Does budget have to mean bad? Body Confidential slaps on £1 foundation to find out
How much is your makeup bag worth? Go on, tally up the number. Add in those face creams full of fancy peptides, the ‘totally worth it’ primers and the contour kits you were led to believe would change your life. It all probably costs a hell of lot. Official figures by Totally Money show, on average, a woman in Manchester spends £5.6k annually on beauty, while in Leeds £7k is splurged, Liverpool £4.2, London £6.3 and so on. Overall, women are said to spend £70,000 in their lifetime on beauty products alone.
Now, we'd argue our beauty shopping habits were totally justified. Sure, beauty is skin deep but a great mascara certainly helps. And yet, we could all afford to be more frugal. We pitted two of the cheapest makeup brands on the market against each other to see whether budget needn't mean bad when it comes to beauty.
POUNDLAND - £6 – ‘the pink lipstick looked as sore as a baboon’s arse’
As a child in the 90s, I’d receive Barbie 'fantasy' makeup at Christmas: it would consist of eye shadow that went on like teeny-tiny grains of sand, lipsticks as stiff as a wax crayon and a kaleidoscopic cacophony of glitter that went all over my face and my parents' cream carpets. Poundland's new makeup range is a lot like Barbie's: packaged well but juvenile in delivery. For one, the black kohl eyebrow pencil came out navy blue – but not in a cool editorial shoot way, I simply looked vicious and colour blind. Poundland's 'Long Lasting' foundation in ‘Golden Sand’ made me look iron-deficient and in serious need of a steak, the bronzer is a waste of time and the bright pink lipstick looked as sore as a baboon’s arse.
The only saving grace was the liquid liner, that went on like an exploded fountain pen but was somewhat salvageable in the end. I know, I know... I'm talking about makeup that costs a quid, what did I expect? True. You get what you pay for with Poundland. And while I’m all for frugality, when it comes to makeup there is certainly, categorically, a thing of being 'too cheap'. Don't bother.
Poundland shopping list
- Matte medium bronzer - £1
- Black liquid liner - £1
- Black kohl pencil - £1
- Eyeshadow stick in gold - £1
- Concealer (warm beige) - £1
- Foundation (Golden sand) - £1
AVOID: eyebrow pencil - £1 / BAG: Black eyeliner - £1
POUNDLAND - £5.50 – 'If I’d wanted tinted Sudocrem, I’d make it at home'
At £1-a-pop, Poundland’s bargain beauty collection might scream a steal to some but to me it screams acne-triggering. Call me a makeup snob but I unashamedly believe that my £35 foundation is money well spent as when it comes to foundation, you get what you pay for. So, prior to application, I bid farewell to my carefully cleansed face, convinced that the Poundland makeover would render me unrecognisable due to a breakout of blistering hives. But, dare I say it dear reader, my fears were misplaced.
Though the thick pasty product was a far throw from the velvet-like liquids I’m accustomed to, the foundation was actually *gulp* *deep breath* alright. The colour was okay, though the coverage was poor and the texture was reminiscent of Sudocrem – which, beauty brat though I may be, I’m not adverse to putting on my face. Across the counter, the results were mixed, at 50p, the mascara does exactly what you’d expect - bugger all. A surprising hit was the naked lipstick, which offered a rich pigmented colour that I may actually wear again. But foundation-wise, I think I’ll stick to the big brands – if I’d wanted tinted Sudocrem, I’d have made it at home.
Poundland shopping list
Candyfloss blusher (5g) - £1
Ivory concealer (4.9g) - £1
Warm ivory foundation (33g) - £1
Brown/Black length mascara - 50p
Naked lipstick (3.5g) - £1
Honeybeige pressed powder (9.8g) - £1
BAG: Lipstick / AVOID: Concealer & mascara
PRIMARK - £25 - ‘if I was a teen Queen with a Youtube dream, I’d definitely head down to Primark’
A Kim Kardashian-esque nude lip kit, a chocolate eye shadow palette very reminiscent of American brand Too Faced and a highlighter kit that feels very Fenty Beauty… Primark’s inspirations for its own budget makeup brand are glaringly obvious, so much so you wonder how it manages to avoid a copyright lawsuit. Primark have also attempted to follow in the footsteps of drugstore brands such as L’Oréal and introduced an inclusive foundation range with matte to velvet textures and ivory to deep mocha skin tones.
It’s a promising start and times are certainly changing; ten years ago I wouldn't have been able to find anything close to my foundation shade in Boots let alone somewhere as low budget as Primark. But lo and behold, I found my shade in 'caramel'. Though don't get too excited, it goes on streaky, thick and is not the 'perfect match' and I would have to avoid camera flashes as the foundation shows up like talcum powder. Still, if I were a teen queen with a Zoella Youtube dream, I’d head down to Primark with a huge basket and run wild. Primark has quite literally everything to create a passable Instagram makeup look on the cheap (I'd suggest adding a few photo filters first). While typically cheap makeup means dreaded ‘grey face’, a mismatched face and neck, followed by an acne breakout, I don't think Primark is that bad.
Primark shopping list
- Chocolate contour eye kit - £6
- Lustre lipstick - 0.90
- Velvet finish foundation (caramel) - £6
- Concealer - 0.60p
- Loose powder (caramel) - £2
- Nudes highlight - £3
- Liquid eyeliner - £1.50
- Eyeconic mascara - £2
- Blender sponge - £1.50
- Brow palette - £2.50
- Blur primer - £5
BAG: PRIMER - £5 AVOID: CONCEALER - 0.90p
PRIMARK - £15 – 'I’ve yet again fallen for the Primark effect'
When I hit Primark’s beauty section, I felt like a beauty-starved Z-lister following a stint on I’m a Celeb... they have everything forged under the beauty sun. Needless to say, I went a bit overboard. Whereas Poundland had scrimped on packaging, Primark had harnessed their usual diversion tactics of aesthetically pleasing products with a cheap price tag. A well-packaged foundation for just £3? Into the basket it goes. A cute contour kit at just £3.50? I don’t even contour, but heck for that price, I’ll give it a try. And so it continues...
The trials revealed some surprising results. The foundation, though better than Poundland’s offering, was still lacking in coverage despite being the fullest option. But, the 60p eyeshadow was a surprising steal and the £3 highlighter stick is a beauty bargain – just be wary that it's deceivingly heavy and tricky to blend, so don’t go mad. At £15 for a full face, I could hardly complain. But whether I’ll actually end up wearing anything again is yet to be revealed. I suspect that I’ve yet again fallen for the Primark effect, enticed by a delectable stash of superficially attractive products that turn out to be lacking in substance. Like any Primark haul, there’s the occasional genuine bargain. But on the whole products look good, but their beauty runs no deeper than the metallic cases they’re showcased in.
Primark shopping list
PS Matte lipstick - £1.50
MPC concealer - 90p
Eyeconic mascara - £2
Custom eyeshadow - 60p
MPC pressed powder - £2
MPC matte foundation - £3
Nudes highlighter - £3
Eyeliner pen - £1.50
BAG: highlighter/ AVOID: concealer