best of beauty . (mostly) cheapy must-haves

April 2, 2012 separator Uncategorized

I am very particular about my beauty products, but I don’t like to spend a lot. I’ll try things once to give them a chance, but I often end up crawling right back to my old staples, begging forgiveness and promising never to leave again [until the next mascara that promises to make my lashes as big around as my thighs…]. 

The worst thing that can happen, I’ve decided, is when somebody sends me something for free to review, and then I get hooked. And it’s expensive. Like the Kiehl’s serum, but we’ll get to that later.

Point is – I wanted to share my list of must-have and can’t-live-withouts with you ladies. 

I started using Bare Minerals several years ago. I think it might’ve been when my mother staged a makeup intervention and told me to “quit using that drugstore crap.” She was right. Foundation is one of the few things I’ll always “splurge” a bit on. With Bare Minerals, I don’t break out, and I don’t get that foundation line along my jaw that makes you look like you’re wearing a mask. Plus, you get the benefit of somebody in-store to help you find your perfect shade. 

I have Bare Minerals blush, but there’s just something I can’t get over about Cover Girl Cheekers. Maybe it’s a nagging high school nostalgia? I want my cheeks to smell exactly like they did when I was 15? I don’t know what my deal is, but I love this beautifully coral-meets-peach shade, and it’s incredibly flattering on a huge range of skin tones – all for under five bucks!

Mascara is the one thing that gets me every time. I think that every new gimmick is going to revolutionize my face, one eyelash at a time. It doesn’t. Maybelline Full ‘N Soft is as close as I’ve gotten. I’m pretty sure I’ve been using this one since high school, too. My lashes look long, full, and they never get clumpy or flaky. You can layer it on to build up without ever looking like a Kardashian after a long night of clubbing. Although it retails for $7.77, it goes for $3.40 on Amazon – can’t beat that!

I usually buy pretty cheapy eye makeup because I like to play with bright colors and shimmers and whatnot and don’t want to invest a lot for a color that I might not fall in love with. That’s why I love the Wet N Wild Color Icon liners. The turquoise is my favorite because the color goes on really vividly, and it has a hint of tiny, tasteful sparkle without getting too far into Ke$ha territory. It also smudges like a dream. 

Find out what else I can’t live without after the jump!

As you’ve probably noticed, on the tan spectrum, I’m leaning more toward Casper than Snooki, but I definitely managed to get more than my fair share of tans and burns in high school and college. Now than I’m a grownup (ha!), I don’t leave the house without at least a high SPF on my face. Neutrogena came out with this liquid, sheer SPF 55 recently, and I want to hug them for it. It’s so light and fluid that I can wear it underneath my makeup every single day. Unlike a lot of other SPF creams and lotions, it doesn’t leave my face looking super greasy – even through an entire day of wear. 

As I mentioned earlier, I got my Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Serum for free, which was wonderful… until I realized that I was hooked on it like crack. The first time I tried it, I was super grossed out at the thought of putting oil all over my face, but now I can’t live without it. When I put it on – either by itself or under moisturizer – before bed, I wake up looking fresh and bagless, even after hitting the Chinese buffet or having three too many glasses of wine. It’s super light and soaks in almost immediately without leaving any greasy feeling. P.S. It retails for $44, but you can get it on Amazon for $38. Every little bit helps, right?

On the note of wine and buffets and eyebags, one of my biggest beauty staples is plain old water. It keeps my skin looking full but not puffy, and I just feel better when I’ve had plenty of H20. I love green tea, too, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can drink it without adding any sweetener at all. Green tea is nice because it’s as hydrating as water but adds a punch of antioxidants. Plus, after I brew a cup of tea, I’ll save the occasional bag in a Ziploc in the fridge to put over my eyes in the morning if my Midnight Recovery Serum wasn’t enough. The cool compress plus the caffeine helps de-puff and leaves you looking more awake than you feel!

I’ll post the other half of my skin and beauty arsenal soon, but in the meantime, what are your must-have beauty staples? Do you think you need to spend a lot to get quality? 


  1. my must-haves are:
    clarins day cream,
    bobby brown corrector and concealer
    (I tend to not put make up just touch ups),
    mac blush (natural pink/peach)
    and im ready to go!
    anything else is fancy 🙂

    P.s. any king of nailpolish color!

  2. I use the Neutrogena Dry Touch sunscreen almost daily (don’t laugh, I live in LA! there’s a lot of sun!) and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about this ultra sheer formula yet! Definitely on my shopping list, thanks, girl!

  3. Excellent post. Great layout and copy. Now I want to try kiehl’s night time recovery concentrate. I really need something like that – my skin is gross in this dry climate.

    Also – I love that particular cover girl blush. And the smell reminds me of my mom.

  4. Oooh I’m going to try that turrquoise eyeliner. I getting bored of black eyeshadow when I go out. I usually wear neutral colors so the turquoise will be a small little quirky piece of my outfit!

  5. yes i love the smell of covergirl blush as well! takes me right back to high school. i’ll definitely be checking out some of these other products as well. i work near kiehls but i’ve been avoiding it so i don’t get hooked! might just have to save my pennies and make a visit.

  6. This is so cool. I always get confused at what to buy and why when I go shopping for cosmetics. This list will be a great starting point.

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