While there is an undeniable fun factor about discussing and trying beauty products boasting eyebrow-raisingingly high price tags, regularly incorporating these types of products into our routine isn’t the healthiest strategy long-term for our bank accounts. Sure, splurges here and there are fun and worthy of indulgence, but as editors, we know it’s just as important to know and speak to the best drugstore beauty products on the market which can keep pace (or even exceed) the satisfying results of a $90 concealer or a $250 night cream. (And yes, such majestic drugstore options do exist—usualy at a cool $30 or less.)
It’d be deceiving to act as if we don’t receive a lot of free stuff in our line of work, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t obsession-worthy products we spend money on or recommend to friends and family. And right now, we’re about to dig into the latter. (For the former—the products we spend our paychecks on—click here.) Ahead, 15 of the best drugstore beauty products we at Byrdie HQ not only hoard for our own selfish purposes but repeatedly recommend to our loved ones time and again. Keep scrolling.
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“This drugstore hair mask was a key player in the recovery of my brittle, broken hair following a horrible bleach disaster some years ago. Whenever a friend asks for a hair mask recommendation (budget-friendly or not), I suggest this bang-for-your-buck option straight off the bat. My best tip is to apply it to dry strands at night before bed, comb through, create a braid, and then rinse in the morning so you gain a full night of repair. Just that regular routine made a huge difference in the strength, shine, overall texture of my hair.”
“No matter how many mascaras I try (and even love), nothing has yet to compare to this OG formula from Covergirl. In fact, it’s one of the only products I buy like clockwork and which truly delivers everything the marketing promises—voluminous, long, blacker-than-black lashes.”
“I’ve been using this concealer since college and thus am already quite aware of its concealing magic, but it’s also one of the best drugstore beauty products I’ve gotten friends and co-workers hooked on as well. For instance, a couple weeks ago, our wellness editor, Victoria, was in a pinch pre–photo shoot, and I threw her this tube (we work three feet away from each other) as a quick-fix option. ‘What is this stuff?!’ she asked. ‘It’s amazing!’ ‘Nuff said.”
“Even though I’m pretty committed to a strategic acne-clearing skincare routine right now, I still have a very special place in my heart for this detoxifying drugstore cleanser from Yes To. Infused with charcoal, and yes, tomatoes, it has shockingly potent brightening powers and leaves a gleaming, impeccably clean finish post-cleanse. It’s an amazing option for drugstore.”
“I’ve talked about this product so much I should basically slap a billboard of it on my chest. I’ve tried a ton of pencils, and truly, this is the only product I keep returning to. It’s got a tiny tip so I can draw little brow hairs and fill in patchy areas and a waxy consistency so it stays put on my oily skin. The shade taupe also perfectly matches my existing brows so I can avoid the dreaded red tint I’ve gotten from other pencils.”
“This balm is the perfect intersection of hydration and sheer, buildable color all in one application. I’d fallen in love with these years ago but recently stumbled upon newer shade, Sweet Violet, a faint grape color I wouldn’t normally gravitate toward but one that complements my fair complexion with pink undertones incredibly well.”
“I’m a little wary of drugstore highlighters because I’m so in love with the way my Prestige highlighters work, but this stick from Revlon is the real deal. The shimmer is buildable, so you can apply just a touch for a subtle glow or keep layering for more striking luminescence. I also love that it comes in both a gold and pinkish hue so I can switch them up depending on my makeup and skin tone that day.”
“Maybelline’s Facestudio Master Strobing Stick comes in both Light Iridescent (a pinky, candlelit shade) and Medium Nude Glow (a bronzy, golden hue). I’ve found myself using the Light Iridescent every single day this month. I swipe it on my cheekbones for a quick highlight, around my eyes and brow bone for some brightening shimmer, and along my Cupid’s bow for the plumping effects. I even used the opalescent formula as lipstick. The secret is in the micro-fine pearls that reflect light and boost skin glow but won’t leave you looking greasy or too sparkly. It’s a combination of everything I’ve ever wanted in a highlighter. It’s quick, easy, and only $8.”
“One of the undeniably popular sunscreens, La Roche-Posay’s product offers a combination of patented high-efficiency sun filters and powerful antioxidants to further protect your skin—even at the cellular level. It’s lightweight, has an SPF of 50+, it’s water-resistant and hypoallergenic—so yes, it’s pretty much the best formula out there. In addition, it offers a high concentration of the brand’s signature Thermal Spring Water, which means it’ll nix dehydration and leave your skin dewy (not greasy).”
“I’ve been a Babylips devotee since they first came out, even after trying hundreds of fancier, pricier lip balms. Why? The buttery-smooth formula actually hydrates my lips whenever they feel dry, and I love that it comes in a bunch of different shades that all offer a super-flattering tint. My favorite? The cherry one, which gives a Popsicle-stained look to your lips and doubles as a cheek stain in a pinch (pro hack I learned backstage at NYFW: the clear Babylips makes for the prettiest, dewy highlighter).”
“When I first became a beauty editor, I took a jar of this home and shared it with my boyfriend at the time. Both of us noticed a visible improvement in our skin after just a few days, and he ended up stealing/requesting this from me for the rest of the time we were together. It’s made with brightening, plumping ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and a slew of anti-aging peptides, and exists as stiff competition for its more expensive counterparts. If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly anti-aging moisturizer, this is your best bet.”
“I actually picked up a Nyx eye shadow palette on a whim when I was grabbing travel toiletries before a flight to Aruba. I’m already hooked—the colors are PERFECT for summer, especially given my current appreciation for a graphic eye shadow look. Pro tip: Dip an eye shadow brush in water before dipping it into the palette to get a super-saturated pop of color.”
“I’ve been a fan of Thayer’s rose water toner since before I ever got into skincare. Even now, though my vanity is littered with fancy products, I know that I can hit my local CVS and pick up this solid product. It’s a classic, clean formula that never dries out my skin—a great option for a gentle cleanser when you’re traveling.”
“I’m the friend who is always handing my girls makeup wipes after a fun night out. I always feel so discombobulated when I wake up with a full face of makeup on, so I keep these nourishing wipes around to save my skin during after-hours. These soothing wipes remove every trace of makeup in a flash, no hard rubbing is required. It’s the most low-lift option when you don’t feel like taking your makeup off, but you kind of have to. These are also gentle enough so you won’t have to worry about any skin irritation.”
“I shared photos of my hair on Instagram last week, which was done by Pantene celebrity stylist Chuck Amos, using the entire Gold Series line, and my DMs went crazy. People were so surprised that my hairstyle was done by using such an affordable line of haircare products all under $10. After seeing my finished hair look, so many of my followers and friends mentioned they were running to the drugstore ASAP to get their hands on this. I fell in love with this line last year when I heard the story behind the brand. A team of women of color scientists formulated this line using the most hydrating ingredients for textured hair.
“Countless haircare products land on my desk on a daily basis, but I’m constantly going back to this stuff because I’m obsessed with how silky it makes my hair look. This duo is super-moisturizing, yet it doesn’t weigh down my hair. I can’t really ask for much else because it works amazing on my extensions and my natural hair.”
Next up: the 11 best drugstore face mists to refresh and set your makeup this summer.