The Only Drugstore Makeup You Should Buy This Year

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Who says you have to spend a ton on quality makeup? Drugstore beauty products are getting better and better, with more shades, styles, and effective formulations being offered every year. Drugstore makeup is not bad for your skin, and inexpensive, cheap makeup is the best way to play around with new looks — like colored eyeliner or bright lipstick — with little risk. Even Meghan Markle has favorite budget beauty finds!

Below, we’ve rounded up the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab’s top tested and best drugstore makeup products and brands formulas backed by the trusted Good Housekeeping Seal, as well as picks from our Lab experts, beauty editors, and celebrity makeup artists. These affordable mascara, concealer, highlighter, and foundation and primer finds will leave you looking flawless and ready for the day (or night!) no matter your budget, and (bonus!) are all available online:

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1

BEST DRUGSTORE FOUNDATION

Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-In-1 Foundation CoverGirl amazon.com

$8.54

Great if you want a flawless face without a ton of extra steps, CoverGirl’s silky base is a triple-duty primer-concealer-foundation hybrid. With just one application you’ll get the coverage of a concealer and it’ll last all day. 

That’s why this Good Housekeeping Seal star earned a spot in our GH Beauty Awards and is our pick for the best drugstore makeup foundation. Evaluations showed that the blendable formula stayed in place while still feeling light on skin and not looking heavy or cakey.

  • Long-lasting
  • Blendable
  • Good coverage

2

BEST DRUGSTORE EYESHADOW

Illuminance Crème Shadow

If your lids tend to get oily throughout the day, this is your perfect eye makeup palette. “These set especially well, so they don’t move around the way other cream shadows can,” says Buckle. “Also, the pigment particles aren’t too sparkly, just subtly gleaming.” 

  • Glides on easily
  • Long-lasting

3

BEST DRUGSTORE PENCIL EYELINER

Instaready Glide-On Gel Eyeliner Physicians Formula amazon.com

$13.99

If you want an eyeliner that will stay put without fading, this Physicians Formula gel pencil is it. The overall winner in our Lab’s test, 100% of women who tried it agreed that it didn’t fade during wear. “It glides on easily with minimal tugging, provides a great pigment, and most importantly, stays on all day,” one tester said.

  • Easy to use
  • Sharpener included

4

BEST DRUGSTORE CONCEALER

Photogenic Concealer Wand

In our Beauty Lab’s concealer study, makeup artists gave NYX’s budget-friendly formula good scores for being easy to apply and spreading well on skin. Ideal if you’re looking for sheer coverage (medium at most), it comes in 20 skin tone shades and 3 color corrector options.

5

BEST DRUGSTORE BB CREAM

Dream Fresh BB Cream SPF 30

This Good Housekeeping Seal star is a moisturizer, SPF, and sheer foundation all in one! GH beauty pros like that the BB cream has a lightweight texture and blends easily into skin for a flawless, no-makeup finish. Beauty Lab testers agreed. “I loved everything about this product, mainly how natural it looked,” one said.

  • Multi-tasker
  • Sheer, natural finish
  • Lightweight

6

BEST DRUGSTORE LOOSE POWDER

Airspun Loose Face Powder

Keep your makeup in place all day long by dusting this classic Coty powder over your face with a fluffy makeup brush. “It goes on incredibly evenly and easily; it’s always been one of the best-textured translucent powders on the market,” explains celebrity makeup artist, Kristofer Buckle.

  • Breathable
  • Prevents makeup from getting cakey

7

BEST DRUGSTORE MASCARA

Total Temptation Washable Mascara Maybelline ulta.com

$10.49

This Maybelline formula was rated the best mascara in our GH Beauty Lab’s recent study! It offers a smooth, clump-free application. Consumers loved its natural, subtle look, and appreciated that it didn’t smudge throughout the day. “This did a great job at separating and lengthening my eyelashes,” one tester said.

  • Nourishing formula
  • Doesn’t flake

8

BEST WATERPROOF DRUGSTORE MASCARA

LashBlast Volume Waterproof Mascara CoverGirl amazon.com

$5.99

Give yourself gorgeous, long lashes without ever picking up a tube of eyelash glue. CoverGirl’s under-$10 pick performed better than competitors triple its price in Beauty Lab tests. An extra-large brush with small plastic bristles makes it easy to apply, and it comes in three shades. Not to mention, the Good Housekeeping Seal star is our beauty director’s holy grail mascara! 

9

BEST DRUGSTORE BROW MAKEUP

Unbelieva-Brow Longwear Waterproof Brow Gel

L’Oréal Paris amazon.com

Define your arches with this L’Oréal Paris waterproof brow gel that lasts up to 48 hours. A Good Housekeeping Seal star, it’s available in five colors and comes with a dual-end brush, which makes it easy to control how dark your arches look while still getting a precise shape. In a consumer study, testers said the  long-wearing color didn’t transfer or smudge, even resisting sweat!

  • Long-lasting
  • Natural finish

10

BEST DRUGSTORE BLUSH

Cheekers Blush CoverGirl amazon.com

$6.85

Not only did this CoverGirl blush earn a 2019 GH Beauty Award, it’s also a Good Housekeeping Seal star! This classic drugstore pick easily blends into skin for a natural-looking pop of color. Choose from 16 shades!

  • Good shade range
  • Blendable
  • Fragile (can break if not careful)

11

BEST DRUGSTORE HIGHLIGHTER

Shimmer & Strobe Highlighting Palette

A winner of  the GH Beauty Lab’s 2017 Beauty Breakthrough Awards, Flower’s affordable palette is the ultimate luxe for less pick. Testers were blown away after trying it out. “These velvety powders are on par with high-end brands,” one tester said. Another shared her trick for using the shades as brightening eyeshadows! 

  • Silky, soft texture
  • Versatile

12

BEST DRUGSTORE EYE MAKEUP REMOVER

Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Neutrogena walmart.com

$19.08

Great for even the toughest waterproof eyeliner, Neutrogena’s product dissolved eye makeup better than 28 other brands (some four times its price!) in Lab tests. We love that the Good Housekeeping Seal star removes eye makeup in just a few passes so you don’t have to pull or scrub on the delicate eye area.

  • Non-greasy
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Hard to pour a small amount

13

BEST DRUGSTORE MAKEUP SETTING SPRAY

Makeup Mist & Set Setting Spray

This inexpensive mist from e.l.f. is formulated with aloe, green tea, cucumber and vitamins A, C, and E, so you’ll get a moisture boost and long-lasting makeup. We also like that it’s alcohol-free, which makes it great for people with sensitive skin.

  • Soothes skin
  • Prevents makeup smudging or transferring onto clothes

14

BEST ANTI-AGING DRUGSTORE CONCEALER

Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer

To reduce the appearance wrinkles and fine lines while concealing dark circles, try this anti-aging Maybelline concealer. “It has a built-in applicator sponge, which feels so soft and almost therapeutic on skin — it’s kind of addicting,” says April Franzino, Beauty Director at Good Housekeeping. “A winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s concealer test, it provides full coverage that stays put on problem spots like blemishes and redness, yet is creamy enough for delicate under eye areas, too.”

  • Full coverage
  • Skincare benefits
  • Blends well

15

BEST DRUGSTORE LIP CRAYON

MoistureSmooth Color Stick Neutrogena walmart.com

$10.80

If you want a simple lip color that feels great, try Neutrogena’s color stick. “A winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s lip crayons test — and a Good Housekeeping Seal star — it’s like a tinted lip balm in an easy-to-apply crayon that doesn’t need sharpening,” says Franzino. “I love the just-right, not-too-matte-or-glossy finish, and that it gives real color payoff without looking makeup-y.”

  • Lipstick and balm in one
  • Great color payoff
  • Very moisturizing

16

BEST DRUGSTORE LIQUID LINER

Get In Line Liquid Eyeliner CoverGirl amazon.com

$7.75

Whether you love a bold cat eye or more understated look, CoverGirl’s drugstore liquid liner can do it all. The formula glides on lids smoothly and resists fading throughout the day, according to GH Beauty Lab testing. “It behaved like a waterproof eyeliner, but when you wanted to take it off, it came off with ease and left no traces behind,” one tester said. 

  • Doesn’t smear or smudge
  • Good for sensitive eyes
  • Dries quickly

17

BEST DRUGSTORE LIQUID LIPSTICK

Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick

NYX’s matte formula earned a top spot in the GH Beauty Lab’s liquid lipstick study. Testers gave it top marks for its precise, smooth, and even application. One said, “I love the applicator — the tip is wide and flat, which makes it easy to get full coverage in just one pass.” For added precision, use a lip brush to apply it.

  • Long-lasting
  • Won’t dry out lips
  • Can take time to fully dry

18

BEST DRUGSTORE NAIL POLISH

Nail Polish

Essie’s cult-favorite lacquer was a winner in the GH Beauty Lab’s nail polish study. The 2020 Beauty Award winner stays chip-free, dries quickly, comes in every color imaginable, and is super shiny. Testers and experts alike raved about its glossy finish and the high shine throughout the entire duration of wear. 

  • Stays shiny
  • Doesn’t streak
  • Long-lasting

Nicole Saporita, Good Housekeeping Institute Senior Editor Nicole Saporita is a senior editor at Good Housekeeping, where she researches, writes and reports original content for the Good Housekeeping Institute and several other departments including health, travel and family. Danusia Wnek, Good Housekeeping Institute Chemist, Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab Danusia Wnek is a chemist in the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she evaluates haircare, skincare, cosmetics and beauty and health tools.

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