Of course, there are the standard type places - the websites for MAC, Stila, NARS, LORAC, and other brands, and the ever-popular Sephora. Even I love browsing at Sephora (http://www.sephora.com/ for those who don't have a physical store near them - like me). However, I am always just a little bit (okay, a lot) appalled by the prices these fancy brands are charging. I mean, yes, I love Dior Diorshow mascara, but $24 per tube?? Come on... we all have to admit that is absolutely insane. It's a mascara, for Christ's sake - something you use for, if you're a good girl and follow the mascara rules, 3 months and then toss. And MAC - example prices are $14.50 per eyeshadow pot and $20 for one of their new Lustre Twins lipstick/gloss duos. Yeah, the colors are lovely, but being out $34.50 after purchasing only two tiny (yes, tiny - MAC's eyeshadows are some of the smallest on the market) products is also insane.
Ladies (and possibly some guys) - think about what you are doing!! You're spending crazy amounts and getting very little for it. And you know what? That's what these cosmetic companies are banking on - that you WILL pay that $24 for the mascara because it's got the Dior name on it, and they WILL make a huge profit from that brand name. My opinion these days is - screw that. Just stop buying that stuff. They are essentially tricking you out of you cash, and if we all just quit buying it maybe they'd have to rethink their strategy a little.
"So what am I supposed to do?" you are asking.
What if I told you I could find you a dupe of just about any MAC shadow/pigment, and that I could do it for just about $1.00 each? What if I could find you a cream shadow that is as good, if not better, than MAC's super-cool Paint Pots for HALF the price? And what about the fact that many drugstore brand mascaras are now as good as those pricey ones, because they are made in the exact same factories - just packaged under a different name and priced differently?
This blog is going to show you how to do all of that. Of course, occasionally we'll splurge on something - for example, my one splurge these days is Urban Decay's Primer Potion (UDPP). It's $16, but the stuff works wonders. No reapplying shadow, no creases, nothing - and I have not found anything that comes close to working as well as UDPP. So I buy it, because it does what it says and there is no equal. However, when there IS an equal - why not buy that?
So, to start, I'm going to give you some info on some of my absolute favorite places to buy makeup on the cheap so you can browse and see what I'm talking about and see what I'm going to be using in the looks I'll do in future posts. These places not only provide high-quality, high-pigment makeup that you will love, but many create their makeup from pure minerals that are of even higher quality that that super expensive mineral company (um, Bare Escentuals anyone?). That means this stuff is free of chemicals and is good for your skin - perfect if you get a lot of breakouts. And, many give back to the community - by donating to cool charities, or just by being environmentally friendly. Great stuff, right?
With that, here goes:
1. Aromaleigh (http://www.aromaleigh.com/). With over 400 eyeshadow shades to choose from (that is a photo of their Rocks! Sonic Eye collection, taken from their site), Aromaleigh is probably my favorite place to shop - I'm an eye makeup addict, and Aromaleigh feeds that addiction like nowhere else. Why? Because they sell samples of all of those colors, and the samples range from about 80 cents to $1.20 each! These samples come in baggies, and inside each baggie is a generous amount of makeup - so generous that I have yet to run out of one and I started buying them three months ago. Aromaleigh's shadows range from soft, light, neutrals to bold, hot, look-at-me neons that glow under blacklight - and all of them, even the screaming neons, are infinitely wearable. And yes, they are extremely pigmented - and many are dupes for MAC pigments and shadows.
Of course, Aromaleigh is not just shadows - they have a huge line of blushes to try (these are incredible as well), and their lippies are just super moisturizing (you've gotta try the Nourishing Color Cremes... looks like a lip balm, acts like a lip balm, but provides a perfect hit of color for your daily life). And, another favorite of mine is the Ultra Resolution Finishing Powder... this is the EXACT SAME as Make Up For Ever's High Definition finishing powder ($30), but the container is a bit bigger and the price is about a third of MUFE's at $13.75. You'll find many other fantastic things as you browse the site... I dare you to leave the site without putting something in your cart! (Also of note - Aromaleigh donates part of its profits to Heifer International, a charity that hopes to feed the world.)
2. MEOW Cosmetics (http://www.meowcosmetics.com/). Meow is also a small independent company run by women. In my opinion, this is the absolute best place to buy foundation, bar none. With three formulations and 84 (yes, that's right) foundation shades to choose from, you are bound to find something that is perfect for you. For the first time in my life, I found a foundation that is an exact match for my hard-to-match skin - I'm kind of warm, but have some pink in there, and even makeup artists have had difficulty with it. The foundation not only matches, but it just melts into my skin for absolutely perfect, natural looks. In addition, they make concealers that match each of their foundations exactly, so there is none of that "Should I get the light? Or medium?" stuff. Each of their foundations can be sampled for $1 - so you can get a bunch of samples (each of which contains enough to do your whole face a good three or four times) and find your exact match. When that happens, you can buy a jar for about $23, depending on the formula... while the price is the same as Bare Escentuals, the jar you get is about three times the size of a BE jar! I will demonstrate this in later posts, but in the meantime you can see an example on Meow's foundation page. You will literally have enough to last years.
Meow also provides a fabulous foundation primer and finishing powder as well as a large selection of eye shadows, blushes, and bronzers. The bronzers are designed to go with the foundations (same base shades, and "top" shades that highlight the natural colors in the skin), and they look more natural than any I've ever seen - I hated bronzer and refused to use it until I met Meow. Their eyeshadows are also lovely and they have some very unusual, but oddly wearable shades, including a yellow-green called, of course, "Cat Psss." And that reminds me - most of their products have names relating to cats, and some are very, very clever. You'll have fun just reading those product names on the site!
3. M*A*D Minerals (http://www.madminerals.org/) - I haven't tried any foundations, but I have tried the Multipurpose Minerals. You can use these as eyeshadows, and many can be used to create your own lip colors (dip a lip balm into the minerals and apply). They can be used as blushes, body shimmers, whatever you like. The color selection is nice; not like Aromaleigh, but they do have some original colors and the colors wear very well. Samples of each are available for $2.oo.
What I really like, though, are the Indelible Cream Liners and the Indelible Cream Shadows - these pots are really dupes for MAC Fluidline and MAC Paint Pots, respectively. Not only are the colors dupes for MAC colors, but the formulation is just about the same too (take a look at the photo, taken from MAD's website as a demo, to see exactly how close the creme shadows are to Paint Pots). They really are indelible - I took a shower with a sample of one of the cream shadows on my hand, and it was STILL THERE when I got out! (They remove well with any old makeup remover though - including Pampers Baby Wipes, which I use to remove my makeup.) However, at $8.99, these are about half the price of MAC. As a side note, Aromaleigh also sells these, but they are a bit more expensive there, so I thought I'd mention them here since we're talking about El Cheapo makeup.
4. Raesin Images/Colour ID Minerals (http://www.mineral-make-up.net/) - This Tennessee based small company has a giant selection of eye colors, many designed using color theory so they make the most of your eye color. Unfortunately, they don't really offer samples of their eye colors, but their "3 gram" jar sizes are just $4.99 - and they last forever (the company says 6-9 months, but it'll be longer for me because I don't use the colors every day). The colors I got are interesting and creatively mixed, and they last for hours and hours.
This company also has a foundation primer called Resurface X-treme that is rumored to be incredible - I haven't tried it yet, but got a free sample with my eyeshadow order. Will review it in a future post!
5. Amphigory (http://www.amphigory.com/) - Amphigory is geared towards the Goth, emo, and clubbing scene, but don't let that scare you off - even if you're in the over 30 set, like me, you will be pleased when you delve into the "Cosmetics" section of Amphigory's web site. You will also be pleased by the very, very personal service you get from Zev and Paz, the husband and wife team who own this company.
Amphigory's loose mineral eyeshadows are extremely original - I have "Road to Nowhere" and "Simple" and both are exquisite. Simple, in particular, looks greyish, but when you apply it a pinky bronze shimmer appears with the grey - Paz describes it as "a sunset on a cloudy day" and that is exactly it! Gorgeous, gorgeous. Their regular eyeshadows (pressed) are impressive as well, and they also sell those fab Indelible Gel liners and Indelible Cream shadows.
And, as a cat lover, this is an important one for me. One dollar from pretty much every product you buy at Amphigory goes to support Great Cats of Indiana - this is a sanctuary for big cats that have nowhere to go. Please go to http://www.amphigory.com/cougar_valley_farms_intro.html to learn more about this wonderful place.
There! Those are my Top Five right now. I will be reviewing specific products (with pictures) as time goes on. And I will be exploring new companies as well - if you would like me to review something, please do leave that in the comments.
Now, stay tuned for more reviews, and tutorials using these and other cool products!!!