By Rachel Sutherland
Observer Style Editor
Cheap is the new chic. And these days, the path to budget-conscious beauty leads directly to the drugstore.
Shopping for cosmetics at big-box stores and national chains has lost its stigma. Fashionistas are proudly trading the buzz of brand elitism for the rush of scoring good products at lower prices.
“My favorite drugstore beauty product has to be Cover Girl LashBlast Mascara. You know, the one in the chubby orange tube endorsed by Drew Barrymore?” says Samantha Smith, makeup artist and owner of Potion beauty boutique in Huntersville.
“There are a lot of really great ‘prestige' mascaras on the market, but this little tube gets the job done well (no clumping or flaking) and at $9, it's a steal. It truly builds volume and separates without making a mess. I keep one in my makeup kit at all times.”
While shopping the aisles of the mass market stores such as Target, Walgreens and CVS, maximizing your dollar isn't hard to do when you can find nail polish for 99 cents. But be careful, says Charlotte makeup artist Heather A. Hawkins.
“If you know what you're buying, the drugstore is fantastic,” she says. “Going in there blind, you don't know which one will work for you. You could cost yourself more because you're rebuying.”
Hawkins shares her drugstore faves in the beauty column she writes for Supermodels Unlimited magazine and says she strives for a 50/50 mix of high- and low-end products in her makeup kit. Her clients, some of whom are pictured at www.heatherahawkins.com, have included Brooklyn Decker, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Conan O'Brien.
Doing a little homework can pay off, she says. Hawkins loves Juicy Tubes lip gloss from Lancome, which is $18 a tube. L'Oreal Color Juice is $7.95 and essentially the same product, Hawkins said. (L'Oreal and Lancome share a parent company).
“At that price, I can try all the colors,” she says.
“In the drugstore, you are paying for the product as opposed to the packaging,” Hawkins says. “But you can't bust open a blister pack in Target and test the product out before you buy.”
What's important? Practical?
Making your dollar stretch isn't as difficult as you may think, says Val Monroe, Beauty Director at O: The Oprah Magazine. Instead of buying single eye shadows, pay a few dollars more and get a compact with multiple colors.
Increase your savings by making your cosmetics do double duty – the dark color of a shadow trio can be used as an eyeliner instead of another product.
“One of the things to look for is getting a product from a large, established company,” Monroe says. “They have spent a lot of money on research and development, and they want to make their customers happy. …There's no fancy packaging, but you will get a good product.”
Setting your cosmetic priorities will help you find a high/low balance that works for you, Smith says.
“If you won't wear it, it's a waste of money, no matter the price,” she says. “With all of the items and brands on the market it can be very overwhelming so make sure to do your research before you go shopping for makeup.”
A good place to start is investing more money in products for your complexion.
“A foundation or concealer that has anti-aging or protecting ingredients is key to healthy skin and investing your money in something that has quality ingredients rather than color (eye shadows, lip colors) is a better way to spend,” Smith says.
“A good rule of thumb is: The more surface area of the face that a product covers, the higher in quality you want it to be,” she says.
Educating yourself about ingredients is paramount.
“A lot of times you get what you pay for, and some of the less expensive lines that quote having certain vitamins or other ingredients in them often have only a trace amount, not making much of an impact on your skin,” Smith says.
Sticking to well-known drug store brands – like L'Oreal Paris – will get you better results, says Jeffre Scott, owner of two Jeffre Scott Apothecary stores in Charlotte.
“Look at ingredient decks on the packaging,” Scott says, and Google any ingredients with which you are not familiar.
“Cosmetics are so much fun – it's not rocket science – but you don't want to mess yourself up,” Hawkins says.
Do your homework. Check online resources such as makeupalley.com and makeup411.com for product reviews. And don't be afraid to ask friends or strangers for their secrets if you see something you like.
Take care of your whole self. Staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest will reflect favorably on your skin. “If you're hydrated, everything looks better,” makeup artist Heather A. Hawkins says.
Consider “basic” products. Baby powder sprinkled along the root line helps tame oily hair. Epsom salt can be a used as a body scrub or in a tub for a relaxing soak.
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