These days, it doesn’t matter whether you spend £20 or £2000 on makeup; whatever your budget, you can have a perfectly made-up face full of high quality products — if you choose wisely! I’m a big advocate for drugstore makeup given my budget. I’ve tried multiple high-end products, and although they’re brilliant, they don’t usually out-perform drugstore alternatives — the only added bonus tends to be the added touches of luxury and their obvious Instagrammability.
Fellow beauty blogger Elle @ LaBeaute.org and I have put together our own lists of recommended drugstore products that won’t break the bank. In mine, you’ll find a number of products for under a mere £5 that I use religiously, and in Elle’s… well, you’ll have to read it for yourself, won’t you?
W7 Porefection Pore Minimising Primer
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This primer is a fantastic dupe for Benefit’s POREfessional, only — dare I say it? — BETTER. That’s a big claim to make, considering Benefit’s iconic status but here’s why. I’ve always resented my large, open pores, so when I discovered Benefit’s primer I was blown away — until I realised that it’s £25~ was unrealistic for my wage packet.
W7’s Porefection is pretty much identical in scent, colour and consistency, but out-performs POREfessional by far: my pores are less visible, my makeup lasts longer, and it feels nice on my skin. The brand as a whole are certified as cruelty-free, which would give any brand the edge for me.
Back when my blog was just a wee baby bloglet, I wrote a side-by-side comparison and Porefection came out the clear winner!
Makeup Revolution’s Conceal & Define Concealer
I was among the makeup-lovers hooting with joy when Makeup Revolution released their new concealer. I’ve seen loads of bloggers comparing it to Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer, which I can’t comment on personally as I’ve never tried it — but I will say that it’s bloody good. I’ve never really got concealer; I’ve tried loads, and whether I’ve spent £1 or £20, no matter how much I apply or how well I blend, it never conceals what I want it to conceal, be it dark circles or blemishes.
This one isn’t absolutely 100% perfect but it has a ruddy good try. The formula is thick but not cakey, and insanely pigmented to brighten up the areas that you want to conceal. It doesn’t cling to dry patches, nor does it make my skin oilier than it is already. It also comes in a whopping 18 shades, with a proper range of tones from really deep to really pale — just the twelve variations of the same sand/beige/nude shades and a few unsatisfactory dark shades thrown in as an afterthought. And all for under a fiver. I’m on my second tube already — but good luck finding it in stock! It seems everyone else really loves it too!
Psst… They’re also ‘proudly 100% cruelty-free!’
MUA’s Undress Your Skin Highlighting Powder
I feel like MUA has slipped to the sidelines a bit in the wake of Makeup Revolution’s world domination (let’s be real), but they have a decent number of releases to contend with. The highlighting powder compacts from their Undress Your Skin range are my absolutely favourites, and have been for a number of years. I’ve not yet come across a highlighter that delivers in all areas so well — pigmentation, formula, shimmer, shade range, price tag, cruelty-free status.
They look so pretty on the skin and blend out so well; you only need to swipe your brush across the pan once for a gorgeous glow. They also have a number of shades where those with deeper skintones have obviously been the target demographic, such as ‘Opalescent Amber’ and ‘Rosewood Glimmer’. I have about eight shades from their range, and each is as pretty and blinding as the next. My favourite has to be ‘Iridescent Gold’, but I was itching to get my hands on ‘Pearlescent Sheen’ (a white/blue duochrome) for ages and it did not disappoint. For such an inexpensive item (just £3 a pop), it ticks every box and then some.
Makeup Revolution x SophDoesNails Eyeshadow Palette
I was ridiculously excited when Soph revealed that she was collaborating with Makeup Revolution on some products and ordered them the minute they were available (yes, I am that sad). I love both palettes, but I fell in love with the eyeshadow right away. It has the amazing pigmentation and blendability we’ve all come to expect from Makeup Revolution by now, but the shades are what really steals the show.
It has a number of matte shades which I use for priming my eyelids and building up the definition in the crease (quite handily, they seem to fall into either a warm or cool category so you can pick and choose depending on the look you’re going for), and a handful of truly beautiful shimmer shades.
The colours are all so pigmented and manage to avoid becoming a muddy blended mess, which in my experience can happen with more vibrant eyeshadows. The matte pink casing is also darling, and the shade names are like little shout-outs to those of us who watch her YouTube videos. It’s my go-to palette before any others I own.
Bourjois’ Ultra Slim Liner Pen
I’ve also been a lover of liner and have tried many different styles and brands, from penciling on my panda eyes with a Miss Sporty kohl wind-up pencil, a liner pen-aided cat wing which I now favour (thank god). The pitfall of a liner pen tends to be durability — it either fades to a dull grey colour after some time or rubs off entirely.
A pen that I’ve found best avoids this is Bourjois’ Ultra Slim Liner Pen in Noir/Ultra Black. The nib is also super thin (it’s in the name, really, isn’t it?) and flexible to create a perfectly sharp flick that dries quickly to a matte black. A quick blitz of setting spray ensures it stays there all day. It’s maybe a little more than I’d like to spend on an eyeliner, mainly because I’m a massive cheapskate, but at £6.99 it’s hardly gonna break the bank.
Essence’s Lashes of the Day Volume Mascara
I’ve tried a few bits and pieces by budget brand Essence, but the makeup item I think they do really well is mascara. Available almost exclusively at Wilko’s in the U.K., I always find myself browsing the makeup counter among shopping for wallpaper or stationery. The brand reminds me of Miss Sporty — perhaps not the most bespoke, but great at pulling the basics out the bag.
I’m currently using their Lashes of the Day Volume Mascara for £2.50. It thickens lashes rather than lengthening, which I’m not usually a fan of but it gives my eyes a wider, brighter look and has my lashes looking really full and dark without being cakey or flaky. I’ve tried The False Lashes Dramatic Volume Unlimited Mascara as well, which was really lengthening but had the con of flakiness, so I definitely prefer the Volumising one.
I wrote a haul/first impressions post on a few more Essences items here!
MUA Luxe’s Velvet Lip Lacquer
I think I’ve saved the best ’til last. If I leave the house in a full face of makeup, you can 95% guarantee that I’m wearing one of my many, many Velvet Lip Lacquers by MUA Luxe. Oddly, when I first discovered them, I wasn’t a big fan as they felt too thick and cakey, but this was before liquid lipsticks became all the rage and I learnt better how to apply them.
The shades are enormously pigmented, with the exception of maybe three that I’ve tried — one swipe and you’re done. The wand is a typical doe-foot applicator, which makes for most precise application in my experience, and the only situation in which I’ve ever had to reapply is after eating greasy food. They also come in a range of shades all over the spectrum, from cool nudes, striking reds and plums to more black and royal blue. Maybe high-end (pricier) liquid lipsticks perform slightly better, but at £3 a pop, these are certainly nothing to sniff at.
What are your favourite drugstore makeup items?