Friday, January 26th, 2007

Not everyone can afford the prices of high-end cosmetic lines like Chanel, Dior, Estee Lauder, Lancome, MAC, etc. And there are many who do not want to spend a lot of money on cosmetics, either. This is a guide, of sorts, to help direct price-conscious consumers to cost effective products that actually work. Many more drugstore cosmetic lines are coming out with products that are made to rival higher-end items.

There are several brands that offer great, more inexpensive alternatives for your cosmetic hauls. One of my favorites is called NYX, and I would consider it one of the best cosmetic lines I have tried–and the price is right. Their eyeshadows are extremely pigmented, and several colors are perfect dupes compared to MAC’s! Shadow textures are lovely, and apply evenly and smoothly with little fuss. NYX offers single shadows as well as shadows in sets of three, blush, and various lipglosses and eye/lip liners. Prices generally range from $3-7 for most items they offer. I would say that the only serious drawback from buying NYX is that it is not often readily available at your nearest drugstore. However, several sites offer it online, so that is always a good option for those who cannot find it in our local store.

Most drugstores seem to carry two very low-budget lines: NYC and Wet ‘n Wild. When I am looking to try out a new product, I often see if I can purchase something from either of these companies because sometimes you can score items for a dollar! Both offer full lines of cosmetics, including foundation, eyeshadows, bronzers, and travel-sized brushes. They also make decent false eyelashes, which are perfect for anyone who wants a pair to try–or those of us who often wear them once and throw them out. Far cheaper to buy these for one-time wear than MAC ones! While both of these lines are incredibly affordable, I do have to say that the quality is not near high-end brands. You get a little more than what you pay for, but neither of these are my favorite in drugstore brand cosmetics. Although, NYC does make lovely lipgloss!

Many high-end users supplement their collection with finds from Milani, which offers several identical dupes to MAC existing shadows. These shadows are well-pigmented and apply smoothly, and again, these are perfect for anyone with a small budget. Milani has a full line, so there are many products for customers to select from. Sometimes Milani is so sought after that your local drugstore may have sold out of many options! Similarly, Rimmel offers some quality products, though I would say their shadows do not work quite as well as Milani or NYX.

On the more expensive side of drugstore cosmetics lines is L’Oreal’s HIP product line. This line was meant to give you high-end cosmetic quality with drugstore prices. They did not quite deliver, but they did give you a result worth checking out. The prices for HIP range from $7-15, with many of their eyeshadows running around $10. When I think about saving money, it seems odd to pay $10 for an eyeshadow from L’Oreal when I can a higher-end product from MAC for the same price (for pans) or pay a few dollars more (for pots). They do offer gorgeous color choices, and even have loose color like MAC’s pigments. Some shadow colors are harder to work with than others, but many can be used with great success. The selling point of this line is that the colors are supposed to be highly pigmented, and this is usually true. Although, their foundation has much left to be desired; too much yellow/orange in the color selection.

There are numerous brands of cosmetic lines constantly being inventoried in your local drugstore, and it is overwhelming. Many products offered through these lines are worth buying; companies like CoverGirl and Maybelline would not have stayed in business if their products were worthless! Instead of continuing by listing brand names and thoughts on them, here are some tried and true products available at your local drugstore:

CoverGirl LastExact Mascara — One of the more recent mascaras to be launched, and it is definitely a great one! I hear so many rave reviews about LastExact, and I am no exception. I will admit that sometimes it does not quite work as well as I want to, but usually it works just fine. I find have no need to pursue a better high-end mascara, and I get along fine switching between my drugstore versions.

Maybelline Full ‘n Soft — I adore this mascara. I have used it for several years, and even though I have tried other mascaras, this is still my favorite one for lengthening, thickening, and building up my lashes to make them full ‘n soft!

L’Oreal Automatic Pencil Eyeliner — This used to be my black eyeliner of choice. It was a great automatic-sharpening kohl that gave my lower lash line the perfect smoldering look. Although I have replaced this with a high-end product, I still recommend this as an amazing alternative. When I used it, so many people commented, asking what liner I was using, and they were shocked it was just L’Oreal.

L’Oreal Colour Juice — Gorgeous lipglosses that are fairly sheer and in different fruit flavors. They give lips that lovely glossy look, making them seem plump and… juicy.

OPI & Sally Hansen nailpolishes — I have always been a huge fan of both lines of nail polishes. They come in a variety of colors and finishes, and I love that Sally Hansen adds strengthening to many of their products. I find that either of these brands are often better than many high-end nail polishes.

Ardell lashes — Ardell makes a huge assortment of false eyelashes for a variety of needs. You can find bold lashes or singles to add fullness to your own natural lashes. These are quite affordable and can be reused.

L’Oreal True Match — This foundation gives decent coverage and comes in a variety of colors. I have already found my holy grail in foundation in a high-end brand, so I cannot say I am too willing to experiment — trust me, lovelies, once you find your dream foundation, you will find a way to earn the money to buy it!

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse — So many good reviews about this product makes it a definite foundation option to check out next time you are browsing the cosmetics aisle.

The best way to purchase and try drugstore cosmetics is to find a retailer that does allow you to return opened and tested makeup. I know Rite Aid has this policy, and it is a great way to give a drugstore brand a chance without losing your money. This is one of the reasons many people prefer high-end brands, because they have the luxury of testing and trying a product before they buy it. Many beauty websites offer reviews by real customers, like, which also lets you swap makeup you no longer need/want. And if you cannot seem to find the brand or color you want, there is always, which offers thousands of products, and most of the time, shipping is free when you spend more than $25!

Just because you cannot afford or do not want to spend a lot of money on your makeup does not mean you will not be able to find quality products that fit within your budget, whatever it may be.

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

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115 thoughts on “Buying Makeup On a Budget

  1. Stevoulina

    Hey cool tips!!! Thanx! :) I love Milani and Maybelline! :)

  2. I love NYX products! I have like almost all there eyeshadows.I love these tips!!!

    • Awesome! I can’t find any place locally that sells NYX, otherwise I’d probably have more!

      • Chocolate Wookie

        Most Walgreen’s and Walmarts have NYX… Well at least down here in Puerto Rico.

        • Sheikah

          Wow, really?? Tell me where because I’ve never seen NYX products here in PR and I want to try them badly. I’ll go run there haha. At least the walgreens I’ve been to don’t have it.

        • ivive

          i think you mean NYC because ive never seen nyx here in PR sorry

      • mithi

        have you checked out ULTA? ULTA usually has a wide selection of NYX

    • Victoria

      NYX i can find in any “corner” hair store. (not sally’s) lol, so check your local “hair” stores for the NYX line:) hair store-a place where they sell wigs, hair weave…

  3. S-

    Milani is an all time fav:)

  4. Ewa

    UKer here. Just want to say that I love Bourjois make up – I know it’s hit and miss with most people, but their stuff is addictive. It’s quite pretty for stuff you can pick up in Boots or Superdrug! And yes it works well too 😉

  5. Denise

    Urban Decay and Too Faced are my drugs of choice, but working at a popular retail store, I can’t help but try out all the new drugstore lines, 10% for work-related knowledge, 30% just because it’s in front of my face and in easy access, and 60% for personal enjoyment :)

    Aside from the products you recommend, I would also keep an eye out for the Jesse’s Girl eye shimmer line (available at all Rite-Aids; I wouldn’t compare them to actual pigments, but they are still great fun and a great value), the Physicians Formula line, the L’oreal True Match foundations, concealers, and blushes, Sally Hansen Lip Plumpers, L’oreal Telescoptic mascara and Bare Naturale mineral foundations, Jane eyeshadows (harder to find brand bthese days, but they come out well-pigmented and long lasting), Rimmel eye crayons and liners, and more. Revlon has also come out with a very exciting Limited Edition line that ranges from powder liners to lash jewels, etc, as well as some beautiful eyeshadow quads. The L’oreal HIP line is also pretty great with the exception of their foundations; yes it can be costly but you also have to consider that not every place has an Ulta or Sephora, or even a department store, while even most of the smaller communities have a Target (who also accepts opened cosmetics) or Walgreens, and not everyone wants to blindly order a product without seeing it in person. Actually all of the HIP shadow duos I’ve seen have been $7 or less; my favorite by FAR is Sassy. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome it is! Watch out for sales, many drugstores frequently have Buy 1, Get 1 Free sales!

    • Thanks for your input, Denise! I love hearing viewers’ opinions 😀 I saw the lash jewels, but they were SO expensive – like $13. I have to wait until they go on sale to try :) But I got very excited, haha.

  6. Sofie

    GREAT site! :) And great tips :)

    It would be easier to compare the cheaper brands with MAC if you made a few looks with these products. I’d love to see that :)

    I live in Denmark where MAC eyeshadows are like 20-30$ and Rimmel, L’oreal and Maybelline shadows are about 12$ .. The cheapest shadows you can find here are 4$ and they just SUCK!
    Buying decent make-up on a budget can be pretty hard over here 😉

    • Hi Sofie! It’s tough because since I can afford MAC, I buy almost strictly MAC, but I’ll try if I can!

      Ouch! Those prices sound pretty terrible! I have some friends in the UK who always ask their friends in the States to ship them over a bunch of goodies at once. They say it saves them money in the end.

  7. nyx is sold mostly are beauty supply stores and discount clothing stores

  8. Ali

    I’m curious- which high-end black eyeliner has replaced your L’Oreal Automatic Pencil? Thanks :-)

  9. Sara

    Thanks for this great article. I have just started my final project and I am doing a fashion shoot and I need budget make-up (first time I am doing this sort of thing)!

    Just want to know, I live in the UK, and I am looking for some sort of budget body powder – whitish and shimmerish…any suggestions?

    This site is really useful for me at this point as well – as I am not someone who is greatly into make up!

    • Hi there, Sara! Unfortunately, having never been to the UK, I don’t know exactly what brands are available there, but I can tell you that budget body powder isn’t going to be TOO bad across the board – you’re likely to be able to find something that works for you in any line. I believe Wet ‘n Wild and NYC brands have cheap body dust that you can use fairly easily.

      I’m glad you find the site helpful 😀


  10. kelsy

    thanks for all the great info. i must know which foundation is your hg!

  11. kia

    hi christine! how does the satinfinish compare to your studio fix fluid, if you tried it?? i absolutely love it.. just want to hear your opinion as i’ve never tried the studio fix fluid.

    • Hi Kia! I did try it, and I hatedddddd it. I felt like it made me feel like such a greaseball, LOL. It felt very… wet to me when I applied it, and unlike Studio Fix Fluid, it goes on lightly, so I felt like I had to use more than usual to get the right level of coverage. Throughout the day, I did feel like it would move a bit/melt on my face… so I’m sticking with SFF!

      Butttttt, tons of ladies love Satinfinish, so if you find that it works for you, then that’s perfect!

  12. tee

    I wasnt impressed with the pigment in the Milani shadows. However, the NYX..WOW! This is great! Nice pigment, great staying power, and smooth application. Gorgeous colors too!
    I also like the Jane shadow pots, but am finding them hard to come by these days. I usually use the Urban Decay shadows. But lately been switching back and forth with the NYX. Have yet to find the holy grail of Mascara.

    • I haven’t personally used Milani, but I hear many good things from fellow MAC addicts about it, so it’s disappointing to hear they aren’t that pigmented. I definitely agree on the NYX, though! I really wish it was easier to find around me. I remember Jane was probably one of my first eyeshadows!

      I love L’Oreal’s Telescopic mascara, but I wish it would give more volume.

  13. Tessa

    Wow! I’m so jealous of your huge stash of make up! I wish I could apply it like you do, I have no artistic abilities! Your tutorials really help but for some reason mine doesn’t turn out like that i’m somewhat eyeshadow impaired lol..You have such a great website, my sister and I find it so helpful. I’ve heard of NYX products and where I live we have several grocery stores that sell it just like revlon, maybelline, rimmel etc. So I was thinking is it really that good? If you had the availibility of the product, do you think you would buy more? Being that it’s much cheaper than MAC is it better than MAC? And which ones from NYX are your favourite to work with as in finish and colours?

    • Hi Tessa! Aww, well you should just keep practicing, and everything will come together, really 😉 I’m completely self-taught, and I gained SO much just by constantly doing my makeup.

      I’m happy to hear that you two find the site helpful, that’s the whole purpose!

      I would definitely buy more NYX if it was easy to get, because of how affordable it is. I have six shadows by NYX (two trio palettes), and I enjoy all the colors. They have great color pay off and don’t fade away. One trio is a coral-pink, pale yellow, and green like a kiwi. The other trio has two bright pinks and a bright sky blue.

      It’s not necessarily better, but it’s very good, and I really do love the quality you get for the price you pay; that’s what would make it a better buy than MAC.

      • Tessa

        Heyy! You’re such a sweetheart, thanks for all the tips, it means alot to me :). And I will keep trying, practice makes perfect (haha so cheesy yet so true!). The technique I find hardest is when you use about 4+ colors, I don’t have 4 different versions of the same color so I’m not sure what to do, I really like the effect though. I can do 2 colors and blend those together (with the help of your blending tips, I tried it last night and it turned out really well :D). But it was only 3 colors including the highlight, pretty sad lol. What I was thinking of doing was buying some key colours such as blue, pink, green, purple etc. by NYX, maybe some from MAC as well, then getting pigment(s) to use as the contrast or base. What do you think? I want like a popping effect that you get with the pigment. I have green/blue/hazel eyes, yes yes they’re very odd lol they change color slightly which is the most weirdest part! So I’m not quite sure which colours would be appropriate for me, I like to be neutral with the nudes and browns and that’s only type I can do really well on myself for now.

        • Hi Tessa!

          To be honest, sometimes you really don’t need more than 2-3 colors in a look, but when you have SO many shadows to choose from… you just sort of use one, then another, and it keeps building until it’s out of control! If you can, you want to have a medium color and then a darker version of that color, so like a medium green and then a darker green, because that way you can darken it with the darker color, and you can always lighten by putting a white or beige type shadow on top (just a little) or going lighter with the color in general (just less shadow, I mean).

          We all have to start somewhere, and you’re using a highlight, which most people don’t even do, so you’re way ahead of the curve!

          I adore pigments as bases… I pretty much use them all the time – I find they work way better than paints and fluidlines and whatever else.

          My eyes are green/hazel, so I’m sure you could get away with whatever colors you think work for my eyes :) I would defintely recommend greens and golds, though! They’re easy to work with, and they aren’t too “crazy.”

          • Tessa

            Hey! Oh my gosh! I’m really excited I took your advice on colors and I went and bought a 15 pan palette from MAC, I just figured, why not!? So I took my time just looking through all of them and seeing which ones would be best for me :). Then I had an employee assist me, I told her what I was looking for and she helped me pick out some really great colors, I had so many bland colors at home that didn’t help me very much. So I pretty much said I want bright, vibrant colors..basically all of ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, i’m sure you already knew that though) plus some others. I wanted to make this the ultimate palette where I could kind of have a little bit of everything. I also purchased a couple of NYX shades, the selection was very limited, but I got rust and champagne, which I’m very happy with. As for the MAC palette, I’ll tell you all the colors, I’d really like to hear what you think about it, if you mind that is. The palette consists of: Humid, Ploof!, Flashtrack, Freshwater, Goldmine, Coppering, Stars n Rockets, Hepcat, Amber Lights, Steamy, Expensive Pink, Swish, Swimming, Crystal Avalanche and Creme de Violet. I hope I did a good job lol, most of them are of the veluxe pearl finish, I like the way it shows up on my eyes and it’s easier to work with for myself. However, I did have some others from before which I had some trouble working with, the MAC associate showed me some new ways to incorporate them, they are: Honesty, Star Violet*, Shale*, Sable*, Satin Taupe, All That Glitters, Greensmoke* and Blackberry*. The ones that are starred are the ones that were difficult. How would you use them? Are there shades that I have that would go really nice with them? I also got 3 samples of pigment: Melon, Vanilla and Fairylite. I’ve never used pigment before but I hear much praise for them. If theres any tips or color combinations you could give me I wouldn’t mind hearing it, any way thank you so much for your advice, you’re like Momma MAC when it comes to this stuff LOL!

          • Wow, Tessa! I’m so excited for you, and wow, you sure went all out! I remember my first palette, and it was sooo fun!

            You picked AWESOME shadows for your first palette! You picked several of my absolute favorites, and so many of them have such awesome color payout. You did a good job! Veluxe pearl is one of the best finishes. My favorites out of the ones you bought were Humid, Freshwater, Goldmine, Coppering, Stars ‘n Rockets, Amber Lights, and Swimming. I haven’t had too much luck with Swish or Creme de Violet personally, though – but I haven’t played with either in quite some time.

            Star Violet has been known to be a stinker, and I haven’t owned it because of that, so I can’t help you there! I see a lot of the colors you have as being great crease colors like Star Violet, Greensmoke, and Blackberry. The other colors, I believe, are more neutrals, so they’d make great lid colors. You can definitely pair Greensmoke with your newly bought Swimming and Humid! You might try using Star Violet over a purple-tinted or pink-tinted base to help increase its visibility, Blackberry would go well with pink, purple, and brown looks.

            Melon is a gorgeous! It’s one of my favorite pigments. Vanilla is a great highlighter, and Fairylite makes a good base and highlighter as well. You can use Melon on cheeks for a highlight/shimmer, or you could add some to your lipgloss to give it a tint of coral/orange. To use it on your eyes is great, too! You can use that with Phloof!, Goldmine, Coppering, Stars ‘n Rockets, Hepcat, Amber Lights, Expensive Pink, Swiss, Crystal Avalanche, or Creme de Violet! You could also it use it with most of your previously bought shadows like Honesty and All That Glitters.

            I love using Melon as a base, Goldmine on the lid, and Coppering on the very outer lid and in the crease, plus any highlighter color above the crease.

          • Tessa

            Hey! Aww thanks so much Christine! I tried to get something that was somewhat universal, I noticed that creme de violet is really not good lol to put it lightly, it doesn’t show at all on me. I think out of all the colors I have that’s the only one I’ve had problems with. Plus, I really love pigments! They work so great and melon out of all three is my favorite, it’s such a sweet color and I plan on investing in some more pigments soon :)! I was thinking, what colors would you reccommend getting? Like pretty much every woman should have? Oh, yes and what do you do for creasing? I have similar lids to yours, where theres like a fold in the eye, however I have like 2-3 of them in one. I do put a little bit of my foundation and then cover up but it doesn’t seem to help.

          • Tessa

            Hey, I’m sorry but is there a reason why my question wasn’t answered?

          • Oh, Tessa, I must have missed your comment – I don’t even remember reading it at all! Sorry about that :(

            I’m happy to hear you are liking the pigments – they’re so much fun. They’re my favorite :)

            Hmm, a lot of my must-have pigments were limited edition, so you probably can’t buy them at the store… but the ones that are permanent, I like Pink Opal (great highlighter for cheeks and brow), Golden Olive (great green), and Tan (for a good medium brown).

            Are you using any sort of base other than the foundation? I use mixing medium to apply pigments, and I always use pigments as a base. But there are bases by L’Oreal like Decrease, or you can use Urban Decay’s Primer Potion.

          • Tessa

            Hey Christine! No problem, I totally understand :) That’s no good about the pigments, I would have really liked to get my hands on gold dusk! I think they should bring some of them back lol same with the couture eyeshadow palettes, I didn’t get a chance to get my hands on them! But yeah I usually just put a dot of foundation either some that’s on my applicator sponge or my brush, let dry, then some pressed powder, not too much and then I apply my eyeshadow. In the end, right in the middle of my eye it’s creased and quite bare from before as if it just travelled down into the creases lol. I haven’t thought of using pigment as a base only because I don’t quite get the concept. Would you use a similar color that you will be applying later or a neutral and then applying your color? Plus, have you tried the primers that you have recommended? Thanks again!

          • I think MAC is coming out with several new pigments over the next few months, so hopefully something similar will come up!

            When I use a pigment as a base, I generally use a similar color, because it helps really make the shadow colors come out. For instance, I’ll use Golden Olive pigment for a green look. You can also use more neutral toned pigments and layer any color over them, too. I tried Urban Decay Primer Potion, and it didn’t really work for me, but TONS of people swear by it, so I think my experience was more of a fluke!

  14. Bonnie

    Makeup on a budget… hmmm. I’ve had some of the cheapest makeup around as well as some of the most expensive. By and large, MAC has the best payout. I have a lot of their colors, but not nearly all. As for their mixing medium, it’s expensive. Nevermind that it lasts a while, for someone starting out, it’s that initial cost that’s daunting. So… go to your local craft or party store and pay about two bucks for a bottle of glycerin. It’s in the cake decorating section. Using distilled or filtered water and the glycerin, you can make your own. Mix three parts water with one part glycerin, shake, shake, shake, let it sit for about a half-hour, and you’re good to go. I have mixing medium and my own mix and they both work the same. The mix feels a little different going on, maybe a bit more ‘there’, but once it’s on and dry, you’ll never know the difference. It’s great for messing with cheap makeup without wasting expensive product, and considering that about 3.00 gets you about 8oz, the price is definitely RIGHT!

    Go girl! LOL…

    • Hi Bonnie! I have always used homemade mixing medium using gylcerin and water ;D The MAC stuff comes in SUCH a huge bottle, and there are yucky gooey things that float around in it (which DOES occur in the homemade version, but since you can make smaller amounts – you can make a new batch every so often).

  15. Cris

    First of all I´d like to tell you you are a gifted woman, blessed by the talent of
    managing well the brushes and the colors. I´m from Brazil and I think your article
    about saving money or buy good products with a small budget is a type of paradigms break because I see here in my country that high – end products have a price that some people
    cannot afford. I´m a MAC addict but I use drugstore lines (as Maybelline, Loreal) or better lines as Avon and the brazilian brands natura (, O boticário (, contém 1 grama ( and Yes cosmetics ( and now I´m starting use NYX after they open a store here.
    Most of MAC users just think of MAC, MAC, MAC and sometimes I met girls with much prejudice about drugstore lines. It sucks! My currency is Brazil is more than half of USD Dollar, so it is really difficult to pay double for high-end products.
    When I started to buy my first high-end products, mainly MAC it was like a fever, a kind of sickness and then I realized that I needed some help to prioritize some colours and a basic makeup bag, so now before buying something, I research prices at Ebay, some sellers and providers and read makeupalley and foruns on the internet. Your site has great tips. Congratulations!

    • Hi Cris! I’m so glad you found the article interesting! I will definitely check out those Brazilian brands you mentioned! Thank you for sharing your experience – I love MAC, but I know that it isn’t always the best, because there are tons of great cosmetics lines out there.

  16. Heidi

    I just wanted to add that E.L.F. makeup is the most budget friendly makeup out there. Each piece is only $1, available in Kmarts and on their website.

    I love their lip and eye products.

    • Great suggestion, Heidi!

      • flea

        hey this is flea… in san diego….BLISS…LONGS DRUGS on friars rd…and 54th and EL CAJON(the metro shopping center) has a great selection of nyx…so does INSYLE BEAUTY SUPPLY(MISSION VALLEY) STORES..ULTA…THEY ALL HAVE DIFFERENT THINGS….SOME HAVE MORE THAN OTHERS…BUT…YOU HAVE TO SHOP AROUND ANYWAY…

    • Yes! Was about to make a comment about it, and realized you already had! I have some of their products, including lip glaze, eyeshadow quads, and clear mascara, and they are all incredible!

  17. Erika

    I get alot of my stuff at the mac counter but the pro items i buy on ebay. You can find a lot of things that you either can’t afford or can only buy at the pro store for CHEAP!!!

  18. Ashley

    Having heard you rave about NYX products, I decided to hunt around for them. At long last, I found a place… ULTA! In fact, they’re running an ad right now for buy 2, get 1 free on all NYX cosmetic products. I went and picked up a few trios and was pleasantly surprised. Thanks for the tip!

    (PS: I don’t know if this applies to all Ulta stores, but if anyone lives in or around Sacramento, you should be able to find them there)

  19. Melissa

    Thanks for all the great tips! I am one of those users of high-end cosmetics who supplements with dome drugstore finds. Some of my cheapie faves are Maybelline Great Lash, Bonne Bell Lip Lites in Mocha Mousse, and L’Oreal True Match Foundation (which actually matches my impossible-to-find-foundation-for-yellowy-beige skin).

    • I’m just like you! It’s hard for me to buy a zillion liners and mascaras for $14+ a pop, you know? I’ve gotten more into high end liners, but as for mascara… not so much!

  20. Sandy

    Thanks for the website.. I love all the infomation you have here!

    I was looking for NYX makeup in my area and ran across the website.. hope this helps!

  21. Sandy

    Maybelline Full ‘n Soft
    CoverGirl LastExact Mascara
    L’Oreal’s Telescopic mascara

    I’m looking for a GOOD mascara to supplement my new (tiny compaired to you! ;p) collection. I’ve read that you like the above three.. which is best?

    • Hey Sandy! I guess my favorite would be L’Oreal Telescopic, because it gives the most dramatic lashes. They’re all quite good and comparable, though!

  22. Sandy

    LOL, You have so started an addiction for me! I tell my husband it’s all your website’s fault. ;p
    Thanks SO much for ALL your help so far with my endless questions as I gleam knowledge from you!

    Here’s my collection so far – I started this weekend:
    Bronze eye shadow
    Goldmine eye shadow
    Cork eye shadow
    Woodwinked eye shadow
    Naked Lunch eye shadow
    Honey Lust eye shadow
    Royal Assets Warm Eyes collection
    Your Ladyship Pigment (will prolly switch out for the holiday pigment set)
    Untitled Paint tube
    Heirlooms 4 Face Brushes
    Viva Glamorous 3 warm lips
    Majestic Lipglass
    Mineralize Skinfinish Medium
    Whirl Lip Pencil
    Gingerly Powder Blush
    Stubborn brown Powerpoint Eye Pencil
    Zoom Lash in zoomblack (I know, not a must have.. but it’s MAC so it shouldn’t be bad, right?)
    Stuido Fix Fluid NW 20 (OMG! LOVE it! I had never used a brush to apply base before – what a difference!)

    Again, thank you for your help. Your website lets me do research before I buy so I don’t feel like I’m ‘trying out’ and wasting money. I pretty much know what I’m looking for going in based on your swatches and knowledge.

    Please look over my items and let me know if there are any MUST haves that a newbie like me needs. Or anything on my list that you hate and I should take back before I begin using it all.


    • Sandy! WOW! What a haul! I think all of your items are good and worth keeping! I’m so glad you love Studio Fix Fluid — it’s my favorite foundation thus far. Zoom Lash isn’t bad at all; it’s a pretty good mascara. I am digging Plushlash more, but you can never have too much mascara, LOL.

      I am so happy to help you out, Sandy! Feel free to ask any questions :) I think you have a good bit to play around with for now!

      Be sure to pick up a few of the beauty powders that come out later this month, though. Those are gorgeous!

      • Sandy

        Ooooh yeah… I read the difference in mascaras on the MAC website and you are right… I’m switching out Zoom for Plush tomorrow!

        Which of the beauty powders are you talking about? The holiday pigment collection?

        • They’re coming out with the Of Beauty collection, November 15th I believe! They are finely milled loose powder to highlight and add subtle color (can be used all over). The MAC PRO line has several out, and I have them all – they’re to die for!

  23. Jamie

    I wanted to add that Prestige makes excellent eye liners. I always buy mine at Walgreens. They’re like 2 bucks, plus they always run BOGO sales. I also love Jordana eyeliners…my favorites are “Morning Coffee” and “Black Out.” You can read reviews on these liners at My fave mascara right now is CoverGirl Volume Exact…I’ve been reading a lot of rave reviews on their newest addition, Lash Blast mascara, as well. I’ve recently been using Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Cream Foundation…I hadn’t used liquid foundation in years, but this stuff is pretty awesome. I use “Classic Ivory (Light 2)” and it matches my fair complexion wonderfully–something that’s hard to find oftentimes, plus it has SPF 18. An excellent, must-have hair product: TRESemme Tres Two Extra Hold Hairspray…I used to use Kenra’s hairspray, but I’ve found TRESemme’s to be just as good and WAYYYY cheaper (I pay $2 for a huge can of TRESemme, whereas I paid $5 for a Kenra sample size!!). Plus, they use it on my favorite show, “Project Runway”:) Last but not least, my fave foot cream is a cheap one you can find almost anywhere–in drugstores or even at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s called Miracle of Aloe Miracle Foot Repair Cream. I think I paid like $7 for a huge tube. This stuff is awesome…works better than pricey items I’ve tried. It’s got 60% Ultra Aloe in it, plue 0.1% Menthol, so it not only softens your feet, but soothes them and eliminates odors as well. It’s also safe for diabetics to use. As a waitress, this foot cream is a godsend when I’ve come home from work.

    • Thanks for all the tips, Jamie! I personally didn’t love Volume Exact, but Lash Exact wasn’t bad!

      Love your other recommendations — really great for the budget gal!

  24. Sandy

    Hello again.. I’m not sure where to put this tip.. but hopefully it will be okay here:

    Did you know that you can recycle your old MAC Cosmetics containers? The ‘Back to MAC’ recycling program allows customers to select a lipstick of their choice with every six MAC cosmetic containers returned. Best of all, customers do not need to mail in their containers or provide proof of purchase with a receipt to get their free item.

    Tonight the sales lady told me that if you go to a stand alone MAC store that they let you pick between a lipstick, eyeshadow, or lipglass. Sample containers do not count! Darn ;p

  25. Hey ladies, since I found out about Ebay. Thats where I purchased alot of my makeup. I brought 2 Hip duo shadows for only $10.00 and as you can imagine I’m increasing my makeup inventory!

  26. jerkygirl

    Hi Christine–just happened to find this site today (linked to it through Popsugar) and I really enjoy it!!! I love the smokey eye tutorial and may try it out. Yours looks better than a lot I’ve seen, believe it. :)
    Also wanted to add that I have found a foundation that I absolutely LOVE–I was using Cover Girl’s TruBlend powder foundation, which is supposed to blend in perfectly, but I always found it a bit cakey-looking, so just out of curiosity I tried their Advanced Radiance Sheer moisturizing makeup (liquid, comes in a tube) and topped it off with the Advanced Radiance pressed powder. I was SO happy with the results, it’s practically invisible but evens out my skin tone and does a lot to control shine. Also the makeup has SPF 15 in it so that’s a plus. It says it’s “age-defying” (chuckle) but I would recommend it to anyone of probably any age looking for a more affordable foundation and powder.
    Thank you again for such a helpful website–I’ll definitely be back again!!! :)

    • Hey Jerkygirl! I’m glad you’re enjoying the site, hope you keep coming back! :)

      Thanks for suggesting CG’s Advanced Radiance foundation! I’m so happy to hear it’s working out for you.

  27. Amanda

    I have looked at all your tutorals and eyeshadow combinations, but I was wondering what is the best base to put on/or mix with the eyeshadow that will be your base. Thanks.

    By the way I LOVE this site.


    • Hey Amanda! A lot of people like Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, but I personally use pigments with water-based mixing medium underneath my shadows. I pick the pigment based on what kind of colors I’m going to be using.

  28. Amreen

    hi…am frm India…bt i still think ur sites been great at advice…altho am nt earnin or w.e nd MAC seems to cost abt 800 bcks a khol pencil….i still think dat fr basics u cn afford to splurge a bit on regular wear stuff lik black liner nd d ilk….bt am sooo jealous of u- coz am a huge make-up freak still d fact tht u get to use all those gorgeous and absolutely adorable MAC’s is lik so WOW!!

  29. Jen Klein

    I just found your site today through BellaSugar and I have seriously spent about an hour on it. Such a great site!!! As a college student, I’m always looking for bargains, although I do have a huge weakness for Sephora!!! I love Maybelline Full ‘n Soft mascara, I’ve been using it for about a year now, and it’s definitely my favorite cheap mascara. I’ve never really worn foundation, but I recently tried out my roommate’s Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse and really liked it and I am considering purchasing it. I also tried out Stila Sheer Color Tinted Moisturizer at Sephora, and although it costs a bit more I liked that as well. I am a huge fan of Stila and have never had any problems with their products on my sensitive skin. I’m wondering if it makes more sense for someone like me, who has never really used foundation and really would only want light coverage, to purchase something like the Dream Matte Mousse or a tinted moisturizer, since I assume that would be more lightweight?

    • Hey Jen! I’m happy you found the site and are enjoying it :) It means so much! It’s definitely great to look out for drugstore bargains when you can. You definitely only need a light foundation, so a tinted moisturizer is a great idea (or the Dream Matte Mousse). :)

  30. kat

    hi!your site is great!i love it.just wanna ask something ive purchased a liquid shadow on Victoria’s Secret,i think its more like of illuminating shadow.i dont know how to use it okay if ill just sweep on my lid or what?help

  31. kat using maybelline and loreal.and i really so much in love with makeup.i have tons of questions on my head right now.staring with,do eyeliners normally smdge or it’s just my eyeliner who smudges?i really want to leran how to put simple color pallete is between purples and i think off-white(it’s like the complement of purple,when you buy the color duo palletes).can u teach me how to put those on?and i have this maybelline concealer that is really made for eyes,how do i put concealers?

    oh god,im sorry,i have a lots of questions,coz i really think your site is the most informative site ive ever been to!thanks. ü

  32. TT

    You might want to try Max Factor Volume Couture Mascara–it’s cheap and I absolutely adore it (and I’m VERY picky about mascara–it has to lengthen, separate, hold a curl and give MAJOR volume). It’s definitely the best drugstore mascara I’ve ever tried.

  33. Deenz

    What are your must have NYX eyeshadow colors? Which specific shadows compare to MAC’s …thank you and god bless 😉

    • Hi Deenz! I don’t own very many NYX colors, unfortunately, otherwise I could definitely recommend you some. I have found that they generally have good pay off out of the few I do have, so I don’t think you’d be disappointed.

  34. Cristina

    I found some great make up
    NYX cosmetics.
    the price isn’t bad there colors are hevily pigmented and there foundation and conciler are true to color.
    The most expencive iteam is like $15.00 and that’s a brush.
    You’ll love it check it out ladies.

  35. gracee

    wow great article! I am a teen with unsteady sources of income (lifeguarding, parttime work @ a book store, summer camp job). So I really cant spend all I want to on make-up. I try to budget and read up about my purchases first on MakeUpAlley or read about MAC here on Temptalia ( I have already picked out what I want from the Fafi line). I think it is great to research first online and budget so you can go into the store sephora or mac and know what you want to buy. i stick to drugstores for physcians formula, nyc shimmer eyeshadows and loreal and aussie hair products

    • Hey Gracee! It is definitely good to research before you dive on in, and it’s great that you’ve found some drugstore brands that work for you!

  36. Michelle

    Thanks for this wonderful article!!! I too am a huge huge fan of MAC products and for the most part when I can purchase I do. I’m also out at the local stores seeing what goodies I can find. I tried an eyeshadow trio from NYC & I wasn’t too please with the quality, the color hardly showed even when on my shadow brush there appeared to be alot I could apply. I do have a question for you (or any of the folks who also post) about the L’Oreal True Match. Actually, I’ve been using L’Oreal Bare Naturale Foundation & I’ve debated in the past about going drug store brand vs. high end foundation. Hence, dealing with the problem of being able to try on products before I buy them. I like light with good coverage but not cakey, at first Bare Naturale was like this but some reason now it looks quite cakey on. Anyway, I’m wondering if anyone has any opinions on good powder foundation: L’Oreal Bare Naturale Foundation vs Bare Minerals vs MAC. Quality & coverage wise.

    Thanks again for all your wonderful reviews!

    • gracee

      Ohh I think I have the bare naturale you are talking about. I have it in light and its a little too light for my skin. I recntly bought Bare Minerals in Fairly Light. it broke me out! So I have been waiting a week to try it again and have been back to using bare naturale. It is a little cakey and I would say i get way better coverage from bare minerals. also I love the mineral veil. Idk about mac foundations but I am planning to try the new loose mineral foundation they are coming out with soon. For now I am using a combo of bare minerals/ loreal
      Hope this helps!

    • Hey Michelle! You should try NYX if you can, they’re a great drugstore brand, as is Milani.

  37. Christine Too!

    heyyyy!!!! firstly, I am completely IN LOVE with your site, it’s been up on my comp for the past week because I’ve been exploring everything! You are SUCH and inspiration and you are AMAZING for creating this site for makeup fiends like myself lol

    your blogs have been MOST helpful especially this post because I am a college student so, as you know, I am flat broke most of the time lol

    i do have one request tho, i was wondering if you cud do a post on the ESSENTIALS that every beauty queen should have in there make up box. I just got a Sephora gift card and I want to make sure I get my bang for my buck.


    -The Christine on the East Coast lol

    • Hey Christine!

      Well, I don’t know other brands as well as I know MAC, because Sephora carries SO many brands. You should check out brands like NARS & Urban Decay at Sephora, though. They are my faves from there!

  38. ayat

    I absolutely love NYX and a lot of times I use NYX e/s along with MAC and it’s great!

  39. WANNIE

    Does anyone know where I can find Milani Lipstick #15 Satin Taupe? I don’t know they have discontinued it or what.

  40. andrea

    Hello! i love this tips, but I need your help… I am from Guatemala Central America and here we do not have MAC´s products and I would love to try this!!! does anybody know what can i do to get these? I would appreciate your advice!!

  41. Asma

    I can’t believe that you have learnt to apply make up on your own, I still have difficulty applying eyeshadows. My eyes look horrible.
    Here in United Arab Emirates MAC eyeshadows cost 70 dhs, Which is very very expensive compared to NYX (36 Dhs). drugstore brands are expensive too over here. So I don’t own too many makeup products. I have never tried MAC :-(.
    I was thinking of buying a golden colour (I don’t remember the name of the pencil) eye shadow crayon or pencil thingy from NYX to use over my entire eyelid as a base. Is it a good idea. please let me know.

    • Hi Asma,

      It takes a lot of practice :) Just keep at it, and you’ll get the hang of it!

      NYX is a decent brand. You can use concealer or L’Oreal’s De-crease as a cheaper base, by the way!

  42. Stephanie Schwartz

    I found some amazing make-up at an ethnic beauty supply store. It is called “Sinful Colors” and it is to die for! The cost for a pallett of 3 colors is $3.99!!! You can also buy individuals for $1.99. What a steal!

  43. jenny

    hey christine!
    does the L

  44. Paris

    i love your tips. thank you. and i am currently living in puerto rico can you tell me where the wig stores ane or the name of the store please. and also do you know if they sell them in any store in Plaza Las Americas? thanx.

  45. Nice blog! ;P

    I love Isadora & Maybelline makeup. =P A lipgloss i am “so loved” with are couleurs nature plumping sheer lipgloss from Yves Rocher. I have every color from them! Average price. Even my mom borrow those lipgloss time to time, since they are her favorite. =P Loreal glamshine are also nice, but i hate the applicator. ^o^ But i think i prefer higher brands than cheaper onces, cheaper makeup tends to smell weird. XD

  46. Sri

    your article made me bit nostalgic.. 😀
    I am a drugstore makeup girl when I was high-school and college..(now I have a job & salary, and move to MAC or MUFE)
    I’m still purchashing my favorite Revlon lipsticks & liquid eyeliner, Maybelline mascaras, nail polishes (local brands and some from unknown Chinese brands) and lipglosses from my local brands.. 😀
    but I found their foundations are not very appealing to me..