Beauty on a budget: is that laughable in Atlanta? I know we consistently encounter the images of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” where excess is a necessity, but it could be possible, right? It appears in Atlanta that we have a dress code, an expectation even! Designer clothes, shoes, and accessories are a must! As a Midwesterner, raised on the values of hard work, and frugality, I was completely intrigued by this city, excited to search it out and really learn what it meant to be acclimated into Atlanta Society. It took me all of 2 seconds to be immersed in it, as I chose my first home to be “Buckhead.”
I quickly learned, going out to dinner was how friends say “Hello, how are you?” In Atlanta, it seemed as if money was of no object. You should have fun while your young and enjoy your life! I began to believe there was a perfectly logical reason as to why that Marc Jacobs bag needed to be introduced to ‘American Express.’ However, at some point in this fairy tale, reality set in, and American Express didn’t take no for an answer when he came knocking. I found myself enjoying many Ramen Noodle nights, while still wanting to keep up this fabulous appearance.
Lets get real now ladies. That life can’t last long and thus the birth of a new life! Welcome Frugal Midwesterner, once forgotten, now found, and still willing to make it in this very expensive city, but on my terms, in my way. So, back to my original question: is it possible to have beauty on a budget, in Atlanta? As a stylist and makeup artist in this city for the last 6 years, I have had the pleasure of working with an array of high end makeup lines, being a makeup artist for several of them, and working in one of the top salons in Atlanta where I hear the same question over and over: “How much will all of this cost?” Perhaps in the beginning of that journey, I took that question almost offensively. How much will it cost? How valuable is YOUR beauty to you?! I guess American Express was karma’s way of kicking me in the booty. I never got into this industry for money, and I forgot that briefly while being swept up in the whirlwind of a new city. I got into it because I truly wanted people to feel beautiful. I wanted to bring the beauty from the inside out, and make people see how amazing they are.
That is how I started on this adventure of discovering how I can provide beauty on a budget, not only for my clients, but for myself! I have makeup kits full of MAC, Laura Mercier, Nars, Urban Decay, Aveda, Chanel, Bobbi Brown and etc., but I am now on a search for inexpensive beauty products that can at least compete with these, so we can all look like we are wearing high-end beauty products, without people realizing we did it craftily for a low price!
Thus enters E.L.F, which stands for Eyes Lips Face: a company that gives to charities and does NOT test on animals, which gets a HUGE thumbs up from me. I came across this line while searching for the perfect “berry” colored lipstick that was essential to my new darker hair color. The lip-gloss was only $1.00. Wait, is that right? As I started to look at this brand, I discovered EVERYTHING is only $1.00! I purchased my 2 in 1 Conditioning Gloss in “Plumtastic” and went home to search out more information about E.L.F. It took one search on Google to find discount codes galore for this line! As I clicked the link for their site, www.eyeslipsface.com, my timing couldn’t have been more perfect: 50% off if you purchased 5 or more products. Um…. Yes, please. I immediately started scrolling through the various tabs. Titles popped up such as eyes, lips, face, brushes, bath, etc. They have 3 different makeup lines. The Essential line: everything for $1.00 with fabulous pearlescent white handled brushes. The Studio line ranges from $3.00 to $6.00, with a few items being $8.00, and its matte black packaging resembles Nars. The last line is their mineral line, which ranges from $3.00 to $8.00,also high-end looking, it mimics Bare Escentuals packaging.
Determined to try everything, I purchased a variety of products from each line, and then eagerly awaited their arrival. I received an e-mail to let me know it had been shipped 2 days later. OK, a little annoying, but I can deal with that. The e-mail gave me a tracking number, which takes up to another 2 days to work. I finally received my product about 2 weeks later. That was disappointing, and upon reading reviews I found that most people have the same problem with the company, but that didn’t stop my excitement as I tore into the package! My eyes glazed over with beautiful makeup, all for my personal use! The more expensive product comes better packaged than the makeup that only costs $1.00, but really, we are all going to rip it open and throw it away, so packaging matters very little when it comes to the usefulness of the makeup!
Over the course of 2 months I used the product without fail, every day. I immediately fell in love with the Therapeutic Conditioning Balm in Blackberry Crème. I am not a huge fan of having to reapply lipstick or gloss throughout my day, and was beyond impressed with how smoothly the product went on, how little it took, and how long it lasted! It looks very similar to Soft Lips in shape, but it cost me all of $1.00. Amazing. I tried a variety of the brushes and compared to the high-end brushes I normally use, they are good. The bristles are a bit stiffer than very expensive brushes, but they did the job well and are a great way to stock up. I became absolutely obsessed with the Smudge Eye Sponge from the Essential line. The small sponge comes on a handle like an eye shadow brush. It perfectly smudges my eyeliner into a smoky eye, and softens the harsh lines of their Waterproof Eyeliner Pen. The Eyeliner Pen looks just like a felt tip marker, and applies effortlessly, but I highly recommend buying the smudge eye sponge so you don’t end up looking like a 13 year old, just learning how to use liquid liner! I used a variety of their eye shadows from the Duo Powder Eye Shadow to the Mineral Eye Shadow. My favorite was the Mineral Eye Shadow. It had the slightest shimmer and lasted for a long time as long as it was applied over an eye shadow primer. I adore the Natural Radiance Blusher in Glow. It is the most amazing blush I have ever used, giving the slightest glow on top of my every day bronzer.
In the weeks of using this product I found that for the price, it’s great. Does it compare to high end products? I think it sure gives the high-end products some great competition. There are some minor flaws though. The pressed products lift away too easily and I found myself getting way more product than was needed. This was a huge waste. Second, the pressed products don’t travel well. All of mine ended up breaking up, but I just kept the lids tightened, and would carefully open them to use. Some of the packaging was faulty, including my very favorite blush, but I would still buy it, knowing what I do. The foundations and concealers definitely require a primer, which can be purchased directly from the company. With a primer, the concealer named All over Cover Stick works wonderfully. It goes on smooth and doesn’t settle into fine lines. The Eyelid Primer worked efficiently enough, but you have to make sure it dries completely; it definitely wasn’t my favorite primer to use. The lip-glosses are all amazing, they last for hours and there are many color choices. My favorite products over all were the mineral products. Because the pressed eye shadows broke apart anyway, the mineral eye shadows are already in loose powder form, so I preferred them. This line costs a little more ($3.00-6.00), but is well worth the price.
Over all I would say E.L.F is worth it. You can fill your makeup bag with tons of products for a very low price especially after the amazing discounts and deals they offer. Plus, you have a chance to experiment with different shades, colors and brushes, and for so little financially, we all have room for error and can afford to get rid of something if we decide we don’t love it.
Now is your time to try it out! Prove we can wear budget friendly makeup and still fulfill Atlanta’s fabulous dress code on our terms- in our own way. Take that extra money and direct it elsewhere! Sorry Marc Jacobs hand bag, but it’s time to break up with American Express. I’m not big on strings and attachments, so it’s time to purchase you with cash.