Ahh, the drugstore. You go in for some Q-Tips and toilet paper and leave with a lip balm, three eye liners and a basketful of nail polishes you don't need. It's impossible to enter your local drugstore without making your way over to the beauty aisle, where you peruse everything from hair bands and loofahs to makeup removers and eye shadows. But with all that product staring you in the face, it can be, well, a little overwhelming.
We hit up a pro to help us navigate through it all so we can start making better choices. Because we're not going to stop impulse buying...but we can at least start purchasing products that we're going to love. “Not all drugstore products are created equal, and you have to know how to pick out the cult favorites and weed out the junk,” says Kelli J. Bartlett, Glamsquad director of artistry, who’s a constant fixture behind the scenes everywhere from fashion week to the red carpet.
“I am a big proponent of making investments in the products you use everyday and then saving on the trend items you can find at a drugstore that are just as good,” she added. Ahead, the 10 tried-and-true items that made the cut for her kit—starting at just 65 cents.
L’Oreal Voluminous Original Mascara
Why Kelli Loves It: “The wand is like a Mason Pearson brush—it’s very fibrous and full, so you don't have to worry about clumps. When it comes to choosing a color, always go with ‘Blackest Black.’ Light lashes need the extra oomph and dark lashes will benefit from its eye-defining intensity.”
Wet n Wild Color Icon Eye Shadow Single
Why Kelli Loves It: “You can't go wrong with these shadow singles. The hyper pigmented, creamy color looks and feels luxe. Use the shadow wet or dry. If you're looking for super high impact shine or color, try wetting your brush a little before applying the shadow. This trick will give you a highly saturated and metallic effect.”
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in Clear
Why Kelli Loves It: “This clear formula is perfect for taming and adding texture for full, natural brows. Unlike so many gels, it doesn't flake and has the dual purpose of keeping brows in place while also adding extra texture. Apply tons of the gel to beef up the brow texture and set the shape in place. Add small flicks of your favorite brow pencil to fill in sparse spots!”
e.l.f. Eye Widener
Why Kelli Loves It: “[This liner] glides on and blends [so] easily. To instantly fake an awake look, place the white liner in the inner tear ducts of the eyes. Then pat with your finger to soften the brightness.”
L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Foundation
Why Kelli Loves It: “[This line has] an impressive variety of skintones available. The product is super light and meshes into your skin easily, giving it a natural ‘your skin but better’ appearance. The formula is truly lightweight so you can feel comfortable applying all over without looking cakey.”
Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer
Why Kelli Loves It: “Creamy and highlighting—this product brings life back to the face and covers better than some designer products. Draw small triangles under the eyes, a stripe down the center of the nose and on chin and forehead. Blend with your ring finger for an instant radiance.”
e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder
Why Kelli Loves It:“[It’s a] blush and bronzer all in one for the perfect glow all year round. Plus, the petite size is perfectly portable. To contour, focus on adding depth only where needed. Tilt the head to the side you are working on, with your ear almost touching your shoulder, and place your brush inside of the natural shadow, underneath the bone, blending back toward your ear and down at an angle toward your mouth.”
Milani Baked Blush
Why Kelli Loves It: “This product has the same color payoff as a $20 blush, and it there is a wide range of shades to choose from. Smile as you swoosh for the perfect blush placement on the apples of your cheeks.”
Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Champagne
Why Kelli Loves It: “It's soft and subtle color with ultimate shine and hydration. [While it’s] perfect for lips, this can also be used as a highlighter on skin.”
Olay Daily Gentle Clean Wet Cleansing Cloths
Why Kelli Loves It: “Perfect for keeping skin cleansed and moisturized while on the go, they are my #1 travel must-have. [A tip:] Store the package upside down so the wipes remain fully saturated until you use the very last one.”
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