I Swapped All My High-End Makeup Products for Drugstore Alternatives

Amanda Montell

I've just given up high-end makeup cold turkey, and suddenly it's all I can see. My bathroom countertop is piled to the ceiling with Becca highlighters, Too Faced lipsticks, and Nudestix brow pencils that I'm now forbidden to use. At the office, every Byrdie editor's desk is overflowing with loot from Sephora, mocking me with their gleaming labels. A package arrives for me from Nars. I don't even open it. Because for the next five days, I'm not allowed to use it—any of it.

Starting today, I'm embarking on a little beauty experiment. Perhaps "beauty cleanse" is the more accurate phrase. I'm going to use exclusively drugstore makeup every day for a week to see if I can tell the difference.

This really shouldn't be difficult. Throughout my high school and college years, I only ever used the cheapest makeup available. I'd enter Sephora under one scenario: to do my makeup, swipe as many free perfume samples as I could get away with, and leave.

However, my ever-intensifying beauty fixation and unique day job have slowly coaxed me into believing that sometimes you have to pay a little more (or in some cases, a lot more) for the formulas and results you want. Earlier this summer, for example, I decided that $55 was the price one had to pay for the ideal red lipstick.

But I wasn't raised to be like this. So I decided it was time for a makeup detox. Here's how it worked: For a week, I replaced every last one of my luxury makeup products with a drugstore option, and I didn't tell anyone. I chose classic products I'd loved years before and new releases whose formulas intrigued me. The goal was to see how I liked the products and how other people reacted to them.

To be honest, my prediction was that I'd feel "meh" about most of the makeup and promptly return to my regular routine once the detox was over. I certainly didn't expect to fall in love with dozens of products and question everything I thought I knew about the price of makeup.

Keep scrolling to see the 100% drugstore looks I wore, the products that rocked my world, and the lessons they taught me.

This story was originally published August 24, 2016.

Now that you've witnessed the glory of affordable makeup, check out the only drugstore products worth buying, according to makeup artists.

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