Sunday, July 21, 2013

Makeup Brushes on a Budget

I am definitely not the most talented makeup artist, but the right makeup brushes make such a difference. I used to think that MAC makeup brushes were the only way to go, but recently I've discovered some amazing brushes that are less expensive and in my opinion, even better than the super expensive alternatives.

At the end of the post, I'll go through how I keep my brushes clean and bacteria free!


Sigma makeup brushes are AMAZING. They're not as cheap as the brushes you can get at the drugstore, but not as expensive as MAC or Sephora. You can buy them online at

 The Sigma brush that has made all the difference for me is their F80 Flat Top Kabuki brush. It applies liquid foundation like a dream! Lots of foundation brushes leave the skin with brush strokes, but this one blends in and covers perfectly. Another great use for this brush-- blending cream blush!

Sigma brushes are sold individually, or in sets. The F80 is $18 by itself, which isn't bad considering similar Sephora brushes are $35. (Google coupon codes, you can almost always find one for the Sigma brushes!)

If you like to contour, Sigma has amazing contour brushes. One of my favorites it the F40 Large Angled Contour. It's $16 and worth every penny. If you like a contoured look, you need this brush. Their Duo Fibre Powder/Blush brush is great used in conjunction with this brush.

These are really high quality brushes, and if you're looking for a step down in price and step up in quality, this is a great brand.

Real Techniques

Real Techniques brushes are a line of brushes created by a Youtube makeup artist, Samantha Chapman. They are sold at Ulta- Ulta almost ALWAYS has a coupon, usually $3.50 off of 10, so be sure to ask when you go in! You can also just go onto and type "coupon" in the search box. Real Techniques are a step down from Sigma, but are very quality makeup brushes. 

My favorite Sigma brush is the Expert Face Brush. It blends foundation seamlessly, and at only $8.99, it is a must have if you don't want to shell out $18 on a Sigma brush. I have a slight preference for Sigma, but this brush is a close second!

A great brush for powder is the Real techniques Powder brush. At only $9.99, it's a great buy. The bristles are very fluffy, and great at picking up powder. 

The only Real Techniques brush that I would stay away from is their blush brush. I bought it, and it was WAY too big and fluffy for applying blush. Instead, I like to use their angled kabuki brush for blush. It gives a smooth, even application. 

Sonia Kashuk

Sigma and MAC both have really great eye brushes, but there is a less expensive alternative I've been liking lately. Sonia Kashuk, which is a brand exclusively sold at Target. I bought this set for $14.99 and I really love three of them.
The powder brush is no where near fluffy and soft enough, and the foundation brush is one of the types I was talking about earlier (paint lines!). BUT, the next brush is an amazing crease brush! It feels and applies shadow exactly like MAC 224.

The third, angled brush is great for blending a darker color into the outer corner of the eye. The last brush, the smudge brush, is PERFECT for smoking out the bottom lash line with an eye shadow. I have also heard good things about a few of the ELF eye brushes, but I haven't tried them yet. At $1 a piece, there's not much risk so I'll definitely be trying those soon!

Keep Them CLEAN

When you use your makeup brushes, they soak in the oils from your face. If you are broke-out prone like me, then the last thing you want is to spread oil build up all over your face. Almost every makeup brand has a quick clean brush spray that you can use after each use. 

I use the ELF Daily Brush Cleaner. It's $3, and a bottle lasts me about a month or two. Every day after I do my makeup, I spray 2-3 sprays directly onto the brush bristles and then sweep it across a clean tissue. Also, if I want to use the same brush for multiple colors of eye shadow, I'll do a quick spritz and wipe, and the brush is as good as new. 

Once every week or two, brushes need to be deep cleaned. You can buy expensive brush cleaner, or you can use Johnson's baby shampoo which works amazingly! I don't soak my brushes, I simply squirt the shampoo into my hand, dampen the brush, swirl it around in my palm and rinse until it is clean. 

I hope this information was helpful! Makeup brushes can make all the difference in the end result of your makeup, and proper care of them can save your skin! If you have any recommendations of brushes I should try, let me know, I'd love to hear them.  Stay pretty! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Build Your Makeup Collection on a Budget

I love all things makeup, skin care, hair and hair care. I'm always looking for the perfect pink shade of lipstick, and the best split end treatment. Anyone who knows me knows that I am as cheap as they come. Makeup is NOT cheap, but I’ve found a few strategies to save some money while building my makeup collection and trying new products. Here are a few things I do that make me feel less guilty about my addiction.


These are subscription services that are delivered to your house once a month from heaven. They are $10 a month, shipping included. Each month, the company sends you deluxe size beauty samples from high end makeup and skin care products. They almost always include full-size items as well.

I personally think Ipsy is a better deal than Birchbox, because they include bigger sizes of product. Ipsy sends you a little makeup bag, and inside are your products. Here are their May and June bags.

In the May bag, my two favorite products were the nail polish and lipstick. I got a full-size pink lipstick from Mirabella, retail price $22. I also got a full-size mint color Zoya nail polish, which retails for $8 a bottle. The other things in my bag were also decent, but those were my two favorites.

Here is my June bag. I think it's even better than May, with the exception of that weird glitter palette... what is that?! The eyeliner is a full size Cailyn eyeliner which retails for $22. The lipliner is a pretty nude color, and the NYX highlighting blush is a really pretty summer color. The Chella Ivory Lace highlighting pencil retails for $12 and is also a full size. It looks gorgeous blended under the eyebrow, in the inner corner of the eye, and above my cupids bow. 

I am obsessed with these subscriptions, and seriously, who doesn’t love getting a package in the mail? Especially when it comes in hot pink bubble wrap!


Coupons are something old woman clip to get 50 cents off a bag of bread right? WRONG. Every Monday, I go to the dollar store and pick up the Sunday paper for a buck (or, if you’re less cheap than I am, you can have it delivered).

It takes me about five minutes to go through the coupon sections, and cut out the makeup, hair care, and other coupons I’m interested in. Usually, there are coupons for $2-$5 off of a certain makeup brand or a certain product. Plus, they always have amazing coupons on razor refills, which are so ridiculously expensive.

At drugstores, they almost ALWAYS have at least one brand of makeup on sale. You can browse through the drugstore ads in the paper you bought if you really want to be cheap and get double discounts. I always feel like I am justified in spending money on makeup when I save money with a coupon and a promotional sale.

Hautelook is AMAZING. It is a Nordstrom company that offers deep discounts on high end beauty products, fashion, and even home d├ęcor. Each day they feature different brands, and every once in a while I’ll find a beauty product I’ve been wanting to try, but am too cheap to take the plunge and buy. For example, the Urban Decay setting spray is $12, but Hautelook had it on sale for $6—much easier to spend.

Today on Hautelook they are featuring NYX cosmetics. Tomorrow, they are featuring Mario Badescu which is an amazing skin care line. Wednesday, Cargo Cosmetics.

High End Makeup

Besides Hautelook, I haven’t found a way to save on high end makeup, but I still use and love some products and brands. A majority of my makeup comes from Target, but I splurge on high end foundation and other products that I think are worth the money. There are a lot of dupes (duplicates) for high end makeup, but some high end products cannot be replicated. (like, Laura Mercier foundation, OH I LOVE IT) In another post, I’ll share some dupes I’ve found for high end products, and even some products from the drugstore that I feel are better than high end.

Stay pretty,