Your beauty tool box

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What's in your beauty tool box?  Do you know what the best tools of the trade are when it comes to looking good on a budget?  To see if my beauty box was complete, I checked with a few experts on what products they think are worth your money and which items you can save on by skipping.  And with our streamlined budgets, this is good information to know.  And watch the segment to get a demo on how some of these beauty essentials are best used to improve your look and stretch your beauty budget.

Super Savers
To do my research, I spoke to celebrity makeup artist Karen Hall, Backstage Salon & Spa Owner Angelic Papadakis, my Walgreen's beauty consultant and even my dentist!  I'll begin by telling you the stuff they say you can skimp on!  

A surprise tool that I think is essential is an electric toothbrush, but they can sell for over $100, so I called my dentist to ask if the generic grocery store brand that I bought for $5 is good enough.  Although the $5 electric brush is much better than a standard toothbrush, my dentist's office recommends the Vitality toothbrush.  This electric tooth brush costs $20 and can be found at Walgreen's with replacement heads that sell for $15 for a set of three.  An electric toothbrush is gentle but effective on the gums, cleans better than the standard brush and has a timer that shuts the toothbrush off after the recommended two minutes of brushing is complete.  Without the timer, I doubt that most of us would ever brush for a full two minutes.  So save here by skipping the $100 electric toothbrush while saving your smile and your money with the $20 Vitality brand.  And I list this as a top tool because good dental hygiene can add years to your life.

But don't forgo buying a good old fashioned cheap toothbrush because Karen says it can be used as an excellent eyebrow brush.
To draw in eyebrow hairs that are missing, save money by purchasing the 14420 design ebony pencil at an art supply store for under $10.  Karen says that the design pencil can be sharpened in a regular pencil sharpener and that it works wonders.
Another low cost beauty essential according to both Karen and Angelic, is the 3-pronged comb for teasing hair.  I found mine for under $5 at United Beauty Supply located on 7th Street and Missouri and they have several other Valley locations.

In the next section I will discuss some makeup brushes that are worth paying more for, but I also want to include two brands here in the Super Saver section of  this column.   My Walgreen's beauty consultant tells me that these two are customer favorites.  Studio 35 Beauty sells the Complexion Brush Kit which contains six brushes for around $14.  Brushes included are the foundation, oversized concealer brush, mini concealer brush, mini powder brush, contoured cheek brush and a cosmetic case to hold it all.
And for those of us who want to go green, The Ecotools Earth-Friendly Beauty Bamboo 6-piece brush set is the way to go.  The brush handles are made out of recycled materials and they also come in a handy travel case that all sells for $8.79.

Tools To Spend On
Karen says, that if you can, spend your money on three quality brushes that include a good blush brush, eye shadow brush and a brush for eye liner.  After trying her recommended line and the inexpensive versions, I whole-heartedly agree.  When I've used a cheaper blush brush, I have noticed annoying bristles left behind that stick to my foundation.  Lower quality eye shadow brushes tend to apply my colors unevenly and my favorite eye liner brush puts my cake liner on smooth as silk every time.  A quality line is made by Studio Gear, but you will pay more for these.  My beloved eye shadow brush set me back $30 but it has held up and I've had it for three years.  And they come with a lifetime warranty through Ulta Beauty Stores.  For example, if your brush comes apart or has loose bristles, you can trade your old in for a new one at no cost.  So, when it comes to the three basic brushes that Karen recommends, it does pay to spend more in this area.

Most hair stylists will tell you that when buying a flat iron, paying a lot more for the Chi brand may not save you money, but will save your hair.  Chi irons sell for around $150, but Ulta has them in fun colors on sale for right under $130.  This may be a hard one to splurge on when you see a $20 version that looks identical right next to the Chi brand on store shelves, but I'm told that the Chi is healthier for hair because it made with 100% ceramic plates that gives your mane extra protection against heat damage.  In addition to the professional hair stylists I spoke with, the Ulta employees agree that the less expensive versions are made with a much less percentage of ceramic, so your hair is open to a lot more damage.

Tried & True Basic Tools
Some of the items that I haven't covered are some basic tried and true tools that are inexpensive as well.  So to complete your beauty tool kit, add good tweezers and blending sponges.  And the jury is out on eyelash curlers as Karen recommends them, but some of my other experts weren't as keen on the lash curlers.  So, if you like the curler be sure to buy the one with the spring in the handle because it is a little bit safer to use.  The spring slows the process down of curling the lashes which may prevent you from accidentally pulling lashes out because you released too quickly.

Built-In Tools
Watch the segment to see me demonstrate a few cosmetic products that I brought that are made with tool applicators attached to the bottle.  I found a foundation that comes with a built-in brush and another one with an attached sponge, but they  just didn't measure up to the cosmetic wedge sponges that apply foundation with a flawless finish every time.  I did like one mascara and one skin product that came with unique applicators.  Givenchy mascara makes an lash applicator that is shaped like a sphere.  And DDF Discoloration Reversal Pods hydrate and exfoliate at the same time with the unique pod shaped applicator.  I liked both of these products and I liked their built-in tools.  And good news if you want to try the sphere-shaped mascara wand for less.  The Givenchy brand sells for $29, but  L'Oreal Paris now makes a similar one called Telescopic Explosion that goes for around $10 at the drug stores. 

So before you strap on your beauty tool belt, see if some of my above suggestions will keep your beauty and life on a budget.