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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Drugstore Favorites: My Top Picks For The Cheap And Accessible!

I'm not going to pretend like drugstore brands are just as good as high-end Sephora or department store brands. That kind of sentiment is for those that are in denial or just plain out can't afford the "good stuff". I'm not hating here, that is a perfectly logical reason to stick to the drugstore. But still no excuse to scrap the validity of an entire category of products just because its out of your price range. With that being said, there are some drugstore products that I have found to be just as good and sometimes better than its high-end counterpart. And I'm going to let you in on this coveted information.
Please note: I'm not going to include certain hair care products that are expensive salon brands that just happen to be sold at the drugstore. That is cheating and totally unfair to the cheapies that have earned their right to be recognized. In no particular order:

L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara:

Besides having hair color and hottness in common, Gwen Stefani and I both love this mascara. I used to really love it until they changed the formula to a much thinner and watery consistency. But I find that if you dab off the excess goop, you will get something less messy and tackier. Voluminous is just one of those great tried and true mascaras that you can always fall back on if you are in a pinch. It does what it says, and in my opinion, really holds the curl and makes your lashes long and full. I prefer the waterproof formula because I feel like it dries easier and is longer lasting.

WetN'Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow:

Of course this one was going to make the list. The most impressive drugstore product as of late. I have a review of this from a post last month so I won't say too much. The following words will sum it up: Soft. Pigmented. So blendable. Beautiful shades. Directions embossed into the shadow for where to place each shadow on the eye. Cheap. And to summarize: best drugstore eyeshadow ever.

Milani Lip Flash Pencils

This is a new and super impressive product in my collection. Actually, my daughter picked this out and boy does she know her stuff. These are in jumbo pencil form, much like an NYX jumbo eye pencil or NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. I love this kind of packaging. Milani is known for very vibrant, look at me colors, and this is no exception. Available in a variety of mind-blowingly bold shades, I bought the one called "Flashy". Its a shimmery magenta. And it is every bit of magenta. It gives off the most creamy smooth and pigmented lip color that I've seen in my life. It is also extremely long lasting as well and eventually fades into an equally lasting lip stain. And it would be totally gorgeous with a fairly neutral eye paired with a jet black liquid lined cat-eye. Available in bold pinks, reds, and purple. Sorry ladies, this product is not for the meek or timid. There are no neutrals in this lip line.

Crest 3D Advanced Vivid Whitestrips:
These just work. Thats kind of all you need to know when it comes to whitening strips right? Oh, except if you have sensitive gums and/or teeth and can't deal with a whitening product that is not sympathetic to these concerns. The advanced seal style strip is a big improvement over how they used to do things in reference to the way that they stick to your teeth. With these, you are still able to drink   although I don't really prefer to, and the best part is they don't slide around. 30 minutes later you have noticibly whiter teeth. And after 3 days of faithful applications you will really notice some big time improvement. The Advanced Vivid is the second highest strength of an over the counter Crest whitening product. The strongest being the Pro-Effects line. During the $10 off sale of Crest Whitening Strips at CVS last week, they were totally picked over and left me no chance to try the Pro-Effects that I've been dying to try. But seriously, how much whiter can my teath get? They will be transparent soon!

Cover Girl Eyeshadow Trio Shimmering Sands:
This is the very first eyeshadow, drugstore or not, that I've hit the pan on. This was my perfect go-to neutral eye palette. Each shade had a slight shimmer to it which made the colors prettier and less common. The darkest brown in the trio was, in my opinion, not dark enough for a crease shade. There wasn't enough of a contrast between that and the lid shade. But I wore the shadows on days that I didn't feel like creasing it up and just wanted a fuss-free single eyeshadow and brow bone highlighted look. I hope they don't discontinue this like they did my only other favorite CG shadow, Raisin. I'm not alone in my love for the trio. I've seen it featured by two very well known YouTube makeup gurus who share a similar appreciation for the Cover Girl eyeshadow trio. And finally, who doesn't love a trio? You have everything you need in one compact and the company has already taken the guesswork out of which shades compliment which and what to pair what with. Next one to try is the CG quad called Drama Eyes. Everything you need for a great smokey eye!

Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 45:
Do you know what I hate about sunscreen? That it contains sunscreen. It makes my face shiny, often gives me breakouts, and makes foundation application brutal when it doesn't dry well enough to create a smooth canvas. Skipping it all together is just not an option. Thankfully, I don't have to. This stuff is great because of the "dry-touch" quality it has. Sure, you'll still get a slightly shiny and sticky feel at first but it sinks in quickly, making foundation application a much more tolerable process. I use this on my face, neck, and chest every morning even when its cloudy and cold. You should just get in the habit of applying it daily rather than it being dependent upon the weather conditions for the day. This type of poor decision making leads to lots of skippage and who knows whether that specific day you skipped sunscreen was the very day that you created a vulnerable surface for cracks or sun spots. Oh, the horror! Did I mention its an Allure Editor's Choice Winner?

NYC Lipsticks:
I certainly love most of the shades that I own. 99cents! Is anything 99 cents anymore?! I don't even think a candy bar is less than a dollar. Yes, the packaging is a good representation of what 99 cents will get you but the colors and quality of the actual lipstick itself is worth much more than that. I started out with Cafe when I read tons of great reviews on This is a beautiful pinky-nude champagne color with a somewhat metallic finish. It wears very nicely and had good lasting power compared to other drugstore lipsticks. I mentioned these is my top lipsticks post but I will say it again, NYC makes some great reds. Retro Red, Ruby Red, Sheer Red to name a few. If you want an introduction into the sexy and mysterious world of red lipstick, try Sheer Red. The name alone should cause you to be less scared of the results. Personally, my favorite is Ruby Red which in my opinion reminds me of ruby slippers and that is a good enough reason to buy anything.

Burt's Bees Radiance Body Lotion w/ Royal Jelly:
Anything with Royal Jelly is bound to be worth trying. This is a body lotion that has natural mica that works to enhance and brighten skin tone. Mica is the ingredient used in a lot of face makeup products to add a certain shimmer or sheen. And that's exactly what it does in the Radiance lotion. It isn't glittery. It is a beautiful subtle shimmer that you can live with. If you aren't into the self-tanner thing but you want to spice up the appearance of your legs another way, this is a good way to go. It is not a fragrance free product by any means. I am quite positive that the scent will qualify it as a love it or hate it product. Personally, the scent has grown on me and I love it. And I usually hate strongly scented lotions. Unless its Alien body lotion by Theirry Mugler and then I could gladly bathe in it. No sulfates or parabens. Let's dish about Royal Jelly for a minute. This is one of natures very nourishing substances. It is a honey bee secretion and has been said to be useful in a laundry list of heatlh conditions. Of course, no solid proof of this. But there never usually is with beauty products. Also available in supplement form, Royal Jelly is used to stimulate brain cells and other internal conditions. Radiance lotion is also packed with 134 nutrients including Vitamins A, C, and multiple B's. Finally, Sunflower Oil to moisturize and Mica to provide the shimmering glow. Love.

Ecotools Makeup Brushes:

Drugstore makeup brushes are known for being synonymous with crap. But not these. They are so so so soft and very good quality for the price. I particularly like their concealer brush (although it was given a swift kick in the ass when my Sephora pro-platinum airbrush concealer brush came along), their dense swivel style kabuki brush in the travel case, and their mineral powder brush. Personally, I never used the mineral powder brush to apply mineral powder with because I like a fuller coverage and it isn't dense enough to prove this finish. It is a perfect bronzer and powder brush. Like for setting your makeup with translucent, pressed, or loose powder. And its environmental properties make it very good for sensitive skin or those with allergies to goat hair, often used in higher quality brushes. If you like these but want to go even cheaper, Elf makes some really good eyeshadow brushes for $1 a piece! Since Elf isn't at the drugstore but is cheap enough to be, I'm not making it its own spot in the list. My recs? The large eyeshadow brush and the crease brush. These are brushes you are going to use more so than most of your other brushes for the eyes and so having a bunch of these is not unheard of. Especially if you're a junkie. I happen to love my Elf crease brush moreso than most of my more expensive ones because it works for application as well as blending. Back to Ecotools, these are the best of the drugstore by far.

Revlon Color Burst Lipgloss Peach Petal:

Remember my post about Revlon Peach Petal lipgloss? It is from this line of Revlon lipglosses. These are fantastic. Lots of beautiful shades to choose from. A great quality lipgloss that is not too sticky, not too slippery, doesn't have a disgusting smell or taste, and it wears very well. I can't say enough about these. Except that I can't freaking find Nude Lustre anywhere and its the one I've been wanting to try the most! At one store, there was a slot for it but it was just gone and the other stores don't even have the name slot for it. In fact, in its place, is just another row of Pink Petals. Why do brands always discontinue (if that is the case here) the most popular and highest rated shades? They could have picked one of the deeper shades or one of the pinks to get rid of. Girls love nude gloss. Nude gloss is great by itself and even better to give a shine to most any lipstick shade. This better just be an unintentional error Revlon. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Now go buy Peach Petal. Unless your lips are naturally super pigmented, it may not show up. If anyone ever asks you what lip color you are wearing when you aren't wearing any at all, you have highly pigmented lips.

L'Oreal Everstrong Sulfate Free Shampoo/Conditioner/Treatments:
I do believe this was the first sulfate-free product line of its kind in the drugstore. And they went all out with the packaging and product selection for this smart line of products. Just as sulfates were beginning to take all the blame for hair color fading and drying, L'Oreal stepped in and gave us an option that doesn't cost $30 a bottle. And its really good stuff. I have the shampoo and conditioner in the Reconstruct line (the green one), as well as the Rosemary Mint deep conditioner, and the Overnight hair repair treatment. I really have no complaints on any of them. In fact, I was very relieved that I could have a less costly and more accessible drugstore back-up when my "good stuff" ran out. Having my L'Oreal lessened the severity for running out immediately to re-purchase my Pureology or Rare Elements hair care. I must say the most memorable quality of all of these L'Oreal products is the scent of the Rosemary Mint deep conditioner. How can you go wrong when pairing the two to combine one amazing scent? You can leave it on for longer but even just five minutes is good enough, and when you go to rinse it your hair is incredibly soft and very nourished. I purchased the overnight hair treatment last week and I am loving the concept of these type of treatments. I often forget or don't have time to do deep conditioning treatments. My idea of washing my hair is usually a time sensitive very rushed "must do before baby wakes from nap" activity. Now I can relax and apply it to my dry hair at night, throw it back in a ponytail and it will do the work while I sleep. It also smells very appealing and even creates a beachy wave kind of look after applying it and it mixing with the styling products already on my hair from earlier in the day. Thumbs up L'Oreal. You have taken two of the spots on my list already!

Jergens Natural Glow Moisturizer (the body as well as the separate face version):
I hate self-tanning lotions. Hate them. I hate the mess, the stickiness, the smell, the transfer onto my clothing, the possibility for streaking, the fact that I can't get it to blend naturally on my feet, and just the effort it takes to apply it. I've used some pretty terrible self-tanners in the past but this one is a very subtle and worry free type of product. It doesn't blatantly tan your skin immediately. Rather its more of a gradual process. Its a very creamy and easy to work with formula. Some self-tanners are sticky and drying and require the use of a moisturizer along with it to be able to really spread all over the skin. This one is a moisturizer and so its like a 2-in-1 type of product. It doesn't smell terrible and the self-tanner smell is masked pretty well but its still there. I've been using this stuff for a couple of years. I used to be a faithful L'Oreal (there I go again, enough with the L'Oreal) Sublime Glow user but this has been more difficult to find as of late. Jergens has stepped up to be the front-runner because of this. No-fuss. Subtle. Moisturizing. Non-offensive smell. That about wraps things up.

L'Oreal Sublime Glow Moisturizer:
As previously mentioned, I was a faithful user of this product until it became harder to find. I can still get  at Ulta so at least its out there somewhere. I really like this stuff. It gives you a very natural bronzed look with the added bonus of a subtle shimmer. It is a moisturizer first and is merely infused with self-tanner to give you a buildable amount of color. Its not so strong that you can't use it just on your legs if you want to for fear of looking pale on top and dark on the bottom. Formulated with mango butter, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E.I've known girls to use it every time they shower because it mantains a natural appearance. It isn't the type of product that the more you use its going to get darker and darker. After the bronzing gets to a certain point, it kind of stabilizes so that the extra applications work to mantain the look. Its not super sticky but you certainly need to let it dry before putting on your clothes. Some girls prefer to use it at bed time after they've showered so that it can develop over night and therefor lessening the potential for transfer onto your clothes. Having said that, you run the risk for it transferring on your sheets instead. But, if your sheets are brown or even orange, you shouldn't really notice this. Of course, my sheets happen to be white so there is no winning for me. This stuff is totally worth the transfer risk. Its that good.

Maybelline Dream (or Matte) Mousse Blush:

I love cream blush. And it has much better staying powder than powder blush does, in most cases. The best way to wear it for extreme lastability is by applying this first and then setting it with either a powder or another blush in a similar shade. This award winning product is an air-whipped (which sounds heavenly on its own), light and silky blush with a mousse-like texture. Its available in six beautiful shades from peach to plum. Its very easy to apply, which can often be the intimidation factor in choosing a cream blush in the first place. You don't need much, just a dab to work onto the apples of your cheeks or wherever you prefer to place blush on your face. For extra ease of use, blend it with a dense face brush of some sort to avoid harsh lines or color over-kill. I mentioned it was award winning, more specifically, it won the Teen Vogues Readers Choice Award in 2007. I was sucked in to the Peach Satin shade because I'm obsessed with peach. This is one of the shimmery shades and you need not use very much to get some vibrant color pay-off. If you're looking for a non-shimmer alternative, Maybelline also makes the Dream Matte Mousse Blush which I prefer. Try Soft Plum, its gorgeous. There are two items that I adore from Maybelline, out of about 100 that I've tried, and this is one of them. The other is a certain shine minimizing pressed powder whose discontinuation is just too painful to mention. At least we have Dream Mousse.

Nivea Lip Care lip balm:

Not a fan of too many lip balms. They are either too greasy and slip right off the lips in 2 seconds (I'm talking to you Soft Lips) or they are too "medicine-y" tasting like the Burt's Bees Lifeguards Choice with SPF. Formerly a fan of the traditional Burt's Bees lip balm, I became increasingly unhappy with the peppermint oil. Oil of any kind is kind of a deal breaker if you want to protect your lips from the sun's evil rays. I decided to try the Nivea Lip Care balm which had a tiny bit of SPF in it. Some is better than none, right? I got the original in the blue tube first. Loved it. It was really smooth and sort of slippery like I just mentioned I hated but this didn't bother me. Even though the balm would often fade quickly, it left my lips moisturized and that's really all that counts. I enjoyed the light scent of the bright white balm. There was something very soothing about it. I decided to take it a step further and get one of the tinted lip balms in the same line. Naturally, if I'm going to tinted I'm going to big. And so I chose the cherry one. It has the most amazing and delicious true cherry scent. Its what cherries should actually smell like but don't. But it doesn't provide the tint that it claims to give you. Oh no. Its less of a tint and more of a full-on red lip. Which I happen to love. Of course, its still a lip balm so how bold can it be? Well, its certainly noticable but that flavor is so worth it. In the mornings when I would take my daughter to school, I always apply a lip balm in the car. All I happened to have was the Nivea cherry lip balm. I had not a stich of makeup on my face because at this time I had a newborn at home and hadn't gotten my sexy back. I would apply this stuff and then instantly regret it because who goes to preschool with a full-on red lip at 9:00 am?! Well, I mean, besides me. I got over this and reminded myself that its only a lip balm, you got a problem with lip balm ladies? 

Olay Regenerist Wet Cleansing Cloths:
These are the only ones in the Olay line that I like. I've tried the ones in the blue packaging and the ones that you have to dampen yourself and that was just waaay too much to ask from a wipe. Wipes are supposed to be void of the amount of effort that I'm trying to bypass in the first place by using a wipe and not the sink. The effortless cleansing cloth that I go to for this is the Olay Regenerist wipes in the black package that are already wet. These are great for the morning when you don't really need to do a full cleanse again, having cleansed 8 hours ago, but you want to still feel clean and start with a fresh canvas. Also good for taking off the majority of makeup before cleansing so that you are not dependent on your cleanser alone to do the job. I've mentioned this before so if it sounds familiar, I used the same justification in my lemon juice toner endoresement. The cloths have anti-aging properties as well, so they do contain some silicone (Dimethecone to be exact).  I am normally sensitive to this but there is often no way to avoid this ingredient. Its in just about anything to makes your face smooth. This product has been a staple in my collection no matter how many other variations and brands I try. Recently purchased the Korres makeup wipes and they don't even measure up to good old Olay.

Ardell Flase Lashes: Modlash

I have to admit I am new to the world of false eyelashes. But much like false hair extensions, once you try them, you become a slave to them. I have excercised a great amount of will power when it comes to fake hair products and reserve them for special occasion usage. The Mod style lashes are my personal favorite because they are very Twiggy-esque. The very definition of Mod. They are 100% human hair, thick and full lashes as well as the perfect length. If you are afraid to commit to the application of an entire lash, they can be cut in half and used on the outer corner of the lash line to still provide a little sumthin sumthin. They are also sold this way as "demi-lashes". Whatever works for you. I had some of these applied a few days ago by someone with much more skill and precision and I was in love with them. When someone wears false lashes, you can almost always tell they are wearing false lashes. But contrary to what you may think, this apparent falseness doesn't detract from the sexiness in the slightest. I've tried mostly Ardell lashes and also the Revlon self-adhesive Fantasy Lengths. Those are very user friendly because you don't need glue but it is because of this ease of use that keep them from staying on as well as a traditional false lash. Ardell Mod come in the yellow packaging and I've recently seen them in a BOGO 50% off at CVS.

Wet and Wild Color Icon Blush:
The WnW blush has always been, in my opinion, super good and heavily pigmented. One shade will last forever at the rate that it gets used. Just a dab will do ya. They weren't always called Color Icon though. They were originallycalled Silk Finish but it seems to me that WnW is trying to streamline all of their products into the Color Icon line. It may be a marketing ploy to take Silk Finish shades which are really good as it is, slap a new name on them and trick people into thinking they are brand new blushes. There has been a package change since the grey Silk Finish containers. But one characteristic has stayed the same. The packaging is still very cheap and one use away from shattering at all times. Please note, these are not makeup bag or purse safe by any means. My personal fave is Berry Shimmer which I don't see too much of lately. This is a very in your face shade and will give you a true rosey glow. Not a pink rose, a red rose. I've said in a previous post to think of Snow White's rosey glow. I'm not sure what shades they still make and which ones are discontinued but I'm positive that each one of mine will never need replaced and should be more than adequate to take into my Golden Years. My rec's: Berry Shimmer, Heather Silk, Pearlescent Pink. Some of the shades may be too bold but my opinion is that you can make any blush work with the proper tone-down methods. Another great WnW buy.

Wet and Wild Eyeliners:

First, if you're a liquid liner kind of girl, the Megaliner in black is ridiculously good. A super duper rich black that rivals or exceeds any other black on the market. And the lastability is unmatched. You honestly have to work overtime to rid your eyes of this liner. Amazing longevity, price, shade selection, and anything else that goes into a decision to buy an eyeliner. And if a cream or gel liner is more your style, they make an equally fantastic eyeliner in this form as well called Mega Eyes Cream liner in blackest black. I just can't describe the blackness of this black. If there is something blacker than black then this is it. And once again, WnW has mastered the staying power factor. Let me put it to you this way, out of over 400 reviews, it has a very rare and impressive "will repurchase" rate of 86%. Its one thing to say you like a product, its another to say you will buy it again. There are millions of products that I like but wouldn't buy again because I've used better. That doesn't negate the fact that I did like the performance of the product. But if I say I'm going to buy it again then that means I can't live without it. It comes in a jar with lid and a brush to apply it with. Often times brushes are totally useless in this respect but this one is pretty descent. I know most of you know of Mac Blacktrack Fluidline which would be a comparible more expensive product. It doesn't have anything on the WnW.

NYC Matte Bronzer Sunny:

A great matte bronzer wearable for most skin tones. Not too ruddy or muddy or flat out orange. Just a no frills matte bronzer. A couple of years ago I heard this product was being phased out of the drugstores so I picked up a couple of them at Rite Aid for around $3. Totally unreasonable, I know. I don't like shimmer in my bronzer and I don't like expense in my bronzer if I don't have to. So this is a win win. Score another point for NYC!

Revlon Matte Kohl Eyeliner Very Violet:

Such a favorite of mine. Do you remember when Revlon came out with these matte kohl liners? They had a white one, this one, and a true black shade. This is the perfect shade of purple for my eye color which is blue with a tinge of green at times. The Violet shade draws out the green and really compliments it nicely. This is just my preference but in a purple liner, this is what I look for. I don't like plum or eggplant and anything else that isn't this exact shade. I have yet to find a good duplicate for it in the event that I can't find it anymore. I love this stuff. Its great on the waterline and lower lash line especially and that is what I mainly used it for. It was my go-to liner during a summer of graduate school when I had an 8am class. I had a signature summer school makeup look. It was Stila Grace eyeshadow (a lovely taupey shade), this Revlon liner on my lower lash and water line and just a hint of it on the top lash line on the outer edges. Those products couple with some L'Oreal Voluminous, lipgloss of some sort, and a positive and determined attitude and I was all set! That has me thinking of what my new signature grad school look will be.

Good old Noxema. My grandmother had amazing skin. Not  a wrinkle in sight. Of course, she never went in the sun and she was a fairly healthy eater. I asked her once what she used on her face and she said nothing special, just Noxema. You may think of a harsh or drying cleanser when you think of Noxema because of the tingle it gave. Well, they've repackaged and reformulation not too long ago and now it is perfect. Same blue but more updated packaging, same refreshing tingle, but this time your face doesn't scream for moisturizer after you're done cleansing with it. In fact, even someone with dry skin like myself, doesn't feel that tightening effect that you feel when your cleanser is too harsh. Something to consider: if your face feels tight after you cleanse, your cleanser is too harsh. Try something formulated for normal to dry or just dry skin. I love Noxema because it really feels like its working and that tingle really wakes me up and gives me the initial motivation to keep going with my cleansing and grooming routines. I used to drag all day when I was too tired to even cleanse my face during the newborn baby face. The minute I took the time to force myself to cleanse and use Noxema, I felt so much better. I also like it for shaving my legs and the occasional sunburn.

Tresemme Heat Protection Spray:

Rounding things out is a very cheap and very effective hair care product. I have to admit, the Tresemme line has always intrigued me for some reason. Maybe its the commericals where the very upscale salon uses Tresemme exclusively and the women leave with amazingly thick and shiny hair. I'm such an easy sell. Anyway, I've gone through a few bottles of this stuff which almost never happens. I usually move on to something else as far as styling products go. I'm only ever loyal to my shampoos and conditioners. However, this stuff made the list. It is supposed to go on your hair after its been towel dried and before using the hair dryer. I would use it with some sort of styling cream for added protection, especially if you use more than one potentially damaging heat tool. I like how well this stuff comes out. Each spray covers a lot of ground and comes out smooth and even. It has dispenser that looks like the spray mechanisms on those clear plastic water bottle sprayers (nice description I know). These suckers really distribute the product in the way that I like. I'm also not alone in my dediction to this product. I've seen it featured in a lot of favorite hair products videos. Even from women who use mostly exclusive and expensive products on their hair.

More Drugstore Favorites! Videos that you may enjoy, from some of my favorite and most capable YouTube makeup gurus! These are some of my favorite kind of videos to watch. I love the format. I'm sure some of my picks will also overlap with theirs. There are just some products that are that good.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! Thanks for sharing all that information. I am a fan of Wet n Wild actually. I mean, definitely not as pigmented as other brands but for the price it's a great deal. Also, I have been using Burt's Bees Radiance Cream for months now and absolutely love it. Remember to store it in the fridge though. (Because it's organic, it can grow mold very easily.)