A Primer on Face Primer (+3 Drugstore Primers that Work): Makeup Mondays

Makeup Mondays, Uncategorized

Face primer is one of the most underrated beauty products on the market.

Like many frugal people, I went for years without purchasing face primer in an effort to save money. Since I started picking up primer and using it on a regular basis I can’t imagine going back. The reason is simple:

Face primer actually helps you save money.


  1. It makes your makeup ‘glide on’ way smoother, so you use less foundation on the first application.
  2. It keeps your makeup from running or rubbing off throughout the day, so you don’t have to bother with reapplication.
  3. At around $10 per bottle at the drugstore, primer is generally cheaper than foundation that is saved because of its usage. (Trust me, all you need is a drugstore primer- don’t spend big bucks here!)

As you may have gathered from the above points, in addition to helping you save money face primer also makes your daily makeup routine easier. Although this may seem contradictory as primer ads an extra step in the morning, face primer makes smooth flawless foundation coverage more achievable and truly does extend the life of your foundation.

Less trips to purchase makeup + less effort to apply makeup+ less time touching up makeup + money saved = a great product!

In my experience, drugstore face primers work just as well as (if not better than) high end primers. Frankly, if you’re spending big bucks on a primer, you’re not necessarily going to be saving money by using less foundation.


On that note, here are three great drugstore primers!

1. Rimmel London Stay Matte Primer

I love this primer so much! As you have probably gathered from my gushy blog posts about L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, I’m totally obsessed with the matte look right now. Rimmel London Stay Matte Primer makes your foundation slide on so easy. It’s also smooth, long lasting, totally affordable, non-greasy, easy to take off, and natural looking. I’ve been using this primer exclusively for months now; it’s my number one choice for a reason!

Cost: $8.98 at Walmart Canada (less online or with sales)

2. Maybelline FaceStudio Master Prime

This primer is available in three types: smoothing (for scarring or uneven skin), colour correcting (for red skin from rosacea to acne) and illuminating (for dull looking skin). Overall the Maybelline Facestudio Master Prime line offers a great series of primer options that are specially suited to fit three major skin concerns. This line’s rave reviews and the competitive price of the product make it a fierce drugstore competitor.

Cost: $10.96 at Walmart Canada (less online or with sales) 

3. NYX Cosmetics Studio Perfect Primer

Good things must come in threes because NYC Cosmetics Studio Perfect Primer also comes in this select number of shades, featuring a purple primer for dull skin, a green primer for redness and a clear primer for those who don’t require colour correcting. I personally didn’t find that it made my foundation last quite as long as Rimmel London’s Stay Matte Primer but it was still a pretty great product and it is very popular. If Rimmel’s product doesn’t work for you or if you’re looking for colour correcting foundation this could be the right product for you!

Cost: $15.00 at Lawton’s Drugs (less on sale or online)

Bonus Buy

E.L.F Cosmetics Blemish Control Face Primer

I technically couldn’t add this one to the list because it’s only available online right now. E.L.F.’s new Blemish Control Face Primer has been getting awesome reviews online and has been a huge hit with people seeking an additional layer of acne fighting skin care. This vegan product features tea tree oil, vitamin E and salicylic acid. If you’re into online shopping it’s worth looking into!

Cost: 7.99 on Well.ca (for Canadians) 


Eight Free Ways to Exercise on a Snow Day: Fitness Fridays

Debt-Free Fitness

Winter has come!

We’ve had our first substantial (school closing, snow plowing) snow here in Nova Scotia, Canada, and today it’s dipping down to a frosty -30 degrees Celsius with wind chill across the province. As I mentioned in my first Fitness Fridays post, I’ve been focusing on free outdoor exercise since my graduation and the loss of my free student gym membership (RIP free-gym!).

My preferred outdoor exercises are pretty warm weather oriented. I love swimming on a seasonal basis, as well as bicycling and running on a (mostly) year round basis. I’ve heard too many horror stories from people who have endured serious injuries while participating in the latter exercises during icy conditions to continue with these fitness rituals on a regular circuit until the roads and sidewalks have been cleared. It’s not so much that you can’t run or bike in icy or snowy conditions, but rather that such conditions make the aforementioned exercises higher risk as well as more expensive to participate in safely and (in my sun-worshiping opinion) less enjoyable. As a result I usually stick to running outside when the sidewalks have been thoroughly plowed and salted, and are free from slush and black ice. I’m kind of a wimp like that.


Non-gym followers need not fear the cold, however. I’m working out a system to make winter fun again. Instead of using the weather as an excuse to forgo exercise all together, check out this little list of great indoor and outdoor workouts that can be done when the snow piles up and the temperature drops down:

1. Shovel That Snow

Okay, so obviously you’re going to do this anyway because you have to leave your house and emerge into the desolate, frostbitten real world some time or another… On a brighter note, did you know that with a little technique snow shoveling can be a great workout? “How great of a workout?” You ask.


An average 150lb person burns anywhere from 420-446 calories per hour shoveling snow.

Not 150 lbs? Calculate for your weight right here.


Combine that burn with the simple necessity of shoveling and you’ve got a wintertime workout that even I can’t turn down.

Before you go, remember a few fit tips to make sure that you stay safe and make the most of your snow shoveling workout:

  • Stretch your arms, legs, back and wrists before you start to prevent injury.
  • Squat and lift with your legs (work that booty).
  • DO NOT lift with your back. Ever.
  • Avoid bending over your hip flexors.
  • Flex and engage your abdominal muscles in order to get a bonus ab workout and ensure that your back remains straight and protected.
  • Keep the shovel close to your body.
  • Dress in warm layers, making sure to keep your hands and head covered and protected from frostbite.

2. Get Your Skate On

Hali’s freezing over, which means that the Oval is open for business! Throw on your snugly socks and some long john’s, grab a few friends, and head to the Halifax mainland commons for a free skate.

You’ll have so much fun that you won’t even notice that you’re burning 476 calories per hour.*


Not an urbanite? Pond rinks are one of Canada’s most beloved impromptu sports surfaces. Make sure to check the thickness of the ice before you set foot on it.

Still not convinced because you’re anxious about falling through the ice? No problem: build your own fall-through-proof backyard rink for super cheap. Get the instructions here.

*Calculation based on 150 lb person using MyFitnessPal (site linked above).

3. Let’s Hike, Put on Your Snowshoes and Shake the Blues

Time for a trip down memory lane… When I was a little debt-free darlin’ in my rural youth I spent many a pleasant day snowshoeing in the woods. My parents spent many a less-than-pleasant morning snowshoeing to the end of the seldom-plowed dirt road that we lived on in order drive into work, after having to park in a lot off of the main road. Like shoveling, snowshoeing can be a necessary part of Canadian life during our harsh winter season; it can also be an awesome way to get in a hike or take some wilderness photography  when the snow drifts have risen to seemingly insurmountable levels.

Burn points? Check off a whopping 544 calories per hour (assuming a weight of 150 lbs). Snowshoeing is literally the same as jogging at a rate of 5 mph in terms of calorie expenditure and it’s also lower impact. Double win!


Don’t own snowshoes and not able to afford a pair? Here’s a link to the snowshoe renting, borrowing, and buying guide for Nova Scotia, so you can find out where to score a pair for free or at a low daily cost.

4.Build a Snowman

Unleash your inner child and get ready to plan in the snow. You’ll squat, lift, walk, push and move…

Ultimately you’ll burn about 285 calories in an hour.


Pro Tip: Building a snow man is actually a really fun and super free date idea. It’s an awesome excuse to get cozy and see how creative your hubbie can be.

Add some food colouring to some water to bring masterpiece to life in colour.

I challenge you to build a Snow-na Lisa!

5. Have a Snowball Fight

It’s a great way to get moving! Set some ground rules about not including rocks or ice in your snowballs, and avoiding head shots, and get to work.

A snowball fight will wipe away 319 calories in one hour, although it can blast even more if you get seriously caught up in ducking, dodging and sprinting through the snow.


Trying to decide whose turn it is to pick up dish soap? Snowball fight! Looking to get the old gang together for a last hurrah over the holidays? Snowball fight! Trying to quell family dysfunction over a seasonal dinner? Grab uncle Jimmy and let him know he’s on your team for the snowball fight (Note: this may not improve this situation)!

6. Cross Country Ski

Like jogging and snowshoeing, cross country skiing burns about 544 calories per hour!


Read more about cross country ski rentals here.  Be advised that many of the community centers listed in this blog post’s section on snowshoeing also offer cross country ski rentals or loans if you simply call ahead.

7. Go Dancing

It’s cold outside? What a great excuse to turn up the heat on the dance floor!

Dancing burns an average of 306 calories in an hour and if you’re committing to a night out you’re probably looking at at least 2 or 3 hours of dancing. That’s a lot of calories!


Avoid sugary mixed drinks or alcohol consumption in general in order to maximize your burn and minimize your spending (or not…hey, there’s evidence to suggest that one or two drinks could have some benefits… just sayin’). Above all else, just dance… gonna be okay.

8. Search YouTube for a Free Workout Video

YouTube has a massive collection of free workout videos. These are the light of my life during periods of intense rain or freezing snow.

Not sure what type of workout to do?


If you don’t have a lot of equipment try searching:

  • Pilates (things like planking, leg lifts, and crunches: this form of exercise builds long lean muscle by using your body’s weight against you)
  • Yoga (holding poses for extended periods of time: this can stretch and build muscle, and be more or less intensive depending on what you look for)
  • HIT (high intensity training: get ready to sweat)
  • Zumba (it’s like dance aerobics: great cardio)

These forms of exercise can often be completed with little more than a mat. To maximize your home workout, exercise in front of a mirror in order to ensure that your form in on point.

Workout videos are available for people of all ages and at all levels. Never do something that hurts too badly and always discontinue an exercise if you feel faint!

 What’s your favourite snow day workout?

Revlon ColourStay VS L’Oreal Infallible Pro Matte: Makeup Mondays Battle of the Brands

Makeup Mondays

I’m going to apologize in advance for the lateness and shortness of this post. I’m quite sick and have spent most of the day asleep (sans makeup…gasp). I was thinking about postponing the post but since I only announced this weekly feature last week, it would probably be bad form to publish Makeup Monday on Tuesday.

Last week I announced that I’ve fallen in love with L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte foundation. It is seriously my all time favourite foundation, offering medium to high coverage with a soft powdery finish that smooths shine and conceals even the worst cystic acne lumps all day long.

Today I want to talk about the last drugstore makeup that I tried before giving up on drugstore foundations for a while and being disappointed by a few higher end options, only to come full circle:

Revlon ColourStay

Like L’Oreal Infallible, Revlon ColourStay offers a long term full coverage foundation option in the $10-$20 drugstore price range. Furthermore, this product also bolsters a series of pretty great online reviews. Without a doubt Revlon ColourStay has worked for many people, and it might even work for you, but it did not work for me.

Here’s Why:

  • I found this product was very mask like, while L’Oreal Infallible allowed my skin to breathe and feel natural all day long; I like to wear makeup without feeling like I am wearing makeup, so this was a con for me
  • While Revlon ColourStay offered a fuller coverage than L’Oreal Infallible on first application, I found that the latter was able to build to an equal level of coverage without looking cakey or fake
  • In terms of texture, Revlon ColourStay is thinner while the L’Oreal product is a little more creamy/ light. For me this is was a pro in the L’Oreal category but if you prefer a more viscous foundation you may like this about the Revlon foundation
  • The Revlon ColourStay makeup oxidized and became very orange some time after application (seriously: I would do all of my makeup and my skin would look even and awesome and then I would come back to a mirror a little later and look like an oompa loompa)


The final point was the main reason that I parted ways with Revlon ColourStay indefinitely. I just couldn’t find a shade that worked for my skin tone after setting. This is something that sometimes happens in the wonderful world of foundation.

If you do have a skin tone that has a fairly warm undertone Revlon ColourStay might work for you just as it has for many other people.

Revlon ColourStay does have several pros:

  • It has great coverage and it long lasting (although it doesn’t seem to have the great shine control offered by L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte, in my opinion)
  • It comes in many, many shades (not including me-coloured)
  • It comes in two formulas: one for normal/dry skin and one for combination/oily skin
  • It comes in SPF 15 and 20 options, making it ideal for those that don’t use a daily moisturizer with an SPF (although you may require one for additional sun coverage)


Overall, I’m a tried and true L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte girl, sorry(notsorry), Revlon ColourStay.


Life After a Free Gym Membership: Fitness Fridays

Debt-Free Fitness, Fitness Fridays

It’s a big week for announcements! After releasing my plan to start a regular Makeup Monday feature on Debt-Free Darlin’ (DFD), I’ve decided to add yet another weekly write up to the list: Fitness Friday.

Why Fitness Fridays?

Because I want to bust the myth that healthy living requires spending a crazy amount of money, of course!


Here’s the deal: like many university and college students my massive tuition came with the comparatively smaller perk of receiving a free student gym membership. In my heart I’ve never been a ‘gym rat’ per se (don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the gym, but I’m way more inclined to workout outdoors), but as a generally fit person who is also a total sucker for savings I naturally rushed to take advantage of this opportunity. Since an on-campus workout session was oh so convenient to pencil in between classes, I got used to relying on high-tech equipment and the motivational atmosphere of a gym during my 4 years of university.

Then I graduated.

Since then I’ve been gradually figuring out the cheapest and most effective ways to workout on a budget. I’ve mastered outdoor workouts, scoured the internet for great videos, learned about the situation with ‘incidental exercise,’ and done price comparisons on various gyms, classes and studios. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on gym memberships and managed to maintain a regular workout schedule.

Although figuring out how to make free and frugal fitness work has taken plenty of time and effort I can safely say that I’ve been able to reach new fitness goals since leaving the gym behind.

I can also safely say that I want to share everything I’ve learned and everything I will try with you as I move forward with all of my healthy endeavors!


Whether you’re looking for free exercises, trying to figure out the most economical class to take, seeking savings at local gyms, urging to figure out healthy eating on a budget or simply seeking a few fitness tips, I’m here for you.

So, if you’re sick of feeling helpless while reading about how (insert super rich celebrity here) got their rockin’ bod’ back by hiring a whole team of nutritionists, cooks and personal trainers…

Stay tuned to Fitness Fridays on DFD for healthy living solutions that won’t break the bank!

I Fell in Love With a Drugstore Foundation: Makeup Monday

Makeup Mondays

Hey guys!

This is the first edition of a brand new weekly feature on Debt-Free Darlin’:Makeup Monday.

Makeup Monday Disclaimer: Regardless of you age, race, orientation or gender, I support your decision to wear (or not to wear) makeup. Whether or not you’re on a budget, you deserve to feel like a million dollars. This might mean getting a fancy coffee, or going on a long walk, or reading a great book, or rocking a killer red lip. It might mean all, or some, or none of the things above.

As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, Debt-Free Darlin’ is primarily a project to share my own savings secrets. I wear and buy makeup. As many of you of you budget girls (and guys) out there know,  makeup can be really, really, really ridiculously expensive. All too often it feels like finding a product that works for both your skin and your wallet is about as realistic as finding a leprechaun… that rides a unicorn… and lives in Atlantis.


Sounds like a familiar problem? Well, Makeup Monday is made for you… and for me. It’s made for us. For all of us that want to figure out how to save money and still have these awesome, artistic, beautiful, confidence building luxury items in our lives.

On to my foundation story!

If you’re reading this I’m assuming it’s a sign that you’re not 100% satisfied with your foundation.

Maybe you’re where I was just a few weeks ago- you have a bathroom cupboard full of foundations ranging from cheapest-of-the-cheap to fancy-enough-that-you-can’t-pronounce-it that you stand in front of every morning, torn between wanting to throw all of these foundations away because they’re all so thoroughly ‘meh’ and longing to scoop them up into your arms, as if this act could somehow transform all of these wasted purchases back into the heaps of cash that you spent on them.

As I said, I was here too… and then everything changed for me. After a life time (or well, 10 years) of letdowns I finally found a product that was perfect for my skin. I had resigned myself to having to fork out a huge wad of cash for a slightly nicer but still ‘meh’  foundation when, to my surprise

I fell in love with a drugstore foundation.

To be more specific, I fell in love with L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte 24 HR Foundation.

I found it through the grace of YouTube while binge watching foundation reviews.In a desperate frenzy brought on by wanting to ‘get it right’ this time I clicked on a video of a girl with amazing skin, and low and behold she recommended L’Oreal Pro-Matte. As I continued to click on the suggested videos in the sidebar I was pleasantly surprised to see that more and more smooth skinned gods and goddesses were telling me that they’d switched from higher scale foundations to this product. I finally decided to take the (moderately priced) plunge and try out a drugstore foundation again.


I am so glad that I did!  It’s absolutely awesome for me. Will it be awesome for you? I don’t know. Here’s some more information for your consideration:

The Situation With My Skin

Understanding my skin type was pretty crucial for me in terms of figuring out what type of foundation to go for: it’s going to be important for you too when you’re evaluating whether or not to try this product. If your skin is way different from mine you might find that L’Oreal Pro-Matte doesn’t work great for you. You may want to try a foundation that’s more sheer or more illuminating. You may be looking for a light powder for low coverage, or something with tea-tree oil or salicylic acid to aggressively treat acne. In a future Makeup Monday post I’ll dish some more on a few drugstore foundation brands that are purported to do wonders for different skin types. Today, however, I’m talking about my own success, so I’m only focusing on my own skin type.

Here’s a profile of my skin:

  • I have combination skin that gets kind of oily in my T-zone (chin and forehead mostly) but really dry on and around my nose
  • I had moderate acne through my teen years
  • At 23 I currently get hormonal cystic acne, this means a few things for me: I have periodic breakouts that are fairly scheduled; it can be really difficult to spot-treat breakouts because most products focus on the top layers of the skin; finally, when I do have a pimple, it’s usually giant, painful and super duper red
  • I also tend to have a few smaller bumps or spots in my skin
  • I am pretty pale
  • My skin undertone is closest to neutral
  • My skin is semi-sensitive and I tend to break out if I wash my face too vigorously or with harsh chemicals, or if I use medicated acne treating products for too long

What I Was Looking For in a Foundation

  • Liquid foundation (I’ve tried powder on and off for years: it’s just not my thing)
  • Does not oxidize (change colour after you put it on/ suddenly make you orange out of nowhere)
  • Does not rub or wear off on clothing too easily
  • Stays put all day/ long wear
  • Full enough coverage to hide blazing red cystic acne pimples
  • Non-comedogenic (does not block pores/ cause breakouts)
  • Comes in a shade that fits my skin tone (I was willing to settle for 2 shades that could be combined)
  • Doesn’t feel like a mask or look too cakey


What I Love About L’Oreal Pars Infallible Pro-Matte

It does everything that I was looking for, plus:

  • It goes on like a liquid but has this amazingly soft, powdery feeling when it dries
  • It dries super quick, which is great because I love to sleep in as much as possible
  • It’s widely available in most drugstores and online
  • It’s only $16 at Walmart in Canada (plus you can get it online or on sale for ever cheaper)

Whoop whoop!

Leave a comment if you’ve also fallen in love with a drugstore foundation and stay tuned to Makeup Mondays on Debt-Free Darlin’ for more beauty hacks and savings.

Nine Devine Tips for Debt-Free Holiday Shopping

Debt Free Deals

For many people December is the hardest month for sticking to a budget. It can be very hard to have a happy holiday when you’re concerned about starting the new year off in debt. Worry not, my debt-free darlings: I’ve got you covered.

Here are nine holiday hacks that can help you save money while shopping for the perfect gift.

1. Make a List and Check it Twice

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone many stores will continue to have deals and specials leading up to Christmas. When things go on blowout sale pricing it becomes way easier to get caught up in shopping mania.

Remember: buying an item that you don’t need and can’t give away because it’s on sale for $50 instead of $150 isn’t saving $10- it’s spending $50!

2.Consider Setting Cash Limits

For some people taking out cash in advance is a great way to monitor spending and stick to a budget. The physical act of forking over a fist full of cash seems to be just a little bit more painful than quickly tapping your chip against a debit terminal. This sobering transaction may turn out to be a great way to safeguard yourself against overspending


3. Be Conscious of Credit Card Purchases

Beware of the interest that incurs on big credit card purchases. If you want to build your credit rating I strongly suggest only using your credit card to make a few small purchases and insuring that you have the money in your bank account to pay off your credit card debt promptly when the bill comes in.

Keep credit card receipts separate and make a note to yourself either on a calendar, as a phone reminder, as an email appointment or as some combination of the three, to ensure that you pay in a timely and budget friendly fashion.


4. Take the Time to Learn About Your Line of Credit

Let me be perfectly clear:

If you can pay for gifts upfront using debit or cash, or if you can pay off your credit card debt as soon as the bill comes in, use either of these options before turning to a line of credit for holiday shopping.

Using a line of credit to pay off your credit card or make holiday purchases can either be very strategic or exceptionally detrimental.

  • Line of Credit Pros: lower interest rates than credit cards
  • Line of Credit Cons: additional fees incurred may stack up, if you have poor impulse control having a line of credit and a credit card can incentivize you to let your debt spiral out of control

If you’re going to try this, educate yourself first. Go to the bank today and sit down with someone. Read up extensively online:

The Bottom Line: I’ve known people who have used a line of credit to buy an extra month when they couldn’t pay off their credit card debt in full right away after Christmas. This sort of short term strategy to reduce interest over a finite period of time can help you save money as long as you’re conscious of additional fees associated with your specific line of credit.

Always exercise EXTREME caution while using credit.


5. Consider Online Shopping

Online shopping can make searching for deals and securing savings super easy. Make sure that the site is displaying your domestic currency and double check shipping and importation charges to avoid nasty last minute surprises.

Check out my article on online holiday shopping here!


6. Try Going Homemade for the Holidays


Oftentimes homemade gifts come with a sentimental touch that money simply can’t buy. If you’re a creative person, or if you have creative friends and family, a homemade holiday gift exchange can yield some amazingly spectacular results. As an added bonus, exchanging homemade gifts with friends and family is a great way to save money:

although homemade gifts can take a lot of time to make, the raw materials you use normally cost way less than the retail value of your product.

Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to discuss having a homemade holiday gift exchange. Many people do these kinds of exchanges and they are super fun, but naturally you don’t want to give your partner a macaroni picture frame (even a really great one) and have them give you a $150 watch… that would  be, well, awkward. If you are a talented artisan your loved ones will likely be very happy to receive something you’ve really put your heart into.

Not convinced? Here’s a lovely true story to change your mind: to this day my mother has the drawing that my very talented father gave her for birthday when they first got together framed on their bedroom wall (yes, I know, they’re adorable). I can’t name or even point out every gift that he has given her over the many happy years of their marriage, but I know for a fact that this gift is special to her because of its staying power.

You want to be the person who gives a gift with this level of sentimental value. 

Now that you’re on board…if you’re not a naturally artistic or crafty person, fear not! I have complied this delightful little list of easy  homemade gift ideas for you.


7. Take Advantage of Seasonal Sales

December is a great month for crazy deals on various products including clothing, electronics and grocery items. Read flyers in print or online to stay on top of holiday sales.

Don’t forget about the amazing power of price matching advertised specials. This simple technique can help you save time, money and gas by streamlining your shopping strategy!


8. Save Big With Secret Santa (or With PC Alternative, ‘Secret Surprise Gift Giver’)

The holiday season can be even more financially straining for socialites.


Have more friends than fingers and a limited lump of cash in your wallet? Suggest that you and your crew draw names from a hat in order to cut your shopping list way down. Consider setting $10, $15 or $20 limit on spending in order to get rid of any awkward equivalencies.

Other alternative variations of this gift swap may include specifying that gifts must be second hand, DIY, local or made in the form of charitable donations to non-profits.

Don’t forget to make a note of food or scent allergies, or dietary restrictions in order to avoid dangerous gift exchanges!


9. Give The Gift of Halifax Local with CoastMart

CoastMart is  basically an online posting board for gift cards and to assorted local business including restaurants, stores, and services. As you may have guessed from the name, CoastMart is run by The Coast, Halifax’s award-winning independent newspaper.  By accessing this site you can scoop up 30%-50% off Halifax gift cards, making this website a mandatory go-to if you have a local business lover on your list!