Discover beauty through professional reviews

(Available in USA only)
NOW READING They May Not Be Shelfie Worthy, But I Can’t Live Without These Ugly Beauty Products
October 30, 2018

They May Not Be Shelfie Worthy, But I Can’t Live Without These Ugly Beauty Products

Even as a normal, non-celebrity, non-public figure, I readily confess it takes a village to look good. A village of really unsexy beauty products, to be exact. While I wouldn’t necessarily parade these MVPs on the ’gram, I dare not deny my need for them either. So ahead, I shine the spotlight on five of my hardest working behind-the-scenes ugly beauty products that don’t look worthy of a spot on the top shelf. But oh, do they …


You know I’m a K-beauty fan through and through. By default, that means I’ve made more than a few purchases based on everything to do with cute packaging and nothing to do with how the stuff actually works.


But. When it really comes down to it, I undoubtedly choose function over form. In fact, some of the staples of my beauty regimen — the tried and true, the old and faithful — are straight up eye sores. So they may not be out on display for guests to ogle at, but you better believe they hold a special spot somewhere in my heart and in the darkest corners of my bathroom cabinets and vanity.


Keep scrolling to see five ugly ducklings that I simply cannot do beauty without.


ugly beauty products


1. Epilator


I’m not really sure why this didn’t catch on like wildfire. Maybe because it looks scary? Maybe because it sounds painful? Whatever it is, it deserves a try because although not the most comfortable sensation (but neither is any long-lasting hair removal method), the epilator is the answer to every shaver and waxer’s peach-fuzz-stubble trouble.


ugly beauty products


The epilator is a little electronic device that consists of a spinning wheel with a bunch of mini tweezers that automatically pluck out hair as you roll it over your skin. Like waxing and tweezing and unlike shaving, it yanks out hair from the root. But it pulls multiple hairs at a time so it doesn’t take as long as plucking hair one by one, nor does it leave behind a sticky mess.


Epilation is more affordable than a monthly visit to the waxing salon and maybe even more so than laser hair removal, longer-lasting than shaving, and more time efficient than tweezing. It’s done in the comfort of your own home, is super accessible, and the best part is, the required effort is minimal while the results are nothing short of amazing. Hair doesn’t grow back as fast as it does with shaving. Especially with continued usage over time, I daresay I can enjoy weeks of stubble-free skin. Even when there are signs of hair sprouting again, they’re thin, sparse, and easily groomable.


2. Cala Wet N Dry Detangling Hair Brush


This hair brush looks like it belongs in the ’90s, in the bottom compartment of a Caboodle, next to a Wet n Wild lip gloss. This hair brush also proves true the wise old saying that one should never, ever judge a book by its cover because it is amazing!


Whether your locks are long or short, thick or thin, frizzy or glossy, curly or straight, the Cala Wet N Dry brush magically detangles hair in less time and with less pain than many brushes I’ve tried.


ugly beauty products


Brushing hair while wet is forbidden in the beauty world, but this brush helps you break the rules without breaking your hair. The bristles are ultra soft and flexible, so they’re gentle even on super fine strands.


Another quality that had me smitten is how airy and soft my hair feels after a run-through with this heaven-sent tool. The brush tames even the most wildly tangled and brittle of us all — (raising hand) that would be this contributor’s — into touchably soft and healthier-looking hair.


3. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay


Were it not for the “Health & Beauty” copy on the label, this jar of clay would look like it belongs more in the craft aisle than the beauty aisle.


But actually, it’s a wash-off clay mask with 4.4 stars and 14,425 customer reviews and counting on Amazon. Sourced from Death Valley, California, and baked in the scorching desert sun for up to six months, the 100% natural bentonite (green) clay powerfully unclogs pores of excess sebum and blackheads and deeply cleanses skin. This workhorse is even great for zapping (b)acne and blemishes.


ugly beauty products


As recommended, I mix the clay with equal parts apple cider vinegar (another unsung hero in our beauty regimen). After I wash it off, my skin (which runs the gamut of normal, dry, and combo) looks and feels refreshingly clean. And I swear, fewer blackheads are visible.


The packaging is not the least bit glamorous, but if that’s what it takes to keep this “secret” at just $10 a jar, I’m all for it.


4. Aquaphor


If you’re a mom, you’ve probably seen your fair share of Aquaphor tubs. And I’m willing to bet you’ve used the ointment on yourself at least once. If your world has nothing to do with diaper rashes, chapped cheeks, and other things that call for this ubiquitous white jar with the blue lid, then you need to get yourself one anyway.


You know how in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula’s Greek dad believed Windex is an end-all solution for every problem, from psoriasis to poison ivy? “Put some Windex on it!” he used to say. That’s how I feel about Aquaphor.

ugly beauty products

Got dry spots? Chapped lips? Cracking feet? Put some Aquaphor on it!


This mother of all multitaskers contains 41% petrolatum, which makes for a breathable formula that heals and protects skin. Panthenol, glycerin, and bisabolol also deeply moisturize and fortify skin, relieving irritations and preventing it from drying out.


If you have Aquaphor Baby lying around, go ahead and borrow your little babe’s because Aquaphor for babies and the regular Aquaphor are apparently the same thing.


5. Maui Babe After Browning Lotion


There’s no sugarcoating this. In terms of aesthetics, this sunny day must-have is definitely going to downgrade the curation of Aesop body lotions and Diptyque candles atop your vanity. But what it does for your sun-soaked skin more than makes up for that.


After a pool or beach day, Maui Babe After Browning Lotion is your BFF. Formulated with the holy grails of summer skincare like purified Hawaiian water, macadamia nut oil, and aloe vera extract, it seals in your tan (because even K-beauty fans sometimes crave golden sun-kissed legs) and prevents peeling by deeply moisturizing and soothing skin.


ugly beauty products


One island getaway after the other, I’m amazed at how much longer my tan sticks around even after the trip is long over and how baby soft my skin feels after wading in the salty ocean. Actually, I love it so much that I resort to this vacay in a bottle during dry weather seasons to keep my body skin comfy and smooth — no travel necessary.


Are any of these undercover ugly beauty products hidden away in your drawers? Any other unsexy MVPs you can’t live without? Share the wealth below!





My epilator ruined my bikini line and it took years for me to get a handle on it again. It sounds like a cheap fix for hair removal, but it’s way more prone to give you ingrown hairs. A lot of times it doesn’t fully pluck the hairs out. They end up breaking close to or under the skin and that’s where the ingrowns come in.

For tweezing, I like using the Tweezerman hair remover that's shaped like an upside down V that you roll with your fingers to pull out your hairs. Aaaand I think I might need to go pick up a jar of Aquaphor since my heels are always a gross, cracked mess.

Oh what?? I need to try that out!

A giant bottle of drugstore aloe vera gel, a large tub of Aquaphor, and a drugstore-label nail polish remover that even removes glitter are my must-haves that I prefer to hide underneath the sink.

Hmm, all that may be true of epilation, but you don’t mention what I find to be the immediate side effect: ingrown hairs, some of which turn into dark infected huge painful spots. Thus, I’d prefer to leave the hair than epilate. I take it you’re one of the lucky few that doesn’t get this problem!

Ahh, I'm definitely not immune to ingrown hairs, sadly :(

I haven't found my ingrown hair troubles to particularly worsen with epilators though - more than shaving or waxing (which I also do). Maybe my efforts to exfoliate my legs more regularly are paying off?? Gonna have to keep an eye out!