Beauty splurges – we all have them from time to time. Sometimes it’s worth spending the extra dollar for that super-smudge-proof eyeliner, or foundation that perfectly matches your skin tone. But let’s be practical. A lot of us out there have the kind of budget that is much more suited for shopping at the drugstore. That’s not to say that our cosmetic bags need to be lacking in quality products. More than ever, drugstores are carrying affordable alternatives to popular prestige products. Need some proof? Here are a few of my latest budget-conscious finds that will make you think twice about dropping tons of cash on their high-end counterparts.
If you haven’t had a chance to try one of these cleansing polishes, they will totally blow your mind. It’s massaged onto dry skin, and then wiped away with a muslin cloth dipped in warm water. Makeup (even stubborn mascara and eyeliner) is removed with ease, and your skin is left feeling clean, but also baby soft. I had first tried the Liz Earle cleanser, which is absolutely fabulous. In addition to introducing me to this whole non-traditional method of face washing, it’s also chock full of beautiful all-natural ingredients and has a lovely botanical scent. The only downside? A starter kit (one full-sized bottle of cleanser and two cloths) will set you back $24.50. I stumbled upon a very similar product while browsing the ULTA website. This No7 version has the same primary ingredient of Cocoa Butter as it’s high end cousin, and for twice the size (200 ml versus 100 ml) rings in at only $10.49. While it’s lacking in the natural ingredients and is not paraben-free, the No7 Hot Cloth Cleanser is still hypo-allergenic, and works just as effectively at removing makeup. If you’re interested in seeing what the hot cloth cleansing craze is all about, this drugstore find is a perfect place to start without investing too much cash.
This NARS primer is my Holy Grail of eye primers. I made the investment after much research and reading of several rave reviews, and it was worth every penny. It makes your shadows blend more evenly, wear longer, intensifies their colors, keeps them from smudging, budging, or creasing, and has a translucent finish. What more could you possibly ask for? The only downside is that one tiny tube will set you back $25, which, if you wear shadow daily, is a price you may have to pay every couple of months. Given how much I love this product, I was willing to make the investment. But then I discovered NYX HD Eyeshadow Base and the game was changed. This product is remarkably similar in color and texture, is just about as effective, but costs less than half of what the NARS primer does. Looking at the ingredients list, it’s easy to see why they perform so similarly. The first four ingredients listed on both labels are EXACTLY THE SAME. There are many other shared ingredients, that only differ slightly in proportion. Considering the two tubes are almost identical in size (NARS at 0.26 oz, NYX at 0.28) and in formula, it seems kind of crazy to spend $25 on the high-end primer when there is a comparable drugstore option for $7.
Since the BB/CC craze started, I have to admit that I’ve jumped on the bandwagon alongside everyone else. I had previously been a straight mineral powder wear-er, after being scared away from liquid foundation in my late teens. Lately I find myself loving the light-to-medium coverage of BBs and CCs, the dewy finish, as well as all of the great skincare benefits. For the most part I’ve been sticking to high-end products, like Dr. Jart+ and this solid option from Supergoop!. This Supergoop! CC Cream is free of parabens, fragrances, and oxybenzone – relying on titanium and zinc oxides for its SPF 35 rating. I’m not going to delve into the bigger debate of physical versus chemical sunscreens, but the long story short is that I believe physical sunscreens are generally healthier for your skin. I do think this a great product that offers decent coverage of blemishes and imperfections, but also know that $32 is a lot to drop on a single product. Physician’s Formula has started making some really great organic and natural skincare products, and their CC cream offers a lot of the same benefits as Supergoop!’s for half the price. It’s made with all-natural ingredients, only uses physical sunscreens (although the SPF rating is only 20), wears very similar to Supergoop!, but only costs $14.95.
There is a special place in my heart for my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Palette. It’s my go-to choice for subtle contouring and highlighting. The powder is so finely milled that it doesn’t leave your face shimmery, but rather gives it this incredible glow that most other products can’t come close to. It is also will cost you a whopping $58, which might make your wallet cry a little. While I wouldn’t go so far to call this NYX finishing powder a dupe for Hourglass, it is definitely a way less expensive option if you’re looking to get a glow without oodles of shimmer. The original palette has a bit of a blueish cast when the colors are swirled together, so I find it more effectively used to highlight select parts of my face, rather than an all over powder. There is also a Sunkissed version that I’ve heard wonderful things about if you are looking for a bronzer alternative to contour with. And at only $9 you could easily afford to buy both!
A neutral palette belongs in every girl’s makeup collection. They’re so incredibly versatile – helping you to create everything from a traditional smokey eye, to that no-makeup makeup look. Urban Decay’s original Naked Palette has been my good old standby for years now, offering a collection of shimmery and nude shades in warm toned golds, beiges and bronzes. At $54 it’s a bit of an investment, but if you consider it to be your one do-all, go-to palette it seems worth it. But, if that’s still a bit outside your price range, Maybelline has come out with a pretty decent alternative. The Nudes Palette offers 12 matte and shimmer shadows in a variety of neutral colors. The formula isn’t quite at the same level as Urban Decay, but for a fraction of the cost (retail is around $12) it will definitely get the job done.
This may be the one situation where I am not currently in possession of the prestige product for comparison. Now, I am well aware that YSL is known for the quality of it’s cosmetics, especially its lip products. But $35 is just way more than I’m looking to spend on a lip gloss or stain at the moment. Fortunately for me L’Oreal offers this much more budget-friendly option that’s remarkably similar to its YSL cousin. This doesn’t surprise me all that much, considering that YSL and L’Oreal Paris are both subsidiaries of the same company. This lip gloss/stain hybrid leaves your lips with a gorgeous wash of color. The texture is rich and smooth, and even as the glossiness wears away, it leaves behind just that little hint of tint. And, with a $10 price tag, you an invest in 3 different shades for the same price as one from YSL.
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