Drugstore Makeup And What Is Worth Spending $20+ On

Makeup can get really expensive. It’s not bad to leave Sephora with a $20 lipstick that you adore but when you add on a $25 foundation, $30 highlighter, $40 eyeshadow palette and so on, your wallet starts to cry out for help.

Drugstore makeup is a great way to save lots of money, but it comes with a catch. The makeup can be amazing but it can also be awful. The trick to saving money while still looking flawless is knowing which products are worth the price.

I’ve tried many different beauty essentials from both drugstores and more high end beauty suppliers and have compiled a list of what is worth spending $20+ on and what can easily be swapped for a drugstore dupe. Worry no more, fellow collegiates, and start saving!


The biggest issue I’ve had with eyeshadows from drug stores is finding shadows that are potent and stay on. Walgreens may have pretty colors but more often than not those eyeshadows will take a lot of applications to even begin to show on your eyelid. Once you finally do get some dust on, it starts to fade. If you love the look of eyeshadows and want to incorporate them into your daily routine, then eyeshadow is not something you should be buying from a drugstore.

Anastasia Beverly Hills has amazing eyeshadows that come in beautiful colors, have a smooth application, stay on long, and go a long way. My favorite part of these eyeshadows is that one swipe of your brush will give you all of the shadow you need, really giving you the most for your money.


Liquid eyeliner is definitely something that can be easily duped with a drugstore version. Eyeliners can be really expensive, and as long as you look for a water-proof liquid one, you will more likely than not end up with the same exact product for $7 from a drug store as one for $25 from Sephora.

However, I have the steadiness of a two year old child so I cling to beauty store felt tip eyeliners for my life. Felt tip eyeliners are like drawing on your eyelid with a marker instead of a thin brush, so it is way easier for me to create an even line. Liquid eyeliners are good from CVS if they come with a brush in a pot but felt eyeliners are not something that you should buy from a drugstore. My favorite felt tip liner is Sephora’s 24HR Felt Eyeliner. This eyeliner stays on all day and is only $14! (Yes, pricey if you are comparing it to drugstore makeup, but cheap for beauty stores.) This is the best price I have found for an eyeliner this great.


Mascara can only go so far. Eyelashes already have a certain length to them, and you can’t use mascara to make them grow longer. The only way mascara can really make your lashes longer is if you keep adding more and more of it until you have a centimeter of gunk coming out of each eyelash. Yuck. This being said, mascara is essentially all the same. The brush is really where the mascaras start to diversify because they will separate your lashes in different ways and then the mascara holds your lashes in place.

I have never bought mascara from a beauty store. Ever. I always look for something with a detailed brush with a lot of bristles that's also waterproof. I haven't found a mascara I would call my favorite yet, but just remember to look for something that will stay on through rain or tears with a nice applicator.


There are two things that I will never, ever, ever buy from a drugstore again, and those are concealer and foundation. These are the bases for your makeup, the literal foundation of your canvas and a good concealer and foundation will literally make or break your makeup routine. If you use a cheap concealer and/or foundation, your face can turn cakey quickly and as the foundation starts to come off so will the rest of the makeup that you put on top of it. Not only will this look bad but it will also really mess with your pores.

The only product that I have ever (proudly) spent more than $20 on is Clinique's Even Better Makeup Road Spectrum SPF 15. When paired with Clinique’s Line Smoothing Concealer, you get an unstoppable duo that will literally make your face look airbrushed. The foundation is $27 and the concealer is $18.50 but trust me when I say they are worth every penny. Ever since I’ve used these products, I’ve never gone back to drugstore concealers and foundations. These have such a smooth application and are so light that you don’t even feel like you are wearing makeup once they set.


Contouring is not my friend. I had never incorporated contouring and highlighting into my daily routine simply because I sucked at it. When I went to Sephora to finally ask someone about how to contour, I started to learn the importance of knowing which beauty products you should spend that extra dollar on. I was walked through the contouring process and used a Sephora Highlight Lowlight Face Contour Duo to contour and I realized that using the right product really made a difference.

Sephora’s Contour Duo is $20 and works beautifully. You only need one light swipe and then some blending, so it goes a long way.


Liquid lipstick is definitely worth spending more money on. I’ve tried liquid lipsticks from CoverGirl, L’oreal, Revlon, you name it, and nothing comes close to Colour Pop’s Ultra Matte Lip (which are only $6!). Beauty store liquid lipsticks stay on better than their drugstore counterparts. No matter what Revlon may claim, their 24 hour liquid lipstick will be coming off on your coffee all day.

Colour Pop’s liquid lipsticks are hands down my favorites. They feel light, they stay on all day (although re-application after eating is suggested), and they dry deliciously matte (and if you’re looking for a shine, Colour Pop also has some wonderful glossy twins!)


Lip liners can be a hit or miss with beauty store products. I’ve spent $18 on MAC lip liners and ended up swapping them for Walgreens liners before because they were cheaper and better! Lip liners can easily be swapped for a similar color at a local drugstore.

My favorite lip liner I currently have was only $3 and is Jordana’s Easyliner for Lips. It glides on very smoothly and precisely and will make sure no lipstick bleeds through, ever.


Shopping for makeup doesn’t have to be a sacrifice of either money or beauty as long as you know what is good where. Take these tips and start saving while still slaying.