My Top Tips and Picks for Drugstore Makeup

A visit to your local drugstore can be pretty overwhelming. So many choices, and at that price its hard not to buy out the store. Not to mention- how to choose? Without being able to try the products due to their bulletproof packaging (plus there aren’t exactly a lot of mirrors around to see how the product you just ripped out of it’s packaging looks on you), it may seem wasteful to buy things that go straight in the bin once you get home. So to save you the trouble here are a couple tips and some of my favorite drugstore products.

Tip #1: Just because you are buying a drugstore product DOES not necessarily mean it is in any way inferior to its department store counterparts. (Stay tuned for a post on products I think ARE worth paying extra money for). Most people are not aware that companies like L’oreal own several makeup brands like Lancome and Yves Saint Laurent Beauty. Often, their drugstore lines are very similar to their more expensive brands.

#2. In the event that a drugstore product turns out to be a fail, have no fear. I have found that many drugstores like Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS and Target will allow returns on cosmetics even once they have been opened. Just explain that the product didn’t work for you and make sure to bring your receipt.

#3. Lastly, before buying something at the drugstore, why not read up on some reviews first? With everyone and their dog having a smartphone these days, it should only take a couple minutes to look up a review. A great and reliable website for makeup reviews is MakeupAlley.com.

My Tried and True Drugstore Makeup:

Many of these have been featured in my favorites or raved about to friends but I thought we were due for another update so here goes!

1. Foundation: with the drugstore having so many great foundations these days, there really is no need to shell out 40+ dollars on a foundation. My favorites are Revlon Colorstay which is great for oily skin. Neutrogena Healthy Skin which has a natural, dewy finish and Loreal True Match which has great blend-ability.

2. Face Powders: from setting powders to powders with great coverage, the drugstore has some awesome affordable options. My favorite is the Ben Nye Banana Powder which can be found online or at beauty stores like Naimie’s or Nigel’s Beauty. Milani’s Multitasker, and Rimmel’s Stay Matte are some other great options.

3. Eyeliners: despite trying practically every eyeliner out there from high end to low end, I still keep going back to my trusty Revlon Colorstay 16 hour twist up liner. If you haven’t tried it yet, go and get it now! Rimmel’s Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl liner is a great liner for smudging out and is very comparable to Urban Decay’s popular 24/7 liner. Milani’s Infinite Waterproof liquid liner is like the LONGEST wearing eyeliner I have ever found. I’m talking 3 day yom-tov stuff here!

4. Bronzers: there is really only one bronzer at the drugstore that I’m obsessed with and that’s Wet n’ Wilds bronzer in Ticket to Brazil. This is not the bronzer for those with very fair skin or enlarged pores. However, when used with a light hand, it gives the most beautiful bronzey glow.

5. Concealers: I haven’t found there to be a ton of great concealers at the drugstore although feel to suggest any that you love! I do think that for standard undereye circles, Maybelline makes some great wand-style concealer pens and Sonia Kashuk’s undercover concealer is great for blemishes. For really intense concealing however, I suggest taking a look at my High-end makeup recommendations.

6. Blush: I have found that many drugstore blushes have not impressed me due to bad color payoff, weak pigmentation, fast oxidizing, etc. However I am blown away by the La Femme blushes, a well kept secret by makeup artists for years, these blushes are freakishly cheap and are the most pigmented blushes I have ever used. Meaning you need to literally barely tap your brush into the pan unless you want to look like a clown. But applied properly these blushes are the longest lasting blushes I have ever used, beating out Nars, Lorac, Stila, Mac and any other blush I’ve ever used. No joke here. They can be purchased from MakeupMania.com or Naimie’s (if you’d like to try them out in person).

7. Lipliners: I have found that it’s pretty difficult to find a great nude, universally flattering lipliner in the drugstore. However, Jordana’s Rock n’ Rose is one of the best I’ve found and doesn’t require any sharpening which is an added bonus.

8. Mascara: There is really no reason to buy an expensive mascara when there are so many great drugstore ones. Everyone’s lashes are different so you might need to experiment till you find the one that’s right for you but my favorites are : Jordana’s Best Lash Extreme, L’oreal Voluminous Carbon Black, and Maybelline Full and Soft.

9. Lipstick/lipgloss: I think that there are alot of great options for lipsticks and lipgloss on the cheap. Revlon have been making amazing lipsticks for years and they have a lot of different lines and different textures such as their matte lipsticks, moisturizing lip butters, and trendy balm-stains. Most high end lipsticks have “dupes” or cheap counterparts at the drugstore, just look up the hundreds of YouTube videos that point out the various shades. The lipstick I personally reach for the most is Rimmel’s Airy Fairy- a great non-drying pinky nude.

There are plenty more treasures to find at the drugstore but that is pretty much my comprehensive list of great affordable beauty finds. I hope this helps a makeup-lover in need, and certainly the wallets of many! Feel free to list your drugstore favorites below!

 

 

 

8 Awesome Makeup Tips for 2013!

Lets start the New Year with the right makeup and techniques, here are 8 of my favorite and most commonly asked about makeup tips.

1. Always fill in your lips all the way with a lipliner to help prolong your lipcolor and avoid the dreaded ring around your lips that happens when your lipstick has worn off but the liner is left behind (giving that “chola” inspired makeup look). I believe that everyone needs to have at least one lipliner that is that “your lips but better” color that will look great under any lipstick or can even be worn alone under a lipbalm for a lazy nude lip. One of my favorite drugstore ones is Jordana’s lipliner in Rock n’ Rose.

2. Eyeliners can sometimes be too dry and sometimes too creamy. Either way, if your pencil liner is too dry and tugs at your eyelid, try putting it over a cigarette lighter (or blast it with a blowdryer) for a few seconds to help soften the tip, it should turn into a creamy kohl-like texture. If your gel liner dries out, use the blowdryer again to melt the product again and it should regain its creaminess. I often have the opposite problems with liners being too creamy (ie: Urban Decay 24/7, Mac Smolder, Milani Liquifeye, etc.) and sometimes the tip will just break off when I start to line my eyes or the line will come on too thick. To remedy this, I actually keep my pencil in the freezer. Sounds strange but this helps the tip stay pointed and lets you make a more defined line while still keeping that creamy texture. It feels refreshing on the eyes too!

3. Undereye concealer can sometimes be tricky to work with. To help prevent those dreadful creases under the eye, I apply some eye shadow primer under the concealer ( I actually sometimes use Urban Decay’s primer potion in Eden as a concealer since it matches my skin tone.) If the formula of your concealer is too dry, which can look cakey under the eyes, just mix some concealer with an eye cream (I use clinique all about eyes) on the back of your hand and then it applies like a dream. Always set concealer under the eyes with a powder. My favorite is Ben Nye Bananna Powder for its finely milled texture and yellow tone which helps brighten up the undereye. Since most powder brushes are too big to get into the undereye area, I like to use a fluffy eye blending brush to apply powder there.

4. Never apply blush or bronzer onto a moist face. If you don’t set your moisturizer/ foundation with a powder,then make sure to blot off excess moisture with a tissue before applying blush or bronzer (or any makeup for that matter) the moisture on your skin will cause the product to look blotchy or come on too strong, and make it difficult to blend.

5. Get yourself some decent brushes and tools. Stat! I have an old post on Brushes 101. But the two brushes that are so important and commonly missing are a good shadow blending brush and blush/contour brush. For eyes, if there were only one brush I could own it would be modeled after the M.A.C. 217 which I don’t actually own because I use cheaper dupes of it (Coastal Scents pro blending fluff, Sigma E35, Sedona Lace Eb09, Bdellium 776, to name a few). This brush makes all the difference, and deserves its own post, look out for it soon!

6. Speaking of Tools: Eyelash curler. Curled lashes are something I don’t leave the house without. It takes seconds to do and makes a world of difference. If you feel like your curler “doesn’t do anything” then you are probably using a bad curler. My favorite is the Tweezerman lash curler (commonly featured in my favorites) which beats out all my favorites of the past including Shu Uemara and Shiseido. If your lashes are stubbornly straight then try blasting your curler for a nano-second before using it to help hold the curl. Notice how I use a blowdryer for almost everything, I don’t even own it for use on my hair!

6. Always brush your eyebrows out with a spooly after filling them in. This helps blend out any harsh lines and gives your brows a natural groomed look. Nothing gives me more creeps then seeing a harsh drawn on brow.

7. Unless your eyes are as big as the Olsens’ sisters, you probably shouldn’t be lining your waterline with black. Doing so, creates the illusion of smaller eyes, while lining the waterline with white or nude will help them look larger and more awake. For some reason a good white or cream liner for the waterline is hard to find so here’s a few that I use: Nudes: Stila Kajal in Topaz, Nars Rue Bonaparte, M.A.C chromographic Nc/nw 15-20. Whites: Nars Santa Monica Blvd, NYX milk, Urban Decay Yeyo.

8. Test your foundation color by swiping some product onto the jawline. Don’t be scared to do this with drugstore foundations, just ask them to open a tester for you, or buy a few colors that look like they are in your shade range and return whatever doesn’t work for you. Most drugstores will take back makeup, even once its been opened, so long as you explain it was the wrong color, and within the time they allow for returns. Obviously ask them if you can do so before you make the purchase, but I have done this at Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Target with no issues.

Lastly, remember that when it comes to makeup purchases, research goes a long way. I don’t buy anything anymore before reading reviews on MakeupAlley. There is no one brand or product that works for everyone but when you see that 300 out of 350 people liked something, its just something to take into consideration.

Enjoy making everyone jealous with how fabulous you look this coming year!

 

Exciting Dupe Discovery: Sonia Kashuk Remove vs. Clinique Take the Day Off

This will be quick. I just had to mention this exciting new discovery. Many friends of mine know that I have raved about Clinique’s “Take the day off” makeup remover for some time now and most of my friends have “converted” to using it since it does such a darn good job at taking off even the hardiest of makeup. However at 18 bucks for 4.2 fl. oz. (and a bottle can go by pretty quick depending on the frequence of makeup removal…ahem, should be every night) I just had to go on a mission to find a replacement. After reading a bunch of reviews, it seemed like a trip to Target was in order to test out Sonia Kashuk’s “Remove”, a steal at 10.99 for 4.75 fl. oz. Thankfully, my mission was a success, this makeup remover works almost identically to the Clinique one. Shake it up a bit, and using a cotton round watch how all your makeup disappears with minimal tugging, no stinging, and no irritation. Every time I think about those other makeup removers or G-d forbid, those wipes! Oh my, do those even remove a thing?! I beg you all please, if you haven’t already, go get yourself some good makeup remover, it’ll save your lashes, prevent early wrinkles (from all that tugging) and won’t require a whole pile of cotton balls. I still highly recommend Clinique’s famous purple bottle (which by all means, stock up when they have a gift! Check mygiftwithpurchase.com to find out when that is) but if you are on a budget, Sonia Kashuk remove gets my stamp of approval!


Gallery Update: R’bibo Wedding and Henna

Here are some professional pictures of the makeup I did for some of the beautiful R’bibo (and Cole) women. Most people aren’t aware that half the makeup we wear in real life “disappears” in flash photography, so I’m glad to see that my beautiful client’s makeup looks fresh and defined in the photos. Enjoy! And thank you to them for sharing the professional photographs! To see the amazing before + after transformations from my camera check out my facebook page (facebook.com/wandsandbrushes).

 

My Favorite Bronzers/Contour Products (with swatches)

So here I am today with one of those makeup products that I just wouldn’t want to be without: bronzer! Bronzer, especially matte or semi-matte ones can function as adding all over warmth to the face, or adding depth and contour, and I even use it as eyeshadow or to fill in my brows! I always carry a bronzer in my purse (the E.L.F. blush and bronzer duo since it has a blush as well, and comes with a mirror) and a little blush brush just in case. This especially comes in handy when I look in the rearview mirror and notice that my face looks darker than my neck (which somehow tends to only show up once I’m in the car) so I just whip out my bronzer and blend, blend, blend! I’m obsessed with Keira Knightley’s sculpted look in the picture below from Interview Magazine which you can achieve as well with the right products! (and some chiseled God-given cheekbones, great lighting and talented photographer…)

 

My favorite matte bronzers for contouring would be:

Hoola Bronzer by Benefit: This bronzer is a cool toned matte brown that is uber soft and easy to blend. Although expensive, it is very pigmented and will probably last a while. I don’t recommend the brush it comes with however.

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil: This powder smells divine! It does need to be built up a bit more than Hoola and it has a bit more of a sheen to it, otherwise they are pretty similar.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium: This powder is a grey toned brown, perfect for creating sublte depth and shadows, especially for light skinned ladies. Although this product costs an arm and a leg, it is a truly unique color that I have not found anywhere else.

My favorite bronzers for giving me a sunkissed glow:

Wet n’ Wild coloricon bronzer in Ticket to Brazil: This bronzer when used with a light hand and blended well can give a gorgeous sunkissed glow. It has some shimmer but doesn’t look like a disco ball on your face and doesn’t emphasize pores. The color is also not at all orangey and is very pigmented.

Physician’s formula shimmer strips: These come in a few different bronze shades but they are great to use as a highlighter or as a shimmery golden bronzer. The strips can also be used as eyeshadows.

Blushes that I sometimes use as a contour/bronzer:

Lorac blush in soul: This beautiful blush can be doubled up as a contour because of its deep neutral shade. Because it is so pigmented it really needs only a light tap.

Nyx blush in Taupe: This plummy grayish blush can double up as a contour, especially for light skinned ladies. It is a very unique shade and luckily very affordable!

So there you have them, my favorite bronzers and contour powders. I hope this helps if you have been on the lookout for one that might work for you. Strangely enough, so many companies make bronzers that are just too shimmery, or too light, or too orange. It really has taken me quite a while to discover the ones in my list. I also hear (though I have not purchased them myself) that N.Y.C Sunny and Nars Laguna are also great bronzers, so if you have them in your collection, let me know what you think!

Side note: the best way that I found to apply bronzer is my using an angle blush brush and then blending with a duo-fibre stippling brush. The ones I use are: Coastal Scents angled blush brush and Borghese stippling brush. Apply to the underside of the cheekbones, down the sides of the nose, the temples and into the hairline, jawline and down the neck for a sculpted look, finish off with your favorite blush on the apples of your cheeks and some highlighter the highest points of your cheekbone. 

Airbrush/Tinted Moisturizers/BB Creams and Why We Want To Love Them

There are so many things when it comes to makeup that are, simply put, a gimmick. Feel free to look up what “gimmick” means on Wikipedia but I’ll explain as best I can. Company manufacturers know that most consumers don’t really know very much about what they are buying half the time. Therefore the best way to reel them in is by selling something that sounds like a dream come true. Now before you get all worked up, I’m not AGAINST using some of the products that I’m about to mention, however I’d like the consumer to be aware of what they are getting. Let us begin with Airbrushing. Airbrushing is a system that essentially sprays liquid makeup on the face/body to create a “airbrushed” effect. In theory, this sounds nice. However I find that people hear the word “airbrush” and see sparks flying and their dreams coming true. The truth is, many makeup artists do not find that using airbrush systems truly creates a “flawless” finish. The reason for this is because makeup products look most natural when worked into the skin (with a Beauty Blender sponge, for instance) rather than just sprayed on. Professional artists in the business almost never use airbrush systems, just take a look at Lisaeldridge.com, a makeup artist for Vogue, Elle, and many celebrities. Also, the airbrush system alone is not what counts but rather what brand of liquid they are using, and the talent of the person wielding the system. In my opinion, airbrush is best left to tanning salons and Photoshop. The next item I’d like to talk about is Tinted Moisturizers and BB Creams. BB Creams have become all the rage lately and here in the states the use of that name is basically a fancy way of naming a tinted moisturizer. BB stands for Beauty Balm which originated in Asia as a multitasking “balm” that gives light coverage with high sun protection, and skin perfecting ingredients meant to heal and lighten acne scars, etc. You can read reviews for all of the recently sprouted BB creams and discover one thing in common= it is in essence a tinted moisturizer. A tinted moisturizer is just like it sounds: it moisturizes your skin while adding a small tint. That means almost no coverage whatsoever! You can save yourself a ton of money and make your very own by mixing some foundation with your favorite moisturizer, it really is that simple my friends! I just find it so funny how people get upset that their skin basically looks the same after applying tinted moisturizer. That’s because it doesn’t claim to cover imperfections or conceal dark circles it only claims to TINT! Anyhow, I hope this helps you all make informed decisions. Good Luck!

My MakeupAlley.com Swapping Addiction!

So this post is here to discuss what MakeupAlley.com is and what “swapping” means. Makeupalley.com is kind of like an online community of makeup lovers, where you can read reviews, share pictures, and best of all – SWAP! In order to swap makeup, you need to set up an account on the website. The goal of swapping is to get rid of the makeup you never use and get something you actually like from someone who doesn’t need it anymore. Its very much like matchmaking! Everyone has a swap list (which are the things you want to get rid of), a wishlist (things you want), and a Notepad (where they write preferences ie: non-smoking house, etc or anything else about them). I personally love trying new makeup things and this is a great way of doing so without having to spend any money. Plus- I LOVE getting packages in the mail. In order to stay safe and not get “swap-lifted” while swapping, there is a system of “tokens” very similar to Ebay ratings. Be sure to investigate someone’s tokens before you ship something out. People with fewer tokens will generally have to send out first. I personally use Delivery Confirmation most of the time in order to have proof that I sent my end out. I do not recommend swapping used mascara’s or wand attached lipglosses/eye primers since they are near impossible to sanitize. I am fairly new at swapping myself, but I’m already addicted! If you have things you would like to swap, feel free to check out my swaplist by searching Elka Moses. Happy Swapping! 

DIY Brush Holder!

Here I am with yet another great idea! Admittedly, I stole this one off of Pinterest (a very addictive place, though many a great idea has been discovered there) and so here’s a very quick and easy post about how I did it. To begin with, I have a TON of brushes, and I don’t even keep all of them out (many are in brush rolls with the rest of my makeup train case). If you’d like to read up on my favorite brushes, click here. You could very easily store them in cups but I liked the supplies organizer that I got from Target. It’s black and the shape of it is more convenient than cups in my opinion. Next, I bought a bag of Crystal Fill at Joann Fabrics (which I used a handy dandy 50% off coupon straight off their iPhone app). You don’t exactly need the Crystal Fill, I was storing my brushes till now without it, but it helps keep the brushes from falling to the bottom (never to be seen again), especially the small brushes. *note: the picture below has only a few of my brushes so that you can see the fill.

These pictures from Pinterest were some of my favorites: I especially love the coffee beans, I’d just be worried that they would get sticky! I hope you are inspired if you were one of people who is rummaging around for your makeup brushes. Rummage, no more!

DIY Z-Palette! And what that means…

So for those of you who don’t really carry around alot of makeup, or have that much to begin with, then you don’t really have a need to de-pot your powder products (ie: shadows, blushes, pressed powders, etc) into palettes. But since I often travel with my makeup, particularly when I’m doing makeup for an event, I really needed to organize all my individual bulky packaged shadows/blushes/bronzers into one convenient place. You can watch a video on how to de-pot makeup on YouTube but basically I used a T-pin to carefully pop the ones that came out easily (ie: physician’s formula bronzers, etc) but certain packaging required heat to really be able to pop out the pan. For those difficult ones I used wax paper and a hair iron. But enough about that, since there is a wealth of information on the internet about depotting, lets talk about what you put them into afterwards! Here enters the Z-palette. The Z-palette is a favorite among many makeup artists, particularly because unlike so many other palettes (ie: the Unii palette, Mac Pro Palettes) they have a clear cover so you can see whats inside. Pictured here is my personal Z-palette and I really do like the cute zebra design and how it has convenient magnetic closure. The PROBLEM is that after depotting some of my baked blushes by Milani (which are gorg btw) I discovered that the Z-Palette was just too thin and wouldn’t fit any domed blushes or shadows. Since I had already de-potted them I went on a major mission to find a palette that would fit but there was NONE! I know, how stupid right? So I created my own using a 4×6 photo storage box (I just bought one of the individuals) which I bought at Jo-Ann Fabrics as well as a 4×6 magnet that already has an adhesive.  Then I simply removed the wrapper from the magnet, placed the sticky side down and attached magnets to my blushes and TADA! A wonderful palette for the cheap price of around 6$  I’d say its about double the height of the Z-palette and you can even decorate it with wrapping paper if you want it to look fancier. All in all, I’ve been using this like crazy and though the magnet is not as strong as the one in the z-palette, it still holds everything beautifully (even when you turn it upside down, they don’t fall). Here are some side by side comparisons: 

You are welcome to ask any questions about de-potting/making palettes! Good Luck!

**UPDATE: some time after creating this post, I was informed that Z-palette was planning to release a “domed” version which is now available for purchase, at around 30$ each I still intend to stick to my DIY version but I just thought I should put it out there that they now have this available.