Stuff I Like: My Five Best Beauty Products

Filed under stuff i like

I’m probably the last person you’d ask about makeup and periods and styling your hair. I’ve literally never worn liquid foundation a day in my life, and the one time I wore liquid eyeliner, a co-worker said, “Oh, my gosh, Katie, something’s wrong with your eyes! Go look in the mirror!”

BUT PAY ATTENTION TO ME, ANYWAY. Here are my five very best “beauty” products of the moment:

1) Ecotools Recycled Retractable Kabuki Brush: I’ve tried other brushes in the past, and this is the first one that I’ve actually thought was soft enough for my delicate ladyskin. It’s big enough to take out an entire cheek in one pass, and I absolutely love that it has a cap so I can throw it in a makeup bag instead of having to keep it sitting out in my way-too-small-to-have-a-bunch-of-brushes-sitting-out apartment.

2) CoverGirl Fresh Complexion Pocket Powder Foundation: I have nightmares about this stuff being discontinued. It makes my skin so soft and smooth I can’t understand why anyone would ever wear liquid foundation. Other powders let too much oil shine through by the end of the day, but I can go out after work wearing this and not feel like it’s trying to slide off my skin.

3) Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curls and Waves Shampoo: I have really fine hair, and this stuff weighs it down like crazy. BUT, I guess because it’s full of moisturizers, it makes the perfect body wash. It seriously keeps my skin from ever feeling dry from one shower to the next in a way that actual body washes never did.

4) Elf Studio Blush Brush: my other super-soft brush. I use this one for powdering around my nose and eyes, where the Ecotools brush won’t reach.

5) 24.7 Minerals Anti-Aging Foundation Primer: I only learned about this stuff a couple of months ago from Gallimaufry & Minutiae, and it has changed my life. Not only does it keep my face nice and oil-free during my wild and crazy nights in New York City, but it makes my skin so smooth and soft that I sometimes go without any makeup at all.

What do you recommend?


  1. Andrea says:

    Proactive. That stuff is so amazing. I just started using it again after an 19-month hiatus. I was too afraid to use it while pregnant and just never got around to getting any until now. But dooooood. My skin is leaps and bounds better after only about 2 weeks using it. I have even been going without makeup (except for a little blush). It is such good stuff. And when I first tried it, I thought surely I was in for disappointment. I mean, how can anyone take P Diddy, Kelly Clarkson, and that girl from the Office seriously? But yes, it really is an amazing product.

    • katie ett says:

      4 realz? ‘Cause yeah, I see those commercials with Katy Perry and all that and think, “Any product that has to use celebrities to hawk it is up to no good.” And also, I’m not sure my skin needs $30 worth of care based on how good a job my $4.99 CVS generic facewash is doing.

      . . . but I’m intrigued now.

      • Andrea says:

        I swear. I only tried it out of desperation, and the fact that another coworker recommended it to me. I thought it was going to be just a shitty as every other soap I’ve used (because I never really had acne issues to begin with, but going off the pill sent my skin into a downward spiral), but it is amazing stuff. No lie.

        It actually irritates me that they use celebrities to hawk it, when it’s so not necessary.

        • Julie says:

          I have no idea why you went off the pill – but be careful – because the active ingredients in proactive can cause birth defects if you use it when you are pregnant. Or so I’ve been told.

          • Andtea says:

            I went off the pill to get pregnant (which I did), and didn’t use the stuff while I was pregnant, because I didn’t want the chemicals in my system while I was gestating and stuff. I also didn’t use it while I was breastfeeding. I just now weened my son, so I finally started using it again.

  2. Jessica R. says:

    I love your design!

    Also, thanks for the brush recommendations. Nothing I hate more than a scratchy brush.

    • katie ett says:

      Thanks! Getting to put fonts on things is basically my reason for living at this point.

      Those brushes are so cheap, too! I bought both of them from Target just because I needed to spend more to get free shipping (the Brooklyn Target is a nightmare), and they’re some of my luckiest buys ever!

  3. Serial says:

    You wash your body with shampoo? That seems so … wrong.

    • katie ett says:

      That’s what Kamran said! He’s refusing to use it and is instead claiming loyalty to the Bath & Body Works stuff that smells like vanilla frosting.

      I figure it’s all meant to clean you, and it all basically has the same ingredients.

  4. Ha! I use that shampoo on my hair precisely BECAUSE it weighs it down a little and keeps me from looking like Roseanne Roseannadanna.

    Totally gonna bathe in it today, though.

    • katie ett says:

      Funny! I would not-so-secretly love to cultivate myself a nice ‘fro, but my baby hair won’t let me. I feel like such a loser in the world of curls.

      Do it and let me know how you like it!

  5. kimz says:

    Ok, so I know you like to think I’m perfect, but you know what, I’m not. SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, don’t tell anyone.

    Anyways. My skin gets so freaking oily by the end of the day. Are you saying that the CoverGirl profuct up there should help me out? I’m so skeptical about buying foundationy type powders at CVS and the like because I fear I’ll get the shade wrong.


    (Too dramatic?)

    • katie ett says:

      Yes, I am saying that. I would also describe my skin as “so freaking oily by the end of the day”, but I can put that powder on in the morning and not feel gross for, like, 15 hours. Plus, if you use the 24.7 Minerals stuff underneath it (it’s a gel that you smooth on with your fingertips), you’ll be amazed. PLUS, if you pat down your face with a toilet seat cover when you feel oily (I know, but seriously), you’ll basically never have to wash your face again.

      The good thing is that a lot of drugstores supposedly accept returns on makeup if you don’t like it. I’ve read that CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid all will.

  6. Tessa says:

    I’m glad you asked!

    1. Maybelline Full ‘n’ Soft waterproof mascara. I ABHOR mascara clumps, even tiny ones, but I insist on waterproof mascara, so finding a good fit is near impossible. I used to use L’ancome’s Hypnose and swear up and down I’d never replace it… but the Full ‘n’ Soft is aaaaaalmost as incredible and far, far more affordable. Also, it’s possibly leaving my eyelashes in better condition that the Hypnose used to do.

    2. Makeup Forever powder foundation compact in shade 200. Regrettably, drugstore makeup is never pale enough for me, and even this stuff is a fraction of a hair too dark, but the difference is so minute that I just look a tiny bit healthier. Also, it doesn’t break my skin out the way a lot of other powder or cream-to-powder foundations do. And unlike liquid foundations, I can apply it while driving to work. Not, um, that I would do such a reckless thing.

    3. Lipsticks by Bite Beauty. Yes, they’re outrageously expensive. But they taste good. They smell good. They feel divine. They look incredible. Basically… I’m in love. I have three tubes but want about thirty more. This lip color is their lipstick Apricot (worn with MAC lip liner in Red Enriched).

    4. NARS blush in Sex Appeal and Benefit blush in Dandelion. Both are very well suited to us ghostly folks.

    • katie ett says:

      I think I’ve actually used the Maybelline mascara. I seem to have an issue where mascara + contacts = crazy dry eyes, but I recall that giving me the least amount of issues.

      I’m always dealing with the same drugstore makeup paleness problem you are, but I did find one where the lightest color was actually too light for me: Maybelline PureStay. Check it out.

      I was actually going to stop by MAC sometime to pick up a legit red lipstick for Halloween. I still haven’t gotten up the nerve yet. I can’t believe you can wear something called Apricot!; I look crazy in orange, but I like that on you.

      • Kim says:


        You should go with NARS over MAC for a red lip. MAC has the (arguably) nice vanilla scent to theirs and is cheaper, but NARS last forever and ever and doesn’t run for anything (letting you avoid that later-evening whorish look, unless you were going for that). Jungle Red is a brick, Heat Wave (bright red but with some orange tone, think J.Crew models) is even better. MAC’s liners are a better deal and just as good though.

        Also, old school Revlon. Really Red 006. No joke.

        • katie ett says:

          Oh, reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally? Maybe I’ll check out the Revlon before I go stopping by an actual makeup counter, since that intimidates me to no end.

      • Tessa says:

        Well, one thing about MAC reds is that they tend toward the warmer side. Ruby Woo and Russian Red both have huge followings, and I adore Red Enriched liner with any red gloss on top, but other than that, be careful if your coloring’s too cool for orangeyness at all.

        • katie ett says:

          Oh, yeah, I’m wildly cool, so I’d better stay away from the MAC stuff. Glad to have you real girls around to tell me these things.

  7. Kim says:

    I’m buying that first brush immediately! I hate how I can’t bring mine anywhere unless I put one in a plastic baggie all tacky-like. Thanks!

    I rec Jouer ( tint for use on the cheeks (it’s totally stupid on lips, though, as they suggest it can also be used) — I use it in “whisper” no matter the time of year/my skin tone at the time. Also their highlighter for cheek and brown bones is amazing. Makes you all dewy and people ask how. Then you can lie and say it’s just your perfect face.

    Also tarte’s lip tints, which last forever unlike lipstick and aren’t sticky or creepy-glossy like lip gloss, Origins ginseng eye cream, and Arm & Hammer Whitening Booster 3x, which works better than White Strips and is far less annoying.

    I have never used liquid foundation either! Freaks me out. I have used tinted moisturizer, which is kind of nice but still intimidating.

    • katie ett says:

      Nice! I can’t believe I wrote something about girl things that actually helped someone.

      Highlighter, huh? I’m totally checking out yours and everyone else’s décolleté now that I know this stuff exists. I kinda want some, too. And also the lip tints!

      I had no idea you don’t use liquid foundation; you’ve always been very . . . well covered? I used tinted moisturizer once this summer and then tried to cover it up with powder. And then had to tell my friends at the hot dog cookoff not to look at my face as it slowly came off me in globs.

      • Kim says:

        Well-covered? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? If I look like a face full of paint I may have to retract my recs for the cheek tint and highlighter, because I don’t actually wear any foundation at all unless it’s one of the occasional tinted moisturizer days (those only come in the winter when I look consumptive).

        If you’re just saying my skin is freakishly smooth and unmarked, though, carry on.

        • katie ett says:

          Yes! I meant that your flawless skin looks as if it has to be the work of an expensive foundation. Now go eat a cupcake.

  8. Cassie says:

    I use cetaphil and have been since I was, like, 10.

    Love it.

    • katie ett says:

      That’s one I’ve never tried. Maybe because of the ultra-mediciney-sounding name. I’ve been migrating from facewash to facewash since moving from Ohio to NYC and finding that my skin completely changed, so maybe I’ll give that one a shot next.

  9. Ash says:

    I’m not sure I should even be posting, since most of my makeup will probably be geared towards people with olive skin tones like me, also I need a lot more coverage than you, but I will anyway! Coz I loooooove makeup..

    1) Benefit Hello Flawless! powder cover-up – This would probably do as a foundation for people who already have decent complexions. I find it’s a great finisher and hides all my broken capillaries and any discolorations, and have never found any other powder quite like it.

    2) Laura Mercier oil free foundation – This is for when I need more coverage than usual. I don’t breakout and a little bit goes a long way, so the fact that it’s somewhat expensive isn’t so bad.

    3) NARS blush Super Orgasm – Just coz the name is awesome. ;P The original, Orgasm is one of NARS’s most popular blushes I think because it goes well with most skin-tones. However, I find Super Orgasm has a tad more oomph

    3) Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palette – I was obsessed with eye makeup for sometime so I’ve collected quite a lot of palettes for the past 4 years, but this is the best one for the more ‘mature’ 9-to-5 types. I always find something that matches whatever outfit I’m wearing without making me look like I’m going clubbing, or whoring myself out (despite the name)

    4) Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer – It goes on smooth, doesn’t irritate my skin, and makes anything you put over it water-resistant. I haven’t actually tested it for swimming, but it’s worked decently for days when I get all sweaty.

    • katie ett says:

      I have a really hard time imagining myself spending $30+ on powder, but your glowing review of the Benefit powder has me interested. I’ve definitely noticed your face looking awesome, so maybe it’s worth a try.

      The Hourglass primer sounds pretty cool, too; my primer doesn’t have a sunblock, so that’s a definitely plus.

      It’s funny that I love talking about and hearing about makeup from other people when I barely wear any, but I’m always sure that there’s some LIFE-CHANGING product out there that I just don’t know about yet.

  10. Julie says:

    Oh, and liquid foundation totally scares me. So glad to see that I’m not the only one.

    I am pro-Elizabeth Arden. I use all their stuff. If it has a ceramide in it, all the better. I don’t even know what a ceramide is, but I love love love it. Mineral foundation with ceramides, ceramide mascara, ceramide lip tints…etc.

    Oh, and shampoo is evil too. My curls get so dry when I shampoo, even if I slather on the conditioner before I lather, rinse. So I skip that part.

    • katie ett says:

      This is great to hear; I really thought I was the only woman not wearing liquid foundation until I wrote this post.

      I’ll look for the ceramide, but I can’t get behind you on the no-shampooing. I used to read all sorts of tips about taking care of curly hair that said not to shampoo it and wondered what was wrong with me, but I later learned that I just have different curly hair than most people. I can shampoo mine twice a day and still not have it dry out just because it’s so fine and loosely-curled. I’ve always wanted BIG curls like yours.

  11. tasha says:

    Bwa haha. I saw the title for this post and was like, this is so my influence. Because I’m a nerd and can’t help posting about makeup. Also because I take credit for things that may have very little to do with me.

    I find that everything is improved with good makeup brushes. I have a few randoms, but the Borghese set at Costco is super-cheap with really, really nice brushes in it.

    Also, more things to buy at Target: the Sonia Kashuk lash and brow groomer ( is amazing. It’s rare to find one with metal tines, so combing out mascara clumps is super easy, and the bristles are nicely stiff. Do you suffer from curly eyebrows? I do, and this saves me.

    • katie ett says:

      I realized that if I enjoy reading about makeup so much, I should probably just take the plunge and make this blog not entirely about my testosterone-driven subway fights. But yeah, totally your fault.

      I guess my curls must be loose enough that my eyebrows are straight, but I still like the idea of the metal tines. Those Borghese brushes are crazy-impressive. I wouldn’t know what to do with probably 8 out of 10 of them.

  12. Gaye says:

    Okay. Here we go, in no particular order:

    I too LOVE a foaming facewash. HOWEVER, when I suddenly found myself unemployed (3 times) I switched over to Cetaphil. Like you, it seemed so sterile to me, but, my skin looks great. At night, I will use Philosophy Purity if I feel the need to foam.

    My most favorite skincare products in the world are Dr. Hausckha which are also really ugly in the package design universe. Problem is, their prices have gone up about 80% in the past 10 years (not kidding) so until I publish my first book, it’s goodbye Doctor.

    The ONE thing I will NEVER leave my house without is concealer. I currently am in love with Benefit Bo-ing. I adore most Benefit products actually. I think they’re fun, reasonably priced and I love their lipstick. I use the You Rebel tinted moisturizer almost every day. When I want fancy fabulous coverage, I’ll either use Laura Mercier or, wait for it…ARMANI. When I had a Bloomie’s charge card I bought some and it is worth every penny. Honestly.

    My mission for my hair is to get it as flat as possible so I use whatever I can find to get it sleek and shiny. I currently love Moroccan Oil before I dry my hair.

    For more information on my beauty addiction, I refer you to my blogpost, Making Do.

  13. Dishy says:

    I normally read through all your comments b/c they’re so good, but I am too busy right now. So I’ll have to come back and do that later. Forgive me if I’m repeating anything above.

    Very clever of you to use the shampoo that way! I HATE when I buy a shampoo and it’s too heavy for my fine hair. I’ve since learned that shampoo and conditioner also work well as shaving lotion. The same effect too – your legs will be baby soft afterward! WOOT.

    I am not a big makeup girl. I rarely wear mascara. I often go w/out anything at all. But the one product I do swear by is Burts Bees pomegranate lip balm. It’s great.

  14. Lisa says:

    I love your layouts!! You already know my favorite beauty product — UDPP! I would have never thought to use shampoo as body wash. But I have used that shampoo before as shaving cream, and it did make my legs super soft.

  15. caropal says:

    Honestly, this post made me feel like I was reading someone else’s blog. Not bad, exactly – just someone else’s.

    But then you said that you use shampoo as body wash and it made me realize that it was still you (and I got that warm, fuzzy feeling inside!).

    • katie ett says:

      It’s so funny you say that, because I was thinking specifically of you and Tracey as I was writing this. It’s so hard for me to say things like “beauty products” because of you two, and I felt like a real jerk insinuating that these things were only for ladies, so I had to add in the ladyboys part. Which also may be offensive! I have no idea! But I’m trying!

      I’m glad I could keep it real in the end. I’m still Katie from the block. Er, farm.