents that will stick with you. It's also incredibly sexy.
8. Smashbox Single Eyeshadow ($16): Smashbox sells some of the best eyeshadows available on the market (M.A.C. being a close second in my book). Try their "champagne" eyeshadow. I wear it almost every day (sometimes alone and sometimes layered under other colors). It's the perfect "base" eyeshadow that provides just a hint of glimmer and enough color that you just look like a prettier, perkier you.
9. Korres Cherry Full Lip Gloss ($16): Korres' lip gloss tastes like actual cherries (because it's made with actual cherries); not the fake cherry flavor of your pre-teen years. It also avoids the sticky feeling so many lip glosses leave you with. I'm a huge fan of their "Nude 33" and "Plum 27" shades.
10. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment ($22.50): Okay, so $22.50 is a lot of money to pay for a lip balm, but this is the big daddy of all lip palms, the ultimate in lip treatments. It smells (and tastes) divine, the packaging is gorgeous, and after 30 minutes my lips still feel just as soft as they did when I first applied it. I've gone through too many of these to count, and at the end of each tube I always find myself using toothpicks and fingernails to dig just that last little bit out. I'm a junky.
11. Benefit Silky Finish Lip Stick ($18): This lip stick goes so smoothly that it feels more like a gloss, but the coverage is matte like a lip stick. It's the perfect hybrid. My favorite shade? Try Skinny Dipping. Gotta love Benefit's cheeky names and fun packaging.
12. Benefit "Dallas" ($28): I generally don't wear bronzer, but when I want to look like I've got a bit more color than God or nature gave me, I dust on some of this stuff. The rosy undertones ensure I eschew that dreaded orange tone that is the hallmark of fake tanners. The giant pot will last you ages, too.
13. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey ($14): This is the only make-up that I wore in high school that I'm still buying and wearing today. It truly is universally flattering and just about the only way you'll get me to wear a deeper shade of lip color.
14. Dior Liquid Eyeliner ($31): Eyeliner is so tricky, but I generally prefer liquid to pencil because the pencils always seem to pull along my eyelid, making it difficult to get a straight line. Dior's eyeliner is particularly lovely because the point is as fine as a pencil's, but the liquid goes on as inky and straight as possible. Just right for achieving a dramatic evening look.
That just about rounds out my make-up favorites. What are some of yours? I'm always on the look out for new items to throw into the rotation so be sure to leave me a comment and share!