Fashion Money Saving Tips

10 Best Tips for Low-Budget Cosmetics

10 Best Tips for Low-Budget Cosmetics
Written by Oana Schneider

Cosmetics are a part of every woman’s beauty arsenal. Even if you only use lip gloss and pressed powder on your face, you’ll never know when the occasion will call for you to weave the magic of makeup on your skin. Cosmetics can be used to highlight your best features, make it look like you have flawless skin, a ‘natural’ blush on your cheeks and pouty lips. Instead of changing your appearance, makeup allows you to look your best no matter where you’re going.

Just because you don’t use makeup regularly does not mean that you should not buy any cosmetics. On the other hand, those who do use makeup a lot should not necessarily spend an arm and a leg just to complete their makeup set. There are plenty of ways for you to purchase the makeup set that you need depending on your frequency of use, without burning a hole in your pocket.

Quick Stats about Cosmetics Buying

Before dishing out tips on how you can buy low-budget cosmetics, let us first take a look at a few statistics regarding these items. According to

  • There are 15 leading cosmetics brands in the world for 2014. Ranking third, Pantene has a value of about $6.16 billion.
  • In the global cosmetics industry, skin care is the largest, accounting for 34.1% of the global market for 2013.
  • For 2012, the total revenue of the US cosmetics industry amounted to $56.63 billion.

As you can see, the cosmetics industry earns billions of dollars per year because a lot of people are willing to spend money in order to look good. But there’s actually no need for you to spend any more than you have to on cosmetics just so that you can look your best. There are plenty of things that you can do to have a collection of usable cosmetic items as your arsenal, while still sticking to a low budget. 

Top 10 Tips on Low-Budget Cosmetics

Here are the things to remember if you would like to have low-budget cosmetics, without sacrificing on the quality of items that you will buy:

1. It all starts with good skin.

Sure, you can always use concealer to hide zits or foundation to cover imperfections, but all the makeup in the world cannot hide bad skin. Before even thinking about buying designer makeup, put your money on a good skin care regimen that will give you great skin. The classic cleanse, tone and moisturize routine is something that you can follow.

Buy skin care products which suit the skin type that you have. If you have acne-prone skin, for example, look for a cleanser that is formulated with tea tree oil, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. A toner and moisturizer that works well with acne-prone skin will also help. Once in your thirties, invest in good anti-ageing products to combat signs of ageing like wrinkles, fine lines, crow’s feet, etc. 

2. Invest in good quality makeup brushes.

Next, invest in good quality makeup brushes. Even if you’re using a drugstore-bought blush or foundation, using the right brush will make the application look professional. Makeup artists recommend buying brushes a la carte. Although there are affordable makeup brush sets available in the market, there will always be one or two brushes there that you will never use – simply because they do not work.

Figure out what really works for you, and here are the individual brushes that you should invest in:

  • Blush Brush
    A good quality blush brush is a must have because it gives you a believable, pro-quality makeup application. Look for a long-handled, medium-sized blush brush and use it to follow the contour of your cheekbones. Makeup experts recommend that you choose a blush brush made from natural hair so that the application of the blush can be non-streaky, even and natural-looking.

10 Best Tips For Low-Budget Cosmetics

  • Brow Brush
    A spooley brush which looks like the tip of a mascara wand is an essential brow brush that makes your eyebrows perfectly groomed. It can also be used to de-clump mascara.
  • Concealer Brush
    A concealer brush can be used to hide those pesky zits, and a good quality one is small and very stiff, with synthetic bristles. They do not soak up makeup, gives you more precision through the application, and the small size helps you use the brush on hard-to-reach areas like the side of the nose.
  • Eyeliner Brush
    You should also invest in a good quality eyeliner brush which you can use to blend a pencil liner into your eyelash line, to make your eyes pop. Makeup experts recommend buying a small brush which is very firm and has a squared off tip.
  • Foundation Brush
    Instead of using the traditional foam to apply foundation, use a foundation brush which has a blend of natural and synthetic bristles. The tip should be flat with a contoured tip, and this will help you achieve flawless-looking skin in a natural way.
  • Kabuki Brush
    This is similar to a powder brush but is designed with more packed bristles. A kabuki brush can be used when applying foundation or bronzer.
  • Lip Brush
    If you love lipstick, you should definitely invest in a good lip brush. A good quality one has a firm but bendable tip, and is made from synthetic fibers.
  • Powder Brush
    A medium-sized powder blush with a slightly rounded head will help you dust powder only where needed. This includes areas like the nose, chin and forehead.
  • Shadow Brush
    An eyeshadow brush should be short – about 0.5 inch in height, with soft yet very densely-packed bristles. It should feel smooth and silky to the touch so that you can use it on the very sensitive eyelid area accordingly.

3. Do not discount drugstore makeup items.

The reason why designer makeup is more expensive than drugstore brands is that the big companies spend a lot of money on advertising. But when you break them down to the essentials, the ingredients of pricier makeup items are almost the same as drugstore brands.

It’s all a matter of finding out which color suits you, as well as the formulation and the use of the proper makeup brush. As such, do not discount drugstore makeup items because they’re as good as the more expensive ones you can buy from the mall.

4. Use what you already have.

You won’t believe how much makeup, cosmetics and toiletries you accumulate over the years. Instead of buying excessively, make an inventory of the items that you already have. Unless the items are already expired, use them. If you don’t like the lipstick or foundation shade, trade with a friend whose skin tone might be more suitable for the color of the makeup that you bought.

10 Best Tips For Low-Budget Cosmetics

5. Once you find a cheap brand that suits you, buy in bulk.

You can save a lot of money by purchasing the cheap brand that you like in bulk. Just make sure to check on the expiration date so that you can still use the items in the future without them going bad.

6. Downgrade to less expensive makeup brands.

Again, just because a makeup brand is more popular than another does not make the cheaper brand any less good. The competition in the cosmetics industry is quite stiff, so you can easily find a cheaper substitute for whatever it is that you are currently splurging on.

7. Collect makeup samples.

Ask a makeup manufacturer to send you product samples, something which they are more than willing to do especially if they are putting out a brand new product in the market. Check out the official website so that you can sign up for free product samples to be sent out to you. You can also ask for samples at stalls in malls. If you like a product and you can’t find a cheaper substitute, that is the only time that you should buy.

8. Combine coupons with sales.

To save even more money on cosmetics, look for coupons online or cut them out from magazines. You can use the coupon codes when buying from makeup counters, and you can even use them if a store is on sale so that you can save even more money.

9. Choose makeup items which do a double duty.

There are makeup items that do double duty – for instance, a lip tint can also work as a blusher for the cheeks. A concealer can also work as a zit zapper. Choosing these double duty items will make you save money when buying cosmetics.

10. Remember that less is more.

Finally, remember that less is more. The less product you use, the longer your makeup items will last. Again, your goal is to highlight your best features instead of cover them up with too much makeup, so don’t overuse.

By following these tips, you can put your money on low-budget cosmetics without sacrificing on quality – and look your best all the time.

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About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois and was part of our team as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget and has a degree in Communications.


  • I agree, it’s important to focus on the basics, such as skin care, and anti-aging, and buy good quality products, to preserve what you have, and correct any underlying issues. Once you have taken care of that, you can think about what to put on the canvas. I like the idea of samples, and there are also GWPs (gifts with purchase), that can help defray costs. I also like to join a few shops like Sally Beauty Supply and Ulta, so I can get a discount while also being kept in the loop as far as new products, seasonal colors, etc.

  • This is such great information! I especially like the info about make up brushes! I have recently been thinking I need to just toss all the make up I have and start over. I am almost positive that it is all expired. I used to not wear make up every day. But, I recently found that it made me feel better to have my face on. Even if it’s just mascara.

  • Definitely agree on investing in good brushes. When I started out I used super cheap ones, and even spending a few dollars more than that made a huge difference. Personally one of my favorite drugstore brands is Wet ’n’ Wild, at least for eyeshadows and lipsticks. I hear they make a good eyeshadow primer as well, and I’m considering checking it out.

  • My wife could use some of these tips for cosmetics, I don’t really know if she’s interested in that but I think that if she seen this, she might like it. I’m not so sure though. Me being a man on this section, I hope it’s not so weird but I’m not a man of make up.

  • Good brushes are amazing for making cheap makeup work better! I also highly recommend joining a goodie bag service like ipsy. While most of the items you get will be samples (I also get full sized items quite often), I still pay less for the 10 dollar subscription than I do on some single cosmetic items. It’s also really fun, so that’s definitely a plus. For April’s bag I actually received 2 full size items, including an awesome blush and nail polish. When I first signed up, I assumed it would be mostly items I wouldn’t be too interested in, but I have no only been pleasantly surprised, I’ve absolutely loved it. Highly recommend it if you have the budget to grab it.

  • totally agree with splurging on good brushes, but sometimes we can’t. I find that beauty techniques and eco tools are the best drugstore brushes… Also if your really budgeting the elf pro line brushes are great and super affordable!

  • Great list! Keeping your makeup brushes clean also helps take care of them and your skin. I’ve found that it helps not to be loyal to any specific brands. That way I’m open to coupons and special deals on any brand. If the price is right, I’ll give it a try! But like you said, if your favorite thing goes on sale, stock up!

  • I agree that you shouldn’t knock drug store makeup. I read somewhere that Loreal is just Lancome. not sure if that is true or not but It does make you realize that just because an item costs more and is at a fancy store does not make it any better or more bang for your buck. My biggest struggle is foundation. I just cannot find a foundation that works for me. I have tried multiple kinds and am unhappy every time. I don’t think I have used the same foundation twice because I have been so unhappy. I would love if you would do a post on the best foundations for the money as I have been toying with the idea of going to a department store and buying the most expensive one just because all the lower priced ones just don’t work for me.

  • I’ve found e.l.f. to be really affordable and actually good quality! You’re right about investing in good brushes, and along with that…keep them clean! I think most people forget to wash them. Washing them will keep them in good shape and keep the gunk from spreading into your skin.

    • I’m glad to see a comment about E.L.F! I agree, that they really have some great products. Out of the hundreds of items I’ve ordered from their site, there’s only been a couple that didn’t really suit me. The best part is, if you sign up for their e-mails you can get coupon codes for things like 50% off and free goody bags!

  • “Do not discount drugstore makeup items.”

    Time and time again I tell this to my friends but they still don’t listen until they see it on famous blogs or websites. I started buying drugstore makeup because I didn’t have enough money to buy more expensive makeup to start my collection but I fell in love with a few brands after trying out some of their products and I’ve stuck with them ever since. Now that I also have more expensive makeup, I find that I like more of my drugstore makeup more than the expensive ones.

  • lower-rate cosmetic products tends to lower quality(eg. inappropriate ingredients) and lower originality too, sometimes. Dealing with skin just to look fairer might expensive and can pose adverse health.

    Thanks to share.

  • Hey Oana

    Thanks for sharing tips about how to use cosmetics in detail. I love makeup and i have knowledge about the beauty products but some of the points that i have read in your post, I didn’t know much about them.
    Once again thank you so much for sharing these tips with us.

    You are doing great work. Keep it up 🙂

    Looking forward for more post from you.

    Warm Regards
    Cate William

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