Not Your Mother's Mary Kay

My first memory of makeup was my mother's pink-bottle collection of Mary Kay in our bathroom. Since we are a family of hoarders, the bottles sat in the closet for close to a decade. I avoided the brand for years with this traumatic childhood memory.

I still think Mary Kay could upgrade its brand image. The company doesn't advertise, since it depends on the Mary Kay representatives to promote the products and company. The packaging could modernize, and the brand could begin targeting younger consumers, similar to how Avon has done with its spin off Mark. line. If you catch an audience young, you gain a loyal following. Teens and young women are the biggest cosmetic consumers.

That said, this is one of the more underrated cosmetic brands. The products have a consistently good reputation among buyers, but it still doesn't get the press many other cosmetic companies do.

As I reviewed earlier, the Mary Kay primer is the best I've tried. When Smashbox Photo Finish became price-prohibitive for me, I began to search for a less expensive primer that delivered. The primer feels literally like silk and delivers at improving makeup durability and wear. The price is $22/1 flow ounce. A primer that comes in at a close second and feels very similar is Hard Candy's Sheer Envy, which is $8 for 1.6 fl. ounces. My concern with Hard Candy is the brand has an exclusive distribution deal with Walmart, which is a store franchise I dislike for some of its corporate practices. For that reason, I hold to Mary Kay as my favorite primer.

As mentioned in my Most Overrated Products blog, I am a big fan of the Mary Kay Highlighter Pen. It does what YSL's Touche Eclat does, but it does it so much better and at half the price. YSL's product is $40, and MK's is $18. The product uses light diffusers to minimize flaws like undereye circles while also brightening the face and highlighting features like cheekbones.

The Mary Kay Limited Edition illuminator comes in a peachy-pink shade and a bronze shade. I tried the bronze shade, which has a wonderful consistency and blends well with foundation. It does what I wish Nars Orgasm illuminator would do: It adds dimension and brightness to the complexion, enhancing the foundation without trying to outdo it.

Mary Kay Mineral Cheek Color: This $10 blush is highly pigmented. I put a light sweep on my blush brush and had to wipe off some of the product because the color payoff was so intense. I'd say that's a good problem. My only complaint is the product is packaged loosely in plastic containers, which means it slides when you're running your blush brush over it. Mary Kay has empty compacts, and I think you're meant to add each blush to the sturdier compact.

Finally, a product I think is a huge fail: Mary Kay Vinyl Lip Shine. I'm not a big fan of glosses in general, but this product reminded me of why for a few reasons: The consistency is very tacky (it's meant to be a buildable gloss that gives a glossier and denser finish as you apply). Second, it smells just terrible. Because it's on your lips, you can taste and smell the product while wearing it. I find it almost unbearable - like rubber or gas.

Please contact Monika Piekarcyk da Silva, Mary Kay rep, at for more information about any of the brand's products. She is extremely knowledgeable about the products and makeup application. She is also a great salesperson: Very friendly and informative without being a bit pushy.


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