Paula Begoun spent $15,000 on cosmetics last year. Not because she's vain, but because she's curious.
"I wanted to find out which were the best products and which products offered the best value for the money," said Ms. Begoun, 38, a Seattle makeup artist-turned-author. She was in Orlando recently to promote her new book, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me: An Eye Opening Guide to Brand Name Cosmetics" (Beginning Press, $10.95).
Along with her first book, "Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal," which explored the cosmetics industry's advertising and promotion techniques, it has earned her the nickname, "Ralph Nader of Rouge."
After a year of testing, analyzing and evaluating more than 5,000 products in 25 major brand-name lines of cosmetics, Ms. Begoun has concluded that no single line is superior -- but that good and bad products are present in all lines, from the most expensive to the cheapest.
Her personal favorites include a $1.97 eye shadow by Maybelline, a $2.95 lipstick by Revlon and a $30 blush by Borghese.
Other "best bets" -- from foundations to finishing powders, scrubs to moisturizers -- are listed at the end of her book.
But first come chapters on the often misleading marketing techniques used by the cosmetics industry; the pressure to purchase products that is applied at the cosmetics counter; and the results that realistically can be expected from cosmetics.
Then comes the detailed and hard-hitting chapter that is the heart of the book: "Product Evaluation."
9- Her conclusions make fascinating reading.