Bargain Bin Lip Glosses
Your intrepid advice columnist has up and had herself a baby, and will be taking a couple weeks off from her bossing-around duties. In the meantime, she’s arranged a cavalcade of her favorite writers from around the Web to come and take a crack at some of your questions, share their personal style secrets and wisdom, and hopefully keep you entertained while Amy is busying getting puked on.
Today’s guest blogger is Isabel of holaisabel and New To Us. Isabel is a long-time friend of the Advice Smackdown, which she reads regularly despite refusing to actually buy anything I ever recommend. Because she thinks she’s BETTER THAN ME, or something. No, I kid. She’s just cheap. No, I kid again! She’s awesome, and no one knows bargains like her (and hell, she’s the reason I ever agreed to put Monistat on my face), so I asked her to write about some of her favorite drugstore brands and review a couple of her latest bargain-bin finds. So for those of you looking to slash your cosmetics budget, read on.
Hola, I’m Isabel and you can usually find me over at holaisabel, where I don’t really speak Spanish. The fact that I can’t speak a lick of Spanish became all too clear recently while spending the month of September traveling around Europe with my husband and toddler son. The majority of our time there was spent in Spain and apparently two years of middle school Spanish taught me nothing. And my husband’s German didn’t help us much in Spain either. Who knew?
So yeah, I just returned from three sun and fun-filled weeks in Europe. We love to vacation at my house. Problem is, we don’t have a trust fund or a rich aunt that pays for these vacations. We live on a tight budget. You may ask how my very-much-on-a-budget family was able to afford this little trip and what this has to do with an advice column.
Well, I’ll tell you how we paid for it, in a round about way, and why this has anything to do with the Advice Smackdown.
Instead of buying the Smashbox Primer that Amalah (and the rest of the interweb) loves, I use the Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel as my make-up primer. (I know!) Instead of using Bumble & Bumble’s Surf Spray, I use Sunsilk’s Waves of Envy Sea Mist. Instead of using Big Sexy Hair hairspray, I use the Herbal Essences Body Envy hairspray (which, for the record, is not as good but smells like heaven). Instead of using OPI nail polish exclusively, I supplement my nail care regime with Sally Hansen’s products. (Don’t worry OPI, I will never quit you.)
My goal is to look the best I can without breaking the bank. I do this by staying informed (thanks to Amalah!) on what products I should be using and then, um, buying the cheaper drugstore version of said products.
There I said it; I love drugstore products! They are guilt-free and readily available since my office is situated in the middle of three different drug stores.
It’s hard for me to admit that I do this. Especially to the interweb, on a beauty advice column! Admittedly I wasn’t feeling so horrible about my love of drugstore beauty products while laying on the beach in Spain. Hey, I’m just saying.
I’m not being completely honest here. There are some department store brands that I do use. Namely the Nars and Bare Escentuals lip glosses I’ve been enjoying lately. The thing for me is that I’m never too confident on what color of lip gloss to buy. My skin has a strong orange undertone to it that tends to mess with the color of my make-up, so I have to be extra cautious about what colors I use. It’s hard to be cautious when shelling out $24 for a single lip gloss that may or may not even work with my coloring. I know Sephora offers a great return policy, but still, I hate buying something without knowing it’s going to be perfect for me. I’ve found a few shades that work for me and I’ve been sticking with them. I’m nothing if not loyal towards my lip gloss.
That was before the local drug stores put up a “Store Closing. 20% off” sign in their window. This included their make-up. And that’s how I ended up spending far more time then I should have perusing the make-up aisles. At first I decided I’d take advantage of the store’s misfortune by trying out lip gloss by Revlon, Cover Girl or even Physicians Formula at a discounted price. I quickly changed my mind when I noticed the displays for the ultra super cheap brands. You know the ones I’m talking about. The brands you and your girl friends loved when you were younger. The same brands you carried around with you in your book bags in the 6th grade and kept in your locker to reapply during your lunch break.
The store had been picked over at this point by others desperate to save a few dollars. There were hardly even any Wet & Wild products on the shelves. Thankfully there were plenty of Black Radiance lip glosses still ready for me to snatch up. I’m pretty sure I’m not the typical demographic for the Black Radiance line, but for 20% off their already ridiculous prices, I didn’t care (and I’m pretty sure they don’t care either).
I bought a tube of the Black Radiant Lip Gloss in “Nude”. Since it’s designed for a woman with a darker skin tone, “nude” seemed like the perfect shade for my fair skin type. I bought a few tubes of the N.Y.C Liquid Lip Shine in “Iced Orchid” and “Au Naturel”. All three glosses were regularly priced $1.99. So with the 20% off, they were pretty much free. This was the perfect way to try out some new shades that I probably wouldn’t normally have tried. And a great way to try out some drug store brands I’ve never tried.
I wore a different shade of my new lip glosses everyday over the next three days. I usually wear a gloss from sun up until sun down, so having three new shades to choose from was like Christmas. The N.Y.C brand’s texture was quite comparable to the Nars gloss I’ve tried in the past. Meaning, it’s pretty thick. There is just enough of a glimmer for my liking. You know what I’m talking about. It has just the right amount of glitter without giving the illusion that I’m a 13 year old girl or a lady of the night. (Why is it that too much glitter makes us think of both young girls and loose women?) The color seems to need to be reapplied every few hours, but at $1.99 a tube, I don’t mind.
The texture of the Black Radiance gloss goes on a little lighter then other gloss I’ve tried. It’s a less goopy. That isn’t a bad thing; it just means I can’t feel it on my lips! I have to remind myself to not wipe it off with my napkin during lunch time. The color is light and natural and sort of “nude”. Nude-enough, I guess.
Both brands are packaged to look pretty much like the lip gloss you would buy at a department store. The N.Y.C brand looks almost identical to the Nars packaging and the Black Radiance has a lovely gold lid that seems to class it up. So if you’re afraid of someone seeing your lip gloss and instantly knowing you bought some cheap drug store brand, have no fear. No one will know.
The bottom line is that I’m happy with the inexpensive drug store lip gloss for the mere fact that it allowed me to try some colors I would normally be too cautious to try. I guess it all comes down to how inexpensive it is. I wouldn’t pay $5 for either brand, but for some reason (20% off) $1.99 feels just about the right price. I have been happy with the new color palette, so what I’ll probably do is use the new shades as a jumping off point with some other brands at my local Sephora. Since lip gloss tends to last a while paying a couple dollars more for a good quality gloss probably won’t break the bank too much.
That is unless I can find another drug store offering 20% off their make-up and then I’m buying more of both the Black Radiance and N.Y.C. And maybe even some Wet & Wild if they aren’t sold out.
So tell me, any other drugstore brand that you guys can recommend to the rest of us?
Published October 31, 2008. Last updated September 16, 2015.