I have champagne and caviar taste, but a beer n’ Cheetos budget. Holla if you hear me, bellas! This last weekend, I made a visit to the new and improved Sephora at Dadeland Mall. I was so glad all the salesladies ignored me. Initially I was annoyed, but I should thank them – they saved me money!

High end makeup brands are expensive for a reason — more colors, lasting pigments, high tech formulations, and the cachet of having the hot new waiting list item of the season. But sometimes you really do pay for brand names. And sometimes, there’s equally good alternatives to be found at your neighborhood drugstore. A recent trip proved to be a real eyeopener. Let me share the hot new discoveries I’ve made!

I am an unabashed lover of Milani, and have reviewed more than a few of their products. I adore the Black Magic eyeliners, especially the blackened teal and green. When I saw TWO brand new Black Magic eyeliners starring in my neighborhood CVS’s Milani display, I just about squealed.

I’m officially in love with Blackened Blue/Blue Magic (not to be confused with the original Blue Magic). And Blackened Sterling/Sterling Magic is the perfect silvery black liner I’ve been searching for.

I definitely prefer the blackened side to the glitter side – as I hurtle towards 30, I find myself steering away from glittery makeup. But the Sterling Magic’s concentration of silver glitter is excellent, I must say. Better than some of the Hard Candy pencils I’ve purchased in the past, too.

The bright bright yellow and purple wand for Maybelline The Colossal piqued my interest from the moment I saw it. I’ve had mixed results with Maybelline mascaras in the past – despite its reputation, I don’t think Great Lash is one of the best mascaras on the market. Not by a long shot. I much prefer Full N’ Soft, a mascara that gives me the volume I desire without the Tammy Faye brittleness and clumping. The Colossal is supposed to be all about volume, but after a week of giving it the ol’ college try, I’m back to my Full n’ Soft.

Cosign with Yummy 411 — I’m not impressed enough to buy The Colossal again. And bellas – if you’re looking for real reviews from a variety of beauty loving women, check out Makeup Alley. Their top reviewed mascara list is telling — my beloved Full n’ Soft gets a 4.0 from 1,915 reviewers, and 76% of them would buy again. So that says a lot.

Maybe you’ve been dying to buy yourself a NARS blush — Orgasm, Super Orgasm, Exhibit A or any of the other colors with fun names that you’ve read often on beauty blogs and in magazines. If you can’t quite justify spending $25 on blush, you should check out A Floral Affair, Revlon’s new limited edition powder blushes. I’m not alone in my admiration – Bellasugar found her favorite shade to be almost a dead ringer for Nars Orgasm!

$11 for these gorgeous little blush compacts, and the colors offered are unlike anything else I discovered in my drugstore diva-ing. Rich metallics and deep colors that I bet would just glow on brown skin. I really had to restrain myself from overindulging. The Make a Sheen lustrous shadow blends come with a trio of truly lovely, complimentary shades that can be worn separately or blended together. The Peachy Keen blush I bought included a lovely deep bronzy peach, complimented by a paler more shimmery section. They swirl together to gorgeous effect. And now that my faith’s been restored in Revlon, SOMEBODY tell me when these Golden Affair sculpting blushes become available. I’m glad they’re only coming out with four, a beauty junkie like me wants them all!

Those are but a few of the great new discoveries I got at the drugstore. I couldn’t purchase everything I wanted — so I plan to eventually get the HIP Color Rich Cream Crayon — at $10 it’s a drugstore splurge, but as Scandalous Beauty says — there are some L’Oreal HIP products that really are of stellar quality. I have yet to go wrong with their eye makeup. It’s as good as it gets at the drugstore.

I asked some of my friends on Twitter what their favorite drugstore buys were, and they had great recommendations.

Anika of WriteBlack swears by Bonne Bell and Rimmel lip gloss, Honey Brown Sugar loves Cococare lip balm. Luvley Cuppa T loves NYC liquid liner, and Iman’s loose powder with minerals. Kari of A Mi Ver says CG TruBlend Minerals brighten up her skin beautifully, Blaq Vixen Beauty swears by Sally Hansen’s lip treatments, and Mia of Doro Marketing says she gets more compliments on her eight dollar Ulta brand lipstick than she gets on her Trish MacEvoy.

And if you don’t know, now you know!

This is but part 1 of Brilliant Bargain Beauty Buys. I’ll be back later this week with the hair edition! Oh yes – I found some great affordable hair product purchases, some of which might surprise you.

What are your favorite beauty bargains?

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Louise aka LuvelyCuppaT says:
October 21, 2008, 12:49 am
This is my new favorite beauty site!!!
Anjela says:
October 21, 2008, 3:01 am
Aww man! I can't believe you linked to me, lol! A dream come true. Anywho, I'll have to add your article to my drugstore archives and be sure to get all the products you have mentioned here. Thank you! :)
Laila says:
October 21, 2008, 6:07 am
Revlon have really stepped up, i love the Revlon colourstay foundation. I wish we got the whole Milani range in the UK, i only got some eyeshadows. Nicka K is a good BSS brand. I bought their Golden dream blush, i want to try Taj Mahal by Nars but i was scared about an orange blush. I love my blush though its great. L.A. Colours is a good brand as well, i got some red lipstick yesterday. I'm in Love!
ceecee says:
October 21, 2008, 8:13 am
You're the best bella...I need to throw out my old blush and get something new. I'm really starting to get into using blush. And lol @ you saying you're glad the sales ladies not paying attention to you saved you money. I was just thinking about the same thing last night.
Tara says:
October 21, 2008, 9:20 am
I definitely love ELF Cosmetics (eyeslipsface.com), for their unbeatable price, but so far i've only been using lipgloss. But really - $1 per product? Can't beat that.
Hannah says:
October 21, 2008, 9:25 am
I think L'Oreal HIP eye products are as good a quality as any department store brand. I just wish they had a wider range of colors! I think Revlon Colorstay eyeliner is a pretty good product. The best thing about drugstore brands is they have pretty good sales (2 for 1 etc). Blogdorf Goodman lists the drugstore sales every week: blogdorfgoodman.blogspot.com
KindredSmile says:
October 21, 2008, 11:05 am
I adore ELF products and the L'oreal HIP collection - I've found that their products are the only ones that maintain their intensity throughout the whole day!
Tj says:
October 21, 2008, 11:30 am
I bought some golden affair sculpting blush over the summer. Revlon makes really great products. I wore a LOT or Revlon in my broke college days.
Brandi says:
October 21, 2008, 12:29 pm
I have to 3rd ELF. All of my eye makeup is from ELF with the exception of Cover Girl Lash Blast which I'm sooo in love with. I agree that Maybelline Great Lash is not by far the best mascara in the bunch. I just can't see paying $25 for mascara. No matter how many times I head to Sephora, I just can't bring myself to spend those types of prices for makeup! I'll have to branch out and try some of your favorites.
Ladene says:
October 21, 2008, 12:38 pm
the sephora i go to in pennys always treated me like i wasnt there. and when id ask a question, i udually got a finger pointing on some wall and i never found what i was looking for. one day a newbie (at least ive never seen her working there before) helped me out, she was like on it. she showed me where the deals were, what colors complement my skin, etc. just doing her job! well, imagine the look on the other worker's (who just pointed me somewhere) face when i pulled out my silver/platnum pennys card and bought $150+ in products. plus i wrote a comment card with positive reviews of that wonderful worker. in short, its their loss when they ignore you. they never know who you are (fab blogger like Afrobella) or how much money you have (like me with the credit card). ;) also, my fave beauty bargain is the ULTA lip tint in wine. its a classic red color that you can wear everyday. i like to wear it over cherry lipchap for extra longevity. and right now ulta is having a $5 off coupon. so go...now!
Niki says:
October 21, 2008, 12:58 pm
I love, love, love all the Milani stuff. They have a new eyeshadow collection called "Runway Eyes" which includes a pallette of 6 high-fashion, highly -pigmented colors, all for unde $6. For nail polish, I always go to my local beauty supply for all the latest colors. There are a couple brands, like "Wild N' Crazy" colors or "China Glaze" that have pretty good knock-off of OPI shades.
Newly Nappy says:
October 21, 2008, 2:01 pm
Luv luv LUVVVV ELF! The eyeshadows r phenom. Particularly because I'm new to the concept of wearing makeup do I fully endorse elf. At $1 a pop, and if u google elf coupons u can always get some kind of extra deal, I can afford to try many different things and see if they work for me. Their spf15 lipgloss is awesum, and the eyeshdws r great colors (both the cream w/2 colors n the pwdrs w/4 colors) and a great bargain. HIP is great too, the colors really r formulated for colored skin so everything shows up so nicely. I use their blush, bronzing pwdr, & eyeshadows.
Lu says:
October 21, 2008, 3:31 pm
I just bought a bunch of Sally Hansen's lip treatments- lip plumpers and smile brighteners, they don't taste too good but they work pretty well!
Miss Cocoa Luv says:
October 21, 2008, 5:08 pm
I am going to look for that Revlon - Nars hybrid. I love the Nars Orgasm. It's one of those colors that looks good on all complexions.
The Ish says:
October 21, 2008, 6:42 pm
Using bareEssentials mineral powder now. I might try the CG TrueBlend. 'till next time...
puff says:
October 21, 2008, 8:40 pm
wonderful post! i actually just started using the colossal and i like it - but then, i like my eyelashes very very long which this mascara does beautifully, and i'm not so worried about volume cos mine are fairly thick. clinique's high impact is another great mascara, and at $14 for a higher end brand, it's a good deal. i'm looking forward to trying the milani pencils. i don't actually know if they sell these stateside, but i'm a huge fan of rimmel, in particular their eye make up.
b. says:
October 21, 2008, 9:02 pm
Okay, So I ran out and got the Full 'n Soft. I don't normally "run out and buy" on impulse after a single recommendation but I don't regret it! Thanks for the tip :D I'll have to post the type of liner I use when I get home. I've actually gotten compliments on it! And it's black, not colorful or anything.
Sabrina97 says:
October 21, 2008, 9:58 pm
I actually like the Colossal....but I like the Great Lash too. HiP is really cool, especially the gel liners, but the brush that comes with it sucks. I would buy a good brush and line away! I haven't bought Milani in a long time, but I am going to try it really soon. I like E.L.F. too and you can't beat $1 each. I just am trying to understand blush. I have never been able to wear it and not look like a clown. Any suggestions?
Nina says:
October 22, 2008, 12:00 pm
Fabulous post. Particularly the positive spin you put on being ignored at Sephora and the slick little shout-out you gave to the exact store. I LOVE mascara, so I love seeing these reviews. I wish I read a few more reviews before experimenting myself and having a day where my lashes looked like tarantula legs. So far, my favorite is CG Volume Exact. Full and Soft is next on the list after I burn through these two tubes of XXL (I thought the first try was me, not the mascara). I wish Great Lash really was what they hype it up to be, it's right in my price range.
b. says:
October 22, 2008, 1:06 pm
The liner I think is END ALL BE ALL is CoverGirl Perfect Blend. It's soft enough to use in one nice swoop, and heavy enough to stay all day. None of that "warm the tip with a lighter" stuff. Nor does it feel like gel. Just right. I've received complements on it.
coco_fiere says:
October 22, 2008, 3:17 pm
L'Oreal's HIP gel liners are amazing! I used the brush that comes with them until a few weeks ago when I started using my Sonia Kashuk #09 brush (concealer/liner) to fab results. I also love the shadows, cream crayon and jelly balm. I only stock up when there's a BOGO and I have coupons. :) My fave mascaras are Revlon's Fabulash, which makes people ask if I'm sporting falsies, Physician's Formula F.L.A.T., L'Oreal's Voluminous, Telescopic, and Volume Shocking. I'm trying CG/Max Factor's latest mascaras in the next few months--bought them on sale so when I'm done with the current rotation, they're next. At least two of Revlon's Super Lustrous glosses and L'Oreal's Infallible glosses are always in my purse. Milani and Prestige make some of the most pigment-dense, wallet-friendly eyeshadows. I use Milani's mineral makeup mixed with L'Oreal's to get the perfect color. I keep it in a Bare Escentuals compact that I found on Ebay.
coco_fiere says:
October 22, 2008, 3:19 pm
I also found that Black Opal, Iman and L'Oreal True Match are the best concealers for my dark circles and hyperpigmentation spots.
SoFrolushes says:
October 22, 2008, 5:00 pm
you are never too old for glitter.
shan shan says:
October 22, 2008, 7:14 pm
Bella, I was wondering if you, or anyone else for that matter has ever tried airbrushing your foundation? I saw this infomercial the other day (I know! I know!) and they were selling this instrument that airbrushes your foundation on. Now I've seen this done before on tv by makeup artist, but I was wondering if the average bella does this at home? I don't wear much foundation, but I'm very interested in the concept of a "flawless" finish. Where would one buy the equipment for this, and is it costly?
Alicia says:
October 22, 2008, 9:43 pm
"I have champagne and caviar taste, but a beer n’ Cheetos budget" - I love it and mama is in the same boat. I am a proud coupon clipping sale stalking fashionista. alicia http://todaystyle.today.com/
Lynette says:
October 25, 2008, 7:08 pm
I love L'Oreal's HIP line, but I was so upset with them when they dropped their liquid foundations from the line, just when I had found a shade that matched my complexion perfectly. Bella, those Revlon Golden Affair blushes were released as a limited edition product Fall '07. You may still be able to find some stores who carry that product, but you will have to do some searching.
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