Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Save Or Splurge: Makeup Edition

Recently, my sorority took a trip to MAC for a makeup workshop to prepare for our Recruitment weekend. We watched beauty gurus create a day look and a night look, and they answered all of our questions. Since we’re all broke college students, there were a lot of questions on how to create those same looks on a budget. All they told us was that if we wanted our makeup to look better, we had to spend a few more bucks, preferably at their store. I thought to myself, hey, maybe they’re right. If I spend a few more dollars, maybe I can get the look I really want. So I decided to put it to the test. I bought primer, foundation, and concealer to test against the makeup that I already own. The first day, I will wear the drug-store brands, the second day, I’ll add the primer to the equation in addition to the drug-store makeup up. The third day, I’ll wear the MAC products. May the best makeup win!


With every experiment, there must always be a control. For this particular test, my control was my face routine before I put my makeup on. I washed my face with Cerave face wash, followed by Cerave Eye Repair Cream and Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion (AM). Lastly, I always, always, ALWAYS put on sunscreen. Personally, Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen is my favorite. It goes on smooth and it doesn’t get oily or shiny throughout the day.


Drug-Store Brands

With the products that I used on this day, I used beauty blenders to apply them. I really like the beauty blenders because they evenly coat my skin, whereas a brush might make it look streaky. While I want to look like a work of art, I don’t want to look like I’ve been painted on. For years, my go-to foundation has been Maybelline Fit me! Matte+Poreless. The bottle I have right now is 120 – Classic Ivory. One of my favorite things about this foundation is how easily it glides out of the bottle. I don’t have to tap on it a million times. On the flip side, however, I sometimes end up with more foundation on the back of my hand than I want, but I can’t let it go to waste so I use it all. Applying it with the beauty blender, I notice that it doesn’t give my full coverage, so I end up using more of the product.

Next, I apply Maybelline Fit me! Concealer in number 15. I was told by a consultant at Ulta to buy a concealer lighter than my foundation for under my eyes (I have horrible bags). I apply the concealer under my eyes, around my nose, and I dab it on the problem areas that foundation just couldn’t cover up, no matter how many layers I applied. Unfortunately for me, Maybelline doesn’t carry foundation in my exact shade, so I swipe on some bronzer. I’ve been using Cargo-HD, a bronzer that was in my last FabFitFun box, and I love it! In the summer when I didn’t use bronzer, I used it as an eyeshadow and it made my eyelids look like the sun reflecting off the ocean, so it’s basically what dreams are made of. The downside of using this bronzer is that it’s a little shimmery, so in certain light it looks like I have glitter on my face. I want to glow, not shine. After the bronzer, I apply NYX Ombre Blush. It’s a very light blush, so I find myself applying a few layers in order to even notice it’s there. Next, I fill in my eyebrows with Revolution Brow Pomade and apply Covergirl Lashblast Fusion mascara.

All in all, this whole effort took about 14 minutes. When I first look in the mirror after applying the makeup, I have pretty good coverage, but my problem spots are still visible. I also notice that the foundation and concealer built up in the creases under my eyes and I have to blend that out more. One of the perks of this foundation is that it’s pretty lightweight so I don’t feel it on my face throughout the day. I check my makeup after my classes let out (1:00, about 4 hours after application) and it still looks pretty good. I checked again around dinner (6:15, about 8 hours after application), and it’s faded, so you can see my dark spots. They aren’t as pronounced as they would be if I wasn’t wearing any makeup, but still too visible for my liking. Also, every time I checked, my under eyes looked cake-y.

Drug-Store Brands with MAC Primer

At the MAC store, my friend picked up a bottle of clear liquid and said, “If you don’t buy anything else in this store, you should really buy this primer. I swear my life by it.” So I said okay, and I bought it. The ladies in the store really emphasized how important it was to use a good primer. So for today’s experiment, I added the primer to my routine. I still had to use a lot of foundation, however, I noticed that my under eyes didn’t cake as much as they did yesterday. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the fact that my foundation isn’t quite my color, so I had to use my bronzer all over my face. Without it, I looked like Edward Cullen when he was prepared to sacrifice himself to that vampire cult. This look also took about 14 minutes. My makeup stayed on a little better than the day before, but it still faded as the day went on. When I asked my friends what products they thought I used, they were pretty confident telling me that it was the drug store brand. I guess that speaks for itself.

MAC Brands Only

* Disclaimer: I didn’t use my beauty blenders for this day in order to avoid mixing the different products *

Using this makeup was completely different than the drugstore brands. First off, the concealer  covered my problem areas just as well as my foundation did, which is really good for a concealer. I used a lot less foundation to cover up my problem areas, however they were still visible. I think I’m just going to have to accept the fact that my skin will never be perfect. What I liked most about this makeup is that it matched my skin perfectly, and I didn’t have to use a bronzer. Instead, I used the bronzer as an eyeshadow and it looked really good. It took about 20 minutes to apply everything. It went a little longer than the last two days, but I also added eyeshadow and did something called strobing (idk what that is or what it does, but I had a sample so I used it). By the time I was done applying, my face looked great. You could tell I was wearing makeup, but it looked a lot more natural than the drug store. It held a lot better too. By the end of the day, it looked like what the drug store makeup looked like at the beginning of the day, so I’m not complaining. The only con I could think of is that it was a little heavier on my skin, and I could feel it. I think that’s just because it’s meant to be heavier because it’s for a fuller coverage.



Overall, I loved the MAC products. I don’t think I would splurge on every cosmetic item, but since my skin has always been a problem for me, I would for foundation and concealer. It’s true that a little goes a long way, and if you have the proper tools (good brushes and blenders) then it goes even further. I also felt really confident while wearing the MAC products, which is the most important thing. Beauty is really about what’s on the inside, but it doesn’t hurt to have that little extra confidence boost. If makeup can do that for you, go for it girl. Like the saleswoman at MAC told me, “Why not want to have a cake face? Cake is amazing, who doesn’t love cake?”


Similar Reads👯‍♀️