If you’ve been on this Afrobella journey with me for any length of time, hopefully you’ll realize — I am all about bellas on a budget. I believe that just about every woman wants to feel beautiful every now and then, whether they’re stacking lots of paper, or struggling to get by. These almost-recession days aren’t easy, and some of those glossy magazines would have you believe that beauty products need to cost you a pretty penny. But I’ll tell you this — you don’t need to buy all your products at Sephora to be gorgeous. There are often bargains to be had at the drugstore, or even right in your own pantry. Having said that, I also think it’s important to recognize that sometimes, you get what you pay for. Take for example, this recent Ask Afrobella question.

Dear Afrobella,
I just found your blog. I am in a wedding in two weeks. I have been told by the bride(zilla) that we can either do our own make or she will have someone there to do our make up for $5. So I’m like, what kind of make up are they doin for 5 bucks? I am worried that this make up chick will have me looking crazy, but I’m not confident that I can do my own make up.
The only make up I own is lipstick and I don’t have an appropriate color for a wedding, I don’t think. I generally prefer dark lipstick. I would just go without make-up and just wear lipstick and mascara, but I don’t want to look odd against the other bridesmaids. I’m a full-time student so I can’t afford to spend a lot on make-up, especially that I won’t wear everyday. Should I let the $5 lady do my make up? Go to the drug store and get some stuff and do my own? I don’t even know what to get or how to apply it. Or just go without and put on some lipstick? I have dry skin. I get a few pimples on my forehead and chin around my period. I’ve attached a pic so you can see what I’m working with. I’m just wearing lipgloss.

OK, so I didn’t post Y’s photo in the interest of protecting her privacy — wouldn’t want the bride-to-be to find out that she’s a bridezilla on the internet! But just so you know, this is a lovely, luminous bella with wonderful chocolate brown skin. She’s got her hair pulled back with a head wrap, and from the photo, her skin’s got nary a blemish. So Y, my first bit o’ advice is, you’re naturally beautiful so don’t worry about comparing or looking odd next to the other bridesmaids. It’s entirely possible that this makeup artist is an apprentice, an amateur, or a professional family friend who’s offered an insanely affordable price…? I dunno, $5 is pretty cheap if you ask me, so I can understand your skepticism. I’ve never heard of a professional makeup artist who’s that affordable. I’d be interested to know how that turns out for the other bellas in the bridal party. So for the wedding, I’d advise you wear some fabulous accessories, and with these basic makeup tips, you’ll be the one of the loveliest ladies in the room (besides the bride, of course)!

I think it would probably stand you in good stead just to have some basic ideas of how to wear makeup in your arsenal, lest there isn’t a makeover artist handy. But we’re trying to not spend more than oh, let’s say $20. $25, tops. So let’s go to the drugstore!

I am a big believer in eyeliner, and I really think a bold eye could set this wedding look apart from your everyday style. First stop, Milani. Did you already guess? I really like this super cheap makeup line. The colors actually stand out on women of color, unlike many other drugstore brands. I seriously rock their eyeliner almost daily, and I get compliments on them all the time. So first you might want to consider the color of your bridesmaid gown. Is it bold, or is it demure? Either way you might want to start with basic black or dark brown liner along your lower lash line, and I think the new Color Brilliance eyeliners are the bomb. They glide on effortlessly, and the pencil is soft but doesn’t break easily. The black pencil is my new daily eyeliner. Love it. Also, I might be partial because I’m a Pisces, but I think aqua shades look divine on brown skin. Just lining your top lid with a thin splash of color could be a fun way to jazz up the wedding day. If I’m not using some kind of primer, I usually lightly powder my eyelid before applying eyeliner. And trust me when I tell you, that aqua pencil is FIRE. And Milani being Milani, there’s no website that tells you the exact cost, and they’re not sold on Drugstore.com… But I will guarantee you that these are less than $4 a pop.

OK, maybe you aren’t quite ready for blue eyeliner, LOL. I always tend to reach for brights, and they’re not for everyone. For a more subtle way to dazzle, consider using a touch of golden shimmer on your eyelid.

I am partial to Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips — they’re flattering, user friendly, and can be used as bronzer, blush, and eyeshadow… but I pretty much only use them as eyeshadow. I love the warm, golden pink shades — just applying a little to your eyelid, then lining your upper lash line with black could really make your eyes pop. This Temptalia look will give you an idea of what I mean, close up. Temptalia has great makeup tips in general, and if you’re not sure which part of the eye to apply makeup to, their eye diagram is tremendously helpful.

Now. On to the rest of your face!

I already outed myself as a big fan of the Queen Collection makeup — their foundations come in a great range of shades, and offer coverage where you need it. Makeup artist James Vincent recommends “dealing with the problem areas and focusing on the center of the face where most women have discoloration; then blending the makeup out from there.” So I apply with the sponge lightly over the problem areas, and blend with a brush and a little translucent Physician’s Formula powder to mattify (that’s $11.95, but keep reading, you may not need it).

For bellas like you who don’t need a ton of coverage but could use some shine control for a special event such as this, the Queen Collection Shine Control Powder Foundation rocks. And it’s $6.99!

You mentioned that you’d wear lipstick and mascara — for the record, I’ve been wearing Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara every day and I really like it! But Y, I notice that you didn’t mention blush. A whisper of blush on those cheeks, and you’ll take the bridal party from zero to sixty.

There is no cheaper makeup on the market than e.l.f, and their Natural Radiance Blusher in bronzed will cost you just a dollar. Bronzed is the perfect color for a bella of your complexion — it’s warm and subtle and just gives the apples of your cheeks a glow. Go super light on the blush, you don’t want to turn up as Lil Kim to a wedding.

Let’s talk lipstick. You say that you “don’t have an appropriate color for a wedding,” and you “generally prefer dark lipstick.” So you might not want to go TOO dark and be the goth bridesmaid this time around. I still have undying love for L’Oreal HIP in Dreamer, the first soft rose petal pink gloss that’s made me instantly fall in love at first try. It’s very wedding apropos, IMO.

But since you like darker shades, you might prefer HIP Moisturizing Lipcolor in Charming or a similarly restrained color. A brown-bronze lip, layered with a pink lipgloss, will make for a warm, inviting, wedding-appropriate look. And there you have it! It’s really not that difficult or daunting.

Oh, and I’m sure you could use some of these Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets in your purse — I always regret when I don’t have mine with me, especially at a special occasion.

I hope that helps. Get your new makeup soon so you can play dress-up and figure out a look before wedding day — don’t wait until the morning-of to then realize — OMG I don’t know how to put on this eyeliner! Know what you’re doing before the big day, and maybe if you get there early, you can watch the artist work on the other girls and then decide if you want her to give you a minor touch-up. At the very least, watching her could either give you makeup tips, or show you what not to do!

I hope the wedding is beautiful and you have a wonderful time. Any advice I should have given, my fellow bellas? Let me know your best makeup tip for newbies!

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Mary says:
April 15, 2008, 10:46 am
5 bucks isn't that unheard of... the bride could be offsetting the cost as a thank you to her bridesmaids! As a MaryKay consultant, I have had brides partially pay for my services while those standing up for her pay a small copay! Good Luck!
ceecee says:
April 15, 2008, 10:48 am
Bella I just want to say that you have me sold on Milani!! and Y don't know if you have mascara already but Jane Mascaras are like $3.50 and they really make your eyelashes pop. It is really important to practice your look before the wedding day. And if the wedding is an afternoon affair, you could make an appointment at a MAC store...
Enigma says:
April 15, 2008, 10:55 am
Also another alternative is to visit your local department store makeup section and have a makeup artist do your make up. Of course be upfront and let her know it's for a wedding and you don't wear make up and therefore not an expert in this area. You don't have to feel pressure to buy anything and if she uses a product you like you can always return at a later date to purchase.
Glamarella says:
April 15, 2008, 11:03 am
I was going to make the same suggestion as Enigma, any department store will be glad to do your make up. I would suggest going when the store isn't busy (preferably early in the day) so that the make up artist isn't rushed or distracted by other customers. I love going to MAC at off times, ask one question and since they are not busy they end up doing my entire face!! I usually buy something small because I feel guilty since they do such a fabulous job.
LBellatrix says:
April 15, 2008, 11:16 am
Co-signing on Milani and their appreciation of the darker-skinned (like me)... Groomed eyebrows, either via waxing or (my favorite) threading, can make a big difference as well. In most places in the US (I could be mistaken) you can get a good wax or threading for under $10.
Wes, nyc says:
April 15, 2008, 12:07 pm
I would love to try the queen collection shine control powder but I have never bought drugstore brand (such as Revlon, Cover girl, Maybelline, etc.) powders or foundations b/c I'm afraid the color won't match. How do you ladies do this?? What's the secret? lol...
elledub1920 says:
April 15, 2008, 12:19 pm
yes---physician's formula shimmer strips are wonderful! i use it as a bronzer and an eyeshadow as well i'll have to try the queen collection, at least the foundation---the one i have now is too heavy and i don't like a whole lot of coverage.
Phyllis says:
April 15, 2008, 12:38 pm
I am new to your website and love it!! Thank you so much for highlighting inexpensive makeup!! I have often wondered if it was really any different from department store makeup without the fancy packaging but never knew the good stuff from the bad. I have been using the Queen collection foundation and it does match so well! Wes,nyc I found it confusing what color to pick cause you really can't see it but I went to the website, http://www.covergirl.com/products/collections/queen/ and that helped a lot.
Ms. Aja B. says:
April 15, 2008, 1:08 pm
@ Wes If I remember correctly, the Queen collection foundations allow you to flip up the top and checkout the color. So you might be able to compare it to something you already have if you bring it with you. Also, like Phyllis, checking the website helped a LOT! I ended up purchasing two different shades to be sure, but was blessed in that the shade that was too dark, was perfect for my friend. Sometimes it is trial and error, but at least it is affordable. Best of luck! :)
Janelle says:
April 15, 2008, 1:37 pm
Speaking as someone who has witnessed quite a few bridezillas, she (the bride) may be very particular on what colors she wants for makeup and how if fits in her overall "vision". I agree with Bella and try your hand at some of these great affordable products. But I would get the $5 makeup job ONLY after I saw her apply it on someone else - this is not the best time to be first. Forget that early bird catches the worm idea....hahahahahaaaa. Inform her that you are not a makeup person, keep telling her that you don't wear it often, and that you want a NATURAL look (stressing natural). If she can't follow directions or if you don't like what you see, you have your own bag of tricks so to speak. Good luck and remember: practice, practice, PRACTICE!!!
DH says:
April 15, 2008, 3:26 pm
Fab tips Bella! Keep up the good work :)
Bebroma says:
April 15, 2008, 4:04 pm
I agree with LBellatrix, groomed brows help make whatever else you do with makeup even better. I really like Maybelline Intense XXL Volume + Length microfiber mascara.
Lee Coles says:
April 15, 2008, 6:01 pm
What do you think of Procter & Gamble's "My Black is Beautiful" campaign? I saw the ads during the CNN race special broadcast from Howard U.
LoveIsDope says:
April 15, 2008, 7:27 pm
Great tips as usual, Bella. My thing with this though, is why is the bride even bothering with the making the girls pay $5? It's just $5! She should just pony up for that herself and let the girls get their make-up done for free. As a recent bride myself, I couldn't imagine asking folks to hand over $5. Being a bridesmaid, though an honor, can get expensive and overwhelming.
Tamara says:
April 15, 2008, 7:52 pm
Were you wearing the Milani blue eyeliner today? It looked awesome. Really made your eyes pop.
Sabrina97 says:
April 15, 2008, 8:45 pm
I like the Queen line. I was similar in shade to my MAC color and I was ecstatic! I haven't been able to find it since, though. I'll check Drugstore.com. I'll be another co-signer to going to the MAC counter (or to Sephora, etc.) and getting one of the awesome artists to do a face for you. Most of the time, I buy a liner (MAC Chestnut is a good neutral for brown bellas) or a gloss (Lipglass is the bomb and comes in many colors) and I'm out $15 or so with something I can use again and some tips on how to use it. Those Mizani liners are really cute....(thinking I might have to invest in those)
Sabrina97 says:
April 15, 2008, 8:46 pm
Not Mizani, Milani! (Must of been reminiscing about relaxers...)
HeavenLeiBlu says:
April 15, 2008, 10:17 pm
Ooooh, FYI, bellas... Milani's Hot Chocolate Lip Pencil is a dead ringer for MAC's Chestnut Lip Liner. It's hard to find though (actually, I haven't been seeing any of ther wood liners lately, but anywho), so I grab a few whenever I see them.
Jacquie says:
April 16, 2008, 1:34 am
As a recent bride I could nor would not ask my girls to pay for there make up even if it were only $5, but that's just me. Bella and the other ladies gave you some great tips. Just my 2cents worth: I would first find out if the bride is familiar with the make up artist work, $5 sounds scary. The makeup artist should be willing to do a test run on at least one of the honorary attendants or the bride herself. If you are still not comfortable with the artist go to a department store as suggested by the other ladies, but do not wait until the day of the wedding. Get a trial done 1 week before with your eye brows fresh. This will give you a better perspective on how you might look the day of. If you like the said look done by the department store, write down all of the makeup the person used (to be duplicated) and if possible pay this person either on the side or return to the department store the morning of to have your makeup applied. sidenote: MAC is my #1 recommendation :) L'oreal HIP is the BEST!! I have tubes all over the place, in 2 purses, 1 in my makeup case, and 1 in the car just in case I forget. I also LOVE L'oreal HIP eyeshadow. I am going to try Milani eye and lip liner, thanks ladies!
NaturalWheezes says:
April 18, 2008, 3:33 pm
Ok, I have to say that I was in CVS yesterday and had to get the Aqua eyeliner and the HIP Dreamer gloss! I LURRRVE them... the eyeliner pops on the eyes beautifully, and the gloss? I've never been one for pinky/rose colors (mainly because I was afraid of them), but I haven't found a gloss so flattering in a long time! This is going to be a staple. Ladies, if you haven't bought anything yet, L'Oreal's lip, eye & face colors are buy 1 get 1 this week w/your Extra Care card. Oh, and I got a HIP eyeshadow duo in Playful, I believe. The peachy tone is gorgeous, haven't used the brown shade yet!
Brandi says:
April 19, 2008, 11:01 pm
I love love love the E.L.F. products. I am a makeup novice so I didn't want to spend a lot on trial and error. However, the colors are great, the price truly can't be beat, and I don't have any reactions to the products, perfect for sensitive skin. Give them a shot!
Dominique says:
April 21, 2008, 12:39 am
Just bought the Aqua eyeliner! Bella, you weren't lying. It's beautiful. I used it on my lower lash line and got compliments on it all day. I worked 13 straight hours and it lasted all the way through. No smudging or wearing!
NaturalWheezes says:
April 21, 2008, 12:30 pm
Dominique, I wore on my top lids to go walking on Saturday (why, I don't know), but when I went to wash my face that night it was still on! And my eyelids tend to be oil slicks. Talk about suprise. NOTHING lasts on my lids, nothing. Maybe I just haven't found the right way to apply yet, but this $3.47 eyeliner applied with just a touch of concealer on the lid beforehand stayed on. Oh yeah, this is a keeper.
Ms. Independent says:
April 27, 2008, 12:22 pm
I'm gonna got out and try those pencils. I've also been hearing sally beauty has individual eye shadows dirt cheap and they're pretty good too...
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