Friday, September 27, 2013

Save or Splurge?

If you've ever wondered if it was worth it to splurge on a new foundation or mascara at the department store, I hope my musings will help a little bit. In my teens and early twenties, I relied on drugstore brands to fill up my makeup case. In my thirties, I've come to have a steady mix of both inexpensive and pricier brands in my stash. So the question, when to spend the money and when to skimp? Here's my take:

Foundation - ultimately, finding the right foundation shade at the drugstore has been the biggest difficulty for me. L'Oreal has tried to institute a system with their True Match line that makes it somewhat easier to figure things out but nothing beats wearing foundation for several days to determine whether or not it's for you. Most department stores offer samples after an associate or makeup artist determines your match. This is something I would definitely take advantage of, especially if gearing up for a special event. Not only will this raise the chances of getting a proper color, but wearing foundation for a few days may help determine any issues with the formula that you may need to address. Assuming the associates know their product well, they could also help you find a formula that suits your skins needs and your lifestyle. So for foundation, I say splurge.

Blush - although I'm guilty of shelling out for a Chanel Joues Contraste or a Burberry blush now and again, this is a territory that I think drugstore brands haven't done poorly in. Admittedly, I'm not a heavy blush user. Some days I skip it entirely because I have a natural redness to my cheeks that I can work with. However, I've found a number of drugstore blushes that have served me well even during formal occasions. This is one item where I think the method of application counts a lot, no matter how much your blush costs. I say save.

Lipstick and Lipgloss- I love a good Chanel Lipstick but even I will admit that those are little luxuries that aren't necessary when Revlon makes perfectly good lipstick in every shade I need. Again, the problem is that when shopping for lipstick, I want to be able to swatch or even try on the color, before I buy the tube. If you know your comfort zone, the task of figuring out which shades work for you will be a lot easier and you should be able to grab some staples at your nearest Target.

Eyeliner - this one is clear to me. There are hundreds of eyeliner options at the drugstore. Many of them perform tremendously well. Want a pencil? I say Revlon. Cream or gel? I say L'Oreal. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error but once you find a formula you love, you'll see why there's no need to run to the department store for a fresh supply. Definitely save.

Eyeshadow - I struggled with my response to this one. See, I've tried a lot of inexpensive eyeshadow. I can't say that there's one line that I'm consistently happy with, whether powder or cream. There are so many options in every possible color and formula but overall, I find that I'm happier with eyeshadow that I buy at the department store. It's not just the quality of the product that makes me feel that way. Especially for the novice, if you are offered a chance to learn a few techniques in putting on your eye makeup, you'll find the department store experience of buying eyeshadow more fulfilling. You don't necessarily have to grab a $90 Guerlain quad. Start with the lower price points and get those tutorials. Try MAC, for instance. So for eyeshadow, I think it's worth the splurge.

Mascara - hands down, this is one item you don't need to splurge on. Drugstore brands have done quite well in this department and the options are limitless. If you end up buying one that you don't love, know that you will be replacing the tube in two months or less anyway. And since they cost so little compared to department store brand ones, experimenting isn't out of the question. Save.

Powders - Do you use powder to set your makeup? Do you touch up frequently throughout the day? Ultimately, this becomes an issue of cost if you go through powder rather quickly. I, personally, have never been able to find an inexpensive powder that I love from a mass retailer. There are a few brands, in various price points, however, that I've had good experiences with at the department store. Clinique makes perfectly decent pressed powder foundation that you can also use for touch ups and they're affordable. But there are some luxury powders that I think are worth the splurge. I swear by Guerlain's but I would recommend it only if it is truly within your budget.

Nails - This is another one that I think depends on whether you do your own nails or not. Obviously, if you go to the nail salon to get your tips done, you may not even ever need to buy your own polish. I usually only get mine done during the summer and I like having my own bottles of polish so that I can touch up without having to go back to the salon, if needed. But because I'm not particularly brilliant at application, I need all the help I can get. This is my justification for buying expensive nail polish. I need a superior formula and a brush that's easy to use. If you're handy with the polish and you go through them like nuts, then by all means, haul away at your nearest Ulta store.

Skincare - I tend to favor a high-low mix in this department. I grew up using Pond's and as of late, I've found that it's still a reliable brand for staples like facial wash and makeup remover. I used Neutrogena moisturizers up until my twenties but lately, I haven't been as happy with their offerings. So for moisturizers, I'm willing to spend a little extra. Clinique's famed yellow moisturizer is still a good basic choice. For day, I'm loving La Roche-Posay's Anthelios SX. This, you can buy at CVS or Ulta and use coupons on. Without discounts though, it's actually more expensive than Clinique.

I know my presence has been intermittent at best and in the last couple of weeks, I've tried to finish up all the half-written posts I've had on draft. I'm looking forward to providing more product reviews soon enough. With this post, however, I will mark the beginning of a hopefully brief leave of absence. Feel free to go through older posts. I try to add little nuggets that you can use here and there so if you're looking for something I've previously talked about, try the search engine at the top left of the screen and see if you might be redirected anywhere within my blog that would be useful to you. I'll be back soon!


  1. Most of the time I go with drugstore brands for most beauty items, including foundation, because I haven't had many issues with matching skin tone and the like (and also I don't like to have that much coverage), and I know I'm very lucky! The only category that I do a mix of high and low end is eyeshadow...eyeshadows, you definitely feel the difference and get what you pay for, plus it lasts forever so I feel you get your money's worth if you're paying premium prices (foundation, mascara, etc has a fast expiration date).

    1. I'm so with you on the eyeshadow! And if skin-matching hasn't been an issue for you, you are so lucky. I don't think I'm too difficult to match especially if wanting just light coverage but my skintone has changed in time and does so multiple times a year. If left unused, it does sometimes feel foolish to spend so much on foundation and yet I find that I still do! Just want that perfect match sometimes.....