The 24 Best And Worst Drugstore Beauty Buys

It’s time, once again, to run into the drugstore to pick up some items for your beauty regime. While you want to try something new among the rows and rows of products, there’s not much direction, and you edge towards the same eyeliner you’ve been wearing since emo raccoon eyes were a thing.

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Well darlings, there’s no better way to weed through the numerous versions of the same product (why are there, like, six versions of lip butter, all next to each other?) than just trying them out. Here are my yays and nays from my drugstore beauty sprees that will hopefully save you some cash and help you from making the same mistakes I did… and trust me. Some of these were mistakes.

Shampoo

Yay: Pantene Nature Fusion
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This is one of the best-smelling hair products I’ve used, and on top of that it does what it says on the bottle. To be fair, I have only tried the smoothing shampoo, but it makes my hair feel really clean and doesn’t strip it completely. Maybe I’m just obsessed with the scent, but where I normally feel apathetic toward shampoo I’m using, this stuff is great.

Nay: Suave Green Apple shampoo
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Ugh. UGH. I still can’t get over how bad this was. I picked it up as a cheap replacement until I could go to a different store to pick up my regular shampoo, and it made the couple days I used it awful. It left my hair dry and brittle, and didn’t lather well. It smells really good, but is terrible for your hair.

Conditioner

Yay: Aussie 3-minute Miracle
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I recently dyed my hair, and we had to go through one all-over color, one highlighting process and two toners to get the red highlights I have now (I have ridiculously stubborn hair). Leaving the salon six shampoos later, my hair felt dry and brittle. I tried this product for the first time to alleviate that, and it worked like a charm. My hair is softer and smoother, and I didn’t have to sit with the mask in my hair for eons. Pro-tip: Put it in, tie your hair up and then go through the shaving process and wash your face. Leaving it in for longer makes a little bit of a difference.

Nay: Herbal Essences Smooth collection (Rose)
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It’s not even worth the three minutes it takes to put this product in your hair. It isn’t hydrating, and it doesn’t smooth out anything at all. It smells fine, but that isn’t even a selling point. Basically it’s just a big fail for a conditioner, and you shouldn’t let the pretty rosy packaging draw you in. It’s full of lies.

Body Wash

Yay: Caress Daily Silk body wash
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I can’t rave about this product enough. After leaving my favorite body wash at my friend’s house approximately 170 miles away from me (ugh) I picked this up for a cheap, quick fix. The name is really appropriate—it leaves your skin feeling very soft without any of the residue some moisturizing body washes leave.

Nay: Softsoap body wash
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I tried two varieties of this—one in a travel size and one in a regular. I finished up the travel size, but had to give away the larger product because I knew I couldn’t use it longer. The fragrances are great for these products, and I can’t complain about lather, but it leaves my skin feeling dry and a little rough.

Face Wash

Yay: St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub
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I have repurchased this product six times since I’ve started using it. I really enjoy exfoliating products, because I have really dry skin. This makes my skin feel brighter, while treating blemishes. It has a great level of exfoliation and isn’t too harsh—the exfoliants are natural.

Nay: Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash (in pink grapefruit)
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I had really high hopes for this product, and it fell incredibly short. Aside from the fact it didn’t really help that much with my acne, the product also dries out the skin. After I washed my face with this, I felt like I needed to dip my face in moisturizer.

Nail Polish

Yay: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure
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I really like this product because it takes a lot of the work out of painting your nails. The polishes are fairly opaque, which is great if you’re in a hurry and only want to do one coat. They hold up really well, but you do need a topcoat. On top of the quality of the nail polish, the brush is also wide and flat. This might turn some people off, but it’s easier for me to use and gives me less opportunity to mess up the entire thing.

Nay: Sally Hansen XTreme Wear Nail Color
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I applied this nail polish, let it dry for a good period of time and then went downstairs to watch TV. After doing nothing more strenuous than sitting down and changing a channel, I noticed the polish was flaking on one finger. I then went to peel off the chip and the entire two layers of nail polish came off with it, leaving my nail clean. It’s very flimsy, and a strong topcoat doesn’t help.

Foundation

Yay: Covergirl Nature Luxe Silk Foundation
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I don’t wear foundation very often, because I sweat a bunch and the makeup just slides off. One of the only foundations in my makeup bag is from the NatureLux line, and I would repurchase. The coverage from this foundation is great, but it feels light on your skin. It also smells really fresh, where other drugstore foundations sometimes have an artificial odor.

Nay: Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse
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The texture of this product is delightful—light and fluffy. However, when you apply the mousse, it feels almost dry. On top of that, I have a real problem finding the correct color. In drugstores swatching isn’t that acceptable, and when I bought a shade that seemed to match my skin tone on paper, it came out two shades darker than I needed. Although I could overlook that, the price isn’t right for me to make that mistake.

Eyeshadow

Yay: Maybelline Color Tattoo eyeshadow
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I’m a huge fan of this product. I had never tried cream shadows before, but application is easy. You do have to use these shadows as all-over color, but they are great bases for other shadows. My favorite is Bad to the Bronze, a neutral but slightly shimmery brown color. For the more adventurous, there is an array of bright colors like green and purple.

Nay: Wet n’ Wild eyeshadows
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I think eyeshadows aren’t something that you should spend a ton of money on, but you should spend enough to bump up out of the Wet n’ Wild bracket. Although the products are really cheap, they don’t have a lot of pigment to them, and smear off very easily. If you’re looking to pick up a random color for a costume party or something, you should go with Wet n’ Wild, but if it’s anything more serious than that, fork over a little extra.

Eyeliner

Yay: L’Oreal Paris Lineur Intense Liquid Eye Liner
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You’ll notice that both my yay and nay are liquid liners. That’s because I’m just terrible at applying pencil liners (I poke myself in the eye) and gel liners are just too much of a hassle. The Lineur Intense liner, besides having a pretentious name, is excellent. The tip is great for creating a thin line, and the liner stays where it needs to be. It’s also a great liner for creating cat eyes, because the formula isn’t too wet so you can build up a line well.

Nay: Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Liner
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The real problem with this liner is application. Whereas other liquid liners are shaped like pens, this one is shaped like a dome at the top. It’s awkward to hold and even when you figure that out, it’s really hard to control where the liner goes. The key with liquid liner is being able to manipulate the line, and the shape of the bottle really limits what you can do.

Concealer 

Yay: Physicians Formula Conceal Rx
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Whatever issue you’ve got going on with your skin, this concealer will cover it right up. The product comes in a smaller tube, but lasts a while because a little dab will cover a lot of surface area. It’s high coverage and blends in very well. It’s kind of a miracle product, and it eliminates the need for heavy-duty foundation.

Nay: Anything that claims to heal acne
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It really doesn’t. I’ve tried a couple of these products and they just dry out and inflame my skin. Sometimes they cover well, but then when I remove the concealer at the end of the day it’s painful and the problem is aggravated. Invest in a good skin care routine instead.

Blush

Yay: Physicians Formula Happy Booster blush
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Although I doubt that this blush actually boosts your mood, I really do like this product. The colors are very natural, and the packaging is adorable. The product claims to add a “glow” to your face, and I do think it accomplishes that. While a lot of blushes can come out kind of flat, the Happy Booster does add an extra level of highlight to your cheeks.

Nay: Covergirl Cheekers blush
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I only have one blush in my makeup bag at a time, and I’m still trying to hit pan on this one. There’s just nothing remarkable about what this blush does for your coloring, and often application can be difficult, with the powder going on unevenly. Although I don’t have the highest standards for blushes, there are much better products on the market.

Mascara

Yay: L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara
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I have a really hard time finding mascaras I like that are drugstore. My lashes tend to clump together into one very unattractive package, without any lengthening benefits. That changed with this product. The shape of the brush is longer and skinnier than most mascaras, which allows for targeted application and separation of lashes.

Nay: Any drugstore mascara that isn’t waterproof
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This might be a sweeping generalization, and feel free to correct me in the comments, but I cannot deal with mascara that isn’t waterproof (besides L’Oreal Telescopic). I get tired and rub my eyes a LOT and if the mascara isn’t waterproof I tend to look like a panda within about 15 minutes of applying my mascara.

Lip Products

Yay: Revlon Lip Butter
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Out of my experiences trying lip butters, this one has come out on top. The product is incredibly moisturizing and the colors are surprisingly vibrant. If you’re looking to foray into red lipstick but are still a little worried about looking like a clown, try this. You won’t regret it.

Nay: Maybelline Whisper
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Just no. I picked up this product in my foray into lip butter, used it once and never used it again. “Whisper” is an appropriate name for this product, as it doesn’t really get any color onto your lips. The main problem though is the fact that it’s very drying, and also a little waxy.

What are some of your favorite drugstore beauty products? Let me know @EmilyMBamforth.

Emily

Emily

Emily's current goals are avoiding adult life and building her "professor bookshelf." Luckily Athens (in Ohio, of course) is the perfect place to do both of those things. Among the loves of her life are manatees, country music, bath products and any beverage that comes frozen. Feel free to tweet at her about any of those things at @EmilyMBamforth.
Emily