"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy."
                                                                                              —Yves Saint Laurent

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· Beauty Notes: Good To The Last Drop (Dorothy)

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Beauty Notes: Good To The Last Drop (Dorothy)
by Dorothy

I think it's hard to be truly frugal with makeup when you've made a hobby of it. Even if I look askance at people who purchase entire seasonal collections or refer to nearly identical nail polish colours as "so different you need both", I understand the impulse; I always have that urge to try the shiny new thing that is slightly different from the former shiny new things in my makeup drawer. I've become better at resisting, as some novelty has worn off; even so, I find it hard to imagine giving up drugstore-sale thrills.


I have perennially insensitive skin, such that I'm surprised when a skincare product makes any visible difference at all. It seems that no matter what I do, it's a bit dry in the winter or when I've just washed it, a bit oily at the end of the day, shiny regardless of its condition (what is up with that?) and prone to minor breakouts. Accordingly, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it, and aside from the occasional experiment, I don't like to spend a lot of time or money on skincare.

DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil has been a staple for me for several years now; it smears off makeup and dirt and leaves nothing but clean, slightly tight skin. (I have yet to commit to a moisturizer or an exfoliant.) There are cheaper cleansers out there, but a $25 bottle of this stuff lasts me several months.

I am pale and vain: sunscreen is a must. I've tried expensive sunscreens, but in my opinion, the cost makes it too tempting to skimp. Sunscreen application guidelines make me roll my eyes — who has the time or inclination to re-apply every few hours, all day, every day? — but it surely does help to apply generously at the beginning of the day, and in the winter, Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer is cheap and inoffensive enough to allow that. In the summer, I go to a higher SPF: right now I'm using a good-but-not-great SPF 60 lotion from Neutrogena.

Besides that...I don't have exciting health habits. I sleep a lot. A lot a lot.



I've owned a lot of NYX eyeshadows; they're inexpensive and usually highly pigmented, great for experimenting, and the colour selection is staggering. And I've got rid of a lot of NYX eyeshadows, because they tend to have coarse, over-the-top shimmer or glitter particles more suited for a 21-year-old clubber than a wannabe professional staring down the barrel of 30. That said, NYX's newer matte shadows (generally, the ones with higher numbers on the label) are brilliant: silky and highly pigmented, with the softest satiny sheen.

When I was a teenager, I never bought anything but cheap drugstore makeup; my budget and confidence didn't stretch to anything else. It being the 1990s in Canada, though, my selection was pretty limited, and I quickly discovered that almost all reds and pinks turned to neon fuchsia on me. I ended up with a lot of too-dark 1990s browns, the most classic of which was probably Revlon Super Lustrous in Coffee Bean. I liked the way the colour looked (it was the 1990s), but I still remember the vile chemical smell.

Fifteen years later, though, the smell is gone, and Revlon makes my favourite cheap lipsticks. I prefer the longer-lasting Mattes, but Super Lustrous has the biggest colour selection, including a new variety of warm reds, corals and pinks that don't turn fuchsia against my skin.

I also love buying cheap makeup on eBay, which makes available hundreds of brands that can't otherwise be had in Canada, or even in North America. My current favourite blushes are actually from the cheap Korean brand Etude House: the blush above is the Face Color Corset in a colour I think is called Orange Mango, a finely milled, intensely pigmented matte peach, like NARS Gina at a lower price point.

Just in general, I don't see the point in spending a lot of money on mascara or gel eyeliner: Bobbi Brown's gel liners probably have the best shade range out there, but they smudge like mad on me, whereas much cheaper liners from Sonia Kashuk and Essence barely budge. And while I used to think all drugstores mascaras would run down my face, I can now find many cheap ones that don't: whether this is due to a change in my skin or an improvement in formulas, I haven't found out. And though I've bought a couple of Rescue Beauty Lounge nail polishes, my favourite brands are the much cheaper Zoya and China Glaze.


It's becoming tedious to read this, I'm sure, but Hakuhodo does make the most beautiful brushes I've ever used; I didn't know brushes existed that would never feel the least bit scratchy against my face. They handle pigment beautifully, they feel wonderful against my skin, and they are -- let's face it -- psychologically satisfying to use.

There are some decent red lipsticks at the drugstore, but as Dain says, for the richest pigmentation one needs to spend a little more. My favourites are still probably from Julie Hewett's Noir collection: Belle Noir and Coco Noir suit me the best, but all of the Noirs (save the bizarrely described "nude invisible red" Nude Noir) are serious, intense, gorgeous reds.

Perhaps the most surprisingly good investment I've made, though, is my Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencil in Ash Blonde. I bought it nearly three years ago for an obscene, jacked-up Canadian price (about $30) and have used and sharpened it constantly, watching it turn into a STASIA pencil and later an ASIA pencil; it's currently a letterless stub, and the spoolie on the end has seen better days...but it's lasted me nearly three years.

I am not convinced that this expenditure is necessary; though my efforts to find a drugstore eyebrow pencil went nowhere (Annabelle's Taupe is too green, Cover Girl's too red, Maybelline Define-A-Brow is annoyingly crumbly and gram for gram as expensive as MAC), I balked at buying another Anastasia pencil and instead went for MAC's automatic eye pencil in Fling, which is pretty much the same shade as Ash Blonde but cheaper, and later, out of curiosity, a tub of Laura Mercier's Brow Definer. But will they last me as long?

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