Item of the Day: Beautypedia

I have a drawer full of cosmetics that I don’t use. It’s the result of too many shopping sprees where I impulsively buy products to look prettier, flawless and more radiant. My worst buying binges happen when I’m depressed. I always think a new illuminating powder will make all my troubles go away.

So what’s wrong with this, you may ask? Well, nothing. We all need some splurges now and then to boost our mood. Retail therapy can be good for the soul, if not for the pocketbook. But if we’re going to max out our credit cards on fancy make-up, we should be getting the best products for our skin.

What bothers me is how some cosmetics companies tell us lies so we buy their product and then they don’t deliver on their promises. I’m talking about claims like flake-proof mascara, crease-free eye shadow and non-greasy foundation that lasts all day. And don’t get me started on the clogged pores and breakouts from this stuff.

I’ve bought a bunch of foundations that appear dry and cake-like, eyeliners that smudge before I get to the office and lipsticks that disappear after five minutes. How are we supposed to know which products work without spending a chunk of our hard-earned money that, obviously, would’ve been better spent on sushi and summer sandals?

It’s been a big guessing game. I admit I can be suckered into buying a product because it comes in a dazzling package. Even though I really want to believe it’s great, it doesn’t necessarily work any better than the ones in a plain jar with a generic screw cap. It winds up looking prettier in my make-up bag than it does on my face.

So here’s my question: How can I find cosmetics that work as they claim and be good for my skin? Well…

I’ve found the answer!

I’m happy to report that I no longer have to play this guessing game. I’ve discovered a great website called Beautypedia. It was founded by a woman named Paula Begoun who has been working in the cosmetics industry for decades. She was disappointed with the illusion of cosmetics and how they didn’t live up to their claims. As crazy as it sounds, there’s really no regulations these cosmetics companies must abide by, so they are basically free to tell as many false claims as they want. So Paula, also known as the Cosmetics Cop, decided to do something about it. (By the way, I call her Paula even though we’ve never met. I’ve spent so much time on her site I feel like she’d want me to call her by her first name.)

Paula started researching many products, thousands of them, to inform us of the ingredients we were putting on our skin. This is so important. I’ve been dazzled by organic products claiming to have all-natural ingredients. I thought I was pampering my skin by coating it in a thick, goopy cream infused with lavender extract, rose water or essential oils. Did you know that many plant extracts are harmful to your skin? Neither did I. Yikes. I had so much to learn.

This site lists the ingredients in each product and explains why they’re beneficial or harmful for all skin types and conditions. Paula shares thousands of candid, research-supported reviews that are scientifically validated by her awesome research team. Also, they continue to research and publish updates on new products.

I also learned that many of the moisturizers and foundations claiming to have SPF are not all they’re cracked up to be. If they don’t include titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, you may as well put it back on the shelf. A cosmetic that claims SPF 20 may not truly be SPF 20. You might have to put on so much of it that you’d look like you were getting ready to juggle bowling pins for Ringling Bros. These two sunscreen ingredients are the best defense against both UVA and UVB rays. The last thing I want is to be sitting in the sun obliviously over-confident that I’m protected when in fact those rays are burning new wrinkles in my skin by the second. Ugh!

Beautypedia to the rescue!

At Beautypedia, you can check all the products you use and see how they’re rated. From BEST $$$ (great products but expensive) to BEST (great products and worth the price) to AVERAGE, FAIR and POOR. I’ve chucked many of my old cosmetics and replaced them with new products I now know are worth spending my money on. You can see how your make-up stacks up against all the other brands, both department store and drugstore. And you won’t believe how many drugstore brands come out on top.

Some of my own discoveries

I want to share the results of some of my tried-and-true, can’t-be-without products that were exposed in my research. The first one is mascara. I’ll save the brand some embarrassment by not revealing its name, but many of us are familiar with that pink and green tube that’s touted as the #1 best seller. I think I’ve been buying it since I bought my first package of blue eyeshadow in seventh grade. I never even looked at the other brands since I thought this one gave me “great lashes.”

Since it was a best seller it’s gotta be good, right? Wrong. Paula rates it POOR. That’s right. I’ve been walking around with below average eyelashes for years. I never realized how fabulous they could look until I switched mascaras. With a brand that Paula recommended, now my lashes appear thick and twice as long. What a difference.

My other discovery was a famous department store yellow moisturizer. It’s one of this popular brand’s flagship products and claims to deliver “dramatically different” results. It was rated AVERAGE. How disappointing. I believed I was drenching my skin in wonderful moisture when I was really just using a mediocre lotion containing mineral and sesame oil. I could’ve achieved the same results with a tub of Vaseline for a fraction of the price. Now I know the best moisturizers contain vitamins and antioxidants as well as emollients.

A word of caution

I admit I quickly became overwhelmed by all of this info. There’s a lot to digest. I didn’t want a trip to the make-up counter to turn out to be homework. Especially when I just want to cheer myself up with a new lipstick. It’s like trying to cram an entire set of encyclopedic knowledge into my head. Thankfully they have a mobile web app, but here’s an easy cheat.

Paula started her own line of skin care products called Paula’s Choice. It takes all the guesswork out of reading ingredient labels and wondering what’s good and what’s crap. I’ve tried some and they’re great. They’re ridiculously inexpensive compared to the department store brands, where you can spend a hundred bucks for a thimble-full of miracle lotion.

I hope I don’t sound like an infomercial for Paula’s website. I just want to provide resources that can help you buy the best products for your skin. And who doesn’t want great skin? By the way, there’s many Gigglers on this site who have shared their home remediesmake-up faves and recommendations which are also highly rated on Paula’s site.

And just so you know, I don’t in any way get anything from Paula for writing this. I kind of wish I did because her stuff is that good. Check it out. See how the experts rate your make-up and be prepared to never waste money on crappy products again.

Let me know what you think. Let’s share our discoveries with each other. Knowledge is power. And, in this case, knowledge is beautiful.

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