Drugstore Beauty Bargains

So in light of my little InStyle Beauty Buys rant, I thought it might be a fair idea to do a review of a few drugstore bargain type products I am enjoying lately. These are all things that I have been using regularly for awhile now so feel pretty confident in recommending, with a couple of slight caveats..

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream: Ok so this has been around for some time, I think it may actually have been the first drugstore BB cream on the market? But for whatever reason I hadn’t yet tried it. I’ll be honest, I was kind of on the verge of giving up on BB creams altogether, having tried a few and been underwhelmed. This Maybelline one is cheap and cheerful and actually lovely on the skin. You really don’t feel like you are wearing makeup, it’s a light coverage but not the lightest I’ve seen, it definitely won’t cover blemishes but it does even out out my skin tone and is sheer and fine enough to wear two layers if you want a slightly heavier coverage. It just gives a pretty, mildly dewy (not sparkly!) finish. My only bugbear is the shades are limited (light, med., dark) - the lightest is just a smidge too light for me (not prohibitively) and the medium far too dark. It’s far less claggy/heavy feeling than most other BB creams I have tried, which in my opinion is the whole point of these things.

The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Reviver: (Ok I know it’s not strictly drugstore but if you join Body Shop’s mailing list and are eagle eyed you can often get their products at huge discount online - like 40 or even 50% off, it’s crazy to shop in store I tell you!). So this is a slightly odd one. It’s meant for dull skin, as a brightener/reviver etc. And for that purpose I find it fine, I can’t honestly attest to any long term benefits…but what I will go out on a limb and say is that I prefer using this as a primer/prepper/skin blur/call it what you will, to most of the crop of trendy “Insta-blur” products out there now, It’s a silicone-y feeling serum, which isn’t to be honest my favourite, but it doesn’t break me out, and acts as a great base layer for makeup. I have tried a few of the Blur type things, including the pictured Garnier 5 Second Perfect Blur, and I just find them fiddly and weird texture wise. Yes they absorb, I guess they help blur, but they make my skin look weirdly dull I think? I don’t know. This stuff smells delciously orangey-divine and makes you look glowy. I just prefer a fresher, brighter product like this personally. I’m also addicted to their Vitamin C Face Spray for an instant perk me up.

Lovely smooth orange-y serum vs. weird cottage cheese textured stuff - no contest. Oh apologies, apparently I have rhino hands, ugh!

Eyebrows!: This is getting its own category, because it’s all about the brow these days it seems, and with my formerly lush caterpillar brows now looking a bit patchy from over plucking in the 90’s/not quite recovering from chemo/whatever, they need help to achieve Cara Delivigne lush-ness (or let’s be honest, the real eyebrow icon for any child of the 80’s, Brooke Shields!).

Those brows!!! That face! Insane.

Maybelline Brow Drama: One of the first, let’ s be honest, drugstore competitors for Benefit’s High Brow and other brow-y type things. I think there’s another one by L’Oreal that I’m quite keen to try. I plumped for medium brown, which can be a dangerous shade as companies often go too red. This one isn’t too bad but it could definitely be a touch more ashy to suit more people. So I do and do not like this. I feel like this type of product should be quick and easy, idiot proof. And this one is frankly a bit of a faff. It has the stupidest brush head design ever, with a big ball on the end that does nothing but get in the way of the brow wand thing-y. At first I thought I was meant to use the blobby end only but that is just the setting aspect I guess? 

It doesn’t seem to apply much product without the skinny bit anyway. I don’t know, with trial and error I get this to work fine, but it can deposit unwanted blobs of product and frankly the results aren’t impressive enough to warrant it. It doesn’t add enough pigment for my tastes (and I don’t go overboard on the brows honestly), but if you like a subtler effect you might like it. It does create a slight thickening effect, but I don’t like the stiffness of the set and inevitable Jack Nicholson eyebrows (see pic!). 

I'm not a serial killer, I just play one on t.v....

I feel like if you have really lush, thick eyebrows this could be much easier to use, mine are too patchy at the ends especially to cope with this though. I noticed a lot of makeupalley reviews mentioning they cut the blobby bit off, and I'm tempted to do it myself because otherwise I might reach for this more often. So I don’t think I will repurchase, but for a cheaper alternative to High Brow it's an option.

Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil: Oh Rimmel, you do have a few treasure troves in your arsenal, and this is one of them. I’m usually not a fan of eyebrow pencils, as mentioned before I prefer a natural, less Cruella Deville brow than they tend to provide. But this is lovely (I have it in 002 Hazel, the perfect light neutral brown for dark blondes/light weird browny redheads like me). This pencil is subtle, idiot proof, and seamlessly fills in the brow and has a handy little brush on the end that I’m not sure does anything but I still have a fun little swipe of it at the end. Very natural, this is not one for a super shaped or dramatic brow, but I love it.

Beauty UK Hi-Brow Kit (Superdrug only brand I think): My go to eyebrow powder was The Body Shop one but I’ve had two of the suckers break and it irked me so I thought I’d try a cheaper make. This little eyebrow palette comes with three eyebrow powders and a little wax pot setter thing, a two sided brush for the wax and the powder, and a handy if tiny little pair of tweezers. Really charmingly packaged little kit, and I’ve yet to break it. My only gripe with this is that none of the powders are a perfect match for me, which means I have to mix the lightest and the medium shades, which means I have to use a different brush than the one provided. Not the end of the world, but I do feel like people that have that sort of middle, not blonde, not dark brown eyebrow are pretty poorly catered for generally and it’s so much wooork finding a brow product that matches me perfectly. Wah!  First World problems. Anyway I do like this brow powder because I think powder gives the most natural yet defined looking brow, but I guess I’m still searching for the eyebrow holy grail!

Maybelline Dream Touch Lumi Concealer: The palest shade of this is too yellow/dark for me unfortunately, so I’m doing what I usually do with concealer and mixing my own shade. What I do like about this product is that it has very good pigmentation and doesn’t dry out or make my under eye area look any more ancient than nature intended. But this also means you don’t quite get that highlighting luminosity/YSL Touche Eclat type effect, which is kind of how they are marketing this. At least not on anyone who is as fair as me, and I’m not really particularly pale, at least not in Scotland! For cheaper highlighting pens I still prefer the Boots No.7 and even more bargainous Collection 2000 pens, which come in more pinky tones that suit my skin tone better, to this one. That said this is perfectly decent as a standalone concealer and doesn’t dull the under eye either.

L’Oreal Rouge Caresse: One of the first  lipstick/butter type things, I still keep coming back to this. I know last year was all about the crayon and this year is all about the lip oil (which I haven’t tried but can’t say appeals to me), but these cheap and cheerful little numbers give a sheer but pigmented pop of shiny colour that I just find super flattering. I prefer it to the Clinique Chubby Stick and the Revlon lip butter. I have it in Aphrodite Scarlet, which is named quite poorly as it’s more of a sheer magenta type shade, very wearable. Not the most long lasting things in the world but I like the swipe and go nature of them, and they do stain slightly better than the lip crayons I’ve personally tried. I think I’m going to treat myself to another one…are they still making them?

Oh craptacular, pardon my language but a Google search has revealed these have been discontinued. Of course, everything I like usually is! They still seem to be available online at various discount portals though so I may begin binge hording, ack!

This is what happens when I try to take a picture of my lips - Blair Witch anyone? Is there some kind of Razzie I can win for bad beauty blogging?

Also not pictured but I accidentally took a good (for me) eyelash shot while I was attempting to photograph my lips (because of course!), for anyone interested is the brand spanking new Benefit Roller Lash (I got the free sample size with Elle magazine, not sure it's still out but in that sense this was a bargain). It’s... ok….it photographs quite well, but I have to say for my tastes it’s a bit gloopy/heavy for daywear. I’m hoping it dries out a bit so it doesn’t deposit so much product in one sweep. I find the hard plastic bristles a pain, you can’t swipe off the excess mascara without making a mess of the wand. I much prefer softer bristled brushes, but plenty of people seem to like these types of mascara so if you are a fan of them you may well like this. 

Anyhoo it does seem to hold a decent curl, my eyes were particularly puffy due to it being my lady time of the month so their deep-set-ness is extra apparent, but you can still see my eyelashes in the pic which surprised me. It has a lightly curved wand, I don’t honestly feel like it “curls” my lashes but it does lift them a bit and stop them drooping; it would be even better were it not so heavy - one coat of this is more than enough for me and require much eyelash combing for even distribution. It is less of a beast to remove than the Benefit They’re Real, which I also wasn’t blown away by. I still prefer Benefit BadGal to both of these, which has more of a fluttery, lightweight, buildable texture. But if you're all about lash drama you might really love this one. It only comes in black, and it is a very inky, pigmented black indeed.

Ok well I hope some of these recommendations can help save a few pennies, I do think there are plenty of treasures to be found on drugstore shelves if you do a little bit of research (and to be honest trial and error). Are there any beauty bargains you can’t live without? Please share! I apologize for any crimes against beauty blogging I have committed, I'm trying here! All items purchased by me etc. and all that jazz.....


  1. I swear by the Rimmel eyebrow pencil - for the price I've never found anything else as good. The Body Shop stuff sounds great, but their Vitamin E moisturiser/night cream made me break out in patches of facial eczema, so I'm a bit wary of trying anything else from the range.

    1. Mm I don't blame you, my skin doesn't react well to lots of things, it's only got worse with age! The Rimmel pencil is a bargain indeed, I also like their lipsticks and powder :-)