Products to spend on and where to save

Spend Save Graphic


Fat stacks. Make it rain. It’s all about the benjamins. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. You won’t be able to live in a gangster’s paradise if you don’t save some money when it comes to your makeup collection.
I will tell you where I think it’s worth it to spend and on the contrary, where you can still get effective products and save some cheddar. Cheese. Mmm.

When it comes to where to spend, here is what and why:

  • Blush–Pricier blushes are more pigment-rich, apply silkier and wear much longer. They are also more finely-milled, making their texture silky as opposed to gritty or chalky. Smashbox and Tarte’s blushes are great quality.


  • Powder Shadow–Like the blushes, these will be more pigmented, silkier-textured and you will use much less to achieve good color payoff. Urban Decay, Smashbox, Too Faced and LORAC make excellent shadows.


  • Foundation–With foundation, you are paying for pigment. You are going to use less of a quality foundation and the shade range will likely be more diverse, allowing you to find your most accurate match. For example, if you are yellow or olive-toned like myself, good luck finding a drugstore foundation that matches. Trust me–I’ve tried. I use NARS Sheer Glow foundation and I adore it. I have dry skin and it works great for me. If you’re oily, look at Make Up For Ever Mat VelvetUrban Decay Naked Skin tends to work great for combination types. If you’d like to use the same foundation that I use on my clients, and many other makeup artists do too, see this cult classic from maker RCMA. It offers the best coverage and looks like real skin.


  • Primers–Because these products will be the barrier between your skin and foundation, you want a quality and chemical-free product on your skin. Cheaper alternatives may clog pores and cause breakouts. I love Smashbox Photo Finish Primer if you prefer a mattifying, silicone-based primer. If you’re dry, or like a dewier look, Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentrate is where it’s at. Plus, doubles as a makeup remover and moisturizer. For eye primers, look no further than the best I’ve ever encountered, Urban Decay’s Primer Potion in Eden.


  • Brushes–While you can certain find some great, affordable brushes, as a whole, more expensive brushes tend to be made with more quality materials. The ferrule, metal part, is often more secure, the handles longer and lacquer-dipped rather than plastic, and the bristles less-prone to shedding. A good set of brushes can last you half a lifetime if properly cared for. Though many affordable brushes are effective, you will end up replacing them more often. I have enjoyed the Sephora Professional line, Japonesque and Sigma Beauty.


  • Skincare–When it comes to your skin, you won’t get any re-do’s. With very few exceptions, a vast majority of drugstore skincare contains pore-clogging mineral oil, parabens, preservatives and other cheap fillers. Effective ingredients like omega fatty acids, retinols, glycolic and lactic acid, antioxidants, etc. are more expensive therefore many mass market products do not contain them, or at least not enough to be effective. Some skincare lines that I love are Derma e and Murad.

When it comes to where to save, here is where you can do so without sacrificing quality:

  • Mascara–You should switch out your mascara every 3 months or so making mascara something you’ll want to save on. Plus, some of my very favorite mascaras have been from the drugstore. Drugstore mascaras absolutely deliver. My very favorites are the original L’oreal Voluminous and L’oreal Voluminous Miss Manga.



  • Liner–Liner is another item that you go through quickly and that needs to be kept fresh to be sanitary. That’s why it’s great when you can save on liners. I’ve talked about Maybelline Line Stiletto a lot and their Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner is awesome too.



  • Nailpolish–Tell me the last time you finished a whole bottle of nailpolish? That’s what I thought. With nail trends changing so often, it just makes sense to save on your polish collection. I’ve had nice luck with Sonia Kashuk, Sinful Colors, Sally Hansen and Wet n’ Wild believe it or not!


  • Lipstick/Gloss–Lipstick and/or lipgloss wears quickly. You talk, drink, eat and reapply it several times throughout the day. If you want to be able to afford a nice little lipstick wardrobe, stick with drugstore! Revlon and Loreal make creamy lipsticks in great colors that stand the test of time. I think you know how I feel about Revlon’s Colorburst Lip Butters. Loreal’s lipsticks have this wonderful, nostalgic smell that they haven’t changed. I remember smelling my mom’s tube of Plum Brulee. Also a color they haven’t changed! Loreal Colour Riche in British Red is my favorite bright red. I wore it in my drugstore pinup post. I also really enjoy NYX Butter lipstick and Butter Gloss.

Did you make it all the way to the bottom of this post?! Damn. You’re a trooper. Well since you did, here is a picture of Pixel saving up some allowance money.


1 Comment

  1. Marie Martin

    06/16/2013 at 10:57 AM

    I still have my mom’s Cherries in the Snow (just to smell it, and remind me of her)!

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