After a Year of Free Beauty Products, This is What I’m Buying

2 months ago by

About a month ago I cleaned out my medicine cabinet and was obnoxiously smug about it. So smug that I decided y’all needed to read a piece detailing how, after a year of sampling enough beauty products to fuel a sorority, I have finally edited my regimen down to a short list of products I continue to re-buy. About twenty minutes after I sat down to write this piece, the “gods” put me in check when a friend sent me this.

Clearly my ego is so big that it wasn’t bruised enough to stop because here we are. I have selflessly compiled what my beauty routine looks like (and selflessly tried all the free beauty products for a year, I know, Mother Theresa over here) and you all can thank me later.


I have a sensitive scalp that, if not treated exactly the way it wants to be treated, will kick and scream like a toddler whose lollipop was ripped from its tiny little hands (i.e. I have a dry, sensitive scalp that is prone to dandruff). I’ve learned to combat this two ways. Alternating between two different scalp treatments I swear by, Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Salt and Bumble and Bumble Scalp Detox. I didn’t even know my scalp needed a detox once a week, but it does, much like my liver.

For the days I’m not detoxing, I swear by Ursa Major’s Daily Shampoo. It’s got this great suds-y action (suds-y is a word, yah?) that makes me feel super clean and it doesn’t smell bubble-gum-sweet — sidenote: what’s with all the sweet smelling shampoos?!

Ok, what about conditioner, you ask? Eh. I don’t really use a conditioner honestly. Why? Because it adds one more step to my shower routine and I’m always sooooooo bored in showers. So, if I can eliminate a step and not really notice a difference in my hair, I’m ALL FOR IT.


I’m over oils. I know I said I was all into oils for my face, but I’m over oils. Not because they screwed up my face, but because they screwed up my sheets, pillow cases, and every silk blouse I have ever owned. A smudge of oil ALWAYS manages to maul a silk blouse. Getting some face oil on a new set of silk pajamas last month WAS THE FINAL STRAW (maybe you’re thinking I shouldn’t sleep in silk pajamas — well, you have clearly never slept in silk pajamas. It feels like you are a caterpillar being cocooned every night and then you are awoken into a butterfly).

Creams are where it’s at these days to preserve my clothes and my sanity. Not to mention I just like the way make up layers over a cream. When I put foundation over an oil I can already feel it sliding down my neck and by 10am, my neck is wearing all my face’s foundation.

Don’t yell at me. I know it’s pricey, but I’m a die hard Augustinus Bader fan. (I told you not to yell.) I pay for it too and eat soup for a week because I love it that much.

BUT to get my oil fix, I use Pai’s oil cleanser and find myself simply standing in front of the mirror rubbing it on my face for an inappropriate amount of time because I love it so.

The ONLY other things I’m using on my face these days are The Nue Co.’s Vitamin C in the morning and One Love Organics’ Vitamin E in the evening. I gave up on the 12-step skin care routine a long time ago, and even more recently, I gave up on toner and essence and snail sebum and… I’m too tired just thinking about all the other steps to even list them. Thank god they’re gone.

Oh. And One Love’s eye cream. But, truthfully I’m not diligent about it. I know. I should be. My eyes themselves are just so sensitive they hate anything, even water, in their vicinity.


My deletion of face oil extends to my deletion of body oils. I decided I’m too impatient to wait 20 minutes for my body oil to dry before getting dressed. So I’m back to good ‘ol fashion lotion, and the best I’ve found is Necessaire’s. There’s no scent (which I love because mama spends money on perfume and mama wants her perfume dollars to be smelled, not mama’s lotion dollars), it absorbs in an instant and hydrates really well. (They also make a great body wash FYI.)

I’m breaking my “NO MORE OILS” rule one more time because I use an oil-based body wash, Glossier Body Hero to be precise. It just feels so damn good and doesn’t leave you with that weird squeaky clean feeling (I hate the weird squeaky clean feeling), but you’re still clean nonetheless.


You might remember me waxing and waning about Cover Girl’s BB Cream. Well, I might have found the only product that can topple it off its high horse. Cle’s CCC Cream. It’s got double the SPF, a bit more coverage and makes me look like I’ve had eight hours of sleep and not a drop to drink when the opposite is most definitely the norm.

If you don’t know that I love Blinc Mascara then you don’t know me. It’s the only mascara that doesn’t make me look like a drunk girl at 10am in the morning because it stays on my eyelashes and doesn’t migrate to under my eyes.


There is a Reddit thread about The Nue Co.’s Functional Fragrance. That’s how crazy the obsession is. It’s unisex and smokey and sexy and alluring, which is all fine and dandy. But then, you learn that the scent itself neurologically calms you down… hence, the name “functional.” I douse myself in this every morning like an invisible shield of armor. Somedays in New York you want a real shield of armor, but this is second best.

Also, hair perfume. Look into it. Anything Byredo. Their scents are the best of the best. Gypsy Water is Legendary, as is Rose of No Man’s Land. (HINT: I always travel with hair perfume, so I don’t risk my perfumes breaking and me weeping over their loss — i.e. my money.)


Please buy anything by One Love Organics. Please. I love it all and you will too. The scent, the texture, the results, the packaging — everything gets an A+.


I learned a new word last week. Acneic. From here on out I will be saying I have acneic skin instead of saying “acne prone” skin. Why? Because Acneic skin sounds bad ass. The thing that’s helped the most? Ziip. Dude. Ziip works. I had my doubts. But it works.

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  • Loved this, but damn it now I want so much new stuff and am trying desperately to stick to a no-buy…I’ll have to flag this post for when I am not in a binge-shopping state of mind.

  • Veronica McCarthy May, 6 2019, 12:16

    Keep up with the no-buy! I need to do the same for myself now…

  • Alexandra Schorndorf May, 6 2019, 11:13 / Reply

    Love these suggestions! Also…I’m obsessed with Blinc mascara…truly the only mascara that doesn’t run or smudge no matter what.

  • Is this parody? I can’t tell if this is meant to be a joke.

  • Veronica McCarthy May, 6 2019, 12:15

    if you’re talking about the intro — yes, it’s a lot of sarcasm. if you’re talking about the products themselves, no, that’s what I’m actually buying these days after testing a zillion products. yes, actually a zillion. x Veronica

  • Maureen May, 6 2019, 5:41 / Reply

    Want some of that Mascara; do you use the amplified or just the regular?

  • Veronica McCarthy May, 7 2019, 1:34

    I use the regular! x

  • Naydeline May, 6 2019, 9:50 / Reply

    Omg I ALSO have a dry, sensitive scalp that is prone to dandruff! I will definitely be bookmarking this because I have not found anything that works for my scalp, and the universe knows I need a scalp detox (that’s a thing? Yeah, it’s a thing).

  • shopgirl May, 7 2019, 3:43 / Reply

    Scrub products with salt for sensitive scalp with dandruff? How does that not itch, it seems to me the perfect way to worsen the situation. It itches me even when using “beach wave” products because of added salt, and they do not even get to the scalp just on the hair. Or is this really parody?
    And to not use the conditioner seems to me very time consuming, it takes me 10 minutes just to comb my hair after shower if I don’t use conditioner, and I don’t have very curly nor very long hair…
    But, obviously everyone has their own experience, it’s hard to recommend anything.

  • JennyZ May, 7 2019, 1:11 / Reply

    A quick one re the hair perfume, so does that mean I have to ditch my “normal perfume”? Is it one or another? Cheers,

  • Veronica McCarthy May, 7 2019, 1:33

    you can use it in addition to or instead of! i usually use it instead of though. i find it lasts MUCH longer than normal perfumes. Sometimes I’ll spray it in my hair before I sleep because then you’re surrounded by it all night :) xo V

  • I’ve been eyeing that shampoo! I usually use Rahua’s Voluminous shampoo because it makes my hair soft and doesn’t dry it out (I can’t be bothered to use conditioner to offset my hair being stripped by shampoo). I’m hoping I’ll like the Ursa Major just as much because it’s less expensive. I tend to like Ursa Major products and they always smell so good!

    Speaking of hair perfume, I made some homemade hair powder for my non-wash days and added some Shoyeido Japanese incense powder to it and it’s basically the best smelling thing ever.

  • kris jezak May, 8 2019, 12:52 / Reply

    ok….I think I am buying everything from one love organics…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am also OBSESSED with augustinus bader!!!! XOXO

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