After trying what feels like a million beauty products in my tenure at The Everygirl, I’ve formed quite the list of opinions. Some products are phenomenal, some are so-so, and some I just don’t quite understand what people see in them.
Because I’ve probably tried hundreds of new beauty products over the years, I can help you determine what you should and shouldn’t spend your hard-earned coin on. Here are some of the products that didn’t get my stamp of approval (and who they would work better for) and products I’ll shout my love for from the rooftops:
Not Worth the Hype: Chanel Powder Blush
As a beauty aficionado, I’m keen to spend a little extra money on some things. Some people like designer belts, but I like a designer lipstick I can throw in my bag and feel chic as hell reapplying in the middle of the grocery store. So after hearing nonstop about how amazing the Chanel blush formula is, I dropped a pretty penny to try it out for myself. And: It’s just OK. For one, Chanel needs to desperately expand their shade ranges because these blushes barely show up on my medium skin tone, meaning they’d be like a highlighter on anyone with dark or deep skin. The formula itself isn’t bad, it’s just not anything special, and if I’m paying this much for a blush, it really needs to wow me.
Worth the Hype: Rare Beauty Liquid Blush
On the other hand, Miss Selena Gomez made her blushes for every single skin tone. What I love about this blush is that you can sheer it out and make it work for you if you’re fair (especially the light shades), or you can apply it full opacity to make it look bright on deep skin. I personally love the dewy formula because it makes my cheeks look glowy, but the matte is just as good if you want a more velvety cheek. I apply this with a brush and a light hand and build it up to the intensity I want, and I always get compliments on my blush when I wear this.
Not Worth the Hype: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
This has been one of the best-selling mascaras for nearly a decade, and I’ve been wondering why basically since it launched. Don’t get me wrong: I think this is a decent mascara, it doesn’t flake or smudge or do anything wonky, and it basically invented the hourglass-shape wand we all know and love from drugstore favorites like Covergirl Exhibitionist
and L’Oreal Lash Paradise. But it’s easily dupable and doesn’t do anything to my lashes that makes it worth the $24 price point. If you like lashes that look long and voluminous but still natural, I can see why this would be your favorite, but I want my lashes to look out-of-this-world, and this just doesn’t give me that.
Worth the Hype: Benefit They’re Real Magnet Mascara
On the other hand, this new mascara from Benefit gives me the best lashes of my life. Since I started using this, I constantly get asked if I’m wearing eyelash extensions because it gives them so much lift, volume, and length. This is unlike any other mascara I’ve tried because it actually separates and lifts my lashes to look like I have a set of lash extensions on. The before and after is truly unreal, and I’ve barely touched other mascaras since I tried this.
Not Worth the Hype: Banila Co. 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm
A cleansing balm is a hard product for me to truly fall in love with. It’s a skincare item I go through fairly quickly (I wear a lot of makeup, so I almost always double cleanse at night), so if I don't fall in love with something, I usually move on to something new—with this one, I wanted to try something new when I was only halfway through it. For me, this really gets stuck in my lashes and causes cloudy vision until I completely rinse my face, which is just an experience issue for me. I like skincare that’s not only effective but also makes me feel good when I’m using it. I understand why this is a favorite of many because it’s inexpensive and definitely cleans your face, but I’m OK spending a little more to get a lovelier experience.
Worth the Hype: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
I recently just used this up, and it was truly the first cleansing balm I ever repurchased because it was that good. I was hesitant to try this for so long because of the price, but I snagged a mini at Ulta to get a feel and see if I liked it before taking the plunge into the full size, and I'm so glad I did. First of all, the experience of using this is divine. It has a lovely, luxurious scent, and the texture is the perfect balm that isn’t too thick but isn't too oily either. It turns into the classic cleansing-balm-milky consistency and rinses really well with warm water, leaving behind no residue but so much moisture and glow. My skin feels the most hydrated when I use this at night. Color me shocked, but I almost never want to try another cleansing balm again (OK, I said “almost!").
Not Worth the Hype: Benefit Gimme Brow Gel
Just like the hair on my head, I have very fine, thin brow hairs that take a lot of product to look big and fluffy the way I like them. When I first tried Gimme Brow, I understood the hype. It’s all about volumizing your brows and setting them into place. While it definitely does that, it doesn’t last long enough on me. I don’t even have unruly brows, but I noticed my brows are kind of back to their thin, lifeless selves around the five-hour mark, so I can’t imagine how this would fare on someone with naturally thick brows. If you’re new to brow gel or just want something to comb through in the morning, this would be ideal, but for me, I need something a bit stronger.
Worth the Hype: Refy Brow Sculpt Gel
Refy is about to give every brow product in the business a run for its money. I’ve tried all three products (and I absolutely love them all), and this is by far the best brow gel—maybe even brow product—I have ever used. I love soap brows, and I’ve sworn by the Patrick Ta Brow Wax for a while because it gives me that look without using soap, but it's so tiresome and annoying to do that, so I tend to skip it. This brow gel is basically soap brows in a tube that you can easily swipe on like any other brow gel. The first day I wore this, I had the best brow day of my life, and it only went up from there. It keeps my eyebrows in place (brushed up as high as they’ll go) all day long, and it couldn’t be easier to apply. I love the included brush to clean things up and set the hairs down, making it look like I got a brow lamination (when it was actually less than $25).
Not Worth the Hype: Shimmer Lights Purple Shampoo
This is like the gold standard of purple shampoo. If you’ve ever went to a salon and gotten highlights or went cool blonde, they’ve probably recommended this. But after being blonde my entire life and having had highlights since sixth grade, I’ve tried about a million purple shampoos, and this just ain’t it. It is drying, often leaves a purple cast on my hair, and leaves my hair feeling gross overall. Most of the products on this list I totally understand, but this one just does not work in my hair at all.
Worth the Hype: L’Oreal Le Color Toning Gloss
Now that I color my hair to a warm, honey-tone blonde, purple shampoo isn’t exactly my cup of tea (But if you’re asking, this one is my favorite ever). Instead, I opt for a toning gloss I can use in the shower. This one is so affordable and has already lasted me two washes on my medium-length thin hair, and I’m sure I can get at least two or three more. I use the “Honey Blonde” shade, and it offers just a hint of color but lots of shine and leaves my hair smooth and super soft. I used this before a trip when I couldn’t get to my stylist for a toner, and I felt like I’d just went to a salon—but I only spent $15 and about 10 minutes.
Not Worth the Hype: Charlotte Tilbury Eyeshadow Palettes
Charlotte Tilbury’s shadow formula is so hyped up that even releasing one new quad garners her press for weeks afterward. While these shadows would be great for beginners or someone who likes a very basic eye, they’re just not pigmented enough for me. I like a shadow that has a lot of depth and dimension, whether that’s a dark shade to smoke out my crease or lash line or a glittery shimmer, and these shadows just don’t really offer that. For the price point, I expected these shadows to perform like my beloved Pat McGrath palette.
Worth the Hype: Juvia’s Place Eyeshadow Palettes
I will rave about Juvia’s Place shadows until the end of time. These are truly my favorite eyeshadows on the market, and it’s only a plus that they’re so affordable. The shades are pigmented but still easy to blend, and their palettes come in neutrals, brights, and everything in between. Nine times out of 10, I’m wearing Juvia’s Place on my eyes. I love the mattes because they can be sheered out or build up to opacity, and the shimmers are some of my favorites in my entire makeup collection. I apply them with my finger, and they give a wash of opaque color with lots of shine and dimension.
Not Worth the Hype: Summer Fridays CC Me Serum
I’ve tried quite a few vitamin C serums to help with discoloration from acne scars, and this one was recommended a lot. I love how it leaves my skin really dewy and plump, but after using it for a few months, it hasn’t really done anything for my dark marks. I think this gives your skin a gorgeous sheen and makes it look bright, but it’s not for those looking to fade hyperpigmentation.
Worth the Hype: Topicals Faded Serum
When I finally got serious about getting rid of hyperpigmentation, I chose this, and I haven’t looked back since. This is the first product I’ve added to my routine that has actually made a difference in fading my acne scars, even the deep ones that have been there for what feels like forever. I don’t use it every single day, and when I first started using it, my skin did break out. The niacinamide in this product is known to cause some purging, so if you notice this, don’t freak out. Let it run its course for a month or so, and you’ll start seeing major differences. This is my #1 recommendation for anyone looking to get rid of acne scars, and because it’s made by two Women of Color, you don’t have to worry that it’ll be too harsh on deep skin tones.