When I put myself on a beauty budget in college to save money, navigating the world of drugstore makeup was daunting. With the drugstore beauty aisles expanding rapidly over the years, it’s hard to know where to start. Several years ago, I created a drugstore makeup shopping list, filled with must-haves that were tried and true. Since then, so many more great new products have made their way into my routine that I can’t imagine a great collection without.
This updated drugstore makeup shopping list is comprised of products that would be great for beginners or makeup enthusiasts alike— affordable without sacrificing quality, and will help you achieve the latest trends. Of course, these aren’t the only drugstore makeup products I recommend, but this is a great starting point if you’re looking to try something new or build a collection from scratch.
Click the product image below to find it online!
Primer: Rimmel Fix + Perfect Pro Primer
This one is such an underrated product that I rarely hear people talk about. The Rimmel Fix & Perfect Primer has a creamy feel that dries down to a matte finish. It creates a smooth canvas with a brighter appearance— a perfect base for foundation.
Foundation: L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow Liquid Foundation
Over the past year, this has become my favorite drugstore foundation. The Infallible Pro-Glow Liquid Foundation is medium to full coverage with a beautiful radiant finish. Even though it’s glowy, I never feel greasy or shiny. The finish looks natural and feels great all day. If you are worried your skin is too oily for this foundation, try their Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation instead.
Concealer: NYX HD Concealer
This concealer is easy to use and comes in a range of skin tones and color correcting shades. They’re great dupes for the Make Up For Ever HD concealers, and you can see a side-by-side comparison here. For just around $5, they’re my favorite for concealing problem areas since they blend into the skin effortlessly with great coverage and wear time.
Brows: e.l.f. Lock On Brow Creme
If you’re looking for more than just a tinted brow gel, the e.l.f. Lock On Brow Creme will give you definition and hold. Because I have thicker brows naturally, I need to fill in my sparse areas with something just as bold. Using an angled brush, these fill them in perfectly. You can also lightly run it through your brows for just a little filling in, or use it as an eyeliner! See my full brow routine using this product here.
Eyelid Primer: e.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer
One of my holy grails for years, this primer does it all for $2. I use it with budget and high end shadows alike, and it does the job in helping them last.
Eyeshadow Palettes: Covergirl truNaked Nudes Palette/Roses Palette, Ulta Beauty Matte Neutrals
There are two drugstore eyeshadow palettes that I recommend to everyone, and one honorable mention that’s drugstore-priced. The Covergirl truNaked Palettes in Nudes and Roses are great quality and give you a perfect balance between finishes. You get mattes, shimmers and satins to create multiple looks out of. With the Nudes and Roses palettes, you have so many options for soft blush looks or sultry smoky eyes. Check out my full review of the Covergirl truNaked Nudes palette here.
The Ulta Beauty Matte Neturals palette is one of my favorite budget eyeshadow palettes to date. 12 matte shades that have incredible pigmentation and last all. day. LONG… it doesn’t get better than this one. I love all-matte looks, so this palette gets a lot of use. Check out my full review here.
Eyeshadow Singles: Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadows
I don’t always use eyeshadow singles, but when I do, it’s most likely a Color Tattoo. These cream eyeshadows make great bases under powder shadows, or wear it alone for a highly-pigmented all day color. These are my favorite to use when doing a quick single shadow eye look for a wash of color— especially in the shimmery nude shades.
Eyeliner Pencil: Milani Kohl Kajal Liner
Whether you want to sightline and need something smudge-proof, or you want to get a smoky rockstar liner look, this is what you want to work with. It’s creamy and blendable, but once it sets it won’t move. The retractable design makes it easy to apply as you use it up.
Liquid Eyeliner: NYX Matte Liquid Liner, Jesse’s Girl Liquid Liner
As someone who wears winged liner almost every single day of my life, trust me on this one. The NYX Liquid Black Liner is one of the best I’ve ever tried on any price point. However, there is definitely a learning curve because of the long applicator brush that is superfine. But the formula is deep black, matte and will not move until you take it off. If you prefer a pen-style liner, try the Jesse’s Girl Liquid Liner. It’s waterproof and the brush tip won’t fray on you.
Mascara: Covergirl Full Lash Bloom
It’s hard to only recommend you one drugstore mascara, so please check out my full Drugstore Mascara Guide if you want to check out more suggestions. However, one of my favorites for every-day lashes is the Covergirl Full Lash Bloom, which adds volume and length while separating each lash. You get a naturally fanned out look in just a few swipes.
Falsies: Ardell Demi Wispies
When you need to add a little more drama, the Ardell Demi Wispies are the way to go. They are the most wearable falsies that add va-va-voom without looking super obvious. I like the flared appearance, which looks great on various eye shapes.
Bronzer & Contour: Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Highlight + Contour Matte Palette
One of my fave contour palettes from the drugstore, the Bronze Booster in Matte has great shades to sculpt and highlight with a natural look. With two contour shades, the palette caters to light-medium skin tones. The highlight shade can be used for a subtle brightening. The Shimmer Glow version of the palette is great to bronze with a glow. The texture is buttery and easy to blend for beginners or contour pros.
Blush: Milani Powder Rose Blush
A classic that never gets old, the Powder Rose Blush from Milani is pigmented, blendable and looks awesome with any look. It’s really hard to over-do it with these, and the floral design is ultra-cute.
Highlighter: Master Strobing Liquid Illuminating Highlighter
If you are looking for a highlighter that will turn heads, this one from Maybelline will do the trick. I think liquid highlighters in general are more dramatic, and the Master Strobing Liquid is no exception. It’s easy to apply with the tips of your fingers and adds a beautiful sheen.
Traditional Lipstick: e.l.f. Day to Night Lipstick Duos
Two lipsticks in one? You got it. These lipsticks are literally my favorite for traveling with, but are an awesome choice when you need to build your makeup collection on a budget. The formula is ultra creamy with full coverage color payoff, and you get two complimentary shades to play around with. They last very well and are only $5 a pop!
Liquid Lipstick: Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Lip Color
When you need a liquid lipstick to do what it says it will, this is the one for you to pick up from the drugstore. You only need a thin layer to get incredible color payoff and it will last all day while you slay. The pointed applicator makes lining your lips easy for a precise shape. This one proves you don’t have to splurge to get your perfect pout.
Setting Powder: Rimmel #Insta Fix & Matte Translucent Powder
If you get oily throughout the day, check out this setting powder to help mattify and prolong your makeup. It’s fine and pressed so you don’t have to worry about a mess. This is a great choice when you’re wearing a lot of liquid and cream products together and need them to dry down.
Setting Spray: Physicians Formula #InstaReady Setting Spray
For those who have dry skin, or when you need a refresh during the day, a setting spray is a great option. It locks in your makeup while offering a little blending action as the spray sets. Especially when you’re wearing a bunch of powder on the skin already, I find sprays to make everything look more seamless and natural.
Here’s a list that’s easy to copy & paste to your phone for shopping!
Rimmel Fix + Perfect Pro Primer
L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow Liquid Foundation
NYX HD Concealer
e.l.f. Lock On Brow Creme
e.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer
Covergirl truNaked Nudes Palette/Roses Palette
Ulta Beauty Matte Neutrals
Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadows
Milani Kohl Kajal Liner
NYX Matte Liquid Liner, Jesse’s Girl Liquid Liner
Covergirl Full Lash Bloom
Ardell Demi Wispies
Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Highlight + Contour Matte Palette
Milani Powder Rose Blush
Master Strobing Liquid Illuminating Highlighter
e.l.f. Day to Night Lipstick Duos
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Lip Color
Rimmel #Insta Fix & Matte Translucent Powder
Physicians Formula #InstaReady Setting Spray
Have any other drugstore must-haves that would be great for a beginner? Leave them in the comments below!