Do you remember the first bit of makeup you owned? Mine was an eye shadow quad from Clinque that my mom bought me and I felt so grown up. Like with a swipe of blue eye shadow (it was in style back then!) I could conquer my 13-year-old world.

Once I had that first taste of what putting makeup on felt like, I wanted more. More makeup and more of that feeling of feeling confident and put together.

However money wasn’t abundant in my 13-year-old world. I would babysit and pet sit and that was the extent of my income. I was not in the position to be buying Clinque products every month.

Enter my love of drugstore makeup. Sephora is exciting and all of the luxury products can be blinding, but the drugstore is a whole other ball game. Foundation for $5? Buy 2 get 1 free lipstick? Sign me up! It’s a teenage girls dream.

It’s also this 23-year-old girls dream…

Sure, I can afford to shop at Sephora a bit more now, but the drugstore has some incredible options that anyone would be silly to pass up. It’s also a great place for people just beginning to explore makeup to start.

Which finally brings me to today’s post! With so many options available at the drugstore it’s hard to know what’s good and what’s not worth a dime. I put together a drugstore makeup starter kit a while back, but since then I’ve discovered even better products. My photography and blog posts have also improved drastically since then so I figured it’s time for an update.

So if you’re just beginning to play with makeup and feeling a little lost, keep reading to discover some of the best products to start with! All products mentioned are easy to use, quality products that beginners and experts alike will love.

Drugstore Makeup Starter Kit

Milani Prime & Shield Primer

Primer – Milani Prime & Shield Mattifying + Pore Minimizing ($10)

 A great primer for those of us with oily skin. It’s a silicone primer that has a thin, fast drying formula. The pore minimizing component helps foundation and concealer to go on smoothly.

Maybelline Fit Me Foundation

Foundation – Maybelline Fit Me ($5)

I can’t stop won’t stop talking about this foundation. I’ve been using it for years and have mentioned it countless times here on the blog.

There’s a matte formula and a dewy formula, both of which are great. There are 40 shades, meaning there’s something for just about everyone. It’s long lasting, doesn’t pull or oxidize (turn orange once on the skin) and feels weightless. It honestly doesn’t get much better.

ConcealerMaybelline Fit Me ($7) Maybelline Age Rewind ($10)

Can you tell I have a thing for Maybelline products?

Their Fit Me concealer is my favorite for covering acne, scars, or any other imperfections. The formula is thin but buildable, meaning you can touch up throughout the day if necessary.

The Age Rewind concealer is amazing for under the eyes. It has goji berry and haloxyl to treat dark circles, so while you’re covering them they’ll also diminish over time. And yes, I do think it actually works.

It blends beautifully, has great coverage and is brightening as well.

Grab A Free List of Over 30 High-End Dupes Down Below!

Coty Airspun Loose Powder

Setting Powder – Coty Airspun ($5)

I would argue that a setting powder isn’t necessary when you’re just starting with makeup. However it is a nice touch. Setting powder blends together your foundation and concealers to create a flawless look. It also helps to control oily skin

My go to is the Coty Airspun loose powder. Loose powder is messy but in my opinion it does a better job compared to pressed. The Coty powder is cheap and you get a big tub that will last you ages. Fair warning, it does have a smell but I haven’t found it to be irritating.

Soap & Glory Archery Brow Gel

Eyebrows – Soap & Glory Archery Volu-Boost Fibre Gel ($14)

I gawked at my receipt the first time I bought this product. Had I known it was $14 I wouldn’t have bought it, however I’m glad I did. My brows have never looked better which is saying a lot considering I’ve tried a lot of brow products.

I prefer gels to pencils or pomades because they’re quick. You also don’t need a second gel to set your brows in place like you would with a pencil or pomade. The applicator is a tiny brush, which makes defining your brows super simple. The fibers in the Soap & Glory gel work to create a full but natural look that will leave you slaying the eyebrow game.

Milani Everyday Eyes Eyeshadow Palette

Milani – Everyday Eyes Eyeshadow Palettes ($11)

The Milani palettes are incredible and I honestly feel like they should be more than $11. The color lasts all day, there’s no fall out and the shadows blend like a dream. If you handed me this palette without the name Milani on it I would think it was high-end. Seriously, run to the drugstore and pick up one of these palettes for yourself!

Essence Mascara & NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner

Eyeliner – NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner ($9)

Man do I love a good liquid liner. There is something so satisfying about drawing a smooth and perfect black line. The NYX Epic Ink liner has a thin, flexible tip that makes do exactly that easy as pie. The black is intensely pigmented and it won’t budge all day. I wore this liner to a music festival in 95-degree heat and it still looked good 12 hours later. If that doesn’t convince you I don’t know what will.

If you want to read my full review on this awesome product you can check that out here.

Mascara – Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect ($5)

I’ve tried a lot of mascaras in my day, so trust me when I say that this is one of the best.

The cone shaped brush allows you to coat the inner and bottom lashes easily, creating a voluminous look. The formula isn’t too wet which is great because there’s no need to wait for it to dry. There’s also no transfer to the eyelids or under eye.

This mascara checks off all of my figurative boxes!

Related Reading: Save or Splurge: Drugstore vs High-end Makeup

bronzer, blush and highlighter

Bronzer – Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer ($13)

Another slightly pricier item, but 100% worth it.

The name doesn’t lie with this one, it is like actual butter and blends into the skin so smoothly. There are several different shades, all of which warm up the skin in a natural way and won’t leave you looking orange a la Snookie from Jersey Shore.

It also smells like coconuts and summer, which is half the reason I reach for it so often. Not a bad thing, right?

Blush – Milani Rose Powder Blush

This is one of my favorite drugstore makeup finds. Not only is the actual product stunning (it’s a flippin’ rose!) it also looks stunning on the skin.

A lot of drugstore blushes can be too pigmented, don’t blend well or don’t apply evenly. This Milani blush does none of those things and will add just the right amount of color to your cheeks!

Highlighter – Ulta Beauty Illuminator ($10)

Highlighters are one of the few makeup products that are hard to get wrong. Sometimes they’re too powdery or have actual chunks of glitter in them, but the majority of highlighters available are decent.

It’s the ones that are beyond decent that you have to look out for! Initially I didn’t think much of the Ulta highlighters, but after using them for a bit I realized how beautiful they are. There’s just the right amount of sparkle, the colors available are lovely, and the product stays on your skin all day.

The pan size is large as well so $10 will get you a lot of product.

Milani Make It Last Setting Spray

Setting Spray – Milani ($10)

Like setting powder, you don’t need setting spay. In fact, I don’t use it every day. Setting spray is nice to use on days where you want you makeup to last for hours or you’re going to a special event. It’s the finishing touch that melts everything together to create a flawless look.

I think setting sprays are where the drugstore struggles the most, however I do like the Milani one and have repurchased it several times.


So there you have it! Your makeup bag should now be set with everything you need for a full face of makeup.

I didn’t mention specific brushes because this post is already too long, but I recommend anything from Real Techniques or Morphe. Good brushes are key to applying makeup easily and effectively so I strongly suggest investing in some.

What was the first item of makeup you remember owning? I want to know so drop me a comment down below!

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Curate the perfect drugstore makeup starter kit with these products! Click to read now. #affordablemakeup #beautyblogger #makeupdupes


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Audrey Knizek


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Hi Audrey! I love this post, however I am a huge advocate for cruelty-free products. Is there any chance you would be willing to do one of these with just cruelty-free companies? Some that you mentioned, if I remember correctly, aren’t. It would be really nice to hear your finds on this? If not no worries. Just thought I’d ask 🙂


Hi Kelsey! I apologize for the last response on this comment but I wanted to make sure I had enough time to answer it properly! Wet n’ Wild is cruelty free and makes an incredible foundation. It’s called Photo Focus and is also really inexpensive. NYX makes a great concealer called the HD Photogenic concealer. For highlight I would go with the Colourpop Super Shock highlighters. I hope this helps!


I love drug store make up so I’m always checking out posts like this to see what bits and bobs others find to put together in their kits. Some great suggestions. I’ve never heard of Coty Airspun but that may be because they’re a US brand (I’m in the UK) but I’m going to keep an eye out for it!


I hope you can find that powder because it really is an amazing product!


Th ose are some great products! I want to try that mascara! And as great of a product Maybelline Fit Me is, they don’t have my shade… haha! Even in 40 shades, I cannot find my perfect color. Crazy!


I love the affordability of drugstore makeup. Unfortunately, I am often allergic to the products. I do love the Maybelline Fit Me foundation.

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