Many of us don’t have the disposable income to splurge on all the products on our wish list, so we look toward drugstore products to help us look and feel our best. Luckily, there are a plethora of amazing drugstore beauty products that will do a stellar job across the skin care, hair care and makeup categories.
“Many high-end expensive skin products are not necessarily better than more budget-friendly drugstore options,” explains New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “Often the differences are more about marketing and packaging than about quality and efficacy. If there is an expensive product you love, then by all means make room in your budget for it, but in general there are lots of great budget-friendly substitutes that you may find work just as well if not better.”
But it can be overwhelming to stroll through the aisles or browse online for products because there are so many to choose from. New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elyse Love says that “the best way to pick high-quality skin care products in the drugstore is having an understanding of what your skin type is and what your skin goals are.”
To help you out a bit, we’ve tapped a few of our beauty experts on their favorite drugstore beauty products to shop right now. Whether your funds are low or you’d just prefer to save more money, these beauty products will be worth every penny.
Eau Thermale Avène Micellar Lotion Cleansing Water
The Eau Thermale Avène Micellar Lotion Cleansing Water is Love’s “favorite and most recommended makeup remover,” which means a lot coming from someone who specializes in treating the skin. The brand calls it a 3-in-1 no-rinse cleanser, toner and makeup remover that can be used morning and night. Just pour the formula onto a cotton round to wipe away makeup and impurities in seconds.
Dove Refresh Care Fresh Coconut Dry Shampoo
Most of us don’t know how we’d get through our no-wash days without dry shampoo. On your next drugstore trip, reach for the Dove Refresh + Care Fresh Coconut, which we named the best drugstore dry shampoo. During our testing, we found that it’s a lightweight formula with adequate absorption of oil — perfect for a touch-up before a night out or early morning class.
Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Self Tanner Mousse
Time spent on campus means you likely won’t sport that fresh-from-vacation tan that you aspire toward. That’s why content creator, TikTok star and Fashion Institute of Technology student Kate Bartlett loves the Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Self Tanner Mousse. She says “the winter months in New York can be pretty brutal, so I love using a self tanner to keep a glowy look! This one from Jergens is super easy to apply and gives off a super-natural look. It’s also one of the cheapest on the market.”
Mele Even Dark Spot Control Facial Serum
“I recommend Mele Skincare’s Even Dark Spot Control Serum, formulated for melanin-rich skin,” says King. “It contains pro-retinol to help reduce dark spots, as well as niacinamide, which helps to even skin tone and smooth skin texture. It also contains hexylresorcinol, which helps to brighten skin, as well as vitamin E.” The vibrant packaging here is an added bonus to this brand that’s co-created by dermatologists of color and Black female executives.
Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying Hydrating Daily Skin Booster
Vichy is surely one of our favorite elevated drugstore beauty brands. Love shares that she “adds the [Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying & Hydrating Daily Skin Booster] to the routines of sensitive skin patients during the winter to help better tolerate active ingredients. It’s anti-inflammatory and helps the skin hold onto moisture.” It’s great to know that there are suitable drugstore products for those with sensitive skin.
e.l.f. Expert Liquid Eyeliner
“I love this liquid eyeliner from e.l.f. because it’s incredibly easy to apply, super long-lasting and is only $3!” says Bartlett. “It’s great if you are just starting to experiment with cat eyes and want something that is easy to apply.” Available in three shades, this smudge-proof liner features a fine tip brush for added precision that will cost you less than your morning coffee.
Bevel Moisturizing Face Gel
If you have overly dry or oily skin and shave your face, consider the Bevel Moisturizing Face Gel that’s formulated to restore the skin’s balance along with treating dark spots and ingrown hairs. Reviewers love the way it feels on the skin going on, and that it doesn’t leave you feeling greasy or sticky. Consider pairing this with a Bevel Safety Razor ($49.99; target.com), which we chose as the best men’s safety razor.
Eucerin Advanced Repair Body Lotion
According to Love, the Eucerin Advanced Repair Body Lotion “is a very hydrating lotion that rubs in easily.” Its meant to repair super-dry skin by enriching it with ceramides and other natural moisturizing factors to lock in moisture and prevent dryness in the first place, making it perfect for restoring your skin when it needs TLC after a long week.
AcneFree’s Oil-Free Acne Cleanser
“AcneFree’s Oil-Free Acne Cleanser is an excellent benzoyl peroxide product, strong enough to be effective and still as gentle as possible,” says King. “It contains micro-benzoyl peroxide, which is less irritating to the skin than typical benzoyl peroxide, and it also contains hydrating ingredients such as glycerin.”
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
A quality matte lip is an essential part of anyone’s makeup collection. The Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick was our pick for best budget matte lipstick for how well it stays put all day and is available in so many colors. This high-pigment lip won’t let you down no matter what occasion you’re wearing it for.
La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Face Serum With Hyaluronic Acid
“Good skin care products can be difficult to find at the drugstore, but I truly love this serum from La Roche Posay,” says Bartlett. She shares that although this is made for anti-aging, she doesn’t think it’s too early to add preventative products into her routine. The formula of this serum by La Roche-Posay includes hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to lock in moisture, hydrate and replump skin.
Odele Clarifying Shampoo
Clarifying shampoos work to remove product buildup from the hair — a helpful wash-day step for those who are sporting a protective style or don’t wash their hair often. The Odele Clarifying Shampoo is surely one of our favorite finds lately that works well for all hair types. The brand’s clean, cruelty-free formula deep cleans to bring the hair back to neutral — leaving your locs feeling squeaky clean and refreshed.
Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash
There comes a time when everyone breaks out unexpectedly, even on the body. Love explained in a previous interview about treating acne that salicylic acid is “great for exfoliating the skin, or treating whiteheads and blackheads.” So it’s no surprise that she recommends the Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash as a drugstore acne treament that she says will “prevent mild body acne, exfoliate rough texture to the skin and improve pigmentation.”
Flamingo Foaming Shave Gel
Now introducing our current favorite drugstore shaving cream: the Flamingo Foaming Shave Gel. Despite being called a gel, the formula is a super-luxe pillowy foam that doesn’t melt away before you even have the chance to reach for your razor. It’s left our skin feeling hydrated and smooth, even when using a more dull razor. Pair this with our fave women’s razor (or men’s razor for that matter) that you’ll have to shop for online.
Flower Light Illusion Liquid Foundation
“I have never been a big fan of heavy foundations, but I love how light and airy this one from Flower Beauty is!” explains Bartlett. “As a college student in NYC, I am always running around all day and want something that is going to cover my imperfections without feeling like it’s weighing me down — this is the perfect combination!” Even better: This liquid foundation contains SPF 18 for a little added sun protection.
Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum Brightening Skin Corrector
Love describes the Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum Brightening Skin Corrector as “the original drugstore vitamin C.” The OG formula contains 15% pure vitamin C, along with natural origin hyaluronic acid, to brighten skin, reduce signs of aging and retain skin moisture.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara
Right now it’s all about the “your skin, but better” makeup look — but to finish that off, you need an amazing lash. Ditch your falsies for the TikTok-famous Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara. Avaialble in four shades and either a washable or waterproof formula, this is a full-volume mascara for your longest lashes yet. This viral mascara uses the brand’s “flex tower” brush to grip every lash from root to tip.
Inm Out the Door Super Fast Dry Top Coat
“I’ve tried just about every quick-dry top coat on the market and nothing compares to this one,” explains Bartlett of the Inm Out The Door Super Fast Dry Top Coat. “It’s perfect when you have to run out the door for class because it legitimately drys in five minutes!”
Shea Moisture Smoothie Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Countless curly girls swear by the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. It’s a curl defining hair cream for thick, curly hair that reduces frizz and restores moisture — all without weighing it down. Get your hands on this if embracing your luscious curls is part of your beauty routine this semester.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
The La Roche-Posay Toleraine Double Repair Face Moisturizer is Love’s favorite moisturizer. “It is lightweight, oil-free, hydrating and works for most skin types. It also contains prebiotics to support the skin’s microbiome,” she explains. The noncomedogenic moisturizer is formulated for sensitive skin, featuring ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide and glycerin for added soothing and hydrating benefits.
Olay Nourishing Body Wash With Vitamin B3 and Hyaluronic Acid
The Olay Nourishing Body Wash is a top drugstore pick of ours for sure. Formulated with vitamin B3 and hyaluronic acid, this lightweight formula cleanses the skin while delivering the nourishment and long-lasting moisture your skin craves. It is scented, though, so if you have sensitive skin consider the Olay Soothing Body Wash that’s made with oat extract for those with eczema-prone skin.
CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum
According to Love, “CeraVe products are designed to be tolerated by sensitive skin.” If you’re looking to add an anti-aging serum with ceramides to improve skin texture and radiance, retinol might be the way to go. Love recommends this as a very accessible way to start a retinol because you can pick this up at your local drugstore for about $20.
Nyx Professional Makeup Dewy Finish Face Setting Spray
No makeup look is complete without a good mist of setting spray. We’re big fans of the Nyx Professional Makeup Dewy Setting Spray to achieve that “no-makeup makeup” look or serious glow from within. This lightweight, long-lasting formula is reportedly a top-selling setting spray at Target.
Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream
“Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream is a great option for moisturizing while also delivering anti-aging benefits,” says King. “It’s formulated with vitamin B3 and retinol complex as well as glycerin and pro-ceramides to hydrate and support the skin barrier.”
Pacifica Kale Detox Deep Cleansing Face Wash
The Pacifica Kale Detox Deep Cleansing Face Wash is one of our drugstore hidden gems when it comes to face washes. Formulated for oily and blemish-prone skin types, this works to deeply cleanse and remove toxins from the skin — perfect for those tropical vacations or days spent running around. It has a nice jelly consistency that lathers exceptionally well, so it feels even like a mini spa day.