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The (Minutes Into) 2008 Smackdown Hot List

By Amalah

(Previously: The Hot List of Six Months Or So Ago)
I was hoping to mix the Hot List up a little more this go-round, but alas, I appear to be in a rut. But it’s such a pretty rut! Oh, rut, your skin is so pretty. La la la.
Anyway, there are a few new favorites and few new save-your-monies. Onward!
Best Daily Essential Not-To-Be-Deviated-From Skincare Routine: OMG! Philosophy! Surprise! Purity wash, Hope in a Jar moisturizer, Hope in a Tube firming eye cream. I did switch moisturizers, however, now that it’s winter and I’ve added the Dr. Brandt Pores No More primer stuff, so I don’t need the extra blackhead-fighting layer of Philosophy’s exfoliating moisturizer.
Best Skincare Routine Super-Extra Funtime Bonuses: As I have done with every mask or deep treatment ever, I started getting way lazy about remembering to do my weekly MIcrodelivery Peel (which is still awesome). Luckily, Philosophy now offers a cheaper alternative in the Microdelivery Wash for $25. And while I’m usually tubthumbing AGAINST scrubby washes, using this one about three times a week (no more) seems to strike the right balance of exfoliating and resurfacing.
Best Sunscreen for Face & Body: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock.
Best Free Product Samples I Received that Came Closest to Tempting Me to Ditch the Above Line-up and Spend a Million More Dollars on Them, for Lo, They Are Awesome: Not so much temptation here, other than a zit spot treatment by MD Skincare. Pretty good, although I did have a couple zits that would only really go away until I treated them with the Philosophy On a Clear Day blemish serum.
Worst Skincare Experiment That Sent Me Screaming Back to Philosophy: Dr. Brandt Poreless Kit. Useless. Skin stripping. Smelly. Eeeeeeeek.
Best Makeup Primers: I believe I’ve covered this topic to death. Even I’m sick of hearing about them.
Best Foundation: Still Sue Devitt. I did try a few others this year, with varying degrees of unimpressed-ness. Sue Devitt has some of the best color shades AND is incredibly gentle on skin. The 70% Seaweed Gel version is simply the best oil-free foundation evah. (The 70% actually refers to the water content, making it a good bet for dry skin as well)
Worst Foundation that Made My Skin Itchy and Angry and OH YEAH, Made the Skin on My HANDS Crack and Flake and COME OFF IN CHUNKS: Bare Escentuals. I’ve been meaning to write a long, detailed review (since I suppose I could find a FEW nice things to say about it), but maaaan, y’all. Be CAREFUL with this stuff, and please don’t listen to the marketing about how “pure” and “gentle” it is. BARE ESCENTUALS IS NOT HYPO-ALLERGENIC. I was straight-up allergic to the Mineral Veil (which = please, it’s freaking translucent powder). I used the regular foundation (over primer, for lo, the SHINE) for about a month and actually started to really like it…until I realized that my previously-under-control nickel allergy (which manifests in a weird blister-y sort of eczema on my fingers) had flared up to new and horrible heights. I lost chunks of skin and could no longer wear any jewelry. It itched, it bled, it swelled. And seriously Chunks. Of. Skin. Falling. Off. I switched back to Sue Devitt and no lie, my hands healed and stopped cracking in about two weeks.
Best Eyeshadow: And now you may laugh. Bare Escentuals. HA! The eyeshadow doesn’t bother my skin at all, and is actually really nice and easy to apply (provided you prime first). In particular: I love using it (in Fashionista) as eyeliner. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a pencil. It would make sense that they’d be a little more careful with the ingredients in the eye makeup, but…I’d still recommend caution if you’re prone to eye sensitivities. (My own skin allergy quirks are a bit backwards, apparently.)
Best Mascara: Tarte Lights Camera Lashes
Best Lipgloss: Nars Lip Lacquer in Eros
Best Blush: Tarte Cheek Stain. It recently occurred to me that I bought my one and only tube of cheek stain over FIVE YEARS AGO. I don’t wear blush every day (for the past year it’s strictly a dressing-up thing), but still. Five years. Going strong. Still plenty left, still working as well as ever.
Best Concealer: I’m actually still using a discontinued Tony & Tina concealer from ages and ages ago (I luckily bought it somewhat compulsively before the line went kaput), but I recently forgot to pack it for a trip and in a pinch, bought at a drugstore. And hot damn, people, if it isn’t awesome. I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.
Best Makeup Brushes: Still love the Sonia Kashuk line from Target, but I’ve noticed that they’re starting to suck in the selection department online and at some stores. (Discontinuation on the horizon? I hope not!) I also really love Sephora’s store-brand brushes, since they make every type of brush in the universe and are actually reasonably priced, compared to similar high-end brushes.
Worst Makeup Brushes: Every brush that came with the Bare Escentuals starter kits I bought. They constantly lose bristles and are really scratchy. Bleh.
Best Body Lotions: Fragrance-free original Curel and Aveeno Continuous Radiance.
Best Purchase of the Year That Made Me Irrationally Happy: Bonne Bell Lip Smacker in Dr. Pepper.
Wish List for 2008: To find the perfect lipstick (NOT gloss) in the perfect color for man, I am out of practice when it comes to matte lips. For a drugstore brand to come out with an awesome foundation primer. To find something that gets rid of that one sun/age spot on my right cheek. To finally upgrade to a salon-quality blow-dryer. To use fewer paper towels and try more homemade skin and hair treatments. To add to my existing expanse of stretch marks with a second pregnancy.

Published January 4, 2008. Last updated January 4, 2008.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Olivia

    January 4, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Good luck with your wish list. My favorite matte lipstick is My Lip Miracle from Avon. Moisturizing and it stays on for a long time.

  • smilingmama

    January 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Amalah. First, love you. Um, I mean love your blogs. Second, have you ever tried Body Shop stuff? I will disclose that I am a part-time Body Shop at Home consultant BUT the only reason I do it is that I, my mom, sister, aunt, etc. are all obsessed with their stuff, and I want the discount. Anyway, their brushes are AMAZING. So is their skin care, so is everything. You need to try their Moisture White line for that sun/age spot. It has helped my forehead (with multiple sun spots–not age because I’ve had them FOREVER) dramatically. Third, let me know when you figure out how to use fewer paper towels, that’s on my list, too.

  • Kimmy

    January 4, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Amalah… oh Amalah. I have asked woe, so many times but you’ve never responded: are you against MAC makeup?
    Their skin-care stuff is middle-of-the-road, I admit… but as far as their actual makeup, it’s the best stuff out there. I have nary an allergy so I can’t speak to how the foundations would work for you. But the lipsticks, eyeshadows, eyeliners, etc., are outstanding. Nobody else’s come close in quality, range of colours, useability (is that a word?), as far as I’m concerned.
    Just curious if you had a bad MAC experience or you just don’t like stuff that Sephora doesn’t carry or whatever. I must know!
    And so… in response to your post… MAC has some gorgeous matte lipsticks out right now.

  • Keri G

    January 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Before reading your blog, I’ve never had any sort of skin care regime. Still don’t actually – I don’t wear makeup at all, never really used moisturizer or anything like that. I’ve never had to, because I have…FABULOUS skin with almost no problems or blemishes ever. Yup, I’m one of the blessed ones. Anyway, all that is about to change. NOT because my skin has gotten bad or anything but because I’ll be turning 30 in 266 days (but who’s counting!?) and I’m getting worried. What if, the day I turn 30, my skin FREAKS OUT?! So I decided to head it off and bought the Philosophy Jump Starters Kit. I’m actually excited about it! Anyway, I guess ALL of that was to tell you THANK YOU for all you do and all your help! You ROCK!

  • BridehoodRevisited

    January 4, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    For lips, check out Bobbi Brown’s semi-matte lipsticks.
    I’d love to be able to wear lipsticks, but my lips have color as it is so they always, always look weird on me and I end up needing to find some odd sheer shade that looks half decent on me.
    As for the pro dryer, I’m stunned you don’t have one. sometimes has really good deals. I have a CHI turbo and the amount of drying time it has cut out has been awesome.

  • Kathryn

    January 4, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    I think I’ve mentioned it on here before, but I had the exact same reaction to Bare Minerals. Like a moron, I continued using it for awhile, thinking, “Well, they said it’s hypoallergenic, so it can’t possibly be making me itchy and red and skin-falling-off-in-chunksy.” Uh, yeah, it can. And did.
    And the sales guy at the local Bare Minerals store got rather snotty with me when I mentioned it while I was in there shortly thereafter. Jerkfaces.

  • robin m

    January 4, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Bare Escentuals is the bad for sensitive skin. All you have to do is google Bismuth Oxide and Bare Escentuals (or Minerals, whatever the heck it’s called)… ugh.
    Re: Philosophy – have they gone religious recently? I mean no offense to the religious around here, but I have a big bottle of Purity face stuff and have used various products of theirs for the last 5-10 years (basically when I find a good price). My mom gave me a QVC “TSV” of their amazing grace scent, which i love, but it went all Biblical on the lotion. I mean, like crazy religious and quoty and what not. I’ve read all their little quotes on the dozen or so products I have had of theirs over the years and not one reference to religion at all.. and then this one thing (that was sold only on QVC) was just totally over the top.

  • Dani

    January 7, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Oh thank the goddesses of all that is beauty, I’m not the only one who absolutely hated Bare Escentuals powder. It clogged my pores and made me look horrible. I don’t doubt that it works for the people who love it, but I felt like a damn idiot for not falling head-over-heels for it.
    Admittedly, I haven’t tried their eyeshadows. I <3 MAC eyeshadow. I love the color payoff and, in most cases, how it goes on (some are crumbly and, hello, raccoon eyes), and it lasts me forever.

  • Jennelou

    January 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Just wanted to comment on Bare Escentuals…
    I have never tried it, but my Mom and sister love it.
    My mom never used to wear makeup, and since she has started using BE she looks so much younger and gets comments from people all the time asking her what she is doing differently.
    So, it can work! But yeah, if my skin was coming off in chunks I wouldn’t use it either!!
    Maybe I will try it someday, but I just can’t see spending the money when I am happy with what I have been using. (Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer…which, I know, some people hate, but I have had really good luck with!)
    I may try more expensive stuff when I am no longer a POOR! STARVING! College Student!

  • the ass editor

    January 7, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Amy, maybe you should try Aveeno’s Positively Ageless SPF 30 moisturizer as a sub for a good drugstore brand primer. I’m not a primer fan just because I don’t think my skin really needs that much coverage, but I’ve tried the Smashbox primer a few times and the Aveeno moisturizer makes my skin feel pretty much the same way as the Smashbox primer. Plus if it works for you, there’s the added bonuses of SPF, moisturizer, and primer in one step!

  • Krissy

    July 29, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I just decided to give the On A Clear Day Blemish Serum a try, and found that it was no longer available at Sephora. I checked EBay and only found one bottle for sale! Does anyone know where else I might be able to get my hot little hands on one of these awesome blue bottles???