June 29, 2015

Abandon All Hope Drugstore Makeup Lovers or Not?

drugstore makeup lovers

Lasciate ogne speranza voi ch’intrate or abandon all hope, ye who enter here as inscribed on the gate of hell that Dante passes through. “Abandon all hope” quite reminds me of drugstore makeup really…

How dramatic.

But sometimes I really want to throw my hands in the air and just say “screw this!” because I’m not always pleased with my drugstore makeup purchases. And when I think about it, the amount I spent on those products I could have just saved up for a mid or high range product that I wouldn’t have such woe with.

Ok, drugstore mascara big, big massive NO! I’ve spent close to $12 on some drugstore mascaras and each and every time I’m disappointed. So really, for about $8 bucks more and I can grab a tube of my beloved Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes, and NOT be disappointed.

Concealer? Another drugstore fail in many cases. This isn’t to say I haven’t run across some good concealers at the drugstore. I’m talking to you L’Oreal Visible Lift Blur Concealer and my beloved long gone Maybelline Dream Mousse Concealer! Concealers prices have gone up dramatically in recent years. Don’t get me wrong Visible Lift Blur Concealer is awesome BUT when it isn’t on sale it’ll set you back $13.

I’m not saying that higher end brands are always going to make me a happy girl but I find that if I’m spending a little more in most cases I’m happier with the application, formula, and overall performance of a product. Where as the drugstore in many cases is a hit or miss situation!

But the question is am I willing to abandon all hope that drugstore brands will up their game or should I keep trying?

What about you?

Totally given up on drugstore makeup?

Personally, I keep trying because drugstore makeup has upped their game in recent years. I’ve watched the evolution of drugstore makeup in the past several years that I’ve blogged beauty and I’ve been very impressed with the fact that the formulas are starting to improve dramatically. Unfortunately, this also means drugstore makeup prices are going up in price but hey, if there’s quality is there I don’t mind!

I’m willing to stick with them and hope for the best.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Allison Emm

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had such little luck with drugstore mascaras! I feel like that’s the only area I can consistently find something that will work for me. I definitely have some high end mascara favorites, but I have trouble justifying the purchase when the shelf life is only 3-4 months for mascaras. I can usually find something at the drugstore comparable to a high-end love, but at half the price. Even if it’s not exactly the same, I can get it to work so that I’m not throwing out an elaborately packaged $35 purchase 3 months later because it’s dried up or contaminated.

    It’s funny that drugstore mascaras have been such a disappointment to you when they’ve been generally good for me. It’s probably because people’s preferences in mascaras are so varied and specific? :-/

  • kimkats

    Muse, I largely agree with you, *except* for the mascara! πŸ™‚ I really like the original L’Oreal Voluminous – it works great for me. The rest of DS makeup is kind of a loss for me; foundations are crap imho, concealers suck, but I do like a lot of Milani things. their blushes are wonderful, and the eyeliners are very nice too. I totally agree that DS prices are going up,up and away. It really makes buying ds things a lot less attractive than it used to…..

    • Isabella Muse

      I probably have like one drugstore mascara I like, Maybelline Illegal Lengths Kim πŸ˜€ I love Milani stuff too! They are the exception in most cases πŸ˜€ I know πŸ™ there are always sooooo many sales but still it seems costly!

      • amanda

        I ADORE illegal lengths. I bought it on a whim and it is divine!
        I’ve had the opposite problem where the higher end mascaras have seriously let me down. I didn’t like They’re Real at all and Lash Domination was so wet at first.
        I do think that if I’m going to drop a lot of money on bad cheap makeup I might as well try nicer brands. I find that more true with lipstick. I haven’t had terrible experiences with foundation (I love Revlon Colorstay).

        • Isabella Muse

          oh you’re not alone with Lash Dom, it’s not great at all! and so many raves too!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kelly Zollo

    I still love my Covergirl Full Lash Bloom and my Loreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara, the only high end one I own in the Tarte Lights Camera one and I love it since they did change their formula and I am no longer allergic to it. I like to try drugstore brands for mascara since the price is normally pretty reasonable.

    As far as foundation and concealer goes I love the Loreal True Match Lumi it is my go to everyday foundation and concealer unless I am going to a special event and then I will pull out my Tarte foundation. I do really want the new Too Faced Born This Way one as well but I need to see a few more reviews for it before I splurge on another high end foundation.

    I am really debating about trying one of the Maybelline palettes they came out with maybe the Smoke one since I can’t justify the price on the new Urban Decay Naked Smokey and I want to experiment with some smokey eyes a bit more.

    • Isabella Muse

      don’t! the smoke palette was awful! I reviewed it a few months ago and was far from thrilled!

      • Kelly Zollo

        Thanks Isabella I hunted down your review so disappointing for sure will pass now on it! I want a smokey pallet but I can’t justify the price on the UD, especially when I feel like I was super underwhelmed on Naked 1 and 2.

        • Isabella Muse

          what about the new elf ones Kelly? I haven’t tried them but if you’re just practicing this might be a good place to start? I find their shadows are nice and buttery!

          • Kelly Zollo

            I just looked them up on their site I can totally justify $10.00 to experiment with a smokey look more, normally I am an everyday neutrals girl but it would be nice to change it up sometimes. I will have to check my target to the next time I am there to see if they have them in the store. Great suggestion Isabella thank you!

          • Isabella Muse

            my pleasure kelly. There’s a free shipping code that’s on right now if you want to get them online! πŸ™‚

    • Genevieve

      I love smoky greys as well and I can let you know about a couple of palettes you might like to try instead of spending big money on UD’s Smoky palette.
      1. Estee Lauder’s Film Noir – a fairly old quint, but a REALLY good one. Beautiful gradation of greys and highly pigmented. You could probably pick it up fairly cheaply now.
      2. Too Faced Glamour to the Girls – again great greys in it.
      3. Sleek – Bad Girls – very, very smoky and great reviews. Love it.
      Hope this helps.

  • Robin

    Well it helps the masses when you do the reviews for us, Muse! πŸ˜€ Wet n Wild mascara is my HG due to you and I love Rimmel’s Scandeleyes eye liners. Everything else has been a miss. Pixi is carried by Target so I don’t think it falls into the drugstore umbrella, but that’s an awesome line, that again, I found out by reading your reviews.

    You have saved me time, money, and frustration by testing and reviewing drugstore makeup. Thank you!!!!!!

    • Maggie

      I was JUST going to say that bloggers like you make drugstore shopping WAAAAYYYY more enjoyable for me. I’m going to go on a huge drugstore haul and coupon the heck out of it soon and I’m going to haul all the L’oreal silkissime liners bc you reviewed all of them and I trust your opinion. There’s no way I would have saved up $ to haul all of them if not for you–I would still be paying 20 on just 1 subpar-performing high end liner but right now, I can buy 4 amazing one’s with that money! You’re so awesome for that!

      I didn’t until recently live near any high-end makeup retailers so drugstore makeup was my only option unless I wanted to keep shelling out $$$ and returning just to find THE foundation shade and formula. Not. Fun. Luckily, a few drugstore one’s worked out.

      • Isabella Muse

        aw Maggie thank YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel so flattered you trust me like that πŸ˜€ I hope you like the liners, let me know what you think after trying! I think you’re going to love ’em πŸ˜€

  • blee

    I understand too. But I could not give up my Revlon whipped foundation in the winter or my L’Oreal 24 HR Lacquer Liner or the Voluminous mascara. Or Rimmel’s nude liner and Lash Accelerator mascara. And my Milani lipsticks and the Shadow Eyez crayon in almond. These are my favs from the DS. There are some gems hidden out there still. πŸ™‚

    • Isabella Muse

      must say shadows eyez in almond is the awesome! πŸ™‚

  • Lori

    I only use drugstore makeup. I read tons of reviews and I’ve found things that work well for me in every category-foundation, mascara, lipstick, primers, etc… Now, I AM the kind of person who gets a thrill out of scoring something cool at a thrift/consignment store, or on a clearance rack. Plus, I don’t have any issues with sensitive skin or eyes, plus I’ve reached a point in my life where I have regular, normal skin. For the most part I only ever end up returning stuff because it ended up being a lousy color. Those Jordana Modern Matte Lipsticks were pretty bad though.

    • Isabella Muse

      thank god someone else who through the modern matte lipsticks were awful! bless be lol!

  • kim

    I have mostly given up on drugstore makeup except for lashblast mascara. I love the original, clump crusher and full bloom. I also like NYX single shadows and nude matte shadows. They are usually pretty good quality and 1/4 the price of an urban decay single.

  • JenJ

    I usually have good luck with Covergirl mascaras. I’ve tried two from Maybelline that were horrible on mean but seem like everyone else loves em. *shrugs*. So I don’t plan on trying anymore Maybelline mascaras. I’m planning our re-trying two L’Oreal mascaras that I used to like from Ulta since the sale is going on. For the longest time I could NEVER found a foundation or powder that I love at the drugstore due to limited shade ranges. I recently lucked up and found a shade that works me in the Covergirl Queen Outlast foundation. The newer Black Radiance powders are nice and I did pick up one of their concealers too. But the issue here for my is availability. These items are not in all drugstores and even online can be difficult too for particular shades. It’s a lot of trial and error with drugstore makeup that I honestly don’t have the patience for anymore. I don’t run out like I used to and pick up a lot of newer items.

  • Ashley

    I feel like its hard to find good drugstore beauty finds. Unless they are featured in a magazine I usually don’t even bother. The packaging is not quality, and I don’t like buying a product I can’t try on my skin or test the pigment first. I rely heavily on your blog, which is my favorite btw. Amazing pictures and swatches and honest reviews. I don’t mind spending extra cash if the product is better in over all packaging, quality, and actual product. I do like Salma Hayeks SPF 50 sunscreen I got at CVS. It was feautured in Allure and I find the quality to be similar to high end brands and I only paid $7.50 for it! I love the savings and the quality of the product.

  • Ivanna

    I’m with Lori. Scouting tons and tons of reviews to find hidden gems at the drugstore, all while using coupons and sales to get the best deal has become a ridiculous hobby over the past few years. It’s so mich more fun than buying something expensive and finding out that it aas mediocre at best.

    Helps not to ever buy DS stuff at full price, too

    • iris

      Totally agree with this comment!! There is no reason EVER (except maybe lost luggage) to buy makeup at the drugstore NOT on sale. When you see you’re getting low on something, purchase it at the next sale before you completely run out and you’re stuck. Pretty simple.

      One thing I do wish is that drugstores would quit expanding their lines and discontinuing products so quickly. Spend a little more time on r & d and consumer testing before you bring it to market and then maybe you won’t have as many duds.

  • Stephanie

    The only drugstore product I get is mascara…All the prestige brands flaked on me. Everything else I buy is mid or high range stuff with the exception of NYX lip products (I have a hard time admitting they are drugstore). I do use e.l.f. brushes though because I’ve only had a couple of ferrules come loose and for $1-3 I can either toss it or glue it back if that did happen. I have this extreme fear of trying drugstore foundation though, although I’ve heard some good things about that True Match lol

  • Sarah

    I think it all depends on what you want out of a product. I find that a lot of the time high end stuff just does not work for me. Foundations tend to be too dark and yellow across the board, drugstore mascaras seem to work way better with less eye irritation than expensive ones and most expensive eyeshadow pallets are just an overpigmented, overpriced mess that also cause a ton of eye irritation due to the pigment fallout. The only expensive brand I’ve gone back and bought more of is Too Faced. I love their eyeshadow palettes.
    Recently I’ve had really good luck with Korean brands as the colors available are vastly different than what’s available in the US and work so much better for me.

  • Kate

    I buy my D/S makeup exclusively at Harmon as they are at least $2-3 less than CVS and the others, and actually have stuff one shelves.
    CVS near me consistently has 75% of its shelves missing goods

  • Jay

    I find the drugstore pretty lackluster. As a woman of color many of the products aren’t made for me anyway. The suckiest things about the drugstore are people constantly opening products, and the lack of testers. Who really wants to take the time and return a $3 lipstick? Not me, but then I get saddled with products I wasted my little coins on. It’s stupid I know, but I feel much better buying a $16 lipstick when I can test it first and the packaging is not too crappy. I will never completely give up hope, but I have much more fun at Sephora, even on their overpriced store brand lol (SN: have you noticed that stuff keeps getting more expensive?!).

  • Codename Duchess

    Honestly? Despite extensive use of both budget and prestige brands, I can’t say I really have more luck with one over the other. If you were to check my stash, you’d see a pretty even split, and my budget stuff is no less loved than the stuff I get from Sephora. When high-end wins out, it usually has as much to due with the fact that prestige brands have larger color selections than budget brands as it does with quality. My eye shadow, eyeliner, lip liner and blush collections lean more high end for that reason, but I actually prefer drugstore foundation to high end stuff. Maybe it’s because I have fairly good skin and have no need (or want) for full coverage foundations, but I’ve never found a high end foundation I liked enough to buy twice. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried some ones that were pretty nice, but they didn’t do more for me than a foundation a quarter of the price does. My one big skin flaw is the giant pores on my nose and cheeks, and neither high end or low end does much for them, and beyond that I only need something sheer and matte to even out my skin tone. There’s just no reason for me to drop big money on that when something less expensive can meet that need. With concealer I don’t use enough of it to really have one I love. I own both high end and low end concealers and I can’t say I have a favorite. I don’t give them enough to do for any of them to impress (or disappoint!) me with how well they work.

    My favorite mascara is high end (Buxom’s original mascara), but I’ve had good luck with drugstore mascaras and have several in my stash that I use.

    With lipstick and gloss, I’m pickier about color than I am about formula (it’s not unusual for me to not be able to find a single color that truly suits me in a new line of lipsticks) so my collection is extremely varied brand wise. I’d rather put up with a formula I’m not in love with than a color I’m not in love with, and it just so happens that my current 3 favorites colors are from budget brands so that’s what I end up using most.

  • Rachel

    I have yet to finda high end mascara I like better than Cover Girl Clump Crusher. I generally do have good luck with CG and L’Oreal mascaras though. Otherwise I mostly stick to DS Lip items. I am very lazy about reapplication so I rarely ever use one up and hate to toss spendy ones.

  • CC

    When I first started watching YT there were several drugstore products that were highly recommended so I purchased and promptly returned! I’ll stick with starter, too Faced and other mid range brands! Now…are high end products worth the hype compared to mid range?

  • Adrienne

    I will continue to buy both. What I have found in my makeup stash is that for my items that I use on a regular basis I will pay a little more for and the trendy items (bright fuchsia lips, bright violet lips, teal eyeliner)I go tend to go back to the drugstore items because I won’t wear them as much nor will I feel bad when I have to toss them.

  • Kris

    Most drugstore brands still do horrible animal testing/torture or sell in countries that allow this torture.I gave up on them years ago. I also gave up on a lot of high end brands that also still allow torture. When I used to buy drugstore products I found them to be crazy overpriced.

  • Caroly

    I’m trying to try more drugstore because it’s more affordable and I’ve been so much lately trying to build up my makeup collection (and now I’m addicted and I can’t stop, LOL) But there’s so much out there to try – but looking back the past couple of months, most of the stuff I have purchased and not liked and have given away have been drugstore. I have a hard time with nearly everything BUT lipstick (although the smells of some of the drugstore stuff leave little to be desired). I’m too old to try foundations and concealers just stick to my skin like glue (hello wrinkles) but I have wasted a lot of money trying to find the perfect ‘high end’ ones too.

    And like Andriana, it’s good to test trends on brands that won’t break the bank – whether it’s trying colored mascara, learning to do liquid eyeliner,nudes or contouring. I’m glad I didn’t drop a lot of money on nude lipsticks for example, I tried a few and I just can’t rock that look at all. πŸ™

    I do like some of the higher-end drugstore stuff like Sonia Kashuk and No. 7 and I like a lot of the ELF items (brushes, and the new $10 matte eyeshadow)and NYX lipsticks. (And the neutrogena/aveeno sunscreens)

    Hmm… never really thought about this before, Muse! Fun post and article πŸ™‚

  • Cindy

    I started out at the drugstore but eventually moved to high end brands when finding a foundation and concealer color match proved nearly impossible at three drugstore. I’ve been getting back to the drugstore and it’s all thanks to your blog! I discovered so many lipsticks, like the Maybelline The Buffs Lipstick in Stormy Sahara, from you and since they’re on the affordable side, I don’t mind picking up multiples!

  • Justin

    i agree spend a little more and usually you get something you’re satisfied with. I definitely won’t look at drugstore skincare generally cause I look for performance and that doesn’t usually happen with drugstore brands (correct me if I’m wrong I’d love to find budget friendly products that work) I also believe in investing in your staple products that you use and trust. You can skimp on the ones that you don’t use all the time especially since there’s shelf life to consider

  • Patricia

    Drugstore hits: L’Oreal True Match Lumi Foundation, Cover Girl Stay Fabulous 3 in 1 foundation, Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation. Garnier Anti-dark circle undereye concealer roller-ball thingy. (I don’t like full coverage concealer.) Several mascaras, but mostly Cover Girl Clump Crusher. Lots of lip things but mostly Revlon.

    Never from the drugstore: Eyeshadow. 90% of the time it’s a major disappointment. Exception: Wet N Wild color icon trios.

    I adore the drugstore for the most part!

  • Charlana Thorn

    I have to say that my considerably large makeup stash is a 50/50 split among drug store and high end brands. I’ve found some great “desert island” products at the drug store like Loreal True Match Foundation, Loreal Voluminous mascara, Revlon lipsticks and Milani blushes. Frankly, I’ve found mediocrity among every beauty brand I’ve ever tried. The difference is that with drug store products, you’re going in with low expectations. If it doesn’t work, you return it to CVS, or wherever, and get your $7 back. No big deal. But with high end products, its a more of a letdown because of the expectations, the hype and the cost (and returning products to Sephora or a dept. store is much more of a hassle…). All I know is that when I clean out my stash it doesn’t hurt so much when I have to toss a few things from Avon, Cover Girl or Maybelline.

  • Nicole

    I just returned from the States where I spent $500 on drugstore makeup (we can’t get a lot of the stuff in oz) I did my research beforehand but I have to say that after a month of playing with everything most of the items I could do without. It’s not that some things aren’t decent but when you do 12 months shopping in one go you realize all those “cheap” little items add up. It is fun to try to find the hidden gem but honestly if I’m not in love I’ll give it away and I can’t help but think of what I could have bought from higher end instead.

  • Alison M

    The only products I bother with anymore are the occasional lipstick.
    The rest of the drug store products I’ve consistently had bad enough luck with that I don’t bother trying them anymore.

  • Rachel R.

    There are good and bad products in both drug store and high end. I buy mostly drug store and mid-range (Urban Decay, Too Faced, Tarte, etc.). I own a little bit of high end, and I don’t buy luxury brands (too spendy). The exception would be foundations. I’m very fair with neutral undertones, and oily skin. Except for e.l.f.’s, all drug-store brands’ foundations are too dark and/or too yellow or too pink, and they oxidize on me like crazy. I do much better with mid-range or high end. I honestly have products from cheap-a$$ drug store brands that outperform some of the high end stuff.

  • Ryou

    Not quite, some of my favorite products are drugstore, actually! I’ve had a few duds in the past few years, but since I usually research the product first, those are the exception as opposed to the norm.

    So thank you for saving me money on numerous occasion, Musey! <3

  • Katherine T.

    DS lippies can definitely match or outperform HE brands ( Maybelline, Milani, NYX ). DS Shadows are usually awful but I can see them improving (L’Oreal Nude palette and Milani Bella Eyes are stepping up). I have oily teflon lids that seem to have defeated almost every middle or HE liner out there, but Prestige Total Intensity Eyeliner sticks well. Ditto with eye primer – Fergie Wet N Wild Take the Day So there are hidden gems, just need to read blogs to find them

  • Jade

    I am really liking Maybelline Fit Me Concealer! It’s pigmented and nicely creamy. Overall though I agree with you on the drugstore front, I’m super picky about what I buy.

  • Giulia

    I stopped using drugstore makeup loooong ago as, exactly as you said, so often you can waste money on them that you could use for a good product. Plus, they’re filled with parabens and silicons. Not to metion L’OrΓ¨al is one of the companies that tests more on animals (included the Essie branch..sigh).
    Here is something about parebens and company. If you think about it, that stuff sink and sits on your skin all day long..

  • Kristina

    Ugh, I 100% agree with the comment above about the Maybelline Smokey Eyes Palette. As a girl who grew up on drugstore makeup, I still use it quite frequently so I do have the other Maybelline Nudes Palette (especially because at the time when I bought them, I got them for like $8). But the Smokey one is like $15 at Walgreens… No thanks.

    Also, I don’t know what kind of eyelashes you have, but I have found my holy grail of drugstore mascara and that’s Loreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes. I know everyone has different types of eyelashes but this might be worth a shot since it’s only $8 where I live.

  • TwirlyGirly

    I think we have to better define the word “dupe.” If you define “dupe” as a product that looks similar in color and form to another product, and purchase it based on that, you are going to be VERY disappointed most of the time.

    To me, a “dupe” is a product that not only replicates another product in color and form, but also it’s formula.

    In most cases, it’s the first 4 or 5 ingredients in a product’s ingredient list that do most of the work. Ingredients are listed according to how much of that ingredient is in the formula, from most to least.

    If you are looking for a drugstore dupe for a high end product that performs similarly, then you have to look at the ingredient lists of both products and compare them.

    Case in point; several years ago I received a deluxe sample of Benefit’s Some-kind-a-Gorgeous and I really liked it. But the cost was prohibitive. Instead of shelling out the money, I decided to comb my local CVS to see if I could find a dupe, taking with me the product’s ingredient list.

    It took me about an hour, but finally I found it; Milani’s Smooth Finish Cream-to-Powder makeup. The formula of the Milani product is so similar to Benefit’s I could buy it with confidence, knowing it would perform as well as Benefit’s.

    The truth is, the difference in the quality between high-end makeup and drugstore brands has narrowed considerably in the past twenty years. New ingredients that perform well but are cheap to produce have been discovered, and are available to cosmetics companies across the board.

    But that doesn’t mean if two products look the same they will perform similarly. Another good example is E.L.F.’s new “dupe” of the Hourglass Ambient palette – it.is.not.a.dupe. Yes, it looks quite similar, but the first ingredient in the Hourglass product is mica, while the first ingredient in E.L.F.’s is talc. (There is NO talc in the Hourglass formula at all) Talc is a cheap filler. The beauty of the Hourglass powders is that they don’t look powdery – that’s why, when applied, they give skin a luminous appearance. The E.L.F. palette powders WILL appear powdery on the skin – so it isn’t a dupe.

    On the other hand, the E.L.F. Studio HD Blush is/was a great dupe for the now-discontinued MUFE High Definition Blush.

    If you can match the color, form, and formula – why NOT buy the less expensive product?

    • IrishRedRose

      I always read reviews, which is such a help. But I haven’t given up on drugstore makeup! Foundation’s especially good in that most drugstore lines carry a very very pale shade, which I need. I like L’Oreal’s Visible Lift (good coverage), Maybelline and Cover Girl–the “Clean” one by CG is good and doesn’t oxidize on me like some of their other pale foundations. L’Oreal True Match has an amazing range but it’s so watery and kinda sheer. Revlon Photoready is excellent though, second only to my pricey fave Lancome Teint Miracle in Ivoire–smooth medium coverage and exquisite color and texture.

      But Chanel?…gorgeous stuff but no pale shades, and it oxidizes like crazy.

      Someone upthread mentioned the silicones used in drugstore makeup–well, beware, because they’re in high end products too. Chanel foundation is VERY silicone-y.

      Other excellent drugstore products:

      Rimmel’s Kate Moss line of lipsticks. They’re REALLY good, and I’ve tried a lot of them. The semi-matte ones have great staying power even in the dark shades, the texture is nice, the pigmentation is even and rich, and they smell fine, slightly reminiscent of Mac’s vanilla but less cloying. Mac lipsticks by contrast have such a cult following but they’re super hit-and-miss. Love most of the Viva Glam line, but I’ve got two Mac reds with the most super annoying patchy pigmentation and lousy wear time. Ladybug and Cockney, sigh. Great shades, annoying lipsticks.

      Strangely (perhaps lol) I also really like Cover Girl basic lipsticks. They do especially good pinks, and you can look in their Queen/African-American line if you prefer more dark, moody shades. They don’t have a heavy annoying smell like L’Oreal, and they’re more dependable and consistent in quality than Revlon–though Revlon has some super classic lipsticks for sure, and some very good ones too. (Their 1970s-era masterpiece Le Mood Jazz is still my favorite lipstick and lipstick name of ALL time, and they seem determined to never reissue it…sigh.)

      I generally prefer high end lipsticks as I cannot stand lipsticks that wipe right off, which is a major issue with cheap ones in my book. But the Kate Moss Rimmel and Cover Girl haven’t produced one dud yet, for me anyway. I really like the even, rich pigmentation and good wear time they both provide.

      Milani is an excellent company. Some recent hits were a couple of gorgeous blushes and the little singleton eyeshadows they’ve just come out with. The lids are hinged, nice packaging, and they are super pigmented, creamy and blendable. I love the greens, and the copper and silver metallics are top notch, better than some high end shadows I have. (Lookin’ at you, Sephora/Pantone no-pigment wonder palettes. grrr.)

      Essence makes some great cheap blushes and lipsticks. Their “silky touch” blush in “adorable” is such a pretty and unusual shade of light coral pink, perfect for spring and pigmented just right, not too much nor too little. I found their glosses to be surprisingly palatable and pretty, with decent wear time. Their nail polishes wear well on me too, over OPI’s base coat.

      NYX and ELF are both better than you’d ever guess for the price, and with reviews you can’t go wrong. Both of them have turned out some eyeshadows that are startlingly good–I still use one $5 Xmas palette from ELF that has these HUGE, rich, gorgeous fall color shadows that blend like magic. And NYX makes an HD eyeshadow primer that is a total winner, easily as good or better than my old fave primer, NARS. NYX also made a killer mascara this year in vivid purple–I wish it was a permanent product but I think not.

      Another good primer is the Maybelline eye studio “color tattoo metal” cream shadow in “Barely Branded”. This is basically a near-dupe for Mac’s “Bare Study”–it’s just a hair warmer, I think. I used it as a base for lots of shadows and it works just as well for half the price. Actually lasts longer too. My “Bare Study” always dried up before I finished it–even using it most every day.

      I also really like some of Physician’s Formula products lately. Their shadows lack pigmentation and need a lot of work, but they’ve released some gorgeous blushes and bronzers that are top notch products and aesthetically beautiful into the bargain. They also make a wonderfully inexpensive argan oil. My face LOVES it, no more dry patches and tight, parched feeling by afternoon! But no breakouts and no greasy face either. It’s a winner.

      Lastly I want to recommend some little treats that nobody talks about–they’re shadow palettes by LA Colors, 35 shades per palette–and they’re consistently very very good! I was so surprised, especially as they were like five dollars at CVS. A few are powdery or don’t blend super well, a few have top layers of product that don’t reflect the shade underneath, etc. But they are all SO pigmented and creamy, totally not the typical old school drugstore eyeshadows–not a single dry, hard, colorless shade in there. And there are even a couple of duochromes sneaked in, and some metallics, and some truly good quality brights. Gorgeous purples, especially. There are several in this line and I see that they’re still out there on Amazon and so forth. I take them on road trips when I don’t want to subject my expensive big mirrored palettes to the rigors of traveling. I’ve also gifted these and the Rimmel lipsticks to friends and gotten nothing but rave reviews. πŸ™‚

      • Michelle Flamingo

        some great recommendations there. Thank you for your time and sharing your experience. πŸ™‚

  • Penny

    I gave up on Drugstore makeup years ago when I discovered Bare Minerals. I have since discovered Tarte, Laura Geller, It Cosmetics and some things from Mally that I really enjoy. I don’t feel like I will ever get the same quality with a drugstore brand as I will with my other brands, plus, I am also concerned about the ingredients of the products as well. I will stick with my higher end brands…they make me happy, I love the products and their performance and there is always tons of new things to try. πŸ™‚

  • Lorrie

    I’ve given up on drugstore makeup, the only exception is mascara. I have aging 40’s skin and used to tan so I need all the help I can get. It seems most drugstore brands are geared towards the young market as it tends to settle into creases & fine lines & their market does not need to worry about that. Enjoy it while you can. πŸ™‚

  • Zovesta

    Wow. =( Sorry it hasn’t worked for you! Drugstore makeup is pretty much all I use, and it very rarely fails me. Hard Candy’s just face it foundation? Perfect, no complaints, blends seamlessly and doesn’t look cakey whatsoever. Covergirl’s invisible concealer? Wonderful. Worn it for years. Wet n Wild’s lipstick? Absolutely perfect! Milani’s baked blushes? Still haven’t found any I’ve liked better, even from the mid end range. Maybelline’s Lash Sensational? The most dramatic mascara I own, it’s amazing. ColourPop’s eyeshadows? Absolutely perfect, they never transfer, apply bold, and last forever on me. And there, the whole face is done for under $40, and these are products that will last me.

    I’ve had bigger fails with mid end, to be honest. I often feel ill after spending too much money on makeup, so just buying a few drugstore products here and there has always allowed me to have makeup without being ready to vomit.

  • Iris

    I’ve found some great items in the drugstore (like my Essence pressed powder). The prices are going up. At regular price, such as $12 for a Maybelline liptick), mid-range is only a few dollars more. There are steals to be had if you find them on sale, so I haven’t given up on drugstore yet. I’ve found the quality for most products I’ve tried to be similar to mid-range.

  • Michelle Flamingo

    Almost all of my makeup is from Harmons or Walmart, although on occasion certain items I wanted were just at CVS or Walgreens. I have been either happy or very happy with most drugstore makeup I’ve bought. On rare occasion I am not happy with something, but that would have happened with high makeup from time to time, too. I have certain drugstore makeup items that I LOVE, and I cannot imagine anything high end that performs better or is a better color.

  • Nataile Brown

    Ha! Such an awesome correlation between DS products and entering Dante’s Inferno. Overall, I will pay more for good base products and purchase DS shadows and lippies. I always research a product before buying it. I understand though, as a beauty blogger, you want to try new and affordable products to, hopefully, be able to review them well. Overall, I sincerely appreciate that you review and try so many different and unique products than the “normal” beauty blogger items. Your honest and well-written reviews always catch my eye in my Bloglovin list. So, yeah, I owe you a big Thank-You!

    • Isabella Muse

      lol Natalie! dramas! πŸ˜€ awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! thank you my dear! that was truly flattering to hear πŸ™‚

  • Dawn

    Completely agree about most drugstore products not being worth the money. They have gotten increasingly more expensive and I choke when they ring me up wishing I had went to Sephora instead.

    Last night I did bite the bullet and fill my cart with some NYX products since Ulta had them for 40% off. It’s been said that their micro brow liner is a dupe for Anastasia’s so had to try a few and hoped a some other things wouldn’t be a total fail. If they are I will be traveling an hour to Ulta to return them and come home with Becca’s highlighter and low light that I have been drooling over.

    My obsession with high end began early in life and then only became worse with the help of QVC and their amazing value kits. When you compare what you can get in one of those kits or special values its senseless to buy much drugstore.

    The few drugstore things that I do love are the Physicians Formula Booster eyeliner. The Loreal Infallible stay matte pro foundation completely shocked me how good it looked on my aging skin. Rimmel scandeleyes eyeliners, Milani blush, and Hard Candy tiki highlighter, Wet n Wild nail polish, Maybelline and Loreal gel eyeliners are just as nice as the high end. What has seriously disappointed me is that the lipsticks that I loved at the drugstore have been replaced by a bunch of matte versions. I live in the desert and there is no way I could wear a matte lip. πŸ™

    Your blog is fabulous and when I want to know if a product is good you always have the best swatches and reviews on the internet. Thank You so much! xo

    • Isabella Muse

      aw thank you dawn!!!!!!!!!!!! and thank you so much for sharing! πŸ˜€ enjoyed reading your reply and agree with it completely!

  • BB

    Oh gosh, Muse, I know what you mean. I love the lippies, and for the last 6 months to a year, I’ve just been like “Dude, screw this, it all sucks.” But not just with the lippies though. And when something new does come out, I want to check it put, but I know in the long run I will ultimately be disappointed with it, so I just save the $ for Sephora. Abandon hope Drugstore lovers…It’s ok.

  • Genevieve

    This is another great post, it has been really interesting to read everyone’s comments. I guess people start off with “drugstore” products and then turn to middle-to high end when they can’t find what they want. For me:
    Maybelline – Colour Sensational lipsticks
    Milani – lipsticks
    Rimmel – Match Perfection Foundation
    Mascara – whatever is in a gift with purchase – I wear glasses, so having long eyelashes is a no-no because they streak my glasses.
    Eyeshadows – definitely middle to high end: Guerlain, bareMinerals, UD,
    Dior, LancΓ΄me etc.

  • cajuncocoa

    I’m very picky about mascaras whether they come from the drug store or high-end retail. I’ve had hits and misses from both. But I found my Holy Grail mascara just recently:

    Maybelline’s Lash Sensational.

    Perfect applicator…separates my lashes, the mascara lengthens and volumes, and everything is just perfect.

    Now watch…they’ll discontinue this product in 3 months!! LOL

  • Stephanie

    I’m exclusively on disability (SSI) so I pour over YouTube and your blog to see what’s up. The drugstores in my town are marked up but Sephora is easy to get to. My parents live near an Ulta which I love because I can get stuff in one shot like NYX and my Murad cleanser.

    I mostly use drugstore mascara and high end samples. I look for length and definition, not volume so I think it’s a bit easier for me. I’m using Covergirl Lashblast Length in brown and absolutely love it. I’m digging the Maybelline FitMe Matte and Poreless powder right now.

    I am extremely fair skinned (I glow blue) so almost everything drugstore is too dark and oxidizes horribly. I buy my concealer from NARS but want to try the LA Girl one since its pale and $5. I prefer mid range brands for shadows and gloss due to both colors and formula. It took me MONTHS to finally decide on the Too Faced Sugar Pop palette lol.

    Experiments = drugstore, Staples and specific formulas = Higher end (within my budget)