Is It Worth It? Breaking Down Beauty Cult Favorites

 

If you're super into beauty like I am, you understand how overwhelming it can be to have products constantly thrown in your face with claims that they're "the best" or "life changing." What's even more frustrating is that due to the meteoric rise of bloggers and influencers, it's hard to discern if people are promoting products because they actually believe in them, or because they're getting a solid pay out. (I'm looking at you Kardashian sisters, we all know those little  blue bear hair vitamins don't do sh*t).

With that said, I embarked on a personal mission to test out some of the most popular beauty products as of late, and you might be surprised by the results. Granted, everyone's skin and body is different, so products that didn't work for me, might just work for you. These are entirely my personal experiences and opinions, so do with them what you will.

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $38

 Photo: Sephora.com

Photo: Sephora.com

What it promises: Laura Mercier's Award Winning Translucent powder has been talked about so much, to the point of excess where I tried to be cool and pretend I didn't want to give in to the buzz. This silky powder offers sheer coverage to set makeup without adding additional weight or texture. This bestseller promises to create a matte but never cakey finish that beautifully fills in fine lines and wrinkles for a truly flawless complexion.

What it does: Warning- unpopular opinion ahead. People literally acted like this product was the second coming of Jesus, so I shoved my ego to the side and caved and bought this product, in part because I wanted to master the art of baking. This product does feel incredibly silky and weightless, so I had high hopes. Seconds after applying this powder to my concealer with a beauty blender, it created a series of atrocious lines and cracks in my concealer. I seriously looked like Frankenstein. I thought maybe it was my concealer, so I tried three others. Nope, same result. Worse, my makeup started to literally flake off of my face as time went on.

The verdict: This product works miracles for some people, but for whatever reason it was an absolute disaster for me. I have fairly normal skin, so I'm still utterly dumbfounded as to why this product hates me so much. I'm happy to report that I found an alternative, RCMA No-Color Powder, which is half the price of Laura Mercier and works miraculously.

Tarte Double Duty Shape Tape Concealer, $25

 Photo: Ulta.com

Photo: Ulta.com

What it promises: This concealer took me quite awhile to get my hands on, due to the fact that it kept selling out online and in-stores! Determined to try this "game changing" concealer, the day finally came. Powered by Amazonian clay and conditioning mango seed, this nutrient rich full coverage concealer helps promote skin elasticity and illumination with crease-free application. It's also advertised as being ideal for contouring and highlighting.

What it does: This is one of my favorite concealers to date, because it literally does not crease in the slightest! I found that it looked the exact same hours after application, and although it offers a very matte finish, it's not cakey at all. I really do love this concealer, I have it in a dark shade as well for contouring, which I highly recommend.

The verdict: 10/10 in my book. Not only is it good for your skin, it delivers on everything it promises to.

Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray, $31

 Photo: Sephora.com

Photo: Sephora.com

What it promises: A weightless setting spray that promises to keep your makeup in-tact for up to 16 hours as well as creating smoother-looking skin without melting, cracking, fading, or settling into fine lines. 

What it does: With a claim of 16 hours of makeup perfection, I had some big expectations for this spray. After giving it multiple chance to impress, I'm indifferent towards this product, in all honesty. Yes, it did keep my makeup on, but not in any particularly amazing way. If I hadn't used other setting sprays for almost half of the price of this one, I'd be more impressed.

The verdict: As I mentioned above, I've used other setting sprays that are less expensive and more impressive (such as Ben Nye's and Pixi's Makeup Fixing Mist). I really don't understand all the buzz around this particular one but alas, different strokes for different folks.

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, $30

 Photo: Sephora.com

Photo: Sephora.com

What it promises: I was sold this award winning concealer by a charming NARS salesman at Bloomingdales one day when I requested his help in finding a full coverage concealer that won't crease. It's formulated with light-diffusing technology that evens out the complexion so that skin appears fresh and natural with a radiant finish. The salesman Promised me that this radiant creamy concealer would instantly mask imperfections as well as hide dark circles and fine lines so, I gave it a chance.

What it does: This product goes on beautifully, however, it's not as full coverage as it claims to be. If you do have intense dark circles, you'll definitely need a color corrector underneath. Honestly I did like the way this concealer looked on my skin, the issue was it's staying power. Within an hour of wear, I found that I had visible creases and the pigment was definitely fading, which is the exact opposite of what you want from a concealer.

The verdict: It applies well, but just doesn't have enough strength for me. I recommend this product to people who require very little concealer or save it for special occasions.

Kylie Jenner Lip Kit, $29

 Photo: Kyliecosmetics.com

Photo: Kyliecosmetics.com

What it promises: This is the only lipstick that I have ever heard of selling out within seconds, continuously. Seriously, the mania around Kylie's lip kits is nothing short of insane. Once the insanity died down, I decided it was time for me to take the the infamous lip queen's product for a test drive. The Matte Liquid Lipstick promises high intensity pigment for an instant bold matte lip as well as extremely long wear time. It contains moisturizing ingredients for a comfortable, emollient and silky feel that does not dry out your lips.

What it does: I bought the shade "Kristin" which is a warm berry brown that really complimented my skin tone. Just like Kylie says, it stayed on for hours, and my lips didn't feel like sandpaper. This lipstick is great if you're a fan of overlining your lips, because as I mentioned, it doesn't fade or flake easily. Say what you want about Kylie Jenner, but her matte lipsticks are no joke.

The verdict: Love her or hate her, she's got a great product and an even greater fan base.

Milk Makeup Blur Stick, $36

 Photo: Sephora.com

Photo: Sephora.com

What it promises: This colorless and oil-free face primer promises to blur the look of imperfections on all skintones while locking in makeup as well as minimizing the appearance of pores and fine lines for a smooth, matte finish. 

What it does: I will say, this product does give your skin a "blurred" effect immediately after application. However, I found that it made my foundation a little bit harder to blend than usual and there was definitely some slipping going on. Throughout the day, my face, especially around my nose and cheeks felt a little bit oilier than usual and I wasn't impressed with my makeup's staying power.

The verdict: Amidst the rants and raves, I just didn't love this product. For $36, you can easily invest in a better primer. However, this is definitely subjective because I know some people who swear by this product. I'm telling you right now, if you have oily skin, this product is not for you.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette, $42

 Photo: Sephora.com

Photo: Sephora.com

What it promises: An essential high pigment eyeshadow collection with 14 shades ranging from neutrals to berry pinks and reds that every woman should have in her beauty arsenal.

What it does: If you're a beauty enthusiast and often apply eyeshadow, you need this palette in your life. It's perfect for neutral daytime looks and smoky nighttime looks as well. I use this palette ALL the time and the pigment is incredible.

The verdict: This is a beauty staple, in my opinion. There are so many beautiful looks you can create from this palette, plus the price is so reasonable. I recommend this palette to everyone. Even if you have no idea how to work with these colors, there are approximately a million picture and video tutorials all across the internet that are simple and easy to follow.

Sugar Bear Hair Vitamins, $29.99 for 1 month

 Photo: Amazon.com

Photo: Amazon.com

What it promises: You've probably seen these notorious little blue bears all over celebrity instagrams: Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, etc; These "revolutionary" hair vitamins promise to make your hair longer, stronger and shinier thanks to their natural ingredients and vitamin packed formula. The instructions are to take 2 gummies every morning (btw their gluten free).

What it does: I'm always trying out hair supplements, so I had an immense amount of faith in these little bears due to their celebrity clientele. I ordered a 3 month supply and dutifully ate two bears a day. While they taste absolutely delicious, (you're going to want to polish off the jar in one sitting, I'm not kidding) I didn't notice any substantial change in my hair. Maybe it was a bit shinier than usual, but I can't validate the price for simply shinier hair.

The verdict: Despite their impeccable marketing scheme, Sugar Bear Hair's greatest benefit is it's delicious taste. Honestly, I received better results with a regular biotin supplement.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Champagne Pop Highlighter, $38

 Photo: Sephora.com

Photo: Sephora.com

What it promises: This soft white-gold highlighter has pinky peach undertones, complete with high-impact and ultra reflective shine for a covetable and incomparable glow. It promises to blend seamlessly with foundations and powders for a finish that never cakes. Created in collaboration with the iconic Jaclyn Hill, ( I LOVE HER) this highlight arguably made Becca one of the most buzzed about brands this past year.

What it does: Everything it claims to do and more. For me, this is the holy grail of highlighters. I'm a highlighting freak, ask anyone of my friends. If they lose me in a dark room, they can quickly find me from highlight glowing off in the distance. The pigment is incredible and the texture settles flawlessly on skin, so you never have to worry about cakiness.

The verdict: I know the price is a bit scary for a highlighter, but if you value a glowing and bright complexion, invest in this product 100%. Becca offers other colors in this highlighter which are also great, but so far this particular one is my fave.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, $21

 Photo: Sephora.com

Photo: Sephora.com

What it promises: This cult favorite is an ultra-fine retractable pencil, made for precise detailing and filling in sparse areas in your brows.

What it does: I'm a HUGE Anastasia fan, I literally own half their product line. That being said, I had a difficult time loving this product. For starters, I couldn't find the right color for me. Also, I like a very full brow look, and I found that this pencil took me twice as long to fill in and shape my brows. Since it's so fine tipped, I will say it is good for creating hair-like strokes in areas where you have less hair. Also, I had to press down firmly in order to get the pigment I desired, which led to some slipping and sliding which is the LAST thing you want when shaping your brows.

The verdict: This is a good product for people who just want a subtle boost of brow power, but I personally didn't feel a need for the product. I suggest as an alternative Anastasia's DipBrow Pomade, which I'm totally obsessed with.