It used to be that we could only shop for cosmetics at the department store beauty counter. But now, thanks to the increased popularity of direct sales beauty lines (Arbonne, Avon and others) your best friend or next-door neighbor could be selling an awesome wrinkle fighter or heavy-duty eye-cream that puts the department store brands to shame. With so many more products to choose from (and so many people trying to sell them to us on Facebook and in person), it’s hard to know which to try and which to skip. Here are some of our favorite direct sales beauty products that are definitely worth the hype—and a few that aren’t worth your money.
Upon realizing that U.S. companies are allowed to use harmful, known toxins in beauty products, Gregg Renfrew sought to create a safe beauty company that could be trusted. Beauty Counter prohibits the use of more than 1,500 chemical ingredients in its products. Every ingredient is listed on the packaging and is promised to be safe.
Try: Touch-Up Concealer Pen (a brightening concealer praised by Self Magazine), any of the makeup brushes, Lustro Face Oil 1 with Calendula (a best-seller in a glossy black bottle pretty enough to sit on your bathroom counter), Tint Skin Foundation (gives flawless coverage) and Lip Conditioner Calendula Balm (a gentle, hydrating lip balm).
Skip: The body washes, particularly the one targeted at kids called Kidscounter Squeaky Clean Body Wash. The product uses various citrus extracts that can irritate skin. Also forgo the Countertime Enlightening Treatment Pads, which are packaged in a jar, thus the benefits of the ingredients don’t stay potent once the jar is opened.
The doctors behind Proactiv Solution first introduced Rodan and Fields at department stores in 2002, but when they pulled themselves out of the stores and instead put their sales in the hands of their customers, their business really boomed. The company has more than 75,000 consultants, including Britney Spears’ and Miley Cyrus’ moms.
Try: Soothe Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30. It’s fragrance-free, good for normal or sensitive complexions and lightweight on skin. Soothe Gentle Cream Wash feels great on irritated skin and eliminates redness. The Redefine Acute Care Patches, which you apply to fine lines overnight, have won raves from Allure Magazine, and users claim they truly work for a temporary fix—great if you want to eliminate lines and wrinkles without botox.
Skip: Beautypedia, an established beauty product review website, warns about the “eyebrow-raising amount of products with irritating ingredients” and says to skip the acne-fighting products since “the formulations are ‘virtually identical to their Proactive products, except that these cost more.’”
Developed in Switzerland, the people behind this botanically based line believe in cutting-edge science, cruelty-free formulas, and “green” packaging to create their cosmetics, skincare and nutrition supplements.
Try: NurtriMinC RE9 REactivating Body Serum. Customers have noted that this product helps lighten and even eliminate stretch marks. The RE9 Advanced Cellular Renewal Masque exfoliates skin while minimizing appearance of pores and wrinkles.
Skip: The makeup. Users have noted that there are far better liners, shadows and lipsticks from other companies.
*Beware: Returning products you’re unhappy with has been known to be a hassle. Ingredients are also not listed on the products or website.
One of the most well-known direct sales companies, Avon has been around since 1886, and with over 6 million representatives in more than 100 countries, you’ve likely been approached by an Avon rep at some point. The company now has multiple brands under the Avon tree, including mark, Skin So Soft and Anew.
Try: Anew Clinical Absolute Even Spot Correcting Hand Cream SPF 15 to lighten sunspots and provide ultimate hydration. Users rave about non-greasy Moisture Therapy Intensive Extra Strength Cream for extra-dry skin. You’ll want to break this out, especially in the winter when your hands get chapped. Instant Gel Cuticle Remover is a cult-favorite for dissolving dry cuticles in seconds.
Skip: The cleansers, as many of them are particularly drying. Pass on the blemish-fighting products, most of which contain menthyl lactate, which can stimulate oil production, the opposite of what you want when trying to clear up skin. Additionally, users complain that the eye shadows and liners don’t stay put and tend to flake.
This newer company sells professional-grade beauty products (hairdryers, styling irons, brushes) that you can use in your own home. The company consults with professional stylists to bring you top-of-the-line tools.
Try: The Just Venting Brush, a tourmaline brush that accelerates drying time, adds shine and helps prevent snags. The Quiet! Dryer dries hair super fast (50 mph!) and its muted sound means you can get ready in the morning without waking up your significant other. The Hot Travels Travel Iron Case with insulated interior is the perfect, inexpensive travel case for your straightening or curling iron. Throw it in your gym bag or suitcase!
Skip: Tools like the cuticle pusher or tweezers. You can find similar products by other brands for less money.
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