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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Unless you know wtf you’re doing (which is a rarity), buying new lipstick online sucks. You can’t draw a fucking rainbow on your arm and you can’t like, give it a week to see if your Bumble boy notices the different shade of pink you’re wearing. Makeup can be fucking expensive, and as much as we’d like to feel as though we are C-list celebs/Insta influencers, there are times when we have to choose Svedka over Tito’s to save a few bucks. Tbh, any alcohol will get the job done, just like some drugstore lipsticks are better than the expensive shit. Although drugstore lipsticks are the same price as a bottle of wine from Target, they’re still high-quality and way more accessible than Sephora or MAC. I mean, the closest Walgreen’s/CVS/Duane Reade/wherever you’ve placed your trust is probs less than 5 minutes away. ‘Tis the season for new lipstick shades, so knowing times are hard while Trump is still president, you can shop new faves on a budget and avoid a passive-aggressive text from your dad about the credit card bill. On your next run to buy chasers and tampons, here are the best drugstore lipsticks to buy for poppin’ lips without fillers. Cue grateful, blessed, happy tears.
1. Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lipstick in Daringly Nude
For the best nude (other than a dick pic or that one nude you felt proud of in college), Maybelline is the one to hit up. Even though it’s matte, it’s still creamy af and feels absolutely life-changing when it’s on. The collection has like, a million nude shades you never knew existed, and each has bomb pigment for ultra long-lasting color.
2. NYX Cosmetics Pin-Up Pout Lipstick in Revolution
NYX is my go-to for everything. If you want the same shit you can find at Sephora for half the price and the same level of quality, NYX needs to be in your vocab. Pin-Up Pouts in particular are the reason NYX is still here, tbh. The full-coverage best-selling line is full of classic reds, bright pinks, and most importantly, vampy shades like the one below above to literally die for. They’re long-lasting and totally addictive. This deep reddish plum is perfect for fall, but for $8, you *have* to shop all the shades.
3. L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolour in Miss Magenta
Not only do you get bright colors that actually look like the same color as advertised, L’Oréal lipsticks are also known for intense hydration. They’re non-drying and won’t crack your lips, since they’re made with healthy stuff like Argan oil, vitamins, and other things I’m too lazy to type out. Since you’ll fall in love with these, you can get one in every color known to man, from hot pink to gray to something dark like our souls.
4. COVERGIRL Queen Collection Stay Luscious Lipstick in Pink Reign
What Tyra says, goes—no questions about it. So when she says COVERGIRL, we stock up on COVERGIRL. The childhood brand that has recently gone on my shit list for switching up their slogan is semi redeeming itself with their latest collection. The Queen collection is v moisturizing (a necessity), full of natural-looking shine, and created with a special waterproof formula that allows color to stay on regardless of how many shots we take. Fucking miracle.
5. Rimmel London Provocalips 16HR Kiss Proof Lip Colour in Kiss Me You Fool
Well, that was aggressive ^. This fab lipstick is a 2-in-1 that comes with a gorg shade and lock-in top coat to ensure your lipstick stays where it belongs. Guaranteed to stay on for up to 16 hours without drying out or fading, the formula is also kiss-proof and transfer-proof, so no worries about making your next hookup look like a murder scene or wasting newly applied lipstick on your Starbucks straw. With this game-changer, you’re free to indulge in drunk pizza without needing to reapply, which is obviously the only thing I can ever ask for in this life of sin.