Top Product: L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation | $12 | Target
We’re living in a time where “drugstore makeup” is thriving. Brands like Joah, Creme Shop have craved out space at CVS, and No7 has gotten comfy at Walgreens. The quality is there, and people know it. We all have our preferred options for any number of products, but it’s nice to know there is a reliable, cheaper alternative out there, too. I went to CVS, Target, and Ulta and replaced the usual routine in my makeup bag to prove that drugstore picks really do work.
Best Primer: Rimmel Stay Matte Primer
Currently Using: Besame Cosmetics Vanishing Cream ($58)
This was actually my go-to for years and is still incredibly reliable. Of course, I love my vintage Besame Cosmetics Vanishing Cream in its beautiful decorative glass container, but $58 can be steep. On the plus side, it usually lasts me six months since you don’t need much, whereas with the smaller tubes, not as much product inside. Rimmel was one of my favorite brands in high school and throughout college. This primer is lightweight, so putting foundation on top of this isn’t a problem—it’s still super breathable. It wears surprisingly well, and only my forehead returns to its natural oily state by the end of the day.
Best Foundation: L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear
Currently Using: THIS
Infallible is my current foundation. The name says it all. It’s the perfect foundation I’ve ever had. Thanks to TikTok, I took a chance and fell in love. Before it, I used Joah’s Perfect Complexion BB Cream, but their shade offerings were lacking, and I was basically in between two. I’m still absolutely blown away when I put it on. My color is a perfect match, and it blends so well. It’s also extremely lightweight—it feels like there isn’t anything on my face. This pick is truly that good and well worth the price.
Best Beauty Mark: Creme Shop Faux Freckle Stamp
Currently Using: THIS
I have two prominent beauty marks, and bringing them out with this after foundation with the Freckle Stamp is a constant in my beauty routine. Freckle pens have popped up from many beauty companies, and I’m seeing more bloggers embracing this trend. It’s actually a charming look if you have the patience to turn yourself into a real Snapchat filter. I do the two dots and get the heck out. Sometimes I’ll fill in my brows with this too. There’s lots of life in this little pen. It seems to last forever.
Best Eyeliner: Joah I’m So Fly Brush Tip Eyeliner
Currently Using: Beauty Bakerie Lollipop Liquid Eyeliner ($18)
I’ve been bouncing back and forever between using Haus Labs Eyeliner and Beauty Bakerie. I only started using Haus because I was able to get it half off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but paying $10 less is much sweeter. I actually prefer Beauty Bakerie as it’s so definitively black, dries perfectly, and has incredible precision for the ideal cat-eye. I’ve used this eyeliner from Joah on and off. It’s a solid alternative as you do get a lot of control with the brush tip. It’s not heavy, so if you want the deepest black, you will be found wanting. A few more applications are needed for bold, pristine wings.
Best Mascara: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Plumping Mascara
Currently Using: Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara ($26)
I stole a page from my mom’s book on this one. She swears by this Neutrogena mascara, and it looks great on her. It makes her crystal blue eyes pop. I’m a bit of a loyalist to Better Than Sex—it never really leaves my rotation, and it’s va-va-volumizing. But if you’re looking for a nice day-to-day mascara to lengthen and moisturize the lashes, this is a wonderful alternative.
Best Eyeshadow: Flower Beauty Petal Play Shadow—Gilded Lily
Currently Using: Beauty Bakerie Proof is in the Puddin’ Palette ($38)
I received a Beauty Bakerie discovery box over the holidays and was blown away by everything from packing, presentation, and of course, quality. I’m a big fan of browns and golds. When I was thinking about an alternate to this, I saw Drew Barrymore’s new line. I heard good things, so this was a great time as any to try. It’s not super pigmented but was very blendable. I really liked the color story of Gilded Lily compared to the others she offers. I’d absolutely be interested in trying for her products based on how well this wore throughout the night.
Best Highlighter: Wet n Wild Mega Glow Blushlighter
Currently Using: Ofra Sea Shimmer Highlighter ($35)
There’s just something about this Sea Shimmer color that works perfectly with my skin tone, and it wears beautifully throughout the day and night. That being said, no, replacing it again with Ofra (for reasons if you know beauty drama) would be awesome. Thankfully I found this Wet n Wild Mega Glow Blushlighter, which is almost a perfect dupe. The “Highlight Bling” is almost identical, and it makes me so happy both for quality and price.
Best for Lips: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream - Budapest
Currently Using: Besame Classic Lipstick - Dusty Rose ($25)
My day-to-day lipstick is Besame’s Dusty Rose; it’s the perfect matte straight out of 1969. Besame’s lipstick lives in a world between creamy and matte, never being too much of either, the perfect balance, really. Each I’d had will absolutely make it throughout the day without much reapplication. When looking for an affordable alternative, NYX Professional Makeup Soft Matte Lip Cream was the obvious option. All the colors in this line are named after famous international cities, and this Budapest shade is so dang close to my preferred hue. Much like Besame, NYX is durable and lightweight. It glides on smoothly and has a matte finish without making your lips look dry. Anything in this line is recommended.
Best Setting Spray: Wet n Wild F.U.N. Purifying Setting Mist
Currently Using: Stage Proof Matte Setting Spray ($16)
I honestly couldn’t love Kim Chi’s Stage Proof Matte Setting Spray more, but when it was out of stock for a few weeks, I had to get creative. Wet n Wild F.U.N. Purifying Setting Mist was from the Spongebob set I received, all but forgotten. It saved me on a night I had to host trivia outside. I was genuinely surprised how everything dried perfectly but stayed where it should after hours in the summer humidity. The cinnamon bark extract stops excess oil from forming and gives it a nice scent.
If you’re curious, my drugstore bag added up to $80. My current bag is $240, and I’m ashamed looking at that number just a little bit. That makes the actual savings on this experiment $160. Just slap the crying laughing emoji here.
This story was originally published by Sheilah Villari on 03/2021 and updated with new information by on 07/07/2021.