It’s no secret that I’m a premium beauty fan. Pretty much 90% of my entire collection is made up of premium and counter beauty brands, and honestly – I’m okay with that. I’ve worked my way up to this point, tried a lot of products over the years and as someone who blogs about beauty full-time, I am so incredibly fortunate that trying new bits and pieces – both budget and premium – means I can really find the best products for me. Regardless of their price. I don’t lean to premium beauty products because of the price – if a budget brand or product does something well then I’ll snap up the product in question regularly and shout about it from the rooftops. But admittedly I seem to experiment less with the budget brands these days, and I’m not sure there is even a reason why. So one of my blog New Year’s Resolutions was to fix this and really find some more alternatives to create content about. Whether that’s great dupes, products to save on vs splurge on, or even to just write more about the staples I adore that don’t break the bank: whatever happens, this year I want to make sure my blog is more inclusive of varied price points.
Having been a single mum for 5 years, I know first hand how tight money can be. So I know that not everyone has extra cash to spend on their face – to be honest, even now I’m not a single mum anymore, I still find it hard to justify massive beauty spends. But that said, I do view beauty products and skincare as an investment, so if it works for me, gives great results and is worth the price then I’ll buy it – with zero regrets. Whether it’s a £5 foundation or a £40 one. But wanting to ensure you guys get great recommendations and honest reviews, I want to make sure I tell you about the budget brands more too. Especially now they’re doing such an outstanding job at performing way above anything we’ve seen before.
Let’s be honest, budget and drugstore brands are nailing their game these days. While I might not have experimented as much over the past 12 months, I’ve still tried the products I’ve wanted to. And boy am I glad I have, because I’d have missed some absolute keepers otherwise. For the first time ever the gap is closing between the level of performance you can get from a drugstore brand and a premium brand. No longer is it always true that the more you pay, the better the product. Case and point being my daily favourite concealer which is £8 and beats all my others – Bobbi Brown, Tarte…all of them. No longer can premium brands create ok-ish products and charge a fortune. The drugstore products have upped the ante and I for one love it. Because basically the drugstore brands are now just as much of the ones to beat.
So with all that said, over the past 3-4 months I’ve been getting geared up to talk about and also do a tutorial on my favourite budget beauty and drugstore products. The YouTube video will come soon, it’s going to be a full tutorial and I’m so excited to do it for you, so make sure you’re following me on YouTube to see it. But first, grab a cuppa and let’s chat…
Foundations – one of the few things I have been quite snobby about in the past. For no other reason than I simply couldn’t find a drugstore foundation that performed as well as my premium favourites. And I tried a lot, so it’s not like I didn’t try. But when I got the L’Oreal Infalliable Pro Glow everything changed. And I have never run out of that since – I always repurchase ahead of running out because I love it so much. And because of this foundation I now happily try more from the drugstore brands in terms of complexion products. Most recently and notably would be the Maybelline Super Stay Foundation.
Guys, stop what you’re doing and get this foundation if you like full coverage and matte make up. The Maybelline Superstay 24 Hour Foundation is the one that’s impressed me the most since my L’Oreal fav. It’s full coverage, and I mean full. It rivals my beloved Estee Lauder Double Wear in fact – which is tough to do as we all know that’s bae in terms of coverage. But somehow for it’s £8.99 price tag – yes, £8.99 – you get full coverage that’s still performing long into the afternoon after your morning application. It’s got a soft matte finish too which is another reason I love it. Admittedly it’s not the best long-lasting matte finish I’ve ever tried, but it stays in place and lasts way longer than pretty.much.every.other.drugstore.foundation.I’ve.ever.tried. It’s a must have for the quick days if you’re not looking to use your premium brands, or if you don’t want to spend a lot but get a lot of coverage,
And while we’re also talking about Maybelline, their Instant Anti Age Eraser Concealer is my Holy Grail. No other concealers compare. (This is the one I mentioned at the start of my post.) Designed initially as an under eye concealer, the packaging changed a little while ago and removed the word ‘eye’ from the description, which shows it’s versatile enough to use everywhere – like I do. I use mine under my eyes, and where I highlight: cheekbones, forehead, nose and chin. I usually hate make up products with attached material applicators because it just feels like it’s going to attract bacteria. But this works for me, I like it and it’s easy to apply – even with the sponge tip. It’s smooth, glides on, gives great coverage and it blends like a dream. It’s delicate enough for the gentle under eye and the formula really covers my grey bags and lightens them up no end. I look wide awake when I use this and I wouldn’t be without it.
One product I just repurchased (today actually) was the Nyx Professional Makeup Highlight & Contour Palette. I’m just about to completely empty my two most used pans in this palette, having hit pan a while ago, I’ve squeezed every bit out of it. I don’t necessarily think that £19 is a good price point for a drugstore brand, to be honest, I think that’s pricey for a budget brand. Heck, £19 on any piece of make up isn’t cheap. So you need to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth. And what initially drew me to this palette was the shade selection. When you’re serious about contouring, you’ll want to try a palette which offers different shades – to find the best one for your skin tone. And that’s why this palette is perfect – it offers four contour shades and four highlight shades. All four contour shades are matte – which is what you really want for natural contouring, as well as two matte shades and two shimmer shades for the highlight. It’s versatile and easy to use and the powders blend really well together. While it’s not necessarily a budget alternative, it’s definitely a must-have.
Speaking of Nyx, another must-have is their Glitter Goals Liquid Eyeshadow. It’s THE perfect Stila dupe and it’s only £8! There’s also 8 shades to pick from and the glittery pigment is crazy good. Probably only slightly less than the Stila version, it’s shimmery, eye catching and applies just as well. It’s buildable too so you can create some perfectly shimmering eye looks for a third of the premium price.
For the lips I had to search a lot harder to find a show-stopping product. Lipsticks are easy to find – there’s matte, satin, super matte, blotted, gel, liquid, shimmer, metallic and many more in terms of finish. And they all perform so well – brands both budget and premium had to nail lipsticks years ago to stay in the game, so you’ll not struggle to find a huge amount of choice everywhere you look. But what you will struggle to find is something that wows because there’s so many amazing ones to pick between. I am hard to impress with lipsticks – I don’t like matte as I find it flattens the look of my thin lips. But I want the staying power of a liquid lipstick with a creamy finish or a metallic shine. So when I tried the Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolours I knew I was on to a winner…
I’m not necessarily rating the true mattes, like I said, I haven’t tried them and they aren’t my thang. BUT the range does include some metallic finishes with the matte formula: which means it offers a dimensional finish that’s not flattening while also offering the staying power of a matte. And it’s a winning formula for me. For only £8.99 I find it lasts a nice amount of time (admittedly slightly less than my premium favs, but only slightly) and it wears evenly without going weird along that inner mouth line. There’s lots of colours to pick from, and if you do like matte then most of the collection are the true matte finishes.
One that I haven’t actually tried yet *I know* but wanted to include is one I have purchased today and it’s the Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Foundation. Having tried and loved the Concealer, which truly does rival the Tarte Shape Tape by the way, I have been intrigued by this for quite some time. However never being able to colour match myself because my local Superdrug is so badly stocked, has meant I’ve never been able to actually get it. Today I had a rough idea of the shade I wanted (F7) and praise be, there was one left in that shade that wasn’t half open and tested. I hear it’s great for a premium full coverage finish, and I will be reporting back with an update asap. (FYI it’s only £9 so even if the shade isn’t perfect, I can still justify the price and mix a foundation mixer with it to lighten or darken.)
Skincare wise I have raved about the Garnier Sheet Masks multiple times on my Instagram. One thing I adore almost as much as make up, is a good sheet mask. While I have Holy Grail face masks that I turn to regularly, I also like to mix it up and try sheet masks a lot to focus on whatever my skin concern is at the time. And the Garnier Sheet Masks are great for this because they’re only £2.99-£3.99 each. Currently I’m loving the Vitamin C Fresh Mix Tissue Mask because it’s great for brightening the skin. Anything with Vitamin C is a must-have for brighter looking skin, which I think we could all benefit from during the winter months. You mix this mask yourself – the mask is dry and you squeeze in the Vitamin C enriched solution to create the mask, leave on for 15 minutes and you’ll notice a slight brightness increase after one use. With regular use I find my skin has perked quite a lot in the normal dull places. Great for £3.99 (and Look Fantastic offer free delivery on it here.)
And while you’re budget beauty skincare shopping, grab a pack of the matching (kinda) Moisture Bomb Eye Tissue Masks. These are part of the Moisture Bomb Mask range, which is one of my favs too and these under eye patches are enriched with orange juice and hyaluronic acid. Hello brightening and plumping. Mine cost me £1.99 but you’ll pay up to £2.99 a pack – which is well worth it as some premium brands have counterparts upwards of £15 for eye masks like these. And I can’t honestly see a difference in the results they offer. As someone who uses a lot of under eye masks, I can guarantee you that these will deliver under eyes that look refreshed and wide awake – and you don’t need to buy the pricey ones.
If you’re still up for more skincare fun then can I also recommend the cute L’Oreal Multi Masking Play Kit containing three of their pure clay mini masks. If you’ve seen the large and full sized Clay Masks from L’Oreal you’ve probably been intrigued like I was, but I also prefer to buy smaller masks the first time – or sheet masks. Because you never know how well they will work for your skin. And no-one wants to be left with an almost full tub of face mask you can’t use. So this Play Kit is perfect as it gives you a one-use of three of their masks, making it perfect to multi-mask. You get one mask for purifying, one for detoxing and one for a glow. I don’t multi-mask a whole lot, but when I do, I love this little kit for giving me everything I need in an easy-to-use and disposable way.
So those are my top products for creating a premium look but without a premium budget. I don’t think that great make up should only be available to those with a huge budget, and I’m so glad that budget brands have made it possible to nail the best types of finish and looks, without breaking the bank.
Shop everything in this post here