Posted by: Stephanie Tuck | December 25, 2010

Confessions of a former InStyle Beauty Editor

Back that truck up. That phrase crossed my mind almost every day when I was a beauty editor at W magazine and later at InStyle.  Every makeup line, you see, would send every new shade to my office EVERY season. I was in deep – so deep, in fact, I was the originating editor of InStyle’s annual  Best Beauty Buys feature, kind of the Oscar’s of the industry.  Beauty was the beat I covered and it was a struggle to stay on top of the deluge of products that arrived like locust swarms in pretty bags with pink wrapping paper.  I often felt like Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (please, please click on this link – seriously amazing and it may take you back to childhood…)

Over time, I became turned off by the sheer volume and excess of it all. Much like someone who works in an ice cream shop and can no longer stand the sight of vanilla swirl, delight in these pretty-making tools and treats went out the window for me.   Mostly, though, I was tired of the quest for hope in a bottle – that’s what all of those products promised – some kind of miracle that would instantly make the user irresistible. With the exception of slick marketing and gorgeous ad campaigns, one lipstick is pretty much like any other, and boy does all that stuff take a lot of time to collect and master. Enough.  I was outta there. I walked away from a lifetime supply of Chanel mascara…

And so, I truly surprised myself last week when I suddenly had rhapsodic feelings about a beauty product. Doo de doo, there I was, sudsing up in the shower with my new liquid soap, and out of nowhere…product love! My skin felt super soft. The yummy scent surrounded me. What can I say, super inexpensive (and corny named) Bath and Body Works Sensual Amber shower gel does it for me. Mmmmm hmmm. Yup. A $10 mall rat purchase beat the stuffing out of the other stuff I’ve tried, among the world’s fanciest/most expensive/most fabulous.  And it brought my (dormant) buzz for beauty back…

InStyle is built on the premise that celebrities have access to the finest things on earth, so what they choose to wear and use has value as it is, arguably the best of the best. And so, here is my list of current beauty favorites, culled from my very own shower/medicine cabinet/still-filled-to-the-rim front hall closet product stash.  I don’t believe in magic and I will guarantee none of these will make you taller/thinner/younger/prettier/wittier/or better at math. But you may enjoy using them.  Your skin or hair may feel good or smell nice. Simple sensory pleasures, bring ’em on. They are the true magic in those fancy bottles.

My current faves – or in Tuck Takes Off parlance, Great (Beauty) Gear award winners:

Cote Bastide Amber Bath Gel ($51)  and Bath Oil ($34) : This is the good stuff. Amber with a touch of vanilla and so yummy. My favorite Sunday ritual is lighting an Aveda candle or two and hopping in an amber bubble bath after early evening yoga. Beyond.

Boots No 7 Protect and Perfect Intense Beauty Serum ($22.99) : Oprah’s favorite and mine, this serum simply feels good on your face.  I put it on after I use a moisturizer (with SPF, of course) and it adds extra moisture or something …What can I say? I like it! (For you close readers out there, yeah, I did not say it slays wrinkles or collides with collagen or whatever as I’m not a believer – just like how it feels!)

Almay oil-free makeup remover pads ($7) – Works like a charm, especially for removing mascara. Make sure to get oil-free; the version with oil blurred my vision and feels greasy.

Ahava Moisturizer with SPF 15 ($18) : Feels Good! Made with nutrients from the Dead Sea! Whatever you use, make sure your moisturizer has an SPF of at least 15 (I also like Aveeno’s  Positively Ageless Moisturizer, $20,  and that has SPF 30.)

Moroccan Oil Intense Curl hair cream($30)  and oil treatment ($45) WOW. These styling products are awesome for thick, curly hair. I work them through my wet hair when I’m just out of the shower and they keep the shape of my curls and get rid of frizz. I love the shine and softness the oil delivers but only use a DROP – this stuff is thick and no joke.

M.A.C Bronzing Powder ($22): It’s winter so we are all looking a bit ghostly. This bronzer adds just a bit of a sun-kissed glow without turning  you  Snooki orange.

Cheap and Chic! Sally Hansen Diamond lip gloss ($6.99) I put this gloss over lipstick for some shimmer and shine and it also moisturizes, which is great for this cold, lip-chappin’ weather.  Thank you Brian Boye, Men’s Health’s Fashion Director, for hooking me up.  (Ah, the joys of fashion shoot excess.) Available at any CVS, I swear by the stuff, which makes me laugh as I am a recovering beauty snob.

So, what are your current favorites?  What makes you feel good? I’d love to hear.

xoxo Steph


  1. I always love the cote bas tide amber and will definitely check out the BodyWorks amber – thanks!


    • Alex, the Cote Bastide bath gel was a gift from you and one of my favorite gifts ever! Still love it and think of you every time I buy a new bottle. xoxo


  2. If I could only have one lip balm forever, it would be Dr Hauschka hands down. Take it from a someone that spends his year in dry prairie summer air and cold winter Rocky Mountain sun, along with almost weekly dry you skin flights for my work.

    For the rest of my face, any of the Hauschka daycreams


  3. love love love the boots no. 7 serum. will definitely try the bronzer and the sally hansen lip gloss. and i’m a big fan of roc deep wrinkle cream.


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