Part of the joy of makeup is its power to transform. It’s fun to play since it’s so easy to find good makeup at rock-bottom prices.
Drugstores, mass-market retailers and specialty stores all have some fabulous finds that can be had for mere pocket change. Here are some personal favorites of mine, in no particular order, and each brand’s most expensive items top out at $5, with many options available for less.
- Essence can be found at Ulta stores, but it’s also been popping up in some Walgreens locations. The line has everything from foundation to nail polish, all in fun, girly packaging. It also has limited edition items, although these can be hard to find, since they tend to sell out quickly. My personal favorites are the nail polishes — all have great pigmentation, dry fairly quickly and apply in one or two coats — and the Long-Lasting Eye Pencil. For a couple of dollars a piece I’ve gotten better use out of these eyeliners than those of other, much-pricier brands.
- Jordana can be found in Walgreens and Kmart stores as well as sold online, this line has plenty of great options. Their Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stains are new and run about $3, offering lasting color in that fun crayon-like tube. (Honey Love is a good natural neutral.) The 12-HR Made to Last Eyeshadow Pencils (about $4) apply smoothly and really do last. Their mascaras, especially the volumizing formulas, are well regarded and their nail polishes are fun ways to play with color — especially if you’re craving glittery lacquers.
- New York Color has a lot of fun lip products — including the Duets (with two colors married together) and the Applelicious Glossy Lip Balms with two shades (one darker hue surrounding a lighter apple-shaped core). They also have fun limited-edition lines that often include eyeshadow palettes, nail polishes and lip colors. I’m a fan of the mascaras, especially the City Curls Curling Mascara and the Big Bold Mascara — especially when Rite Aid has them on sale for 40 percent (which seems to happen about every three months or so).
- Wet n Wild h as long been a bargain cosmetic staple, but it has really upped its game as of late. Its Fergie makeup line has some great offerings including fun eyeshadow and shimmer palettes. The nail polishes are great, too, but really all Wet n Wild polishes are pretty darn good, normally 99 cents or $1.99 or on-trend limited edition items for $3 to $4. The eye shadows are a fun way to play with colors, whether you want to try something classic and neutral or get funky and play with pinks, yellows and vivid greens. A personal favorite, the Coverall® Cream Foundation offers pretty substantial coverage but feels light .