Monday, August 27th, 2012

Rant & Rave

This Week’s Topic: Drugstore Makeup!

Your Mission: Tell us what you love, hate, or are otherwise indifferent to about drugstore makeup. What drives you bananas? What makes them necessary?

my answer: I love how much they’ve improved the quality in the past few years!  There are some really great products out there – but why is it that the ones that are really fantastic are limited edition or produced in small quantities and end up sold out?! What I don’t like is that it is still hard to find really great products… partially because there are a lot of misses still but also because you rarely can touch/play/feel with it prior to purchase.

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

31 thoughts on “Rant & Rave: Drugstore Makeup

  1. Megan

    I am with you on the LE items being great quality and then being sold out. It is so frustrating that I have to drive all over the place to find these LE Collections and then have them sold out. I remember a few years back the Wet N’ Wild Holiday Eyeshadow pallets, I drove from Walgreen’s to Walgreen’s gathering all the ones I could find. I don’t get why they don’t make more of these great little collections and have them out longer. Just looking at a display you can see what sells and what doesn’t and I don’t get why companies seem to keep products that don’t sell and then make very few of the products that people love. I’m glad the quality is going up and the prices are good, I just wish that brands would listen a bit more to buyers. Availability is a big issue for me. If you sell at one Target, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS or so on, sell them at all of them. I’ve been on the hunt for an NYC nail polish LE color and I hate wasting gas money driving all over the place.

    • I wish you could call and find out – I’ve tried, but they have no clue what I’m asking about, LOL! Even if you go in and ask if they had it in, or if they’ll be getting it, they usually don’t know :(

    • Mirian

      I understand the frustration you feel, but I’ve been working in an industry that relies on stores to restock our product and we can’t reach customers without [for example] Walgreen’s ordering replenishment stock. I know it’s not WNW’s fault really that everywhere is sold out, it’s partly the Walgreen’s/CVS franchise’s fault for not wanting to spend extra money on a small shipment.

      • Megan

        I know it is a lot about the stores. They don’t think they’ll sell that much so they order hardly any. My frustration comes with consistency too, which is again the fault of the stores. So I think my gripe is more with the drugstore, rather than the make-up. I’ve been on the hunt for NYC Peach Sparkle for months and have gone to numerous stores and either they haven’t ordered the summer collection or it isn’t in yet. Meanwhile other areas of the country already have it. I just can’t drive around anymore for a $3 nail polish. In the end it isn’t worth it. I blame the stores.

  2. Barbie

    in my makeup collection i have more drugstore makeup then mid high end and high end brands and i don’t mind because i love drugstore brands, especially revlon and maybelline they have been putting out great products like the balm stains and color tattoos.

    yeah it sucks that you can’t test them but i like to look at reviews before purchasing

  3. I’ve had a LOT of misses with drugstore makeup but I have found a few surprising favorites over the past few months like Loreal Lacquer Liner, Infallible shadows, and Revlon Balm Stains. It’s nice to see companies stepping up their game, but nothing beats being able to test products at a department store counter.

  4. Alexandra

    My main bug bear is with drugstore foundations, the limited shade range for darker skins, especially in the UK, US are much better on this front from YouTube videos I’ve watched. Such a shame as the quality of some of them is very good, e.g. Heard rave reviews about bourjois healthy mix serum, only 4 shades, none close to my skin tone so im forced to buy mid-high end.

  5. Lauren

    My main complaint with DS products is the inability to get decent shade matches if you have olive toned skin or darker. There are some great DS foundations out there – except for the colors. They are just TOO pink. Also, I find eyeshadow to be very hit or miss. They are mostly poorly pigmented, though there are gems out there too (e.g., the color tattoo line). I have yet to find a DS blush with any staying power – but I often have that issue with high end blush too. I think drug store mascara is great, as are many of the lip products and eyeliners.

  6. I love Drugstore makeup & I agree that it has evolved over the years. I hate that drugstore foundations a lot of the time only cater to light/pink complexions. I am a medium skin tone & while I can find a similar shade the undertones are usually wayyyy to pink. I feel it is necessary because not everyone can afford, or want to pay a lot for their makeup products.

  7. Courtney

    I love that it’s affordable, and I agree that the quality has gotten better. That I don’t like is that I can’t test them! And if something is unsealed, it means that someone probably tried it out. I’ve actually seen women tray nail polish on their nails in the store. Gross!

  8. Amanda

    I really can’t stand cheap things, LOL. I know that’s snobby of me but I just really can’t stand things that feel cheap :)

  9. Year

    Here (Ireland) we can test drugstore makeup before we buy. One thing that really annoys me is it’s almost impossible to find pale shades of foundation/concealer, which is the most common skin tone here. Results in a lot of orange faces on the streets…

  10. Eileen

    I purchase high end brands nowadays, but there was a time in my life when drugstore brands were all that I could afford and so I’m very appreciative of their place in the cosmetic industry. On the plus side, Drugstore brands are quite affordable and are sometimes of quite decent quality like some of the limited editions already mentioned. They make it possible for women on a budget to keep up with the latest trends in makeup, they are perfect for young teens who are just beginning to experiment with makeup and want lots and lots of options, they are great for anyone who wants to try out a look before investing in products of better quality, and they let people create fun one-time looks like for Halloween.

    On the negative side, I find that the quality of the ingredients and the finished look just don’t measure up to what I’ve come to expect from makeup. You know how in magazines they’ll sometimes feature side-by-side pictures of the same model made up in the same way but they’ve used department store brands for one picture and drugstore brands for the other? They always challenge you to tell the difference. Well, I can always tell the difference. Always. The drugstore brands tend to lack the texture, finish, and complexity of color. They often don’t look as well blended and they look like they’re just sitting on the surface of the skin rather than melting into it. it’s not that they’re bad looking. It’s just that they don’t really compare to their more expensive, better quality counterparts.

    I guess what it comes down to is that I have a strong preference for my high-end brands. If money were an issue, though, I’d happily shop the drugstore brands. What is important is that we have the options and that any woman can look beautiful no matter how much she is able or willing to spend.

  11. Jennifer

    In general, I don’t like drugstore makeup. The eyeshadows are too frosty, too sheer, or not flattering. The eyeliners have poor wear and tug. The mascaras give the lashes a “crunchy” feel and smudge at the end of the day. Powders look powdery – unlike higher-end ones, which just look like skin. Foundations did not match perfectly due to lack of testers. Blushes are too shimmery and lack pigment. Lip products have poor feel, are sometimes scented horribly, and the color in some is streaky. The gloss too has an off-artificial smell and the feel and wear is poor as well. As one can deduce, I purchase all my makeup from high-end places – though most of my makeup stash is free-gift-with-purchase items. Still high-end makeup, but more easy to get. I get it for “free” with my skincare.

    tl;dr version –> Drugstore makeup has disappointed me in the past and now I get the bulk of my makeup from high-end “free-gift-with-purchase” when I buy skincare.

    I have a foundation I like from drugstore, but it may be the wrong shade. I’m an NC20-25 and use Nude 200 from Revlon Colorstay. The combo-oily formula I use is good but dry (and drying) and I realized I need a pump bottle due to wrecking a beloved sweater via inadvertent spill and I have spilled it a second time, though, fortunately, it went only on the floor and countertops and was easy to clean up.

    • Nicole

      I think you should give drugstore makeup another try! As long as you’re researching the products before you buy them (since you can’t try them), there are some amazing products out there. There are some great blogs and youtube channels that give product recommendations, like NouveauCheap and BeautyBroadcast.

      Obviously there are still duds like you described in your post, but Almay mascaras, NYX eyeshadows, and Revlon lip products (especially glosses!) are all phenomenal– and sometimes better than higher end products.

      The only products I don’t buy from the drugstore are foundations. I definitely agree with you about not being able to colour match!

  12. Virginia

    I actually love drugstore mascaras. I like to switch out my mascara often ( sensitive eyes) , and so it’s easy for me to every other month or so toss out an “old mascara ” and get a brand new fresh one, and not feel guilty . But that’s not to say I don’t appreciate high end foundation, eyeshadows and eyeliners. I just like to compromise and mix it up. Higher end eyeshadows and eyeliners, and foundations definitely are worth the splurge for me. On th flip side I love Milani baked blushes, and being able to plunk down 8$ for a mascara and tossing it after a month or two.

  13. I’ve had some hits and misses with drugstore brands, but in general, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality. When my budget is not so tight, I usually go for high-end makeup, but I’m quite happy that I discovered new affordable great products!
    If I had to name my 3 favorite drugstore products right now, they would be Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter, Physician’s Formula bronzers, and Wet n Wild single shadow in Nutty.

  14. I have come to love some drugstore makeup! Some of it, I find actually better than department store. The only thing I cannot seem to find is a good matching face powder :( soon hopefully!

  15. Maria

    Lately I have been obsessed with drugstore makeup, especially those Maybelline color tattoo eyeshadows, and the l’oreal caresse lipsticks. These products are bringing me back to trying out drugstore brands. I have been using drugstore mascaras, the formulas have gotten a lot better and since it’s something that has to be replaced often, my wallet is happier with finding a cheaper alternative to higher brands. Foundation, however, I have to buy at a boutique because I have finally found something that agrees with my skin. Brushes (like the real technique brushes) also are becoming a big favorite of mines because they are so effective in applying makeup flawlessly and are not only super soft but affordable, as well!

  16. Kathy

    I buy quite a bit of drugstore makeup: Revlon’s lipsticks and glosses are up there with the most expensive department store brands, Milani’s blushes are gorgeous, and ELF and Wet n Wild have some surprisingly good dupes. The packaging, I think, is the compromise. DS compacts seem to crack easily, come with useless brushes (just throw those away), and lipstick caps don’t want to stay on. The lack of testers is a big issue, too.

  17. Em

    I think the drugstore has some great stuff! However, my jaw dropped the other day when I saw a L’Oreal foundation (one with the brush attached) for over $15! What? I’m okay with a $8-10 foundation, but $15? I’d rather pay a few extra bucks on top of that and get a higher end one. So while I love that the products at the drugstore are improving and there are some great face, cheeks, and eye products out there, I’m disappointed that the prices are rising as well.

  18. Liz

    What I like about drugstore makeup is the price and the accessibility. The drugstore is a five minute walk from my apartment. Sephora, MAC and department stores are not. I have plenty of high quality drugstore makeup that is as good as and sometimes better than higher end makeup.

    What I don’t like is that finding foundation shades can be hard due to the lack of testers. Some of the products aren’t as good as HE products (particularly blush and eyeshadow). I also don’t like that the packaging on some products can be cheap looking.

  19. Anne Rosen

    Sorry, the previous comment went through prematurely. Please don’t post it! This is what I meant to say:

    I agree that the quality of drugstore makeup has improved tremendously over the years. What hasn’t changed, however, is the shopper’s inability to swatch the products. Sephora has made all of us accustomed to unlimited swatching, and not being able to, at the very least, see drugstore products out of their packaging is what keeps me from buying more of it.

    Perfect example: the new Revlon Colorstay Whipped foundation. Actually, this is an extreme example, because the packaging for this product makes it impossible to get a good look at the shades, which is essential in buying foundation.

    Another beef I have with drugstore brands is that some of them are becoming alarmingly expensive. The list price for the Colorstay Whipped is $14. Physicans Formula Happy Booster is the same price. Cetaphil’s new oil-control moisturizer with SPF is $17! For those prices I might just as well spend a little more and get free swatching and bonus points at Sephora.

  20. KaseyCannuck

    The line between drugstore and high end seems to be getting a bit blurry as prices and quality are creeping higher. I have also noticed in the past few years that the drugstores here are adding pricier brands to their shelves, such as Benefit and Pur Minerals. The cheaper brands can be marked up and still be cheap by comparison.

    As far as quality goes, there are exceptional products in the drugstores and some exceptionally expensive crap in the department stores. If I can pay less than $10 for an amazing mascara, I certainly will. If I have to chose between paying $2 or $20 for an ordinary eye pencil, its a no-brainer.

  21. Drug store products have come a long way, but I actually do not like to shop for cosmetics in the drug store. I will, however, go out of my way for an outstanding product for it’s price point, but I typically will not go ‘browsing’. I find there is too much information packed in too tight of a space and it’s overwhelming for me. Actually, many stores are far too much for me. I do enjoy the Sephora shopping experience a little better, but ideally, for me, I would like a wall of eye products, a wall of cheek products, etc.. I find the brand sort and PITA and I am less likely to open my mind up to new brands when stores are set up this way. Yeah, and fat chance in hell of it ever happening, but it would be a real treat.

  22. jess

    Now that I am getting a little older (late 20′s) I am wearing less makeup overall and am more okay with wearing drugstore makeup. In my early 20s I was a makeup artist and wore only high end makeup because that was my job! I think drugstore makeup has vastly improved! Also you have to know what to buy and wear. Yes I’d love Diorshow mascara but i cannot afford $25 a tube every two months. Drugstores are good for lipwear, mascara, occasionally foundation and eyeliner. For good color products like eye shadow and blush you need to hit department stores! Drugstores just don’t make very good powder eye shadow! Foundation is also good to get at a depsrtment store for a perfect match. If drugstores had testers they would give department stores a run for their money! I have been quite impressed with Revlon’s makeup as of recent. I love their just bitten lipbalm stains, grow luscious mascara and airbrush foundation! Nothing beats MAC color products though!

  23. xamyx

    I’m a huge fan of DS makeup. I haven’t found a “miracle” HE foundation, that makes all my pores disappear, so why pay $40 for a product that has essentially the same ingredients as a $10 one? I *always* have to mix at least two shades, anyway, regardless of price, so I’d rather find a BOGO sale at a DS, and pay around $15-20 vs $80+. As far as finding a “match”, I’d rather just take a chance with DS than going to a HE counter and dealing with SAs trying to sell me everything but. Also, the lighting is so bad, and it’s like pulling teeth to just walk out with a sample; the SAs always seem to want to apply it for me.

    Liquid liners & mascaras are “disposable”, anyway, so I primarily use DS. Lip products are all the same, as well as nail polish, so unless a shade is absolutely amazing, again, it’s DS.

  24. Quinctia

    I love it just as much as any other makeup, except it’s cheaper and often a little easier to pop in and nab. Actually, especially since the only decent cosmetics store in my area is Ulta, I can use about any makeup discounts accessible to me on drugstore stuff, haha.

    The only product that I consider a necessity when I wear makeup that I haven’t found a usable lower cost alternative for is UD PP. I’ve tried a couple others, they just don’t work as well on my lids. Otherwise, I could do a whole look with drugstore stuff and look as nice as any other day.

    The only downside is despite having more than one store to check for DS stuff, some things just don’t get stocked well in my area. Hardly anyone has much Milani–my favorite lipstick line by them I’ve never seen in a store and I’ve had to order online.

  25. yajuwen

    What I like about drugstore makeup is that the price is always much more accessible. And I don’t feel guilty to spare several dollars once a while comparing to high end makeup. There are great products too! Maybelline does have decent mascara around $5 and I’ve been a fan for years. Palladio have pretty good baked blush under $8.

    I am open to the color products as many powder products have pretty good quality. However, I generally never love the foundation. I usually don’t touch up throughout the day (8hrs +) unless for reapplying sunscreen. But I always need to touch up at least once for drugstore foundation. After trying several products and ending up in troubles or returning, I’ve given up drugstore foundation. I figure if I spend $30 more every year to save me loads of trouble touching up or reapplying, that’s worth it.

  26. Alison

    Well, the main thing I love about it is the price! Here in the UK we’re lucky to have a good selection of quality cosmetics available on the high street, and to be honest there are usually testers available here – if not, you can always ask a shop assistant to open a new tester for you. It’s also a good way to experiment with new colours – you can see if they actually suit you first before splashing out on a more expensive version. Cosmetics seem to be on the whole more expensive here in the UK than in America so we can generally save even more money by using more high street and less mid to high end cosmetics. And on those occassions when you do end up with a piece that isn’t great, it’s not too heartbreaking if you’ve only spent a few pounds on it!

  27. LauraR.

    There are some real winners at the drugstore, but I wait for a recommendation on YouTube or here before trying because I can’t swatch, and it’s a pain to return a dud. I love the Maybelline color tattoos, some of the L’Oreal Infallible eyeshadows, and all the Wet N’ Wild eyeshadows (they’re amazing, and the price is phenomenal!).

    I usually use drugstore mascara because I go through mascara too quickly to bother investing a lot (unless I want the “wow” factor for an event, in which case I’ll buy Diorshow or something similarly dramatic).

    With that said I own a lot more high-end cosmetics than drugstore. I’m not as concerned with price at this point so much as quality. If I can find it at the drugstore, great! If not, I’ll invest.