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5 Mega-Hyped Beauty Products to Skip (and What You Should Try Instead)


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Some beauty products are so well-loved, so obsessed over, it seems like we’ll never hear the end of it. The problem is, most of these products are so expensive we have to pick and choose what we can splurge on, and when a hyped-up product winds up being a dud, it’s more than a little disappointing. What’s a girl to do? I’ve put plenty of beloved beauty products to the test (yes, even some CF favorites), and quite a few just didn’t measure up to my high expectations.

So, which cult-favorite beauty products aren’t worth the hype? And what should you try instead? Find out below.

Nars Orgasm Blush

Product Information: NARS Orgasm, NARS Sin, Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso, Too Faced Full Bloom

As far as cult beauty products go, NARS Orgasm is the one that started it all. It’s known as the universally flattering blush, and at nearly $30, you’d think it would live up to its flawless reputation. I think people just get caught up in its scandalous name, because to me, it’s nothing special. (CF writer Chelsea, though, would disagree!) Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great, long-lasting product, but by now, it’s been duplicated so many times that it’s no longer worth its price.

If you’re obsessed with Orgasm’s healthy glow, try Milani’s Luminoso instead. They’re nearly exact dupes, and while Milani doesn’t quite having the staying power of NARS, it’s a tiny fraction of the cost. But if you do have the funds to splurge on a blush, NARS is definitely the way to go. Their blushes are highly pigmented and completely natural looking, though I recommend choosing a more unique shade that you can’t find at the drugstore. Sin is a gorgeous plum with gold shimmer that looks amazing on all skin tones.

If you still want that high-end pink glow, give Too Faced’s Ultra Flush Blush in Full Bloom a try. It gives you twice the glow of Orgasm at slightly more than half of the cost.

Revlon Lip Butters

Product Information: Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain, MAC Lustre Finish Lipsticks, Burt’s Bee’s Tinted Lip Balm

I’ll admit, I went lip butter crazy just like everyone else last year. Which is probably why I own five of these. Revlon’s lip butters (see our Colorburst Lip Butter review from last year) are touted as having the amazing color payoff of a lipstick with the moisturizing properties and easy application of a balm. And while the color selection is gorgeous (with a few exceptions – Creamsicle makes me look like a corpse) within a few days of wearing these my lips were constantly dry and cracked!

If moisture’s what you need, stick with a real lip balm. Burt’s Bee’s tinted balms don’t have the greatest color payoff (except for Red Dahlia – gorgeous!), but they will keep your lips chap-free.

Though the lip butters are highly pigmented (Red Velvet and Lollipop are great when you need an easy dramatic lip), the staying power is just average, and they smudge like crazy. Revlon’s Kissable Balm Stains, however, are the complete opposite. They’re even easier to apply than the lip butters, provide a nice moisturizing base that lasts for more than just a few hours.

In theory, these are the perfect lip product, but overall they’re just not as great as they should be. If you’re looking for a high-quality color that feels soft on the lips, give MAC’s lustre finish lipsticks a try. They fetch a much higher price, but the color selection is beautiful and application is a dream.

Diorskin Shimmer Star in Amber Diamond

Product Information: Diorskin Amber Diamond, Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips in Vegas Strip, Urban Decay Baked Bronzer in Gilded

This wouldn’t be a cult favorites list without mentioning Dior’s Amber Diamond Shimmer Star. This product is supposed to provide a natural-looking glow that illuminates the entire face, giving you a flawless finish that looks fresh off the beach. And it does. But much like NARS Orgasm, so do a million other products! At $45, this product is just not worth it, especially when much cheaper alternatives can do the job just as well.

Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strip in Vegas Strip is nearly an exact dupe for this product at a fraction of the price, and I find that it’s easier to apply. Amber Diamond can kind of make you look like a bronzed disco ball if you don’t know what you’re doing. Urban Decay’s Baked Bronzer in Gilded isn’t quite as illuminating as the other two products, but its natural-looking golden glow can’t be beat, especially at nearly half the cost.

Benefit’s “They’re Real!” Mascara

Product Information: Benefit They’re Real! Mascara, CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher Mascara, Benefit BADGal Lash, L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara

Benefit’s BADGal lash is one of my favorite mascaras, so I thought I couldn’t go wrong with They’re Real!, Benefit’s cult-favorite mascara that supposedly lengthens, thickens, curls and separates lashes for a doll-like, natural-looking finish.

Wrong. I was so wrong. I don’t know why people like this mascara. It made my lashes look clumpy and spidery after one application, and even though it isn’t waterproof, it was a total pain to remove.

BADGal lash is considerably cheaper and makes your lashes look lush, long and natural – definitely a must-have if you’re looking to splurge. And if you want the volume of They’re Real! at a fraction of the cost, give L’Oreal’s Million Lashes Mascara a try.

However, CoverGirl’s Clump Crusher mascara has both of those dupes – even BADGal – beat. At about $6 a tube, Clump Crusher does exactly what it claims, at a price that can’t be beat. I’ve been using it for a few months (it’s officially my holy grail mascara) and clumps are a thing of the past. It’s not as volumizing as the other two mascaras, so if you like a dramatic eye, this might not be the product for you. However, if you want long, thick, natural-looking lashes, CoverGirl is the way to go.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Radiant Touch

Product Information: YSL Touche Éclat, Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer, Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless Eye Concealer, Benefit Sun Beam

Ah, Touche Éclat. The ultimate… Okay, what exactly is Touche Éclat supposed to be? Is it a concealer? A highlighter? No one really seems to know, but everyone’s obsessed with it. And sure, it will give you a gorgeous glow, if you happen to have $40 to spend on .1 oz of product. Don’t get me wrong, Yves Saint Laurent is the ultimate in luxury beauty (their glossy stains are to die for), but this product falls a little short of its hyped-up reputation.

YSL claims Touche Éclat “immediately erases any signs of fatigue” but its coverage is minimal at best. As college students, we know how bad under-eye circles can really get, and Touche Éclat just doesn’t get the job done.

Maybelline’s Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer, on the other hand, not only brightens dark circles, it almost completely erases them, all for about $8. If you need a concealer that’s a little more nourishing to the under-eye area, CoverGirl + Olay’s new Simply Ageless concealer is the way to go, as it also provides excellent coverage and a glowing finish.

But maybe Touche Éclat isn’t meant to be used as a concealer. No one can seem to agree on what you’re supposed to do with it, and as an illuminator it’s hard to beat. Benefit’s Sun Beam liquid highlighter provides the same golden glow for just a little more than half of the cost (plus it comes with much more product), so if you’re in the mood to splurge, it’s the better deal.

Your thoughts?

Have you tried any of these products? Which beauty favorites do you think are worth the hype? Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think, I love hearing your thoughts!

Posted on on March 21, 2013 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , ,

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34 Responses to “5 Mega-Hyped Beauty Products to Skip (and What You Should Try Instead)”

  1. 1
    March 21st, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I totally agree with you in all of them especially in the Benefit They’re Real mascara. I was dying to try it because everybody seem to love it and all and when I got a sample I was super excited. Then like you said when I put it, it clumped all over my lashes, make them flaky unnatural and it was a pain to remove it. Horrible mascara, so glad I didn’t bought the normal size, I like the lipbutters, they’re not the greatest thing but they’re ok, especially the shade tutti frutti.

  2. 2
    March 21st, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    The Lip Butters are more moisturizing to me than the Balm Stains, but the Balm Stains are a bit more amazing. All you do is add a gloss after it dries, and you’re set.

  3. 3
    March 21st, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    What an awesome post. I need to get one of those Revlon Just Bitten Balm Stains!

  4. 4
    March 21st, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I will say, I have tried and tried to find a lip product that gives good color, stays all day, and isn’t drying – I’ve not tried the lip butters, but I do have the Burt’s Bees one and love it. But one product that has been raved over – and rightfully so – is the OCC lip tars. Stays on all day, no feathering, and only needs a tiny bit of product so the tube lasts an insanely long time.

  5. 5
    March 21st, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    This was a great article!

    Personally, I wont use any product that isn’t organic and vegan. Too many products (including most of the ones you listed) nowadays contain dangerous chemicals, animal rendering byproducts, and cancerongens. I use all Arbonne products, and my skin has gotten SOO much healtheir! I am just in love with it. :D And the best thing, is it’s cheeper than a lot of the other so-called “organic products” out there!

  6. 6
    March 21st, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    A lot of the alternatives are my go-to products! I love Milani’s Luminoso blush, the Burt’s Bees tinted lip balms, and the Maybelline Dream Lumi highlighting concealer.

  7. 7
    March 21st, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Haven’t tried any of the products in question, but I think this is a great review idea. I will spend big on an amazing product, but I often find that the one I find worth it are not the ones that get all the hype. I do my research on beauty sites and Youtube – my favorite trick is to find a Youtube makeup artist (preferably a real professional who posts videos) with pale skin (and dark eyes) like mine and go from there to know what products actually may come in my skintone. I am a major groupie for Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (it’s a British brand, I think?) and Tarte mascara because they work for me…even though they’re not exactly bestsellers generally.

  8. 8
    March 21st, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I got a free birthday sample of the “They’re Real!” mascara, and I TOTALLY agree with you. I was super disappointed, especially since I’m still using and LOVING my Sugar lip treatment from Fresh from last year’s free birthday gift! The gift also came with a tiny version of Benefit’s “Watt’s Up!” highlighter… I haven’t tried that yet but I hope that’s not disappointing as well!

  9. 9
    March 21st, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    The absolute best blush I have is a fantastic dupe for Orgasm–and it costs about 3 bucks. It’s called e.l.f. Studio Blush in “twinkle pink” and I highly recommend it!

  10. 10
    March 21st, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I love what you wrote about the mascaras!! I too am I huuuuuuuuuuge fan of the BADgal lash mascara! It plumps and lengthens and takes your lashes to whole new level! Definitely a nice gift to yourself around the holidays or your birthday. I tried Benefit’s “They’re Real” mascara through Sephora and I liked it, but I wouldn’t use it by itself. I pair with Maybelline’s newest mascara “The Rocket” Volume Express mascara if I’m going out for dinners with friends. These two mascaras together will give you that natural fake lash length minus the glue!

  11. 11
    March 21st, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    The Revlon Balm/Stains are FREAKING AMAZING! I love them so much! They are the perfect mix of color and moisture. And after it wears of, it leaves a light color that’s not too strong. I love them so much better than anything else I’ve tried.

  12. 12
    March 21st, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Been looking for a blush….but I think i’ll try Origins blush, because it’s natural hehe :)

  13. 13
    March 21st, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I love this article, but I had to add that L’oreal lumi magique is a closer dupe of the YSL touche eclat. It has the same sheer texture, and L’oreal is the parent company of YSL. Maybelline dream lumi’s thicker coverage makes for a better concealer, though, so it’s an issue of whether people want more concealer or highlighter in their pen!

  14. 14
    March 22nd, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I love my Revlon Balm Stain, but I also love my Revlon Lip Butter. My lips aren’t drier than usual when I use the Lip Butter–I really like it.

  15. 15
    March 22nd, 2013 at 5:14 am

    I love the reviews since I find of them certainly true especially with Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Radiant Touch. May I suggest another review for example Maybelline Great Lasg which has a great cult following.

  16. 16
    March 22nd, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I disagree with the author’s opinion on Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara. For someone with short, straight lashes that don’t stay curled very long, I personally found it to be a great mascara; it gave both volume and length with only a couple coats, and my lashes didn’t droop after application–they remained curled.

  17. 17
    March 22nd, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Revlon’s Colorstay Ultimate Suede is the new best thing I’ve found in lipsticks (instead of the Lip Butters). When you put it on, it’s pretty moisturizing, and it stays on through meals, drinks, literally everything. Also, the color “Muse” is a hot pink that looks good on nearly everyone. :)

  18. 18
    March 22nd, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Oh boy. I’m guilty of owning them all except for the Diorskin powder. The only real disagreement I have is with the Benefit mascara. When I used it, it was the first time someone commented on my lashes before!

    I always get swept up by the rave reviews and think: “I have to have it!”. Speaking of which, anyone try the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders? Love it!

  19. 19
    March 22nd, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Personally, I LOVE Nars blush and think it’s totally worth it! With so much hype around the Orgasm shade, I was underwhelmed when I first tried it. But I have never gotten so many compliments on blush before. The color stays all day, and it’s sheer enough that you can layer it on until you get the right color without fear of overdoing it. I’m obsessed :)

    Other favorites are MAC pressed mineral powder (which I prefer to Bare Minerals), Maybelline Lash Stiletto mascara (nothing else lengthens my lashes like this), and Clinique chubby stick lip balms. I’ve never tried the Revlon lip butters, but the chubby sticks might be a good alternative – bold yet sheer lip color and the feel of lip balm! It’s a little pricy, but lots of drugstore brands make knock offs, so that might be something to try. And I am in love with Victoria’s Secret highlighting/shimmer products – they make my skin glowy!

  20. 20
    March 22nd, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    This is such an interesting article! I’ve been looking for a new blush for ages now and was so close to buying Nars Orgasm. I’ll put it off to try some of the other blushes you mentioned.
    I do have to say, I completely disagree with your They’re Real review. Like Lara, I have short, straight, fine lashes and this is the first mascara that actually makes it look like I have eyelashes. It could be that you are blessed with already long, lush eyelashes. This mascara does WONDERS for the unlucky like myself.
    That being said, makeup is going to work differently on each person. We’re all unique so some products will work for some while they don’t work for others. Great piece!

  21. 21
    March 22nd, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Great post! I love finding “dupes” to hyped up products. There are a ton on the Temptalia blog too. I think there are so many more less expensive blushes out there better than Nars–like NYX!

    I agree with all of these– but I LOVE my Revlon lip butters! The Revlon balm stains are more drying and i feel the color payoff isn’t as great. I use MAC lipsticks too, but the butters are non dupe-able to me :)

  22. 22
    March 23rd, 2013 at 4:12 am

    I wish you had included the prices… it’s hard to put the products in perspective

  23. 23
    March 24th, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Great post!
    I personally love Touche Eclat -not the huge price obv though- The Body Shop has a similar sort of product which I found just as good called Lightening Touch

  24. 24
    March 24th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I enjoy buying makeup, but its has become expensive even the drug store ones. Makeup reviews are very important to me. I am a fan of NARS. Lately l have been disappointed with NARS, and l fing MAC to be overrated. Thank You for the review

  25. 25
    March 29th, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I so agree on what you write about Touche Eclat: in my opinion, it is the most overrated product of the century (so far). I find that it looks too obvious on most skin types and can look very chalky and unflattering. Personally, I’m a fan of the Dior version, which makes me look radiant as if I was lit from within… LOVE! It is not a cheap alternative though… :-P

  26. 26
    March 31st, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I really liked the post except for the Benefit They’re Real. That mascara is amazing for me!! I’ve got short, straight and thin eyelashes, and when I apply it I get fuller looking, clup-free, curly lashes!! I love it!!
    I agree with the YSL Touche Eclat, I tried it in the duty free section and its just like applying a really low coverage concealer that’s way too light for you. So not worth the hype

  27. 27
    April 24th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for your advice on the Maybelline’s Concealer. An Aunt brought me the YSL Touche eclat which was not bad but there is no way I could afford to purchase it myself as its way out of my budget but $8 for the Maybelline seems a good deal. Love the blog.

  28. 28
    January 16th, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I fully agree with these. I would add that Maybelline dark circle eraser in the color Brighten is a pretty close color match to touche éclat as wel:)

  29. 29
    January 21st, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    There absolutely must be some way benefit has overlooked their shopping process – sending products on a plane that flies too high and freezes the product accidentally – something, because the They’re Real mascara is simply the best mascara ever created. Rimmel has one that I’d say is probably the et drugstore dupe and at first I thought they’d outdone benefit but alas, rimmel’s product dried out on me within two weeks. Maybe another fluke, like the clumping they’re real described above. I’d give it another try, perhaps in store so you can return it immediately if need be. Anyone who isn’t using it is missing out on a beautiful, soft an natural looking lash.

  30. 30
    March 7th, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Another “dupe” of the YSL Touche Éclat is the elf (eyes, lips, face) Radiance Enhancer. It is only $3!

  31. 31
    April 4th, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Love the information and couldn’t agree more on the review on They’re Real mascara by Benefit. I am returning it. By mid day it had flaked and even on initial application it was clumpy and sticky so my lashes couldn’t win. It did offer volume but volume of clumped lashes is not what I going for. Exactly like a spider effect! The brush is great but you cannot use the end of it on the inner corners or even at the root of your lashes because when you pull the brush out of the tube there is so much of the product that gunks up at the end of the brush and this is a brand new mascara! When trying to take it off gently at night I lost 6 lashes with one go cause all 6 lashes were clumped into the mascara. I will not buy this again. I saw the clump crusher brush and was leaning towards trying that as the brush is similar but I have heard alot of good reviews on Buxom too not that it really matters because They’re Real shows great reviews on store websites unless you are reading mine:)

  32. 32
    May 21st, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    There are lots of things I agree with in this post but for the mascara part I totally disagree, heres why: a mascara is 50% about the wand and 50% about the formula, so you might like the wand of one and think that a cheaper one with the same wand is gonna do the same thing but its not. Personnaly I dont like theyre real mascara but doesnt mean it isnt good, it depends on what effect your looking for, what lashes you already have and how the brush is made. Some brushes/formulas are meant to be combed from root to tip or your lashes will wtick together and some mascaras are meant to be wiggled true the lashes… so a mascara is really a personnal thing and you shouldnt get one because people like it or not ( trust me I learned the hard way :P)

  33. 33
    January 24th, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    About the controversy over whether or whether not They’re Real is a good mascara or not, I personally think it’s great. I’ve owned about 2 tubes and so far, it works absolutely amazing. Of course there are lesser priced dupes like the Covergirl Falsies one (not exactly sure if thats the accurate name!), which i’ve owned as well. Comparing between those two, They’re Real works WAY better, but at a much higher price, so it’s really a splurge. But, I can see why people say it clumps. It does, but only if you apply it wrong. I’ve tested this, and if you apply it too fast and add another coat before the original one dries, it WILL clump the lashes, making them spidery and well, gross looking. So, then I tried applying it slower and lighter, (not from the root up yet) the first coat being very feathery looking and “sweet”, then, after it dries a little more, I added a second coat from the root up, and they look amazing. From all the stories i’ve heard and the way people are applying the mascara, they’re just doing it wrong. Try different ways to work for you! I also recently bought the Better Than Sex mascara from Too Faced, which is supposed to pair very well with They’re Real. (There’s also a great 8 dollar dupe from Covergirl as well!)

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