Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's Talk About Cult Products.

So, I'd been thinking about writing another post about my thoughts on Cle de Peau concealer  which looked like this when I bought it last July:

Shiny new Cle
And now looks like this:

Sad Cle dregs

Obviously for me this is not a product that's going to last two years like some people claim. I'm a pretty heavy user of concealer and if I can stretch this to last a full year it'll totally be worth the price. As for the cult status, here's what I've realized. This product is not a magical unicorn, it's not the holy grail, it's a workhorse, plain and simple. A good quality covers-like-a-boss concealer. Is the price ridiculous? Yes, but nobody forced me to buy it and I use it every day because it's dependable, not because it makes me feel guilty. All of this started me thinking about it's cult status and my hope that sometimes things are lauded because they work the way they're supposed to and they're dependable.

I still use Clinique Black Honey, Benefit Benetint, and Urban Decay eye shadow for the same reason - they're dependable workhorse products for me. I wouldn't say any of them are super amazing but they work well for me and that's enough.

With all this in mind, I read this article on the Hairpin (and the comments!) and it really made me think about how products get cult status. Is is group-think hysteria? Really sneaky marketing? Rave reviews because they actually do what they're supposed to do? Apparently, yes. To all of that.

So please, tell me what cult product you think totally deserves that status and what you think is total garbage? (I'm especially curious about Touche Éclat. I keep wanting to try it, but I am positive I'll be disappointed.)


  1. I bought Bioderma's micellar water after a search for Garnier's version proved fruitless (apparently not available in Canada?). I balked at the price, but I was so dead-set on trying it that I bit the bullet. And I love it. Worth every penny, although now that I'm at the bottom of my bottle, I've purchased Nivea's version for half the price, since I figure all micellar water is created equal.

  2. I don't get the Black Honey hype. The color is supposedly flattering on everyone, but I might be the exception. I don't think the formulation is all that, either.

    Nars Orgasm is a glitter bomb. Not my thing.

  3. That's a really interesting post on The Hairpin. Thanks! I can't say I am much of a cult product follower. I definitely don't believe in all that "universally flattering" stuff. It rarely is.

  4. Garbage:
    Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizers are super overrated. If you're even a little oily you get three hours, tops, from the coverage. I loathed Benefit's "They're Real!" mascara--it just made my lashes so crispy. And while I have an Urban Decay Naked palette, I use it almost never because it's too big to keep in my regular makeup bag and most of the options are shimmery which is a no-go for my daily wear.

    I always have a Lip Sugar clear treatment in my nightstand (plus a backup), although I am First World-ashamed of what I pay for a special nighttime Chapstick. And while I don't think it's reached cult status (yet), Dior's Airflash spray foundation is pretty sick. ONE 1-second spray into a saucer, then I swirl a brush and apply. Flawless, lightweight coverage that mostly stays put on my oily face. It's really good stuff.

    1. I'm with you on the LM tinted moisturizer. I used to use it religiously and now it's just a shiny mess that oxidizes after a few hours. I feel like they changed the formulation at some point.

      I also rarely use my Naked2 palette and much prefer my UD Basics palette, which is matte.

  5. Smashbox primer. I've tried a lot of primers but there is a reason this one comes out on top. The color correcting green is a godsend.

  6. I have learned over the years that just because I want to buy a beauty product doesn't mean I should. Birchbox and the other sampling services are useful in that regard because they satisfy my longing for newness and experimentation without much of a cash layout. For one thing, I have realized that I never actually have to buy anything from Benefit because there will always be another sample rolling in once a month.

  7. I was so excited to try Touche Eclat but it's...fine. Just fine. It works but it's not worth the money. You should buy it from Sephora just to try it because they accept returns anytime, even used products.

  8. I've just gotten a compact of Celebration Foundation from It Cosmetics and, after all the hype I think it might be kind of meh. On the other hand, I just got their gel eyeliner pencil and it's amazing...both slightly more $$$ than I'm comfortable spending.

  9. Everything is "Ahhhh-mazing!!!" to everyone online everywhere now and it's infuriating. I can't trust reviews from strangers anymore. Agree with commenter above about Nars Orgasm. Finally got it and yeah, it's sparkly. I use it out of guilt now. Still swear by Buxom mascara but a curler and a fancy metal lash comb makes any mascara work great for me. Lorac eyeshadow is my jam. I also like their eye primer better than Urban Decay. No regrets on the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim.

    1. I'm really curious about the Hourglass Ambient powders but there's an ingredient (Bismuth Oxychloride) in them that breaks me out. Sad face.

  10. Great article, thanks for the link.

    So true- and besides skin types- what about climate, seasons?!

    I mean, yes, there must be some off-the-rack beauty products that stand a good chance of working for more rather than fewer people, but there are so many variables, c'mon.

    It's got me thinking about what I actually Use and Need. Having lived in France for more than two decades, and Germany and Holland and the UK at other times, and a fair amount of time in the U.S, too- and now in Japan, I can say for a fact that Japanese and Korean products actually deliver (and there were some amazing German products as well), which is something I still have trouble getting my head 'round!

    The chances of being satisfied by a hyped product here are pretty good, with of course some adjustments for extreme skintypes, but overall, I think the success lies within the genuine practicality of the products- they address real issues- plus the incredible technology/deep connection with nature that focuses on solving it.
    Add all that to the mentality that "if it doesn't work, it won't sell", and you get drugstore products that are light years ahead of high-end products anywhere else.

    It has stopped the purchase-disappointed-try-another madness for me. And it's not in my head- I really see a difference when I stop or start using something. And my skin has only improved.

    Out of all the (Korean, Asian) products I've tried- on a whim, or by reading reviews or whatever- the majority of them have worked incredibly well, and I have already them repurchased multiple times. They just work. And I'm not some fresh-faced kid where everything works, def. not.

    So here's my Reality Check list, (outside of Asian products:)

    Black Honey-since it was brought up, didn't work for me. Doesn't stay on, either.

    Chubby Stick in Richer Raisin is a repeat buy for me, though, and great for traveling.(and I love the smell)

    (Iced Lotus blush by Clinique- bought on "Universally flattering" hype and a color I NEVER thought would work on me-does, and is lovely,( even if I don't wear powder blush anymore)

    Tinted chapstick/lip balm often looks just as good or better than most other lip thingies.

    I thought Great Lash totally sucked when I tried it on the hype a hundred years ago.

    And while we're on the subject of mascaras- small skinny wands and drier formulas work better on my lashes and eyeshape. Fairy Drops crazy wand doesn't bother me though.

    I never bothered trying Embryolisse, knowing full well it'd be way too, er, "rich" for my oily combo skin.

    Nars Orgasm looks ok if all other condtions are perfect, which happens maybe twice a decade.

    I totally love Chanel Velvet lipsticks, I don't know what's in them, but they work on me. Not the crazy pinks, but the more muted tones. Worth the splurge for me.

    Under eye concealer makes me look 10 years older, and 100 years worse. Ditto 99.9% of all eyeshadows. I don't bother anymore.

    Coconut oil is the only thing that works as an around-eye moisturizer- everything else, without exception, irritates my eyes. A lot.

    Loose powders always work better than compacts on me.

    I need to exfoliate, or my skin goes to hell.

    I like mineral water sprays- my favorites are Avene and Vichy. They calm my skin when I need that.

    MoroccanOil really works on my hair. I don't like the smell at all though- but it's worth putting up with, and it's not so bad.

    Voila! I'm sure I'll think of more, I'm such a product junkie :)

    I'm currently trying a "revered classic/cult product" here in Japan for troubled skin- Meishoku Bigansui medicated skin lotion. I cannot tell a lie, so far I love it :) Beautiful bottle, too.

    1. I always love your comments but now I want things. You are such an enabler!

    2. lol, sorry. (and sorry it was so long).

      But look at it this way; we buy beauty products with some sort of goal in mind- so when they work, we're happy- money serving a good purpose, at least, for once.

      Having a core of key products you can rely on eliminates a lot of unnecessary expenditure- not to mention angst- in the end. It takes a little time to assemble it (= knowing products but/and mainly knowing thyself), but once you've got the skin care and protection in place, makeup works better, etc.

      And taking care of oneself should be a pleasure, not a trial.

      Having the real dependables in your kit also makes experimenting more fun and less of a mystery.

      I just want s&**t to work. So now go look at Baby Foot ;) (haha, I'm WICKED! ;))

  11. Maybelline Great Lash - the WORST.

    Tarte's Light, Camera, Lashes (waterproof version) has proven to be great.

    Carrot oil, very, very lightly applied/patted on my face was a lifesaver this long and extraordinarily cold winter.

    Salux Nylon Japanese Beauty Skin Bath Wash Cloth/Towel - pretty darn harsh, but I have found them great for my post-winter scaly, nasty legs. Just remember to go light with them and use maybe once, max twice a week until your legs are exfoliated back to pre-winter smoothness.

    Rimmel lipliners, the ones that swivel up. Great staying power and inexpensive. My only dislike of them is that they seem like they've cheaped out on the amount of product of late and I go through these like crazy, so in the end, maybe they aren't so inexpensive.

    Kieh's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve. Close to perfection.

  12. How do I makeup?

    I loved Naked, then I went to Sephora where I was told that it is "too boring" which pressured me to buy the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette. I am convinced that Chocolate Bar is the reason for a weird dry patch on my eye. So I quit that and consider it the worst ever. Now I am on Stila's Eyes Are the Window shadow palette. It has the required natural colors for every day and a couple of dark colors that I sometimes use to be fancy.

    I used Smashbox primer for a bit, but Two Faced wins that round. Their eyeshadow primer has enough in a small tube to last me a year and is the best ever. Not up for discussion. Putting my fingers in my ears and will not listen to anyone LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

  13. Touché Éclat is not worth the money, imho. Neither are any of the Dior or Lancôme mascaras people rave about.

    My personal "cult" faves?

    L'Oreal Butterfly mascara
    Rimmel Colour Rush lip crayons (just like the Clinique Chubby sticks, but cheaper)
    E.l.f. eyebrow duo
    Chanel nail polishes (not all of them, but they have some one-coat wonders)
    Elizabeth Arden 8 hr cream - if you have chapped skin anywhere, apply this for a couple of days and it will make it go away. It smells like something your 90yr old grandma would use, but it's amazing. Best cure for irritated/red/peeling noses during flu season. Don't use it on your skin unless it's a dire situation, though, because it's quite greasy.
    There was also a Mario Badescu toner I loved, but they don't seem to be importing it to Canada anymore. It worked almost like a cleanser, and my skin never felt "tight" afterwards.

  14. Cult products that have really worked for me?

    Lucas Pawpaw ointment for dryness (cuticles and lips) and scratches (sometimes my cat is too loving). I also love the smell.

    Weleda Skinfood for my face this past winter (but I can only use a TINY bit and only on my cheeks--I have oily-combo skin that tends to break out--in the summer I don't wear wear moisturizer at all, just sunscreen).

    Clinique Black Honey gloss -- I don't know if they even still make this, my tube is a few years old. But it's great applied thin or thick.

    Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream -- used it 2 winters in a row and still on the same (almost empty) tube. I find it too moisturizing for summer, but great for a dewy winter look.

    Anything I've ever tried from Living Proof.

    Almost anything from Caudalie (not the lip balm stick)

    Benefit Watt's Up!


    Great Lash--too damp and clumpy

    Anything from Jurlique

    Maybelline Baby Lips

    It's a 10 leave-in spray

    I'm sure there's more but if something doesn't work I tend to blank it from my mind!