Makeup Shopping Style: When Going High-End is Worth It



I was browsing a local discount store the other day and picked up so many makeup and beauty products in the $2-$3 range. Then I put them down. It's odd that price-point can sometimes sell itself: My actual logic, momentarily, was, "This is so cheap, I have to get it."

I didn't get anything. This is how it's trended for me more and more. It's not because I'm wealthy (I'm not) or a product snob (not that either) or a label whore (not that at all). After about two decades of buying makeup, my shopping style has gone through its own retail therapy: I've learned that sometimes holding off on spending on a lot of cheap items is worth it to save for the bigger ticket items.

My father's drug of choice was antique cars: Years ago, he'd buy them, fix them up, and sometimes sell them for a profit. Men have their own collector's items, of course, and the market was for quality. In every other area of his life, he was Depression-era frugal: We washed sandwich bags for reuse; he made my sister and I get out of the car and pick up beach towels off the side of the road; most of our household items were generic and hand-me-down.

But my father had a passion for antique model cars: He could pinpoint the year, make and model just by glancing at the hood. That was the area that quenched his soul, so he saved everywhere else to spend there. It was impractical to his everyday his life, but it enhanced his life. So it was worth the money.

My passion for makeup runs along those lines: I will scrimp and save on clothes, cut my own hair, do my own manicures, buy generic food items - all so that I can afford a few big-ticket makeup items that I truly love. I will go against the grain and say that every time I use an e.l.f. product, I can sense it's cheap by the way it looks and feels. I know many people love this brand for its affordability and think it's worth it, which I completely respect. I, however, will pass on a cheap brand that appears cheap to save up for a quality brand that performs.

In its studio line, e.l.f. has blushes meant to dupe the Nars blushes: I finally caved and bought an e.l.f. blush to see if I liked it. Within a week, the texture was bumpy and had pilled; the pigmentation was so poor, I had to repeatedly dip my blush brush back in to get any color payoff. Nars blushes are so finely milled and so pigmented, a quick tap into the product will deliver intense color payoff. This means the blushes last forever. Make Up For Ever blushes - though not as heralded - are equally high-quality and give a beautiful finish. If I stop using them for a while, then go back, I am startled by how much pigmentation they deliver.

There are certainly times when bargain brands deliver as well, if not better, than high-end brands. Wet n Wild, Milani, and Revlon are brands that put many of the most expensive lines to shame. In some cases, however, it's more rewarding to hold off on buying bargain products and to save for more expensive items. I research products a lot before I purchase them, read plenty of user reviews, then weigh whether it's a product that will add value to my makeup collection. In an odd twist of logic, I spend money less now on makeup than I ever have before.

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