Pretty Little Things

Over the years, I've become quite a makeup junkie. Although makeup is not a part of my daily routine, I do have fun experimenting with colors and techniques, in the same way I do with clothing.

Getting my "art supplies" together is a rather interesting exercise. As much as I love my visits to Sephora, I certainly can't afford to shop there often. Besides, pricier makeup isn't necessarily "better"--it may contain better quality materials than drugstore brands, but a) the "better" ingredients may not be making that much of a difference, and b) they might not necessarily work well for you. It's all about being selective--deciding what requires top quality, and what will make do with less. Here are some of the variables and equations I take into consideration:

-Frequency of use--sometimes, the price is correlated to the volume of the product. Hence, one thing to think about is the cost-per-use ratio. If the particular product will be used regularly, it doesn't hurt to have a lot of it on hand. However, if it is rarely used, it does not make sense to buy in bulk.

-Mix high and low, just as we would in terms of clothing--determine which article of makeup requires the quality, and which does not; what's more important, and what you can care less about. For example, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to invest more in finding the right foundation/tinted moisturizer and skimp on the rest. By contrast, black eyeshadow is going to look pretty much the same across the board; a $1 pan of black eyeshadow is not going to look that much different from a $16 pan, unless you want extra shimmer or some kind of overtone or irridescence.

Alternately, think about which cheap items have failed you in the past--there is no use in throwing good money after bad, even if it is not a whole lot. In my case, cheap powder blush never stays on very long, so I decided to upgrade it; my Nars Taos blush, although on the pricey side, looks great and stays on for hours.

-Round and round we go--for drugstore makeup, pay attention to the circulars and shop the sales. If there is a particular drugstore product that you really want to try, chances are it will go on sale at some point. Sometimes it's buy one get one free, while other times it would be a certain percentage off. If it is an item that will last a while, I would wait for the percentage off sale instead of jumping on the buy one get one free sale--what would I do with 2 tubes of mascara? However, buy one get one free sales are wonderful for the types of makeup that could use some diversity, such as lipstick, lipgloss, blush, and eyeshadow. It's nice to get two colors at once.

-Save on the ordinary, splurge on the exotic--I'm not advocating splurging on some newfangled yet unproven technology that promises to make you look 10 years younger. What I mean is to invest on something that is practical but a bit out of the ordinary. For example, MAC has all sorts of crazy colors that are simply not available in the drugstores, so I am willing to pay more for a special color that has not been knocked off (yet). However, if I want a typical brown or beige eyeshadow, a drugstore brand will do.

-Subtle vs. dramatic--if I want an eyeshadow that is light but still noticeable, I would spend a little more on the subtle color because the more expensive eyeshadow has better staying power. With more intense colors, even the cheaper brands should have just enough pigment to last a while.

-Beauty Primer--a primer can keep cheap makeup attached to the skin a lot longer. One big problem I have with cheap eyeshadow is the lack of staying power. It creases like crazy, no matter how much of it I've put on. However, this problem is much ameliorated through the use of a primer. I got a tube of Urban Decay's primer potion for about $16, and it has worked like a charm--the cheap eyeshadow stays put, and the tube lasts a very long time.

-Tools and technique--here is an illustration of why they are important. Some time ago, I got together with a couple of friends for a Girls' Night In. One activity I suggested was something of an "Iron Chef" for makeup--we limited ourselves to a small pool of makeup that each of us brought along. A lot of the makeup I brought along was drugstore makeup, and I saw my makeup artist friend work magic with them using her set of professional-grade brushes as well as the other dinky brushes that the rest of us brought along. Having good brushes is certainly important, but the technique was what really made a difference.

The Sonia Kashuk for Target line has been touted by fashion magazines, and to some extent, I agree. I've bought a few of the brushes, and I am pretty happy with them. The concealer brush bristles are stiff enough to provide structure, yet soft enough to apply thoroughly. The eyeshadow blending brush is super-soft. I have had varying degrees of satisfaction with the other eyeshadow brushes, but I have an overall good impression of them. The brushes do go on clearance, so if you want to get something beyond the basic eyeshadow and blush brushes, I would wait for the right opportunity.


ambika said...

I am in the *exact* same boat when it comes to make up. I don't wear much but the stuff that goes on every day (under eye concealer) has to be bought in a big tube and has to be quality. I've never seen much difference in mascaras so rarely splurge there. & my one Mac eye shadow is this fantastic, shimmery peacock green I just don't think I could find elsewhere. The beige eye shadow is from Target, tho!

Chimera said...

my daily makeup routine is -light foundation (MAC) and compact(MAC again), eyeshadow (I have set of 6 colors frm MAC and other assorted from maybelline), liner - the pencil is Maybelline and liquid is from Almay, for the mascara it is Maybelline again and lip gloss is Loreal. I think since my complexion is Asian Indian I tend to get the right shades only from MAC - ya they are a tad expensive but i pick them at the outlet mall and they last an entire year!

Sales Rack Raider said...

Seems like MAC is the purveyor of hard-to-find shades! I get most of my MAC stuff at the outlet mall as well--a few bucks saved here and there is enough for a new lipstick, nail polish, or eyeshadow.

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