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Drugstore Makeup You Have to Try

$40 for lipstick? No way. 

I have been wearing makeup and (attempting) to perfect my craft since the age of 13. I never had any interest in the art until my days in musical theatre began. The heavy eyeliner, extreme blush, the red lipstick- I was obsessed. I also became obsessed with the makeup aisle in my local CVS or Dollar General. Drugstore makeup, as I have learned, can be just as wonderful as the high-end stuff at your local Sephora or Ulta Beauty. Here are some of my favorites.

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

I only just discovered this gem in the past few months, but I am so glad I did. I have been on a never-ending search for a good primer for years. My combination skin makes it difficult; either the primer is way too thin and leaves my foundation looking patchy, or it is way too oily and leaves me looking permanently sweaty. In this primer, I have finally found everything I need. It gives my skin a glow without giving it any more oil to play with. It is a bit tacky on the skin, so it grips well to foundation without interfering with its formula. However, I will caution you: this primer is heavy. It is meant to absolutely cover your pores, so you may want to wash your face well before using it.

Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless / Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation(s)

Although my skin is combination, I never find myself gravitating towards products with the “dewy” description. I do not want to look oily, but I am open to a bit of a natural glow. On the days I am working for 8 hours or under harsh lights, I stray away from the dew and grab something matte. Maybelline has, once again, been my go-to with face products in these two foundations. Although not always full coverage, I find myself feeling the best and lightest in either of these formulas. Perhaps its most redeeming quality is the expensive shade range- all skins can feel happy with this foundation and, at such an attractive price, it truly is the ideal choice.

Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder

Junior year, the day before prom, I realized I forgot to grab a highlighter for the big day. I ran to the drugstore, grabbed the first product I saw, and prayed a collective prayer to the makeup gods that it would work out. Not only did it turn out great, I found a new best friend in this Wet N Wild highlighting powder. It shines like no other product I have used, does not move or interfere with the foundation under it, and stays on for hours without losing its sparkle. The range of colors is inclusive for all skin tones and styles, and can fit into any budget easily. Wet n Wild is often seen as a cheap brand but, honestly, the quality speaks for itself.

Burt’s Bees Brow Pencil

I am a sucker for natural products on a budget, and Burt’s Bees never disappoints. As someone with naturally light and thin eyebrows, I find myself wanting a little something to give my brows some definition and color. I have tried just about every alternative but, something about this brow pencil hits the mark and just… works. It is a bit more pricey than its Maybelline or Revlon competitors but sometimes you just have to splurge a little.

NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette

Speaking of a splurge, this one is definitely the most pricey suggestion on my list. When it comes to contour pallets, I have found myself feeling rather disillusioned in the past few years. Most contour pallets seem to be made for my skin tone, and my skin tone only. Black women have been notoriously left out of the conversation when it comes to makeup, and contour palettes seem to never be as inclusive as they ought to be. This NYX palette is one of the better alternatives, although still not as up to par as I would like it to be. The blending abilities are absolutely incredible and (please don’t get mad at me), it can easily be used as a back-up eyeshadow palette. Give it a go the next time you find yourself on a therapeutic Target run. 

Wet n Wild Proline Felt Tip Eyeliner

Alright. It isn’t always waterproof. I will admit it. But I really cannot think of any other felt-tip liner that does the job as this one does. For a beginner at eyeliner, a felt tip seems to be the best option. It’s easy to maneuver and wipe off if needed, and only requires one tool. This felt tip liner from Wet n Wild truly is the best and, for $4, there is no better alternative. The tube looks small and would make anyone believe it would be used up within a week. But, if you play your cards right, you can get nearly a month’s use out of it. And its size? Perfect for carrying.

L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Makeup Lash Paradise Mascara

This mascara has been all the rave in the last few months and, although it wasn’t my OG, it is my new favorite. With 200 bristles, this easy-to-use wand gives the look of false lashes without any of the work. It only takes one coat for this stuff to begin working its magic but, if you want big and full lashes, the more coats you put on the better your lashes will look. The formula is lightweight and is gentle on your eyes, making it the perfect option for those of us with sensitive eyes or contacts. The best part? It’s under $10.

KISS Lashes and Strip Lash Adhesive

I have been wearing falsies for a month now when I go to work, and I have never felt more fabulous at my retail job. A lot of us fall for the narrative that we need uber-expensive lashes and the classic DUO Striplash Adhesive to get the strong lashes and the look. Although Duo is amazing and I can always rely on it, I find myself loving KISS, their lashes, and their glue even more. Almost every drugstore carries KISS products (although it is more expensive at some stores than others). Lashes can get expensive, but KISS makes it work.

  Maybelline New York Color Sensational Creamy Mattes Lip Color

Ah… A classic. This lipstick has been in my repertoire for longer than I would care to admit. With an incredible shade range, from light pink to dark blue, this lipstick will work for anyone with any skin tone, aesthetic, or job. My favorite shade is “Gone Greige”, a beautiful earth-toned tan. Their classic reds are just as impressive and… I’m going to stop myself before I ramble on too much. Just go buy it. 

Now, go run to the store and treat yourself. I think you deserve it. 

Kate is a History major and Political Science minor, who splits her time between writing, singing, reading, and going to the gym with her friends. She is a first generation University of Connecticut student, and goes home often to visit with her parents, her black cats Shadow and Maybelline, and her friends and boyfriend. She graduated from Wolcott High School in 2019, where she also enjoyed theatre and music. Her interests, beyond that, include politics, current events, educational philosophy, and helping others. She plans to pursue her dream of becoming an educator, along with writing adventures here and there.
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