I didn’t get into makeup—like, really into makeup—until sometime in early 2015. I’d never been to a Sephora or an Ulta; if it wasn’t at Walmart or Walgreens, I didn’t have access to it in my rural Mississippi hometown. I still wore makeup daily, but my routine was quite literally the exact same thing every single day. No frills, no excess, no fuss. I bought what I needed, I used every last bit of it, and then I bought the same product again at the nearest drugstore.
I’ve come a long way since then: for better or for worse, I don’t want to think too much about the boxes and drawers full of makeup, skincare, and hair products I have access to now that I live in a major metropolitan area. Thankfully, high school me had good taste and kept her shit together in a least some small way. This is a grateful homage to the products that I’ve been using for near a decade now and still recommend whole-heartedly. As a bonus, they’re all under $11!
Coty Airspun Powder in Translucent Extra Coverage
I definitely owe this one to my mom. I’ve seen this little container in her makeup bag since I was a tiny child, sitting on the bathroom floor, watching her put on her makeup in the mornings. I think I’ve seen this on maybe everyone’s mom’s and grandma’s dressing table—the packaging has become iconic since its origins in the 1920’s. It used to come in neat cardboard packaging, but has since moved to a plastic version which, while less kitschy, is definitely also less prone to making a giant mess.
The translucent version works well with a variety of skin tones and is perfect for baking. The best part? You can find these in most Walmart and Walgreens stores, and one package lasts basically a month short of forever.
You get 2.3 ounces of product for $7.99 at Walgreens.
As an aside, check out these gorgeous vintage Coty ads. I mean, really.
Revlon Photo Ready Concealer
I hate the feeling of a full face of foundation, and I’ve struggled with acne for most of my life, so I most often opt for spot coverage of problematic spots. This was the first concealer I found that gave me the coverage I needed without looking cake-y or feeling heavy. It’s light and blends out into a powdery finish, which is good for the oily parts of my combination skin.
The only major bummer here is the lack of diversity in the skin tone ranges. I still use this occasionally, though I will admit I’ve recently made the switch over to using Tarte Shape Tape (which is incredible, closer to cruelty-free, and also offers a huge variety of shades).
Pick it up at Ulta for $10.99.
Black Radiance Fine Line Liquid Eyeliner
I cannot hype this eyeliner enough. After using it once, I immediately had little to no interest in even trying any other brands anymore. I wear a Winehouse-ian amount of eyeliner every single day, so investing in an expensive liner isn’t even remotely appealing to me due to the rate that I blow through it.
This liner clocks in at an incredible $3 and lasts a couple of months, even for my level of application. It has a soft paintbrush-style applicator, with a very fine brush that you dip into the little pot to load with inky black product. It dries fairly quickly, impossibly dark, and flat matte. The fine tipped brush makes sharp lines easy.
This product only comes in black, but includes a waterproof version (which is almost horrifyingly true to its name—it’s very difficult to remove!) and a really great sparkly version with silver microglitters. Plus, this brand is cruelty free, as well as created by and designed for women of color.
E.L.F. Cosmetics Brow Kit
This is cheating on the theme. I got into doing my eyebrows big during college, but I’m gonna let it slide because it was still like, eons ago that I first picked up this kit. It comes with a pigmented wax, as well as a setting powder. I apply and blend with a sharp angle brush that came in my favorite Cargo palette and a spoolie that I yanked from a Sephora sample stand, as the brush that it comes with is very small, and a little lacking in the control department. I am a fiend for a sharp line.
Now I don’t quite feel like myself without my eyebrows. Also, love me because of my Snapchat filters, not despite them.
This kit is great because you can use the wax to secure your brows in place and set it with the powder that’s a shade lighter than the wax, so even the darkest duo never reads too severe. I can get nice, clean lines from this kit without having to do much cleanup, and it blends well if you’re into the ~Instagram Brow Fade~ look. I’ve tried a few higher end brow kits and honestly, I just keep coming back to this one. For my more stark looks, I just pair this kit with Kat Von D’s Tattoo Brow for relentlessly sharp edges.
Find this kit at Ulta for THREE whole dollars.
So basically, you can cop my entire senior year day-look for $25. Not bad! Now, if only 28 year old me had the same restraint in the beauty aisle in this, 2017, the year of our lord.
What products have hung around in your makeup bag for the long haul?