Budget Babe: Where to Spend and Where to Save


I think it’s pretty clear from my posts that I use [and love] a number of products from both drugstores and department stores. I have had people ask me what they should spend money on and which products they can save on by finding a high quality alternative at the drugstore, so I figured I would make a list and post it on here. I am 100 percent behind all of the products I have listed below, and use most of them in my everyday routine – I hope you enjoy!


  • Eyeshadow – If I were given two products and had to discern which was high end and which was from the drugstore, I would have the easiest time choosing between eyeshadows. Most of the eyeshadows that I have tried at the drugstore are chalky, or don’t provide great pigmentation and fade throughout the day. However, if you are on a budget and need a few drugstore options – head to the Wet n Wild and Nyx sections and check out their palettes [Wet n Wild Silent Treatment & Nyx Merci Beaucoup]. If you can afford to spend more on eyeshadows, head over to Le Metier de Beaute, Tom Ford and Mac. All three of these brands produce top quality shadows that blend beautifully with one another and last all day [some even without a primer!]. A few of my all-time favorites from these brands are Tom Ford’s palette in Cognac Sable, Le Metier de Beaute single eyeshadow in Jojo, and Mac Eyeshadows in Mulch and Woodwinked.
  • Lipstick – although I have a few favorite lipsticks from the drugstore, the best shades and formulas I have come across are at the department store. These include Tom Ford’s range, the Urban Decay Revolution lipsticks, Jouer’s Hydrating lipsticks and Le Metier de Beaute’s Colour Core lippies.
  • Primer – I’ve tried a couple eyeshadow primers from the drugstore, but they just don’t live up to their claims and felt more greasy than anything. I would recommend Urban Decay’s Primer Potion above all others because, well, it really works. I use the Primer Potion daily and I have never experienced any creasage [just made up that word!] when I apply it underneath my eyeshadow.
  • Cream Blush – to me, nothing beats the Le Metier de Beaute Creme Fresh lip and cheek tints. They blend beautifully, never appear patchy and don’t feel sticky or tacky once applied to the cheeks. This is also the only product I’ve found that really works on both lips and cheeks – I love wearing Poppy as a lip stain for a fresh pop of long-lasting color.
  • Bronzer – Jouer Mattifying Bronzer in Sunswept. Just trust me on this one – the most perfect bronzer of life.
  • Pencil Eyeliner – I think that the Marc Jacobs Highline Gel Crayon is absolutely worth splurging on as it is the only pencil liner I have found that doesn’t smudge throughout the day.


  • Brushes – If you’re looking for a great set of brushes that won’t break the bank – there is no better brand out there than Real Techniques. I would recommend the Travel Essentials set, which is $18.000 for an excellent foundation brush, multi-tasking brush and domed shadow brush.
  • Blush – a few of my all-time favorite blushes are by Nyx – and with good reason. These blushes are highly pigmented and blendable, and the color selection is incredible for the drugstore. A few of my favorite shades are Pinched [a great dupe for Nars Orgasm], Summer Peach and Amber.
  • Mascara – I will never spend a lot of money on a mascara ever again thanks to Maybelline and L’Oreal. Maybelline’s The Falsies and L’Oreal’s Lash Out Butterfly formulas beat out any high-end mascara I have ever tried. Both of these products do a wonderful job of separating, lengthening and adding crazy volume to lashes, and have never smudged underneath my eyes.
  • Lip Gloss – there is a great selection of high-quality lip glosses at the drugstore and, I’ll admit it, I have an addiction to Nyx lip glosses. The formulas of both the Mega Shine and Butter Glosses are creamy and moisturizing, and both ranges have an excellent color selection.
  • Highlighter – I have found two top notch highlighters at the drugstore – one cream, one powder. If you prefer powder face products, I would recommend e.l.f. Golden Bronzer – this shimmering bronzer contains four shades, two of which are perfect for using as a highlight [it also can double as eyeshadow!]. If you’re into cream products, you have to check Revlon’s Photoready Skinlights – a beautiful illuminator that I mix with my foundation for a brighter complexion and lit-from-within glow. Both add a gorgeous, natural glow when applied to the cheek bones. For a more dewy look I will also apply highlighter to the bridge of my nose and cupids bow.
  • Powder – I have gone on and on about Rimmel’s Stay Matte powder so I’ll just say – it will keep your face shine free for hours without looking cakey!
  • Gel Eyeliner – I have tried a few high-end gel eyeliners, and Maybelline’s version is just as good!

As for foundation, I think that this is a more personal decision and different foundations will affect people differently. If you’re like me and have sensitive skin [a lot of foundations have caused me to break out] I highly recommend Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk, Laura Mercier Silk Creme, and Rimmel Match Perfection.



  1. January 16, 2014 / 7:04 am

    This is a bit of a Godzilla-like comment, so let me break it down a bit:
    1. Ah, NYX… I love the Parisian Chic palette! But MAC is my go-to, more often than not. Have also now ordered a KIKO baked eyeshadow palette that I really look forward to trying…
    2. Also ordered a KIKO luminous eyeshadow primer (wonder what that will be like – have you, by any chance, tried it?).
    3. Real Techniques brushes are amazing – just bought the core face collection and expert face brush about a month ago and I am hooked!
    4. Really wanna try the NYX Butter Glosses but am not a big fan of a sticky pout. I’ve heard they’re quite feathery though… Would you say so?
    5. I don’t currently use a seperate highlighter but like the L’Oreal Lumi Magique Concealer as a mild substitute.

    • January 16, 2014 / 1:44 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! I really enjoyed reading it 🙂 I have read so much about Kiko, but unfortunately I don’t think that they ship to the US [hopefully that will change!]. As for the Nyx butter glosses – I don’t find them sticky at all, maybe just a bit tacky? I have a fair amount of shades and I haven’t experienced feathering. A few of my favorite shades are Vanilla Cream Pie, Creme Brulee and Eclair

  2. January 16, 2014 / 11:44 am

    Totally agree with everything on this post. I always go high end for foundation, primer, eyeshadow and lipstick but you can certainly save on the rest! I love rimmel’s stay matte powder! X

  3. January 16, 2014 / 3:57 pm

    Great post – I have to say I love Real Techniques I think they are way better than MAC and I am the same I never seem to like any high end mascaras, I think drugstore brands are great, L’OREAL is my fav xx

  4. January 16, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    Love your save list. Can’t wait to try to the Real Techniques brushes (Kinda a brush junkie over here), but the best bang for your buck that I have found is Eco Tools Brushes. They are seriously better then 90% of my expensive brushes and you get a pack of 6 for about $10.00. Doesn’t get much better then that 🙂

  5. January 18, 2014 / 12:28 am

    I agree with almost everything on your lists, the one exception being lipstick (but of course, everything is up to personal preference).

    Have you ever tried any lipsticks from Milani’s range? They’re comparable to higher end brand’s formulas, at least in my experience, haha.

    • January 18, 2014 / 1:34 am

      I agree – I love the shade Nude Creme by Milani! I just have found more variety in terms of formula and color in high-end brands. I am such a fan of Jouer’s lipsticks because they are such high-quality but aren’t as expensive as brands like Chanel, Dior, YSL etc.

  6. January 20, 2014 / 7:57 pm

    Oh you recommend Real Techniques brushes too! I think I will go buy this set 😀 I don’t have the guts to rob myself and try the higher end products because I’m afraid they won’t suit me 🙁 But well, I have to try it myself to find out. Oh, have you tried any Asian brands? If you have, do you recommend any brands? 😀

  7. Danielle
    May 14, 2015 / 3:52 am

    I just recently stumbled across your blog (love it!) and have been glancing through your older posts. I don’t know if you have tried it since you wrote this post, but the NYX eyeshadow primer (http://www.nyxcosmetics.com/p-33-hd-eye-shadow-base-esb04.aspx) is the best I’ve ever tried, high end or drugstore. I figured you might want to check it out since you love other NYX products!

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