"Much like dating, you needn't settle on the first thing you see. In fact, I highly recommend against it."

How Not To Spend Way Too Much Money On Makeup, From Someone Who Does

I love makeup. Like, really love it. I love it so much I own just waaaay too much of it. Drawers and drawers. Purses upon purses. I’m drowning in it.

But it’s not my fault, I swear! Before I became the makeup addict/professional glamour queen I am today, I was a little lamb lost any time I found myself at MAC or Sephora. Getting into makeup can be incredibly intimidating because there are millions of items literally being shoved in and on your face as soon as you step into a cosmetics store. I got hooked and went a little overboard, but it’s because I had so many questions: how do we know what’s right for us? What is an “eyeshadow primer” and how is it different from “primer”? Can you really have too many red lipsticks??Before you even think about going makeup shopping, here’s some advice I wish someone told me before I got super obsessed with wearing as much makeup as my face can carry and spending maaaaad skrilla in the process.

You don’t need it all – This is the one lesson I still haven’t learned. Every time I watch a YouTube tutorial or review or haul video, I can’t help but feel a stab of “OHGODINEEDTHATRIGHTNOW.” Take it from someone who has drawers full of unused cosmetics: you don’t need 8 different types of foundations. Is there a different between “Funky Fuchsia” and “Fierce Fuchsia”? NO. Put them both down. But for sure absolutely do get one fuchsia-coloured lipstick because every sassy lady needs this fabulous colour in their repertoire.

Orange lipstick is a no – Unlike a fun fuchsia, nobody needs an objectionable orange. It’ll just make your teeth look yellow. No one who smiles or talks or otherwise uses their mouth in a normal way can pull this off. Sorry.

Don’t commit unless you’re sure – Much like dating, you needn’t settle on the first thing you see. In fact, I highly recommend against it. The majority of cosmetics stores (and even drug stores) have really good return policies when it comes to makeup. As long as you do so before the 30 days, or whatever, you can absolutely return that $50 Dior lipstick you bought to “treat yo self,” but really truly can’t afford. Even if you bought something for a way less stupid reason than that, ie the colour doesn’t suit you, or heaven forbid, you have an allergic reaction, don’t feel bad about returning a product. In general, be a Smart Susie and always ask at the register what the return/exchange policy is.

You can get samples of a lot of stuff, and you should – Not sure if that foundation is gonna suit you in natural lighting? Is that pigment gonna make a good loose eyeshadow? Do you still not understand what the hell “fluidline” is? No problem, you can take home a small sample to make sure it works for you. If the product can be put in a tiny plastic container with a twist off lid, you can get enough of that product for at least 3 or 4 uses. I’ve gotten foundation, concealer, pigments, GLITTER (god bless you, MAC), and the aforementioned Fluidline to try before I buy, which I feel is a solid MUST when it comes to makeup. After all, you need to not only know you look good in that product, but that you can and will apply it yourself. Don’t be shy about asking for samples before you commit!

Figure out what’s worth splurging on – This will be different for everyone, but once in a while there comes a product that is just Important to have. A very good quality $50 blush that you use every day is worth it, novelty false eyelashes that you’re hoping an event will come up for sometime soon is not. When you’ve sampled smart and fallen head over heels for an everyday luxury like Dior mascara or something, you’ll know when it’s time to spend.

Find out about incentive programs – Sephora has all kinds of customer rewards programs, and don’t even get me staaaarted on Optimum Points. And MAC, angels of my hearts, have a great recycling programme; if you bring back 6 plastic recyclable containers of theirs, you can trade it in for your choice of an eyeshadow, lipgloss or lipstick at freestanding MAC stores, or a lipstick at a MAC counter (The Bay). So let’s say you’ve found your favourite mascara and it happens to be from MAC, you’re basically getting rewarded every 6 times you buy it. I mean, sure, that might mean a free lipstick every 2 years, but that’s certainly one less lipstick you paid for. And you’re recycling! Beautiful and environmentally conscious? You’re basically the perfect woman.

Makeup can be expensive and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s no reason you can’t look fabulous while staying on budget, and a part of that is knowing you have choices. If you don’t think that blush you got is fully capturing your inner glow, bring it back! Expensive or affordable, no one should get stuck with a product that will make them look any less than goddamn glorious.

If you need me I will be counting my nail polishes and ignoring calls from debt collectors, thank you.


  1. ReadyOwl
    September 20, 2014

    shedoesthecity Like walking into Sephora? 😉

  2. jennalicereid
    September 20, 2014

    I don’t care, I love an orange lipstick. I will rock it with pride!

  3. caitlinagnew
    September 21, 2014

    shedoesthecity annpornel disagree! I get so many compliments whenever I wear my Tom Ford Wild Ginger.

  4. FlorenceMcC
    September 21, 2014

    LaurenRosenblum shedoesthecity Me too, love orange lipstick!

  5. annpornel
    September 21, 2014

    caitlinagnew shedoesthecity I’m SUPREMELY jealous. You’re among the 1% of the world that can pull it off. I hate on orange bc I cant do it

  6. caitlinagnew
    September 22, 2014

    annpornel shedoesthecity and I can’t do purple! It all evens out.

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