Great Drug-Store Beauty Buys

Shop affordable alternatives to your favorite brand-name cosmetics.

A few years ago, I left the world of retail cosmetics and, thus, my discount on name brand products behind me. Suddenly, I had to pay full price for all my makeup and skin care products… yikes. I had to step back and reassess the situation.  Did I really need to spend $20 on mascara? I’d love to keep doing it, just to keep using the products I’d come to love, but my wallet said no.

It was time for me to try shopping around for alternatives. Less expensive alternatives. After all, paying for a brand name does not always equal superior quality.  Lesser known brands offer very similar products at a fraction of the cost, but with the same level of quality. It might take a little work to find them all, but most major cosmetic brand products have a cheaper, drug store counterpart.  I took a look at what’s available for eyes and lips at my local Pharmacy in Burlington and was pleasantly surprised!

Shop for the Eyes

Want to get a runway-ready look for your eyes for under $25? Done! I dug up some great deals from more affordable brands in my travels. Try these for starters:

  • Cover Girl Eye Enhancers high impact colors, $3.99 each, are a shout-out to the vibrant eye shadows that have made MAC famous. Check out eye-catching shades like Indigo Impact or Turquoise Tempest to build your own collection of MAC-like colors without breaking the bank.
  • Maybelline’s Full N Soft Washable Mascara, for only $5.99, reminds me of my favorite Clinique mascaras.  Available in black and brown, it plumps and thickens your lashes without drying them out.  You don’t get clumps or globs and you don’t lose your lashes over it!  This formula is hypoallergenic, just like Clinique, and you can pick a washable or a waterproof formula.
  • N.Y.C. New York Color makes a great line of waterproof eyeliner pencils perfect to use year-round.  At only $3.99, this easy-to-use pencil provides long-lasting color in seven great colors: black, dark brown, mink, smoky plum, moody blue, sky high, and teal. 

With these products, that bold new eye look is yours and that budget of $25 is right on target. Products like these might cost twice or three times as much at specialty cosmetic stores, but with such high quality, the choice is easy.

Shop for the Lips

Lip color doesn’t have to be high-end to be eye-catching either.  Try these great “mimics” of my favorite lip products on for size…

  • Maybelline’s Shine Sensational line includes light coral shades like Freshly Sliced and rich berries like Berry Bella.  At $5.99 each, you can stock up on a few colors this summer—one for every look. These remind me of the lip glosses at Origins – lightweight, not sticky, and made in the best colors!
  • For lipsticks, check out Jane Lipkick Rich Color lipsticks.  Twenty vibrant shades give you full coverage, moisture, a glossy (but not glittery) finish, and a long-lasting color.  I love Hint of Honey or Toasted Rose for a fun, flirty neutral or Berry Sultry for a night out!  These are only $4.49 a piece, so you can have some fun and get a few!
  • For a great lip liner, check out Cover Girl’s Outlast.  I love the application of this liner—smoother and longer lasting than a traditional pencil.  The nine colors available are perfectly muted to compliment any lipstick or lip gloss.  Choose from Blush, Ruby, Berry, Nude, Plum, Raisin, Coffee, Spice, or Chocolate to get your perfect combination of lip color.   Not only are these affordable at $6.99, but they’ll extend the wear of your other products by keeping lip color in place for longer!

To get a brand new pair of lips, you only need to spend around $15 for a new gloss or lipstick and a pencil.  You could probably spend that on just the lipstick if you were shopping in a boutique!

So if budget constraints are getting you down, don’t fret. Your local drug store, be it a CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, or even a Target is the only place your truly need to shop to get good quality cosmetics at only a fraction of the cost. Enjoy these great beauty buys and many more yet-to-be-discovered ones on your next shopping trip.


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