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I Tried Drugstore Makeup so You Don’t Have to

Everyone is, or knows, a broke college student. As a college student, the questions that often roll through my mind are, “Should I go out to dinner with friends or buy that dress and have water?”; and even, “Can I afford to get my nails done or is it going towards grocery delivery when I can’t make it to the dining hall?”. As you can see, dropping extra cash on designer makeup isn’t realistic for a girl with a bank account like mine. Instead of department stores, I have been hitting drugstores for the past seven years, and this is the makeup that’s worth your while, and no one will be able to tell you paid less than $15 for it.



L’Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup  ($6)

I swear by this product. I found it early in my makeup career and have never deviated since. It works for both oily and dry skin, and it never clings to dry patches. It feels lightweight, and I have never had an issue feeling like my skin was cakey. According to an online review, it serves an impressive shade range from cool to neutral to warm undertones. 



CoverGirl TruBlend So Flushed Blush ($8)

Blush is hard. I often used to find myself looking so cheeky-pink like a doll or feeling like I didn’t put any on at all. CoverGirl’s take on blush solved both my problems as I always feel the perfect amount of rosy. The color is bright but not overwhelming, and it stays in place all day, even on those hotter, more oily days. 

Maybelline Cheek Heat ($6)

I had to sneak in a second product in the blush category just for this one. Glossier’s cloud paint is all the rage these days, but paying $18 for that tube feels like a massive rip-off. This product is almost identical, but you’re saving over $10. If you haven’t tried liquid blush before, it gives a more flushed look which I adore at night when the light isn’t as good. 



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CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara ($7)

In my quest for the perfect drugstore mascara, the biggest problem I had was finding one that wasn’t clumpy, goopy, or dropped under my eyelids after an hour. After countless different brands, I landed on the unicorn of the mascara section after seeing it on reruns of America’s Next Top Model. CoverGirl’s formula is smooth, leaves no clumps, and creates the most natural look of any mascara I’ve tried. I usually reapply mid-afternoon to keep my eyes popping, but other than that, I’ve never found another brand to treat my lashes better. 



CoverGirl Perfect Blend Eyeliner ($5)

I picked this one up at a grocery store in a time of need, and I’ve never looked back. I love pencil eyeliners because I have never fully mastered the complexities of a liquid pen, but regardless of your preference, this is a makeup bag must-have. It’s strong enough not to smear, but has the perfect amount of give for that perfect smokey eye. 



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Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles ($8)

Again, this was an impulse buy in a time of need. However, I haven’t looked towards another brand, and maybe this is because this concealer was rated #1 in America by Byrdie Magazine. It combines the best parts of cream and liquid concealer, making for a smooth finish. This concealer comes with a rounded top that allows for large coverage for those under-eye spots. The added bonus is the top is soft and fluffy, making concealer application that much more fun. 



CoverGirl TruNaked Eyeshadow Palette ($10)

This palette covers all my personal favorite shades to work with, from the lighter colors to the darker, sparkly colors for a great smoky eye. The texture is smooth and firm, which makes it comfortable, easy to use, and great for a whole night. 

Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow 10 Pan Palette Not a Basic Peach ($7)

The other palette featured a lot of cool colors, so this one is a go-to for warm, sparkly tones. It also features a bright turquoise for a pop of color. Dip the brush in some water and use the turquoise as an eyeliner for added fun. 


This list has been carefully curated since my 6th-grade year, and I can confidently say that I have never had an issue wishing I could browse the department store makeup for higher quality goods. They say you can’t put a price on looking good. On this one, you can, and it’s totally cheap. 

Madeleine McCollum is from Bethesda, Maryland, and is thrilled about continuing her career at Her Campus UVA. She is a member of UVA's Student Entrepreneurs for Economic Development (SEED) club where she volunteers as a consultant for non-profits in Charlottesville. She has also interned for Lerch, Early & Brewer Law firm and Compass realty, assisting with their marketing operations. As a second year at UVA, she is very excited to keep writing for Her Campus and reading her peers' articles. In her free time, Madeleine loves to get out into nature, travel, curl up with a book, and go for runs.
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