Five Inexpensive Makeup KnockOffs That Work For Me

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I am not very skilled in the makeup department. So I get a little cheap when it comes to makeup. Partly because I don’t know what I am doing and so I don’t want to waste expensive makeup. Partly because I am just cheap in general. I think the politically correct term is frugal.

So often when I hear of an expensive brand that everyone swears by I go scouring the internet to see if there is a cheaper version that still does the trick. If enough people are talking about it then it must be true. And then I go and spend under $10 to find out if it is true for myself. 9/10 times it is.

I am sure makeup junkies and experts will tell you, you get what you pay for. But my clueless self will just keep on paying for the cheaper versions and going about my merry little way.

Here are a few makeup knockoffs that are working for me lately:

  • Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel EyelinerBack in 2012 I sung the praises of Bobbi Brown Gel Liner . It was fantastic as long as my little pot lasted, which was actually a long time. But I was bummed it often dried out. And for the cost, it really should have been amazing from beginning to end. The Maybelline brand of gel liner were on sale one week and I thought I would give it a try. Dare I say I like this even better? It lasts just as long, goes on smooth, and doesn’t smudge. I will say the Bobbi Brown eyeliner brush is FAR superior than the one that comes with the Maybelline gel liner. I know it is pricey, but the precision is amazing. So save on the eyeliner, splurge on the brush.

$8 vs. $30

  • Milani Shadow Eyez: After this many years of wearing makeup the one thing I cannot figure out is how to apply eye shadow in any way that doesn’t make me look like a hooker. So I have switched to giant crayons like a preschooler. I love “Champagne Toast” and wear it almost every day. It goes on smooth (unlike a lot of cheap brands I tried), don’t smudge and lasts for the bulk of the day. I’d like to try layering, but I am sure I would mess that up too. So for now it is just me and Champagne Toast. I am comparing it to Clinique’s Chubby Stick which I have tried before because I honestly think it knocks Clinique out of the park.

$6 vs. $17

  • NYX Blush in Pinched:  Everyone knows the gold standard in blush is Nars Org*sm (keeping spammers at bay). But it is mucho expensive. But it gives your cheeks a very natural glow (rumor has it like you just had the big O). For a fraction of the price, and after MUCH research, I decided to give this NYX blush a try. I love it. It is a perfect pink/ peach blend with a tiny bit of a shimmer. And now I have a very natural glow about me.

$5 vs. $40

  • Maybelline New York Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer:  I have long lamented about the raccoon eyes God has blessed me with. Nothing I seem to do erases them and, while various products have helped, I am always a little bit unsatisfied by them. Things are either too cakey, don’t provide enough coverage, or make me look old. I had been saving up waiting to buy the under eye concealer that wins award after award, Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat. Granted these are both technically highlighters, but that just gives me more ways to use it. I need all the brightening I can get. I’m not saying it is because of the new concealer, but I keep having people tell me I look younger. I’m gonna pretend it is the concealer. 

$6 vs. $40

  • Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel: I have saved the best for last. I started using a makeup primer a few years ago because I like how it helps my makeup go on even and stay on longer. As I get older I need all the help I can get hiding skin imperfections. You can get the Smashbox Primer that everyone swears by, or you can spend $6 on something that isn’t meant for your face at all. Similar ingredients. Similar results. Fraction of a price. You don’t need much and it does an amazing job. If you are skeptical, google it. It really does work!

$6 vs. $35

I’ve spilled my secrets. Now what are yours? I always loooove a good makeup tip!!





  1. I don’t really have any. I still wear Maybelline Greatlash because I think it’s the best mascara, and I really like the Netrogena lip giant crayon things. Maybe because I’m a preschooler, too. I should try those on my eyes. :)
    Jessie Weaver recently posted…Nine MinutesMy Profile

  2. You sound so much like me when it comes to make-up–I hate to invest a lot of money until I KNOW it will be good for me; and how do you know if you don’t spend money?

    The brilliant thing Benefit did was give out “They’re Real” mascara mini’s for birthdays at either Sephora or Ulta last year; I tried it and got hooked. I DID try a few mascara options after it ran out (recommended by our fave beauty blogger :) ), but after trying They’re Real, I’m sticking with it. It’s better for me…. Also, I waited until Ulta had their 20% off coupon and finally bit the bullet on Urban Decay’s Naked palette (I got #2). I’m afraid to say I love it, too :/. I guess for the price, all those colors aren’t a bad deal, but it’s hard to plunk down that much until you know you’ll like it. I have several shadows in the kit I’d like to buy as singles, but I’m using all the colors :).

    AND ARE YOU SERIOUS ABOUT THAT PRIMER???? OY. It makes me nervous (but I trust YOU, so…I might try).

    Oh–and I use the Maybelline eyeliner gel b/c my college-age nieces told me to. I likey!!
    Robin Dance recently posted…A love story and a lesson in two wordsMy Profile

    • The primer was recommended on several sites from former models. So I trust them. I think it works awesome. I’ve heard amazing things about Urban Decay’s Naked palette, but I just can’t bite the bullet. I know I would get it an not know what the heck to do with it.

      • As a photographer who works with several professional MUAs – I will confirm the Monistat works. Weird, I know. Prob a little embarrassing to buy? But same ~ ingredients.

        I love The Balm bronzer. It is called Bahama Mama and it is the best thing ever for contouring. It’s not orange at all so you don’t look like you rolled in Doritos… it’s just a nice warm and subtle shadowing. Might I add, that a little under the chin and along the jaw line will take 5 lb off your face in portraits, too? It does. They also make a blush I love, too and all their products have goofy names. I appreciate their efforts to be creative. Also? low-impact packaging.


    • Robin, I am an UD devotee when it comes to their 24/7 pencil eyeliner Rockstar and Stash are my two go-to colors, but I just bought a shimmery pink for a little fun (you know, to go with my purple hair!).
      Amy Tilson recently posted…Five Minute Friday – GratefulMy Profile

  3. I seriously thought about sending you a message that you had linked to the wrong product for the primer. That is crazy. I’ll take your and Darcy’s word for it. I’ve used the green color-correcting SmashBox primer and noticed nothing. Totally going to check out the Milani crayons. I love a good cream shadow!
    Amy Tilson recently posted…Five Minute Friday – GratefulMy Profile

    • I got the almond and I really like it. It’s a bit dryer than I expected but is the perfect shade to work like a base and lasts all day. Good call, Jill! I also found the e.l.f. tinted mousturizer when I left all my makeup home on vacation. I actually have some on my face when i wash it at night. Go figure. :)
      Amy Tilson recently posted…Begin with BaconMy Profile

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