How to fill your make-up bag for less than €30

Beauty: you don't have to spend a fortune to refresh your look

January seems to have a mood all its own, or at the very least to bring unique challenges at what is, for many, a vulnerable time of year. Make-up brings its own small joy to perforate the colour-drained winter landscape, and inject some freshness into pallid faces. Disposable income might be lacking, but this time of year does bring an appetite for change, and your make-up bag can feel like a comfortingly uncomplicated place to start.

There are so many excellent products at very low prices. If you have €30, you’ll be able to buy products for a full face – with a few euro change. If you have €10, you can enliven your current make-up bag for the new year, the new season or the new college term.

The most satisfying, palpable refresher to a make-up bag is a new foundation. The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation (€6.70, gives glowy coverage in 21 shades – a rare feat of inclusivity in the world of budget foundation, which usually shoves out those on polar ends of the skin spectrum. It works well on all but the oiliest skins, for both men and women.

Blush is an essential for anyone who wears foundation. A foundation with decent coverage will flatten out the face. Rather than the aggressive approach of contour, put life and shape back into the face with blush. PS High Pigment Blush in Rosewood (€2.50, Penneys) looks lovely on everyone. Good blush is never the focus of make-up when you look at a face (in fact you'll notice its absence more than its presence), but it is doing important, structural work. Think of blush as a loadbearing product – the whole lot will fall down without it.


Just as important for structure is a good set of brows. Some lucky faces are festooned with majestic ones. Most are not. Along with dying my own brows at home to make the most of every little hair, I'll use a tinted brow mascara for extra volume and colour. Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel (€3.10, Penneys and pharmacies nationwide) is absurdly easy to use and very affordable. A touch of this with some concealer and mascara, and you will still look neat and fresh-faced.

Essence Extreme Lasting Eye Pencil (€2.50, Penneys and pharmacies nationwide) is both soft and waterproof, but be sure to smudge it quickly before it sets. A thin line blended along the upper lash line just looks like fuller lashes.

Top it off with some Collection Volumising Mascara (€5.49, Boots) for a minimal, polished eye.

It is comforting to know that robust staples can be bought at such low prices, but basic, functional products can be lacking in fun. Add a slick of NYX Professional Soft Matte Lip Cream Liquid Lipstick in Morocco (€8, Boots) for an ebullient hot pepper red that screams out at January in joyous rebellion. It is a timeless, all-season shade that will liven up a minimal day make-up, and glamourise evening make-up.