The $20 Makeup Challenge


I try to keep up with the beauty community on Youtube so that I can stay aware of what trends and products I should be trying and reviewing here on the blog.  One thing that I really enjoy on youtube is the tags that go around.  They provide a nice change of pace and are often either a way to get to know the youtuber better or else are pretty funny.  One tag that has been going around is the $20 Makeup Challenge.  The idea is that you are traveling and unexpectedly lost your makeup bag and have nothing left to use.  You have to go shopping with only $20 to do a whole face of makeup, preferably that can transition from day to night.  Even though I am not a youtuber, I really wanted to have a crack at this challenge here on BiBB.  But first, a rant (I promise I’ll be quick).  One thing that really stood out to me as I attempted to tackle this challenge is that it is almost impossible to do a full face of makeup for only $20 these days.  In fact, the youtube challenge included tools in the $20 price tag, which made for some entertaining videos as people tried to use makeshift items or blend eyeshadow with their fingers, but forced people to resort to some pretty unrealistic and often ridiculous choices.  I did not include brushes in my $20 to give myself a fighting chance.  I am really angry and disappointed with the drugstore brands for raising their prices so much over the last two years.  Granted, quality has also improved, but still… This challenge should not have been as hard as it was.

Many of the $20 Makeup Challenge videos that I saw (and I saw several) attacked the challenge in one of two ways.  The first is that they went to Target and got 20 $1 e.l.f. items, regardless of how good or bad the products were.  The other option was to get slightly pricier items that meant making huge sacrifices, mostly in foundation.  Either they skipped foundation entirely, or tried to use a concealer all over their face as if it were foundation.  I didn’t like either of these approaches.  I don’t see the point of throwing away $20 on products that you hate and will never use again, and I can’t skip foundation.  My skin isn’t good enough to go without, and a full face covered in concealer (especially cheap concealer) is just ridiculous.  I wanted the results of this challenge to be as realistic as possible so that if you ever were in a situation where you suddenly needed a lot of products on the cheap, you could actually feel confident in purchasing a few of the items that I am going to show you.  For that reason, with the exception of one product, all of these items came from my own collection.  I stand behind *almost* all of them (I’ll get to the exception in a minute) as products you could actually use to go out in public.

The $20 Makeup Challenge

Here are the products that I used for the challenge.  This challenge was really hard.  I opted to go for a casual day time look that can be pumped up for night time by smoking out the eyes and going deeper with the blush.  The look I provided for you is totally office appropriate and good for those who like a more “natural” look.

  • NYC Skin Matching Foundation $3.57– This is the only product that I bought specifically for this challenge.  I struggled the most with choosing a foundation because it is usually so expensive.  I personally was not a fan of the NYC Skin Matching Foundation and would not purchase it again.  It will do in a pinch if you are desperate, but I didn’t think it blended smoothly at all, and the coverage was minimal.  I would have gotten better results with my e.l.f. tinted moisturizer for around the same price ($3).  Honestly though, I don’t think you should compromise on foundation.  Spend the extra $5 and buy Maybelline.
  • e.l.f. Studio Pressed Powder $3.00– I have featured this powder here on the blog before (Oct 2011 favorites), so I won’t say too much about it now.  I use it every day and stand behind it 100%.  I didn’t have room in my budget for concealer, so this powder really helped pick up some of the slack that the foundation fell short on.
  • Wet n Wild Coloricon Blush in Mellow Wine $2.99– I was first introduced to this blush in the LE Flora collection and immediately went out to buy the full-sized version.  It was also featured in my April 2011 Favorites, and you can check either post if you want to see a swatch.  The blush is pigmented and blends easily, and is a great bargain.
  • NYC Smooth Skin Bronzing Powder in Sunny $2.99– What is there to say about Sunny that hasn’t already been said?  It’s a cult classic and one of the best drugstore bronzers out there for lighter skin.  I’ve mentioned it several times here on BiBB.
  • e.l.f. Essential Eyelid Primer $1– I keep meaning to do a full review of e.l.f.’s $1 primer, and never seem to get around to it.  In essence, this primer is fantastic and keeps my shadow lasting all day.  However, if you have oily eyelids, it won’t work too well for you.  It is definitely geared more towards normal to dry skin.
  • e.l.f. Brightening Eye Color Quad in Brownstone $1– I really like these e.l.f. shadow quads, but like all e.l.f. eyeshadows they are hit and miss and some are way better than others.  My favorite by far is “Butternut”, which is very nice and I’ve used it quite a bit.  The shades are very similar to the quad I used here, but shimmery.  I chose “Brownstone” because the shadows are matte (mostly) and I didn’t have room in my budget for a brow pencil so I needed it to double up for my eyes and brows.  e.l.f. shadows are greatly improved by the use of a primer, so I highly recommend using one.  My eyeshadow look was subtle, but as I stated before, that’s what I was going for.  That being said, however, “Brownstone” is not the most pigmented of the quads, and I don’t think it is the best example of what these quads have to offer.  My eyebrows did not come out too well, but it’s better than nothing.  $20 is not a lot of money, y’all.
  • Jordana INCOLOR Fabuliner Liquid Eyeliner in 02 Brown $2.99– Jordana Fabuliner is a marker style felt tip eyeliner.  It is very good, doesn’t skip, and lasts all day.  The only hitch is that “brown” is very dark and pretty much looks black, so be aware of that.  Otherwise, it’s fabulous and I totally recommend it to you.
  • e.l.f. Lengthening and Defining Mascara $1– I chose this mascara because it came in a kit, so I already had it and didn’t have to hunt down a cheap mascara.  It’s not horrible, but my Holy Grail drugstore mascara is Cover Girl Lashblast, and there is just no comparison.  This one will do in a pinch, though.  The formula is on the dryer side, which I prefer, but the brush is very small.  I can’t say that I recommend it, but for a dollar, it can’t hurt to try it out if you are curious.
  • Jordana Easyshine Glossy Lip Color in Berry Colada $1.99– I’ve posted about these before and they are awesome.  Pigmented, moisturizing, and they smell fantastic.  Lip color was probably the easiest category because there are so many inexpensive products to choose from.  I highly recommend these Easyshine Glossy lip colors.

Grand total: $20.53, close enough for rock and roll.  Let’s just assume you found some change in your pocket, kthnxbye.  Put it all together, and here is the finished look.  (Thanks to the husband for taking the picture for me in less than ideal conditions.)

The $20 Makeup Challenge Results

The lighting is not the best here so I’m a little washed out, but you can still get the idea (darn June gloom).  Again, the foundation that I used was an epic fail in my opinion.  You can really see my rosacea redness peeking through.  My advice is to spend the extra money on a good foundation, even if you have a really tight budget.  No matter how pretty the rest of your makeup is, if your skin doesn’t look as good as it can, you will end up disappointed.  The eyes can obviously go darker for night time, but I am generally pleased with this for a casual, natural look on a budget.  I would probably not wear all of these products at the same time normally, but I do stand behind most of them and think they can easily blend into your existing collection.

I hope that you found this interesting.  I’d love to know if you attempted or want to attempt the $20 Makeup Challenge.  Leave me a link to your blog or youtube and I’ll be sure to check it out.  🙂



About beautyinbudgetblog

I am a self proclaimed eyeshadow junkie whose main hobbies include shopping, reading, singing, and mainlining caffeine while hanging out with my friends. I love interesting socks and have amassed quite a collection. The place that I want to visit before I die would be Greece. I like to read all seven Harry Potter books once a year the way some people read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. (Sorry JRRT, but JKR kicks butt in my book.) I love art, and use my creativity in many different ways through painting, crafts, and makeup. I love to cook and try new things, and I especially love to eat. My favorite "date" is to go wine tasting, and do so with my husband once or twice a year. I love musical theater and think the world would be much better off if we all just watched more musicals. I am 100% a cat person and, although I think dogs can be really cute and sweet, they make me sneeze so cats will always rule. I love faeries and magic, mythology, theology, philosophy, and psychology. I regularly do logic puzzles and sometimes crosswords. I adore Bette Midler, Betty White, and Carol Burnett. I am not ashamed to admit that I watch Glee. I would like to start making some of my own clothes because I can't stop myself from buying fabric. I'm sure that there is much more, but I'm suddenly distracted by something shiny.

8 responses »

  1. Great job! I’m actually in the process of ranting about the YouTube $20 challenge on my own blog. I was so annoyed how they all bought brand new products and then bashed them all. A lot of their audiences can’t afford to buy tons of high-end products some of them do and they ended up offending a lot of their viewers (just read the video comments lol) It’s good to see someone actually take the challenge seriously and come up with a great result! Thanks!

    P.S. You’re right about the drugstore prices rising. That bothers me too. You were right to leave the brushes out of the budget.

    • Thank you! I did notice a firestorm in a lot of the comments, which is another reason why I wanted to approach this seriously. I think it’s a great challenge to inspire people to think critically about how much they spend on makeup and what they can do differently to save a bit. I’ll have to check out your post about it. 🙂

  2. This seems to be the sort of challenge that gives folks who don’t have any real need to wear makeup an unfair advantage. I think you did a great job turning out a workable look (very pretty, too) on a serious budget.

    • Seriously, those with naturally good skin a cheaters! lol. Thanks, I’m glad that you approve. I was actually thinking of you when I took this minimalist approach to makeup. I wanted something that you or Laura would feel comfortable wearing.

      • hee hee! You’d be proud of me: I did a smokey eye for my friend Jason’s wedding (remember him? bird hat?)–it was the most awesome dinosaur-themed wedding–last weekend. I’ve got to plan something good for Tony’s wedding… I’ve also got to lose enough weight to fit into the dress I want to wear… we’ll see……..

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