“Wait, that’s all drugstore makeup?! I don’t believe you.”
That’s the common, slightly disdainful, rather surprised-sounding question I frequently find directed at me by my stunning, Sephora-queen friends, accompanied by their utter disbelief.
The answer to their inquiry, 9 times out of 10, is YES! This is all drugstore makeup!
Don’t get me wrong – I dabble in Sephora every now and again. I have some Anastasia Beverly Hills highlighter and lipstick, Laura Mercier contour powder and tinted moisturizer, Estee Lauder powder and eyeshadow, and, as of last week, MAC liquid lipstick. Ipsy also drops off more makeup than I can actually use on a monthly basis (I am definitely not complaining, though).
Regardless, drugstore makeup is still my go-to.
It’s nice to feel fancy, whether that’s rarely, once in a while, or all the time. That’s why I’m definitely not looking down on anyone who exclusively wears expensive, boujee makeup. I understand that some people do it to mitigate the risk of skin problems, some do it because it feels good to get dolled up in the best of the best, and others do it for the passion they have for makeup.
I’m just here to let you all know about some of the cheaper, more easily accessible, extremely glamorous, high quality products I have rolling around in my cosmetics bag[s… thanks, Ipsy].
I actually entered a Sephora store for the first time in late 2016, and I think I’ve been in one about two times since. Between that and the fact that my makeup arsenal has thrived off drugstore [and, more recently, Amazon] makeup since I was a 14 year old scene girl, it’s hardly shocking that my allegiance is mainly to the drugstore makeup aisles.
But I’m grateful that I entered the Sephora game pretty late and half-heartedly because I’ve found that beauty can be expensive, but it doesn’t always have to be.
Before I move into a discussion of my ride or die drugstore makeup items, I’d like to remind all of you that what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa — these are simply my recommendations and reviews. We all look different from one another and have diverse make-up/skincare needs, so this definitely isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of a thing.
For example, I’m a medium brown tone with some pretty dry skin. My eyebrows and eyelashes are thick and jet black. My lips are decently full, my eyes are large, and my jaws and cheekbones are atleast somewhat prominent. My nose is a bit odd, and I truly have no clue what I’m supposed to do with it. I don’t generally wear foundation or primer.
With all of that being said, let’s get started.
I have an unusually dark eyebrow color… naturally. It would actually be safe to describe this shade as nothing lighter than an inky, jet black.
This makes shopping for eyebrow pencils almost… impossible. Finding my color in a drugstore or at any Sephora/Ulta/etc. location is hard. People recommend lighter pencils for me, telling me that it’ll “soften” my features.
Here’s the problem.
- I don’t actually want to “soften” my features… at all (don’t @ me).
- It’s just really hard to do your eyebrows with a shade atleast ten notches lighter than your natural color.
These nifty little pencils are lifesavers. Being smooth and deeply pigmented, they also contribute to the intensity of my natural eyebrows color instead of stealing from them.
10/10 would recommend these over any of the pricier eyebrow pencils I’ve bought through fancier makeup stores and vendors.
Oh, yeah — for days when you want to add a finishing touch [or if you’re like me and have bushy eyebrows that need some gentle taming], Maybelline’s Deep Brown “Brow Drama” works as some discreet eyebrow gel.
See? The drugstores have you covered.
I’ll keep this one short because there’s really no need to elaborate on the excellence of this product. It’s silky, it’s shimmery, it’s metallic, it’s luxurious, and it’s strongly pigmented — it’s Gogo Tail’s “My Eyeshadow Mineral”.
Just give them your $6.89 and call it a day.
My primary eyeliner is Revlon’s “ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen: Classic” in the Blackest Black, and I’m not sorry about it.
The felt tip makes for easy application (as much as I LOVE using a brush for my liquid eyeliner, I’m one of those people who finds myself doing my eye makeup during a bumpy car ride under a serious time crunch), and the actual eyeliner is wet, thick, and dark. It’s even perfect for dramatic, winged eyeliner looks (trust me on this one, cat eyes are my lifeline).
But, as I’m sure you all know, hot, humid, and/or wet days are pretty disgusting, and sometimes the melting sensation that comes with them softens up your eyeliner
a tiny bit (read: a lot).
Yeah, it’s gross.
Fear not – sweeping over your already-applied Revlon’s ColorStay with either of the black eyebrow pencils I mentioned (NYX or Wet ‘n Wild) adds an extra, thicker layer so that when you blink against your skin on an icky day, your liner doesn’t get watered down.
All of the eyeliner products mentioned here also work as liner under your bottom lashes, and the pencils can fill in for kajal as needed.
I’ve found that when it comes to intensifying those lashes, Maybelline is always the answer.
Their “Great Lash” (an award-winning mascara!) in the Blackest Black and their “Volum’ Express – the Colossal Cat Eyes” mascaras will both do the trick – it really just comes down to your personal preference.
“Great Lash” is more of a standard, old school mascara (you can never go wrong by going classic), whereas “Colossal Cat Eyes” has a mildly arched brush which creates feline-esque eyelash drama.
Either way, neither one of these mascaras have ever let me down.
And, coming from an eye makeup addict like myself, that’s really saying something.
As far as a pretty, moisturizing lip balm goes, I’m going to be a complete cliché and recommend Maybelline’s “Baby Lips, 130 Crystal Kiss”. It tastes like citrus, has a mild shimmer, and leaves a frosty but natural sheen on your lips.
It’s more or less colorless, but has character – during those lazy moments when I probably should be wearing lipstick but don’t really want to, it subs in for finesse without stirring up all of the trouble that real lipstick does.
For actual lipstick, I would recommend basically anything from Wet ‘n Wild’s “Megalast Lipstick” line – my favorites shades from here are “Mocha-licious”, “Sand Storm”, “Cherry Bomb”, and “Coral-ine”.
The lipstick itself is thick and creamy without feeling sticky or greasy – it feels high quality, but runs at drugstore prices. The colors are rich and lasting.
Last, but not least, Milani’s “71 Matte Flirty” lipstick is definitely worth your time. It’s that perfect, dark red-purple lipstick we all dream of, and in terms of quality, it checks off all the same boxes that the Wet ‘n Wild shades do.
So, I found the most blessed contour kit on Amazon: “Aesthetica Cosmetics Contour Kit – Powder Contour, Highlighter & Bronzer – Tan to Deep Skin Tones”. It’s slightly pricey at $24.99, but it comes with a broad range of colors for contouring, highlighting, AND bronzing.
This specific kit is catered to people of color, embracing a comprehensive range of medium to deep skin tones — so, basically, we’re not being charged an arm and a leg for wanting makeup that matches our [high-]pigment levels.
I know… it’s crazy.
I wouldn’t describe the powder as extremely silky, but it’s a pretty normal texture and it’s easy on the skin. It looks just as solid on my skin as the contouring pallets I own from highly renowned makeup companies, and it’s vegan and cruelty-free (bless you, Aesthetica) – it’s definitely worth a try.
If you crave more shimmer and glow in your highlighter, consider ordering some beautiful, creamy, highly-pigmented highlighter sticks by De’Lanci cosmetics. Their “Professional Highligher Stick, Face, Facial Highlighting, Shimmer, Contour Kit Concealer, Bronzer, Foundation Make Up Stick” (I know, that’s a mouthful) is absolutely stunning in both “Golden” and “Silver”, and application is wonderfully easy.
BONUS TIP: The brushes I’m currently using are Umineix’s “12 Pieces Professional Makeup Brush Set”. I only spent $11.99 on Amazon and had these quality brushes at my front door within 48 hours.
Oh, and the case it comes in is SUPER cute.
So, just in case you still don’t believe me, let me throw this out there – the best part about buying drugstore and Amazon makeup is that you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas or brush your hair to shop for whatever your heart desires.
And, I mean – you’ll save so much money.
Alright, I’ve said my bit. Go forth now, whether that’s to CVS or Sephora. You’re an absolute knockout either way.