By Brooke Keane

Every woman loves to feel pampered, pretty and pulled together, and often this positive personal appearance is aided by the help of makeup. However, with so many brands, colors and price points to choose from, any woman could quickly become confused, and/or broke by the time she has made her selections. Personally, I live in a world of florescent-lit drug store aisles and know very little about the world of “high end” makeup. Because of my limited knowledge, I contacted Gina Pravlochak, a Pittsburgh-based makeup artist who has worked with national stars like Jillian Michaels, as well as our local anchor Jennifer Antkowiak, so she could give me a better idea of which selections to splurge on, and which ones can still be picked up at the drug store.

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If your bottle of foundation is light, and so is your wallet, Gina suggests Olay Total Effects Moisturizer + Foundation, which will run you from $15 to $20 (depending on if it’s on sale) at drug stores like CVS. The formula is lightweight, which makes your skin visible underneath the makeup, leaving your skin looking smooth, but not overly made-up.

If you’re willing to splurge, Gina suggests MAC Matchmaster. Not only does it have an added SPF 15, but Gina says it is difficult to pick the wrong match for your skin tone. She also suggests using small amounts and applying it with a foundation brush for “maximum coverage results.” This product will run you $32.50 and can be purchased at the MAC counter at Nordstrom or any area MAC counter.

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Eye Shadow

Looking to test out a few new eye shadow shades without breaking the bank? According to Gina, quad color pallets by L’Oreal are the way to go. They give several options to those having a tough time choosing one color and only cost about $6 at the drug store. The L’Oreal Group also produces several high-end cosmetic brands like Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent and Kiehl’s, contributing to the high quality of all of their products.

Again, Gina suggests MAC if you’re looking to spend, this time, on eye shadow. Each color pot is sold singularly for $15 and there are over 150 colors to choose from. According to Gina, the color you see is the color you get and the high quality formulas make the shades easy to blend. They also sell pre-selected quad and duo color kits for $38 and $25, respectively, or you can create your own palette of 15 colors for $188.50, or a custom quad kit for $53. Additionally, MAC carries several lines of eye shadow ranging from cream to mineral based and a few in between. You can find MAC products at Nordstrom as well.

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Tons of mascaras promise the thickest, longest lashes you’ve ever seen, but Gina says that the classic Maybelline Great Lash (the one in the pink tube with the green lid) is still the best. It is the best-selling drugstore mascara of all time, only costing about $6.50, comes in six shades and according to Gina lasts, but is still easy to wash off.

If you’re really looking to lengthen and thicken your lashes and are willing to spend, Gina recommends heading to Macy’s Lancome counter. Lancome makes over a dozen different mascaras ranging in price from $22 to $34, but Gina couldn’t pick just one. “I love every mascara they make,” she said. “They’re long-lasting and actually add length and thickness.”

(Photo Credit: Brooke Keane)

Lip Gloss

I don’t know about everyone else, but on a normal day you would probably find about three different lip-glosses or lip balms in my purse at one time, most of them at the end of their days. Now the problem is which one do I buy next? Well, if I’m going the drug store route, Gina suggests Burt’s Bees. She says that it’s hands down the healthiest for lips and it comes in several awesome flavors, some with a bit of a nice tint to them and only cost between $3 and $7. If you want more of a shiny, glossy look though, she suggests glosses from Bath and Body Works. They carry glosses made by the company, as well as selections from C.O. Bigelow and range in price from $5.50 to $8. Gina likes them because they are clear glosses with just a hint of color; they also come in a wide range of flavors, many of them with a breath freshening mint flavor.

For a pricier pucker, Gina’s “hands down” favorite choice is Buxom Lip Polish by Bare Minerals. “It plumps the lips and gives a diamond effect to them,” she says. One tube of lip polish will run you about $18 at Sephora. Gina also suggests Kiehl’s if you’re looking for healthy lips, which range in price from $7 to $14.50 and can also be purchased at Nordstrom.

For this winter, Gina says blue hues are huge and a red lip is always hot. But if you can only spend on a few key items, she says she personally can’t live without an awesome eyelash curler (her favorite is by Shesheido), SPF and a good concealer.

More important than which products to buy though, is good skin care. Gina advises all of her clients to wash their faces both in the morning before they apply makeup and again before they go to bed to wash it all off. She also recommends using high quality makeup brushes and cleaning them often, as well as buying new mascara every few months to avoid infection.

“Without good skin, no makeup will ever look good,” she explains. “And don’t cover your skin with a film of make up; just let your natural beauty shine through.”

Brooke Keane acquired a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Pittsburgh’s Point Park University where she served in several editorial positions for the school weekly, The Globe. Since graduating, Brooke has blogged for online vintage clothing boutique Crazy Hot Clothes and tried her hand at some freelance work. First a writer and then a fashion-lover, Brooke can be found spending time at the mall, when she doesn’t have her nose buried in an AP Stylebook.