The Good Girl’s Guide to
If you have been my friend for any amount of time (or even just my Facebook friend), you know that makeup is my downfall. I have been known to occasionally offer my soul (and the contents of my bank account) to the makeup gods in search of the perfect foundation or concealer. Many a times have I challenged myself to not to buy makeup, only to pass by a makeup counter and say “I NEED THIS YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!” and then proceed to run to the counter to pay for it before any of my friends can stop me (as my besties Nica, Jas and Shyne can attest to multiple times haha). While I am admittedly a makeup elitist and am the type to drop my cash on high-end makeup (therefore effectively leaving me with no money for food for the rest of the month), I do firmly believe that good makeup is good makeup, regardless of the price.
Even before I became a makeup artist, friends have always asked me “what’s a good cheap/budget *insert makeup here*?”. Now, the term “cheap” and “budget friendly” are relative terms, so for the sake of this discussion, let’s keep things at a below 500 peso ceiling and stuff only available in the Philippines (coz really, Youtube Drugstore Makeup is on a different universe as Philippine Drugstore Makeup). DISCLAIMER: I can’t be bothered to get the prices for real (I have been cautioned against going on a research trip to the Mall. My friends know me well and they know I’ll only end up buying everything because I take makeup recommendations v v seriously), but I’m pretty sure they’re all below 500. Let’s begin, shall we?
Okay, so maybe this first one is slightly above 500 pesos (its 500plus, but who’s counting when it comes to beauty riiight?) and I’m cheating here, but this is a product that I love so much, I’m willing to round the price down. I am a fan of L’Oreal foundations. There, I said it. They are the bomb. When they finally brought L’oreal Pro Matte Foundation to Manila counters, I almost wept with joy, no joke. Call me a Drama Queen, I care not, but this, in my humble makeup obsessed opinion, one of the best foundations on the market. It’s matte but not DRY, which I find is the problem with most matte foundations (MAC Studio Fix and MAC Prolongwear, I’m talking about you. FUN FACT: L’oreal and Mac are owned by the same company!). It dries down to a matte, which I like to describe as SKIN MATTE. Skin matte is a finish which Goldilocks would be proud of. You know, not too matte, not too dewy, IT’S JUST RIGHT.
Spot concealing is and should be every girl’s bestfriend. While a full face of foundation is something I adore, I am also lazy and can’t be bothered to full glamazon mode everyday. Enter CONCEALER. Now, let’s be clear. You can only pry my Nars Creamy Radiant Concealer from my cold dead fingers. But if my Nars concealer had a baby that was good but not as good as the original, then that would be Maybelline Fit Me concealer (around 200-299 pesos). It’s comparable, yes, but just not there yet. BUT THEN AGAIN, WHO ARE WE KIDDING, MAYBELLINE IS ONE-FIFTH THE PRICE OF THE NARS CONCEALER. No brainer here, run to the Maybelline counter. Run fo’ yo’ lyf.
For those blessed with little or no blemishes, and just dark under eyes (shout out to my law school and med school loves for exchanging sleep for education. You go, girls!!!), or those who have a slightly drier undereye, I highly recommend the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer (I believe around the same price as the FitMe concealer). There is a reason why this concealer is highly raved about in the Youtube world. It’s pigmented, cheap, covers circles beautifully and doesn’t emphasize lines like other, more expensive concealers (ehem Tarte ShapeTape ehem). This one, my friends, I with no shame repurchase over and over for my kit. IT. JUST. WORKS.
If you are reading this and you live in Manila like me, it’s hot as hell here. Dewy skin is almost inevitable in our weather because the likelihood of you gleaming like a freshly roasted (but still yummy, mind you– you are beautiful, sweetheart!) Lechon is very, very high. That being said, setting your makeup with powder is essential to keep the oils at bay. A pressed powder I surprisingly enjoyed and kept in my kit for a while was Wet n’ Wild’s Photofocus Powder (Lazada says it’s around 450 pesos). This is eerily comparable to MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Powders, for around 1/3 of the price. Both are baked powders, smooth, and don’t apply patchy. Now, if you’re looking for a one swipe, mega coverage powder, look away now. This most definitely is NOT it. This gives a soft, natural looking finish. It’s actually hard to build the coverage up with this one, but I can’t seem to let it go because it gives such a beautiful finish to the skin. Awesome if you’re just looking for a colored powder to set your base.
I do, however, STILL always advise friends and clients to invest in your base. If there’s anything you should splurge on in you makeup collection, I really believe it should be your base. While I do love my budget makeup, there are really some high-end base makeup that just can’t be duped.
BLUSH and CONTOUR
Recently, I simplified my makeup routine. This resulted in me looking for products that did double duty. Lip and cheek tints are my current obsessions. (Now, because I am obsessive and tend to do things to an excess, I have three lip and cheek tints in my makeup bag, which to be honest, slightly screwed up the idea of me simplifying my makeup bag hehe). Who remembers Body Shop’s classic lip and cheek tints? Raise your hand if at one point in your life you had that and went a little overboard with it and ended up looking like you got punched in the cheek? Ah, yes, the Punch-ed Drunk look, ranks high among the mistakes of youth, alongside Jose Cuervo Tequila and that guy you dated that you thought was really hot but all your friends said to dump.
Lip and cheek tints are beautiful, but are admittedly one of the most difficult things to apply. (A tip would be to apply it to your clean fingers and tap the excess on the back of your hand, instead of directly on the cheek) Another surprising find, which I have rebought and honestly hoarded during my recent trip to Korea, was TonyMoly’s Lip and Cheek Tint in 01 and 02. It gives a beautiful flush to the cheeks (when applied correctly) that makes you look fresh. I always get compliments when I wear this. It’s a magical combination when mixed with a good highlighter. It also makes your lips look like you just drank Strawberry Kool-aide, which I think is a look that most people can actually carry off well. Another one is The FaceShop Watery Tint in 06 Rose Garden (yes, I’m color specific with this one because I love it). Don’t be fooled by its almost scary neon appearance. It’s flattering on almost all skin tones. It looks like that perfect rosy flush you get when you’re just between drunk and drunker (we’ve all been there people). Just remember: DOUBLE TAP!!! TAP ON HAND BEFORE YOU TAP ON THE CHEEK.
For a powder blush, I sincerely and honestly love the Wet n Wild Color Icon blushes (Lazada says its 450php). It’s a really good formula—smooth and really pigmented, almost too much so. Just lightly tap your fluffy brush on the powder and tap off the excess (for the love of all that is sanitary in the world, DO NOT BLOW ON YOUR BRUSH!), and floof it on the apples of your cheeks. Plus factor for this product is that most of the colors have a sheen to them so it almost doubles as a highlighter.
Budget contour is where it got tricky for me. As a member of the Chubby Cheeked Community, I’m extremely picky when it comes to products I use to carve out my cheekbones, and I’ve noticed that the ones I gravitate towards are higher than our allotted budget. Too warm toned and it looks like the top part of a leche flan, too cool toned and it looks like you pegged Johnny Depp in that Sweeney Todd movie. A favorite cheap find of mine was the Wet n’ Wild Megaglo Contouring Palette. It’s a soft (be careful with it, because it breaks easily, just like your heart. haha) and pigmented powder that blends easily on the skin. Beware that it will kick off some powder, so tap the excess off your brush before you apply. Another peeve though with this product is the color combinations it comes in. It comes in a cool toned brown (perfect for contouring), with a pink toned matte highlight and a warm toned brown (perfect for bronzing), with a yellow matte highlight. If they combined JUST the darker powders, we would have a champion right here.
A wise friend once told me jokingly, “where there is kilay, there is life”. Funnily enough, that statement bears truth. I’ve seen friends who will not move unless their eyebrows are on in the morning. We’ve seen eyebrow trends go from 90’s supermodel thin to the now popular bushy and bold. Whatever eyebrow you rock (because hunny, you do you), my basic question to behold when it comes to picking your eyebrow weapon is: HOW EASY IS IT TO USE? Enter The FaceShop Designing Eyebrow Pencil in Brown (around 299php) and Careline Best Brow Liner in Taupe (below 200php).
These are absolute gems. The Careline one, was especially surprising. I found it while browsing the grocery and haven’t put it down since. I have since rebought multiples of these two because they’re so easy to use, comes in a variety of colors, contain just the right amount of pigment and are dirt cheap. Both have angled edges, which makes shaping the brows a breeze. My favorite part of these products though, is that it comes with a spoolie! Spoolies (those round brush thingies that look like mascara wands) are essential to getting good brows. Never forget to brush out those brows after shaping them because this step will save you from looking like Frieda Khalo (unless that’s your jam, then more power to you!).
One of my favorite highlighters that just got recently released here in the Philippines is the Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in Molten Gold, barely holding on to our below 500 budget, at 499php. This, however, is not for the faint of heart. It’s high shine, metallic, almost wet looking and will not work for those who are heavy handed with their brushes. This is the highlighter you use when you want to blind yo’ haters. Applied lightly though, this looks especially good on you morena toned ladies, especially on the collarbones and shoulders. Plus point, this looks really good on the eyes as well and doubles as a great eyeshadow! For those in need of a more subtle sheen/more dainty approach to highlighted skin, pick up the Wet n’ Wild MegaGlo Highlighter in Precious Petals, also clocking in at 499 php. This gives a “quiet glow”, as I like to describe it. If Maybelline was a FooFighters rock song, then the MegaGlo would be its Dave Matthews Band counterpart. Both absolutely awesome, but would just depend on what you’re in the mood for.
Drugstore makeup, especially eye makeup below, is honestly, where I struggled the most. I wanted to share with you guys a palette that I could say to you “just this, and you’ll be fine”. Unfortunately, like my true love, that palette is still floating somewhere out there in the universe. There are, however, some notable gems in the Department store! The Maybelline Eye Studio 24hr Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze (less than 400php) is one of them. Like any cream eye products it takes a bit of getting used to, but once mastered, is beautiful. It’s perfect for you low maintenance babes who don’t want to hassle of choosing which color from which palette. It’s a one-stop color that would look great both in daytime and nighttime. A tip for this product would be to start with a little then build it up. Too much of it on your eye will make it bunch up, and well, it’s not pretty.
Another Wet n’ Wild (do we see a trend here?! This brand is in it, to win it.) product that I can’t seen to let go, despite my ever growing collection of crazy expensive eyeshadow palettes, is the ColorIcon Trio in Walking on Eggshells (less than 300php). There’s something about the formula that makes it glide onto the eyelid and just makes it look so good. It’s hard to mess up with this eyeshadow. It’s your classic bone, champagne and brown color combination that looks beautiful on everyone. I heard that Wet n’ Wild recently changed the packaging of this, making the trio a quad (they added a matte brown transition color). I have yet to pick that one up, but if you see it, I highly suggest grabbing that, because the one thing that could have made this palette better was a matte brown shade. And they added just that.
For eyeliner, the Careline Graph-Ink Liner in Black (175php) was a pleasant surprise. It’s incredibly black (like my soul. Joke.), has decent staying power (for the price), and made my eyeliner wings last from morning til I got home. This, my friends, is not an easy task as I am a contact lens wearer and a squinter. The only eyeliner I usually trust for myself and clients are Japanese brands, and those ain’t cheap. Other more expensive brands (yes, Stila brush liner, I’m looking at you) have made my signature winged liner flake off by mid-day. So for 1/8 of the price and better quality, hell yeah, I would pick this up again. The only thing that has been stopping this bad boy from reaching “In My Pro Kit” level, is the fact that it dries slightly glossy and that formula’s a littler too watery for me to use on clients. But for a makeup noob, this one’s definitely a great buy!
I’ve said this to friends and I’ll say it again. The EverBilena HD Waterproof Mascara (250php) is the closest thing I’ve found to my one true mascara love, the HeroineMake Long and Curl. It holds the curl up, lengthens and stays up. It doesn’t clump up as much as other mascaras in the same price range. I know that Ever Bilena gets passed over as cheap here in Manila, but dude, they are stepping up in the quality and color range. It’s the ugly duckling of Pinoy makeup that’s suddenly blooming into something worth the second look. (Fun Fact: Careline and Ever Bilena are owned by the same company).
This is the most exciting part of budget makeup for me. There’s a plethora of cheapie but goodie lip products and it’s almost hard to limit it. ALMOST. My favorite one, which I have been known to whip out at drinking sessions and convince all the girls at the table to buy, are the Maybelline Creamy Matte lipsticks (299 or cheaper, depending if there’s a sale). I have almost all shades, for both professional and personal kit. My must check out shades are Nude Nuance, Clay Crush, Touch of Spice (for everyday colors) and Burgundy Blush (for those days that you want to vamp it up). The formula is creamy and comfortable on the lips, doesn’t skip when applied and IS ALWAYS ON SALE. I might never buy another MAC Matte lipstick after discovering these babies. You need it. Trust.
For liquid lipsticks, the JCat Beauty Liquid Lipsticks (less than 350php) are just great. They’re matte but not drying. It doesn’t crack on the lips (hey there Coloupop matte liquid lipsticks you crackling you) and has decent weartime. It also has a minty feel to the lips, which I personally like. Another gem in the budget lip department is the EverBilena Matte liquid lipstick in the shade Sienna (around 200php). It’s especially beautiful on those with a more morena tone to their skin. It’s a flattering apricot-y red shade that’s great for an everyday look. The pigmentation is great and its surprisingly comfortable on the lips, considering the price!
For lip liners, I was more than pleasantly surprised at the quality of Everbilena Lipliners (around 200php). The shades Toast of New York and Mirrored Mocha are must buys. Both shades are a neutral “your lips but better” shade that works well with most peachy to pinkish nude lip colors. My favorite way to wear them is with my lip tints. Apply the lip tints on the center of your face and fill in the outer edges of your lips until you blend both colors. It creates a subtle and wearable ombre tone on the lips that makes you look like you got Kylie Jenner lip fillers, but cheaper. Waaay cheaper.
WHEW. If you weren’t bored out of your mind from reading this extra long post, congratulations! You just saved yourself a whole lotta money! The next time you find yourself strolling down the grocery and you see one of these products, give them a try. You’d be surprised that quality beauty products don’t necessarily have to break the bank. What are your budget beauty finds? Let us know!