A journey to the United States can take more than a full 24 hour day, so I like to make sure that when I do make such a trip, I make the most of it. That includes buying all the amazing and affordable cosmetics and beauty products that I can, while also getting my hands on things that are tedious to acquire from home.
You might want to plan some of these buys in advance and have them delivered to your hotel or Airbnb in time for your arrival, especially if you don’t have too many days in a particular city.
This New York-based cruelty-free and vegan skincare and makeup brand is the brainchild of the founders of Milk, a photo studio located in New York and Los Angeles.
From negative space eye makeup to glossy lids, the brand serves up cool, creative yet wearable looks.
One of their bestsellers is the Matcha Stick Cleanser. Splash your face with water and swipe the cleanser until it produces lather. Use your fingertips to massage it and rinse off. The result: clean skin minus the tight, taut uncomfortable feel that some cleansers leave behind.
Photo: Milk makeup/Instagram
This brand is known for their skincare that is gentle enough even for sensitive or reactive skin. All of the dermatologically-tested products from the brand like their best-selling moisturising cream are packed with emollients, humectants and ceramides which help to restore the skin’s natural barrier.
On the popular internet forum Reddit, there is at least one trending thread about the brand, with users raving about the efficacy of their products. A Reddit recently wrote about the brand’s hydrating cleanser and moisturising lotion: “I’ve been using CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser and Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM morning and night for the past couple months, and for the first time, there’s noticeable improvement in my skin… I wanted to make this post as a reminder that skin care doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to be good.”
It’s hard not to see why everyone wants The Ordinary products for their #shelfie. This Instagram-friendly beauty brand is known for their minimalist packaging and effective, active-ingredient driven products at shockingly affordable prices – nothing in its line cost over US$20 dollars.
One of the brand’s most popular product is the Granactive Retinoid Emulsion 2%. Reality TV star Kim Kardashian has been said to use the product to keep fine lines and dark spots at bay.
Photo: The Ordinary/Instagram
Known for its Lip Whips (matte lipsticks) that are budge-proof, Beauty Bakerie offers vegan-friendly and cruelty-free products that everyone would feel safe using.
The brand’s founder was inspired to create products with ingredients that are safe – her experience with cancer triggered her to be more health-conscious – and gave women of colour a makeup alternative. Although Sephora does carry its Lip Whips, it doesn’t have the rest of its products which have been highly raved about, especially their Flour setting powder.
So be sure to pop into their quaint ‘bakery’ for more goods like eyeshadow palettes, mascaras, contour palettes and more!
It’s not a new brand but it’s one that deserves a spot in the list. Founder Charlotte Tilbury uses the tips and tricks she’s picked up from her two decades of experience as a makeup artist, to create makeup and skincare that works wonders.
Try out its eyeshadows that promise to get you ready for a night out, with its high pigmentation and ability to blend like a dream. Along the way, pickup the Revolutionary Instant Facial Dry Sheet Mask which will help to firm up your face and give you a wonderful radiance.
Founded by American sweetheart Jessica Alba, Honest Beauty promises to deliver safe yet effective products. Every year at least one product wins an award, so you can trust that the quality is there. Haircare, skincare or makeup, you’ll want to get whatever you can while you’re there because it’s extremely tough to get the products here.
Some items to look out for: Beyond Hydrated Moisture Milk leave-in conditioner, Luminizing powder and the Refreshingly Clean Gentle konjac sponge, which exfoliates and leaves your skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
We all know that situation when you’re looking at your collection of lipsticks, but you just can’t find the perfect shade.
At the Bite Lip Lab, you can literally create your own lipstick by choosing your shade (you can pick and mix over 200 colours), the texture of it, the scent and the packaging. So whether you’ve always wanted a mustard matte lipstick, a creamy purple or even a sheer fuchsia lipstick, this is your chance.
The Lip Lab is also jumping in on the safe cosmetics bandwagon, with ingredients that are safe for your body so you needn’t worry about harmful chemicals.
Drew Barrymore’s makeup line promises quality products at an affordable price. The great thing about her collection besides its quality (according to multiple online reviews), is that it comes in packaging that looks like that of a mid to high-end priced product. There’s everything from primers to illuminators and eyeshadows.
The must-try product would have to be its concealer – which has won an Allure Beauty Award – that comes with a brush so you can effectively cover up the tiniest spots.
A brand that’s well-loved by beauty gurus, Colourpop is an incredibly affordable and fairly new cosmetics brand that has lipsticks, eyeshadows, and eyeliners going from US$5 a pop. The shade range on their skinny lipsticks also known as Lippie Stix (and matching lip pencils) is incredible, and I love the quality of the eyeshadows.
You can order them off Carousell, but nothing beats the price of getting them directly.
If affordable quality brushes and large eyeshadow palettes are your thing, you definitely need to check out the Morphe Brushes website. They do have a store in Burbank, California where you can experience the brushes and shadows for yourself, but the site also has specially created picks by certain beauty youtubers. The 35O palette is a cult favourite, and is regularly out of stock, so you might want to order that one given the chance.
Shipping is available to Singapore, but watch out for the shipping rates.
Another affordable “drugstore” brand, Milani does have some hit and misses, but is very much worth the money for certain products.
The most famous product from the brand is probably their baked blush in the shade Luminoso, which is a coral shade that is flattering on almost every skintone. They’ve also got a few great eyeshadow palettes and lipsticks you should pick up while you’re at it.
We might have grown up with Maybelline cosmetics, but it took me a long time and the help of the internet to realise we were missing out on certain ranges from the brand that were not being sold in Singapore.
I discovered the Fit Me range when I started watching Youtube videos, and the range has an amazing foundation and concealer for a really low price. I highly recommend taking a look at the Fit Me foundations, powders and concealers if you get the chance.
One of my favourite origin stories, Glossier came about thanks to beauty editors from a well-known beauty blog called IntoTheGloss.com, who decided to create their own products. They’ve got both skincare and makeup, and I absolutely love the pink and white minimalist packaging.
While I can only personally vouch for their lip balm called Balm Dotcom, the brand comes with generally rave reviews.
I was first alerted to this brand by a Youtuber I follow called Kathleenlights. She was raving about how incredible the highlighting Shimmer Strips were, and called them a “dupe” for the Bobbi Brown shimmer bricks.
They also have a range of bronzers she raves about, and while looking for a product to buy while browsing iHerb.com, I decided to try out their “lash-boosting” eyeliners (not quite lash boosting, but very easy to use.
As far as affordable drugstore brands go, I’ve been a fan of Covergirl mascaras since I first tried one in my teens.
The brand has some great foundations too that are worth a look (like the Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 foundation), and is easily available from drugstores like CVS and department stores like Target.
I’ve heard about this brand for years, but sadly have never gotten acquainted with it.
It started out as a hair salon in New York City in the 70s, and now produces a massive range of hair products for all hair types, from tonics and styling creams to shampoos and prep sprays that are loved by plenty of consumers and haircare professionals alike.
You should probably have a quick search on which products are suited to your hair type beforehand, as the range can be quite overwhelming.
Their brow products were what originally caught my attention, with practically every Youtube beauty guru I followed using the same brow product, but Anastasia Beverly Hills has also got some quality eyeshadows and lip products worth checking out.
The price point isn’t too high, and if you shop at Sephora in the US you can probably return anything you aren’t happy with. If fuss-free brows are your thing, try the Brow Definer and avoid the dipbrow pomade. The liquid lipsticks are also supposed to be pretty great and not too drying.
While not exactly a new player in the beauty market, Sonia’s seen a more recent rise in popularity on the scene thanks to Youtube beauty gurus.
The brand has got an impressive range of products from makeup to skincare and tools, with particular hero products like the Hidden Agenda Concealer Kit, mattifying primer, facial oil and various lipsticks. Her price point is very much affordable as the brand is available at Target.