The Best Makeup from the Drugstore

In this article I will show you what I consider to be the best makeup from the drugstore, but “the best” is subjective, so perhaps this post should really be named “My Favorite Makeup from the Drugstore” as this is a list of products I’ve purchased repeatedly. I’ve found them to be just as good as my favorite high-end makeup. In some cases, like The Colossal Volume waterproof mascara, I don’t even bother buying anything else. Included in this list are my favorite inexpensive eye shadows, eyeliner, powder and quite a few lip colors.

I could also have named this post  “A Few Beauty Products from the Drugstore I Think Every Woman Should Try”. Most of these products cost less than $10 and can be found at your local drugstore. If you love makeup you can save a lot of  money buying inexpensive alternatives to high-end cosmetics, yet I know a lot of women are afraid to try drugstore brands.  A few bad experiences and we never want to go back!  There are many inferior products in the makeup aisle, it’s true, but you can find great items as well. The good news is most drug stores and ULTA have good return policies.  Just be sure to check before you buy and hold on to the receipt.

The Best Matte Eye Shadow

I have looked but honestly I haven’t found anything as good as the elegantly formulated, completely matte, classic eye shadows in these little sets. Physicians Formula Matte Collection Quad Eye Shadow comes in three colors: “Classic Nudes” is a collection of warm neutrals, “Quartz Quartet” is a mix of taupe and grey, and “Canyon Classics” is somewhere between the two. I have all three and use them almost every day.  These are not exciting, trendy colors.  They are flattering, wearable, and elegant, the sort of thing every woman should have in her makeup drawer. I must mention that the packaging is not beautiful, but it’s a small fault considering the value and quality of the product inside. Seriously, if I found out that these were being discontinued I would run out and buy enough to last ten years.  They cost about $7 each so that wouldn’t be all that difficult to do.

The Best Sparkly Eye Shadows

Whenever I have a hankering for some fun, funky, trendy eye shadow I go look at the newest Wet n Wild Color Icon Trios. I’ve yet to be disappointed by one of these little sets.  Like Physicians Formula the packaging is cheap, but the makeup inside rivals the best stuff at the departments store, and at around $3 a set you just can’t beat the price. They also offer wearable color sets along with their crazier color collections.  I wear “Walking on Eggshells”, a pretty rose, bronze and sparkly beige set, very often. The dramatically smoky  Don’t Steal My Thunder  is another of my favorites.

The Best Eye Liner

I prefer gel eyeliner over pencil eye liner.  Eye pencils are usually too dry and hard to apply easily. If they’re soft enough to get on then they either disappear after a few hours or bleed into the eyeshadow on my lids.  Gel liner goes on softly and stays put the rest of the day.  So why do I still use pencils?  The gel requires a brush and a fair amount of time to apply.  A pencil is faster. After many failed attempts at finding a quality eye pencil at the drugstore I discovered Physicians Formula Custom Enhancing Eyeliner Trio. I can honestly say that these pencils are easy to apply and set well.  The colors are beautiful.  I have the “Nude Eyes” set which includes a smoky black, a medium taupe with golden glitter, and a softer taupe that I use under my eyes. The price is about $11, but you do get three pencils in each set which brings them down to less than $4 each. In addition these pencils twist up so they don’t need sharpening.

The Best Waterproof Mascara

Because it’s so difficult to remove I think long and hard before applying waterproof mascara but I never hesitate when it’s time to buy a new tube. I always reach for Maybelline’s The Colossal Volume Express Waterproof Mascara.  Often in the warmer months this is the only makeup I wear other than some tinted sunblock and lip gloss. The mascara is nice and thick, very black and doesn’t clump. I also can’t help but love the bright yellow tube.  It just screams “summer”, doesn’t it?

The Best Makeup Foundation

I prefer buying makeup foundation at a department store or other high-end venue. This has to do, mostly, with color.  I just have a terrible time matching my skin tone without trying on the product, but Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse is so lightweight and sheer that a perfect match is somewhat redundant. “Classic Ivory” comes pretty close to my skin color and it looks great.  What is really wonderful about this solid cream makeup is that it can be applied on the go with a small round sponge, a life saver for me, as I often put my makeup on before work sitting in the car in the parking lot. The makeup has a sheer, dewy finish.  It costs around $8.

Update: A year after I wrote this post I wrote another one on all my favorite drugstore foundations. You can see my review here: The Best Makeup Foundation from the Drugstore

The Best Face Powder

Face powder is another one of those products I just don’t like to spend a lot of money on.  Now, I do like a pretty compact and I’m will to spend extra on the one that goes into the purse for touch ups during the day, but I feel silly paying a lot of money for something that’s never going to leave the bathroom. So it really irritated me that I couldn’t find a face powder that I liked in the makeup aisle. Finally, I tried Maybelline Dream Matte Powder. What I really like about this is that it’s MATTE.  I have very shiny skin. I don’t just want a powder that will set my makeup, I want it to get rid of the shine too!  This one does that beautifully for about $5.

The Best Matte Lipstick

I’ve written a lot about my favorite lipsticks on this blog and Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lipstick always makes an appearance in my reviews. It’s a quality lipstick that comes in so many beautiful colors I seem to find a new one to love every time I go to the drugstore.  Within the line are shimmer, creme and matte varieties.  I appreciate the long wear and flat color of matte lipstick and this is probably the best one I’ve found anywhere. In the photograph is “Stormy Pink” one of my new favorites. 

The Best Creme and Shimmer Lipsticks

Pat McGrath is considered one of the most influential make up artists in the world, so when she started creating colors for  Covergirl’s Lip Perfection Lip Color line I was intrigued. (According to the Covergirl website she’s been a creative design director for them since 2004 but I only realized she was collaborating with them when I saw the ads.)  I’ve tried a lot of these lipsticks and I am always impressed. The colors are wearable but trendy and the creamy texture keeps my lips happy too. I just can’t seem to find a bad egg in the bunch.  The cost around $6 each.

There they are!  I hope you’ve found this list the best makeup items from the drugstore helpful. Click on any image below to buy or learn more about the product.

Shop the Best Makeup from the Drugstore!

Disclosure: I purchased all of these products with my own money and was not compensated for the post by the brands I recommend, however there are affiliate links embedded in the image below. If you click on them I might receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!

Credits – The photos were all taken with my phone using the “Hipstamatic” app. Some of the products are my own and some were photographed at my local Rite Aid.

Have you ever tried any of these?  If so what do you think of them? Will you try any yourself?

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25 Responses to The Best Makeup from the Drugstore

  1. Anne April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    I love some well-chosen drugstore makeup (despite my occasional complaints). That Revlon lip gloss is definitely a keeper — I use it almost daily. I’ve never tried either of your recommended lipsticks, but they look interesting. And the matte eyeshadows look great!

    Best of luck with your MarketPlace giveway — great organization. 🙂
    Anne recently posted..The mascara games: Fear and loathing at the drugstoreMy Profile

  2. Cecile April 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your favorites! I am very tempted to give the Neutrogena tinted moisturizer a try! Since moving to CO a few years ago, I’ve been trying to apply sun protection most days!
    As far as lipgloss is concerned, I LOVE L’Oréal’s Le Gloss
    I think the texture, colors, and taste are perfect!!

    • Cecile April 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

      I forgot to say I now use Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse, and find it works very well on my dry skin 🙂

      • Heather Fonseca April 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

        I love the stuff! It’s really great when I have no time and need a quick something to even out my skin tone.

    • Heather Fonseca April 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      I’ll have to check out Loreal’s Le Gloss too. Do try to wear sunblock every day. I’m 42 and my skin still looks pretty good (no wrinkles!) and I think it’s because I’ve always been fanatical about sunblock.

  3. SACRAMENTO April 12, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    I will keep all this information close to my heart, dear Heathe.
    Wonderful post and great helpful information.
    have a lovely day.
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Black necklace DIYMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Thank you Sacramento. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m not really sure which ones are available in europe. It would be interesting to see.

  4. SACRAMENTO April 12, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    Your blog upsdates in my blogroll at last, yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Black necklace DIYMy Profile

    April 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Haven’t tried any of those, but I SWEAR by L’Oreal Voluminous with the curved brush. Just cannot live without it!
    GRIT & GLAMOUR recently posted..Worker V: 2.7 BlueMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      I guess I have a new one to try then! I’ll check out the voluminous with the curved brush as I’m starting to run out of my regular mascara and I’m always on the lookout for good one’s I haven’t tried.

  6. kimmiepooh
    April 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    This is a REALLY good list. I see a few products I’ve tried and a few that I have been on my list as well. There really are some great gems in drugstore brands (I LIVE in Target and ULTA) you just have to be willing to experiment. Plus, if you own quality brushes, it makes a huge difference with how your makeup looks regardless of the brand’s cost.

    • Heather Fonseca April 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      I noticed that you’ve blogged about NYX cream blush – another low cost beauty product I really like. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment too.

  7. A Brit Greek
    April 13, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Loved this post, also with you on the Colossal mascara! Also a fan of highstreet brands too – L’Oreal being quite high on my list, since I can never find the right shade of foundation for my skin, except for Bobbi Brown of course.
    Have a fab weekend H!

    • Heather Fonseca April 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Except Bobbi Brown of course! I do love her makeup too. Glad I’m not the only lover of the colossal yellow tube.

  8. Ariana Lemarr April 14, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Really great post with fabulous collection of makeup. Loved the range of Revlon lustrous lip glosses. Thinking to get one of them. Thanks for sharing this information. 🙂

    • Heather Fonseca April 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      I’m so glad you liked the review Ariana. Let me know what you think of the lip glosses if you get one.

  9. Stacey - Total City Girl
    April 15, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    Thanks for the rec’s Heather! I will definitely try the mascara in the summer when I take my girls to the pool 🙂 I have an upcoming post on my fave mascara as well too!!
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..The FishMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 16, 2012 at 9:36 am #

      Oooh! I can’t wait for your mascara post. I do love getting recommendations from friends.

  10. Patricia Streeter
    April 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. I recently cleaned out my old make up and am looking to restock. I’ll keep these picks in mind.
    Patricia Streeter recently posted..Where to buy Dansko Marah Shoes?My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 16, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      I’d love to know what you think of my selections Patricia.

    April 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    I have not tried many of these at all, but I have tried Maybelline’s Moouse by accident when I was in a pinch and away. It’s one of the very few pharmacy/drugstore brands that carry a colour that actually matches me. lol. I usually go for tinted moisturising lotion or bronzers. A great mascara goes a long ways! 🙂

    • Heather Fonseca April 16, 2012 at 9:34 am #

      I’m glad you liked the list and I think finding colors that match our skin is always difficult. It’s one of the main reasons I usually buy my foundation at department stores.

    • Makeup addict December 13, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      What color is that Covergirl lipstick on the bottom right side corner of the page? I LOVE it!!!

      • Heather Fonseca February 20, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

        I think it’s called “Feline” but I only took a photo at the store so I’m not sure. Also, that post is quite old. Not even sure they make it anymore.


  1. An Elegant and Affordable Makeup Kit by NYX - September 5, 2012

    […] You would think that with my love of makeup that I would spend a lot of money on eyeshadow, but I don’t. I will spend good money on foundation, because I’ve noticed a big difference in the quality of high-end products vs. the mass brands, and I’ll pay $20 for one little Bobby Brown gel eyeliner container because nothing else lasts as long on my eyes, but I have a terrible time shelling out more than $10 on eyeshadow. I feel that expensive eyeshadow should somehow be both perfectly wearable yet exciting and fabulous. I generally find that the flat, taupe and cream shades that are the most practical are not exciting, and the exciting fun colors are not practical. So no matter how hard I look at the department stores I end up back in the makeup aisle at my local ULTA checking out my favorite Physician’s Formula matte quads or Wet & Wild trios. I don’t feel guilty buying bland colors if they’re affordable and wearable, and if I mistakenly buy a fun color that doesn’t work I’m not out a bunch of money. When I can find a beautiful bargain eyeshadow trio that performs like a pro, oh how happy that makes me. (Good quality makeup can be affordable.  Check out my favorite inexpensive cosmetics here: The Ten Best Makeup Items at the Drugstore) […]