By Emily Confalone
During my sophomore year of college, I made around $200 a week. A small fortune for a 19-year-old journalism student! That said, my weekly salary was not nearly enough to fuel my budding makeup addiction.
After food, transportation and other basic expenses hit my bank account, I’d have around $50 left to play with. Fellow makeup-lovers will understand that’s the equivalent of one full-size product at Sephora, maybe two if you’re lucky.
I still have struggles with buying high-quality makeup products that work within my budget and my face. When I’ve used up about 70 percent of my foundation, I make a conscious effort to budget for a new foundation in the coming weeks, so I won’t have to go days without a fully-beat face.
You get it, right? Goop for your face can be cripplingly expensive! It doesn’t always have to be, though. CVS, Walgreens and even the out-of-place convenience store on the corner by TITS sell makeup that can totally work for your budget and your skin.
I’d bet anyone could get full-size products for a complete makeup look for under $100 if they really tried. Need help? Advice below.
Retail price: $7.99 MSRP
The beginning of all great makeup looks! Foundation is arguably the most important product in a makeup routine. It sets the basis for the look, allows the artist to layer on other products smoothly and evens out the skin.
This foundation from Maybelline comes in three different finishes, but the dewy formula is my absolute favorite. It gives the skin a healthy glow without the oil, and the coverage is fairly medium. The product allows the skin to breathe, but it builds pretty well, allowing for a more high-coverage look.
Retail price: $9.00 MSRP
I will admit, drugstore bronzer can be pretty hard to shop for if you don’t know what you’re doing. Amateurs will hit the Physicians Formula display without a second thought, but this is a big mistake. Firstly, Physicians Formula charges consumers abhorrent prices for products that don’t perform.
Also, what is with all the glitter in their face powders? Can’t they live for a matte moment? That’s why I’m going with NYX for a bronzer. This particular product does the job without unnecessary flare. Swipe this bronzer in a three-formation on each side of the face for a small forehead, cut-in cheeks and a present-for-class jawline.
Retail price: $7.99 MSRP
Listen closely. If you do not get a Milani Baked Blush when you’re shopping at Target for a nice cheek shade, there is something wrong with your understanding of how life works. Nothing is better than this blush.
This particular shade is a perfect dupe for NARS Orgasm and a number of other high-end brands sold at Sephora and the Nordstrom makeup counters. Don’t sleep on this product! It’s a perfect pink, and the gold flecks can give off enough glow to replace a highlighter.
Retail price: $12-23 MSRP
OK, I cheated just a little. You can’t find ColourPop products in drugstores, but it is carried at Ulta. I’d classify ColourPop products as slightly above low-end, but definitely not high-end.
Their shadow palettes, along with all their other products, are worth the couple extra bucks, and they’ll still work well with any budget. For shades that represent the entire rainbow with matte and glittery finishes, pick up a ColourPop palette online and play around with a few eye looks.
Retail price: $8.99
Yes, Maybelline is the classic drugstore brand known for its plethora of mascaras. But why not break tradition for your lashes? They deserve it.
This mascara not only makes your lashes extra long, but it doesn’t budge all day. Its rubber brush tip avoids clumps that bristle brushes can cause. It also comes in four different shades of brown and black so feel free to emphasize your natural color or go for a bolder black. So you can truly float like a butterfly on a budget.
Retail price: $9.99 MSRP
I have bad news. Anastasia Beverly Hills has been ripping you off with overpriced brow products that work just as well as a Revlon pencil you can snag for $5 on Amazon. This brow product is a perfect dupe for Anastasia Beverly Hills’s Brow Wiz.
The color is the same, it comes with a spoolie just like the high-end option, and it doesn’t wipe my bank account whatsoever. A nice, defined brow is crucial to a good makeup look, and this product won’t disappoint.
Retail price: $5.00 MSRP
The cherry on top! The pièce de résistance! A lip can make or break any makeup look, so be sure to get products that aren’t too drying but also stay put. The NYX Butter glosses come in a variety of shades, have a smooth finish, like butter, and display a good amount of pigment.
Need a shade for every day? My personal favorite is Praline, but they’re all beautiful colors. The product also smells like birthday cake! But don’t eat it. I know from personal experience that it does not taste like cake, unfortunately.
I know, I know. I left out some products, but there’s only so much time in the day to read and write about makeup. I also believe I proved my point. All these products are A1, and you can try all of them for well under $50. Tired of spending your entire paycheck at the Sephora counter? Give my suggestions a try.