What To Do With $20 At The Drugstore


Drugstore purchases can go one of two ways: impulsive and fanciful or the most trustworthy of standby products. Both are valid, and both can tell a lot about a person. “Oh, I see you picked up a $2 glitter nail polish—how adventurous and simultaneously risk-averse of you!” So, in keeping with the “get to know a person through their products' theme of this whole site, we'd like to introduce you to ITG's new Senior Editor, Jen Steele, through her most essential drugstore recommendations. Take it away, Jen:

OK, here's the scenario I have in mind each time I approach drugstore shopping: You've got $20 and change on your person, and you need to replenish all the critical aspects of your bathroom. Now, it's not that I don't want to spend more—I just enjoy the challenge of maintaining a thoughtful budget and also getting strategic with what I need in my cosmetics bag. In other words, I aim to be resourceful. So you walk into Duane Reade and the pressure is on—and let me tell you, I'm great at this kind of thing. Here's how it shakes out:

  1. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara : $5.49

    I'll never forget when makeup artist Troy Surratt told me that Great Lash Mascara was his one and only, the product he trusted most and always used. I think he's right—the wand and formula provide clean and defined lashes and for the price...sold.

  2. Aquaphor Healing Ointment :$2.99

    Years ago, model Taylor Warren turned me on to the benefits on Aquaphor. I started using it on my lips, cheekbones, temples, and under my eyes...it feels hydrating and protective. This tub container is also ideal for travel and fits into pockets and purses of most sizes.

  3. Johnson's Baby Oil : $4.99

    Alright, this one's a stretch but hear me out. Baby skin does well with this mild and gentle oil, and your skin will, too. Summertime bare legs and arms, a little sheen—baby oil does the trick, and its hydrating effects last.

  4. Johnson's Baby Powder : $1.99

    My best-kept beauty secret: baby powder. I've used it in my hair to sop up excess oil when testing the how-long-can-I-last-with-unwashed-hair look. I've used it sparingly to mattify makeup like lipstick and cream blushes. I've also, in a pinch, used it as deodorant. You can slip baby powder in your shoes, too, if your feet swell up.

  5. Gillette Sensor2 Plus Disposable Razors, travel pack : $2

    I don't use women's razors. I find them to be too expensive and too flashy. A men's single or double-blade razor is as clean a shave for your legs as any other hot pink number.

  6. Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion For Normal To Dry Skin : $5.49

    I've tried every drugstore body lotion, and I've also read up on everyone else's point of view regarding what is best. When it comes down to it, in my opinion, Lubriderm sets the standard. Opting fragrance-free is also important. Keep it simple.

OK, I went over a bit: $22.95 in total (but close enough.) After laying it all out, I also noticed each of the products fell into the iconic packaging realm. I'm definitely attracted to vintage aesthetics but not entirely swayed by design (what's inside is important, too). Each product feels tried and true, and that's what makes (and keeps) them trustworthy. So if there's a lesson here, it's respect the standards. They're still here for a reason.

—Jen Steele

Photographed by Tom Newton.

For more drugstore roundups, check out the best Duane Reade, CVS, and co. have to offer in concealers, mascaras, and foundations.