I Tried 3 Cult Beauty Brands For The First Time & This Is What Happened
It recently occurred to me that for someone who routinely writes about beauty, I might be a little bit stuck in my ways. In fact, my self-appointed title as Beauty's Biggest Curmudgeon might be why I have yet to try three popular beauty brands that people have been raving about for months, if not years.
I know, I know: It's the job of a beauty writer to branch out and try new things, right? The problem is that I come from the school of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." If writing about beauty wasn't my job, then I'd likely stick to my favorite K-beauty brands and coconut oil DIYs until I was snail masking and deep conditioning in my grave. After all, I once heard coconut oil can make your decomposing bones really shine.
However, I began to feel ready to try new things, even if I did enter into this experiment prepared to be disappointed. I've always been curious about LUSH, Glossier, and Benefit Cosmetics. But was the hype that swirls around these popular brands inspired by gimmicks and good social media teams? Could the brands possibly live up to the hysterical fandom that surrounds them? I wasn't sure, but it was about damn time I found out.
1. LUSH: Your Savior In The Shower
I can't begin to count the amount of LUSH bath bomb videos I've watched on Instagram. All of you people with your fancy bathtubs and soaking capabilities. Is it your intention to make a New Yorker like me insanely jealous, since I live in a 1930s building with a half-height "bathtub" that's almost big enough for an adult male chihuahua to bathe comfortably? Needless to say, as much as I'd love to turn my tub into one of LUSH's magic potions, I supposed I'd have to settle for LUSH's other products instead.
But using the brand's non-bath bomb products isn't "settling" at all, is it? In fact, even without soaking in a pool of jam-scented glitter and tiny unicorns that scrub the roughest parts of your butt cheeks, using LUSH products turned the vessel of broken dreams that I call a shower into the ultimate luxury experience. There were three products from the brand that were total standouts (albeit after using them, I feel compelled to try more).
The first LUSH product that spoke to my soul was the Mask Of Magnaminty. The deep cleansing face and body mask has china clay and fresh peppermint (as well as some aduki beans and a bit of vanilla and honey), pulling all the oily crap from your pores and striking with a delightful tingling sensation. For me, it was the perfect treatment for the morning: I put it on my skin before showering, to absorb the oil from my nose and to wake up my tired eyes from a night of ugly weeping about my tiny bathtub.
Rollers in hair and green mask on face: Why yes, I am the girl of your dreams. After about 20 minutes, it's time to step into the shower, which is a much easier place to remove this mask than the sink, as it requires most of your arm strength to scrub off.
On days when I don't have rollers in my hair like the sitcom housewife that I strive to be, I have started to use LUSH's next amazing product, BIG Sea Salt Shampoo.
The formula is basically a white paste with huge chunks of sea salt in it. The drying effect of the salt is counteracted by deliciously moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil and avocado. This stuff works really well as a clarifying shampoo — probably too drying for use every day, but perfect when you need to scrub the ever-loving shit out of your scalp. Just make sure to follow up with a nice deep conditioning.
Finally, it's time for the moment that I've grown to dream about: The full-body application of LUSH's Ro's Argan Body Conditioner. This stuff is absolutely, hands down, the best shower product I have ever used. Packed with cocoa and cupuaçu butters, almond and argan oils, and rose petals, this apply-while-wet cream makes your skin feel velvety and smell like dessert. Rather than a full-on image of myself sensually rubbing this life-altering potion all over my body, let me give you a little leg action.
Sadly, it's also the last step of my showering process. All good things must come to an end.
2. Glossier: The Skincare You've Been Searching For
I've read about, thought about, and dreamed of these products for over a year now, but for some reason I've never taken the plunge. That all changed last week, when I took a few of Glossier's products for a test spin — consider this an exercise in learning what the fuss was all about.
For those seven people who are still unfamiliar with the brand, Glossier is the beauty line created by Emily Weiss, founder of Into The Gloss. The concept behind the line is "to make you immediately look like the best version of yourself." Its entire product line consists of a balm, cleanser, face mist, priming moisturizer, skin tint, two masks, and the newly-released Brow Boy, which is touted as performing miracles on even the most unruly brows.
Since plump, dewy skin is like, actually a little arousing for me, I decided to check out the Milky Jelly Cleanser, the Priming Moisturizer, and the Moisturizing Moon Mask. The Milky Jelly Cleanser is the newest addition to the Glossier family, and its consistency is unlike any cleanser I've tried before. I'll spare you the attempts at somewhat disgusting descriptive adjectives and just say this: Milky Jelly couldn't be a more accurate moniker.
Then came time for the priming moisturizer, which promises buildable moisture that works flawlessly under makeup or alone. The product is packed with hyaluronic acid, something called a "mushroom super hydrator," which frankly, sounds delicious. It's also got a light consistency that absorbs quickly into the skin. I'm the type of person who is hyper-sensitive to stickiness, scent, or heaviness in moisturizers, and I was stoked to see that the Glossier Priming Moisturizer has none of that going on.
Last but not least, the Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask, a scentless celebration of hyaluronic acid and other goodness that has inspired to me actually sing to it every night. I alternate between all the sexiest Rihanna songs and "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," because the insatiable crooning of Rod Stewart is the perfect way to show your beauty products you care.
I put a thin layer of this (emulsified with a bit of water) on at night, then wake up looking like the plump and not-at-all-three-decades-old woman that I surely am. I waited so long to try this product, and I truly regret all those months I spent not being appropriately moistened while I slept. Don't be like me. Your face deserves so much more.
3. Benefit: Simple Makeup That Packs A Big Punch
Please excuse the wearied nubbins that may have, at one point, been human fingernails, and instead focus on these two products, from Benefit. Until last week, I'd never tried a Benefit product: All I knew was that the packaging was cute as hell and that the Benefit shelves at Sephora were always swarmed with very excited and adorable women.
Turns out, there is a reason for that. The Benefit They're Real! Tinted Lash Primer and Roller Lash Lifting & Curling Mascara may have taken my lashes to a place they've never been before. Observe, the moment when a group of lashes stop being polite and start getting real:
In cased you missed the final magic moment, please enjoy a close-up, a side-by-side image so powerful that you'll almost be able to ignore the presence of my pores.
I mean, are you kidding? And that's just with one coat of each product. Imagine what would happen if I double or tripled coated for a night out? I would become an Eyelash Medusa, only when people looked into my eyes they wouldn't turn to stone. They'd simply start orgasming uncontrollably.
For my very last first-timer experiment, I went with one of Benefit's most classic and popular products: Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain. Despite the fact that the formula makes it look like you're painting your face with the very thin blood of the innocents, it's kind of great. And hey, if you actually are into painting your face with very thin blood, you're going to love this stuff and so are your vampire friends.
Ahh, the flushed glow of someone who has just used an amazing cheek tint and spent the entire week wearing large pieces of flowing black cloth and testing beauty products.
The main thing I've learned throughout this process is that when it comes to beauty, there's simply no reason to shake your proverbial fists at new, exciting things that you don't yet understand. Trying LUSH, Glossier, and Benefit Cosmetics for the first time, after a year of being a professional beauty writer, was like realizing that while I was busy stockpiling my old favorites and grumbling about kids these days, everyone was having fun without me.
Well, now I'm here and I'm ready to party — and with these products, I look damn good doing it.
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Images: Amanda Richards; Glossier