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Splurge/Save: Beauty and Culture Writer Tembe Denton-Hurst Shares Her Top Skin, Makeup and Hair-Care Picks

Photo: Emma Trim/Courtesy of Tembe Denton-Hurst

Welcome to “Splurge/Save,” a series in which we quiz beauty obsessives about the top luxury (“splurge”) and drugstore (“save”) products in their routines.

Beauty and culture writer Tembe Denton-Hurst — who released her debut novel, “Homebodies,” this month — began her journey with the former years ago when she accompanied her mother to Macy’s. It was on this shopping trip that she purchased her first MAC product, and from then on she was hooked.

“I remember [my mom] taking me to MAC and getting me my first lip gloss, since I used to always steal hers. I always wanted her lip gloss specifically, because I was like, ‘I want my lips to be super juicy, super wet.’ I remember that so vividly,” she tells Fashionista.

Writing has also been something for which she’s had an affinity from a young age. “I was always a writer on my own,” she recalls. She now covers beauty, lifestyle and books for New York Magazine‘s The Strategist; years back, she was earnestly writing fiction. “I think I’ve always loved to write and I’ve written throughout my whole life, and always fiction, for whatever reason.” (Her literary debut, it’s worth noting, was called “sharp, charming and passionate” by a New York Times reviewer.)

By the time Denton-Hurst enrolled in school at St. John’s University, where she earned her master’s degree in English Literature, she was also interning at PopSugar. This opportunity would later turn into her official foray into beauty writing. 

“I remember being at PopSugar and I sat next to Lauren Levinson, who at the time was the beauty director for the site. Her desk was covered in mountains of product. I was amazed, I was starry-eyed,” she says. “I asked her a question about something on her desk and she [said], ‘Yeah, you’re a beauty girl, I can tell.'”

From that point on, Levinson asked Denton-Hurst to write beauty news stories, and she says the rest was history. Writing beauty stories with a cultural lens came later, following a stint at PopSugar as an assistant beauty editor. 

“After I left PopSugar and went to Nylon, I realized that that was something that I was able to do and they welcomed me doing that,” Denton-Hurst recalls. “Those were the kinds of things I was interested in. I think beauty is a really great entry point into a lot of bigger conversations around the way that our society functions and just in the way that people are.”

One thing she finds most exciting about beauty is the expansiveness of the industry right now: “I think we’ve really reached an interesting equilibrium between expertise and also democracy in a sense,” she says. “It’s evolving into this new ecosystem where there’s now more space for everybody… It’s just really interesting to watch everything come back around again, but in a way that feels fresh and new.”

Denton-Hurst describes her personal beauty routine as “pretty chill,” noting that it’s usually around three steps on a normal day, and four steps on a more effortful day. “I would say cleanse, moisturize, protect vibes. That’s pretty much the three-step,” she says.

Ahead, Denton-Hurst shares her top “splurge” and “save” beauty picks across a wide variety of categories. 

Photo: Emma Trim/Courtesy of Tembe Denton-Hurst

Skin-care tool/gadget: “I love my Tweezerman tweezers ($24). Those are my favorite. Those are probably my most-used beauty tool.”

“I love my NuFace ($449) — I think it really gives you that little snatched look right before an event. ​​I don’t use it every single day like people do, how you’re supposed to or whatever, but I feel like it gives you instantaneous results enough to where it tricks my brain into thinking that it did something.”

Mascara: “I actually don’t wear mascara because I get lash extensions. However, when I do wear mascara, very rarely, it’s going to be be L’Oréal Lash Paradise ($13). “

“Or Tower 28 MakeWaves Mascara ($20) – I love that stuff.”

Concealer:Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer ($11). Instant Age Rewind, that’s my girl.”

“I love the Kosas Revealer Concealer ($30). I think it’s a really good match, very dewy, glow-y and very skin-like. If I can’t just swipe it on and tap it in, then we’ve crossed the threshold beyond what I’m willing to do at this point. That’s why I love the Kosas one, because you just throw it on and go and it dries down very beautifully.”

Lip gloss: Essence’s lip gloss ($4) is insanely shiny. It is a little sticky, but for $4, that is the best lip gloss I’ve ever tried for $4. It’s so good. And they have different colors, but the clear, she is where it’s at.”

“I also like the Ami Colé ones ($20). Their brown lip gloss is one of the best shades I’ve ever come across in my entire life. It’s just overall very solid and all the colors are really, really good. 10 out of 10. And it’s the one lip gloss that whenever I wear it, without fail, people ask me, ‘What are you wearing?’ Everyone is curious.”

Acne treatment: “I really love pimple patches. I love the Hero Cosmetics ones ($13).”

“Then also, I love my exfoliator. I’ll use the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($34), everyone’s obsessed with that one.”

Hair product: “I like The Doux, their Mousse Def ($14) is good.”

“I love the Sienna Naturals’ HAPI Shampoo ($24). That stuff is my holy ground. I love it. It’s so moisturizing that I detangle my hair with the shampoo in, which is unheard of.”

Body wash: “On the cheaper end, you know Method that makes cleaning supplies? They also have really nice smelling body washes, specifically the men’s. They have all these really great scents. I use the Cedar and Cypress one ($9), and it smells so good.”

“I love the Necéssaire Body Wash ($25). It’s so good. I love the unscented one specifically. It’s just the perfect consistency and the perfect texture.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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