I’ll let you in on a little secret- pretty much all the makeup you have comes from the same handful of labs in New Jersey. Several high price tag counter products are rebranded versions of drugstore staples- the packaging is nicer, and some of the formulas are more finely-milled, but overall, basically the same deal.
But like counters, drugstore products are often hit and miss. And when you stumble upon a miss, you often beat yourself up for not springing to Trish McEvoy or Bobby Brown. However, there are some standout lines that are in the dirt cheap aisle of Walmart, CVS, Target and Ulta. Here are five standouts.
Elf: The most stunning cosmetic coup I ever scored was, I think, Elf’s $1 foundation brush. Rivaling several versions I’ve seen at $30 or far more, Elf’s brushes are amazing quality at such a low price. Color is decent as well, and the line houses several knockoffs of bigger names that are both impressive and again, cheaper than a latte.
Essence: When I discovered Essence, I literally sat in front of the display in Ulta and didn’t move for fifteen minutes. The line is super-legit, and prices are shockingly low. Mascaras and shadows are an excellent Essence bet, and the lipstick in Femme Fatale at $2.49 is one of the best beauty bargains I’ve encountered in years. Gel eyeliner for $3.49 is also a must-buy.
Wet n’ Wild: Probably some of your first makeup, this brand has some consistent core products, like the #666 liner that’s a twin for MAC’s Spice. The blush stick in Coy is another cult-favorite, and is an excellent bright pink hue that costs well under five bucks.
Palladio Beauty: On an utter whim, I picked up the lip balm in Brownie in December. I have worn it every day since. An unexpected doppelganger for Clinique’s Black Honey (trust me) it’s moisturizing and definitely gives a “your lips but better” sheen to most lip-tones. The blotting papers are pretty iconic, too.
Do you have a drugstore holy grail product?