Pia Catton, author of "Be Thrifty... Not Cheap," has some answers.
"Not everyone has the same needs in terms of makeup," Catton explains. "But one thing across the board is to save your money for really important products."
She says those really important products are foundation and lipstick, because the color and quality can affect your skin condition and overall look.
"Things like eyeliner, mascara, these are less important products -- while they are important -- for the overall appearance, you can save a little money on those and use a little less expensive brand and it's not going to mess up your look," Catton says.
She says you can get advice and samples at a department store makeup counter, but she warns that you not get bullied into spending too much.
"Sure, go get the consultation, but be very selective and don't get bullied into spending too much money," Catton advises. "You can go buy your foundation and your lipstick at Saks and then run across to the drug store and buy your mascara and buy your eyeliner there."
And even at the drugstore, she warns against getting tricked into buying more expensive products, just because they have certain buzz words on the labels.
Words like "natural," "hypoallergenic" and "not tested on animals" may not really make a difference between on product and another, when you compare the ingredients, Catton says.
"There are words that are triggers that you think, 'oh! this is great -- hypoallergenic, natural, not tested on amimals.' If you know what's behind some of those words, they might make make a difference, but "not tested on animals" may just mean that that product wasn't tested on animals, whereas the ingredients that went into the product may have been."
Catton also suggests signing up for cosmetic loyalty clubs if you do buy the more expensive department-store brands, so that you can qualify for discounts and freebies when they're offered.
And she says there are some home remedies that work as well as fancy store items.
"If your skin is feeling dry, especially at this time of year, rub an apple on it." she says. "If your eyes are feeling puffy or your skin is irritated, grate a cucumber, put it in a cheesecloth and give yourself a compress. There's a lot of old home remedies that are wonderful.".