Everyone has at least one drugstore beauty or skincare product that will always be a part of their routine. It’s the one super cheap thing that works wonders and you won’t ever stop recommending it to others. The products that everyone loves, that everyone has tried, and that have been around for (what seems like) forever are the drugstore cult favorites.
No matter how much teeth-sucking and eye-rolling follows after you mention drugstore beauty and skincare products, people have got to admit that brands have really stepped up their game the last few years. Drugstore brands will always be the reliable go-to for millions because in addition to being affordable (reason #1) and right around the corner (reason #2), so many drugstore brands are becoming vegan, cruelty-free, and incorporating natural and organic ingredients. Finally, we don’t have to pay $50 for a 2-ounce bottle of clean moisturizer! Drugstore brands like Maybelline, Neutrogena, and Garnier have had years to build their following, and their products have evolved while still being our one and only go-to. Today’s new guys such as The Ordinary and VERSED give us the luxurious feel on a budget as well, gaining their own cult following quickly and almost as huge as the OGs.
Tamerri Ater is the Senior Product Development Director for VERSED Skin, one of the cleanest drugstore skincare brands around today. “There’s a misconception that drugstore skincare products are inferior to the prestige market which is not necessarily true. In fact, many drugstore legacy brands invest big dollars in research and development to create formulas that give their customers good results,” she says. “More expensive does not always equal better. What matters most is the formula itself, not the fancy packaging – although that can add to the overall experience.”
Because they might be out of stock at the Walgreens up the street, check out the drugstore beauty and skincare cult favorites that deserve a spot on your top shelf! Why spend a fortune when you can get the same (if not better) results for half the price?
Cult-Favorite Drugstore Beauty Products
Ah, the classic mascara. This Great Lash Mascara was probably your mom’s favorite, your favorite, and what you bought your teen when they first started to wear makeup. It’s been revered by famous makeup artists and trusted by celebs for longer than we’ve been around. The colors and the clear version work perfectly. Many reviews were just like this one from Amazon customer Lindsay Annette, “I’ve tried many diff mascaras and this is still a staple in my make up bag.”
The Coty Airspun Loose Powder is one of the best loose options out there. This powder has been around since 1935 for a reason. It’s blended with actual air and so finely milled that it easily masks fine lines for a fully flawless finish.
Among the 66,000+ Amazon reviews (so many, I know!) one customer raved about her favorite setting powder. “I have absolutely nothing but good things to say about this powder. The price? A steal. The packaging is adorable and classic. The powder is a finely milled translucent shade that doesn’t look cakey or leave a white residue. It also doesn’t make my pores look bigger…It will mattify you GOOD, to the point where you may not need a single touch up in an 8 hour day.”
Contour or highlight your way to a glowy finish with this affordable bronzer that works for both your face and body. The buildable, lightweight cream bronzer is great for sensitive skin and has over 23,000 reviews on Amazon talking about how awesome it smells. “This product definitely lives up to all of its hype,” said one reviewer. “There is a coconut/tropical smell to the product, mainly while in the compact, and it goes away very quickly on your face (I have been sensitive to certain product smells bothering me in the past and this did not linger in any way). I also applied it as a contour as well as bronzer, and can see how versatile this product is.”
With this Warrior Eyeshadow Palette from Juvia’s Place, you get nine super pigmented, super high-quality eyeshadow colors for $20. Um… yes, please. And it’s been this way for years, Mama! Grab your favorite eyeshadow primers and you’ll be able to create TONS of looks from this palette. From a sweet and simple highlight to all-out bad ass with a smokey eye. “In love,” said one Ulta reviewer. “The colors are so vibrant and last all day. I’m absolutely in love with my Warrior pallet and have already raved about Juvia’s Place to my friends! Will definitely be ordering some another pallet as I’m so pleased with this one! 100% recommend”
This concealer happens to be one of my personal favorites of the bunch. Creamy yet lightweight, the L.A. Girl Pro Concealer will provide natural-looking coverage for 30 (wow) different skin tones. Not every brand can brag about that. “I’m stupidly in love with this stuff,” said one Amazon reviewer. “It’s extremely pigmented, it doesn’t cake, it lasts a decent amount of time and it doesn’t make my super-sensitive skin break out. I wish I’d found it years ago. And omg, the price! Six bucks for a big tube?! Heck yeah.”
Makeup can be drying to the skin—Maybelline’s Fit Me foundation concealer solves that problem. The core has Vitamin E (moisture) to help hydrate the skin, SPF 18 for sun protection, and the lightweight formula glides on to hide imperfections. This foundation has been a fan favorite the moment it was released in 2015. “This is the perfect foundation! I am so happy that I have found my holy grail product!” said happy customer. “My face goes from oily to dry to combo all the time and this foundation keeps up! Doesn’t leave my skin oily and all shiny looking! I put this one and hardly have to add concealer! I love it.”
Almost every NYX eyeliner is a drugstore MVP, beloved by customers all over. In addition to thousands of positive reviews online, this matte-finish formula comes with an ultra-fine precision brush for building thin to thick lines, and can easily be crowned best drugstore liquid eyeliner.
Not everyone is well-versed in adding a shimmery finish to their life, but this Milani highlight in “Champagne D’oro” (or any color, really) is here to help. The powder applies easily and offers just the right amount of shimmer to your skin even when days in the sun seem like a distant memory.
We all know the point in the day/night when your lip color starts to get blurry and your lips feel a little chapped, but luckily this gloss stops all that in its tracks. This cult-favorite comes in 27 other colors, from neutrals to bold reds to fun blues. It goes on smooth (hence, the “butter” in the name) and lasts all day! “The most gorgeous lipgloss that I have ever had the pleasure of owning,” said one reviewer. “Super buttery and lasts well. Can be worn either on its own or over a lipstick. Will be buying again.”
You can thank us later for this miracle-working paraben-free and cruelty-free face primer from Elizabeth Mott that basically disguises itself as an Instagram filter in real life. The long-lasting waterproof formula will minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines without drying out your skin. ” I have tried every eye primer on the market, and nothing had ever compared to NARS. UNTIL THIS,” one reviewer said (yelled, really.) “I love this stuff. It feels good, dries quickly, colorless, only takes a small amount, lasts all day (I work 12 hour shifts, so that’s 16 hours in makeup at least!), etc etc etc. I don’t know what else I can say about this product other than I am shocked and will now be a die hard fan. I love it.”
At this point, who even needs lash extensions when their $5 products like this one around. Providing dramatic volume, the conic-shaped fiber brush delivers on length without clumping, flaking, or fading. The best part is that it lasts all day. Raves this Amazon customer, “After using Lights, Camera, Lashes by Tarte for the past year, I got tired of breaking the bank over mascara. My sister suggested Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect and I IMMEDIATELY fell in love. It provides dramatic length and great volume. I can honestly say I can’t stop looking at my eyelashes in the mirror every single day because of how awesome they look. Also, it is very long wearing. I go from an 8 hour work day right to the gym and sweat like crazy…and this stuff doesn’t budge! I love it!!”
The BeautyBlender made its mark in the makeup world years ago and things have never been the same since. While you can get cheaper versions of the Beauty Blender in drugstores too, this one is the original real deal. It wouldn’t be a cult-favorite for nothing, right? “Worth the hype!!” said one Ulta customer. “I’m in LOVE! It’s so different than all my other blenders, it soaks up less product, it’s so much bouncier and softer and it just simply works better [in my opinion].”
If there’s one thing a busy person loves, it’s a multitasking product. Milani’s 3-in-1 spray (primes, corrects, and sets, oh my) will lock in your makeup for 16 hours. “I have EXTREMELY oily skin and nothing worked to contain it… until now,” said one happy customer. “I spray this on my face before and after make-up application and it keeps the shine away the entire work day! User for life!”
Cult-Favorite Drugstore Skincare
I mean… “Cult Classic” is in the product name of this one. The Tula Purifying Face Cleanser is a gel cleanser that gets deep into those pores to leave your skin feeling smooth and refreshed.
“Solved my problem skin!” said one reviewer. “I no longer struggle with heat rash thanks to TULA and, as a runner this is a huge help to me… my skin is soft and glowing and rash free!!”
Everyone is OBSESSED with this peeling solution mask from The Ordinary and honestly, I get it! This solution leaves your face feeling instantly smooth and clean, and after a few uses you’ll see a long lasting difference. It has quickly made it’s way from one-time best seller to forever cult-favorite. Tons of reviews are just like the one here: ” After just my first use, my skin felt smoother than it has in years. My skin looked brighter, visibly softer, more even. ”
In the words of Ulta reviewer Mye, “I would buy this product til the day I die.” Yep. That serious.
When your skin is feeling a little parched, give it a little H20 boost with this facial spray infused with herbal extracts and rosewater for a dewy glow. This fan favorite will instantly reenergize your face like that afternoon coffee wakes up your brain. One Amazon customer raved, “This beauty stays in my handbag to help rehydrate my skin wherever I go, everything from the weather to air conditioning can be brutal on the skin, and a lot of other products have been watered down, this is just perfect. It refreshes my skin and smells gentle, enough for me to enjoy but not enough for anyone else to be affected. I have incredibly sensitive skin that breaks out with products from IT all the way through to Tarte and Benefit, but this I can spritz and not worry. I’ve seen such an improvement over the course of the day.”
Remember when you were a teen, agonizing over your acne, and every adult in your life was like, “Don’t worry, it’ll go away when you grow up!” LOL—they lied. But even your worst breakouts (you know, the one that pops up the night before you’re taking the photos for your family’s holiday card) are no match for the acne-fighting ingredients in Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. It’s known to treat anything you’ve got (pimples, cystic acne, blackheads and whiteheads). After a reviewer’s dermatologist suggested to switch to Cetaphil, they were stunned by the results and said, “After years of white heads, ginormous enlarged pores, mild acne turned to a cystic mess, I’ve found a product that has worked wonders for my skin…It’s mild, fragrance-free, clears out your skin in a matter of weeks – and all I’ve been doing is washing my face with this twice a day and dabbing on moisturizer. This stuff works!”
Is there anything more annoying than struggling to remove stubborn eye makeup that won’t budge at the end of a long day (on top of a 5-step face cleansing routine that’s to follow). Nope. Garnier solves that situation with a micellar water specifically designed to act as a cleanser and makeup-remover, easily removing all the gunk off your face at once.
“I love this product and will continue to use it. It is mild and gentle on the skin,” said one loyal customer. “I don’t always wear makeup but I will still use it as a face cleanser. When I do wear makeup I wear a pretty heavy full face and with this product…I can take my entire face of make-up off easily. I have very sensitive skin and it will often dry out, break out, or become excessively oily depending on the products that I use – I have no issues with this product at all. I definitely recommend – especially to those with sensitive combination skin.”
When a new brand already finds it’s way into a cult-favorite list — you know it must be good. The Doctor’s Visit Mask from VERSED is self-proclaimed “literal pot of gold” and they aren’t exaggerating. Your skin will feel smooth and refreshed after just two minutes (that quick!). Just ask all of the customers that made it an instant best seller. “[I] am in LOVE!” said on happy customer. “Leaves my skin feeling so smooth after each use and I’ve already started noticing some lightening of old acne scars. So easy to incorporate into a busy day since it’s only on for 3 minutes. This mask has definitely become a staple in my self-care routine and I love how fast I am seeing results!”
Hyaluronic, the active ingredient in this formula, is a powerful humectant that not only clears skin, but even tone. It has nearly 20,000 reviews on Amazon with full of obsessed users. “I feel I look 5 years younger. My complexion is incredible,” said one reviewer. “Can’t imagine going without this product ever again.
Zap away surface blemishes while you sleep with this cult-favorite drying lotion from Mario Badescu. The next time you get a pimple the size of Mt. Vesuvius don’t sweat it, boo. To use, dip a cotton swab into the pink sediment and lightly dab onto your blemish.
This OG formula has won the Allure Best of Beauty Award three times! It’s a time-released retinol-spiked formula that absorbs super slowly, so it won’t cause redness or irritation (unlike your micromanaging boss—we said it!). “Best eye cream I’ve ever tried, hands down,” said one Amazon reviewer. “I’ve tested a bunch and this one doesn’t burn my skin and I feel like it has helped fade wrinkles and keep skin hydrated. I’m 29 and started seeing soft shallow lines on the corners of my eyes a couple of years ago – I can’t find those lines anymore, after a year of using this.”
It may not come in the fanciest tube but don’t be fooled, ladies. Differin’s FDA-approved gel acne treatment containing retinoid works wonders by clearing breakouts before they start. Voted as the best allover acne treatment by Allure, it also reduces the risk of scarring while combating inflammation and clogged pores.
Aveeno hears you and your skin problems. Whether it’s dry skin, uneven tone, or wrinkles, this daily moisturizer soothes it all and even has SPF 15 Sunscreen. The green and white packaging even makes us feel soothed.
Cult-Favorite Drugstore Hair Products
Sometimes there’s no time for any shampoo or conditioner! But there’s always time for a quick dry wash. Batiste has been a favorite for many for years and is a staple in home these days. Just spray it on and let the great scent fool friends into thinking you’ve showered.
Like a cup of coffee for your hair (srsly!) — you’r hair will look and feel like you’ve just left the salon after one use, so imagine after multiple! This formula includes Apricot Kernel Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Linseed Extract, and Oat Kernel Extract: to sooth, moisturize, strengthen and repair your hair. “Saved my over processed hair,” said one reviewer. “After just ONE use (leaving it in for 15mins) my hair was transformed. My hair is softer and shiner then it was even before the bleach. Im so happy i didnt waste my time on any other products and went straight to this. Dont hesitate if youre devastated about ruined hair like i was, this stuff will fix it.”