Pricey makeup? Pick pieces carefully


Most of us can’t afford to invest in a complete new assortment of makeup and skin care products. Especially not the more expensive department store brands. That’s why it’s important to pick and choose.

Some women swear by their La Prairie $200 anti-aging cream. Others are fine with the $12 stuff from the drugstore. Yes, there’s a difference. But is there a $188 difference? For me, not even close. I’m going with the cheap creams.

Yet I’ve paid $20 for Bobbi Brown eye shadow, when my sister says the one she bought in the same shade of taupe at Sally Beauty for 99 cents works just fine.

You can buy lipstick for a dollar or two at the drugstore, but for some women the sheer luxury of a $32 tube from Chanel is worth every penny.

How to decide? Many department stores offer free samples. A lot of drugstores will take back used products no questions asked (check before buying).

While makeup experts say it’s essential to have the right tools — especially brushes — to apply the various products, it’s easy to pay $30 or more for a single brush. Instead, I buy mine at Target and Wal-Mart for vastly less.

Think of makeup as you would your wardrobe and mix and match high- and low-end.

After spending a busy Saturday afternoon in the Michigan Avenue Nordstrom makeup department with Laksmi Sam, Midwest regional beauty director, I got a powerful urge to try some of her favorite products. I’m now putting some on my wish list.

These include the pricey Clarisonic cleansing system machine ($119 and up; from the people who brought you the Sonicare toothbrush) and the $10 Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara.

Sam was raving about the glories of bronzer, which I’ve never used. She promised it doesn’t make you look like you’re pretending to have a suntan, so I might give that a try. And she says Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner ($21) “is known for being very long-wearing and subtle” — two things my current cheesy $4 pencil is not, so I’d put that on my list.

One more thing. False eyelashes have always scared me to death. Way too costumey for me. But at the MAC counter I talked to Camille Hernandez, 52, from Dade City, Fla., in town for a medical group annual meeting. With her newly applied lashes, she said, “I feel really pretty, really beautiful.” And she looked fantastic. So I’m planning to drop by the MAC counter one day soon and invest $15 in a pair of flirty No. 43s to see if they turn my life around.

I’ll keep you posted.


Photo: Much of the makeup in department stores is expensive. Sometimes cheaper products are a good substitute, but not always. Try free samples when you can to test them out. (Brent Lewis/Chicago Tribune/MCT)


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