I grew up watching my mother apply makeup every morning, and at the age of twelve, I learned to too.
When I was 14, the boy I liked told me that he loved how I looked with eyeliner, and I never put it down after that. My love for makeup only bloomed, and I fell in love with the products that I said I’d never use or need. But makeup isn’t a need in that people need it to look presentable — it’s a need in that people need to be able to convey how they feel inside. It’s not to “impress” others; it’s to make yourself feel confident and content. It’s a creative outlet that allows for expression and experimentation.
The only issue is that my credit card does not feel confident nor content. I find myself spending more than intended on high-end, expensive products because they’re all the hype. I also prefer spending money on products that I know will work well, rather than buying cheaper products that may not function as well. However, those in the beauty world know about the makeup “dupes” that linger in the aisles, AKA the cheaper alternatives to fan-favorite products that work just as well, or even better, than the high-end products.
If you’ve ever applied makeup, you probably know about beauty blenders. The original beauty blender, which won the Allure Best of Beauty Award for 2020 costs $20. I can’t lie; I’m drawn to that red Allure Award circle on products, and I can’t say that I haven’t been tempted to spend $20 on a beauty blender.
However, I’m glad I didn’t fall into the beauty trap. Instead, after using dozens of off-brand beauty blenders, I opted to purchase the Real Techniques Miracle Sponge Beauty Sponge. It’s the best sponge I’ve ever used — not too soft and not too firm. It absorbs just enough product without wasting any. It also has a slanted side, along with a rounded, pointed side, which allows for precision all over your face and easy application for any area. The best part? It retails for around $5.00, and it’s even used by James Charles!
I’m a loyal Tarte customer. I have sensitive skin that is prone to allergic reactions, so I prefer to use clean, allergy-friendly companies like Tarte. I still purchase my foundation from Tarte because of their ingredients and their color selection and have yet to find a product that works just as well. It’s a splurge that I find worth it. I also used to swear by their shape tape concealer, and Tarte claims to be America’s #1 concealer brand with their shape tape concealer being a best-seller.
Sorry to break it to you, Tarte, but I have betrayed you, and I don’t regret it at all. I don’t know how I ever spent $27 on a concealer that would end up creasing under my eyelids over time, but I did. The thick consistency just didn’t settle well into my skin, even though it was helpful in covering blemishes. For the under-eye area, the only concealer that has left me creaseless has been the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser. At first, the “age eraser” title led to hesitation, and I thought that it was meant for older individuals, but I was so wrong. With a smooth, sponge-like applicator and a thin consistency, it covers everything without caking up and settling into fine lines. You can also purchase this incredible $10 concealer at most drugstores.
My Persian roots have blessed me with a golden-honey complexion that has always left me feeling like I don’t need a bronzer to make me any darker. But watching girls apply bronzer to have this beautiful, sun-kissed color changed that reluctance. I was about to click “confirm order” on Ulta with Becca’s Sunlit Bronzer in my cart when I hesitated and asked myself if bronzer was worth $38.
With a few Google searches and a quick reference to the Brandefy app, I found the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer for $15.99. While highlighter used to be my favorite makeup product to apply, this product changed that. It has warm undertones and applies so smoothly. It also has a wonderful coconut scent to it that takes me to my favorite vacation spot by the beach, and I feel tan again.
My now second favorite makeup product to apply, highlighter, has also been revolutionized massively. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted the Becca Pressed Highlighter in Champagne Pop. Every time I’d enter a makeup store, I’d swatch it on my wrist, watching it sparkle under the crappy store lighting, and I considered purchasing it. I finally gave in. I ordered it, but as I was waiting for it to ship, I took a spontaneous Ulta trip with a friend. That trip saved me $30 because that’s when I came across ColourPop’s Super Shock Highlighter. I purchased the shade Lunch Money, applied it at home, then went back to Ulta to return the Becca highlighter and purchase yet another ColourPop Super Shock highlighter, this time in the shade Wisp.
I’m still in shock (pun-intended) that this highlighter is only $8. It has a slightly creamy, pillow soft consistency that can be applied with your fingers for a super blinding shine or with a brush for a softer glow. I’ve been resisting the urge to purchase every shade solely because I have zero room for more highlighter, but I know I’ll eventually give in.
Of course, ColourPop stole my heart after that. When I needed a new lip gloss, I wanted to try the Fenty Beauty Gloss Lip Luminizer. I wanted to try Rihanna’s makeup products and see what the hype was all about, but the $19 price tag made me cringe. So, I turned to my new friend, ColourPop and opted for the Ultra Glossy Lip. I can proudly say I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a beautiful, semi-pigmented product that can be used alone or on top of a lipstick for extra shine.
One night, before the torturous COVID-19 pandemic started, my 42 year old cousin escaped New York City for a visit to Long Island. I saw her applying the Lancome Cils Mascara Primer and I looked at her like she was crazy. It seemed irrational to spend $25 on lash primer, and it seemed like a useless product. But she swore by it, and I purchased it and fell in love. But spending $25 on a primer that had to be replaced every two or three months seemed pointless.
Thankfully, I came across the L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Primer for $9. It does the same job and literally has the same consistency as the Lancome primer. It separates my lashes and allows my mascara to apply seamlessly. L’Oreal then saved me again when I was reaching for the Lancôme Ôscillation Vibrating, Infinite, Power Mascara for its extra separating effect. Thanks to TikTok, I was introduced to the L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Mascara and I haven’t gone back. It separates and lengthens my lashes like never before and crazy enough, I can feel my lashes touching my eyebrows! The L’Oreal mascara can be purchased for around $11 compared to the $36 Lancome mascara, which is a steal.
While well-known, high end brands and products may seem eye-catching, they don’t always entail better products. Thankfully, there are many products that are equally as good and much cheaper, which can leave you feeling less guilty on makeup and can also leave you with more funds to feed your Starbucks addiction (and it’s much needed when dealing with another virtual semester).