5 Beauty Products I’ve Become Obsessed With By Virtue Of Being Kinda Cheap

I’m not what you would call a product whore or beauty addict or whatever term you want to use to describe a person’s almost illicit devotion to cremes and balms and powders and sticks. I like to look good, but I don’t really like paying for it, so when I can pinch pennies, I do. The majority of the junk I slather on my face and hair was either sent to us to test at The Frisky or plucked somewhat at random from the shelves of Duane Reade. I rarely love an expensive beauty product enough to shell out of my own pocket for it, nor am I usually so blown away by one of my drugstore purchases that I feel the need to brag and declare my loyalty. Makeup is makeup, and hair stuff is hair stuff, I tend to shrug. There are exceptions, however, and the products I have become obsessed with over the years wooed me somewhat … accidentally. Here are five.

1. Toni & Guy Classic Wave Memoriser: I do a lot of my product shopping on ill-advised trips to Target on Saturday mornings (ill-advised because my nearest Target, at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Center, is not unlike a particularly busy slaughterhouse on the weekends), but my favorite place to find gems is not within the aisles, but on their ends. That’s where Target shoves all of their clearance items and the beauty section is always treasure trove of deeply discounted, maybe-possibly expired finds.

It was there that I found quite possibly my most favorite hair product ever, Toni & Guy’s Classic Wave Memoriser. After years of dyeing my hair really blonde and blowdrying and flat ironing it every day, my exhaustion, fried ends and desire to spend that hour of my life doing something more productive (like making up songs about my dog and weaving) led me to embrace a more low-maintenance hair routine.

On days that I deign to shower (I work from home now, guys, it’s great), I let my hair air dry, even in winter, and resist the urge to brush or comb it so as to not break up its natural wave. I often wrap my wet hair in a T-shirt rather than a towel to prevent frizzing and I’ve tried a ton of products that are supposed to bring out my hair’s subtle wavy texture, with mixed results. This Toni & Guy styling cream is by far the best that I’ve found and while I sometimes use along with other hair products – like a root spray or shine serum or the texturizer below– it works just as well on its own. I like to sort of pat it onto my hair rather than raking it through with my fingers or scrunching, in order to preserve that chunky wave look.

Seduction Price: $6.49

Addiction Price: $13.59


2. Maybelline Line Stiletto Ultimate Precision Liquid Eyeliner: I like to think of myself as being relatively artistically inclined and my hand-eye coordination has been stymied by years of playing computer games, yet I have always been a complete slob with eyeliner, especially of the liquid variety. Oh, but there is nothing I love more than the flick of a little cat-eye in the blackest black. The pursuit of an eyeliner worthy of Adele has left me many times with a literal black eye, thanks to an unsteady hand slipping by a millimeter and turning my eyeball totally goth.

Most of the eyeliners I’ve tried have been free, thanks to the notorious generosity of beauty publicists. And thank heavens, because if I had actually spent good money on these expensive, high-end liners that are no doubt fantastic if you are not cat-eye-challenged, I would be pissed. Drugstore liners under $10 (fuck you, L’Oreal, with your $11+ price point!) I was willing to buy and try, but until The Frisky’s former beauty assistant put me on the right path, those came up short too. Rachel — remember little grasshopper Rachel?! — suggested I give Maybelline’s Line Stiletto Liquid Eyeliner a shot.  From the second I pressed the firm, pointy, pen-like applicator to my lash line and dragged a flawless thin-to-thick-to-flicking line across my lid, I was hooked.

Line Stiletto is liquid eyeliner for dummies, for geniuses, and, I GUARANTEE YOU, if Adele gave it a try, she would agree it’s for divas too.

Seduction Price: $5.59

Addiction Price: $5.59


3. Dior Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation: The minute I got my first pimple, my skin became the lens through which I saw my own attractiveness. This is why I love Perfect 365 so much — it lets you get rid of any blemishes on your selfies AND “softens” your skin aka makes it look smoother than a baby’s ass.  My friend Amanda says I give myself “eraser face” (see above) BUT I DON’T CARE. I love Eraserface Me, and given that I probably look at my selfies more than I actually look at myself in a mirror, I have started to convince myself that Eraserface Me is Real Me and my self-esteem has shown a marked improvement!

So, a few months ago, a friend of mine from out of town was visiting me and staying at my apartment. One night, we were getting ready to go out to dinner and sharing the bathroom while we were putting on our makeup – only we were taking advantage of one of the quirks you can find in a NYC/Brooklyn apartment, which is that while my bathroom door couldn’t open completely because it bangs into the toilet, there happens to be two completely different mirrors hanging next to each other on the wall – ANYWAY, my friend reaches into her enormous makeup bag and pulls out this big ol’ can of foundation. It was by Dior and I sort of assumed that the spray-on effect was going to go one of two disparate ways: either heavy and pancake-y or or light and dewy. But it actually had an airbrush effect and made her skin look super even and smooth and frankly the closest I’ve ever seen to real life Eraserface. She let me try it and while I probably needed a warmer color, it made Real Me’s skin look so GOOD that Eraserface Me forgot to take a selfie for posterity.

Unfortunately, there is one not-so-little thing keeping me and this miraculous foundation apart — the price tag. Guys, it’s $62. SIXTY-TWO AMERICAN DOLLARS. Do you know what you can get with $62? An 1/4th and a big bag of Sour Patch Kids; three skeins of Madeline Tosh yarn; or a 45-minute session with a pet psychic in Queens, NY. As a person who has always skimped on beauty products, I haven’t been able to justifying spending that kind of coin for the Airflash – however, I have gone into Sephora to use the sample at least four times in the last two months.

Fuck it, I’ll probably buy it this weekend.

Seduction Price: FREE

Addiction Price: $62

4. Big Sexy Hair Flip It Over Texture Spray: So, the Wave Memorizer is my go-to when my hair is wet, but when my hair is dry and I don’t feel like washing it, I give it a little oomph with this Big Sexy Hair sticky spray wax that I also scored from Target’s clearance rack. (“Big Sexy Hair” is the name of the brand, by the way, which I must admit to finding a little literal and embarrassing to say out loud.)

I love this shit because it gives my ends that piece-y look. If I want a lot of volume I’ll flip my head over and spray, but usually I’ll just spritz the ends or spray some on my hands and work it into the ends with my fingers. It gives you that “just rolled out of bed” look – and if you literally have just rolled out of bed, it’ll give you that “been up for hours being productive and happened to just look like you just rolled out of bed” look. It smells good and has great hold, so while I think it’s best suited for wavy or curly hair, it would totally work on bangs.

The only downside is that if you’re prone to tangles, you will wake up the next morning with matted knot of hair that will take at least 10 minutes to brush out.

Price-wise, I’m still working my way through the can I scored for $8.49 on clearance, but given how long it seems to last, I would be willing to pony up for a full price replacement when the time comes (after I’ve scoured the clearance rack, of course).

Seduction Price: $8.49

Addiction Price: $17.49


5. Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick: Technically, Maybelline’s Red Revival is not my favorite red lipstick of all time – that honor belongs Lip Bar’s Crimson Wonderland. It’s a deep but bright wine color that goes on mostly matte with a tiny bit of sheen, which I think is more modern than super glossy. But Red Revival is my favorite red lipstick that is cheap enough to waste on bedroom shenanigans. They’re both beautiful, deep reds, but Maybelline’s is cheap and easy to find, while Lip Bar’s lipstick costs $20 and Crimson Wonderland appears to discontinued.

I wish I had known how pricey and precious Crimson Wonderland was when I was dating a guy who occasionally liked me to put lipstick on him in bed. Because then I wouldn’t have put it at risk of coming uncapped from the force of our ensuing fornication. And then I wouldn’t have ruined my sheets with the entire mashed tube of its bright, irreplaceable highly staining brilliance. Instead, I would have ruined my sheets with the far more replaceable and affordable Red Revival, which I now keep a tube of in a drawer by my bed, just incase. Also, it looks good on all skin tones and, as you can see above, dog fur.

Seduction Price: $5.59

Obsession Price: $5.59