I have used and tested so many different make-up brands over the years and my god there are some brilliant products, but unfortunately there are also some not so good ones.
But how do you know what to buy??
Every skin is different and everyone has their own make-up styles, but if you want a professional opinion, read on.
Most people’s criteria for a good product or brand may differ slightly from mine, as one thing I judge a product on is whether I can use it professionally under photographic conditions, because if I can’t, then I can’t use it.
However many of the products I test, end up in my own personal kit if they are not good enough for my pro kit. Except foundation, a critical element to a good make-up. For my foundation, I usually wear the best, unless I am testing a product.
Firstly, I’ll let you know my criteria for a good quality product;
High pigment products is a must
If I buy a colour, I want it to be durable, versatile and the colour it looks on the skin should be possible to match to the colour in the package. eg.; If I buy a hot pink eye-shadow, it should not be a sheer pink on the eyes, unless I apply it that way.
It must reflect the correct colour in photos
Have you ever done your make-up and you look hot, but when you look back at photos and your face is all white, pale, pasty and/or patchy? That’s not the wrong colour, that’s the wrong product for the photos.
It has to last and be durable
If I do a bride’s make-up at 8am in the morning, I need her to still look stunning at the end of the night when they leave the reception and I know she won’t have much time for too many touch ups.
You really don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on one foundation. In my personal and professional experience, I have found that in general the higher the cost = the more advertising the brand does and the more advertising, the less quality you are buying. However, there are always exceptions to every rule.
So, If you agree with my criteria, then my make-up choices might just suit your needs nicely.
Lets start with a good foundation;
Laura Mercier’s Liquid foundation
It is smooth, easily blend-able, medium to full coverage. Perfect for weddings, photography, and every day wear. It is comfortable, durable and flawless. Her Silk Cream Foundation is also great, especially if you like a non-cakey full coverage. At around $60 each, both are great value.
Atelier’s Waterproof Liquid Foundation
Very similar to the Laura Mercier’s liquid, it is so easy and smooth to apply. A medium to full, flawless coverage, gorgeous in photos and durable. This one has the added benefit of being water resistant. These are my top picks for liquid foundation, both professionally and I wear these myself!
Kryolan’s Ultra Base Cream Foundation (if you prefer a cream or stick)
It’s a full coverage product. I prefer this over their famous TV paint stick, as I find it easier to apply and gives a smoother, more natural full cover finish. It’s around $50, so another great price.
Ben Nye Stick Foundation (my fave in this category)
I tend to prefer to use sticks for stage and editorial however. But if you like the consistency of a stick, this one can’t be beat, especially on price. You can apply it as a concealer, softly for sheer and medium cover, or build your layers for a fuller coverage. At just a mere $20 it is an absolute steal and proof that price means nothing in the make-up world!
Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage
The highest pigmented full cover concealer I have found, apart from camouflage concealer products. Use it on any pimple, or mix it with a hint of eye cream to soften it for the under eyes, it is so versatile and each palette comes with 2 colours, so if your skin colour changes slightly, you concealer can too. It’s around $52 and worth every cent.
Smash Box High Ddefinition Cconcealer
If you prefer more of a liquid foundation consistency, Smash box high definition concealer gives a softer blend with a full to medium coverage. It comes in at around $30.
Ben Nye Cream Concealer
A smooth, cream that glides on with ease. There are so many colours to choose from too, so no matter what you need, there is a colour for you. The best part about this concealer… the price at just $15-$20!!!! That is craziness!!
Great versatile all skin type primers are the Laura Mercier foundation primer at around $45, Paris Berlin Avant Tout at around $30, or the Kryolan Underbase Primer at $48 for a larger bottle, it works out as being the cheapest option. These resemble liquid moisturisers and apply clear on the skin. Very easy to apply too, just put it on like you would your moisturiser, or I use my foundation brush. Great for any skin colour.
For good mattifying primers the two I can highly recommend are the Paris Berlin Top Lissage as a gentle light weight mattifier at around $27, or for the most mattifying product I have ever found, that also tackles high perspiration for stage, You simply can’t go past the Makeup International Face to Face Super Matte Antishine. It is a little pricier at around $45, but my god does it mattify!! If this is a big issue for you, the price is actually fantastic AND you really do not need a lot, so the tube lasts a fair while. I still use my all skin type primer first, then I apply the mattifier.
What the hell is an eye base? I hear you asking.
A good eye base is the first thing you put on your eyes to help hold onto eye make-up and help prevent creasing of eye shadow. Some people have oily eye lids and find eye shadow a nightmare to keep on. This product may just be the answer to your prayers.
My all time favourite product is not a bright lipstick or fun eye-shadow, no no. It’s a seemingly very unexciting eye base. The Laura Mercier Eye Basics to be exact. It comes in a lip gloss type packaging, is creamy in texture and comes in a few colours. You can use it as a cream eye shadow, or go with a neutral shade that blends reasonably well with the skin and use as a base to hold all your eye colours on and conceal any discolourations on the lids. At around $45, it’s not the cheapest product on the market, but it is my favourite. So very worth it if your eye make-up disappears faster than a chocolate bar at a chocaholics anonymous meeting.
Kryolan’s Eye Primer is also worth a strong mention. It has no colour at all, so great for any skin colour, but doesn’t cover any discolouration. It has a gorgeous soft creamy texture that is so simple to apply. It retails at around $45 also.
The Issada Antioxidant Shadow Magnet is a great mineral eye base product. It has a thick pale colour and consistency, holds eye make-up really well for hours, but it’s main drawback is it is pale, so doesn’t blend invisibly into darker, or tanned skins. Do not put too much on. It is thick, so keep it ultra sheer. It retails for around $45 and as far as I am aware can only be purchased online. It is a good Aussie brand though!
Where to start? There are some fantastic brands to choose from with so many colours.
I have Ben Nye, Atelier, Paris Berlin, Nars, and Ilmakiage for my matte compact eye shadows and all are gorgeous. All range from around $15-$25 each (except Nars, they are on the pricey side at around $35).
For my loose shimmer dusts, my favorites are; Aphrodite (they have the best little square containers that don’t open in my kit). They have a lovely texture and lots of great colours. You can buy them in mass stacker pots to save money and space in your kit. If bought individually, they are a little pricey at around $30 each, or $120 for a 9 colour stack, which works out to less than $15 each colour. Paris Berlin and Graftobian also have a beautiful shimmer dusts with lovely consistency without being too gritty. They come in individual circular pots. They are around $15-$20 each.
I absolutely love Ben Nye lipsticks. There are lots of colours and again, like all things Ben Nye, they are a brilliant price of just $20.
Kryolan lip stains are non-drying Matte liquid lipstick that lasts so long on the lips comfortably. They come in about 10 colours, I can’t wait for more to come out. They are a little pricey at $36, but so very worth it.
Lime Crime has a great matte gloss style Matte lip stick. Like the Kryolan lip stain, it doesn’t dry out the lips like some mattifying long lasting lip products can. It is a around $25-$30, but it’s main issue is they had some ingredients issues and Australian laws (although I don’t know the details) so you have to buy it online only.
Now those who know me, know eye liner is my thing. Ever since I was 14 and started wearing makeup, eyeliner is the one makeup item I cannot live without. Yes, even over mascara!
My all time favorite is the Atelier Gel eye liner in Black. Why? It is versatile, I can do the perfect crisp flick, I can smudge it up for a smokey look, I can use it in the waterline and it stays longer than most other liners, and I can do creative liner work with it. Check my Instagram for an insane creative liner look (you’ll know it when you see it!). Once it dries/sets, it stays and is water resistant, but comes off with cleanser without scrubbing. It just does everything I need. It retails at around $22 so wont break the bank either. Keep in mind you need a good brush for it. Just always remember to put the lid back on, otherwise it will dry out and then it is useless. Despite the idea that you can reactivate gel liner with oil and/or heat. This has never worked for me with any brand gel liner.
The best pencil is Gorgeous Cosmetics Gel Eye Liner Pencil. It has all the staying power of a good gel, but in a pencil form. Great for inner water line and those smokey looks. It retails at around $25.
Liquid liner pen goes to Ben Nye Precision Liner. It’s not the type of product I can use professionally due to hygiene reasons, but for personal use this is great and for only $25 it’s not too badly priced.
Now this is one product I am still researching, after 15 years trying to find the perfect one. But never the less, I still have some favourites.
Ben Nye has my fave natural look mascara. It is a cheap, no fuss, no smudge, durable mascara. It gives a little volume and length and only costs around $15.
Atelier is the best for a waterproof mascara. This means it is great for weddings. I am still looking for a good honest waterproof with stronger thickening and lengthening talent, but this one is not bad. At around $32 it is a bit pricier than Ben Nye, but when you need your mascara to stay put in the rain, it’s worth the upgrade to avoid panda face.
Blinc is another good option. Similar in price to the Atelier, it coats the lashes in a rubber-type coating and slides off the lashes gently with warm water. It is a revolutionary type of product. I have seen Thin Lizzy advertising their new mascara with a similar description, although I have yet to test that one, so I can’t tell you if the Thin Lizzy is any good or not.
Ben Nye blushes come in an array of different colours and are a brilliant $15 each price point. There is an 8 colour blush palette too, if you want to save more $$ and have some variety. At around $75 for the palette it works out to less than $10 per colour…brilliant!! You can’t beat this brand for quality and value for money!
Nars blush, specifically in the colour Orgasm is a big fave of mine. It has a hint of shimmer without being too glowy, and is a stunning peachy/pinky colour, which morphs to suit everything. Although it has a reasonably hefty price tag of around $45 it is worth the splurge, if you feel the urge.
I also love the Napoleon Perdis Blush Patrol, but I have a feeling that has been discontinued and replaced by a shimmer Bronzer Patrol. Sad Face…..
Now there are many other stunning brands out there, and lots that may not have made the cut due to either I haven’t tried them yet, price, difficulty to find, discontinued or they may test on animals (and testing on animals rules them out automatically in my books, no matter how good they are).
Feel free to send thru your thoughts (please keep it positive) and if you have any questions about products and brands, let me know. 🙂