by David Burke

High-Performance Cosmetics Don’t Have to Come with a Knockout Price.      

Competition in the beauty business has always been brutal. Today, with everyone cinching their belts, it’s a no-holds-barred event. Budgets may be tight, but the good news is that there’s no reason to cry “Uncle!” when it comes to the four essentials—moisturizer, mascara, lip balm and concealer. As we all know, in these divisions there are champs and bums. I’ve crowned a winner in each, and also identified the top contender. Whether you choose to splurge for luxury items or stick to the staples, these picks should keep you covered. The good news is that each weighs in at under $60. So let’s get ready to rumble!


CHAMPION: Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream

PRICE: $42.95 A great moisturizer is the keystone of any beauty regimen, and Dr. Hauschka has it on lockdown. This is a rich, luxurious daily moisturizer, which actually manages to keep you covered in all four seasons. Soothing rose ingredients nurture and renew sensitive and weather-damaged skin while protecting your face against dryness by using soothing extracts of rose petal, rose hip and avocado. Thirty rose flowers go into each tube of Rose Day Cream, which lasts a staggering three months.

TOP CONTENDER: Eucerin Sensitive Facial Skin Moisture Lotion

PRICE: $18.00 Yes, I understand the juxtaposition from Dr. Hauschka’s to Eucerin, but this is really a great product for an amazing price—a true drug-store steal. Although Eucerin is geared toward drier skin types, this moisturizer is light to the touch, hypoallergenic, long-lasting, and packs an SPF 30.



CHAMPION: Chanel’s Inimitable Mascara (available in both black and brown)

PRICE: $30.00 Ok, ok, I know Chanel never sounds like a bargain, but this mascara is more than makeup. It’s an investment. It sets new standards with a secret formula that does it all, and a brush design that lengthens, plumps and curls. The geniuses at Chanel are never wrong, and this product delivers lush, long-wearing color that is so precise that it actually defines and separates each lash. It’s a favorite among celebrity makeup artists, whose results are unreal.

TOP CONTENDER: Bare Essentials Buxom Lash

 PRICE: $18.00 A truly great product that fattens your lashes up to 300 percent! Buxom Lashes will leave your lashes feeling silky and weightless, as the patented hourglass brush manages to hit each and every lash for maximum coverage. It’s a fabulous, new product available only at Sephora.



CHAMPION: Baume de Rose, by Terry

PRICE: $59.00 You’d spend $25 on a great lipstick, right? And how long would that last you? Terry’s Baume de Rose is an absolute phenomenon. First of all, it endures for six months. Second, it’s the purest, most luxurious balm your lips will ever feel. It contains a high concentration of lipid building rose wax that hydrates and nourishes. Baume de Rose also helps to repair, rejuvenate, strengthen, and fight early signs of aging in your lips. And its fragrance is unbelievable. The bonus? This gloss/balm plumps up your puckers ever so slightly, leaving them glowing and kissable. Who needs collagen?

TOP CONTENDER: Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 in Vanilla

PRICE: $8.50 A classic. It’s a quality product for an amazing price that leaves lips protected and soft. My only issue with Kiehl’s Lip Balm is that, at times, I have found the taste of the balm itself to be slightly unpleasant. Yet, with the advent of their flavored balms, vanilla swoops in to save the day. Et voila, c’est parfait!



CHAMPION: YSL Touche Éclat

 PRICE: $40.00 Touche Éclat is suitable for all skin types, and ideal at any time of the day over bare skin—under or over foundation. For best results, use the pen around the eye area, the hollow of the chin, the contour of the lips and the sides of the nose. It probably seems slightly strange to “write” your makeup onto your face, but it’s genius! YSL managed to create a lightweight, perfectly hued concealer with a look that is absolutely flawless.

TOP CONTENDER: Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage Concealer

PRICE: $28.00 What’s revolutionary about Secret Camouflage is Mercier’s two-tone system. Each concealer comes with one tone to match your skin’s depth of color, and another to match its highlights. This system enables users to blend their own perfect tone, while using very little concealer, thanks to the high content of pigment in this product.

Editor’s Note: Dan Brickley is a fashion, beauty and grooming consultant. He hosted TLC’s A Makeover Story.