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Makeup: Save or Splurge?

Happy Monday! Being budget conscious, I’ve wanted to write a post for a while about what products you can save money on and what products you might want to splurge on. I should preface this by saying that of course you can save on all of these products, but I wanted to write this as if you were like me, that is, you can splurge every now and then, so what should you splurge on? Enough of this rambling introduction. Let’s begin.

Ombre Lipsticks


  • Mascara: When it comes to making lashes longer and thicker, it’s up to the brush, more so than the formula. That means you can skip on expensive formulas without sacrificing your chic look
  • Unusual Colors: If hot pink eyeliner magically became “in” this season, you wouldn’t want to drop big bucks on it. It could be out of style next season. Drugstore brands are great for testing trends out. Ditto if you want to try a lip color that you don’t normally wear. If you try it and love it, you can always go and get a higher end formula
  • Lip Balm: Even if you have to apply it 3 times a day, as long as it stops your lips from getting chapped, you can get away with a $1-$3 product
  • Makeup Brushes: I really love how soft luxury makeup brushes feel. But besides that initial feeling, I find that my Target bought brushes do just as good a job on application.


  • Lipstick (sometimes): I should say that I have quite a few drugstore brands in my arsenal, but if I’m going to splurge on something, it’s usually a lipstick. There are some great drugstore lipsticks, but I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t tell the difference in both color payoff and creaminess when I apply something like YSL (which I don’t anymore since it’s not cruelty-free! sadness)
  • Everyday Eyeshadow: I used to be a diehard e.l.f fan and in a lot of ways, I still am. However, since purchasing a higher end palette for every day wear, I’ve noticed that 1. I use a lot less product. 2. It feels silkier and smoother going on and 3. There are less duds. You know the dud eyeshadows: the deep chocolate brown that comes out as a faint wash of color when you actually apply it or the eyeshadow that’s inexplicably difficult to blend. All brands seem to have them, but there are certainly more hits than misses in higher end brands

Either (Highly Personal)

  • Foundation, Concealer: I went back and forth about where to put this one, because there are some drugstore lines that have a great range of color (hello Loreal True Match). At the same time, it’s going on your face–that area that can get breakouts, clogged pores, etc. It’s more important to nail your foundation and concealer than other products. You can make a slightly off lipstick work for you. Breaking out or finding your face is a different color from the rest of your body? No, no, no. So while there are a lot of great drugstore brands out there, splurge if you need to or else you’ll wish you weren’t wearing foundation at all.
  • Bronzer: I would have put this in the “save” category, except for my trouble finding a great drugstore brand. I’m sure there are some great drugstore products, but being pale and having a cool skin tone, I needed something a little lighter and slightly less orange than what was on the market. There’s a point when you realize you are going to spend more searching for a great cheap product, than if you were to buy just one expensive product that works. Again, highly personal depending on your skin tone.

So what do you think? Any products that you save on? Splurge on? Let me know in the comments below!

43 thoughts on “Makeup: Save or Splurge?

  1. great post!! i completely agree with what you say. save on trends and splurge on what matters most ❤
    instagram: the_ch1ara

  2. YES! I’m so glad you talk about the wand of the mascara vs. the formula. My favorite mascara is $12. I picked my mom a new one out that was $8 and she said, “OH MY GOSH I love this mascara!”

    • It’s so true. I haven’t actually bought a new mascara since 2013 because of samples that came with palettes, for my birthday, etc., but when I purchased them more often my favorite cost less than $10. I think I prefer it to some of the higher end mascaras I have samples of!

  3. This was a great read! I’d personally put foundation/concealer in the splurge category since, yes, they require a lot more color matching and when those are off- your whole look is off. Also, you can’t TRY them on at the drugstore in order to prevent this and can end up throwing away a lot more money during the process than the $5 to $8 you may spend trying drugstore lipsticks and mascaras. I say splurge on your face products then mayyyybe once you know what looks best/works for your try to find a drugstore dupe. Love your blog 🙂

    • Thanks so much. I could see it both ways. I personally prefer higher end foundation for the reasons you mentioned, but a lot of people go through it pretty fast so it might be worth it for them to find a drugstore dupe.

  4. I 100% agree with the bronzer point. I think it would be an easy save, but as a pale girl myself I haven’t found a single drugstore match for my skin!

  5. Loved your list 🙂 I tend to save on lipstick because it’s not something that I LOVE. 5 shades from an affordable brand like Milani will give me all I need 🙂 But I have a question about the foundation section… I find that higher end brands tend to last a lot longer and they have more variety (pale skin over here), esp when you only support brands that are cruelty free. Before going cruelty free I used to use the L’oreal True Match and I noticed that you mentioned it. I was wondering if L’oreal is now cruelty free?

    • No, it is not. I used it quite a few years ago, maybe 10 before I really made the commitment to go cruelty-free. I used to really like it because their cool tones weren’t super pink like a lot of other drugstore brands, but I guess that’s life.

  6. I’m with you on the mascara and eyeliner for sure. I like to try so many different kinds that I find myself using the ones that came in my ipsy bag more often than the $30 Clinique full size I own. The one thing I find that is a must for splurge is my makeup brushes. With as often as they need to be cleaned, the cheaper ones just can’t handle it. It’s like buying the cute knock off dress at Forever 21. After about 6 washes its not looking so cute anymore.

    • Yes, I actually haven’t bought mascara in over year because I keep acquiring so many samples. Good to know about the brushes. I hadn’t thought of that point.

  7. Great post V! I totally agree with you on the items that I splurge on especially lipsticks. There are a few designer go-to brands that I stick with because I know I can depend on the pigmentation and staying power. And yes I have a few eyeshadow palettes that are in heavy rotation especially the Naked ones! Have a great day hun! 🙂 xo~ Lena

  8. Reblogged this on riotgirlredux and commented:
    Agreed! Some things definitely splurge on – like lipstick or eyeshadow. Other stuff, even beauty tools, you can get for bargain prices. #bbloggers

  9. 🙂 I used to spend lots of money on high end products, often for the lovely packaging. Now I will just buy high end if I really can’t resist the color or formula. I’ve found great drugstore brands that I prefer over high end products, this includes the whole range.
    And again, I’ll only buy expensive high end, if I can’t resist the packaging 🙂

  10. For years I love L’Oreal Lash Out and then it was discontinued. Since, I haven’t found another drugstore mascara that I love. So, I have been using Shiseido Defining Volume and UD Cannonball.

    I typically splurge on eyshadow. My skin seems to eat up or evaporate most drugstore formulas.

  11. Pingback: Save or Splurge: Fashion Edition | Say Hello to Gorgeous

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