Buying Makeup – 9/2016

I’m sure my views on makeup and whether I care about it will continue to evolve. What’s important, how important, worth the extra money, all are a thing in motion. I suspect I’m a long way from being done changing as I get to be more complex and more subtle at the same time, learn more techniques but use fewer most days. Do more from knowledge and less from guesswork.

I’ve talked a little about the second puberty that trans women and men go through, and makeup is definitely part of the trans feminine experience. First as camouflage, later as an attempt to fit in and only later as self expression.

You don’t need to follow any of the rules about fashion and makeup, hemlines or what colors look best, conventional wisdom on how to complement skin tones and when glamming up is appropriate or not. Same thing with societal norms about anything.

Yet the iconoclast who breaks rules without understanding them just appears to be ignorant, sometimes going with and sometimes against the current. What’s meant by an ironic statement against the status quo turns into something that just makes the statement that they don’t know what they’re fighting for or against.

To the extent I lay out anything that you can construe as “rules” feel free to break them. Try to understand them first. I’m no expert for sure, and I highly recommend learning more about the subject.

Money and Results

I’m truly puzzled. A few months ago I started to believe that spending more was worth it. I think for some items it might be. However, that needs to be tempered. I had an event that helped to change my outlook.

An Eye Infection

I developed a stye. One of a number of kinds of infections you can have. This was not dangerous but I needed antibiotics and a few weeks of not wearing anything and hot compresses. At this point it’s fairly normal. The standard advice:

Throw out your eye makeup!

Oy! Now if you ask around and look around you can sanitize some articles. Things that absolutely have to go are anything liquid or gel:

  • Mascara (it was due anyway)
  • Liquid or gel eye liners
  • Gel shadows

Less clear are cake shadows. Here’s the thing. Do you really want to get reinfected for the cost of  a new palette? You can try brushing on alcohol, but still.

I threw away a bunch. I washed my eye brushes with soap and water after dipping in 90% alcohol, and I swear I will start cleaning my brushes more often.

Then someone told me makeup has an expiration date. Even that powder. Huh, really? Well even those seemingly inert cakes and powders are repeatedly contacted by brushes that contact your face, they have moisture and chemicals that dry out and change how they work, and they need to get tossed after a couple of years.

The most painful thing I threw out was my beloved Naked 3 palette. Sigh, I loved that palette.


Liner pencils can be sanitized and shaved down to expose fresh surface and that was good enough for me. I threw out some anyway – why keep whatever wasn’t working anyway?


Most of what I tossed wasn’t terribly expensive, and some was expired, so it was only around $150 of makeup that hit the trash bin. Imagine if all those items had been Stila or Urban Decay instead of just a couple? That would have been $300 instead.

This certainly made me rethink things. Why spend so much on an eyeshadow palette when a single infection could mean throwing it in the trash?

I started looking at youtube reviews of makeup comparing the high end brands against “drugstore” brands. Some of the women’s magazines do such comparative reviews too. It can be very educational. I already use an $8 mascara from L’Oreal that is almost identical to it’s $30 Lancome twin.

Generally I like NYX’s products, they work well and they are good value. I bought a really nice peach baked blush that looks great. I bought one of their “Dreamcatcher” palettes to replace the Naked 3 palette and at $15 it duplicated some of the main tones I loved on the Naked palette and worked very nicely for me.

I have a number of NYX’s fat crayon eye liner/shadow pencils. They are inexpensive and go on really smooth with very nice color.

I’m currently having problems finding a replacement for the highlighter I lost when I threw out the contouring palette from Cargo (age). I just don’t understand picking a highlighter terribly well, and I am somewhat puzzled as to why very few are offered.

The other drugstore brand I’ve used a moderate amount is L’Oreal. Their foundation seems pretty good, but I needed to use a good deal more than I use of the bare minerals, which might make their real costs pretty even. L’Oreal’s eye pencils were just ok for me, but you might love them. My technique could be the problem.

Worth spending more?

I’m feeling that this is very dependent on the item, how much disposable income you have and whether you feel like a pick me up. There are some high end items that are going to be hard to find. I had a Marc Jacobs eyeliner recommended to me for tightlining because it goes on so smoothly. It’s $22 but that’s fine given how long it will last and the alternatives.




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