Full disclosure: Monsters & Critics received free samples of the products mentioned in this article for review. However, the opinions expressed are independent and our own.
We’re heading into the home-stretch of summer, the hottest month of August, as our Monsters and Critics best-buys beauty column goes from total bargains to a few luxury splurges.
Sorted and sampled, they all performed beautifully and make our August 2017 Best Beauty Finds a fantastic go-to list of items to seek out.
We spent the last two months testing these items and found a group of inexpensive easy to find skin-care specialists, some splurge items worth the money, a sexy new fragrance, and loads of fun color items.
Make sure to seek out companies who make their potions and creams without harming animals.
Our constant criteria, regardless of cost, is that they are made without parabens, sulfates and phthalates and artificial fragrances or solvents too.
Oddly fantastic, inexpensive and found easily in CVS, Walmart, Target and high-end drug stores:
7th Heaven Strengthen Nail & Cuticle Finger masques
7th Heaven Soften Sock masques
Why we love it: Pedicure and manicure junkies know that all that lacquer will strip moisture from the nail beds. Harsh removers, alcohol, and the gel lacquers that need pure acetone to be removed weaken nails over time.
Inexpensive and easy to use, Strengthen Nail & Cuticle Finger Masks from 7th Heaven, a British company that figured out how to make a spa treatment portable comes for both hands and feet.
These powerful nutrient-infused individual finger masks and socks for feet are packaged in a travel-friendly and handy single-serve sachet.
Made with quality ingredients like Argan oil and macadamia nut oils, the treatments strengthens, conditions cuticles and softens dead skin, they are fantastic buys and easy to find.
Just slip on the individual finger gloves or the sock and take 15-20 minutes to relax.
Massage any remaining lotion into hands or feet, and you are ready to rock. Available for purchase in the U.S. at select Walmart locations
Cruelty-free, member of BUAV/Leaping Bunny and PETA SRP Under $5
Pure Ice Star-Spangled Glamour collection
Why we love it: It’s glittery, it’s patriotic, it’s fun to shine on like a crazed diamond in the summertime! Pure Ice Let Freedom Bling and Sparkle City are our favorites that can glaze a deeper color or go on by themselves. Inexpensive and fun, made for this time of year.
USA-made and 5 free — meaning no toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DPB or camphor. SRP under $5
Tree Hut Skincare
Protecting Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Refining Rose 1.5 ounces
Why we love it: Ultra lightweight and absorbing, Tree Hut makes some of the best all-over body moisturizers around for little money.
Tree Hut’s latest is a pump delivery unisex sunscreen loaded with botanicals that won’t weigh you down.
Rosehip Oil, which is naturally rich in vitamins and antioxidants, this feather-light formula quickly absorbs into skin and hydrates to keep skin feeling great and looking healthy. SRP $15
Belli Basics Clearly Coconut Oil
Why we love it: Belli set out to develop the best, multi-purpose oil and found that it already existed.
Fractionated coconut oil is ideal at any life stage (pregnancy, nursing, infants, tweens, teens, and young adults or seniors with thin, sensitive skin) and offers many uses and benefits from cleansing to moisturizing.
Who doesn’t love a product that multitasks and costs little? Quick absorption, intense moisture, liquid, no preservatives, no scent, no color, no potential irritants for the most sensitive skin. SRP $7. This is a workhorse you will use daily.
Palmer’s Eventone Suncare Moisturizing Sunscreen Cocoa Butter 30 SPF, 8.5 FL OZ
Why we love it: This is by far one of the best body sunscreens I have ever used. It goes on easily and fully absorbs into your skin with very little greasy feel. Within 10 mins it is completely dry.
This newcomer from Palmer’s leaves your skin feeling moist, with the trademark light cocoa butter fragrance.
You will tan better and it has a higher SPF than most comparable items from competitors. Very reasonably priced at $7.
Radiant, by Colgate Optic White
Why we love it: This easy to find toothpaste by Colgate is an effective brightener, and you will see a brighter enamel in just a few uses.
The active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide and the amount included in this over-the-counter toothpaste formula gently removes deep set teeth stains for a brighter smile.
Pleasant to use too. Active Ingredient is Sodium mono-fluorophosphate 1.14% (0.12% w/v fluoride ion)
neuLASH lash enhancing serum .2 ml
Why we love it: A total splurge buy. We gave this a two-month trial and found that neuLASH really made a marked improvement in lash density and overall look.
At an SRP of $150 (you can find it for less on retail sites), it should absolutely work.
This formula is loaded with botanicals and is fortified with a proprietary mash-up of ingredients called “Active Eyelash Technology” that work in concert to make eyelashes healthier and fuller in just 30 days.
One of my favorite ingredients is Sodium hyaluronate, the naturally found ingredient that diminishes in your own skin over time, has the ability to hold 1000 times its weight in water. In this formula, it saturates the keratin in the lash root and helps restore elasticity to skimpy lash lines.
Add peptides, essential vitamins and panthenol and other growth boosting ingredients like nourishing pumpkin seed extract, neuLASH is a worthy addition.
Apply nightly to the base of the upper eyelashes, just like you are applying eyeliner. Resist the urge to apply too much.
Dermalogica Nightly Lip Treatment 0.35 OZ
Why we love it: Dermalogica is a no B.S. skin care line that always delivers great products that do what they promise.
If you live out West and know how dry it gets, your lips are always burning and irritated at the sensitive lip line.
This product ends that, and anyone can use this too. Not a cosmetic, this white gel cream penetrates fast and the botanicals in it allow a healing and deep moisture drench that is a huge relief.
Don’t suffer from dry cracked lips, ditch the Carmex, find this and use in the morning and before bedtime. This is a splurge buy as the SRP is $49, but so worth the price.
Hard Candy: Illuminate and Strobing Mix-In Drops 1120 in White Pearl
Look Pro! Ultimate Strobing Kit – Baked Illuminating Duo 1061 Twinkle Star – Glamoflauge Mix-In Makeup Drops – Glow All The Way Baked Bronzer
Why we love it: All of Hard Candy’s latest glowing cosmetic newcomers are under $10 and give that sun-kissed Jennifer Lopez glowy burnish to the skin.
From add in drops like Illuminate and Strobing Mix-In Drops 1120 in White Pearl which is a controllable blast of shimmer you can pop into foundation or a moisturizer, to brush-on easy Glow All The Way Baked Bronzer, Hard Candy delivers the shimmer at a fraction of what you would spend at the Chanel counter.
Easily picked up at Walmart too!
Jane Iredale Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner and Highlighter in Smoky Quartz, Amethyst, and Dark Topaz
Why we love it: For a splurge, you cannot go wrong with anything from Jane Iredale cosmetics. If you are sensitive to most eye makeup or liner, you can trust this cosmetic company that uses top notch ingredients.
This is a double duty cosmetic, and our favorite item of the month. It perfectly pairs a deeper and lighter color as a powder eyeliner and complimentary highlighter inside of a dual wand.
This is a fantastic item for travel, and our top pick favorite of the five color presentations is the Dark Topaz. I would love to see Jane Iredale expand these items to matte shadow finishes too!
Jane Iredale PlayOn Lip Crayon
Why we love it: Jane knows you are on the go! Splurge on this creamy, moisturizing and smooth application lip-color.
Jane Iredale’s PlayOn crayon was tested in Hot, a fiery red that looks just right on when a vivid shade is called for.
Jane Iredale makes more muted shades too, and the formula is one of the nicest I have tried in a long time.
At an SRP of $18, it’s pricier than the average but for wearability and feel it’s worth it. Would love to see them design this fantastic lip-color formula in a swivel-up crayon that eliminates the sharpener.
Opa! by Skinn Cosmetics Opa! Eau de Parfum 1.7 oz
Why we love it: Skinn is another line that makes amazing items, if you are unfamiliar. This is the first fragrance that I have sampled and I loved how sophisticated and muted it was.
I hate perfumey perfumes and floral bombs, this is not that! Skinn has blended mid- floral notes and woody vanilla for a wholly unique presentation in a pretty bottle.
This fragrance adds a touch of citrus top notes drive the scent and make it fresh, alluring and sexy without being obnoxious like so many fragrances out there are. Lovely new addition to the perfume world. Clean, modern and subtle.
DISCLOSURE: Monsters and Critics received free samples of all the products mentioned in this article.