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10 Beauty Products Makeup Artists Would Never Waste Money On

Makeup artists Anthony Giles and Lorin Cole ID reveal the cosmetics they never waste money on, no matter how many Kardashians are touting them.

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Trendy-productsAsia Images Group/Shutterstock

Trendy tools

If Instagram makeup stars have you itching to run out and purchase the latest tool, you’re not alone. But as much as you may be curious to see if a silicone sponge can out-spackle your Beauty Blender, Anthony Giles suggests saving your money. “They don’t really work and they actually make makeup much more complicated,” he says. “I prefer to keep it traditional.”

Instead, he recommends purchasing cruelty-free powder brushes that are made from shaven natural goat hairs. And for liquid and cream products, Giles suggests using synthetic brushes that can easily pick up product and be cleaned off. Whatever kind of tool you reach for, make sure to wash your brushes regularly—these are the gross things that can happen if you don’t.

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Eyeshadow-PrimerAndrii Kobryn/Shutterstock

Eyeshadow primer

Can’t live without eye primer? Most high-end primers start at $20, and though budget-friendly options have more recently hit drugstores, Lorin Cole says that there’s an even cheaper alternative—creamy white shadow. “Use it from the inner corner blending out toward the outer corner,” she says. “This creates a sheen and makes it easier to blend your eyeshadow without getting that cakey look.” Here are 13 tricks to make your makeup last all day.

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High-end setting powders

If you’re curious about whether a pricier powder is going to maintain your look through a night of drinks and dancing, let’s just say you’re better off spending that money on another round. “Powders all use the same ingredients—mica and talc,” says Giles. “As long as it’s pretty finely milled, you can use just about anything when it comes to powder.” So instead of splurging on a $100 setting powder, Giles recommends the RCMA No Color Powder, which at $12 is a steal for a hefty three ounces.

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Airbrush-foundationMilkica R/Shutterstock

Airbrush foundation

Airbrush foundation may be a quick alternative to all of the necessary blending, but your look can go from cute to cakey in a matter of seconds. If you happen to have some things you’re looking to hide, Cole suggests ditching the expensive equipment and investing in a good, luminous foundation for a fresh look. “Covering flaws such as scars or blemishes often takes heavier coverage, and blending in a touch of a luminous product helps to achieve that goal. Otherwise, the area can look dry and cakey, and won’t blend in with the rest of the face.” If you need a few recommendations, these expert-approved foundations will actually improve your complexion.

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MascaraIvan Demyanov/Shutterstock

Top-of-the-line mascara

If you’ve ever bought a $10 drugstore mascara that you swear is just as good as its luxury competitors, you’re on to something. Turns out that mascara formulas are barely distinguishable. “All the mascaras in the world are made by the same company in France,” says Giles. “They have around five mascara formulas that they put into different tubes. Then, depending on the brand, they just put a different wrap on the outside.” Obviously, the brushes are different, which accounts for some of the variations you see in the performance. So, if you’re totally head-over-heels for a pricey mascara, try the same-shaped wand in a cheaper brand. Mind blown? These are the best drugstore mascaras.

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Contour kits

You may covet celebrities’ sculpted, highlighted cheekbones, but you don’t need a special kit to finesse the look. “Contouring kits are a complete waste of time,” Giles says. “Powder is powder.” To create the illusion of definition in the face, Giles employs Mac Taupe blush for light to medium skin tones and Mac Swiss chocolate blush for medium to dark skin tones. See our step-by-step guide to slimming your face with makeup. 

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Eye-linerVladimir Gjorgiev/Shutterstock

Pricy eyeliner and brow pencils

We’ve all experienced midday mirror horror: That moment when you look at your reflection and see smudgy raccoon eyes and instant regret. If you’re using a soft pencil, you’re practically doomed at any price point. “In a matter of minutes they bleed, smudge, and disappear,” says Cole. “Soft pencils are especially difficult to paint in eyebrows.” Instead, she suggests using felt tip liners. And if your wings never fail to turn out wonky, try starting with pencil and going over the line with liquid, or check out these eyeliner hacks every woman should know.

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MoisturizersAsia Images Group/Shutterstock

Expensive moisturizers

Don’t fall for fancy brand names and high-tech-sounding compounds because, as a recent study found, moisturizers don’t always live up to their claims. What’s more, most moisturizers don’t actually add moisture into your skin, “They’re just a barrier to protect you from transepidermal water loss, keeping your skin from drying out,” says Giles. That’s why it’s important to moisturize after a shower—the moisturizer will trap the water on your skin and keep it there.

Before you drop $200 on a multi-promise product, Giles wants you to know that they don’t necessarily perform any better than one widely loved make-up artist secret. At just $15, Embryolisse moisturizers will keep your skin supple and hydrated. “Every single make-up artist on the planet uses Embryolisse for a reason—because it’s the best.”

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Cream eyeshadows

From the buying to the blending and all of the brush options involved, mastering your ideal eye makeup look can be kind of overwhelming. That’s why cream shadows, marketed as a simple swipe-on-and-go type of product, sound like the ideal solution, but according to Cole, they tend not to wear well through the day. “I never use colored cream eyeshadow, as they do not last the day and can become blotchy.” And though finding that one truly game-changing product is totally possible, you may have to go through a whole lot of crummy cream shadows to find it. (We’re still going to try the creamy white shadow as a primer, though.)

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Boutique lip pencils

“Outside of the less expensive lip pencils that are made in China, all lip pencils and sharpeners are made by the same company in Germany,” says Giles. So if you’re vying for Kim Kardashian’s signature lip shade (psssst, she uses MAC lip pencil in Stripdown), Giles suggests skipping the wait list and opting for a pencil from LA Girl. “One of them is $18 and the other is $3, but they’re exactly the same—the same quality, the same colors, and they come from the same factory.” Best of all, your look will be equally lust-worthy at a fraction of the cost. Use these makeup tricks for a fuller pout every time.