The economy has women fleeing high-end cosmetic counters in favor of drugstore brands.
A recent report by Mintel, a market research company, said department store makeup shoppers are increasingly trading down to "drugstore selections." Data from Information Resources, a Chicago-based research firm, seems to confirm that: Through March 22 this year, nationwide drugstore sales for facial cosmetics like foundations and powders have increased by nearly $5.5 million over the same period last year.
"I don't think anyone should be lost or broke because of makeup," Ann Orcutt, a professional makeup artist, said during a recent trip to a Duane Reade drugstore in Manhattan, where she pointed out items that she said compare in quality to more expensive labels.
Orcutt, whose clients have included the CNN host A.J. Hammer and actors Liev Schreiber and Kathy Bates, said she helped another client pick out items that included:
• CoverGirl AquaSmooth Compact Foundation for $9.79. "The best liquid coverage in a compact liquid/powder format," Orcutt said.
• CoverGirl Cheekers Blush for $4.39. "It has a bit of sparkle in it; it's not just a flat color."
• L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara for $7.50. "Makeup artists who trained me eight years ago said that it was the best, and I still think it is."
• L'Oreal Le Grand Kohl Eyeliner Pencil in Black Sable for $8.49. "This is a fantastic dark rich brown that works for everyone."
• Revlon ColorStay 12 Hour Eye Shadow Quad for $6.99. "This is the only drugstore eye shadow I like."
• Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Gloss for $6.99.
• L'Oreal Infallible Never Fail Lip Liner for $8.99.
• CoverGirl TRUblend Microminerals Finishing Veil, a translucent finishing setting powder, for $12.99.
The grand total? $66.13.
"High-end versions would have cost upward of $175 easily," said Orcutt, who has used all of the above products on her own face and on the job.
When you do want to splurge, she advises: "Know what you want, get it and leave. Don't get suckered in by monthly promotions and packages, because they usually involve products and colors you don't need."
Especially when shopping for a good foundation, she said: "Go to the (department store cosmetic) counter and get professional help. If you try to guess what you need, you'll end up buying something else later — it's a huge waste of money."
As for concealers, she recommends a drugstore brand, Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Double Face Perfector, for about $9. "This is practically an exact copy of the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiant Touch Highlighter, which costs about $40," she said. "It comes in two shades for mistake-proof blending. "
For women who have basic coverage needs, Orcutt is a big fan of MAC Mineralize Skinfinish ($25), a dry application that is quick, easy and relatively affordable because it can provide three products in one (foundation, powder and concealer). A drugstore version of this is Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation for $13.59.
And makeup brushes? "There is no way around this: Professional brushes last and grab the right amount of product," she said, picking out three essentials: Paula Dorf's Total Camouflage Brush for concealer, MAC's No. 129 for powder and blush and MAC's No. 266 for eyeliner. "I've had the same brushes in my kit for years."
When it comes to facial cleansers, Orcutt said, "There's no point in spending $26 on something with grapeseed extract when you're just going to rinse it off." She recommends Olay Foaming Face Wash. "My skin is at its best when I'm using this stuff."