Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How I Save on Make-Up

Some of you might remember that my friend Christy and I celebrated my birthday with mini-makeovers at Sephora before dinner and a chick flick with SuSu, my sister-in-law.

I don't know if you've ever been to a department store make-up counter or a beauty product store for a makeover, but it can be a surreal experience.

They lure you like sirens with the pretty colors and bottles of lotions and potions. By the end, you're so grateful for the miracle they have worked on your face, that you gratefully fork over fistfuls of cash in order to tote the magical products home with you in an unsuccessful attempt to recreate said miracle.

Not that it happened to me or anything.

I was handing over my bank card before I realized I was spending more than $70 on eye primer, mascara, highlighter, and a small tin for the highlighter. (The Bubble Bath was a free gift for my birthday)

I felt so awful for spending more than I intended to that I made the "walk of shame" back to Sephora the next Monday morning to return everything but the Laura Mercier eye primer, which I could not bear to part with. It was my birthday after all. My humiliation was compounded by the fact that I had Natalie and Michaela Byrd with me, who were so awestruck that they asked if we could buy every single thing.

I decided, however, that just because I couldn't spend $70 on some eyeshadow and mascara, I could attempt to recreate the look. The cheapest and closest place I could think of was (cue scary music here) Wal-Mart.

Surprisingly enough, using the parts of my brain that have not dissolved from lack of use, I managed to find "replacement items" in very similar shades:

Cover Girl Berries and Cream eye enhancer

Cover Girl Champagne highlighter

Cover Girl Violet Voltage liquid blast eyeliner

Cover Girl lash blast fusion mascara

Paired with my $24 Laura Mercier eye primer in Buff, my eyes are lookin' pretty darn good!

I also purchased an inexpensive ($10 or less) make-up brush set at WM, and it really makes a difference in the way the shadow sets and looks once it's on.

Here's where I keep it real and agree that you truly get what you pay for. Yes, the Stila eye highlighter is much better quality and would probably last longer than my Champagne shade from CG, but sometimes you just can't justify spending $20 for one small shadow. Also, that particular mascara is the absolute worst I have ever used. I will not be buying it again...I guess you win some and you lose some, right?

I think the key is spending the real money on the most important things. For me (a mom with sensitive skin), I spend the most on Cleansing Foam and Facial Soap, Oil Free Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, a facial sunscreen with SPF 40 that I use every single day, and foundation--all by Clinique because it works with my skin. I don't mind using drug store brands for eye shadows, eye liners, and lip glosses.

I like to wait until Macy's runs their Free Gift promo and then I stock up on the items I use every day. Sephora also carries Clinique, and I plan on making more purchases there to earn points. Places like Ulta frequently advertise sales on Cover Girl, Maybelline, Almay, etc.

I want to make sure I'm clear on the fact that I really like my local Sephora, and I plan to continue shopping there. I just want to urge my fellow readers on budgets to be sure to take your time when shopping (especially on that post-makeover high!). Look at prices before tossing products in your basket, and be willing to spend more on some good basics and hunt for some decent extras that don't cost and arm and a leg.

You don't want to make that walk of shame back into the beauty store, trust me!

{What do you spend more or less on when it comes to make-up?}


  1. Amanda, that is a lot of money for makeup..have you tried Mary Kay..yes I am a consultant, but personal use and friends only, plus whoever needs something..Mary Kay might be a good choice for a mid priced mascara, eye shadows, etc..eye shadows are only $6..just a thought, not trying to but in..


  2. i got sucked in by laura mercier when my MIL gave me a bunch of products- they lasted so long & were so wonderful, and then i had to face reality when i needed to buy more. $40 foundation? nuts! i found a nice neutrogena replacement for that (tinted sunscreen), and i went generic on eyeliner, shadow, blush & lipgloss. my 'no compromise' quality items are mascara and eye primer (benefit) and powder (laura mercier).

  3. Been there, girlfriend! I spent $700 on Lancome makeup for my wedding. It was pretty great, and it lasted forever, but it was a HUGE splurge. I figured since it was a once in a lifetime event I would go for it. I'm glad you found cheaper options that work for you. :)

  4. i haven't spent money on makeup in awhile because i hardly wear it anymore-i need to/want to though. i'd love to go for a makeover like you did and thanks for the ideas on what to spend the $ on and where to try to save.

  5. I think we've all been there, spending too much on makeup. Now I spend a bit more on moisturizer with SPF and great stuff that minimizes lines and wrinkles and fades maturity spots (my dermatologist called them that so I don't have to call them age spots, lol).

    I buy Rimmel or NYC eye shadow which is very inexpensive but I love them. Neutrogena foundation and undereye concealer (matches my skin's pigment automatically, love that). I cannot, however, find a mascara that I love. Maybe it's my application technique but so far all tried have been gloppy. I have to wipe off the brush with a kleenex first. Weird. :)

  6. Try Loreal Voluminous Mascara. LOVE IT!

  7. I can not live without my Stila eyeshadow in Kitten and my clinique Quick eyes cream eye shadow in sparkling nude. Wait is that TMI?? :) Everything else can come from Target!

  8. Way too easy to spend a lot when you're there, under the lights, wowed by all the pretties. . . oh, my!

    I splurge on a few Estee Lauder items, all of which I buy only when they're having their gift-with-purchase. Otherwise, I'm a drugstore/Target/Wal-Mart girl. I liked Sephora when I first shopped there, but I haven't found anything there I couldn't get just as well somewhere else for a lot less money. Also, Sephora is in the mall here, and I'd much rather shop at Target than at the mall!

    Who knows? I'm about to be 48 years old. Every now and then I think that by now I'm supposed to be all grown up and buying only one brand of makeup, preferably something that's very sleek and chic. Chanel, perhaps. But then I look at the prices and decide that I may never be that grown up! :)

  9. I'm not a big makeup person. I have the basics, but nothing fancy:) I get most of my basics from Mary Kay, which can be kind of pricey. I always feel so overwhelmed when I walk into the makeup aisle which is probably why I don't have much in my makeup bag!

  10. Great job finding less expensive alternatives. I hate it when I lose control and spend than than I want to. I've had to do the walk of shame many times.

  11. I love fancy, expensive makeup. The consultants are such GOOD sales people. Alas, I rarely buy from them. I just bought the same mascara. Used it once - it is awful. I'll eventually use it but it will take a while!

  12. Aww the pretty make up! I've done the same thing... get sucked in to buying expensive makeup and never able to do the same look again. I do splurge on my foundation and concealer though... other makeup comes from the drugstores. For Mascara I recommend Loreal Voluminous Million Lashes or Loreal Telescopic Mascara Clean Definition. They both work well for me.

  13. I have to need to do what is right for you AND your budget. I splurge on my makeup, but ONLY because I don't splurge on getting my nails done all the time, only highlight my hair every so often, don't buy a lot of high end/brand name clothes. I have found that while some are pricier, they do tend to last a bit longer.

  14. I will spend more for stuff that is proven to work for me. I had really bad acne last year and only a couple of products covered it up and didn't make me want to scratch my face off. Now, though, I bought the $8 foundation that works just like the much lauded $40 foundation and I'm totally happy. I buy my shadows at Forever 21 because they're so cheap :D

  15. Well done Amanda!!! I have been working on gathering makeup for my wedding day coming up. SO I just went all out and spend a whole $8+ on TruBlend foundation. :) All the makeup/beauty products I purchase come from Wal-Mart. Except I do have the eye de-puffer stuff from Mary Kay that my friend gave me to try. I like it. May splurge on it when it's time to restock.

  16. Ok, so I'm not really one to make a comment since I rarely use anything other than powder, eye shadow and mascara....but, I do my couponing at CVS and tend to get my name brand cosmetics for only a couple of dollars. I do really love MaryKay, too. Their quality is really good. I also keep an eye on the clearance section (often, you'll find makeup for 75% off!) -- if you combine that with a coupon, you get name brand cosmetics for FREE.... (Kelly Battles)

  17. Here is my little tip. Walgreens has makeup on special each week. One week it will be Loreal the next Revlon etc. When it is on special you can buy one get one half off. And you can use coupons. One coupon per item. I had 2 $2 Covergirl coupons last week and Mascara was $8.99 buy one get one. So, I ended up paying $4.75 each with the coupon and the discount. Love me some Walgreens makeup. ;)


  18. The one item I splurge on is my Concealer. I buy mine at the Mac store for $26.50. I've always had problems with blemishes but the last year I was put on some anti-seizure medications and I started to breakout like crazy and the scars were worse! I tried to cover them up and nothing worked! My last resort was the Mac store. I will not buy anything else ever!

    On another note, I buy all of my other make up at Walmart and when I buy the wrong shade or I just hate how a mascara works, etc, I am able to take it back. I either get store credit if I don't have my receipt or my money back with receipt.

  19. I have sooooo been there! I used to sell Arbonne, ok techincally I still do, but it's very expensive, even if you sell it. I LOVE the facial products and use that daily so that's where I spend my $. But, all my eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick ALL come from Wal-Mart. In fact, I love my Loreal mascara even more than the expensive stuff.

  20. I've never had my make-up done in a department store or gone into a store like Ulta or Sephora. I am quite sure that I'd be easily talked into buying many products that I don't need. You were so smart to return things and not feel forced to keep them.

    Drugstore make-up works just fine for me but maybe I just don't know what I've been missing!

    I just got home from admiring make-up at Walmart. :) I was looking for mascara to replace the Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express that I hate. I'll stay away from CG Lash Blash Fusion after seeing that you didn't like it. A couple of commenters said good things about Loreal, so maybe I'll try it next.

  21. Been there too Amanda!! I remember going at the MAC counter and spend lots of $$$ in make-up in my early 20s...not anymore.
    You can find really good make-up at Walmart and Target for little money specially if you use coupons! I don't buy anymore makeup if I don't have a coupon!!
    I don't like CG mascara either.
    I think at the end is all in how you do your make-up and the brushes that you use.
    I still have a MAC brush for my eye shadows I got years ago that is the best and that really helps a lot with any kind of make up that I buy!

  22. I'm a discount store makeup girl all the way! I've been to Ulta and seen their prices...even on their own brand of stuff, which didn't look all that awesome. I even have several items from ELF, which they have at Target, and it's all either $1 or $3 each. Works fine for me.

    I was going to ask about that mascara before you got to the part about hating it. I'm convinced that those new rubbery-type mascara brushes are the biggest hype to hit the makeup world in recent years. They all claim to "separate" and not clump, but they've got about 1/4 of the amount of bristles as the old-fashioned kind of brush and there's no way that can do a very good job of separating! I'll never buy a mascara with that kind of brush again, but it's getting harder to find the old kind.

  23. Oh, BTW, I like Lash Stiletto mascara pretty well (I've only tried the one in the red tube). The Falsies really does give the most oomph, I found, but IMO it tends to be a little clumpy, so you have to do a good job of combing and separating when you apply it. I use an old mascara brush that I've washed clean as my lash "comb".

  24. LOVE Sephora! I don't spend much on mascara ever. Rarely wear it, so when I do, I just use whatever sample tube a store has given me.

    I do spend the bucks for decent eyeshadow and primer. Otherwise it will not last more than 2 hours on my face. And I like Bare Minerals foundation...and Nars blush. Both are pricey, BUT last a LONG time.

  25. ha! Great post. :D Too funny. Never heard of that walk of shame before hehe

  26. I spend my money on skin care wash, cell renewal cream (did I just type that?) spf and powder foundation. I am absolutely in love with the Origins line Brighter by Nature.

    I am a firm believer in Cover Girl mascara though and usually just some drugstore bronzer during the summer.

    Definitely have to pick and choose. Impressive substitutions you made. Smart!

  27. I do the same thing! I'm definitely not a "spend my money on make up" girl! I go cheap with cover girl (: and I love how it looks! Simple and fresh. I'm definitely going to try that highlighter!!

  28. Hey Amanda, I'm a MUA and have been there. It's not cheap building up a makeup kit even when I do get a discount. Have you heard of Crown Brush? They are awesome and dirt cheap! Basically they are the wholesale of brushes. Places like MAC use them, they just have their names printed on them. Also, try Sephora's brand of makeup. I like their lip liners. Those are like $5.

  29. I get suckered in ALL the time. I can't tell you how often I've walked into a store and out spending FAR more than I intended to! That's one of the main reasons I don't do it anymore! I find online shopping SO much better for me - I can take my time comparison shopping, no sales pressure to buy, and not get caught up in the shopping "experience."

    Happy belated Birthday to you!

    Thanks for keeping it real!

  30. I use and love Mary Kay cleanser, moisturizer, and foundation. LOVE and cannot part with MAC lip gloss and one particular lipstick, and blush. can return your Mac containers and get free lipstick with 6 containers...

    Will prob always use MK for skin care...have used them for almost 10 years and love it!

    I go back and forth on what I'll splurge on...shampoo is another one I splurge on now and again...

    Now that I'm a mama of 3, it is hard to spend so much on makeup and hair!

    Will try a few of your recommendations!!

    Love, love, love your blog


I love to hear your feedback! Please feel free to leave comments...just don't send me spam asking me to buy stuff off your website! I've got three kids and no money to purchase your magic weight-loss pill or bust enhancement, or whatever else you might be selling. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you! :)

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