I have a confession …. I can be a bit of a makeup snob. I’ve always had this wacky idea in my head that high-end makeup brands perform better than those you get at the drugstore. After all, you pay an arm and a leg for them, so they must be good, right?
Well, not always. I’ve had my share of misses with high-end makeup. And it’s seriously irritating to purchase a pricey product only to have it let you down.
It was only recently that I started experimenting more with drugstore brands—mostly because my habit of aimlessly wandering the aisles of Sephora, grabbing any product that caught my eye, was getting awfully expensive. After trying a few drugstore products that came highly recommended by various beauty sites or bloggers, I was pleasantly surprised! So I started trying more and more products … and the pleasant surprise continued!
Here’s five of my favorite discoveries, all of which I’m regularly integrating into my daily beauty routine. And the best part is that they’re all under $10!
1. NYX Butter Gloss, $4.99
I was going to save the best for last, but I can’t even contain my excitement over these lip glosses. You guys, they are SO, SO awesome!!! They are creamy, smooth and not a tiny bit sticky. And the colors—oh, the colors! There are 22 beautiful shades, from the nudest of nudes to super dark vampy colors. They also smell just like sugar cookies!
I first read about these last year on 312 Beauty, a blog by a gal I know from my days back in Chicago. They sounded great, so I got myself over to Ulta to check them out—and, go figure, they were practically sold out. With an upcoming beach honeymoon, I wanted some fun, bright, beachy shades. So I grabbed two of the brightest shades they had left in stock: Sugar Cookie, a bright fuschia, and Peach Cobbler, a red-orange. They are quite pigmented for a gloss, which I love.
Since those shades worked out so well, the next time I was at Ulta, I grabbed more—and since they were having a buy-one-get-one-50%-off, I went all out. This time, I went with a bunch of nude shades: Angel Food Cake, a mauve (which is basically a prettier version of my natural lip color); Crème Brulee, a light pink-nude; Maple Blondie, a peachy color; and Apple Strudel, another peach shade. (In retrospect, Maple Blondie and Apple Strudel were way too similar to justify both; but, alas.) I wear Angel Food Cake alllllll the time. And anytime I do a nude lip, Crème Brulee and Maple Blondie are my go-to glosses to top off my lipstick.
Ulta has deals on NYX often, so next time they do, I highly recommend stocking up!
2. L’Oreal True Match Foundation, $8.99
I’m super picky about foundation and have traditionally always bought the high-end stuff. But when I saw that Heidi Hamoud, an amazing makeup artist and YouTube vlogger I recently discovered, often uses L’Oreal True Match as her foundation, I was intrigued. So off I went to Target.
My biggest gripe with all drugstore makeup is that you can’t try it on first. But, True Match has 33 shades to choose from, so they likely have the right color for you. I debated between Neutral 2 Classic Ivory and Warm 2 Light Ivory. Ultimately, the Neutral 2 shade seemed to have more pink, so I went with Warm 2. I totally lucked out on the match, but if you don’t have the same luck, make sure you buy it from a place with a good return policy!
The foundation itself is oil-free and is fairly sheer. If you have a lot unevenness to cover up, you’ll need to build it up much more than you would with a full-coverage foundation. For me, a thin layer is all I need. I’ve applied this with both my Sigma F80 Flat Kabuki brush (best brush ever!!!) for an airbrushed look and with a damp Beauty Blender sponge for a dewier look.
My only caution is that I noticed that True Match settles into some of my larger pores more than my typical foundations. That’s probably because I often gravitate toward silicone-based foundations, and silicone helps prevent the makeup from sinking into lines and pores. With an oil-free, silicone-free formula like this, you won’t get that benefit. So when I use it, I always make sure to use a pore filler first, like Dr. Brandt Pores No More.
All-in-all, I’ve been really pleased with the results this foundation delivers. Will I convert exclusively to drugstore foundation? I’ll be honest; probably not. But this will definitely be my backup!
3. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser concealer, $7.99
After reading that Rank & Style named this concealer its No. 1 drugstore pick, I figured it was worth a try. Years ago, I used a different formula of this concealer, called Instant Age Rewind Double Face Perfector. It was a dual-ended product, with a concealer on one end and a highlighter on the other. It was actually pretty great, but has since been discontinued (I seriously have the worst luck with products I like getting discontinued!). Knowing I had luck with the last formula, I figured there was a pretty good chance I’d like this one—and I was right.
I’m not a huge fan of “creamy” concealers—the super thick, heavy types. I prefer something that doesn’t feel all goopy under my eyes, yet still covers really well. This does just that. The spongy tipped applicator is a little weird for me, but eventually you get used to it. Here’s a heads-up: The first time you use this product, you’ll have to twist the top for what feels like a good 5 minutes before product comes out onto the sponge.
The “age rewinding” benefits are a plus. It contains Haloxyl, which is an ingredient that is supposed to reduce the appearance of dark circles. The jury is still out on that for me, but all in all, this is a solid purchase for less than $9.
4. e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip, $1
If you’ve never tried e.l.f. (which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face), this brand has awesome stuff at an insanely cheap price point! This highlighter is just one of their great products I’ve discovered (keep reading for another one). And let’s talk about the fact that this is a dollar. One. Like, it’s cheaper than a bottle of Diet Coke. You literally have no excuse not to try it. They have several shades, but I purchased what seems to be most popular: Lilac Petal. The lilac part threw me off a little, because the color is a pretty, pale pink with no hints of purple at all.
A lot of beauty bloggers compare the Facial Whip to Benefit’s High Beam, which is an absolutely amazing highlighter if you haven’t tried it. I tossed my High Beam a while back, since I’d owned it for years and the product was starting to get old and funky – and I couldn’t justify repurchasing it since I didn’t use it enough. So while I couldn’t do my own side-by-side comparison, I came across a blog post from Love, Lipstick and Pearls and was amazed by her comparison. They look essentially the same.
I have to agree with her assessment that the Facial Whip is harder to blend. High Beam is a much more fluid highlighter, whereas the e.l.f. version is thicker and creamier. I also agree that you should apply this before you put any powder products on, including powder blush. Just dot it along your cheekbones after you apply your foundation (and/or cream blush) and blend it in. I like to blend first with fingers, then use my Beauty Blender sponge to dab away any lines that remain.
Overall, for $1, this has definitely earned a permanent spot in my makeup bag!
5. e.l.f. Studio Cream Eyeliner, $3
On to another great e.l.f. product …. I had read great things about this eyeliner, and at only $3, I had to give it a try. I am a cream eyeliner addict, and my brand of choice is usually Bobbi Brown. But at $25 a pop, it ain’t cheap.
I purchased the black shade (which is my go-to color), and was amazed at how comparable it was to the high-end stuff. It’s super creamy and goes on like a dream, but dries to a water-resistant, smudge-proof finish. If you like a smokey eye as much as I do, you can use a brush like this one to smudge it out before it dries to give that super sexy look. One thing to note: The brush they provide is laughable. Don’t even bother trying to use it. Instead, opt for a full-sized angled brush.
I liked this so much, I went back for the brown. I got it at Target, and they only carried two colors. But the e.l.f. website has plenty more to choose from, and at $3 a pop, you could own all 10 colors for a little more than the price of one Bobbi Brown liner. Insane!
Since I’ve finally gotten over my drugstore makeup aversion, I’m itching to try more great stuff! So tell me: What are your fave drugstore products? Share with me in the comments!