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Beauty Buys on a Budget

You don’t have to break the bank to feel pampered. How drugstore products — generally under $15 each — can get the job done.

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Bridget Shevlin
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Splurging on a prestige brand’s illuminating foundation or eyeshadow palette is a sister’s self-care prerogative. But we also can find high-performance beauty products at the drugstore, says makeup artist Shawntay Fisher, who has made up the famous faces of Ava DuVernay, Jasmine Guy, Tamela Mann and Robin Roberts. In fact, some products found in drugstores and big-box stores are owned by the same companies as those behind prestige brands. For instance, L’Oréal’s portfolio includes Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani and Lancôme.

See more on how these products can help with your beauty routine, including a few options that Fisher keeps in her makeup kit and some picks from celebs.

Moisturizer: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Cream
We’ve heard Black don’t crack, but it’s still good to hydrate our skin and help protect it from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Enter a product that contains hyaluronic acid, which helps maintain our skin’s moisture levels, and sunscreen, like CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Cream, with SPF 30. “When the skin is properly hydrated, foundation glides [onto] the skin and tends to mimic the skin’s texture,” says makeup artist Malika James, who’s worked with Janelle Monae, Kelly Rowland, Tika Sumpter and Gabrielle Union.

You also may like: Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer

Setting powder: Black Opal True Color Soft Velvet Finishing Powder
You can select and apply a flawless foundation, but setting powder is the secret to getting it to stay put. Makeup artist D’Andre Michael revealed to Sheen in 2018 that he used this formula, which has color-adjusting pigments for that perfect match, to set Mary J. Blige’s flawless face at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

You also may like: Black Radiance True Complexion Loose Setting Powder

Mascara: L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Mascara
Not a fan of falsies but want to level up your lash game? A budget mascara can help add definition to your lashes for a more dramatic effect. Kelly Rowland named this less than $10 mascara as one of her drugstore beauty purchases.

You also may like: Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara

Brow Pencil: Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil
Having defined, beautiful brows can change your look. And selecting a brow pencil with a finer tip gives you “control over the shape, shading and thickness of the brow,” says Fisher. Janet Jackson told InStylein 2018 that Maybelline was her favorite.

You also may like: Joah Brow Down To Me Precision Brow Pencil

Brow gel: Ardell Brow Sculpting Gel
Brow gel can help tame unruly hairs, and applying gel afterfilling in brows can help lock in color while adding shine. And gel can help brows appear natural looking. Fisher prefers this clear formula.

You also may like: Maybelline Great Lash Clear Mascara

Eyeliner: e.l.f. Expert Liquid Liner
A dramatic cat eye comes down to precision. This smudge-proof formula glides on smoothly without tugging. And the ultra-fine tip makes it easy to control, according to Fisher. “The color stays rich all day long,” she says.

You also may like: Almay Liquid Line

Eye makeup remover: Neutrogena Gentle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover & Cleanser
This formula dissolves stubborn shadows and waterproof mascaras. Plus, it’s safe to use around the eyes, confirms New Jersey-based ophthalmologist Veronica Anderson, who advises makeup wearers to search for makeup removers that are oil free, fragrance free, hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin.

You also may like: Ultra Compact Makeup Remover Cleanser

Lip balm: Smith’s Rosebud Salve
Exfoliating your lips, and wearing a thin layer of lip balm or moisturizer (like Smith’s Rosebud Salve) at night, hydrates the lips. In the morning using a lip balm under your favorite lipstick, especially matte formulas, can create a smooth canvas. “Hydrated lips can create the appearance of fuller lips,” adds Fisher. Note: Take care with this hack if you’re using a liquid lipstick, as lip balm can break down these formulas.

You also may like: Aquaphor Lip Repair

Lip liner: NYX Professional Makeup Slim Lip Pencil
When applied to the entire lip, liner prevents the bleeding and feathering of lipstick, says Fisher. If your lip color starts wearing off, the liner’s color is revealed instead of a bare lip, allowing that pretty pout to last through lunch. NYX’s lip liners have gained a cult-like following due to their creamy formula and wide variety of shades — 41 to be exact.

You also may like: Rimmel 1000 Kisses Stay On Lip Liner pencil