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splurge or save for makeup essentials

If you’ve ever stared down a row of makeup essentials in your favorite drugstore and wondered how long your purchase would last this time, you’re not alone. Many of us are swayed by the low cost of some beauty products, possibly not realizing that we’re compromising quality by saving a few bucks. To be kind to both your budget and your face while building your beauty collection, read on to learn when to be frugal and when to spend those extra dollars.

Foundation: Splurge

makeup essentials - laura geller

Get this on Amazon!

You know you’ve found the right foundation when it looks like you’re wearing nothing. As the base for all the other makeup you apply to your face, and important enough that you’ll likely wear it every day, foundation should be of the utmost quality. A higher-quality foundation, like bestseller Balance-N-Brighten from Laura Geller, offers a wider range of shades to match your natural tone. It won’t be as harsh on your skin as many others.

Runner-ups: Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation and Bella Terra Mineral Powder Foundation.

Mascara: Save

makeup essentials - voluminous

Get it on Amazon for around $6

Because bacteria multiply easily inside most mascara tubes, and it dries out quickly no matter how much you spent, experts advise buying new mascara every three months. Fortunately, even low-cost mascaras can produce epic results, such as Voluminous mascara from L’Oreal. It’s formulated to resist clumping while softening and puffing lashes up to five times their natural thickness.

Runner-ups: St. Mege 4D Silk Fiber Lash and Honest Beauty Extreme Length.

Blush: Splurge

makeup essentials - nars

Get it on Amazon for around $28

When it comes to powder blush, a little dab goes a long way, making it a splurge-worthy item that will last you longer than most other beauty products. With so many pigments available at your local drugstore, you must be careful to avoid those cheaper blushes. They may end up looking streaky, or a different shade once applied to the face. If you like a little shimmer with your rouge, check out this 2-in-1 blush and bronzer from NARS.

Runner-ups: Clinique Soft Pressed Powder and Make them Blush by Pretty Vulgar.

Lip Gloss: Save

makeup essentials - shany lip gloss set

Get it on Amazon for around $13

Often, how a lipstick or lip gloss looks in a package, and how it looks when you apply it, can differ. Most who shop for lip gloss, as opposed to lipstick, are looking more for shine than pigment. So, while the color you see advertised may indeed look different on you once it’s applied, the sheer quality so common in modern lip glosses means that you may find the product is still wearable. This is where the fun is in shopping for budget lip gloss—experimenting with all the various pigments that exist until you find the one that sticks, literally. Try all the shades with SHANY’s 12-piece lip gloss set. Each gloss is infused with aloe vera and vitamin E.

Runner-ups: Laura Geller Lip Hugging Lip Gloss Duo and Ruby Kisses Hydrating Lip Oil.

Eye Shadow: Splurge

makeup essentials - mac longwear paint pot

Eye shadow is not something you want to skimp on, or you’ll end up with unsightly creases, or a rough texture. Even more, cheaper eye shadow fades quickly, forcing you to constantly reapply it, while a better-quality product will last from that morning meeting to evening cocktail hour. Try MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot, which is a long-wearing eye shadow that goes on creamy and dries to an intense, vibrant finish.

Runner-ups: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow and glo Minerals Eye Shadow Trio.

Brushes: Splurge

makeup essentials - makeup brush set

Get it on Amazon for around $17

What’s the point of a stellar collection of makeup without having a good way to apply? When it comes to application brushes, don’t be afraid to spend on these makeup essentials. Cheap brushes will leave stray bristles strewn across your face, while the right tools ensure a picture-perfect application. Just be sure to take good care of your brushes and clean them often. In this department, a collection of high-quality brushes can last for years, even when all the other products have reached their expiration date.

Runner-ups: JAF Brush Set and Morphe 18-Piece Vegan Variety Brush Set.

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.


Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, and VICE.

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