The best makeup isn't always the most expensive! When it comes to looking your finest, it's tempting to spend a lot of money on department store make-up that you can try before you buy. But it's easier than you may think to find a drugstore makeup brand you love, and we're here to help with our reviews of the best budget brands.
If you're trying out these brands for the first time, you may want to check out our post on tips for shopping for makeup. Another great thing to know is that if you’re unhappy with your purchase, many stores allow returns of opened makeup, including Rite-Aid, CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. And if you do buy a product you aren’t happy with and can’t return it, you can still get some money back by putting it up for trade on MakeupAlley.com’s Swap page!
Most drugstores carry the go-to cheapo brands Wet ‘n Wild and NYC, but we’ve found that although their price may be right, the quality is often lacking. So we set to work testing dozens of budget make-up products until we found the best of the best. Here are our favorites, and where to find them:
Best "Drugstore" Eyeliner
Our pick for the best eyeliner is e.l.f. Mineral Eyeliner ($3 at EyesLipsFace.com). e.l.f. makes some of the cheapest make-up out there, but not all of it passes the test. This eyeliner is easy to apply and won’t smudge, making it almost foolproof!
Best Eye Makeup Under $5
The Almay Intense I-Color Essential Kit Trio, ($4.99 at Target.com) is all you need to match any look. This great eye shadow set is formulated specifically for different eye colors. So if you have green eyes, buy the one labeled “For Greens” and so on. Each combo highlights your eyes and brightens your face just as well as if you’d gone to a professional!
Best Mascara for a Budget
Maybelline mascara has an excellent reputation, and we could see why when we reviewed their Maybelline Full ‘n Soft mascara! ($4-6 at most drugstores and Amazon.com.) Our favorite for every day, it's easy to apply and waterproof.
Best False Lashes
If you need a little extra oomph for your eyes, consider adding a few individual false eyelashes in strategic spots like the outer corner of your eyelid. Our favorites are e.l.f. Individual False Lashes ($1 at EyesLipsFace.com). Because you can only use these babies once, it makes sense to spend as little as possible on them, and you can’ t beat e.l.f.’s $1 pricetag!
Best Inexpensive Foundation
L'Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Makeup ($7.97 at Walmart.com) was our winner when it came it liquid foundation. It provides a great base and superior coverage, plus they have tons of shades so you’re sure to find the right one for your complexion. Buy a shade darker than you normally would, then mix it with moisturizer to lighten it up and make it last longer!
Best Face Powder at Any Price
Our favorite drugstore powder foundation was Coty Airspun Face Powder ($6.99 at most drugstores, including Walgreens). This sheer powder will keep your make-up in place all day. Plus, it comes in a cute round box! If you have a little more to spend, you'll love Physicians Formula Healthy Wear Powder Foundation SPF 50 ($14.99 at most drugstores and at Ulta). Although this product is on the higher end of the price scale, it’s worth the money. This powder foundation is our favorite because it's light and breathable, plus it protects you from the sun.
Best Budget Bronzer
With tan skin as "in" as ever, save your skin from the sun’s harsh rays and just apply some natural-looking bronzer to your cheeks. Our favorite is Rimmel London Natural Bronzer ($5.99 at most drugstores, including Walgreens). Everyone will wonder how you got that sun-kissed look without a day at the beach!
Best Blush Buy
Covergirl Cheekers Blush ($4.99 at most drugstores, including CVS) was our pick for the best blush, and you can’t go wrong with that price. It comes in a wide variety of shades, and it's easy to find at any drugstore, so keep an eye out for coupons or save rewards points for this inexpensive favorite.
Best Lip Gloss, Possibly Ever!
The lip-gloss lovers in our group couldn't get enough of Boots No. 7 Lip Glacé ($9.99 at Target). This lip gloss goes on smooth, isn’t sticky, and stays put for hours. Buy a tube of Tangerine Twist for a perfect summer color!
Best Go-To Lipstick
Our best lipstick pick, Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter, is creamy and lush like a glossy lip balm, but not so slippery that it’s gone in an hour. (Amazon.com has the best price at $5.62, but if you’re concerned about returns you can also find it at your local drugstore.)
Best "Just Like the Expensive Stuff" Nail Polish
Sephora's name-brand Sephora Collection Nail Lacquer ($4 at Sephora.com) is cheap and long-lasting—exactly what you want in a nail polish! We loved that it was nice and thick, like top brands OPI and Essie, while still being easy to apply. And with dozens of colors to choose from (including glitter polishes) there’s sure to be one you’ll fall in love with.
Now that you have all the best budget makeup, you need a good set of tools to apply it! We love the Sonia Kashuk Shimmer And Shine 5-Piece Brush Set ($12.99 at Target). It has high-quality brushes for the price, plus, it comes in a cute case for when you’re on the go!
What are some of your favorite budget make-up brands? Let us know in the comments below!