When to Spend, When to Save: Makeup
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When to Spend, When to Save: Makeup

Some beauty essentials are worth the splurge. With other products, you should stick with the discount version. FITNESS breaks it down -- and offers our 10 top beauty bargains.

Worth the Splurge

Got a few extra bucks to blow on beauty? Use it on these products:

Foundation and Concealer

If you want to look like you're not wearing any makeup, finding your perfect match is worth every cent. "Prestige brands have a larger shade range with varying undertones and tend to contain more natural-looking pigments," says Tina Turnbow, a celebrity makeup artist for drugstore.com.

Eye Shadow

"All powders are not created equal," says celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes. Quality formulas are finely milled so they feel ultra-soft going on and the hues stay vibrant without creasing.


"High-end lipsticks often contain more pigment, so the color adheres to your lips longer," says makeup artist Tiffany Bartok. With pricier lipsticks, you may also get more product, so your favorite shade lasts longer.


Spend some cash on full-size, easy-to-handle brushes for the makeup you use most, like foundation, blush, eye shadow, and eyeliner. Invest in synthetic bristles, which won't hold on to bacteria like natural hair can.


Save Your Cash

Save on these products -- they're foolproof!


Ingredients vary only slightly between brands, so buy your favorite type of brush and formulation. If you want volume, choose a thickening formula with a large wand. For lengthening, try widely spaced bristles or a comb wand.

Lip Gloss

Glosses are meant to go on sheer, so you don't have to worry about the pigment level. Plus, finding a shade to meet your every desire has never been easier -- the gloss market has exploded in recent years, with prices as low as $1.

Lip Liner

"Since there are only a few wood-pencil manufacturers in the world, most brands come from the same factory," says Barnes. You may want to spend on the lipstick, but you can save on the liner.

Nail Polish

Polishes have a limited shelf life because the chemicals separate and the liquid becomes goopy. Buy your favorite drugstore brand on the cheap and cover it with a pricier chip-proof top coat such as Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat, $10, amazon.com.


10 Top Beauty Bargains

What the pros love, love, love.

  1. Q-tips Cotton Swabs Purse Pack, $1.59
    Use these to apply lip gloss and eye shadow or to smudge liner when you don't have an arsenal of beauty tools.
  2. Pond's Exfoliating Clean Sweep Cucumber Cleansing Towelettes, $5.99
    These extra-gentle wipes clean your skin in one swipe -- perfect for the gym or after a late night.
  3. Evian Brumisateur Mineral Water Spray, $9.95
    Hydrate your complexion and refresh your makeup with one quick spritz of this mineral-infused water spray.
  4. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer, $7.99
    This body cream is quickly absorbed and contains just a hint of self-tanner that gives skin a totally natural-looking glow after each daily application.
  5. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Pearl Plum, $11.84, 2 pack
    This gloss imparts the perfect amount of shine, and the sheer berry hue is universally flattering.
  6. Vital Radiance Hydra Smooth Under-Eye Concealer, $11.99
    The wand has two sides: a shimmery pink eye cream to layer under the creamy concealer.
  7. John Frieda Frizz-Ease DownPlay Volume Reducer, $5.99
    Just a drop of this miraculous potion promotes a blowout that looks like naturally straight hair.
  8. Almay Intense i-Color Powder Shadow in Bring Out the Hazels, $15.40, 2 pack
    The coordinated palette takes the guesswork out of finding shadows that can be worn together.
  9. L'Oreal Paris Bare Naturale Powdered Mineral Foundation SPF19, $30.97, 2 pack
    This ultra-fine loose powder contains good-for-your-skin minerals, and the attached brush makes blending easy, even on the go.
  10. Nivea Body Smooth Sensation, $5.86
    Use this subtly scented, super-hydrating lotion after a post-workout shower to make skin silky smooth and fragrant.


Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November 2006.