FACE | $20(ish) makeup challenge


I tend towards the high end when I buy myself new makeup, so I have to admit I’m not hugely familiar with the cosmetics offerings on the very low end of the budget scale. When the friendly folks at Kmart hooked me up with some of their products, I thought I’d try to do the $20 makeup challenge – a whole face of makeup for twenty dollars. I am living on a huge budget at the moment: a lot of unexpected expenses have added up to the point where I’m eating peanut butter on toast for lunch every day. Being a sensible adult is so boring.

I’m actually on so much of a budget that I couldn’t afford to go out and pick up more products to supplement what Kmart sent me. I’ll go ahead and admit right now that I used a very expensive BB cream on my skin in this look (Diorskin Nude). I don’t actually own a super cheap foundation or BB cream or even concealer to use as a base so I figured, fuck it, I might as well use something super expensive.

Pictured below are the other products I used. They add up to $24 – not bad, considering the $20 makeup challenge is usually done in US currency and at US prices. Obviously it’s not a whole face of makeup, but to be able to pick up a liquid liner, bronzing powder, four shades of eyeshadow and a lipstick for under $25 is still impressive.


I swept the bronze shade from the Starlet eyeshadow quad all over my eyelids and concentrated it more at the outside edge. All the shades are shimmery in the pan but aren’t packed with glitter, and they sheer out nicely on the lids. They are a little powdery and don’t give the most concentrated colour payoff, but they’re definitely not the worst eyeshadows I’ve ever used. Considering you get four useful shades in this palette for six dollars, it’s not bad at all.

I followed up the shadow with the LOL liquid eyeliner in brown. I wouldn’t usually be drawn to a $3 liquid liner called LOL (“LOL your liner is terrible”?) but after giving it a go I was certainly not opposed to using it again. The applicator is a stiff felt nib, and I’m used to something more flexible, so you can see I didn’t end up with the smoothest line. It was three dollars though, and didn’t transfer or smudge on my lids at all, so, you know. Plus brown liner is something I can get behind.


I’ve been feeling the natural, browny-pink blush a lot lately, so I actually loved how the Bronzing Powder looked on my cheeks. It wasn’t powdery to work with and didn’t have chunks of glitter or anything in. Positive things. The bronzing powder is $9 and there are setting powders for the same price, so if you’re looking for an affordable setting powder, Kmart might be the place to look.

Lastly was the Starlet lipstick in Plum. This was a fairly standard balmy sheer lipstick but the colour is nice for every day. I think these are $6. My favourite thing about this lipstick was how specific the instructions were on the packaging. They took care to recommend that I remove the lid before applying the lipstick, and twist down the lipstick and put the lid back on after use. Thanks for the tips, I guess?


Overall none of these products stunned me, but they gave me a fairly functional full face of makeup that I certainly had no problems with wearing in public. If my skin weren’t such a mess and I was happy with my eyebrow situation, these products would have taken care of all my needs for under $25.

The other thing is that Kmart also sells ELF for a very affordable price! My closest Kmart is in Porirua, and my petrol light is perpetually on (the car did the I-REALLY-have-no-fuel lurch in the middle of the motorway the other week) so I haven’t had a chance to get out there and check their ELF stock out in person. When I do, however, I’ll have my eyes on on their studio brushes and base products – things I can never stop myself from buying.

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  • Charli Marie

    Cool to see another kiwi take on the $20 challenge! It’s so tricky here, but you did a great job 🙂

  • Lena

    The $20 challenge definitely is a lot harder here in NZ! That’s like, a BB cream and a lip balm if you’re lucky most of the time, so you did a pretty good job with your $24.
    I tried one of the kmart branded lipsticks and actually really liked it, especially considering how cheap it was – you can read my post if you’re interested http://lenatalksbeauty.com/2014/06/03/kmart-lipstick/

  • Nice one! I LOL’ed at the instructions on the lipstick.

    • They’re ridiculous, right?