The drugstore makeup aisle has always been a heaven-on-earth for beauty lovers. The sheer volume of products—and the fact that you get to be alone with them, without sales associates chasing you around with samples–speaks for itself. But the real reason to go immerse yourself in the aisles of your local Duane Reade, if you ask us, is because it's dupe city. Any product you've read about here that's upwards of $30 can reliably be found for less cash stacked on those shelves. And to their credit, L'Oréal, Neutrogena, and their well-priced brethren are doing a dang good job churning out competitive versions of everything you love. Not to pry you out of the arms of a loved luxury beauty product or anything, but read on... Maybe your next fling is below:
The 2-for-1 Cream Shadow
L'Oréal's Infallible Paints collection is over the edge. It launched complete with little tubes of paint for your lips, palettes of extremely pink blush for your cheeks, and the very exciting, but occasionally crazy, cream shadow sticks. Each end has a wand full of easily blendable color—there's one that's pink and blue, another is bronze and yellow—that creates one eye look when used together. The concept is not unlike those Tom Ford Eye Color Duos, but in more ergonomic packaging. Unless you're adventurous, go for the subtler, shimmery, earth tones (like Nude Fishnet or Mint Detox). You'll use 'em up without even thinking about it.
The Your Lips But Better Liner
Look not a hair further than the Maybelline Color Sensational Liner—available in six neutral, barely-perceptible shades of Your Lips. It's the perfect hack for volume: just sketch it around the perimeter of your mouth and blend it inward with your pointer finger. It's cost-effective for a lip liner, but extremely thrifty as an alternative to lip fillers. Trust!
The Kajal Combo
Everyone knows a kajal pencil could be the best kind of black eyeliner—we were rooting for you, we were all rooting for you!—except it has a propensity to fall and pepper your cheeks with little bits of liner almost immediately. This is known as: a less good look. But Revlon has not only mastered kajal formulation, they've added to it with their 2-in-1 Angled Kajal and brush. Another double-ended situation, the angled liner is thick (almost a little too thick), but the mini little brush on the other end of the stick blends it out for the perfect smoky eye. This one is almost too good to believe.
The "I Can't Believe It's Not The Chanel Stylo" Lipstick
Revlon's Ultra HD Gel Lipstick is another, slightly sticky, light lipstick that leaves behind a nice tint as it wears throughout the day. The perfect product if you're looking to play around with new color tones.
The Not Quite Touche Éclat
The Very Sad Media Landscape of today is nothing more than a derelict shantytown of lies and fallacies, and chief among them is the idea that the YSL Touche Éclat is a concealer. It's not! Wake up, sheeple: It's a highlighter. It's often confused because the applicator lends itself so nicely to spots and dark circles, but ultimately, YSL's coverage is not that great. Imagine a product that does both, and you’re imagining Maybelline’s Dream Lumi Highlighting Concealer. Highlighting concealer. Highlighting concealer. No lies there.
The Budget Caviar Stick
Cargo Swimmables Longwear Eye Shadow Stick has a really cute name and really cute packaging. It's also a damn good eyeshadow stick! After about a half a minute, the cream sets and stays put—they claim it's waterproof. This claim we haven't tested...been too busy working to go to the local indoor pool for a dunk. That said, we weren't looking to swim in our eye makeup. We just wanted some pretty colors that didn't crease too much. This is that.
The Scalp Treatment That's Chic Now
Because your scalp is begging for two things: 1) To be cleansed of all of the gunk you've subjected it to over the past couple of years, and 2) the acceptance and respect of its haircare peers, who now welcome the suddenly-chic Head and Shoulders Clinical Solutions Leave-On with open arms and tilted caps.
The Clay Mask For Your Hair
Altogether, L'Oréal's Extraordinary Clay line for hair is as close to a revelation as you're going to get at CVS. The point of it all is to care for oily roots and dry ends (most hair if you're at all active and color-treated) with three types of refined clays to absorb oil without sulfating the crap out of your hair. It's silicone-free and cleanses enough to get through (at least two days) without a wash. The dry shampoo is also incredible, though not photographed.
Another Pretty Good Mascara
Covergirl So Lashy Blast Pro (or Covergirl SO LASHY! blast PRO in vanity casing) has one hell of a brush. It's rubberized, with some straight edges, some curved edges, and one of those balls on the end not unlike the Guerlain Phenomen'Eyes version. As a group, ITG thinks drugstore mascara is where it's at. No flakes, no frauds, just volume and separation where you need it.
A Drugstore Face Oil You Can Trust!
Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Luminous Hydration Facial Oil soaks in like a dream—better than any other standard coconut oil, that's for sure—and leaves behind moisturized skin that's not greasy. It also smells like vacation for only $10. Get on it quick.
Photographed by Tom Newton.
Down the aisles: Our favorite drugstore matte lipsticks await you over here.