New-ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

woman with makeup brushes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if my collection of makeup, acquired as a beauty editor, were to disappear forever (along with my current crack cocaine-like supply of new arrivals daily*), I am completely confident that I’d be able to survive buying makeup at the drugstore or supermarket.

(*I know that may sound obnoxious, but this is what I DO. Just remember, most beauty editors would gladly give up a few Tom Ford lipsticks in order to pay their rent. Okay, maybe not Tom Ford. But definitely Dior.)

Anyway, what I’m saying is that, sure, I love me some YSL and Chanel and Thierry Mugler and Josie Maran… but really? With a few exceptions (which I may spill in another post, on another day), when you take away the packaging—which is far, far superior at the luxury end of the spectrum—it sort of evens the playing field.

Yes, I still think there are a few key items that it’s better to splurge on: foundation for sure, and also eyeshadow, because the textures and pigments are usually far better in the higher-end brands. But lipstick? Mascara? The cheapie stuff does nicely, thankyouverymuch.

I had a dig through what’s come in over the past few months, and then a bit of a play—and here’s what I think is new and worth checking out the next time you’re picking up your groceries or buying toilet paper…

For your lips:

Hard Candy Painted Lady Lip Color in Kitten

Hard Candy lipstick Kitten New ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

Totally. Obsessed. With this lipstick. Remember Hard Candy? Well, like a blast from the ’90s past, it’s back—but now exclusively at Walmart (Walmart’s a drugstore/supermarket, right?), with everything under $10. They say the formulas are exactly the same as before, when the line was sold at Holt Renfrew, and while I’m not sure I fully believe them, I TOTALLY dig this lipstick. Not only is the cherry-adorned packaging adorable (complete with a cute fuchsia ribbon on the end which I think more lipstick companies should seriously consider), but the colour is a gorgeous cherry red with the tiniest, tiniest bit of shimmer (but not tacky shimmer—I promise). (If you would like a more flat red, I suggest On the Prowl.) These also come in a NARS-esque chubby lip pencil version: the Shockingly Glossy Lip Pencil, which is equally fabulous.

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Fuchsia

Joe Fresh lipstick New ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

This $6 (!!) Joe Fresh lippie was all over Twitter last week, thanks to a photo shoot where they used it on my friend M. Suddenly, everyone had to have it—and the gorgeous Allie from Gifted (remember her?) delivered me my very own sample. It is indeed as good as the hype: matte but not dry-looking and a gorgeous, saturated bold fuchsia with zero iridescence. Because we don’t like our bold lipsticks with iridescence, do we?

(By the way—a not-new but ALSO excellent drugstore lipstick is this one from Revlon. Gucci Westman made it so it’s obviously fab.)

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Lipcolour in Beyoncé’s Red

LOreal Paris Infallible Lip Color in Beyonces Red New ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

I talk a lot about lip stains because they’re a great way to ease into having more colour on your lips without wearing a full-on lipstick, which can be a little scary for the lip minimalists among us. But they’re also great because they STAY PUT. And for that purpose, I really like this L’Oréal Paris one. Now, I must warn you, it’s a pretty bright red—but if you’re ready for that, as I’ve mentioned before, L’Oréal Paris do really great reds. The other great thing about it is that it comes with a balm that you put over top. So smart!

Two more (again not-new but great) lip stain options are these ones from Joe Fresh and also CoverGirl’s.

For your eyes:

CoverGirl LashBlastFusion Volume + Length Mascara in Very Black

CoverGirl Lash Blast Fusion mascara New ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

Who says you have to sacrifice length for volume, or vice versa? Not CoverGirl. I’m using this mascara right now and am mostly impressed with the lack of clumping—there is seriously NONE and by now (after two months) there really should be. I consider this the perfect daytime mascara: it’s not going to be the most volumizing OR the most lengthening in your mascara wardrobe, but it does a damn fine job of both while looking very “clean” on the lashes.

One more mascara option (it launched in the early summer) is Maybelline New York’s The Falsies Volum’ Express mascara. Love it.

Hard Candy Eye Candy Sparkle Cream Eyeshadow & Glitter Eyeliner in Pixie

Hard Candy Sparkle Cream Eyeshadow in Pixie New ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

Okay, more Hard Candy. I didn’t expect to like this but I have to say that I do. (Tosses beauty rules out the window.) You see, we’re just about to enter the season where it’s socially acceptable to be wearing glittery stuff on our eyes. And why spend more than $10, right? This is a good one, as far as glitter eyeshadows go, because it’s not in an overly-slippery, liquidy base that will get all creased up within 10 minutes. Plus you get a mini-eyeliner! And even though I ALSO said that I don’t like pink eyeshadow (see: Blake Lively), I am making an exception here, because when I tried it on I liked. A lot. (Maybe because the pink is closer to my own skin tone and therefore toning down the glitteriness of it?)

For your skin:

CoverGirl & Olay Simply Ageless Serum Primer

CoverGirl Olay Simply Ageless Serum Primer New ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

A primer and a serum all in one? Coolness! If oil-control is not your main concern, this would be a fabulous product to give your skin a boost before you put on makeup. Not only is it going to give you lots of hydration and anti-aging goodness (that’s the Olay serum part), but the CoverGirl priming ingredients will help makeup go on smoother, look more polished and last longer. I love the way this feels on my skin—like a great big drink of water.

L’Oréal Paris and Hardy Candy also make primers (the former is called Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base)… give them a peek too. I just like the Olay one because it’s not silicone-y at all… whereas these ones are that silicone gel texture that’s not for everyone.

L’Oréal Paris Touche Magique Anti-Fatigue and Illuminating Concealer

LOréal Paris Touche Magique Anti Fatigue and Illuminating Concealer  New ish and rather excellent makeup you can buy at the drugstore or supermarket for under $20

Um.. a drugstore Touche Éclat, anyone? I’m seriously impressed by the performance of this little twist-top pen, which is great to pop into your handbag. Remember how Carmindy was talking about illuminating certain areas of the face? Well, this would be a great thing to use, particularly at the inner corners of the eyes. The coverage level is surprisingly decent!

That’s all for now, folks…

Have you tried any of these products yet?
What’s YOUR favourite cheapie beauty buy?
Do you think you could survive if you had to buy all of your makeup at the drugstore or supermarket?


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 2:03 pm

I have yet to see the Joe lipstick on M, (and I really want to btw!) but I confess I did not know about it because of her shoot but because KFlemming raves about it so much and then I finally saw it in person via JFalcon. Such an amazing deal at $6. And like I said in my tweet, the matte fuchia is SO Spring 2011.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:39 pm

The twitpic is here!


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 2:07 pm

I really like CoverGirl Exact Eyelights Eye – Brightening Waterproof Mascara. I’m not really sure if it really brightens my eyes since it’s dark brown, but compared to some other drugstore mascara that I have tried this one makes my eyelashes stay curled. My double eyelid does not really show so by the time I curl and add mascara my eyelid makes the eyelashes uncurl. It also adds volume.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:41 pm

Oh interesting. I’ve never really analyzed different mascaras’ curl-holding power but now I want to experiment with that. I have this one at home so will dig up. I’ve always thought CG made really good mascaras!


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 2:09 pm

I love the Covergirl lip stains (not sure about the exact name, but they’re the ones in the felt-tip formulation/packaging). Survives eating, drinking, lip biting, general OCD habits. I’m not loyal to too many products, but this is definitely one of the best lipstains (drugstore OR high end) out there. I like to put a lip balm over this. This is one of the few products that carries out what it promises.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:41 pm

Yes! The lip stains are another win for CoverGirl. If you were in Canada you would love the Joe Fresh ones too ($6 at the grocery store here – Loblaws).


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 2:11 pm

I have a Joe Fresh lip stain and I love it so much more than the Stila one I spent $30 on.

And I’m so excited about the return of Hard Candy! Effing loved the nail polish back in the day.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:43 pm

Yeah, I thought I loved my Stila lip stain when I first got it but then I started to find it way too shimmery. (Not sure how a stain can have shimmer but they managed it.) Much prefer the flat colours.

I never tried Hard Candy 1.0 so if you do try the 2.0 version I would love to hear if you think it’s the same/worse/better… now that the price points are reduced by 50% (at least).


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 4:18 pm

I have to say that I am very impressed with Revlon and I love almost everything from the brand. Speaking of cheap concealer, their ColorStay is ah-mazing, I also like their lipsticks. I am very impressed with Max Factor’s False Lash Effect mascara, one of the best (but, unlike you, I usually buy only high end mascaras, Love Lancome Hypnose the best).
Barry M nail polishes are nice, in fact almost all of my nail polishes are quite cheap.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:45 pm

So jealous you have Max Factor! It’s not available here in Canada… boo. We also don’t have Barry M…

Lancome Hypnose is awesome! My mom got me on to it – it’s probably my fave higher-end mascara.


Beauty Reductionista
Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 5:01 pm

You have me all curious about Hard Candy now. I didn’t know they were ever at Holt Renfrew! I’m pretty impressed with L’Oreal and Revlon in general when it comes to drug store beauty products.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:48 pm

I think they were but I could be confusing them with another brand. Just emailed my friend L. who will know for sure!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, December 7/2010 at 1:21 pm

Ok my friend thinks they may have been at PIR in the late 90s… not Holts. They were so niche back then!


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 5:46 pm

I love me some drugstore makeup – it’s so much easier on my wallet and there’s a lot of quality stuff. Here are my favourites:
Eyelights for green eyes – it enhances natural curl in my lashes, layers easily (I get both volume and length out of it) and the colour is softer and therefore more flattering than black on me.
Annabelle and Marcelle eyeshadows – they are dirt cheap and nicely pigmented
Rimmel Vinyl lip gloss – I love the formula – it’s moisturizing and nicely glossy. My favourite shade, Smitten, is sheer (which is how I like my gloss) but there are more pigmented shades as well.
Marcelle Rouge Expression and Vasanti lipsticks – both are pigmented and moisturizing and Vasanti has shades for all skin tones.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:49 pm

Woot woot – 2 votes for CoverGirl Eyelights and its curling power! Now I MUST find it.

I probably should stop being such an eyeshadow snob and try more drugstore brands… I am adding Annabelle and Marcelle to my “to try” list.


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 10:10 pm

I generally agree, the pigmentation of eyeshadow is just way better in department store brands. I pretty much use cheap everything else because lipstick is lipstick. Also better finishes, if you want a metallic powder for eyeshadows, highlighters, etc, you are just going to get nasty glitter from drugstore brands. I have had quite a bit of luck with the revlon eyeshadows though, they seem to have fairly good wear/pigmentation, no fancy finishes though just matte and pearl. One thing that no drugstore brand seems to make is eyeshadow base/primer. Is there one? all the companies have seemed to have caught on to face primers…
side note: is there a department store brand that specializes in really light foundation? im using covergirl right now because its the only match i can find…


Wednesday, December 1/2010 at 8:29 am

Just saw a eyeshadow base primer made by Quo in Shoppers Drug Mart. It was part of a gift bag so not sure if you can buy it solo yet or not.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:54 pm

Oh nice! Haven’t seen that yet – cool.
Just thought of one more – Cover FX makes an eye primer. Not sure how pricey it is though…


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 6:53 pm

Actually Hard Candy sells a miniature eye primer with their powder eyeshadow. I haven’t tried it so not sure how well it performs. Oh and the Carmindy for Sally Hansen line has an eye primer… but on me it was a major fail – did not work at all.

What you might do is just use a primer designed for all over the face and just put it on your lids. I think the only difference between eye vs face primers is that the eye ones sometimes double as concealer… and maybe they’re a bit less “strong” so as not to irritate the eyes. But if you are careful with application it probably won’t be an issue.

I think I mentioned above, L’Oreal and Hard Candy have primers with a similar gel-like texture. For eyes I’d recommend those over the Olay one (it’s too moisturizing). I think Rimmel makes a primer too but I haven’t tried it.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 7:01 pm

Oops – didn’t answer your 2nd question! I’m actually not too sure about this but found this post for you, which might help:

Probably the brands that are most known for their foundation are Giorgio Armani, Laura Mercier… Bobbi Brown. I also really like Face Atelier…


Tuesday, November 30/2010 at 10:15 pm

favorite cheapie buys:
NYC Quick Dry Top Coat (no joke its way better than OPI’s)
Revlon Blush & Photofinish translucent compact powder (slight golden shimmer, sets makeup soo well, newest fav)
that CG mascara you just mentioned! i just started as a cosmetics person and I have been getting so many compliments on it! go figure… :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 7:02 pm

Good old NYC! So cheap and (mostly) so good!


Wednesday, December 1/2010 at 3:11 pm

Great list!
I really want to try the CG meets Olay primer. It sounds like an exciting mix! Does it help fill in larger pores?


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, December 3/2010 at 7:06 pm

It wouldn’t be my first choice to camouflage pores – it’s more of a hydrating, plumping type of product. For pores I think the L’Oreal primer (Studio Secrets) would be much better. It specifically says that it disguises (fills in) large pores. more info here:


Thursday, December 9/2010 at 5:47 pm

I’m really into Maybelline dream matte mousse in light.


Thursday, December 16/2010 at 6:25 pm

I think it’s AWESOME that you did a post like this, Michelle!! Everyone loves a good deal, and it’s good to know that the cheap stuff works just as well as the pricey stuff.

I swear by Maybeline The Falsies mascara now. At first I was really turned off by it. But after getting used to the brush … WOW! My lashes look totally fab! Also a fan of the CoverGirl Outlast lipstains. The concealer you mentioned looks like it’s worth a try, too. Hmm ….


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, December 18/2010 at 1:15 pm

You know what – I JUST got a mailing with some new L’Oreal Voluminous mascaras which I think are coming out next year… I think that’s another awesome drugstore product, just came in too late for this post.


Saturday, December 18/2010 at 11:29 pm

I used to use the original Voluminous stuff. Very good as well. NEW stuff, eh? Can you give us any insight yet? ;)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, December 22/2010 at 9:36 am

Looks to be 3 new versions: Extra-Volume Collagen, Carbon Black (a blacker black) and Million Lashes (a defining volume one). Haven’t tried any yet… I think the Million Lashes one might be out in stores already.


Wednesday, February 1/2012 at 4:58 am

I switched to L’oreal Invisible Lifts when I ran out of my Lancome foundation in an emergency, and I stuck with it. Ithink it;s great!


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