Dollar Store Makeup: Really a Bargain?

by Jane Wangersky | February 7th, 2012 | Women's Beauty, Women's Fashion

Though I believe you usually get what you pay for, I’m chronically skeptical of the beauty industry, as I’ve said before, and think they could get away with charging a lot less than they do. So I decided to try out a brand that does charge significantly less, and see if its products were in fact just as good.

Jordana is a line of low-priced cosmetics — so low-priced, it’s surprising to find they’re made in the U.S.A. I discovered them at a local dollar store. Not that they cost just a dollar an item, any more than everything cost a dime in the dime stores of my childhood.

I picked up a bottle of foundation for $3.15. (It helped that I’d been able to preview the colors on Jordana’s website; dollar stores aren’t always well lit). It blended well with my (melanin-deprived) skin, gave good coverage and finish, looked natural, and lasted most of the afternoon. It looked, felt, and smelled as good as any higher-priced foundation I’d used.

The thing is . . . I don’t usually use a liquid foundation, but Cover Girl’s Liquid to Powder. It comes in a semi-solid state, in a compact with a sponge and mirror, and though it doesn’t really turn into powder magically on my face, it goes on drier than most foundations, which is good for my oily skin.

Now I’m sure I could’ve gotten the same effect with Jordana products. I’d just have to buy a box of loose powder to put on over the foundation (I’m skeptical of makeup in general, but I’m dead set against pressed powder), and maybe a pack of cosmetic sponges, also from the dollar store. But by the time I’d done that, I’d have spent about as much as I would on a new Liquid to Powder. And it would still take longer to put on in the morning, and I wouldn’t have the advantage of everything packed together in one handy kit.

It’s similar with lip color — I usually wear lipstain, which sinks into the skin instead of sitting on top of it and therefore lasts longer. You can make ordinary lipstick last longer by putting on two coats with a coat of loose powder in between — but, again, you need to buy two products instead of one, and you need to spend extra time.

(Jordana does make longer-lasting lip color, or used to, anyway, but our dollar store didn’t have any of it).

If you can get by with just foundation or just powder, if you don’t mind spending a little more time or losing a little convenience, you can save a lot buying cosmetics at the dollar store. But you should do the math to see if it’s worth it.

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