As for adventuring, I’d rate myself medium-high on the risk scale. I once travelled to Africa not knowing a soul, and I’ve trudged shin-deep in mud through cow-filled fields in Scotland to get to a music festival. Those were good times – the kind where youth, possibility and the absence of fear of running mascara combine to create the stuff of memories. I was bare-faced, young and free. But mostly, bare-faced.
It’s true that makeup has never really been my thing. If I’m being totally honest, I’ll share with you that my beauty routine was cemented around the time Aqua Net was the hair product du jour and wet n wild cosmetics graced drug store shelves. As an adolescent, I’d peruse the latest eyeliners (Sapphire and Ice wet n wild kohl liner, where you at?) and dab on Fantastic Plastic Pink blush à la Madonna circa 1989. I’d sing along to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and toss in a couple Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers while my mom was distracted picking a Rice-A-Roni flavor for dinner. I tell you this not for nostalgia’s sake (although that’s part of it), but to highlight that things have not changed much. I still follow the eyeliner-blush-lip gloss routine, and although now I go for more of a smudged black on my eyes, the rest, down to the Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker, has remained much the same.
This would all be fine except that it’s not fine at all, at least if you consider that a woman rapidly approaching her fourth decade is still using products made for and marketed to people half her age, optimistically speaking. Add to this two young children and a phobia of all things Sephora, and it’s no wonder I have no clue what highlighting is, let alone the desire to figure it out. But one day, I heard about a company called Beauty Pie during a podcast. It’s founded by Marcia Kilgore, she of Bliss spa renown, and is based on the idea that all women should have access to the best beauty products in the world. It’s model is subscription-based, so those who become members for $10 per month can buy everything from serums to lipstick for factory-direct pricing. That means you aren’t shelling out $150 for your nightly moisturizer to pay for its packaging, overhead and marketing; from Beauty Pie, the same thing costs a small fraction of the price, and it’s formulated with the same ingredients and in the same labs that make your department store favorites.
What’s the catch, you may be thinking? Well, it is a recurring monthly cost, and for $10 per month, you can spend up to $100 on products each month, but that $100 is based on the price the product would sell for normally. For example, if you want Beauty Pie’s Super Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream, which would cost $85 regularly, your remaining balance for that month to spend is $15. But it does mean that you get to buy the eye cream for only $7.17, which is pretty great. You can also upgrade your membership to increase your monthly shopping allowance, and any unused allowance is automatically rolled forward to the next month.
The real proof, however, is in the product itself. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t see the need to swap out my trusty Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub from Target for a $35 “transforming cleanser.” But in areas where I’m a little less confident (i.e. the rest of the beauty product world), Beauty Pie strikes a nice balance between anxiously roaming the aisles of Sephora, where overstimulation and panic-inducing words like “micellar” and “contouring” are thrown around like everyday vocabulary, and, well, wet n wild. It’s like someone went and found the best stuff, edited it down, and said, “This is what you want to help with your wrinkle situation. You’re welcome.” The choice is not overwhelming, though there is enough of it to keep even beauty aficionados interested, even if it is just for the quality and not the mind-numbing variety. The lipstick I tried, FutureLipstick in Knockout Punch, is satin-like and nicely pigmented, and didn’t require the trained hands of a makeup artist to apply. It glided on smoothly and evenly and in a nude-ish pink color that didn’t make me feel clown-like. I even branched out and tried Beauty Pie’s Pro-Strobe Luminizer in Beaming, which I dusted atop my tried-and-true rosy blush, and it did make my face seem brighter and like I’d just come from some dewy, misty place that caused my skin to glow. A win, as far as I was concerned. And for those more adept with makeup and all its magical powers, there are more advanced products like the Quick Colour Contour Supergel, which promises you can’t go wrong with its tint and easy applicator. It was simple enough to apply and, after a few YouTube videos for practice, I could begin to see the appeal.
Another area where Beauty Pie excels is in skincare. Despite my general lack of awareness of all things makeup, I have always believed that taking care of your skin is the best favor you can do for your looks, so I do somewhat keep up on skincare. Beauty Pie’s selection is curated carefully to supply the basics (cleansers, serums and moisturizers), plus a few extras like the Plantastic Micropeeling Superdrops that help with acne-prone skin and Fruitzyme Five Minute Facial for deep-cleansing. There is a conspicuous lack of the marketing usually associated with skincare, such as pretty packaging and mentions of the exotic ingredient of the moment (nightshade and hibiscus, anyone?) but in my estimation this is a good thing for both your wallet and your skin since the components that actually do matter are in abundance. I tried the Super Healthy Skin Ultimate Anti-Aging Cream, which is a great all-purpose nightly moisturizer with hyaluronic acids and antioxidants to get the job done well. Compared with my usual Clarins Extra-Firming Night cream ($93), it’s also a bargain at Beauty Pie’s $11.61 price ($130 regular).
This all being said, you may be the type that can think of no better way to pass an hour or three than wandering the aisles of Sephora testing out every new product that promises everlasting beauty and sourcing from the far-reaches of the planet. And if you are, then Beauty Pie may not be titillating enough. But if you know what you like and find the company’s model intriguing (value-wise, it’s a great deal), it may save you from excessive choice-induced anxiety and the existential angst that traditional makeup shopping entails. Or maybe that’s just me.
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