Where to Splurge and Where to Save


Now the clue’s in the title of this one. I’ve been scratching my head for the past few days pondering where it’s best to invest your cash in the beauty world, and where you can hold back, buckle up your purse strings and no-one will even know, not even you. Where to splurge and where to save – what made the list? Read on…

Where to Splurge

SKINCARE: Ah common’ that’s the obvious one right? Now I’m not talking Crème de la Mer here, but brands that sit somewhere in the middle and still leave enough money leftover for rent after a purchase are worth investing in. Since upping my skincare game (and the relevant healthy lifestyle shebang) I’ve suffered with less redness, congestion and needed to slap on less foundation than ever before. Particularly hardy brands that offer up amazing products across their range include Zelens, Emma Hardie, Clarins, Pai and La Roche Posay.

FOUNDATIONS/BASES/BB’s: Now there are some pretty kick-ass bases out there for under a tenner that do rival some of my more purse-walloping favourites, but in terms of ‘still can’t detect it, even in a terrifying magnifying mirror’-ness you still can’t beat some of the more high-end formulas. Get your base just right – and you can easily scrimp on the rest without anyone batting an eyelid. Some of my favourites? Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk, YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation, Chantecaille Just Skin, Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser, Dior Nudeskin BB Creme, Dr Jart+ Water Fuse BB Cream.

EYELASH CURLERS: Now this might seem like a bit of an anomaly here, but for elephant-like lash possessors like myself, there is just not a curler out there as awesome of the Shu Uemura one. Think of it as an investment – pop on any ol’ (waterproof) mascara on top post-curl and you’ll be fooling people into believing you’re rocking the extensions. My last pair lasted three years. Like I said, awesome.

CONCEALERS: Now I do love Collection 2000’s offering, and L’Oreal’s actually, but in terms of coverage, longevity and eight hour sleep faking you just can’t beat the more pricey bad boys. In fact, it’s the category where my favourites are repurchased most often – and when a repurchase happens in my stocks, it’s a pretty big deal. By Terry Touche Veloutée and Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer top my concealer charts.

Where to Save 

EYESHADOWS: This is more of a recent find, as before I was a bit of a devout to MAC’s offering, but there really are some fab finds for lids in the aisles of Boots and the sorts. All different textures too – creams are catered for, along with traditional powder pans, shimmers and all sorts. The Sleek Palettes go without saying, Maybelline are worth a look in for their 24hr Colour Tattoos and the Giorgio Armani-esque Colour Infallible Shadows from L’Oreal are genius too.

BRUSHES: There was once a day when I yearned to own every single MAC Brush. Those days are now long gone and there’s now a fair few standing in my pots, but in terms of brushes I whip out on a daily basis? Not one MAC brush filters through – Real Techniques all the way. I have every darn single one of their sets and they are ridiculously good value, wash beautifully and are softer than softer (they’re Marks favourite actually, and we all know how picky he is). The Core Collection is my favourite – worth picking up, even if just for the Buffing Brush alone.

LIP PRODUCTS: I’ve kept it pretty broad here, you know – lip products in general. Glosses, lipsticks, chubby-esque pens, stains, balms; yup, across the board you can pick up something pretty special for your pout without going too cray cray with the plastic. Worth a nod: Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Kate Moss Lipstick, Bourjois’ Colour Boost Lip Crayons, Carmex Balms and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss.

NAIL POLISHES: I’ve made no secret on here of the recent non-pricey polish push I’ve been experiencing recently (see a rave on the Rimmel ones, and some recent haulage). Essie will always have a special place in my heart, but the sub-fiver varnishes available now are bringing it. Just as much gloss, colour and longevity. I’m slowly accumulating every single shade of the Rimmel Salon Pro Polishes, and Maybelline’s Forever Strong line and Barry’s Gelly Nail Effects are good’uns too.

Splurging? Saving? Sorted.


  • I really want to get the Emma Hardie cleansing balm

  • Ida D

    Hi, what a brilliant and useful blogpost! I was wondering, which is your favourite brush for powder blushes – and do you have a budget and a luxury option?

  • I spend more money on nail polish and skincare than anything else because some lower end nail polishes (ones without the big three removed) damage my nails badly! I also spend on lip products due to allergies to colourings etc!

  • Alex B

    this was such an amazing and helpful blogpost! x

  • Shevasherapy

    I need to get my hands on Real Techniques brushes soon! Everyone (and by everyone I mean beauty bloggers) seems to br raving about them!

  • I think Inglot are the best value for eyeshadows – £4.50 each, the pans are HUGE and you can pick and choose from nearly 200 colours. Get EXACTLY what you want. I agree with lip products to an extent but I haven’t found many ranges to beat MAC’s cultish lippie colours yet – but yeah Revlon/Rimmel et al are a good starting point. Also my all time favourite gloss is Benefit Life on the A List – yet to find another i like as much.

    I’m also not a huge fan of Real Techniques brushes…I don’t find them soft at all – I prefer eco tools as they are softer and just discovered HD Brows are doing nice brushes. There’s also a fab American brand called Sedona Lace who have beautiful brushes for about $15 each.

  • I completely agree about skincare. Will never buy cheap again 🙂

  • MCC

    Great post Anna!!!

  • valentina

    ok…I was reading a Caroline Hiron’s post and now yours, now I am even more convinced that I need to buy some clarins products, like the toner and the active jour moisturiser, so today I am going to Sephora with my 10% discount ( better than nothing) and I’ll buy some goodies!!! At least I can find La Roche Posay and Clarins here in Italy… unfortunately no Emma Hardie or Zelens… can’t wait to be back in London and have a tour at Space NK . Love your blog. xx Vale

    • jen

      don’t do it. Clarins skin care is shit.

  • Such a good post! I’m always thinking ‘do i need to spend this much?’ on certain things. And seeing this post from such a beauty blogging queen has really helped! Its hard to know where to save without fear sometimes. Thank you so much Sweetness.
    I think i need to get changing my £1.50 eyelash curlers!


  • I agree with skin care.. but some of the others I’d have to disagree BUT that is only because I think it depends on skin type and a few other factors.

    I have ‘normal’ skin without any real issues so I use a mineral foundation that is relatively cheap. I prefer it because it contains only two ingredients and why spend £££ on foundation coverage that I really don’t need? Same with a corrector powder I use and a concealer – all three I use are on the very low budget but are EXCELLENT quality because they are mineral based.

    Also: I totally don’t need eye lash curlers and NEVER use them. I just don’t need them, I’m fortunate my lashes are long and thick so curlers never really do anything for me.

    I would totally agree with nail polish and brushes though, there are some really good inexpensive ones on the market.


    I bought Estee Lauder ANR & Emma Hardie balm on your recommendation..loving both of them.
    I completely agree with you. Skincare should be something to splurge on ..more than makeup


    After hearing you and Lily go on about the Dior BB cream..I finally put in an order for excited!

  • MiniLuvMe

    This is really helpful. Thank you. Any thoughts on blush/bronzer? X

  • Maddy Cane

    I really need to get some decent eyelash curlers, I hear Shu Uemura calling me…. x

    Maddy from UNSTITCHEDD


  • Anna Blush

    Agree with everything in this post! As great as the high street has been doing recently, there are still some products that don’t even compete with high end. And of course skin care is super important, so worth those few extra nights of beans on toast!

  • Nicola Young (curlandpearls)

    I 100% agree with everything in this post – since trying origins skincare, my skin has never looked and/or felt better… I just need to get into healthier eating/working out and I’ll be good to go. I always splurge on bases as I think they’re the most important. I do use a lot of MAC shadows though, I just think they’re so convenient when in a 15 pan palette. xo

  • Holly

    This post has been really helpful! I completely agree with you in that skincare is worth investing in!

    Holly |

  • Emma Diggins

    You’re so right, I think the highstreet is a great way of exploring colour but keep the basics high end if you’re looking for quality
    Emma x

  • caroline

    I totally agree with the saving areas. I have spent a lot over the years on unnecessary expensive purchases. I am older and wiser now, but you have to live and learn.

  • Beth

    I totally agree! Real techniques brushes are sooooo good for the price and those rimmel Lycra polishes are gorg! Xx

  • Claudia

    Loved this post, great tips! x

  • I totally agree with everything I’ve just read! Great post xx

    Justine | BRIGHTON DREAM

  • NorahwithanH

    Great post! You pretty much nailed this one! I always go for skincare and foundations when I decide to break the bank 🙂

  • Snezhana

    Anna, can you recommend some Zelens must-try or smth to get to know the brand? xx

  • I agree on most of these points, but for me personally nothing beats the feeling of using a high-end lip product – I know that some cheaper formulae perform just as well, but it’s the thrill of using a fancy tube that gets me. Also skincare-wise I use and rave about Kiehl’s which is (fortunately) one of the cheaper high-end skincare brands.

  • Mabel Eugenia

    You’re so right about the eyelash curler. I recently bought one for $16 and I usually paid $3 or so for them in the past and the more expensive one is awesome!!! I don’t remember the brand, but it’s the best eyelash curler I’ve ever had. Also, the brand NYX has great stuff and they’re on the cheaper side. I don’t know if you guys have it in the UK??


    Life of Mabel

  • Els

    I’m pretty sure the L’Oreal Color Infallible Shadows cost more or the same as MAC eye shadows in Belgium. 🙁

    • Allie

      That’s terrible! Here in Canada they’re about $8. 🙁

  • Roshni K

    I agree with this post, I have a cheap eyelash curler and it makes curling my eyelashes a chore and not really worthwhile, Im definitely hoping to invest in a high end one soon 🙂

  • Anya Cross

    Really helpful post! I completely agree with you, I don’t spend any less than £15 on skincare, but there are areas of the beauty world you can afford to scrimp on.

  • Hanna

    100% agree on splurging on skincare for sure! Also that you don’t need to splurge for lipsticks, I’ve always loved the Rimmel ones!

  • Carolyn

    While I agree with some of the points on this post (e.g. eye shadows, nail polish) I’m fairly disappointed with the vague reference to skincare. Every beauty blogger seems to now blindly follow everything that Saint Hirons has to say and regurgitate it. Yes, she has some sensible points, but so do plenty of others who are trained professionals and have just as much knowledge about what is going into the products. The particular products you review are exactly what Hirons has been raving about and pushing all over the place. I’d love to see you trial and review some of the cheaper products that do the same job. You can go into Boots and find plenty of alternatives to the names she raves about. Not to mention that many have the same properties/contain the same products/don’t contain her dreaded pet peeve products. Whaddya say, Vivianna? Hirons line about “if you can afford a handbag you can afford the good skincare” is tired and patronising. I’d like to see your take on it after giving these other options a chance!! 🙂

    • This.

    • jen

      Ugh finally the voice of reason. Caroline Hirons doesn’t know shit about skin care and it’s so annoying seeing these bloggers flock to her as if she’s the patron st. of skin care. also, of course these bloggers would never put anything “cheap” on their skin when they get sent all these $$$$ products for free, they have somehow deluded themselves into believing that your face will look like shit if you’re not paying an arm and a leg….

  • Amanda

    I used to agree with you on skincare until I tried Paulas Choice skincare. Incredible products and they don’t make your wallet weep. My skin is better than ever!

    • Shelby

      I completely agree about Paula’s Choice products! It’s also interesting to read her beautypedia reviews and find out that some higher end products aren’t so good after all…

    • jen

      Same here. Also Paula knows way more about skin care than that idiot Caroline Hirons

  • Holly Cooke

    Loved reading this post! So interesting to hear your thoughts! xxx

  • Emily Allen

    This is an amazingly useful post, thanks Anna! I’ve been eyeing up the colour boost lip crayons for a while now 🙂 I’m gonna cave xxx

    If you could spare a minute or two to check out my blog that would mean so much to me, today’s post is a review on the much talked about Revlon colourstay foundation xxx

  • Claire Wilkinson

    This is so helpful, thank you so much 🙂 I really want to try the Luminous Silk foundation now! xx

  • Ellis

    Definitely agreed, this was so helpful to me, someone who hates wasting money on things that turn out to be crap!

  • Jodie Melling

    Great post a decent concealer is a must for me.

    Jodie x

  • Stef

    Totally agree about the polishes!there are some amazing cheaper ones out there!

  • Maria

    Thanks for all the great tips. I’m going to London in two weeks, so I’m going to pick up a few of the things you mentioned. I’m deffo going to get Armani luminous silk.

    I have the Shu Uemura curles, but I find them a little small for my eyes. For me, the Kevyn Aucoin is a better fit.

  • KMK

    So true about splurging on skincare! So worth the investment.

  • Missmacbeauty

    this was soooo helpful! thank you!


  • Annie @Annie’s City Kitchen

    I agree 95%! I still can’t get on board with a “pricey” lash curler. I’m just never wow-ed enough to spend the money. Admittedly, I haven’t tried Shu Uemura though….

  • Purple Flamingo

    Great post, It has helped me a lot !


  • SpoiledBoxesBlog

    LOVE this post! Though I have definitely been known to splurge where you saved 🙂

  • Danielle

    I definitely agree with the eyelash curlers. I have never had any luck with drugstore lash curlers!

    • Hanna

      whats your thoughts on Tweezerman?

  • Marijana

    I totally agree with you – if the skin isn’t looking good, you need a ton of product to cover that up, but when you take good care of it, just a concealer and a coat of mascara and you’re done 🙂

  • Amber Hunter

    I have to agree with you on just about all; however, while there are some good less expensive eyeshadows, I normally find spending a bit more is worth it for pigmentation. This was a really great post and I imagine very helpful to many people!


    Lovely Notions

  • Elizabeth

    Great post – I’ve read similar posts and everyone always says splurge on brushes, but I think you’re right! I have suqqu, hakuhodo, Mac, real techniques, chanel (crap!), shiseido, sigma…. And the one I use the most without any competition is the buffing brush. It’s funny, my absolute hands down favourite brushes are suqqu and real techniques, on the far ends of the price spectrum!!

  • Christina

    I really do agree especially with the nailpolishes!

    Christina xx

  • Celina

    I love this post and definitely agree with you! Who needs any other brand of brushes when there are RT brushes? Well, unless you’re going for some very special brushes or more precise eye brushes but other than that, RT can definitely cover the basics.

    Celina | The Celution

  • Mo

    I always splurge on foundations because I can never find a drugstore foundation that matches my skintone!

    -Mo |

  • For the last 6-8 months I have been using the Clinique 3-step skin care and I have definitely seen the difference. I always aimed for a good skin and I’m glad I splurge on Clinique. For the rest of my makeup I continue to save. 🙂

  • amelia

    for me with makeup, its down to the product itself; whether its highend or cheaper, if i read a good review and it seems like the right thing for me, i’ll get it… that said, skincare is an area where i always splurge, it really does make a big difference!

  • Tree Mushroom

    I have always been a splurgy when it comes to skincare and makeup. For skincare I, don’t mind cheaper products only if they are as good and as natural or organic as the more expensive ones, but have not find them yet. For makeup, since I moved to the US 2 yrs ago I started, and for the first time, to try drugstore products, and stayed away for a while from expensive makeup, just because life is not as fancy as before. And I must say, there is a difference between high-end and drug store makeup, despite the good cheap things that I found there.

  • Tree Mushroom

    And I forgot to say the most important thing, which is the ingredients. If I find a product that has similar or same ingredients as the expensive one sure I’ll buy the cheaper one. Same for make-up in terms of formula, but this will take a lot of time and search and notes in order to narrow down what is similar…

  • Erin @ The Grass Skirt Blog

    This is a great post! I’ve recently started to pay more attention to my skincare routine and have realized that all of the makeup in the world won’t look good if the skin is in poor condition.

    The Grass Skirt

  • Aneliya Daskalova
  • Fiona Manuelli

    Very useful! I loved this post 🙂

  • Sarah Pradolin

    This is a seriously amazing post!! One of the best I’ve seen yet. You have given great recommendations so, thank you x –

  • The Maybelline Dark Circles Eraser is an amazing concealer so I think people could save money on concealer as well. I do agree with everything else though, especially skincare. I will not feel bad spending a bunch of money on skincare if it allows me to keep my face looking great. Great post! 🙂


  • Esme

    This was such a helpful post, I may have splurge on mac lipsticks though 😉

  • Izzi

    Great post 🙂 although I actually buy from the drugstore for practically everything but my bronzer and concealer! x

    A beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog by Izzi

  • Brooke Searcy

    Such a great post!
    It is always a huge question whether you should be eating Ramen a few weeks or close up that wallet and eat something tasty. I also love all the products you listed!


  • Gaby

    Amazing post Anna! The where-to-splurge-and-where-to-save question is one I ask way too often, so I found this incredibly helpful

  • Daniella

    I agree on skincare!

  • cynthia lions

    I loved this post! I wish I could get ahold of the Rimmel Salon Pro polishes in the states… and the real technique brushes are my favorite too!

  • Lydia

    I love this post, great advice 🙂

  • Katey

    Great advice! I’ve heard amazing things about the Essie nail polishes so I may just have to give them a go. Have you tried any of the Sephora makeup brushes? I really like the eye-shadow ones, you should give them a go 🙂

  • Rebecca Scott

    Good to learn exactly where the money should be spent and that not everything in a makeup bag needs to be high end to to a good job. Very useful, thank you! X

  • pondsandleaves

    oh darling, you are a great writer! It’s like you still stick to the formula of writing in Word File. I had a moment like am i reading makeup stuff or an article? It’s beautifully written. Great writing! Love it!

  • Sophie

    This is such good advice. I always try and think about where I want to experiment and tend to look in Boots or Superdrug if that’s what I’m after, but if it’s something you’ll be using on the daily, you might as well spend a bit more!

  • Amanda Michelle

    wow this was an amazing post! I pretty much agree with everything here especially the eyeshadow part, I always believe you just need a good eye primer for the most part. I splurge on face primers, concealers, and lipsticks. Mostly because all I wear are strong eyebrows, concealer over acne marks, and a damn good lip! haha

    • keynedundada

      You look nice in your avatar pic : )

  • keynedundada

    Eco Tools brushes which are sold in many pharmacies/drugstores have lovely, soft and very good quality makeup brushes. I bought their powder brush and dome bronzer brush and they’re pretty and seem sturdy to me. I do still use my MAC brushes also though

  • Kate Martin

    Great advice! I like to splurge a bit more with skincare items and never find myself spending loads on nail polish. I like the Essie nail polishes, but others are starting to make their way into my collection 🙂

  • Gillian Pidler

    I’m a huge believer in spending that bit more on good skincare, after its’ our canvas and we need to look after it. I’m currently loving Sanctuary Spa’s ‘Stop the clock’ moisturiser and their Night concentrate, which I sadly used the last of yesterday. I have a couple things to use up before I’m allowed to go and repurchase but I definitely will be!! They’re like silk on your skin, pure luxury at a very good price. About the £15 mark each but always on offer of some kind.

  • Rِeem ♦ ³

    That’s EXACTLY what I do 😀