The luxury beauty industry is not suffering as much as other sectors during the current global crisis. In times of financial adversity, consumers significantly reduce their spending on fashion, cars, holidays and other luxury big ticket purchases. However, the desire for something shiny and new (albeit considerably cheaper) is still very much evident. Known universally as “The Lipstick effect”, most cosmetics brands, at least for now, remain relatively unaffected by the devastating consequences the coronavirus pandemic will have on businesses around the world.

I’m not here to suggest you buy anything other than essentials. All of us are effected by the uncertainty of our immediate and potentially longer term future. But I’m also aware that sometimes we just need escapism and light relief. Perhaps you have almost run out of one or more of your frequently used make-up products. Or maybe you just want to treat yourself or someone else to something that inevitably makes you feel better.

I’m sharing my current favourite luxury items and an under £10 alternative. Depending on your skin type and individual requirements, the cheaper drugstore version may be the preferred option performance wise. True story. Sometimes an expensive item really doesn’t live up to the hype – we’re just paying for extensive marketing campaigns and covetable packaging.

CONCEALER – REVLON CANDID £6.99 Vs Pat McGrath Sublime Perfection £26.00

My sister bought me the Pat McGrath for my birthday. Do you think she was trying to tell me something? “Here you go Charl, I’ve bought you something for the tragic dark shadows you’re currently sporting”. She didn’t say that obviously. But it was funny. Good job I’m not easily offended.

The finish and wear of this concealer is second to none – and the colour selection is unbeatable. It’s a very flawless “done” look. And by that I mean it might look a bit odd if you just wore the concealer and nothing else*. I personally wear it for evenings/occasions where I’m making a particular effort. It dries quite quickly into a semi satin/matte finish and doesn’t budge. As I have dry skin I have to make sure I’ve applied eye cream and let it sink in effectively beforehand. If I’ve worn it for longer than say 8 hours, I do notice it becomes a tad dry, but no where near as much as many other concealers I’ve tried. It would be an excellent choice for oilier skin types.

It’s a strong 8.5 out of ten – but it is fairly high maintenance. And the coverage is medium to full: it’s not an au naturel product. You can’t layer it as it will become crumbly and patchy. But it does last really well. Perfect for a night out or a hot climate as it’s completely none melty. I don’t set it with powder by the way – you can buy a special one that is supposed to work with it but that’s even more £££££ and seems like unnecessary faff to me. It works ok on blemishes but I would say it’s better suited to the under eye area.

Revlon is a brand I forget exists. I picked up the CANDID concealer a few months ago as I had left my usual go-to on the train (or potentially dropped it on the way to the train, who knows). I was limited for time so I literally bobbed into Superdrug and picked up the first product that looked like a decent colour match. This stuff is ace. Doesn’t settle into fine lines, doesn’t have a meltdown at lunchtime and turn into the Sahara. It’s a light/medium coverage so I wouldn’t recommend it for serious shadows. It’s not that great on blemishes either. But for the price, it’s a great every day basic for making you appear less tired and gloomy. Distinctly less high maintenance than the McGrath – you have enough time to blend and it works with your eye cream rather than transforming into a gloopy soup.

The colour range is limited depending on where you buy. Feelunique carries the shade I wear – 010 “Vanilla” and Look Fantastic currently has various darker shades in stock as I type. Amazon also has a few shades available that are £5.66.

CREAM EYESHADOW – REVLON Colourstay £6.99 vs Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerise £22.00

Eyeshadow is a product I discarded for some time. After my beloved Urban Decay was discontinued I just patted a bit of concealer on my lids to even out my skin tone. But I missed the slight sheeny “wide awake” glimmer that the right colour/texture can achieve.

“Jean” by Charlotte Tilbury is very pigmented rose gold. It’s a bit on the pinkish side of gold for me but would work well for warmer undertones. It has a smooth finish, doesn’t crease and fades evenly. My friend Victoria is a complete convert – and she’s been a powder girl her entire life.

Creme Brule” by Revlon is a pale gold “gold” and is very very similar to the Tilbury in terms of finish and longevity. It is slightly sheerer but you can layer it until your hearts content. The main difference is it’s fifteen quid cheaper. I wear it every day – pat a bit on, pat a bit more on if I’m feeling adventurous.

I often feel that with Tilbury you are paying for exceptionally expensive advertising. I have a few lipsticks that I like, but everything else is always “ok” or is prone to breakage/cracking.

THE LIPSTICK EFFECT – Beauty Pie Future Matte £6.50 Vs Pat McGrath Mattetrance £38.00

I mentioned my love affair with Beauty Pie’s perfect terrocotta pink/nude matte lipstick “Semisweet” in a recent review post. I wear it nearly every day (well admittedly not whilst I’m sat around the house but you know what I mean). The application, feel (so comfortable!) and finish for me personally is close to perfection. Then Becky went and bought me a spendy Mcspendier Pat Mcgrath alternative in “Peep Show” – the similarity in shade is uncanny. (At this point I am wondering if I am bought luxury cosmetics as gifts because I need all the help I can get or if my friends just think I’m worth it. I’ll choose to go with the latter for my own ego).

Gosh it’s lovely. Like the Queen of lipsticks. Makes your lips look smooth and poutier and more defined. Magic. Pigment is like nothing I’ve experienced before either. As per the same brand concealer reviewed above the finish is quite “done”. It’s not a swipe-it-on-without-a-mirror type lipstick which I find the Beauty Pie is.

Worth every penny to make you look like you have made an effort. Even when you have toddler drool down your dry-clean only blouse. Painfully expensive for every day wear BUT a much appreciated gift and a bullet will last forever – you don’t need to reapply for hours.

Are you still here? Thank-you. Truly. I had forgotten what it’s like to wang on about make-up to folks who share similar excitement about finding not only luxe products that (mostly) live up to the hysteria, but also discovering a bargain alternative.

Do you believe in “The Lipstick Effect”? I would love to know about your favourite recent discoveries in the comment box below.

*I meant as in full coverage concealer as your only make-up item would look odd. Not that you might consider going starkers with nothing but concealer….anything goes.

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