5 Makeup and Beauty Products That Are Worth Splurging On...and 4 That Are Not
Makeup and skin care can be pretty expensive. They can also be pretty cheap. It all depends on what you feel is worth spending money on and what isn’t. For me, over the last few years as I’ve gotten more into both it has crystallized for me what I am willing to splurge on and what I am fine with penny-pinching on.
Actives and Treatments
Let me preface this by saying that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on skin care or actives in your routine. I use a ton of The Ordinary products that work well for my skin. But - I have also used higher end treatments and serums that have made a world of difference in my skin while their more affordable counterparts have not. Retinols, AHA/BHAs and Vitamin C serums are all items that I am willing to spend a little extra on. Mainly because the quality of ingredients can make a world of difference.
Not Worth It
There are a ton of cleansers on the market that claim to do a lot of magical things for the skin. From tearing acne to minimizing pores. I give a lot of these claims major side eye. Why? Because cleansers are probably the least effective way to treat any skin care issue you may have. It’s a product that you apply and then immediately wash off. For me the most important things I look for in a cleanser is that it is gentle and does not mess with the pH levels of my skin. You know that feeling of tightness or dryness you get after washing your face? Chances are the cleanser you are using is stripping your skin of it’s natural oils and screwing up you pH level. There are tons of affordable options for gentle cleansers that clean the skin without stripping it. CeraVe is one that many people love and swear by. I use Vanicream which is formulated for sensitive skin and doesn’t have any harsh ingredients of sulfates that strip the skin. And it costs less than $10.
Okay hear me out on this one…there are brands on the market right that make amazing affordable eye shadow formulas: ColourPop being one of the best. Milani is also a great one. And Wet N’ Wild is okay as well. But outside of those three brands most drugstore or “affordable” eye shadow palettes don’t hold up very well. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have all day to sit and layer on shadow for 20 minutes to get it to look nice. If you are an eye shadow palette junkie like myself there are things that you look for in eye shadow formulas that play a huge part in how great your eye makeup will look on any given day: Pigmentation and blendability. And unfortunately a lot affordable brands haven’t quite gotten there yet. But - and there’s a big but here. Price doesn’t always equal quality. There are higher end brands with just as many formula issues as affordable brands’ have. Which is why when I am deciding to buy a higher end eye shadow palette I look for reviews on it. I look for blogs and YouTube videos that will give me an accurate idea of how they apply. And I make my decision from there.
Not Worth It
Over the last year or so I have tried a few high end mascaras. And fro the most I’ve really liked them. Hourglass Caution Mascara and Milk Kush Mascara being two personal faves. But I simply can’t justify the cost. Not for a product that you will have to throw away in three months times. And there are so many drugstore mascaras to choose from that are amazing that it simply doesn’t seem cost effective to me to purchase high end mascaras. At least not full sized tubes. I have been indulging my higher end mascara desires by buying mini tubes of the formulas I enjoy. They are the perfect amount of product for the half the price of a full sized. One mini usually lasts me exactly 3 months. I can live with re-purchasing a mini sized high end mascara for $12 as opposed to a full sized for $30.
I have tried a decent amount of liquid liners and most of them have been drugstore or affordable brands. And most I have hated for one reason or another. Usually the problem is the applicator, the pigmentation or both. I recently started using a couple of higher end liquid liners and it was a game changer for me. Suddenly winged liner wasn’t so anxiety-inducing (though don’t get me wrong, I still break out in a sweat when I do winged liner). My current fave is Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner. The felt-tip applicator is easy to use, The liner itself is pigmented and dries down to a nice matte black. And it does in fact stay all day. I have really sensitive eyes and the Stila liner doesn’t budge when my eyes get irritated or watery.
Not Worth It
My favorite lip liner is Urban Decay Nighthawk. And it costs $20 a pop. Which I loathe. Because lip liners just aren’t worth that much. There are amazing affordable liners on the market that work just as well - and in some cases - better - than their higher end counterparts. ColourPop, NYX, Revlon, and Wet N’ Wild all make amazing lip liners for a fraction of the cost of higher end brands. So why do I continue to buy Nighthawk? Because it’s my perfect “my lips but better” shade, it works well with a ton of different colors in my lipstick collection, and I use it nearly every day. It’s the only way I can justify buying it. And I use it down to the nub. And then grudgingly repurchase it.
I love a good drugstore foundation. It’s kind of a small obsession for me. When a new one comes out I just have to try it. And I justify it because they are so cheap. But there can also be a lot of trial and error with shade matching which can wind up costing you a bit more than you intended. I tend to purchase two shades of each drugstore foundation I buy simply to find my b est shade match. It’s not so cheap after that. But the foundations I reach for again and again? My higher end ones. Why? because usually the shade selections are better and so are the ingredients and formulas. Now this isn’t true for every foundation of course. One of my faves is the Too Faced Peach Perfect Comfort Matte foundation. The formula is amazing. The color selection? Not so much. But brands like Nars, Estee Lauder, Lancome, CoverFX, Fenty? All have great formulas with great shade ranges. But at least with most higher end foundations you can go to someplace like Sephora and get shade-matched and even get a small three day sample to try the foundation out before you purchase. My current go-to foundation is the CoverFX Power Play foundation. The shade match and formula are fantastic and the finish is one of the best I’ve ever tried. But it isn’t cheap. As someone with oily skin, with larger pores who works long days, having a foundation that performs well, lasts and sits on my skin nicely is worth the money.
Not Worth It
Yep. You read that right. You’re probably thinking, “Ameerah, you literally just wrote a whole diatribe about why foundation is worth it.” Hear me out: If finding a shade match isn’t an issue for you, if you are on a budget or simply can’t spend a ton of money on foundation but want something that works pretty well then…nope high end foundation maybe isn’t worth it for you. There are tons of great affordable foundations on the market right now and drug store brands are working hard to improve their shade ranges. One tip I have is to find a foundation at Sephora you like and get shade-matched and then take that sample with you when you shop for your drugstore foundation. Even though you can[‘t test the drugstore foundation out before you buy this will give you a guide to go by.Some of my personal fave drugstore/affordable foundations are the Physician’s Formula Healthy Foundation, CoverGirl Vitalist Healthy Elixir, Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Foundation (and concealer!) and The Ordinary Serum Foundation.
I’ve tried a LOT of setting powders in my time and I have found only one drugstore powder that I would ever recommend. But higher end setting powders? I have a small list. Higher end setting powders tend to be more finely milled which gives your skin a less powdery or cakey look. I avoided spending money on setting powders for a long time because I mean…it’s powder. But it can play such an important part in the finished look as well as the staying power of your makeup. My personal faves are CoverFX Matte Setting Powder and Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder. I’ve also heard rave reviews for the Too Faced Peach Perfect Matte Setting Powder and it’s on my wish list!
What beauty products are you willing to splurge on? What products aren’t worth it to you?
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