7 Drugstore Makeup Dupes for the Collegiette on a Budget

A trip to Sephora can make any collegiette feel like a kid in a candy store. With eye shadow galore, infinite rows of lipstick, and more blushes than our cheeks can handle, it’s a sparkly, color-coordinated heaven for our inner makeup artist. But when you hit the $50 mark two products in, this high-end makeup dream quickly becomes a nightmare for your wallet. Lucky for us, there are plenty of budget-friendly makeup alternatives for expensive brands. Every collegiette should be well versed in balling on a budget and looking good doing it. Here are seven drugstore dupes for your favorite products that will help you take it easy on your wallet and keep you looking fabulous.

1. Wet ’n Wild 5-Pan Palettes ($3.99 at CVS)


Urban Decay’s Naked Palettes have been hailed as the holy grail of neutral shadows in the makeup world. Retailing at $54 a pop, these gorgeous shadows will surely cost you. But don’t break your little piggy to splurge on these palettes just yet! Providing a much cheaper alternative, Wet ’n Wild’s 5-Pan Palette in The Naked Truth offers dupes for some of Naked 2’s neutrals. From its sheer beige to its deep, earthy brown, this 5-pan is all you need to create the perfect neutral take on a smoky eye. Though the shadows are already smooth and pretty pigmented for their cost, adding an eye shadow primer beneath them will bring out their shimmer and color even more. Perfect for makeup newbies, Wet ’n Wild palettes are even labeled, so you don’t have to worry about where to put each shadow. Talk about an added bonus! Say a prayer to the makeup gods and you may be able to find the Melrose at Night and Smoke and Melrose 5-pan palettes from the 2014 Fall Limited Edition collection. They include highly-pigmented dupes for the Naked 3 palette.

This tutorial will tell you everything about how to apply The Naked Truth for a sultry look that can take you from class to a night out!

2. Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balms ($9.49 at CVS)


Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balms seem to have some competition in the world of lip crayons. Chubby Sticks retail at $17 and while they do have a cult following, Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balms put their Clinique equivalent to the test. These two products are nearly identical—even down to the packaging! But Revlon’s Balms have so much to offer, making them a dupe that stands strong against the high-end product. If there’s one thing dominating the makeup scene, it’s matte finishes. And that’s exactly what Revlon’s Matte Balms provide. The color payoff is to die for! While the Chubby Sticks apply with a shiny finish, Revlon’s product offers a matte texture that applies smoothly in just a few strokes. The pigmentation is incredible, proving that this lip crayon is a must-have. Putting the icing on the cake, Revlon’s Balms are moisturizing and have a minty fragrance. Be sure to try the ColorBurst Balm Stains ($9.29 at CVS) and Lacquer Balms ($9.49 at CVS) too! With this collection you can find just what you need, whether it’s a matte finish, a lip stain, or a high-shine gloss.

Check out this review of the Matte Balm collection.

3. e.l.f. Mineral Infused Face Primer ($6 at Target)


Next in this beauty faceoff is Smashbox’s $36 Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer. Its formula uses antioxidants to fill in pores so that you’re left with an even skin texture before applying your makeup. However, e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer gives Smashbox a run for its money. e.l.f.’s primer has a gel consistency similar to the Smashbox primer. Working just like its high-end counterpart, e.l.f.’s product provides a canvas for smooth makeup application. In fact, there are no obvious differences between the two primers after long wear (see for yourself in the review below). No need to pay an arm and a leg for the same results!

For a detailed comparison of the two primers, check out this full review.

4. Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner ($9.99 at CVS)


Gel eyeliner may be the greatest invention since sliced bread. With its sleek application, gel liner can help you achieve any look, from the classic cat eye to any chic liner work. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner weighs in at $25. Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Eyeliners do the same at more than half the price! Maybelline’s gel is just as pigmented and waterproof as Bobbi Brown’s gel line. The only downside may be that Maybelline’s collection consists of four colored gels compared to Bobbi Brown’s 14 shades. Nevertheless, Maybelline still makes for an incredible dupe that holds its own when pit against Bobbi Brown.

Still skeptical? Check out this product smack down to see just how well Maybelline compares.

5. e.l.f Studio Blush ($3.00 at Target)


Back at it again, e.l.f graces budget-conscious makeup enthusiasts with yet another dupe! At $30 apiece, NARS blush can definitely put a strain on a collegiette’s budget. These blushes are known for their high pigmentation and radiant shimmer, but e.l.f. swoops in and shares the limelight with its Studio Blush collection. The NARS collection may be much larger, but several of those blushes have e.l.f. counterparts. The e.l.f. finish is more subtle against the skin compared to the shimmering NARS blush, but this dupe does hold its own. It’s as close as you can get at a whopping fraction of the cost!

To hear more about e.l.f.’s Studio Blush, take a look at this review.

6. Milani Color Statement Lipstick ($5.99 at CVS)


It’s definitely not easy to combat the reputation that MAC Cosmetics has built. With endorsements from the celebrity world it’s hard to knock their long list of lipsticks, ranging from $16 to $25. But Milani Color Statement Lipstick offers a great alternative. Lipstick enthusiasts went gaga over MAC’s Rebel, a midtonal plum. Milani countered with its Color Statement Lipstick in Sangria, its most popular MAC dupe. You’ll be surprised to find that they are practically identical. At such an affordable price, Milani proves to be a worthy adversary to MAC with its high pigmentation and moisturizing feel. It applies smoothly and only needs minimal touchups throughout the day. Plus, you’ll love its gorgeous, gold packaging! Study this lipstick guide for tips on rocking any Milani shade like a pro.

Check out this Milani lipstick review to see their amazing color payoff.

7. L’Oréal Voluminous Original Mascara ($5.89 at Target)


Just the right touch of boldness and volume on the lashes can complete any makeup look. Diorshow Iconic Mascara by Dior provides a high-end option at $28.50. L’Oréal Paris’s Voluminous Original Mascara in Carbon Black is the budget-friendly substitute. Proving the expensive product isn’t always better, Dior’s mascara actually has a stiffer consistency. While it does have a darker appearance on the lash, L’Oréal’s alternative applies much more smoothly. Ultimately, both mascaras give a similar voluminous finish; but at a much cheaper price, L’Oréal’s mascara is the better option.

Curious to see how well L’Oreal compares to Dior? Check out this full review.


Always remember, collegiettes: for every high-end product, there’s probably a much cheaper alternative ready to make it into to your makeup bag. A trip to Sephora may sweep you off of your feet, but a visit to your local drugstore can easily do the trick. Your bank account will thank you!