Stepping into the makeup department in most department stores leaves me reeling. Sensory overload soon takes over, and I dodge and weave my way out as quickly as I can past the ubiquitous perfume ladies just dying to send me into an allergy coma with a single spritz. If you know exactly what you want, great. If not, more than likely, you've left the store with pricey products that seemed just right, only to get home, apply, and find your face heavy with odd colors (they didn't look like that in the store) and your wallet a lot lighter.
And as much as I love a trip to Sephora, the one-stop-shop with everything you could ever want for your skin and hair, lips and lids, it's a bit overwhelming, even to the savviest shoppers.
I've spent a lot of time, and money, on products that simply didn't deliver. Thankfully, over the last year, I've found some stellar beauty products that exceeded my expectations. All of these products can be found at department store cosmetic counters or at Sephora.
Clinique Redness Solutions
If you've got a naturally ruddy complexion, you know how hard it is to find a "redness reducer" that truly works. Thankfully Clinique has figured it out. The change in my complexion was instant, and lasted for hours. $45 for sample sizes pictured, though full-size products are also available.
Ah, La Mer. The gold standard (and with a price to match) of beauty products. For a humid Memphis summer, the Gel de la Mer is a perfect moisturizer. The light-weight, clean-smelling gel absorbs into skin instantly, hydrating without adding oil. $220
Also new on the market is La Mer makeup. The foundation ($85) is silky and blends better than any I've ever used.
Estee Lauder's Re-Nutriv
Branding itself "the ultimate youth cream," Re-Nutriv is a bit heavy for day (unless you're prone to super-dry skin), but perfect for your just-before-bed slathering. You'll wake with a dewy complexion and "plumped out" wrinkles. Don't forget that the neck needs some Lauder love too. $250
Ultra concentrated cream for the hands, StriVectin, when applied every day, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and fades discolorations. $135
Fekkai Protein Rx
This reparative shampoo and deep nourishing conditioner is a one-two punch for the hair. Because it's chock-full of soy and milk proteins, hair drinks it in. After a day at the pool or beach, you can even sleep with the conditioner in and alleviate some of the damage done by sun, saltwater, or chlorine. $22 to $34.50
Aveda Air Control
The lightest, best-smelling hairspray I've found anywhere. Doesn't gunk or create Aqua-net rigidity, just gently re-minds those strays to get back into place. Aveda products are not available anywhere but Aveda-certified salons around town, and of course, the Aveda store itself. $23
Chanel "Safari" Shadow
The most beautiful shade of brown I've seen, with a hint of shimmer. This shade looks great on everyone. Buy two if you decide to try it out and like it — they sell out quick. $27.50