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Bella Book: Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me

Bella Book: Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me

Last night I plowed through the newly updated edition of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, Paula Begoun's famous cosmetics bible

. (Yes, it's a big book, but I'm a very quick reader!) Begoun, known as the Cosmetics Cop, tests and reviews just about every single beauty product available. The seventh edition analyzes thousands of products, evaluating each for its effectiveness, texture, ingredients, and other fact-based properties.

If you're obsessed with beauty, this book is a must-buy; it'll pay for itself the first time it saves you from buying an ineffective product. Begoun isn't shy about ripping apart a lousy product, and she'll tell you when a cream or treatment is effective but overpriced. Her detailed descriptions of texture, scent, and other features of a product are invaluable; you'll never need to approach a makeup counter wondering whether a foundation will be too heavy again.

But there are some drawbacks to her approach, too. To find out where I disagree with Begoun,


As knowledgeable as Begoun is, I'm not crazy about some of her opinions. She hates shimmery eye shadows, for instance, and insists that nobody should ever wear bold colors such as blue, purple, or green. She also pours some major haterade on essential oils, arguing that most irritate or damage skin; while some can be irritating for sensitive skin, they're hardly the terrifying substances she claims them to be.

Then — and this is the biggest problem I have with the book — she reviews her own line of cosmetics. And of course, they're all fabulous. While the products might indeed be good, it makes me question her objectivity. This criticism isn't new, but it's worth mentioning.

Still, despite these nitpicks, the book is well worth buying. As an introduction to cosmetic basics, a product encyclopedia, or a thorough reference, it's tops.

Join The Conversation
Belladelish Belladelish 9 years
I have all of her older books....interesting read...I would have to try her products to make a decision. Paula has been around for a long time, and some of her views may seem a little dated...cosmetics have certainly changed and improved in the last 20 years. Ciao Bella!
ssfl2000 ssfl2000 9 years
I have bought previous editions of this book and to be honest- I was skeptical about some of her reviews. Don't get me wrong, it's a good read. And if you are curious about some high priced items-by all means, check out the book. But everyone has different tastes in makeup (and music, and food, and everything else). Good 'ol trial and error is the only real way to tell. Don't want to spend the money? Hit the makeup counters! Try before you buy. I definately think she's biased about her own line and would have more credit if it was done by an independant panel. She poo poo'd La Mer!!! Are you kidding me? That stuff is fabulous!!!
hayworthgilda hayworthgilda 9 years
I try to get facials at ole henriksen -- my facialist asked what I used on my face (as an opening to launch into "you should use our products") but when I told her I used the paula's choice stuff, she stopped and just agreed with me that they're awesome. I do think she's harsh on the stuff she doesn't like (shimmery stuff and mineral makeup). She also criticizes makeup that doesn't contain sunscreen, even though I like to put on sunscreen separately. I don't depend on chemical sunscreen for UVA protection, and titanium dioxide always monkeys with the texture of the makeup. But many items get a big frownie face for not automatically including sunscreen. This is even true for items from lines which have separate sunscreens (Neutrogena). That said, it's a nice resource -- I like to check her and makeup alley before I buy a new product.
guitarrasara guitarrasara 9 years
I got one of her older versions as a teenager and at the time I was really excited to go through the book. Some of my favorite products received bad reviews, though! I think the book does a good job of defining ingredients and giving some guidelines on where one should start for good skincare... But, new products are coming out all the time, old ones are being discontinued, and with online reviews of products available in these modern times, who really needs a book? I haven't looked at the newest version, and probably won't! But it is probably good for someone just getting into cosmetics and skincare. This book can help with some basic guidelines. In the end, I think it's good to try things out yourself, and if you don't like it- return it!
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
My facialist recommends her skin care line. I have been using it for a year and I HARDLY EVER BREAK OUT!!
stephley stephley 9 years I won't go to the cosmetics counter without checking the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep - it has information on chemicals, carcinogens and allergens in many popular makeup, shampoos, perfumes, skin and hair care products. I've been amazed by how many products that I took for granted as safe are not.
DreaAST DreaAST 9 years
i want this!
karisaamy karisaamy 9 years
You can usually find this book at your library, also her website has the majority of her reviews on it. Just do a google search for it.
jknocking jknocking 9 years
bailaoragaditana: Great tip about using Amazon to search inside the book!
emalove emalove 9 years
I'm going to buy this!
redrover189 redrover189 9 years
I don't know...for me, after looking at her site, I didn't really agree with most of her reviews. She unilaterally hates mineral makeup and I did find that some of her information was either inaccurate or just plain false (she states that Everyday Minerals makeup includes talc and bismuth oxychloride, which it does not. This doesn't seem like a big problem but a.) those are two known irritants and it's a big deal that EM doesn't include them in their formula (EM is great for sensitive skin) and b.) if Paula is supposed to be this big deal makeup reviewer, I think it's crappy that she misstates something like that AND refuses to give an entire section of makeup a chance) I wouldn't buy this book and I'd take the reviews (especially of her own products) with a grain of salt. I go to MakeupAlley - those broads know what they are talking about! And since it's a public forum, you're getting reviews from consumers, so it's much more unbiased (Paula's stuff gets average to mediocre reviews on there, so I guess buyer beware!) No offense, Bella! I love makeup books too (like Kevin Aucoin's! Those are awesome!) I've just kind of got a thorn in my side about Paula...
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Very awesome...
michlny michlny 9 years
I have an earlier version and she certainly changed the way I look at skincare. I have bought 2 of her products (anti-oxidant serum + sunscreen for the face) and they are very good. I just wish she were more of a natural products advocate. The chemicals in cosmetics nowadays scare me.
sofi sofi 9 years
Critty- interesting. No one tries the products, she just looks at the ingredients? She should just have a list of ingredients and what they are good for if that's how it works.
Critty Critty 9 years
I totally agree with you Bella ... I take her advice as "nice to know" but I don't treat it like a cosmetic bible. Lots of things I love, she hates and gives them a frown, but they are perfect for my sensitive skin. She has given "Paula's Pick" to some items I can't for the life of my see why ... like e.l.f. eyeshadows, which I am about to do a review for my blog and she raved about them but they were extremely inconsistent. I also don't like she reviews her own products as amazing ... I have been trying a bunch of her stuff for a review soon. Her reviews seem to be soley based on ingredients, not someone trying the product. That's why I read blogs and write my own, so I can get honest feedback by someone who has actually tried the product, not just read the ingreient list.
ModernGraceKelly ModernGraceKelly 9 years
I just checked my library by the way and they have it on order.:) Libraries can save a girl some serious money on beauty books.
ModernGraceKelly ModernGraceKelly 9 years
I'm sure her own products are praised and pushed as the best in the world, I hadn't even heard she had her own line... I also think her age is making her more objective to certain products. Since they tell more mature women to stay away from shimmer shadows and brighter colors. I think she needs to ask the opinions of different aged women, have them all test products and factor those into a book. Makeup should be fun, attractive, and work.
insidesusan insidesusan 9 years
I tend to read consumer reviews and do my own research before buying new stuff, but since this book is readily available in the mall, I can stop by the bookstore and do a quick look up before I buy a product ;) I have looked through it, and although I haven't read the whole thing I'm sure there will be lots I disagree with. But its always nice to get other points of view if you're going to take the plunge on an expensive product - I was going to spend $95 on a tube of Hylexin to battle my dark circles, then after a google search I confirmed my suspicions that this is not a miracle product, and saved my money.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I've been "searching inside the book" on Amazon - I know, naughty - to see what she says about some of my favorites, and one thing I noticed is that she also has MAJOR hateration for liner pencils that need sharpening. Like, any needs-sharpening pencil automatically gets a neutral, just for not being automatic. I personally love them because then you get a nicely sharp fine line, and I feel it's just a bit more hygienic to scrape away the outside bit after a while. But what do I know, I don't have a book...
i-am-elle i-am-elle 9 years
Iiiinteresting. Can I borrow it at the library? Haha.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
Sounds interesting - I'd like to at least read it, although I can think of lots more books I'd rather have around on permanent basis, so I probably won't buy it.
wren1 wren1 9 years
My mom swears by this book!
unsure unsure 9 years
i tend to skim through the book on occasion when i'm at barnes & noble. i have to say though, i swear by a few of her products. using her beta hydroxy 2% liquid and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide solution along with my favorite over-priced moisturizer has done wonders for my skin. especially during the summer months in nyc, where it's humid with a touch of grimey.
sofi sofi 9 years
interesting-thanks Bella :)
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
I totally agree on the Fluidline. :love:
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