actually cheap summer makeup solutions

It's summer. Makeup melts off your face (especially with 100+ temps and humidity). Magazines have all sorts of tips and products you can use to prevent that from happening, but they're usually absurdly expensive.

So here's what I've found that's dirt cheap and will still do the job.


You should have a facial primer. Even if you don't wear any makeup over it, it still fills in pores and keeps your face from getting as shiny. And if you do put makeup over it, it'll stay longer and you'll have to use less of it to get good coverage. I resisted it for a long time because of the annoyance of an extra step, but especially in the summer, it's definitely worth it.

The problem is, even the drugstore brands are at least 10-12 bucks. Rimmel has one for about $7, but it's got a tint to it, and it only comes in one orangey color.

Solution: Claudia Stevens primer. It's five bucks at Sally Beauty Supply. It's not quite as nice a consistency as Smashbox's or Mac's primers, but it does the job.

Eyeshadow Primer

Again, I resisted for the same reasons: cost, extra step. And then I realized it's pointless to spend time putting on eyeshadow to have it disappear after an hour or two.

e.l.f. (available at Target) makes one for a dollar. And it works better than Smashbox (generally the upper level competition, though it's slightly less of a cult favorite Urban Decay's Primer Potion, which I've never tried. Both of those run about 20 bucks). Last night I put e.l.f.'s primer under black shadow, and it still had not budged after 5 straight hours of dancing - the last two at El Parador for salsa, when I (and everyone else) was sweating by the bucketful.

To sum up: good stuff. For a fucking dollar.

Oil Blotter Sheets

Again, e.l.f. For a dollar. You can normally get some for about five bucks or as much as twenty, but these seem to work quite well. I was especially impressed that it continues to keep your skin more matte afterward, as if you'd used a particularly effective powder.

Gel Eyeliner

Wins awards for staying put even after I washed my face. You could wear it in the pool and it wouldn't move. The Ulta website lists it as $9, but I got the smoke shade for $2 bucks the other day - I think they're switching out the packaging, so all the Ulta brand stuff is on clearance.

You do need an eyeshadow brush, but those are pretty easy to find for not much (I use Avon's, which was $3).

Benefit Feeling Cheeky Minis

Again, a cult favorite. But the full sized versions are $28 a piece, which is way too much of an experiment for my teacher budget. I've been using these travel-sized versions all summer, though, and they still haven't run out. The trio is exclusively at Sephora, and it's only $15. Put on one of the tints after your primer and base but before powder, and you get a really nice, natural glow. It lasts all day, and the colors are both perfect. They don't look makeup-y at all.

As lip tints, they're also really nice - they go on smoothly, and don't pool color in some areas more than others. Again, really natural looking, and they don't melt off your face like gloss and lipstick do in the heat. They seem to moisturize somehow, too. I still don't know if I'll put down $28 for the full size, but for $15, totally worth it. I get way more compliments on how I look when I'm wearing them.

Eye Gel

I started using an eye cream a few months ago, but in the heat and humidity, it was too much. Olay's Revitalizing eye gel is ten bucks (you never find any sort of eye cream for ten bucks), and protects your skin without feeling heavy or greasy in the heat (or making your eye makeup run).

Let me know if you have any other cheap, effective products, or if you try these and they work for you~


  1. I second e.l.f. products. Also, I found this tutorial rather helpful: http://youtu.be/oGpLLWnO3XY

  2. Ooh, I like her.

    I rarely have the patience for tutorial videos, though. They take such a damn long time.

  3. Primer! I'm learning so much in my late 20s. I found Clinique's Pore Minimizer a couple of years ago and use it on my nose every day, but the tube is so tiny and so expensive that I couldn't think of putting it everywhere. Why didn't I think to look for a whole-face version? Can you tell me how to use it? Do you pat it on with your fingers or use a sponge or what?

    You know what works as a blotting paper? Toilet seat covers. I steal one from the bathroom at work every day around 4 p.m.

  4. I put a pencil-eraser-sized dab on the back of my hand, then use my fingers to smooth it on to my face. It spreads really easily, so you don't need much.

    I've tried the toilet seat cover trick - the papers work better. The seat cover absorbs the oil alright, but it doesn't continue to prevent shine the way these sheets do. Plus, the germ factor always kind of freaks me out.


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