It’s a BEAUTY filled life: The Diva’s Guide to Drugstore Beauty

I’m a lucky Nugget.. really I am. Not only do I have a fabu hubby and kids, fun BBFs (bloggy best friends) like YOU but I also have some of THE COOLEST friends in real life. Among them is The Nuggets resident beauty EXPERT, Mariana Howard. With a career in the Beauty industry that spans over a decade Mari has worked for some of the big names in the business like Perricone and Dr. Brandt Skincare (both great brands I SO CAN NOT AFFORD!). She is currently the National Training Director for Victoria’s Secret  focusing on their cosmetics line. Yeah that’s Heidi on their homepage, we’re like twins huh?! Mari has written the DEFINITIVE guide to beauty on a budget JUST FOR US!  I’d like to give her props for her whit, wisdom, beauty, rockin’ new boobies and being one of my bestest best friends in the whole wide world, MWUAH! Now go forth and BE the divas I know you ALL ARE! 

OH since we’re talking Victoria’s Secret today and yesterday I hurt Ed’s feel bads saying he was a Grinch.. GO READ HIS HILARIOUS post about how VS stole all his money HERE

The Diva’s Guide to Drugstore Beauty

Since I was a kid, I have loved shopping the cosmetics aisle in drugstores.  Growing up in Eastern LI, it was “cool”  to take the (long) walk to Genovese on Old Town Road with a girlfriend to pick up a new flavor of Lip Smacker or some “Electric Youth” by Deborah Debbie Gibson perfume.  Even then I was a beauty junkie in search of the latest fix as prescribed by Sassy magazine.

And now, despite being in my thirties with an almost 15 year career in the Beauty industry, I still can’t stop in a Duane Read/Rite Aid/Walgreens without browsing the latest offerings by Maybelline, Max Factor, L’oreal, etc.  And more often than not, I walk out of there with some little makeup trinket or skin care treasure that I can’t wait to get home and play with try on!

Being that it’s the Holiday season and most of us (with or without kids) are going to be spending money on people other than ourselves for the next 4 weeks, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite “drugstore” Beauty finds.   Some of these items are actually found at places like Target, or through an Avon Representative, and the prices are approximate.   But the main idea is, quality beauty can be bought at bargain prices and, in some cases, is identical to what you may buy at a department store for 2 to 3 times the cost!

So here are my 12 favorites – one for each of the proverbial days of Christmas – all tried and tested by yours truly:

1. Nail Color:  Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in “Jumpin’ Jade”, $4.99.  A dark green with a pearl finish, it’s a great color that’s perfect for the holidays and fantastic for an “edgy” look all year long.  The formula really does dry lickety-split, and the brush gives a smooth, even coverage with just a stroke or two.  Expert tip:  Base coat is everything!  Use a matte one for the best “grip”; the better a color clings to the base coat, the longer the color will remain chip-free.  Wet ‘n’ Wild makes a good one for about $1.

2. Facial Cleanser:  Garnier Nutritioniste Nutri-Pure Daily Exfoliating Gel Cleanser, $6.49.  This is best for combination or slightly oilier skin types.  I love the refreshing “zing!” feeling I get on my skin as I’m massaging it on…great for a morning “pick me up!”

3. Mascara:  Cover Girl Exact Eye Lights Mascara in “Black Pearl”, $8.50.  Disclaimer:  This product will really do nothing for bringing out the color of your eyes.  But it is a very good basic mascara that lengthens and defines lashes well.  It also doesn’t flake, which is a big plus for contact lens wearers like me.  Insider info:  Refuse to give up your Lancome mascara?  What if I told you that Lancome and L’oreal are actually the EXACT same company?  ‘Tis true – the Lancome mascara you’d normally pay $25-$30 for at Macy’s has an identical twin in the L’oreal line for $7-$10.  The ONLY difference is packaging.  I kid you not.

4. Body Moisturizer:  Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula, Moisturizing Body Oil with Vitamin E, $5.49.  In a word – AWESOME.  Leaves skin feeling drenched but not greasy, silky-smooth to the touch with a sexy sheen.  Smells great too, without being all perfume-y.  Make the hubby’s eyes go “POP!” by drizzling some of this stuff after a shower while your skin is still damp and wearing a low-cut negligee for some after kiddie-hours sexy time.  😉

5. Facial Moisturizer:  Olay Definity Color Recapture Anti-Aging Moisturizer + Sheer Illuminating Coverage SPF 15, $29.99.  Ok, so this may seem like a fortune compared to the other things I’ve suggested, but it’s really 3 products in 1:  a light moisturizer, a sheer face tint and a sunscreen.  Pretty good price for all of that, if you ask me!  The texture is gorgeous and it gives skin an overall luminosity that’s hard to come by in cold and windy winter months.  Comes in Fair/Light and Light/Medium.  I’m Latina and the latter works great for me, but I’m hoping there will be an option for deeper skin tones soon.

6. Eye Shadow:  Loreal HIP Metallic Shadow Duo in “Gilded”, $7.99.  Ladies, THIS is your budget-conscious eye shadow alternative to MAC.  The defining feature of MAC cosmetics is the high pigment concentration in their colors.  HIP (High-Intensity Pigment) by L’oreal is a very worthy contender for the pro-makeup crown.  “Gilded” is a great combo for brown, green or hazel eyes; use a light hand, as the intense pigment means a little goes a long way.  There are lots of other shades in this line to choose from, too.

7. Lip Color:  Sonia Kashuk Lip Gloss in “Hibiscus”, $11.99.  Again, this is 2 products in one:  sheer lipstick tint on one end and sheer high-gloss plumping color on the other.  The color is simply to die for!  Great on ANY skin tone, it gives lips a juicy and lush appearance  – think “ripe peach.”  The gloss has a slight tingling effect that is pleasant, not alarming.  Use the gloss over the tint or use each one by itself.  Either way, this product delivers a perfectly irresistible pout.

8. Exfoliator:  Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Re-texturizing Peel, $25.   These pads changed my life.  Really.  Flakiness?  No prob.  Large Pores?  Not anymore.  Dull, lackluster skin tone?  Ha!  There is a catch – you WILL feel this working.  It’s a pretty intense tingle.  I’m lucky to have strong skin that tolerates more aggressive treatments, so I use these 1-2x a day.  But I would recommend easing into it – try it once every other day to start.  This is the one product I have insisted that everyone from my co-workers to my hairdresser try out, and no one has been disappointed yet.

9. Shampoo/Conditioner:  Bed Head Control Freak products (prices vary).  Does a great job of keeping frizzy, unruly hair in line.  The styling products – serum and hair straightner- are definitely worth checking out as well.  With the dryness that winter brings, you may want to work these into your hair care routine a couple of times a week to tame flyaways.

10. Fragrance:  Bonne Bell Skin Musk Oil, $9.95.  The musk trend in fragrance has been hugely successful the past few years, with designer scents like Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker and Narciso Rodriguez For Her being among the biggest hits.  Both of these fragrances have musk as a main note.  But Bonne Bell’s Skin Musk is the original, and in my opinion, still the best scent to convey warmth, womanliness, girly sophistication and sexiness all at once.

11. Lip Balm:  Avon Dew Kiss, $.99.  My absolute fave for 2 decades.  As long as I have one on my nightstand, one in my purse and another in my bathroom I’m never not-kissable.  And I totally credit it for the fact that I can’t even remember the last time my lips were chapped.

12. Foundation:  Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Liquid Foundation SPF 20, $14.49.  I like that this has a built-in brush for easy, even application, contains SPF, and lets the user control the coverage.  For the price, it actually gives a really nice “airbrushed” look that still has a hint of dewiness for a fresh-faced appearance.  To clean the brush:  buy some spray-on brush cleaner, spray down the bristles between each use and wipe clean with tissue.

Since I know Lara’s Nuggetiers are cool peeps AND tweeps, please feel free to add me on Twitter to ask any Beauty questions you may have – I promise I’ll answer!:  @MariHoward.

I hope you decide to treat yourself to some of these “stocking stuffers” – make the most of the season by making time to have fun getting “prettified!”  Happy Holidays y’all, and I hope to be tweeting with some of you soon!

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