Miracle Workers

By: Jen Shoop

It occurred to me today that I have been using the same essentials in terms of skincare/makeup/hair care for a couple of years now.  I honestly don’t know what would happen if any of those items were to be discontinued…This terrifying thought occurred to me when my mother found that she had misplaced her always-in-her-purse tube of Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream (a sticky ointment that — according to my mother and 50-something-women everywhere — cures everything, from chapped lips to minor cuts to sunburns), and nearly went into a full-blown panic, digging through her bag.

(Then she remembered that she also keeps a tube of the magic balm in the console of her car.  She also tucks one into her bedside table, the top drawer of her desk, and every single bag she’s ever carried.)  It had me thinking: which of my own favored tools and products would induce such a sense of panic if they were to permanently leave the marketplace?

My mind immediately jumps to my favorite beauty product of all time: Dior’s DiorShow Mascara.

Now, I could write an entire post about the dozens of mascaras I’ve test-driven.  I am a mascara FIEND.  I literally cannot keep my hands off of new mascaras promising fuller, thicker, darker lashes.  I even dropped $30 on that gimmicky Givenchy spikey-ball applicator (you know the one) — it promised to “grab corner lashes” and all that jazz.  (It was terrible.  It left my eyelashes stiff and breakable.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.)  Diorshow leaves my lashes full, dark, and — what I like best — still flexible and, well, eye-lash-like.  I go through a tube a month!

Which reminds me: if I were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 beauty products (a good litmus test as to which products “make the cut” in terms of the “absolutely-gotta-have-it” factor), it would be: Diorshow mascara (a case of it, preferably), Almay makeup removing pads (oil-free), and Nars bronzer.

Those Almay pads just about make my life.  They leave no residue, never sting, and are surprisingly powerful at removing even the darkest of mascaras (i.e. Givenchy’s, which basically stained my face black).  The Nars bronzer is pretty much a staple in any girl’s makeup bag — I like it in the Casino shade.

(Funnily enough, one of my go-to tools is a big black all-purpose blush/face powder brush I picked up at CVS years and years ago.  It is the sturdiest darn thing and I love the way it applies powders and blushes.  I can’t find an image online, but it just goes to show that sometimes you can make do with the generic brand…)

On the less glamorous front, I’ve got to admit that I’m addicted to Proactiv.  Say what you want about their cheesy, B-grade-celebrity-studded ads — the stuff just works.  I’ve used it since I was an acne-prone teeny-bopper and have used it ever since.  And — not to toot my own horn — but I literally never see a blemish.

For face lotion, I’m constantly swapping in and out of products, so I don’t have any oh-my-God-I’ll-die facial lotions…that being said, I can’t imagine braving another feisty, drying winter without Kiehl’s Ultra Face Cream (a recent discovery):

But the REAL winner in my book is Laura Mercier’s stellar pair of facial primer and tinted moisturizer.

It is SO natural-looking, but it really provides some solid coverage.  Can’t get enough of it.  Plus, it comes in all different “versions”: oil-free, moisturizing, light-reflecting, etc. — AND it has SPF20.  The last couple of months, I’ve been addicted to Fresh’s “Sugar Rose” brand lip balm/gloss.

I had all but sworn off lip gloss for life — I absolutely detest the feeling of sticky, gummy lips (or, worse, your hair being stuck to your sticky, gummy lips) — when I stumbled upon this gem.  I can’t live without it.  It adds a little color, tastes delicious, and leaves your lips moisturized.

I’ll round out the list of “Miracle Workers” with my hair regimen products.  Oh.  My.  God.  My life literally changed when I discovered Frederic Fekkai’s volumizing conditioners and shampoos.  They smell phenomenal and really volumize.  I swear.  And  have the flattest, straightest hair EVER.  (Caveat: they do cost a fortune, and I feel sheepish/guilty when I admit to using them on a daily basis, but they just…work.)

Second most important product for beautiful hair?  A spectacular curling iron, like mine by Hot Tools (1 1/2 inch barrel).  It heats in a second and delivers seriously shiny, beautiful curls.  I use mine just at the ends of my long hair and people think I get a blow out.

Other “musts” that speak for themselves in the hair department?  Goody bobby pins (I buy them in bulk and somehow lose them over the course of a year) and Scunci “ouchless” hair ties.

Because I tend to blow-dry and curl my hair fairly regularly, I try to use a masque on my hair every ten days or so.  I LOVE the Bumble and Bumble Coco de Mer masque for this reason:

It smells great and it leaves my hair silky, silky, silky.

Man, I cannot imagine my life without these staples!  Here’s hoping that they never abandon me.  Oh — and how could I forget to include a girl’s best friend???  Her favorite pair of Tweezerman tweezers.  I lost the absolute most phenomenal pair EVER (permanently sharp) and was almost brought to tears…I’ve since replaced them with another pair that is almost as good…

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