Slummin’ It, Part Two: Does Dollar Store Beauty Deliver Or Disappoint?

Published on August 25, 2013 by   ·   4 Comments

0 Patiently WaitingSo, I’m sure you’ve all been sitting around, waiting with bated breath for me to reveal the results of my not-so-clinical tests on my huge haul of Dollar Tree makeup.  C’mon, you can admit it.  There’s no shame in wanting to be a fierce bargain hunter while still being a fierce diva!  I will admit that I was very skeptical about my rainbow of bargain buys, even though I was greatly intrigued.  I mean, SHANY and BH Cosmetics do great palettes, and their items are really affordable, so maybe dollar store makeup has made the same kinds of improvements.  When I was in high school, Minot’s “Everything’s $1” had some makeup but it was dry, chalky eyeshadows and waxy lipsticks with barely any coverage; but that doesn’t mean things can’t change for the better.

So here’s my process: for the eyeshadows, I  swatched them on my arm.  I applied once directly on the skin and once over Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original (and no, the irony is NOT lost on me that the primer cost more than all of my dollar store products combined!).  Each color got 3 – 5 swipes using the applicator provided in the packaging; for each color, the primed and non-primed sides got the same number of swipes.  I used the sponge applicators that were in the packages.  First, because I wanted to see how they worked “as designed,” including the applicators, and second, because I felt it was safe to assume that people who are buying makeup at Dollar Tree are probably not applying said makeup with super expensive designer brushes.  But that could just be more of me being a makeup snob.  Anyway…

The lipsticks are applied directly to the hand.  The top two swatches are a single swipe of lipstick, the bottom two swatches are 3 swipes of lipstick.  I didn’t test out the glitters as they are in very small bottles, and I didn’t want to waste them…I’m hoping they will be easily combinable with my other glitters the next time I create a stunning glitter lip.  If I experience any cosmetic tragedies, I will be sure to update you!  Anyway, I swatched almost all of the shadows, though a few didn’t get featured (more on that later).  To start, here is a gallery of the swatches; sorry if the lighting is a little jank, but this is my first time uploading these kinds of images! (Editor’s Note: Some of the swatch images were lost in the “Great World of Champagne Photo Crisis” of 2014, but we’ve restored as many as possible!)


Now, because I’m a negative type of bitch, I’m going to start with the cons:

* The biggest disappointments were the LA Colors 12-color palettes.  They were dry and a little chalky, and did not smooth on well.  Also, the reason I didn’t sample all of the colors is because in each of the palettes there were several colors that were basically indistinguishable.  This was true in a couple of the other palettes where two colors were either identical or pretty damn close, but not as much as the 12-color palletes (or should I say, the more-like-8-unique-color palettes).

* LA Colors also had  a pretty big miss with the loose eyeshadow powder.  It was hard to get out of the bottle; there may be some way to decant it and make it more useful, but using it as designed was a mess.  It was almost impossible to get a predictable amount out on the brush, and so my swatches as less uniform than with the palettes.

* The shadows were really hard to remove.  I had to do some pretty serious scrubbing between photos, on both the primed and non-primed sides.  This may indicate that they have long wearability potential, but it was a big pain in my ass for the purposes of this article – and presumably for someone who just wants to have some color for a short period of time.

* With the profusion palettes, the shadows were a bit creamier and spread much more easily, but there was a lot of fallout…the shadows became a mess at the first swipe!  They broke apart and a lot of the shadow was wasted.  These will not last a long time with that much wasted product, but at $1 per palette, that may not be a very big deal for most.

* The lipsticks were ho-hum.  I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t love them.  Since I love lipstick and playing around with different lip looks, I certainly wouldn’t spend much time with dollar store brands as the experience just wasn’t there, but they weren’t awful.  If you found a color you liked (especially that plum color they were way overstocked with!) you could get yourself a cheap staple to your kit, but don’t expect a lot of fun factor.


Now on to the good news:

* Most of the shadows, especially the Profusion Cosmetics palettes, actually performed pretty well.  They spread nicely and had good color payoff, some almost as good as some of the SHANY colors, and most had a nice shimmer to them.

* The palettes, in general, had a nice mix of shades, and the selection of palettes I chose gave me a variety of bright colors as well as a few more neutral tones.  It would be hard to do a neutral eye without some sparkle using these palettes, but if you don’t mind a little glitter they can give you a pretty wide range of possible looks to try out.  As I noted before, they may not last as that long because of the crumbliness, and you’ll want to make sure you protect your undereye and cheek from fallout, but the price point makes it hard to argue if you’re looking for something to experiment with.

*Each palette had one or two shades that wasn’t as vibrant or as creamy as the rest, and some of the colors seemed to be duplicates, but overall, all of the palettes (with the exception of the 12-color palettes) were a good collection of useful shadows.  The disparity of quality within a palette was never enough to cancel out the value of the palette as a whole.  Again, if you had paid $30 for a palette with this many colors it might have been more of a problem, but these are fun little frivolous throwaways, and they perform well enough for that.

* LA Colors was the most disappointing, but also had the best product out of the assortment: the Bold Eyes palettes, especially Striking.  I was leery of the speckled eyeshadows, wondering how the colors would mix and if this might lead to uneven application.  It turned out that the mixed beautifully; I didn’t find any odd spots where the colors stayed unmixed, and the colors were vibrant and shimmery.  Striking is especially good: in addition to the colorful shadows, the black and brown on the right side of the palette are great contour shades; black shadows, if done poorly, can be very streaky and chalky, but this was smooth and very nicely pigmented.  Great staple shades for your kit when you need a dependable black or brown.

So, will I be throwing my Sephora VIB card into the fire and haunting my local Dollar Tree for the latest shipment?  Never.  I have far too much of a beauty addiction to deprive myself of those fabulous brands that I know and love.  But now I don’t have to feel guilty if I decide to drop a buck or two on something glittery and fun that catches my eye, knowing that I’ll actually be able to get my money’s worth.

Now let me spray myself down with something expensive, preferably Chanel.  I may be opening up my mind, but I’m still a makeup snob.  And all this slumming is going to ruin my reputation – I spend a lot of money to look this cheap!

01 Chanel

Now Go Forth and Get Painted!

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Readers Comments (4)
  1. Therese says:

    Even though I’m a makeup-snob, I do love my Wet n Wild lipsticks because they’re matte, which is so hard to find.. and they’re cheap as dirt… how they look on me…well just tell me they look gorgeous so I don’t get self-conscious.

  2. meeting men says:

    But wanna comment that you have a very nice internet site , I like the style it really stands out.

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