Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Paula Begoun’s Don’t Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me ($29.95)

Paula Begoun published her 7th edition of this book just this past December 2007, and it is definitely an interesting read. First, it is important to note that a great deal of information found in the book is also available [for free] at, Paula’s website, which makes it easy to search, find products you want or ingredients, etc. Plus, the website will be updated continuously and seamlessly, whereas the book is more stagnant.

I liked the book because it does introduce you to the concept of ingredient and cosmetic awareness. It raises your outlook on product claims vs. product results. It is also fascinating just to read what someone else has to say, especially because she pays most of her attention to ingredients. Unfortunately, on the same token, I find the reviews less thorough and helpful because most of them are based on ingredient lists rather than actual trial and error. She also hates on frosts/shimmers, even though it stems more from an idea that older women should avoid them (but there is always a time and place, and I think it’s obviously a personal bias-not something as concrete as alcohol will dry out your skin!).

This book is also insanely heavy, which makes me laugh at the irony of the title-I’ll be going to the counter without this two-pound book! I definitely believe this book can be a valuable resource, but it is important to note that you should do your own fact-checking and whatnot to find out what works, what doesn’t, etc. Believing what one reviewer tells you without researching into their data is no different than believing the claims of a miracle beauty product.

I do think it is worth checking out, whether if you peruse through the pages at your local book store or if you pick it up at the library. It’s always fun to look up your favorite or holy grail products and see how they measure up!

Read it? What’d you think?

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14 thoughts on “Paula Begoun’s Don’t Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me Review

  1. Tekoa

    I’ve read the 6th edition book..and actually brought it along on my newbie makeup runs. There was this one time I was in the MAC store with this monstrosity of literature, flipping through it as I compared everything in the store. The MA’s were very amused. The book has helped me purge products with irritating/irrelevant ingredients and my skin is much clearer now. However, I do ignore her dislike of shimmer and bright eyeshadow.

    • Wow, look at you! I could not lug that heavy thing around for the life of me, LOL. It was hard enough reading that in bed (there was just no comfortable way to position myself to read it, I suck!).

      I’m glad she helped you purge some of the products that aggravated your skin!

  2. I agree Christine, she trashes a lot of products I love and have seen a difference with while using. I also ordered some e.l.f. products based on her glowing reviews … they are only $1 anyway so I did it for curiosity, but I found them to be absolutely horrible so I am not sure why she loved them. I just don’t trust her opinions.

    • I have heard this comment before, that she raved about ELF, but the results were NOT rave-worthy. I haven’t tried anything by ELF, so I can’t tell you my view, but it’s too bad it didn’t work out.

  3. Meg

    I absolutely love this book! It really opened my eyes to what is a good product for you and what is a bad product for you. I got rid of those face products that can be damaging to the skin. I use completely different products now(based on her reviews)and I have had great results.

    The best thing I learned is to pay attention to the ingredients in the products you use on your face. Don’t just read what the product “claims” to do.

    • Hey Meg! That’s a great lesson you learned – I think that’s the best part about reading the book. I don’t care if her reviews are right or wrong, but at the very least, it does cause you to start questioning your ingredients.

  4. George

    I’ve read the book a couple of times (in a browisng sort of a way) and I bouht a copy for a grand total of $3 at a used bookstore. I enjoy her way of reviewing the different lines, but personally I really only like her for her analysis of skincare products, but not for her makeup ones. I think her reviews of make-up are too biased and tend to ignore what people’s personal preferences may or may not be.

    I recently got another one of her books (The Beauty Bible) at the same used bookstore for a few bucks, and I have to say I love the first two thirds. It deals with specific ingredients to look for in products (in stead of what is good and bad in a particular product) and she goes into great detail about skin/nail issues.
    Her make-up section has definitions of different products (e.g. stick concealer versus liquid), which is interesting, but she has these “Beauty mistakes” for eyeshaodw, foundation, etc. that I just don’t agree with as it comes down to personal preference.

  5. Erin

    I really like this book, and it’s nice to know what products are just a bunch of hype. I bought it for a friend because I felt bad I turned her into a MAC head. She still buys MAC and Urban Decay pretty much exclusively, but at least she knows she’s choosing to do it because she likes the product and not because they have magical ingredients the cheap stuff doesn’t.

  6. Nell

    Paula Begouns books mainly taught me to think for myself regarding cosmetics and not believe the marketing hype.

  7. Jules

    Not worth buying it, but checking it out at your local library is a good option.