24 May 2013

Drugstore Challenge: full makeup kit and brushes for €160?

An entire kit and all brushes...

This is a long enough post but one I've been meaning to publish for ages as I'm continuously being asked to recommend "inexpensive" makeup that people can get in their local pharmacy or online.  Read on if you want to find out how to have an entire makeup kit for €160.  Before you choke - this as an entire set of everything, including brushes and products!  When you consider that you could easily drop this at a high-end cosmetics counter for two or three items, it's worth a read!

Note that of course this is all assuming you want to go with drugstore or at least "more inexpensive" brands.  Some of these are only available online.  None of these that I have recommended below are in anyway lacking in quality - in fact I have all of them myself and think they're absolutely brilliant, and not just "brilliant for the cost" - but quietly, efficiently, aesthetically, brilliant.

Note - for the base (foundation, concealer, powder) I'm assuming pale-medium skin colour.  I also didn't include delivery costs for online items, as some items are available in-store too.


Face primer - €18
L'Oreal Studio Secrets Smoothing Resurfacing Primer is almost a perfect dupe for the Clarins primer which I love.  It's about €18 and the best primer I've seen (and I am a bit of a primer junkie) to suit all ages and skin types.  You may not need it, but if you do, this is definitely the one I recommend.

Foundation - €15
The particular one that comes to mind is Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation, but as it didn't suit my skin at all I hesitate to recommend.  I have had a huge number of replies to the effect that this is a fantastic foundation however, and seems to works for the vast majority of people who tried it.  So it makes the cut here...  I personally prefer to spend more money on foundation and concealer/corrector and less on lipsticks, eye products etc, but whatever floats your boat.  Look here for my review.

Tinted Moisturiser - free!
Stop wasting your money!  Buy one medium coverage makeup, layer it and buff powder over it for a fuller coverage.  Sheer it out with moisturiser to get a lighter coverage.  Do not get me started on tinted moisturisers.  Zero cost.

Powder - €5
I've recommended this before - Rimmel's Clear Complexion is not a bad cheap purchase for a standard setting powder (if it's still available) - I think it's around a fiver.  That or Rimmel Stay Matte (approx the same price).

Concealer - €4
Collection Cosmetics (formally Collection 2000) does a great all-round concealer called Lasting Perfection.  I use Medium/3 and it's brilliant.  My review is here.

Corrector - €30
(only if you need it - I haven't included it in the overall cost)
This one is a little more difficult.  If you have dark circles and need a dark circle corrector, then you are going to need to correct before concealing.  I don't honesty recommend any drugstore products for this, as I spent years trying them all out and coming to the conclusion that this is one area you need to spend a few quid on... but you can always use a concealer with a tiny amount of the appropriate shade lippie mixed in (eg orange or peach non-shimmer lipsticks would do the trick).  I do otherwise recommend either the new NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (look here for my review) or the Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer/Corrector (my review for this one is here).

Under eye highlighter - €5 to €10
L'Oreal Touche Magique is brilliant at a tenner, as is Aldi's Lacura Beauty Concealer Pen at a fiver - it's a fantastic dupe for YSL Touche Eclat.


Blusher - €5.50
Sleek blushes are brilliant, have colours to even rivel NARS and Illamasqua, are highly pigmented and long lasting.  Pick any of the colours and you're on to a winner.  They even have the best dupe for NARS Orgasm I've ever seen called Rose Gold (which I don't particularly rate as a colour, but which gets a huge amount of love).

Contour - €2 to €7
(my recommendation: 2x MUA, so €4)
MUA matte eyeshadow shades #17 and #19 are fantatic light greyed/cool-toned brown shades which would do the trick nicely, especially at around €2 a pop.  Either that or Maybelline 24 Hour Colour Tattoo (cream shadow) in 40 - Permanent Taupe (this one is a more cool beige, the MUA shadows are more cool grey-brown), at around €7.

Bronzer/Highlighter - €8
The Sleek Face Contour Kit should categorically not be used for contouring, it's far too warm, but it's brilliant as a very pigmented and super-strongly pigmented bronzer-highlighter duo.  The "Light" version is more than sufficient for most of us Irish faces but it comes in Light, Medium and Dark.  A very light hand is recommended for this!


Eyeshadow palettes - €10
Sleek do brilliant ones - their original iDivine palette, Storm, or one of its re-incarnations is a great one to have in your own personal kit.  That or the Au Natural palette.  In any of my classes it's the two I watch like a hawk :-) as everyone covets them.  Better, I daresay, than either of the Naked palettes, and the Au Natural in particular is amazing as is contains shimmer, matte,  cool- and warm- mid-tone shades, a great white, a brilliant black and a fantastic highlighter shade for the tear duct area. Gorgeous colours, pigmentation, payoff, wear.  Can't recommend enough.  Cost is about €10 online or in Superdrug stores.

Single eyeshadows - €2
MUA are brilliant and have a huge range of MAC dupes - every bit as good if not better, and a brilliant price at around €2 per eyeshadow.  Available in Superdrug.

Brow shadow/pencil/set - €2
1.  Brow Shadow - €2
I had to have a think about this one - the majority of brow products (individuals or sets) available in drugstores are very warm based.  For your eyebrows you usually need something cooler-toned.  You could go with using something like a cool-toned MUA shadow like the ones recommended for contouring (#17 or #19).

2.  Brow Pencil - around €2.50
Failing that, Catrice 150 Kajal liner (Up&Brown&Up&Brown) is a great grey-toned mink brown that could also be used - assuming it's still available - but it's kohl and doesn't set, so use a spoolie to brush your brows gently through afterwards to avoid a waxy-looking buildup.

2.  Brow Set - free!
For a cheap and cheerful brow set?  Simple - use a spritz of hairspray onto an old toothbrush or a brow brush, brush them into place, done.  Everyone has hairspray, so I'm being cheeky and calling this one zero cost :-)

Eyeliners - from €2.50 - €8.50
(my recommendation: €5 + €8.50)
1. Kohl liners - from €2.50
Essence, Catrice, Gosh do reasonably good kohl liners and are inexpensive.  Rimmel's eyeliners I have found to be a little drying.

2.  Powder liners - free!
Most eyeshadows can be used as liners, either wet or dry.  I'm assuming for the purpose of this that you're already going to have an eyeshadow or two in your arsenal :-)

3. Gel/Cream - from €5 for Gel/Pencil Hybrid
I am struggling to recommend a good gel/cream drugstore liner as all the ones I have used (Maybelline, ELF, Collection, Gosh, Essence...) are frankly not good, in my opinion.  Avon Supershock Gel Eyeliner Pencil is by far the most superior gel-pencil hybrid on the market, beating all others (including pro/expensive) hands down.  However Avon have pulled out odf Irish market and are a little difficult - but not impossible - to source.

4. Liquid/Pen style - around €8.50
L'Oreal Superliner Perfect Slim - really black, really long lasting and really good.  I've reviewed this one here.

Mascara - €6
Sleek Magnitude Mascara (recently reviewed here) for both day wear and high drama - this nets you a trio: a day-wear mascara, which is waterproof, and a primer too for when you want to dial it up!  I would also recommend Rimmel Sexy Curves but I have a sneaking suspicion it's been discontinued as I can no longer find it anywhere :-(

Strip Lashes - €3 + cost of glue (around €10)
If "stripping" floats your boat ;-) you can get decent strip lashes anywhere really, from around €3+.  The thing to look out for is the glue; the one that comes with most lashes is bloody awful.  You're better off purchasing a tube of Duo Glue (it will last forever and it's far superior), it's available in most pharmacies I think at this point in time, or salon services, or at major cosmetics' counters, or...


Lipglosses - €10
There are lots of lipglosses around but the best drugstore glossy lipglosses (non-drying, pigmented, lasting, ultra glossy) that I've personally found are the Bourjois Effet 3D ones.

Lipsticks - €2
(my recommendation: €8)
You can get semi-decent lippies for around €2 upwards but I have no hesitation here in recommending the Rimmel Moisture Renew (the purple ones) - they are hands down, by far the best for pigmentation and lastability.  Don't get me wrong, I do actually think that the likes of Dior and Cosmetics a la Carte make far superior lipsticks that feel amazing, that last, and that nourish your lips to boot, but let's face it, they're a lot more expensive.

Lipliners - €4
Rimmel 1000 Kisses lipliner is great - cheap, not a huge range, but a very well thought out range of colours, these apply well and last well.  They tend to be slightly drying, but nothing that a quick slap of some balm underneath won't fix.  Most MUAs I know have all the shades of these in their kit!


Full set of brushes - €40
Lauren Luke does a set of eight Essential Brushes which are amazing - some of them (the laydown brush, the blending brush in particular) are practically the exact same as some of the MAC brushes.  Available online only at around €40 for eight of them, which works out at an average of a fiver a brush.  Amazing value, amazing quality too.

Eyebrow + Eyeliner brush - €3
For an eyeliner/brow brush-in-one, look no further than the Catrice one.  It's beyond brilliant and will set you back only about €3 - for two brushes in effect!

Spoolies - free!
For spoolies, just re-use old mascara wands that you've cleaned and sanitized.  Same thing, zero cost!

So having seen that you can spend €160 on an entire kit, why would you bother spending more?

Well, the reality is that bigger brands spend more on luxury imaging and advertising/marketing.  The packaging is fancier.  They also, it has to be acknowledged, have better access to more expensive ingredients, use less cheaper/filler ingredients, and are usually front-runners in innovation and product development.  In addition, a lot of drugstore companies have sister companies as part of their groups which in theory may share some of the science I would suspect (eg L'Oreal Group, Bourjois group etc), which allows the drugstore brands to benefit from the R&D of the high-end sister brands (and vice versa).

The reality is that there are some brands which produce some unbelievably beautiful and fantastically effective cosmetics products (and I'm not just talking packaging) and yet some of their other product ranges are below par, and are easily beaten by some cheaper brand offerings...  I have a not insignificant volume of pro brand/high end makeup, which I will exclusively use on brides, for example, where perception matters and where you just know there won't be issues with quality or "last-ability", where you want to put on a face at 8am and have it still 100% perfect at 8am the next morning;  in my personal experience, cheaper brands are great, but a lot of them they don't give you this absolute guarantee.

That said, I stand by all of the above named products as ones I have and use and recommend and replace when I run out...

In case it needs saying: this is not a sponsored/advert post, there are no deep links and I'm not being remunerated in any way for my opinions here.


  1. What a great post, you've really made me want the Nars or Bobbi Brown correcter, So you owe me €30 ok :)

    1. Drrrrrrrrream on my lovely... You've cost me a fortune yourself!!!

  2. Really helpful post! I never thought of using permanent taupe for contouring.
    Unfortunately the best Lauren Luke brushes have been out of stock since February :((( I cant find them anywhere else either

    1. Oh that's annoying. Yes, they only sell online. Did you contact Them? They've always been good to reply to emails in the past...

    2. When I tried to order, there was no indication on the site that the items where out of stock, but the next day they made a refund and sent me an email explaining that Lauren will make an announcement on her channel when the brushes become available. The same day they also updated the site and till today the pictures show that only half brushes are in stock.I tried to contact them by email once but they never replied. Also I always leave comments on her videos and fb page asking, but there's never a reply...

    3. Hmmmm... surprised to hear this, they were always really good about replying in the past. Hope they're not gone out of business... thanks for the heads up though.

      You prob already read this one: http://blog.makeupfordolls.com/2012/04/where-to-buy-makeup-brushes.html... it lists a bunch of places that do good brushes. Maybe I'll do a post on what I consider "essential" brushes (decent priced essentials that is!)

    4. hahaha thanks, but I've read all your brushes related posts several times :D
      Actually I come back to your posts again and again.
      I'd like to see a post about blush brushes though. I fell in love with the suqqu brush when I first saw it on Lisa Eldridge's channel, but I can't afford it, so it'd be great to find some alternatives


    5. I have a bunch of photos of all my blush brush recommendations- not sure if I've done one on them yet, if not I certainly will very soon!!!

      I agree - I also wanted the Suqqu one but everytime I'm in Selfridges and look at it, stunned and all as I am about how beautifully soft etc it is, I just can't justify the price, just can't. I won't make any recommendations here as I'll do a post on it... keep your eyes on the look out :-)

  3. wowzers this is jam packed, fab post, will def be taking a few of your recommendations!! great post

  4. You can still get Sexy Curves on FragranceDirect. It's one of my all time favourite mascaras, I really hope it's not discontinued!


    1. Oooooooooh great to know! Ta... It's definitely my all-time fav as well, it's absolutely brilliant!

  5. Great post hun! You give so many great recommendations and tips!! I totally agree - Sleek blushes are brilliant and totally worth the try, I love them! I haven't tried the Lauren Luke brushes but I may get a few at some point! :))

    Andrea | RosyChicc

    1. I love all of Sleek stuff that I've used; it really is a brilliant brilliant range! PS I love your blog, I stumbled on it recently and I love your photographs :-)


Thanks for reading!


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