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Drugstore vs. Designer Cosmetics: Guest Blogger

The dynamic duo behind Beauty Bender, Kathryn Romeyn and Alexis Johnson, have an impeccable eye for deciphering up-and-coming cosmetics trends and finding experts to give the lowdown on how to wear them. (It must be the decade’s worth of magazine curating experience they have between them.) We can’t get enough of their gorgeous site, and happily, for a whole week they’re sharing all of their beauty insight on our blog!


1. Lip Balm

Still produced with the same formula as in 1899, when the company started, Bag Balm is our hands-down secret weapon. The emollient, antiseptic ointment is unparalleled for softening hands, feet, and most especially lips.

It’s hard to find a lip product that doesn’t just moisturize and plump, but adds the perfect tinge of color, includes SPF, and smells incredible—but doesn’t taste like anything. This balm contains technology that tints everyone’s lips differently, in concert with their distinct chemistry. Turns out, it’s addictive.

2. Mascara

We love mascara, of course. But finding the right formula that volumizes, lengthens, and doesn’t clump is essential. Maybelline Lash Stiletto answered our prayers with its smooth, lightweight consistency that leaves lashes plumped and never dry or spidery.

This may not be the absolute, most lengthening mascara, but it’s our ultimate pick for voluminous, dramatic lashes. The brush’s bristles are all different diameters, which translates into extra thick, amped-up fringe that rivals falsies in impact. Plus, it also comes in iris-enhancing shades like burgundy and deep purple.

3. Top Coat for Nails

Even though Healthy Hoof’s clear polish was originally used by horse trainers for their ponies’ hooves, the quick-drying Hoof Lacquer is by far the best topcoat out there for (human) fingers and toes, delivering UV protection and a high-sheen finish. We apply a thin coat every few days to keep our manis chip-free.

For a gilded Versailles-inspired finish to any mani—pastel, punchy, even black—we turn to Rococo’s brilliant (always sold-out) 24-karat gold-leaf topcoat, which manages an unmatched opulence without being pretentious. Besides adding statement-making power to nails, it’s unfailingly glossy and hard-wearing.

4. Liquid Liner    

This felt-tipped liner gives the ultimate versatility in application, allowing for both a thick and a thin line depending on how you hold the marker. Available in black, brown, and dark gray, it’s is also infused with a lash-lengthening serum. 

To us, the most covetable of all liquid liners is the water-resistant Ligne Extrême, which allows for precision application with its thin, soft-bristled brush. The smooth and highly pigmented pure black formula goes on easy, dries quickly, and stays put for hours on end. (We also love the stunning metallic gold version.) 

5. Lipstick

It’s safe to say that when makeup artist goddess Pat McGrath recommends a product, we’ll be on board. This new 16-lipstick collection goes from rosy pink to deep burgundy, but every hue is vibrant, on-trend, and includes a silky moisturizing complex in its formula for maximum softness and color.

It would be hard to imagine seeking a shade that Make Up For Ever doesn’t already count in its 50-color range of Rouge Artist Intense lipsticks—the go-to of every makeup artist we know. The richly pigmented hues come in three finishes and completely saturate our lips while keeping them silky smooth.  

6. Blush

With both a bronzer and blush—perfect for contouring the cheekbones and jawline—in one of six palettes, Neutrogena’s blush duo perfectly encapsulates this season’s emphasis on sun-kissed glowiness. The light powder formula also has antioxidants that really will leave you radiant. 

This creamy, tri-tone blush of two colors plus a highlight shade also doubles as lip color (just add a little balm on top). But it’s the blendable, velvety consistency that makes it one of our must-haves. Available in two palettes (Show Biz, a raspberry-hued set, and In Lights, warm and coral-tinged), it works on all skin tones.

Looking for more great suggestions on drugstore vs. designer finds? Check out this post here.

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