The Essential Drugstore Makeup Kit

 I have so many friends who don't really feel confident in their makeup skills and feel totally overwhelmed when walking into a drugstore. When you're trying to learn to use makeup and trying to buy affordable makeup at the drugstore, things get really overwhelming really fast because there are all of these brands and all of these products and, unlike shopping at a counter like Estee Lauder or at a higher end makeup store like Sephora, there is absolutely no one there to help you pick and choose what to buy and what shade to buy it in. So I wanted to share with you my picks for a core makeup kit purchased exclusively at the drugstore (most products should be available at just about any CVS, Walgreens, Target, Walmart, or grocery store), as well as some quick beginner's tips for shopping for and using makeup.
Revlon ColorStay Foundation: this is a great medium to full coverage foundation with excellent staying power. It also comes in combination/oily and normal/dry skin, so it works for every skin type.
Note: picking a foundation color is tricky. The best thing to do is to go shopping with a friend because they will more easily be able to look at you and pick a color. My face is naturally a little lighter than the rest of my body because I guard it so carefully with SPF, so I always try to match the color to my body, not exactly to my face. If you try it and think it's not the right color, return it! Also, a little of this foundation goes a long way!

NYX cream concealer: I bought this at the beginning of the summer to wear as part of my waterproof face routine and have continued to wear it since. It's so much easier to use as a highlighter than liquid concealer, is super smooth and creamy, and blends beautifully.
Note: the shade I have is "Fair." You only want to get a couple of shades lighter than your natural color or it will look unnatural. If NYX isn't available locally and you don't want to order, Maybelline's highlighting concealer is also a good option. Use under the eyes, on the bridge of your nose, the center of your forhead, above your lip, the center of your chin, and under the arches of your eyebrows.

Flower blush/bronzer duo: This costs about 10 dollars and you get two full sized products in one. This will last you forever. The bronzer is nice and matte so you can use it for contouring. Both the blush and bronzer are highly pigmented, so you don't need much and make sure you completely blend them in.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder: I have this in translucent and it does a nice job of minimizing shine but also not caking or covering up the stuff you want to shine through, like your highlighter. If you have dry skin you can probably skip the powder, but for girls with oily skin this is a must. Use to set cream and liquid products and to keep the t-zone shine free.

Loreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess: This is the mascara I'm currently using and the one I think I like best from the Voluminous collection. The classic one smudged a bit too much for me and the False Fiber lash mascara gave really great results but was frustratingly difficult to get off at night. This one does a nice job with volumizing and staying put during the day, but washing off easily at night. I also like Maybelline's Define-A-Lash if you want to darken and define your lashes but have a really natural looking result.
Note: Typically black is the way to go with mascara. If you want a softer look you might go for black brown.

Maybelline Gel Liner: Gel liners are really versatile, so you can create a lot of different looks with them. Stay close to the lash line for a nice, natural look or go big with a bold cat eye.
Note: Make sure you wipe any excess product off the brush and clean the brush between uses. Also, I have this in black, but those with fairer skin and/or lightly colored hair may prefer to use brown.

Rimmel Scandeleyes Eyeliner: These have a creamy formula, so they glide on really easily without tugging and can be smudged for a smoky effect. I use Nude on my waterline to make my eyes look bigger and I also have standard black that I use for tightlining or simply on my upper lash line on days I don't do a cat eye with the gel liner. These liners also happen to be waterproof which means you don't have to worry about sweating them off or anything, but they still wash off nicely with makeup remover. These liners also come in some really fun colors, so play around!

Elf Eyeshadow Palette: For this kit I really wanted to find a decent palette that would give you a range of color and look options while also being really affordable. I have been pretty pleased with most of the Elf eyeshadows I've tried. With just about any palette you get you'll like some colors more than others and some colors will be better pigmented than others, but this will allow you to try out some different colors and combinations and then if you find yourself returning to certain shades over and over you can go get a single or duo eyeshadow that's comparable. This one comes in three color ranges--the brights is my favorite, but all three are really nice.
Note: eyelid primer helps prevent creasing and helps colors show up on the eye; it's especially helpful for cheaper eyeshadows. Elf has an eyelid primer, or you can lightly apply some of your foundation to your eyelid.

NYX Brow Powder: This brow powder is awesome. It goes on easily and stays put all day. I dip an angled eyeliner brush (or use the one it comes with) into the wax, then into the color, then apply it to my brows. Fill in eyebrow area, re-dipping into the powder as needed. Smooth out with a spoolie and clean up any mistakes with a q-tip.

Revlon Just Bitten Balm Stain: These are in chubby stick form so they're super easy to apply, they come in a nice range of colors, and they go on like a balm and dry into a stain so they last a nice amount of time and fade naturally.
Note: these begin with a bit of gloss and mattify over time. If you want a more matte finish to start, rub the color into your lips with a finger and then dab with a tissue. To keep the glossy effect, top with lipgloss as the balm dries into stain.

Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipstick: If you are constantly busy at work or are going out for a long night, this lipstick is your best friend. It applies like lip gloss with a doe foot applicator and dries within a couple of minutes. It can feel a little sticky at this point, but once you apply the gloss that problem weirdly disappears. These will seriously stay on through drinking, eating, whatever. I have an old Cover Girl product that's similar but I like that the Revlon has the gloss in the same container as the color.

Hopefully this will help demystify the drugstore makeup buying experience, and give you some ideas for new products to try. If you buy any of these products, let me know how you like them! Also, stay tuned for tutorials using these products and other product recommendations (including makeup brushes). What are your favorite drugstore beauty buys?

Yours Truly, Jen


  1. I was super excited to see this post! This definitely helps. Can't wait to try some of these products! I'll definitely let you know how they work :) Looking forward to more tutorials!


  2. I have been thinking about this post since before I started my blog, and seeing your makeup post made me finally write it! I'm excited to get some tutorials done up because I feel like I have so much to say about applying these products. There's definitely an art to makeup application and it doesn't come easy!


Let's talk of many things!