In my Painted Ladies bio, I mentioned my ability to make any woman more beautiful for $20. As much as I love the sleek packaging and color choices of department store brands, I have found some great cosmetics at bargain prices – some of which can rival the more expensive brands for quality. So when a friend or co-worker finds herself with a last minute date or party and wants a little oomph, I drag her to the nearest drugstore and pick out some key and quality products. Below is the go-to $20 face that gives me a pretty and natural look. (Note: prices may vary.)
When doing my makeup or someone else’s, I always focus on the eyes. Mine are very sensitive and I wear contact lenses so I need to be careful about what I use. I was pleasantly surprised at the texture and staying power of Wet and Wild eyeshadows – better still, no eye irritation. My favorite is the Egyptian Sands eyeshadow trio ($2.95). I wear the white-ish shade from lid to brow, the middle shade (a gorgeous, shimmery peachy-taupe) on my lids and contour with the carmel brown shade. To accent my lashes, I use Maybelline Full and Soft Mascara in black ($5.95). This mascara goes on smoothly, doesn’t clump or smear and definitely provides fullness. Not bad for under $6.
For my face, believe it or not my best finds were at the dollar store. I’m crazy about the the Aziza makeup stick in light ($1). It is a perfect match for my skin (very important!) and it is creamy and blendable. It only comes in a handful of shades so a lot of beauties will be left out of the cold, but it is a steal if it works for you. I don’t use it on my entire face – prepping my lids for shadow, and for concealing under my eyes and a few other areas. My second dollar store treasure is an Aziza II blush duo in Angel Tones. It is hard to believe that you can find something this silky, pigmented and long-lasting for $1. It contains a lovely pink shade and a lighter shade for highlighting. The brush that comes with it is useless but at this price, I’m not complaining!
My biggest extravagance is lipgloss. This is the one area where a lot of bargain cosmetic companies strike out – there is nothing worse that opening a new gloss to be greeted by the smell of plastic or (ugh) ripe fruit. The gloss is often sticky or fades away before I leave the house. I was happy though with my purchase of Sally Hansen’s Satin Effects Lipgloss in Pleasure ($7.29). It provides my lips with a light pink sheen that lasts.
The total cost for my face: $18.19.
If there is one drawback to drugstore brands, they do not last very long on the shelves. You could very well find your holy grail one day, only to find out it was discontinued the next. I have a Revlon Colorstay eyeshadow in White Whisper ($3.99) that I wear under everything or even on its own for an extremely casual look but alas it is gone. Fortunately, their ColorStay 12 Hour Eye Shadow Quads are still on the market ($6.99) and they are top-notch.
Here are some additional budget-friendly recs that offer exceptional quality:
NYX single eyeshadows – $3.50
Cover Girl Volume Exact mascara – $7.99
NYC concealer stick – $2.79
Milani lip gloss – $4.49
Rimmel blush – $2.09