As a Washingtonian, it seems only fitting that my first post is referential to the Commander in Chief. Likewise, in the season of great government debate (if you can call it that) over all things budgetary, it seems appropriate to discuss the value of a dollar as it relates to the quality of our beauty products. Besides, if a little vanity doesn’t make us feel better, what will?
As in all things, there some products that are worth the money, and others that are not. When the cost is high, I think it’s that much more important for a product to perform (though I’ll certainly furrow my brow at a $7 mascara if its only superlative if “Best Fit for the Trash”).
The following is my short list of products whose performance matches their price:
Oribe Moisture and Control
My colorist and I can talk shop for hours. During one such session, he told me about Oribe products and described them like this: “You know the scene in Bridesmaids, when Kristen Wiig takes a sip of that pink lemonade and reluctantly says “Goddammit, that’s good”? Oribe is just like that”. This shampoo and conditioner has taken my hair game to an entirely new level. They moisturize, dentangle and shine and, after using them, I find that I need fewer styling products to tame my mane of long, textured hair. Most importantly, I have never had so many compliments on my hair until I started to use these products. $38 for Shampoo and $39 for Conditioner at SpaceNK.
Biologique Recherché Lotion P50
Lotion P50 is one of those products that you’ve never heard of but, once you do, you see it everywhere. I purchased the version without Phenol, as I’m still breastfeeding, and find that it provides excellent exfoliation after double cleansing. The price tag is steeper than many other exfoliating toners, but I find that this product’s real selling point is that it exfoliates without making my face feel tight, burned or dry. $57 for 5.1 oz at Rescue Rittenhouse Spa
Sunday Riley Start Over Active Eye Cream
Sunday Riley’s skincare line is phenomenal (her make-up is similarly wonderful, and her blushes are some of my favorite products). This eye cream was recently incorporated into my daily cleansing and hydrating routine and I’m now on my second bottle. It is one of those products that you don’t notice until it’s not there and you wonder, “What happened to my face?!”. The eye cream is lightly hydrating and does not encourage milia or eye irritation. $85 for 1 oz at Sephora
Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate, Intensity One
I purchased this product at the recommendation of Into the Gloss. It was splurge while on vacation in Paris and, of course, I purchased the accompanying brush (though I don’t agree you need that as well). The highlighter is very pretty, but too subtle for a highlighter junkie like myself. The real beauty is the contour shade, which blends seamlessly and adds just the right depth of shadow. The texture is creamy and has better slip than other silicone-based alternatives. I apply the contour with a Shu Uemura cream foundation brush (which I also purchased in Paris, at a significant up-charge!) and it is a daily ritual. $75 at Neiman Marcus
Cle de Peau Concealer
My first tube of Cle de Peau concealer lasted almost two years. TWO years, which is probably a year longer than I should have used it, but whatever works, right? In fact, I purchased a second tube during a Barney’s ‘Love Yourself’ promotion and didn’t open it for a year after that. This concealer is a make-up artist go-to and I can certainly see why. The hefty price tag buys you a wonderful all-around concealer, which works just as well under the eyes as it does on blemishes and sunspots. While it probably goes without saying, a little goes a very long way, and the product can be blended very thinly without loosing coverage, which is certainly a bonus when dealing with crepey skin under the eyes. $70 for 0.17 oz at Neiman Marcus
Nars Nail Polish
There was once a time when I would paint my nails a different color every week. Since becoming a mother, I’ve found that sticking with a signature color makes staying polished much easier. When I’m not sporting a gel manicure, I rely on NARS to deliver long-lasting color that is beautiful and complex. My current favorites are Jungle Red and Tomorrow’s Red from the new Guy Bourdin collection (which is a true “One Coat Wonder”). $19 for 0.5 oz at Sephora
In the beauty world, the concept of value is, of course, based on performance like anything else. Sometimes there are products which perform adequately, or even poorly, which contribute enough aesthetically to warrant the cost. I believe that beautiful packaging goes a long way in constructing the ritual of beauty, that have an indulgent quality and make you feel more beautiful by proxy, and there is certainly something to be said for that as well. But, if you’re looking for a powerhouse product that provides a bang for your buck(s), these will certainly fit the bill.