Three Unbelievably Great Drugstore Brands

Over the last decade, drugstore cosmetics have made some major strides in competing with prestige performance. Some think this is due to the ownership structure in the beauty industry and the fact that many drugstore AND prestige brands share parent companies; others think it is due to the natural effects of trying to maintain a competitive edge. I know that it is both – but I’m not here to debate the why. I just want to talk about some great drugstore brands!

Maybelline & L’Oreal

…are owned by the same parent company, so I’m lumping them together especially since I’m talking about the same types of products. I’ve reviewed and REALLY liked both of their gel liners before (I do prefer Maybelline’s gel a bit more). Their cream and pressed-pigment shadows are jaw-droppingly good, especially if you can snag them with a coupon.

Although there are other concealers that undoubtedly outperform Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind concealer., , they all take more work to apply and blend. I use it at least three days a week. The intersection of price, performance, and convenience is just right for me.

They haven’t made me a cult fan of other products yet, but I’ve been an adherent to L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon black for years now – and I’ve enjoyed other formulas from them too (like Million Lashes Excess).

Wet n Wild

Photo definitely not mine! It is from from, go show her some love.

My first memory of painting my nails as a kid isn’t accompanied by a color, but a brand. I remember clutching a Wet n Wild polish bottle not unlike the one pictured above by Nichole from Bedlam Beauty. Lacking dexterity, I tried and repeatedly failed to neatly paint my digits perched precariously over an old, tattered towel freckled with drops of dried polish. Better that than the floor, right?

Over the years, I owned countless Wet n Wild polishes – Eggplant Frost, a rich, deep violet and Sage in the City a bright, shimmery green come to mind as high school favorites. Although I didn’t really give a damn about makeup in a serious sense until my early twenties, I definitely owned a bizarre (a frosty light amethyst one and a fun lipstick or two from them. I was tickled to learn that the MegaSlicks gloss line lives on and includes my favorite shade, Red Sensation. My love of Kat von D’s Adora comes at no surprise; I’ve loved fantastic, metallic-ish reds forever.

Great Drugstore Brands - Wet n Wild Megaslicks Red Sensation

Today, the inexpensive line is as accessible as ever. I can find their products at Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and Five Below locally. Shockingly, I can’t find a single product more than $5. A few years ago, I tried some of their Megalast matte lipsticks and found myself impressed by the performance (although the shades available at the time ultimately weren’t for me).

Late last year, I picked up their commonly-praised Walking on Eggshells shadow trio (<$3). I’m blown away by how good their shadows are. The trio is all shimmer and dear heavens are they smooth and blendable. Even though I tend to prefer prestige shadow, they put every single Too Faced shadow I’ve used to shame. I’m dying to know how their mattes perform; if their other trios and palettes are as good, I’m tempted to expand my collection that I said would not be expanding.

e.l.f. Cosmetics

e.l.f. is another low-cost drugstore brand that has some superstars. The line as a whole has been somewhat hit-or-miss for me, but the hits have hit hard. For instance, their $3 e.l.f. Studio blush has been a favorite of mine more than once. Although I’ve consumed the delicious NARS kool-aid, I still regularly find myself reaching for my e.l.f. Tickled Pink blush.

Their eyelid primer arguably isn’t the best product on the market, but for just a couple bucks it is damn good – and for the price, I’d take it over more expensive options when I can find it.

Brush-wise, their Small Stipple was the first brush I ever used, ever, to apply foundation. I graduated to other brushes for that purpose, but I still really like it for applying liquid or cream highlighter or cream blush. Remaining on the brush train, their $6 Beautifully Bare Blending Brush is what I use to slap Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder onto my face

Brands that Have Not Yet Convinced Me

I’m still waiting for Covergirl to wow me. I haven’t tried Clump Crusher, so maybe that’s what I’m missing – but nothing I’ve tried so far from them has gotten me excited.

Rimmel’s Stay Matte powder is decent, but that’s the only thing I’ve tried so far that has been worth my time. They have some fantastic lipstick colors, but the formula falls flat and I hate how they smell! To be charitable, the ApocaLips/ShowOffs liquid lipstick line was pretty good, but I just don’t care for liquid lipsticks.

Almay once had a mascara I adored, but they discontinued it. Jerks!

I chuckled, realizing that I have never tried a Neutrogena cosmetic product. I’ve used their skincare but not their makeup!

The Bottom Line

There are some products I definitely prefer prestige formulations of – foundation immediately comes to mind. Likewise, although there are some hidden drugstore gems, I think eyeshadow is worth a splurge. Unless you have skin/sensitivity issues, though, I see no point in having exclusively a prestige- or luxury-only makeup collection when there are so many great drugstore options. What are some great drugstore brands in your experience?

Maybelline and Manny

Maybelline and Manny

A couple months ago, Maybelline, purveyors of my favorite (and therefore most-purchased and most-used) drugstore concealer, announced that MannyMUA as a new, “face,” of Maybelline.

What This Post is Not

This post is not commentary on the presence of men in the beauty community. It doesn’t bother me that some gentlemen enjoy cosmetics. That just means we have something in common. Manny Fans: If you’re reading, this isn’t a Roast of MannyMUA, but there is critical content. Keep the comments classy, thanks.

What This Post Is

The aim of this post is instead to comment on the judgment and business decision-making. The partnership between Maybelline and Manny was surprising to me. Although MannyMUA is a popular beauty YouTube personality, he has been embroiled in several incidents in the fairly-recent past.

Read moreMaybelline and Manny

Recent Repurchases – Fall/Winter 2016

Us beauty bloggers talk a LOT about new things we’ve tried, or NEW(ish in my case!) favorites, but I think we collectively do a poor job of talking about what we loved enough to repurchase. I might really enjoy a product for a few months, but by the time I get to the end of the bottle or hit pan, things may have changed.

Here’s are my recent repurchases as of last week.


Recent Repuchases - Million Dollar Tan Cabana TanMillion Dollar Tan Cabana Tan

Some of my hunt for a more cost-effective sunless tanner has been chronicled. I’m not unhappy with Million Dollar Tan in the slightest, but accessibility and cost are key items that factor in my buying choices. St Tropez is more accessible didn’t blow my mind. Vita Liberata is more accessible, but also more costly. Many drugstore options are hit-or-miss. On Thanksgiving, Million Dollar Tan featured a 40% off discount – so I snagged the already-discounted 2-pack of Cabana Tan for only $30 TOTAL with the 40% code and free shipping. Normally $32 EACH (I’ve never paid full price, but still) this is a solid deal. With my usage, it takes me forever to get through the product, so it will be about two years before I need to replenish.

For those who would prefer to order through a retailer, Nordstrom carries it now too.


2016 Holiday Gift Guide - Big Sexy Hair Volumizing SetBig Sexy Hair Root Pump

I’m utterly helpless when it comes to hair, but I’ve figured out how to be presentable for work. One of the consequences of insisting on having long hair is that long locks tend to weigh down roots, so I need help in that department. I’ve bought a few travel-sized bottles of Big Sexy Hair Root Pump before, too gun-shy to shell out for the a full-sized can. This gift set from JcPenney (fluctuates between $22-25) finally got me to bite the bullet with some promo code and rewards cash for ultra-cheap.

Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki

Sigma F80

Read moreRecent Repurchases – Fall/Winter 2016

July 2016 Favorites

July 2016 Favorites
July 2016 Favorites
1. Threshold Hair Wrap Duo, $8 / 2. NYX Cream Blush, $6
3. Maybelline Color Tattoo – Creamy Beige, $6 / 4. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector, $20

Details on my July 2016 Favorites, clockwise from top, after the jump.

Read moreJuly 2016 Favorites

Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick

Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid LipstickMaybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick

It’s been a while since I’ve been a part of an Influenster campaign, but I got into the Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick campaign and recently received the product for free to test.

I received two colors. Rebel Red…

Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick - Rebel Red

…and Nude Flush.

Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick - Nude Flush

To date, my experience with liquid lipstick is minimal. I’ve tried Stila Stay All Day, in the game before it was cool, and I’ve tried NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream. The prestige market exploded a couple years ago and became heavily saturated with vibrant tubes of product. As per usual, the drugstore market lags behind, and is only recently catching up (I count NYX as kind of in a league of its own; drugstore price-point, bu t not drugstore quality). The Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick is in a friendly price-point, only $6.49 and eligible for coupons and whatnot.

But enough about market share!


Read moreMaybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick