Tuesday 23rd January 2018
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Five beauty products you only ever need to buy at the drugstore

I’ve got nothing against a nice little beauty splurge. A tiny hit of luxury can put a real spring in your step and set you back a whole lot less than a new top or jacket or dress. However, it’s just as—if differently—pleasurable to know where to save, right?  Experience and expert advice have taught me that these are categories you can always get away with inexpensive versions of.

Lip Balm I always prefer one that comes in a stick; those in tubes or pots can be so goopy  I’ll inevitably end up just wiping them off within moments of application. I like Labello because it’s smoother and more emollient than other solids, and because—I can not lie—it’s got the insider appeal of formerly having only been available in Europe.

Makeup Remover:  For years, I used a rather pricey one, having sampled  a multitude of drugstore brands that either didn’t get the job done, or worked great  but stung the hell out of my eyes. But on a recent trip, after it failed to make its way into my makeup bag, I tried the  Neutrogena wipes that my hostess had on hand. Instant results, no ouch, and never going back.

Body Lotion Absolutely worth splurging on if you love the scent, but if it’s efficacy you’re after, I’d venture to say that—based on extensive but unscientific experience—drugstore brands are probably even superior to their department store counterparts. Curel’s Itch Defense, for instance, is nothing short of a miracle.

Mascara If there is one category you truly never, ever, ever need to buy a pricey version of, this is it. I am hangdog loyal to Loreal’s voluminous false lashes; read my previous ode here.

Eye Cream It’s criminal what some luxury brands get for this, especially given that the most effective active ingredients can be found in products up and down the price spectrum. Back when I got stuff for free, I tried half the fancy formulations on the market; nothing struck me as demonstrably better than Olay Total Effects.

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Posted on November 7th, 2012 42 Comments

42 Responses

  1. joannawnyc says:

    I think the Nivea lipcare you can find at Duane Reade for about $4 is identical to the Labello sticks. But I agree on the cache factor (sorry I don’t know how to do the accent on a windows computer).

  2. Viajera says:

    I have been told that Cetaphil can take off makeup pretty well too.

    • marie says:

      Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser IS AMAZING at removing regular makeup… when it comes to waterproof mascara however it’s ineffective you need something a little more potent.

  3. Amy says:

    Noxzema, you know, the kind in the tub. Cleans great with no stinging.

    • Krusticle says:

      I’ve been using Noxema with a buff puff since I was 13 (I’m now 50) and have always enjoyed clear, smooth skin. However, don’t even think of using Noxema to remove eye make-up — that camphor and eucalyptus will sting like crazy.

      • Katiecat says:

        Yeeeeah, Noxema is lovely for most makeup, but having used an Urban Decay 24/7 eye pencil as eye black for a Halloween costume without planning ahead and having makeup remover on hand, I can confirm it does not remove all eye makeup even if you don’t care about stinging 😛

  4. Amanda L says:

    Do you have any foundation and concealer recommendations- not necessarily drugstore. 🙂

    Thank you.

    • Donna says:

      Those 2 items are something that I think are worth spending more money on. I need full coverage, so I use Make Up For Ever. It’s great. For medium coverage Laura Mercier has some very good ones as well.
      I’m curious to see if Kim has any cheaper priced good ones to recommend, though. Great question.

      • holly says:

        I like light coverage foundation and I have found Cover Girl Clean to be great. It looks smooth and natural, and neither forms dry crusts nor greasy patches. I have tried MAC and Lancome and Estee Lauder before, as well as some other drugstore brands. I will say that it depends a lot on the type of skin you have. My skin has changed with age and climate and I have had to change makeup to keep looking fresh.

    • Leah says:

      I use Make Up Forever Duo Matte (powder foundation) but Loreal True Match is supposed to be great (Dita Von Teese uses it) and there is a whipped foundation – I think Cover Girl – that I have heard people rave about.

      The best foundation I have heard about from makeup snobs is Giorgio Armani. Not easy to find so I haven’t tried it yet.

  5. Donna says:

    I love reading posts like this. I’m with you on every category, except maybe eye cream. I admit I would still be buying Kinerase eye cream if I could afford it. Since I can’t I’m trying the cheaper version of it – the Dr. Lewinn’s kinerase. So far I haven’t noticed a difference. I’ve never tried the Olay, though, so I’ll keep it in mind for the future.
    I also love Cetaphil for a cleanser and make-up remover, and the Nivea lip balm (although I go through it so fast it doesn’t end up being that cheap).

  6. Adrien says:

    Kim France! Stop making me want to buy stuff. Dang. I do love a drugstore bargain and swear by CeraVe for really basic non-drying cleanser and super-thick moisturizer.

  7. déjà pseu says:

    Big fan of the Neutrogena wipes here. I have to disagree on the mascara, having recently switched to Clarins after using mostly drugstore brands the last couple of years, and notice my lashes look much fuller and have less breakage. And I find Olay products tend to sit on top of my skin like a sticky film, but admit I haven’t tried the eye cream.

  8. Jessica says:

    I use the Pond’s version of those wipes and omg, I love them. You can buy them on Amazon in bulk and I HAVE because I am a hoarder.

    My fave mascara is Maybelline, but not the old Great Lash. I used Falsies, and I swear they are better than the Voluminous (which I also like).

    • Donna says:

      Wow, we have so much in common! I’ve used Ponds forever, although I use the cold cream in the jar.
      I also really like the Maybelline Falsies mascara. I’ve been a Voluminous fan for years, but on a whim I tried the Maybelline and really liked the curved wand.

  9. Margie says:

    Love these posts!
    Will definitely try the Olay eyecream. Still a devotee of Lancôme Definicils mascara. Also Boots makes a very good eye makeup remover for sensitive skin.. It is someone oily but removes mascara without tugging at your eyes and leaves the skin moisturized. (Target.com)

  10. CR says:

    Where where where can I get Labello in the US????? Freaking out that the tube I bought in Prague is missing.

    Budget tip: the Target knockoff of the Olay Total Effects is half the price and just as good.

    • Lorimac says:

      You are not the only one – for years now, whenever a friend would visit Italy, I would press money into their hand and beg them to buy me a few sticks of Labello – I thought it could only be found in Italy – so I am over-the-moon about it being fouond somewhere in the US!

  11. Leah S. says:

    Thanks for these tips. Very helpful. And I need to get that Curel lotion stat. (Now that weather is cold and air is dry indoors= skin not happy.)

  12. Ilise says:

    I’m wondering if I’m the only one who tries to avoid parabens. I’ve read about the potentially harmful effects of parabens and pthalates, and these ingredients are in many beloved lotions and potions. Thoughts?

  13. Viajera says:

    Come to think of it, I’ve had good luck with some Avon products. The only downside for me was, I would get confused b/c they have a lot of items. But Avon might be worth a try as well. Someone get on it and report back?

    • Mari says:

      I use Avon products (anew) and I find they work very well. The line eraser treatment and glycolic treatment have worked on my forehead wrinkles.

  14. c says:

    I mostly agree although I love treating myself to a luxury mascara sometimes! (Lancome Hypnose Doll Lashes is wonderful.)I also think the Neutrogena wipes burned my eyes if I’m remembering correctly, so I’m back to Lancome BiFacil until another drugstore brand will prove itself worthy. Garnier wipes have been my favorites so far. But I do try to time my Lancome purchases so that I can get GWPs/gift sets, samples, etc. and knock out the mascara+makeup remover at a discount. IF I splurge. Maybelline does make great mascaras, they seem to all perform true to their label.
    And hear, hear on CeraVe! My dermatologist gave me samples of their face wash and moisturizer. Changed my life and now it’s all I use.

  15. Vix says:

    I remember seeing a commercial for the make-up remover towellettes and thinking YA RIGHT! Then someone gave me a pack and now that’s all I use.

  16. Kbones says:

    Now that I’m a mom, I’ve found that plain old baby wipes are just as good as the Neutrogena wipes for makeup removal and cost even less.

  17. Michele says:

    the CVS versions of the Oil of Olay products are my favorites. I am a big fan of the waterproof Voluminous though I have to admit that Chanel mascara is the best although I think it might be because the applicator brush is perfect.

    • Angie says:

      YES! I love the CVS version of all things Olay, and I swear by the CVS version of the L’Oreal eye duo stuff. I’m 32 and can still pass for 22 because I’ve been using it for years. It’s better even than the L’Oreal.

  18. Isabelle says:

    You guys, makeup removing at its best is done with something you would NEVER imagine: baby shampoo. I swear, it takes off everthing even the waterproof stuff, does not hurt your eyes (duh, it’s for babies) and it’s good for even ultra sensitive skin (which I have). It’s the cheapest ever, too. I buy it (in Montreal, Canada) for $2.79 and it lasts me the whole year. Talk about savings! Dare you to try it, a friend recommended it and I never went back to those other products.

    • Tara says:

      I second the baby shampoo recommendation. I was actually advised by my eye doctor to use it to remove makeup a couple of years ago. He said it’s the best thing for the skin around the eyes. I’ve never looked back (pun intended).

  19. mvan says:

    For eye makeup remover, I like Marcelle. Non greasy and removes even waterproof mascara easily. Available at drug stores here in Canada, I assume likely also available in the USA. Also like Marcelle mascara. Especially fond of their navy blue colour. Hard to find Navy in a lot of other brands.

  20. Giulia says:

    For makeup remover, baby oil is very effective and incredibly gentle on the skin. Just dab some on a cotton pad. And it’s super cheap.

  21. Aria says:

    I love those towellettes! Awesome, especially when I need to travel and don’t want to have to deal with airport issues/small bottles etc.

    And I have use all kinds of mascara, expensive and drugstore, and my two faves are L’Oreal Telescopic (with round sphere brush) and lately, Maybelline, Illegal Length — it is incredible!

  22. Tara says:

    Labello has been available in Canada as long as I can remember. I remember as a teen (in the 90’s) reading in a US magazine about this mysterious European stuff, and I always had a tube of it in my backpack.

  23. Alaurable says:

    Lip balm – meet any female Australian / NZer in her twenties and she’ll have some Lucas Pawpaw on her. Cheap, long lasting and also effective for burns / rashes / chaped hands.

    • Viajera says:

      Hey, are you an Aussie or a Kiwi? Do you know if there are any mineral sunblocks that don’t look like white facepaint?

      Another poster on here a few days ago made some suggestions, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to ask someone from your part of the world, too.

      • LJ says:

        I’m an Aussie and I love using the Hamilton brand Sunscreen. The family one is light and non-greasy. The Quadblock one is superstrength and thick, so not good for everyday.

  24. Caz says:

    Another great brand of makeup remover is ‘Simple’ (they have it in UK and Australia, not sure about US?) -comes in both liquid and wipes. They get everything off and they’ve never sting my eyes like some other brands have.
    Max Factor False Lash Effect mascara is amazing, and I second the Lucas’ Paw Paw ointment for lips – it’s fantastic.

  25. Cary says:

    Jojoba oil is fantastic for removing even the most stubborn eye makeup. I just rub it all over my eyes with clean fingers and then wash my face (with Purpose) and never have any difficulty. Purpose by itself actually gets rid of most makeup (even waterproof mascara) and is completely gentle/non-irritating. And CHEAP.

    Jojoba is also fantastic as under-eye moisture, and for any really dry spots – supposedly it’s the closest thing to the natural oils our skin produces. You can buy a giant bottle at a health food store or Trader Joe’s for $5 and it’ll last a year or more, easily…

  26. Mari says:

    First time reading this blog and I love it! I have to agree with the others about using the baby wash for eye makeup or any oil (I’ve even used olive oil).