I'm not a big beauty/makeup person, and I don't really find shopping for makeup too too enjoyable. Nevertheless, I have my own little regimen, and over the years I've found some great products and some horrible products.
NOTE: I am not getting paid to endorse any products; this is my honest opinion! Please comment if you disagree or have any other beauty suggestions! :)
SUPER DUPER BAD: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
I remember hearing how this stuff was the best mascara ever, and so cheap! I tried it and it's horrible: dry, clumpy, and irritating. I'm not so sure why the entire world seems to think this is great?
Admittedly, I have not tried a lot of different brands of mascaras, so I don't know if this is the BETS product out there, but I really like Clinique's high impact Mascara. I wear contacts, so my eyes are very sensitive to any type of product. The Clinique Line doesn't seem to flake as much as the aforementioned Maybelline, and it does not clump at all.
ABSOLUMENT HORRIBLE: Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Cream Cleanser, Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Astringent
My beef with the Neutrogena Acne line is that the cleansers are all very thick and scented and incredibly difficult to rinse off. I could still smell and feel the cleanser on my face after thoroughly rinsing it off, and that did nothing for my skin. The Blackhead Eliminating Astringent is too harsh and did not eliminate blackheads.
ALTERNATIVE #1: DRUGSTORE:
Clean & Clear Continous Control Foaming Acne Wash
Pretty good all-around cleanser, but could be too mild for people with very oily skin.
Clean & Clear's scrub is ideal for facial use, because it is so gentle. If you need a body scrub, try the St. Ive's Apricot line, which is made for facial use but is much too harsh.
I like Clean & Clear's line much better because they are much lighter and rinse off easily. However, there is still that smell that lingers on after rinsing, which worries me because having fragrance chemicals on my face surely cannot be a good thing.
Many people think that soap is too harsh for washing faces, but I find that as long as you follow up with a really good moisturizer, there's no difference. Ivory soap is unscented, gentle, and lathers nicely.
ALTERNATIVE #2: DEPARTMENT STORE:
CLINIQUE's 3-step skin care line has been my savior for the past 2 years. It's a little bit pricey; probably about $100 for the 3 steps, but it lasts 8 months. (And plus, CLINIQUE always has bonus offers where you get a whole bunch of goodies, including the mascara that I was talking about!)
The reason I like Clinique's line is the lightness, rinse-ability, and gentleness. The foaming cleanser doesn't even sting if you get it in your eyes! I would recomment the MILD clarifying lotion and the moisturizing GEL (unless you have VERY dry skin). Also get a pump with your moisturizer so you're not dipping dirty fingers into the bottle or trying to pour it out which could cause it to spill. I don't like the soap version of the cleansing because soaps tend to melt away and get gross.
If you are thinking about purchasing this, I suggest waiting until there is a "bonus time", so you can take advantage of the little goodies. (usually there is an eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick, and a few trial-sized skincare products)
For hair care products, I tend to find that the really cheap stuff (Suave, Alberto, St. Ives, NoName) is horrible. I haven't tried any high-end products, but the drugstore brands are all about the same. I've found that if you rinse out your conditioner REALLY well, your hair will be softer and more manageable, but less shiny. That's just me, though. I rinse like a madwoman.
1) Best Smell
Herbal Essences, of course! I personally prefer the newer lines (fruit fusion, rainforest flowers) to the older scents. But I've noticed that they have totally revamped their look, so maybe they have new scents too!
2) Best Formulation
L'Oreal Vive Shampoo and Conditioner seems to be the most effective. The Conditioner can be very hard to rinse out, though. I've also noticed that L'Oreal is changing their look too, and I haven't tried the new Vive line.
Pantene also makes great Shampoo and Conditioner, but their prices have gone WAAAY up in the past few years, so I would pick the L'Oreal over Pantene.
4) Best 2-in-1
I still like Pert Plus's line of 2-in-1s. It rinses off easily and smells pretty good.
Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner is horrible. It feels like glycerine in your hands and does not rinse off. I doubt that fruit oils can actually help your hair in any way.
I don't really wear makeup as in foundation, eyeshadow, blush, etc...so I really would not know. From what I've heard, MAC is really great.