Years ago, the drugstore didn’t have nearly the makeup selection it has now. Maybelline, Covergirl, and Revlon all existed, sure, but the quality wasn’t there. If you wanted the good stuff (i.e. high-end makeup) you had to head to Sephora, Macy’s or your department store of choice.

Well those days are gone! Now the drugstore is full of amazing products (looking at you, Maybelline Fit Me Foundation) and it seems like every week there’s a new brand in my local CVS. While the fact that there’s actually good makeup in the drugstore now is awesome, sometimes you still can’t beat high-end products.

I have yet to find a perfect dupe for the Benefit Porefessional Primer or the Nars Orgasm blush. The drugstore also hasn’t quite caught up with the quality of setting sprays at Sephora.

For this reason, I’m breaking down what products you should save on and what products you should splurge on. So, let’s get started shall we?

Primer: Splurge

I have yet to find a drugstore primer that performs as well as high-end ones. They’re either straight silicone, don’t fill in pores, or don’t mattify my skin enough.

My favorites that I recommend:

Foundation: Save or Splurge

This one is honestly a toss up. Drugstore brands have stepped up their game when it comes to foundations. Some of my favorites come from Maybelline and L’Oreal and even Wet n’ Wild makes a $5 foundation that has received rave reviews.

That being said, I’ve tried foundations from Fenty, Urban Decay, and Tarte that I really enjoy. This one just depends on what you’re looking for in your foundation, your budget, and if you care about using high-end brands or not.

Favorite Drugstore Foundations:

Favorite High-End Foundations:

Concealer: Save

I know, I know, Tarte Shape Tape is all the rage right now and the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer has been a long time favorite for many people. Both of those will set you back $30 each, though. I just can’t spend that type of money on a concealer that I’ll have to buy again in a month or two.

Instead, I hit up the drugstore for my all time favorites that I can’t live without:

Eyebrows: Save

Honestly, I’m still trying to find an eyebrow product that I absolutely love. I had a good thing going with a L’Oreal gel for a while and then they went and discontinued it 🙄 I’m still very much a gel person, though. They’re the quickest for me and they last a while. I’ve found that eyebrow pencils, while precise, last about 3 weeks and then you’re off to the store to buy a new one.

So, if eyebrow gels aren’t your thing skip this section. Otherwise, these are the ones from the drugstore that I like the best.

Grab Your Free List of Over 30 Drugstore Dupes

Eyeshadow: Splurge

I was mentally going through my makeup collection and realized that all of my eyeshadow, save for a few singles, are high-end. I think you can find good drugstore options (Milani, Wet n’ Wild, and NYX) but eyeshadow palettes are one of the bits of high-end makeup I truly think are worth investing in.

I mean really, when was the last time you used up an eyeshadow palette… Exactly! Palettes last for forever and the quality from a lot of them just can’t be beat.

Here are some of my faves:

Related Reading: Too Faced Natural Love Palette Review

Eyeliner: Save or Splurge

This is another toss up; there are great options whether you go drugstore or high-end.

Drugstore Favorites:

High-End Favorites:

Related Reading: Stila vs NYX: Which Eyeliner Is Better?

Mascara: Save

If you only take one thing away from this ridiculously long winded blog post, it’s that high-end mascara is a waste of your money. Sure, I’ve enjoyed mascaras from Urban Decay and Smashbox, but you can find mascaras that will give you the exact same look at the drugstore. Save your $25 for date night, a new shirt, or to put gas in your car.

Here are some of my fave mascaras that you have to try:

Save or Splurge: Drugstore vs high-end makeup


Bronzer: Save

I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried many high-end bronzers. I do love the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil bronzer, but other than that I think you’re better off heading to the drugstore. Some of the cult faves in terms of bronzers are from the drugstore, so really, why waste your money?

Some of my faves:

Blush: Splurge

Oh how I love me a good blush. The drugstore has some nice options, but there are some high-end blushes that are just too good to pass up. Blush is another one of those products that will take a long time to use up, so I think it’s well worth the money.

Blushes You Need:

Highlighter: Splurge

I’ve tried a lot of highlighters, both drugstore and high-end. By the end of the day whatever highlighter from the drugstore I’m wearing has usually worn off. For that reason I think high-end highlighters are the way to go. They’ll last a while, they’re not outrageously priced, and there are so many formulas that are just incredible.

My Favorite Highlighters:

Related Reading: Which One’s Better: MAC vs e.l.f. Highlighters

Lipstick: Save or Splurge

The amount of lipstick options that exist in this world is honestly overwhelming. Whether you like liquid or a classic bullet lipstick, matte or satin, there is something for everyone. There’s no way, as a self proclaimed lipstick junkie, that I could tell you to buy drugstore over high-end of vice versa.

So, here are my favorites from both ends of the spectrum:



We made it to the end! I think this is longest post I’ve written so thank you for staying with me! I hope you found this post helpful and will use what you learned to go out and buy some new makeup faves.

What are some of your favorite drugstore and high-end makeup favorites? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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Love the authenticity of this post. Thanks so much for sharing! I agree that a lot of drug store makeup can be just as good or even better than high end makeup!


Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s good! Glad you liked the post Carissa!


This is so helpful!! As someone who struggles with makeup, I have yet to find great products for myself and I’m always so unsure of what to really spend my money on!


I totally agree that there are several areas where you should splurge and save. I always splurge on blush and eyeshadow because the pigments are usually better.


Okay I love this post! I definitely like to splurge on eyeshadow and save on concealer, so thank you for sharing this!


I absolutely love the Benefit Porefessional Primer! But I was super disappointed with how small it was. I went through it so quickly and haven’t bought it since then. But it’s a fantastic primer! I’m also a huge fan of Urban Decay foundations! Those are seriously worth every penny to me. This is an awesome list!


They do make a jumbo size that lasts forever! It’s obviously a bit more expensive but worth it.


I love this!!! I am in love with the new maybelline highlighters, I can’t put them down!!!


I use the iT cosmetics CC cream and the Better Than Sex mascara and its the best money I have spent. The products are so good.


I’ve heard good things about that cc cream. I tried the better than sex mascara and it just wasn’t for me


I am so allergic to a lot of drugstore items that I usually end up splurging!


Oh no! Have you tried brands like Almay and Neutrogenea?


Love this post! So many great products mentioned here. I own many of them already and based on others you have listed I definitely need to go on a beauty shopping spree haha


I am a Sephora addict, but you’re right about mascara…the best I’ve ever used is L’Oreal Voluminous!


I love a good dupe and there are so many now. Great post!


In terms of primer, I actually think a few drugstore options work just as well as high-end. Boots No. 7 Airbrush Away primer is amazing, as if Soap & Glory’s One Heck of a Blot primer. I admit, I always find myself in Sephora purchasing primer even though I know there’s great drugstore options.

Also, I’m always down to spend $30 on a mascara — it’s a bad habit.

Great post! x



I’ve never tried either of those primers so thanks for mentioning them!


I love how your organized the different products. I am all into saving for sure, I also love the Maybelline products.


Putting this list together made me realize how much I love Maybelline haha!


Totally agreed with this post! Always save on mascara! Great advice 🙂


I absolutely loved this post! I definitely agree on concealer running out so quick and after my high end bottle of mac runs out I am going to go the drugstore and test out one of the options you’ve put under concealer. (I took a photo of it actually so I can look back next time I’m shopping) My favourite drugstore mascara is by l’oreal the lash paradise, it’s actually perfect and it’s less than half the price of the urban decay tube I own. Lastly all the photos in this post were stunning!!


So happy you found this post helpful! I’ve heard so many great things about the lash paradise mascara; I need to try it soon! The photos are actually some of my stock images I sell in my shop! 💕


I’m a makeup addict. I understand the save and splurge. I always make sure I have great eyeshadows and mascara as I have sensitive eyes. Great post 👍🏼


I don’t tend to splurge on makeup but if I did it would definitely be for a base product like a primer or foundation.

Louisa |

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