Stretch that Sparkle! A Guide to Saving Money on Makeup

I was never a makeup sort of girl – until I took to the stage as a belly dancer. I found that the Zero Makeup Get Up didn’t quite work. All that anyone could see of me was a faceless ghost shimmying around in a sparkling costume.

I had to invest in makeup, and I had to spend money – which I didn’t have a lot of, since I was also a graduate student at the time. Moreover, thanks to bacteria, makeup won’t last forever, so I’d always need to throw out my purchases.

But I couldn’t perform without makeup, and I knew that one day, I’d need to put on my own makeup as a professional, whether I was on stage dancing, or pacing the classroom as a professor. So, I managed, and I have my own makeup stash today – without draining my savings account.

How did I manage it? Well, aside from trial and error, and a lot of conversations with my friends, here are tips that I’ve found work with saving money on makeup.

Ask makeup artists about high quality brands

One of my close friends from high school is a makeup artist. She prides herself on high quality brands that are INEXPENSIVE (not cheap!) because they’re made for makeup artists. She calls them “Generic Boxes” because they’re high quality, mineral-based makeup that come in almost non-descript packages.

She has fine powder eye shadow, liquid foundation, and even bronzers that are a tenth of the price of high end brands – but which, she promises, are WAY BETTER. Why? Because the manufacturers cater directly to makeup artists and don’t spend a lot on packaging.

So if you have a makeup artist friend, go ahead and ask about their brands! You might even be able to get a steep discount if your friend has a company and buys the Generic Boxes in bulk!

Read lots of reviews and sort them based on price

Thanks to the Internet, we can sort makeup according to ratings, reviews, and price. The next time you need makeup, go online and search for makeup reviews. Sort everything based on price, from lowest to highest. Then, starting with the cheapest, work your way upward: look for brands that have been reviewed a lot, and that have excellent feedback. The lower the price, the better!

When you’ve picked out at least three brands, compare reviews across web pages. Make sure that the reviewers have the same skin tone and quality as yours!

Buy make up that you can apply – a.k.a. don’t let your face meet the source!

I got this tip from a professional belly dancer who didn’t like anyone touching her makeup, including herself! She had at least 5 lipstick brushes, eyeliner brushes, and eyeshadow brushes each. She had multiple powder puffs. She had a LOT of tissue paper.

She bought lipstick in little jars, and then used a lipstick brush to apply the lipstick – with NO DOUBLE DIPPING. She would always close the jar as she applied the lipstick, so that the lipstick in the jar wouldn’t be exposed to the air.

She bought liquid eyeliner with no brush in it, and then used her eyeliner brush to apply it – with NO DOUBLE DIPPING. As with the lipstick, the jar was always closed.

She used multiple powder puffs on her powder, with – can you guess? – NO DOUBLE DIPPING.

When she was done applying her makeup, she would put all the dirty powder puffs and brushes in a bag. When she got home, she washed all of them and dried them out. Instead of investing on makeup, she invested on applicators, which were thrown out every few months (but which are comparatively cheaper). She also wiped the surfaces of her makeup to take out any contamination or dust that had settled.

She might sound a little obsessive compulsive, but she was neat and clean – and her makeup was amazing! She was very careful with what she did, and yes, she told me, she saved a lot of money.

Buy smaller bottles, ESPECIALLY for lipstick and eye makeup

I usually buy smaller bottles, especially for lipstick and eye makeup, and especially if the differences in cost between smaller and bigger packaging is zero to minute. If the difference is too big, however, I’ll still go for the big packaging, but take much greater care with double dipping. There’s no use spending on lots of makeup that I won’t use frequently, or that I might not like in a few months.

Keep your makeup in the fridge

This is my mom’s favorite tip. I come from a tropical country, where bacteria grow much faster. My mom stores all her makeup, especially liquid makeup, in the fridge. Not only do we keep bacteria from multiplying, the low temperature actually keeps makeup consistency even. I made the mistake of leaving my liquid eyeliner out one summer afternoon – and found that it had become a lumpy black mass. It wasn’t pretty, and I had to throw it out, but I learned my lesson.

These are just a few makeup saving tips that will help you save money in the long run. Although makeup is expensive, it’s pretty useful to those of us who need to shine on stage, or who need to have some color when we step out of the house. But because we also need our savings to shine, we have ways of keeping our wallets fat without losing all our makeup in the process.

Inez Ponce de Leon is a researcher with a PhD in science communication. She’s also a bellydancer and bellydance instructor, with lots of experience in saving money on her makeup. Because she has to be on stage, she also has to use lots of it. She loves to write on a wide variety of topics, including belly dance, Healthy Trim claims, writing novels, sociology, and science communication.

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