Best Drugstore Beauty Buys — Over 50 Bargain-Priced Essentials!
Happy New Year, everyone! We know most sites are still churning out their “Best of 2012” lists but, as we discussed our favorite bargain beauty finds, we figured, ‘Why limit ourselves to 2012? Why not simply look at the Best in Show without concerning ourselves with the exact time frame in which these products were released?’ And so, dear readers, below you’ll find over 50 top-notch, affordable products you can find at your nearest drugstore, a veritable A-Team to leave your skin feeling soft and smooth; your complexion clear, radiant, and wrinkle-free; your hair lustrous and frizz-free; your makeup looking flawless; and your manicure looking fresh to death.
Let’s keep it real: most women have facial hair — and we’re not just talking about eyebrows and eyelashes. And, while waxing your upper lip can certainly remove the unwanted hair, it can also have negative effects on your skin’s health in the long row. For one, waxing the skin on this area leaves that new “virgin” skin extremely susceptible to harmful UV rays, which can lead to discoloration and sun damage down the line (if you do wax, then, I’d suggest applying a bit of sunscreen the moment you leave the salon or spa). Waxing can also aggravate sensitive skin since, by nature, it’s a rather harsh process involving tugging and ripping strips off one’s face. Unfortunately, most women feel like few other options are available. Laser hair removal is, of course, incredibly pricey, threading can seem endless, and hair removal creams can often burn up to high heaven. The Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo finally offers an effective alternative. This kit includes two products: a Skin Guarding Balm, which comes in a retractable tube and resembles a lip balm, and which goes on to the skin clear, depositing a Vaseline-like coating to protect your skin; and the Hair Removal Cream, which you squeeze out of its tube and apply generously to the area coated by the balm. This white cream, of course, is what works to remove the hair and, in a matter of 7 to 10 minutes, you can wipe off the cream with a tissue, rinse the area, and admire your hair-free complexion. You’ll get quite a few uses from each kit, so this will also prove to be a more frugal option than waxing or threading.
Did you know most shave creams are primarily made of air? That’s why they foam as easily as they do and have such a fluffy consistency! Think, then, about how that shave gel that you smooth onto your legs is actually leaving virtually no protective barrier between the blades on your razor and your delicate skin. With eos, thankfully, you need not worry. This non-foaming, paraben-free shaving cream is formulated with moisturizing and conditioning shea butter, soothing aloe, and antioxidants like vitamin E and C, and it safeguards your skin while allowing your razor to glide easily down your legs, gripping even the teeniest bit of stubble. Best of all, when you step out of the shower, your skin will feel smooth and supple, plus you won’t have to worry about any irritation or ingrown hairs. Pick between such delicious scents as Pomegranate Raspberry, Vanilla Bliss, and Lavender Jasmine.
With a “less is more” philosophy, Simple has won over legions of fans with sensitive skin by focusing on basic ingredients and eradicating artificial dyes and fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and other comodegenic ingredients. The Refreshing Facial Wash Gel, for instance, leaves skin feeling squeaky clean, while moisturizing it with Pro-Vitamin B5, and the Hydrating Light Moisturizer conditions and replenishes skin with a combination of vitamin B5, borage seed oil, glycerin, and vitamin E. As someone with rather delicate skin, I rely on this Dynamic Duo rather heavily — especially when my skin is going through a problematic period (whether it’s a breakout, rash, or any other situation).
TRESemmé Nourishing Rituals Cashmere Touch Hydrating Serum, $4.29. Available at food, drug, and mass market retailers.
A mixture of fatty acid-rich argan oil and coconut oil — both of which are easily absorbed by hair stands — makes this ultra-concentrated serum an excellent tool in fighting frizz, protecting hair from heat styling tools and UV rays, softening strands, and taming unruly ends. You can apply this serum to damp hair and comb it all the way through or you can smooth it onto dry strands whenever you need to tame fly-aways and frizz.
In January 2012, Maybelline unveiled a new range of dazzling, long-lasting cream eye shadows. Formulated with flexible film formers and rich pigments for dramatic, saturated color, these gel-like cream shadows adhere easily to the lids and stay in place for hours and hours without streaking, creasing, flaking, or losing their luster. Our favorite shades include Bad to The Bronze, Painted Purple, and Tenacious Teal.
This lightweight spray should be applied to damp strands before blow-drying and/or straight ironing so that your pin-straight style can last, undisturbed, for up to three days. Made with a blend of polymers and keratin, the John Frieda Frizz-Ease 3-Day Straight protects hair from heat styling tools, blocks out humidity and keeps frizz at bay.
When it comes to drugstore lip colors, I swear by the Covergirl Lip Perfection Lipstick and Lip Liner. The long-lasting, non-drying lipstick colors are richly pigmented and the shades are modern and on trend, plus they have a creamy texture and a deliciously velvety finish. To make your lip color last a tad longer, I suggest applying the desired shade of Covergirl Lip Perfection Lipstick first and then applying a matching liner atop that shade. Some of my favorite shades include Divine, Spellbound, and Flame.
John Frieda Precision Foam Hair Colour, $12.99. Available at select food and drug retailers. Visit Ulta.com.
Most women who have experimented with coloring their hair at home know it can result in absolute disaster: from the wrong final shade (Gatorade red, anyone?) to streaky areas, uneven color, and practically bald patches. With the John Frieda Precision Foam Hair Colour, you need not worry about any of these less-than-ideal outcomes. Thanks to a revolutionary foam technology, you can work the sudsy-like hair color into your hair thoroughly, massing it along strands from root to tip, then making your way all over the head. Once you wait 20-30 minutes, you can simply rinse your hair and enjoy your gorgeous vibrant color.
L’Oreal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray, $14.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers, including Ulta.com
There’s a reason why Elnett is legendary: it’s excellent! This hairspray offers superior hold without leaving hair feeling stiff or crunchy. In other words, you can wear your hair in a posh bun to a black tie event and, later that evening, take out the elastics and pins and look like a sultry seductress for your man, inviting him to comb his fingers through your hair and maybe, just maybe, indulge in a romp between the sheets.
Sonia Kashuk Limited Edition Star Studded 7 pc. Brush Set, $24.99. Available at Target stores and Target.com
Beloved makeup artist Sonia Kashuk has been collaborating with Target for years, releasing everything from lipsticks and eyeshadows to nail lacquers, hair brushes, makeup brushes, and cosmetics pouches, weekend bags, and train cases. But out of all her offerings, the Sonia Kashuk for Target makeup brushes are perhaps the most noteworthy. Never one to skimp on quality, Kashuk has blessed us with affordable makeup brushes that can rival those of such high-end brands as Trish McEvoy, MAC Cosmetics, and Lancôme. This particular set includes: a Blush/Powder Brush, Blending Brush, Eyeshadow Brush, Crease Brush, Angled Eyeshadow Brush and a Smudge Brush.
Revlon Colorstay Makeup with SoftFlex SPF 15, $12.49. Available at major food and drug retailers. Visit CVS.com
If you like a foundation that offers a greater deal of coverage and have combination or oily skin, then this foundation will butter your biscuit — without greasing up your face. The oil-free foundation not only conceals any blemishes, redness, scars, and dark circles, but it controls shine and feels lightweight and breathable.
Nivea A Kiss of Milk & Honey Soothing Lip Balm, $2.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
Enriched with antioxidant-packed grape seed oil and jojoba seed oil, along with fatty acid-rich shea butter, honey (a natural antibacterial and humectant), dry milk (which contains proteins that nourish the skin), and castor seed oil, this lip balm moisturizes your pout and leaves them feeling nice and smooth.
Dove Nourishing Oil Care Leave-In Smoothing Cream, $6.29. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit CVS.com
Featuring coconut oil, lactic acid, and sweet almond oil, this styling aid moisturizes the hair while also smoothing uplifted cuticles to eliminate frizz. The leave-in cream can be applied to damp or dry hair, but I’m particularly fond of using it on dry hair for much-needed touch-ups.
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, $9.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
As a certified nail junkie, I’ve tried every top coat imaginable and none can really compare to Seche Vite. Admittedly, I also adore the Zoya Armor Top Coat but, since it’s not readily available at drugstores, the top prize has to go to the Seche Vite. Not only will this clear top coat help your mani last longer and prevent it from chipping, but it also bestows a beautiful and mirror-like shine to nails.
Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes, $5.99 for 30-pack. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Walgreens.com
These hypoallergenic, ultra gentle, travel-friendly wipes can remove dirt and makeup, thoroughly cleanse the face, and refresh the complexion, plus each towelette contains 98.7% natural ingredients, among them soothing aloe vera, green tea extract, cucumber extract and glycerin. Not only are these suitable for women with sensitive skin, but they actually make removing makeup feel like the ultimate treat since each towelette is so delightfully saturated with moisture.
Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips, $9. Available at all major food and drug retailers, including Walgreens.com
Don’t get it twisted: these aren’t stickers. They may look like stickers, but Sally Hansen masterminded a technology all its own whereby these patterned strips adhere to your nails as polish would, even making it necessary to break out the acetone when it’s time to switch up your manicure. Not only does your average Sally Hansen manicure last a solid 10 days, but you can pick between a bevy of patterns that includes camouflage, leopard, zebra, cheetah, star, heart, checkerboard and glitter-packed styles.
Colgate Wisp Peppermint 4ct, $2. Available at drugstores nationwide. Visit Walmart.com
We all need a breath check every once in a while. Tic Tacs and chewing gum can leave your breath smelling minty fresh, but they can’t pull off such feats as removing seeds, lettuce bits, and popcorn seeds from in between tooth or wiping icky film off teeth. With the Colgate Wisp brushes, you can scrub your pearly whites clean and freshen up your breath while on the go. Each purse-ready pack contains four miniature brushes with freshening beads packed at the center of their bristles.
Schick Quattro For Women Trim Style, $12.99. Available at food, drug, and mass market retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
Long hair is a beautiful thing — but not when it comes to your honey pot! Sure, you can decide whether you want to go for a baldie or a fade, so to speak, but the bottom line is you need to give your bikini line the necessary upkeep. The Schick Quattro Trim Style features two ends: one with a straight-forward razor that allows you to shave off shorter stubble, and the other with a battery-operated clipper that allows you to chop off longer strands of hair. If you missed a bikini wax or even if you prefer to do your own landscaping work, the Trim Style will prove to be one handy tool.
Physicians Formula Powder Palette Mineral Glow Pearls, $13.95. Available at food, drug, and mass market retailers. Visit PhysiciansFormula.com
This universally flattering palette features multi-colored pearls that, when blended together, bestow a healthy glow onto any complexion. When you sweep some powder onto your face, it makes your skin tone look more even and helps you achieve a lit-from-within effect.
Shea Moisture Organic Olive & Green Tea Body Butter, $9.99. Available at Walgreens and Target stores.
Quench your skin’s thirst with this superb body butter, which is easily absorbed by the skin and leaves it feeling velvety soft. The main ingredient is, of course, shea butter, which is rich in fatty acids that hydrate the skin and improve its overall texture and which also contains oil-controlling squalane, elasticity-boosting vitamin A, brightening vitamin C, and anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Other key ingredients include green tea, which soothes and calms the skin, and softening avocado oil.
Garnier Fructis Style Sleek & Shine Leave-In Conditioning Cream, $2.99, and Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk, $3.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Target.com
All the products in the Garnier Sleek & Shine collection are formulated with Moroccan argan oil and are designed to lock out frizz in even the most humid of climates. The Leave-In Conditioning Cream smells delicious thanks to the apricot kernel oil in the formula, which restore softness and shine to strands, while lemon peel extract works as a clarifying agent to prevent any product build-up. The more lightweight Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk, meanwhile, can be used prior to styling so as to more effectively straighten strands or it can be smoothed onto dry hair to tame fly-aways and frizz.
Sally Hansen Miracle Cure For Severe Problem Nails, $8.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit CVS.com
Varnish-loving vixens may adore the variety that their frequent nail polish changes offer, but chances are they can do without the damage that such a routine can wreak on vulnerable nails. If your nails are prone to chipping, flaking, or breaking, then fortify them with Sally Hansen Miracle Cure. This nail strengthener contains natural proteins, along with vitamins C and E, plus you can easily brush it onto your nails and it leaves a clear, shiny coating.
John Frieda Full Repair Touch-Up Flyaway Tamer, $9.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
You spent hours straightening your hair, working it into a glamorous chignon or top knot, or even creating glamorous Veronica Lake-worthy waves, only to have gusts of wind, humidity, sweat, and rain drops undo all of your hard work. Fortunately, this Mr. Fix It allows you to tame any frizz and fly-aways while you’re on the run. Packaged inside a cylindrical mascara-like bottle, the Full Repair Touch-Up Flyaway Tamer is a clear styling aid enriched with Inca Inchi oil, an Omega 3-rich micro-oil that penetrates dry and damaged strands, repairing them from within. When you dip the mascara-like wand into the tube and swipe the brush atop strands, your hairstyle will be revived and will look picture perfect once again.
Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Stain, $6. Available at all major food and drug retailers. Visit Soap.com
Thanks to their water-based pigments, these marker-like lip stains deliver a playful hint of sheer color to one’s pout. The vitamin-enriched berry nectar in the long-lasting, stay-put formula keeps lips hydrated throughout the day.
Q-Tips Precision Tip Cotton Swabs, $2.79. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Soap.com
Yes, traditional Q-Tips are amazing, but the Precision Tips are a makeup lover’s best friend. Each double-ended cotton swab features two slanted tips, allowing you to more effectively target small areas. If you need to clean up the edges of nails after giving yourself manicure, correct small eye makeup mistakes, or tap the tips of lashes so that mascara doesn’t wind up dotting the area beneath brows, the Q-Tips Precision Tips will help you better accomplish these tasks.
Packaged inside egg-shaped containers, these all-natural lip balms spin me right round, baby! Not only are the eos Smooth Sphere lip balms affordable, they’re also ultra sanitary in that you can always grasp the bottom of the balm’s case and apply the moisturizer into your lips, never having to dip potentially dirty fingers into a jar-like tin, plus the twist-off cap stays securely in place even while your sphere-shaped balm tumbles inside your purse. Best of all, the balms are formulated with hydrating vitamin E, jojoba oil, and shea butter, and they can tackle even the driest, flakiest, most wind-chapped and winter-beaten lips out there and whip them back into shape.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion, $8.29. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Walgreens.com
Whether you suffer from eczema or psoriasis and you categorize your skin as oily, dry, normal, or sensitive, you’ll find plenty to love about this body moisturizer, a perennial favorite among dermatologists. This gentle lotion contains macadamia nut oil, which has an unprecedented level of palmitoleic acid, an Omega-7 fatty acid that is naturally found in our skin but which diminishes in quantity as we age, so that by applying this lotion onto the skin we can restore its supple, smooth, and radiant appearance.
Goody Ouchless Ribbon Elastics, $3.99. Available at Target stores.
Most hair elastics are positively treacherous — they can tangle hair, snag on strands, and lead to breakage. These hair ties, however, are made of a soft and stretchy ribbon material and come in a variety of fashion-forward colors, plus they feature a pretty knot detail. As an added bonus, they look way cuter on your wrist than traditional black elastics.
Güd from Burt’s Bees Natural Body Wash, $6.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
Developed by the masterminds behind eco-friendly beauty brand Burt’s Bees, Güd caters to a similarly environmentally friendly woman who is slightly younger and more adventurous in terms of her style and beauty choices. The products in the Güd line, then, come in cheekier packaging with splashier designs and more vibrant colors and come in mouth-watering floral and fruity scents. One of my favorites is the gentle Natural Body Wash in Orange Petalooza, which boasts a succulent aroma containing top notes of blood orange, pomelo, and white tea, middle notes of orange flower, hyacinth, and rose, and base notes of sandalwood and musk.
Olay Soothing Cucumber Body Lotion, $4.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
This ultra silky lotion almost has a whipped, airy consistency, gliding right onto skin without leaving any greasy residue and coating it with a watery cucumber aroma. The avocado and cucumber extract in the formula, meanwhile, soothe and soften the skin, leaving it nice and smooth.
Women with sensitive skin will adore these gentle cleansing wipes, which contain no artificial perfumes or dyes and which are enriched with panthenol, a natural conditioner with anti-aging benefits.
Japonesque Beauty Fixation Makeup Remover Swabs, $5. Available at Duane Reade stores.
This tiny case contains 24 double-ended swabs pre-filled with liquid makeup remover so that, when you snap one end along the demarcated red line, the liquid substance trickles down to the other end, allowing you to swipe off any errant eyeliner lines, any outside-the-lines lipstick, and so forth.
Pantene Pro-V Curly Series Light Conditioning Detangler, $3.97. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Walmart.com
If you’re a curly-haired gal with thin or dry strands, then you’ve probably had that dreadful experience of washing your hair and having to tug and yank at knotted strands, wincing the entire time while fearing what such aggressive combing would do in terms of damaging your tresses. The Pantene Pro-V Curly Light Conditioning Detangler will make this a distant memory since it moisturizes strands and allows you to more easily comb your hair — all without leaving your mane greasy or weighing down curls.
Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Chamomile & Argan Oil Baby Head-to-Toe Wash & Shampoo, $9.99; Healing Lotion, $9.99; and Head-to-Toe Ointment, $9.99. Available at Walgreens and Target stores. Visit Walgreens.com
Whether you’re tending to the delicate skin of an infant or you yourself have ultra-sensitive skin, this range of all-natural products is likely to put a smile on your face. The raw shea and argan oil in each product’s formula works to hydrate, soften, and smooth skin, even tackling problems ranging from cradle cap to eczema, while the chamomile extract soothes any irritation and even produces a calming sensory effect thanks to its soft herbal scent.
Jergens Sensitive Skin Relief, $4.97. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Walmart.com
Especially formulated for those with sensitive skin, this silky soft, hypoallergenic lotion is 100% free of fragrances, dyes, and lanolins, so that it won’t aggravate even the most reaction-prone skin.
Tackling everything from stretch marks to scars, Bio-Oil contains vitamins A and E, along with calendula, lavender, rosemary and chamomile oils. Together, these ingredients work to improve and even overall skin tone over time.
John Frieda Root Awakening Health Boosting Detangling Spray, $6.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Walgreens.com
Thanks to the eucalyptus extract, peppermint leaf, and peppermint extract in the formula, this conditioning detangler soothes and cools the scalp while also stimulating hair growth. The vitamin C and E in the formula, along with the panthenol ans castor oil, work as moisturizers and antioxidants, conditioning, softening, and protecting strands. If you spritz this onto damp hair, you’ll not only notice that your strands become more manageable, but you’ll experience a major volume boost so that strands have more body and movement.
Dove Cleartone Deodorant, $4.99. Available at major food and drug retailers. Visit CVS.com
In addition to keeping underarms dry and odor-free, the Dove Cleartone deodorants also help to brighten the dark patches on the skin along this area. The sheer deodorant’s formula contains calendula extract, which is known to give skin a radiance boost and which boasts antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that accelerate the healing of wounds by jump-starting cellular regeneration. The sunflower seed extract in the formula, meanwhile, is rich in beta-carotene which, in turn, the body can convert to vitamin A, an antioxidant that protects skin from harmful UV rays and which increases the skin’s synthesis of collagen and elastin.
A proprietary amino-peptide complex, along with other anti-aging ingredients like soluble collagen, elastin, green tea extract, and vitamins B3, B5, and E, work together to make these Olay Regenerist products particularly vital weapons in the fight against visible aging signs. When used together, these products deliver a 1-2 punch combination that leaves you looking like a knockout.
St. Ives Naturally Smooth Lotion, $5.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
The St. Ives Naturally Smooth Body Lotion focuses on not only hydrating skin but improving its texture and overall appearance via a unique citric acid-derived Alpha Hydroxy Acid-rich formula. This AHA complex works mainly as an exfoliant, allowing dead skin cells to slough off and revealing new and radiant skin, but it also helps to stimulate collagen and elastin production and to repair photo-damaged cells.
Covergirl Lash Blast Length Mascara, $8.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Walgreens.com
I can’t get enough of this mascara. The mascara wand features a longer brush than any prior Covergirl mascara and, fittingly, it makes lashes so long, they reach toward the sky and seem to kiss it. The mascara’s Elasta-Nylon formula, meanwhile, flexes without flaking so that you need not worry about clumping, or streaking.
Maybelline Color Show Nail Polish, $2.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Target.com
Maybelline’s new nail polishes come in a wide range of shades and finishes – from creamy fluorescent shades to pretty pastels, sumptuous metallics, glimmering denim-like blues in a range of indigo-like washes, and even a new assortment of sequined colors. Best of all, you can scoop a new color for less than what you’d pay for a Starbucks Frappuccino.
Essence of Beauty Açai Infused Teardrop Sponges, $3.99. Available at CVS stores and CVS.com
These teardrop-shaped sponges, available exclusively at CVS, allow you to maneuver along tight spaces like the inner corners of eyes and the curved sides of the nostrils, plus they’re infused with antioxidant-rich açai so as to leave behind a smooth, silky, streak-free finish.
Clearasil PerfectaWash System, $19.99. Available at select drugstores. Visit CVS.com
This facial wash system features a dispenser with a built-in sensor that detects when your open palm is placed underneath the spout, thereby depositing the perfect amount of acne-fighting facial cleanser for a single wash. By taking the guesswork out of the cleansing routine, this system ensures that women don’t over-dry their skin by using an excessive amount of salicylic acid-rich cleanser.
Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel, $7.99. Available at drugstores. Visit CVS.com
What in the world is the Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel doing in a beauty buy round-up, you ask? Well, here’s one of the best kept secrets in the beauty industry game: this product actually contains many of the same ingredients found in the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, Silica, and Tocopheryl Acetate. Sure, it doesn’t have the safflower seed extract, camellia extract, and grape seed extract found in the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer — all of which work to moisturize and smooth the skin — but it does incorporate the main ingredients that create an invisible barrier and that help makeup glide on more smoothly and evenly. In a pinch, this might just do the trick!
Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash, $6.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Drugstore.com
Body acne can be a source of embarrassment for many a woman. Fortunately, Neutrogena is easing their concerns with its Body Clear Body Wash, a mild cleanser that contains acne-fighting, bacteria-eliminating salicylic acid, along with 100% naturally derived grapefruit extract, which is itself a natural antimicrobial, and which gives the body wash a zesty, fruity, invigorating aroma.