So, a few weeks ago, Froggy challenged me to put together a start-up kit of makeup, using drugstore products, for $50. (Well, using the word “challenged” makes it sound like she came to my house, called me out, threw a gauntlet on my front steps, and told me to pick my second as we would be dueling at dawn the next morning. It wasn’t like that. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Froggy owned a gauntlet. ;) )
I am pleased to report that I did it! and came in $1.50 under to boot. OK, so I didn’t count sales tax. And I did the majority of the shopping at Target and (hides face) Wal-Mart. I know! I know! But getting a whole face full of stuff for under $50 is hard! If you don’t want to shop at Wal-Mart, you can call it an under-$60 challenge and do it wherever you like. I live quite near a Wal-Mart but I didn’t realize how small the beauty department at this particular store was; only two aisles, and short ones at that. So you may have even more options than this!
Below I’m going to give you the basics and what they cost. Tomorrow, there will be suggestions for adding on to or changing products out of this collection.
For $48.50, according to prices in-store and online, you can get a foundation, a concealer, an eyeshadow quad, an eye/brow liner, mascara, a blush, a lipgloss, and brushes. That’s pretty darned good, I think.
It will be no surprise to regular readers that I’m going to go for the Almay SmartShade Anti-Aging Foundation (SPF 20) for $10.97. I use this myself and like it very much; the sunscreen does not break me out, the product does not clog my pores, and the shade matching works very well. (I reviewed an earlier version of this product here.) It comes in only a few shades, but the color-matching technology is good enough that it should suit most people. If you prefer a mineral powder foundation, I’m opting for L’Oreal Bare Naturale, which I’ve also reviewed previously; this was available at my Wal-Mart for $10.50.
Again, sticking with a on old standby that has worked well for me for both undereye circles and for blemishes: Cover Girl CG Smoothers concealer stick, $5.99 at Target.
There are a few products on the market that do double duty as eyeliners and brow liners. (Obviously, they are brown.) Brown eyeliner looks good on anyone, and if you get something that also matches your brow color (or, preferably, is a tiny bit lighter), then you’ll in effect be getting two products for the price of one. Can you use a regular brown eyeliner, one that’s not specifically made for brows, as a brow pencil? Sure — but because those formulas are usually a little creamier, it might smear.
Because cost was a primary concern, I went with Cover Girl Brow and Eye Makers 2-pack for $2.86. The package even comes with a sharpener, which is handy. Maybelline makes a comparable product which does not require sharpening and costs $4.48. Getting this one instead will put you 12 cents over the $50, but I have to say I think it’s worth it. For the sake of the challenge, my official pick is the CG for $2.68, but I strongly suspect the Maybelline product is superior. I have to admit that if I weren’t aiming for a $50 target, I’d probably have recommended separate eyeliner and brow powder/pencil, just because it’s hard to get something that’s the right texture for both different uses. Prestige Cosmetics makes excellent inexpensive eyeliners in a variety of colors (if you go to their website, don’t be distracted by the fact that they are picturing lipliners instead of eyeliners; they look just the same and the color selection tab at the bottom works properly to show eyeliner colors); they are $5.39 at ULTA but can usually be got cheaper elsewhere.
In terms of mileage for the buck, you can’t do much better than a nude trio or quad. Most lines make some version of these, so you’ll have options. In general I think neutral shades are safe to buy in the drugstore; I tend to go high-end if I want something that’s bright, bold, or highly pigmented. (And, I admit, it is luxurious to have some high-end neutrals too.) Here I’m going with Rimmel’s Color Rush eye shadow in Smoky Brown (or Smoky Brun, depending on whether you’re looking at the product or the display!). You get two lid colors, a highlighter color, and a crease color, all for $4.28. You don’t have to use all four; you can just use one lid color and call it a day. But at least you get options.
I chose the nude quad because everyone looks good with a natural eye. But if you’ve got some brown shadows at home already and are looking for something different, you can get similar sets of mauve- or blue- or grey-tinted neutrals. And take your skin tone into consideration — some lines’ nudes lean a little warm, and some a little cool. Again, I’d stay away from the ultra-brights if you’re just starting out.
This is a category I thought a lot about, and I have to confess that my eventual recommendation is not actually a mascara I’ve tried, but it’s one that’s gotten very, very good reviews, and quite a lot of them. For several years I used Maybelline Lash Stylist, until it was discontinued, and around that time I switched to Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes!, which I love and so I don’t see myself going back to drugstore mascaras anytime soon. Because I stuck with Lash Stylist for a few years, I missed a lot of the other mascara releases that happened during those years. So, take it with a grain of salt, but know that I read a lot of reviews.
The product I’ve picked for this challenge is Cover Girl Professional All-in-One Curved Brush Mascara, which retails for $3.99 at Target. It also comes in a waterproof version for the same price, if you prefer that, but I don’t tend to recommend waterproof mascaras as a first option as I find they are more likely to irritate my eyes and are harder to remove. (And at Target, if you want to get the straight brush instead the curved one, you’ll save another 10 cents! Srsly — it’s $3.89 while the curved brush is $3.99.)
Right now there’s a lot of buzz about Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara, which is a little pricier, but one of the things that people commonly complain about in regards to Lash Blast is that the enormousness of the brush makes it difficult to control application of the product. If you’re looking for a starter set, it’s probably better not to get something that hands you a steep learning curve straight out of the package.
Here I went with Maybelline Expert Wear Blush ($4.48), because they offer a wide range of colors: 13 blush colors and 3 bronzer colors if you prefer a bronzer instead of a blush (same price). Revlon also offered some nice-looking blushes, but the color range wasn’t as wide and prices were in the neighborhood of $8-8.50 instead of $4.50. They do look like interesting products, though, and they offer cream, powder, and mineral formulas, so if you don’t find anything in the Maybelline aisle that suits you, I wouldn’t hesitate to hop over to Revlon.
For someone who’s new to makeup, a gloss is IMHO a much better bet than a lipstick or lipstain — easier to apply, less worry about smearing or smudging, less worry about the color being too strong, etc. Glosses do come in a wide range of pigmentation (more is better) and stickiness (less is better), and after carefully perusing the options, I went with Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss, which Wal-Mart had for $5.94. I actually purchased the Cherries in the Glow shade I’d mentioned the other week in the Drugstore Red Lippies and Glosses post, and like it very much. It’s very sheer and I can’t think of anyone who couldn’t wear it. It definitely does not scream “HELLO MY LIPS ARE VERY RED!” like some lip products can. They also have a variety of other tones: pinks, corals, and nudes. P.S. — Dear Revlon, I still hate your website. Plz fix it. OKthxloveyoubye! — Voxy.
So, since you’re going to throw out all the applicators that come with those packages (right? you are, aren’t you?), you are going to need some brushes — at least for the blush and eyeshadow, and possibly to smooth out the foundation or apply concealer in hard-to-reach spots as well. Fortunately, there is a perfectly priced set of Essence of Beauty brushes available at CVS (their exclusive retailer, so you won’t find them elsewhere): a six-brush travel pack of face brushes for $9.99. This package contains the following: powder brush, blush brush (either of these can really be used for blush), eyeshadow brush, shadow eyeliner brush (in case you want to use the dark shade out of your quad as an eyeliner), smudger brush (so you can blend the colors in the quad together), and concealer brush. Voilà! Everything you need. Like Ecotools, Essence of Beauty brushes are far better than their price point might lead you to believe. I just bought two sets of EoB brushes for myself — not the travel set I’m mentioning here, but a two-pack eye brush set and some dual-ended face brushes.
So, where do we stand with the math?
Almay SmartShade foundation: $10.97
CG Smoothers concealer: $5.99
CG Brow and Eye: $2.86 (but really, think seriously about the Maybelline; I’ll send you the twelve cents. If you get the straight brush mascara instead of the curved brush at Target, there’s a dime right there, so you’d only be TWO cents over!)
Rimmel eyeshadow quad: $4.28
CG Professional mascara: $3.99
Maybelline ExpertWear blush: $4.48
Revlon Super Lustrous lipgloss: $5.94
Essence of Beauty brush pack: $9.99
Note: In addition to tomorrow’s post on possible additions to or substitutions for items in this list, I’m planning to do another one of these kind of posts for higher-end products, probably a $100 Sephora challenge. (I can’t do it on $50.)