It’s struck me over the last few months when I chat to my clients about makeup brands and products just how far everything has come in the last few years. Much like many other aspects of our lives, science and technology have both changed products – their functionality, their sophistication, their performance- as well as the way we buy makeup – via online recommendations, vlogging, and social media as well as in real time. I really feel that the gap is increasingly being bridged between budget and high end makeup, both in terms of what the products deliver and in the sense that I don’t feel there’s so much of a snobbery about lower end products nowadays – we are open to everything. The way we buy makeup and beauty has changed too in that we rarely stick with a single brand when we shop, but have a mixture of products in our collection from both high end to budget and drug store brands.
I remember thinking 7 years ago when I first began freelance makeup artistry I felt a sense of pressure whilst building my kit – that I would need to have a host of instantly recognisable premium brands to kind of “prove” my worth, and whilst I do still get asked on occasion, I think product results is much more of a key consideration than branding now. Nothing can take away the luxurious experience of buying a Tom Ford lipstick or a Chanel mascara and the enjoyment we get out of owning a little piece of that brand, but speaking for myself too, I no longer feel ashamed of the little guys!
With this in mind I wanted to give you 6 of my favourite budget brands – some new, some established – all that I’ve tried and really enjoyed.
New to the UK is 3INA (pronounced Mina apparently), who have a gorgeous and super Instagram-able store in Covent Garden (rapidly becoming my go to makeup shopping destination now with so many amazing boutiques!) Clean, design led, simple and with an enormous range of colours, you’ll struggle to not find any nail polish shade you’ve wanted to own as they have over 120 alone! I bought a couple of bits when I visited recently, and I absolutely love the ease of use and comfortable wear of the Chubby Lipstick I bought – and a snip at only £4.90. Their business model apparently allows them to get products to market in only 4 months – meaning they can quickly release the most up to date trend products.
Another brand with a huge range of products, MUA are definitely on the ball with makeup trends and quickly deliver fashion forward products at affordable prices. I really love the Luxe range – the Velvet Lip Laquers stand up so well to products like Lime Crime Velvetines but at a fraction of the price!
This is a brand that goes under a lot of people’s radar as it isn’t store based but online (if you go to any trade shows – Professional Beauty etc they do exhibit at these on occasion) but for brush recommendations it’s usually my first suggestion. They do a huge selection of products for all budgets and tastes, from synthetic hair to real, and I’ve never been disappointed with the wear or quality of anything I’ve bought there. Great for those building a collection, looking to add to what they have or if you are hunting down a specific brush you can’t find on the high street.
I first visited a Kiko store on holiday in Spain a few years back, and I had subsequently attempted to visit the Oxford Circus store when I’d been past it, but boy oh boy does this shop get busy! The new Covent Garden boutique was a little less crazy when I visited it a few weeks ago, so I managed to pick up some gorgeous bits – my favourite a gorgeous glittery cream eyeshadow – these are a great dupe for Chanel Illusion D’Ombre, but at £6.90 less than a third of the price! Kiko again is a colour brand – infinite possibilities, fun and vibrant – from what I can tell it’s busy for a reason.
A fave with Makeup Artists, Sleek does pigment and wearability so well you’ll be pushed to find better in department stores. Beautiful blushers, eyeshadow palettes and lipsticks as well as great contour kits, highlighters and powders and a healthy rotation of seasonal collections. If you fancy changing up your look without breaking the bank, I’d suggest trying some new shades of eyeshadow in the pallette, hunting down coveted Nars Orgasm Dupe Rose Gold blusher, or giving their new lippies a go! Also renowned for their wide range of shades, there’s plenty here for dark and deep skin tones too.
Now, one thing I’m not going to be telling you about Makeup Rev is that their all their products are 100% original and that they’ve clearly designed every product all by themselves because you only have to take one look at the website to see that they have definitely taken their inspiration from elsewhere! However, dupes are big business now and Makeup Rev has built on that, producing great quality, affordable products for a price point which will suit everyone. A truly social brand, they’ve also built their business on interacting with customers on social media, and with an enormous range of products there’s definitely something for everyone.
Let me know if you’ve tried any of these brands and which products I need to buy next!