Fifty bucks can get you a lot of things—a nice dinner, 50 things you may or may not need from the dollar store, a top from Zara that somehow earns more compliments than any of your designer pieces, and so on. When it comes to beauty, however, $50 seems both substantial and not enough; we’re thrilled when we snatch up our favorite black eyeliner on sale in the drugstore aisle, but our spirits deflate yet again when our $65 foundation runs depressingly low. Sigh.
As much as we fully support a good splurge (or two), we also realize the beauty (pun intended) of going back to basics. If you only have $50 to spend, can you build an entire makeup wardrobe? In other words, what’s the makeup equivalent of a crisp white button-down and super-flattering skinnies? To get an expert opinion, we spoke with makeup artist Emily Cheng and issued her a challenge: to name the products she would recommend to someone with only $50 to spend. Keep scrolling to see her makeup picks as well as some of our own!