Quality vs Quantity – My Current Makeup Faves

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This morning as I was “putting on my face” I realized that my beauty routine has drastically changed over the past couple of years. While I still find it important to look good every day, I have found ways to streamline the process so I have more time for my family. As with my closet, I find it is easier to do my makeup each morning if I have fewer options. Just three years ago, I had a drawer and train case busting open with pots, potions, lotions, and creams. Now, I can fit the majority of my cosmetic collection into one makeup bag. I also find that before I used to hop from brand to brand; now I keep re-purchasing products that get the job done – work well, are reliable, versatile, quality.

It’s important to look for quality instead of quantity in regard to fashion, but I agree it also holds true for cosmetics. And like clothing, quality can be found at any pricepoint. Below are the products I use on a daily or at least weekly basis, help me create my daily face, and not have to worry about it for the rest of the day.



I reviewed this before here and here, but now I am on my third tube of this product. It’s a great pricepoint, it blends perfectly into my skin while still covering skin irregularities, it doesn’t make me break out, and it doesn’t melt away by lunchtime. I can wear a light layer over just-moisturized skin for more of a tinted moisturizer look, I can also apply a heavier application to really cover up and give a flawless face. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s reliable.



This is my HG of concealer (reviewed here and here). I first tried it with Laura Mercier’s Flawless Face Kit (review of kit here) and became a convert. Secret Camouflage kept my pregnancy under wraps the first trimester by hiding my pallor and dark circles. It made me look like Super Mom the first year of Emerson’s life by covering the ashen complexion and bags under my eyes from lack of sleep and stress. And now, it keeps me looking more even, yet not overdone.

If I apply with a brush, it hides most anything without caking; applied with a warm ring finger, it blends effortlessly to provide daily medium coverage. It doesn’t fade or melt through the day, and the choice of two colors lets me create a perfect tone for dark circles, redness, zits, or the weird little stretch marks on either side of my mouth. It also lasts forever; I have been using this for almost four years and am only on my third compact (and the first one was a mini size).

I got this as a sample from Sephora in 2008 (review here) and haven’t yet needed to buy an actual full-size of it. I only use a very tiny bit – shake it into my palm, swirl a large domed brush and buff onto the face. It will give a more finished look to my face, take away shine, set my concealer and foundation. Doesn’t get cakey, doesn’t settle into pores, just makes my face look natural yet matte.



This stays in my purse for touch-ups throughout the day. Like the MUFE powder, it doesn’t add a layer of stuff to my skin, just gives a natural matte finish. The compact is utterly gorgeous so I don’t mind whipping it out of my bag. It also lasts forever; I broke my old one a year ago and my current one isn’t even anywhere close to showing metal.



It’s the bomb. It layers great – can have a subtle flush for casual days, a stronger color for certain outfits. A touch of shimmer that doesn’t really show, just makes the skin look dewy. It also lasts forever – I have been using this blush exclusively for six years and just got my third compact of it earlier this year. I have written about it before here and here; I still believe it is the perfect blush for me.



Reader April got me addicted to this product, and addicted I am (you can read my past review here). I wear a light touch on my cheek bones, inner corners of my eyes, brown bone, and bow of my lip. It makes my skin look young and plum and dewy. A little goes a VERY long way – I only tap my finger once on the compact to get enough for a cheek. It’s super shimmery in the compact, but on the skin (especially under foundation), it’s very natural and subtle highlighting. April, can’t thank you enough!



I have raved about this shadow before, and I have to again. It’s perfect. A matte ivory for highlighting, a shimmery golden khaki that is a perfect neutral, a gorgeous olive that makes for a fun colorful smoky eye, and a deep dark chocolate that is perfect for contouring; I have also used it with this brush or wet with a liner brush to be eye liner. All that, and the color lasts all day. The only thing I find fault with this product is that the khaki color crumbles when you get to the pan – the rest of the colors hold up but I usually have the khaki fall out before the other colors have been fully used.



I have been using the same compact of this color for six years. The cover has disappeared, there’s a bunch of holes in the product where I have hit the pan, but I bet I’ll be using it for at least a year longer. I use it with the Trish McEvoy brow brush, which is not too stiff, not too soft, and gives a natural fill to my brows.



I use this as my brow groomer. I always used Body Shop because I worked for them and got it cheap. Once I left that company, I looked for the cheapest clear mascara on the market and that day it was Maybelline. I am about ready for a replacement tube, but have been using this one since I was at my last job (four years I guess). I never use it on my lashes; mascaras and liquid liners should be replaced after a couple months but I figure this is just like gel for my brows and it’s not so bad.



This is my favorite liquid liner, hands down. While I have Indelible Wink from Tarte and like it, I love Maybelline. The little brush gives me a perfect line, makes for an easy side swoop, and it stays on ALL DAY. No flaking, no smearing, no fading. This is a hardcore product, but it’s reliable and for me, very easy to use. Need to replace this every two months or it starts to thicken and is hard to use.



I ask for this as a Christmas present and will treat myself to a tube if I get a bonus at work. It’s expensive, it doesn’t last long, but gosh it’s perfection (mentioned here). Thick, lush, long lashes. No flaking, no smearing. Gorgeous. It’s just so pricey. I keep trying to find a drugstore or cheaper equivalent but have yet to find it.



I wrote about this here. It’s still a favorite. While I love it alone for pretty flushed lips, I have been using it with my longwear red lipsticks to keep them soft and slightly shiny between applications. Smells good, looks good, feels good. I have tried other colors but don’t like them nearly as much as Rose.



I currently own three different colors but have tried about a dozen of them over the years. Great price, great shaped bottle, perfect applicator, nice feeling gloss that stays on… as long as any standard gloss. I can’t justify spending more on a fancier brand of gloss – Revlon has the right formula, and a great selection of colors.

What are your tried-and-true beauty products? What is out there that I am missing?


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  1. We use the same eyeliner 1!
    I’ve been using it for years 🙂
    I also use the gel eye liner by Smashbox, it works well for me.

  2. Great picks here, Allie! I love L’Oreal lipsticks, the regular-old kind in the goldish tube. They  last a ling time and have a gazillion shades. Also love Burt’s lip balms for bedtime  : >

  3. I’m a fan of L’Oreal long-wearing lipsticks.  They come with two tubes, color and a glossy finisher.  They will last nearly all day.

  4. As I mentioned in your mascara review from yesterday, I have tried literally 100’s of mascaras. I like a lot. I only love one, Maybelliene’s Soft and Full. I also love Benefit’s Playsticks foundation. I am a new convert to Nars Orgasm, so far, love it too!

  5. The one “must” that I use everyday is MAC Fix+ spray.  I spritz it on my face and it “melts” the layers of foundation, blush, powder together and sets them so that I don’t leave powder on my phone when I’ve talked on it all day.  I also use it in a pinch in my hair as a light leave in conditioner or just if my hair gets frizzy or fly aways.  I spray a couple pumps in my hand and smooth the crazy hair down.

    It’s less than $20 at Dillard’s.

  6. Mascara makes my face a better place! I was using MUFE Aqua Smoky Lash and at first I loved it. For some reason after about 6 weeks it started flaking a tiny bit. Flaking is my pet peeve of mascara. I then tried Avon superShock as a coworker just started selling. Man oh man this stuff is amazing. Even though I am a grease ball, there is absolutely no flakes, no raccoon eyes, and no clumps. It has great all around coverage, separation and length. I just got my second tube and am hoping the love affair continues…I say give it a whirl because for under $10 you won’t be upset even if you don’t love it as much as I do.

  7. I usually buy fair to medium foundation, concealer, etc. In Bare Minerals I am Fairly Light, in L’Oreal True Match I am C3. I get the Almay in the light to medium, I know there is a lighter variation. I would think they could all work well for fair skintones, the shadow may be a bit too yellow based if you are a cool fair but otherwise I don’t think they would be bad. 🙂

  8. I switched to NARS blush in Deep Throat (it’s very similar to Orgasm but without the sparkle) last winter and I LOVE it! I’ve hardly made a dent in it and foresee this particular compact lasting me for years. I love that it’s so pigmented that I don’t need much, and that it lasts all day. With other blushes I was reapplying constantly.

    I’ve never been a fan of Burt’s Bees lip balms…they’ve always felt too sticky or dry to me, but I love the look of the Rose tinted balm. Do you like the texture of it?

  9. totally agree with the almay makeup recommendation.  I love it as well.  Tried another brand that was on sale and ended up throwing it out and going back to the Almay!  It’s a great product.  I’m pretty fair and wear the light 100 shade.

  10. Love these tips!  Do you apply the luminizer last, on top of all other makeup? Or do you layer it under things?  I’ve recently upgraded my foundation but I think I’m now a little overly matte and ghostlike, if you get what I mean.

    I’m also intrigued by the Revlon lip glosses.  Thanks for giving us so many new, reasonably priced things to try!

  11. The urban decay mat powder looks interesting!
    My must-haves are bad girl mascara in plum and Bare Escentuals lipstick in Red Delicious. (Oh, and Stila eyeshadow palette  in golds and browns — never knew how much a difference quality eyeshadow made until I upgraded over drug store brands and discovered how much longer the shadow lasted without melting and disapearing!)

  12. I use several of her products. My “can’t live without” is her makeup remover. That Revlon quad you mentioned is calling my name so loud, I am going to give it a try very soon :))

  13. I used to wear MAC and agree they are the place to go for the perfect color for most any skintone! I have used Bare Escentuals and love how it makes my skin look flawless yet not coated in makeup. However I have a reaction to it in the winter when my skin is sensitive and dry – it makes my skin itch around the nose and other sensitive places. I have tried a couple other brands of mineral makeup (though not bellapiere) and none could compare to BE for blending, natural look, flawless face.

  14. I am a MAC convert (find their colour range to be really good when looking for the perfect shade of foundation or concealer) however am thinking about trying out a mineral foundation from Bare Escentuals or bellapierre.  Have you tried mineral makeup and what did you think if so?

    For lips, I really like Chanel’s Levres Scintillantes lip gloss.  It’s quite pricey (got mine as a birthday present) but one tube lasts forever, and unlike other lip glosses it isn’t sticky at all!  (pet hate for lip gloss).  It also lasts well through eating/drinking.  Mine is in shade no. 68 which is a very flattering coral with a slight gold shimmer.

  15. Allie, forgot to ask you, are you familiar with the Beautypedia.com reviews and Paula Begoun’s own products (@ paulaschoice.com)?

  16. Thanks Allie! Now that a primer is probably the way to go I think I am going to try the Make Up For Ever HD Microperfecting Primer. Although it has some mixed reviews, I suffer from redness and roscea on occassions and have heard positive things about their green tinted one so I’ll give it a go and see if I get a better look from my makeup with it.

  17. I think a primer could do exactly what you desire – make everything last a bit longer. I also find when I touch up with a bit of powder – either a slightly tinted one or the Urban Decay one, it keeps things in place longer, fighting oil before it can make the makeup slide away. But to have a more poreless/flawless look, I think a primer can do just that. As for what primer I do not know, I haven’t found a Holy Grail one yet (though Philosophy’s is pretty good, though you have to let it set a few minutes before applying any other makeup).

  18. Allie, I’ve a question. My make-up routine is really simple and I stick to the same products. I use Max Factor miracle touch foundation (which I haven’t found in the U.S. but imagine it as being similar to Maybelline Mousse Foundation) which I find gives me great coverage and sits on top of my skin I feel (rather than being heavy). I just add a bit of blush, eye-liner, a lip colour and mascara. I love my foundation, so don’t want to change it, but I would love more of a flawless look that last all day. I find that if I’m going out in the evening most of my foundation appears to have disappeared. Do you think a primer would be a good product? Basically, if I should add one more thing to my make-up bag to create a more polished/flawless look what should it be?!

  19. YOU ARE SO WELCOME! You’ve given me so many great recommendations the past few years that I am ecstatic to return the favor. I think you were the first to write about the pStyle, which as a female who loves camping and backpacking, CHANGED MY LIFE. I’m also a huge fan of DiorShow (when I’m in the mood to shell out the bucks for it) and Burt’s Bees lip balm.

  20. pixi Flawless and Poreless!  I’m addicted to her line (find it at Target), and this stuff is miraculous.  Best pre-makeup I’ve ever used.  Also her Fresh Face, which I use during the winter to give my pale skin a really lovely natural glow.

    Also pixi’s lip blushes in purity (natural) and love (vibrant red).

  21. I really love Touche Eclat but I have a feeling it does the same thing that the Mary-Lou Manizer does.  It does a nice job of lightening and highlighting and I like how easy it is to sneak into the small corners of my diaper backpack.  I have some strange red veins around my nose and it really does make those disappear.

  22. My HG mascara is CoverGirl Lash Blast.  I have short & thin lashes, and this one amps up the volume and length in a big way.  If you get it in waterproof, it will last literally through the night.  Watch/read some tutorials on how to apply it though, as it’s unlike regular mascara.

  23. I love the MFE powder. I too got the sample size from Sephora about the same time you did and just finished it. Purchased a full size and my only complaint is the jar has a small opening making it difficult to swirl my brush in the lid, a la Bare Escentuals. I ended up transferring the powder to an empty BE Mineral Veil jar. Kind of messy but makes it easier to use every morning.

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