I Asked 7 Makeup Artists for Their Favorite Drugstore Products—Here’s What They Said

I vividly remember buying my first eyeshadow palette from some honestly sketchy website (thanks, mom) in sixth grade. I watched hundreds of reviews on YouTube and created face maps of all the looks I was going to do. I received the palette the day before the Valentine’s Day dance at school, and I stayed up all night practicing looks. I put my hair in hot rollers, set up my grandma’s already ancient video camera, and started my “pink and red smokey eye” tutorial.  I’ve always trusted the opinions of the professionals, and until I became a beauty writer myself, I almost never bought something without seeing a few reviews first. Instagram and YouTube have significantly changed the beauty industry, giving makeup artists a platform they never had prior to showcase their work, share techniques, and try and recommend products. 

Because we’re all ballin’ on a budget (and just trying to prioritize rent over a new lipgloss), I asked some of my favorite makeup artists and beauty gurus for their favorite drugstore products. No need to transfer funds from your savings — these staples are all under $20. 


1. Julia Adams, Makeup Artist and Beauty YouTuber


ColorStay Foundation For Normal/Dry Skin

One of my all-time favorite drugstore products would have to be Revlon ColorStay Foundation for normal/dry skin. Even if I’m always testing new foundations, I can’t help myself and just go back to this one. It has medium coverage, a super light texture (natural finish — never looks cakey on me), and it lasts like crazy!


Lash Sensational Mascara

Another drugstore product that I can’t live without is Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara — it's hands-down the best mascara I’ve ever used. It doesn’t transfer, holds the curl, and makes the lashes look crazy long.




2. Zainah Bhassan, MUA

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Thank you @joyadenuga for making me wear a cream scarf and expelling the subconscious conditioning against wearing anything lighter than light brown ❤️ (I still lovvvve brown forever though haha) My experience growing up in regards to self image was transformational. I used to think I was the epitome of unattractiveness and the worst part is that I wasn’t sad about it, I thought there was a science behind it, I had ‘nappy hair’, ‘dark skin’, ‘eczema’, ‘wide nose’, ‘big lips’, ‘thicker thighs’…. this all equated to the oppositely of what beauty was to me and made me a professional wall flower, always trying to blend in. I still literally hate being the centre of attention ? Remembering just how embedded in my brain this was makes me soooo sad for my younger self. It took me a while to recondition and realise just how precious my individuality was but I got there…(story for another caption) I am a strong believer in the idea that we are all given a tool to achieve our purpose. The tool I was gifted with was a strong mind and my hands. I truly believe that my purpose is to play a part in empowering and restoring the self love of my fellow brown skinned sisters and the tool that has got me to a position of positive influence is my love for makeup… see how God works. I’m not even nearly done but I’m soooo glad that I can potentially play a part in someone’s journey. With all the ups and downs of life, i believe that once we unfold the chaos that has been fed to us in our minds we are in a better position to make a positive influence in life. @joyadenuga , you made me feel soooo pretty in my brown skin with this beat, and for that I’m grateful ❤️ – Alexa play ‘brown skin girl’ ? ? . . . #hausagirl #instagood #ootd #blackgirlmagic #ZXO #melanin #Darkershadesofmelanin #blackisbeautiful #naturallybeautiful #darkskinwomen #darkskinwomenmakeup @brownmelaninmakeup #brownmelaninmua #love #instagood #makeupgoals #dewyandset #naturallybeautiful #ootd #goddesvibe #brownskingirl #thegift #lionking #mua #beautyblogger #hijabi #nomakeup #nomakeupselfe #love #instagood #makeupgoals #skincare #selfie #joyadenuga

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Nip + Fab

Primer Essence Drops

When it comes to drugstore makeup, I’m a fiend! I love a good find that won’t dent my wallet too much. A current favorite of mine is the Nip + Fab Essence Drops. Not only do they smell amazing (and edible), they are so hydrating and the prefect base for any makeup look! Glowing skin is a forever staple. "Banana" is my favorite flavor!

3. Fiona Fleming, MUA

Source: @fionabeautty


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I used all drugstore products except for my brows and Setting Powder!?✨ Any Brow and Setting Powder drugstore recommendations?! ________________________________________________________ •Eyes @nyxcosmetics Ultimate Palette in “Brights”, @rimmellondoncan Magnif’Eyes Palette in “Electric Violet”, @nyxcosmetics_canada Slide on Glide on Pencil in “Azure”, @catrice.cosmetics 3D Highlighter in “Icy Glaze”, @lorealmakeup Voluminous Mascaras in “Burgundy” and “Cobalt Blue”. ________________________________________________________ •Brows @glossier Boy Brow in “Brown”. ________________________________________________________ •Face @nyxcosmetics_canada Bare With Me Jelly Primer, @nyxcosmetics Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil in “Vanilla Nude”, @lisewatier Hydrating Setting Powder in “Universal”, @maybelline City Bronzer in “200”, @burtsbeesca @burtsbees Blush in “Shy Pink” and @catrice.cosmetics 3D Highlighter in “Icy Glaze”. ________________________________________________________ •Lips @elfcosmetics Gotta Glow Lip Tint in “Perfect Pink”.

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Ultimate Brights Shadow Palette

I feel like drugstore products have upped their game the last few years. One of my favorite drugstore products is the NYX Ultimate Brights Palette. All the colors in this palette are very pigmented and work on so many skin tones.


Voluminous Mascara

L’Oréal has their classic Voluminous Mascaras that are great, but they’re even better in the shades Burgundy and Cobalt Blue!




4. Carla Dyson, Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist


Micro Brow Pencil

I use this on my own brows to feather in hair-by-hair brows.


Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil

This is a tinted BB cream that adds radiance to the skin, but still has great coverage.



5. Joseph Mata, Makeup Artist


Baked Blush

The Milani Blush in “Luminoso” is the best universal blush, I apply with a brush for the perfect pop of color and glow.




6. Danielle Marcan, Makeup Artist and Brand Ambassador for Huda Beauty




7. Kelly Gooch, Beauty YouTuber

Source: @_kellygooch


Conceal + Perfect Concealer

Recently, many of my favorite drugstore products have come from Milani. I have been obsessing over their Conceal + Perfect Concealer. It sits beautifully on the skin and really plumps and hydrates my under-eyes!