Fleek On The Cheap: The Thirst Is Real, But So Is My Budget


When you’re flush with cash, the world is yours for the taking. You can splurge on pretty potions in gorgeous, glossy packaging without batting an eye. But sometimes the bankroll, like fruit by the foot, runs out. What do you do then? You fleek on the cheap! There are some great alternatives that won’t leave you completely broke, but will still keep you looking fierce.

Liquid Eyeliner
Luxe: Guerlain Liquid Eyeliner – $40 Sephora
Confession… I’ve actually purchased this super splurge eyeliner. I know, but I’m an eyeliner junkie and a sucker for pretty packaging. The eyeliner itself is also pretty spectacular. It’s super dark (which I love) and it’s a gel so the texture is thicker than a regular liquid liner. Brushing this on makes you feel fancy AF, and it lasts foreverrrrrr. One criticism is that it does take a couple of minutes to dry, and if you don’t wait long enough you can lift off some of the product.

Budget: Milani Infinite Liquid Eyeliner – $7.99 Milani Cosmetics (online) or at most drugstores, Target, etc.
This stuff is NO JOKE. They are not kidding around when they say it’s longwear, they’re basically daring you to try to remove it. You can go to bed without removing it and wake up with almost perfect liner still applied. Not that I’ve ever done that… If you’re looking for something to go all day and all night, look no further! Milani doesn’t feel quite as nice as the Guerlain, but it makes up for it by committing to your face 100%.

UD primer

Eyeshadow Primer
Luxe: Urban Decay Primer Potion – $20 Urban Decay online or Sephora
Urban Decay makes one of the most popular primers, it has near perfect review scores everywhere I’ve looked. The primer is used under your eye makeup and will give it lasting power and keep it from smudging or creasing. You can use the original formula that dries clear, or one of the other three shades (Eden, Sin, or Greed) that can double as eyeshadows.

Budget: e.l.f. studio eyeshadow primer – $3 e.l.f. online or Target
e.l.f. appears to be the go-to for budget-friendly alternatives in cosmetics, one of their top rated items is the eyeshadow primer. It’s available in two shades, sheer and blush, and it’s only three bucks. THREE DOLL-AIRS! The reviews are mostly raves, people keep saying it works just as well as more expensive brands.

nyx pore filler

Luxe: Benefit POREfessional – $31 Benefit Cosmetics online or Sephora
I don’t know what kind of witches and warlocks are working at Benefit, but they need to start sharing their secrets with me. The POREfessional primer is basically a tube of magic. Primers help minimize pores and fine lines, and leave your skin smooth and ready for war paint. Benefit’s POREfessional is pretty amazing, it’s super silky and once it’s applied it just disappears and leaves your skin looking pretty flawless but without looking like you’ve got a bunch of product on.

Budget: NYX Pore Filler – $14 Ulta and Target
Primer might be the trickiest item to find in a budget friendly version, which makes me feel less guilty for spending $30 on POREfessional. The best budget primer seems to be NYX Pore Filler, but I’ll be honest… you’ll get what you pay for. It’s half the price of Benefit’s, and it works about half as well. It’s thicker than POREfessional and I found it a little harder to apply, plus it didn’t feel as smooth or silky. If you’re newer to the whole makeup game and/or don’t need the heavy duty primer, NYX would be a good alternative. But if you’ve been using something like Benefit, you might be a bit disappointed.

nars duo

Luxe: NARS Blush/Bronzer Combo – $42 Sephora
I’m a blush and bronzer novice, but I have used NARS’ blush (in Orgasm, of course). Everyone is all about contouring now, so we’ve been flooded with these kinds of products. There are powders, creams, sticks, pens… the possibilities are endless! The duos and palettes all seem to be about $40 and up, and NARS scores high marks on Sephora, 4.5 stars with over 40,000 customers listing it as a favorite item. NARS offers two color combo options, Orgasm/Laguna (pictured above) and Sin/Casino (berry/gold blush and darker brown/golden bronzer). NARS has a solid grasp on blushes and bronzers, products are long lasting and look very natural, so it’s no surprise that the price tag is on the higher end.

Budget: e.l.f. Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder – $3
The price of this item blew my damn mind. It’s less than 10% of the price of the NARS combo! As I said I’m not a blush and bronzer pro so aside from the different colors/shades, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the two brands. There are four combos available, three powder and one cream. I really wanted to try the cream, but stuck with the powder for an accurate comparison. Since it’s only $3, I’ll undoubtedly go back and buy the cream this weekend. If you’re a newb like me, e.l.f. is a great way to play around with a new product and get some practice without worrying that you’re wasting hundreds of dollars. THREE DOLL-AIRS!

elf hd

Finishing Powder
Luxe: Makeup Forever HD Microfinish Powder – $34 Makeup Forever online or Sephora
This is the end all, be all of finishing powders, it’s like a adding a soft filter to your makeup before walking out the door to face the harsh lighting of the cruel world. It’s translucent and only comes in one shade – don’t let the mime makeup white scare you, it’ll just blend right in and look flawless. It’s a bit pricey, but this is one of those items that I think are worth the splurge.

Budget: e.l.f. HD Finishing Powder – $6 e.l.f. online or Target
I’ve been using Makeup Forever powder for a long time, so I was really curious how e.l.f. would do in comparison. They have three color options: sheer (translucent/white), shimmer (pink shimmer), and corrective yellow – I went with the sheer to make a true side-by-side comparison. It doesn’t quite keep up with Makeup Forever, but for $6 it’s a great value. The powder is super fine, and will fly everywhere if you’re not careful – I learned that lesson the hard way. After applying the powder with the puff/sponge that comes with the product a couple of times I noticed that there was some strange sort of… crumbs left on my face. They came right off with a fluffy brush, and I think it’s just from the powder clumping up a little on the sponge. I won’t be trading in my Makeup Forever powder, the quality of the e.l.f. powder doesn’t really stand up against it. But again, if you’re new to the HD powder this is a great place to start without forking over all your hard-earned cash.

In a perfect world, we’d always be able to stock our Caboodles with only the most expensive, high end gear. But since stupid budgets are a real thing, it’s good to have some back up options, and having some less expensive items to choose from means you can splurge a little on other goodies. It’s all about compromise, right? Keep it fleeky without going completely broke.


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