While there is an undeniable fun factor about discussing and trying beauty products boasting eyebrow-raising high price tags, regularly incorporating these types of products into our routine isn't the healthiest strategy long-term for our bank accounts. Sure, splurges here and there are fun and worthy of indulgence, but as editors, we know it's just as important to know and speak to the best drugstore beauty products on the market which can keep pace (or even exceed) the satisfying results of a £90 concealer or a £250 night cream.
(And yes, such majestic drugstore options do exist—usually at a cool £20 or less.)
It'd be deceiving to act as if we don't receive a lot of free stuff in our line of work, but that doesn't mean there aren't obsession-worthy products we spend money on or recommend to friends and family. And right now, we're about to dig into the latter. (For the former, aka the products we spend our paychecks on, click here.) Ahead are 22 of the best drugstore beauty products we at Byrdie HQ not only hoard for our own selfish purposes but also repeatedly recommend to our loved one's time and again.
"If anyone I know is struggling with breakouts, I send them to Boots on the lookout for this zit-zapping cream. Niacinamide reduces the appearance of spots, salicylic acid unclogs pores while zinc tackles shine. Glycerin ensures skin is suitably hydrated. It's a wonder that it only costs £16."
"Makeup Obsession's build-your-own palettes are brilliant for the price. The eye shadows have a pigment payoff that rivals more-expensive palettes, and the fact you can build your own means you won't be stuck with any duds."
"This cream shadow comes with a brush that is actually pretty good. It's workable, so you have time to blend it in before it dries and stays. It doesn't crease or budge until you remove it with eye makeup remover."
"Hands down, the best deodorant I have ever used. It keeps me smelling fresh whether it's stuffy day in the office or I've just been to a HIIT class. It's not the cheapest, but if sweating is your issue—trust me—you need this in your life."
"Sometimes all skin needs is a really good moisturiser and this rich formula by Avene has got me out of so many bad skin situations. It has weight but doesn't feel cloying or greasy on the skin, and practically coddles it in nourishment and nurses it back to good health."
"I often find with cream blushers that it takes little more than a soft buff with a brush or rub of the thumb and all of a sudden they've completely disappeared. That's why I like Max Factor's. It actually has staying power and pigment that doesn't simply melt away. Plus, they look great as eye shadows too."
"I like to fully load up my lashes with tonnes of mascara and find that drugstore formulas are often the best for that purpose. L'Oreal's Volume Million Lashes Excess is especially gloopy (but not lumpy) giving you great big fans of dark, thick lashes without feeling totally weighed down."
"This is my forever body moisturiser. I've used it since university when I suffered from bouts of eczema, and it's been a staple in my beauty routine ever since. It's paraben- and fragrance-free, so it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin and as it's formulated with naturally active ingredients like oatmeal it helps to restore and moisturise dehydrated skin. My skin never feels softer than after applying this."
"Whenever I run out of this hide-all concealer, I immediately run to the nearest Boots. It covers everything from blemishes to dark circles and lasts all day long, meaning you don't experience that horrible midafternoon face when you pop to the toilet and quickly have to reapply."
"If I'm ever trying my hand at an at-home manicure, I have to apply Essie's base coat first. It's the only base coat that helps my polish last longer, look brighter and not chip one hour later."
"This drugstore hair mask was a key player in the recovery of my brittle, broken hair following a horrible bleach disaster some years ago. Whenever a friend asks for a hair mask recommendation (budget-friendly or not), I suggest this bang-for-your-buck option straight off the bat. My best tip is to apply it to dry strands at night before bed, comb through, create a braid, and then rinse in the morning so you gain a full night of repair. Just that regular routine made a huge difference in the strength, shine, overall texture of my hair."
"No matter how many mascaras I try (and even love), nothing has yet to compare to this OG formula from Covergirl. In fact, it's one of the only products I buy like clockwork and which truly delivers everything the marketing promises—voluminous, long, blacker-than-black lashes."
"I've been using this concealer since college and thus am already quite aware of its concealing magic, but it's also one of the best drugstore beauty products I've gotten friends and co-workers hooked on as well. For instance, a couple weeks ago, our wellness editor, Victoria, was in a pinch pre–photo shoot, and I threw her this tube (we work three feet away from each other) as a quick-fix option. 'What is this stuff?!' she asked. 'It's amazing!' 'Nuff said."
"Even though I'm pretty committed to a strategic acne-clearing skincare routine right now, I still have a very special place in my heart for this detoxifying drugstore cleanser from Yes To. Infused with charcoal, and yes, tomatoes, it has shockingly potent brightening powers and leaves a gleaming, impeccably clean finish post-cleanse. It's an amazing option for drugstore."
"I've talked about this product so much I should basically slap a billboard of it on my chest. I've tried a tonne of pencils, and truly, this is the only product I keep returning to. It's got a tiny tip so I can draw little brow hairs and fill in patchy areas and a waxy consistency so it stays put on my oily skin. The shade taupe also perfectly matches my existing brows so I can avoid the dreaded red tint I've gotten from other pencils."
"This balm is the perfect intersection of hydration and sheer, buildable color all in one application. I'd fallen in love with these years ago but recently stumbled upon newer shade, Sweet Violet, a faint grape color I wouldn't normally gravitate toward but one that complements my fair complexion with pink undertones incredibly well."
"I'm a little wary of drugstore highlighters because I'm so in love with the way my Prestige highlighters work, but this stick from Revlon is the real deal. The shimmer is buildable, so you can apply just a touch for a subtle glow or keep layering for more striking luminescence. I also love that it comes in both a gold and pinkish hue so I can switch them up depending on my makeup and skin tone that day."
"Maybelline's Facestudio Master Strobing Stick comes in both Light Iridescent (a pinky, candlelit shade) and Medium Nude Glow (a bronzy, golden hue). I've found myself using the Light Iridescent every single day this month. I swipe it on my cheekbones for a quick highlight, around my eyes and brow bone for some brightening shimmer, and along my Cupid's bow for the plumping effects. I even used the opalescent formula as lipstick. The secret is in the micro-fine pearls that reflect light and boost skin glow but won't leave you looking greasy or too sparkly.
It's a combination of everything I've ever wanted in a highlighter. It's quick, easy, and only £8."
"I've been a Babylips devotee since they first came out, even after trying hundreds of fancier, pricier lip balms. Why? The buttery-smooth formula actually hydrates my lips whenever they feel dry, and I love that it comes in a bunch of different shades that all offer a super-flattering tint. My favourite? The cherry one, which gives a Popsicle-stained look to your lips and doubles as a cheek stain in a pinch (pro hack I learned backstage at NYFW: the clear Babylips makes for the prettiest, dewy highlighter)."
"When I first became a beauty editor, I took a jar of this home and shared it with my boyfriend at the time. Both of us noticed a visible improvement in our skin after just a few days, and he ended up stealing/requesting this from me for the rest of the time we were together. It's made with brightening, plumping ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and a slew of anti-aging peptides, and exists as stiff competition for its more expensive counterparts. If you're in the market for a budget-friendly anti-aging moisturizer, this is your best bet."
"I actually picked up a Nyx eye shadow palette on a whim when I was grabbing travel toiletries before a flight to Aruba. I'm already hooked—the colours are PERFECT for summer, especially given my current appreciation for a graphic eye shadow look. Pro tip: Dip an eye shadow brush in water before dipping it into the palette to get a super-saturated pop of colour."
"I shared photos of my hair on Instagram last week, which was done by Pantene celebrity stylist Chuck Amos, using the entire Gold Series line, and my DMs went crazy. People were so surprised that my hairstyle was done by using such an affordable line of haircare products all under £10. After seeing my finished hair look, so many of my followers and friends mentioned they were running to the drugstore ASAP to get their hands on this. I fell in love with this line last year when I heard the story behind the brand.
A team of women of colour scientists formulated this line using the most hydrating ingredients for textured hair.
"Countless haircare products land on my desk on a daily basis, but I'm constantly going back to this stuff because I'm obsessed with how silky it makes my hair look. This duo is super-moisturising, yet it doesn't weigh down my hair. I can't really ask for much else because it works amazing on my extensions and my natural hair."
Next up: the best drugstore serums to perk up your skin in this heat.