Snow Day Triggers a…Drugstore Makeup Challenge!

I want you to read that like Ben Bailey from Cash Cab announces a “Red Light Challeeeeeeenge!” Did you do that? Good, now we can get started.

It feels like so long ago that I shared my DIY engagement shoot makeup with the hive, and now I’m finally back for Round Two! I haven’t had too many opportunities to glam myself up, so while we were off of work and “snowed in,” (haven’t seen any snow yet—jut some sleet) I dug through my makeup products and did a little tutorial for y’all! It’s another long one, but you should know by now that’s how I roll.

A lot of the products I used last time were high end, and if you’re just aiming to get a nice look for the wedding or pictures, it might not be worth it to invest in those. So I challenged myself to recreate my e-pic look using entirely drugstore (or low cost) products. Even I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but here’s the final look:

All-drugstore final face. Unless otherwise noted, all photos personal and collages made on Fotor.

As a reminder, here’s what my makeup looked like for our engagement pictures:

Sorry for the silly face, but it showed the eye shadow and cheek makeup the best./Photo by Concept Photography

And since I don’t have a professional photographer at my beck and call to photograph this trial, here’s a selfie taken the morning of the e-pics so we can compare apples to apples.

You like that shirt? That’s a gift from FMIL Pyramid to represent me (giraffe) and BM Dino. One of my faves.

Not so bad, if I do say so myself! I wasn’t loving the eye shadow as I was applying, but once I popped on the lashes, the whole look pulled together (lashes are like magic!). I definitely liked the brightening of the MAC concealer, but overall this one has a good effect.

So, let’s take a look at what I used! I was very strict to use all low cost products, but used my regular makeup brushes and tools (which I wrote about in my last post), since that’s what I have on hand.

The only thing I didn’t end up using was the ELF High Def powder. I just forget and didn’t feel like I needed it.

Since I had a while to play around with this, I made a photo tutorial of the look. I really went wild taking pictures of every step, because I wanted you to be able to see what difference each product makes on the face overall. Thanks for letting me play beauty blogger for a day!


To start, my face was bare and my Pandora was musical theater; I had to grab a picture because Glinda was telling me “Let’s start, ’cause you’ve got an awfully long way to go!” I applied a layer of L’oreal True Match Lumi foundation in Natural Buff. This gives a light, dewy look to the skin, but when wearing it on the daily I found that it broke me out. Because that isn’t really full coverage enough, I added some fuller coverage Cover Girl 3 in 1 Outlast Stay Fabulous foundation in Medium Beige to my cheeks (where I have some acne scarring) and around my nose (where I get redness). All over the face, this looks heavy on the skin, but in targeted areas it work well.


Next up, concealer. My skin has been pretty calm lately, but I used some Revlon Age Defying Concealer in Light Medium around any spots that I had. I like to use a peach-toned concealer (Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch concealer in Radiant) to cancel out any dark circles before using a skin toned concealer (Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser in Fair). I love this combo for everyday, and for this look I just added the “fair” shade in other highlighting areas of my face. I blended it all out, making sure to bring the undereye concealer toward my temple, which keeps the whole face bright.


I used a cream blush product, NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink, to make sure we had some bright color on the cheeks. I applied it in a stripe on the top of the cheekbones, and blended it out with the sponge. After all of the cream and liquid products were applied, I lightly added some Mary Kay Sheer Mineral Pressed Powder in Ivory to set everything. Then I applied E.L.F. Studio Blush in Pink Passion across the top. I was worried that it looked too bright, but in the pictures it came out A-OK! This is also where I realized that I should have started with eyes, thus the top right picture, but I was already this far in and decided to carry on.


And I technically should have contoured before applying blush, but I forgot that too. I applied some of the bronzer from the E.L.F. Studio Blush and Bronzer Duo in St. Lucia with a precise blush brush, then blended it out with a bigger brush and some NYC Bronzing Face Powder in Sunny (it’s a bit lighter than the ELF). Both of these are pretty matte bronzers, so they are good to contour the cheeks, the hairline, the jawbone, and the sides of the nose. I just made sure to blend a lot so that it would look natural. For pictures, this is an important step because you don’t want your face to look too flat, which it will after applying a full coverage foundation (like mine at the end of the concealer collage!).


While showing off my highlighting product, “Let it Go” from Frozen came on and I had to sing along. If you haven’t seen it, it’s pretty awesome and you should. Then I applied the Wet n Wild Bronzer in Reserve Your Cabana (no idea why it’s called a bronzer) to the tops of my cheekbones to give a nice blurred, soft focus effect to the skin. For something a bit more shimmery, I used my Physicians Formula Happy Booster Powder in Translucent (which is totally cracked and busted, as you can see in the product photo, but still usable). This added some glow to the cheeks, the center of the nose and forehead.


At this point, my camera battery needed to be recharged, so I took a hot chocolate break and tweezed up some stray hairs around my eyebrows. Upon returning, I had a special visitor come say hi before I got down to filling in my eyebrows with NYX Automatic Eyebrow Pencil in Taupe and Dark Brown. I used taupe all over, and then I added in some of the dark brown in the center and towards the tail. You don’t want the whole brow too dark, and this gradient effect helps to create a natural look. Can you see the difference it makes to the overall face? No matter where I’m going, I never skip filling in my brows.


I recently discovered the Milani Eye Shadow Primer and I don’t think I’ll ever need to go back to a high end primer again. This stuff is great. I used that underneath my Maybelline Color Tattoos in Barely Beige (inner third of the eye), Bold Gold (center third), and Bad to the Bronze (outer third of the eye). A great tip for getting eye shadow to look like you want is to use colored bases or even a coordinating eyeliner to draw out where you want your colors to be. Creams are easier to place than powders, and they’ll make your shadows show up better once you blend them on top. I applied a light, warm brown shadow in my crease and a little above—Pixi Solo Shadow in Warm Autumn (I got it at Target in the clearance section)—because that’s a nice transition color. You can (hopefully) see in the bottom middle picture how I have a bit more color up there, which will help make the dark colors not look as harsh. I applied the matte, dark Cover Girl Single Eye shadow in Brown Smolder to my outer V with a small brush. The top right picture shows the general shape of the outer V that works for me—you should experiment with your eye shape to see what is most flattering.


When applying dark colors towards the outer part of the eye, you want to make sure to not go below the line that I’m showing in the top left picture. In general, it’s the line between the end of your eye and the end of your eyebrow. My brows are a little short, so I continue out using the slope of my lower lashline as a guide. Putting color below this line will make your eyes look droopy and tired. No bueno. I cleaned up that line with a big fluffy brush. I also blended out the dark color in the outer V with a medium brown, matte shade from the Wet n Wild Color Icon Palette in Vanity (which I think has been discontinued, but I think I’ve still seen it in my stores!). You can see the difference between the blending with the lighter shade in the top right picture where my right eye (on your left) has been mostly blended out, and my left eye has not. I kept blending and adding the lights and dark brown until I was happy with the look.

I applied the lid shade after the crease colors, because I didn’t want to muddy it up with all the blending. I really like the L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Rush for a beautiful bronze lid. I wet my brush before dipping into the shadow, for a bold application with lots of shine. I used the matte cream shade from the Vanity palette to highlight above my brow and a shimmery champagne shade—NYX Single Eye Shadow in Sahara—to highlight the inner corner of the eye.


For my lower waterline, I applied the nude pencil that comes with the Hard Candy Glamoflauge Concealer in Medium. This makes the eyes look a bit brighter and more awake, and eliminates any redness that might show there. Now for lining the upper waterline—scary! Not really though, just gently lift your eyelid and run the pencil along the bottom of the lashes to make them look fuller and your eye more defined. I used the Sephora Collection Nano Liner in Deep Black, which is technically not drugstore, but it’s five bucks so it counts. You can see in the bottom right picture that my left eye (your right) has the waterline lined and my right eye doesn’t. See the difference? I also smudged some of the dark brown shimmery shade from the Vanity palette on my lower lash line while I got photobombed.


I lined my upper lashline with the Essence Gel Liner in Midnight in Paris, which is pretty much the best black gel liner you can find and it’s only $3.99. I have no need to ever pay more for a black gel liner. Then I used a trick that I learned from my wedding makeup artist – apply a blob of Duo Eyelash Adhesive to a surface you don’t care about (false lash package here) and let it get tacky while you do something else. I applied some Prestige My Biggest Lashes Mascara, because you don’t want your natural lashes to look funny against the falsies. This stuff separates my lashes really well and isn’t clumpy, definitely one of my favorite mascaras. Then I ran the strip of the false lashes (Ardell Demi Whispies, same ones I wore for the e-pics) on the tacky glue (the more dried out it is, the easier it is to apply), and placed them them on my eye. I pushed them in place with the back of a pair of tweezers, and after they were dried, I gave them a curl with my lash curler to ensure that the real lashes meshed with the fake ones.


For the final touches I added some of the Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Liner in Blackest Black on top of the lash glue and gel liner to make sure everything looks clean and neat. Seriously, this little eyeliner pen is probably my favorite makeup product of my whole collection right now. Just recently discovered it and I can finally do a nice winged liner now and it is SO easy to apply and stays all day long no matter how my eyes water. So much love for this liner. I sprayed my face with the NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray to make sure I didn’t look too matte and cakey. I’m not sure if this helps with staying power, but I like the effect it gives my skin. My lips just had a bit of color last time, so to replicate that look I went with the Revlon Lip Butter in Strawberry Shortcake. It was a little too opaque, so I blotted it down with a tissue.


And finally we have reached the end! I definitely think that this look comes off exactly the same as the one I did for our e-pics with a lot cheaper products. Do I feel silly for having purchased so many high end products when I could get the same look with drugstore? Nope, since I like the high end things that I have and use them for different reasons. But isn’t it great to know that if you use the right techniques, then you’ll get the same results? Besides the foundation and some of the eye shadows, these are products in my regular rotation anyway, so I’d feel comfortable recommending all of them if you’re trying to figure out what to purchase.

I know this post is already long, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on saving money on high end and drugstore makeup and I don’t think it needs a separate post:

  • Look for sets of high end makeup, especially around Christmas time, but don’t get swept up in the “savings.” Sets are usually discounted, but if you already own some of the products, or don’t think you’ll use them, then you might be paying more for small sizes. I add up the value of the included products I’m interested in, and if that is more than the price of the box, then I consider it a good deal. Just depends on what’s important to you.
  • Hautelook will frequently offer some more pricey products on their site for half off. It’s a good way to try out some things you may have been eyeing up, but the shipping takes forever, so don’t go with that if you need something soon! Be sure to look up reviews and swatches on everything before purchasing.
  • Don’t fall into the drugstore makeup trap. If you’re like me, you might walk into the drugstore to pick up some toilet paper, but end up grabbing a few makeup products–then I’m at the register and my total is $43.72. What happened—this is supposed to be the cheap stuff, right? But some drugstore foundations and concealers are running $14 or more and some lipsticks over $10. Compare that to a MAC lipstick at $15, or my precious Pro Longwear concealer at $19, and the drugstore isn’t so much of a bargain.
  • Of course, at the drugstore you’ll have a lot more opportunities for sales. Nouveau Cheap is a great site for updates on weekly discount store sales and coupons. Because of its location and the Beauty Bucks and Extrabucks programs, I mostly shop at CVS. I’m obnoxious and break up my purchases to get the most savings. If buying $10 worth of Cover Girl products gets me $3 back on my next purchase, then I’ll buy the CG things first, get the coupon, and use the Extrabucks on my second transaction all in one trip. I won’t do that if there’s a long line, though. :)
  • To help not fall into the drugstore makeup trap, I make sure that I’m not just buying because there’s a sale. I keep a list in my phone of products I hear about or need to restock, and I sort it by brand. So if I need to replace my Maybelline concealer, and Maybelline has a BOGO, I can check out my list and see that I had read about the Color Whisper lipsticks and wanted to try them out.
  • The only thing I had a hard time finding a product for in this tutorial was the foundation. Last year, I decided to stop messing around trying to find a cheap foundation option, and just bought my favorite, Nars Pure Radiant TM. I was wasting money on bad color matches, poor staying power, or stuff that made me break out. I’m not saying that you can’t find a good foundation at the drugstore, you definitely can, but I wasn’t having any luck. Even though it seems counterproductive to saving money, it might just be worth it to be snobby about one thing and then you can stop looking for replacements, which does save you money.
  • This might be personal, but I’ve just never gotten on the drugstore shadow bandwagon. I have lots of higher end palettes, because I have just found that it’s easier and cheaper to buy a palette that has a lot of coordinating colors that can pull together a look instead of the little trios that might be hit-and-miss on quality and color. For example, these Too Faced sets come out to $4.00 per eye shadow, and Lorac’s Pro Palette comes out to less than $3.00 a shadow, and it really is all the colors you probably ever need. Another option are online stores and less widely distributed brands like Coastal Scents (I’d recommend the Hot Pots over the 88 pan palettes), ELF, and NYX, which have great quality and are cheap.

Okay, so a lot of my tips involve just buying the more expensive makeup. How helpful am I, right? I guess what I’m saying is just be smart with your purchases, do your research, and you’ll save some money.

Not a bad way to spend a “snow” day, but now I’m all dolled up with nowhere to go! How do you think the drugstore look compares to the high end one? Do you have a favorite DIY makeup tip to share with us?


Mrs. Pyramid

New Orleans, LA
Wedding Date:
May 2014
Registry 101: Miss Clover's Favorite Picks
The Bridal Shower / Kitchen Tea / One of the Most Amazing Parties Ever Thrown For Me

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  1. msfilly Member
    Mrs. Filly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 5:52 am

    First off, you are so freaking gorgeous, makeup or not! Second, want to come to New Jersey to do my makeup? Not just for my wedding, I’m talking every day :)

    And this was really helpful, so thanks for putting it all together!

  2. Member
    jennyg34 52 posts, Worker bee @ 6:05 am

    Bravo, Miss Pyramid! VERY impressive. I have been waiting for your next makeup tutorial, and this one didn’t disappoint! You also reminded me that I need to see when Wicked is coming through town, because I have yet to see it (yes, I know…. tragic)!

  3. milkcow Member
    Mrs. Milk Cow 214 posts, Helper bee @ 6:50 am

    That is incredible and very helpful, so thank you. I’m having my sister do my makeup (because she’s 16 and so much better with it than I am), but I’m glad we can get the same results with drugstore brands as you did with the expensive brands – I feel much better taking that route now!

  4. Member
    luluvohn 1194 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:57 am

    @Miss Filly: Right? I was thinking the same thing! I couldn’t imagine doing all that every morning. My makeup routine consists of chapstick. The end.

  5. wellies Member
    wellies 1425 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:02 am

    Thank you for such helpful tips! It’s nice to see a makeup tutorial with drugstore products. :)

  6. Member
    snowjewelz 164 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:42 am

    This is AMAZING! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this and giving some drug store make up reviews!

  7. rucksack Member
    rucksack 518 posts, Busy bee @ 8:04 am

    I am dying over how amazing your eyes look – My squinty almond shaped eyes are jealous! I’m pinning your face now so that I remember to use this next time I doll myself up!

  8. penguin Member
    penguin 3487 posts, Sugar bee @ 8:40 am

    Ahhh! You look so great and thank you so much for the tips – I am always so lost in the drugstore!!

  9. roadtrip Member
    roadtrip 803 posts, Busy bee @ 8:44 am

    Great tips—especially for the false lashes!

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Amanda, Guest @ 9:47 am

    Thank you for this! Could you share what you used for the highlighter? I don’t think you gave the name of the product.

  11. mspalmtree Member
    Mrs. Palm Tree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:35 am

    Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl I know I’ve told you before but seriously, your eyebrows. <3 Also, I love ELF (so cheap and Target always has a great stock of their supplies).

  12. mswaterfall Member
    Mrs. Waterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:18 am

    Great tutorial, I will definitely be checking out some of these products for my makeup routine! Oh, and BTW, your nail post totally saved my life with that quick-drying top coat tip, so you’re kind of a guru in my book 😉

  13. pyramid Member
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 11:25 am

    @Miss Filly: aaw thanks, you’re too sweet! If this engineering thing doesn’t work out, maybe I could look into makeup artistry haha!
    @JennyG34: thanks so much! I’m glad it was helpful! And yes, you must go see Wicked! I’ve seen it in NYC and NOLA, and I will say that the traveling show held its own compared to the actual Broadway original!

    @Miss Milk Cow: You sure can get some great results! Practice makes perfect! That’s so sweet that your sister is helping you out – I love doing my sister’s makeup!

    @Miss Wellies: glad you enjoyed it, girlie!

    @snowjewelz: You’re very welcome, I love to spread the knowledge!

    @Mrs. Rucksack: hahaha pinning my face. Just play around with some shadows – dark, matte colors in the outer corner and lashes work WONDERS on eye shapes.

    @luluvohn: well, this CERTAINLY isn’t what I do every day – I’m usually running out the door getting stuff on my face in under 10 minutes. That’s why I forgot about the bronzer step, since I don’t do that normally.

    @Mrs. Penguin: You’re very welcome, I’m so glad to be helpful! I get overwhelmed at the drugstore too, so I love seeing product recs!

    @Mrs. Road Trip: I’m still kind of scared to apply them, but they’re worth the effort!

    @Amanda: Sure! I used two – the first was Wet n Wild “brozner” in the shade “reserve your cabana.” It’s not a bronzer at all, but that’s what they call it. It’s the one I’m holding up in that weirdo singing picture. And then I used the Physicians Formula happy booster powder in translucent, which is a bit more shimmery. It’s the one that has little hearts all through it. I applied the first one kind of all over my cheeks and forehead, and the second in more targeted areas on the tops of my cheekbones and down the nose.

    @Mrs. Palm Tree: ELF was my gateway brand into mass collection of makeup because it’s SO cheap. I spazzed out when it showed up in my target. Also thank you for the eyebrow compliment. They’re a PITA sometimes, but it’s a step I never skip because it makes SUCH a difference.

  14. Member
    daniellekira 573 posts, Busy bee @ 11:26 am

    I love your makeup and tutorial. You always look amazing and I can’t wait to see it all come together on your wedding day.

  15. jetsetter Member
    jetsetter 535 posts, Busy bee @ 11:38 am

    I for real took notes on this post! Thanks for sharing this, you look gorgeoussssss!

  16. Member
    bridesmomma 472 posts, Helper bee @ 12:40 pm

    This is such a GREAT post, thank goodness for snow days in the South! 😉

  17. pyramid Member
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:13 pm

    @daniellekira: Thanks so much! I’m having a makeup artist for that and we’ve done a fabulous trial, so I’ll have to share that soon!

    @Mrs. Jet Setter: hope they come in handy! Just droppin so much knowledge on the bee haha!

    @bridesmomma: It worked out for me, since taking pictures while doing makeup makes it take a LOT longer than normal. Crazy things going on in other cities with all this snow and sleet!

  18. msclover Member
    Mrs. Clover 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 6:59 pm

    I’m with Miss Filly–want to come do my makeup for my wedding? I spent my cold day trying to figure out what the heck to do about makeup and hair! I am definitely not on your level!

  19. Member
    texasaggiemom 595 posts, Busy bee @ 7:31 pm

    To echo several previous posters, you are gorgeous with or without makeup, and I found this post very helpful to my recent efforts to upgrade my own mid-life makeup style. I was recently participating in another blog’s discussion of makeup – yes or no, which for us Southern girls is of course YES. I couldn’t come up with a real reason that I thought makeup was essential, but now I can just link to this post. The huge difference that well-applied makeup gives us is priceless, but your post proves it doesn’t have to be expensive. Now I’m hoping for a snow day in Texas so I can experiment with makeup all afternoon!

  20. mstreasure Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:45 pm

    Dude, you look freaking AWESOME! I am not very good with makeup, but this makes me want to sit down this weekend and give it a go for no reason at all. You look gorgeous!

  21. phonebooth Member
    Mrs. Phone Booth 57 posts, Worker bee @ 8:13 pm

    Your makeup posts are amazing! You’re so detailed and thorough. It even makes me – someone who rarely wears makeup nowadays – want to pick up some new stuff and beautify ASAP :)

  22. Member
    wouldyoukindlyy 234 posts, Helper bee @ 9:57 pm

    @Miss Pyramid: aaahh you’re so good with makeup! I’ve recently been getting into expensive makeup over the past few years and now I can’t go back. I just didn’t know you needed THAT many products. I’ll have to try to replicate your style.

    I wanted to ask you a question though, my eyes are very much like maggie gyllenhall’s and I don’t know what to do with them besides wear a bunch of liquid eyeliner. What would you do? :)

  23. gloves Member
    gloves 190 posts, Blushing bee @ 5:41 am

    You are too cute! I absolutely love the tutorial, and now I have a dozen new makeup recommendations to look into- thanks, Miss Pyramid!

  24. pyramid Member
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:02 am

    @Miss Clover: I wish I could come do ALL the bee’s bridal makeup (except…you might not really really want me to) 😉

    @TexasAggieMom: I think about that sometimes too – what’s the point of it all? But for me it is fun and it is relaxing to do and I enjoy trying new things. If it ever were to be not fun, I wouldn’t continue spending time on it each day. I hope you get a snow day soon!

    @Mrs. Treasure: @Miss Phone Booth: @Mrs. Gloves: Thanks, ladies! I hope that a tip or two works out for you!

    @wouldyoukindlyy: You certainly can be simpler, but I was going all out here, haha!
    If you’re talking about Maggie eyes, then you’re saying that your eyes are big and pretty round, but with very little or no lid showing when you open them. So your eyes are hooded and so are mine! It’s definitely frustrating because you work so hard on the eyeshadow and then none of it shows up! Try using matte colors in your crease and outer corner, because that will make it look deeper set than shimmery shadows. Here’s a picture tutorial I found, even though her eyes don’t look too hooded, it’s a good reference:
    This too:

    When you’re blending out eyeshadow, do it with your eye open and don’t arch your eyebrows up. This way you’ll be able to see exactly where the color is going with your eye relaxed. I don’t go for the loads of liner look, just because sometimes it’s a bit tricky on me, but you definitely can.
    If you’ve got something like the Naked palette or the Lorac pro palette, search for youtube videos of “Lorac pro hooded eye tutorial” and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of demonstrations on there. And I’d definitely recommend false lashes that flare out on the ends if it’s for a big event or photos!

    To keep it simple than that other look, I like the idea of a soft smokey eye, like Maggie has here:

    the colors are light, so you don’t close off the eye too much, but it’s still smokey and visible.

    Good luck, I hope that’s helpful!

  25. gondola Member
    gondola 1046 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:01 am

    I LOVE this post! Your look great- especially the eyes. And three cheers for musical theatre!

  26. Member
    lolot 8340 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 7:28 am

    You are so cute! And what a killer job on the makeup!

  27. Member
    braverbeating 1132 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:41 pm

    You are gorgeous! & I love your mug :)

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