Book Review: Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, by Paula Begoun

Happy Monday! I thought I’d kick off the week with some words of wisdom – a whole book full, in fact! I’ve had my eye on this book for quite a while during my frequent Barnes and Noble “window shopping” visits, and a couple of weeks ago, I finally broke down and bought it! And right now, I’m kicking myself for not doing it earlier, because there is so much great skincare and beauty information jam-packed into this book.

Paula Begoun, a.k.a. the Cosmetics Cop wrote this book to give an honest evaluation of beauty and skincare products for most major drugstore and high-end lines. Paula began her journey as a makeup artist behind a cosmetics counter, and found it frustrating that she wasn’t able to help customers find the best products for them; instead she was instructed to just sell products in the line she worked for. I can definitely relate to this, I found the same frustrations working behind a makeup counter. So, Paula set out to teach consumers about what products actually work and is best for them, and this resulted in her own makeup line, a research team investigating all of your household beauty products, this book, and additionally thousands of reviews available on She states, “my team and I remain steadfast in our mission to provide current and insightful information about skin care and makeup to help you find the best products possible, regardless of your budget.”

Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me begins by explaining some of the lies that are fed to us by the beauty industry about what products we need, and goes on to explain real solutions for every skin type and the best skin-care routine for you. The rest, and the majority of the book then lists product-by-product reviews from over 100 different lines of makeup and skincare products.

For example, flipping to any line – take Chanel for example – will first list a brief description of the strengths and weaknesses of the line in general. Then the different Chanel products are listed under the categories of cleansers, eye-makeup removers, toners, moisturizers, lip care, specialty skin care products, foundations & primers, concealers, powders, blush & bronzers, eyeshadows & eye primers, eye & brow liners, lip color & lip liners, mascaras, face & body illuminators, and brushes (Whew!) Under each category, each product is listed with ratings in quality (poor, average, good, and best) and expense (pretty much everything Chanel is listed as $$$), and then a description of why this product will or will not benefit you.

So of course, after skimming through this awesome and thoroughly detailed section of the book, my first question was, “well, what are the best products to buy?” At which point, Paula seemed to read my mind, as the last chapter of the book is “The Best Products.” She lists all the different types of skin-care and makeup products in different categories based on skin types, and lists all of the products that received “best” ratings in her reviews, with prices included. This is great, because it shows you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get makeup that works – you can buy some drugstore makeup that works just as well as some luxury lines! Fantastic!

I can’t explain how handy this is! I’ve already toted this book along with me when I went makeup shopping last week. Paula and her research team have given us so much knowledge about all of the products out there, and how to move past the lies sold to millions of women everyday to find the truth about what we need for our skin. This is a must-read for anyone with questions about what types of makeup and skincare products to use, and to learn more about the cosmetics industry in general.


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