Cult Favorite Beauty Products That ARE Worth the Hype

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Between an excited beauty community that tends to overhype products in general, and a beauty industry that churns out new product at an unbelievable rate, the phrase "cult favorite" gets thrown around a little too easily. The new pattern seems to be that a lot of things are Holy Grail or Cult Fave, almost as often as beauty bloggers and vloggers do monthly favorites. I have a much stricter interpretation of what a cult favorite product should be--it's not just a super duper favorite or something you really love. For me, cult favorite has to mean something that you've road-tested (and not just something you've been playing with for a few weeks), and that you feel is truly irreplaceable. One of the ways to tell if a product belongs in that category is the number of times you've repurchased, and holy hell, have I gone through quite a few of each of these. Unsurprisingly, my list of cult faves boils down to a handful, and will look familiar if you've been reading my blog for a while. If you missed my post on Cult Favorite Products that AREN'T Worth the Hype, click here

1. Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler:

Yes, I had to use arguably the most profoundly heartbreaking moment in my entire life all seven books of the Harry Potter series to describe my feelings for this eyelash curler. I first bought it in Sephora on a routine visit back in 7th grade. It was when the curler was first getting popular, and I called my mom to make sure she was okay with me spending $20 on it. Ever since that day almost ten years ago (!) this tool has been the most integral part of my makeup look. Absolutely nothing makes me look more awake and alive--especially because I have downturned eyes--than curling my eyelashes, and no curler performs better than this. Yes, I know that depends on your eye shape, but if you have no idea what shape curler matches your eyes, you're safest with this option. It really grabs every last lash, especially the crucial outside corner ones that really make you look wide-awake. Shu hasn't been available in North America since July 2009, but order this along with an Ultimate Natural mascara off the website, and you get free shipping! If you're hard-core like I am, get two of the gold ones--one for home, one for desk. We've been through so much together, this is pretty much my longest-lasting and most successful relationship...revisit some of our earlier happy days here.

2. Batiste Dry Shampoo: Are you surprised at all? I'm probably a bit more sentimental about the Shu curler, but if I could only have two products for the rest of my life(!), it would be these two. In case I haven't bitched about it enough (unlikely) I have a tremendously oily scalp--the kind of scalp that gets oily by Monday night if I wash it on Monday morning. This baby has been my go-to for at least five years now, and I sometimes like to think part of its cult status comes from me (I'm probably doing a fair bit towards supporting Batiste's business, considering the number of cans I buy a year). I did mention in this post recently that I like the Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo slightly better, but Batiste remains my go-to. I don't really see the need for buying high-end dry shampoo anyways, since my favorite Batiste is so fantastic and so much more affordable. Plus, if your scalp is as oily as mine, you really can't afford to shell out on a dry shampoo. Whereas the Shu has more of an emotional place in my heart, Batiste has an equally loved, but more utilitarian section--God knows these cans have saved me more times than I can count. (I don't even think Western mathematics has a number that high).

3. Macadamia Natural Oil and Deep Repair Masque: Ugh these are so hyped up and constantly talked about that I almost don't want to add more noise to them, but they really are worth all the praise. One of my most superficial goals is to have hair so soft it'll make people weep just to touch it (no, I don't know what's wrong with me either), and these two are both crucial parts of this very stupid dream. Not even my beloved Shu Uemura Essence Absolue makes my hair as soft and smooth as the oil (the Shu is more reparative), and the mask is up there with Aussie 3 Minute for most-softening--only it feels like it does more for my hair's health. I love hair product probably more than any other category in beauty, and no matter how many times I switch up my hair oil and mask, I always come back to these two. Did I mention the smell is make-people-weep-to-smell-it good?

4. Philips Sonicare Toothbrush: I don't understand why the beauty community doesn't seem to talk about electric toothbrushes, since I'm convinced that this particular model changed my life. Of course, you can go fancy with newer, updated versions that I still secretly want, but this is the most basic and affordable toothbrush. I received it for Christmas in 2012, and basically categorize my life into B.P (Before Phil, as I call my toothbrush) and A.P. (After Phil). I can't even describe how much of a difference a sonicare toothbrush makes--your mouth is cleaner, your teeth look and feel better, and your dentist will complain a lot less. It's bulky and annoying to bring with me, and even for just one night away, I will lug Phil any and everywhere because he really is worth both the effort and the money.

5. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: Okay, there are a few caveats to its cult status--I'm not one of those raving lunatics where this overpriced bottle is concerned. For one thing, I knocked it when I first tried it here because they were still marketing it as a dry shampoo at that point (like the Touch Eclat was marketed as a concealer before people figured out what it actually is). This is not a dry shampoo. It does not absorb oil in a way that you can get away without shampooing. If, however, you are looking for great volume at the roots (or anywhere else), this will give it to you because volumizing products contain starches and things (technical term) to create dryness and tension to give you that height. In that sense, it removes some moisture from your hair but this is not a replacement for dry shampoo. Also, if you have hair of a certain texture and length, this might not work for you. If my hair is past boob-length, this stuff does nothing for me, and I didn't see its full benefits until I recently chopped my mane. You really need to try it before buying since it's so expensive, and given your hair type, it may or may not work for you. My cousin has incredibly fine, straight and super-long Asian hair, and I tried this on her Saturday night. She ordered the full-sized bottle on Amazon while we were in the cab on our way to dinner. Like H&M, this cult fave is very hit or miss, but even though it's painfully expensive, I still think it's worth it because when it's a hit, it is a grand. slam.

6. The Wet Brush: My favorite brush for wet or dry hair, this has made an entire drawerful of hair brushes totally redundant. (I do use a TangleTeezer Aqua in the shower, but obviously that lives in my shower, not my drawer... =). Nothing glides through my hair as easily (read my comparison post to the TangleTeezer here), nothing does a more efficient job at detangling my hair, and nothing is as convenient as having one brush for vulnerable wet, and sturdier dry hair. I freely admit to having multiples of these babies--one at work, and two at home (one for brushing out dry shampoo, and one for just plain brushing) and am now eyeing up the paddle brush version.

7. NARS Blushes: I talked a bit about this in my June Favorites post, but NARS blushes fell out of rotation a while back, and re-trying them immediately had me falling back in love. The formula is smooth, pigmented, blends easily and is just a dream to apply. I have more blush than I do of any other type of cosmetic, and despite most of them being stellar formulations, I keep reaching for the NARS ones. I just think there's something about the way they're milled and how much pigment they have to them that keeps me coming back. Between how ultra-easy they are to apply and the brand's shade variety, their blushes are definitely worth of cult status. (Though I will say that Orgasm is still too glittery on me, so maybe it's time for a new cult favorite shade?). 

8. Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micellaire: I bought this now tragically empty bottle in Paris three years ago and almost didn't appreciate the full value of the product until I ran out of it a few months ago. (This bottle obviously didn't last me three years as I bought two of these massive ones and rotate in tons of other things). I have God knows how many different eye makeup removers and toners and the very next day after I emptied this bottle, I missed my Bioderma. That may not sound like much of an endorsement, but given the ridiculousness of my stash, it's a big deal. I miss how multi-functional it is, how I can use some to "wash" my face with it in the morning (too lazy to really cleanse in the morning), and how I can use it to remove my eye makeup and then use the excess to get rid of my foundation without worrying about what it's doing to my skin. Yes, that's true of most miscellar waters, but I have yet to find one that removes makeup so thoroughly, but leaves my skin feeling so clean and refreshed as the Bioderma. 

That's my list of worthy cult favorites for the moment, but I'm really tempted to pick up a Cle de Peau concealer and see if it's everything people say it is. 

Someone talk me back into the realm of reason, please?


  1. Cle de Peau concealer, to use your phrase-meh. It's too dry for my undereye area and doesn't work any better than any other concealer anywhere else so for me it's not going to be a repurchase. Their foundation is excellent but no staying power and easily transfer to my phone so the Cle de Peau counter gets a pass for me.

    Did you ever test the other Shu curler?

    1. Ooooh, interesting to hear a dissenting opinion on the CDP!

      I've always been a bit suspicious of all the praise/hype, and now I'll definitely need to try it at a counter to see if it actually isn't better than most other concealers, like you say! Is there any way you can stretch the CDP foundation? Primer/powders?

      As for the other Shu curler, I just can't seem to get it to work for me. I don't know what it is, but no matter how I try and manipulate the curler and my lashes, I don't see any curl. I really thought it would be fantastic for my outer corner lashes, but again, no curl.

      It's a letdown considering how much I love the original curler, but maybe I'll try blasting it with a hair dryer before using it when I'm home!

  2. Primer and powder both but neither helped it set. That glorious finish came away on my ohone leaving me a missing swatch of loveliness on my cheek bone and cheek. I mix it with a Lancôme foundation to give it some heft but unless it's an evening out, it's just too much trouble for me. It was their Silky foundation so that may explain it. They have other less moisturizing lines that may work for you.

    I have a Shu that I use everyday and it works great on my outer lashes but I can't get it to pick up my inner lashes leaving me looking like I'm missing the inner third of my lashes. Combine that with the missing swatch of foundation and it's a real treat!

    So happy you are back. You are the most talented, insightful blogger and I anxiously await your posts.

    1. Such a shame about the foundation, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. CDP is generally more about moisturizing than longevity (works for their demographic!), so I don't think their foundations would work for a lot of skin types--mine included, even if I could afford it!

      I usually like the idea of mixing foundations, but honestly at that price, you shouldn't have to add anything to the product to make it work for you.

      Weird about your inner lashes, since it's the outer ones that give me trouble! Have you tried using an entirely different curler there? Maybe a heated or more rounded one?

      Aw, you're too kind, thank you! Comments like yours keep me going!