I recently watched Samantha March’s Only 5?! video and thought it would be fun to do my version too! The concept is if you could only buy from five affordable makeup brands for the rest of your life, which ones would you choose?
This was an easy one for me. Of course, all of the brands need to be cruelty free with vegan options, and a quick look through my makeup collection showed some obvious winners.
If we were getting even more strict, and I could only choose two affordable brands to shop from, the two clear winners for me are Elf Cosmetics and Colourpop Cosmetics, so let’s start with those.
*This post/video is not sponsored. Some links are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you).
Elf Cosmetics is a 100% vegan and cruelty free makeup brand that I’ve loved for years. Since the whole brand is vegan, it makes it really easy to shop, and I also appreciate their affordable prices and their accessibility (they’re available at drugstores, Target, Ulta, and online). I have quite a few products from ELF, and I am usually quite impressed with the quality, especially for the affordable prices.
If you watch my Youtube channel, you probably already know how much I love the ELF Bite Size Eyeshadow Quads. These little palettes are so good, and they’re only $3 each! The shimmer shades are gorgeous and perform just as well or better as some high end shadows I’ve tried. I have all but one of them, and my top favorites are Cream and Sugar, Pumpkin Pie, and Truffles because they’re great to mix and match with for neutral looks.
Another ELF staple that I’ve been wearing so much lately is their Hydrating Core Lip Shine in the shade Happy. I mentioned it and wore it in my April 2021 Favorites video if you want to see it in action. It feels hydrating on the lips, the color is gorgeous, and it’s only $6! They have a bunch of other colors that I’d like to try too at some point. I also like ELF’s Sheer Slick Lipsticks (I have Golden Pear and Black Cherry.)
ELF also makes some quality base products. I like their Hydrating Camo Concealer, a medium-full coverage satin finish concealer that is similar to the Too Faced Born This Way Super-coverage Multi-use Concealer (for less than half the price per ounce of product.) I also enjoy their Halo Glow Setting Powder, which is similar to the Hourglass Veil Setting Powder (and SO much less expensive at $8 for .24 oz. versus the Hourglass Veil, which is $46 for .35 oz.) It’s great for setting makeup without being overly matte or drying, which is exactly what I want out of a powder.
I also like the ELF brow products I’ve tried. Lately I’ve been loving their Instant Lift Brow Pencil–it’s a bit of a thicker brow pencil, which I often enjoy because I can do my brows faster, and it’s only $3! I’ve been loving their Wow Brow Gel lately as well. It’s perfect for low makeup days when all I want to do are my brows/lips because it adds a bit of color and definition to my brows, and it’s quick and easy to apply. Lastly, ELF makes my favorite makeup sponges! I love the ELF Total Face Sponges and Camo Concealer sponges and have repurchased them many times.
Colourpop Cosmetics is a cruelty free makeup brand with lots of vegan options (if the product is vegan, it will say so on the product page). They are a trendy brand that has lots of fun new makeup releases and seemingly endless eyeshadow palettes to chose from.
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention a favorite foundation from ELF, and that’s because I don’t have one (I tried their Flawless Finish Foundation years ago and didn’t like it, though many other people love it.) So as much as I love ELF, I can’t narrow it down to only shopping from them because obviously I want a foundation too! Luckily, Colourpop makes one of my favorite foundations, the Pretty Fresh Hydrating Foundation. It’s similar to my previous favorite foundation, the Too Faced Born This Way Foundation, since it’s also a medium buildable coverage satin finish foundation, but it’s less expensive. I also got the Colourpop Pretty Fresh Tinted Moisturizer and Hydrating Setting Mist recently, and it’s too soon to say if they are favorites, but I’ve been enjoying them so far.
I have four Colourpop eyeshadow palettes, but my current favorite is the Uh-Huh Honey palette, which is a yellow monochrome palette that is so fun for spring and summer. If I could only buy from five affordable brands for the rest of my life, I would still never be bored if Colourpop was one of them because they have so many palette options, and they’re usually really nice quality wise as well. Colourpop also has many vegan lip options, including their Lippie Stix, Lip Pencils, Lip Glosses, and Liquid Lipsticks, so I would have plenty of variety to chose from.
My third choice for an affordable brand to buy from would be Milani Cosmetics, mostly because I am in love with their Silky Matte Bronzer–it’s currently my favorite and go-to bronzer. I have the lightest shade, 01 Sun Light, and I like that it’s not super pigmented so you can build it up easily, and it’s also a smooth and easy to blend formula. A lot of times with bronzer I worry about over-doing it, but I don’t with this one because it’s so easy to work with.
I also love the Milani Baked Blush in the shade Luminoso. I’ve had this blush for years, and I’ve started using it more recently and have fallen in love with it. Luminoso is a peachy blush with a bit of shimmer that makes it look like you might have highlight on too, and I love a good shimmery/glowy blush.
Those are my only two staples from Milani currently, but Milani has many other vegan makeup options I’m interested in trying at some point. They have quite a few vegan lip products including their Color Fetish Lipsticks, Bold Color Statement Matte Lipsticks, Keep It Full Maxxx Lip Plumpers, and more. (Vegan products are noted in the product pages on the Milani website.) Milani also has some base products that look intriguing–their Prime Perfection Primer has been on my wish-list for a while. I also want to try their Highly Rated Mascara because I’ve heard good things about it.
NYX Professional Makeup
NYX is another brand I would chose because they have many vegan makeup options. I love their Micro Brow Pencil–it’s a dupe for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pencil, with a micro brow tip on one side and a spoolie on the other. I also got their Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation recently, and I’ve only tried it once, but I’m liking it so far. I do wish that NYX had even more vegan options though–some of their products that I’ve heard great things about aren’t vegan, like their colorful eyeliners and some of their lip pencils. (Honestly I wish all of the brands I’m mentioning were all vegan. A girl can dream!)
Like NYX, Covergirl is another cruelty free brand that I haven’t tried a lot of products from yet, but I’d definitely like to try more from them. I was so excited when they went cruelty free a couple of years ago because I used to wear Covergirl when I was a teen. So far I’ve tried their Exhibitionist Mascara, Lash Blast Clean Mascara, and I like both. Of all of the brands I’m mentioning, Covergirl has the fewest vegan options, which is why I’m mentioning them last, but hopefully they’ll have more options in the future.
If you could only buy from five affordable brands for the rest of your life, which brands would you choose? Have you tried any of the products I mentioned? Let me know in the comments!