Under-$20 Drugstore Beauty Finds That Makeup Artists Swear By

Literally get the look for less with these great picks.

Influencers try their best to convince their followers that they need the latest, most expensive makeup on the market to look and feel their best. But if you talk to actual makeup artists, it’s not the same story.

Makeup artists often swear by the affordable products that line drugstore shelves, achieving the same looks for a lot less. “I have been a makeup artist for 30 years and. I love shopping at drug stores for products. They are honestly like mini-Sephora now,” said makeup artist Pilar DeMann.

We asked top makeup artists what they buy at their drugstore. Some picks are dupes for more expensive, trendy products while others are fantastic finds with their own, unique strengths ― and all are under $20.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a commission from some purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently curated by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

A luxe foundation for less
Sarah Roberts, a makeup artist and founder of the Beauty Edit, says that L'Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation is "one of my absolute favorites and an essential staple in my kit. Its long-wearing matte finish delivers flawlessness across nearly all skin types." Roberts also praises the foundation's range of shades, ease of use, and "outstanding performance in diverse settings," including high humidity. According to Roberts, this product "rivals many luxury foundations because its quality and finish are comparable to those costing three times as much."
Liquid blush for a steal
Aisha K. Ashi, a certified makeup artist and founder of the Cruelty-Free Guide, is "absolutely loving the new e.l.f. Camo Liquid Blush at the moment." Ashi says it's "a close dupe of the popular Rare Beauty liquid blush" that sells for more than three times as much.
A Dior lippie lookalike
Another e.l.f. product that is a lookalike for a pricer brand is e.l.f. Glow Reviver Lip Oil. According to Ashi, it's very similar to Dior Lip Oil, which sells for five times as much.
Lovely lashes at a lower price
Margina Dennis, a makeup artist and beauty expert, recommends Essence Mascara. "This brand has a great array of mascaras that rival some of the department store ones and are a steal," she says. Lash Princess is one of her favorites.
Picture perfect foundation
When it comes to foundations, Dennis likes Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation. "This foundation is buildable to medium coverage, looks like skin, and is great for both personal and professional use because it doesn't leave a gray cast on the skin," she said. Dennis also likes that this foundation comes in a range of skin tones and matte and dewy versions.
The longest lashes
Makeup artist Natalie Dresher says, "I absolutely love L'Oreal Lash Paradise mascara. No other mascara compares to this drugstore find." According to Dresher, many makeup artists compare Lash Paradise to the more expensive Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. However, she thinks this L'Oreal dupe "is even better," at a fraction of the price.
Beautiful brushes
LA-based makeup and brow artist Stevi Christine recommends EcoTools makeup brushes. They are "a great addition for those seeking good quality without seeking the high prices. I'd say these brushes feel and work just as great as some of the high-end makeup brushes on the market," she said. To prolong the life of makeup brushes, Christine recommends washing them at least once a week with baby shampoo and allowing them to dry overnight.
Fabulous foundaiton
Kerin Jackson, an Emmy-nominated makeup artist and founder of The Make-Up Refinery podcast, uses Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Foundation. "This foundation has been my own personal choice for so many years, and while I keep trying new, and more expensive, foundations, I always go back to this one," she said. Jackson likes this foundation because it "gives me the coverage I need where I need it, and also blends out and buffs out to a sheer finish. It lasts all day without me having to worry about separation or patchiness or touch it up constantly." She also likes the range of shades available. Jackson thinks this foundation is "a soft dupe" for Armani Power Fabric and is similar to Fenty Beauty foundations.
Moisturized lips
Makeup artist Vincent Oquendo recommends Burt's Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment. "This product is great because it feels great and super moisturizing before makeup, especially if your lips tend to get dry and cracked," he said. The price is significantly lower than popular overnight lip masks like Laneige.
A six-pack of fabulous falsies
When it comes to lashes, Oquendo recommends Ardell Demi Wispy False Lashes. These are one "of my go-tos," he said. "I like to cut them in half and place them in the outer corner of the eye. They look comparable to some of the expensive brands and they feel great on the eye," Oquendo said.
Catrice Cosemetics
Bright eyes
Makeup artist Emily Gray recommends Catrice’s Under Eye Brightener. "I like that it can be used on its own for light makeup days, but also paired with concealer for a more glam makeup look," she said. Gray also likes that this eye brightener comes in two shades, which match almost all skin tones. "It’s essentially a color corrector used to neutralize darkness under the eyes, something I think everyone would appreciate," she said. According to Gray, "it's a really great dupe for Becca’s Under Eye Brightener," at a fraction of the price.
A versatile eye pencil
Morgan Evans, a makeup artist and Head Makeup Manager at Abracadabra NYC, likes NYX Professional Makeup Mechanical Eye Pencil because of how versatile it is. "It's primarily an eye pencil, but can also be used to line lips and fill in eyebrows. It comes in several different colors, which is super convenient," she said.
A competent concealer
Roberts also recommends recommends Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser. She describes this concealer as "a multitasking product that not only covers dark circles but also injects a touch of radiance into the under-eye area with its creamy, non-creasing texture for a smooth, flawless finish." She compares this concealer to "the performance of high-end options, such as Tarte Shape Tape, at a fraction of the cost."
A luminous highlighter for less
Jeimy Flournoy, a master cosmetologist, recommends Wet n Wild Hello Halo highlighters. It's "super pigmented and bright. A little goes a long way. It's not expensive at all and will last you forever." Plus, it has a "beautiful shimmer and glow," Flournoy adds.

Burt's Bees
A creamy liquid lip
Makeup artist Tonya Riner recommends Burt’s Bees Glossy Liquid Lipstick. It "has a clean formula that feels good, smells good, and wears beautifully for hours," she said. Riner particularly loves Tidal Taupe because it "is universally flattering on all skin tones and is the epitome of 'your lips but better." Plus, it "is a fantastic dupe for the coveted Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk," she added.

Before You Go

A bright coral-hued matte lipstick

The Very Very Best Red Lipsticks, According To Makeup Artists

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds