If, like me, you’re someone who likes wearing a full face every day (eye shadow, blush, mascara, lip colour, even brow powder), you’ll doubtless have people saying strange things to your face and thinking worse things behind your back. But one of the most comments that have come my way is, “Gosh you must have a ton of makeup!” Sometimes, there’s envy in this remark. But most often, it’s a judgment call on how much money (my own, not theirs, FYI) I’ve spent on cosmetics.
The truth of the matter is that my stash isn’t large at all. Everything I own fills a shoebox and still leaves 1/3rd of the space free. If you’re a canny consumer, you’ll learn how to choose, when to give in, what not to fall for and whom to trust. You’ll know how to do more with less and turn a bad investment around. If you’re not there yet, here are a few shortcuts:
- Mix it up. For months, I didn't know what to do with two expensive presents in my stash - a brown MAC lipstick so light, it made me look like an undead extra on Twilight; and a colourless Dior lipgloss with a blue, hologram-like sheen. Until one day I decided to layer them with some dark lipsticks. Turns out, the light brown makes a fantastic base to turn fuchsia into bubblegum pink, to weaken burgundy gloss into a raspberry sorbet, and to amp up coral lipstick into a neon orange so fierce, I could team it with ’80s leotards and ‘pump up the jam’. As for the gloss, it shines up matte red lipstick and glams up my everyday browns. So many new colours without spending a penny! Oh, I also went crazy recently, looking for a matte navy eyeliner, till I realized that patting black shadow over my cheap cobalt liner gave me exactly what the stores couldn’t.
- Multitask. Lipstick on the cheeks as creme blush, mascara to comb and darken brows, shimmery gold eye shadow on the cheekbones as a highlighter, hand cream as eye cream, eyeliner as a whole eye shadow, powder blush as light eye shadow, and a layer of vaseline to sheer out a bold lip colour for a day look. And a little pot of fine gold/silver shimmer to take your existing day make up into night. It all works. Just steer clear of products that are marketed as "for cheeks and lips". They rarely work as they should and you'll be stuck with a multi-use product that you can't find a single good use for.
- Palettes are pleasing. They work out cheaper, let you use colours, textures and products you'd never considered before and they give you a nice idea about the kind of quality to expect in the rest of the range. The Body Shop's Shimmercubes are excellent for eye shadows, most international brands save their best palette collections for the Christmas and holiday season, air port duty free zones have super-priced sets that never make it to the malls, and MAC and Inglot let you pick and choose your own combinations.
- Don't sweat it, swap it. Every so often, you'll find a product you just can't use or don't want to use any more. Maybe you hate the colour, the feel, the staying power, the fragrance. Maybe you just have too many of the same things. Before you've grudgingly gone halfway through the container, keep it aside for make-up loving friends who have a bunch of items to give away too. I've swapped foundation, eyeliner, eye shadows, lip glosses, samples and even perfume for great new goodies other people were unhappy with.
- Get it for free (or for less). Six empty MAC make up and skincare containers equal one free lipstick of your choice. Five black tubs from Lush equal one free face pack. Purchases at Clinique, Make-up For Ever and Clarins entitle you to free samples and almost every beauty counter will have some kind of discount or free gift if you hit a specific sales amount. make the most of it. And if you pick up the more popular brands online they'll not only be cheaper, they'll even ship for free.
- Go cheap: Sure, when it comes to foundation, concealer, sunscreen and compact powder, buy the best you can afford. But some things you just don't need to upgrade - like clubbing makeup (in the dark, no one can tell if that eyeshadow cost 150 or 1500 bucks), lip balm (a stick of vaseline does the same thing as the expensive lip jellies), mascara (unless you're allergic to a brand, the cheap ones deliver the same results as the pricey ones).
From HT Brunch, October 7
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