Morgan: My $2000 face

I worked out the cost of daily face and it was more than I thought.

What you’re looking at here is my face with more than $2000 worth of makeup on it. It’s about the same value as my car. That is, in theoretical terms, if I were to buy every product used.

I got my makeup done at Mecca Cosmetica in Kirkcaldie and Stains in Wellington for my birthday, and because it was a special occasion I asked Kate, the makeup artist working on me, to use the fanciest products they had. She certainly delivered! I couldn’t help but itemise everything she used, to try to remember them all, but also to figure out exactly how fancy and expensive of a face it was.

I think it started when a friend asked how much I was willing to pay, in theory, for a foundation that was complete perfection: in coverage, application, longevity, finish. My answer was that I’m already prepared to pay the NZ $89 for NARS Sheer Glow, and while it’s my favourite foundation, it isn’t flawless.

That got me browsing the By Terry offering on the Mecca Cosmetica website, and discovering the Eclat Opulent Nutri-Lifting Foundation. Only NZ $250! You know, more than a week’s rent. I joked that I would be too afraid to try this just in case it was perfect, in which case I would never be able to use an inferior foundation again.


I wouldn’t normally itemise everything in a makeup look quite this obnoxiously, so if large sums of money being hypothetically spent on consumables make you upset, look away now. This is not the post for you.

Perricone MD Serum Prep puts us off to an expensive start at $262. This treatment is meant to improve the effectiveness of other Perricone MD products. Like the Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimiser, $107, and Blue Plasma, $170. Possibly in that order, possibly the other way around? I’m a little hazy. Kate gave the skin around my eyes a boost with the Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream, $59, which I already know I like.

Then comes the Dr Brandt Pores No More Pore Thing, $89, which is a buzzy blue jelly that fills your pores, so it’s more of a priming step than a treatment. That was followed by the Dr Brandt Pore Refiner, $88, for a double dose of pore-hiding and mattifying. My understanding is that the Pore Refiner is a little like Nanoblur, but easier to work with. The last priming step was the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Primer, $114.

If you’re keeping track, we’re at $889 so far, and haven’t even started on visible makeup.

Kate told me that the By Terry Eclat Opulent Nutri-Lifting Foundation, $250, the one that got me into this scenario, is designed to adjust slightly to match the wearer’s skintone. I’m skeptical of claims like this in low-end cosmetics, but I feel like if any foundation is going to do that, it would be this one. It also looked great and natural on my skin. Highlighting and brightening came in the form of the By Terry Touche Veloutee Enlightening Concealer Brush, $108, and the By Terry Light Expert, $122.

Moving onto eyes! Kate filled in my eyebrows but kept them natural with the Kevyn Aucoin Precision Brow Pencil in Basic Brown, $51. She primed the skin all around my eyes with the NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base, $51. This is my favourite primer, and I have quite oily eyelids, but it still does an excellent job. She then used a By Terry Ombre Blackstar Cream Eyeshadow, $81, in what I am pretty sure was Blond Opal No. 3, a pale shimmery champagne. These are quite similar to the Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, of which I have one but would love to own them all. They start out creamy and blendable but dry down quickly and don’t crease.

birthday makeup where i work out the cost of daily face

Kate used four Chantecaille Lasting Eyeshadows, $48 each, on my lids, but looking at the shades here on the website I can’t pick out which ones they were. The very pale purple highlight on the inner corners of my eyes is from the NARS Eyeshadow Duo in Iceland, $72. It looks like a dull white in the pan but is incredibly opalescent when applied. I don’t usually highlight this area at all, but Kate used quite a lot of shadow here to ensure it was really visible. Then she lined my bottom waterline with the NARS Larger Than Life Longwear Eyeliner in Rue Bonaparte, a nude shade, $50; and the top lid with a very thin line of Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Black, $42. A coat of Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara, $75, finished off the eyes.

We’ve now hypothetically spent $1983. And we’re still not finished!

Kate gave me a really strong contour with a dark shade of the NARS Powder Foundation, $88. She used this rather than bronzing powder to keep it 100% matte. She used NARS Blush in Liberte and Lustre, $59 each – two apricot-y, almost brown shades – as blush and to highlight. I really liked the effect of the contour blending into a brownish blush rather than something really pink. It also kept the attention on my eyes.

Kate finished my skin with the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder, $114, which is truly a thing of luxury. You haven’t seen a ‘finely milled’ powder if you haven’t seen this. It sits really nicely on the skin and makes a huge difference in keeping my skin looking matte over time.

She lined my lips with a NARS Lip Liner in Marnie, $47, and finished with a coat of the NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Volga, $52. I don’t own a colour exactly like this, so after I went out for dinner and then went home and drank some alcoholic beverages, I touched it up with NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Train Bleu. It made the look a bit less wearable, but we were never aiming for wearable, and actually, fuck the term ‘wearable’ because I would wear this look to work if I got up early enough.

cost of daily face

My excellent mental arithmetic tells me the total is around $2392. If you want to check it, go right ahead, because I can’t be bothered to go to that extent, and at this point the message is clear. This look is crazy expensive, if it were something I wanted to be able to replicate with the actual products used.

As it happens, getting your makeup done at Mecca only costs $90, and that’s redeemable in product. So if you look at it in those terms, this makeup is technically free! The only expenditure was an hour and a half of my time, spent very pleasantly with Kate, who I think also had a lot of fun, because she got to experiment and do whatever she wanted.

I was really pleased with how my makeup ended up looking, and it lasted well through dinner, drinks, several trips through the Wellington wind (as evidenced by my messy hair in the last picture above) and quite a night of dancing at Mighty Mighty.

I’ll be posting some much more affordable dupes for some of the products used in this look in the next few days. What do you think your most expensive face of makeup has ever been? Have you used any of the products that Kate used on me, and are they worth the spend?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone
  • Very interesting, great post! And yay someone else who also is not a fan of the term wearable

    • Thanks! It’s scary how much money you can spend on cosmetics if you really want to. And re: wearability, I’m just like, I wear whatever I want, whenever! No one is going to freak out at orange lipstick (or w.e) in the workplace, really.

      • Definitely. Yup, if you’re wearing it, it’s wearable!

  • You look great! What products did you end up redeeming from K&C? Also do you recommend the NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base over the Urban Decay one? I’ve been using the UD primer potion and I am in loveeeeeee.

    • Thank you! I got the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder, which was a bit more than the cost of the makeup, but it was my birthday present to myself. To be honest I’ve been super precious about using it because it’s easily the most expensive product I own!

      I do prefer the NARS primer to the UD one, but honestly I haven’t used the UD one in so long that I can’t say for sure. I actually just got sent a mini UD Primer Potion from a friend so I think I’ll try it out again and compare!

  • Erin

    This is so fun, and you look incredible! I’ve never done anything like this before. Happy birthday!

    • Thanks Erin! I really recommend getting your makeup done somewhere fancy if you ever get the chance, because it’s such an indulgent treat! I guess you’re lucky that you can just go in to a Sephora, but I don’t think all Sephora staff have to be trained makeup artists?

  • I am so going to do this next time I have makeup done at Mecca! I love and use the Nars eyeshadow primer religiously. It’s fantastic. Also love Rue Bonaparte for the waterline, although lately I’ve been ditching it for Fascinating by Mac. Still love the Nars one though!

    • My nude liner is the Stila one, which I bought when Shaaaanxo used hers religiously in her tutorials. Anything in my waterline disappears so quickly I usually don’t bother!

  • Anja

    That eye look is TO DIE FOR!!!

  • spooky

    I actually think you looked most beautiful in your house hunting post. This look is just over the top, imo. And the price? Ouch!
    I do love the way your eyeshadow looks here, though. If I could achieve something similar, I’d be one happy girl.

    • Kate was such a skilled artist, when she started applying the eyeshadow I was like ‘eh’ but she added bits here and there and suddenly it was amazing!

    • spooky

      Sorry, Morgan, I’m an idiot; I forgot to say “Happy Birthday!”, and that I’m pleased you had the opportunity to be spoiled. Having make up done for you is definitely a treat, and actually, something I should do for my own birthday when it rolls around.
      Also, just to clarify, I think the look is/was over the top more based on how many products went into it, rather than the look itself, if that makes sense? You’d have to get up VERY early to recreate this one on a work day. BUT, I guess if you had a leisurely weekend free, and somewhere to go at night, it would be doable.

      I’ve never been to Mecca Cosmetica. I’ve had my makeup done at the Chanel counter before, and the Mac counter a couple of times. I find the Mac girls to have attitude, though, and like I’m wasting their time despite buying a bunch of stuff afterward. IDK… The Chanel staffer who made me up one day was amazing, though. She seemed happy to spend time with me, which was nice.

      I also wanted to say thank you for the link to the Cherry Culture sale. I bought a few things yesterday – the lip liners you recommended, and the eyeshadow pencil, as well as some eyeshadow palettes – and can’t wait for my order to arrive so I can try everything out. 🙂

      • Hey that’s okay, thanks for wishing me happy birthday! It sucks you haven’t had good experiences at MAC, I love everyone at my local MAC but I guess everyone has off days :/
        You’ll have to let me know how you like everything once it arrives! x

  • Pingback: How much is your face worth? | lauraloves/beautyblog()

  • Pingback: Grad Garms | madicattt()