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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We’re all very well aware of how fucking great the summertime is—tan skin, summer Fridays at the office, the beach, endless cocktails, etc. etc., but what we don’t talk about enough is the fact that the summer fucking sucks for your beauty routine. You know what I’m referring to: dry, frizzy, sun-damaged hair; boob sweat and pitting out by the time you reach your desk in the morning; and, worst of all, shiny skin that causes your makeup to melt off right after you put it on. That’s right, I’m talking about sweat beads of foundation on your forehead and mascara running down your face à la Lauren Conrad on that one episode of The Hills. To prepare your makeup supply (and your poolside selfies) without breaking the bank, we’ve rounded up the best sweat-proof drugstore makeup that you can pick up from your corner CVS.
Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara
For less than 10 bucks, you can get lashes that are as voluminous and shiny as falsies, thanks to Maybelline’s New York Lash Sensational Waterproof mascara. The fan-like wand will give your lashes major volume, and the liquid ink formula will seal in the drama so that the lovely mixture of sweat and humidity won’t leave you with raccoon eyes.
L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 HR Pro-Matte Foundation
If you’re going to opt for any sweat-proof makeup product, it should probably be foundation. There’s nothing worse than beige drops of sweat rolling off your nose, making for an uneven complexion for the rest of the day. L’Oréal Paris’ Infallible 24 hour Pro-Matte Foundation will give you buildable medium-full coverage with a matte finish that lasts for 24 hours.
NYX Professional Makeup Born To Glow Liquid Illuminator
Whether you want to add drops to your foundation for an illuminating base or give those cheekbones a highlight that can be spotted from across the room, NYX’s lightweight liquid highlighter will give your tan summer skin a radiant glow that’ll last in even the hottest bars.
Wet N Wild Megalast Catsuit Liquid Eyeshadows
When you think of Wet N Wild, you probably get flashbacks of painting your nails with their pearlized nail polishes during your younger years. Well, while the brand has definitely gotten a makeover since our childhood, they are still a drugstore beauty brand staple. Their Catsuit Liquid Eyeshadows shimmer for a little added depth and dry to a matte finish, so they hug the shape of your lids like a snug catsuit.
Covergirl Outlast All-Day Soft Touch Concealer
Even though Covergirl totally betrayed our adolescent years when they changed their “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” slogan a few months ago (still not over it), they do make a pretty good sweat-proof concealer with a super soft sponge-like applicator that will cling to those bags under your eyes all day long, regardless of the temps outside.
Flower Beauty Color Proof Longwear Lip Cream
Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty Color Proof Longwear Lip Cream stays on your lips for so long without feathering or fading, even if you spend your summer nights riding in cars with boys. The creamy texture dries to a satin finish and comes in five opaque shades to add a seriously bold lip to your look.
Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot Primer
While I’m not convinced that a middle-aged white dad who wears New Balance sneakers didn’t come up with the name, this primer does do a HECK of a job with controlling shine on even the sweatiest faces for 12 hours straight. What’s more is that while controlling your skin’s sweat and oil level, the primer doubles as a pore perfector to create the perfect blank canvas before applying your sweat-proof foundation.
Milani Stay Put Matte 17 HR Wear Liquid Eyeliner
What’s cool about Milani’s Stay Put Eyeliner is that, sure, it’s humidity- and sweat-resistant so it’s great for the summertime, but it can also withstand all of the tears from your PMS-induced emotional breakdown. So, really, it’s good for any time of year. You can cry your eyes out in the bathroom at work and then go on about your day and no one will be able to tell, because your makeup will still be in tact. The thin felt applicator gives you a clean, precise line and it dries super fast so you don’t have to worry about smearing.
e.l.f. Active Sweat Resistant Mascara & Brow Duo
Seeing as though the athleisure trend isn’t going anywhere, the gurus of the beauty world decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and in October 2017 along came e.l.f.’s Active collection. It’s makeup you can wear to the gym that won’t make your skin freak out. The collection features things like post-workout body towelettes, workout-ready hydration sticks, and sweat-resistant SPF’s, but the real star in our eyes is the Active Sweat Resistant Mascara & Brow Duo. The double-sided wand features a waterproof mascara and a sweat-resistant brow gel to comb and feather brows.
If you want my honest opinion, there’s no bigger beauty faux pas then false lashes that look super fake. There’s something challenging about making eye contact with someone that has a row of thick black lashes that look like ginormous curtains over their eyeballs (*glares at Geles from Are You The One?*). What’s even worse is when you can see the applicator glue on the eyelid. To help you avoid all of that, I’ve rounded up the best (and cheapest) voluminous drugstore mascaras that look way better than false lashes.
1. L’Oreal Paris Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara
If you can’t afford a trip to paradise, you can at least enjoy the thick, full lashes you’ll get from this mascara. That’s kind of like paradise for your lashes, if you think about it. The trick to getting lashes that look like falsies with this waterproof mascara is to apply multiple coats before the mascara dries. That way, you can easily lift and shape the lashes.
2. Revlon Ultra Volume Mascara
The design of the short and long bristles on this brush head comb every lash, which eliminates clumps and injects maximum volume. Plump up the lashes with multiple coats to get your voluminous lashes courtesy of the drugstore aisle.
3. Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Big Shot
Maybe you have limp lashes (ew), maybe you need Maybelline’s Volum’ Express to give each lash lift and separation. It requires minimal brush strokes, yet creates arguably the thickest lashes out of all of the drugstore mascaras on this list. (I said arguably, don’t @ me.)
4. NYX Worth The Hype Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara
NYX’s volumizing AND lengthening mascara is buildable. That means you can layer on the coats to make lashes darker and fuller and very hype-worthy. The brush tapers at the end to help with separation, which also makes sure the mascara is applied all the way to the end of each lash.
5. E.l.f. Volume Plumping Mascara
If your poor financial decisions have left you scrounging for coins in old jeans pockets, your lashes don’t have to suffer thanks to E.l.f’s $3 mascara. Apply a few layers and get to batting your lashes at that hottie at the bar. Your drinks aren’t going to pay for themselves, after all.
6. Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara
If you’re wondering what retro lashes look like, think Twiggy’s circa the 60s. The hourglass shape of the brush head coats the lashes for a plump, bold, fanned look without clumping. In true retro fashion, the mascara is only available in different shades of black for the boldest look out of all of the drugstore mascaras listed.
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Nothing says more about my personality than a dark, vampy lip. I mean, do I own other lip colors? Yes. But do those other colors accurately describe my cold, dead heart? Fuckkk no. That’s not to say that I don’t buy a shit ton of lip products in every shade of the rainbow. I will buy anything that any celebrity only slightly endorses because I am a garbage human. And while I do love throwing my hard earned money at people who make millions of dollars by taking selfies for Instagram with, like, a bottle of Sugar Bear Hair somewhere in a very corner of the frame *cough* KYLIE *cough*, I also value being able to eat and afford rent. So for those of you who want to look good AND avoid living in a cardboard box, here are 8 lip products that are better than Kylie Lip Kits (a bold statement, I know).
BEST PLUMPING LIP PRODUCT
It’s a hard world out there for a girl working with the lips she was born with. Take it from me, someone who is 100 percent silicone- and filler-free, and also someone who does not have Instagram sponsors lining up for me to pimp out their products. Coincidence? I don’t fucking think so. So thank god for Soap & Glory’s Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Gloss. We’ve repped this shit before but that’s because it fucking works. I’m not saying using this product will give you an Instagram ad endorsement deal, but I’m also saying it won’t give you an Instagram ad endorsement deal. Seriously. It won’t. But it will make your lips
rival somewhat resemble that of a Kardashian’s and that’s really all I ask for in this life.
BEST LONG LASTING LIPSTICK
There’s not a lot that can outlast me when I’m blackout except maybe the texts I sent my ex last night. But Rimmel London’s Provocalips 16 Hour Kiss Proof Lipcolor certainly gives me and my bad decision-making skills a run for my money. This shit could last through a nuclear bomb or, conversely, six vodka sodas, a drunken makeout session with the bro I matched with on Bumble, and an unattractive amount of Joe’s Pizza. Give or take. What it won’t outlast? A night in your bed. Expect to wake up with this shit all over your face but, hey, at least you have flawless lips in your Insta story.
BEST MATTE & LIP CREAM
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream is the beauty product that I can only imagine keeps Kris Jenner up at night. Literally everyone is saying that this shit is just like Kylie’s Lip Kits, but instead of risking your life at a pop-up shop or camping out in front of your laptop to spend the rest of your rent check on blue fucking lipstick that you will never ever wear, you can grab a tube of NYX for a cool $5.99 at any local CVS or Ulta or whatever. Idk if you can fake that kind of good publicity, Kris.
Seriously though, this product is winning at life and that’s why it’s the best matte and lip cream. It’s got highly pigmented colors and a long-lasting finish, plus it glides on better than Demario sliding into Rachel’s DMs. Sorry, Kylizzle, you may not want to cross sex tape off your list of potential business ventures just yet.
BEST LIP GLOSS
A few weeks ago someone was feeling v nostalgic at The W and gave Paris Hilton a voice to tell everyone that not only did she create the Kardashians but also literally everything we like wearing. According to Paris the ‘90s trend is officially over and the ‘00s are back in. So I guess I’ll just go dig my Juicy tracksuit out of storage now. Can someone please tell the very condescending girl at Plato’s Closet that this was never out of style to begin with?? But now that the ‘00s are back and better than ever so too is lip gloss and you definitely need to try L’Oréal Paris Infallible 6HR Never-Fail Lip Gloss. At $11 is v cheap and it’ll low-key make you look like Rachel Lindsay on night one of The Bachelorette before she started wondering why she put being a lawyer on hold in favor of being courted by a grown man who refers to himself as “whaboom.”
BEST NUDE LIPS
Leave it to a model to come up with the best nudes. And just to clarify, I’m not talking about the kind of nudes they’re sending Leo rn in an attempt to become his
next serious girlfriend a girl he’ll date until she ages out turns 25. I’m talking about lip shades. And if you thought I wouldn’t make a joke about models and nudes because that’s kind of seemed like low-hanging fruit just there, then you don’t know me at all. ANYWAY, Rimmel London’s Kate Moss Nude Collection is the best in the game if you’re looking for a nude lip color. It has a semi-matte finish, but it’s also v hydrating and you’ll find your perfect shade every goddamn time.
BEST DAY TO NIGHT
If you know anything about me it’s that my transformation from office professional to Happy Hour Hoe is something that should legit be listed under the “skills” section of my resume. And E.L.F Day to Night Lipstick Duo is def being added to that transformation process ASAP. It’s a dual-ended lipstick, with one end a work appropriate day shade and the other end a bolder color for night time shenanigans. The velvety satin formula is enriched with Shea and Vitamins A, C, and E to keep your lips nourished and hydrated throughout all the shit you’re bound to put them through. But I care less about that and more about the fact that I can buy two lip products for the price of one because I’m just a cheap asshole at heart.
HONORABLE MENTION: Milani Color Statement Lipstick
You’ll recognize this product because it looks sketchy AF and, even though online it says it costs $5.99, I swear I’ve never paid more than $2 for this shit. Whether that’s from me and my great bargaining skills with the cashier at CVS or because this product is legit never marked at full price is neither here nor there. Just know that Milani will save your life work in a pinch and plus they have sooo many dark wine colors that speak to my soul.