Category Archives: Save or Splurge

Save vs. Splurge: battle of the brands. Part II.

For those of you that want the quick scoop on this post, here’s a little preview.

For a high-end volumizing mascara:

Splurge on Lancome Hypnôse Mascara.

For a budget-friendly volumizing mascara with similar results:

Save on L’Oréal Voluminous® Original Mascara and/or Maybelline XXL Volume + Length Microfiber Mascara.

For those of you that want the details, keep on reading…

When it comes to mascaras, there are only a few high-end branded ones that I would shamelessly splurge on because there’s just nothing like them…and one of those would be Lancome’s Hypnôse Mascara. Aside from the quality of a mascara, the trick in choosing one that will give your lashes the effect you’re looking for is in the mascara’s wand – its structure, its size and the texture of its bristles. Professional makeup artists and experienced makeup gurus are usually able to tell from inspecting a mascara’s wand what effect it will give to the lashes. I say “usually” because the mascara’s quality has to be taken into consideration as well; the quality of the product in the tube or container can affect the outcome of its application.

Now, when I talk about quality, I’m not talking about brands. Good quality mascaras don’t necessarily have to be from a high-end or luxury brand. It can be from any brand in the beauty industry and, from personal experience, one of the best ways to actually find a good quality mascara is by keeping an open mind when browsing the beauty shops for one. Sure, go ahead and try out the testers at Lancome, Dior or Chanel but don’t overlook the other brands that you may stumble upon during your shopping spree. Sometimes, you’ll find a mascara very similar to the one you saw at the Dior counter for a fraction of its price.

The sweetest thing about Lancome’s Hypnôse Mascara is that I only have to apply one coat of it on my lashes for it to give effective results. For a volumizing mascara, I find it to be one of the best in the market; it separates the lashes and makes them look so much more pronounced in a very alluring way. It doesn’t clump and it doesn’t make my lashes look like spider legs – which has happened to me with other mascaras. Gross, I know. However, for those of us on a budget, Lancome Hypnôse Mascara can leave a visible dent in our wallets (especially for people living in the UAE as its even more expensive here than it is in the US or the UK) so if any of you are looking for similar alternatives with budget-friendly prices, check out my two suggestions below:

L’Oréal Voluminous® Original Mascara: for many of you beauty junkies out there, this alternative may not come as a shocker. After all, it’s a well known fact that L’Oreal owns Lancome, as well as many other well-known cosmetic brands. So, it’s no surprise that L’Oreal’s Voluminous may serve as an effective lower-priced alternative to Lancome’s Hypnôse. They are both produced by the same company and are both very similar, if not exactly alike, in quality. This product has definitely got my vote.

Maybelline XXL Volume + Length Microfiber Mascara: this mascara’s wand looks very similar to Lancome’s Hypnôse mascara wand and the quality of the mascara itself is pretty decent, in my honest opinion. Just like Lancome’s Hypnôse mascara, it gives my lashes much needed extra volume and length without clumping them. While the result may not be as dramatic or pronounced as if you had used Lancome’s mascara, you will definitely not be disappointed. I do have to apply two or more coats of the mascara on my lashes to get the full volumizing and thickening effect but, nevertheless, for a product that I consider to be budget-friendly, it’s definitely good value for the money. (P.S. Maybelline is also owned by L’Oreal – but that is not the reason I have suggested it as an alternative. It simply happens to be one of my favorite brands when it comes to mascaras!)


Save vs. Splurge: battle of the brands. Part I.

Here is my personal take on some beauty products from different brands that, in my opinion, give the same or very similar results. The only difference between them is, as hinted in the title of this post, their pricing. While all the products I am about to mention come from brands that I consider to be very good, regardless of whether they are “drugstore” (do we even have those in Dubai? Even drugstore brands seem to cost more than they originally do…), mid-priced or high-end brands. For the sake of different people having different opinions on what prices are considered to be low, affordable or expensive, I will not be mentioning any numbers! You can go see that information for yourselves at the stores if you are really interested.

Face primers/bases
Pore minimizing effect: Splurge on The POREfessional by benefit. Save on Pore Minimizing First Base by MISSHA. For someone who has large pores, especially on the nose, around the nose and/or on the cheeks, a pore minimizing primer is always a good thing to invest in. Having tried the ones made by both benefit and MISSHA, I felt that they give pretty much the same effect. They both come in tube forms, and while MISSHA’s Pore Minimizing Base is considerably lower in price and higher in quantity (30 ml, as opposed to benefit’s 20 ml), benefit’s POREfessional takes less time to blend into the skin and it dries faster.

Mattifying/Shine-free effect: Splurge on Urban Decay’s De Slick in a Tube. Save on The Body Shop’s Matte It Skin Primer. For those of you that suffer from oily or combination skin, mattifying or anti-shine primers that are oil-free and give matte/shine-free effects can be a great investment. Urban Decay’s mattifying primer was recommended to me by my sister and I will have to confess that I haven’t actually purchased one for myself (I tried it at the shop) but I just might have to when the one I have from The Body Shop runs out. Both primers are made in gel form and both dry really fast when you apply them on the skin. Urban Decay’s primer has 20 ml of product packed in the tube while The Body Shop’s has 25 ml. I personally think they both have really good anti-shine and oil-control effects, making the appearance of my usually very oily face look a lot less oily. There is a quite a big difference in their prices, I won’t sugarcoat the truth for you there. If any of you live in Dubai, then you know that most beauty products here are at least double the price of what they originally cost in the US, UK or Canada. So, before buying any of them, go to the shops and give them a try. Urban Decay’s product is available in Sephora stores throughout Dubai.

For Oily or Combination Skin/Oil-free: Splurge on MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid. Save on Revlon’s ColorStay Foundation with SoftFlex. I’ve written a more detailed post on Revlon’s ColorStay Foundation and I briefly compared it to MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid. (See post at While they both give pretty much the same effects and results, I personally prefer Revlon’s foundation because I feel it suits my skin better due to several reasons (see post) and it’s easier on my wallet. I have heard from several makeup gurus on Youtube and personal friends that MAC’s foundation caused their faces to break out or worsened the acne they were already troubled with. Personally, I’ve never had this problem with MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid but, like I always say, it always comes down to personal preferences so please feel free to go to the shops and give them both a try before making your choice. Better safe than sorry.

For undereye darkness or circles/anti-cernes: Splurge on Makeup Forever’s Lift Concealer. Save on Maybelline’s Dream Mousse Concealer. If you’re the kinda gal that suffers from dark under eye circles, then you know how it is…we almost *never* leave the house without dabbing a bit of concealer under the eyes. Especially for fair-skinned ladies, undereye darkness can be such a hassle to deal with…which is why undereye concealer is really important. For some of us, it could even be a major necessity. Being a really fair-skinned gal myself, it can be rather annoying when people ask me if I’m “feeling sick” or say that I’m looking “very tired” just because I forgot to put some undereye concealer. Jeez. Any way, having bought and tried both Makeup Forever’s and Maybelline’s undereye concealers, I will have to say that I like them both equally and for different reasons. Yes, the first one is mucho expensive compared to the latter, but they both give decent coverage for undereye darkness. While Maybelline’s concealer is definitely thicker in consistency and gives slightly better coverage, Makeup Forever’s concealer is easier to blend in and gives the undereye a somewhat luminiscent/glowy effect..(at least, that’s what I observe whenever I use it.) Now this may come as a shocker to some of you but I consider Makeup Forever’s undereye concealer to work better when used for a daily natural look and Maybelline’s to work better when used for those evening outings or special occasions. This is because MF’s concealer is lighter in weight and thinner in texture than Maybelline’s, making it a better choice for my everyday natural makeup look.

(Note: this is just the first of many Save vs. Splurge posts…so don’t worry if you don’t see what you’re looking for in this one!)

Update: Maybelline Mousse Dream Concealer was discontinued many years ago. A possible drugstore alternative that may be available in the UAE is the NYX HD Concealer.