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  • Drugstore vs. Department Store Makeup

    I have oily skin, which may be why I’ve never liked wearing makeup. And I haven’t worn any in years. (Wearing a suit to court is required. Wearing makeup is not.)

    But lately I’ve been noticing that I look, well, older. (Full disclosure: I’m rapidly approaching 35.) In a couple of weeks, I have to attend a family member’s bridal shower, and while the setting is upscale but casual (this is LA, after all), I anticipate the other women attending will be well-dressed. And stylish. The thought of which makes me – sitting here in my jeans and t-shirt – quite self-conscious. It doesn’t help that I hardly know any of them, which means I don’t really know what to expect.

    I’ve got shoes and I’ve got pants. I’m working on acquiring an appropriate top. In the meantime, I’ve decided that makeup will help me feel more confident and like I belong (the bride wears a fair amount of makeup so I expect her friends will also). But I threw out all of my old makeup recently after realizing how long it had been sitting in the drawer. And I don’t want to spend a lot of money, especially when the odds are good I’m not going to wear it much after the event, if at all.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know much about makeup. The first time I really wore makeup – junior prom – my mom took me to the Clinique counter at the local department store, had them do a consultation makeover, and bought what they recommended. It couldn’t have been cheap, and I learned nothing about how to select the right makeup for my face or how to apply it. (Eyeshadow still scares me.)

    I started with a Google search for “best drugstore makeup”, which led me to the Makeup Moxie blog and her post on the best drugstore mineral makeup. After reading the reviews (including separate reviews of the products – links are in the article), I’ve decided that because of my oily and sensitive skin, I’d better head over to Sephora to see if Bare Escentuals looks right and doesn’t irritate it, and to find the right shade. But if you wear makeup regularly and are looking for the best inexpensive foundations, check out the Makeup Moxie article. It could save you hundreds in the long run.

    Of course, I need more than foundation. At a minimum, I’ll also need lipstick and mascara. A little research revealed that lipstick and mascara are the perfect items to buy at a drugstore because the formulas are pretty similar to high end brands. And mascara in particular should only be used for three months, too short a time for the vast majority of women to use up an entire tube.

    I saw two recommendations for Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara, so I’m leaning toward this in the waterproof version (just in case the bridal shower location is hot and muggy – not an impossibility considering we’ve had temps in the high 80’s recently). I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to follow all of the steps in Makeup Moxie’s ultimate mascara secret. Also, based on a quick read of reviews, I’m thinking of getting some MaxFactor Lipfinity lipstick, which gets high marks for not coming off.

    Of course, I would love some input and advice from those of you who do wear makeup regularly. What are your frugal makeup tips?

    Note: Right after I wrote this post, I read a post at Pink of Perfection that includes instructions on making your own concealer that will match your foundation exactly.

    Comments

    1. Anonymous says:

      FWIW, I LOVE the Revlon colorstay lipsticks. The colors always look really good on me, and the stuff stays put for a long time. The CoverGirl long-last lipstick is good, too. And, of course, the Maybelline lipstick in the pink tube rocks!

      Marie G

    2. michelle allen says:

      My must-have drugstore make-up is Cover Girl powder and blush. I have to say that I spend the money on mascara though because the only one I’ve found that actually works with my contacts and stays on is Lancome waterproof. I also must admit I go through a tube in less than three months, so I guess I’m not really wasting.
      If you are not used to makeup, instead of foundation, I would recommend tinted moisturizer.

    3. I like Rimmel mascara. It’s only $3 and it makes my eyes look huge.

    4. mamacita says:

      I guess it’s not really helping for your commenters to suggest so many different things, but here goes:

      The problem with drugstore lipstick is that it has a strong perfume-y smell, sitting right there under your nose all day. I strongly recommend Clinique, as it does not have a scent. Furthermore, I recommend Black Honey Almost Lipstick. If you do a little research, you will see that this is a universally loved shade — very, very natural, easy to apply, and won’t leave you feeling like your lips are aliens attached to your body. Also, this product costs around $13; your basic Revlon drugstore stuff is going to be around $6 — an easy enough trade-up considering the fragrance thing. (BTW, I am assuming that you are white, though I guess I don’t have any reason to assume that).

      Any drugstore mascara will work fine while it is new. As it dries out, it will not put as much product on your lashes, and that is obviously not the goal. I vote for L’Oreal Voluminous (NOT waterproof), but there isn’t a whole lot of difference among brands here.

      Some people like mineral makeup and some people don’t. There is nothing really wrong with a standard loose powder product from the drugstore, preferably from a hypo-allergenic line like Almay.

      Buy cheap eye shadow. If the color is right, nothing else really matters.

      Unfortunately, even after you do all this, most people will still think you’re not wearing makeup. You will look better (probably), but what really makes you look finished is eyeliner. It’s tricky, and requires practice, but it makes all the difference. Buy a cheap pencil and get to practicing. Have Q-tips handy.

      You will find many lurkers coming out on this one. For some reason, beauty posts inspire everyone to write.

    5. mamacita says:

      I’ll add that I think concealer and blush are Makeup 200-level courses, to be approached when you have the other basics down.

    6. Mamacita is brilliant.

      Her second post, where she mentions foundation, is spot on! I’m 35 years old and only wear mascara, eye liner, eye shadow and lipstick. I do purchase expensive department store lipstick and mascara, but everything else is department store. Avoiding waterproof mascara is also a fabulous tip. (I’ve practically had to use a sandblaster to get the waterproof varieties off. I’m not Esther Williams performing water ballets – I just didn’t want a bit of dampness to make me look like Tammy Faye Baker. Regular mascara does that fine.) I found the best thing to take a couple years off was a great attitude and highlights in my hair.

      Practice at home several times before the big day.

    7. Very Herodotus says:

      Never commented before, but you drew me out of my corner with this post.

      I was you, a couple of years ago. Jeans, tshirt, no makeup, the works. I know how you feel, anticipating the bridal shower and feeling like an awkward eighth grader among sophisticated high-schoolers.

      My new years resolution a couple of years ago was to wear makeup to work everyday.

      It took a while to find some that I liked, but once I found Bare Escentuals it was easy to stick with it. Looks gorgeous and is easy to apply. Can’t ask for more than that. Add drugstore blush to my cheeks and eyelids, drugstore mascara, and carmex for my lips and I’m ready to go. Less than 5 minutes from start to finish and I feel so much better for it. If I’m feeling especially sassy I’ll add a little brown eyeliner to the upper lid only.

      Love your blog babe!

    8. MetaMommy says:

      Ugh, I’m the same, really. I wear chapstick, and if I’m feeling especially splotchy, I’ll wear a nice thin layer of concealer and blush. So light that most people don’t know I’m wearing it.

      I absolutely can’t do eyeliner or shadow without looking clowny, so I avoid it. In the past, if I feel I really need to look the part (truly rare), I go to a makeup person (e.g., at a hair salon). She tends to have no biases regarding brand, so she tells me the truth about what works and what doesn’t.

      Daily Candy is always putting in their two cents on beauty, which I general ignore. But this one a while back caught my eye…a personal beauty shopper who helps you pick between drugstore or other. I have no idea how much she charges, though.

      The Beauty Closet also looks interesting.

      Good Luck!!

    9. Anonymous says:

      I had to laugh when I read today’s post. I just turned 41, and, I too never wear make-up. Just 2 days ago I bought a bunch of Almay eyeshadows and liner because it felt like a very grown-up thing to do. Can’t say I know what to do with them though. I usually just got by with a foundation/lotion mix, an eyelash curler (that is a good frugal tool to use if you don’t like the feel of mascara), and tinted lip gloss. And like you I’m Asian, so I tend to think general make-up application advice doesn’t really apply to us. I’ll have to Google Asian make-up application tips.

    10. Sheer Luck says:

      I’m surprised no one mentioned going to a mall to get a free makeup application. Many places, Estee Lauder for example, will allow you to schedule an appointment for a free application. It’s considered respectful to purchase one of the items afterward, but I’m sure a tip would be just as nice.

      Myself, I’m particular about my makeup. I start off with a loose powder, then Covergirls tri-color blush to give me cheekbones. My everyday must have is black eyeliner and mascara. I like NYC eyeliner, but I can’t find it since I’ve moved. I also am in love with Covergirl Volume Exact mascara. Certain lipsticks make me breakout. I currently swear by Maybelline Superstay lip color. I also like to add Maybelline tri-color eyeshadow. :-D

      If you wanted to do this really cheap, I’m going to have to suggest the dollar store. I’m not sure what your foundation needs are, but whatever matches your tone should work. I suggest the powder because it will soak up the oil/shine. Mascara/Eyeliner/Lipstick is definitely a must if you want to look all special like :-D

      Heh, and I like the comment from mamacita about the Lurkers. Dead on! :)

    11. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says:

      Hey, we are about the same age.

      When I was on Long Island visiting my mom she took me to Sephora and I tried on the Bare Minerals. I did get the base powder (my mom bought it as a gift for my b-day) You can get the ladies there to do a “makeover” and then you can go “think about it”.

      I went to my local Rite Aid and got some Jane Mineral makeup (blush) and also their mascara, and I use the cheapo “Wet and Wild” eyeliner (which all the magazines etc say is fine, and at $1 a pencil is great)

      There is also a coupon for money off from Jane cosmetics. They start out pretty cheap, and with $2 off per item (not per shopping trip) you can pick up several dirt cheap. They also have non minteral eyeshadows etc.

      http://www.janecosmetics.com/coupons/coupon%20only.pdf

      The coupon is only good till the end of April

      Oh, and realize that the mineral makeup looks different on then liquid foundation. For me, it almost needs to “sit” on your face for a couple of minutes. That’s why I think that having a lady at sephora give you a demo is a good idea-so you’ll know how to apply it and how it is supposed to look

    12. Anonymous says:

      i just wanted to say that i used to use BE minerals. it was great until i found out about the chemicals in it. i believe the chemical is bismuth oxichloride. alot of people find it to be irritating and ichty on thier skin. i switched to everyday minerals. works the same as BE but without the chemicals. it also seems to feel smoother on my skin. you can get a free sample kit from thier website: http://www.everydayminerals.com/g?t=viewDocument&incParam=100__Guarantee
      i cant say enough about this makeup. and i have tried other mineral makeups too, like avon and physicans formula. also the other plus about Everyday Mins is that it is cheaper than BE.

    13. LaTejanaFria says:

      It sounds like several of us were separated at birth: late 30s, early 40s, never wear makeup.

      I have really oily skin and shine even in the driest of climates (I live at 6500 ft. and am shiny by 12pm.) I usually wear the minimum makeup: BareMinerals foundation and eyeshadow. Lipstick if I remember. I prefer Mary Kay because they have a really subtle color I like.

      The BareMinerals is super easy to apply and doesn’t take a lot of practice. The key, however, is to moisturize before applying.

      Last year I went to ULTA to get some concealer for some skin pigmentation over my upper lip and the woman helping me commented on how quickly my skin absorbed the concealer. She suggested that I use moisturizer.

      Now, I generally don’t believe in the beauty industry and all the hype that they’ve created with the solutions to all our beauty “flaws,” but I decided to give it a try. I was amazed. It really does make a difference. Before, my pores were pretty big and my face got oilier much earlier in the day. And the makeup looked chalky on me. (I use Color Me Beautiful Proof Positive Oil Free Moisturizer.)

      After a couple of days, my pores were much less noticeable (they’ll never be so small they’re not) and the makeup looked a lot better.

      Good luck.

    14. Anonymous says:

      Ok. I love your blog and couldn’t resist reading this post and chatting with my wife about it. She’s a makeup junkie and I talked about your quandry. Her advice. Get foundation and/or mineral makeup at the department store where you can try it on. This is your insurance you have the right color. Beware, they’ll be selling you all kinds of other things, too. Then, all the rest can come from the drugstore.

      Hope this helps!

      Jerry
      http://www.leads4insurance.com
      “man who’s not afraid to talk about makeup”

    15. Chief Family Officer says:

      Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate all the great advice and suggestions. I’ll let you know what I end up doing and how it goes :)

      Special thanks to Jerry, the only guy to comment on this post!

    16. Laura Spencer says:

      Of course, how your make-up reacts depends on your skin. I always look for the words “hypoallergenic” or “safe for sensitive skin.”

      It really doesn’t seem to make much difference whether it is from the drugstore or the department store.

    17. The Review Lady says:

      I found a great book at the library that reviews all different brands/types of makeup (both drugstore and department store versions) and gives info on which drugstore brands are actually owned by which department store companies. It was very interesting and helpful in navigating through all the sales pitches and commercials. The book was “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me” by Paula Begoun.

      Thanks for your post – it comes at the perfect time since I need to get new foundation and considered switching brands because my skin is changing.

      (love your blog by the way!)

    18. Hi Cathy,

      It’s Jazmin here from Makeup Moxie. I just wanted to stop by and thank you for the links to my sites!

      I also think I can help you out with your bridal shower makeup dilemma. Since you don’t have a lot of experience with makeup, I think it’s really important that you just go for products that are easy to use, yet will still create a pretty and polished look.

      While I love Bare Minerals, I think it needs a little practice to get used to it. If you have the time to practice applying it, by all means, go for it! However, if you want to keep things easy (and inexpensive), here’s what I recommend:

      - L’Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Powder (if you need more coverage, pair this with the liquid foundation)

      - L’Oreal Wear Infinite Eye Shadow Quad in “Earthscape.” If you’re nervous about eyeshadow, then nude, earthy shades are the way to go. Smudge the lightest shade on the center of eyelids and over the brow bone. Use the darkest shade as an eyeliner (if you want, you can figure out how to use the other shades later ;)

      - Skip my double-mascara trick. It’s designed to give you a more dramatic look that isn’t really necessary for a bridal shower. Instead, opt for just the waterproof Maybelline Lash Discovery. It’s easy to apply and it will give your lashes length and definition, while staying in place (even in hot weather).

      - For a boost of youthful color, try dusting the apples of your cheeks with Neutrogena Healthy Skin Blends Sheer Highlighting Blush (it’s a mosaic powder in a compact).

      - And for lips, avoid lipstick (it can be a hassle choosing the right color). Instead, choose a pretty lipgloss that’s super easy to apply (I like Revlon Lustrous Gloss and L’Oreal’s new Infallible Never Fail Lip Gloss).

      I hope that helps! (though I think you’re totally gorgeous, already ;)

      Also, I love your blog…I’ll be sure to subscribe ;)

    19. Cover Girl foundation works fine for me. I have combination skin that’s dry but then gets oily on top and I can’t find anything that really changes that. I make sure to moisturize and during the day I just have to use oil sheets.

      Personally I think lipstick is outdated and would go with a fresher tinted lip gloss.

      Mascara is my absolute must and my favorite. I’ve tried so many and still always come back to Maybelline’s Volum Express. In waterproof. Not sure what the trouble is in removing waterproof mascara, I use vegetable oil on a cotton ball. Yep! Then I just wash my face normally.

      Blush is also a must for me. Again Maybelline or some cheap brand is fine for me as long as it’s a good pink shade and nothing that looks ruddy.

      I’m not a fan of eyeshadow, but do wear a brown eyeliner (I have dark blonde hair and blue eyes and black is a bit much during the day) on the top which just gives my eyes a more finished look.

    20. I realize that your post is from 08 and its almost sept 09 but I was wondering what you went with? I personally use bare minerals and I LOVE it. The Warmth is a perfect blush that makes me look so naturally flawless without the caked foundation and the clown cheeks. Its also very good for your sink and last me a long time. I wear makeup about 4-5 times a week.

    21. Chief Family Officer says:

      @Jennifer – I ended up going with a drugstore brand mineral makeup, I think it was Maybelline. I just don't wear makeup enough to justify a larger expenditure, and I was happy enough with it that if I ever feel I must wear makeup again, I'll go the same route (and that time may be coming, as I hear there's a baby on the way on that side of the family which means the same group of ladies at the baby shower). My skin did itch a tiny, tiny bit, and I don't know if that's because my uber sensitive skin just wasn't used to makeup, but if I did wear makeup every day, I'd probably splurge on a more expensive brand :)

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