Just as with sweatpants, there is an unspoken hierarchy in the world of beauty. The bottom tier of the makeup pyramid contains drugstore makeup, your Revlons and L’Oreals. The middle tier contains your Sephora/Ulta “prestige” brands, like MAC and Urban Decay and Benefit. At the very top of the pyramid are extreme luxury brands like Chanel and Chantecaille, super, duper fancy makeup reserved for Vogue editors and those hot Monaco princesses. My sister had a friend growing up who lived in a huge and beautiful mansion; her kitchen had a special spigot that dispensed boiling water for tea on demand. ON DEMAND. Upstairs in the master bathroom, the girl’s mother had a special glass case, which displayed dozens of Chanel lipsticks as if they were Elizabeth Taylor’s diamonds or Demi Moore’s creepy child-surrogate dolls. THAT woman had her priorities right. Maybe during Bane’s inevitable takeover of Chestnut Hill we will spare her and her magnificent lipstick collection. Even the League of Shadows gotta respeck.
But anyways! There is a little discussed basement to that glorious pyramid of beauty products, a category that is just for rubes. Intro to Makeup, if you will. The products and brands in this category are reserved to giggling teenage girls desirous of lining their eyes into dark panda circles, or 30 year-old schlumpy lady-scientists trying to spruce up for an industry awards ceremony. You try these products, you get your feet wet, and eventually you get wise and move up the ladder to more expensive (the term is relative here, we are talking like, more than five dollars expensive) products. You might be a top tier luxury cosmetics type gal and still dip down to sea level every once and a while to buy a Maybelline mascara, but no one tends to look back once they’ve moved on from the Rubes category, perhaps from fear of turning into a pillar of salt RIGHT in the CVS aisle. These cosmetics are known for being dirt cheap, bad quality, and housed in horrible packaging. The kind of cosmetics that would wind up on this girl’s teeth:
Well guys, I am here to tell you it’s okay to turn back! Maybe the checkout girl will judge you for being a 22 year old with a basket full of sub-basics, but not me! There are hidden gems in this bargain basement, and I intend to expose them.
I have the number one combo for curly hair lazy days down PAT. On any normal day I’ll go through a whole regimen of expensive potions that make me smell like an irresistible Skittle and look like Medusa’s more approachable sister, but these products don’t come cheap, so if I have no one to impress I try to conserve them. If I’m having an errands running day or figure I might put my hair up or into a braid, I hit it with this duo. I use any of the Vo5 99-cent conditioners, in whichever flavor I find most alluring at the store, as my leave in, and then scrunch toxic blue L.A. Looks Sport Gel through my hair. I get that this gel is intimidating, and I admit that at first I thought it was just for a 4th grade boy’s awesome Sun In’d ski jump, but it actually provides a moderate amount of hold that’s great for keeping a curl. It definitely makes my hair look more relaxed than normal, great for a leggings type of day. These products are so cheap and are awesome to drop off at any place where you occasionally spend the night; no matter where you go on earth you’ll be able to pick them up from the drugstore without spending more than $3. I find it easier to pick these up when traveling than to decant my regular products into little 3 ounce bottles. I keep bottles of these two at my grandma’s and my boyfriend’s, so I never have to suffer a bad hair day!
The other day I was cleaning my room for the first time in a million years, and in the process I found literally 6 bottles of CVS brand Cocoa Butter Moisturizer. My sister is OBSESSED with this stuff! She swears it is the best moisturizer and it smells of cocoa in a faint and lovely way. I think body lotions are more or less universally the same, with degrees of better or worse scent and packaging. For me, there is very little nuance to the effectiveness of body lotions: they either do or don’t do the trick. This definitely does the trick! Don’t waste your money on anything more! If you can deal with the fact that there isn’t a miniature Jeff Koon’s sculpture serving as this lotion’s cap (this is a thing that exists) or that it doesn’t smell like a ghost orchid or a macaroon or Gayle King’s living room, this is the cheapest and most effective option out there.
In terms of dirt-cheap makeup right now, Wet n’ Wild is killin’ it! No longer the sole province of early blooming middle schoolers, the entire line has been revamped to the point of total awesomeness and drugstore domination. The jewel of the Wet n’ Wild crown is most definitely the Comfort Zone Eyeshadow palette, which contains 8 amazing, soft, and pigmented eyeshadows for $5 total. This stuff is ridiculously underground popular; after I bought it, my sister told me she wanted one, and it took me 3 months to find another, since they sell out so quickly. The palette has two columns for two looks; the first makes for a soft neutral eye, the second for a green eye like a sexy lizard person.
Especially cool is the brown/blue/green shape-shifting color on the bottom right! An eye shadow formula like this would normally go for $20 or more, but here you can get it at prestige quality for about 80 cents. For a major wow factor use this as an eyeliner; the color changes so much that people will be scratching their heads wondering what the hell is going on your lids in the most awesome way possible. Make people dizzy! Confuse the world! Be an enigma! BUY THIS PALETTE.
Don’t be a snob! Awesome products are right under your upturned nose and there is no shame in the low-low end product game! By the by, all the products I featured in this post come in COMBINED at about $10. Pinch your pennies now and eventually YOU might be drinking insta-tea while admiring your pristine lipstick cabinet.