If I had a bottomless makeup budget, I’d be one happy girl, and purchase any and all products that piqued my interest and claimed to be the next best thing in the market. The truth is, like virtually all products, clever marketing and advertising would have you believe that makeup marked up several hundred percent, and sold by chic-looking, genetically-blessed sales reps in bright theater makeup, are well worth their sky-high price tags. While I’ll admit that some high-end products are truly unique, or have superior performance, there are hidden gems out there that work just as well, and sometimes even better than their pricier counterparts. Whether you’re an everyday woman who loves to wear makeup, or an aspiring makeup professional, these dupes and makeup shopping tips can save you a pretty penny. Here are a few of my favorites, plus some money-saving tips when shopping around for budget-friendly cosmetics.
I first discovered this powder when a saleswoman convinced me that it was the perfect powder to dab on to give a smooth, even finish, and to tell you the truth, I LOVED it! While I was incredibly thrilled with its microfine texture and performance, I was not thrilled with the price tag – $35 for a small jar! Luckily for that store, I just so happened to be on a spoil-myself-rotten shopping spree. While I enjoyed the product and used it all up, I could not bring myself to get a refill.
The bulky packaging and clumsy dispenser leave something to be desired, but the product itself is very similar to the one made by MUFE, and for the very reasonable price of just $6! (Note: Be careful when using excessive amounts of this product since its reflective qualities will cause a strong white cast in flash photography!).
From my experience, I’ve found that most women I’ve come across have used MAC’s Studio Fix at one point or another in their lives. While some continue to use it as their daily go-to powder foundation, others have given it up, largely because of its $27 price tag.
After using Mehron’s Celebre Pro cream foundations for my own professional kit (and LOVING them), I was pleased to find out that they came out with a pressed powder version of their highly pigmented product! This product is not necessarily advertised as a powder foundation, but because of its rich color and blendability, it can certainly do the job and provide, at minimum, medium coverage. Added bonus is that it’s oil free, and packed with ingredients that are beneficial for your skin. You won’t find this brand in the average makeup store, but at around only $15, it’s worth the hunt online or at your nearest professional cosmetics retailer.
As far as eye primers go, UD Primer Potion appears to be a consistent favorite among makeup lovers for prepping eyes before eyeshadow application. Use of an eye primer will not only help your eyeshadow to stay, but will also intensify the shadow colors. In the world of luxury cosmetics, its $20 price tag may not seem so bad…unless you compare it to its budget –friendly counterpart!
While packaging and dispensing are different than UD’s primers, you’ll find that the elf essential eyelid primer performs quite similarly to the UD Primer Potion. It also comes in a similar variety of colors, and also starts out as a cream, and dries into a silky finish. Best of all, it’s only $1!
One of the easiest money-makers for cosmetics companies is their highly-pigmented eyeshadows, available in every color of the rainbow and with a variety of finishes. Problem is if you’ve got a serious eyeshadow addiction, you’ll have to be willing to shell out double digits PER color. Lucky for you, there are a variety of highly pigmented, lesser known eyeshadows out there that will deliver similar results, and are even more cost-effective when purchased in palette form.
Inglot, Sleek Makeup, Ben Nye, and more! – Amazing eyeshadows with single-digit price tags!
What to look for?
There are TONS of great eyeshadows available out there, and this is how I find some of the best ones. If you’re lucky enough to have a physical tester available, you’ll want to test on the back of your hand for sanitary reasons (not directly on your face!). Check how easy the product is to pick up with a finger or applicator, how well it transfers to your skin, and check whether or not the product is chalky with excess fall out. Be on the lookout for a product that is finely milled and almost “creamy” in texture, that transfers easily onto your skin, and is vibrant and true-to-color. Surprisingly, some colors and finishes within the same brand can have different quality, so be open to exploring and cross-comparing similar colors among different brands to find the best ones.
One thing you’ll learn right away as a makeup-lover is that your tools are just as important as your cosmetics. If you’re afforded the luxury and resources of purchasing every “numbered” high-end brush out there, consider yourself very lucky! In the world of makeup, there’s a different brush for every type of application, and if you automatically purchase from expensive brands, you may find that little is left in your budget to purchase actual makeup! Are good-quality brushes important? Absolutely! Are all good-quality brushes expensive? Not necessarily!
Eco Tools, Real Techniques, Sigma, and even your art store!
What to look for?
Bristles that are soft to the touch, but sturdy and flexible, and can “hold” and easily transfer product evenly, zero-to-minimal shedding during use and washing.
I’m oftentimes flabbergasted at the price of mascaras. Whether priced at $1 or $100, the fact remains that they aren’t terribly different, and need to be thrown out every few months anyway. While some high-end brands have amazing reviews, there are some wonderful drug store brands available that consistently make the “Top Mascaras” lists.
Maybelline, NYX, Prestige, Revlon, and several other drug store brands make mascara that is a worthy competitor!
Some professional line mascaras also work wonderfully and are surprisingly reasonably priced such as Camera Ready, Cinema Secrets, Graftobian, and MUD.
What to look for?
Mascara that does not clump or glob after just a few uses, brushes on smoothly and evenly, layers evenly, and dries to a smudge/water-resistant finish.
While I could go on about budget-friendly makeup shopping, the one thing you should take from this if anything is not to let hefty price tags or clever marketing strategies persuade you into thinking you are purchasing a quality product. Be a wise shopper, let the product performance speak for itself, and you will have a makeup stash that won’t fail you or your budget!