If there's one thing we appreciate about drugstore makeup, it's that it allows us to experiment with new trends without breaking the bank. And while some products may not quite live up to the hype (or our expectations), there are definitely some hidden gems to be found on the shelves of your local drugstore.
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As a self-proclaimed beauty addict, I’ve tried my fair share of drugstore makeup products. In fact, I’d venture to say that the majority of products in my makeup collection are drugstore finds. I love a good high-end product as much as the next girl, but there’s something about finding a great cheap product that just feels like winning the lottery.
But, even though some drugstore products are super popular, it's important to remember that not everything popular will work for everyone. Some top-rated drugstore products failed to dazzle me as much as they seem to have dazzled the masses. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I've decided to put together a list of the Internet's favorite drugstore makeup products – ranked from worst to best.
10. Essence My Skin Perfector Tinted Primer
The Essence My Skin Perfector Tinted Primer is a mousse-like tinted primer that's supposed to even out your skin tone and create the perfect base for long-lasting makeup. However, even though I'm usually a fan of mattifying products, this was too drying even for my excessively oily skin. The product is incredibly chalky and difficult to blend and left my skin feeling tight and uncomfortable. Even worse, it exacerbated my skin texture and didn't help the rest of my complexion products go on evenly, but it made them look patchy instead. Overall, I would not recommend this product to anyone, and especially not to someone with normal or dry skin.
Try Instead: e.l.f. Cosmetics – Poreless Putty Primer, $10
Splurge Option: Hourglass – Veil Mineral Primer, $56
9. L'Oréal Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Foundation
I know I will probably catch a lot of heat for this universally loved product, but the L'Oréal Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Foundation just isn't that great on its own. Starting with the somewhat strange shades that look like they would be suitable for a pretty common neutral undertone, but aren’t – none of the ones in my shade range matched my skin tone when I tried them. They did, however, mix well with my regular foundation, so if you're in a pinch and need to lighten or darken a foundation, this could be useful, but again, they don't really work great on their own.
The formula is very dewy, which is fine if that's the look you're going for, but the product doesn't have staying power, and it turns into a greasy mess pretty quickly because of this. Moreover, it settles in the pores and makes them look huge for some reason, which, if I had to guess, would be due to the various filler ingredients the foundation contains.
Lastly, the formula is loaded with fragrance, making it impossible to be used by someone with sensitive and reactive skin or someone who's allergic to fragrance. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this product unless you're looking for a temporary foundation that you don't mind touching up frequently.
Try Instead: Wet n Wild – PhotoFocus Liquid Foundation, $7
Splurge Option: Rare Beauty – Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation, $29
8. Makeup Revolution Eye Bright Concealer
The main issue is the shade range, or the lack thereof, since it's only available in 10 shades, which not only isn't nearly enough, but the shades are incredibly strange-looking and don't seem like they can be made to work on the majority of skin tones.
The one thing I liked about this product is its creamy yet lightweight texture that looks nice and smooth when it dries…but it takes forever to dry on the skin, so forget about using it if you don't have the time to wait around for it to dry. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this product, not because it's the worst thing out there, but simply because there are much better options within the same price range.
Try Instead: Maybelline – Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer, $10
Splurge Option: NARS – Radiant Creamy Concealer, $31
7. Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer
Another drugstore product that seems to be loved by everyone but was underwhelming for me is the Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer. This is a good product; however, if you're not into bronzers that have that tiny bit of glow and look too heavy for days when you want to apply minimal makeup, you probably won't like it. So, in this case, I'd say that quality has nothing to do with preference, and it's all about whether or not the product matches your needs and wants.
If you don't mind a bit of shimmer in your bronzer and you're looking for a product that will add warmth to your face, the Butter Bronzer is a great option. But if you prefer a matte bronzer with less pigment so that you can easily control how much you apply, you'll want to look elsewhere.
Try Instead: e.l.f. Cosmetics – Primer-Infused Bronzer, $7
Splurge Option: FENTY BEAUTY – Sun Stalk'r Instant Warmth Bronzer, $34
6. NYX Sweet Cheeks Creamy Powder Blush
The NYX Sweet Cheeks Creamy Powder Blush is a great drugstore blush if you’re looking for something simple and inexpensive for daily use. The product isn't highly pigmented, so if you prefer to go heavy on the blush, you will likely need more than one layer. That being said, the color does build up nicely and can be blended out for a natural-looking flush.
The biggest downside of this product is that it can be a little drying, especially if paired with a matte powder, which can result in a patchy application.
Try Instead: Essence – The Blush, $4
Splurge Option: HOURGLASS – Ambient Lighting Blush, $43
5. Milani Gilded Eyeshadow Palette
Milani's Gilded Eyeshadow Palettes are an excellent drugstore product for anyone who is looking for something simple and easy to work with for daily makeup. They’re fairly pigmented and give very minimal fallout, which makes me happy because I'm not that great at cleaning up my eyeshadow after applying it. I'm also a fan of the color stories, as you get a good ratio of mattes and shimmers that you can use to create different looks and keep things interesting.
The only thing I don't like about these palettes is that they don't have the greatest staying power and tend to crease after a few hours, even when I use an eyeshadow primer. So, these palettes might not be your favorite if you have oily lids or tend to sweat a lot.
Try Instead: Morphe – Neutral Territory Artistry Palette, $12
Splurge Option: Natasha Denona – Biba All Neutral Eyeshadow Palette, $129
4. Maybelline TattooStudio Liquid Ink Eyeliner
The Maybelline TattooStudio Liquid Ink Eyeliner is a fantastic liquid eyeliner and everything I personally look for in this type of product. It has an ultra-thin and soft brush for precise application and is also fantastic for getting into the inner corner for that gorgeous cat-eye look.
Affordable Option: e.l.f. Cosmetics Precision Liquid Eyeliner, $5
Splurge Option: MAC Liquidlast 24-Hour Eyeliner, $23
3. NYX Thick it, Stick it! Thickening Brow Gel Mascara
Another win by NYX is the Thick it Stick it! Thickening Brow Gel Mascara that comes in multiple shades, and has an excellent applicator that coats the eyebrows and helps them stay in place all day.
Not gonna lie: This brow gel has had me leaving my house without filling in my eyebrows with a pencil on many occasions, as using it on its own is enough when going for a natural daytime makeup look. I'm still going to provide a couple of alternatives for the sake of variety, but if you haven't tried this product, I definitely recommend giving it a go.
Affordable Option: ULTA – Brow Tint, $10
Splurge Option: Benefit Cosmetics – Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel, $24
2. NYX Micro Brow Pencil
If a microbladed brow (without the microblading part) is your jam, you shouldn't look any further than the NYX Micro Brow Pencil. This product comes in a fantastic shade variety and is such high-quality that I find it hard to believe it only costs $11. It's also incredibly creamy and silky, unlike some more expensive eyebrow pencils (I'm looking at you, MAC) that deliver a patchy and uneven application. The only issue I have with it is that it doesn't last long, so make sure to stock up on these, especially if you will be using them daily.
Affordable Option: L'Oréal – Brow Stylist Definer, $9
Splurge Option: Benefit Cosmetics – Precisely, My Brow Pencil Waterproof Eyebrow Definer, $24
1. Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
If you want a mascara that easily beats high-end products at a fraction of the price, Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara is your new best friend. This product will give you gorgeous, voluminous lashes that will make your eyes pop and is one of the few drugstore mascaras that truly lives up to its name.
The only downside is that it dries out pretty quickly, so with daily use, I usually get about two months' worth of product before it becomes clumpy and difficult to use. But, it only costs $5, and mascaras are supposed to be changed every two to three months to prevent the risk of eye infections anyways, so I'm not going to complain about its short life.
Splurge Option: Blinc – Original Tubing Mascara, $26
Those are my thoughts on the Internet's favorite drugstore makeup products, ranked from worst to best! While there are definitely some duds in the drugstore makeup aisle, there are also some real gems that can save you a lot of money without sacrificing quality. So, next time you're at the store, don't be afraid to experiment and try out new products because you never know when you'll find your new favorite!
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