Drugstore Makeup Picks

affiliate links pic Drugstore Makeup PicksI’m cheap. By necessity and by nature. For makeup this has been tricky, since my early exposure was to mid-level brands like Clinique, which have gradually grown out of my budget. At first I was hesitant to use drugstore makeup and only used a couple of highly recommended products. But eventually it just had to happen. I needed cheaper products.

I’m someone who likes a natural look, I tend to use as little makeup as possible. I’ve learned what has more of an impact and what I can do without. I like a look I can have finished in 5 minutes that uses only a few products. 

makeup 300x300 Drugstore Makeup Picks
Me, with my regular makeup routine


Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve been able to find out which products I can’t scrimp on (foundation with more coverage, under eye concealer) and what I can do cheaply (a lot more than you’d think). I don’t think of myself as a makeup maven, but lately I’ve had a lot more compliments than usual and my only real changes have been to use more drugstore makeup. So I thought I’d share my best products, the ones I wear almost every day and get for cheap at CVS. 


 Drugstore Makeup Picks Drugstore Makeup PicksBlogger swag is so hit and miss, but every now and then I get a product that becomes a staple. I don’t remember when exactly I got Pond’s Luminous Finish BB Plus Cream Drugstore Makeup Picks but it was right when I was thinking about trying a BB Cream and it happened to be Light Shade so I figured I’d try. My fair skin has always been tricky for tinted moisturizers and other products like this, their light shade is still usually too dark for me. But it turns out this cream goes on perfectly and even in the winter when I’m extra pale it’s right on. It’s got SPF, a must for me. Since I’ve started using it, I use my pricy matte foundation less and less because usually my BB cream does the job just fine. 

 Drugstore Makeup PicksAs you’ll see in many of my other choices, I don’t like powders. Powders mean brushes, which means more purchases, which means more cleaning, and I prefer to just give my hands a quick wash, use a product I can put on with my fingers, and go. So for blush I needed a new pick when I could no longer afford my favorite powder from Benefit. I did a little research for this one and ended up getting Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush in Pinched, the lightest shade. I like just a little bit of light color, very natural, and a cream blush means I can blend it in until it’s just right. 


 Drugstore Makeup PicksEye makeup is a balancing act for me, it’s where I can get the most impact but it’s also where I’m the most sensitive. I don’t wear mascara most days because my lashes are straight and because my eyes are always more irritated when I have it on. So I make up for it with eyeliner. Because of my sensitive eyes, this has to be a super soft pencil, preferably the kind you can turn, preferably something a little smudge-able. I also like to have more than one color. I go with black most days, but blue and gray are also favorites of mine. This pick was totally an impulse buy, it’s Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Trio Custom Eye Enhancing Eyeliner Set. I needed a new liner but didn’t have any good leads, and when I saw this trio of liners specifically for Blue eyes I thought I’d give it a shot. This is by far the product I get the most compliments on (my Mom asked about my eyeliner, and she’s got way better makeup skills than I do) and the black liner is my go-to. The blue is a great shade. Honestly, I don’t use the brown much but it’s still good to have around. The downside is that this doesn’t last as long as other eyeliners, so a long day requires touch ups, but longlasting eye makeup is usually too harsh for my eyes anyway. There are also sets for brown eyes, hazel eyes, and green eyes. 

 Drugstore Makeup PicksI hate eye shadow. It’s another product that requires more product: a brush, a base, etc. It doesn’t stay on well. So I have happily jumped on the eye shadow pencil trend. One product, no powder, I’m in. Initially I was getting these at sephora, but the pencils I got there were disappointing after getting sharpened. The shadow kept falling out of the pencil and the pencil didn’t sharpen well at all. So I started looking for a low-cost alternative. I settled on CoverGirl Flamed Out Shadow Pencil in Melted Caramel Flame. The only problem I have with it is that they often didn’t have that color in stock so I had to wait a long time to get it at my CVS. I’ve also purchased and love to use the blue color, Ice Flame. I tried the silver and was unimpressed. It stays on well, it doesn’t crease, and the Caramel color is a nice neutral that I wear almost every day. 


I recently crowdsourced my lipstick problem. I have found shades I love, but I’m so tired of reapplying. I was willing to spend more money if it meant I had a lipstick I could wear all day. Before I’d really liked Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lipstick, except that it was always gone in 3 hours. But I’m really cautious about drugstore lipstick. The colors tend to be garish and unflattering. I like to have lipsticks that are colorful and bright, but also lipsticks that are just enough color to not be neutral. I was willing to do whatever it took. And then several people recommended Cover Girl Outlast. So I figured I’d give it a shot if there was any chance I could get a good longlasting lipstick from the drugstore.

 Drugstore Makeup PicksI sat down on the floor of my CVS and looked at every color. I settled on a first pick of Cherry Cordial 575, a pink hued neutral. I took a quick photo of two other colors that looked promising should I return. The Cover Girl Outlast is a two-step process, usually I hate that. But one is color and the other is a moisturizing stick. That I can get behind. Even if I don’t want to reapply color during the day, my lips dry out fast and I’m often wanting to put lip balm on a few times a day. The lip color goes on a little heavy and you have to give it about a minute to dry. It goes on very matte, so the moisturizing stick helps give your lips a little shine. (I actually hate sticky lip gloss, so this is another win for me.) Sure enough, I still had lips almost the exact same color 12 hours later. Huge win. Plus the color totally worked as a neutral/light pink, it wasn’t too bright or weird looking. It was the kind of hue I don’t expect from a drugstore lip. I went back this week to get a second one, this time I opted for Mauve Muse 585. I still don’t feel super comfortable with the bold berry shades we wore back in the 90’s, even though I know they’re coming back, but Mauve is a way I can have some purple without going really dark. It’s great against my eyes, too. I’ve worn it 3 days in a row now. I’ve also bookmarked Always Rosy 549, which I’m considering for a brighter pink. But now that I trust this product I may have to have another sit down on the floor of CVS to really hammer out my next shade. I’m even thinking about trying something a little redder. The extra moisturizing sticks are now a bit unnecessary, but I’ve just chosen to put one in my bathroom makeup bag and one in my purse. The next one will probably go in my evening clutch.

And that’s pretty much my makeup routine nearly every day now. Sometimes I add brows (Revlon Pencil & Gel, Dark Blonde 104) and sometimes I add mascara (I use it so rarely that I use the super cheap Maybelline Great Lash) and sometimes I go full throttle with expensive primer and expensive foundation. I do love my fancy under-eye concealer (picked out with the help of a good Sephora rep, it’s from Givenchy, talk about fancy) and that’s a staple, but otherwise almost everything can be done with my cheap makeup. My wallet is very happy. 

Breakfast for Dinner at The Breakfast Club

Whether it’s an outing with girlfriends, a date with a new guy, or just another meal with the kids, breakfast food is a go-to. I love breakfast for any meal. I adore brunch. Breakfast for dinner is a big thumbs up. It’s the meal with the most sweet, the most savory, the most eggs, and the most coffee. 

The Breakfast Club is throwing three amazing Breakfast for Dinner nights, and to spread the word they kindly invited me over to try out their food.

So glad we had a pre-scheduled outing for brunch today. Thanks for hosting us, The Breakfast Club.

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on

The Breakfast Club is nestled in Brighton with a parking lot AND on-street parking nearby. We found a spot the day after the last big blizzard just fine, a true shock. Diner style digs with big booths and a bar greet you, along with plenty of 80’s memorabilia.

I brought the kids along since they are up for pancakes everyday. There’s no kids menu, but that didn’t matter. We ordered a short stack for them to split along with a fruit bowl and a muffin.

Eating out with kids often means ordering a fruit bowl. Nice to see one that looks so tasty. #hosted

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on

I admit, I use the fruit bowl as a measuring stick for any restaurant that offers one. It’s where you can tell who’s phoning it in and who’s trying. The Breakfast Club gave us a gorgeous fruit bowl that was nice and big, with a wide variety of fruit, and none of it looked old or sad. Nicely done. The pancakes in the short stack were bigger than the kids’ heads, which didn’t stop them from diving in. Syrup in squeeze bottles meant things were less messy than usual, too. Oh, and the muffin was served halved and toasted. 

Sorry vegetarians, but there's little I love more than a house-made corned beef hash. Swoon. #hosted

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on

As for me, I ordered the eggs over house-made corned beef hash. I adore corned beef hash and I’m lucky enough to live in a place that considers it a normal breakfast food. The downside is I’ve had a lot of mediocre hash. In fact, most of it doesn’t seem to have a hint of corned beef, there’s none of that bright tang in your mouth when you take a bite. But this hash? This hash was delightful. One of the best I’ve had in ages. The sourdough toast was wonderful and well-buttered. The breakfast potatoes were a little boring, but I honestly didn’t mind. 

The best part, to me, is that the prices were actually lower than what you find most places around town. All omelets and breakfast plates are under $10, and the cups of coffee are bottomless. They’re open until 2 a.m. so I know where I’ll be getting my next late-night fix.

If you’re a fellow hash fan, the first of The Breakfast Club’s three Breakfast For Dinner nights are for you. Monday March 2nd from 6-9 pm their St. Patrick’s Day Dinner has all kinds of cheeky Irish food in a four-course meal. It includes Lucky Charms parfaits, Bailey’s French Toast, and a riff on Corned Beef & Cabbage with their house-made hash. Finish it off with an Irish Coffee milkshake. Tickets are $35.They’re also offering Easter and Spring-themed dinners on the first Mondays in April and May, tickets at the same link.


Ouidad vs. Deva Curl: A Curly Girl Throwdown

I’m 18 months into my curly girl journey and I learned early on that you need help. At some point someone is going to have to cut your hair and they need to know what they’re doing. The one time post-curly I got a fill-in stylist it went VERY BADLY. I left the salon I was at and switched to a full-curly Ouidad salon. And for my last cut I went to a Deva Curl salon. Now that I’ve done both and gotten styling tips from both, it’s time to see which one reigns supreme.


The cut: My Ouidad cut looked amazing. Curls were perfectly formed, nice and thick, they looked fantastic. I honestly couldn’t believe it was me.




That's what I call curly! My first Ouidad haircut.

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on




The styling: Unfortunately I could never duplicate the salon look. Not even close. Ouidad advocates a Rake-and-Shake method to let your curls form naturally and every time I tried it I ended up with my hair separating into lots and lots of curls instead of just a few. It got kinda crazy and frizzy and uncontrollable.

ouidad selfies Ouidad vs. Deva Curl: A Curly Girl Throwdown

The products: I purchased shampoo and conditioner from Ouidad and I had a sample of one of their gels. I wasn’t crazy about any of them, but they have so many that I can’t say if it was just a mismatch in the products. They also have several products that are not sulfate-free, which is a problem for some curly girls.

Deva Curl

The cut: I don’t know that I saw much difference in terms of my cut with Deva Curl. Again, my cut came out great, it looked fantastic, and I was thrilled with it. The second time around I realized that a lot of their secret is the hair dryers, if only I had the time to sit under one every day. The only real difference I see is the lighting even though Deva Curl did a dry cut and Ouidad did a wet one.




And After. Now if I just sit under a drier every day for an hour, I can look like this all the time.

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on




The styling: A lot of the credit here goes to my stylist (Anthony at Shan Hair), who told me exactly what to do when I added conditioner and gel. I follow his directions almost to the letter. And you guys? It’s the curly  hair I always wanted. Thick, full curls that don’t look too frizzy or too crunchy.

deva selfies Ouidad vs. Deva Curl: A Curly Girl Throwdown

The products: I still hadn’t found a gel I loved, so I purchased the (affiliate link) Devacurl Ultra Defining Gel Ouidad vs. Deva Curl: A Curly Girl Throwdown from the salon. I will probably never switch. It’s more expensive than drug store brands, but it’s also really reliable and one of the only products I shell out extra cash for. 


So what’s my daily hair routine like now? It’s pretty much all Deva Curl methods from my fantastic stylist.

Shampoo like normal, focusing on the roots and the scalp. When I condition, I flip upside down and add it to the hair that way. I’m prone to oily roots so these two steps help keep my hair clean and manageable. I’ll never be able to quit traditional shampoo. 

Out of the shower, I flip upside down and squeeze excess water from my hair and scrunch it with a t-shirt. Then I use duck bill clips to get my part the way I like, off to the left, and to give hair some volume and height. Ideally my hair stays like that for an hour or so, but there isn’t always time. When I remove the clips, I turn upside down again and scrunch and muss hair a bit to make sure the gel isn’t too crunchy. Flip back up, set with a bobbeye pin, and DONE.

I know some of this varies from salon to salon and stylist to stylist. But I never found a groove with rake-and-shake and was comfortable with Deva Curl styling right away. As another bonus, Shan Hair is more affordable than the Newbury Street Ouidad salon I tried and it’s just a few minute walk from my office. I’m sold. 

Since my Deva Curl cut I’ve finally been comfortable having my curly hair be part of my signature look. Which means I’m finally figuring out what my signature style is and feeling less self-conscious when it comes to beauty and fashion. It’s the best, you guys. 

I wasn’t given any product or anything for free, these were appointments and products I paid for and didn’t set up through the blog at all.

A Broadway Nerd’s Guide to the Into the Woods Movie

If you are a certain type of person you’ve been wondering if you should go see Into the Woods. And the specific type of person I mean is one who’s familiar with the source material. You starred in it or you’ve seen it live or you watched the Great Performances version A Broadway Nerds Guide to the Into the Woods Movie with the original Broadway cast about half a million times or if you have the Original Broadway Cast CD A Broadway Nerds Guide to the Into the Woods Movie and have them memorized. (Amazon affiliate links!)

For those of us who fall into this category it is a tough call. Because you love musicals but you also hate seeing them destroyed. You’re also probably kinda used to it by now.

 A Broadway Nerds Guide to the Into the Woods Movie
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 A Broadway Nerds Guide to the Into the Woods MovieLucky for all of you I was able to see it at a screening last night and I’m here to provide the juicy details for those who want them and to give some basic guidance for the undecided. No worries, all spoilers will be written in white font old school style. If you want to read them simply highlight the area.

Is the Singing Bearable?

Yes, happily. It’s not a crew of Broadway professionals (there’s some Broadway veterans but none are known for their singing) but it’ll beat your standard high school production’s singing. Everyone is pretty respectable with the singing. This was my biggest fear and happily it wasn’t painful. 

Do They Cut My Favorite Song?

Possibly. They cut a lot of songs. 

Here’s the list: Ever After, Act II Prologue, Agony 2, No More.

Some of these cuts you get, there are time constraints and such. But some of them are painful. Like your very favorite song and how could they do this painful. 

Does It Work As a Movie?

That’s the biggest question and the one with the most complicated answer.

Portions of it are just not good. Not not not good. Johnny Depp is… well, the less said about him the better.  

I can see the attraction of adapting this for film, you can go big and have fun effects and get all crazy. The biggest problem, though, is the songs and the staging. It works to have five or six characters singing at once in five or six different places when you’re on stage. It’s more tricky on screen when it seems weird to hear people singing who aren’t on screen. 

Into the Woods, like most musicals, has two kinds of songs: ones that move the action forward and ones that share a character’s internal thoughts. It’s also a musical where a lot happens off screen. Jack’s song Giants in the Sky, Cinderella’s song On the Steps of the Palace, these are songs that tell you something that already happened off stage and lets the character reveal something about themselves as they tell you what happened. On stage this works. On screen it feels like everything just comes to a halt while someone sings a few verses.

In the songs where things move forward, the movie slows things down to help everyone get their bearings. You don’t realize how nimble the first 20 minutes of Into the Woods are until you’ve seen them pushed into something about twice as long. 

The effects are fine, kind of cool. The costumes are occasionally odd. 

The choice of casting actual children as Jack and Red is another tricky thing. On stage it’s cool to just let adults play kid’s parts. After all, the cow is fake, much is done with shadow play and slapstick, you have to do a lot of your own pretending. But on screen it would seem really weird to have adults in these roles. The alternative is turning the already-creepily-sexual Hello, Little Girl into something that is just downright wrong. You can hear people in the theater cringing. 

Do They Stay True to the Spirit of It?

Um… kind of? This is a musical that many see as fatally flawed. Tonally it’s tough to pin down, with plenty of humor and gags followed by a darkness that’s all-encompassing and difficult. 

I had started to give up in the first act when almost every single joke was delivered straight. But then they did Agony so over the top hammy that I thought maybe things would turn around. But it continued this way, sometimes finding the humor, sometimes ignoring it all together. 

The second act, the most difficult one, is rushed so the emotional arcs don’t pan out the way they should. (I did quite enjoy Emily Blunt’s performance of Moments in the Woods even though she’s awfully pretty and not quite housewife-y enough.) The removal of smaller songs that focus on happiness, wishes, finding morals in stories, and such leaves the already-heavy moralizing of the second act even more blatant and less natural.

Actually, watching it for the first time in so long I realized that I’ve changed the way I watch it. Like many theater nerds who once performed, I always look at the parts I want and focus on them. As a kid I wanted to be Red, as I got older I thought about Cinderella instead. But now I am all about the Baker’s Wife. She is the part. I’d still love to sing her some day.

So Should I See It?

You know better than me if you can tolerate these differences. 

I was kind of hopeful about Rob Marshall, who turned a supposedly un-filmable stage musical into a great movie with Chicago and who has experience with tonally difficult material from Cabaret. But those musicals have something this one doesn’t that makes a huge difference: dancing. Here it’s all played so straight and scenes go from visually lush to kinda boring songs in a glade that looks like a sound stage. I think this is one musical that should’ve stayed on the stage.

Still, the musical is now back in my head and inhabiting space there, even though it’s there in my preferred OBC version.

If you do see it, I recommend going with a group of fellow theater nerds. I attended with co-workers, most of whom weren’t even aware this was adapted from a stage musical, not to mention being at all familiar with the material. Go with people like you, and afterwards plan to have a nice long sit down where you can pick it apart and talk about all the things you think they did wrong. And that will provide some solace. It’s not as disappointing as the Rent movie. (That was a travesty.) Normally I’d tell you to hit up Company on Netflix afterwards to get a dose of solid Sondheim but sadly it’s not available for streaming right now. But you’re musical nerds, you probably have plenty of options already.

Final verdict: it’s probably better than you expect if you’re pessimistic and not quite as good as you hoped if you’re optimistic.

Spooky October Reads

Every October I get a little sad. Because what I really want to do is snuggle up with a massive number of Shirley Jackson novels and get creeped out. But there are only a small number of Shirley Jackson novels and I’ve used them all up and sometimes it feels like there’s no other atmospheric suspense novels out there that can give you a good shiver while delivering great writing and characters. But every year I find just a few more to add to my list and this year was no exception. I’m starting off with my newest finds and then adding old favorites.

 Spooky October Reads
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 Spooky October ReadsBird Box is a title that’s been thrown around the BookRiot Staff forum for a while now and when I had some Audible credits, I decided to give it a whirl. This may be the most frightening book I have ever read. I know that last sentence probably made a bunch of you go, “Okay, then I’ll skip that one,” but it’s not a book that gives you nightmares or makes you worry about something grabbing you from under the bed. That’s the kind of horror I’ve never really gone for. This is a book that uses the unknown and the unseen to make you really, really tense. And that is a reading experience that I really savor because I can’t stop. Bird Box tells the story of Malorie through two timelines: in her present, the story of one harrowing day where she takes her two children and leaves the house they have stayed hidden in for years; in her past, the story of how society fell apart and what led her to her unusual situation. 

This is a book that doesn’t want to explain things to you, which is smart since the characters in the book understand very little about what’s going on around them. You are as much in the dark as they are, and that’s an apt metaphor since whatever is the cause of all this trouble, it only has power over you if you see it. Imagine life blindfolded, where just looking outside a window risked madness and death. It’s not a perfect book but it’s disturbing, haunting, and absolutely unlike anything else I’ve ever read. I can’t stop talking about it, and neither can anyone else I know who’s read it. It makes you a little bit obsessed in the best way. If you’re up for it, I can’t recommend it enough. Kindle edition is currently $1.99!!

 Spooky October Reads
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 Spooky October ReadsAnother book that’s heavy on the buzz is Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. This is much more of a traditional horror novel, complete with unexplained phenomena, a scrappy band of characters who get picked off, and a big bad. It’s also, like much of our modern horror, all a bit tongue and cheek. Your first clue? It’s basically set in an Ikea. In the book it’s a big furniture chain called Orsk, but there’s not much of an effort to distinguish it from the real Ikea. There’s a single path you must follow through the store, there’s cheap furniture with Scandinavian names, there’s little rooms set up all over the place. Amy is at a low point in life and her job at Orsk is a lifesaver, but also a kind of living hell. But when strange things keep happening, she volunteers to work an overnight shift to have the store in perfect shape when the corporate bigwigs are coming the next morning. Cue the havoc and mayhem.

If the thought of being in an Ikea at night gives you the creeps, this is a good choice for you. Horror lovers have been talking up this book big time. If traditional horror is not quite your favorite, you can still get a good chuckle from it. Personally I wish Hendrix had pushed a bit harder towards funny or scary since being in the middle left me a bit unsatisfied. I can say with complete confidence that this will make an AMAZING movie and I will be shocked if no one buys the rights. And it gets bonus points for having one of my favorite covers in recent memory.

 Spooky October Reads
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 Spooky October ReadsIt’s somewhat unheard of for a trilogy to release all three books in a single year, but that’s what’s happening with Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. I was reading the first book, Annihilation, in those pictures I took on the beach last week, and I’m currently in the midst of the second book, Authority. The final one, Acceptance, is out recently and I hope to be finished with all 3 soon. At first glance, Annihilation seemed like a throwback to a Crichton novel, similar to one of my teenage favorites, Sphere. A team of specialists is exploring Area X. Area X is surrounded by some kind of strange border that just suddenly appeared one day, and a secret government agency is trying to figure out what’s going on inside while pretending that there was some kind of environmental emergency that keeps the land uninhabitable. Totally Crichton, right? Except it’s not at all.

This is not a straightforward story, even if the narrator, the team’s Biologist, tells it mostly in order. It is often vague, leaving out details, or describing something in a way that doesn’t make much sense. Like how the team finds something some members describe as a tunnel when another insists on calling it a tower. There’s the complicating factor of hypnotism (a requirement to get them across the border that’s never quite explained) that immediately makes you wonder if what’s happening is really happening. And as you find out more truth, you get farther from feeling comfortable and in control. This book is a straight up mind game, and if you’re into that kind of thing, you should not waste much time. So far Authority is a very different novel, without the odd tonal detachment of the first narrator, it comes from the point of view of the new Director of the Southern Reach, that agency that’s in charge of Area X. You’d expect him to give us a bunch of answers, but so far each answer only leads to more questions, especially when we find out who the last Director was.

These books are about disorientation in many ways, about things that are impossible to describe, about fear and strange phenomena. The closest I can compare Annihilation to is House of Leaves, both have that scientific feel, that feeling of being somewhat off-kilter, and a sense of dread lying everywhere. These are the kind of books that shake you up and pull you thoroughly from your comfort zone.

If you’re still looking for more, you can check out 2012’s Spooky Reads list, or check some of these reviews:

The Other by Thomas Tyron

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock

The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Help for the Haunted by John Searles