Miss A Columnist

Lauren Mitchell is a Chicago-based freelance writer with a love of books, beauty products, and boys who wear glasses. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, an all women’s college in the heart of the Midwest. Lauren lives in downtown Chicago and travels by foot, cab, and CTA in search of the city’s most exclusive events, hottest restaurants, and best local beauty.

Pretty for Pennies

Don’t get me wrong. I should be in some sort of a twelve-step program for beauty product addiction. Yes, I want to try the season’s hottest shade and yes, I do want a Rock n’ Republic compact solely based on the cute packaging, but with the recession and everyone going green, even this girl is attempting to change her ways. That being said, desperate times don’t always call for desperate measures. So before you hit up the Wet n’ Wild makeup end cap at the drugstore, try recycling and reinventing what you already own.

Get organized.

I’ve stored my makeup in bags, cases, Ziploc’s, and even a Craftsman toolbox, but recently discovered that stackable drawers are the way to go. Separating brushes from mascaras and eye shadows from blushes has more benefits than you would think. Categorizing each product in a separate drawer takes minutes off your morning routine and also saves money by preventing the purchase of products and colors you already own but haven’t seen in a while because they were buried under all those samples included with your Sephora order. Let’s be honest, it adds up. High-end customized acrylic drawer sets are available online through Clear Cube, while plastic, easy to stack and assemble drawers can be found at The Container Store.

Play alchemist.

There are times to trust the experts and times when you can easily improvise to create something similar. For example, while it’s not advisable to make your own mascara, whipping up a batch of sugar scrub is definitely doable. Make your own by combining refined white sugar and baby oil. It’s a quarter of the cost of store bought scrubs and gets the job done just as effectively.

It also pays to experiment with nail polish. While each season calls for different shades, it isn’t necessary to replace your polishes quarterly. Instead, purchase bottles of black and white polish to mix with the polishes you already own. Creating customized shades ensures you won’t buy a polish you wear once then throw away and also lets you economically change your polish as often as you change your mind. Yes, it might be difficult to recreate Chanel’s Blue Satin, but after saving money on all of your other polishes, it will be a guilt free and welcome splurge.

Love the one you’re with and layer.

So many times I see an eye shadow that I convince myself I need to buy stat, but before letting something shiny and new get the best of me, I evaluate what I have at home first. Layering colors you already own can easily create a color you want to purchase. Placing purple over gold eye shadow creates an amazing smoky taupe color and mixing a lipstick with a gloss can often achieve the pigmented intensity you want without buying an additional product.

Not sure what colors to mix? While most women have cookbooks, I have a beauty book. Years of pulling pictures and instructions from magazines and the internet has given me a collection of makeup applications to recreate for both day and night. After practicing techniques and color combinations from the pros, you’ll become more comfortable with what shades work with your eye color and skin tone.

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