Bargain Beauty - Going Drugstore, Generic Beauty, and Learning When to Save

One of the few things I miss about southern California is CVS/Pharmacy, which is a national drugstore chain, but there just aren’t many locations (I think there is just one or two) in northern California.  Let me first rave about CVS’ fabulous return policy–all beauty products are refundable, any time, no matter what; there is a 100% money back guarantee on all beauty products.  This is one of the crucial reasons why I have preferred shopping at a department store beauty counter, because I could try and not worry about whether or not I can return.  Well, times are changing, and CVS has made it easier to go drugstore by making returns easy as pie.

Why should you go store brand?

These days, CVS is coming out with their versions of so many popular items, and of course, they are always just a bit cheaper than the name brand.  If there is anything I’ve learned from my dad, it’s that generic doesn’t mean worse, it means savings.  Aside from coming out with generic alternatives to popular name brand products, CVS comes out with new products as well, like Continuous Spray Aloe and Aftersun Cloth Wipes.

The store brand use similar/identical ingredients that are of the same quality as the name brand, but often for 20 to 30% less in price.  What’s cool about CVS is that they have employees called beauty advisors that are trained to help you choose the right beauty products.  Have you been to the drugstore beauty aisles lately?  They are growing!  There are so many brands in the market, and it is so difficult (not to mention overwhelming) to figure out what’s worth trying or what may work best for you.

Personally, I always opt for store brand for many of my beauty essentials like cotton balls, swabs, polish remover, makeup removing wipes, etc.  Even on my non-beauty items, I’ll always hunt for the store brand!  I use Neosporin all of the time, but it’s pricey, so I opt for the store brand to save a few bucks.  I have pretty nasty allergies come spring, and although I used name brand allergic medicine for years, I’ve finally taken the plunge to store brand, and can you believe it?  They work just as well.

And hey, if it doesn’t impress you?  Return or exchange it.  No problem says CVS!

What are your drugstore staples?  When do you save?  When do you splurge?


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Kathleena Avatar

I absoutley adore St. Ives Clay Firming Mask. I have not found a mask out there that can compare to it. It only cost about $3.99 and it is truly worth it.


Vee Avatar

I’ve always equated cost with quality, and therefore go for name brands. But, some store brands are stepping up the quality on their products – finally. Shopper’s Drug Mart (in Canada) has a house brand of cosmetics, and their brushes are actually pretty great!

JennBee Avatar

I love everything drugstore 🙂 CVS, Walgreens, wherever. CVS even carries lots of great beauty product generics; even a generic alternative to the Olay Definity line, which is super pricey for a drugstore brand – lol! But they always have fantastic savings and awesome sales on makeup, too… for those of us that buy it.

I’d NEVER equate cost to quality (without proper research), especially when drugstore stuff like Olay Regenerist has out-performed some higher-end skincare lines. But I guess that’s just how I am. 🙂

I could go on forever, buuut I’ll stop here! Hehe.

Tammy M Avatar

I LOVE CVS!!! Their Essence of Beauty Non Oily Eye Makeup remover is my HG! Never irritating or too greasy! Plus, only $4.99, I pick up 3 bottles of it up at a time. The Essence of Beauty line of make up brushes are pretty good too. Another good line of drugstore make up brushes are the Walgreens ones…they are actually made by Japonesque for Walgreens.

Trisha Avatar

I’m a Walgreens gal myself. I got a lot of my makeup there. Right now, I live in an area WITHOUT Sephora or MAC anywhere to be seen. Which makes me ever so sad. So, I either have to buy my makeup online, or at the drugstore. Either is good!

Claudia M. Avatar

I can’t complain, I got EVERYTHING near me. I live 5 mins away from a mall w/ Sephora and other brands, and at work the building next to me has a CVS and across the street is Macy’s. But can’t you believe it, they don’t carry MAC!!! I guess it’s better that they don’t since I already head over there anytime I get bored or have a bad day (for a little pick me up) =)

stankerbell Avatar

I’m realizing this more and more as I get older and presumably wiser…. My must buy’s include: Albolene (makeup remover) I absolutely love the stuff, Queen Helene’s Mint Julip (sp?) Mask, Epsom Salts (to soak in), Cover Girl Volume Exact mascara…. Unfortunately, I don’t have a CVS in my area, we have a Fred Meyer, but I prefer Target…but anything like aspirin, swabs, cotton pads, drugs, i buy all store brand and generic…

Sara Avatar


i abuse my employee discount constantly (20% off regular brand, 30% off of cvs brand)! honestly though, the products are priced about 10-20% than what you might find at target or walmart. however, cvs brand products are very good and are pretty cheap too. essence of beauty and lumene have some pretty sweet brushes. but yeah cvs brand products are basically the exact same as the name brand but 1-2 dollars cheaper. i always go cvs brand though because of my discount

i talk alot. anyway if you ever need someone to review some drug store products, i’m your girl! since i’m always there i have no problem buying something and returning it if i don’t like it. i just bought some covergirl eyeshadows that are new today- one looks like golden lemon pigment and the other reminds me of freshwater. they are so pretty and only 3.49! add my discount and my 2.00 off coupon and that equals…cheap lol. anyway…just fyi. i’d be happy to test stuff for you…i know i signed up for that thing you sent out.

did i mention i talk alot? sorry. i just ate a caffinated snickers bar i found at cvs. weird, right? but it totally works!

oh, and remember cvs has a 100% money back garuntee on all beauty products! don’t like it? bring it back!

Kate Avatar

Cover Girl VolumeExact mascara–it’s my HG mascara. CVS is kind of my major pick-me-up place, what with their return policy and everything. And they’re everywhere in the northeast!

Joceline Avatar

i love CVS.if your looking for some great BRUSHES…look out for Essence of Beauty. they are great and a whole set would only cost you $10!!!

Trace Avatar

I got the E.O.B brushes, the “crease” set and they are great. It comes with a blending brush, and a smaller one which is comparable to the MAC 219!! And I think the set was $4 or something.

Also, they don’t have them at every CVS but the Lumene eyeshadows are really nice! They are wet/dry with pretty decent payoff, and using them with the mixing medium makes them stick around. I got one the other night which is basically a dupe for Seedy Pearl. =D

DaniMae Avatar

I moved from Northern California to Virginia a few months ago and one of the things that I DO love about being in VA is CVS! They have all SORTS of beauty products. They’re cheaper than at other places, and they’re always stocked up.

DaniMae Avatar

OMG How could I forget the brushes they sell?! Dirt cheap and good quality. I bought the set of two crease brushes and I use them daily.

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