Buying Makeup On a Budget

Not everyone can afford the prices of high-end cosmetic lines like Chanel, Dior, Estee Lauder, Lancome, MAC, etc. And there are many who do not want to spend a lot of money on cosmetics, either. This is a guide, of sorts, to help direct price-conscious consumers to cost effective products that actually work. Many more drugstore cosmetic lines are coming out with products that are made to rival higher-end items.

There are several brands that offer great, more inexpensive alternatives for your cosmetic hauls. One of my favorites is called NYX, and I would consider it one of the best cosmetic lines I have tried–and the price is right. Their eyeshadows are extremely pigmented, and several colors are perfect dupes compared to MAC’s! Shadow textures are lovely, and apply evenly and smoothly with little fuss. NYX offers single shadows as well as shadows in sets of three, blush, and various lipglosses and eye/lip liners. Prices generally range from $3-7 for most items they offer. I would say that the only serious drawback from buying NYX is that it is not often readily available at your nearest drugstore. However, several sites offer it online, so that is always a good option for those who cannot find it in our local store.

Most drugstores seem to carry two very low-budget lines: NYC and Wet ‘n Wild. When I am looking to try out a new product, I often see if I can purchase something from either of these companies because sometimes you can score items for a dollar! Both offer full lines of cosmetics, including foundation, eyeshadows, bronzers, and travel-sized brushes. They also make decent false eyelashes, which are perfect for anyone who wants a pair to try–or those of us who often wear them once and throw them out. Far cheaper to buy these for one-time wear than MAC ones! While both of these lines are incredibly affordable, I do have to say that the quality is not near high-end brands. You get a little more than what you pay for, but neither of these are my favorite in drugstore brand cosmetics. Although, NYC does make lovely lipgloss!

Many high-end users supplement their collection with finds from Milani, which offers several identical dupes to MAC existing shadows. These shadows are well-pigmented and apply smoothly, and again, these are perfect for anyone with a small budget. Milani has a full line, so there are many products for customers to select from. Sometimes Milani is so sought after that your local drugstore may have sold out of many options! Similarly, Rimmel offers some quality products, though I would say their shadows do not work quite as well as Milani or NYX.

On the more expensive side of drugstore cosmetics lines is L’Oreal’s HIP product line. This line was meant to give you high-end cosmetic quality with drugstore prices. They did not quite deliver, but they did give you a result worth checking out. The prices for HIP range from $7-15, with many of their eyeshadows running around $10. When I think about saving money, it seems odd to pay $10 for an eyeshadow from L’Oreal when I can a higher-end product from MAC for the same price (for pans) or pay a few dollars more (for pots). They do offer gorgeous color choices, and even have loose color like MAC’s pigments. Some shadow colors are harder to work with than others, but many can be used with great success. The selling point of this line is that the colors are supposed to be highly pigmented, and this is usually true. Although, their foundation has much left to be desired; too much yellow/orange in the color selection.

There are numerous brands of cosmetic lines constantly being inventoried in your local drugstore, and it is overwhelming. Many products offered through these lines are worth buying; companies like CoverGirl and Maybelline would not have stayed in business if their products were worthless! Instead of continuing by listing brand names and thoughts on them, here are some tried and true products available at your local drugstore:

CoverGirl LastExact Mascara — One of the more recent mascaras to be launched, and it is definitely a great one! I hear so many rave reviews about LastExact, and I am no exception. I will admit that sometimes it does not quite work as well as I want to, but usually it works just fine. I find have no need to pursue a better high-end mascara, and I get along fine switching between my drugstore versions.

Maybelline Full ‘n Soft — I adore this mascara. I have used it for several years, and even though I have tried other mascaras, this is still my favorite one for lengthening, thickening, and building up my lashes to make them full ‘n soft!

L’Oreal Automatic Pencil Eyeliner — This used to be my black eyeliner of choice. It was a great automatic-sharpening kohl that gave my lower lash line the perfect smoldering look. Although I have replaced this with a high-end product, I still recommend this as an amazing alternative. When I used it, so many people commented, asking what liner I was using, and they were shocked it was just L’Oreal.

L’Oreal Colour Juice — Gorgeous lipglosses that are fairly sheer and in different fruit flavors. They give lips that lovely glossy look, making them seem plump and… juicy.

OPI & Sally Hansen nailpolishes — I have always been a huge fan of both lines of nail polishes. They come in a variety of colors and finishes, and I love that Sally Hansen adds strengthening to many of their products. I find that either of these brands are often better than many high-end nail polishes.

Ardell lashes — Ardell makes a huge assortment of false eyelashes for a variety of needs. You can find bold lashes or singles to add fullness to your own natural lashes. These are quite affordable and can be reused.

L’Oreal True Match — This foundation gives decent coverage and comes in a variety of colors. I have already found my holy grail in foundation in a high-end brand, so I cannot say I am too willing to experiment — trust me, lovelies, once you find your dream foundation, you will find a way to earn the money to buy it!

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse — So many good reviews about this product makes it a definite foundation option to check out next time you are browsing the cosmetics aisle.

The best way to purchase and try drugstore cosmetics is to find a retailer that does allow you to return opened and tested makeup. I know Rite Aid has this policy, and it is a great way to give a drugstore brand a chance without losing your money. This is one of the reasons many people prefer high-end brands, because they have the luxury of testing and trying a product before they buy it. Many beauty websites offer reviews by real customers, like, which also lets you swap makeup you no longer need/want. And if you cannot seem to find the brand or color you want, there is always, which offers thousands of products, and most of the time, shipping is free when you spend more than $25!

Just because you cannot afford or do not want to spend a lot of money on your makeup does not mean you will not be able to find quality products that fit within your budget, whatever it may be.