Weekly Goods: Beauty Products

I thought it was time for an update to my original beauty post from a year ago. I’ve really become more of a tried and true kind of person with the products I use, but a huge difference in my life from a year ago is my financial situation – starting your own business means that splurging on fancy products at Sephora will make you feel guilty for weeks – so they better either be totally worth it (hello, Clarisonic) or you need to find cheaper alternatives. I haven’t found a lot of cheaper alternatives so far, but some.

1. Sephora Lush Flush Lip & Cheek Stain – last year I was using Benetint, the $30 bottle that made my cheeks perfectly rosy. But that bottle of liquid gold was the most expensive beauty product I used, so I tried the Sephora cheek stain and never looked back. It’s only $12 and seriously lasts forever- since the summer I’ve only replaced it once and I use it every single day on my cheeks. It’s terrible as a lip stain for me, but so was Benetint. I also really like that it’s a gel, which is easier to apply and less messy than liquid. I use Pinot.

2. Organix Coconut Milk Weightless Mousse – a lot of you have asked me what I use for my hair, and my position on hair products hasn’t changed much since last year – my hair is so “normal” I’m not loyal to anything and don’t care about hair products much. However, my new haircut requires some styling product or I look like I belong on Three’s Company. So far I love this mousse because it smells amazing and isn’t too crunchy or sticky – plus it’s affordable and I can get it at the drug store. I run it through my damp hair, scrunch and then let it air dry.

3. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm – I know a lot of people have been singing the praises of this lip balm for a while, but I finally tried it and love it. I have it in Tiger Lily and it’s just a tiny bit of peachy color and shine on my lips for every day use. Also an affordable drug store buy.

4. Clarisonic Mia – OK, this is the splurge. You’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about this, and for good reason. It’s a miracle worker for me. I use it once a night with my Boscia face wash and my skin has never been clearer, my pores smaller, or my skin softer. Like any beauty product it’s not for everyone, but if you break out or your face peels, try the sensitive brushes before giving up. I have relatively sensitive skin and I haven’t needed them, however.

5. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock – This is my latest cheaper version discovery. I was never one to wear SPF every day on my face, but since moving to LA and all this cancer business, I don’t leave the house without it. But I have super oily skin and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t feel greasy. I was using Boscia, which is fantastic for those of us with oily skin, but it’s only SPF 15 and not affordable. I tried some other pricey options at Sephora before finally realizing that I should try out some drug store options. This Neutrogena sunblock is the absolute best – it goes on like a moisturizer but immediately absorbs and you don’t even know it’s there. It also doesn’t smell like sunblock one bit. $10 miracle.

Phew! Ok, that’s it. So, any new products you guys are using? Any cheaper alternatives you’ve switched to that you love? I could talk beauty products forever, it’s one of the few things I’m quite “girly” about.


    • says

      Well, this one is a gel so you just dab it on and rub it in on the apples of your cheeks, I’ve never had a problem with it. I suppose if you used a really strongly tinted stain it could be more difficult?

      • Shelly says

        I was wondering about how to apply cheek stain, too! Do you apply it before foundation, or after? I use foundation and powder, so I’m wondering where in that process I’m supposed to use the cheek stain?

        • says

          I don’t use foundation, but I would use it after otherwise you’ll just be covering it up. Then apply powder to set – if you put it on after the powder it might be weird. I just dab a bit on and smile so I can see the apples of my cheeks and rub in a circular motion until it absorbs.

  1. Kimberly says

    I have sensitive pale Irish skin and ended up with Elta MD SPF 46. Super lightweight and formulated for people who break out or get redness easily. Kinda an investment from amazon.com for $25 but I’m sticking with it :)

  2. says

    I use the Neutrogena sunblock every day and then mix it with my fancy not-cheap Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer when I need some more coverage. I find that even though the Laura Mercier stuff is pretty sheer, it’s still too heavy for my tastes. Mixing it helps make it last longer and makes it lighter.

    The Burt’s Bees lip balms are amazing. Ditched my pricier stuff for these. I use Rose for every day and Dahlia when I get fancy.

  3. says

    I got a Clarisonic for Christmas and I love it. Well worth it.

    I need to try the Burt’s Bees. I currently use the very pricey Fresh Tinted Lip Balm, but I love it so. Would be great if this was a cheaper alternative.

      • Grace says

        Are you a Sephora Beauty Insider? Their free birthday gift this year is the Fresh Sugar Lip Duo. I use the regular Burt’s Bees lip balm all the time so I’m excited to try the tinted ones. Are they scented at all? The Fresh balms are lightly scented which is a slight turn-off for me.

        • says

          I am, I’ll have to wait a long time til my birthday in october! last year it sucked, that philosophy birthday cake shower gel (barf). The burts bees stuff isn’t scented – it just smells like beeswax I guess? normal chapstick scent.

        • says

          Yes, the Fresh Sugar Lip Duo is scented and it smells amazing. Another good option for a less expensive lip tint that goes on smooth is Maybelline Baby Lips. They have a few great colors, and I think they are only $2.99.

          Also, I totally hated the Philosophy Birthday Cake Shower gel that Sephora gave out last year so I was pleasantly surprised with the Fresh Sugar Lip Duo.

      • says

        I have a January birthday, so I already scooped up the Fresh balms. I like them, but I really don’t get the hype (or price tag). The tinted one doesn’t show up on my lips at all; it just looks like chapstick. They smell and feel good, but I’d never shell out for them when so many drugstore products work equally well. I ended up giving them to my husband.

  4. says

    I highly recommend checking out this site — beautypedia.com. You can find all sorts of product reviews, what works, what doesn’t, what’s cheaper, etc.

    I really want to try the clarisonic. Just little afraid to take the plunge!

      • says

        I’m a HUGE fan of Paula Begoun! I actually use a lot of her skincare products. I think she gives great reviews, or used to–I haven’t used this website recently (but now will since you’ve reminded me!). She also did a series of books called Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me (or something very similar), which were my go-to for product reviews. (Some of the stuff we’re all putting on our bodies is TERRIBLE.) I’m assuming that this site is an extension of those books. Highly recommend!

  5. says

    For my spf face lotion I use aveeno Natural radiance. Target makes a generic version for half the price. You are the second glowing recommendation for the clarisonic (ha, no pun intended) and I think i may have to take the leap!

  6. says

    I’ve been dying to hear what you have to say about the Clarisonic! This basically seals the deal for me – I need to get one and try it.

    I’m also a loyal fan of the Benetint lip and cheek stain, so it’s good to know of another more affordable option. I’ll have to try it when I run out! I started using that same sun block as my daily moisturizer this past summer, but in SPF 75 or something crazy. Definitely the best summer time product for my face!

  7. says

    I love my clarisonic so much!! best money i’ve ever spent. However i did have to switch back to the original brush head after trying the deep pore cleansing head. it was too harsh and made me break out

  8. says

    I’m a bit of a hippy when it comes to beauty products. Here’s a recent discovery of mine: jojoba oil for a facial moisturizer. I have sensitive, dry skin, and it works wonders for me.

  9. Jennie says

    Try the Organix Argan Oil in the blue bottle, this stuff is awesome. Makes my hair shiny and super soft. I would recommend using a little dab and then letting your hair air dry, otherwise your hair gets greasy quickly. I think it’s $7 at Target.

    Thanks for the tips! Going to try that cheek stain! :)

  10. Grace says

    I’m totally a fan of the Clarisonic too. It’s definitely something you have to try to believe. They actually make a delicate brush head that’s softer than the sensitive one. I think I’m going to try it out when it’s time to switch brushes.

    I’ve been using Solbar SPF 30 liquid sunscreen. It’s an unscented gel that dries really quickly but it’s alcohol-based so probably best for people w/ normal or oily skin.

    I would love to find a moisturizer with SPF. Consolidating two steps into one would be great.

  11. a says

    i use eucerin everyday protection face lotion. it’s designed for sensitive skin and it’s SPF 30. less than $10 at target if i remember correctly. it can be a little greasy if you overdo it but i’m a big fan of layering it/mixing it with the laura mercier tinted moisturizer (totally not cheap but amazing for evening out skin tone)

  12. says

    An important thing to add about the Clarisonic – if you purchase it from Sephora or Nordstrom and it doesn’t work for you, you can return it! Both stores have AMAZING return policies. Also, I spray witch hazel onto my face before applying my mineral makeup. I swear my makeup stays in place longer.

    • says

      Another note – it’s normal to break out the first couple weeks of using the Clarisonic. The brush is designed to exfoliate (the same way retinol would) and during exfoliation it causes pimples to surface. It’s not permanent and will subside with time.

  13. says

    I live in So Cal too and I have oily skin (terrible especially during the summer months), so sunscreens are a must for me. I love the Dry-Touch Neutrogena sunscreen! Aveeno’s Continuous Protection sunscreen is very comparable, although I’m not sure if there are any major price differences. Also, I’ve been itching to try out the tinted Burt’s Bees balms. The packaging appeals to me more than the original!

  14. says

    YES to No.5!
    In Australia it costs $20!! I know, $20! So I only buy it when I’m in the states.

    Oh America, with your cheap products :)

  15. says

    I’ve been eyeing the Clarisonic Mia for so long, I really want one. I can’t justify spending the money now, but one day soon I hope it’ll be mine. I’ve heard so many people talking about it. I’ve been lucky with my skin, it doesn’t seem to break out much, and seems quite even. This is mostly the gift of genes. But I’d love to see what this does for my skin anyway. Since I don’t wear a lot of makeup, I’d really like to invest in something that will allow my skin to continue looking good without the aid of makeup/foundation. Especially in Australia where makeup tends to melt off your face in summer – not a pretty sight.

    Thanks for this post Kate, I really enjoy reading informative beauty posts.

  16. says

    Oh and the best beauty tip I have for those like me who live in hot/humid climates: Jurlique Finishing Silk Powder. Seriously, some days it stops my face feeling and looking all sweaty, and it doesn’t cause it to break out. My friend wears it over her makeup too and it keeps it intact all day.

  17. says

    Great list. I’ve been wanting to try the Clarisonic thing but haven’t bit the bullet yet. One thing that changed my life this year (and is saving me money) is putting on liquid foundation with a brush. I splurged and got a really nice kabuki brush from MAC, which seems counter intuitive to saving money, but here’s the thing: Now I can buy cheap drugstore foundation and when I apply it with the brush, it goes on so smooth and nice that it looks like the expensive stuff. And if taken care of, those brushes will last a really long time. I wish I could get away without using foundation, but no such luck, so this is working for me now.

  18. says

    I love that Neutrogena sunscreen. It’s my go to for my body. I wear it on my face when I’m outside all day but never felt good wearing it for everyday use. Just started using DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer (SPF 30) everyday. A little pricier than Neutrogena, but for me it feels much lighter.

  19. says

    Happy to see so many avid sunscreen wearers AND discover some great drug store buys! Thanks for sharing.

    I use the Neutrogena Dry Touch on my body as well, but find it too oily for my face. A great alternative for break-out-prone skin is CeraVe AM facial moisturizing lotion. It’s spf 30 and a steal at $12!

  20. says

    I recently started getting a few more breakouts than normal. After speaking with a dermatologist, I started using Cetaphil cleanser and Cerave AM lotion (both drugstore finds around $10) with a prescription serum called Ziana, which is unfortunately super pricey without insurance. But my skin has never looked better!

    I love Kiehl’s lip balm in Hue 58B (great for a natural punch of color) and I’ve had great luck with Boots products from Target, especially the Stay Perfect foundation.

  21. says

    i have been reading about the clarisonic everywhere! i am so intrigued… seems like it could be the perfect solution to my slightly dull post-baby skin! think you’ve inspired me to take the leap and spend the $ on it!

    • says

      Roberta Jane or anyone else considering trying the Clarisonic- drugstore.com has 20% off all Clarisonic products for the next week. I picked up mine last year during this same promo and haven’t regretted it for a second. Truly worth the investment, plus I find it allows me to use normal drugstore products for the rest of my regimen.

      • says

        You know what’s weird though, is that the price it’s on sale for is what it costs elsewhere. $119 is how much it is at Sephora! I’ve never seen it for $150 before, which is what they’re saying it’s on sale from. I’m not sure offhand what drugstore.com’s return policy is, but like Rachel mentioned, you can return it to Sephora if you don’t like it, too.

  22. says

    thanks for this post! i’ll check out the boscia face wash – ive been on a major search for a new product ever since clarins discontinued/reformulated their gentle foaming cleanser a few years ago… do you know the face stockholm line? I am a HUGE fan of their aloe vera intense face lotion – light, absorbs quickly and smells great – doubles as body lotion in a pinch too.

  23. says

    i’m always looking for a great spf moisturizer! is the neutrogena one best used over face lotion or can i just use it alone? what’s been your experience?
    thanks!! oh, i love your blog :D

  24. says

    One product that I still use and love is the Stila Convertible Color in gerbera, lillium & petunia. All are a bit nude and pink. I love how they go on the cheeks and lips. One simple product that I must carry around in my purse.

  25. says

    After reading so many great reviews about the Fresh Sugar balms here (and essentially everywhere else where makeup is discussed), I stopped into Sephora last night and holy moly… You ladies are right, they are amazing! I tried the Passion shade and it instantly took my ho-hum winter look up a few notches.

    It’s amazing how saturated and long-lasting the color is for a balm. $22 is a bit steep, but maybe worth the splurge when you consider that you can forgo other makeup!

  26. says

    I must admit after I read your post I went to Sephora and bought the Clarisonic. Um…OMG! Its incredible. I’ve only used it for 2 days but I love it. I can’t wait to see how my skin reacts after a month or so of use!

    I’ve been on a mad hunt for a new moisturizer. Can you recommend one? I have acne issues and normal to oily skin.

    • says

      That’s so great! I saw the effects immediately as well. As for moisturizer I just use the sunblock for that, but like I mentioned I also use the Boscia stuff that’s lighter. The link is above. I haven’t found a non-spf one for nighttime that I like yet! I usually don’t need it though.

  27. says

    Ditto on the Clarisonic being worth every penny (and pointless to get the full size version! so heavy!). Love the new Bees tint too, it’s not as buttery as Fresh’s balm but a damn good cheaper alternative. The Burst Bees radiance eye cream is also pretty awesome too when you’re trying to save. I was looking for a stronger moisturizer, and wound up landing the jackpot on a Korres rose cream box set from Sephora when they were having a sale on their sale items. A bundle of full-size products for only $30!

  28. Jessica C. says

    I’m too poor for the Clarasonic, but I saw the pinot cheek stain in Sephora and tried it based on your recommendation. I have to say, as a cheek stain it is amazing. It lasts about five minutes on my lips before disappearing.

    I enjoyed your post from last year and this year’s is pretty great, too.


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