I love a good bargain. I also love good makeup. Can the two exist in a premium brand obsessed world? As I’ve previously mentioned, I worked as a counter manager for Urban Decay for four years. During that time, I became a bit elitist when it came to cheaper/drugstore makeup brands. I would pay attention to the odd ‘rave review’ or ‘industry secret’ every so often, but I was pretty content with my beautiful collection of luxury makeup brands. This was both foolish and mean of me, as I was not following the mantra of ‘don’t knock it until you’ve tried it’.
My main issue with a lot of brands, whether premium or budget, is that many of them test on animals. Being a makeup addict and an animal lover is a massive conflict of interests in this day and age. Cruelty Free products have not been tested on animals, and neither have their base ingredients. Since working for Urban and becoming more educated on the subject, I’ve tried to shop cruelty free with my cosmetics and skin care as much as I can. I cannot class myself as a cruelty free shopper (due to the medication I take for my skin and certain perfumes I own), nor do I class myself as vegetarian. I do support and praise Cruelty Free certified brands however, and I also mostly cook vegetarian meals at home. I do not want the subject of Cruelty Free to take over my beauty blogging, so I will mention it rarely and only when relevant. There are many incredible Cruelty Free blogs out there if you are more interested in the subject. I thoroughly recommend Cruelty Free Kitty and mo’adore. From this point onwards, assume everything is cruelty free. If it isn’t, I will mark it in red.
The purpose of this post is to show you my favourite foundation products, both low-end and high-end. These are all the ‘skin coloured’ bits, before you add blush, brows, lips and eyes. I’ll be following this up with another post!
To begin, I must stress that there is no such thing as ‘the perfect’ product in any category when it comes to makeup. This is purely down to your own skin, how much excess oil you produce, and what routine you have. I can advise what is predominantly good, and what works for me. I have oily/combination, blemish-prone skin, with large pores. You might have combination/dry, blemish-prone skin with areas of redness, which means you may not benefit from any of these products. However, due to my training and experience in the industry, I can still help you! If you need advice or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment and I’ll do my best to reply!
Skin care is the first step of your makeup routine. I have always stressed to my clients that you cannot wear makeup if you don’t use skin care. Even the most luxury foundation will flake on dry skin. You must cleanse, tone and moisturize! I’ve mentioned my skin care routine here, and I’m still using The Body Shop’s tea tree range for blemish prone skin. I usually all get my Body Shop skincare in a bulk value set, often about £25.00, meaning the retail prices mentioned in this post aren’t always what I pay unless I’m topping up on individual products. Plus, The Body Shop always have fabulous discount weeks such as 40% off, which softens the blow!
In the morning, I wash my face with the Tea Tree Facial Wash, which is £5.50 for 250ml. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, try Wilko’s own Skin Therapy Tea Tree Facewash, a tidy £0.95 for 150ml!
I now use a treatment for my problematic skin, The Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution (£12.00 for 50ml). This is a soothing, liquid texture which is more unique compared to the usual serums on the market which can feel quite oily. It sinks into my skin instantly, making it feel lovely and plump, and reduces redness. It helps my moisturizer sink in better too, which is the next step. I follow this with the Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion (£9.00 for 50ml) which really hydrates my skin for the day ahead with a lovely cooling finish, while instantly mattifying excess oils. This Wilko’s own Tea Tree Moisture Lotion is not mattifying, but definitely moisturizing and doesn’t leave an oily residue, and does its job at £0.95 for 75ml. I keep this in my swim bag and use it at least twice a week.
At night-time, I first remove my eye-makeup with Wilko’s Skin Therapy Eye Makeup Remover. It’s not currently on the website but I can assure you the shelves are always full in stores. It removes waterproof eye makeup, doesn’t sting, and feels like refreshing, cold water on your lids. Never use facewipes to remove your eye makeup, or I guarantee you’ll end up with eye bags that look like a scrotum. That skin is delicate, treat it accordingly. I then remove a layer of makeup with some facewipes (I use this term lightly, as facewipes tend to only remove around 50% of the crap on your face!). I use Wilko’s Skin Therapy Tea Tree Wipes (£0.50 for 25), before going to the sink. At this point, I’ve removed most of my makeup, but my skin is not actually cleansed. I then use my Body Shop Tea Tree Facial Wash once again, removing the rest of my makeup and gently exfoliating with a muslin cloth. By doing this every night, this eliminated my need for exfoliating facial washes, and gently removes dead skin without over-exfoliating (which can make problematic skin worse!). Also, this thoroughly washes your hands before you use them for the next lotions and potions. My skin is now fresh and clean, ready to be toned and moisturized!
Back at my dressing table, I use The Body Shop Tea Tree Toner on a cotton pad (£5.50 for 250ml) which removes any last traces of makeup whilst getting rid of any of the day’s excess oils. I now add an extra step in between ‘tone’ and ‘moisturize’, which I call ‘treat’. I use an astringent serum, Wilko’s Skin Therapy Tea Tree Blemish Serum (£0.95 for 30ml). This serum has more of a gel texture, and stings when applied to sore spots. It does a good job as an anti-bacterial product, and instantly makes my skin feel tighter, perfect for using the next step. My night-time moisturiser is The Body Shop Tea Tree Night Lotion, a combination of hydration and anti-bacterial goodness which fights my blemishes through my slumber. It has made a huge difference to my skin, and is worth its price of £10.00 for 30ml.
My last step is eye cream. This is extremely important especially if you wear eye makeup every day, as the process of application and removal weakens the elasticity of the delicate skin around your eyes, which will age quicker. I usually use The Body Shop Vitamin E Eye Cream (£12.00 for 15ml) which is a refreshing, anti ageing, and hydrating cream suitable for my age. If this is out of your budget, try the Balance Active Formula Snake Venom Eye Cream which I tend to find in TK Maxx or even B&M Bargains for under £5.00. After comparing this to the Vitamin E cream, I’ve decided to carry on using the Snake Venom as it really has made a difference to any dryness I had around my eyes, plumps up the skin, and is a total bargain.
Now we can move onto makeup. For an everyday primer, I adore The Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser (£8.50 for 30ml). It smooths out my skin, prevents oiliness throughout the day, and fights my spots. If I’m going for a more hard-core look, for a night out or performing, I use NYX Shine Killer primer, £11.00 for 20ml, which keeps me matte no matter how sweaty I get from dancing! I know £8.50 could be seen as pricey for my ‘cheap’ option, but investing in your primer will make all of your makeup look better and last longer – period. Both of these primers are very reasonably priced, and nowhere near the cost of premium primers, which begin at around £19.00 per tube. I apply this with a round, short haired buffing brush, perfect for primers and mousse textures. I run the brush in small circles over my face, smoothing the product over my pores and ensuring an even coverage. I adore Wilko’s own range of premium brushes, which they’ve recently released in a gorgeous Luxury ergonomic design. They are super affordable, don’t shed, wash incredibly well and are 100% synthetic soft hairs. This brush is perfect for £5.00.
Next, I colour correct my skin. This is a relatively new concept to me, as I’ve always used high coverage concealers which tend to hide my spots well. I prefer a liquid concealer on myself, usually in a wand form, but on clients I use cream concealer from a pot with a brush for the same purposes. Being very pale, my blemishes often become more noticeable when they are bright red. Using a green tinted concealer can do wonders for this problem, and also means you layer less products on top of your blemishes. I swear by my NYX Concealer Wands in CW12 (Green) and CW01 (Porcelain). At £5.50 each, these are just as affordable as many drugstore ranges such as Collection 2000 or Rimmel London. They are super long lasting, high coverage, and a little goes a long way. I use the green around my red blemishes, and the porcelain around my eye area. I’m lucky enough to not suffer from dark circles just yet, but when I do, I would opt for a yellow or salmon/peach tone, perfect for counter-acting brown/purple around the eyes. A lavender colour option is great for people who have sallow or overly yellow skin tones. It adds brightness to the skin and lifts a dull complexion. I personally use a second round short buffing brush to blend my concealer in, but brushes seem to be a personal preference for everyone. Try using a flat brush, then a fluffier rounded brush, to decide what you prefer. Don’t use the same brush for primer and concealer, that’s just a goopy mess of nope!
Now that I am primed and corrected, I can apply a layer of foundation. If I’m having a low-maintenance day, I’ll just slap on a bit of The Body Shop Tea Tree Flawless BB Cream in 01 Light (£8.50). It is pale enough for my skin, and has surprisingly good coverage for a BB, but I tend to dot over my worse areas with the NYX Porcelain wand for full coverage. A little goes a long way with this BB, and that’s why I use it for work and lazy days when I really shouldn’t be wasting my lovely full coverage foundations (plus, it’s doing its tea tree thing throughout the day, which can only be good for my skin). I always use a stippling brush for my liquid foundation, it spreads product around the face quicker and leaves a lovely, streak-free finish. You can’t go wrong with this beauty for £5.00!
My full coverage foundation of choice is the NYX Stay Matte But Not Flat liquid in shade 01 Ivory (£6.00). The coverage of this foundation is amazing, and leaves a gorgeous matte finish. Ivory is the palest shade in the range, but is still a tad too warm for my pink skin tone. This warm edge is perfect for the evening, as it stops me looking too ghostly in flash photography, but it’s a bit yellow in daylight. To avoid this, I mix in a few drops of Makeup Revolution The One Foundation in shade 01 (currently £1.00!), which pinks and pales up the shade. I would never use this ‘foundation’ alone, as it’s very thin and not that buildable. As this shade is essentially white, it becomes the perfect shade adjusting drops while not affecting the level of coverage from the NYX foundation. There are a number of shades in these drops on the website, including a really dark option in Shade 16. I use these in my kit all the time to adjust foundation to client’s skin tones, and it saves me buying foundation in every shade. This combination wins for me so far, and it means I use a lot less of my foundation than others would. I also apply this with the stippling brush.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m really excited to try the new Urban Decay All Nighter liquid foundation, and I’ll probably be raving about that in a few weeks. Expect a video!
The next stage of my base is to set all my hard work so far. This is an important step that many people forget about, as they are worried it will be too matte. If you apply as little as possible, this won’t be a problem. My work/lazy face option is a soft, translucent powder such as the Freedom Makeup HD Pro Finish Powder (£3.00) which leaves a velvety finish and doesn’t disturb the foundation and concealer underneath. This also comes in ‘Banana’ which is perfect for warmer/darker skin tones. My heavier choice is the NYX Stay Matte Powder (£10.00) in Creamy Natural, which is technically classed as a foundation, but if applied lightly with a good brush, it’s just a really well pigmented setting powder. I use this option mostly for modelling, events or performances, as it perfects my full coverage look and does not budge all night. I love a big, fluffy brush to apply my powder, as it covers large surface areas quickly and prevents you from pushing the power in too hard, creating a nasty paste with your foundation. Just make sure you tap the brush against the edge of your desk to get rid of some excess product. This enormous baby for £5.00? Thank you!
Finally, before I move on, I give my face a quick spritz of setting spray. For daytime, Freedom Makeup London Pro Studio Anti-Shine Fixing Spray does the trick and does not break the bank at £5.00. This isn’t a necessity, but the air conditioning system is my work is very drying and I can see my skin producing oil to try to hydrate itself, which I can usually prevent by using the spray. If I go out shopping for the day, I’ll carry the spray with me and top up when I’m feeling a little flustered in the changing rooms, super refreshing. I save my Urban Decay De-Slick Setting Spray (£22.00) for the heavy-duty look, and it really does mean I can go all night and look flawless.
Remember, it’s recommended to wash your makeup brushes twice a month, so roughly every two weeks. This can prevent infection, goopy buildup, and keeps your brushes in tip-top condition. I wash my brushes using the Freedom Makeup Pro Studio Solid Brush Cleanser, a lovely smelling balm that froths up between your brush hairs and melts away all residue. A lot of people use special silicone brush cleaning mittens or mats, but I had a better idea… I purchased this Variera knife tray for £5.00 from IKEA! After dampening the brush cleanser, I fill this trough with warm water, swirl the brush in the balm, then run it several times through the silicon fingers (one long end for face brushes and one short end for smaller sizes!). This keeps the cleaning product in the water for longer, and really pushes the brush bristles apart for a deep clean. I then gently rinse each brush in a clean bowl of water and they are brand new once more.
I know, I’m a genius right?!
So there we have it, my base! In my next beauty post, I’ll be focusing on adding definition with depth, highlight, blush and brows!