Beauty Products Worth Splurging For
By Kelli B. Grant,
IF THAT NEW $27 Guerlain KissKiss lipstick in "Sexy Tango" makes you feel as alluring as Jessica Simpson, well, it was a worthwhile splurge.
"A beauty product that gives you that fantastic, glamorous feeling makes you act more confident," says Jean Godfrey-June, beauty director for Lucky. "Then other people notice you look more glamorous, too."
Looking for a better reason to splurge? For some items, trading up gets you more than just fancy packaging and a designer name -- superior ingredients can lead to shinier hair, healthier skin and as close to a cover-model appearance as we mere mortals can get.
SmartMoney asked Godfrey-June, along with beauty directors at four other magazines, what products are most worth splurging on:
1. Foundations and Powders
Heading to the drugstore can yield the best buys for plenty of beauty products. (Click here for great bargains.) But if you're looking for an absolutely flawless complexion, trade up for a quality foundation and loose powder at your nearest department store.
Finely-ground ingredients and a wide range of shades means you'll notice the effect -- i.e., no blemishes -- rather than the makeup itself, says Genevieve Monsma, deputy beauty director for Marie Claire. (Marie Claire is published by Hearst Corp.; SmartMoney.com is a joint venture of Hearst and Dow Jones.) "Cheap powder isn't finely milled, so you can end up looking like a powdered doughnut," she says. And a coarse foundation shows every swirl, swipe and daub in a mask-like effect.
Trading up also enables you to get exactly what you need for your skin. Monsma likes Prescriptives Custom Blend foundation ($62) and powder ($45), which, as the name implies, is mixed up at the counter to your shade and formula specifications. "They can add mattifiers to reduce shine, a little bit of luminescence to brighten you up, or sunscreen for protection," she says.
· Laura Mercier Flawless Face (Foundations $35 to $40; powders $20 to $30)
· Bobbi Brown (Foundation $38 to $48; powders $30 to $32)
2. Prescription-Strength Skin Care
Every beauty director we talked to raved about retinoids, a family of chemical compounds that prompt your skin to produce more of three key compounds normally lost as you age -- collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. "They're the only skin care ingredient clinically proved to reduce wrinkles and prevent lines," says Jenny Bailly, beauty director for Cosmopolitan. (Cosmopolitan is published by Hearst Corp.)
If you really want to see results, you've got to get retinoids from your dermatologist, insists Lucky's Godfrey-June. Over the counter, you can get only the weakest form, called retinol, whether you spend $9 (Olay) or $244 (Matis Le Concentrate).
Ask first for generics Tazorac (30 grams, $107) and Tretinoin (40 grams, $96), suggests Dr. Leslie Baumann, a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami. "Your insurance company won't cover brand names because they're only approved for cosmetic use," she explains. But they may cover the generics, because both are also approved for treatment of acne and other skin conditions.
· Avage, brand name (30 grams, $113)
· Renova, brand name (40 grams, $126)
· Differin, brand name (45 grams, $133)
3. Salon-Quality Styling Tools
With daily use, standard hair dryers and other styling tools can damage your hair. Salon-quality tourmaline ceramic products are much kinder on your locks. The difference? Standard tools use heat to evaporate water; tourmaline tools produce ions, which shrink water molecules instead, says Cheryl Kramer, beauty director for Redbook. (Redbook is published by Hearst Corp.) "The ions emitted are very hydrating for your hair," she says. "They cut your drying time, cut the frizz and cut the damage."
Sure, you'll find ceramic tools containing crushed tourmaline at your drugstore, but for those prices you're getting more marketing than mineral, says Kramer. On the other hand, the plates of the T3 Bespoke Labs Featherweight Dryer ($200) -- a model all our beauty directors raved about -- are made from 100 percent tourmaline.
· GHD Ceramic Styling Iron ($230)
· Linea Pro C2 flat iron ($199)
4. Eye Pencils
Inexpensive eye pencils are harder, and fragment more easily, says L. Bayly Ledes, beauty director for Real Simple. "Certainly, you don't want stuff breaking off near your eye," she points out. The rougher texture can also damage the sensitive skin near your eyes, leading to eye infections.
"High-quality pencils tend to be far superior," she says. "They won't break, and they distribute color more evenly." Look for one that uses a gel or wax formula. Her favorite: Stila Kajal Eye Liner ($14 to $16).
· Chanel Le Crayon Yeux ($27.50)
· Clinique Cream Shaper for Eyes ($13.50)
"There aren't that many good inexpensive fragrances," says Cosmopolitan's Bailly. "Cheap fragrances smell cheap." Pricey scents contain a greater number, and more of exotic, expensive oils. They are more concentrated than inexpensive perfumes, containing more aromatic compounds and less of add-ins like oil and alcohol. "They don't wear off as quickly," says Bailly. More aromatic compounds also means a more noticeable scent -- entirely the point when you're wearing an iconic fragrance like Chanel No. 5 (0.25 oz., $95).
· Burberry Brit (1.7 oz., $62)
· Dior J'adore (1.7 oz., $62)
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