Budget Friendly Makeup

If you follow my search for the perfect concealer (y’know, one that actually conceals something…) then you know that I do a lot of online research to find the perfect makeup. I check out blogs, customer reviews, and make bi-monthly trips to Sephora or Ulta so that I can test it all out firsthand. Finding great makeup with a not so great budget can be a challenge, but it’s doable. The following are my tips for a fabulous look that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Know what your investment pieces should be.
My most important makeup products are brushes and primer. (Lots of people add lipstick to the “investment pieces” list, but I rarely ever wear it, so it’s useless for me to allocate that much of my budget to it)

My favorite makeup brushes are Bare Minerals. My best friend Eric bought me a Bare Minerals gift set for my 25th birthday and I still use the brushes every day (I’m 31 now!) Bare Minerals brushes give you lots of coverage and blend everything together really well. I especially love the eye brushes and foundation brushes. (Note: they need to be cleaned every week to keep your face from getting too many yucky germs or a color you don’t want—there are high end makeup brush cleaners, but I use the blue Dial antibacterial soap)


For primer, I haven’t found anything better than Smashbox Photo Finish primer (I use the clear one). My friend Cara gave me a bottle of this as a graduation present and I’ve loved it ever since—in fact, those graduation pictures remain some of my favorites and that’s partially due to the Smashbox “glow” I had going on!

I’ve tried other primers in the past—Urban Decay, Benefit’s Porefessional, the primers by Loreal, Revlon, and Maybelline, but Smashbox remains my favorite. It has a thick, almost oily consistency, but can be used on acne prone or sensitive skin and doesn’t look oily once your other makeup is applied. It also doesn’t settle into fine lines or wrinkles.

Know where you can save money.

A lot of beauty bloggers place high value on expensive foundations, but I don’t think that’s necessary unless you have issues like acne, rosacea or generally sensitive skin. I’ve tried many foundations, but always come back to Loreal’s True Match, which is about $9 at Wal Mart or Target.

If your budget doesn’t allow for more expensive brushes, ELF brushes are super cheap (usually $1-2 dollars per brush) and work really well. I use the ELF smudge brush for eye makeup and a slightly larger one to fill in my brows.

Speaking of Loreal, I usually use one of their eye makeup quads for everyday makeup. Currently, I love “I’m worth it!” a collection of neutrals with a slight shimmer. It isn’t too glittery, the color is pigmented enough to stay on all day but relatively easy to remove at night, and it’s just a great set of neutrals. For special occasions or if I have a work presentation, I bring out the big guns: Urban Decay’s Naked Palette.


These days, there are a lot of primers and creams on the market that are supposed to be used in conjunction with all the other makeup we throw on—eye shadow primers, under eye primers, CC creams, BB creams, hydrating primers, color correcting primers, highlighters, sculpting creams, lip primers, eye lash primers…the list really does go on and on. I’ve tried a few of these (okay, more than a few) but I’ve never noticed enough of a difference to justify spending a small fortune on them. Chapstik primes my lips just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Blush/lipstick. Honestly, I often use my lipstick as a blush. I have a few blushes that work okay—ELF’s blush is one of them—but I think using a lipstick as a blush creates a more natural look (and saves money!)

When it comes to makeup, everyone is different. I don’t pay a ton of money for moisturizers (I just use Olay) but I do buy Neutrogena 100 SPF sunscreen—I’m hoping that’ll save me a fortune in dermatologist fees later! Some people have incredibly thick, dark eyelashes (lucky!) and buy the cheapest mascara available. Some people have no use for concealer. It’s all about figuring out where you want to invest your makeup money—there is absolutely no need to spend a fortune on a bunch of cosmetics, primers, and brushes you don’t need. Take note of your beauty routine, think about what you want to emphasize or de-emphasize, and buy accordingly.

What’s YOUR investment make up product? Which products do you think are totally overrated? Let me know!


Filed under Career Tips, Life advice, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Budget Friendly Makeup

  1. Cara

    Love this! I, too, do a mix of high-end and low-end products. I also love the Bare Minerals brushes. I use cheap $3 Cover Girl brow pencils (always at the very bottom of the aisle) because they have a dark brown that is actually brown, whereas most upscale brands end up black/gray and look unnatural on me. L’Oreal’s True Match is really great. It just is. I try everything and have found nothing worth a $28-$70 pricetag when this product is available, and in so many shades.


    • I’ve tried a few department store foundations, but haven’t been able to find one that justifies spending up to 5 times as much as True Match. I also used Loreal’s Lumi foundation for a while, but didn’t think it provided enough coverage.

      …I don’t know, though. Perhaps if I found a really amazing foundation, I wouldn’t have such a need for concealer…


  2. Amanda J.

    I never know, but thanks for the suggestions. I just buy random stuff and hope it works.