The Smart Makeup Kit: Cosmetic Products You Should and Should Not Pay A Lot For


MakeupThere are so many cosmetic products already on the market, with countless brands and prices to choose from, and more being added every day. As a result, navigating the world of makeup shopping can be overwhelming, especially when you are on a budget.

Which products should you invest in and which ones you can get away with paying less for?

Item 1Foundation is something you absolutely should invest in. Our skin, especially around the face and neck, is the very first thing that gives away our age, so any product we use on it should be carefully selected. Cheap foundations can clog your pores, causing more bad than good in the long-run. In addition, pricier versions tend to do a much better job of masking imperfections and providing even coverage.

Don’t forget to prep your skin with a good moisturizer before applying foundation. Moisturizer is another product that you shouldn’t try to save on–your skin will thank you for it later. Having a quality moisturizer and foundation can even help you kill two birds with one stone. Use the two products as a base for eyeshadow, removing the need to spend money on an eye shadow primer.

Item 2Eye shadow is another splurge-worthy item. Cheaper shadows tend to fade and crease after a full day of wear, requiring frequent reapplication. They leave your lids covered in layers and layers of shadow that are impossible to properly blend. A versatile product that also doubles as eyeliner is worth paying extra for.

Item 3We’ve all seen ‘spider’ lashes, which are covered in countless coats of mascara that hang off of the lashes in clumps. Invest in a quality mascara of which a quick one or two coats are enough to creates long, sweeping lashes. Cheap mascaras–even the waterproof ones–tend to also smudge and run at the slightest sign of moisture. Spend a little more so that you can avoid the “raccoon eyes” look even if you get caught in a rainstorm.

Item 4An eyeliner pencil is a product for which an inexpensive version will suffice. Because we are constantly blinking and rubbing our eyes, it is hard to keep eyeliner looking neat for long periods of time–even when using the most expensive brands, as my experience has shown. A reapplication here and there will be necessary, but you can help extend wear by fortifying the eyeliner with a layer of eyeshadow. The great thing about not paying a lot for eyeliner is that you can buy several in different colors that will suit any mood and makeup look.

Item 5Eyebrow pencils and grooming tools area another area in which you can definitely save a few bucks. I own both a drugstore brand eyebrow grooming brush and one that came with an eyeliner pencil that cost about $30. Both brushes produce identical results, so I see no need to splurge on one of these.

As for eyebrow pencils, what really matters is picking a shade that provides a good color match. Because the pencil is used to fill in the spaces between hairs, the quality of individual strokes of color is hardly visible. As a result, the best quality pencil is not necessary for creating neat eyebrows.

Item 6Lip gloss is something that most women own several types of. Different colors, levels of opacity, textures–the choices are endless. The good news is that many drugstore brands have succeeded at creating affordable lip glosses that don’t sacrifice lasting power.

Like eyeliner, I can’t imagine owning just one lip gloss, so I recommend getting several inexpensive ones that you can mix and match with your other makeup products to create different looks. If you get tired of one, you will be able to toss it without having to feel guilty over how much you paid for it.

So, there you go–my guide to smart makeup shopping. One final note: as a rule of thumb, I say that you should not pay less than $20 for foundation, moisturizer, mascara, eyeshadow and other products that you should not attempt to economize on.

How much do you spend on various makeup products?


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  1. It is so easy to spend a small fortune on good makeup. With this economy, I really need to start buying products strategically.