Written by makeup artist @MissCooooooool
I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from people about my first makeup post on 20poorandfabulous and I want to extend a sincere “THANK YOU” to everyone that read it. Makes me feel warm fuzzies inside.
There are thousands of products out there ranging from $3 at the drugstore to $75 at Sephora that claim to do the same thing. “Is it worth it?” is a question a lot of people wonder about expensive products. Even seasoned makeup-doers question if the $3 version of the $75 product will perform just as well. As many of the readers of this blog are in their 20s, poor, and trying to stay as fabulous as they can with post-grad-trying-to-pay-back-loans budgets, I’m going to be offering up some solid advice on whether certain products are worth the extra money.
This is going to be a two part blog. The first part will be devoted to makeup and the second part will cover skin care and makeup tools, including a brush-by-brush breakdown. I’ve tried everything on this list and I’ll give you my honest opinion on if you need to drop the $$$ or not. Sit back, take notes, and enjoy.
MAC Pro Longwear Foundation $31 at Nordstroms
Revlon ColorStay Foundation $9.98 at Walmart
Verdict: Spend the $$$. There is a reason why it’s called “foundation.” It is the base for your whole makeup look. You’re paying for so much more than just a layer of skin colored goo. You want a product that blends with your skin, matches the coolness/warmness/neutrality of your skin tone, and covers only as much as you need it to cover, not more or less. You’re also paying money to know that once you apply it, it’s not going anywhere. I’m not saying that MAC is going to have your right foundation, but you should be willing to try a few brands to find your right product. Lancome, Urban Decay, Bobbi Brown, and MAC are some of the best foundation brands out there. Don’t worry about “what if I end up hating it?” Stores and counters will color match you, give you samples, and have a generous return policy even if you return it partially used.
MAC Select Cover Concealer $18 at Macy’s
L’Oreal True Match Concealer $5.29 at Target
Verdict: Spend the $$$. Much like foundation, concealer is important. You’re paying for a color that matches your skin tone perfectly, a product that corrects and covers well, and a product that will last all day. You don’t need to use concealer from the same brand as your foundation, but you do need to use a concealer that will cover target areas. Some concealers are better for dark circles, some are better for blemishes. Talk to a makeup artist at Sephora, MAC, or Bobbi Brown about what problem areas you want to conceal.
Urban Decay Naked BB Cream $34 at UrbanDecay.com
Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector B.B. Cream $12.99 at Ulta
Verdict: Spend the $$$. As it turns out, I’m allergic to Garnier facial products, but aside from that, Urban Decay is better. In fact, it’s the best. I use BB cream in place of primer because of its added SPF. You want a BB cream that melts into the skin and provides a nice base for your foundation. The Garnier had a chalky finish that sat on my skin and messed with the finish of my foundation. No, thanks.
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer $36 at Smashbox.com
Revlon PhotoReady Perfecting Primer $10.99 at Target
Verdict: Save your $. Primer has been a mainstream makeup product for a while now and it’s pretty easy to find a primer that will work for you. You will still need to try a few if you have oily skin, but most people with “normal” skin should be just fine with a basic primer. Just keep an eye out for breakouts for the first week or two and be ready to try something new if you react poorly to a primer.
Eye Shadow Primer
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion $20 at UrbanDecay.com
NYX High Definition Eye Shadow Base $7 at NYXcosmetics.com
Verdict: Spend the $$$. Eyeshadow primer is a must and a good primer can turn even the cheapest shadows into workable products. There’s a reason why Urban Decay’s Primer Potion is everywhere: it’s the best out there. They have formulas that absorb oil if you are prone to oily lids. Sadly, I’m allergic to this primer and I’m still on a mission to find a good primer that doesn’t make me look like I got punched in the eye. But, my eyeshadow looked great all day before the allergic reaction!
Urban Decay Naked Ultra Definition Loose Finishing Powder $34 at UrbanDecay.com
L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Powder $8.99 at Target
Verdict: Save your $. You want a finishing powder that is light and blendable. With anything powder based, you want to avoid anything chalky, as they are near impossible to blend smoothly. Drugstore powders were once upon a time cheap and chalky, but companies are now making products with better ingredients and they look really nice on the skin.
Nars Blush in Sin $30 at Sephora
Coastal Scents Forever Blush in Romantic $7.95 at CoastalScents.com
Verdict: Save your $, but be careful. I tried two blushes in as close to the same color as I could get. I absolutely adore Nars “Sin” and I wear it everyday, but the Coastal Scents “dupe” is just as good. It is possible to find duplicate colors of high end blushes for less money that apply just as nicely. Coastal Scents, ELF, and NYX have some great blushes, but keep in mind the color payout varies from shade to shade. As with finishing powder, avoid anything cakey and chalky.
MAC Bronzing Powder in Refined Matte Bronze $25 at Macy’s
Physicians Formula Magic Mosaic in Light Bronzer $13.99 at Ulta
Verdict: Spend the $$$. Bronzers are a delicate science. Using the wrong bronzer can make your face look unnaturally tan (read: orange) or even dirty. Yep, bronzer can end up looking like dirt. Most women buy whatever shade of bronzer they find and call it a day, but there are different shades and finishes of bronzer that women should be aware of. I like MAC bronzers because they have shades that will suit every skintone. Keep in mind, some bronzers are better for all over bronzing and some are better for countouring. Ask a pro for color matching.
Urban Decay Naked2 Palette $52 at Sephora
Coastal Scents 88 Original Palette $19.95 at CoastalScents.com
Verdict: Spend the $$$ but you can save your $, too I guess. Buckle up for this one, because I’ve got opinions. I thought about how to compare inexpensive shadows to expensive shadows for a long time. Comparing palettes is probably the best way to show how cheap shadows are almost worth buying, but not quite. Eye shadows are easy to produce. It’s easy to make them look beautiful and colorful in the package, but it’s all about what they do on your eyelids that matters. Companies like Coastal Scents that produce giant palettes are wonderful and terrible at the same time. They have palettes that boast 88 colors for $19.95, which sounds like a great deal compared to spending $52 for 12 colors from Urban Decay. But of those 88 colors, you might get some/mostly chalky shadows, and maybe 20 will have true color payout and then you only get a dime sized amount of them. What is color payout? Color payout means the color in the pan is the color that you get when you apply it. A good primer can make those shadows workable, but you’ll end up needing to layer a lot of the product to get the look you want and that means you’ll go through it faster. With palettes like the UD Naked brand, you are guaranteed full color payout from every single color without needing to layer and you get a generous amount of each shadow. I guess what I’m saying is yeah, you can make a cheap eye shadow look good, but you’re gonna work for it. You might be better off spending a little more money to get a better over all value.
Eye Liner – Liquid/Gel
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Black $20 at Sephora
Rimmel Glam Eyes Precise Design Liquid Eyeliner in Black $5.79 at Walgreens
Verdict: Save your $, unless you want a wide variety of colors. I love a sleek winged liner. It’s mod, glam, rock n roll, sexy, demure, and sophisticated all at the same time. Rimmel’s liner was actually really great. The brush made precise lines and it lasted all day and night. ELF has a great gel liner if you don’t like using liquid. Look for a liner that will give you a precision brush or felt tip and will give you a true black color. The only downside to drugstore liquid liners is if you’re looking for other colors, especially bright colors, you won’t find much other than black, brown, and navy. Stila has them all beat with delicious colors like cobalt, periwinkle, purple, emerald, fuchsia, grey, white, and brown.
Eye Liner – Pencil
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion $20 at UrbanDecay.com
CoverGirl Queen Collection Vivid Impact Eyeliner Pencil in Midnight $8.99 at Walgreens
Verdict: Save your $ for a simple black or brown liner, unless you want funky colors. If you just need a simple black or dark brown liner, go with CoverGirl on this one. I was super impressed with how pigmented it was and how long it lasted. I’ve been into bright liner lately, and Urban Decay can’t be beat with their 40 color options. When they say 24/7, they mean it!
Dior “Diorshow” Mascara in Black $25 at Nordstrom
L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara in Black $5.89 at Target
Verdict: Save your $. I was very unimpressed by the Diorshow mascara, so much so that I returned it. For almost five times the price of my usual mascara, it was pretty disappointing, which is surprising because most women rave about Diorshow. I go through so much mascara that spending anything above $10 is stupid. It’s a product that you should be replacing every 2 months. There are some great drugstore mascaras out there. Maybelline Great Lash and Falsies are ones that you should check out, too.
MAC Lipstick in Japanese Maple $16 at Macy’s
Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Soft Nude $6.99 at Target
Verdict: Oh man, I can’t decide. Spend the $$$ and save your $…? It depends on what color you have in mind. The Revlon Colorburst line has been discontinued which made me so angry. Their Soft Nude color was the perfect nude and the only true nude color for fair skin that I’ve seen at drugstores. Why is it so hard to get a nude color that isn’t a mid-toned brown at the drugstore? I actually took the Revlon Soft Nude to MAC before I ran out to get a duplicate, which led me to Japanese Maple. If you have a specific color in mind, head to the makeup counter where you can try on a bunch of colors before you buy (and have the makeup artists disinfect the lipstick before you apply it.) You’re taking a chance when you buy a drugstore lip color but that doesn’t mean they’re not good colors.
Next up: I’ll be comparing drugstore to high end skin care products and makeup-ing tools. I’ll be going through makeup brushes, from powder brushes to eyeliner brushes. Thanks for reading, you beautiful faces, you!
Tweet me @MissCooooooool (that’s 8 Os) with any makeup questions!