Escaping a Makeup Rut on a Nonexistent Budget

By: Georgia Geen

I haven’t bought an eyeshadow palette for myself in over a year. My Sephora VIB status that once flourished is set to expire at the end of the year.

I’m broke and my aging makeup collection shows it. As a result, I’ve been relying a little too much on my “go-to” looks; doing my makeup has started to feel like less of an art form and more of a routine. Inspiration in beauty guru Instagram and YouTube culture seems to revolve around the acquisition of new product. But for many consumers, this model isn’t practical. Many makeup enthusiasts, myself included, have to develop ways to innovate with the products they already have instead of purchasing something new to change up their looks.


One of my favorite ways to do this is by mixing lipsticks–my current favorite combination is NYX Matte Lipstick in Natural (whose label has been almost completely rubbed clean after years of use) and NYX Lip Lingerie in Bedtime Flirt. Those lipsticks are pretty close in color, but the combination of the brown-toned Bedtime Flirt and the soft pink Natural creates an on-trend look that’s still wearable for everyday. I prefer to use at least one liquid lipstick in all of my combinations, making to final look cleaner- which is important when multiple products are being used.

I also frequently mix Buffy, one of the Lime Crime Velvetines, with NYX Matte Lipstick in Perfect Red. These two are friendly opposites when it comes to color, the former being a light brown and the latter (you guessed it) a bright red. A higher level of blending and patience is required when using two or more very different colors, but it’s still achievable. A small brush, clean fingers, or incessant lip-smacking is needed to create a seamless blend.

Be careful when it comes to blending two lipsticks with different formulas, as the end result often appears choppy. That being said, I find liquid or matte lipsticks much easier to blend than creamier formulas that tend to bleed off the sides of the lips after too much fussing (I might also be a bit biased, considering I live and breath for a good matte lipstick).


In theory, possessing a wide array of eyeshadow palettes should make it easy to add variety to eye makeup. And yet, another region of my face has fallen victim to the monotony of neutral base shadow, crease, highlight, eyeliner and lashes. In other words–my eye makeup looks the same every time I do it. 

I like to rotate my palettes every couple of days–it’s not a strict rule, but rather something that should be done when the moment feels right. Remember, makeup should be fun, and trying too hard to add variety can turn the art form into a chore for some people.

Dirty brushes can cause the same problem. Shadows build up in the hairs and mix together, creating a muddied version of whatever new color is applied. In an ideal world, brushes should be cleaned after each use. I’ve literally never known anyone ever to do this. But, a cleaning every few uses will greatly improve the color quality of shadows.

Playing with different bases will also add variety to eye looks. For instance, using concealer as an eye base will give a different result than a shimmery primer. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture palette gave me a new variety to add to my collection. I’m well aware of the *drama* surrounding the palette, but I found the shadows quite usable with a gentle hand and the grungy colors helped me experiment in ways I hadn’t done since I first started using makeup.

Aside from eyeshadows, changing eyeliner styles is a way to completely change a look. When I started experimenting more with eyeshadow, I started to shift towards a thinner, daintier wing that wouldn’t obscure the detailed blending I had to do on the lid. The thin, flexible brush that comes with the Tarteist Clay Paint Liner makes it easy to create a variety of eyeliner styles. Changing the direction of the wing can also alter the style–flicking upwards gives a vintage feel, whereas a straight-across wing is more modern.

Full Face

On a broader note, increasing or decreasing the amount of makeup is a simple way to add variety. After years of dramatic wings and contours, I’ve recently started to dial down the intensity of my day-to-day makeup to make it more skin-oriented. In my experience, taking a break from your go-to style can actually help you improve that style once you go back to it with a fresh point of view.