Tips & Tricks

Beauty On A Budget: To Splurge Or To Save?

August 13, 2008

Wanna look a million bucks without spending that much? Check out the following list to see what beauty products you can splurge and save on!


* Base products (Foundation/Concealer/Powder)
Since you do need a perfect match to achieve a flawless complexion, you are better off heading to a department store where you can try out different colors and formulas. Brands like Prescriptives even offer custom blending to help customers find their perfect match.

* Makeup Brushes
We all know the importance of brushes when it comes to makeup application. High-end brushes like those from Shu Uemura and MAC are usually made from denser, softer hair and will last longer so they are definitely worth the investment.


* Mascara
Mascaras need to be replaced every 3 months, so why splurge when you can get one for a few bucks at the drugstore?

* Eyeshadow
When it comes to eyeshadows, trends come and go all the time. You are better off experimenting with different colors and textures with drugstore and mid-end brands. NYX, Milani and MAC all make eyeshadows in a variety of colors with decent pigmentation.

* Blush
Just like eyeshadows, you can find decent blushes from drugstore and mid-end brands like Milani and MAC.

* Lipstick/Lip gloss
From my personal experience, the biggest difference between high-end and drugstore lip products is their packaging. The texture and color are pretty much the same.

* Nail Polish
Nail polishes have a short shelf life plus brands like OPI and CND offer the same if not better, quality than luxury brands like Chanel.

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  • Reply catherine August 13, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    can you recommend some drugstore lipstick/lipglosses? and you’re so right about the mascara! i spend $20+ every 2-3 months on it :[ so i will definitely be checking out those mascaras you recommended

  • Reply catherine August 13, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    can you recommend some drugstore lipsticks/lipglosses? and you’re so right about the mascaras! i spend about $20+ on mascaras every 2-3 months :[ so i will definitely check out the mascaras you recommended

  • Reply Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for this! 🙂

  • Reply The Home Spa Goddess August 13, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I TOTALY agree. My foundation/concealer/powder splurge was soooo worth it. That has to be perfect or it throws everything else off.

  • Reply rubiekay August 14, 2008 at 3:25 am

    I agree. High quality foundation (and concealer) that matches to my skin tone comes with a higher price tag. Besides foundation, blush is the only makeup product I have spent more so far. Love $1 Jordana eyeshadows and less than $2 Jordana lipgloss! The most money goes into basic skin care products more than makeup in my case 🙂

  • Reply Drey August 14, 2008 at 10:11 am

    You’re absolutely right.
    Foundation and foundation brushes make me look good even when I don’t have anything else good.
    The only problem is, I stil haven’t found my HG foundation 🙁
    Next up LM powder foundation!

  • Reply tonkabeane August 14, 2008 at 11:18 am

    thanks for the tips! i agree that any face/base makeup should be splurged on since it has to match as close as possible and any colored makeup such as blush & eyeshadow you can save by buying drugstore brands. i disagree about the makeup brushes though. there are cheaper yet soft and durable brushes online, such as Coastal Scents and other mineral makeup companies. I spent less than $50 for a kabuki, long-handled kabuki, long-handled baby buki, and a 7-piece set at Lumiere Cosmetics.

    btw. I have thin, sparse, straight yet long lashes. what mascaras would you recommend other than the ones you've already mentioned on this blog entry. thanks a bunch!

  • Reply not a famous adrian August 14, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I totally agree with the high quality brushes. Once you have good, CLEAN brushes you can acheie excellent results with just about anything.

  • Reply CuttiBeBe August 14, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    hihi, i just subscribed through your feeder although i already have you in my google reader.

    i’m excited about the personalized sweetpstake, b/c you are always so on point with celebrity break down and your review of each category of makeup is so thorough and accurate. I love the foundation post, that’s how i found you! now I’m hooked on GA.

    keep up the good work!

  • Reply Priscilla August 14, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you for the tips, I usualy splurged in mascara, (lancome defincils) but is good to know there are chaper alternatives. And brushes, yes! totally worth every penny, I love your blog, thank you for the handy information.

    Question though, have you tried L’oreal’s Bare Naturelle marcara?

    I always look for definition and lenght vs. volume with mascara. Thank you in advandce!

  • Reply Tammy M August 14, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I totally agree with you. The best mascaras I have found have all been “drugstore brands”. My current fave is a DS brand from Japan!
    As far as the US brands, my HG for a long time has been Loreal Voluminous…

  • Reply Tracy August 14, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    This is a really helpful post. I’ve never tried out department store brand foundations, but I’ve passed by the Prescriptives counter many times. I really like the idea of custom-blended make-up.

  • Reply SARAH SIDD August 14, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Can you recommend a good concealer? I am of east indian decent and as you can imagine I have VERY dark undereye circles. I’m currently using a MAC concealer and all that is doing is graying out the area? I love your posts, very helpful!

  • Reply ying lee August 14, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    a friend told me to keep nail polish in refrigerator (i know it sounds funny), but it works really good!! i have nail polishes from like 2 years ago, and its still smooth like its brand new!

  • Reply Helen August 14, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Hi i have a question- I’m having a wedding soon and I’m wondering if I should do the airbrush foundation or regular foundation? Which would you recommed for a wedding?

  • Reply Stephy August 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    thanks for this post and i couldnt agree more with wat u said about face products! but then i actually splurged on a dior mascara BUT i really liked it! 🙂
    and for makeup brushes, u can actually find really good basic ones like sonia kashuk (which i REALLY love)! though for advance brushes, u do have to splurge on them cuz mostlikely only the higher end brands carry them. 🙁

  • Reply corey August 14, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you for this info. You are correct especially about the glosses. I am a gloss junky and can’t see myself splurging on big buys as much as I purchase them.

  • Reply NurseExec August 14, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Great post. My two splurges are Imju Fiberwig, because it NEVER smudges, ever! and Estee Lauder Individualist. I also use EL Tender Blush, but I think I’m going to use your advice and take that sucker down to CVS and compare it to a Milani product when it’s getting to the end of the pan.

  • Reply Bunny B August 14, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I love this post! Definitely will save more money this way! What would the best cheap brands be?

  • Reply Karin August 15, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Thank you so much for your tips.
    Thanks to you i’ve been looking differently to make up (brands)
    yes i do have a dior mascara, but that’s because my eyes start to hurt when i use cheaper brands.
    Although i have one from Victoria’s Secret which is perfect it gives me volume and the length my eyelashes don’t have.
    I have my nailpolish from a really cheap brand called essence, it’s about 2 dollars. I admit it doesn’t stay beautiful as long as my opi ones. But at a fifth of the price i don’t care.
    I now have a perfect excuse for changing my nailpolish more often.
    So thank you for your excelent advice..!!

  • Reply SeaofSapphires August 15, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Totally agree with you, great topic.

    I think there are a lot of people that think you have to pay premium for everything. One thing that I never pay premium for is mascara. I have bought the most expensive to the least expensive and barely noticed a difference.

    However, foundation and brushes really do make a difference as you said. I freaked out the first time that I recently bought my 1st “expensive” brush.

    I bought a foundation brush and used it to put on my foundation instead of a sponge or a cheap brush. What a difference! It looked like a makeup artist put it on. Now I just have to save up for my next big brush purchase. lol

    Oh and thanks for the contest too, I can’t wait to see who the winners are. 🙂

  • Reply Crystal August 16, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Great entry!

    I completely agree. OPI and Essie are great quality nail polishes! Actually, Bourjois nail polish is also one of my favorites–and it’s on sale now at Sephora (hope it’s still on sale atleast) for around $6-$7 depending on the type.

    And mascara’s the same way. I really like some of CoverGirl’s and Maybelline’s mascara, and I can’t really tell the difference between those and say, Dior Show. (Actually Dior Show mascara was wayyy too clumpy for me.)

  • Reply yl2082 August 16, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for this post! It is really helpful. I love knowing what people Splurge vs. Steal on. There are just so many products out there. But I completely agree with you on the foundation and brushes thing – we need a good canvas to start!

  • Reply aryan bueno August 18, 2008 at 10:41 am

    A newbie in the world of make-up. I really don’t have time to fix myself (I am a doctor), and I have little knowledge about make-up. But I belive a good foundation makes a lot of difference that’s wht it’s a must to look for the good that fits your skin tone.
    I hope that wou will feature some blogs on how to do basic, everyday make-up on Asian women, particularly Oriental ones (that’s how I came across your blog). Thanks a lot for the tips! I will certainly be visiting this page often.

  • Reply Erica August 22, 2008 at 3:38 am

    I agree with you on the brushes. I’ve had some of my MAC brushes for 10 years!

  • Reply StolenSerenity November 7, 2008 at 12:52 am

    I totally agree. Normally I buy expensive foundation and brushes and cheaper eyeshadows and mascaras but lately im noticing the more expensive stuff is worth it. Like high end mascaras do so much more for my lashes than drugstore.

  • Reply Cabaniss April 28, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    This is a lot better than what I’ve been seeing elsewhere lately. If we had more like it around, I think we’d be better off.

  • Reply joanne February 11, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Phyllis, nail polish never ‘expires’! Don’t throw ANY of your nail polishes once they seem to be thickening – just add nail polish thinner! Nail polish can last a lifetime. I really hope you haven’t thrown any away…

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