The big make-up shake-up COVER STORY

Beauty direc­tor and self-con­fessed make-up elit­ist Joely Walker swaps her £315 make-up bag for an £85 one and takes a long, hard look in the mir­ror

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

Hi, my name’s Joely and I’m a make-up snob. I’m also Grazia’s beauty direc­tor and, as such, I’m lucky enough to put the beauty world’s great­est and lat­est launches through rig­or­ous test­ing on a daily ba­sis, to fil­ter out the fluff from the se­ri­ously good stuff. Here, I like to think my snob­bery comes in quite use­ful: if a prod­uct doesn’t im­press al­most in­stantly on mul­ti­ple fronts, it’s lost my at­ten­tion. But then there’s the flip side: while I make it my mis­sion to test a wide spec­trum of prod­ucts at dif­fer­ent price points, I find my­self nat­u­rally grav­i­tat­ing to­wards the more ex­pen­sive beauty booty, ba­si­cally judg­ing the pal­ette by its prover­bial cover.

But, when it comes to make-up, is it re­ally a case of ‘ You get what you pay for’? Or, is my pen­chant for fancy pack­ag­ing mask­ing the fact that it’s what’s on the in­side that re­ally counts – and that of­ten, on this front, they’re one and the same? 

I de­cided to ditch my beloved £315 make-up bag for one month to find out once and for all. The mis­sion: to not put a sin­gle prod­uct over the value of £14 on my face and to see if any­one – in­clud­ing my­self – could even tell the dif­fer­ence.

First up, re­search. I trawled the beauty cup­board for the lat­est launches from my most trusted bar­gain brands, searched on fo­rums and web­sites for the very best cult clas­sics that don’t blow the bud­get, and pestered my friends and col­leagues for their favourite pocket-friendly finds. Then came the test­ing. For two weeks, I lugged bags of prod­ucts home and sat swatch­ing and swip­ing, blend­ing and buff­ing.

I’m not go­ing to lie; this part wasn’t a smooth ride. There were some things I didn’t want to put on my face – for­mu­las that felt sticky, high­lighters that I feared might blind col­leagues, matte lip­sticks that left my lips chalky and dry. And, as I ex­pected, I strug­gled most on the foun­da­tion front. When my com­plex­ion is thrown off-kil­ter, the best smoky eye in the world can’t make up for it. Foun­da­tion aside, how­ever, I was un­earthing gems left, right and cen­tre – prod­ucts that were chang­ing the game for me en­tirely. Like snap­ping up that khaki Zara coat I’ll live in for the rest of win­ter, these weren’t great high-street prod­ucts, but great prod­ucts – full stop.

And so they should be: many big high street brands are owned by global com­pa­nies with ac­cess to the lat­est lab­o­ra­tory for­mu­la­tions used by their luxe coun­ter­parts. They’re able to keep costs low due to bulk buy­ing and con­se­quent mass quan­tity of sale. So, if that sin­gle £5 tube of wax, oil, pig­ment and emol­lient (or, lip­stick) feels like the real deal – it’s likely it is. It might not come em­bla­zoned in gold and sil­ver with nifty pack­ag­ing tricks (that I love so dearly), but you can bet it will get the job done.

So, what did every­one else make of my new slap? The big-name celebrity I in­ter­view on day two com­pli­ments me on my glit­ter eye­shadow (score!) and I have an In­sta­gram mes­sage ask­ing what foun­da­tion I’m wear­ing at a wed­ding. Other than that, my quar­terthe-price make-up goes en­tirely un­no­ticed, in a good way. Even my beauty afi­cionado col­leagues are gen­uinely im­pressed that I ‘look ex­actly the same’, since they too were ex­pect­ing me to spend the weeks look­ing like a bud­get ver­sion of my­self.

Of course, I won’t be ditch­ing my luxe swag for good. What I’ll now be do­ing, though, is ap­proach­ing my make-up bag like my wardrobe: mix­ing and match­ing high-street finds with pay-day buys.

£315

85.73 £

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