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Affordable Makeup Recommendations & Other News

A photo of colorful cosmetics makeup products strewn about a white tabletop

Greetings intrepid fans of all things beauty and style-related! This affordable makeup recommendations post has been rattling around inside my brain for months. I've been somewhat behind the curve since the launch of Highland Fashionista Mercantile, but there is something even more exciting that has entered our lives here at Highand Fashionista HQ that has caused me to veer off course a bit.

Those of you who subscribe may remember a post from this past summer about how we lost our nearly 16 year old bearded collie Fergus. Fergus was truly one of those once in a lifetime kinds of dogs, and we felt his loss very deeply. However, we are overcome with joy to announce the arrival of a new bundle of bouncing bearded collie joy in our lives (yes, we are ride or die beardie people here at Highland Fashionista.)

So Oskar. Oskar is going to be helping out around here from now on. Oskar also happens to be of the same bloodlines as our beloved Fergus, so we are thrilled for this little bit of shared DNA that carries on the Fergus legacy, which is considerable. So for your viewing enjoyment, and also as a means to give visual credence to my excuse for not being able to get anything done because for God's sake look at his little face... please enjoy this gallery of weapons-grade cuteness to help usher-in the era of Oskar the Beardie - Chief Operations Officer (Chewing Division) at Highland Fashionista.


And Now the Affordable Makeup Recommendations

While I am a fan of cosmetics and the magic that they do, I am equally not someone who likes to pile it on indiscriminately. Something like a bottle of foundation rarely gets past the halfway point in my collection before I either feel compelled to throw it away because it's too old, or more likely because it wasn't ever quite right to begin with. The products on this list of recent favorites are not new; most of them have been widely available for some time now. However, they are special in that they have not, to date, met with the usual fate of being tossed out, unused after a half dozen or so uses. Not only have I been regularly using these products, as it turns out, I have been using them up! All of these products are from the drugstore, and can be obtained easily and affordably, which you may have noticed is the point of the exercise. I have included options for both sides of the pond where I can so that everyone can play along. This post does contain a few affiliate links, but the opinions in the piece are mine and mine alone!

Let's get to it.

A product photo of the Maybelline Super Stay skin tint

Skin tints are kind of a thing right now, and I am here for it. Not being a person who has ever liked, or even felt comfortable in a full-coverage look (unless there are camera and lighting crews involved), I'm an absolute sucker for any product promising me a natural finish, some sort of glow, hydration, breathability, or even the most basic suggestion of an even, lit-from-within complexion. Some people may be easy marks because they believe anything they see on Facebook, but me? I believe

anything you print on the side of a foundation bottle.

All kidding aside, this stuff is pretty amazing for 13 bucks! I get complements on my skin nearly every time I wear this stuff. Not complements on my makeup, mind you. My skin. to me, that's the ultimate mark of a good foundation. It should be a leg-up, not a cover-up.

A head and shoulder portrait of a woman in a black Western shirt showcasing a luminous Maybelline Skin Tint foundation

Historically I have disliked makeup formulas with long-wearing claims attached to them. I am still traumatized from the early formulas of 90s drugstore matte Revlon colorstay lipsticks and long-wearing foundations that used to turn to chalk the moment they left their containers and hit the atmosphere. However, things have advanced since the 90s. The formula of this skin tint goes on elegantly and has a tiny bit of pearlescence in it to give your face some depth (don't worry, it doesn't look glittery or overly shiny.) I do think that when you put this foundation on straight from the bottle, or even with a foundation brush, it comes off with more coverage than the name "skin tint" might suggest. However, I get around that by prepping my face well with moisturizer (or sometimes a primer, or both), then using a damp sponge to apply the foundation, so I don't get too much product at once. This is how I feel this product looks best. This makeup is very buildable, so you can always add more if you're a full coverage gal. While I cannot vouch for whether or not this foundation does what it says on the bottle and lasts a full 24 hours, I can attest to it lasting for 12! I've worn this both for a 12 hour hospital night shift and on a long transatlantic flight, and while I'm not going to claim I looked fabulous after either of those events (who does), the skin tint certainly did remain - if not in its original permutation, certainly to a level I found respectable. The above photo is what this product looks like on the skin, applied with a wet sponge and set with a hint of powder. For reference, my shade is shade 220, and yes, my hair is still a little wet here. It is what it is.

A product photo of the Colection Filter Finish Illuminator and Primer

This product, by UK-based brand Collection, is supposedly a dupe of the much sought-after Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless filter. While I've never tried the Charlotte Tilbury version (because £40 for a primer/highlighter is far too rich for my blood), if it is anything like the dupe it must be amazing.

I use this stuff a lot. I use it under foundation, mixed with foundation, and perhaps most often I use it all by itself, without any foundation. The product has a lightweight feel and a subtle, glowy presence on the skin that melts right in and makes everything look more even glowy, and just all-around better.

A close up of a woman with luminous skin showcasing the Collection Filter Finish illluminator and primer

When I don't want to look too "done", I use this, some concealer, blush and mascara and call it a day. The photo on the left is from my previous winged eyeliner post, so I'm wearing a bit more eye makeup and concealer, but all I have on as a base is the Collection Filter Finish!

I use the shade medium, although you could easily use any of the shades for various highlighting purposes. Personally, I feel like the weight and feel of this product place it more in the illuminator camp than the primer camp, but regardless of how you want to use it, the thing we can all agree on is the price tag; this stuff is a mere £6.99!

A product photo of the ELF halo glow liquid filter illuminator and highlighter

I suspect that Collection cosmetics are not available in the USA, but worry not my fellow Americans, ELF Cosmetics makes their own dupe of Tilbury's cult classic with their Halo Glow Liquid filter. I have tried this product and it is very similar to the Collection version. If I had to tease-out the differences between the Collection version and the ELF version, I'd say that in addition to having significantly more shade choices, the ELF is slightly more reflective with the glow particles. That said, the formulas are very similar and if you're planning on mixing this product with another foundation or tinted moisturizer, I sincerely doubt that you'd be able to tell the difference at all. The ELF Halo Glow filter comes in at just over $13.00.

Honorable Mention Products

I have a few more drugstore products that are in my current rotation that are showing promise, and in the following photo I'm wearing all of them at once!

A close up of a woman with natural salt and pepper wavy hair, wearing natural makeup and a winged eyeliner

I found a single bottle of this foundation the last time I was in the States while I was pawing-though a sale bin at Target (pardon me...Targée (pron: TāR - JAY). I imagine that perhaps this is because it might be being discontinued or phased-out or some such thing but I grabbed this random bottle in the shade 301 "Cool Beige" for four bucks. I am not really a "cool" undertone person but for the sake of four US Dollars to try something new, I decided I could pretend to be cool. In a perfect world, I would have gone for shade 317, "tan sand."

A product photo of the Revlon Illuminance Foundation.

This is a really lovely foundation. In the photo, I put on a bit more than I might normally wear so I could really test it properly, and I used a dry beauty blender sponge to apply it, instead of my normal wet sponge. This foundation feels light and moisturizing on the skin (its claim to fame is the hyaluronic acid and squalane in the formula). It also claims to be medium coverage, and I would say that claim is exactly right. This foundation still has enough sheerness for me to feel comfortable in it, but you get a nice even complexion with it, and it doesn't feel drying or tight. It also isn't overly luminous, glittery, chalky or matte. I'm quite pleased with this foundation, and think you might be too. And hey, if I'm wrong, you're only out $13! Or $4 if you can find it in a bin at your local Tār- Jay like I did. Sadly UK friends, I was not able to reliably find this product in any quantity in the UK.

Hard Candy Marilyn Monroe Beauty Marker Winged Eyeliner Stamp

A product photo of the Hard Candy Marilyn Monroe Beauty Marker Winged Liner Stamp

I found this product at my local Walmart on my last trip to the States and I absolutely love how easy it makes getting a (near) perfect winged liner. Winged liner is sort of a new obsession of mine, as you may remember from my recent post about easily creating a winged, "puppy" liner look.

Unfortunately as I write this, I'm finding it very difficult to source this item. Hard Candy, while once a coveted 90s brand known for their funky nail polishes, eyeshadows and lipglosses, now only serves-up a handful of products, mostly shadows and liners, and the stamp liner must have been limited edition.

A product photo of the Lottie London Stamp Liner

If you can find one in stock at your local Walmart good for you, but luckily there are other options out there that are pretty much identical. The cult favorite of all the options is this Lottie London Stamp Liner (USA) & (UK). this is a very popular product, available on both sides of the pond, and is likely here to stay.

While these stamp liners do leave you with a one size fits all "wing", don't be put off if you feel like the wing is too much for you. You can easily modify your wing with a damp q tip swab or angled brush, and soon you'll develop your own personal method and wonder what any of us were thinking trying to do the whole thing freehand!

I've spoken at length about this product over the years on the blog, and my favorite was always the shade Praline, a peachy pink that goes on more like a highlighter shade. This is quite literally a stick your finger in and go product; I am drawn to anything that gives me a quick and easy option to make myself up (I never leave enough time). This formula not only goes on easily, it's also buildable and works well as an eyeshadow base.

A product photo of the Revlon creme eyeshadow in shade espresso

As I've gotten older, I have adjusted my shade selection. The Praline shade (along with most of the other shades in this Revlon creme shadow collection) has quite a bit of reflective pearlescence in it. I felt like it was starting to wash me out a bit and accentuate my 50-plus lines. I also think that all that highlight on the lid looked a bit dated, and I was looking to update my look bit, while sticking with something really natural.

The espresso shade is really lovely; it has a bit of sheen to it, but isn't as shiny and reflective as some of the other shades - just enough to provide a bit of depth. This has become my everyday go-to one and done product. You have to move quickly with the formula to get it even (it dries down really well) but it is sheer and buildable, and I find that I can apply it with my finger better than any fancy brush I might have been tempted by in the past; the warmth of your finger does make it much easier to get an even blend. This is a great color that will work well on most light through medium olive skin tones, and even on darker skins this would add a bit of depth and act as a lovely one and done or a base for a more complex look.


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