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My Favorite Drugstore Makeup Alternatives

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.

If you’re like me, you absolutely love makeup, whether that’s just buying it or creating and trying out a new makeup look. I could literally spend hours in Sephora and Ulta browsing and buying, but as a college student, I don’t usually have the funds to buy all my makeup at Sephora or Ulta when the order will most likely cost around $300. I’m sure many of you can relate to that struggle, which is why I thank the universe for quality drugstore makeup brands like Maybelline, e.l.f. Cosmetics, L’Oréal Paris and more. The products listed below are cheaper but great quality alternatives to Sephora and Ulta designer makeup brands for those of us who cannot splurge a whole paycheck on a new bronzer and mascara.

e.l.f. Power Grip Primer

For those of you who want a great primer that not only protects your skin but also makes your makeup last longer, this is the one for you. The e.l.f. Power Grip Primer is a gel primer that hydrates your skin and leaves your foundation and concealer looking smooth on your skin. It feels a bit sticky at first, but that makes the hold even better than your average primer—plus, your skin will feel smooth as soon as you apply it. The best part is that, unlike most primers that are between $15-30, this one is only $10 and can be bought at your local CVS!

Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

This foundation is one of my favorite drugstore alternatives! It’s lightweight and applies flawlessly, regardless of your applicator (I’ve even used it with my fingers when I lost my brush, and it still looked good). This foundation also minimizes pores, leaving a matte finish on your face and giving your makeup a natural look—it is definitely best for normal to oily skin (although my skin can be on the drier side and it still works well for me). The foundation comes in so many different shades, and you can get it at any drugstore near you for less than $10!

e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer

This concealer is absolutely amazing and honestly almost, if not as good as, my favorite Fenty Beauty concealer that goes for four times its price. e.l.f.’s 16hr Camo Concealer provides full coverage and a matte finish, so it’s good for those who prefer to use concealer without foundation. It says it stays on for at least 16 hours, and I can personally confirm that they are telling the TRUTH—I’ve worn the concealer for a whole day of spring block and never had to reapply or wipe my makeup. Like the Maybelline foundation, the Camo Concealer has dozens of shades for all types of skin tones and is also universal for all skin types. You can order this concealer online or buy it at any drugstore for only $7; SUCH A STEAL!

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Soft Matte Bronzer

This bronzer is great, lasting all throughout the day through anything, including humidity, sweat, rain or virtually any circumstance for up to 24 hours. The bronzer defines and highlights your face so well, and adds a degree of warmth to your face while also giving a natural look. It comes in 12 different shades and you can get it from any beauty or drugstore near you for around $17.

L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Blush

This blush is a gorgeous addition to anyone’s makeup routine—not only is this a blush, but it can also double as a slight concealer for your cheeks and nose (or wherever you would typically apply your blush). It complements any skin tone with ten shades that add a natural pop of color to your face.

NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink liner

This is one of the best eyeliners I’ve ever tried. I love liquid eyeliner, and this one is not only very pigmented with a precise tip, but it also is waterproof, smudge-proof and incredibly long-lasting. The liner comes in two different shades—black and brown—and it is not only amazing but completely vegan! You can get the eyeliner for less than $10 at virtually any drugstore!

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara

I am truly and completely obsessed with Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Mascara—it’s been one of my favorite go-to drugstore makeup products for years. It comes in four different colors for four different and gorgeous looks. The brush is in a curved fan shape, giving your lashes a “full fan effect” where your lashes are elongated, full and separated. The formula is even better now as it includes rosehip oil to hydrate your lashes when you wear it! You can grab this product from any local department or drugstore for only $11.79!


This setting spray’s water-based formula is lightweight and feels absolutely amazing! It holds your makeup for over 16 hours and mattifies your skin by absorbing the oil on your face. Your skin and makeup look will thank you for applying this setting spray as it strengthens your makeup look and controls facial shine. Get this setting spray for only $10 from any local beauty store!

Hi! I'm Laila Simone and I'm a Sophomore psychology major at The Ohio State University. Im currently 20 years old and when I'm not at college, I live in New York City. My interests are writing (creative or nonfiction), reading, almost any type of music, and working out. I'm very passionate about mental health advocacy, suicide awareness, and social justice issues in the world.