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Find: Latest high-end cosmetics at drug store prices

Wonder Pencil, Push Up Bra for Eyes, Illuminating Powder by NYX

Months ago in Ulta Cosmetics I overheard a lady chuckling with her friend, “Once you go M.A.C. you never go back.” The sales associate was suggesting the cosmetics line NYX, which she said offered an extensive line of sophisticated products that were similar to a studio line such as M.A.C. but at a great price point. She also pointed out that the several of the products worked well for women of color because they had darker pigments that flattered deeper skin tones. (I feel I should point out that the lady and her friend were African-American, so I felt they could make the M.A.C. joke without seeming a bit crass.)

Because I’m also a fan of M.A.C., I was intrigued and sauntered over to the NYX section after the lively group left. What I found was that, indeed, this line had several products usually championed by department store and studio-style cosmetics lines. Like some of the more expensive brands, NYX had primers and concealers with base tones of green, purple, or yellow, depending on whether you wished to combat redness, conceal undertones, or cover dark under-eye circles. Most products were less than $10 and some significantly so.

I’m happy to report that every NYX product I have tried since then has more than met my expectations. Since it is not a premium brand, the Ulta coupon for $3.50 off of a $10 purchase (this coupon comes out every couple of months in the Sunday newspaper) also applies, making these products even more of a value. Here are just a few:

Wonder Stick – It sounds crazy, but the wonder stick is the “in a pinch” item that can augment your purse kit. It works as a concealer over minor skin discolorations (is that a zit blemish you see coming on?), so a concealer stick isn’t necessary. My favorite use is as a “reverse” lip liner, meaning you outline your lips before applying lipstick and the wonder stick’s barrier prevents color from bleeding. Because it isn’t a color but rather a barrier for your regular lipstick, you don’t need to swap out lip liners or worry about matching shades.

The Wonder Stick claims to be a terrific eye brightener for inside your eye lashes, and although I have never tried it, it could be a help after a bleary night of kids who can’t get settled. (By way of explanation, I have reached a point where I sleep no matter what the kids do, in preparation for when they start driving and I have to start losing sleep again.)

Push Up Bra for Brows – Yeah, it’s a cheesy name but doesn’t it communicate an idea effectively, sort of like Sharknado? This pencil boasts a universally flattering brow shade on one end with a pale flesh-toned tip on the other end. The idea behind the “push up” effect is to fill in brows with the dark end and then use the pinkish end to brighten your brow bone. This takes care of a both a brow pencil and a highlighter eye shadow.

Illuminating Powder for Face and Body – Illumination is all the rage these days, which seems a bit ironic given all our efforts to powder and matte any sort of shine otherwise. However, this powder creates a subtle effect with its extremely fine touch of light reflecting particles. This is nothing like the glitter body sprays you of which you are probably thinking right now. The translucent formula works well over blush or eyeshadow to give your natural, every day shades a hint of shimmer. Since I don’t have the occasion to don a cocktail dress and apply body shimmer (for heaven’s sake, there is nothing I want shimmering these days), this has been a great product for stretching my regular make-up into evening. By this I am of course referring to a mom’s glamorous weekend, the Friday Night Lights of working the concession stand.

One advantage of most department store brands is superior packaging, meaning not only the handled bags or gift with purchase but the container for the actual product. Some NYX packages, such as the lipstick cases, are not particularly durable even though the product works fine. Don’t let some of the fashionably bright colors scare you away, either. Of course we would never be caught wearing blue lipstick, but maybe any brand that claims to be fashion-forward has to offer those colors.

Bottom line: If you want to experiment with new types of products and not have to invest a great deal in cosmetics, NYX is a great brand to try.