Beauty School: When (And When Not) To Splurge On Super Fancy Products

What kinds of skincare products and makeup are worth investing in, and what am I better off buying at the drugstore? I love fancy beauty products, but my budget only allows for a few splurges.

Unlike other organs, the skin is visible — it’s a map of your life complete with freckles, spider veins, open pores, spots, scars, and laugh lines. Because it’s exposed to the sun, cold, wind, and pollutants, the signs of stress will show if you don’t take care of it. The good news is that it no longer needs to cost you an arm and a leg, with more and more quality brands becoming available at the drugstore. However, some products are well worth spending a bit more on.

Cleansers: While basic soap and water can upset the pH balance of the skin and leave a pore-clogging oily residue, cleansers you rinse off with water will leave your skin feeling freshest. Try any of the gentle wash-off cleansers available in bars, creams, liquids, and foams, which leave skin residue-free without feeling tight and dry. One of my personal favorites is Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser for a splurge; for a save, Cetaphil makes a great, gentle cleanser.

Moisturizers: Get to know your skin so that you can select the right moisturizer. You may decide that you need moisturizer only on certain areas of the face, avoiding oily patches on the nose and chin, for example, or that you need a richer moisturizer in winter to combat the drying effects of cold weather. The skin around the eyes and on the neck is thinner and prone to dryness. Don’t forget these areas, as they are often the first to show signs of aging. Also, always remember to get a moisturizer that includes SPF, like Sarah Chapman Dynamic Defence SPF 15, protecting your skin from the sun will slow signs of aging.

Tools: Applying makeup correctly with the appropriate tool gives a longer-lasting finish, greater precision, and more natural results. While it may seem extravagant to invest in equipment, it will ensure that you always get the most out of your products. Always choose a good quality brush to avoid shedding, and look for brushes with shorter handles that allow you to get closer to the face and maintain better control. Synthetic brushes, which are easier to clean, should be used to blend cream and liquid formulas while natural brushes, which are softer on the skin, are best for powders.

Makeup: Foundation is your canvas, so invest in a good formula that is right for your skin. Today’s foundations are multipurpose, offering far more than color correction and coverage, with built in sun protection, moisturizers, and antiaging ingredients. With eyeshadows, invest in two or three great hues. You don’t want to apply more than that, or the look gets too complicated. Neutral shades can act as a base, with contrasting colors create a pop. Drugstore brands have been releasing great mascaras for years — opt for one that is jet black to create a dramatic look. Lastly, lip color is one of the most fun and accessible areas of makeup. Go natural or pick a bold color for a glam look. Multi-tasking products like stains are also great to have on hand, as they can work not only on your lips but add a smudge of color to your cheeks as well.

Jemma Kidd is a world-renowned makeup artist who has painted the faces of Naomi Campbell and Jerry Hall, and now she’s here to solve all of your beauty dilemmas. Not only does she have two makeup lines of her own — Jemma Kidd Make Up School and JK Jemma Kidd — she’s also worked with Max Factor, Rimmel, and Stila. Yes, she’s a total beauty guru. Have a question for Jemma? Email it to!

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