Cult Favorite Beauty Products That Aren't Worth the Hype

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grab your torches and pitchforks, because today's post is all about what are probably your favorite beauty products and how they totally don't work for me. I'm talking smack about such beloved cosmetics that criticizing them is borderline socially unacceptable. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to love each of these, but for one reason or another, they just don't work for me. For some, I'm deeply convinced that "It's not you, it's me", and for others, I wonder how they ever achieved cult status in the first place. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to join the Witness Protection Program.

1. By Terry Baume de Rose: If Sara Happ The Lip Slip and Smith's Rosebud Salve had a baby, this lip balm would be it. Thickish, colored-like and rather sticky like Sara Happ, but with the slip and rosiness of Smith, this is the combination of two much-loved lip balms--it's just a shame I don't like either one. I've written about my dislike of Lip Slip here (post), and I never got on with Smith, either, but the thing with Baume de Rose is that it just doesn't seem to do anything special for my lips. Sure, it gets the job done, and I like that it lasts a reasonably long time for a lip balm, but it doesn't heal or cure cracked, dry lips. This works best as a sort of sealant I put on before heading out for the day to keep my lips hydrated so they're not a raggedy mess when I come home. I like it and use it fairly regularly, but I think it's totally overrated and overpriced for a lip balm that doesn't do anything way cheaper alternatives do. I know some people swear by Baume, but I'll be totally fine living without this. If you want a fantastic lip balm, though, my favorite is Jack Black Lip Therapy (reviewed here), which is $52.50 cheaper.

2. Embryolisse Lait Creme-Concentre: For starters, I can totally see the appeal of this. It's the sort of everyman cream I like to have in my stash that suits all skin types, dries to a comfortable finish and can be applied morning (topped with SPF!) or night. I have no problem using it and everything, and friends who have tried it said the same, but here's what kills me: it contains mineral oil. What. the. hell. People rave about this moisturizer, Jane Birkin used this moisturizer, people go to France specifically to buy this moisturizer and its second ingredient is mineral oil?! For the cult status this has and how romanticized it is, I'd like to see "super expensive, rare, fancy French spring mineral herb water that women in Cote d'Azur fight to the death to wash their faces in" instead of mineral oil on the ingredients list. For the record, mineral oil usually makes me break out in milia, and while I haven't noticed that with this moisturizer, I did see a bit of subtle bumpiness in my skin's texture. But even if my skin didn't react, the ingredient would still bother me (in case you couldn't tell). Now, this product just feels like a very well-marketed tube of completely ordinary face cream that probably cost all of $1.25 to mix up. Probably the biggest beauty product-related letdown I've ever experienced. 

3. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil Liner: This pencil has convinced me so many times that something must be wrong with me. Every time I try to use this universally-adored eyeliner and it smudges all over my crease and comes off on the back of my eyelash curler, I'm deeply convinced that the problem is with me. "Maybe my skin's too oily, or I'm probably not applying it right..." But here's the truth: this eyeliner does not work for me, and it never did. I've written about my experience with this before (here), and again, with me, the 24/7 Glide-On name is so wrong it's almost funny. It's hard, it tugs at my eyelid, it's not smooth to apply, it comes off on the back of my eyelash curler, and it smudges into my crease. That had me thinking it was meant for the waterline and not on my actual lids, but I tried to tightline with it, and had the worst under-eye smudging I've had in a while. Literally every six months or so, I'll see this eyeliner in my collection and give it another try, because everyone else I know (or virtually know) loves it. Let's take this as proof that beauty products really are subjective, and maybe I'll learn to keep this liner shelved.

4. GlamGlow Youthmud Treatment: There is a GlamGlow mask that is absolutely worth the hype, but this isn't it. This is the original mask that launched the whole brand's cult status, but it never really did anything for my skin. My skin feels softer after I wash it off, my pores look a bit smaller, and that's it. No radiant glow, no reduction of acne or blackheads, no smoother skin texture. I'm honestly surprised that this is the mask that made GlamGlow famous, as it's their SuperMud Clearing Treatment (the white one) that is absolutely fantastic. Whereas the Youthmud just feels like a slightly scrubby, totally normal black clay mask that doesn't pull that much out of your skin, SuperMud is a lifesaver. I don't always see results in my bulbous acne after a clay mask, but I always wake up to better skin, and way less visible pores after a round of SuperMud. I've never tried the Hydrating Treatment and don't especially want to, but if you've been eyeing the SuperMud, you need to get it. Tip: don't buy it at Sephora, since it's a whopping $25 cheaper on Amazon. Here's the link!

5. Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Balm: I'm in two minds about this. For one thing, once the product is actually onto my lips the way I want it to be, the color, moisture, and comfort of wearing it is absolutely unbeatable. That's when I adore these lip balms, but it's the procedure to get there that annoys me. These balms are heavy on the moisture, so their texture is extremely creamy and slippy. Apply slightly too forcefully, and you'll smush your stick. Leave it in your pocket in July and it melts. Worst of all, even when you're just applying it normally, it's incredibly easy to apply too much, and then the balm clumps up on your lips and the edges of your mouth. This isn't something I can just slick on, I need a mirror and then a tissue to blot those little clumps and excess product away. That's not a dreadful task, but it's annoying, and I just think these lip balms aren't quite as easy to work with as everyone says. If these balms were just a bit harder, had a bit more hold to them, I think they would be absolutely phenomenal and worthy of the hype.

6. The Clarisonic: Yes, I'm one of those people who sees no results from the Clarisonic. I've written a whole blog post about my experience here, and even though I re-incorporate this into my routine every now and then, I still don't notice any change in my skin. It doesn't get rid of my milia, or my acne, or give me any sort of ethereal glow. I've been checking out the Foreo LUNA online, but honestly, after wasting money and getting my hopes dashed with the Clarisonic, I've been put off from face exfoliating gadgets. 

7. L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray: No, just no. It doesn't "disappear with the stroke of a brush", it's hard, it's not flexible at all, it makes my hair stiff and easily crunchy, and it smells of grandmothers. (Literally in my case, since my grandmother was once addicted to this hairspray, so the scent always reminds me of her). I just don't understand how it ever got to be so popular, since it feels so uncomfortable to have in your hair, and even the hold is nothing extraordinary. I say skip this and pick up the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Working Hairspray. It's easy to work with and build, flexible, and truly doesn't make your hair stiff. I've even reviewed it for Temptalia (three years ago!) here

If you liked seeing this kind of thing (even if I did just knock your favorite products), I'll be doing a Cult Favorite Beauty Products That Are Worth the Hype probably next week!

I've got an Asian Beauty Haul and a Nail of the Week post coming your way!

Hope you're well!


  1. I had no idea that Embryolisse Lait Creme-Concentre had mineral oil!!!! I've read so many good things and that people go to France JUST to buy it! It doesn't make any sense. I'm glad I haven't bought it yet. It's very disappointing. Thanks for the information and I can't wait to read about the Cult products that are worth it.

    1. Right, Alexandra?!

      I'm so annoyed about the mineral oil factor that my original text regarding the Embryolisse was three paragraphs of me complaining about it.

      It just seems like such a disappointment after hearing the way people praise it, but I'm glad you didn't try it and experience the same letdown yourself!