Okay, I know this blog is mostly about all things beauty, where to get them, how to wear them, etc., but I realize that most people aren't going to have as large a collection of beauty items as I have, nor are they going to put the time and effort into trying every conceivable beauty line on the planet, like I try to. I also fully understand that one of the benefits of being a beauty blogger is that I get samples of products that I'd never be able to afford otherwise. So, in recognition of all you out there who don't want to or can't afford to shop the higher-end beauty brands, I put together a list of products that will make you look and feel your most beautiful, without breaking the bank.
Cleansers: Purpose Gentle Cleanser and Cetaphil Daily Cleanser. You can find either of these products at your nearest drugstore - I usually get mine from Walgreen's. Even if I could afford pocketbook busting cleansers, I would still stick with these. They are extremely gentle, which is great for me, since I have a sensitive face that tends to break out if I'm not careful. Purpose only costs $5.99 and I believe the biggest container of Cetaphil cleanser costs about $11.99 and it will last for months! These cleansers will remove dirt, oil and make-up as well as their more expensive counterparts without causing problems for those with more sensitive skin.
Toners: Yes, I know, toner isn't a necessary step in one's cleansing ritual, but because I have oily skin and wear make-up every day, I like it as an additional bit of cleansing. I like the fresh feeling it leaves afterward and that it removes any last little bits of make-up, oil or dirt. The only toners worth using contain no alcohol, so my favorite is Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner. It leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh without any tightness caused by overdrying. If you're into more natural products, simple rosewater or cucumber water work, too. They can usually be found in more organic stores or you can make them at home.
Acne Treatment: For my occasional breakouts (mostly around the time I'm riding the Crimson Tide), I use Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment. Greatest stuff ever and you can buy it at the drugstore or the supermarket. A touch of it morning and night ... and zits are gone! I actually put it on the zit-prone portions of my face every day, whether I have a bump or not - it seems to keep them at bay. I also carry a tube of Neutrogena On The Spot in my make-up bag - the Tinted version is just deep enough to cover the redness of a new pimple and works to eliminate it.
Moisturizers: As you all know, you MUST wear a moisturizer (or other product) with sunscreen every day, so my top two choices in this category are Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture SPF 15 - this works great to moisturize and provide sun protection without causing my face to look like an oil slick by the end of the day - and Dove Facial Lotion SPF 15 - this would work better for someone with drier skin as it's a bit thicker.
Mask: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is the best out there! Exceedingly affordable and works wonders - if I'm having an oil crisis or have been breaking out more than usual, applying this mask clears that all up! It smells yummy and feels luxurious going on, particularly if you apply it to your face with a brush, the way they apply masks in a salon.
Scrub: The gentlest I've found and the best is Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Scrub. It's gentle enough to be used as a daily cleanser, but works well as an exfoliator. It rinses away cleanly, as well, much better than other scrubs I've tried.
Foundation: The affordable brand that most suits me is L'Oreal True Match. It comes in both Super-Blendable Liquid and Super-Blendable Powder. It has the widest complexion range I've seen among the drugstore brands and they work as well as MAC or any other brands I've tried. They stay in my make-up rotation. If you're into mineral make-up, L'Oreal Bare Naturale isn't bad, but I have to warn you that the complexion range isn't very wide, so it won't be appropriate for those of a darker hue. I've heard many women of color rave about the Cover Girl Queen collection, but I didn't find it to be all that awesome. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Concealer: Once again, L'Oreal True Match is at the top of the heap, in my opinion. It comes in a range of shades and in Warm, Cool and Neutral tones, just like the foundation.
Mascara: There are many great drugstore varieties of mascara. My favorites are CoverGirl Fantastic Lash, CoverGirl Lash Exact, L'Oreal Volume Shocking, MAX Factor 2000 Calories. The only one I avoid is Maybelline Great Lash - I have no idea how that became the #1 seller in the country - I've always found it to be awful.
Eyeshadow: If you're looking for a wide range of colors and the lastest trends, look no further than NYX. I've never seen this brand at a drugstore, but if you have a beauty supply store nearby, you should be able to find it there. The shadows come in duos, trios, quads and singles and the color range is enormous. They work almost as well as MAC shadows. In fact, I've found that many MAC addicts own quite a few NYX shadows.
Blush: Once again, L'Oreal True Match is great. You can find a blush that'll work well for your particular skintone. I also recommend Revlon and Iman, which you can find at your local Target.
Bronzer: Rush right over to the nearest Physicians Formula display! I have never seen a wider selection of bronzing and shimmer products. My personal favorites are the Shimmer Strips, particularly Waikiki Strip, which is billed as a "peachy glow bronzer" and can be used as bronzer, blush and eye shadow. I find it a bit too glowy to be used as a blush, but it is perfect to be used along the cheekbones for added bronzy-ness and shimmer and also works great as a highlighting shadow when applied under the brow. The Shimmer Strips bronzers are as awesome as Bobbi Brown Shimmerbricks and, at $11.99, much more economical.
Lipstick/lipgloss: I'm more of a gloss girl than a lipstick one, and I've found that Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss is really good - creamy and smooth, without any stickiness. I'm also a big fan of L'Oreal Colour Juice - they are an exact duplicate of Lancome Juicy Tubes without having that overpowering scent. If you're a lipstick wearer, I want to steer you in the direction of ... wait for it ... Wet 'N Wild. Yes, the 99 cent brand! A large range of color options and you can't get any more affordable. Rimmel and Revlon also have good lipsticks.
There you are! This should give you a good list to take with you the next time you go shopping for beauty products! If you've tried any of these or decide to pick them up, let me know what you think!