We spoke with Beau Nelson, a New York City–based celebrity makeup artist who works regularly with fashion model Iman and Twilight star Kristen Stewart, to get the insider scoop on when you should save and when you should splurge on makeup.
Products you should splurge on
A flawless complexion is worth investing in, says Nelson. "The advantage to buying foundations that are a little more pricey is that you can test for a colour match and texture that works best for you," he adds.
A counter expert at a department store can help you find a foundation that is a perfect match in terms of colour and coverage (full coverage, sheer or in-between) and that has the right ingredients for your skin type.
For instance, people with dry skin need foundations that are boosted with moisturizing ingredients, while those with oily skin are better off with mattifying ingredients. If you buy your foundation off the wall at a drugstore, it's a bit of a guessing game – and there's not as much variety. In fact, you could end up spending a lot of money on trial and error.
Given that concealer is one of the hardest-working staples in your makeup bag – it disguises everything from dark circles to blemishes to redness – you should invest in a high-quality formula that will stand up to the demands of your day.
Department stores have a wide variety of products and textures that target your concern more specifically than drugstore brands. For instance, you might want to apply concealer in a full-coverage opaque stick to banish your blemishes, but for dark circles under your eyes a concealer wand that is specifically formulated with light-reflecting ingredients may be the best choice.
• Bronzer, blush and powder
High-quality powder formulas are definitely a beauty asset. "Department store powders are more finely milled, so the texture is smoother than typical mass brands," Nelson says. Spending a bit more gets you a product that distributes evenly and glides on with ease.
Page 1 of 3 -- Find out why it's worth your money to invest in quality eye shadow and professional makeup brushes on page 2
Many less expensive powders skimp on quality ingredients and use fillers like talc, so pigments are not as true and you don't get as silky a formula.
Letting a professional help you pick the best shades for your skin type and overall colouring will always guarantee a smart purchase. Powder formulas can last for months, so making an upfront investment in these products is definitely worth it in the long run.
• Eye shadow
It's smart to spend a little more money on the right eye shadow for you. Pricier ones are packed with more pigment, so the colour is richer and adheres better to your lids. High-quality eye shadows also crumble and break less easily than drugstore shadows.
Nelson says good-quality tools can take your look from amateur to pro. "The right makeup brushes will make all the difference in the application," he says.
Professional-grade brushes save you a lot of money in the long run because they distribute product more evenly, so you actually use less product over time. Cheaper brushes usually have bristles with blunt finishes that fail to distribute pigment evenly. They can also leave "whiskers" on your face after several uses, which can be a pain to remove without messing up your application.
The essential tools are an eye shadow brush, a powder brush and a foundation brush. "Once you have the tools you need, they should last a lifetime with proper care," Nelson says. Wash your brushes regularly with dish soap and lay them flat to dry to keep them in top shape.
Products that you can save on:
The consistent bestselling mascaras are drugstore classics like Maybelline New York Great Lash (which has been around for more than 40 years) and new favourites like Covergirl LashBlast. These products deliver full lashes just as well, if not better, than many of their luxury counterparts.
"A lot of the best mascara innovations come from drugstore brands," says Nelson. Additionally, mascara has a short lifespan once opened (approximately three months), so you don't need to spend a lot of money when you're going to be cracking a new one open regularly.
• Lip and eye pencils
Because drugstore pencils blend and smudge just the same as more expensive options, they are a great way to avoid spending too much at the register. The pigments hold up against high-end brands and they glide on just the same.
"Pencil formulations don't advance much technologically, so pencils at a mass retailer will be on par with luxury quality pencils a lot of the time," Nelson tells us.
Page 2 of 3 -- Find budget-friendly nail colours, lipstick and more with expert makeup saving tips on page 3
• Nail colour
Most drugstores carry professional brands such as OPI, Nicole by OPI and Essie, which are high-quality polishes with huge colour catalogues – and most cost less than $10. The Quo by Orly range at Shoppers Drug Mart is brand new this season and is a perfect hybrid of professional quality with drugstore prices. Don't forget to pick up a clear topcoat to stave off chipping for as long as possible.
• Lip colours
Great lipstick and lip glosses can be scooped up at the drugstore. You can get a wide variety of textures, colours and good-for-your-lips products without spending a fortune. The new Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick range has more than 50 shades to suit even the most fickle beauty buff.
• Makeup remover wipes
Don't get duped into spending a fortune on wipes – drugstore brands get the job done well and, after all, they end up in the garbage bin after a single use. Pick up an affordable product like Olay Daily Facials to get your face prepped for washing and moisturizing. If natural ingredients are what you strive for, Shoppers Drug Mart sells Yes To Carrots wipes, which are 98.7 per cent natural and paraben, SLS and petroleum free.
When stocking up on fresh makeup for fall, be a wise consumer. Do your research, determine what you do and don't need, and understand that with specific products, a little more money goes a long way.
Page 3 of 3