Beauty Product Round-up: Worthwhile Splurges & Things to Purchase that Wow with Small Price Tags

Hi lovely readers,

It’s been a while since I did a beauty oriented post and I felt like it was time to move away from all the heavy stuff and have some girly fun. I’ve purchased quite  a few new products this month, but in order to try to save my money I’ve been on a quest to determine what items really are worth a splurge and which ones I can find at the drugstore for decent prices that work just as well as their expensive counterparts.

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Lets start with some inexpensive/mid-range skin and body care.
On the lower left is the Nivea essential night cream. It’s shockingly nourishing at only about $6. It’s thick but for dry winter skin it is a saviour. I give it about an 8/10 for the winter months.
To the right of that is the Derma-E scar gel. It’s about $35, so mid-range but not wildly expensive. I have self-harm scars that I’ve been trying to whiten for years, and this is the first product that seems to be making any difference. Unlike other scar products it doesn’t make my skin itch or burn either. My mom bought this for me, so thanks mom, if you’re reading this! 8/10
To the top left is the St. Ives soothing coconut body lotion. This product has a pretty subtle smell, but it is a fantastic moisturizer. It doesn’t feel thick and heavy and absorbs super quickly so you don’t feel sticky, but I find my skin stays nice and soft until the next time I take one of my burning hot showers and my skin becomes dry again. My skin has been so dry that I’ve had patches of flaking skin on my legs recently, and using this has completely stopped that from happening anymore. 9/10
The Pixi Skin Treats Glow Serum is in the middle. Admittedly, this stuff is awesome. The $32 price tag for such a small bottle is kind of annoying, but it really is worth it. Somehow it hydrates my skin and clears my breakouts (?!?). 9/10
The last item on the right pictured is the Sephora Acai Berry mask. It only costs about $10, but frankly it’s $10 I could have spent on pretty much anything else and it would have been more worthwhile. Goes on really goopy and weird, it’s impossible to get a thick layer on your face because it just smears, it never solidifies fully or dries like most masks do so you know it’s time to take them off, and I have not noticed a single positive difference in my skin anytime I’ve used it, and I’ve used it quite a bit. Not worth it even though it’s so cheap.

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Lets start to the left again: The Living Proof Frizz Instant De-frizzer mini. I got this when I used my sephora rewards card to pick out a big set of Living Proof products because I love their shampoo and conditioner and styling cream. A full size bottle of this is about $40, and I have to say, I do not understand the hype. It does de-frizz, which is something I need after I fry my hair with my curling iron, but only because it makes your hair look and feel wet. 4/10.
Next to that is the Victoria’s Secret PINK Warm and Cozy Chilled scented mist. It’s deliciously girly and makes me feel happy and warm inside every time I wear it. The best part is that though it’s just a body mist, the scent actually lingers for hours! It’s about $17 which is kind of steep for a PINK beauty product in my opinion, but it is actually worth it if you like those kinds of scents. 9/10.
Then we have the Pearlessence Pink Clay Rose Mask. Okay, so this was on sale for $6 at winners, and it has a substantial amount of product, so no, it isn’t mindblowing. In fact, it really doesn’t work as any any time you feel like doing some self-care and feeling pretty kind of mask, because it is super drying. The only time this product serves a purpose is when your whole face is in an oily phase and breaking out. If you use it then, you will notice when you wash it off that your pores are super tight, and I find if I apply toner right after my acne heals that day. That is not what it said on the container was its purpose at all, but hey, it’s kind of useful sometimes. For the incredible price, amount of product, weirdly nice aesthetic appeal of the packaging, and its random ability to be used as an acne cure, I give it a 6/10.
Next in this group is the Isle of Paradise Light Glow Clear Self-Tanning Mousse. This foamy, gradual tan is awesome. It never makes you look orange, you can layer it if you want to be darker and it won’t look weird and streaky, and it doesn’t break out my chest like every single self-tanner I’ve tried does. It is expensive ($50) but a lot of self-tanners are and if you’re gonna splurge a little, I’d pick this over the $80 St. Tropez one any day.

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Now onto some makeup! We have quite a mixture of high and low here.
Starting on the left we have the Estee Lauder Double Wear Nude Foundation. Not only have they changed the packaging, but they have also changed the formula of this classic. I used to consider this a holy grail product for how beautifully flawless and matte this foundation made my skin look. It literally made you look like a doll. The packaging (which they change but without fixing the one major flaw it had) used to make it all spill out onto your hand which was super annoying and wasteful, considering it’s about $60, but it was well worth it for the coverage and finish you got with application. Now it seems to be more water based and running and it’s even more of a pain in the butt to apply, it covers breakouts and dark circles way less, it’s hard to get to soak into your skin for some reason and when you use a beauty blender it just kind of smears it all over your face. 3/10. I’m going to miss my tried and true favourite because I will not repurchase this.
Next to the foundation is the Too Faced Hangover Rx Primer. At first I hated this primer, because it felt like moisturizer and didn’t seem to actually give me a poreless, flawless base for my foundation. But overtime using it actually started to improve my skin. Like it’s basically skincare in makeup form. It makes your face softer, it gives it a healthy glow, perhaps because it’s infused with vitamin C, and improves elasticity. AND, best of all, it keeps your makeup set for a really long time. Not like Smashbox Photo Finish long, which makes sense because that’s silicone based,  but silicone based things usually cause most people breakouts anyway. This stuff is about $55 I believe, which is a lot, but it is a two-in-one product and I personally think it’s worth it. In general I don’t think primer is something you should go the drugstore route with. 9/10
To the right of the primer is a lipstick. This is the notorious Charlotte Tilbury PillowTalk lipstick. Look, it’s nice. It’s creamy, it stays on pretty well for a lipstick, and it is a really pleasant nude-y pink. But why on earth did I spend like $55 on it? I bought a Milani lip stain recently in an even more flattering pink colour for like $4 and I enjoy it way more than PillowTalk. This is a product that has a lot of hype and I have no understanding as to why. Honestly, other than the Kylie Lip Kits which last forever on your lips and come in an awesomely wide variety of shades, why would you spend more than $10 on a lip product.
To the right of that is my new favourite mascara: Lacome’s Monseiur Big. This mascara is insane. It makes your lashes look like they’re literally 10x longer than they are, and thick, but still defined. It looks like you’re either a super human whose power is insanely poppin eyelashes or you’re wearing falsies. It’s $40 I believe, and mascara expires pretty quickly and can’t be used after because of the risk of eye infections, so the price is too bad, but it is so. goddamn. worth it. 10/10
Still on the right but below the black mascara is another mascara: Too Faced’s Better Than Sex. I don’t get this product. It’s about $40, and yeah the packaging is really nice, and if you were someone looking for really really natural looking lashes I guess this would be pretty decent. But even then, there are a hundred drugstore mascaras that have an equally wet formula that doesn’t really volumize or lengthen your lashes but still defines them and makes them…look blacker I guess. No disrespect meant to my natural ladies – I do use this mascara on days when I’m just chilling out or going to the gym or feeling like just having a more natural vibe. Sometimes I layer it with my Monsier Big if I’ve put too much of that one on and I need my lashes to split apart a bit, because the formula in Better Than Sex works nicely for doing that. But for me, this is a 5/10 and that’s not a good enough score to warrant splurging on a $40 3 month til expiry beauty product.
Below/next to Better Than Sex is a Quo Pressed Powder in Light Beige. There are powders I prefer, but this once was on sale for $6.50 which was such an amazing deal I figured I’d give it a shot. It really isn’t bad. If you had dry skin it would be a no-go as the formula is super mattifying and would settle in any cracks in the skin and look strange. But as someone with combination skin, this does make me look kind of flawless and gives me a super smooth base for my bronzer, blush and highlight. I really like it. And because of the price, I think I’ll continue to buy it. 8.5/10
Next to that is the Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow Pigment in Starlight. This pigment looks nothing like it does in the bottle once it’s applied to skin. From the outside looking in on the see through container you’d think it’d be like a glitter bomb on your lids, which was the whole point for me! In reality, it’s a wet, barely there sheen that’s annoying to blend. I love Stila so this makes me sad, but it’s not worth the $30 it costs and frankly I bought an Essence liquid shadow for $3.50 a month ago and even that’s better than this.
Finally in this picture is the Covergirl Simply Ageless Concealer. I got it in a shade lighter than my skin colour with self-tanner on, because I like my undereyes to appear really bright so that I look awake in spite of my ongoing insomnia (sigh). Being the occasional idiot that I am, I did not read the little arrows on the middle of the applicator and was twisting it the wrong way for like a month. I thought “What a terrible concealer! It’s so subtle I can still see all my dark circles!” But then one of my two remaining brain cells chimed in and let me know that I was twisting the bottom of the puffy applicator the wrong way and no product was coming out. Now I love it! I don’t know if the anti-aging properties it claims to have mixed into the concealer are really doing anything or even actually healthy for skin, but my under-eyes have never looked so smooth and bright. It doesn’t settle into creases at all and it’s only $15. 9/10! (It lost one point for the packaging being confusing for me. lol)

Last two pictures to go through in the round-up – I know I’m probably starting to lose some of you by now. Let’s start with the picture on the right. I know it’s kind of weird to get hype about a women’s razor,  because generally they suck. But this little pink Shick Quattro for Women is an amazing deal at $7.50 and it’s also the best razor I’ve ever used. I always use men’s razor for a closer shave and to avoid any of that gel bar moisturizing bullshit that doesn’t work anyway (use shaving cream, duh). But this razor gives an extremely close shave, has thin gel bars that actually do keep you from losing too much moisture, and never nicks you. My legs feel reasonably moisturized and soooo smooth when I use this. 10/10.
To the top left is the Origins Checks and Frothy Balances Face Wash. At first I thought it was just really clarifying for your skin as it absolutely fucking kills to get it in your eyes, but then my skin got increasingly dryer and dryer and and belled by sprouting white heads all over my nose, chin, forehead, and even on my eyebrows (??). It’s simply too abrasive, which is weird considering it’s all natural and a creamy texture. And it’s like $35. So it gets a 2/10.
To the right of that is the Victoria’s Secret Pink coconut Oil coco ash. It definitely does not have any coconut oil in it because it is somehow very drying, but it smells so damn good! so good, in fact, that I am suffering through using the whole bottle even though I have to drench myself in moisturizer after. Just don’t use the matching scented lotion. It gave me my first ever leg pimple, several dry patches and it’s irritating to the skin in general. The body wash is about $25 which is kind of overpriced and the smell is the only redeeming quality, but I love that goddamn smell so much I’m still going to give it a 7/10.
In the next picture on the right there’s accidentally that same mask from winners I already talked about, so ignore that.
Then there’s the Living Proof After-Styling Texturizing Cream. This stuff is awesome! I tend to get really fried curls that look like ringlets with the curler I’ve been using, but once I run this through my hair my curls turn into waves and look so healthy and shiny. It also seems to help hold the style once the moisture in it tones down kinky curls. I have the sample size, but knowing Living Proof the full size is probably pretty damn expensive. I will be repurchasing the full-size because this stuff is so great, though. 9/10.
To the left of that is the Clinique Clarifying toner. I’ve repurchased this 3 times now. It’s super drying but it clears acne like nobodies business and I absolutely love it. Just make sure you apply a hydrating serum and a moisturizer after, and use the toner right after washing your face in the shower so your pores which have been opened by the heat can really absorb the formula. It’s $35 but clear skin is worth a much higher price tag than that for me. 10/10.
To the left of the toner is the Garnier Micellar Water. This big bottle was only about $10 and it does a great job of taking your makeup off. There’s not a lot to say about this, although I will say it stings a bit when you’re trying to get your mascara and any other eye makeup off, and the Dermalogique one doesn’t, but that one costs like $30 and I will deal with some brief stinging so I can save $20. 8/10.
Finally, the last product! This is the Olay Bright Eyes Eye Cream. I was buying this $80 french eye cream prior to deciding that I am not Beyonce, I am a 23 year old student, and I cannot afford or justify such things. This one is $30, and like most decent eye creams it’s hydrating enough that your wrinkles look de-emphasized and smoother, and it does actually seem to, with some kind of gradual pigment, make your under eye area look brighter. What more can you really ask for? I’m young enough that I’m not super concerned about wrinkles but this seems like a good preventative cream and helps me with the whole “constantly looking tired” thing.

And that’s everything! Whew! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading, and no problem if you gave up on reading a few sections ago. But if not, and you are running out of a type of product and interested in mixing things up and trying one of my recommendations, please share what you got in the comments and your thoughts on it so far!

Lots of love,

Liz

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