Friday, February 22, 2013

On Cosmetics.

Disclaimer : If you're a guy or you don't wear makeup, this post will bore you to tears. I don't spend a lot of time doing my makeup but I feel like I've learned a little bit about what's good and what's not and wanted to share it with those of you who care to know!

I've always loved doing my makeup. I think it's because I like to paint and color and shade and draw. And makeup is like a big box of crayons.  I've been wearing makeup since I was teenager, so I can only imagine the $$ I've spent trying different brands, shades etc.

My problem is - I always go for the cheap makeup that tends to look better in the packaging than it does on my face only to result in a hoard of cosmetics collecting dust in a corner of my bathroom cupboard. The problem with cheap makeup (anything in the $7 and under range) is that it looks cheap. It may look alright freshly applied, but a few hours in and everything has either faded or looks what I describe as "messy" - especially when it comes to cheap eyeshadow. The same could be said of cheap clothes - you get what you pay for. Spend the extra $$ and it tends to fit better and last longer than bargain brands.

Well I got to a point about a month ago where I felt like buying the cheapo brands was actually costing me more because I was having to replace it frequently, and there was a greater chance that after trying it out once I wouldn't want to use it again which equals total waste. One of my biggest gripes was with mascara - which tends to either clump and/or flake off throughout the day. I decided to try out some of Sephora's brand after falling in love with one of their products. I also had a gift card there from Christmas, so perfect. Turns out - going expensive isn't always the best either.

What I've learned is this:  

Covergirl and Mabeline ($5-7 range) are the best for your money brands in terms of affordable makeup. Anything that costs less than these brands is going to be pretty poor quality, even though its cheaper. L'Oreal's products ($9-11 range) are better quality for not much more money - at least in my experience. So now I generally skip CG and Mabelline and go for L'Oreal. Unless it something like a cover stick, in which case I go cheaper.

One thing to completely avoid are those all all-in-one makeup kits - you know, the ones with about 30 different shades of eyeshadow and 5 lip glosses.  Unless it's a high end brand it's definitely going to be super cheap quality and you'll never end up using it. I speak from experience here.

Speaking of experience, I don't know much about higher end brands like Chanel or Clinique. I've never been able to afford them but I assume they're better quality. A friend of mine has a tube of red Chanel lipstick and it always looks flawless. That said, one thing I learned the hard way that a higher price tag doesn't always equal significant difference in performance. But more on that in a minute.

For those of you who  are interested, here's what I'm currently using and why:

1. Foundation + Primer

I only use foundation (and spot stick) under my eyes so I'm not too picky when it comes to brands. I have a bottle of Covergirl Visalift that's a liquid foundation but it's a little too orangy for my pale skin, so I mix it with a lighter shade of a Covergirl spot stick.

I had one of my best friends do my makeup for my wedding day and I remarked on how flawless it looked the whole evening (like, no fading whatsoever). Turns out that the key to keeping eye makeup from fading is to use Eyeshadow Primer. This was my first "big" purchase when it came to makeup but it was worth it. A $20 tube of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer (Sephora) will last one to two years depending on how frequently you use it.  I only use a tiny drop and don't use it on a daily basis so it's lasted me a long time.

2. Eyebrow Shadow + Tools

I only recently started using eyebrow shadow - in order to match my darker hair color - but I love the definition it brings to my very fair eyebrows.  I use Mirabella "Naked" shadow that I got on sale for $5 at my hair dresser's. I got the black eyebrow brush for $4 at Walgreens and I've had the blue brush (to smooth out the look) for ages. I think it's Mabelline and it's probably around $2.

3. Eyeshadow

I tend to stick to neutral colors when it comes to eyeshadow (brown + creme + peach tones) but occasionally I use Orange Facets that I got on sale for $3 at Sephora. The tri-color shadow was given to me by someone who wasn't using it and it's Wet n Wild brand - one I tend to never buy because the quality is almost always lacking. That said I only use a little bit of the middle rose tone to add some color and sheer.

I actually prefer using matte eyeshadows, as shimmer tends to fade or look messy after a couple of hours.  I love the neutral shade on the right (L'Oreal). It doesn't add color but it evens out the tone of your eyelid and highlights your eyeliner - my favorite part!

4. Mascara

Here's where I've had the hardest time finding what I like. My lashes are long but sparse and thin so I wanted something that plumped and filled out. The problem is, most mascaras that promise to plump also tend to clump. So that was my initial reason for switching to the more expensive brands. I saw a recommendation for Fiberwig Beautizer (at Sephora) which cost around $22 - triple the price of what I usually spend. But I had a gift card so I figured I'd try it. It was worse than my $5 tube. Thankfully Sephora accepts returns. This time I switched to They're Real (by Benefit at Sephora) which was around $28. So expensive. And it was good - it pretty much did what I was hoping and had a great brush, but I didn't think it was doing the job 5x better than a $5 brand. That's when I tried out Mabelline's newest mascara - The Rocket. It had a very similar brush and does the same, if not better, job of plumping and filling out as the almost $30 tube. So in this case, cheaper was more worth the money (though I've heard from a couple different sources that if you're willing to spend $30+, Dior makes really good mascara).

5. Blush + Cheek Stain

Tim doesn't think I need to wear blush, but I love the color it adds. Just a hint of rosiness. Right now I'm using a shade by Mabelline, but once that runs out I'll probably switch to L'Oreal because as I mentioned I tend to find their makeup better quality.

The only reason I even have this cheek stain is because I got a sample as a "birthday gift" from Sephora.  It's called Watt's Up! by Benefit and is more of a highlighter than a stain. But I like adding it to my cheek + brow bones for a bit of shimmer.

6. Eyeliner

I feel like eyeliner creates the most dramatic effect for me. In my experience, even after using eye primer, pencil liner almost always fades. So I decided to switch to liquid liner. I bought Lancome's Artliner in black (at Tim's request, though I prefer brown) from Sephora for around $22. Like the pricey mascara, it doesn't do the job that much better than cheaper brands of liquid liner but I used my gift card, so I didn't feel so bad. In the future I will stick with the gel pots (in the middle) that you apply with a special brush. It goes on just as nice as liquid liner and is also easier to apply under the eye. I use L'Oreals gel liner in Espresso ($9) and love it. Once the Lancome stuff runs out, I'll also probably get it in black.

7. Chapstick + Lipstick

Tim's obsessed with Burt's Bees, so naturally I use it too. I also like using Mabelline's Baby Lips if I want a quick moisturizer with a bit of color.  I didn't wear lipstick for a number of years, but then Tim and I were at the mall one day and passed an Avon counter that was offering two lipsticks for $10 and I went for it. I use a berry red color that I sometimes mix with a peachy color (by Mabelline) if I want to tone it down.


Ok so this probably makes it seem like I take a lot of time to put on a lot of makeup. If you know me, you know I don't wear a lot of makeup - I tend to keep it subtle, which is what I prefer. I also heard years ago, that if it takes you more than 5 minutes to do your makeup, you're taking too long or wearing too much. I think I've kept to that 5 minute rule for many years and it works for me - not that there's anything wrong with taking more time.

Up until recently I never really gave makeup brands that much consideration, but when you think about it (if you are a woman who wears makeup) it's something you use everyday so it makes sense to buy wisely.
Do you have any brands or products you swear by?


  1. my blush broke apart in my make up bag. worst morning ever. ok..not morning, more like late afternoon before i actually looked in the mirror. thankfully i have a gift card and tomorrow i have a date with the make up aisle.

    1. That's the worst! I had a liquid foundation bottle that opened a bit in my makeup case and leaked on everything :( Have fun picking a new blush!

  2. it takes me less than 2 minutes to slap my make up on and typically I feel okay about this.That is until my sister comes to visit and I realize I fail to match up with her ability to make "smokey eyes" and "glamour eyes" but frankly I don't want to take the time to learn so I have one look and that is it LOL I will have to try the primer though thanks for the tip


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