MAC cosmetics are generally way too expensive for me, and given the flashiness of the magazine ads, I didn't think MAC items would really be something I can use, even though I like bright colors. But when I finally had the means to upgrade in the cosmetics department, I wanted to nibble on some of it. Why the change of heart? Well, my sister has always loved the look MAC products, but neither of us could afford it. Once she had her makeup done at one of those counters in the mall, and I absolutely loved the eyeshadow she had. It wasn't as over-the-top as I expected--it was edgy yet pretty.
Around the time of Christmas, I had to go shop for Christmas presents, and naturally, I went to the outlet malls. The cosmetic store in the Saks outlet has a number of cosmetic lines at a discount--sometimes small, sometimes quite substantial. I bought myself a pot of plum eyeshadow called Falling Star, and I loved it. It was shiny but still subtle (so I can wear it for work), and it has much better staying power than some of the other eyeshadows I've used. At $10 a pop, it's not cheap, but it's not too out of reach. The next time I went back, all the eyeshadows were gone (from what I was told by the salespeople, MAC products come and go quickly). I ended up buying other MAC products for my family as Christmas gifts. The most recent trip garnered the Coppering eyeshadow and 2 lipsticks. I love them all as well. The copper eyeshadow matches up really well with my skintone. The lighter colored lipstick gives off an intensely bright color for those adventurous days (and goes on smooth and creamy, too), while the darker one is more conservative with a little kick. The fact that I get to save a few bucks here and there makes me less guilty about splurging $30 on cosmetics.
Obviously I'm not made out of money, and the outlet mall isn't exactly close to where I live, so I can't indulge in makeup all the time. To save money, I only splurge on the shades that I know I'll be wearing a lot. For the times when I want a makeup fix or experiment but not want to spend all that much, there's always the local drugstore with their percentage discounts or buy one get one free specials. The L'Oreal HIP eyeshadows work pretty well, and I get 2 colors for the price of one MAC eyeshadow pot. The blue/green combo is great for going out at night, while the orange/gold one is good for both day and night. Unfortunately, I don't like the other available colors.
For a really cheap fix of bright eyeshadows, I love the Revlon palettes. As you can see, I have quite a variety of colors, thanks to clearance sales at Target. They're easy to put on when I'm in a hurry, but the downside is that they tend to crease after a few hours...not the best for daily wear, but swiping it on with a finger does save a lot of time.
Most people say that the foundation is what you should splurge on. Maybe they're right, but my cheap Almay foundation does the trick, so there's no point in getting something else until I run out and they don't make that shade anymore.