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Underrated Drugstore Beauty Products

While it can sometimes be fun to splurge and blow an entire paycheck at Sephora, most of the time, as a broke college student, I am resigned to drugstore brands for my beauty needs.

Fortunately, there are some great products available at more wallet-friendly prices—including ones that I believe don’t get the hype they deserve. Here are my recommendations:


L’Oreal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara

When I was in high school one of my coaches had the most amazing eyelashes I had ever seen. Of course, all the girls on the team had to know what mascara she used, and this was it. I had never even heard of this product in my life and never would have thought to pick it up (I mean, what the hell is a beauty tube?). Based on her recommendation, though, I rushed to Target to buy this.

Since then, I’ve repurchased this product countless times. And whenever I branch out to try other mascaras—even more expensive ones from Tarte and Too Faced—I always come back to this one. It gives my lashes all-day length and volume with no smudging. But the best part comes at the end of the night. All I have to do is wet my lashes with warm water and the mascara comes right off—so no raccoon eyes and no scrubbing.

It will be a sad sad day for me if, heaven forbid, this product is ever discontinued.


Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel

Funnily enough, I didn’t buy this product with skin care in mind. I bought it to help clean an ear piercing I had recently gotten (another helpful use for it).

Since then, I’ve come to realize that witch hazel is basically the best thing ever. I’ve added it to my daily skincare routine as a toner, and with its addition I’ve cleared up some stubborn acne, acne scarring, and redness.

Plus, in addition to using it as a toner, witch hazel has a multitude of benefits such as soothing bug bites and sunburns and healing bruises.

I feel good using something that’s really natural—and, of course, something that’s really cheap.


Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion

Get a big bottle of this, keep it on your dresser, in your bathroom, or by your bed, and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. It absorbs so nicely and isn’t greasy.

It’s also scent-free, which I need in an every-day lotion. The Bath and Body Works scents can be fun sometimes—but other times they just give me a headache.

With this, I love having something clean and light to put on before bed and before leaving for class in the morning.


SinfulColors Nail Color

Now, I am well aware that this nail polish is supposed to be the cheap brand that people reluctantly buy because they don’t want to cough up $13 for a bottle of OPI, but I honestly swear by this stuff. I’m a nail polish addict and I love trying lots of new colors, but I too cannot bear to spend double digits on a single bottle of polish. What if I don’t even end up liking the color?

But this stuff is one-sixth of the price and I swear it lasts longer than OPI and Essie anyway. Just make sure to always use a base coat and a top coat, and you’re good for a cute, chip-resistant mani.   


Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer

I’m not sure how ‘underrated’ this one is. For instance, you’ve maybe already seen Youtube MUAs attest to this product, but I’m here to confirm it.

The application of this concealer is really great. I use it for the dark circles under my eyes, as directed, but also on redness and acne, and this does the trick really well. Don’t let the ‘Age Rewind’ aspect of it steer you away—it is for young and old alike!


Just in case you don’t trust my recommendations, I asked around to a few of my college-aged friends for their own favorite drugstore products:

“Wet and Wild Photo Focus Foundation & L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara” – Diana, 19

“E.L.F. Cosmetics Instant Lift Brow Pencil & Equate Beauty Oil-free Eye Makeup Remover” – Raquel, 22

“Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation and L.A. Colors powder, bronzer, and eye shadows” – Baily, 21

“Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder” – Meaghan, 19  




Senior at the University of Kansas studying English and journalism & editor of Her Campus KU. You can find me hiding in the Watson Library study carrels or wandering around HomeGoods avoiding all responsibilities.
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