Save on Makeup: Affordable Alternatives to Hot Brands

A bold lip can improve your life. Not only is it an instant pick-me-up, but it’s also an easy, commitment-free way to change up your look without spending a fortune. And you don’t even have to splurge on department-store lines. Our favorite under-the-radar brands offer cosmetics that cost less than a latte. Here, five new companies to consider.

1. If you love MAC, you’ll appreciate NYX Cosmetics

MAC Cosmetics has a cult following, and it’s easy to see why. The edgy makeup company delivers on both classics (just ask fans of their cult-classic red lipstick, Ruby Woo) and trends (like their Good Luck Trolls, RiRi Hearts and Barbie collections) in a fun, spirited way. Get your fix the cheap way with NYX Cosmetics. This line, available at CVS and Walgreens, features slick packaging and amazingly bold shades of super-pigmented matte lipsticks. Smart swap: NYX Professional Makeup Dose of Dew Face Gloss ($9) instead of MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish Highlighter ($33).

NYX dose of dew face gloss

2. If you love Stila Cosmetics, you’ll love e.l.f. Cosmetics

Stila is the reigning favorite for gorgeous shimmers, metallics and sheer eye shadows. Kitten, a soft, pretty pink, is a makeup-artist staple. The packaging is simple yet pretty, and the quality is makeup-artist worthy. For a more affordable fix, check out e.l.f. Cosmetics. Everything is less than $30, including the fan-favorite glimmering eye shadows. Smart swap: e.l.f. Cosmetics Baked Eye Shadow Trio ($1.60) instead of Stila Eye Shadow Trio in Gold Glow ($12).

Elf Baked Eyeshadow Trio

3. If you love NARS, you’ll love Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

From orange-red Heat Wave to shocking pink Schiap, NARS Cosmetics consistently creates the best bold lipsticks. However, at almost $30 a pop, they aren’t exactly a cheap thrill. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC) is well-known for its Lip Tar. The super-pigmented tubes are available in intense shades and mini sizes. Smart swap: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Stained Gloss in New Wave ($9.50) instead of NARS Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Place Vendome ($26).

OCC Lip Tar Stained Gloss


4. If you love Too Faced, you’ll love Barry M

If you’re addicted to palettes, chances are you know about Too Faced. The Peach Glow compact is super popular, and the adorable packaging (Sweethearts Bronzer, Chocolate Soleil) is a step up from your basic bronzers. A line you might not already know is Barry M. Popular in the United Kingdom, the brand specializes in neutral palettes. It also sells fun swivel-up blush sticks, glitter pots and cheap lipsticks. Smart swap: Try Barry M’s Contour Kit ($11.50) instead of Too Faced’s Cocoa Contour Chiseled to Perfection ($42).

Barry M's Contour Kit

5. If you love Clinique, you’ll love Physicians Formula

Clinique is a classic for simple packaging and products perfect for sensitive skin. Its Dramatically Different Foundation is one of the most beloved beauty products of all time. Drugstore line Physicians Formula has a similar mission statement, but offers products that are a fraction of Clinique’s prices. Physician’s Formula specializes in cosmetics for people with allergies. Find eye shadow palettes for less than $12 and glosses for less than $10. Smart swap: Try Physicians Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow Foundation ($15) instead of Clinique’s Even Better Makeup SPF 15 ($28).

Physician's Formula Foundation Concealer


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