Cosmetics: When to Scrimp, When to Splurge, How to Apply, and The Products That I Buy and Use

George washington and kissScrimp or Splurge?

Well, I just got finished taking one of those dumb, mind-numbing surveys that you find online….and by ‘one of those surveys’ I mean it was a quiz regarding beauty products. Test your knowledge, they said, and take this valuable quiz: can you navigate the makeup aisle? Are you a savvy shopper? Okay, so here goes. I’m going to share with you a couple of the questions and then we’re going to set the record straight on how you really shop for skin care and cosmetics…When do you scrimp, when do you splurge, and what do I, a beauty editor and licensed aesthetician, buy and use on a regular basis?

True or False: You can use a tinted lip balm or lipstick as a creamy blush substitute. Duuuuuh! True.

Then, the creators of said quiz feel compelled to further clarify the matter: “Good news: If you’re short on cash, creamy lipsticks and tinted lip balms also function as cream blushes. To create a rosy glow or a romantic flush, apply these makeup multi-taskers to the apples of your cheeks with your fingertips.” Oh geesh. Elementary, am I right? Blush is one product that you can scrimp on, as long as you know how to apply it correctly. But that’s another subject for another article.

Next question. True or False: Expensive makeup products work better than cheaper drugstore brands.

Here is a tricky one. They said the answer is false. “The amount of money you spend on makeup,” the survey advises, “has little to do with the uniqueness of the formulation, the quality of the product or even its effectiveness. In fact, many drugstore brands offer similar or better results compared with the pricey potions sold in department stores.”

Wrong! That is completely and unequivocally false. It’s an ignorant statement, and I can assure you without a sliver of doubt that there is a time to scrimp, but there’s also a time to splurge on quality products that can make a sizable difference in your appearance, your extrinsic aging and your lifestyle.

Washing face

Skin care: Splurge.

It is best to invest in quality skin care your entire life. When you are in your teens and twenties, you need make less of an investment, but sunscreen is always mandatory, and you’d better make it a good one.

As you age you will need to begin incorporating vitamin C, certain acids, peptides and retinol. These ingredients are costly, but it is important to note that you will use much less product if the ingredients are potent and active, and formulated intelligently, ie–expensive. With high quality skin care, you need such an infinitesimal amount–a fraction of the amount you would use with a drug store brand.

Quality skin care is more expensive for many reasons and you’re not just paying for sexy marketing and gorgeous, gold-tipped jars with exotic names. On the contrary, some of the best skin care that I have ever used does not come in fancy packaging at all…The smart cosmetic company will invest in what is inside the bottle, not the packaging itself.

Potency is always an issue. Cheap skin care companies do not have the same levels of active ingredients that you will find in expensive skin care. Ingredients like peptides and vitamin C are costly and must be thoughtfully determined by the chemist so that you get significant results. Vitamin C, for example, must be handled a certain way for it to maintain its stability, while peptides must be of very high quality and used generously.

Because all this is expensive, most cosmetic companies are guilty of ‘sprinkling.’ This is a term used when they add just enough of a beneficial ingredient–such as peptides–into their product so they can make impressive-sounding claims, but not enough to show any efficacy. Or, the quality of the peptides used might be of a low variety. Just because the bottle says it has a certain ingredient in it, doesn’t mean your skin will see the benefit from that ingredient. It could be the combination of ingredients, and how they work synergistically. You must invest in a quality regime for the current needs in your life cycle, and one that is backed by science and statistics. The company should have a reputation of complete and utter integrity. I cannot urge you enough to do your research on the company you are supporting.

Applying foundation

Foundation: Splurge.

Nothing looks worse on the skin than bad foundation…Whether it’s too orange-y or too chalky, whether it settles in lines and pores or melts under pressure. You must start with a good base. Troubled skin is one matter: see a great dermatologist. A cheap or ill-matched foundation–even on young healthy skin–just looks awful. It’s unprofessional and distracting. A good foundation will blend right into your face and you should be able to apply only to spot areas when needed without demarcation.

If you have truly flawless skin you are either the result of superior genetics, or you’ve had a deep peel recently. I love Jessner peels. Ask your skin doc if it’s right for you. A deep peel from a qualified doctor or aesthetician can transform your complexion radically, and they’re not even that expensive.

Aces of bases

Aces of Bases

So, you may not need foundation, but it’s always nice to have the option of a little more coverage. Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer is a good solid product. Personally, I use Amore Pacific’s Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer, $70, from Neiman Marcus, and it is nothing short of divine.

Amore pacific

It’s oil-free, with a velvety consistency that is extremely workable due to its fine texture. The coverage is perfect, the colors are very natural looking, and it smells amazing, and all with an SPF 15.

The best news, however, is that it’s great for your skin. This is the difference between cosmetics of today versus cosmetics just five years ago–they treat and condition in addition to perfecting…It’s a new age in cosmetics and you may have heard the term ‘cosmeceuticals.’ That’s because many, many products are attacking skin concerns while providing excellent, appropriate coverage.

Amore Pacific harvests bamboo from Jeju Island, off the coast of Korea. The island is known for its volcanic mineral-rich soil and the bamboo sap extracted from the plant is super hydrating. Amore Pacific cleverly uses bamboo sap in lieu of water, so the product becomes richer, not watered down. The sap supports the production of hyaluronic acid, which binds moisture to the skin. In addition, it’s a powerful antioxidant, 200 times stronger than vitamin C. The amino acid-rich sap offers instant and long-term hydration, improves skin’s self-defense with essential minerals, and increases cellular regeneration to provide radiance and a youthful skin density, and like I said, it’s oil-free. This is an amazing product!

You will not find this type of research or these ingredients in any cheap drug store product. Modern quality cosmetics treat, repair and protect the skin while you are making up.

A good tinted moisturizer is a nice way to get a sheer bit of coverage. It is important to remember, however, that tinted moisturizers, although they usually do contain a sunscreen, do not offer enough sun protection and you should use a daily SPF underneath.

I have seen some serious skin problems from not wearing adequate protection. Pigmentation is a formidable enemy of perfect skin. It’s always best to prevent damage, instead of trying to undo it. Melasma, or pigmentation, is a stubborn, stubborn condition and requires the kind of diligence that is, no joke, life-changing…in a highly-inconvenient way! Just ask any girl struggling with melasma, they will tell you. It means, sunscreen, 24-7, even indoors, and you must seriously limit your sun exposure, even then. One little exception to the rules–one quick drive down to the corner store sans sunscreen–can be a setback that can mean months if not longer of intensely working to reverse and repair, and all while trying to prevent new pigment from popping up.

I don’t wear my Amore Pacific Moisture Bound every day. In some circumstances I will wear sunscreen, only, on a bare skin, or, conversely, I may want more coverage than my tinted moisturizer can provide. If coverage is what you crave, top your tinted moisturizer with a good mineral makeup, or go for one of these foundations: Guerlain’s Lingerie de Peau; Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Foundation; Ellis Faas; Eve Pearl Compact Foundation; or Shiseido’s Moisture Mist Beauty Cake Foundation (made in New Zealand). The last is a recommendation from my brilliant friend Susan Markovic, a makeup artist in Australia, who swears by this product. She deems it the best in the biz, yet, she tells me, very little is heard about it.

If you have a little problem area here or there that needs some extra coverage, try building your coverage by tapping a bit more product on the troubled areas. Then, build your coverage further with a high quality mineral makeup dusted on top. Or tag team the area with concealer followed by mineral makeup.

Rodan and fields mineral makeup

I often forgo any liquid base entirely in lieu of my Rodan + Fields mineral makeup, which is truly remarkable. This stuff is packed with peptides, and therefore is also a skin treatment. In addition to the powerful peptides, the mineral makeup creates an occlusive barrier between the skin and the sun–a chemical-free SPF that you can touch up throughout the day, and every time you do it, you are drenching your skin in valuable peptides. Brilliant. The brush that they sell is densely packed with the softest, fluffiest antimicrobial synthetic bristles. Antimicrobial? Rodan and Fields, these docs, I swear, they think of everything. They are genius.

Eve pearl concealer

If you choose to use a concealer, the best ones are Eve Pearl’s Dual Salmon Concealer, above, (moist) and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (dry).

Occ conceal

Use a dry concealer for acne and oily areas on the face; use a moist concealer under the eyes where the skin is more delicate, dehydrated and prone to wrinkling.

That sums up the beginning of our series on scrimping and splurging. Stay tuned for the next installment. You’ll thank me later. Love you.

One Comment

  • Bridgitte McBryde

    I just bought the Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment SPF 15 and I adore it. It hydrates ALL DAY LONG. I really need that because my skin gets dry later in the day. Thank you so much for turning me on to it.

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