Makeup is fun, but it can also be irrationally expensive. Last week, I dragged my boyfriend to Ulta to grab a new tinted moisturizer and concealer, and it totaled $85 for the two. We both mumbled “what the f*ck”, I paid, he cringed, and life went on.
While I was playing myself by getting products recommended by my favorite MUA on Instagram, it dawned on me that I should do some research and find the best drugstore dupes for my favorite products. Why pay $45 for foundation when I can pay $13.99? Am I paying more for better ingredients? No, turns out most luxury brand ingredients have the same sh*t in them as the drugstore stuff, you’re just paying for the name. Cringe.
So if your New Year’s Resolution is to save money, here are the best drugstore dupes for your favorite luxury products.
It’s been said more times than once that primer is pointless, yet we still continue to use it. There’s heavy buzz around Tatcha’s Silk Canvas Protecting Primer, which retails for a whopping $52. I’m not knocking you if you’ve purchased this in the past, but I am here to introduce you to e.l.f.’s Poreless Putty Primer, which retails for a whopping… $8! At one-sixth of the price, with great reviews, and the seal of approval from Allure, I’m gonna go ahead and deem this the dream dupe.
When it comes to foundation options, the limit does not exist. We’ve got matte finish, silky, luminous, full-coverage, tinted moisturizer, you name it. Following the “glowy” trend, made popular by Instagram-famous MUAs such as @nikki_makeup, I decided to find a dupe for the ever popular ARMANI BEAUTY Luminous Silk Foundation ($64). My choice drugstore dupe is L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup ($12.99), which still gives the hydrating, luminous glow effect at an affordable price.
Liquid foundation needs to be set with a powder (don’t ask me why, I don’t make the rules here) and any makeup lover will tell you that Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder is THE holy grail. It’s $45 of pure greatness, but, it’s $45. So, who can match up to this flawless powder? None other than Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder Makeup ($7.79). This has been praised by beauty YouTubers and regular people alike, at a price I am deeming unbeatable.
When it comes to concealer, there are a few staples in the beauty world, one being NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. My friends have RAVED about this product for some time now, and I was always a Tarte Shape Tape cult user, but I finally tried NARS and have not been the same since. It has a more natural finish, but still covers my “I haven’t slept in years” under-eye dark circles. This bad boy retails for $30, and its dupe, NYX Professional Makeup HD Concealer retails for $3.99. Yes, you read that correctly, $3.99. The reviews are as good as the price, so this may be the most valuable dupe yet.
My first non-drugstore blush purchase was none other than NARS Orgasm, much to my parents’ dismay. It is the perfect blend of peach and pink, and gives your cheeks a flawless glow. The blush retails for $30 and has become a staple in the beauty world. So much so that there are multiple dupes in the drugstore world for this iconic shade. After some personal investigating and using my own skin as a test subject, I can say with confidence that Milani Baked Powder Blush in shade Luminoso 05 is the closest to the real (expensive) thing. It retails for $9.49 and is praised by all those who use it.
If you’re like me, meaning you’re so pale it scares people, it can often be difficult to find the perfect bronzer without looking Oopma Loompa orange (this should be a crayon name). The Marc Jacobs Beauty O!Mega Bronzer Coconut Perfect Tan is kind of amazing because they somehow managed to make only two shades that work with a wide range of skin tones. The bronzer retails for $49, which is a bit of a splurge in my book, so I often go with my favorite drugstore dupe, NYX Professional Makeup Matte Body Bronzer. This one retails for $9.59, has three shades, and gives a natural/healthy bronze. Given that you can buy five of these for the price of one Marc Jacobs, I would say this is a steal.
If you’re extra like me, you know that no two highlighters are the same, and you must always proceed with caution prior to purchasing one. I think I have over 100 highlighters (literally, why?) and use maybe two of them religiously, one being BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector® Pressed Highlighter. It retails for $38 and makes my skin look like glass. Worth it? Yes. Is there a dupe for it? Yes. Wet N Wild MegaGlo™ Highlighting Powder made waves this year and was on the radar of major beauty influencers, including Jeffree Star. At only $5.29 (!!!!!) this highlighter is everything and more.
Brows were arguably one of the biggest/most important trends of 2019, and I hope they remain so in 2020. Thin brows are dead and gone (please never return) and fluffy, healthy brows are in. Due to the fact that I have five blonde hairs sticking out of my face claiming to be my “eyebrows”, I’m always in search of the perfect brow products to give the illusion that I have them. My Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil has always been a go-to, and at $23 it’s definitely worth the price. Still, in the words of… me, there’s a dupe for that! At less than half the price ($10.49) I give you L’Oreal Paris Brow Stylist Definer. It looks and operates the same way as Brow Wiz and has over 800 five-star reviews, confirming I am not the only one who thinks it’s great.
Eyeshadow trends have come and gone, but the classic nudes and browns have always stayed in style. One of the most sought-after palettes in the industry is Natasha Denona’s Biba All Neutral Eyeshadow Palette, but it retails for… $129. Yikes. TBH, I don’t think any eyeshadow palette on this earth that could possibly be worth spending so much. Who buys this? World’s youngest billionaire, Kylie Jenner? Idk. Anyway, there are a million and one dupes that are at a much better value, but I specifically enjoy Milani Most Loved Mattes Eye Shadow. This retails for $19.99, a mere $109 less than ND, and is just as pretty IMO.
I have fake lashes because I happened to find the most amazing lash extension place in New York (Iconic Lash Lounge if you live in Westchester), BUT, I am still all too familiar with the quest to find the perfect mascara. Prior to my lash extensions, I was hooked on YSL Beauty’s Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils – The Curler, but $29 for mascara adds up quickly. If you are a living, breathing human, you’ve seen over one million Maybelline mascara commercials, and for good reason. Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara is an amazing dupe for almost any luxury mascara, and it seriously is volumizing. Again, as a pale blonde, I looked like a naked mole rat prior to mascara application, but this one always held me down.
Last but not least, lipstick. Lipstick can make or break your look, and I am all too familiar with a bad lipstick ruining my night (dramatic, but relatable). My favorite lipstick at the moment is none other than Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance™. It comes in over thirty shades, my personal favorite being ‘Christy’. The formula is hard to explain because it feels a bit dry when going on, but it looks SO GOOD on the lips and literally does not budge. I’m talking multiple-vodka-sodas-in-drunk-still-looking-flawless level good. So, if you have $40 to spare on a lip, this is your moment. However, its dupe is $6.99 with the same matte no-budge finish. I present you with yet another Milani product, Milani Bold Color Statement Matte Lipstick (Milani, sponsor me?). The 16 shades are all matches for Pat McGrath, and are also vodka soda proof.
If you’ve made it to this point, congratulations, and thank you for listening to my TED talk. Enjoy your beauty on a budget, and feel free to drop all dupe recommendations in the comments below!
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Like many millennials with jobs, my beauty look is pretty consistent day-to-day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have 82 tinted moisturizers, 41 mascaras, and about a million different facial mists. I like to mix it up, what can I say? If you, too, are an out-and-proud beauty junkie, welcome. It is my personal belief that the best time to buy beauty products is around Thanksgiving, because not only is everything cheap af, but everything is sold in sets. Yes. Please. Give me a million eyeshadows that have just slightly different undertones. Honestly, I love this holiday so much because we spend the whole day being grateful for all of the sh*t we have, but only until midnight when we’ll fight each other to the f*cking death at Target to get that 30% off KitchenAid mixer. #America, right? So if you fully embrace this holiday as a day of gluttony, scoop up these beauty deals before your friends do.
Obviously, I have to start with the DSW of beauty because it just has so much stuff to basically give away this holiday season. Because they have about a thousand different sales going on during Thanksgiving weekend, I’m just going to name the few brands I’d personally recommend. Let’s start with 25% off Macadamia Professional hair masques. If you’ve ever been in a drugstore, you’ve seen this brand’s hair products. I have been using the Deep Repair Masque since high school, and it’s never disappointed me. It’s meant for people with damaged hair, but as a bitch with proudly virgin hair (hold applause), I love it because it takes my hair to the next level in softness. If you think delayed gratification is stupid, you’ll love this masque because you’ll feel its effects immediately.
Macadamia Professional Nourishing Repair Masque
Next is the BECCA Volcano Goddess Eyeshadow Palette, which is 40% off, aka it’s $27, aka it’s free. Honestly, I don’t really wear eyeshadow because I don’t know how to put it on without looking like a toddler in drag, but the colors in this palette are pretty wearable. So if you stan an eyeshadow moment, this palette is for you.
BECCA Volcano Goddess Eyeshadow Palette
And lastly, Ulta is offering 25% off a Chi 1-inch Ceramic Hairstyling Iron. I don’t have the time or the skills to give myself Serena-van-der-Woodsen-circa-season-one waves, so I don’t even try. However, every now and then after sleeping on wet hair for no reason at all, I wake up with a really unfortunate situation on my head, and this little hero can fix it within 10 minutes. I don’t usually curl my whole head, but a few chunks of hair throughout gives me that tousled look that I’m really feeling these days. I know what you’re thinking: wtf are you talking about, this is a hair straightener? To you, I say the most natural-looking waves come from flat irons! Twist your hair around the iron and gently pull the iron down the twist. I’m telling you, it’s never failed me.
Chi Original 1” Ceramic Hairstyling Iron
Not going to lie, I discovered Glow Recipe at Urban Outfitters, and have been obsessed ever since. The relatively new brand is offering 20% off every single product on their website, so if you haven’t already added a slew of skin care to your cart, you’re behind, girl. Anyway, if you are the kind of person who can be seduced into buying something simply because the packaging is irresistible, get ready to purchase literally every damn Glow Recipe product. I have the Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask and am truly obsessed—mostly because it serves as a skin savior and decor on my dresser. Cute appearance aside, the mask itself is actually really good. It’s really moisturizing, but has a gel-like quality to it, so it doesn’t leave you feeling greasy and oily when you wake up. That ain’t cute.
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
This Japanese skin care brand is in pretty much every natural or ethical beauty store in the world and from November 28 through December, you can “play for a chance to get either 20% off your $100 purchase, 15% off your $75 purchase, or two free gifts with orders of $50 or more.” All of their products are cute and purple, but one of their products is truly better than the rest. I’m talking about the Luminous Dewy Skin Mist. Before you judge me for spending more than I’d like to admit on what you’d call water, hear me out. It’s made with botanical oils and humectants, which are responsible for the dew, and tbh it smells so damn good that I literally smile when I spray it, and I don’t even smile at puppies walking by.
Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist
Also, I recently learned that your moisturizer absorbs way better when your skin is moist (get over it) than when it’s bone dry. Think about it this way: your skin is like a sponge, and sponges don’t work until they’re damp, right? Another cult favorite from this brand is the Dewy Skin Cream, which I haven’t had the pleasure of trying because I am low on funds, but maybe I’ll hit the jackpot on their annoying Thanksgiving game and be able to afford it!
Get ready for the most niche Black Friday sale literally ever: Get 25% off your order and receive a free Exotique Diamond Eye Gloss in “Galaxy” when you spend $75 on November 29. Like, really? Only on November 29? Honestly, I’m sure I’ll get an email on November 30 that says, “We’re so nice and extending our sale!” The only reason I’m down for this annoyingly specific sale is because I’m so in love with my Neo Blush and feel like she needs friends. I’ve been dying to try the Sensual Skin Enhancer Concealer because it’s a really thick cream (as opposed to a solid, like most concealers are) and comes in a cute little pot. Also, I feel like if I have this, I could just dab it where I need it (because it’s thicc af and does its job) and not have to wear foundation or tinted moisturizer.
Kevyn Aucoin Neo Blush
Stila is offering 35% off site-wide plus free shipping on all orders of $50 or more from November 29 through December 1 with the promo code BF35. I own one product from Stila that has truly defined my going out look to a T, and it is the Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner. Executing the perfect cat eye is hard, but Stila’s liner is actually really easy to use because it’s just a long tapered pen. So all you have to do is angle it as you draw, so the line gets thinner, and that’s pretty much it. Easy peazy. Anyway, Stila also has a pretty legit price point for a mid-level brand, so I fully support this sale. Another product I had and loved until I broke it by accident was the Aqua Glow Serum Foundation, because it was pretty full coverage but had the consistency of water, so it didn’t feel heavy or caked.
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
I am more in love with my six-year-old Buttercup hair dryer than I am with the guy I’m seeing. Seriously. I have a lot of thick hair, so making sure it dries without going rogue is very important to me, and that’s why I have the Drybar one, the famous Josh Harry one, and, don’t judge me, the Dyson Supersonic. Drybar is shining down on thee and giving you 20% off all products, tools, and kits from November 21 through December 1. The Buttercup was the cheapest and oldest of the three I have, but it’s my OG and I use it every damn day. It weighs like, a pound, is pretty quiet, and does an excellent job. Generally, expensive hair dryers are better than drugstore ones because they use more power than they do heat, so they are less damaging to your hair. Cheaper hairdryers work in the opposite way, using more heat than watts, so you’re essentially frying your hair for longer. I also have the Drybar heat protectant, which smells so good that I leave it on my hands for as long as I can before the New York City subway system forces me to wash them. Luckily, the smell lingers in my hair for the entire day. By the way, Harry Josh is also having a Dermstore sale for 30% all of his products with the promo code DSGIFT from November 28 through December 2. His hair dryer is def cuter than the Buttercup, so if that matters to you, you can get it for a little less this holiday season!
Drybar Buttercup Blow-Dryer
L’Occitane (pronounced “lox- ee- tahn”—you’re welcome) is giving us 20% off all full-size items with promo code CYBER from December 1 through 4, because they know no one is dragging their hungover asses to a store to buy their favorite hand cream. Speaking of which, I didn’t realize this brand sold anything besides hand cream until my grandmother gave me a beautifully packaged perfume (technically an eau de toilette) that smells so good that I spray it on my pillow before I go to sleep. It’s the Verbena scent, which is generally pretty clean with a hint of green tea. No complaints.
L’Occitane Verbena Eau de Toilette
Images: Ulta; Glow Recipe; Tatcha; Kevyn Acoin; Stila; Drybar’ L’Occitane; Eco Warrior Princess / Unsplash
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Black Friday (and more importantly, Cyber Monday) deals are almost upon us. Although I hate crowds, and people, and lines, I really, really love Black Friday deals on beauty products. This is why you can shop online, guys. There is nothing better than telling myself I’m not going to spend money and spending $500 at Sephora but getting $850 of products, so really, I made $350. That’s just good business. Since both in stores and online Black Friday shopping is going to be chaos and every woman for herself, it’s best to be prepared for what exactly to hit up first and what to buy. Don’t wait until the last second when every store is the animal world in Mean Girls. Here are the Black Friday deals on beauty products you need to know about now.
You when you got everything you wanted on Black Friday because you planned ahead:
Sephora is by far my favorite place to shop for beauty deals already with their point systems and lax return policy. They are trying to further my love for them because they are starting Black Friday deals on beauty products on November 15th this year. The early deals are exclusively for the app, so make sure you have that downloaded if you don’t already. For Beauty Insiders and Rouge members (which should be all of you, if not, do it now), you get early access to all deals on November 21st, with “regular” customers getting deals long after on Thanksgiving Day/Actual Black Friday. If you choose to go to stores (God help you), Sephora will open on Thanksgiving at 6pm with their deals ready to go. The biggest sale options this year seem to be their $15 & Under deals, where you can stock up on expensive value sets all for under $15.
Ulta is also going to open for Black Friday at 6pm Thanksgiving Day (those poor, poor workers). Their official Black Friday ad goes live around November 12th, so keep a lookout so you can plot what to buy. Their typical Black Friday layout is pretty awesome, with 50% off brands like Urban Decay and Tarte, and $30 off styling products like Chi. Stock up on expensive makeup palettes and definitely take advantage of their 5-for-$5 specials on face masks and other little products.
Amazon already has some of their Black Friday deals out and ready to go. The best part is you can do all your shopping online without missing out on anything. Every day, Amazon will be adding more and more products to their discount list, so check frequently for deals. This is where you should stock up on your have-to-have basics: acne patches, face wash, lotions, that Aztec face mask everyone is obsessed with, etc. Buy in bulk and save the rest of the year.
Bath and Body Works
Bath and Body Works always has amazing Black Friday deals on beauty products. Things sell out quick so you need to be on it. Remember, they have a great return policy, so buy as much as you can with the deals offered and you can return or exchange any scents or products you don’t like later. They always have sales going on, so expect them just to be amplified and all at once on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. The real key to owning the BBW system is to sign up for their emails now, and get coupons for 20% or $30 off to use in conjunction with their deals on Black Friday. The better coupons are online only, so keep that in mind if you decide to venture out to the stores. Their elusive $8 candle sale (normally $24!) is usually around Black Friday, but expect the large candles to be marked down to at least half off. Stock up now on those and take advantage of any get-nine-body-washes-for-the-price-of-three weird deals they have. Do you need 10 matching body washes/lotion/body spray combos? I’m gonna say duh, but you can also divvy them up as last-minute gifts later. Or you can just hoard bath products and never have to buy body wash again. Your call.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy