Affordable Makeup and Femmey Stuff

In a world with unlimited funds in my bank account, I’d have more makeup and pretty things than all the Instagram influencers put together. Oddly enough, this is not my financial situation.

Right now, my Laura mercier foundation is at the edges of the pan, so I bought a similar one from body shop. I’m not 100% convinced, but it’s half price and I run yellow and haven’t found a drugstore match. The ordinary has a liquid that matches me perfectly - if you use liquid foundation daily, you should 100% buy theirs.

Eyeshadow- I’m using essence
Highlighter - essence
Bronzer - hitting pan on one that’s like 100 years old from essence
Lips- two shades from sudsatorium (not cheap but eco friendly and local. Not expensive either), a mlbb shade from nyx, and two sticky glosses from Victoria’s secret that I’m ashamed of and also love
Mascara - I’ve been using essence (princess something) and Maybelline falsies, but want a moderate priced semi eco friendly one
Eyeliner - pencils from everywhere, and I just threw out my liquid liner from nyx - I’ll rebuy or get the essence one
Lashes - I’m terrible at false lashes, but want to get better. I have a drugstore pair left, and got two boxes of 6 sets each from miniso for $3 each that will be cheaper to learn with.
I also have a contour stick from nyx that I love, but I live a pretty casual life. So it doesn’t get used often

I want a nude eyeliner for my lower waterline

And I want to know all about your favourite affordable pretty things! I was doing really well on low beauty spending… And then I bought a face oil at l’occitaine in February and new moisturizer a few weeks ago. So please keep me on track!


I can tell you what I’ve been doing… Not sure it counts as affordable, though.

I use Lancome Visionnaire Nuit gel-in-oil night cream and buy it when there’s a gift with purchase and it’s bundled with more stuff (so for $130 Cdn/$100 U.S. I end up with the full-sized night cream, mini serum, 2x travel size make up remover, neutral eyeshadow palette, lipstick I may or may not use, mascara I definitely won’t use, maybe an extra moisturizer sample or two). The night cream on its own runs about $115.

I sweat really easily so I don’t bother with any foundation. I do have a pressed powder that’s 6 years old but still looks and smells okay, so I could use that if I’m going to be photographed.

Eyes: free giveaway eyeshadow (occasionally) or Lise Watier waterproof eyeliner ($27, I think, but it takes me a long time to get through one pencil. At my current rate, one a year?)

Lips: plain chapstick then free giveaway lipstick (Lancome), Sephora birthday giveaway lipstick sample (Bite Beauty) or Make Up Forever lipstick I bought but don’t care for that much (too orange) - $27.

I need new lip colour soon because I’ll gradually tan throughout spring/summer and the current stuff won’t look right. Maybelline has a Red For Everyone line I’m curious about that’s about $12 a lipstick.

I’m a bit bored with my eyeshadow and basic eyeliner. But I don’t enjoy shopping for make up so am not in a hurry to go out and get more. I’m only wearing it when I go to work, and even then it’s not 100% consistent.

Daily moisturizer is Aveeno brand,something with SPF 30. On sale, maybe $18?

I’m interested in cosmetics that are good for/less harsh on skin. I do worry that it would be healthier for my skin if I went without but think I’d be less presentable at work.

USA shopper here -
I use FENTY for my base stuff - my concealer and foundation - it is nice because they have hundreds of colors, and the foundation dries matte, so you don’t need a powder. It is $35, lasts me a couple of months, for me it is worth it to cut out the power, it looks amazing, and I love supporting lines that really give broad color ranges for all skin tones.
Most everything else I buy super cheap drug store or I really like ELF which I get at Target, mascara is like $3. I like the buying eyeshadows that come in one single packet. I have found that buying palettes is just a great way for me to waste a ton of things. So I would rather get bigger containers of colors I will use. Right now I love something called “Color Tattoo 24hr” it is a creme bases eye shadow and really easy to use and play with.
I think starting with clean happy skin is key - I buy on because it is cheaper to get basics like Olay’s lotion (their basic day lotion with sunscreen is like $8) or Burts Bee’s cleaner. And I always start the day with basic witchhazel it is less then $4 for a big bottle, cotton swab that on before moisturizing and your skin is clean and happy (use less often on dry skin types).
I have been looking a lot about how wearing make up at work equates to women getting paid more - but not too much make up as it is then harmful to your wallet. It is crazy to think about. It depends on what you want to do but for me I don’t mind spending a bit more on things that really work, and don’t harm my skin, so if that lotion is fantastic, and you are not pulling from your savings to buy it I say go for it. My big spend is that I get my nails done a gel manicure every couple of weeks. I cut myself off last year but it made me sad, so I am back to them.


Adds Lancome night cream to birthday/impulse list

Adds 1000 American products to list.

@shawna the makeup at work facts are frustrating but true. I am currently wearing daily makeup to work, which takes some of the fun out of makeup. But it’s paying off in being taken seriously. Intriguingly, as long as I don’t smell, it seems that makeup and clothes matter more at work than shower before work. So I’m not losing sleep. Just basic dignity


Whoa, maybe make sure first it’s actually helping me look less haggard than otherwise! :rofl:

Yeah, there’s a bonus of credibility, likeability, perceived professionalism, etc. when you wear make up. Unfair but people are generally rewarded for conforming to social norms. And hell, I even think I look better with make up (and I am getting used to wearing it, so it’s starting to be part of what I feel is authentically me). ETA: when I’m on my own time, though, I go bare-faced.



I will write more soon, but I only learned makeup 11 months ago (if you can say I learned it) but have become a huge fan of makeup revolution, which is drugstore prices but only available at ulta in the US I think. Their concealer is better than my $28 HD concealer. Also great highlighters and lip glosses.


I am soon to turn 45, and I have been thinking about actually spending some money on skin care products. (Gasp). My current routine is splash my face with water, put on some sunblock. At night, I sometimes use coconut oil as a moisturizer. And if I wore make-up I use coconut oil to remove it. I don’t break out much, and my skin is probably mildly dry in spots.
Once a month or less I wear foundation, concealer, powder. Stuff I buy for $1 at Dollar Tree. I use Covergirl Outlast lipstick ($8 IIRC) but they discontinued my favorite color - damn them. I even emailed them to complain. I use a brown eye brow pencil from the dollar store. And I use some cheap mascara - but I don’t particularly like it.

So - any suggestions about skin care? My skin is pretty good. But I am definitely starting to get lines, wrinkles, crepeness, and a rougher texture. What I’ve been reading is suggesting Vit C moisturizer, also moisturizers with Hyaluronic Acid, and retinol wrinkle cream. Or, should I just continue with my super inexpensive coconut oil and sunblock routine? IDK.


You could buy these three for about $15 for all three from the ordinary. I don’t use my active ingredient serums daily. So my retinol serum has lasted almost a year so far. And I love love love my hyalauronic acid products, I use them a few times a week. I think vitamin c might be what I’m missing for full glow.

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As a consequence of doing publicity for my former jobs, I used to get made up by makeup artists a lot. Some of their recommendations, which I still use and like:

Foundation: Revlon ColorStay
Eyes: MAC (though I like Revlon nearly as well)
Concealer: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind
Mascara: Maybelline
Lipstick: Neutrogena Moisturesmooth Color or Revlon Balm Stain
Lipliner: elf

For moisturizer, every dermatologist I have ever been to has said that nothing works better than petroleum jelly or mineral oil.

For sunblock, La Roche - Posay for the face and generic drugstore spf 50 for everyplace else.

The cheapness of my makeup is offset by the fact that I have my almost invisible eyebrows microbladed once a year.


Yay PBK! I was hoping you’d comment. You always look so beautiful! I am off to buy some dollar store mineral oil.:slightly_smiling_face:

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@MeadowLark I found that both vaseline and mineral oil break me out, but ymmv - one of the big things I do with skincare is test EVERYTHING. First I patch test on my arm, wait 24 hours, then on my neck behind my ear, then wait 24 hours, then I patch test on my face finally. I never add two things to my routine at once - usually I wait weeks to test something out - so I can know which thing is making a difference or is breaking me out.

Because it’s me, I have a spreadsheet. I break everything down by cost per use too.

Lol, I have the opposite issue. It’s great that thick eyebrows are in style now, but if I want to conform to non-unibrow standards, taming them is a twice a week chore. Luckily they survived the 90s pencil thin trend. Luckily I don’t have to spend money on eyebrow pencils.

I’m super in Japanese and Korean makeup brands now, especially because they usually integrate skincare in with makeup (such as cushions and compacts) and almost all products have SPF in them, which as someone who bikes everywhere is super important for me. The downside is that I’m Mediterranean and have a different undertones than the average Korean, so many of their shade ranges don’t quite work. Almost none have anything darker than Mac NW43 shade.

Affordable Japanese and Korean makeup products I use regularly:

  • Missha M Magic Cushion (SPF 50/Skincare/Light Coverage Cushion)
  • Freshel BB Cream - SPF 30, Skincare, Light coverage, good for older skin
  • CANMAKE Marshmallow Finish Powder SPF26 - Literally the only finish powder I will use now, and I got it for like $5 in Japan, better than my $35 powder from sephora
  • All of canmake’s gel eyeshadows - glitter but glitter that’s kind to people with fine lines around their eyes instead of just making you look like a giant mess
  • CEZANNE - Cheek Stick- Blush Cheek Stick
  • MOTELINER Liquid Liner - A little pricier ($12 USD) and I’m not positive you can find it in the states, but truly excellent liquid liner.
  • My Beauty Diary Black Pearl Mask - I can’t even, this is my Holy Grail product - it makes my skin look amazing for days after. It’s much cheaper in Japan than here, but it’s still only about $1.20 a sheet mask here and available at target.

I exclusively use Korean and Japanese sunscreen and skincare, if you want a list, I have a very very long one. Actually I should probz just link my spreadsheet. I have a stupidly long skincare routine that has finally put years of acne and tinea versicolor at bay, but I only average about $12 a month on skincare, and I feel good about that.

For television or any HD camera I use:

Western Eyeshadow:

  • Because I need to dress up as Bowie frequently, I need bright makeup colors. This is the best affordable bright color pallette I can find, and it’s not huge so it’s good for travel - NYX ULTIMATE SHADOW PALETTE
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@elle and @shawna, agree. I am cis and think of myself as sort of middle of the way femme (although recently other people have made me question that, hahah), but if I wear BB cream, mascara and some color on my lips everyone takes me more seriously. I HATE IT.

As for cheap makeup, I have no recommendations, ha. I wear little enough of it that my main products are:
-Dr. Jart BB cream (50???)
-whatever recent mascara I got as a sample (0)
-sugar chap stick (20?)
-whatever recent color I got as a sample (0)


Ugh, yes. I hate this. I resisted for years because I thought it was patriarchal crap, but I get SO MUCH better response from TV/news/prospective clients with makeup. I kinda wish I had learned it when I was in politics now, as I’m sure it would’ve helped navigate a sexist judgemental mindfield.

I’ve learned to appreciate it as a form of art I’m getting better at, rather than just be mad at myself for perpetuating a sexist double standard or feeling like it’s vanity spending. Like it is a creative activity that I can do without my computer, and for that I have grown a greater appreciation for it. Also, I have legit gotten better with practice. That’s really cool to see. Me of 11 months ago didn’t even know what BB cream was, let alone anything about shades or palettes or brand names of makeup.

I still have to unpack a lot of my own feelings around an ingrained view that the feminine arts are somehow lesser and why that is definitely linked with sexism.

I love love love being girly and Femmey and cute and sexy. But using the tricks of my trade to survive in business makes me feel not great.

I think that is partly why I want to buy more more more right now. So the boring stuff can be just work, and the fun stuff can be just fun


I totally get wanting that separation. I guess I’m lucky that my job is to be quirky and weird on-camera and in photos and makeup helps with that.

But I still get angry that if I post a video or photo without makeup I get asked if I’m sick or tired, but if a cis male counterpart does, no shade at all is thrown.


My skincare routine is affordable!

Daily skin wash: Olive oil + brown sugar
Weekly mask: Honey
Makeup remover: Olive oil
Face Sunscreen: Kiehls or CeraVe
Moisturizer: Argan oil or olive oil
Once in a while mask: Honey, Avocado, Olive oil

Disclaimer: My skin is very dry and I am not prone to breakouts, so take note, if you are oily do not attempt this, lol.

I love drugstore makeup too! Great lash mascara, Maybelline lipstick, elf pencil eyeliner, elf or nyx or milani eyeshadow. I have some higher end things too, bobbi brown concealer and foundation, laura mercier primer and bb cream, and anastasia beverley hills brow pencil (lasts forever).

I love makeup and beauty thing and nails :slight_smile: for me it was always an awesome way to feel human and feminine and express myself, even when I couldn’t do much else, so I think because of that I don’t have any conflicting feelings about it (though I understand them).

ETA: I left off my fanciest $ thing, I get SNS powder manicures once a month, and in the warm months I get a regular pedicure the same time.

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Is your skin more dry or oily or combination? Vitamin C is highly unstable in skincare products so you should do a lot of research before buying one, I recommend r/skincareaddiction. Hyaluronic Acid will plump your skin pretty immediately and make fine lines less apparent, but it only works as long as you use it. Retinol is good for wrinkle prevention but it can increase your skin’s sensitive to the sun and be drying.

Not trying to talk you out of any of these! Just giving you some stuff I’ve found in my experience. I think Hyaluronic Acid would be a good start for your needs, very little chance of irritation too, and pretty inexpensive. I would switch coconut oil for another oil, personally I don’t feel coconut absorbs particularly well into the skin (better for hair) like argan oil does. I’d also consider a weekly honey mask (literally just slather honey on your face, leave it for a few minutes, wipe off with cold water and washcloth). Honey is a natural humectant so it actually helps your skin retain moisture rather than placing moisture on top of it.

Ooo, I’ve never used mineral oil before! :slight_smile: will be trying.

I always wonder about this – how much is related to sexism, and how much is related to getting used to how someone looks? ETA: I know a lot is about sexism and it has a very real effect on women in the workplace and elsewhere – but I like pondering the edges of the line.

If your cis male counterpart normally wore concealer and eyeliner, and then didn’t one day, people would notice, surely. Whether they’d make the same comments – yeah probably not.

At least, my kid tells me he’s gotten those questions/comments when he’s gone from one to the other (subtle makeup vs not).

I like using makeup to make me feel more awake. I don’t get taken more or less seriously in my job either way - that’s just my niche in my industry; my work is evaluated more than anything about me as a person - but wow do some of my female coworkers make some nutty comments based on whether I’m wearing lip stain or mascara, heh.

As far as makeup brands, I’m fickle as to routine application, so I tend to stick to cheap drugstore brands that score well on the EWG website. Wet n Wild lip stain is my current go to.

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Some of it is definitely truth. Actually, weirdly the satirical show Corporate had a great bit on this awhile ago on (very funny) episode called Natural Beauty.

The episode tackled corporate double standards where men are congratulated for just like matching their socks to their tie whereas women need to shave the entirety of their body hair, put on makeup, have a flattering but not too sexy outfit, do their hair, or otherwise they don’t get rewarded in that environment. And the catch phrase was “I didn’t know you wear makeup, I thought you were just a natural beauty.”

One of the male characters started wearing makeup and when he stopped everyone was like “oh you look like crap”. Anyway, it was a very funny episode and probably speaks to this a bit.

I never wore makeup to work before last year unless it was a media day and we hired a makeup artist and everyone said I looked tired all the time. But also I was always sleep deprived, so, fair.