Welcome to This Shit Rules, wherein members of the Autostraddle team open up to you about the beauty products they couldn’t live without.
About half the year, I’m obsessed with beauty products and rituals and slathering things all over my body in the hopes that they’ll be the latest miracle product to change my life. The other half of the time, I’m the laziest motherfucker around. I’ll shower every other day, wipe some lotion on my face, pin my hair back and fly out the door. But there are a few products that tend to stick around regardless of which phase I’m in. These are the things that took work to find but ultimately have allowed me to worry less about my routine — if I’ve got them, I don’t have to worry about how my skin or hair or nails are going to turn out. These are my old reliables. And I’m happy to share.
When this series first came up in our staff chat, I may have agreed to participate solely under the condition that I could talk about coconut oil. Luckily, everybody else is as crazy about this stuff as I am, so we agreed that everybody who uses it could include it on their list with their own favorite uses for it. Personally, I use coconut oil for as much as physically possible. I’ve used it as a hair mask, nail treatment, facial moisturizer, whole-body lotion, makeup remover and an inside joke with my girlfriend, whom I push the stuff on whenever she complains of anything. You can pretty much slap coconut oil on any part of your body, but for moisturizing purposes, heating it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds can be an extra treat. But one of my favorite things about coconut oil is that I can come home drunk and still manage to use it to take off all my makeup in 45 seconds or less; just swipe some on a cotton ball and wipe even mascara away. Also, you can’t beat $6 for a jar that lasts a year or longer!
Buy it on Amazon: $14.69
I’ve got chronic idiopathic hives, which means I’m often afraid to use strong/abrasive products on my skin in case they give me some bright red face itchy blotches in the morning. However, I also have oily skin and easily clogged pores, which means that exfoliation is key to keeping my skin from looking dull. Lush’s Coalface is Part One of my recently discovered Ideal Facial Routine because it’s a great exfoliator that doesn’t leave behind any oily residue, which is a problem I’ve had with cleansers that have those little environment-ruining beads in them. Coalface can be a bit harsh if you scrub it directly on your face, but I find that if you lather it in your hands and then rub the little rough bits onto your problem areas, it does a nice job of clearing you up without tearing the skin! It does smell a little metallic, which weirds my girlfriend out, but I actually like it. It’s nice to be able to wash my face without floral aromas flying around asserting my femininity.
Buy it from Lush: $13.95
The first Lush moisturizer I used was Celestial, which smelled better than anything I’ve ever put on my face. Unfortunately, it was a bit too heavy for me once the weather warmed up, so I eventually switched to Imperialis. Its orange blossom-and-lavender oil scent isn’t as heavenly as Celestial, but its relatively light touch is perfect for my greasy skin. After a nice thorough wash with Coal Face, I use clean hands to massage a dab of Imperialis all over my face, especially my T-zone. Puts some nice moisture back in to replace all the gross oil my skin just insisted on producing.
Buy it from Lush: $24.95
Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle shampoo and conditioner
I’ve tried and failed to stop washing my hair so many times. I think I’ve finally given up on the no-‘poo dream, but failure doesn’t hurt quite so much when I’ve got this amazing shampoo. It’s cheap, lasts forever and, if you’ve got the energy to do a little scalp massage, makes your head tingle first thing in the morning. I’ve heard it’s a bit much for those with dry skin/hair, but the tea tree and mint combination is just the right solution for my greasy scalp. Seriously, this shampoo has given me the ability to basically quit leave-in hair products, which I previously thought impossible. Now it’s just lather, rinse, walk out the door.
Buy it on Amazon: $15.70 for both online, but these babies are $4 a pop in the store
Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara
I have fairly long lashes that stick straight out. I hate eyelash curlers and “curling” mascara wands that leave heaps of gunk all over my eyes. All I really want in life is a black-as-night mascara that isn’t too thick but has enough strength to pull my lashes up instead of out. This mascara is my solution. Its branding claims that it has some magical lengthening, curling, separating, volumizing and lifting powers, and while I don’t know about all that, it certainly does get my lashes looking right. It’s also probably the most expensive makeup item I’ve ever bought, but trust me when I say it’s worth it.
Buy it on Amazon: $28.76
I got curious about the Benefit mascara and googled some before-and-afters, and yep, that’s gonna be my next investment. (I do basically one makeup look–cat eyes and dramatic lipstick–so I try to get the best items I can afford to do it.)
You can get a tester Benefit mascara for $10 at Ulta or Sephora and it lasts a longish time, if you want to test drive the car before you drive it!
From one oily-faced lady to another, thank you! I’ll be grabbing the Lush Coalface as soon as I’m able.
And by the way, your nose stud is the absolute cutest. Love that color.
Thank you! It’s an opal, and I love it so much I abandoned my initial plan of switching it to a hoop once it healed.
Lush Coalface is my #1 must have of any product – and I am REALLY specific about what I let touch my face. Truth. Just remember to moisturize after, right away. (Boiron Calendula Cream is my fave right now)
Seconded — I usually wash at the end of a hot shower, then apply moisturizer right after I hop out.
Can’t get enough of coconut oil. You can eat it, you can slick it through your hurr, you can rub it in, and it’s probably the best smelling natural lube on the planet!!!!
I *love* Lush products. <3
I haven't hopped on board the coconut oil craze but I'm thinking I should (mostly because it's discounted at my local grocer, so why not?!)
I can’t wait for you to report back after you’ve fallen down the coconut oil rabbit hole. You’re going to have it everywhere.
I may just have to join this coconut oil craze! I feel like it’s the new baking soda, in terms of versatility.
Also those Trader Joe’s shampoos sound amazing!! And honestly, anything Trader Joe’s is automatically awesome to me, haha. (I feel like TJ’s is the queer go-to for awesome foods n’ stuff)
Thanks for sharing, Kaitlyn!
The sales associates at TJs always look queerer than the general population. It’s gotten so that hawaiian shirts set off my gaydar.
Haha, for real though! I caught one of them wearing marijuana socks, whilst rocking an awesome haircut. They’re all queer, I tell ya!
I LOVE Benefit Mascara. It’s so great and stays on all day.
Anything from Lush is great – their perfumes are amazing as well.
More coconut oil stuff: make your own moisturizer! Put equal parts olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax pellets in a jar with a lid. Put the jar in a small pot with water, heat up until everything is melted. Shake it up, and pour it into little jars or old mint tins or whatever. Boom: awesome moisturizer/hair product/lip balm. You could put some essential oils in if you want, too.
Unfortunately many of Lush’s products, while they look like they’re all natural and body friendly actually contain parabens, which are a cheap preservative and have been linked to cancer, particularly in women. I’m not sure about TJ’s products, but I’m very wary of putting anything with parabens onto or in my body. There are great alternatives that are truly natural – brands like Burt’s Bees or Tom’s of Maine are paraben free and committed to containing only natural ingredients.
I haven’t washed my hair with anything stronger than lemon water in two months. I think that if I finally cave in and wash my hair, it will be with these TJ’s shampoos. Glad to hear you had a positive experience with them.
I tried the Coalface, but it would NOT wash off my skin! Left this horrible residue! Not sure if it was my water or what, but I couldn’t do it.
When you use coconut oil for make-up remover, do you rinse your eyes after? It tends to irritate my eyes and stay on my lashes, obscuring my vision.
I’ve heard that about Coalface, but I haven’t had any issues. Maybe it is the water — I can’t think what else would cause that for some people and not for others.
For coconut oil, I do wash it off, yeah. I usually put some on a cotton ball and swipe it off with the water already running so I can start washing my face right after.
“I think I’ve finally given up on the no-‘poo dream” made me giggle like a 6 year old
That Benefit They’re Real mascara is seriously the bomb! I am not a fancy make-up person, I’m definitely not the product-proselytizing sort, and I cringe at the price every time I buy it – but it is SO WORTH IT. I don’t use an eyelash curler anymore, and my lashes kick serious ass.
I just starting using coconut oil for basically everything an it is the best. I have awful awful dry skin, pretty bad chronic eczema as well and it really helps. I mix some coconut oil with cocoa butter and essential oil of wintergreen for a minty moisturizer. That and shea butter have pretty much maintained my skin and eczema for a while now.
I will be taking this advice! I’m already blathering my skin with cocoa butter and treating my scalp with coconut oil weekly. I’ve noticed huge improvements over the last couple of years doing that. But in winter my eczema is always way worse. This recipe sounds amazing.
Just a heads up. The Benefit mascara is not good for sensitive eyes though. The wand is very scratchy. It made the rims of my eyes, where my lashes grow in at, super red. If you have sensitive eyes, I’d buy it from Ulta or Sephora where you can return it if it doesn’t work out for you.
Thank you for this. I was considering buying it, but I do have sensitive eyes.
I have the benefit mascara and I hate it! That shit does not come off without super industrial strength remover! I have to use Clinique Take The Day Off with it. Not worth the investment tbh.
I would actually love to do a submission for this series, as a high maintenance femme with a makeup obsession!
Ditto…so many makeup recommendations!
Trader Joes has been an important part of my natural hair journey. Hot coconut oils treatment and co-washing with the conditioner has my hair on fleek (I just really wanted to use that word)