Monica Bielanko
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Help a Scraggly Sister Out

This house we're renting doesn't have a shower, it has a claw foot tub from, like, the 1890s, which sounds romantic, I know. But listen, I've shaved my legs exactly twice since the house fire because I just can't get warm in the damn thing. Do you know how much water it takes to fill a humongous claw foot tub even just a few inches? So I'm always sitting there shivering and I'll be damned if I can figure out how to shave with goosebumps the size of golf balls.

We're working on getting a shower installed in the tub but, in the meantime, I've kind of avoided the bathroom. Another bathroom-related dilemma? Much of this house, built in 1890-something, has knob and tube wiring, which, if you aren't In The Know, is basically what they used to wire houses pretty immediately after Ben Franklin flew the kite. The sole socket in the bathroom is not capable of handling the wattage of even your most basic hair dryer. New haircut + no hair dryer = me not looking in the mirror pretty much ever because why do that to myself? I just like to roam around this new town we live in punishing everyone who has to look at me. WHEEEE!

Let us review, shall we? Tub ain't cutting it, can't really fix my hair and pretty much no desire to give a shit. Which isn't the greatest of timing for this Babble assignment I accepted before the house fire. Basically, they want me to buy seven beauty products. Whatever I want. Lipstick, eyeshadow, false eyelashes, hair wax... whatever! And then try out the products and showcase the results with photos.

Yes, exactly what I want to do: take photos of my Peppermint Patty football bangs hair and show them to you. But then again, maybe this is exactly the pick-me-up I need to get going again? I dunno. What I do know is that I have absolutely no idea what to buy and try. What's hip? What're all The Kids doing? I'd like to maybe try some fake eyelashes because they seem fun and my eyelashes are straighter than the apparent stick jammed up sweater vest Rick Santorum's ass. Maybe a red lipstick? A bronzing type item to do some skin shading? I'm also interested in finding a really good concealer, because, you know, I look dead most of the time and a jazzy, little concealer might help the people at Walmart to recognize that yes, I am indeed alive and I would like someone to ring up my goods!

Yes, basically I need to look nice for that weekly trip to Walmart. God, isn't life grand?

Can you help me? What is the must-have product in your beauty arsenal? Do you have a beauty arsenal? Is there a mascara, lip gloss or lipstick color you swear by? Some kind of hair treatment conditioner item? What products do you absolutely, positively recommend? Can be any item, any brand.

Reader Comments (50)

Moroccanoil. Awesome hair product. Totally rad.

There are some cheaper brands of argan oil out there that might be good, I've only tried this one.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimbo

Benefit erase paste concealer- gotta hide the fact that my 2 year old won't let me sleep
Nars orgasm blush
Smashbox fusion soft lights for a powder/bronzer
Clinique lash power mascara
Mac coffee bean eyeliner
Lorac starry eyed eyeshadow

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGHARDIN

I suck at beauty products, so I would like to read what you find rather than tell you what awesome things I use. (My favorite one is Pantene Curls to Straight shampoo/conditioner when I want to straighten my hair, which, with a 21 month old and a 6 month old, never happens anymore. But I don't think you're curly enough for that to make much difference for you.)

Anyway, my requests: Find me an awesome red lipstick that I don't look like a hooker in. Find me concealer that keeps people from saying, "well you look good, but you do look tired," after 12pm every day. Find me some kick ass tweezers that don't cost a zillion dollars so I don't look like baby caterpillars are sprouting over my eyes when I can't afford to/don't have time to wax.

I'll click the hell out of those posts.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlydia

i don't know if i have great recommendations, but right now, i'm obsessed with mascaras! anything that will make my miserable lashes look abundant, long and without clumps would be great... sigh!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranother monica

Why don't you just get those wax strips that pull the hair out. I know it sounds painful but at least you don't have to freeze doing it. There are also alot of creams that remove hair in three min. Sit on the ledge of the tub pull your pant leg up , put on the cream and pour a drink.
I never get to try the new beauty products because I don't have the money. Maybe after my three kids move out I'll splurge. Then again I'll be old and no one will give a shit !

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulianna2221

You have to try the Aztec secret indian clay!

Basically it's a powder that you mix with Apple Cider vinegar (this is crucial! don't use water, it doesn't work as well) to create a smooth paste that you put on your face. The clay then tightens and you're left with smooth skin, smaller pores, etc. Read the reviews on Amazon to get a better idea. I'm not sure what kind of stores you have out there, but I've found it at Henry's and Whole Foods. Of course you can also just order off of Amazon.

Good luck!!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErin

i second argan oil! but i love the josie maran brand. you can use it on your skin, hair, smells delish and it totally worth the money. NARS orgasm stick...perfect for lips, cheeks and eyes. for the commenter above who wants tweezers and red lipstick, i say to you: tweezerman tweezers. they'll put you out abou $20 but they're worth every penny. and red lipstick? NARS red lizard or MAC ruby woo. all you'll ever need.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarrie

I basically have no beauty arsenal, but I just saw an ad for a foundation/concealer called airbrush - something? I think the ad was in the most recent People StyleWatch mag...and I actually thought that it's something I might have to try! If I could only remember the exact name...

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

Laura Mercier Secret Concealer and Nars Lipstick in Heat Wave. I use lipstick only occasionally but Heat Wave rocks my paleish (pale in winter for sure) skin. I live in LM Secret Concealer. Sometimes it's the only makeup I wear. This sounds like a super fun assignment!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCait

Coconut Oil as a face/body moisturizer, deep conditioner for hair, a little in a pinch for frizzies and sometimes even as lip gloss!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreenInOC

Moroccan/Argan oil for your hair - don't use too much though, or it'll be greasy. Smells great though

NARS orgasm stick in "The Multiple" for your coloring, or maybe "G-Spot", which is what I use. I put it on my cheeks and's my go-to thing.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser - my mother gave this to me because the color didn't work, and I was going to toss it, but then I tried it and I LOVE it. I use it under my eyes, and on any zits that crop up to ruin prom night.

Blinc "tube" Mascara - freaky, but it smudges, and it lasts until you decide to take it off. AND, you don't need makeup remover just water and about thirty seconds of your time.

Smashbox "HALO" foundation powder - feels great, covers well, etc. They have a ton of shades so you should be able to find one that suits you.

LUSH solid shampoos - me. Everything they make is amazing, but I'm completely hooked on the solid shampoo. I use Ultimate Shine, or Reincarnate, or Karma when I want to smell extra fantastic. SERIOUSLY. I was a skeptic, but I've been converted...looky here!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Acquaviva

Eh, makeup I'm not so good with, but hair and body products have a special place in my heart.

I love, love, love Thayer's witch hazel for cleaning my face. I use the rose petal. It smells amazing and makes my face feel clean and soft.

Lately I've been battling tight/dry face because of the winter and I finally found a great product in Pond's face cream (who knew?).

I love MOP products, especially their Lemongrass Lift. It gives my hair body and shape (hello, fine hair) without looking or feeling like it. It smells so good, too.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMsAmanda

Sorry, forgot to look more particularly at what you want...
Red lipstick - NO idea, because I've never found one that looks good with pasty skin, dark hair, and green eyes. I always look like a hooker with a bad makeup hand.

Bronzer - Benefit Cosmetics 10 or get the Nars Orgasm stick in a more bronze color, like Palm Beach

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Acquaviva

I second (or third?) NARS orgasm blush - apparently this also comes in a "stick"? Gotta check that out. Can get at Sephora or Macy's.

I love Stila eyeshadow in Starlight - I wear it on my lids every single day and I think it's a flattering color for anybody. Can get at Sephora or Macy's.

Also, I recently got a tip about using jojoba oil on my face - apply it daily with a cotton ball or fingers and your skin will start looking smoother and clearer in a week. You can get it at Whole Foods or any health food store, or even Amazon.

Good luck! And who shaves their legs in the winter anyway?

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAL

As a mother of two young children, I rarely spend much money on myself. However, I do spend a LOT on my makeup. I wear all MAC makeup -- I started wearing it prechildren, and just can't get myself to wear anything else. I don't wear a liquid fondation, but I always do use a concealer under my eyes. I love the Select Moisturecover style. I don't have a MAC store near me, but they do ship pretty quickly. It lasts all day and really covers up my sleep-deprived circles under my eyes.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Very interested in your reviews of makeup/beauty products. Need help with foundation and concealer. For hair I have been very happy with Kerastase products. Both shampoo and styling products, but I do find them overpriced! I always get my hair colored at a salon. If you check out home color products with really good instruction on how to use the product at home, that would be great. Re your tub situation. We used to have a tub and no shower in an old apartment. Until you get the shower up and running, you can install a hand held hose to the current faucet fixture and sort of take a shower/ bath sitting down. Once you get hot water on your back you will stop being cold. Worked for us back then and much easier to wash your hair. Its also a cheap fix, you can get one of these for less than 20.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Cover Girl Last Blast Volume. It comes in a bright orange tube, and it was one of Oprah's favorite things a few years ago. If that's not a ringing endorsement I don't know what is!

I recently started using Bare Minerals foundation. I was skeptical for the first week or so but now I'm starting to love it. The concealer is great for eye circles and it reduces the pink in my overly rosy cheeks.

My favorite thing to smooth my wild hair is After Party by Bed Head.

I don't have a favorite hand lotion or cuticle cream, so I would love to read about suggestions!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleah

I'm looking forward to seeing what people recommend for moisturizers. The one I use for year round doesn't quite make the cut in winter...

As for me, for my all-purpose makeup, I like Ulta brand products. I think they have stores all over the country, so there might be one near you. Their prices are excellent, and they have a zillion colors, and they last a whole workday. I come home and the blush I swept on is still workin' it. (I really love using their Aztec Gold eyeshadow-it makes my eyes pop!).

I don't wear much lipstick...I'm more of a blistex kind of girl. But when I go all out, I really like Estee' lauder's classic lipstick/pencil. It's sort of expensive, yes, but what I like, is that it is all-day coverage, and it tastes nice-like figs. That sounds wierd, but lipsticks usually taste lousy! I use Rosa Rosa, because it resembles my natural lip color all amped up.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Some really fantastic products I have run across over the years.

Senna Hydra-Cover Concealer. The Senna brand is the one that the makeup artist on What Not To Wear uses.
Order it online.

Doing something with your brows, keeping them shaped and groomed is as transforming as highlights in your hair. And if you are like me, your eyebrows look weirdly dishwatery colored compared to blond highlights.
Smashbox Brow Tech Trio. (order it online or you can get it at ULTA if there is one near you.)

Bioelements skincare products - try the one week long Kerafole "purge", your skin will really freshen up.
Order online

Rusk str8 anti-frizz lotion works great when you don't want to blow dry. I have slightly wavy hair that never wants to do anything. Bought this at the drugstore.

Also just tried Maybelleine The Falsies mascara and love it. From the drugstore.

Have fun, this is totally up my alley. I hate primping so I have slowly acquired my favorite products over the past several years. I am a little bit older than you, and once I turned 35 it seemed I couldn't just blow off the maintenance of my appearance the way I used to.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel
by REN
I think it got rid of the baggage under my eyes and then I ran out of it and don't want to spend the $45 if I was wrong. Tell me if I am correct please.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShani

What about the Sally Hansen Nail pattern....things? These:
Might be less of an ordeal to try and review, what with a low-functioning bathroom and all.

This blog has a Sophistication Sundays feature that showcases lots of products - you might find something there.

Hoping this project brings some fun and energy, and isn't just a pain and a drag. Big hug, girl.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate

my suggestions for products that could help you in your situation, and then you could review them:

-- to freshen dirty hair: Cake Beauty Satin Sugar Refreshing Hair & Body Powder for Lighter Hues. I have the same color hair you do and it works great for greasy days. I just put some on my hand, pat it on the oily area, and then brush in different directions to kind of distribute it.

--for shaving w/o being in a bath or shower: maybe try out different shaving creams? Or maybe try out some veet hair removal creme?

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy

Hair dye. That's about it.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I have one of those old claw foot tubs too. The secret is to fill it with hot water BEFORE you get in. The cast iron the tub is made out of holds the heat for quite a while. Wonderful for a long hot soak.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpahale

I can't help you on the girly stuff.

But I want to warn you on "ole house wiring" That knob and tube that they first used is evil !

I bet it has burnt down more turn of the century houses than any other cause.

It was only meant for light bulbs not all the gizmos and electric stuff we count on these days !

Stay safe.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterUtah L

That shower ordeal sure is a nuisance. I can't image my life with a tub that takes forever to fill and nor a bathroom that is not capable of handling basic wattage.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Print Blog

Love reading all the products everyone uses! I'm not super big on make up, just because i'm not sure how to apply it really.

i do love the Cover Girl Last Blast Volume.

I use mac face makeup

Costco shampoo and conditioner. It smells nice!

I would like read about lotions! Anything that isn't greasy and doesn't smell like bath and body works threw up on me.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharity

Fresh Sugar Lip Balm in Rose' which you can buy at places like Sephora. It is the best thing I have. It was given to me as a gift and is perfect for a touch of color without anything else, lighter glossy color under your lipstick and moisturizing gloss over your lipstick. I LOVE it. I am a grocery store girl makeup buyer for convenience but made a special trip to the local mall to buy more shades of this. They also have a whole line of other products including the Fresh Sugar Lime lotion. I have gotten so many complements on it and wear it with the Jo Malone perfumes.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaseyinTexas

I love Stila lipglosses...the only ones I use. As for the rest, I can't wait to read what everyone else has to say!

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Since you are having shower issues, may I recommend "Sauve Dry Shampoo" as a product to try....or any dry shampoo as a good test product.

Spray bronzer - any branding - would be another suggestion.

A sugar waxing hair removal product would be another suggestion.

Does that help?

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe K Spot

I have no good makeup advice, but I love hair products. Between me & Rachel, we've tried hundreds of products. The one product that helps our hair look flat & shiny when I blow it straight is Bumble &Bumble Straight Blowdry, followed by B&B brilliantine once it's dry. They aren't cheap, but you don't need to use alot of product.

If you want to wear your hair curly/wavy, I recommend visiting for product ideas. You can see what hair type you are, then get recOmmendations based on that type.

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChrissyD

Any mascara from mabeline's define-a-lash line is awesome in my book. I HATE clumpy mascara, I pretty much never get clumps with those ones!

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterD

I can't help you with make-up. Don't wear any, and don't want to. But I LOVE my hair conditioner, Garnier Fructis Haircare Triple Nutrition 3-Minute Undo Dryness Reversal Treatment. I pay $5 at Target, which I think is ridiculous for a conditioner, but then again, I'm cheap. I use it every day.

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill

First off, I would feel a while lot better if you would put a smoke detector on every wall. LOL. That said, a few month back I bought a kit at Benefit called 'finding Mr. Bright'. (I'm married to Mr. Bright.) I now use EVERY single item in that fantastic little kit. I've never been a blush kind of gal but I don't leave the house without slapping on some Posie Tint. That shit makes this tired mom look perky.

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon B.

My favorites (and I'm a 5 min. or less makeup application girl)...

*MAC studio fix for "foundation/powder" looks like a pressed powder holder, and is super quick and easy AND can seriously cover up some flaws.

*Bert's Bees lip is a light lipstick but feels like chapstick, kinda tingly, so is awesome in the winter.

*And I recently reluctantly tried Maybellien's Great Lash Mascara after reading all the reviews from 'make up people' that it is their go to mascara...and I have to say, it really is awesome. Love it. And, super cheap...

Have fun with everything!

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

tinted mositurizer is a godsend. what about argan or moroccan oil for hair

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlarissa

Make up wise, I stick to Clinique and Bobbi Brown. Pricey but worth it.
For hair, my world was revolutionised the day I started using John Frieda's Frizz Ease. Not sure if that's a British brand only, but it soothes my tresses! I also love the smell of all Aussie Miracle hair products. Good enough to eat!

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA

i like to use beauty without cruelty make-up since it's not only animal cruelty free, but doesn't have carcinogens like most other make-up out there. i love the khol eye liner and the black/grey sparkly mineral eye shadow...

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterseparelli

Covergirl concealer

This deep conditioner I started using that I really like. Renpure Organics Absolute Miracle. It's at the bottom shelf of the drug stores around here. I think they're trying to hide it.

Also, trader joe's shampoo and conditioner is really good. And cheap!

Do you guys have trader joe's?

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilary

Oh this is so up my alley! I'm a Beaty product addict and have spent waaaay too much money testing new products out! But in my expensive research I have found a few gems I can't live without: 

Red lipstick: Aveda lip color in Poppy. It somehow looks bold and colorful and also natural at the same time. I NEVER can wear lipstick because I hate how it feels, but this baby feels like lip balm and has a matte finish. So nice! 

Urban Decay eyeshadow primer. Even if I'm only wearing eyeliner, this makes it stay ALL DAY. Its one of the only products I've found that actually does what it promises 100%. No creasing, fading, running off your face. At all. I can't live without it!

Sephora's volume plumping mascara. It's the best I've found, and I've tried A LOT of mascaras. Runner up? Dior show mascara. 

Okay this one is weird, but it's my #1 can't live without product: Philips Milk of Magnesia in cherry flavor. It's $4 at any drugstore and it is THE BEST oil control product. Period. Yes, it's constipation medicine. But trust me... It works, and it's good for your skin. Just put it on your t-zone or wherever you get oily after you wash your face. Don't put it where you are dry (I avoid my cheeks, but that's me) because it will feel too dry. But it will 100% stop face oil ALL DAY and into the night, and even makes pores look smaller. Just use a thin layer, or sleep in a thicker layer of it to use it as a mask. 

Stila waterproof stay all day liquid eyeliner. This stuff DOES NOT BUDGE. And it goes on so easy and nicely. 

I could probably keep going but those are the main things that come to mind. :) 

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Bauman

1. Braun Wet & Dry Silk-Epil epilator!
2. Mane 'n Tail Shampoo @
3. Almond Oil - cheap and fab for everything, particularly nails.
4. Dermalogica Total Eye Care SPF 15
5. Garnier Caffeine Anti Dark Circles Roll On
6. Creme de la Mer Radiant Concealer SPF 25

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHebe Harper

Hi Monica,
I'm not a big beauty product person. I don't do much to myself to get ready to, as you say, go to Walmart ;-). But I have one thing, that my hairdresser pleaded with me to use (and I'm glad she did!). The brand is Redken 5th Avenue and it's called "real control crema care", in a purple stand up tube. I got it at my local Hair Cuttery..not sure where else to buy it. It was a little expensive ($16) but you only use a tiny bit each day so the tube is going last a LONG time.

I was skepticle at first. But even when it's a couple days between washes, or when all I do is towel dry my hair, brush it, and get on with my day, I feel like in general my hair is a lot more smooth and shiny. It just feels good, like your hair does after getting a haircut (but goes away the first time you wash it, you know what I mean?). I'm pretty sure I have about the same hair length and thickness as you so it may work out for you too.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColeen

Have you though about dry shampoo? You put this powder stuff on your roots then brush out.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I go pretty light on the make-up, not that I don't need more but I just don't feel like working that hard. One thing I am obsessed about is hair products. I have thick, curly hair, and so if you want a tip on conditioning Wylet's hair have I got one for you! S-Factor Serious conditioner. It ain't cheap, but I buy big vats of it off ebay that last me at least 6 months. You only need a little bit and it works wonders!

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Dry shampoo
Orangish lipstick shade (Loreal has "Volcanic" Bobby Brown has "Atomic Orange") (red is sooo last year)
Argan oil

Your bathroom predicament is also the perfect opportunity to find products that make up for your bathroom's shortcoming, no? Like trying an electric razor, or Nair for your legs. Or a spray that speeds hair drying, or no heat methods for hair drying, and alternative ways of styling bangs. Or hair products that give a messy look on purpose versus totally out of control (think beach look), maybe. There's a potential theme here that many women can relate to: getting ready in a hurry, how to get ready when you dont have everything you need, styling on the go/travel, etc.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAsh

I always wear mascara, lip gloss, and under eye concealer and powder. They eye concealer and powder I spend money on-usually clinique or sephora but everything else I'll do cover girl or something like that.When I do it up, I always add eye liner, eye shadow and blush.

For RED lipstick use Burt's Bees. It is really red, but not in a hooker way.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

Here are a few great products that I love.

• Psssssst Instant Spray Shampoo
• C. Booth Deep Cleansing Volcanic Mud Mask
• Olay Total Effects Night Firming Creme (love the smell and it leaves my skin soft)
• Purpose Gentle Cleansing Face Wash
• CeraVe® Moisturizing Cream (I use this on my face. Sold at Walmart near face wash & face lotion)

I can't wait to see what you end up choosing to review!

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy s (OH)

My mom is a QVC addict and brought this "tarte" mascara to me this past summer. I'm not a big makeup person - mascara, little bit of warmer blush and blixtex (or juicy tubes if I'm feeling fun and the wind won't blow the hair onto my face and make it stick). I always buy the same, cheap drug store mascara, but this stuff was fantastic. I saw a client the first day I wore this, whom I had seen the night before (in my old drug store mascara). He looked at me and said, you look much better than you did yesterday! I thought I was dressed nicer the night before, my husband thought I looked the same, maybe it was the mascara, maybe it was an old man bestowing compliments on a young woman. But check this stuff out.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

There is a revlon lipstick called Cherries in the Snow. It is their oldest running lipstick and it looks good on everyone. But stick to minimal eye makeup when you wear it. It is kind of bright.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

From a girl who is girly, these are GREAT suggestions. I would only advise that you be careful with different make up b/c some of them might really irritate your skin and your eyes. I can't wear cheap mascara, I have tried, trust me I don't like paying over $20 bucks for mascara, but if it keeps my eyes from burning all day, it is worth it!

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

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