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I’ve rounded up the best-of-the-best affordable makeup and tools to create the ultimate drugstore makeup kit! It’s equal parts affordable and versatile to achieve so many different makeup looks. This kit will give you anything from a quick no-makeup makeup look all the way to a full glam face and everything in between.
Moisturizer: Burt’s Bees Daily Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin
My sister-in-law gave this to me a few months ago because she didn’t like it. My hopes weren’t super high since she didn’t have luck but decided to give it a shot anyway. (PS I have never tried anything from Burt’s Bees besides chapstick so this was my first go at their skincare.) I was pleasantly surprised with this! It’s super lightweight and the formula is pretty thin so it’s a little runny but it leaves my skin feeling hydrated and smooth! I think it’s great for morning and night.
Primer: Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer
This primer is great at smoothing my skin and giving it an even texture and surface for applying makeup. I don’t usually struggle with skin texture – just the normal breakout or two around that time of the month – so I can’t attest to it smoothing over more severe texture but for the normal complexion, this is a great option! It has a silicon-y feel and I do agree that my pores look blurred once I put it on.
Foundation: L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation & L’Oreal Paris Infallible Face Pro-Glow Foundation
These foundations are bomb! I think they could give any high-end foundation a run for it’s money! It’s not the most affordable drugstore foundation on the market but I think the quality and formula of the product is worth a couple more bucks. Plus I’ve used a lot of other drugstore foundations and not many compare to these.
Both the matte and glow are extremely lightweight – I can barely feel it on my skin but the coverage for both is medium-to-full so I feel like I get a great base and most of my imperfections are covered. (win-win!) I can also wear it for 8-12 hours and it still looks pretty decent by the end of the night. Some minor touchups and powdering will revive it and extend the wear-power.
I have combination skin that tends to be pretty oily in the summer and really dry in the winter. This pair is great to swap out depending on how my skin is looking or to mix together for some benefits of both. I typically use the pro-glow in the fall/winter and pro-matte in the spring/summer and sometimes mix together formulas and shades to get my perfect combination.
Concealer: Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer
I keep coming back to this concealer and for good reasons. My favorite thing about it is it’s blendability. It blends like a dream and makes my undereye area so smooth. I actually like the applicator sponge on the top (I know some people don’t think it’s sanitary but I’m not too concerned – not like my dark circles are breaking out with acne on a regular basis haha). The coverage is about medium but build-able. This might not be heavy-duty enough for some people so I recommend using a color-correcting concealer underneath for added coverage.
Face Powder: N.Y.C. Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder – Translucent
One of my favorite drugstore finds! Actually I learned about this powder from Kathleen Lights’ youtube channel. She mentioned it in one of her videos so I decided to check it out and love it! It really does make my skin feel silky smooth and keeps my foundation and concealer set in place all day. I also use it to touchup throughout the day when I’m a little oily and it really revives my face makeup. I’ve never tried the Laura Mercier loose translucent powder but heard this could be a dupe!
Bronzer: N.Y.C. Smooth Skin Bronzer, Sunny – Sunny
I have fair skin and very light hair so I struggle with finding a drugstore bronzer that isn’t too orange on my complexion. This is a great and inexpensive bronzer and I especially love it in the summer! I think the shade is pretty neutral compared to most drugstore bronzers and would work well on most people. It is easy to blend out and gives great color to my face. I tend to back off of it in the winter when I’m at my palest because it tends to look too orange but will still use it lightly to give my skin some life.
Physicians formula has some great bronzers and I used to use them religiously but 1) they are crazy expensive for drugstore 2) they can break really easily and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve broken one of their bronzers with half of it left and then get pissed because I don’t want to buy a new one and waste what I have. But do you know how annoying it is to use a broken makeup powder? It’s a mess. And 3) the packaging is so bulky and annoying. Ok rant over – I like Physicians Formula but think you can get a better bronzer elsewhere.
Side note: I am in the market for a drugstore bronzer/contour powder that is neutral or (preferably) cool-toned and can’t find one! If you have any recommendations, leave them in the comments below 🙂
Blush: Wet n Wild Color Icon Blush – Pearlescent Pink
Great color payoff, great neutral pink color that goes with almost any makeup look, great price – enough said! It’s a little shimmery in the pan but I can’t really notice anything on my cheeks once applied which I like.
Highlighter: Wet n Wild Shimmer Palette – Boozy Brunch
This is a really pretty goldish highlight with great pigmentation and buildability. I don’t go crazy with my highlight so just a dusting is all I need. The formula is smooth and the shimmer is fine and not chunky so I get a natural glow. There are some other shades besides boozy brunch but I think this one is the best and most universal.
Contour: JORDANA Sculpt N Go Creamy Contour Stick (cream) & Wet n Wild MegaGlo Contouring Palette (powder)
The Jordana contour stick is a fairly new product that launched at the beginning of 2017 I think. I picked it up shortly after it launched and love that they offer a cool-toned shade! These are the best for contouring. I use shade 01 Light and love this tone for my complexion. They also have 2 other shades – medium and deep. Its easy to blend out which I use my beauty sponge for.
Wet n Wild’s MegaGlo Contouring Palette is a great powder contour and highlighting duo. I mostly just use the contour shade but you get a ton of product for the price and it can double as a bronzer too.
Eyebrows: NYX Microbrow Pencil
I used to use the Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow pencil in Taupe and this NYX one has replaced it and I love it even more. I personally like the NYX taupe shade better than the ABH one – it matches my brows and complexion better. Overall the formula and actual pencil is almost identical to ABH so why not save some money?!
Setting Spray: Milani Make It Last Setting Spray
This is another new product that came out early 2017 and it quickly became one of my staples. The mist is very fine and gives you a great even layer to set your makeup or give it some life if you need to refresh midway through your day. Nothing bad to say about it – thank you Milani for creating a drugstore setting spray that is high-end worthy!
Eyeshadow Primer: Milani Eyeshadow Primer
Another Milani home run! This primer makes your shadow stay on longer, look more pigmented, and gives your eyelid an even base so your eyeshadow application is easier. It’s a tiny tube but lasts a long time because all you need is just the littlest amount for each eye.
Eyeshadow Palette: Makeup Revolution Iconic Redemption Eyeshadow Palettes
This was probably the hardest category to come up with and where I think the drugstore is lacking the most. For most of the other categories, I could easily come up with 1 if not multiple items from the drugstore that I think are great products but eye shadow palettes are tough because not many brands come out with great ones. For me, it’s important that all shades are pigmented – both matte and shimmer – and that you can create several looks from the same palette aka versatility.
Makeup Revolution is a brand sold at Ulta and they have some amazing products! But speaking specifically to these palettes- they don’t disappoint! You get a ton of shades with a variety of mattes and shimmers that are all great and the looks you can create are endless. In this line, they have a pink/rose palette, bronze/gold palette, and neutral palette – um hello Urban Decay Naked palette knockoffs for $7!!
Eyeliner: e.l.f. Studio Cream Eyeliner (gel) & Maybelline New York Eyestudio Master Precise Skinny Eye Pencil (pencil)
I’m not a huge gel eyeliner user but when I do use it, I go for something easy to apply because my wing game isn’t the strongest. E.l.f makes a great formula at an unbeatable price that gets the job done! They have black and brown.
I’m in love with the Master Precise Skinny liner! Why didn’t anybody think of skinny liner before? The liner is roughly the size of my eyebrow pencil to give you an example and it’s perfect for inner water lines! They weren’t kidding naming it precise because the precision allows you to get really close to your lash lines. I can also build it up to be thicker if I want or create a wing too!
Mascara: Maybelline New York Volum’ Express The Rocket Mascara & Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Mascara
The Rocket is a great mascara to separate your lashes and make them look fuller – hence volume in the name. I use the waterproof version so my lashes will stay curled all day. Lash Sensational gives me even extra curl and gets the outer parts of my lashes better since the wand is curled. I love both formulas and go back and forth all the time. I don’t know how many drugstore mascara’s I’ve tried but these can’t be beat!
Lip Liner: Wet n Wild Perfect Pout Gel Lip Liner & Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner
The Wet n Wild get liner is new and amazing! It glides on like butter and stays put all day. They don’t have a ton of shades but I use the neutral pink shade that can go under most colors and keep them in place or I’ll wear it by itself with some clear gloss over it.
The Rimmel ones are tride and true! Any good lip liner needs to be retrackable – I hate sharpening a pencil and getting stabbed in the lip. They come in a ton of different shades and are really easy to apply with a tiny tip.
Lipstick: Milani Color Statement Lipstick
These lipsticks come in a cream and matte formula and I love both! Both are hydrating, have great pigmentation and application and last through eating and drinking. Their shade selection is amazing and gives most skin complexions a ton of options for warm, neutral, and cool shades.
Liquid Lipstick: Wet n Wild Megalast Liquid Catsuit Lipstick
ANOTHER new product for 2017 – the drugstore is clearly upping their game this year. I personally think these liquid lips are the best at the drugstore hands down! They last ALL day – no joke. The formula is matte but not drying and doesn’t leave my lips feeling crusty and parched. I’ve noticed that some of the colors require a couple coats for even color but I don’t mind that.
1. Brushes: Real Techniques Flawless Base Set & Real Techniques Enhanced Eye Set
The ultimate drugstore makeup kit isn’t complete without a solid set of brushes. A good set of brushes takes you from looking like an amateur to looking like a pro! Real Techniques makes some of the best and they are so affordable. Their brush sets have the best value and I think if all you have is just these 2 sets, you can do just about anything you need.
Base set includes a contour brush, detailer brush, buffing brush, and square foundation brush.
Eye set includes a medium shadow brush, essential crease brush, fine liner brush, shading brush, and lash separator.
These are the technical names and uses for these brushes that Real Techniques suggests but let’s be honest – use these brushes for whatever function or product you want! Making them work for you helps you to get the most out of them.
2. Beauty Sponge: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
If you are not using a beauty sponge to apply your makeup – what are you doing?! Beauty sponges have single-handedly changed my makeup game for the better and I can’t live without one! This Real Techniques sponge is magic. Do yourself a favor – drop whatever you are doing right now and go get one. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
3. Eyelash Curler: Beauty 360 Extreme Curl Eyelash Curler
I just recently replaced my old eyelash curler with this bad boy and what a difference it made! My lashes curl so much better and I feel like it gets more of my lashes at once. Plus the color is super cute! I think this brand is new to CVS and one of their private brands because I’ve seen it all over the place in the beauty/skin care section.
What are your go-to affordable products that you would include in your ultimate drugstore makeup kit?! I would love to know in the comments below so I can keep trying new things. I’m always on the hunt for a great drugstore find 🙂
Gabrielle gentile says
The wet & of wild highlight stick that looks like the cream contour stick listed here is also amazing and so easy to use! Can be used alone and blended in to look more natural or can be used as a primer to make powder highlighters “pop” more! I love it way more than my liquid Bobbi brown highlighter that’s almost $50 more!!!!
That’s awesome Gabrielle!! Don’t you just love a good drugstore find 😍 I will have to check that out!
Great review, what is the name of the Milani New statement lipstick?
Thanks Laura! They just came out with 8 new shades in their matte formula https://milanicosmetics.com/Color-Statement-Moisture-Matte-Lipstick.html. The shade I featured is the original formula in 05 Red Label.
Jo Fuller says
I’ll have to try these. Wet n Wild lipstick in Black Orchid is my go-to. Only lipstick I’ve bought more than one of. It looks great on everyone. I also use L.A. Colors pressed powder, usually at Dollar Tree! And Coty Airspun. Wet n wild also has a foundation I love; the cover-all one. Really does cover. The Maybelline Fit Me is great in summer. Tip: with that and oily skin foundations, the ‘little bit goes a long way’ mantra doesn’t necessarily apply. Don’t dot, slather, LOL, not really, but use a little more at a time and smooth it on.
If you try any, let me know what you think! I also love the Wet n Wild foundation and Airspun! I will have the check out that pressed powder at the dollar tree – never heard of it 😮
Any online delivery system?.. Pls
Hello! I’ve included links for all the products so that you can pick and choose ones you may want to buy! Hope this helps 🙂
I tried the Maybelline Pore Eraser. I found it to be too smooth. My foundation was sliding off of my face.
Hi Sherrie! It’s definitely a silicone-y primer. I have to be careful in the summer with it when my skin is oily. Do you have a primer you prefer?
I tried Maybelline Pore Eraser. I found it to be too silky. My foundation was sliding off of it.
I’ve recently discovered ” Hard Candy ” primers. They come in 3 formulas, green for very red complexion, yellow for mild redness & a 3rd which I cant remember what formula it is. I’ve tried expensive to cheap primers & they all leave me oily at the end of the day. Not this one ! It is truly amazing ! After 12 hrs I’m still oil free. I highly recommend it.
Thanks for the recommendation Sandy! I will definitely be checking those out. The green one sounds perfect for my skin right now counteract my oils and redness from summer sun!
Very beautiful products
I agree with you on a lot of these products. The Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser is at the top of the heap, high end/drugstore alike. I’m 54, and I use the Luminous shade. It does Not enhance my lines and wrinkles, and most def. does illuminate the eye area and brighten your face. The luminous shade does tend to run a little pale on me in the summer (I am fair skinned cool tone redhead), so I need to get another shade for summer time.
Milani by far makes one of the best lipsticks out there. Their mattes are the best. My go to matte lipstick in every case is by far the shade Matte Naked. I found the Milani blush a little lacking in the color payoff. Maybe it was the shade? Really want to expand my Milani collection, but it’s relatively difficult to find in my area.
L’oreal Infallible foundation Pro-glow is excellent. However, I find the color range a bit limiting in good cool tone shades. L’oreal, imo, tends to put too much yellow base in their foundations.
Agree with you on a lot of the Physician’s Formula products being overpriced, and clunky packaging. They need to stream line their packaging and do a major overhaul. Their blushes are hard to open, and the lids break off on me. I also wish they would stop putting glitter in so many products! Us older women can’t wear many shimmers or glitters out there. They settle in and emphasize all the wrong things!
Here are some drugstore products I recommend: L’oreal Lash Paradise Mascara. Love this stuff! It’s my new go-to. Does not flake off or clump. Very buildable, and does not irritate my sensitive eyes which tend to water with sooo many eye makeup types.
Cover Girl Easy Breezy Brow Kit: Comes with 3 shades in one kit. One shade is a brow highlight. One is to specifically emphasize the arch of the brow. Very nice little brush, too. It’s my go-to. I find powdered brow products more natural on me.
Neutrogena SkinClearing Complexion Perfection: This is a tinted “moisturizer” type product. I buy the Fair 10 shade. Has salicylic acid in it. This stuff is so natural looking that I can barely tell I have it on. Pretty buildable and lasts a good long time. Really helps dry up any blemishes. I wear this when I’m having a flare up. I prefer this over Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer any day of the week. They have a pretty good one for mature skins that has retinol in it. I have to be careful with that one, as retinols irritate my skin to a certain extent.
Cover Girl Fixstick: GREAT zit hider! And it won’t budge all day, making it excellent for oily skin. It’s pretty waxy, though, so I wouldn’t recommend it as an under eye concealer. Good selection of shades that really match. It’s part of their TruBlend line.
Hope you get this post. I never see any follow-up comments to the ones I write.
Hi Erin, I do respond to all your comments! I love hearing from you and appreciate your input 🙂 I get notified when anyone comments but I’ve also wondered if people are seeing my replies? I’ll look into that!
Anyways I love your recommendations! It’s crazy that I wrote this only months ago but already feel like I could make an updated version based on products out now. I TOTALLY agree about L’Oréal lash paradise! It’s my new favorite and would for sure be at the top of the list.
I’ve had my eye on the Neutrogena complexion perfection for a while and have hear good things!
I’m completely with you on glitter/shimmer with physicians formula stuff. I’m getting to the point where I’m not liking it either because it’s make my skin look more aged than it is.
I will definitely look into your recommendations and love discovering new products ❤️
I just wanted you to know that I have been researching a lot on the best drugstore products and their ingredients. And every time this post would pop up! You really do have the best ones listed. Congrats to you!
Thank you so much Olive! That is so kind of you to let me know. These are truly my favorite products. But I do have some new favorites so I’m thinking about doing an updated one soon 🙂