Affordable Makeup Essentials

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

When you embark on your interest in makeup and beauty generally, it can be overwhelming walking into the drugstore or department store and having absolutely no idea what things are, how to use them, which ones are worth your money. This can be discouraging and time-consuming but with the growing beauty blogging and vlogging community, it's become much easier to gain knowledge and skills from others who have been where you are now. To add my two cents to the discussion, I've compiled my list of recommended affordable makeup essentials as a starting off point for anyone who's unsure or just interested!


This isn't necessarily the most interesting part of makeup and many people skip to something more exciting when starting out but investing in a suitable base makes everything you put on top work and look much better. There are many products, formulas, and finishes to choose from that are made for certain preferences but also different skin types. It's worth your time to do some research and investigate recommendations from bloggers who have similar skin types and concerns as you. There are also clues in product names likes natural, satin, matte, light, illuminating, etc. These keywords give some indication of what you can expect from the product.

Primer - 

Primers are designed to go underneath your foundation and concealer to add longevity to whatever you put on top. If you have oily skin or find your foundations tend to wear off by the end of the day, it might be good to look into a primer. If you prefer a matte finish in your foundation, primers are also good to maintain a shine-free base throughout the day. The Australis Primer is highly recommended but I also like the Revlon Photoready Primer and the Garnier 5 Sec Blur.

Foundation - 

There are so many variations in foundation across brands but even within a brand there can be plenty of different formulas and finishes available. Foundations are intended to smooth out and even skin tone by covering general discolouration uneven texture. Finishes can include satin, dewy, and matte, and formulas can range from sheer, medium/natural, to full coverage. These are almost entirely up to your preferences so its up to you to play around and find what suits you. I like the selection Rimmel offers in coverage and colour but there are plenty of offerings across all brands. The Rimmel Match Perfection offers a middle ground of medium coverage and a natural finish.

Powder -

I personally believe that the vast majority of powders perform very similarly so I tend not to worry about where I'm purchasing mine from. One of the most highly recommended powders, though, is Australis Fresh & Flawless which many people compare to MAC Natural Skin Finish. If you're outside of Australia and New Zealand, try the Rimmel Stay Matte.

Blush -

Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of affordable blush options available and I often find it difficult to find good quality and colour payoff. L'Oreal True Match Blush are the best I've come across but also the Essence Soft Touch Blush and Models Prefer Cream Blush Stick are worth checking out.

Highlighter and Bronzer -

Very few affordable brands offer quality bronzers or highlighters but with a bit of a search and some determination, you can make what's available work for you. The Face of Australia Miracle Therapy Face and Body Illuminator in Angel Mist is a great Benefit High Beam dupe. If you're looking for a bronzer, try purchasing a face powder a few shades too dark for your skin. This will create a matte natural bronze look.


Here's your chance to have a lot of fun: with some many colours, textures, and finishes to choose from, the eyes are where most people choose to express themselves. Affordable eye products also tend to be quite comparable to more expensive brands offering similar ranges and quality. Depending on your preferences, you're very likely to find something you love in this category.

Base/Primer -

Just like with your base, primer can be used to make shadows last longer, resist fading and creasing, and add vibrancy to the colours. The Australis Eyeshadow Primer is an affordable option for a colourless primer. You can also use cream shadows as a base to add a bit of colour to your eye look. For this I recommend the Maybelline Color Tattoos

Shadow -

There's an awful lot of colour available in shadows across the drugstore. Generally speaking, you're more likely to find shimmery and glittery finishes than mattes but the quality and price make up for that in a way. One of the best and most economical ways to purchase shadows are in sets: trios, quads or quintets. My favourites are the Revlon ColorStay and Maybelline Big Eyes Quads. If you're more interested in single shadows, the L'Oreal Infallible Pressed Pigments are just beautiful.

Liner -

Here's another category where you have a lot of choice. Pencil, liquid, and gels are all available and, again, very comparable to their more expensive counterparts. For staying power, nothing compares to the Rimmel Scandal'Eyes Kohl Kajal Eyeliners. If you prefer liquid, try the Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Liner. The tip is very fine and easily controlled for beginners and experts alike. Lastly, one of the best gel options is the Maybelline Gel Liner. It's very black, creamy, and extremely long lasting. You'll probably need to pick up a brush, though, as the one included isn't anything to write home about.

Mascara -

Now, I'm definitely not one to advocate for spending big bucks on mascara. They don't last very long,and there are just as good formulas available for half or even a third of the price. If you prefer bristle or plastic wands, wet or dry formulas, volumising, lengthening, or curling, there is something for you. My favourites are the Covergirl Clump Crusher Extensions and Maybelline the Mega Plush. Have a browse, see what appeals to you, and remember, if you don't like the one you've picked up, it only lasts three months, anyway.

Brows -

If you've got a bit of sparseness in your brows, a pencil can be used to fill them in and add definition. Be careful of choosing a colour, as many affordable brow products tend towards warm tones which simply don't suit many natural hair colours. Essence has the Eyebrow Designer which includes a brush on the lid, but also the Eyebrow Stylist Set which includes a powder if you prefer that. To set everything in place, the Essence Lash & Brow Gel Mascara is a clear option or the Maybelline Brow Drama for a bit of added colour.


Lip products are many people's favourite and for good reason. There are so many options that make everyday a bit different and a bit fun. Drugstore formulas are also incredibly comparable to high end lip products and also an easy way to lose track of your spending! Layer colours and textures gives you a few more options with your products but the best thing is to find formulas and colours that you love and feel comfortable wearing. If you're just starting your collection, start with some everyday colours and then branch out into bolder, special occasion ones.

Liner -

Lip liners are great for preventing feathering of your lip products and to add longevity to whatever you put on top. It can be an annoying extra step but it'll also save you time reapplying throughout the day! Easily the most affordable range is the Essence Lip Liner but NYX also has an extensive collection of colours and finishes at affordable prices.

Lipstick -

Lipstick can be more of a personal decision based on your preferences in finish, texture, and colour. When you're first starting out, though, the huge variety available in the drugstore can be very overwhelming. Do a lot of swatching to find the colours you like and that suit your colouring. Start with a few products you could wear everyday and then branch out to brighter, bolder colours when you have a bit more of an idea what works for you. Revlon has a well established lip product collection and I would highly recommend the Super Lustrous range. The Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains are also great quality. If you want to try something matte, have a look at the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams.

Gloss -

Glosses are the sheerest and shiniest of the lip product family and are usually used to layer a touch of colour and shine over other products. They can be a bit sticky and high maintenance but if you want a juicy pout, this is how to get it. The Maybelline Color Elixirs offer quite a bit of colour and an easy to wear formula similar to the L'Oreal Color Extraordinaires. The NYX Butter Glosses are probably the list sticky that I've tried and the range has a great selection of neutral, everyday colours.

Phew! There are all of my affordable makeup essential recommendations and a bit of an explanation of how to use them in your makeup routine. I hope these proved helpful or at least interesting! If you want anymore information just let me know and I can expand.

Do you have any affordable recommendations I didn't include?

xx Julia

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