Spoiler alert: You don’t have to spend thousands to look like your favorite TikTok beauty experts! You can just shop at Ulta Beauty or your local drugstore and get some great products that will make you look like a pro.
I would know, as I am a professional makeup artist with over two decades of experience making women look their best. From celebrities to new brides, to teenagers going to prom, I keep a close eye on trends for every age.
We’re all watching our budgets more closely these days for a lot of reasons. The price of everything is rapidly going up, and that leaves us with important questions: Are we going into a recession? Does that mean we don’t get to play with our makeup anymore?
We all have that one product that you absolutely must have that’s expensive. I get it. For me, that’s my skincare, I’ll spend all the money in the world to get the best products.
But when it comes to a great highlight, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to spend $50 to get something really fantastic! Just get the Wet n Wild product. It’s the same stuff, but in different packaging.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some products that you simply cannot substitute for the nuanced color and quality, like Charlotte Tilbury’s “Pillow Talk”. But I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that I’d love to share with you so you don’t have to pay top dollar for all of your products.
I’ve got tens of thousand dollars worth of makeup in my kit – I’ve tried it all!
They’re inexpensive and easy to find, plus you can lose them and experiment with them and not feel badly that you’re busting your budget.
We’re not made of money! That’s why, in this article, I’m going to be focusing on my budget-friendly favs that you can find online at Ulta.com, in-store and/or at your local drugstore.
Here are my top 10 Ulta makeup must-haves:
L’Oreal Original Voluminous Mascara – in Blackest Black
God didn’t give me the legs, but he sure gave me the lashes, and you bet I want to make the most of them.
I’ve been trying out different mascaras my entire life, thinking “This will be the one,” only to find it most definitely is not. BUT, the L’Oreal Original Voluminous Mascara in Blackest Black is my GO-TO!
Sometimes I’ll find a mascara that is slightly better than this one, but it’s so expensive that by the time I get to the end of its expiration date (don’t forget to swap yours out regularly) I don’t want to throw it away.
I love the L’Oreal mascara because you can find it anywhere and it’s easy to replace.
If you’re starting with a teenager and getting them set up with their first makeup kit, this is the mascara to buy.
L’Oreal makes a soft brown, but if you want to go glam, I love the Blackest Black. Not the Carbon Black, though, as I think it makes your lashes look too shiny.
*Pro Tip – Waterproof mascara is good for brides and funerals, but I’d advise against using waterproof daily because it WRECKS your lashes. If you have to be violent when you’re removing your makeup, it’s going to do damage to your follicles and give you issues with fallout. Always use a gentle eye makeup remover and take it easy.
Don’t miss this step! This primer gives you extra thick lashes that make them look like you put on fake lashes. It’s a must-have in my kit every time.
You’ll want to marry this one, especially the Ash Brown color! It’s not cool, it’s not warm; it’s a good mix and suits a wide variety of skin tones.
NYX keeps making more colors, too. I believe there are around 12 different shades to choose from, so you can find the perfect fit for your natural brow color. They’re around $12 and do a great job of mimicking the natural brow hair when you apply it.
The fine pencil applicator makes applying the makeup pretty foolproof.
I love this line by NYX. Their brow glue will keep your face framed all day because it keeps everything in place.
You’ll never have to worry about a wonky brow hair flipping up and looking weird. Just brush on the brow glue to keep those bad boys exactly where you want them.
L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation – or Pro Glow depending on the occasion
This foundation is a definite favorite. There are so many shades and it’s really easy to find one that blends seamlessly into any skin tone. It lasts super long, and is incredibly easy to apply.
For basic lashes, these are great. Whether you are doing a daytime or nighttime look, your lashes will appear long and naturally thick (and that lewk won’t quit!).
You should use these infrequently, so there’s no need to ball-out … and don’t get real mink lashes thinking they’ll be better; the result will look exactly the same.
Don’t forget to cut them to the right length if needed, as they will irritate your eyes if not trimmed correctly.
This black felt eyeliner looks so luxe. They also have a clear one if you prefer that look, but I love the instant glam of the black. This never leaves my touch-up kit.
These wipes are great to have with you in your purse to take your makeup off or touch up a smudge, and they are gentle on your skin.
This setting spray is a must-have for anyone who wants to help their makeup stay on longer while looking flawless. This vegan setting spray is a great dupe for the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush setting spray, and at $10, it’s not going to break the bank.
This is a great highlighter that gives you a phenomenal soft glow, and at less than $7, is a total steal. I use it all the time!
Women spend A LOT on their appearance every year, and the makeup industry takes full advantage. With so much target-marketing telling women what they *need*, it’s hard to navigate your local Ulta and know what will work for you.
I hope this article gives you a guideline for what to add to your next Ulta or drug-store shopping list! Tag us in your shopping excursions and makeup haul-shares @laceofface and @trendingnorthwestmag.
By: Lacey Moen
Lacey Moen is the owner of Earthly Beauty Bar, an award-winning makeup artist, and an esthetician with 20 years of experience in the industry. She is also a published author, has been mentioned in People Magazine, and was recognized as a “Top 10 Influencer” and one of the “Top 12 Women in Business Leadership” by The Spokane Cd’A Living Magazine in 2018. Her proudest accomplishment, though, is being a mom to Zoey.