Makeup: when to save and when to splurge

Back away from the $35 lipstick.

Some must-have makeup products are worth splurging on, but others are a chance to save.

Some must-have makeup products are worth splurging on, but others are a chance to save.

by Melanie Richtman

With an overwhelming array of makeup options available, it can be tricky to know where to spend your money. Should you splurge or save? The fashionista is here to break it down for you.

Foundation: Splurge

For those of you with perfect skin and average skin tone, you can get away with buying cheap foundation with very few issues. However, if you have sensitive skin, blemished skin, very fair skin or very dark skin, you’re going to be much better off spending money on a quality product.

Drugstore foundations just don’t have as many color or formula options as their luxurious counterparts. For example, Covergirl’s “TruBlend” liquid foundation has only 21 shades, whereas MAC’s “Studio Fix” has 40. If you want your foundation to match your skin, you should splurge.


Blush: Save

There is really no reason to spend a lot of money on blush unless you’re truly convinced that Nars “Orgasm” is perfect for your face. (We all know you’re just buying it for the name.)

Unless you want something dramatic like coral or orchid on your cheeks, most regular pink blushes will give you the rosy glow you desire.

As far as texture, you should definitely go with a cream blush, which is easier to blend and has higher pigmentation than its powder equivalents. At about $8, Maybelline’s “Dream Bouncy Blush” is a great option.


Bronzer: Splurge

Expensive bronzers have more finely ground pigments than the basic ones you might buy at Target. Bronzer can break your look if it appears orange, sparkly or ruddy. The finer the pigments, the better results you’ll have.

Look for a bronzer with shimmer, not sparkles, and make sure it’s only one or two shades darker than your skin tone. Finding a good bronzer is especially important if you have fair skin. Choose one with peach undertones, because brown tones will look orange. Too Faced “Snow Bunny” bronzer ($30) will give you a nice glow without looking like you rubbed dirt on your face.


Powder: Save

If you use powder to set your makeup, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on it. Most powders are translucent anyway, so matching the color to your skin is not a concern.

An affordable setting powder will work just as well as an expensive one. NYX Studio finishing powder ($10) is super-fine but keeps makeup intact for hours.


Eye shadow: Splurge

Not only do expensive eye shadows generally have better colors, but they’re more blend-able and have increased staying power.

If you want to wear that trendy aqua blue eye shadow once, go ahead and buy something inexpensive. If you want eye shadow you can wear every day or blend into a perfect smoky eye, you should spend a little more.

Consider it an investment: Eye shadow is going to last you a very long time. Buy an Urban Decay “Naked” palette. It’s totally worth the $50.


Eyeliner: Save

This is more of a personal preference, but I have tried a lot of eyeliners in my day, and nothing compares to the Maybelline “Lasting Drama” gel eyeliner. It goes on smooth, stays forever and makes winged eyeliner so easy to do that people will probably think you spent hours drawing it when in reality it took only a minute.

The best part is that it usually doesn’t cost more than $7. There’s no reason to spend more when the affordable option is so good.


Mascara: Splurge (or save)

The mascara you use depends on the kind of lash look you want to achieve. If you just want to enhance your naturally long eyelashes, cheaper mascara will be totally fine. However, if you want long, thick “notice me” lashes that don’t get flaky, you’ll have to splurge on something more high-quality.

Benefit’s “They’re Real!” mascara is life-changing. The full-size tube is pretty pricey at $23, but you can buy a smaller one for $10 (the better option in the long run, because mascara is supposed to be thrown away every few months).


Lipstick: Save

If you have one lipstick color that you love and want to wear every day, feel free to buy an expensive one like Chanel or MAC.

In general, though, lipstick is a place to save — especially if you like to experiment with colors. Unless it’s really cheap, it’s not going to dry out your lips. You might think buying expensive lipstick will ensure that it lasts longer on your lips, but any lipstick can have staying power if you know the right tricks.

After applying your lipstick, blot it with a tissue, layer it with translucent powder (yep, the same kind you use to set your foundation) and then apply another coat and blot. It’ll last all night.