I’ve made no secret of my makeup addiction. I just love the stuff. I’m not even the kind of person that wears it every day – I mean, I sometimes start work at 6.30am. There’s no way I’m forsaking sitting wide-eyed on the sofa with a cup of coffee for sitting in the freezing office drawing on my face. I had a blog a few years back that focused on the best drugstore makeup brands, so I do have some level of expertise on this. However, I don’t actually buy much in the way of cheap makeup anymore (read my post of how I save money by buying high end makeup here), because my collection was too big and cluttered.
I’ve written posts in the past detailing how I save money on makeup and even outlined an entire budget starter kit using only drugstore stuff, BUT I wanted to write this post to shed a little light on which brands I love and their particular strengths. All of the brands are, as far as I know, are cruelty-free.
Sleek’s eyeshadow palettes are AWESOME. I’ve recently decluttered my makeup collection, so I’ve put a few of my palettes in storage. The ones I’ve kept out are Storm (I think of this as an ‘interesting neutrals/muted brights palette – think burgundies and teals with a few chocolately and champagne shades and some mattes), the Original (brighter shimmers, but super wearable) and Vintage Romance (some gorgeous pinks and purples plus neutrals).
Kiko is an Italian brand I get online. They regularly offer free express shipping which is kind :). The stand out product of theirs are the long wearing shadow sticks which are very similar to the By Terry Ombre Blackstars – I’m afraid I can’t actually guarantee their similarity because I’m yet to fork out £29 for an eyeshadow, especially since Kiko’s offering is only £6.99.
Ah, Barry M, king of reinventing itself. They’re amazing at having a signature product; for years it was the dazzle dusts, loose pigments that aren’t actually that good. Then came their Gelly nail polishes which were (and still are) AMAZING.
In recent times though, Barry M seems to have decided against only having the one product that anyone actually buys, and have started doing many good things. I love their foundation – lightweight and not matte at all, despite the name. It’s actually a lovely, natural, satin finish. I also love the strobe cream which is a stunning highlighter in stick form. I love the mascaras, but be warned, they’re more suited to a natural look, despite names like Showgirl. Very lengthening and separating, nothing in a way of volume.
There are only a couple of Elf stores in the UK, so it’s easiest to get their products online. That said it’s a bit like shopping in Primark – you’ll get masses of stuff for £40, but there’s only a couple of things you’ll actually wear regularly. Their brushes are great if you’re just starting out with makeup, but I’d go with Real Techniques over them.
Elf are best, IMO, for colour products. The super lustrous eye creams are lovely and sparkly and you can’t go wrong with the blushes. The lipsticks are great too – far better than the price would suggest.
Essence is a new-ish brand to me that you can buy in Wilko. Their eyeshadows are pretty good in terms of pigmentation and texture, but there’s nothing there that stands out in terms of colour selection. By all means pick up a couple if you see something you like, you won’t be disappointed. Their mascaras are epic though, especially this Lash Princess one.
Also this liquid eyeliner is like, the best when you take into account price and ease of application and blackness and longevity. However, add in the amount of product in the nib and it falls short – like, you can barely get one eye done before the liner needs a little rest and ten minutes to fill up again. Oddly, it took months to dry out. However, at £2 you could just buy 3 and rotate them.
Ooo, and the undereye concealer is great.
Just a brief mention here, because I’ve only tried the single shadows (which were gorgeously shimmery without being chunky at all). However, the blushes are supposed to be amazing, and their new foundation is getting some serious buzz. You can get quite a lot of their products from Amazon and I have this blush on my radar (even though I’ll probs never buy it because I’m naturally pink-cheeked).
Wet n Wild
The eyeshadows are AMAZING, and have quite a few MAC dupes in there. The cheap as chips lipsticks are also great, as are the primers. Again, Amazon is the place to be.
Just the best brushes if you’re on a budget. The sponge is a great alternative to the BeautyBlenderwhich is TWELVE QUID. For a SPONGE. They have a higher-end offering too, called Bold Metals. I got four for twenty quid because I was in the right place at the right time, and they’re nice, but I didn’t think they were a noticeable improvement on the original ones. Still nice though, but don’t get FOMO if you don’t have the funds.
So, is there one best drugstore makeup brand?
Er, no. I don’t think one brand can do everything spectacularly, so I’d recommend buying some products from each brand. If I HAD to repopulate my entire makeup bag using only one brand I think I’d go with Barry M, purely because there is no makeup category I couldn’t get. I would pick Kiko because their colour range is stunning, but their foundations are too dark. As a quick recap, here’s where I’d spend the money:
Sleek – eyeshadow palettes, lip products
Kiko – cream eyeshadows, seasonal collections if you like collecting that kind of thing.
Barry M – foundation, nail polish, primer
Elf – blush, bronzer
Essence – mascara, eyeliner, undereye concealer
Milani – whatevs – have a look and see what you fancy.
Wet n wild – eyeshadow trios
Real techniques – brushes. Any of ’em.
Soooo, there you go. If your child has asked for makeup for Christmas and watches a lot of YouTube, you can’t go wrong here – a lot of these products/brands have a cult following (I know this because it’s how I found out about them). They’re also all cruelty free and I’m pretty sure under a tenner. Woohoo!