Whether you’re just starting out with makeup or are a seasoned shopper, the drugstore can be home to some amazing products. I like to mix up my collection of where and what price points I shop at, but if I can get a great product at my local CVS/Target/Ulta even better. If you’re wondering what to try, or want to find some affordable hidden gems, look no further. (While I broke this up by category, not every single category is included simply because I may not have a favorite or am still testing stuff out!). Just keep reading for my list of the best drugstore makeup…with nothing over $20!
The Best Drugstore Makeup: (Under $20!)
Maybelline Ultra Brow Powder:
- $4.97 // Here
Guys, this is the first eyebrow product I ever bought! (Well not this exact one, but the item itself.) Although a simple, matte brown it’s the perfect powder to fill in brows. I typically opt for the natural brow look and this does the job for my dark Asian brows. It’s exclusive to Walmart and definitely worth picking up. (P.S. In a pinch, it can also double as an eyeshadow so really a win-win.)
Elf Clear Brow & Lash Mascara:
- $2 // Here
This eyebrow gel does a great job of keeping my brow hairs in the right direction/place without feeling crunchy or sticky. While the brush is sort of thick, at least for my shape, I don’t find it makes a big difference in application. I’ve only used it as a brow mascara, and had great luck with it, but it does double as clear lash mascara.
Elf Instant Lift Brow Pencil:
- Shade: Neutral Brown
- $3 // Here
In the drugstore brow world, everyone raves about the L’Oreal and NYX pencils. Don’t get me wrong- I think both are nice. However, I also think this ELF one is underrated. It’s a slightly thicker tip, but great for defining my brow shape. The key is use to a light hand and do small strokes. This also lasts forever…through the humid DC heat it doesn’t budge. For the price and longevity I had to include it as one of the best drugstore makeup finds out there.
Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base:
- Shade: Nude
- $3.49 // Here
Although Essence isn’t a new brand, it only became mainstream in the last few years. Since it’s a German company, back when I lived in Austria I saw the brand everywhere. And I’m thoroughly impressed by their I Love Stage eyeshadow base. As you can see, the packaging wore off, but the product itself is great at preventing creasing and keeping shadow lasting all day long.
Ulta Professional Matte Prime:
- $18 // Here
I’ve raved about this before and I’ll say it again: oily/combo girls this is the best matte primer around. I’m combo skin, more oily in the summer and drier in the winter, and I can’t go without it this time of year. It creates a flawless base and really extends my makeup’s wear time. Seriously, I wish I could start a campaign to get people talking about how great this is. (But for now I’ll just rave about it in my best drugstore makeup guide). Additionally, it’s oil and paraben free.
Tip: While it’s on the higher end of drugstore pricing, because it’s an in-store brand, Ulta coupons always apply.
Wet N Wild Comfort Zone:
- $4.99 // Here
This is a must in any makeup collection. It’s popular with Youtubers and beauty bloggers alike for good reason. The buttery shadows, beautiful duo chrome shade, and blendability make this easily one of the best drugstore makeup products out there. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this is worthy of a spot in your collection.
L’Oreal La Palette Nude 2:
- $19.99 // Here
Like any brand, there are strengths and weaknesses. And I think L’Oreal kills it in the eyeshadow department. I’ve been a fan of their Infallible ones for a while, so I was excited when this hit the market a few summers ago. The La Palette Nude 2 contains a great mix of mattes and shimmers, making it versatile in terms of possible looks. The neutral browns and bold, but wearable, purples make this a must-have palette for brown eyed girls in particular. The shadows perform well and last through a normal day’s wear, but I’d highly recommend using a primer underneath.
Eyeliner + Mascara:
Maybelline Lash Sensational (Waterproof)
- $8.99 // Here
Asian women were blessed with many things, but lush lashes aren’t one. I have typical straight lashes, so I’m big on mascara. And I really can’t say enough great things about the waterproof Lash Sensational. Beyond doing an amazing job with thickening my lashes, its fan brush and formula hold a curl like no other. All day long. I couldn’t miss sharing this as one of the best drugstore makeup products. After all, if I had to pick a few products to use the rest of my life this would be one.
Maybelline The Rocket Volum’ Express (Waterproof)
- $6.99 // Here
Remember how I said some brands kill it in one category? Well Maybelline is a damn shining star in the mascara world. Sometimes I gravitate towards mid-range or higher end stuff, but mascara I buy exclusively drugstore. The Rocket’s brush is thicker, and straighter compared to Lash Sensational along with a thinner, slightly drier formula. Overall, it does an equally good job of holding a curl and lengthening lashes.
L’Oreal Infallible Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner + Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise (0.4 mm):
Everyone loves a good wing. At this point, I can’t resist at least doing a baby wing on a regular basis. (I’m combining these two into one because these are essentially the same product.) I always used the Maybelline one, but when the CVS near me ran out I picked up the L’Oreal one. The long, triangle-shaped tip gives you so much control when drawing a wing or lining without getting smudgy. The formula and texture is sort of similar to using a Sharpie…except safer! It truly lasts and remains pigmented all day without running underneath your eyes. I discovered recently the L’Oreal one lasts longer, in terms of how many times I can use it before it dries up and I replace it. But really, these essentially are interchangeable.
CoverGirl Clean Matte BB Cream:
- $8.49 // Here
This BB cream is one of the best drugstore makeup products around. It wears so well throughout the day, and evens out my skintone all while providing a base for the rest of my look. I love how it’s mattifying but not to a point of looking cakey.
Read More: CoverGirl Clean Matte BB Cream review
Neutrogena Shine Control Powder:
- $12.99 // Here
I don’t use powder everyday but when I do, I find myself consistently reaching for this one. This drugstore powder does sets my makeup without looking dry or aging the skin. I use it primarily on my T-Zone and find it noticeably helps in controlling oil and preventing shine, true to its name.
NYX High Definition Blush:
- Shade: Coraline
- $6.50 // Here
While a little startling in the pan, the NYX HD blush in Coraline gives just the right pop of color. The HD formula adds dimension to the face, but it’s sheer enough to seamless on the skin. Personally, I love Coraline for the spring/summertime. I like the quality of these a lot and picked up my mom a few for mother’s day!
Wet n Wild Blush:
- Shade: Mellow Wine
- $2.99 // Here
Wet N Wild overall nails it in the affordable makeup category. Their blushes are so pigmented (re: use a light hand!) but still look natural on the skin. I swear I’ll never hit pan on this, so the picture is the older packaging but I’m 99% sure the formula is the same. Although there’s not a large number of shades, they vary quite widely. So if you’re pale or dark, or somewhere in between there will be one that works for you.
Read More: Blush Guide for Warm Toned Asian Skin
Note: Apologies for the severe lack of lipstick photos! I’m in the middle of moving and a lot of my makeup got packed away before I had a chance to photograph. To see swatches of the ones I’m referencing check out here.
Milani Color Statement Lipstick:
- Favorite Shades: 25 Naturally Chic, 43 Pretty Natural
- $6 // Here
While liquid lipsticks have been all the rage the past few years, let’s not forge the OG bullet style. I particularly love the Milani ones, however keep in mind they come in different finishes. I’ve had a great experience with the satin finishes, but a less than stellar one with the Matte line. The satins are comfortable, don’t bleed, and last fairly long for this style of lipstick. I mean if you’re eating tons of greasy food you’ll need to reapply but they last a good 3-4 hours. I found the Matte ones were too sheer and stuck to dry parts of my lips so fair warning not every shade is created equal. But there’s a huge range and as I said, I love the satin ones.
WNW Megalast Lipsticks:
- Favorite Shades: Coraline, Sugar Plum Fairy, Bare it All
- $ 2.49 // Here
I couldn’t write a “best drugstore makeup guide” without including the Wet n Wild Megalast lipsticks. For under $3, I love how pigmented these are and how they really don’t budge. They can be a bit drying, however wearing a balm underneath negates most of the problem for me.
Colourpop Ultra Glossy Lip:
- Shade: Finder’s Keepers
- $6 // Here
- Although Colourpop can’t technically be purchased at the drugstore, it’s price point is on the same level, so I’m including it here as an added bonus.
I’m the first to admit I’ve steered clear of lip glosses the past few years. When I thought of “lip gloss” I shuddered thinking of the gimmicky products we used as kids. However, after trying up this Colourpop one I’ve changed my mind. I find it make lips look plumper and glossy, and is comfortable, yet not sticky. Furthermore, Finder’s Keepers is a perfect MLBB shade- the perfect pinky and flattering mauve.
And that rounds up my best drugstore makeup picks at the moment! I always enjoy recommendations of new things to try out, so drop me a comment below. What are you favorite affordable makeup products? Have you tried any and/or loved any of these on the list?
Until next time,
FTC Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. I purchased all products and opinions are 100% my own.