I've never been shy about my longtime, deep-seated love for expensive beauty products. While the appeal of affordable (and still top-performing) beauty buys has never been lost on me, when my friends were hoarding tubes, bottles, and liners from Maybelline, L'Oréal, and Garnier circa 2008, I was busy saving my money for Dior, Clé de Peau, Chanel, and Laura Mercier. I blame it on an obsession with glossy magazines and my habit of compulsively dog-earring pages of products I had to try. I kid you not, my mom and I knew the employees at our nearest Sephora on a first-name basis. Tangent aside, there were certain drugstore picks I absolutely always had on hand and continue to love to this day. Plus, as a beauty editor, I'm always trying new and exciting debuts.
With that in mind, I thought I'd conduct a little experiment. I'd take $50 into my neighborhood Rite Aid and see how far it could get me and how many of my favorite drugstore products I could realistically bag for the same price as my favorite prestige foundation. Not surprisingly, I came out quite well and returned home one face wash, mascara, self-tanner, highlighter, foundation, dry shampoo, concealer, and pack of makeup removing wipes richer. Sweet deal, eh? Keep scrolling for my $50 eight-product haul from Rite Aid.
At 70 years old, my makeup artist mom is kind of the ultimate makeup guru. Sure, she has rows and rows of top-tier makeup from lust-worthy brands. But intermixed, she has drugstore gems that, dare I say it, work even better. So it was through her that I actually discovered this life-changing highlighter stick from Wet n Wild (one of my favorite drugstore brands, by the way).
At less than $3, this is one of the best I have ever swiped on my face, leaving behind gleaming cheekbones, radiant brow bones, and a punctuated Cupid's bow in its bang-for-your-buck wake.
If you're familiar with me as an editor for Byrdie, you already know how much love I have for this bright-orange tube of mascara. In my eyes, it's the absolute best, and no mascara (regardless of expense—higher or lower) has ever changed my mind. It lifts, amplifies volume, and intensifies in all the best ways. I don't know how many tubes I've bought in my life so far, but I do know if Covergirl ever discontinues it, my lashes and I will be in a state.
I discovered this under-the-radar concealer back in college when one of my favorite makeup YouTubers at the time was obsessed with it. And honestly, it's one of the best concealers I've ever used. I applied it religiously for years, and while I've been experimenting with some other new formulas as of late (just trying to be a good beauty editor over here), I miss this one. Therefore, picking it up at Rite Aid for a very manageable $8 was a no-brainer.
As far as drugstore foundations go, this is in my top two. I also really love the Physicians Formula Healthy Foundation, but alas, my Rite Aid didn't carry it. The shade range L'Oréal offers is better than most, it's infused with SPF, and it blends, covers, and wears to perfection. In fact, the longer it sits on my face, the prettier of a finish I get—not too matte, not too dewy, just right.
I've used self-tanner religiously since middle and high school and have gone through lots of phases where brands are concerned. At one point (very early on in my self-tanning career), Jergens was one of the only brands out there, so I used it. Fast-forward 10-plus years to roughly two weeks ago when I hadn't used its Natural Glow collection in ages. However, in an hour of desperate tanning need in Arizona while visiting my parents, I reached for it and was genuinely shocked and pleased with the ultra-natural result. After just two applications, my skin looked even and bronzed and was wonderfully hydrated.
Before I knew what dry shampoo was, I exclusively used straight-up baby powder to sop up my greasy roots circa high school. Thank God for dry shampoo, am I right? Now, this epic formula from Dove is one of my all-time favoties—among drugstore and higher-end. After all, who wants to spend an arm and a leg for dry shampoo when you plow through roughly a can a week? Oh, and I'm not the only Dove Dry Shampoo lover. Model, actress, and dancer Larsen Thompson is also a doting fan. (She told me herself.)
I use makeup removing wipes every single night. In fact, even on days when I've gone makeup-free, I'll rub one around my face to nix any residual dirt, grease, or skincare product before starting in on my normal nighttime regimen. Because of this dependence, I've tried virtually every makeup wipe on the planet, and the majority have failed me in one way or another. Either they don't effectively clean my face, they break me out, they cause irritation, or they just kind of suck all around. However, these ultra-gentle ones from Simple are one of the few my face absolutely loves. Therefore, I was pumped to find them in the aisles of my Rite Aid.
Go figure that unlike the majority of my peers (hormones, man) high school was my skin's peak. I barely ever broke out and my one and only woe was an occasional scattering of whiteheads and maybe some residual dullness from too often falling asleep in my makeup. Anyway, I loved this daily brightening scrub from Aveeno then, and I still love it now. (I always keep a spare bottle stored at my parents' for when I visit and need something fast and easy that I know will get the job done.) If you have issues with tone, texture, dullness, or redness, I'm convinced this is one of the best affordable face washes you can spend your money on.
Total Number of Items Purchased: Eight
Total Money Spent: $47