my hobbies include skin-care

I’ve Amassed Tons of Tiny Beauty Samples. These Are the 5 I’m Buying Full-size.

Photo: Photograph by Hannah Whitaker; makeup by Robert Reyes at MAM-NYC; product images courtesy of the vendors

When we lose the battle (sooner rather than later) to our obscene excess, it won’t simply be the result of plastic or global warming or running out of food and water. We are also being overrun by skin and beauty product samples. Do not be fooled by their mini-ness: They are coming for us.

I love Bluemercury. Unlike some other stores I won’t name, you are not accosted upon entry by 25 salespersons in black outfits reminiscent of Mao’s China. But Bluemercury is the worst offender when it comes to samples. At the rate they are doled out, they will surely asphyxiate us. You can throw them out — I imagine most of us do — but that only creates waste on a planet that cannot afford more waste. If you are a regular spender there, as I happily am, you are bound to walk away with one of those little mesh kits containing about 20 samples, which seemingly multiply more than rats once you bring them home. (I am convinced they really do procreate at night: No matter how many of them I throw out, there are more there the next time — particularly eyeliners. They are plotting against us. I hear their chatter.)

It isn’t a matter of quality — some of my favorite brands such as La Mer and SkinCeuticals and Fresh and Laneige are sometimes part of the mix. But trying out all of them would shave several years off my life. And once you get into a skin-care routine, changing it up is risky business. The easy solution is to stop giving them out. But don’t you fucking dare …

Okay, so maybe I (sort of) like samples even with my admitted paranoia. I (sort of) like them because they are so damn cute-looking. I also like them because every now and then you find a hidden gem — like the five products below that I have now incorporated into my regimen. I am still using the samples (They last longer than you think), but once I am out, I will buy their bigger brothers and sisters despite the advice from my accountant.

Moroccanoil

Some products simply make you happy using them. This is one of them. I fell in love right away. You put a small dab in your palms and then rub it in. It gives my hair a nice and clean shine (as opposed to glare) and helps keep it in place. The brand also makes a light version of the formula if the regular is too much.

Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Face Mask

This is sooo bracing and refreshing, good to use on those days when life is growing dim and your face feels like a pasty mess. It exfoliates and hydrates and moisturizes, but I like the soothing effect most of all. And the variety of extracts is divine: not just cucumber but papaya, pineapple, sugar maple, chamomile, sugarcane, orange, lemon, bilberry, and aloe. Sometimes I feel like I should eat it.

Eau Thermale Avene Cold Cream Lip Butter

I don’t use this every day, probably because I have enough going on beauty-wise. But I want to use it regularly. It’s very light but that’s not to say it is wimpy: The texture is strong enough to make parched lips feel pampered and it has a slight sheen. Unlike other lip balms I have used, it doesn’t rest on the face like heavy slabs of cement that I want to immediately wipe off. It not only nourishes, but hydrates, and you can apply a thick layer overnight as a lip mask.

NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil in Take Me Home

On special occasions, I want color on my lips. But the application has to be easy and effortless since I am a lipstick klutz. The pencil wonderfully meets that criteria. It comes in a variety of colors, so you can go from subtle (like my favorite tan-rose shade Take Me Home) to shout-it-out (like the scarlet-red Cruella).

Tom Ford Men's Grooming Brow Definer

I like looking exotic and a little bit goth and a little bit punk and a little bit rocker from back in the day when rockers actually looked like rockers. But I don’t want to look like Dracula or his female counterpart, Kim Kardashian. Neither gooey nor clumpy, this brow product is perfectly subtle — and easy and effortless. (I sound like a broken record at this point, but the face wants what it wants.)

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After Trying Tons of Tiny Beauty Samples, I’m Buying These 5