Every morning for the past several years, my makeup routine has essentially been the same: I start with a foundation that’s a shade or two off, adorn my cheeks with doll-like blush, and sift through more than a dozen shades of lipstick, all of them too bright. Why? Because I buy makeup at the drugstore. Well, no more—2009 is going to be the year that I get it right. ¶ I’ve always been intrigued by MAC: Like most American consumers, I assume the quality packaging and chic saleswomen equate to a superior product. So I visit the MAC store for a lesson with Konstantine, a senior makeup artist who frequently preps models at New York’s Fashion Week. ¶ Yes, most of MAC’s products are double (and sometimes triple) the price of, say, Cover Girl, but the bonuses outweigh the costs. Bonus number one: Konstantine selects a foundation that perfectly matches my skin tone, and shows me how to apply it with a brush to create a flawless, air-brushed look (goodbye disposable sponges!). He also finds the right blush color and eye shadow for me to wear day-to-night, then shows me how to use a medium-sized brush to apply the shadow and a small, wedged brush to smudge on liner for night. “Like an artist, you need the right tool,” he tells me. ¶ Bonus number two: All of MAC’s products are highly pigmented, so a little goes a long way. The effect lasts longer, keeping replacement costs to a minimum. I can dump my drawer of clown colors, knowing that I have the perfect selection of shades for any occasion. That tube of too-bright lipstick? Garbage, a waste of money. I now see the cost benefit of upgrading to a higher quality brand. It’s time I made the investment in myself.