I'm the kind of girl who wants to spend as little time in the bathroom getting ready. Nick may try to argue otherwise, but compared to a lot of other girls I know, I really really hate spending over an hour primping. But at the same time, I want to look good. I don't want to walk out of the house looking ill or like I haven't brushed my hair or showered in weeks. So, like most girls, I have some go-to beauty products. Considering that I have had to go through some extensive trial and error to find a few of them, I thought I might share them with you in case you're looking for something new.
Garnier Fructis Restorative Conditioner for Damaged Hair - I think I have tried more hair products than a hair dresser. And my cousin, Jillian, is a hair dresser so we often have conversations about trying to find just the right product. As she has told me many times, just because something works great for one person doesn't mean it will work great for another. We all have our own body chemistry and hair types and products react differently with everyone. Your safest bet is to either a. poll people who seem to have the same hair type as you or b. ask your immediate family (if their hair is similar) what works best for them. As you have seen, I have curly hair. It's very thick, dry, and coarse and therefore it is very hard for me to find products that controls frizz, doesn't dry it out, while also not weighing it down. In the past 5 years I'd probably tried about 11 different conditioners of varying cost points and of the cheaper ones, I really like Garnier Fructis. This particular conditioner is really thick, but does not leave my hair oily. In conjunction with a really excellent quality shampoo and the next product, it leaves my hair feeling soft, light, and it smells good too.
Queen Helen's Cholesterol Treatments with Ginseng - A lot of drug stores carry the yellow/15 minute version of this product. It is thicker, but it doesn't really do the job for me. The 3 minute peach colored version (which I have only been able to find at big beauty stores or salon supply retailers), while it does not smell as well, works so much better. I put this on in place of conditioner once a week after shampooing and leave it on while I do all my other business (for roughly 10-15 minutes) and it makes such a HUGE difference in the quality of my hair. It is stronger, has less split ends, and helps in a big way to lock in moisture, keep it from frizzing, or feeling like straw.
Neutrogena Face wash & lotion - I think if you're young and have relatively normal skin (ie. no need for regular trips to the dermatologist for acne, etc.), you don't need a really heavy duty face wash or lotion. My skin is on the oily/combination side with breakouts around that time of the month, so I generally use the standard Neutrogena face wash and lotion for combination skin. Lately I have been trying out the green one with aloe to help reduce redness and it has definitely made a very big difference when a zit does appear.
Bronzer - I'm not picky about a brand (I've tried a mosaic palate by Victoria's Secret and Laura Mercier and liked both, and am currently using one by MAC), but I always have to have a good bronzer ready. I think on most skin tones it looks a lot more natural than blush. Your skin turns pink when you're hot or embarrassed, but if you want color you need to go with something that's a more neutral color, something that might look like you got a little bit of a tan. I don't wear make-up often, but putting a little bronzer on my cheeks, nose, and eyelids instantly wakes me up if I look washed-out or feel gross.
Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil - I think the jury is out for a lot of people whether they like mineral make-up or Bare Escentuals in particular. My aunt turned me on to them 3 years ago and it is the one make-up product I constantly go back to. Considering I don't wear it very often and my skin is generally acne free, I don't have some of the problems that people have had with it clogging their pores. If I think I need more of a pick-me up than bronzer, or I'm putting more of a face on, I use it. I hate foundation, or anything that feels like I'm wearing something and this feels light, so light I usually forget I have it on and start touching my face. Luckily it doesn't come off to such an extent that half way through the day I need to reapply.
Bic Soleil Razors - I'm starting to think that razors are like tampons. Every woman seems to have a one kind that they really really like, mess it up and expect to pay for it. I have used the 3 blade Bic Soleil razors for possibly 8 years. Obviously I love them. The shape of the...let's call it a head? of the razor is made so that all the blades actually are worth something (I've tried 4 blades and it's like having one very blunt blade). Not a lot of nicks, and it lasts a good amount of time. Can't really ask for much more.
Lanolin Aloe Lotion - I don't necessarily think Lanolin lotion is better than every brand, but I just want to put it out there that I think thick lotion is the best. A lot of lotions are really thin and dry up quickly without really doing the job. This one, similarly to BB&W and Victoria's Secret (the ones that are not the signature line), is thick enough to get the job done.
As much as I try to be frugal when it comes to beauty products (because I think we all know that these things add up quickly), I know that we also all have our one thing that they are willing to splurge on. So here's a few things that I've come to realize it's worth it to spend money when you finally find that perfect product you've been looking for.
Chi Silk Infusion - A dime sized drop of this, and on the days I feel like straightening my hair I don't have to deal with extra frizzies. Considering me blow drying my hair is the equivalent of a chimp blow drying my hair with a hand dryer in a public bathroom, the more help I can get the better.
Tigi Bed Head Curls Rock - I have tried almost every curly hair product under the sun. You think I've tried a lot of conditioners, I've tried at least twice that many styling products. My hair is the bane of my existence and I've had many conversations with my cousin where I have called her, hysterical from the store asking her what she recommends (she works in the suburbs of Miami and knows how to deal with exactly my kind of hair). About a year ago I was ready to give up. On the rare chance I found something I liked, they changed the formula shortly thereafter and I was stuck at square one again. I needed a new hair cut and a new styling product, so I asked her for one last recommendation and if it didn't work I was going to get the Keratin treatment. She told me to try Curls Rock by Tigi and it's as if a miracle happened. Even on the most humid of days my hair has shape to it. Not perfect (because nothing is ever perfect), but I don't feel as if I have hide it by any means necessary. And on a normal day, it looks amazing. The day I can't find this product in a store anymore is the day my life is over. That's how much I love it.
MAC Paint Pot Eyeliner - I think I was born in the wrong decade. I love the 60s in just about every way possible (well, minus all the oppression). Needless to say, when I do my make up, I like to keep with a 60s vibe. The mod style of thick liner on just the top eye is my favorite and after painstakingly teaching myself how to do it, I was pretty upset when I realized all the eyeliners I tried smudged and ended up on brow or just looking like grey eyeshadow. Once MAC's paint pot eyeliner dries, it is not going anywhere. Fan for life.
Some honorable mentions:
Redken Smoothing shampoo and conditioner - Another shampoo/condition line that I have tried. I was disappointed after the formula change for the curly hair products, but the smoothing line is still really good, especially the intense conditioner.
Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face wash - I got this as one of my Sephora free-bees once and used it as my travel face wash for awhile. Then I started having some dry patched and switched over to it more regularly since it has a light exfoliating component. If it wasn't so expensive, I'd probably use it more often. But I keep it around just in case.
Neutrogena Aloe Face scrub - This exfoliating face wash is more harsh than the Bliss, but it really cleans deep down and also has the nice bonus of how it reduces redness like the other Neutrogena face wash.