Save or Splurge: NYX Makeup Primer vs. Smashbox

Nyx Studio Perfect Primer vs. Smashbox Photo Finish Primer

With age comes wisdom. And that wisdom is the knowledge that cheap does not always indicate a product’s quality or lack thereof.  (Except toilet paper. Generic TP is a crime against humanity.)

Take foundation primer, for example. For years and years, Smashbox Photo Finish was my go-to. I easily snubbed all other brands as if I had the deep pockets to invest in a clear substance that goes UNDER foundation. Does it even work? It’s hard to say except that it does work and I can’t live without it.

But every so often a girl needs to tighten her financial belt and whenever I felt the pinch to save more and splurge less, purchasing expensive makeup was the first “non-essential” to be cut from my list of wants. For a makeup junkie, this is a very sad thing. But without the tears.

And then one day, in walked NYX Studio Perfect Primer. When I finally spotted this bottle at my local Ulta (it was always sold out), I knew she was the one. With one sample squeeze later, I was hooked. I’ve been using this primer for about five months now and I can say it’s a perfect alternative to Smashbox — so similar in texture and application  — it’s almost uncanny. Not to mention, it rings in at a cool $13.

Do you have a favorite budget buy in the makeup aisle? We’d love to know! If you have any favorite brands that are just as good as their expensive counterparts, share them with us in the comments.


Touring Lower Manhattan & Save or Splurge

Dare to do NYC in an unconventional way.  While most visitors flock to Central Park, I’d rather head to Lower Manhattan.  Battery Park is an enjoyable, less crowded, slice of the Big Apple.  Hotel rates are reasonable – a stark contrast to other sections of the city.  If you don’t mind walking (for me this is half the fun), you’ll save on cab rides, too.  Battery Park is quiet and lacks big-name design house storefronts like Prada and Chanel.  Completely refreshing.  FYI:  Businesses close early in this area. Plan accordingly!

room view

Battery Park at night

Not sure how I managed to snap this crazy looking shot from the rooftop bar at the Conrad:

Roof Top Bar

The last time my husband and I were in the city, we caught up with some friends. Our night began on Stone Street in Lower Manhattan at a cozy little wine & whiskey bar, Vintry.  Stone St. has a European feel.  Imagine a narrow cobble stone road blocked off from traffic and lined with eateries.  Being the gracious hosts that they are, our friends ordered ahead and treated us to champagne and a variety of small plates upon out arrivial.

Friends: We ordered roasted nuts, marinated olives, cheese, eggplant caponata, and a few of other plates we thought you’d like.
Us: Thanks!  Yes, we’re starving.  This looks fantastic.  Oooooh, champagne.  We love Piper Heidsiek.  Sip, sip, sippity sip!

I glanced over to the end of the table and spotted a plate I hadn’t initially noticed.  What are these?, I asked as I simultaneously grabbed a handful of (pistachios, maybe?) and popped them in my mouth.  Odd.  A slimy, cold sensation.  When I bit down, the (nuts?) felt like stones.

Friends: (Jaws agape.  Eyes extremely wide.)  That’s where we’ve been putting the OLIVE PITS. 

It happened.  I can’t undo it.  Gross and equally hysterical.  I mistook pits for pistachios.  Life lesson: Wear your glasses.  Or, suck it up and put contacts on your eyeballs.  Here’s a little save or splurge inspiration for your next eyewear purchase – because tearing through this world with poor vision is obviously the pits!

glasses 2 RTC

Save: 39 Dollar Glasses| Splurge: Tom Ford via Bloomingdale’s

Can you tell the $45 pair from the $450 pair?  Are expensive prescription eyeglasses something you’re more willing to spend a little extra cash on?  I tend to think of an eyewear purchase as an investment.  My glasses get ample use, but I’m not certain there is too much of a difference between $100 frames and a $500 pair.  The jury is still out.  What are your thoughts on the eyewear debate… or are you still disgusted by my pitty-ful experience?


4 Designer-Inspired Flats for Under $100

Splurge or Save: The Flats Edition


Studded Ballerina: Neiman Marcus | Leather Ballerina: Neiman Marcus | Ankle Strap: Shopbop | D’orsay Flats: Shopbop


Studded Ballerina: Zara | Leather Ballerina: Zara | Ankle Strap: Zara | D’orsay Flats: Zara

Shoes! They’re the perky exclamation point to every outfit. They make a tired cocktail dress seem exuberant again. Some of them make us walk taller while others allow us to strut with confidence down the runway of life (i.e. your bedroom, the sidewalks in your neighborhood, your office building).

We don’t care how high the heel or how narrow the toe, we’re wearing these darn things tonight if they kill us! Sometimes the men in our lives just don’t get it. Case in point from the other night:

THE HUSBAND: Why do you have so many blisters on your feet? *looking concerned*

ME: Because I’ve been wearing heels for 2-weeks straight.

THE HUSBAND: You need to wear shoes that fit properly then. Shoes aren’t supposed to hurt.

ME (after an awkward pause): Bahahahahahaaha

Was it necessary for me to laugh in my husband’s unassuming face? Absolutely. I thought about crafting a long-winded retort to his rather logical reaction to my heel-wearing, blister-ridden, sorry-excuses-for-feet at this point in the summer, but perhaps some things are better left unsaid. Yes, this was one of those times.

The point is…there is no point! We loves shoes. Case closed.

Zara’s Flat out Fabulous Flats

All hail the Zara flats! I was on their website over the weekend completely kvelling over these beautiful show stoppers and the prices were all kinds of right (yes! yes! -Herbal Essences commercial), which was making my heart palpitate.

I thought a few of the styles looked a bit familiar and after some investigating on the world wide webby, I discovered their much more expensive sisters living on some high end retailers sites. Needless to say, a Red Tag Couture girl could NEVER justify spending $295+ on a single pair of shoes, but $35.90 for a comparable pair? Now that’s more our style.

Save or Splurge: The Floral Midi Edition

Floral Midi RTC

Take a long hard look at the trendy floral midi’s above.  One is from the always affordable TopShop, while the other is a marvelous Pucci number.  If you know your Pucci, then this game is over for you – but not everyone does, so do play along. Can you distinguish the $1100 skirt from the $50 one?  I constructed a poorly designed study to determine which skirt looks more expensive.  Research indicates the cheaper skirt is indeed more fanc-if-ied. Want the actual stats: 5 out of 7 surveyed gave the incorrect response.  Of course, my dog was a participant and she won’t even wear her sweater.  I’ll file that under the limitations section. RTC research – very academic.

Left Skirt: Pucci (Splurge) | Right Skirt : TopShop (Save)

Are you willing to spend $1100 on a trend?  If you are, we’re not here to judge – that Pucci is actually on sale.  If it’s within your means, go nuts!  I’m going to stick with the TopShop, though.  The less expensive print is actually reminding me of a fall 2013 D&G midi.  Whatever your pick, try pairing it with a chambray for a fresh modern look.  As the season transitions, grab a classic pale blue button down and throw on a cozy, not chunky, 2-ply medium-grey or fawn hued cashmere sweater.  Add heels, and you’re so good to go!

Tell us, were you able to figure out which skirt was more expensive or did your response reflect the “research”?  We’re eager to add to our findings!