Here’s the thing.
I love shopping.
And I love cosmetics.
But, I love being able to pay my bills and not go below $0 in my bank account.
So, I’m a drugstore makeup shopper. Yes, I like Sephora and MAC and all of the high-end stuff, but I’m not going to turn my nose down at a good product even if it can be purchased in the same store where I buy tampons and Tylenol. A good product is a good product, and it’s even better if I can use a coupon or get a really good clearance deal.
I’ve tested out lots of drugstore makeup, and I feel like I’ve tried enough to name a handful of “must haves” — actually, I set out to make a Top 10 list and ended up with a Top 15. In fact, I probably could go to a Top 20, but I need to set some boundaries for myself, I guess!
Here are some of my favorites, no particular order:
Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse (foundation)
If you watch beauty gurus on YouTube, chances are you’ve probably heard of this foundation recently. It’s been getting lots of raves, and rightfully so. Let’s start off with the practical packaging. It comes in a jar, so you can dab your brush (or sponge, if that’s how you roll) directly into the foundation, unlike so many drugstore foundations that come in bottles without pumps, so you’re constantly pouring out way more product than you need. Another great thing? This really is a mousse-like consistency, really creamy and it sets almost to a powder on your face. For around $6 to $8 (probably less if you grab one of the tear-pad coupons on the Maybelline displays in the drugstore!), this is a winner.
e.l.f. Blending Eye Brush
I’d love to say I have a collection of professional makeup brushes. I’m sure that the proper implement makes a huge different in how your makeup is applied and what it ends up looking like. But, at this point, I’m working with a piecemal collection of brushes, mostly from e.l.f. Fortunately, their brushes are so good that I don’t feel like I’m really sacrificing by not having higher-end, more expensive brushes. I especially love their Blending Eye Brush. I’ve said it before, but it’s the perfect tool to apply a light, soft wash of color in the crease without any sort of harsh lines. It’s soft and fluffy, but the tip is dense enough to get a bit of concentration in your application. And for $1? I’m going to buy 10 backups so I never have to live without this brush!
e.l.f. Custom Compact
You’re going to notice a trend here — I love e.l.f.! Their custom compact is a great product, even though it doesn’t come with any sort of makeup inside (you have to purchase their custom shadows separately to create your own palette). What do I love about this $1 steal of a deal? The compact fits MAC eyeshadow pans! That’s right, for $1, you can create your own MAC eyeshadow palette. The compact is already magnetized, so no need to worry about gluing magnets to your pans, and another major bonus? The huuuuuge mirror! Of course, you can also fit the custom eyeshadow singles from e.l.f. in here (that’s what the compact is made for), so you can mix and match e.l.f. shadows with MAC shadows to create the four color combination that works for you!
Prestige Total Intensity Eyeliner
Pencil liners typically aren’t as easy to work with as liquid or gel liners, but these Prestige Total Intensity Eyeliners completely redefine what a pencil liner is all about. They glide on, stay put and come in a great variety of colors (fearless teal, bold brown, strong slate, powerful purple, intense olive — my fave). What more could you want in a liner, pencil or otherwise?
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss
Scroll down a few posts, and you’ll see my recent rave review for the spring/summer collection of shades from the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss. The permanent colors are pretty amazing, too. This is the closest thing to liquid lipstick that I’ve found. Great shade selection, smooth application, opaque pigmentation…color me impressed.
e.l.f. studio High Definition Powder
I really do love e.l.f. Cosmetics this much to include so many of their products on my Top 15 list! I use this powder every single day to set my foundation and any cream products I use. For $6 (or cheaper if you catch it during one of their frequent online sales), you get a huuuuuge container of loose powder and a nice puff (actually useable if you don’t use a fluffy brush to apply setting powder). I love the soft look and finish it gives to my face.
Milani HD Advanced Concealer
This is another part of my everyday face routine. I love this product after I’ve applied undereye concealer to hide dark circles and foundation. I use this to brighten my undereye area…not so much as a concealer but not really as a highlight either. It’s just a fantastic brightener and really opens up your eyes and makes you look refreshed and awake. And I love the clickable pen applicator, so easy to use and keeps you from wasting product.
Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow (palettes and singles)
I first heard about these palettes from EasyAccessBeauty on YouTube, when she compared them to MAC shadows in both pigmentation and consistency. Her video convinced me to get one of the palettes, Vanity (of course, it’s the neutral browns palette, and in case you couldn’t tell, I’m sort of a neutral shadow whore!), and it was love at first swipe! I got several of the singles (Brulee, Penny, Nutty) and one of the trios (Walking on Eggshells). These are great for everyday and evening/weekend looks. With a good base and primer, this shadow will stay put longer than your foundation!
CoverGirl Lash Blast (Length, Volume and Fusion) mascara
If there’s one thing CoverGirl knows, it’s mascara. Forget the high-end stuff…if you want the effect of false lashes without the glue and pain, you must try Lash Blast. There are three formulas — Volume (orange), Length (yellow) and Fusion (purple) — and I find them all the be true to their names. But, if you can’t decide which one to get, go with the orange tube…I think Volume gives you full lashes and the appearance of length, too. Must disclose that I was fortunate enough to try out Lash Blast Fusion through BzzAgent (read my post about what the heck that is here), but I would have purchased it myself if I hadn’t gotten it for free. For$8 and such an awesome quality mascara, why not?
TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray
If you read my hair tips post, you know this stuff is holy grail for me! Smells glorious, comes in an awesome spray bottle and does the job. I blowdry my hair quite often, so I need something to keep it shiny and soft, despite the heat damage. This is another brand that you can usually find a “steal of a deal” on at Target or your local drugstore — keep your eyes peeled for coupons, buy one get one free, and things like that, so you can stock up on Heat Tamer Spray!
Sally Hansen Natural Makeup Inspired by Carmindy lipstick in Baby Pink
I picked up this lipstick (and other shades from the same line) by chance during one of the recent CVS 50-75% beauty sales. Turns out that what I thought was just a few cheap-o lipsticks includes my everyday, perfect pink pout! I also have the MAC Viva Glam Gaga lipstick, and even though this isn’t an exact dupe, it comes close.
It’s got maybe a touch more peach in it, but that makes it slightly more wearable than Gaga, which is a screamin’ baby pink. Love love love the consistency of this, too! Sort of like a cremesheen from MAC, this glides right on and you need just a coat, and you’re set. Perfect pair to my everyday, neutral eye.
L’oreal HiP Jelly Balm
This was another impulse, “must get because it’s marked way way down” buy that turned in to one of my favorite products. Super moisturizing, and depending on the shade, great to wear alone or on top of a lipstick. It’s a balm, but you’ll get a nice wash of color on your lips. I’ve heard that these are comparable to MAC tender tones, which you can only get at a CCO now because they’re discontinued. So, skip the CCO and try CVS (or Walgreens or Wal-mart or Target or…you get the idea) for one or two or ten of these!
Clean and Clear Moisturizer, Dual-Action Oil Free &
Olay Daily Facials Express Wet Cleansing Cloths
I’m using a picture of the two of these items together but counting them separately in my list of 15. I use a mix of high-end and drugstore skincare products. I think once you find what works for your skin, stick to it! But, some of us are on that eternal quest to find the perfect products for the clearest, softest skin, I know (which is why I’m still testing out some things…)! But, for drugstore skincare, I like these two! The C&C has salicylic acne medication and is especially made for dry skin, which is great for me (since I have both the occasional zit and skin that belongs in the Sahara Desert). I use it in the morning before applying primer. And, I love the Olay cleansing cloths to clean my face at night. They do a great job of removing my makeup and cleaning my skin at the same time.
e.l.f. Beauty Book – Neutral Edition
I got this product a week or two ago (see full review), and I’m LOVING it! $5 for 12 silky smooth, pigmented shadows that I can combine in a million different ways for a neutral, work (or play!) look. If your Target sells e.l.f. Cosmetics, look for the special endcap display with these Beauty Books — grab ‘em if you see ‘em! I get the sense that they’re limited edition, and for $5, they’ll be sold out before you know it!