About 10 years ago, I shopped exclusively at department stores for my beauty products. It was "normal" to buy $70 daily moisturizers, $28 tubes of mascara, and $15 Juicy Tubes lip gloss.
I wasn't rich; I was in high school. I worked at abercrombie kids for fun money. Remember when a one hundred dollar paycheck could be spent solely on discretionary items like Smirnoff Ice and bronzer?
Looking back, most of that fun money went straight to the Nordstrom beauty counters. It makes my tummy hurt to think of how much I spent on perishable beauty products during those formative years.
Nowadays, about 90% of my beauty supplies can be found at CVS. There's a store less than 3 minutes from my place, I consistently have about $10 in coupons at any time, and they have everything I need to take me from Morning Monica to OK-to-be-seen-in-public Monica.
My favorite part about buying beauty products from CVS is that I can afford to experiment. If I hate it, I throw it away. (I had an awful experience with eyeliner a few months back. $7 in the trash after a few uses = nbd compared to $20.)
So after years of almost-exclusive use of drug store brand products, I share with you my favorite finds*.
*only one of the items pictured below is a department store brand. It's worth it though, promise.
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1. Maybelline Color Show polish. This stuff is only $3.99 and comes in bright, neutral, and metallic options. I was debating between two shades the last time I was at CVS, but they're so inexpensive and the color is so rich that I bought them both. Pictured above: Coral Crush
2. Lumene Vitamin C+ protecting day cream. This lotion leaves my skin feeling hydrated, protected (SPF 15), and smelling AMAZING. I love putting it on right after a morning shower. The citrus scent perks me right up. If you've ever spent time with me in the morning, you know I could use as much perking as possible.
3. Olay Professional ProX cleansing system. Almost $100 less than a Clarisonic and does the same thing. This is a no-brainer to me. I was skeptical at first, but after reading the Amazon reviews, I gave it a try and have been really happy. I use the exfoliating gel that came with the ProX about once a week. The rest of the time I use a gentle Neutrogena cleanser. Hint: It is usually cheaper to buy this product on Amazon if you are going to spend $25 and get free shipping!
4. Aussie 3 Minute Miracle deeeeep conditioner. Four bucks and three minutes is all you need for really smooth hair. Some background on why I bought this: I have naturally stick-straight hair and don't dye it. I use my Chi maybe twice a month. But, I blow-dry every morning. That heat alone has made my super straight hair a little coarser and damaged over the years. I swear this conditioner has made a huge difference over the past month when I started using it every other time I wash my hair.
5. Maybelline Mineral Power powder. I think I've gone through 8 of these over the last two years. For anyone who prefers the look and feel of powder foundation compared to liquid, this is your new bff. It smooths out unevenness but doesn't look caked-on. For women with normal to dry skin, I will go ahead and say it is leaps and bounds better than Bare Minerals, at a fraction of the cost. I used Bare Minerals one time in college and swore off powder for a while after that experience. It completely dried me out and was too expensive to buy and not love. The Maybelline powder is where it's at.
6. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable balm stain. This is a new product from Revlon, but I think it's going to be a keeper. I bought it in Charm on a whim (with a coupon of course) and am very happy with the color and moisturizing aspects. It also doesn't melt in extreme heat when left in the car for hours. Solid buy.
7. Revlon ColorStay eyeliner. As I mentioned earlier in this essay of a post, I have not had great luck with drug store eyeliners. I don't wear it often, but when I do, I want it to stay in place and not end up at the top of my eyelids. The ColorStay eyeliner was a champ in the ultimate task: a weekend at the Ozarks. It didn't smear at all after jumping in and out of the water, reapplying sunscreen and squinting in the sun. Winner winner chicken dinner in my book.
8. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place ShadowCreme. This is the department store item, and it makes the list because I can't find anything (even at CVS) that compares. Like the name suggests, once you swipe this eye shadow on, it doesn't move. One of my biggest pet peeves with cream eye shadows is after an hour or two, you have a hideous line of chunky color in your blink crease. I now own three shades of EL's ShadowCreme and am so happy with it. Even after owning them for over a year, there are no signs of drying out.
If you're wondering why mascara (my very favorite beauty invention EVER) is not mentioned, it's because the jury is still out. Top contenders include: Maybelline Great Lash, Christian Dior DiorShow, Lancome Definicils, and Maybelline Falsies.
Now I'm curious - what are your favorite beauty products?