The link leads to the full text of Paula Begoun's report on the expensive and similar cheap beauty products. I only included here the products from that report that I am likely to use - that is, I didn't include things like Brow Enhancer or Eyeliner since I never use them and in most likeliness never will. The same goes for Styling Wax and suchlikes. I also skipped shampoos and conditioners because I have my own special relationshiops with those, and my own ideas about which of them go best for me. On which I'll probably dwell later on . So - here it is.
The Best in Beauty from Chanel to Cover Girl
A Special Report by Paula Begoun
Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Solutions Cream Cleanser for Dry Skin ($9 for 5.1 ounces) is excellent and very similar to the higher-priced Trish McEvoy Gentle Cleansing Lotion ($55 for 6.8 ounces).
Cleanser for Normal to Oily Skin
Lancome Gel Clarte Clarifying Gel-to-Foam Cleanser ($20 for 4.2 ounces) works beautifully to cleanse and remove makeup from normal to oily skin, but so does the nearly identical L’Oreal Ideal Balance Foaming Gel Cleanser for Combination Skin ($7.99 for 6.7 ounces).
Vespera Bionic Serum ($55 for 1 ounce). - Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion ($11.99 for 2.5 ounces). It contains 8% glycolic acid in a light moisturizing base and the correct pH range to exfoliate skin. Neutrogena also markets a sensitive skin version of this product, which contains 5% glycolic acid.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion ($7.99 for 1.7 ounces) - Serious Skin Care Clarifying Treatment ($17.50 for 2 ounces) is an OK option, but with only 0.5% salicylic acid, don’t expect amazing results.
Daytime Moisturizer with SPF 15
Dove Fresh Radiance Moisturizer SPF 15 ($9.99 for 1.7 ounces) - Clinique Repairwear SPF 15 Intensive Cream ($45 for 1.7 ounces). Both are great for normal to dry skin (with lots of interesting beneficial ingredients), and both contain an in-part zinc oxide sunscreen for sufficient UVA protection. Prefer to avoid zinc oxide? Consider Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer SPF 30 ($14.99 for 2.5 ounces), which contains an in-part avobenzone sunscreen and is beautifully formulated. Looking for a great sunscreen for normal to oily skin? Consider Estee Lauder DayWear Plus Multi-Protection Antioxidant Lotion SPF 15 ($38 for 1.7 ounces) or, if a higher SPF number is needed, Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30 ($8.99 for 3 ounces).
Facial Moisturizer, Normal to Dry Skin
Spa Sciences Anti-Aging Moisture Day Lotion ($18.99 for 1.7 ounces). Although the lack of sunscreen makes it an inappropriate solo choice for daytime, this fragrance-free product can be used as a nighttime moisturizer for someone with normal to dry skin. - Prescriptives Intensive Rebuilding Moisturizer ($95 for 2 ounces). In the middle of this price spectrum is the supremely well-formulated WhiteLight EX Extra Brightening Intensive Night Creme ($45 for 1 ounce) from Estee Lauder (but don’t count on it to lighten skin).
Facial Moisturizer, Normal to Oily/Combination Skin
Having a generous cosmetics budget means you may want to consider Prescriptives Redness Relief Gel ($50 for 1 ounce) for its ultra-light texture and state-of-the-art formula - Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum ($18.99 for 1.7 ounces).
Clinique Water Therapy Firming Body Smoother ($27.50 for 6.7 ounces). - Dove Intensive Firming Cream, Intensive Firming Lotion, Intensive Nourishing Lotion, Regenerating Night Lotion, and Cool Moisture Body Lotion ($5.99-$7.99 for 6.7 ounces).
Body Wash/Shower Gel
The vast majority of body washes on the market are well-formulated. All of them contain standard detergent cleansing agents (identical to those used in shampoo) and a variety of additives depending on the formula goals or label claims. It is a rare occurrence to find a body wash that contains irritants such as menthol or citrus oils, but be aware, they do exist. Companies that offer excellent body washes for reasonable prices include Dove, Olay, Neutrogena, The Body Shop, Axe (for men—but I refuse to vouch for the fragrance), Ivory, Aveeno, Dial, Lever 2000, Nivea, and Jergens.
DDF C3 Plus Serum ($50 for 0.5 ounce) provides skin with copious vitamin C, water-binding agents (including peptides), and other antioxidants, plus it is packaged in an opaque, airless container to keep everything potent. If vitamin C isn’t on your must-have list but you still want an elegant serum to use morning or evening, consider Neutrogena Visibly Firm Lift Serum Active Copper ($18.99 for 1 ounce).
Murad Brightening Treatment SPF 15 ($45 for 1 ounce) combines an effective sunscreen with higher than usual levels of hydroquinone alternatives, including arbutin and uva ursi extract.
Foundation with Sunscreen
The price is a bit startling, but those with normal to oily skin will likely be impressed with Chanel Double Perfection Crème Powder Makeup SPF 15 ($42). It contains an in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen and despite its name, is not nearly as slick or greasy as traditional cream-to-powder makeup. For less money and a higher sun protection factor, consider Clinique Superbalanced Compact Makeup SPF 20 ($26.50). If you’re looking to spend even less, Cover Girl AquaSmooth Makeup SPF 15 ($8.99) is superb and offers plenty of real-skin shades. Almost all of Revlon’s foundations will also keep you covered in real-skin tones and great sunscreens, plus you’ll save money at the same time.
If you have normal to dry skin, I’m fond of Neutrogena Visibly Even Natural-Look Makeup SPF 20 ($11.75). Shopping the department store cosmetic counters? Consider Lancome Renergie Lift Lifting Makeup SPF 20 ($37), one of the few Lancome foundations with a sunscreen that offers sufficient UVA
Tinted Moisturizer/Sheer Foundation with Sunscreen
Neutrogena hit a grand slam with the introduction of its Healthy Skin Enhancer SPF 20 ($10.99), which features great colors and an in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen with retinol and plenty of antioxidants. Those looking for greater sun protection can consider Revlon Age Defying Light Makeup SPF 30 ($12.99). The buck really could stop here, but for those who can’t resist the lure of spending more than needed, I also highly recommend Aveda Inner Light Tinted Moisture SPF 15 ($25) and Bobbi Brown SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer ($36).
Choosing Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Under Eye Concealer ($6.99) rather than Lancome Maquicomplet Complete Coverage Concealer ($24) will not only leave you with more money in your pocketbook, but since L’Oreal owns Lancome and Maybelline, you will find many of their makeup products are more comparable than ever. Good thing, too, because Maybelline’s concealer shades have improved tremendously since L’Oreal has been in charge.
With its ultra-fine texture and non-powdery appearance on skin, M.A.C. Select Sheer Loose Powder ($19.50) is among the best. At nearly twice the price, Giorgio Armani Micro-fil Loose Powder ($42) is also excellent—but for one-quarter of that price, your skin is likely to be just as happy with L’Oreal Translucide Naturally Luminous Powder ($10.89). By the way, L’Oreal owns Giorgio Armani Cosmetics!
Stila Sheer Color Face Powder SPF 15 ($23) not only has a gorgeous silky texture and smooth application but also provides additional sun protection, perfect for touching up your makeup to reduce shine and boosting your skin’s defenses against aging UV rays. A similar but less expensive pressed powder that offers even longer sun protection is Neutrogena Healthy Defense Protective Powder SPF 30 ($9.99).
Looking for a superior pressed powder without sunscreen? Try Cover Girl TruBlend Pressed Powder ($7.49) or, if your skin color is harder to match, consider L’Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Powder ($7.99). If you prefer to try the shade at the store before making a purchase, high marks go to Estee Lauder AeroMatte Ultralucent Pressed Powder ($26).
Vincent Longo Day Play Duo Compact Powder Blush ($23.50) is a wonderful option if you’re feeling extravagant, but an equally impressive powder blush for those with realistic cosmetics budgets is L’Oreal Feel Naturale Light Softening Blush $9.79). Note that with Longo’s product, you get two powder blush shades in one compact.
A relatively new option to consider at the department store is Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks ($22). It is a true cream blush, meaning it’s best for normal to dry skin, but does not have a greasy feel or slip all over the face during blending. Those looking to spend less for a comparable product should explore Merle Norman Luxiva Crème Blush ($14.50) or, for an option that’s more cream-to-powder than just creamy, Revlon Cream Blush ($8.99).
Cream (or Cream-Like) Eyeshadows
Delux Beauty Cream Powder Eye Shadow ($18) is one of the best in terms of color selection, easy application, and long wear with only minimal risk of creasing. A bonafide steal by comparison is Revlon Illuminance Crème Shadow ($5.99) which provides four crease-proof creamy eyeshadows in one convenient compact. The Not Just Nudes quad is an ideal set of neutrals for most skin tones, though some shine is apparent.
Chanel really does produce some marvelous lip glosses. Their Cristalle Gloss Waterlight Lip Gloss ($24.50) is wonderfully light-textured and very glossy. A dramatically less expensive but truly equally appealing choice is Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss ($6.99).
It’s no secret that I and millions of women worldwide are fans of many L’Oreal and Maybelline mascaras, so I’m taking a break from singing the praises of their lash-enhancing products to brag about another worthy contender. Instead, three cheers to Revlon, whose Fabulash Mascara ($6.99) is fabulous. There are some unquestionably wonderful mascaras at the department store too, and one that equals Fabulash’s greatness for a bit more money is Stila Mega Lash Mascara ($9.50). Given the wealth of brilliant mascaras that cost $10 or less, I am leaving this list void of a truly pricey mascara (they’re out there, and many are magnificent, but not more so than options that cost less money).
Two of my favorites at the department store are Laura Mercier Waterproof Mascara ($19) and Estee Lauder Illusionist Waterproof Curling Mascara ($21). Another department store option that is significantly less expensive but just as impressive is M.A.C. Splashproof Lash Waterproof Mascara ($9.50). At the drugstore, consider Maybelline Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara ($5.99).