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Over the past year I’ve started testing and trying a lot more drugstore makeup. While the aisles of Sephora and Ulta are filled with lust-worthy, luxurious products, my budget just doesn’t afford me the ability to buy high-end beauty on the regular.
With the aid of coupons, sales, and general shopping savvy I’ve been able to snag a lot of drugstore beauty products at ridiculous prices, allowing me to test and try at my leisure without breaking the bank. That being said, I have also quickly learned that just because you got a good buy doesn’t necessarily mean you made a good purchase.
While there are disappointing products at all price points, budget beauty is by far the most inconsistent. To help you avoid buyers remorse, I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at some of the most popular brands at the drugstore, discussing what I think they do well, and what I think isn’t worth your heard earned cash.
Starting on a positive note, let’s talk all things Maybelline. Maybelline is a brand that has quickly won me over, with an ever growing range of products that easily rival their high end competitors. I’ll be sharing all of the products I’ve tried recently, and whether I love it, like it, or recommend you leave it out of your shopping bag.
Foundation, Primers & Concealers.
Dream Wonder Fluid Touch Foundation
With a name like Dream Wonder, I keep wanting to be more impressed by this foundation than I actually am. I love the velvet-soft texture and how lightweight it feels on the skin, however I find it just doesn’t provide enough coverage, and it fades way too quickly, leaving my skin looking patchy and generally unpleasant. I don’t want to have to worry about touch ups during the work day, so I prefer a foundation that can last until I clock out at 5. Leave it.
FIT me! Shine-Free Foundation
In the hunt for a travel-friendly foundation, I thought I’d give this stick a whirl. It does provide decent coverage for redness and blemishes, but I find it to ultimately look a little cakey when used all over the face. Also, for a formula that claims to be Shine-Free I feel like it ends up making my skin look and feel incredibly greasy. On a semi-redeeming note, the new Fit me! Matte+Poreless Foundation, while not being in stick form, does seem to deliver a flawless matte complexion, so I would recommend that one instead. Leave it.
It feels very hipster of me to say that I totally had this concealer before it became all the rage, but I’m going to do it anyway. I picked it up on a whim back in October, being intrigued by both the applicator and the dark spot correcting properties. While I was originally looking for something to conceal blemishes, this has actually become my go-to under eye concealer. The formula feels really lightweight, blends easily, and doesn’t ever look cakey. I find it does a great job at perfecting and brightening my undereye, especially on those days where my lack of sleep is showing. Love it.
When it comes to concealing blemishes and other imperfections, this concealer is great to have on hand. It’s got fantastic coverage, but isn’t so creamy or heavy that it looks cakey on the skin or ends up slipping and sliding around. I also love the fact that it’s in a tube. You can easily control exactly how much product you’re using (and a little goes a long way) and it’s much less prone to drying out or growing bacteria than something in a pot or with a doe foot applicator. Love it.
I’m not the most religious primer user, but I know that a good one really does help to improve the wear time of your makeup. This new launch definitely holds its own. The texture is more creamy than balmy, which means that it leaves your skin feeling silky without too much of that silicone slip. I do feel that it does help to minimize the appearance of pores and improves the way that my foundation sits on the skin and wears throughout the day. Is it the most incredible primer I’ve tried? Probably not. But I think for a drugstore product it’s pretty great. Also, I again applaud the packaging, which to me has a high-end feel. Like it.
Eyes & Brows
The formula of these eyeshadows is decent, but could be improved upon. However, as far as affordable neutral palettes go, this one does give you a great mix of colors, shades, and finishes. You can see swatches and read my in-depth review here. Like it.
If you want a product that will help to define and groom your brows, this pencil is a solid option. With very sheer pigmentation you can fill in sparse areas without making your brows look drawn on. The handy spooley smooths everything out, while the waxy formula helps to keep everything in place. Like it.
While the formula of this brow gel isn’t terrible, the ball brush is way to big and wonky for my tiny, sculpted brows. Considering that there are other drugstore brow gels with more aptly designed applicators I don’t think I’d repurchase this. Leave it.
This mascara creates amazingly bold, voluminous, fanned lashes. It doesn’t flake, smudge, or leave you looking like a raccoon at 3 pm. To see it in action, check out this more in-depth review. Love it.
This felt tipped pen can make anyone feel like a winged liner pro. The flexible nib allows you to create lines of varying thickness with ease, and glides over you lid to create a perfect line without skipping or tugging. While the formula is NOT waterproof, it does hold up relatively well and is quite long wearing. Love it.
Color Tattoo Cream Gel Eyeshadow
These cream eyeshadows have gotten a TON of hype, and for good reason. They’re richly pigmented, offer really easy application, and are incredibly long wearing. My only gripe is that the pots do tend to dry out quickly, making it more likely you’ll need to chuck them before you get anywhere close to hitting the bottom of the jar. An oldie but a goodie. Love it.
When it comes to drugstore lipstick, these are probably at the top of my list. They smell lovely, wear well, feel really comfortable on the lips, and are plenty pigmented. They’re also incredibly affordable, so you don’t have to narrow down your 50+ color choices down to a single shade from fear of breaking the bank. Love it.
While I’ve only tried one shade from the new matte collection, I have to say that I was SO impressed with it! For a matte lipstick, the texture is still incredibly creamy and light on the lips, making it incredibly comfortable to wear. The pigmentation was spot on, and the particular shade that I purchased is stunning. Love it.
Color Elixir by Color Sensational
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself to be much more in favor of lipstick than lip gloss. However, I am definitely a Color Elixir fan. These gloss/lacquer hybrids have an almost jelly like texture that offers a nice level of pigmentation and shine. As the gloss fades, it leaves behind a subtle stain, which means you don’t have to worry about your lips looking patchy or funky after a few hours. While I think they can get a little goopy feeling with repeated application, I generally think they’re pretty comfortable to wear. Like it.
Baby Lips in Peppermint
I may be alone in my lack of enthusiasm for Baby Lips, but I just was totally unimpressed with this formula. I found it to be kind of greasy and unpleasant, and regardless of how often I applied or reapplied, I felt like my lips were just as, if not more chapped and dry as they were before. There are way better (and more natural) lip balms in the drugstore that I’d recommend over this one. Leave it.
Long story short, I give Maybelline a lot of props for offering quality products that won’t totally break the bank. Even in the time since I photographed and started writing this post I’ve tried a few other products that I’ve loved (namely the Fit me! Matte + Poreless foundation), so I have no doubt they’ll continue to up their game throughout the seasons. If you’d like to see a more in-depth review of any of these products, or see something used in a tutorial, let me know!