One of the unpleasant side effects of getting married was becoming willing to spend more on makeup. In my quest for the perfect wedding-day makeup, I discovered that some things actually are worth the extra money, and then I started wondering if EVERYTHING in my makeup stash would be better if I spend more on it. And so I did.
And I’m not going to lie to you, if we were still in the States, I might be continuing on in my merry expensive-makeup indulging ways. I am pretty much the poster woman for The Lipstick Effect. Nice makeup was a relatively cheap way for me to have some consumerist fun.
But no more! In South Africa, makeup is more expensive across the board. Even the cheapest of cheap things in my makeup kit, the classic Maybelline Great Lash mascara, costs R80 or about $10 USD. I used to get that for 5 bucks back in the states without even bargain hunting. I think you could get a three-pack on Amazon for ten bucks sometimes. I don’t like spending three times what I think I could be spending on things unless they FEEL fancy.
Unfortuantely, while the price-hike on fancy makeup is relatively smaller, the price floor is still twice as high as it is for drug store stuff. [Also, while there is MAC, Clinique, Smashbox, and several other fancy brands I like, a lot of my favorites (Urban Decay, Make Up For Ever, and now Benefit) aren't in the South African market]. While I do suffer from a touch of “If I’m going to spend too much on something, I might as well spend WAY too much on something” consumerist logic, it’s hard to spend THAT much on makeup.
Because it’s not just that makeup costs more here, it’s that its price relative to everything else is much higher. For what I would spend on say, a Revlon lipstick (R150), I could take me and Collin out to a reasonably nice dinner, or see three movies, or buy a case of beer. So it feels like a much less innocent indulgence. [I redirect my "I need to buy myself a present" impulses toward the purchase of fashion magazines, which ends up only fanning the flames of my rampant consumerism.]
So I’ve had to re-evaluate my hierarchy of makeup spending. I’m going to walk you through it strata-by-strata, and because my blatherings have gotten so long I’ve decided to break it into a series of posts. I’ll start with the things that I’ll spend the big bucks on:
Foundation. For one thing, you’re putting this all over your face, so spending more to get something that will treat your skin right is worth it. But my main reason for spending the big bucks on foundation is that there is no person at the drug store whose job it is to pick out the right shade and formula for me. There’s too much trial and error in drug store makeup to make the lower price actually meaningful. But if you’ve already found a cheap one that matches your skin and doesn’t make you break out or flake up, bully for you! Keep buying that.
Literally half of these shades are named “[Something] Beige.” Eff that noise.
Brushes. Because they last pretty much forever, and the better quality ones do a dramatically better job and feel nicer on your face. I still won’t spend $30 on an eyeshadow brush like MAC seems to want me to, but let’s face it, if I had a little more cash coming in, I probably would. If you are starting from zero brushes and trying to build a collection, you’ll probably want to spend less per brush (I think Eco Tools are at the perfect price point for that situation, and they make combo packs). If you just want to add one specific thing to your set, there’s no shame in spending more. Think of it as a price-per-use situation, and TREAT YO SELF. My favorite of all my brushes, the Sonia Kashuk flat-top brush (I use it damp for applying foundation and dry for blending everything else), was probably the most expensive brush I’ve ever bought, but it has been worth every. red. cent.
Waterproof eyeliner. As I covered in one of my first makeup posts, expensive waterproof eyeliners do tend to last longer, wear better, and survive more tears and other wet things. But if you just want to use a pencil eyeliner, I think you might as well buy a cheap one, or just use your eyeshadow as eyeliner as demonstrated here by the illustrious (no pun intended) Natalie Dee, whose makeup blog you should all be reading because it is funny, no-nonsense, and informative.
WORTH IT IF YOU ACTUALLY BOTHER WITH IT:
Highlighter. I basically consider myself a thrift hero for never having succumbed to my desire for YSL Touche Éclat, the drag queen’s highlighter of choice, which sells for $40. But I did buy the $30 Benefit Watt’s Up and the $26 dollar Benefit Moon Beam. I have spent more than $50 dollars on highlighter. I am guessing many makeup wearers don’t even know what highlighter is. Sigh. And look, I’m not going to get all evangelical on you and insist that you should be dropping mad cash on shimmery goop for your cheekbones to be all that you can be. But if you have already fallen down this rabbit hole, I think you’ll agree that a good highlighter (one with the right tone for your skin, appropriate level of shimmer, ease of application and blendability) is worth some extra bills.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series, in which I talk about the makeupy things I willfully spend too much on, and why some eyeshadows and lipsticks are “worth it” but others are not.
Meanwhile, dear readers, please confess your own makeup splurges in the comments!
[Just BTW, no one gave me any money or swag to mention any of the products in this post; not like I'm ABOVE taking money or swag, I'm just not important enough to be offered it.]