Quick Beauty on a Budget


On the snow day I planned to write this article, I discovered both my makeup kits had been stolen. What a disaster. In a pinch, I needed product for clients of all ages, sexes, races, needs and situations, and didn’t have a lot of time for trial and error. Knowing this, I made a mad editor’s dash to Hunt Valley Towne Centre.

My first stop was Wegmans. They offer a small selection of some of my biggest budget go-tos, e.l.f. Cosmetics and NYX. On this trip, I actually snagged an old pink and green standby, Maybelline Great Lash in waterproof for $3.99. I am not one of the devout users of this mascara, but I find this version is not too clumpy for meshing false lashes with a bride’s real ones and preventing mascara tears.

I am a big fan of the brand’s Tattoo eye product line, so I snapped up five of their easy-to-apply cream waterproof shadows, a black gel liner and a base for $5.99 each. These stay put, go on quickly and easily, and don’t leave any fallout to clean up. The best part? They come from the same factory that makes Armani Eyes to Kill cream shadows and have a similar effect, minus the nearly $35 price tag.

Before checking out, I recalled that Wegmans is the exclusive local retailer for BeYu Cosmetics. This brand promotes itself as department store quality at an easier price tag. In my experience, it is true. I snagged a few of their long-wear shadow sticks at $10 a pop to replace my missing Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier favorites.

A quick run to Target to grab my $3.50 e.l.f. setting mist, which works just as well as the Urban Decay All Nighter, reminded me there are no quick runs to Target and I knew I had better save the e.l.f. aisle for another trip. (For those venturing out of Baltimore, Cherry Hill (New Jersey) has a full-sized e.l.f. store and Tysons Corner has an NYX boutique; both strongly resemble a MAC store, but are more cost friendly.

On to Ulta. The allures of of Ulta are its big selection, including testers, and its large, helpful staff. Their loyalty points and frequent coupons are also strong draws when purchasing multiple items. My finds? Outstanding long-wear foundations in any shade my clients needed, eyeshadow assortment to rival MAC, trendy lip options and blushes in a variety of flattering shades. Price range: $3.99 to $12.99 per item.

After editing down my purchases with some friendly help from an Ulta associate, I left with a range of “Stay Matte Not Flat” powders for my TV clients, a blush and lip palette, hydrating primer that doubles as a quick moisturizer,  and some blend-able concealers that looked suspiciously like the new Smashbox ones.

THE VERDICT: A week in, my clients were impressed with the products; some luxe lovers were surprised to find they were wearing a mass-market item, but still pleased. My biggest takeaway was that brands seem to be saving on cost by putting out products with fewer ounces, shorter eye pencils and lipsticks and compacts that “hit pan,” as the YouTube bloggers like to say when seeing the
bottom of the makeup container, after one to two weeks of use with my clients.

You are often paying for service with a prestige product, but with affordable products, some of the fun may be in replacing them a bit sooner. In other words, why make expensive mistakes when you could have fun with a few  affordable ones? In this competitive market you’re likely to hit a few gems like I did. Still a little unsure? Keep the Chanel at home and toss a budget beauty lip or face powder in your purse. You’ll be less upset if they get cracked during your busy days.

See you at the store!

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