Tag Archives: budget beauty

Of All the Mascaras in my Makeup Bag

BENEFIT THEYRE REALThe Sephora lady foamed all over herself to sell me this Benefit They’re Real Mascara, but I think for all the hype it’s overrated.  There’s a spikey ball on the end of the brush meant to get at those little inner corner hairs, but instead it smears product on my nose and eyelid.  The mascara itself isn’t extraordinary.  After a couple hours of wear, it migrates under the eye which as far as I’m concerned isn’t acceptable mascara behavior.  Grade: CITS SO BIGIt’s So Big has quite the following on Amazon, but I don’t share in the fervor.  The packaging dispenses too much product on the brush.  I don’t have time for the double wipe.  Furthermore, the formula is drying.  Grade: C-


Boots No7 Extravagant Volume Mascara snuck into my cosmetics bag, and I kinda forgot it was in there.  Waaaaay to much product dispenses on the brush and makes for a very messy and unpleasant application experience.  The brush is so gunky this mascara is almost unusable.  Grade: DTOO FACED BETTER THAN SEX

Of all the mascaras tested, Too Faced Better Than Sex really gives good glam.  BTS delivers major length, non-clumping density, and a deep rich black color.  It’s a great mascara except for staying power.  I love the lash effect, but the under-eye migration ain’t cute. Grade: B+


I saved the best for last.  NYX Full Figured mascara is my favorite of the bunch.  I don’t usually go for waterproof, but NYX Full Figured possesses great staying power.  It lengthens softly.  The brush separates.  No clumping.  Deep Black.  Lasts all day.  Withstands my hot yoga class better than all the other mascaras on this list.  It’s also affordable.  Grade: AMASCARA LASHES

generic clarisonic replacement brush heads

GENERIC CLARISONICEven though I love my Clarisonic, the replacement heads border on prohibitively expensive.  After eying the generic replacement brush heads on Amazon, I ordered to see if they measure up to the Clarisonic standard.  Considering Clarisonic replacement heads are more than 10x as expensive as the generic, the potential bargain is alluring.  So far I haven’t been disappointed.  I can tell no discernible difference between the generic and the Clarisonic, save the price.  Moral of the story?  Pocket your money and buy the generic replacement heads.  Change the brush quarterly.  GENERIC CLARISONIC GREEN

At Home Jessner

DERMALURE JESSNER LGA few weeks ago, I discovered you can buy full strength professional Jessner peels online without a license.  Imagine my horror/surprise/delight when an ounce costs less than $25.  How can you not be delighted at that price?  The horror arose at the thought I’d been paying 4x that for one peel application at the spa.  I’m surprised that regulators would allow laypeople to self-administer such a product.  SKIN OBSESSION JESSNER KITI admit I was scared and worked up a number of dreadful self-maiming scenarios.  After sitting on the product for over a week, I decided to administer my own peel.  I do things my own way.  I’ll tell you how I did it, and you can customize your routine accordingly.  MAJOR PEELI prepare a clean face with a thin layer of coconut oil.  A barrier cream helps prevent over-peeling in sensitive areas – for me around the eyes and mouth.  PEEL FACENext I prepare a neutralizing solution.  Fill a large bowl with boiling water.  Add baking soda until it stops fizzing.  Very scientific, I know.  LET COOL.  Confirm the neutralizing solution is room temperature before proceeding.  Procure a clean washcloth.  Put it in the neutralizing solution.  (Some kits come with a neutralizing solution.)BAKING SODANow I have an exit strategy in place should the hellfire burn of the acid prove too intense for my fragile constitution.FAINTING LADYFor application I prefer Swisspers hypoallergenic cotton rounds. SWISSPERSI strongly recommend the use of gloves and safety eyewear.  EYE SAFETYApply peel to cotton pad.  I begin on the “tougher” areas like the forehead, cheeks, and jawline.  For me, these areas take longer exposure to secure a decent peel.  Then I fill in more sensitive areas like the nose and areas of the face that express movement.  I tend to peel deeper and faster in these areas. JESSNER PEEL CHEEKS CHINI complete one pass over the whole face and a quick second pass over more troublesome areas.  Because it burns like the dickens, I don’t leave it on very long (3 minutes max) and I don’t achieve full frosting, but I am not a cake so I’m at peace with it.  I use the excess product with a wipe to the back of my hands and bottoms of my feet. FROSTINGTo halt the process, gently submerge face in the bowl of neutralizer and then gently apply the washcloth.  The burning immediately subsides.BOWL OF WATERThe treatment resulted in a light all-over peel.  It was pretty even, but there was definitely deeper peeling at the temples and less peeling at the forehead.  I will keep this in mind for next time. PEEL DAY FOURI didn’t go big and I’m glad I didn’t.  As you know, the recovery time associated with a Jessner can be brutal.  I appreciate controlling the intensity and timing to minimize the recovery-related inconvenience.PEEL BEFORE AFTERTHIS PEEL IS NOT FOR AMATEURS.   Seriously though, I don’t know where you get more dramatic results for under $30 bucks.  Explore cautiously.BIG JESSNER PEEL

Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick

BURT'S BEES BLEMISH STICKMy friend Anne-Marie absolutely swears by Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick.  Her complexion glows, so she’s worth a listen.  The potent and fragrant botanical blend soothes inflammation without aggravating peeling.  The rollerball application is downright fun too. BURT'S BEES BLEMISH STICK UNCAPPEDBurt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick is a powerful alternative to traditional acne treatments.  I warn that sensitive folks won’t enjoy the intense aroma or the tingly burny sensation.  Keep it away from your eyes.  For real.  Beauties who enjoy a natural product, this little wonder stick is worth keeping in the arsenal to address those rude little imperfections.INGREDIENTS BURTS BEES BLEMISH STICK

Brow Addendum: Castor Oil

My girl Annie sent me an email that I think is worth sharing with you.  Annie is an eyebrow goddess, and therefore I implicitly trust her advice (though I haven’t yet tried this trick myself).

Here is her brow wisdom.


Two words for you:  castor oil.  Rub it in 2 times a day, then use what remains on a finger on lashes.  You’ll find it is in almost all brow/lash growth products, and that is actually how I fell upon that beauty jam.



Castor oil has many useful applications, including breaking up scar tissue I hear.  One word of caution, after some advice from a well-known body worker, my friend Trisha rubbed castor oil all over her midsection in an effort to break up scar tissue from a gnarly accident and subsequent surgeries.  Trish tends to do things balls to the wall and the intensity of her bedtime castor oil application wasn’t any exception.  The next morning after a vigorous 2 hour yoga intensive, Trisha darted back to her apartment, but didn’t quite make it before she shit her pants.  Even worse?  She dropped her drawers and ran up the stairs Porky Pig style (shirt + no pants), and a dude was walking his dog in the alley and caught her bare shitty ass running up the stairs.  Let Trisha’s humiliation serve as your warning.  Castor oil is great, but take it easy or you can shit your pants.

gouged rouge

Know what really gets my goose?  When my makeup gets gouged.  It has happened twice lately to two different expensive gel blushes – Kevyn Aucoin and Urban Decay.  The compacts break and then the hinge digs into my precious product.  Such a bummer.  Fear not, there are remedies.  If the container isn’t metal, you can stick the product in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it down.  A space heater works too with a heat-safe plate.  I use a lip on the top of my fireplace that works well too.  Get creative.  I’ve seen folks do it junkie style with a spoon and a lighter.  Based on my experience, these warming techniques work to reconstitute and resurface creams, gels, or viscous liquids.  As the product melts down, carefully remove it from the heat source and allow it to cool.  Once it sets, your makeup will have that fresh-glazed, right-out-of-the-package look.Remember to supervise this hair-brained scheme because it probably isn’t that safe or smart.  Please don’t set yourself or your home on fire trying to save your blush.  Promise? 


face oil

I was reading this month’s Bazaar and there was an article about the new breed of facial oils.  Rodin has fronted the luxury end of this trend with their $150 Olio Lusso face oil.  Rodin blends jasmine, apricot kernel, almond, jojoba, evening primrose, calendula, sunflower, and argan among others to create their specific concoction.

I enjoy a face oil.  Some blessed with naturally lubricated skin recoil at the thought.  That’s fine.  These facial oils aren’t necessarily for you.  These aggressively moisturizing options work best for those in harsh climates or with very dry skin.  The merciless winter season is a great time to see how these oils might work for you.  You may be surprised how quickly they absorb and how well they prepare the skin for cosmetics.  That said, you really needn’t throw down $150 for one precious ounce.  Long time readers know I’m a big fan of Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Nourishing Baby Oil ($9 for 4 oz) and more recently NOW Solutions Sweet Almond Oil 100% Pure Moisturizing Oil ($11 for 16 oz!).  Experiment with these less expensive options first.  If you are spooked on massaging oil into your whole face, begin with the delicate eye region.  Keep in mind that oil can inhibit the efficacy of some ingredients, so stagger the use of your facial oil with your other potent products.  Explore the notion of giving your skin a break from all the irritating chemicals and integrating some nourishing oil in your routine. 

a word on threading

Over the last handful of years pop-up threading joints have migrated to every corner of the country, so surely I don’t have to explain that threading is a hair removal technique traditionally popular in Asia, India, and the Middle East.  I’ve been interested in threading for awhile, but have been a little too shy to try.  The threaders nearby have these kiosks or little store fronts set up that don’t provide for much privacy.  Who wants their epilation done on display for all the lookilous?  Public hair removal is a dignity issue ya’ll.This past Tuesday it was an especially quiet morning for shopping.  When I passed by the threader’s shop, I noticed it was empty and she was sitting quietly reading a book.  After walking just beyond the window front, I decided it was now or never.  I turned around and crossed the threshold.“Hi, can you do anything with these?”  I gesticulated hesitantly to my forehead.  You see I was laboring under the delusion that threading only worked on coarse hair, and I was not bestowed with a Brooke Shields brow bounty.“Yes, Yes,” she said and motioned for me to recline in her chair.  She had me hold my own eyelid down with one hand and pull my skin tight from above by placing the other hand on my forehead.My eyes were closed, but I felt the thread running across my brow pulled taught across her fingers like dental floss.  Almost too quickly to detect, she wove the thread through a row of hairs and yanked them all out with one quick maneuver.  Does it hurt?  Well, yeah, pulling hair out by the root hurts.  However, I do find it less painful than tweezing or waxing.  Whatever discomfort does surface is over and done with quick enough; in total she spent less than 5 minutes total shaping both brows.  When she was done a single tear rolled down my cheek which she dabbed away gently with a tissue as she sat me up and placed the hand mirror in my grasp for the big reveal.As far as I’m concerned, it may be the best five minutes I’ve spent on self-improvement all week.  The lines are precise and laser sharp.  The area above the brow, the brow bone, and between the brows is completely free of errant hairs as though it was waxed.  The procedure produced some redness, but it was quick to diminish, and I haven’t experienced the attendant breakouts so common with waxing and depilatories.We all know damn well what a good eyebrow shaping can do for a person: open up their face, make them appear rested, and maybe even look a few years younger.  Most people won’t know exactly what you did, but they will know you look better.  And this shit is a lot less expensive than fillers or botox.  In fact, threading is surprisingly economical.  Most threaders charge between $7-$12 for both brows.  I am so impressed by the outcome, next time I’m considering letting her do my whole face.Threading.  If you are curious, try.  Too many times I just walked curiously by.  Now after one visit,  I’m not only a threading convert, I’m an apostle.  Piss off waxers.

Finish Line

As I prepare for this move, I am appalled by the number of partially used beauty products on my shelves.  I usually do really well until I get 75% through the product, then I tend to move on to a new one and lose interest in the original before I get to the bottom of the jar.Disgusted with this wasteful habit, I vow to finish this hodge-podge collection of halflings before I purchase anything new.  I’ll throw out any potion outdated or past its prime, but otherwise it is time to steward the responsibility of the investment through to its natural conclusion.

In the ultimate and on-going quest to simplify and clarify my daily routine, I first must decide what I love and what can go.  We have to make room for results, right?  Let’s see how long it takes me to run out of the last quarter inch of at least three dozen products, and how difficult it is to withstand the temptation of adding another pony to the herd.