Truth in Beauty

published long ago

The other day while flipping through a favorite celebrity fashion magazine, a letter to the editor caught our attention.

Written by an admiring fan of a recent celebrity cover, it went something like this, "Superstar's" skin looked so incredible in your September cover story. I'd love to know what products she used." Naturally, the reply detailed the various products used by said superstar, but they failed to mention what "product" did the most work: digital airbrushing.

Actually, the star in question probably does rely on certain products to help her look great. We love to peek into the stars' medicine cabinets-after all, in terms of products, they get the pick of the litter. But after flipping through page after page filled with women airbrushed literally beyond recognition, we started to wonder: How's a girl to find the products that truly work without some truth in beauty?

Let's start by banning a few blatant beauty fibs: No models with false lashes in mascara commercials. No collagen-enhanced models in advertisements for glosses that plump lips. And please, no ridiculous claims about wrinkle cream results. We know there's no miracle cure. A slight improvement would have us doing cartwheels.

One way to find your beauty truth is to try before you buy. In department stores, start by sampling products and taking advantage of free, professional advice from consultants that are well versed in the lines they represent. What some consumers don't know is that they can request take-home samples of any product they are interested in purchasing, and most often get them.

Navigating the drugstore product department can be tougher with few testers and less assistance. Beauty expert Paula Begoun, widely known as the Cosmetic Cop, aims to help. In her book, Don't go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me, she reviews over 30,000 products of the drugstore variety and beyond. Much of her advice is also available online at Her monthly best and worst product awards are an intriguing read with upscale products and drugstore products alike receiving their just "awards."

One fatal error many women make is trying multiple products at the same time and mixing and matching lines. That can create some serious beauty woes. The lesson here is to be loyal to brands that work for you. Also consider doing a patch-test of new products before you buy. To make sure that the product in question won't do more harm then good, apply the product to the inside of your wrist. Things to watch out for are redness, itchiness, dryness or any other adverse reaction.

Reading labels can be difficult since cosmetic ingredients are usually listed by their chemical name, for example, tocopherol is simply Vitamin E. What you can do is keep an eye on active ingredients and be aware of ingredients that don't agree with your skin. Products that are hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic are a best bet. We all want to look our most beautiful without breaking the bank. Combine research, expert advice and common sense to find products that truly help you look your best.

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