On Sunday, I found myself with my friend Loren and time to kill in suburban Connecticut, so we drove to the nearest Ulta, and browsed for so long I’m pretty sure a couple of employees thought we were shoplifters. I’m usually more of a Sephora type, but I do appreciate Ulta’s deep selection and mix of high and low. For starters, I purchased this brow pencil, which has a very fine point and imparts hair-like wisps quite precisely. I’ve been considering getting my poor thin brows microbladed, but this stuff is so good and natural-looking that I might be able to put that off for a while.
I stocked up on this IT Cosmetics mascara, which I discovered over the summer, and which promises to lengthen and volumize, and delivers (especially on the length front).
I also decided to spin the dice on this Mac mascara, which contains fibers that are meant to mimic the effect of lash extensions. That sounded both like a potentially great thing, as well as a potentially clumpy mess to me, and yet, in reality, it goes on very clean, and does indeed give you big, beautiful eyes—especially when combined with a topcoat of the IT mascara.
I love my Laura Mercier eyeshadow, so I thought I might try something slightly more dramatic, and this hue—called Cobblestone is just dark enough to make an impact, but light enough to do it subtly.
Not that I need a new blow dryer, but have any of you tried this Revlon one that the internet went crazy for a few years ago? It has inspired scores of imitators, so I’m thinking there might be something to it.
Meanwhile, I wish somebody would come up with a cheaper version of this Dyson styling kit, which has also earned raves and is supposed to be less damaging than traditional heat styling.
I neither observe nor especially enjoy Christmas, but I do love a good beauty advent calendar for a couple of reasons: 1) they’re cute, and 2) they allow you to try intriguing products in mini form, so you don’t have to spring for a full size until you know you like a product. This one, from Benefit, includes several of their excellent mascaras, that brow liner at the top of this post, and lots more fun stuff.
As soon as the weather turns cool, my lips get chapped, and they stay that way until spring. I think my (pretty matte and hence drying) lip color is at least partially to blame, so I’m looking for tinted lip balms like this one, which protect, moisturize, and impart a healthy wash of subtle color.
Squalane is a newish ingredient that apparently hydrates skin well, and is also very lightweight. I’m just intrigued enough to consider trying this $9 version from The Ordinary.
I’m almost out of my current blush, and am thinking of replacing it with a Benefit tint like I used to wear. They’re super-subtle and tough to screw up.
I have to warn you about the Sun Bum lip balm! I bought some a few years ago while on a beach vacation and used it for a couple of days, and then my lips had an INSANE reaction. They pretty much doubled in size and were so sore that I could barely eat or drink. I googled “Sun Bum lip balm reaction” and found that I wasn’t the only one this had happened to (lots of kinda gruesome photos of people’s huge lips). It took nearly a week of applying Vitamin E oil on my lips several times a day for them to be back to normal. (For the record, I emailed Sun Bum just to let them know, and they were really great about it. I love them as a company and have used other products with no problem at all. I’d just stay clear of any lip products!)
I haaaaated the smell of the Sun Bum lip stuff, even though I liked the product. BUT I agree on now being a great time to buy from Ulta, with anti-trans assholes targeting them for boycott! My own fave cheapies from Ulta are the L.A. Girl Shockwave eyeliners. In my experience, they glide on easy and then they don’t budge.
Agree with prior comments about the difficulties maneuvering the Revlon dryer. I found it clunky to use and not great for my hair either (fine, medium length). I abandoned it in favor of a Harry Josh, which my stylist uses, paired with a good round brush. This tried-and-true combo is still the best for my hair.
Trader Joe’s has a watermelon night mask that is made with plant squalane and hyaluronic acid, a good dupe for Herbivore’s Pink Cloud and Cloud Jelly formulations. It’s around $5 and it delivers bouncy plumped skin for me, and I live in 2% humidity. I use it in the mornings, too, on my decollete. It seems for effective than The Ordinary’s straight hyaluronic, so it seems like squalane is the next level humectant.
Totally agree – that product is very effective.
I use it every night!
I have it, too, and many more in The Ordinary line. They’re affordable and they deliver what they promise, without irritating my sensitive skin.
Speaking of The Ordinary… I’m not a fan of the Squalene oil but the brand’s new-ish lash/brow serum is wonderful! Just wanted to put it out to you, Kim, as a possible alternative to microblading. Within four weeks I saw growth in my lashes and brows, with no irritation to my eyes or discolouration of my eyelids. This is my first foray into this type of serum and for the price, I am very impressed. I use it twice daily and my ’90s brows are finally approaching something neutral and natural looking — I’ve seen regrowth in long-plucked areas and the tail ends are filling out. Great brow for your buck!
Thanks for sharing! The one I’m using now is too damned pricey!
That Revlon hair dryer is amazing! I have fine (but a lot of it), mostly straight hair that just needs some smoothing to iron out some random waves and make it look polished, and this thing takes care of it so easily and in no time flat. I VASTLY prefer it over using a blow dryer and brush, and I think I get more shine out of it too.
Intrigued by the mascaras! Mascara is my holy grail makeup item with my translucent eyelashes. The bigger and longer and blacker the better, IMO, so these sound great.
I have fine curly hair that just looks scraggly these days if I wear it natural and the Revlon dryer has been a game changer. Gives volume at the roots and a nice straight blowout. I’ve also tried the DryBar and Amika versions which are much more $$$. It runs a little hotter than those so possibly more damaging to those with even finer hair than mine but to me they’re pretty much the same – and drying time is even a little faster.
I love this beauty advent calendar trend. Last year I did the one from Anthropologie which was fun (and very cute design). This year I spotted one in the Kiehl’s store . I don’t actually see it on their website. Maybe its in-store only? I think I’m going to go back and get it.
The Revlon blow dryer is the best blow dryer ever. I forgot my expensive blow dryer on a trip and bought this as a quick replacement but it is the only one I have used since. Super easy to use and the best results (straight, waves, whatever)!
That Revlon blow dryer totally changed my hair game. Love it! Also loving Lolavie detangler and leave in conditioner. The combination of the three has finally made me like the hair I was born with.
I I use the drybar version (the smaller size). I don’t have a lot of hair but if I do a rough dry and then use that, my hair is smooth and unfrizzy. It’s great. For me, works much better than a round brush and a dryer and takes minutes!
Also like squalene – try it!
Any tips for applying mascara (esp so it doesn’t clump)? I’m right-handed and have shaky hands and particularly have difficulty applying to my left lashes.
It’s a real problem, I know! Some makeup artists will hold an old, clean credit card under/over the eye while applying mascara to keep it from going everywhere. I just use a damp Q-tip to clean up my mess.
I use a teeny post-it note! I keep a pad of them with my mascara.
I always enjoy your “things I bought …” postings. Unlike JJ, I did not have any luck with squalene. Different skin texture, different skin age? Don’t know, but it was certainly worth a shot. I laughed when I saw the Advent Calendar. I’m not a big Christmas person, but I love a good Advent Calendar and now is certainly the time to order one––you wait too much longer and they are GONE! (speaking from last year’s experience)
Not to be too much of a crass materialist, but, why doesn’t someone invent a Hanukkah calendar type of gift set? Why should people be left out?? You can get a lot done in 8 days! (Sorry if this is in any way obnoxious. These days, I hardly know how to behave anymore. …)
There are actually three 7 or 8 day holiday periods in the Jewish calendar: Passsover, Sukkot, and Hanukkah, (spring, fall & winter), and I would welcome a calendar for each one!
Ooooooh … I am *huge* fan of multi-day holidays!!! Yes yes yes!
I have the hair dryer and I loved it in the summer because it blows hot air on your hair and not on your scalp. Great smooth results, I think because it forced me to section my hair instead of just blowing it around (I’m a haphazard stylist). It is loud though, I actually wear ear plugs when I use it.
The Shark Flex Style Dryer/Styler is supposed to be a reasonably priced dupe of the Dyson Airwrap, like half the price. I wouldn’t know as I spent the $$ on the Dyson and having used it once, I’m in love with it.
I’ve seen really good reviews of the Shark. And it’s able to use at a right angle, which I think it a plus.
I love the Revlon dryer. My hair’s already straight, but always in need of volume, and this really gets into the roots better than a traditional dryer. I use a heat protector and wait until my hair is just shy of fully dry (this doesn’t take long for me! Just 20 minutes or so), then run it through.
I tried the Revlon dryer, and I think my hair is too short for it, so I gave it to my mom. The barrel is a lot bigger than the Dyson one, so I found it hard to maneuver.
Then I got the Dyson set – an older version without so many attachments – and I do love it. I bought it when Sephora had their VIP sale, which helped with the price a little.
Perhaps worth noting that the plain dryer attachment is not as powerful as a regular Dyson dryer. It’s more gentle, but it’s a smidge annoying if I’m running late and it seems like my hair won’t dry fast enough.
You happen to have chosen some of my favorite products! I am a big fan of that Precisely brow pencil — I don’t need a lot of it, just a smidge on the ends where my brows seem to be thinning, and where I’ve started getting the occasional grey hair, which it seems to camouflage nicely.
And I love the Ordinary Squalane serum. It seems oily when you first apply it but I use it at night and it does seem to absorb quickly enough that I don’t see evidence of it on my pillowcase. I swear my 57yo skin looks better since I’ve been using it!
I may need to try that Sun Bum lip tint. I have some old ones from Burt’s Bees but they seem slightly drying to me.
Shark recently came out with a competitor for the dyson. My hairdresser used it on me today. It’s great!
Isn’t squalane an old ingredient that’s just come back again? I seem to remember a big anti-squalane campaign back in the day but maybe I am simply old. Or maybe that was squalENe?
Yes, super old — and as far as I know, never went away. I used to use a Keihl’s lotion with squalane back in the ’90s, and it was terrific! (Sadly, as with many of their excellent products — I *SO* miss their lovely, five-ingredient body washes! — the formula changed for the worse after they were bought out by whichever huge company owns them now.) In any case, squalane really works for hydration. (-:
Yes, squalene is old and new. There was controversy about shark-derived squalene back in the day. However, The Ordinary says that they use 100% plant-based squalene derived from sugar cane.
You are correct. They have both been around for more than 50 years.
Heard good things about Shark Flexstyle as a dupe for Dyson. Can’t vouch for it myself, but here’s something from PopSugar: https://www.popsugar.com/beauty/shark-flexstyle-air-drying-brush-review-48954132
I have the Revlon brush-dryer. I like it because I am incapable of doing a blowout on my own hair. That dryer is a perfect fit for the likes of me.
I’m perpetually on the hunt for a good lengthening mascara that doesn’t clump, flake or bleed…oh, and if it volumizes, too, that’d be great. Demanding, right? I’m finding that less is more with makeup on my aging face. I wore eyeshadow and liner to an event a few days ago and when I saw my face in the visor mirror in my car, I thought “Holy mother of Baby Jane! I know what happened to her!”
Don’t sleep on Essence marcaras. They are terrific and dirt cheap at $5 each. The Princess mascara is the cult favorite, but I like Bye Bye Panda Eyes best.
Also, at CVS, they sell Flower Beauty and I like their Warrior Princess mascara. It’s terrific too!
I too like the Essence mascaras. Five bucks is the perfect amount to spend on something I have to replace so often.
I use the Essence mascaras too. At five bucks each, I usually keep two in rotation (one of the Princess mascaras and Bye Bye Panda Eyes). I found out about BBPE on the EIF podcast, but can’t remember which guest recommended it.
Cover Girl Clump Crusher in the green tube! Just a solid all-around mascara with a firm plastic curved wand that easily sweeps through lashes and separates them for good length and definition. Yesterday was rainy out, plus I was in a pool (head stayed dry) and sauna and it stayed put with no flaking or bleeding.
I also have both the Revlon and the Dyson Airwrap (I bought the Airwrap during COVID when I wasn’t spending any money on travel). I actually liked the barrel of the Revlon better – it gives a very smooth blow-out look. But it runs very hot and I did feel like I was damaging my hair. I love the Airwrap, but I wish they would come out with a bigger barrel attachment similar to the Revlon. I mostly use my Airwrap to do curls – it creates the best, longest lasting curls I have ever been able to manage on my fine hair, and because it dries and curls at the same time, it really doesn’t take much time. The round brush attachment creates more of a straight look with just a slight wave, but not as bouncy as the Revlon.
I have the Dry Bar version of that Hair Dryer and it is LIFE CHANGING!!! I have thick, wavy hair. I finally don’t look like a scraggly mess! I try not to think to hard about how much better I would have looked 10-15 years ago if I had just had this in my “youth”. Sometimes I still have to touch up with a curling iron BUT it does 95% of the job.
Noting that Ulta is under attack from far right activists because they dared to give space to trans customers: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2022/10/17/ulta-beauty-trans-dylan-mulvaney/
Good time to buy beauty products from Ulta!
That Revlon blow dryer CHANGED my life. I used to get regular blowouts, and now I do it myself and like them more. Takes a few times to get it right. Works best when your hair is not soaking wet.
I have the Revlon dryer and find it to be life changing.( I have fine, long, wavy hair and lots of it.) It takes literally four minutes and I look like I had a salon blow out.
What finds! I too am a longtime fan of Laura Mercier’s shadows, and am consistently impressed with The Ordinary’s line—such hard workers given the modest pricing. I DID try the Revlon airbrush, during the height of the frenzy around it! For my (fine, thin, generally disappointing) hair, it was damaging beyond repair—such bad breakage that I had to cut off inches that I couldn’t really spare—but I know those with more luscious locks are big fans. Silver lining: after the Revlon catastrophe, I turned to a Harry Josh dryer that you recommended, Kim, and love it endlessly!
I really like my Revlon hairdryer and now when I don’t use it, I feel messy but not in a cute way, just disorganized and frizzy. Helpful tip: partially towel dry your hair first or it will feel like it takes forever. I had to get used to the size and weight of the dryer, but after 2-3 uses, I was hooked.
Has anyone tried the Revlon 2.0 one? I am eyeing it at Costco. Is there much difference?
The Revlon dryer is fantastic. As a former Solano/expensive dryer user, I never thought a Walgreens blow dryer could compete. But. It. Does. And this is as close as I’ve ever come as looking like I was just at the salon. And it’s fast, too. Hair dryer snob no more!