I definitely miss the perks of working for a magazine: the semi-annual or sometimes quarterly beauty sales that would take place in the conference room. This was a free-for-all beauty sale of all the products that came through the beauty department. Unlike the fashion department where samples went back to the companies (and from magazine to magazine), beauty products were sent to never be returned. It's not like the beauty companies would send a magazine another magazine's used and tested lipstick (though, really, these days anything could be photoshopped). Every item was marked at $1, fragrances and other bigger ticket items were around $5 and all the proceeds would go to a women's charity. It was a great way to stock up on shampoos, nail polishes, shower gels and to experiment with items at a bargain basement price tag. I usually donated $20 regardless of whether I took 5 or 15 items. A lot of the items I still use to this day were things I got at a random beauty sale. But my next three "can't live without" items all have other beginnings...
Best Liquid Foundation: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk
I've used many liquid foundations in my lifetime but this one seriously beats the pants off every one. I was lucky to have the official GA makeup artist, Tim Quinn, do my makeup on a few occasions and then be given a whole bag of products to take home with me. I still own several bottles, though some are in the matte formula as well. I prefer the Luminous Silk version for its sheer and dewy but full coverage. I have hardly any left of my #5, so I have been mixing my #6 Luminous with my #4 Matte and making it work.
Best Every Day Hair Conditioner (Rinse Out): Paul Labrecque Daily Condition Moisture Mud
OMG. The best conditioner in the world. I actually never used this until I moved to Omaha. I have been getting my hair cut at Paul Labrecque's East Side salon for years (by Shin, the most talented cutter ever!) and when I decided to include a hair care line at Trocadero, I contacted Paul and his partner Brian and they sent me full size bottles of all the products they thought I should carry. Well, I was hooked in a nano-second. Everything from the scent to the packaging to the conditioning effects. The smell of the mud conditioner is earthy but clean and I love the vacuum sealed packaging with the "no waste" pump dispenser. The conditioner itself is super thick and rich but doesn't weigh down the hair. It can be left on the hair for a minute or up to 20 minutes for a deeper conditioning treatment. I love it and can never get enough of it!
Best Curling Iron: Conair Instant Heat 3/4 inch Barrel
I love that it's so basic but literally the best curling iron I've ever used. While it's not a professional barrel with the reverse grip handle (which I find so hard to use), I prefer the easier-to-maneuver simplicity of this very affordable curling iron. I didn't find this at any beauty sale; my mother was the owner of a Conair Instant Heat curling iron and after borrowing it and telling her how good I thought it was, she told me to take it (that's what moms do). I find that a 3/4 inch barrel works best on most hair to give ringlets but also to create fuller waves as well. And I love the twisty temperature control that goes up to "25." It's super fast heating and definitely provides a top-notch curl on even the finest hair. My first Conair Instant Heat was accidentally broken by housekeeping at the George V in Paris so they replaced it with some Euro iron that was undoubtedly more expensive but just did not curl my hair the same way. Save your money on those expensive brands and ceramic barrels from CHI and Babyliss, this one does the trick and for about a fraction of the price (under $15).