As much as we love retailers like Sephora and Ulta, there’s one ultimate downside: There are so. many. options. It’s hard not to amble down the aisles, endlessly comparing products until we eventually give up and go home. Surely there’s a way to cut through the beauty mold and determine when to splurge and when to save on haircare, skincare and makeup? Luckily, your friendly, neighborhood beauty editors play with products constantly — we spend all day testing and scrutinizing — and spend all night dreaming about the latest launches! Below, NewBeauty editors weigh in on what drugstore products really work and which luxury products are actually worth the hype.
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Emily Taylor, Editorial Assistant
Splurge: Revision Skincare Intellishade Original ($75)
The skies parted and angels sang the moment another editor lent me her NewBeauty Award-winning Intellishade. Not only does the slightly tinted formula shield my face from both UVA and UVB rays—that’s right, this baby is broad spectrum—but it also moisturizes, brightens and has antioxidant power to address the sun damage I surely already have. It even passed the ultimate test this weekend when I lent it to my boyfriend’s mother—she almost didn’t give it back because it felt “more like makeup than sunscreen!”
Sunscreen is something that you never—and I really mean never—want to on skimp on. While $33 might be a little stiff for a “save,” this SPF 50 pick from Anthelios offers UVA and UVB coverage, hugs skin like actual silk and imparts a subtle boost in color. It’s paraben- and fragrance-free and suits sensitive skin—hi, self!—perfectly.
Liz Ritter, Executive Editor
Splurge: Kerstin Florian Mineral Wellness Soak with Eucalyptus ($45)
I love bath salts and these two are my absolute favorites. They smell amazingly uplifting, create a relaxing bath and wash away clean.
Tatiana Bido, Special Projects Editor
Splurge: MAC Cosmetics Strobe Cream ($33)
When I want that “glow from within” look, I reach for my MAC Strobe Cream, which adds a subtle sheen to my skin. It doubles as a moisturizer so I can wear it underneath my face powder or just dab on a little bit over my cheeks as a finishing touch.
Save: L’Oréal Magic Lumi Primer ($13)
This primer is similar to the MAC Strobe Cream in that it delivers an all-over sheen, but the texture is more like a pearlized liquid than a moisturizing cream. Despite the difference in texture, It gives my skin the same dewy glow.
Brittany Burhop Fallon, Beauty Director
Splurge: StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer ($79)
This supercharged night cream is a must for my combination skin and fine lines. It’s pretty powerful (but it doesn’t make me red), so I know not to use it when my skin is on the drier side as it can intensify dryness due to the retinol. But, when my skin is having an oily spell and I put this on at night, I wake up to clearer, smoother skin.
Drugstore: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream ($25)
This product seems very similar to the splurge—even the scents of the two are in the same wheelhouse. The texture may be slightly lighter, but it too is effective in providing a smoothing effect on my fine lines and overall complexion.
Danielle Fontana, Digital Editor
Splurge: beautyblender ($20)
There’s a reason this edgeless, reusable cosmetic sponge has been a bestseller since it hit the shelves. It allows me to wear high-coverage foundations without looking like I caked it on, and the smaller tip blends my undereye concealer perfectly.
Save: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge ($7)
This sponge is a fraction of the cost of the beautyblender but I love it just the same. Its flat top is great for applying foundation and contouring the sides of your nose, and it still features the pointed tip to blend in concealer. Plus, since it’s at such a great price point, you can purchase one for foundation and one for contouring without feeling guilty!