The £20 Make-Up Challenge

I’m not a slave to premium beauty products, but I’m happy to pay more for things I really value. For me, it’s skincare and foundation. I’ve had my fair share of high end flops, but a bit of research and some samples usually let me know whether something’s worth spending that bit extra on.

On the whole, my make-up and skincare collection is an equal mix of both high street and premium products, so I figured the £/$20 make-up challenge couldn’t be that tricky. It was more difficult than I expected, but I managed to bring it in at £19.41.

This challenge involves doing your full face of everyday make-up without skipping a step, but only using products that in total cost no more than £20. The real stickler is that any brushes and tools you use must be included in the £20. Wayne Goss mentioned recently that if you’ve got good brushes you can always make cheaper products look good, so I was interested to see how I’d get on without my beloved Laura Mercier blush brush and ponytail blending brush. That’s a ponytail shaped brush, by the way. I don’t blur the edges of my ponytail.

If you don’t have a lot of products in your routine, it’s not much of a challenge. I, however, adore make-up. This is what I chose:

Blush appears slightly darker in this image lighting

Boots Natural Collection Shine Away Foundation (Biscuit) £1.66

Boots Natural Collection Loose Powder (Warm Translucent) £1.66

Boots Natural Collection SunTint Bronzing Pearls (Sahara Sun) £1.66

MUA Professional Brush On Concealer Pen Radiance £2.00

MUA Blusher (Shade 3) £1.00

ELF Blushing, Bronzing and Blending Brush £1.50

ELF Eyelid Primer (Sheer) £1.50

NYC Metro Quartet Eyeshadow (Chelsea Chic) £2.99

Accessorize Eye Pencil (Dark Chocolate) £1.95

2true Instant Volume Mascara (No1 Black) £1.99

ELF Lipstick (Seductive – Deep Warm Pink Creme) £1.50

What I liked…

The loose powder is surprisingly finely milled and I’ve used it on top of better foundations as a light setting powder since. It’s a good back-up for the price.

MUA have got some real gems in their collection and the blusher is both a lovely, natural shade and well pigmented. It lasted almost as long as more high end blushes.

I never expected the eye primer to be up to UD Primer Potion standards and there was some definite creasing by the end of the day, but it performs far better than I imagined it might. A very good alternative to the pricier primers if you’re on a budget or only feel the need to even out the lid slightly.

The eyeshadows are very good for the price. Shadows are one area where I think you can get away with not spending a shedload of money. The Sleek palettes are proof of that. I hate using sponge applicators and I almost used my regular brushes, but I restrained myself from cheating. I ditched the duck-egg/grey colour, but have used the taupe quite a lot.

The ELF lipstick is my favourite item in the whole challenge. I love the colour and I like the slight waxiness of the formula. It makes it feel more balmy than a lipstick. I even like the especially sweet flavour, although I imagine if you don’t like the scent it would be a real deal breaker. It’s pungent!

The inbetweeners…

I chose the Accessorize pencil because it had a sponge at the opposite end, so saving on another brush. I also figured it could double up as a brow shaper. As an eyeliner, I liked it, and it smudged nicely into the lashline using the sponge. It failed completely as a brow pencil, but that’s more my fault that the product’s fault.

Like eyeshadow, mascara is another place where I think you can save money. The formula for this one did make the lashes feel a little hard, but I really liked the brush and it applied very easily.

What I didn’t like…

The foundation has a very grey tint to it  and even though it spread well with my fingers, it definitely didn’t keep shine at bay, even with a primer. There are much better foundations for just a few pounds more, so I’d skip past this, even if you’re on a budget.

The bronzing pearls have near to no pigment and are extremely shimmery. They definitely don’t work for contouring. Boots would be better off marketing this product as a warm highlighter.

The MUA concealer is by far the worst product of the bunch. It isn’t a particularly effective concealer, and when I went back to it a couple of days later the product had dried to a crush over the bristles. I had to pick it off. The worst thing is that it’s highly perfumed, which is bizarre and totally unnecessary for an under-eye concealer. I could smell it on my face after I’d finished the make-up and had to wash my hands to get rid of the scent.

The ELF brush is extremely sparse at the ends. It made picking up this bronzer in particular even more difficult. More proof that brushes maketh the face.

The verdict…

It’s good to be reminded that there are some great products at really affordable prices. So much of what we pay towards even the middle high street brands goes towards advertising and packaging. But in this lower high street bracket, products can be very hit-and-miss. You need to spend some time at the stands seeking out what works and what’s not even worth a pound. But then, that’s half the fun, right?



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