Monday, March 24, 2014

When to Splurge and When to Save?!

When it comes to cosmetics, the amount of money one is willing to spend on them literally comes down to that old saying "to each his own".  However with that being said, at some point we all have to know when we are reaching our limit of ridiculousness. While I might be willing to spend good money on foundation if I can't find a comparable drug store brand, I am also not willing to spend hundreds of dollars knowing other exist much cheaper.  Remember, while bad skin will make even the best of makeup look crappy on your face, just because you buy expensive brand names doesn't mean it will pull magic either.  Also, keep in mind just because you buy higher or lower end makeup doesn't mean anyone will really know.  One one really can tell when you are wearing Chanel expect for you or unless you tell someone. So lets look at some makeup items that you can consider saving or splurging on!!

1. Mascara (Save)

Ah, mascara! The things created by the gods!! Mascara is such a beautiful makeup item, that it literally transformers your whole face in an instant! This baby will change the way your eyes look without having to pay a pretty penny to a plastic surgeon! However with all that being said, lets get real! Mascara is mascara! No matter what promises cosmetic companies make on how it will grow your lashes, or make them fuller, or have then turn upside down so now you blink backwards...whether.....its all nonsense. Mascara is more or less made up of the same formula and basically do just about the same thing.  Yes there are things like just straight up crappy mascara that flakes, runs or clumps lashes.  However with all that being said, if the formula is ok, the next thing to consider is the wand....

When buying mascara make sure you do your reviews ahead of time about what people are saying when it comes to the application. A crappy wand will make lashes clump, stick together and make you look like Tammy Faye Bakker!  Unless you are are still living in the 80s, no one wants that look (or well at least I hope not)!!  Try to buy a mascara that helps to coat and separate all lashes.  While we all may want thicker, fuller lashes, however nothing says cheap like lashes that look like you haven't taken off your mascara in days and now your lashes are literally glued together! 

Lastly keep in mind mascara needs to be replaced every 3-4 months to avoid bacteria build up and eye infections.  If all else fails, think about it like you really want to spend $40-$60 dollar on something that need's to be toss out and has a shorter life span then house flies?!

Recommendations: Mascara
Low End - L'oreal & Rimmel
High End - Prescriptives & Armani

2. Foundation (Both)

When it comes to foundation; its a tricky thing.  High end foundations offer an amazing blendable coverage that at times surpasses many drugstore brands.  However many of these same low end drugstore foundations are really stepping up their game. A drugstore foundation that keeps impression everyone is L'oreal's True Match Foundation.  Due to its great qualities, it has been noted that it is highly comparable to expensive name brand foundations.

However with all that being said, part of the main problem with drugstore brands is the inability to properly test them out when it comes to color matching.   You want to be able to feel the texture and see how well it blends into your face and skin tone.  This goes the same for either liquid or powder foundation.  Also, keep in mind, if the color or texture after buying it doesn't work for you, many high end stores/brands will exchange or refund your money.  Many drugstores won't.  So its best you go to an actual makeup counter and ask a sales lady to help match your color.  Now if you actually know your color and happen to be one of those lucky people that are dead on key, then you might just work well with picking up a drugstore brand that you know the color will match you perfectly.  

Lastly, Sephora is great for allowing people to test and match their skin color to the foundation they want.  Also, in Canada we have a store call Shoppers Drugmart where there are actual cosmetic employees who can help match you with either high end or low end foundation.  So look around and shop for what you feel fits your face tone and budget!

A small tip: be mindful of the alcohol content when buying foundation.  A lot of low and high end foundations have this as an ingredient in their formulas.  You want to steer clear of this as alcohol breaks down the collagen in your face.

Recommendations: Foundation
Low End - Avon, L'oreal & Maybelline
High End - Makeup Forever, Chanel & Armani

3. Eyeshadow (Splurge)

 I will admit I was torn with this.  I personally own high end and low end eyeshadow.  However, I have noticed with my low end eyeshadows; while the palettes have beautiful colors and at times blend well, they still don't hold up as much as my higher end ones. Also my lower end ones tend to crease or attempt too.  Thank you eye primer for changing my life.   When it comes to eyeshadow for me it needs to blend well, apply easily without to much fall out and look sharp from near or far.  I have only ever gotten this with my higher end shadows.  So I would say splurge but keep in mind a $20-$30 dollar palette works just as well as a $60 dollar one.  At the end of the day it is still just eyeshadow.  Be mindful on how much you are spending if  the brand name one you have is a bit less then the other brand name one's which is basically giving you the same results.  

Recommendations:  Eyeshadow
Low End - L'oreal & E.L.F.  
High End - Urban Decay & Dior 

4. Eyeliner (Save)

Eyeliner is like mascara...its eyeliner.  Whether you use a gel, soft pencil, liquid or a kohl pencil, they are more or less made out of the same waxy stuff.  Its best you save in this area and invest on some good drugstore product ones. Liquid eyeliners like gel eyeliners dry up and have to be tossed out within 4-5 months.  Kohl and regular soft pencil eyeliners can last longer.  However again all the same material the higher end brands are selling are found in the lower end brands. 

Recommendations:  Eyeliner
Low End - L'oreal & Maybelline  
High End - Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) & M.A.C.

5. Lipstick & Lipgloss (Save)

Lipstick and lipgloss is tricky.  While both these items can be found in both high and low end makeup brands, nonetheless what you want to look out for is the texture, creaminess and pigmentation.  Also, drugstore lipsticks now a days has an amazing texture to them that are also at times impossible to tell apart for higher name brands.  The only thing I would say to be carefully with is lipgloss.  I have seen that much cheaper lipglosses leave with you that film over your lips that gets caught in your hair and leaves that race car streak across your face.  Make sure to research your lipgloss before you buy it regardless of what name brand it comes from.   While this is most prominent in lower brands, nonetheless L'oreal and E.L.F. really kick it out the park with their amazing lip products. 

Recommendations:  Lipstick/Lipgloss
Low End - Covergirl, L'oreal & E.L.F.  
High End - M.A.C., Armani, Chanel & Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)

6. Blush (Save)

Blush in the last few years has been made so well that you can basically find a good product in either the high end or low end of cosmetic brands.  The majority of blushes regardless of the name brand have good pigmentation, long stay wear and blend well on your cheeks.  Very few blushes are matted so the majority you buy will have some shine to it.  Because you know, we all love to shine like rockstars.  (not really)!

Try to look for blushes that have color that will work well with your natural skin tone.  Nothing says fake like blushes that give you a very unnatural "blush" to your cheeks.  Also, tip of advise...blend it in well.  Nobody looks good with clown makeup across their face.  Blush needs to be sheered out as you apply it.  Even if you build it up, make sure you blend it in properly so that you see no harsh lines.  You should not be able to tell where blush starts or end.  In order to achieve this, you need to have proper makeup brushes.  Don't use the brushes that come with the blush compact.  Those provide no real coverage and leave you with that ever so lovely race car streak across your face.  So buy a good blush brush to blend your makeup in with!     

Recommendations: Blush
Low End - NYX Cosmetics & Avon/Avon Mark 
High End - Nars, Hourglass & Bobbi Brown

7. Nail Polish (Save)

I will admit, I normally don't paint my nails.  Yet when I do, I only paint them either a very neutral color or the famous french manicure.  You can now find nail polish in every color under the sun and beyond.  Back in the days, lower end quality nail polish had horrible consistency and colors to them.  Now with the majority low and high end brands; its hard to tell them apart.  With so many dupes out there, you really don't need to spend a pretty penny in order to get the color(s) you want.  However with all that being said, if you plan to buy a nail polish that you have never tried, either google it and/or try it out first.  With google being the power engine of information for everything, you can now review every product online before buying.  So save on nail polish but review it first you so know what you are getting in regards to color and texture.  

Remember all nail polish will eventually chip and fade unless its Shellac which last for two weeks with no signs of deterioration.  So before you blow $40 bucks on a bottle, keep that mind.      

Recommendations: Nail Polish
Low End - Sally Hansen & OPI 
High End - Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) & Chanel

8. Concealer (Splurge)

Concealers are awesome for people who need to hide dark spots or circles, redness, scars, acne and so.  While foundation is available to help with these problems, however at times it take a little extra help to cover things up.  When it comes to concealers, the goal is to find one that is close enough to your skin tone.  While some believe you should go a few shades lighter or one shade darker, this doesn't always work well with everyone.  I personally use a peach/salmon colored concealer from Sephora which does the trick amazingly.  

Whatever brand you plan to use, know this.  Not all concealers are made like.  You really need to test them out just like foundation.  You need to find one that is creamy, blends well and is your shade.  Unless you are planning to highlight (which is another area we cover in this post) try to find a shade that well work for you and the problem areas you are trying to cover up on your face.  Remember concealer is not foundation, so don't use to much or it will look cakey, fake and highlight the lines on your face.  

Finally, always set your concealer with a finely milled powder (another topic in this post) so that it doesn't move, settle into your fine lines or cake up.  

Recommendations: Concealer
Low End - L'Oreal & Maybelline 
High End - Sephora, Cle de Peau Beaute & Chanel
9. Makeup Brushes (Splurge)

Let me preface by saying this.  While I believe in spending money on makeup brushes, I don't believe in spending GOOD money on makeup brushes.  Allow me to explain.  A set of good makeup brushes will literally revolutionize your makeup application.  It wasn't until after I bought my set of Blank Canvas Cosmetics (BCC) makeup brushes did I see the massive change in my makeup.  Even my foundation looks flawless now!!  However with all that being said, while it has been noted that M.A.C. and Sephora make excellent makeup brushes, you will never catch me dead paying $40 and up for just ONE brush.  If you are going to spend GOOD money on brushes then spend it wisely.  Nothing against M.A.C. or Sephora, but come on.  Let's get real its a brush and not the hair of God almighty himself on the brush head.

Two great companies for excellent makeup brushes that are affordable and you can buy them in a kit or separately are BCC and Sigma Beauty.  I would recommend you check their sites out and google them before you blow money for the same excellent quality but just at a better rate.

Recommendation: Makeup Brushes
Low End: E.L.F. & Sonia Kashuk
High End: Sigma Beauty, Blank Canvas Cosmetics, Sephora and M.A.C.   

10. Bronzer (Both)

Bronzer is one of the greatest makeup products ever made on earth!!  It can give you that natural sun kissed look...when applied right.  However when you over do it, you can look like someone's shake and bake dinner.  When looking for bronzer, make sure you try it on FIRST before you buy it.  Just because it looks pretty in the compact doesn't mean it will look good on you.  The key is to apply bronzer on the right parts of your face so you stand out with a healthy glow.  You need to make sure that your bronzer gives you a NATURAL sun kissed look around the hallows of your cheeks, temples and forehead and not a muddy or burnt effect.  Bronzer should not look blotchy or streaky, have no shine to it, blend in well with blush and seem like natural skin color.  I have found that both high and low end bronzers work as long as you follow the rules above when buying the products and applying them.    

Recommendations:  Bronzer
Low End - NYX Cosmetics & E.L.F.  
High End - Trish McEvoy, Too Faced & M.A.C.

11. Facial Highlighter (Splurge)

Ever since Kim Kardashian put contouring and highlighting for makeup back on the map, companies have been jumping on the bang wagon and for good reason. A facial highlighter can be a liquid or a powder that is used on certain parts of your face where light naturally hits to highlight that area. These areas are normally around the cheek bones, around the tops of the eyebrows, down the bridge of the nose, the forehead, chin and on the tops of your jawbone along the sides of your face. Normally highlighting powders would be applied last after all your makeup is done and liquid highlighters would be applied after foundation and before you set your make with your face powder.

When it comes to facial highlighters, its important to keep certain things in mind.  First, make sure you blend your highlighter well into your skin so that it doesn't look obvious.  While it is known that light will highlight certain parts of your face naturally, you don't want to seem like a disco ball either.  Also, remember highlighters come in different colors.  Pick one that goes with your skins undertone.  If not you run the risk of looking to pink or yellow in those parts of your face.  Lastly, some highlighters no matter how well you blend them in will sparkle to much.  Don't make your highlighter look obnoxious.  Make sure it looks subtle.   Nothing says cheap and trying to hard like obnoxious highlighter.  Its suppose to look "natural"....remember that!! But come on, how natural is it really at the end of the day :-)

Recommendations: Facial Highlighter
Low End - Physicians Formula & E.L.F.   
High End - Hourglass, Cle de Peau Beaute, Dior & Benefit 

12. Pen Highlighter (Splurge)

While pen highlighters can also be classified as facial highlighters, however if you contour and highlight, using a powder or sparkling liquid highlighter for this process might not work so well as you are applying your makeup.

Pen highlighters are use to highlight around certain parts of the face as mentioned above, plus underneath the eyes.  You really don't want to put powder underneath there unless you are setting your concealer.  A pen highlighter is normally creamy and easy to blend into your skin.  However do note, just like with normal facial highlighters, with pens you want to make sure that you blend that sucker in well.  If not you run the risk of looking like you drew lines across your face.  Trust me....I should know.  I pulled that off the first time I used my YSL pen highlighter. I would recommend you get a pen with a highlighting effect, a small amount of shimmer and 2-3 shades lighter then your skin tone.  Remember you are not going for a disco ball effect but for a "wow your face looks fresh, awaken and alive" effect!  

Recommendations: Highlighter 
Low End - Maybelline
High End - Chanel, M.A.C. & Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)

13. Facial Illuminators (Both)

Illuminators are used to wake up the whole face.  You would normally apply this after you put on your primer and before your foundation.  You can also apply this all by itself with no makeup for a "natural" day or night look with a slight glow to your skin.  Some even help to blur imperfections and fill in fine lines.  Illuminators normally have a iridescent pearl like effect in order to make your face seem flawless and slightly shine and sparkle with subtly.  

You can also mix your foundation with an illuminator in order to give you a glowing dewy look effect on your skin.  It helps if you are not looking for a matte finish that day.  The only caution with illuminators is that you need to be careful if you are too heavy handed.  If you apply to much you might look to lite up and unnatural.       

Recommendations: Illuminators 
Low End - Sonia Kashuk
High End -Victoria Secret & Nars

14. Powder (Depends)

Now you might be asking why this category on loose powders came up as it "depends".  Well here is my reasoning.  First, I love powder, especially loose powder.  Powder helps to set your makeup.  You can either get powder in loose or pressed form.  You can also buy setting powder to help set your foundation and finishing powder to be applied all over your face once your whole makeup look is complete.  However with all that being said, no matter what powder you buy always remember to look for one thing.  Make sure it is finely milled.  I mean pulverized to the point that it looks and feels like magic.  The less pulverized it is, the more of that "I threw cooking flour on my face" look you will get.  Nothing says "eh" when you look like you just stepped out of a bakery shop and took all the white flour with you on your face.  I have seen very good low end and very bad high end powders that were not properly finely milled.  

Before you buy any powder make sure to try it out.  Once you apply it on your face, you will see if it settles into your fine lines or if it gives you that cake like effect on your face.  Don't just buy any powder just cause.  Always make sure to go for the proper ones that will give you a flawless look and finish and no powder will be noticeable even up close.      

Recommendations: Powders 
Low End - L'Oreal & Maybelline
High End -Chantecaille, Chanel & Armani
15. Setting Spray (Depends)

When it comes to setting sprays I really walk a fine line with this one.  While I love the fact that setting sprays hold your makeup in place all day long without bugging even in the hottest July summer.  This is only achievable due to the amount of alcohol these sprays contain.  Someone once dubbed them as "facial hairspray" because in fact some of these sprays have ingredients that almost mimic real hairspray.  However with that being said, the only one without alcohol is M.A.C. Fix+ spray.  It gets rid of any powder look on your face after you set your makeup and helps to "hold" your makeup in place.  I will admit, while it does get rid of the powder look, it really doesn't help to much with holding anything in place.  Nonetheless it smells great and leaves my skin feeling nice.  The only other one I read that doesn't have such a high contain of alcohol like the rest of them is Urban Decay and E.L.F.  While they still do have alcohol in them, however its not as bad as the rest.  

So while I don't use my Urban Decay on a deal basis, however for the hot summer or long nights, it works.  However, when it comes to my M.A.C. spray, that goes on my face everyday.      

Recommendations: Setting Spray 
Low End - E.L.F.
High End - M.A.C. & Urban Decay

16. Foundation Primer (Both)

Foundation primer is literally a God sent.  Foundation primer will keep your makeup in place all day long.  It works wonders like I have never seen.  Don't get me wrong, at some point your makeup will come off, nonetheless it last throughout a whole 8-10 hour day without disappearing or needing a touch up.  If you wear expensive foundation then this is worth using to making it last.  I for one hate to touch up my makeup.  So when I started using foundation primer it literally changed the way my makeup went on.  I highly recommend foundation primer if you want a long lasting look.   

Recommendations: Primers 
Low End - NYX Cosmetics & Maybelline
High End - Smashbox, M.A.C. & Hourglass

17. Eyeshadow Primer (Both)

I love eyeshadow primer.  Since using eyeshadow primer I have NEVER had to touch up my eyeshadow.  It helps to make it go on smoothly, does not crease and allows the colors and pigments to look bold and vibrant.  Eyeshadow primer comes in many different shades for those who may not want to put eyeshadow on that day, but need a little tint for their eyes.  However once you apply eyeshadow over it, forget about even seeing it.  I have seen both low and high end brands work just as well.  I would recommend eyeshadow primer for anyone who doesn't want to be bothered all day with touching up their eyeshadow.  

Recommendations: Eyeshadow Primer 
Low End - NYX Cosmetics & Palladio Beauty
High End - Urban Decay & Too Faced

18. Sunscreen (Depends)

First, sunscreen should be your number one beauty item above all things.  Not using sunscreen will cause premature signs of aging, dark spots and thick skin.  I never leave the house without facial sunscreen on.  NEVER!  Second, when looking for a facial sunscreen make sure it has SPF 30 or higher and that it has broad spectrum protection which covers from both the UVA & UVB rays.  Not having broad spectrum protection leaves your skin vulnerable to sun damage and skin cancer.   It doesn't matter the brand name when it comes to sunscreen.  What does matter if it has the above mentioned items.

Also, don't rely on your makeup to protect you from the sun even if it says it contains SPF protection.  A few studies done revealed that if you rely on your make for SPF protection you would have to apply it every two hours and six times over in order to actually get the SPF protection you need.  So basically get a separate sunscreen and when applying it, don't mix it in with any other products. Apply it alone and let it dry to get the best protection.   

Recommendations: Sunscreen 
Low End - Yes To
High End - SkinCeuticals, Clinique & Clarins

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  1. Of course I love cosmetics - and some that I buy are expensive and a few are from the drug store - love your article - thank you :)

  2. That was such a detailed post, thanks for sharing it. I rarely wear makeup. When I do its some foundation, concealer and eyeliner. There's only been the concealer that I'll willingly spend a lot on. Most others come from the drug store! When it comes to nail polish, I've found that a tiny bit of polish remover in with the polish helps to unclog it when it's been left for too long, and gives the impression it cost more than it really did :)


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