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Top 5 Beauty Products Worth Splurging On


Top 5 Beauty Products Worth Splurging On

It’s now almost two weeks after Christmas (and only 353 ’til Christmas Day 2010… not that I’m counting!) and, like many of you, I have a slew of gift cards for different retailers, many of them to Sephora. This year, instead of spending my gift cards on lots of little things, I’m planning a few splurges on beauty products that are really worth my cash.

Whether you’re planning some gift card splurges or just want to upgrade your beauty regime, here are five beauty products worth splurging on:

1. Blow-Dryer/Flat-Iron

Best blow dryers and flat irons

It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say that my life changed when I got my T3 hairdryer for Christmas a few years back, but I can honestly say my locks haven’t been happier… or more hydrated. The same could be said for my CHI flat iron – my hair has never looked this good.

Now, your drugstore blow-dryer/curling iron/flat iron might be doing the trick for now, but higher end styling tools cut down the time you spend on your hair by at least half, and they also make hair look silkier and shinier. Don’t buy it?’s beauty blogger Caitlin just raved about her new T3 Evolution Tourlmaine Blowdryer ($129.50 at BeautyChoice). Great quality flat-irons include those by Farouk CHI ($69.72 at Amazon), GHD’s IV Styler ($240 at Sephora), and Solano’s HAI ($55.95 at Amazon).

As a girl who used to spend 30+ minutes blow drying and 30+ straightening her hair, I guarantee these products are so worth the investment. Seriously, this is one splurge your hair will thank you for.

2. Makeup Brushes

Makeup Brushes

I’ll admit it: I used to be the kind of girl that used the makeup brushes that came with the Clinique free samples. Horrible, I know! Thank goodness my friend Brittany introduced me to MAC makeup brushes while I was in high school. To this day, she still cannot live without her #134 Large Powder Brush ($52 at MAC). Quality brushes honestly make all the difference.

A great brush can make even the worst-quality makeup look natural and even, while even the best makeup can look horrible if applied with a sub-par tool. Along with MAC, Sephora Professional also has a really durable and extensive brush collection. Personal favorites from that line include the Angled Eyeliner Brush #23 ($17), which applies eyeliner so-close-you-wouldn’t-believe-it to my lash line and Bronzer Brush #48 ($35), which blends makeup to perfection. A few of these brushes in your beauty bag and I swear, your makeup will look SO much better.

3. Bare Escentuals bareMinerals

Bare Escentuals Starter Kit

Oily skin, meet your match: it’s a foundation in mineral-powder form, and it’s called bareMinerals by Bare Escentuals. No doubt you’ve heard of the brand, or even seen the infomercial early in the morning. Now I’m not really one to buy things from infomercials (unless it’s for my I Tried It column), but this stuff is the real deal.

My friends with greasier skin cannot stop raving about this product, and it’s easy to see why: the powder is so fine, yet covers up blemishes easily, and won’t slide off, even on super greasy skin. Mineral Veil ($19 at Sephora,) Bare Escentuals’ powder, just soaks oil up. The best part about this foundation system? It won’t clog pores. Apparently, you can even sleep in it!

If you’re curious, I’d recommend starting with the Get Started Complexion Kit ($60 at Sephora). The set comes with three different brushes, two different foundation colors, AND an instructional DVD! Although I wouldn’t recommend this to those of you with drier skin (that’s what tinted moisturizer is for!), every girl with oily/combination/normal skin I know who uses it literally cannot live without this product.

4. Perfume

Perfume by Marc Jacobs, Armani, and Tom Ford

Finding your signature scent can be time-consuming (and expensive!) but it’s so, so, worth it. Perfume is transformational: it can make you feel sexy, pretty, happy, or any combination of the above with just a spritz. Even better, scent is the sense most tied to memory, so sticking to a signature scent can actually make people think of you when they smell it. Cool, right?

There’s a perfume out there for all of us, from Marc Jacobs’s sweet and playful Daisy ($57 at Sephora,) to Tom Ford’s dark and sexy Black Orchid ($92 at Sephora). The key to finding a scent that’s right for you is trying it on your skin. While Armani’s Code ($62 at Sephora) works great on my friend Rachel, it doesn’t work so nicely on yours truly.

With the myriad of different bottles on the shelves at your favorite stores, how can you ever find the right one to work with your skin chemistry? Luckily for us, retailers like to classify perfumes in broad categories, the most common being fresh, floral, oriental and woodsy. Fresh perfumes tend to be on the lighter side with notes like citrus and violet, while woodsy perfumes have notes like cinnamon and patchouli. Most of the time, the ‘type’ of fragrance will be marked somewhere on the perfume description. Once you find what ‘type’ of perfume works best on you, try on different scents (which may take a few trips to your favorite department store) until you find the one that you like best!

5. Blush

Blushes by NARS, MAC, and Benefit

While the four aforementioned products can cost you most of your gift card money (Even makeup brushes add up!), a good blush that suits your skin color is an occasional splurge that’s worth the price.

I know some of you dear readers must be like me: you’ll go to a drugstore and buy a makeup product (like blush) and, once home, you’ll find out that it doesn’t quite work on your skintone. But do we throw it away? Of course not! Instead, we put it in the back of our makeup bag, only to use it two weeks later when we’re in a pinch and need some cheek color, stat! Two weeks later, it looks as bad as it did when we first bought it. Yet, we don’t want to throw it away and back it goes into the depths of our makeup case. The point is, finding a good blush (or concealer or foundation or powder, etc.) at a drugstore takes a lot of time, effort, and money. Plus, trying all those different colors adds up to more than the price of a similar high-end product.

Your best bet is to simply go to MAC, Sephora, ULTA or any department store and try on the myriad of different shades until you find one that matches your skin tone exactly. Then spend the extra money to buy that perfect shade. While I don’t believe NARS blushes ($25 at Sephora) can be surpassed in quality, I know quite a few friends who rave about similar MAC ($18.50 at MAC) and Benefit ($28.50 at Benefit) products. Whatever you do, invest in a high-quality blush and start actually saving money at the drugstore!

What do you guys think?

What other beauty products are worth the splurge? Are you planning to use your gift cards for any beauty splurges? Let me know in the comments!

Posted on on January 6, 2010 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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36 Responses to “Top 5 Beauty Products Worth Splurging On”

  1. 1
    January 6th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    On Armani Code, I was really surprised. I got it and the scent last exactly 4 hours while my Juicy Couture or J’adore by Dior lasts me all day. I was surprised at it but it really doesn’t have the lasting power which saddened me because I LOVE the scent.

  2. 2
    January 6th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Skincare! I don’t use makeup everyday, so it’s important for me to keep my skin healthy and clear. I’ve tried a lot of products, but Lush keeps my face happy!

    Daily cleanser: Coalface
    Twice a week scrub: Dark Angels
    Face moisturizer: Vanishing Cream

    Vanishing Cream costs 36 bucks for 1.7 ounces, but I know I’ve ordered from Lush UK with the monetary conversions giving it to me for between 18-14 dollars.

    I couldn’t imagine myself spending 52+ on one single makeup brush. The Eco-tools set I got at Target for around 12 dollars seems to suit me just fine.

  3. 3
    January 6th, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I am so addicted to Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner. I can live with getting most everything else from the makeup aisle at Walmart (esp now that they have Hard Candy!) but not that eyeliner. I fell in love in HS and haven’t gone back since, plus it lasts a really long time. Mark from Avon actually has really good brushes for pretty cheap so you don’t have to spend a fortune :)

  4. 4
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I LOVEEEE my CHI Farouk Straightener! Cant live without it!

  5. 5
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I’ve had the T3 blowdryer for a while now and I absolutely love it so that is definitely worth the splurge. I haven’t heard of the GHD flatiron until today (Rachel Zoe featured it on her daily e-mail, The Zoe Report) so it must be great!

    I just started using Bare Escentuals bareMinerals about 6 months ago and I absolutely love it. I use their matte foundation, blush, eyeshadow and their Rare Minerals Skin Revival Treatment before bed (AMAZING STUFF!)

    I think it’s important to splurge on a fabulous fragrance. I like to use a perfume that nobody has because I want my scent to be unique. Serge Lutens has unreal fragrances and they are all unisex. They are also oil-based (rather than alcohol-based) so they aren’t as strong initially and they last much longer than most other fragrances. They are sold at Barneys so if you’re interested, check out your nearest Barneys or

    Great post!

  6. 6
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I still can’t see the point in perfumes. I think I smell fine naturally and none of the perfumes I ever smell in stores seem like they’re better than how I smell or at all worth the humongous price tag.

  7. 7
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I have a HAI straightener, and i cant live without it. The price of the makeup brushes are a problem for me, maybe since i’m still in highschool. I got some really good brushes from coastal scents for really cheap! Also, finding a perfume for me has not been going too well…I don’t want to wear perfume to school because i feel like it could be too strong, but i need a good one for going out.
    Really good post by the way!!

  8. 8
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Mer got the Bare MInerals startup kit for Christmas, and she swears by it. She let me use it one day, and it looked so good that I’m seriously tempted to go out and buy one for myself.

    On the subject of brushes, why do so many makeup brushes end up being so expensive? It might not be a lot for non college people, but at least for me, $52 is a hell of a lot of money to blow on a makeup brush.

  9. 9
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    When it comes to any product with your skin, face, or hair, it’s worth it to splurge on anything. While I’m a huge fan of just about everything mentioned here, I think it’s worth saying that with any of these types of things, you get what you pay for.

  10. 10
    January 6th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I got a ghd about 4 years ago and it was the best thing ive bought for my hair. I have incredibly curly/frizzy hair and this straightener worked wonders!!! Couldnt live without it.

  11. 11
    January 6th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Yes, I think when it comes to your skin and face anything is worth splurging on!

    and @ Lisa: the reason why so many people wear perfumes is because they love to smell like that certain scent.
    I smell fine naturally too, but I like to smell different sometimes…

  12. 12
    January 6th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Lisa – While I agree that people do smell fine naturally, the point of wearing perfume nowadays isn’t to mask the smell of some real or perceived funk. As stated in the article, perfume can make a person feel transformed. I personally love perfume and feel kind of naked without it.

    Nonetheless, perfume isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and even if it is, selecting one can be a daunting task. Two sites I’ve found to be incredibly helpful for discovering new perfumes are and They both have incredible selections of perfumes, and customers may buy small samples; which is very helpful for someone as curious and indecisive about fragrance as I am. I can try 25 different perfumes with each vial providing 4-5 wears for roughly the cost of a single bottle of perfume. It’s fantastic!

    I agree with JG that the Serge Lutens line of perfumes are absolutely magnificent and unique. I was also able to write to Palais Royale de Shiseido and receive free wax samples of the SL line; while I’m not sure if they still do this, it’s worth looking into. I eventually (and slowly) splurged on several bottles of SL fragrances, and I don’t regret it one bit.

    They’re actually not oil-based; they have essential oils and absolutes as part of their fragrant compound, but they’re staying power can be attributed to the power of their base notes, rather than the base of the perfume itself. For example, SL fragrances like Fumerie Turque, Muscs Koublai Khan, and Borneo 1834 can last through a shower because of their powerful base notes. On the other hand, some of the lighter scents like Clair de Musc and Bois de Violette last only for a few hours.

  13. 13
    January 6th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I FINALLY got a ghd straigtener for xmas this year. It’s worth every penny. And now they finally sell them in North America! Definitely reccomend it.

  14. 14
    January 6th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    * Please excuse my typos; I really do know the difference between there, their, and they’re.

  15. 15
    January 6th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I definitely agree about these splurges. I’ve made most of them myself. My only recommendation is not to use the bare minerals brush (only the main “kabuki” brush). Bare Minerals themselves are the best foundation I’ve ever used. But everytime I try to use the brush that comes in the kit to apply it, I break out BADLY. The concealer brush is amazing, though. So definitely splurge on the kit, but get your own powder brush.

  16. 16
    January 6th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I loveee my CHI straightener- I would have a lion’s mane without it! I also like how you put MAC cream blush- I usually have one color in the summer and one for winter and one container lasts me all season! For those of us who love quality brushes, but not the stiff price I recommend buying brush sets around the holiday. Companies like Smashbox always have brush sets available for stocking stuffers! Check out this one…. the large powder brush alone usually retails for $48 and this whole set is about $40!

    Also, I think it’s really important to invest in a good shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizer for your face….take care of your locks/skin, and they will be your best accessory, no?!

  17. 17
    January 6th, 2010 at 5:28 pm


    btw great post Elizabeth!

  18. 18
    January 6th, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I disagree about blush. What I would do, if you’re confused about what color blush works on you, is go to a MAC counter or Sephora and play around until you find the right color…and then go online and search for a dupe from a drugstore brand. There are some really great drugstore brands that perform just as well as higher end brands, and they make NARS and MAC colors, so make sure you do your research!

    I think the single most important thing you can invest in is your skincare, since clear healthy skin requires less makeup (no foundation, concealer, etc), saving you money in the long run. I also splurged on a CHI hair straightener, so even if I use my cheapo hairdryer, I can run my hair through it and it ends up pin straight.

    Try ELF Studio line for cheap brushes that work as well as MAC, if you don’t want to spend so much on brushes…and you can use the money you saved on fun eyeshadow!

    Great article…I think you definitely hit on things that can really enhance a girl’s look (great hair, great skin, great scent). I guess I would just add the caveat that you don’t have to spend a lot, just be sure to do your research and invest a lot of time in your decisions.

  19. 19
    January 6th, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I have a T3 and a GHD…seriously some of the best money I’ve ever spent. T3 has a travel size if you don’t want to spend as much but still have a great blow-dryer. I’ve had mine for probably 3 or 4 years now and still love it! I just got my GHD over the summer, but it is seriously the most amazing straighter everr!! Especially if you straighten your hair every day like I do (obviously some good heat-defense hair products are a good investment too). But my hair is so shiny and I swear by both of these products. I know the GHD can curl, but I have yet to try it.

    Other beauty products to splurge on: MOISTURIZER! Your skin is so vital and these days everyone wants to look young and fresh, and definitely take preventative measures like fighting anti-aging.

  20. 20
    January 6th, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    If you’ve ever seen “The Princess Diaries,” I have the triangle hair just like Mia before her makeover. In the eighth grade I saved my money for months and splurged on a CHI turbo 1 inch flat iron. I cannot say enough good things about higher quality flat irons. I never have excessive heat damage, it takes me only fifteen minutes, and my hair turns out perfectly every time. I can curl, wave, and straighten my hair with one tool. It remains the best investment I’ve EVER made.

    As far as perfume goes, I never wear the stuff. I’ve got a huge stock-pile build up of it though, seeing as everyone decides to give me some for the holidays. My philosophy is that you wash yourself in the shower with body wash. That has a smell. After that you put on lotion. That has a smell. To top it all off, there is the body spritz. That too, has a smell. I just can’t bring myself to pile on four different scents before I walk out the door.

  21. 21
    January 6th, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I find that blush doesn’t work well on my complexion, but if I mix blush with a little bronzer it looks natural. I use the lid of the blush to mix the two.

  22. 22
    January 6th, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I saw perfume on this list and I had a question. I found the perfect scent, but it was a victoria secret limited edition perfume. I got so many compliments and I just felt like the scent was me! I have looked and looked trying to find any leftovers of this product. I ran out of it. It was called Victoria’s Secret Sexy Now 2008 Limited Edition. It had gold palm leaves the bottle. I found it on ebay for around three hundred dollars. That’s a little steep considering it would be one bottle and I paid a little over 20 dollars orignially. I was just curious if you knew of a product that had a similar smell. I looked up what elements created the smell online and one website said that it smelled like “glazed apple, mouthwatering peach and fresh magnolia blossom.. Additional notes include pineapple pulp, bergamot, melon, peony petals, jasmine, vanilla, sandalwood, sensual musks.” If you can let me know of a similar scent or just address how to get over a lost scent. Thanks!!

  23. 23
    January 6th, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    lets see….i think all i need is probably the tinted moiturizer…blush makes me look like a clown cuz i blush pretty easily and is shows pretty well dispite being pretty tan, im more of a natrual bed-head or scrunched kinda person, and couture perfumes smell exactly the same to me.

  24. 24
    January 7th, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I don’t really splurge on beauty products but I do reccomend on splurging a really good shampoo/conditioner especially if you have thick hair like mine, you need a good quality hair product that will keep hair shiny, hydrated, and not greasy. I didn’t get any gift cards this year but I did get a lot of money which I spent on some stuff at H&M and I’m going to use at American Eagle, dELIA’s, Wet Seal, and Forever 21.

  25. 25
    January 7th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    It’s nice… but what if you don’t have money AT ALL? lol
    I try to spend most of my beauty budget on make up products. Where I live there’re not good make up brushes, so I’m saving some money to buy them online, along with some good eye makeup. Which brand do you recomend?

  26. 26
    January 7th, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I used to have a CHI but it broke…RIGHT after the 1 year warranty expired! Funny thing was, I told my hair stylist about this and she told me that the same thing happened to her and other girls at her salon. Although it was a great flat iron, I would not buy again simply because I was devastated when it suddenly broke. I now use a Sedu which I have had for about a year and a half. It still works great and I definitely reccommend it! It’s about as pricey as the CHI and others that are as popular.
    Also, I just discovered the difference that nice brushes make! I bought a few at ULTA, but I soon figured out that their brushes are not much less expensve than higher end brands (they work pretty well, though). I since have been building up a collection slowly. Every two weeks I buy a brush or two to add to my collection, and I have started to learn which kinds work for me. Since I dont wear much makeup besides eye makeup, blush and tinted moisturizer, I don’t want to splurge on a set with a billion concealer and foundation brushes.

  27. 27
    January 10th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I suggest going for the Sigma brushes. The quality is amazing and you get twelve brushes for around 70$. This can’t be beat

  28. 28
    January 15th, 2010 at 3:10 am

    I work in a hair salon, and I have to give my professional opinion: the CHI isn’t all its cracked up to be. A far better flat iron is the HairArt iron, roughly the same price as the CHI (might be up to 20$ cheaper some places), but superior. Heats up to the same temperature, ceramic plated, but the key difference is YOU CAN CHANGE THE HEAT SETTING. On the CHI iron, it is one switch – on or off – which means more damage to your hair in the long run if you use it every day. Lower the heat a little bit, and save your hair and your wallet from expensive treatments!

  29. 29
    January 21st, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I would like to suggest to girls with oily skin a perfect mask!!!i can’t live without it. It’s sparkling clean from Estee can use it both ways :first you apply it as a mask and after 10 min. you add some water and use it as a scrub. It;s perfect!! But I can’t inform you about the price cause I am a college student from Greece and we use euros!!

  30. 30
    February 5th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I just have one thing Im a bit confused about…

    In this post, you recommend NARS blush, but in the “most overrated beauty products of all time”, you say NARS blush is overrated….

    I want to invest in a good blush, do you recommend it, or no?? Ive heard both good and bad things…
    and if not, which one do you recommend the most??


  31. 31
    February 5th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Hey S!
    I think NARS Orgasm, NARS’s most popular blush color, is overrated because magazines and makeup artists say “IT’S THE BEST COLOR EVER AND ITS GOING TO LOOK PERFECT ON EVERYONE’S SKINTONE!!!!!” and therefore, so many of us (myself include) are/were disappointed when we tried it, because there is no color that’s going to look good on every. single. person’s skin.

    NARS makes great blushes and I’d definitely recommend the brand, just make sure to try the colors at Sephora or go to a NARS counter at Nordstroms or Saks or Neiman’s instead of blindly picking Orgasm. If Orgasm looks great on you, then lucky girl! But NARS has so many other shades that are often overlooked.

    In short, if you want a high-quality blush, buy NARS, but don’t just buy Orgasm without trying it because everyone says it’s the greatest.

  32. 32
    February 5th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Wow thanks! That was extremely helpful.

    I think I will invest in NARS since it does come so highly recommended by many people, but if I`m spending $40 on blush, it`s important I try it out first.

    I`ll test Orgasm first, but if I`m not happy with the color, I`ll test out a few of their other shades too until I find what I am looking for.

  33. 33
    February 11th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Hey ladies I love my CHI to but you have got to try a Coopela Keratin straitening treatment, my once frizzy curly hair is perfect like a barbies every day, must blow dry though. Cost is about 300 once you by the shampoo and tip, I got mine at ulta and will never go with out again.

  34. 34
    May 19th, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Sonia Kashuk at Target makes GREAT brushes! You can buy them individually and sometimes she has sets that are really beautiful. I bought one awhile ago that benefited Breast Cancer awareness. I also really like her white handled angled brush, that thing is amazing.

    Blush is great and I LOVE MAC’s. However Rimmel makes really great blushes (the one with three colors) that are more affordable. If you ever get an opportunity, get the MAC Beauty powder blushes as they are so smooth and lovely!!

    I used to think that I looked like a clown with blush on but I actually look dead and blotchy without it. The trick is find your color, use a bit, and blend alot.

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