Why would someone my age uses the cheapest cosmetic brands on the market?
Answer: because most of the time, they WORK.
As a kid, Wet & Wild seemed like a godsend right up until I tried my first lipstick from them. 99 cent lipsticks? Yes thank you. Then, after buying one at a Scott’s drugs, I faced my first real cosmetic letdown. It was horrifying – pure rough wax across my skin. My lips felt sticky and tasted like I’d chewed on a candle. A day later I had my first ever blackheads, all around my lips. I walked away believing the adage “you get what you pay for.”
Even so, the brand has endured – and improved. Their lipsticks now go on smoothly. I don’t experience dermal consequences after. The liquid liners tend to stay on. The waterproof mascara, while not as lash-enhancing as I’d like, does not run, ever. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit the cheap stuff is now part of my routine beauty arsenal.
As an added bonus, this US based company supports the nonprofit Dress for Success – and affordable beauty care is an important part of that, since many employers tend to be suspicious of women that eschew makeup.
Product from Wet and Wild I love:
These days I absolutely love their lipsticks.
Back in the day, Wet & Wild was it for truly low-cost cosmetics.
Nowadays we have some new players in the field of cheap cosmetics: Nyx and E.L.F.
In recent years, E.L.F. entered the US market. That’s “Eyes, Lips, Face” for those unfamiliar with the acronym. Over the years, I’ve become the granola crunchers of makeup snobs. I prefer the natural. I even (shhh) make my own. But sometimes, as much fun as that is, I still consider the first time I open a new tube of lipstick or open an eye shadow compact thrilling. Perhaps it’s because my family had strict rules about makeup use. Perhaps it’s just that cosmetics are an externally applied alterative substance. That’s expensive. It takes money to get that high.
E.L.F. is cheap.
Unfortunately, E.L.F. is also made in China – and I discovered the brand right after the whole “lead in children’s toys” Target scandal and the “lead in almost every lipstick” scandal right before that. Even though my vanity is full of the stuff, I fear I’m painting myself in lead and about to go down like a lady of ancient Rome.
Even with that fear – hopefully irrational – E.L.F has a lot of my favorite go-to products.
I decided to risk it anyway when one of their multicolored eye palettes came up for sale over Christmas last year. It was just … gratifying… to buy one. I had always hoped to get more of that sort of thing in my stocking as a kid but really that only happened once or twice. So I indulged – because it was cheap, and easy. I still have a palette from 2011; the one this year is just so beautiful I have to restrain myself whenever I walk past it:
Buying the E.L.F. kit satisfied a childhood craving to have all the colors and thereby to have full access of all the knowledge about what the colors can do.
But the product I love from E.L.F?
The Mist and Set:
Of course, it doesn’t negate my paranoia about what all is in it… but it works really well. My makeup holds up all the way through water aerobics. (Only a concern when I have somewhere to be immediately after.)
But makeup trends changed – plus, I’m always nervous about the long-term effects of what I put on my face. After a visit to Ulta - a place I only discovered about two years ago – I found yet another cheap cosmetic source: Nyx Cosmetics. They are another US and LA based company, like Wet & Wild; they offer cruelty free cosmetics. They also apparently buck the cheap-seats trend in some ways because department store Nordstrom is among their distributors.
My first contact with Nyx involved two products: their lipstick and their cream eyeshadow.
I love the cream eyeshadow. The lipstick, however… it brought me right back to my first experience with Wet & Wild lipstick. I just avoid their lip products altogether.
However, the cream eyeshadow is one of my favorite makeup go-tos and I have, piece by piece, been buying up their full range of colors. It has strong pigment but it does dilute a bit as it spreads. I’ve been using Maybelline eye tattoo eye shadow as a base and then adding the Nyx over top; it works beautifully, fixing the color so it pops.
It’s one of those fun, alterative luxury feelings.
You may ask why the next tier up is not grouped in with these. Most, because to me they’re still a chunk. As a kid I always bought Maybelline – it was the best I could afford. I still love Maybelline, but I’ve also found L’Oreal, Sonia Kashuk and No 7 to all have great things – that are often beyond my limited budget. Seriously, the cost for cream blush is generally horrifying – thus E.L.F. stepping in is a relief (yes, I have tried and also like the Maybelline powder/gel blush, but it’s usually sold out!)