$3 lipstick and overcoming perfectionism

$3 lipstick and overcoming perfectionism

I’ve been scared of the drugstore beauty aisle since middle school. I’m a frugal girl at heart, but I’m also cosmetically inept, hopelessly indecisive, and easily overwhelmed, which has made the custom makeup counter—with it’s $22 lipstick—a much safer place for me than Target. 

(In other words, when it comes to makeup, I need all the help I can get.)

But my girls needed rose-colored lipstick for their dance recital (and blue eye shadow, but that’s another story). You’ve given me great beauty advice on facebook and in the blog comments before, and based on your recommendations, I headed straight for the (blessedly small) ELF section at Target, where they carry twenty shades of lipstick for $3 each.

Two shades jumped out at us: ravishing rose and rosy-go-round. I let my girls pick.

They got to wear full-on makeup (like, way more than I wear daily) for their dress rehearsal, and they were absolutely delighted with their made-up selves. They asked me to make myself up too (my everyday makeup being too subtle for their taste) so we could “match.” I said no to the blue eye shadow, but yes to the lipstick.

And I really like it.

About the actual lipstick: we went with ravishing rose, which is a touch pinker and a bit more intense than my beloved Tenderheart. The reviews for ravishing rose say it’s almost a look-alike for Laura Mercier’s $24 dry rose. Ravishing rose is from ELF’s “moisturizing lipstick” line, and it goes on pretty wet. I used it with an inexpensive liner—as always—for definition and staying power, and blotted thoroughly.

I’m surprised my $3 lipstick experience went so well, especially because I’ve been so afraid of the drugstore makeup aisle for so long, and I think this is where I went right:

1. I limited my choices to one brand. I get completely overwhelmed by too many choices, but I could handle twelve square feet.

2. The knowledge I’ve gained from working with a pro for years gave me confidence to go it alone this time. After seeing him once or twice a year for years, I knew which color family to look for, which shades are hard to get right, and which shades look good on everyone. Shades in the rose family aren’t as universally flattering as this cult classic, but they’re close.

My style-savvy friend says, “if you know what to look for, you can find it anywhere.” She was talking about finding classic pieces at Old Navy, but I think it applies to the beauty aisle, too.

3. I’ve been focusing this year on overcoming perfectionism, ever since this eye-opening experienceIt’s just a $3 lipstick. (Plus, you all told me in comments that I could return it to Target if I hated it, even if it was opened. I had no idea.)

4. Or maybe I just got lucky.

The recital’s over, but I’m still wearing this lipstick three times a week. (Like, right now.) I’m so happy with my accidental $3 drugstore lipstick experiment that I’m tempted to buy out the ELF lipstick selection the next time at Target. Just to see.

Do you have a favorite drugstore beauty find (or five)? Please tell us about it in comments!

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  1. EricaM says:

    I love the ELF brand. They used to sell for just $1 at my local grocery store, but then they became so popular the cost was upped to $3, which is still amazing. It’s where I get my mascara. I do need to pick up lipliner. I’ve never used it, and I think that will help, because right now I have red lipstick I like to wear, but it also likes traveling. A lot.

    I also like Covergirl. Some of their stuff can be expensive, but other basic products are a pretty good price. Both the powder and liquid foundation are about $6, and they’re pale enough to match my skintone.

  2. Faigie says:

    Once you get the colors you like from the expensive brands you can always get similar colors at walmart and other fine stores like that :). I’ve been doing it for years. Of course, as a teenager I would never do it. Sephora was an outing in itself

    • Anne says:

      So true about Sephora being a Very Exciting Adventure for a teenager! We didn’t have one in my town until recently and visiting one of their stores was a huge traveling highlight for me. 🙂

  3. I bought my first red lipstick a month ago! I went to Sephora, told them I wanted the least expensive red lipstick that went with my skin tone. Voila! Although putting it on for the first time was a little reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker. That stuff is RED. lol

  4. Anne says:

    Cool! That’s a fun discovery. I still use an ELF blush that Tiny Twig recommended not long ago. Also, when I clicked back to read the house/perfectionism post you linked to, I noticed a phrase I hadn’t heard of before: failing forward. I like that! IDHTBPTBB! 🙂

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Big fan of the drugstore beauty buys. I can’t do without my Burt’s Bees chapstick, Cetaphil cream, and Aveeno shampoo and conditioner. Especially on vacation – that’s when you really find out what your must-have essentials are!

  6. Kara Fleck says:

    Now that I am a certain age (ahem) and yet still mama to kiddos young enough to wake during the night, I’m not sure I can live without Maybelline Instant Age Rewind dark circle eraser. Even when I don’t have dark circles, I use it to brighten up the area under my eyes.

    Also? I tried the new Loreal Voluminous Miss Manga mascara on a whim the other day and I have been loving it. (the hot pink packaging sucked me in, but it actually it legit and didn’t flake out on me)

    Love this! Will have to try ELF lipsticks now (I use their $1 eyeshadow brushes all the time)

  7. Ana says:

    I’m doing the opposite right now. I always brought drugstore make-up (because I’m cheap, errr, frugal) and I never really wore it. It was annoying how lipstick quickly worse off, or I had to scrape and abrade my eyelids to get a visible amount of eyeliner. I honestly haven’t worn a lick of makeup in several years. I threw it all out, read a bunch of reviews on beauty blogs, and ended up at Sephora getting a great long-lasting lipstick, a smooth glide-y eyeliner, and eye shadow that actually looks the color its supposed to on my lids. It’s so much more enjoyable to work with good tools (not saying you can’t find good stuff in the drugstore, I just found that the certain more expensive formulations work better for me).

  8. Ruth Sophia says:

    I’ve had wonderful experiences with ELF & was thrilled when Target stared carrying them! (Sometime you can find them in the dollar store too now!) I used to have to wait till I needed a larger amount so I could get free shipping for their website. I’ll still do that if I need something specific that’s harder to find in store, but love that I don’t have to worry about the shipping hassle most of the time now =) Glad you enjoyed your experience too! Hope you have good future experiences too!

  9. Jennifer says:

    I know you’re not a “crazy nail art” person, but I’ve found fun polishes and easy add-ons to be a great boost for me, especially since I see my hands more than my face throughout the day! I love spotting a new colour for a few dollars, its worth the gamble for me — I’ve never thought of returning ones that I didn’t like… that only serves to make me a bit more adventurous… 🙂

  10. I love the ELF eyeshadow palettes! Lots of choices for a little bit of money. I think I got mine at TJ Maxx. Will have to check out the lipsticks. I used to have a lipstick palette from them, too, but I’ve been loving the Neutrogena lip crayon things lately.

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