Saturday, November 29, 2008

Splurge...or Save? The Minimalist's Guide to Makeup

One of the troubles I have as a college student is budgeting my bank account. I've noticed that throughout the years, my tastes have become more and more high end...and I spend more and more. I remember in high school, I was excited when I bought my first powder compact--CoverGirl. Four years later, I wouldn't even consider putting that on my face.

Here's just an entry about what I've learned to splurge on, and what I skip instead. These may or may not work for you, but I find it's helpful to sort out priorities so you're not in the red everytime you pay your bills.

Splurge: Foundation, powder, concealer.
Flawless skin is the foundation to good makeup. You don't want to put things on your skin that aggravate your skin problems even more, so you'll end up wasting more money on skincare and makeup. Keep testing products until you find a brand that works for you. Don't be afraid to ask makeup counters for samples before you buy. What I've started to do is bring little sample jars with me to the makeup counters in department stores and squeeze the product in there for myself, so I have a decent amount of time to test it to see if it breaks me out, really works, etc. There's no way you can figure out if a foundation is right for you by just trying it once. Give it time.
However, do note that expensive does not always equal better. For example, I've heard that Everyday Minerals foundation works better than Bare Escentuals.

Save: Blush.
I've tried both high end blush and drugstore blush. Blush is an integral part of my makeup routine; without it I look sickly. Since it's something I use everyday, you might think that it should be a product to invest in. But no, unless you're a mime or stage performer, there is no need to buy expensive blush. Sure, the quality will differ, but quality isn't necessary when all you need is a tint of color on your cheeks.

Spluge: Brushes.
With makeup brushes, I started at the very low end--e.l.f., and missha (Korean brand). When I tried higher end brushes, there was a huge difference in the application comfort and result. Like with artists and paintings, your face will only be as good as the tools you use. So test out brushes before you buy them. Do your eyeshadow brushes have "resistance?" How dense are the hairs? With your face brushes, do they hurt/poke your skin when you put them on your face? How soft are they? Generally, MAC makes very good brushes, but they are expensive. I would say the basic brushes everyone should have are: a kabuki or flat buffer brush, an eyeshadow brush, an angle brush, a blush brush, and a concealer brush (which can also double as a lip brush).

Save: Q-tips, spoolies, sponges, cotton pads.
You see these all the time at makeup counters (not that they keep the testers sanitary). I gleefully help myself to them every time I visit a store, and stash them in my makeup bag. I use the spoolie for combing my false eyelashes and brushing out my eyebrows after defining them. The sponges are great for applying foundation--you can throw them away frequently and not feel guilty because they were free. As for Q-tips and cotton pads, they cost next to nothing, and they're some of the most effective makeup tools.

Splurge: Mascara.
I haven't had much luck with drugstore mascaras. The Maybelline Great Lash so many people swear by just smears everywhere on me. Waterproof mascaras smear on me. It took me forever to find a mascara I was satisfied with.
You can start at the drugstore with your mascara search, but whether you'll find your mascara there really just depends on your genetics. Do you have naturally long and full lashes? If so, you might not even have to splurge on mascara. Is your skin type normal or dry? If so, the drugstore brand might work for you. However, I would be open minded about buying more expensive mascara. Sephora has a 60 day money back guarantee on products even if you've used them. So take advantage of that to really find something that works for you.
Gals who find the drugstore brand works for them should definitely stick to them. Mascaras are one of those expendable products you're supposed to toss every 3 months, so if you don't need a pricey brand, there's no reason to get one.

Save: Eyeshadow.
If you're a minimalist like me, you probably don't wear eyeshadow very often anyway. But sometimes, I want a pop of bright color, or some contouring to define and deepen my eyes. Drugstore eyeshadows work just fine for this. My favorite brand is L'Oreal HIP eyeshadow; in my opinion, they're the most comparable with MAC in terms of pigmentation and quality. Also, NYX is good and offers a lot of color varieties. Don't get me wrong--the high end brands tend to work better. However, HIP and NYX will do, since eyeshadows tend to be one of those products you collect to get a wide range of colors.

Splurge: Eyeliner.
Eyeliner is a lot like mascara--whether a brand will work for you and not someone else depends on your genetics. If you have oily skin or watery eyes, I would splurge on an eyeliner that won't smear or run. If you don't have this problem, there are plenty of eyeliners that are cheap, yet go on very creamily. Wet'n'Wild and NYX are some examples.

Save: Lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm.
I'm not a fan of wearing lip stick or lip gloss. Lip products are not long wearing, and they require a lot of maintenance--constant reapplying. Also, they tend to be the products we lose the most. So, why pay $20 on that lipstick, if you can get a dupe at the drugstore?

Splurge: Fragrance.
Ever walk by someone who smells like "old lady," or just really cheap perfume/cologne? I am very sensitive to smell, and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's unpleasant odor. It gives me a headache, or a violent sneezing attack. So do yourself and those around you a favor, and don't scrimp on the perfume. Keep testing different brands until you find one that you like, and works with your skin chemistry. It is incredible how a good scent can directly uplift your mood (not to mention how many people will compliment you on how wonderful you smell).

Save: Eyebrow powder/eyebrow liner.
There's no need to go out and buy expensive eyebrow mascaras, powders, or pencils. You can easily find a color that works for you at the drugstore. I've used Wet'n'Wild pencils for years and they work great. Look for a shade that works for you, and you're set. When it comes to your eyebrows, you simply need to apply color sparingly, and always remember to use a spoolie to distribute the product so it looks natural. Brush the eyebrows in place with clear mascara (I use Maybelline) and clean up any excess with a q-tip if necessary.

I will do another one of these entries later on skin and body care. Happy December, everyone! Christmas is coming...

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