Tips and Tricks: How to Shop for Drugstore Makeup

Beauty on a budget? We can help. Read our best tips for shopping for drugstore makeup brands

Read this before shopping for drugstore makeup brands

Makeup is a fun hobby, but if you're fully committed, a glance at your bank account can make you go pale under your expertly crafted foundation. Traditionally, high-quality makeup could only be found at specialized stores and department-store makeup counters. In the past, drugstore makeup was for first-timers, people on a shoestring budget, or second-rate products. Not so today!

You can carve a huge chunk out of your budget and still find incredible quality makeup that looks and feels amazing on your skin. Drugstores today stock a wide range of brands that are as cost-effective as they are gorgeous, from Maybelline to NYX and everything in between.

When you're headed for the drugstore makeup aisle, there are a few tips and tricks to follow to make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck. Read on for our tips on how to shop for drugstore makeup.

1. Research reviews and brand swaps

Before you go, research common brands your favorite drugstore sells. You can often find online reviews in a list or blog style (like ours!), or video "unboxing" and swatch videos on YouTube. These reviews are excellent to identify products that you're interested in trying, but you know you won't be able to sample before buying.

2. Make a list (and check it twice)

Creating a list and sticking to it can help to stay under your budget and still walk out with a full makeup routine in hand. After looking up those reviews, you can make a list of brands that your favorite beauty vloggers and reviewers trust. Then, look for those brands or products when you hit the makeup aisle.

3. Check the return policy before you buy

Many drugstores offer lenient return policies, but some will refuse makeup returns if the product has been opened or used at all. Luckily, most drugstores and pharmacies post their return policies online. If you're having trouble finding the info you're looking for, you can always call the store or ask a cashier before you check out.

4. Know your skin tone and type

Do you have dry or oily skin? Is your skin tone "cool," "warm," or somewhere in between? Knowing these key words can help you pick out products that will look great and leave your skin reaction-free. Most makeup products, particularly ones that try to mimic the natural shade of your skin, will have a few keywords, abbreviations, or symbols letting you know what skin types and tones they're designed for. Knowing this lingo (and knowing where you fit in the system) will help you find products that work for you.

5. Bring your favorite products with you, especially when shade-matching matters

Foundation, concealer, and bronzer can be some of the toughest products to shop for without being able to use testers. Unfortunately, it's not a great idea to pop open a concealer or foundation and try it on in the aisle. Instead, bring your current product with you so you can compare colors with something you already know and trust.

6. Experiment with different lighting sources

The lighting in pharmacies...isn't exactly great. It can be tough to get a good idea of what a color will really look like in sunshine when you're standing under those glowing fluorescent lights. Take products close to a door or window to try and get better light, if possible.

7. Check the label for buzzwords you know

I have a mild allergy to eucalyptus that makes my skin red and itchy. So, no matter what, I always check product labels for eucalyptus extract or oils. Besides checking for potential allergens, you can look at product labels to find ingredients you know and love, like witch hazel, rose water, or aloe. If your current makeup products contain natural additives that you know make your skin fresh and glowing, there's a good chance you can find a comparable drugstore product that has a similar ingredient mix.

8. Don't be afraid to try things you wouldn't usually buy!

One of the best things about drugstore makeup is the drastically lower price tag. If you've still got room in your budget, why not try a dramatic look you've never tried before? For example, a lipstick or eyeshadow palette at a high-end store can cost anywhere from $30 to the triple digits. At a drugstore, however, you can try out that wild glitter palette or that vibrant blue lipstick for a few bucks (less if you have coupons!). This is a good way to experiment with shades and looks without a huge financial commitment. If you don't like the way it looks, oh well! You're not out an entire paycheck.

The makeup aisle in a pharmacy can be overwhelming, especially when you're not allowed to open or try anything on. But armed with the right information, research, and expectations, you can find a killer collection for a fraction of the cost at a high-end makeup store.

Resources— Teen Vogue, StyleCaster, The Everygirl