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The 23 Favorite Drugstore Products Katie Swears By

Including her favorite affordable dupes.
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While it's safe to say every member of our office has drugstore products they rely on (I've long loved Almay's liquid eyeliner, and Leslie's a huge fan of many of Kristen Ess's products), no one in our office has more drugstore staples than our Assistant Editor, Katie. Nearly every time I ask her about a particularly good cheek luminizer or eyeshadow she has on, it's a drugstore find. I asked her to round-up a few of her favorites here. Enjoy! xEmily

I tried makeup for the first time when I was in second grade. Complete with blue eye shadow and a red lip gloss, I felt like the most glamorous kid, nay woman, in all of Upstate New York. While my mother was less than impressed, and quickly insisted I take it all off, I was hooked. Playing with makeup felt like an art form, and once I shifted away from vibrant colors and a heavy hand, I found my groove. I own my fair share of luxury products, but a majority of my go-to products are from drugstore aisles. Read on for the drugstore products I swear by: 


Makeup Remover - Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water ($8): A majority of my skincare products are unfortunately from Sephora or Glossier (unfortunate because of the price tag), but I have a few holy grail products that I stock-up on in bulk. This cleansing water is hands down the best way to remove makeup. At the end of each day, I soak a reusable cotton pad in this product and it takes off all my makeup. If it can remove thick mascara in one swipe, I'm sold.

Hydrating Gel - Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($22): I'm pretty loyal to my Avene moisturizer, but for summer days when I want a lighter product, I opt for this hydro gel. Similar to a Chanel cream I once owned, this relatively affordable option cools your face down after a day in the sun and blends without leaving any sticky residue behind. 

Face Wash - Biore Charcoal Cleanser ($7): When I wash my face in the sink, I swear by my Glossier Milky Jelly but for the shower, I always have a bottle of this cleanser on hand. After using a pea-sized amount, I feel like an actual baby, free of all dirt and grime. 


Makeup Primer - NYX Hydra Touch Oil Primer ($14): If you have normal to dry skin, this primer will give you the dewiest glow I've ever seen. It makes your face look wet, without being tacky, and makeup clings to it better than any other primer I've used. People say this is a dupe for the cult favorite Smashbox primer, and, at this price, I can't resist.

Bronzer - Physicians Formula Butter bronzer ($15): A beauty YouTuber favorite for years, the Butter Bronzer perfected the art of contouring before people really even did it. The creamy product blends like a dream and has the perfect cool-tone for contouring and tanning in a natural way. I typically reach for the shades sunkissed or deep depending on the season.

Blush - Milani Baked Blush ($7): Milani is a brand that I saw a million times before giving it a try. For some reason, I assumed it wouldn't work as well as other big name drugstore brands. I couldn't have been more wrong. The blushes, in shades from rose to peach, brighten and contour the face in an incredibly natural way. I recommend luminoso for a youthful, summer glow.

Concealer - Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser ($9): I love an easy applicator, and this product is the poster child for that. You simply twist the bottom of the wand and the sponge fills with concealer. I have one eraser in the shade sand for my regular concealing jobs and then a lighter shade, warm light, for contouring under my eyes and down the bridge of my nose. 

Foundation - L'Oreal Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation ($14): I rarely wear foundation if I'm being honest. I think good skin care can fully replace the need for it, but for those bad break out days or a night out, this foundation is the medium-coverage formula I love. It has a dewy finish and blends naturally without covering freckles or beauty marks. 

Powder - Maybelline Fit Me Loose Powder ($7): Once I moved to L.A. and realized sweating is a constant state of being, I started setting my under eyes. I dip my brush into the powder and lightly tap under my eyes to secure my concealer. By end of the day, you can barely notice a difference in my makeup. 

Illuminator - Revlon PhotoReady Instant Cheek Maker ($11): Is this product slightly gimicky? Yes, but I also love it. I like the glow that it adds to my face, and it's blendable with both fingers and a brush.

SPF Face Cream - La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur with SPF 20 ($29): I reach for this BB cream over foundation. It creates an even tone to my skin without looking like makeup. While the SPF is a great bonus, it's definitely lacking in shade range. For darker shades, I've heard amazing things about NYX's Bare With Me Skin Veil

Highlighter - E.L.F Metallic Flare Highlighter ($6): E.L.F has been getting a bad reputation for years, and I'm not here for it. Their products are incredible and so affordable that I basically try anything they come out with. I love this highlighter in all 3 shades and have even been using the shade 24k as a body highlight. 

Setting Spray - L'Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Shake and Glow Dew Mist ($7): I've hoarded setting sprays for years, but I've never tried such a quality spray at such a low cost. This adds so much dew, that I sometimes have to tone it down. The mist is so incredibly fine and cooling that you'll reach for it on days where you don't even need it. 

Blender Sponger - Real Techniques Complexion Sponge ($5): This blender sponge is a complete dupe of the Beauty Blender, but will save you $15. Plus, the low price will encourage you to replace it more often.

Brushes - E.L.F. Brush Set ($10): Since brushes need to be cleaned constantly, I like to find cheap ones that do the job. I replace my set once a year, just to ensure it's totally clean.


Tube Mascara - Maybelline Snapscara ($7): As you may have read, Glossier Lash Slick is an office favorite, and although already well priced, I jumped at the opportunity for a dupe of it. This tube mascara lengthens and thickens, without clumping. 10/10 would recommend.

Regular Mascara - L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara ($8): Another dupe! If you love Too Faced's Better Than Sex mascara, look no further than this. It's definitely much more dramatic than the Maybelline option, so it's perfect for a night out to dinner or drinks.

Eyeliner - Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner ($7): I grabbed this eyeliner from CVS after watching Emily's tutorial last month. I prefer a sharp pen since I tend to create a cat eye and was pleasantly surprised at how natural this product can be for daily wear. I've been tight-lining my lashes with it, and although my eyes look bigger, you can barely notice I'm wearing anything.  

Eyeshadow - Milani Pure Passion Eyeshadow Palette ($19): Over the years, I've accumulated more palettes than are necessary. As I traveled and moved, it became clear that I needed just one solid palette that can create many different looks without taking up space in my bag. This palette has warm and cold tone colors, and I tend to reach for the gold and brown shades for a natural, bronzed look.

Brow Definer - L'Oreal Brow Stylist Definer ($6): This brow definer is recommended via Anne. I personally always use Glossier Boy Brow for my brows but wanted to make sure I had something to recommend that could finish the whole drugstore look. After picking this up from CVS, I can understand why Anne is such a fan- it's creamy and pigmented, yet somehow natural on the brow. This definer is definitely an Anastasia Brow dupe


Lip Liner - Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner ($7): Do you line your lips? I'm on the fence but have loved using this pencil. The product doesn't run outside the lip line and fills out the lips nicely, making them look larger. I've been reaching for the shade natural but will definitely be looking to buy under my spell for summer.

Lipstick - NYX Butter Lipstick ($6) and Lip Gloss ($5): I genuinely have tried so many lipsticks, from Wet N Wild to Marc Jacobs, and NYX makes the best. They are creamy, never dry, last all day, and come in a wide variety of colors. I typically top my lipstick shade with sunday mimosa or creme brulee gloss and head out the door. 

P.S., If you're looking for natural beauty options, look no further

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