Hierarchy of Makeup Spending Part 2


The continuation of my analysis of what I’m willing to spend on different types of makeup. If you missed part 1, go check it out!

This is my whole  makeup stash.  It is GREATLY reduced from what I had pre-move.


Eyeshadow. Pretty much my favorite makeup ever is the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette, such that I cried actual tears both when I realized I had lost mine somewhere on the journey between St. Louis and Cape Town and when my mother-in-law Viki generously mailed me a replacement. And I have gotten a ridiculous amount of joy and entertainment out of the Urban Decay Smoked palette that I bought with Regina in Scotland. I’m pretty sure I will have to fight the temptation to buy every major palette release from UD from now on. So clearly I’m willing to spend a butt-ton on eyeshadow.

And I could talk a big game here about how expensive shadows have better color payoff and blend more easily and suffer from less “fallout” and creasing, and while all of those things are true, they really don’t matter to me. I’m basically in it for the color. And the packaging. So my advice is that if something is a color you will use constantly, like your perfect blending neutral or your signature metallic or a true black, spend the extra dough on a fancy one in a nice container. If you just feel like trying out orange eyeshadow because you keep seeing it on fashion blogs, go cheap. My favorites for weird colors are the Cover Girl singles or the Maybelline quads, and I often use my Ulta points to pick up their eyeshadow singles, even though I hate the packaging (it’s better after the redesign in that it doesn’t ALWAYS break, but they’re hard to open without fingernails) because they have a great color selection.

Lipstick. I have found virtually no benefit in expensive lipstick, partially because of my preference for the paint-on long-wear kind which fancy brands often don’t even bother with. When it comes to regular stick lipstick, I do love getting a Clinique Tenderheart as a bonus when I buy Moisture Surge, but mostly because the color is more flattering on me than anything else I’ve ever found than it feeling or wearing better than cheap-ass drugstore lipcolors. A lot of the value of any given lipstick is going to come down to personal preference regarding feel and smell, but there isn’t a linear relationship between price and pleasantness on either of those fronts.

But when it comes to shopping for a specific, bold color of lipstick, like summer’s ubiquitous orange-red or fall’s deep burgundy, I have the exact opposite opinion to the one I just expressed about eyeshadow. With bold lipstick, like with foundation, I feel it is worth it to pay the premium to have makeup counter experts find the right shade for you. And drugstore reds almost always come out hot pink (but I am a huge fan of Revlon’s Colorstay Ultimate in Top Tomato, which is true red and is in my preferred paint-on formula. Sometimes you get lucky with drug store lipcolor.)

Nailpolish. I am really not qualified to speak on this subject because I keep my nails filed down to the quick to make it harder to scratch my eczema, and I rarely draw attention to them with polish. I do feel naked without painted toenails, though, so I still buy polish. And while it’s plausible polish for your fingernails might be worth more money to get chip-resistance or what have you, when it comes to painting my toes, I’m just in it for the color. Which means I sometimes splurge on wacky shades from cool OPI themes, but just as often get whatever I’m in the mood for in one of those tiny $1 bottles. But when it came time to select a few polishes to bring with me to Cape Town, all the OPI ones made the cut, so read into that what you will.



Primer.  Several of the comments on my primer roundup noted that Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel or silicone-based lube for nakedtime are very similar in formulation and just as effective as expensive silicone-based makeup primers.  But I still use my expensive foundation primer from Too Faced. I am running out, so I might have to give the wacky silicone subs a try next time.


Concealer. I asked my makeup guru friend Lexi for her take on this subject when I started writing these posts, and she immediately listed concealer as a big-budget item.  I totally get that—concealer is really important.  But I just happened to luck out and find a really inexpensive concealer that is just the right color for my skin and is in a formulation that more or less agrees with my super-dry skin: Rimmel Hide the Blemish Concealer.  I use it in “Soft Honey”, sometimes preceded by with the pale yellow “Neutralizer” stick when my undereye circles are really dark.   But don’t get me wrong, I’d easily drop $30 on this product if that is what it had to cost.

Mascara.  So this was originally going to go in the forthcoming “BE CHEAP AS HELL” category, but comments on the first post of this series persuaded me to move it.  Because maybe I was failing to check my eyelash privilege. Yeah, you heard me: eyelash privilege. I mean, look at these bad boys:

That’s makeup-free.

That’s with shadow liner and mascara.

So, really, my use for mascara is to detangle my eyelashes and help lift them out of my eyes.  I’m not asking very much of the product.  Right now I’m using Maybelline Great Lash because it’s the only waterproof mascara I’ve found in Cape Town for less than $10 USD, but I used to cycle through all the cheapo drugstore ones just to keep myself entertained.  I really like the wand on Maybelline One-By-One (moreso than the formula, which I found a little less waterproof than advertised) and used to keep a clean one in my kit to separate clumps when I went for my most dramatic mascara-heavy looks (it was lost along with my first Naked 2 palette, sadly).

But if you are not “born with it” in the eyelash department, I’m guessing you need bigger guns.  I don’t really know what to tell you, other than I’m always happy when I get Clinique High Impact mascara when I get a sample in my bonus bag, even though it isn’t waterproof, which is a huge drawback for me because I’m something of a constantly tear-stained drama queen.


Stay tuned for the third and final installment of the series, where I’ll discuss things I buy for cheap because I don’t know any better, and things I think everyone should be spending as little as possible on.

[Also, same disclaimer as last time. Not being paid or compensated for all this free advertising, despite my tens of readers. How rude!]


  1. Robin – have you ever tried Bare Escentuals (I hate the spelling)? I splurged on a full-on everything from there for my wedding (the free tutorial comes with a map of your face for the makeup incompetent) and I’ve been mostly very happy, especially with their powder foundation, lipstick (srsly it rocks and stays on and is a good color – for me), and eyeliner/mascara (I am not privileged even remotely). I felt like they were also a bit cheaper than non-drugstore stuff but I am a beginner. That said as a PSA: DO NOT EVER BUY THEIR BRUSHES ANYONE THEY ARE WORTHLESS. Robin how do the BE things compare to what you’re recommending above? Have you tried any?

    • So I’ve tried BE just enough to know it doesn’t work for my skin, which is VERY dry and flaky. The powder just catches on my flakes and I look ashy. I’ve gotten one of their lipcolors as a Sephora sample and liked it. Also, my sister (who doesn’t wear makeup) used BE for her wedding (with yours truly as the makeup artist) to GREAT effect. So, to the extent I know, I think they’re great products, just not for me.

      • Aha! Thanks – I was confused. May stick with their powder but try the UD eye shadows – I’ve been lusting after those for years.

    • wow, I’ve been LOVING their brushes for years- what problems do you have with them? Just ineffective or falling apart or what?

  2. I’m a lipstick novice. I decided I can NEVER do matte (I feel like only celebrities can pull that off), so on a friend’s recommendation I’ve been using Revlon Lip butter. It’s like lipstick and lip gloss rolled into one. They have some fun colors but so far, I like the Cherry Tart red. It looks great, lasts pretty well even through eating/drinking, and makes your lips softer! It’s not something I wear daily — just evenings and events.

  3. Pingback: Hierarchy of Makeup Spending Part 3 | HitchDied

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