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Blush on a Budget: the Best Drugstore Makeup Swaps

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

You don’t need to break the bank to achieve your daily makeup look

One of the most defining phases of my high school years was my “makeup era.” You know what I’m talking about; back in 2016 when the “Instagram aesthetic” came to fruition and we all discovered the power of beauty products. The era was characterized by the dominance of makeup artist influencers, extremely defined eyebrows, blinding highlighter products, liquid matte lipstick and bold eyeshadow looks all achieved using high-end products. 

Though my everyday makeup look has shifted quite a bit since 2016, I continued to use many of these expensive makeup products because I assumed high-end meant “better.” However, now as a college student on a budget, I decided to give drugstore products a chance. Aside from foundation, I now strictly use drugstore makeup and have found some swaps that are just as good or even work better than expensive makeup. So, if you’re looking for some great drugstore makeup picks, look no further!

1. Concealer

If you like the Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Undereye Concealer, try the Milani Conceal + Perfect Longwear Concealer or Maybelline Fit Me Liquid Concealer

By far, one of my favorite makeup products to purchase at a drugstore is concealer. Each month, I used to spend $30-50 at Ulta on high-end concealers that look exactly the same as my favorite low-end concealers. Two products I have been loving recently are Milani Conceal + Perfect as well as Maybelline’s Fit Me concealer. Both products come in a wide range of shades and have a super lightweight consistency that covers my blemishes but does not feel thick or heavy. As opposed to the Tarte product, the Milani product is just $10 and the Maybelline product is only $7. 

2. Blush

If you like the Nars Orgasm Blush, try the Milani Rose Powder Blush in Tea Rose

Another Milani fave, the Milani rose powder blush has become a staple in my makeup routine. The light pink hue is very similar to the illustrious Nars Orgasm blush but is a fraction of the price. While the Nars blush is $32, the Milani blush is only $10 and stays on all day. Plus, the Milani blush comes in a beautiful rose design, which makes the product feel just as fun as high-end makeup.

3. Bronzer

If you like the Benefit Hoola Bronzer, try the Maybelline City Bronzer

One of the most iconic makeup-lover staples is Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer. Yet, at $17, this product is a little pricey when you can purchase Maybelline’s City Bronzer for only $8 and achieve the same contouring effect. In fact, I prefer Maybelline’s bronzer over the Benefit bronzer due to the lighter consistency. Oftentimes, I would accidentally use a heavy hand to apply the Benefit bronzer, and would ultimately look garish. With Maybelline’s bronzer, however, the lighter texture is easily blend-able and allows me to make mistakes without ruining my overall makeup look. 

4. Mascara

If you like the Urban Decay Perversion Mascara, try the Covergirl Exhibitionist Stretch and Strengthen Mascara or L’oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara 

Mascara is one of my favorite makeup items. I feel that it can pull any look together and makes me feel pretty even when I haven’t applied any other makeup products. Therefore, my favorite high-end mascara, Urban Decay’s Perversion, was hard to let go of, but I was determined to find a cheaper solution. Thankfully, I discovered these two amazing mascaras from Covergirl and L’oreal Paris! The Covergirl mascara ($9) is a great lengthening mascara that never becomes clumpy, and the L’oreal mascara ($10) gives my eyelashes great volume. While both products look awesome on their own, I sometimes use both at once to give my lashes an extra pop.

5. Eyebrow Pencil

If you like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Ultra-Slim Precision Brow Pencil, try NYX Micro Brow Pencil 

Lastly, my new eyebrow holy grail product is the NYX Micro Brow Pencil. At just $10 as opposed to the $23 Anastasia Beverly Hills product, my eyebrows have never looked better. I feel that this eyebrow pencil is just as easy to use while providing a similar effect to the high-end product. In addition, the NYX eyebrow pencil appears less dramatic when applied, which allows for a more subtle and natural look.

Though makeup can be a great way to express yourself and enhance confidence, don’t forget you are beautiful with and without makeup. That said, if you find yourself looking for some cheaper products to switch into your makeup routine, I highly recommend the items above to achieve a look similar to one that could be created with high-end products. Happy saving!

Nicole Herzog

Wisconsin '23

Nicole is a junior majoring in journalism with a double track in Reporting and Strategic Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is additionally obtaining certificates in Digital Studies and Art History. Nicole is passionate about feminism, art, fashion, and most importantly, Harry Styles. Follow her on instagram @nicoleherzog!