If there is one thing I have learned over the years from many many makeup purchases, it is that you don't have to spend lots of money on department store makeup to look good. Did you know that Lancome and L'oreal Paris are part of the same company? Many of the L'oreal products are the same or very similar to the Lancome products. Why spend more?
I've found you can get wonderful foundations, concealers, mascaras and lipstick/gloss at the drugstore. That's where I get most of mine (well except concealer - I have super dark circles so I need HEAVY duty coverage). There are two things I reccomend people splurge on: 1) eyeshadow and 2) blush. The reasons are the same for both. Professional eyeshadows and blushes are highly pigmented meaning a little goes a long way. You need to use a lot less than you would a cheaper version. (Oh and please don't ever use the tiny brush that comes with drugstore blushes to apply your blush unless you want to look like you have racing stripes on your cheeks!)
If I have a chance, later I will come back and post some of my favorite drugstore finds.